Reviews for Duty
Charactarantula chapter 1 . 5/4/2009
this is the review for that wcc way back...got caught up with some stuff, but hey, a review's a review right? :D

I don't do depth reviews a whole lot, so I'm just going to use that rubric step by step. a'ight?

opening: this was one of the strongest parts of the piece. I thought it quickly established the setting and the characters without wasting too much time in details. I had a mental image right off the bat.

ending: I didn't care for the ending as much. I thought that the drawn out explanation of why the Canadian field medic came back was a little unnecessary. Maybe hint to it, let the reader assume it.

scene: both the opening scene and when your MC first saw the guy in the other room were done very well. When you said that there was someone in the other room, I knew immediately something was fishy, and I kind of assumed it was a ghost or something, but it was well done.

dialogue: I'll be honest and say I hated how the characters talk. I'm a bitch about that, though. Huckleberry Finn failed in my mind because of Jim's accent. I'm just not a guy who likes that. I don't know, I'm picky. It was an English accent right? That's what I figured, and I didn't even remember reading you mentioning that they were from the UK.

Characters: What I found interesting was that half the time I imagined myself as the MC. I think the lack of description (good thing) attributed to that. The younger man on the table was an interesting character as well. Great description of him.

And now I just realized I only had to comment on four of those...but I've got some spelling and grammar spots so I'll hit you up with those:

"...and his eyes snaps open" you just need to take away that 's' at the end, there.

"...terrified look on his face and his arm lying by his side twitches" you might want to consider re-phrasing this, because at the moment it is overwhelmed by the word 'his.'

"...have forgotten that the men on both sides are after all of this, just frightened little boys." You need a comma before after. That or I just misread the sentence a couple of times (I wouldn't be surprised. :P)

All in all, I thought that this was a great story. Very worthy of its win. Congrats, by the way. :D

-jake
Denizen47 chapter 1 . 4/6/2009
I was shocked to see that I hadn't reviewed this yet, I voted for it dontchaknow :P 19 other reviews though, i'm guessing every error has already been pointed out...

I liked - nay, loved - this piece. You seemed to really capture the weariness of the doctor, and the story gave it a magical feel. Even in such tough times there are these brief glimpses of hope. The dialogue was also good, it seemed natural and gave depth to the personalities of the characters.

Bravo!

Zion.
vinny2 chapter 1 . 3/29/2009
I can see how this won. It really does pull at the heart strings, and I for one and truly glad it does, because...well, I can't really think of a because. I liked it becuase it has a strong emotional pull, especially from a perspective of a man who is beginning to lose hope and meaning in his life, and he admits it openly.

Speaking of which, the protagonist was nice to follow around. I'm not sure how I feel with him digressing about Canadians. Is he Canadian? He seems to be. He thinks about them a lot, apparently, but he does not appear to consider himself one who asking about Mercier to the others. Meh. It just made me think a little bit.

The plot is one I have seen before, but it is one that I actually enjoy seeing reinvented as you've done here. The ghost of a man breathes hope into a man whose faith is strengthened upon leaning later that the man had died. It harkens back to the old story of the man who picked up a hitchhiking woman and drove her home and then realized she left her coat. He returns to the house to give it back to her, only to find out from her mother that the woman had died some years ago.

However, I have a problem with this line:

two medics with all the technology of the day, but still powerless in the fight between the beast that is war and the fragility of man.

It sums up the whole thing too well. Basically, you just summarized the whole one-shot about two-thirds of the way through. Not only did it make me feel that everything I read was for naught since you just told me everything you just wrote again in a nutshell, but it made me feel as if I no longer had to keep reading. Sure, I wouldn't have found out that Mercier was a ghost (or so it would appear), but that's not the point of the story. Your sentence. That's the point of the story, and I would have preferred to come to that conclusion myself rather than have it spelled out for me.
Miss Bob chapter 1 . 3/29/2009
Better late than never, here's your WCC review, Suz!

I like your use of a well known poem excerpt as the opening, it works well and sets the scene for WW1 and the theme of innocent deaths. I think perhaps it would work be better if you got rid of the bit in brackets, though, the (In Flanders Field, excerpt, John McCrae, 1915) bit, because I felt like it ruined the flow, maybe you could have it has part of the author note?

I'm not sure what it is, but quite a few of the things the people say in this piece seem awkward/stiff. For example, “I know this boy; we are from the same place back home,” it’s like you’ve hardly used any contractions at all, and that means the dialogue doesn’t flow well.

I don’t think I like the use of present tense here, from my point of view it seems to ruin the whole aspect of looking backwards in time etc. I do understand the idea of present tense being used to draw the reader in, and make it seem more personal, but this just didn’t seem to work for me.

I did in fact really enjoy reading this, I’ve heard of similar stories actually happening during WW1, where a mysterious man would lead troops safely through minefields only to be discovered long dead afterwards. In general it’s a very good story, and relatable too, because everyone has come across ghost stories, but not often are they heart warming and sincere, and this I felt, was both.

-Beatles
eyerene chapter 1 . 3/28/2009
I liked the opening a lot. First of, the poem drew me in because it is an awesome poem and I love that poem. Secondly, the first line of the story drew me in because it was dialogue and it was desperate dialogue too.

The plot surprised me. It wasn't as original as "Duality", but the points you made and the way it was told were original. Also, the story was not so much focused on plot as it was on the characters and their relationships, which were masterfully portrayed.

The words used in this story were perfect. They weren't simple like in "Duality", but they weren't too flowery either. But just like I thought the words in that story were perfect for its tone, the ones here are a perfect match. They were beautiful. I particularly liked the phrase ,"A strapping young lad."

The dialogue was very good too. The two main speaking characters spoke like they were from the same time period, but at the same time, they had very different voices. You could feel the optimism in Mercier's voice versus the sadness of the doctor. The word he said that made the doctor trust him made me trust him too.

An amazing story from an amazing author. Great job :)
Engineer of Words chapter 1 . 3/28/2009
This was a lot of fun to read, and was one of the two pieces I voted for in WCC.

Your description and the narration reminds me a lot of Ernest Hemingway, for some reason. Similar subject matter, perhaps, but you like to get to the point and spare the reader metaphor and flowery rhetoric. Apt use of minimalism, really.

The plot was similarly interesting. It threw me a curve ball, as I was expecting more of gritty heroic realism like most war stories, but that's not to say that the whole ghost of a dead guy helping out from beyond the grave wasn't cool, certainly.

The opening lines set the tone in what you were doing with the writing, though. They're not filled with excess description, just a note that a wounded soldier is crying for help. Just like that, we're informed of exactly what's going on for the foreseeable future in the piece, as well as the context and time period.

My only real criticism is that despite the fact that I could sort of tell why I should, I never got particularly attached to any of the characters. Perhaps that was the intention, but the only character who was really applicable for this was the Doctor, and this was more of an exhibition of what his duty was than insightful into his character. This is just my opinion, really, and it's of little consequence either way on the effect of the piece.

In any case, nice work.
Carus chapter 1 . 3/28/2009
I like the opening of this piece. It draws the reader in, a) because it's dialogue, and b) because of what it was saying. I don't count quotations as the opening, by the way. :P

I wasn't too sure about the characterisation. I think that all of the characters seemed quite two-dimensional - I know that it's difficult to develop characters in such a short word count but even so... I think part of this problem was that you had too many. The doctor, the dead/dying boy, the 'ghost' plus all of the other random extra characters. Another point on characterisation is this bit: "“Canada!” beams the doctor" I didn't feel like this fit the idea of a doctor in WW1. I can't imagine a doctor beaming at all in that type of situation.

I really really didn't like reading this in present tense. I think that it's just personal preference though, so sorry. :P I do understand that you did it to make the action seem more immediate, but I think because you started with an excerpt of the Flander's Field poem I was expecting it to be a recollection of a past event. But then that's a minor point to be honest. It didn't affect my reading of the story too much :)

I like the plot. If it's really a plot, anyway. I think it's good that you've managed to make the whole thing seem like just one event plucked out of many... does that make sense? Hope it does. That has the effect of showing how vast the war was yet also how important each individual experience was in the war. I must say I did like the twist at the end, when we discover that the man had died the night before. Clever.

I thought that your descriptions were really good. However you may have overused the word 'boy' slightly... I wouldn't call them boys, personally. I'd have said after fighting in a war like that they'd be past boyhood. However it does get across the idea of innocence, so... up to you I suppose.

Overall I really did enjoy this story. Congrats on winning WCC, and good luck if you're entering again in the future! XD

-Amy/Karas
improvisationallychallenged chapter 1 . 3/27/2009
For WCC: congrats on the win - :)

Plot: I'm well-used to this plot of mysterious stranger who turns out to be dead, but it still worked. I wasn't sure what war this was meant to be from, but it felt very authentic. There are just enough tidbits of information about the chaos and grimness to really pull the reader into the hopeless tragedy of the situation. Also, although I said the plot is well worn, you managed to work in the shock ending with good subtlety. There was no definitive moment when the two doctors were talking where I thought "Ah hah! I know what's going in here" - you allowed to creep gradually onto the reader.

Dialogue: Overall, it's fine, especially the soldiers - the doctor on the other hand, for some reason grates a little. Particularly "Right, my man! Bring them in!" - there's nothing wrong with it as such, it just feels a bit plummy, stereotypical British.

Pace: The pace flows really nicely. There's not too much of stalling in any one place, and in 20 words, you've got a well-crafted, steadily paced story that keeps well focused on the action while giving just enough insight into the characters so that you can identify to the point of sympathy.

Writing: Your descriptions of the surroundings/situations were what made the story for me, especially when describing the mortally wounded soldier:

"The boy on the table is still and for a quick second he wonders if his dilemma is over, if the boy has died on his own. But as he reaches the table, the boy's eyes open, those same pale blue eyes, streaked with red. The boy opens his mouth again and croaks out some words, but the doctor cannot decipher them."

That bit particularly stuck in my mind. It made the soldier tragic without reducing him into soggy, pitiful sentiment.

All in all, a sad, but sweet (can you call a war story sweet? Meh - i'm going to anyway... _) little oneshot.
Fractured Illusion chapter 1 . 3/27/2009
Congrats in winning WCC! :D Here's your prize review.

Opening:

Pleading never interested me, and neither did it here. Basically, I knew someone I did not know was suffering, but as I did not know them, I did not care. So I can't say I was prompted to read onward.

Writing:

"his eyes closed, colour grey"

I don't see how this makes sense. Either:

a) you talk about his eye color, which can't be deduced as said, he has his eyes closed (well the doctor could have like superpowers and look through eyelids, but I doubt that's the case heh)

or

b) something else is grey - but we don't know WHAT.

So conclusion: I am helluva confused about what you mean.

"the boy smiles a watery smile "

...? Is he drooling? I am a bit confused.

Anyways, I thought you had solid writing. It was a good balance of dialog, action and description, and then some insight :)

Spelling:

This boy, his friend[,] needed him

Other:

The pro-Canda annoyed me. A lot. Oh those crazy Canadians, those are some swell men. That's too much advertising for me. It just felt strange. It's like...being fed an opinion. Yeah. Especially since I know you are canadian, which makes it all very awkward and forced. Had you talked about some other country that's quite neutral, like Austria or whatever, I don't think I would have reacted though. But I did becuase it felt like the author's opinion showing- not the character's. Get what I'm saying?

Characters:

I did not care for The Boy - he was just there being a victim. He didn't show any signs (except once) for characterisation aside from that.

The exception I am talking about is where the doctor says Canada to him, which he responds. That was nice.

The doctor is nice - he has humanity and empathy. However, for being a doctor, a doctor of war nonetheless, he was too mushy sometimes. I didn't understand it. I know it sounds mean, but he's a doctor and should be "used to" people suffering.

"For the next few hours, he is too busy to check or even think of the boy lying in the next room. He is sewing up gashes, bandaging wounds, putting in splints, applying tourniquets. He is glad that he saved the morphine."

This line saved him though :P Shows he's a doctor there to do his job, not feel for people.

Ending:

Didn't care for it - it was too telling/preachy/mushy. He came to the conviction too fast, just a second after. Ah, it must be true, he was a medic and this is what we do! Not that he was so tired from exhaustion that he hallucinated or any of that... Oh, and then it was that pro-canada again, with some pro-medic.

It is better if you SHOW and not tell. Show why medics are so awesome, don't tell "they always follow their duty" etc. We could have figured it out.

I dunno it was just unnatural.

The story itself though was nice, and I liked it.

Frac
Nicki BluIs chapter 1 . 3/21/2009
The excerpt immediately put the piece in context for me. I, like probably all Canadians, have heard Flanders Field read/recited/sung countless times and immediately associate it with poppies and fallen soldiers. So the tone was immediately set as not only reverent but also distinctly Canadian.

This is one of the few times that I was not bothered by the present tense. It contributed to the flow of the piece and was appropriate for the uncertain and hectic mood of the piece.

The ending I felt was a bit overbearing.

[Mercier had come back to fulfill his duty, as a friend, as a soldier, as a soldier and as man. A medic always thinks of those in need first, he would do the same thing if he was in his place]

That whole section feels moralistic and pedantic. I understand the emotion it was supposed to evoke but somehow by naming it so blatantly the emotion was lost.

Overall I think it was a solid piece. It alluded to the prompt without being overt and was subtly patriotic. Although I still resent my exile to this frozen tundra, your writing does make me appreciate it more. :P

Bubbles :P
raineyday chapter 1 . 3/20/2009
Another job well done! This was just touching and incredible and so well-written. I adore the supernatural aspects of this story. You really write very well in this time period, a time that I'm actually fond of myself (from a historical standpoint, of course).

You have a very poetic, beautiful writing style, and it definitely shines in this piece. Your stuff always packs such a punch! Well done!
Chasing Skylines chapter 1 . 3/17/2009
Congrats for winning WCC, Suzy.

- Opening

A nice showing in the dialogue of desperation and the somber mood of war was set with the line, "Their job is to bring in the wounded, not talk to them." Besides that, the dialogue is realistic as far as I'm concerned, including your litter Canadian/British/Australian mannerism of 'Bugger.'

- Ending

An interesting ending. I had mixed feelings overall. I'm conflicted over whether it took away the grittiness of war or not; the person still died, but it also displays a glimpse of hope along with supernatural subtones to the power of man.

A slight mistake:

[“Go get the burial team, boys.”

{There should be a line space between here. It's single spaced, oddly. Just press enter.]

They nod and leave without a word and he wonders why they are not as affected as he is. Perhaps they have seen too much, have forgotten that the men on both sides are after all of this, just frightened little boys. For the first time in years, he clasps his hands together and breathes a prayer of thanks to his God, and to Mercier.]

- Scene

I liked the scene where the "Canadian medic" showed up. I didn't expect it and it was so seamless I thought maybe the boy would live. I'm glad he didn't, though, or some of the message would be stripped away. Either way, the introduction of the Canadian medic was flawless, which leads to:

- Pace

I can't remember for sure now, but there were no notable jarring moments. It flowed well enough, and your lack of line breaks and instead using actually phrased and worded transitions made it seem more polished.

- Dialouge

As I mentioned it before, the dialogue is realistic. The dramatic parts weren't made overdramatized by unnatural reactions, too.

- Technique

There was a bit where you said 'Those crazy Canadians!' and I could just imagine the expression on the Doc's face.

The explanation paragraphs at the end about what the Doc thought of the Canadian medic's appearance to Mercier was a bit dramatized and clearly meant to portray a philosophy, and it cut slices of the reader's interpretation, but it did lessen confusion if it was unclear and wasn't overly or notably malignant.

Overall, good job.

- Sesshy
Sercus Kaynine chapter 1 . 3/16/2009
WCC prize! Congratulations, Suz!

Pace: This was one thing that made the story enjoyable because it was just the right pace. It wasn't superduperfast, but it moved along at a nice oneshot pace. you didn't hammer us with information, but provided us with enough to understand what was going on.

Plot: Neat, clever, and nicely tied to the prompt. I liked how you kind of had a sequence of events going, and then wrapped it all up in the end. It made me go "ah ha!" and left me satisfied.

Characters: For such a short piece, I was surprised at how much I felt for these characters. Their feelings for each other and their situations were very real.

Ending: Very clever, with the conclusion of a nicely set out idea. One thing I might suggest is that you don't explain it so obviously to the reader. When the Doctor talks to the officers and they say Mercier is dead, we kinda think, "wait a minute..." and the pieces start to come together. You can put it blankly, but you don't need two paragraphs to do it. Overall, though, very satisfying.

Congrats again for winning WCC with this amazing piece!
VelvetyCheerio chapter 1 . 3/15/2009
Congrats, Suzy!

I really liked the feel of this story, it felt like I had known the doctor my entire life and I was hearing a sad part of his life. I felt esp. bad for the boy that had to die. That's the sad thing about war, knowing that in the end, we're all just people trying to make it in the world.

The fact that the other medic was a ghost was pretty cool, it gave me a slight chill, too. Good work on this, I liked it. :)

Velvet.
Morohtar chapter 1 . 3/13/2009
Here from the Roadhouse!

Finally getting around to reviewing some stuff, and I'm glad I came across this one. Another one of your pro-Canadian, anti-war pieces, and I like the tone this one takes. There is no real commentary on the purpose or rightness of the war - instead choosing to keep it small and focused on the actions of a few (relatively insignificant) people.

The descriptions are very good, and the emotion here is raw and very powerful. I could feel the pain of the doctor and the disconnection of the stretcher-bearers - very good writing.

The appearance of the ghostly medic at the end is excellent, and is very chilling when we think it through; this can't have been some hallucination, because the boy's face is scrubbed. The doctor has to face that what has happened is real and reflect, as he does, on the bonds that bind men together.

I particularly liked the little touches of verismilitude with the descriptions of the wetness of the tunnel, the lack of medicines etc. That makes it seem like a very well-researched piece, which is a rare quality on this site!

Good work. Pay it forward!
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