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The Epic of James - The Birth of Law

by LeutnantSchweinehund

Author's Note: So this is it. I finally finished it after a year of on-off work. Honestly, I didn't give it too much time, and I definitely intend to take all three parts of the Epic of James, polish them up and maybe make it into a great big short story. Not done with the story though. I'll continue on with Matthew. You might not understand the story fully without reading the previous (significantly shorter) parts, but it's still a story on its own.

I realize that my use of semicolons is sorely lacking, and punctuation is still a bit of an issue. I'm still learning about when to and when not to use punctuation. Overall, I tried to make it as 'Old Testament-y' as possible, but it's still utterly awful.

I'll be honest with you all. I'm not writer material. I started as a pitiful excuse for a writer, with absolutely no talent, just for the sake of it. And I clearly haven't improved much. I realize that the grammatical errors are plentiful, but I beg that you instead look at the quality of the story itself (which is likely quite low), because I've already been notified of the aforementioned errors. This work was posted without proper editing and rewriting, mainly because I wanted to find out of the story itself is worth editing and rewriting.

The Epic of James - Part 3

The Birth of Law

James walked the wastes alone, abandoned, the last souls of men glimmering faintly, losing hope. With the Gods dead, there was no power left to send rain, to sow seeds or fell crops, to deal justice and strip the flesh from he who would defile Heavenly law. The world was dark then, and gray, with no seeds being sown and no crops being felled, without time or desire for love or happiness. As the giant walked upon the sands and stones of a world once great, he looked upon the Heavens and said,

"I have conquered the skies and the stars alike, I have brought death in my search for power, and I took it upon myself to usurp the throne of Heaven. Yet I am not immortal. Yet I am not a God. I rule over no one and fight for nothing, for there is no one left to rule, and no one left to fight. To be alone, with no doubt, far worse than to have no power it is."

James built for himself an army of stone men and a palace of clay and wood, West of the inland sea. He carved them, all four thousand, for eighty years. He built his army to march upon the lair of a great nautilus, its existence foretold by a decrepit demon who long ago died by James' hand, for by all accounts, it held the key to immortality. They lay beneath the mountain upon which James' frail palace stood, and he preached to them for long hours. His words, however, fell upon deaf ears, for the stone men did not possess a life or a soul. This saddened him, and so he prayed to the Heavens.

"To those of you who remain, exalted still, I pray to you. Imbue my children with life as you had with man, and give them a soul, so that they may think and act willfully."

Only Gods may present the dead with life. Gods who now lay dishonored on their spiked beds of stone, black blood escaping the veins within. James had not been given the gift of iron flesh, for there were none left who possessed it, nor did his people receive divine mercy. His horde would forever remain petrified, and so he plead, howling from atop his palace, with the voice of a desperate hound, starved of flesh.

"Can I not be forgiven? Have my deeds brought nothing of desire? What must I do to give these sculptures life? Am I doomed forever to solitude? And how am I to defeat the last God in his lair? Cursed be the Heavens, I say to you, can I have no mercy?"

As he spoke those words, as he cursed the skies and stars and all the things between, lightning struck the land, and the palace, along with the stone men, caught ablaze. The palace turned to solid brick, harder, stronger, able to repel arrows and hurled stones alike, and the men came to life, brandishing their knives, holding their spears high in James' honor. A miracle from the sky, a machine from the Gods.

A storm raged that night and twelve nights after, with skulls as hailstones falling from the clouds. Four thousand skulls fell upon the earth, and four thousand shattered, and on the thirteenth day, the army began its march to the great inland sea, where the nautilus reigned. They waved their wives goodbye, leaving behind unborn sons and daughters, riding forth upon their steeds and chariots with zeal in their hearts, with James leading them to certain death. As James led the Eastern campaign, the women built around his palace a city and called it Zion, naming it a Holy City, for it is where their lives began.

James' army stopped where the inland sea began and called upon the nautilus. The sky turned red as it once did, in the great war which came before, and tentacles rose from the sea and struck the army in full force. Men flew feet across, some consumed by the monstrous mass, as the rest hacked and slashed and cut away at its flesh, wounding it slowly, breaking its strength. It was James who delivered the final blow, with his trusted companions, Isaac and Amaryt, who rode to battle beside him. The titan hurled his bronze spear, eleven cubits long, through the creature's shell. There he killed the nautilus, and its body turned to ash. Only its shell remained, and in it was hidden immortality.

James searched the shell, many feet tall and wide, for thirty-two days. At the end of his search, he uncovered a stone tablet, inscribed with words he knew not. With sorrow and anger he left the shell and rode home. When he arrived at the gates of his city, he had with him two thousand, nine hundred and twenty-one men. He had lost over a thousand good troops, and now their wives would weep. They died in vain, however, for the tablet held nothing of use, and seemingly no mention of immortality. And so James, now seven hundred years old, took hold of his throne and ruled over the people justly and honorably, as the Gods would have done, naming Isaac and Amaryt his disciples.

Isaac led the bowmen, and upon his return home, he created four sons and lived for six hundred years to come. Amaryt was the son of Amyr, and he led forth the spearmen in this great battle, which raged on for twenty-one days and nights. Upon his return home, he created no sons, but two daughters, and lived for four hundred and thirty years to come. His daughters would later become the carriers of his lineage, and they too held a great future in James' land. The deaths of his disciples wounded James deeply, but he did not forsake his duties, and continued ruling righteously.

Word reached James of an empire not far from his own, which stood between two rivers, the remnants of the great inland sea where the nautilus once reigned, now many years ago. The empire had consisted of multiple large cities, though no larger than Zion, ruled by a common king and conqueror, Sargon. James looked upon the heavens and asked,

"What drives forth the bowmen of Akkad? What fuels the fires that burn so hot? Who sows the crops and tends the land? Who dyes the cloth? No Gods live on, though the folk amidst the rivers endure yet!"

James visited Akkad and the surrounding city-states, and spoke with Sargon for many hours. He found friendship and common ground with the great uniter, speaking of war and the sciences of nature, discussing with him the question of immortality. James often rode to Akkad and conversed with Sargon, yet he too would eventually perish, and the death of his only true friend shook him to the core. He realized once more, after all these centuries, that even great men died of old age, and that his own era would soon inevitably come to an end. As he left Akkad, viewing its majestic walls as he rode away, he remembered the stone tablet and looked upon it once more. He did not understand the tongue still. He looked upon the Heavens and prayed,

"Am I to surrender? To forfeit my quest? I have walked this path for many decades, yet I have reached nothing. My people will die with me. Must our fate be so cruel? Must I be punished endlessly until I too lie rotting in the earth? Show me the path, I beg, so that I may survive, unlike Sargon, for whom I now weep."

Exactly five hundred and forty-eight years passed before James met the Godlike giver of law, Hammurabi. The Akkadian Empire became the Empire of Babylon, and many rulers lived and died in those days. James spoke with Hammurabi in Babylon, gazing upon his great wall of laws. It struck him as clear that even his own people would fare better with law, benefiting from order and peace, and so he too became an ancient lawgiver. Upon his departure from Babylon, he waved Hammurabi goodbye and wished him good fortune, and when he returned to his city, he stood before his people and preached,

"You shall not take what is not yours, for if all men stole, there would be nothing left to steal. I say to you now, he who steals from his fellow man shall not rise with me.

You shall not harm one another without just cause, for if all men did harm, no one would stand to sow the seeds or fell the crops. I say to you now, he who harms without just cause shall not rise with me.

You shall stay true to your wife, for a man who deceives his wife is no man at all. I say to you now, he who dishonors his wife shall not rise with me, and would his wife dishonor him in return, she too will be forsaken.

You shall not succumb to hypocrisy, for he who preaches emptily should not be taken to heart, rather he would be banished under my rule. I say to you now, he who preaches emptily shall not rise with me.

The men of Babylon would have you pluck out the eye of the man who has wronged you, but I say to you now; do not pluck out the eye of the man who has wronged you, instead bring him before me and have him beg for forgiveness. Pray for him, and hope that he may see reason, for he is your brother. Your suffering shall be repaid in my true kingdom.

You shall repent your sins to me, and would you do this, I would forgive everything you have committed, and you will rise with me to the heavens. Be wary, however, for even mercy knows bounds, and you must pay for your crimes in my true kingdom, for that is where you will be judged."

James stepped down from the mountain peak, his law now in place, and all was good. The law grew more advanced by the season, and the men and women of Zion lived peacefully for decades to come. There were those, however, who did not hear the words of James, and left the city. They forged a new city, calling it Antes, after the firstborn son of Isaac. James looked upon the city and saw great injustice and lawlessness within it, and men defiled one another, just as they defiled nature with their Godless orgies. He did not punish the men of Antes, for they were not his to punish, and so he merely watched as the den of sin grew in size and might. One day, James heard from his disciple, Matthew, that the men of Antes spoke wrongly of Zion, claiming their own city to have stood in greater light. He said to James:

"My King, the men of Antes, sodomists and hopeless sinners, they taint the name of Zion. They climb on top of the other and commit acts against the nature of mankind, they drink, steal and murder, and they preach as hypocrites do in their caves. One of them, Azmat is his name, denounced you as the giver of life and law. My king, will you not punish them?"

"Matthew, listen to my words, for they are true. I will not punish the men of Antes, for their will is free as I have said it would be. They will not rise with me to my true kingdom, and so they will be punished. Do not judge them for their acts, instead pray that they see light, and pray for me as well, so that I may judge them rightly when the day comes at last."

The men of Antes continued in their pursuit of sin and heresy, defying their Father in Zion, staying true to their terrible ways. Fifteen years after Matthew conversed with James, the heretics launched an attack upon Zion with many trained soldiers, with Azmat at their head. James expected this, however, and stood upon the walls as the foe approached. He spoke to Azmat firmly,

"I know of your name, Azmat, and I know of your cause. The city of Antes rivals the strength of Zion, and you have taken it upon yourself to conquer my lands and denounce your Father. I, however, would forgive your wrong-doings, were you to lie down your arms and walk away. You need not acknowledge me as your Father, for your words do not change the truth. I ask only that you leave Zion in peace, if you truly wish to forsake me."

Azmat did not listen, however, and his men attacked the city. With faith, zeal and heart, the defenders of Zion repelled the attack and stood victorious at dawn. Joyful, they celebrated James once again. James summoned Matthew and said to him:

"Go to Antes and seek out Azmat. Come in peace and speak to him as a man speaks to his brother. Tell him that I summon him to my court, and that I shall forgive his sins and the sins of his people. If he refuses, look to the horizon and watch for the North star. When you see it, leave Antes and do not look upon it as you walk to Zion."

Matthew did as James commanded and spoke to Azmat, who refused to repent. The disciple left when the last slivers of light crept below the horizon and did not look back as he walked to Zion. The next morning, the city of Antes lay in ruin, turned to sand and dust. No memory was left of Antes, and no one would bear recollection of its past. No one disobeyed the law of James from that day forward.

When Moses brought the Israelites East of Zion, three hundred years passed since the creation of James' law. The Lawgiver did not speak to Moses, nor did he visit him, for his days were numbered. He fell terribly ill, locked away in his palace, wasting away with every passing day, anticipating death. He did not pray, however, for he knew that no prayer could save him from his end. James summoned Matthew, his brothers and their wives, and spoke to them,

"My sons, my daughters, you have served me well. I have sought immortality for many centuries, and now I prepare to depart from our world at last. I have done many things and lived through many ages, though I have not done enough. I have tried to perform miracles, though I have not done enough. I beg of you, successors of Isaac, nothing more than forgiveness. I have preached, and times came when my deeds were wrong. Forgive me, pray that I may find peace.

My deeds, those heroic deeds worthy of song; they seem so distant now, almost mythical and surreal. Have I truly fought the Gods? Have I wandered endless wastes? Have I given you life? As I approach my end, I see that it matters not. What matters is that which remains, and I am proud to have led you to greatness.

Matthew, son of Isaac, lead our people to Jerusalem, and name it Zion. Take with you the stones and uncover their secrets, as I have failed to do. Preach our law without fear, and think back on me with joy. I say to you now, you shall rise with me."

And so James' final hour dawned, and life escaped his lips. Matthew gathered the people and grieved for three days and nights, and on the fourth day, they departed to Jerusalem, naming it Zion in honor of James. As they left their home, the Earth quaked and salt waters consumed the city behind them, never to be found.

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Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:20 pm
MohitInfinTest says...


You alright, friend?

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Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:29 am
Dracula wrote a review...

Hello there, LeutnantSchweinehund, I am here to review. :D My reviewing style is somewhat different to most people's. Instead of summarising things at the end, I like to jot down my thoughts as I read. I haven't read the previous parts, but it shouldn't matter too much.

I have conquered the skies and the stars alike, I have brought death in my search for power, and I took it upon myself to usurp the throne of Heaven. Yet I am not immortal.
These first paragraphs, in my mind's eye, conjure up clouds of utter darkness and despair. I see barren lands and grey skies, and imagine the people walking around like zombies with no hope. When James cried to his god/s, it honestly reminded me of Jesus at the cross (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?). I don't think you're trying to compare James to Jesus, but that's just what came to mind.

James built for himself an army of stone men and a palace of clay and wood, West of the inland sea. He carved them, all four thousand, for eighty years.
I read in your author's note that you didn't want grammatical advice, so I won't go too far into it. But I think your sentences could be so much more powerful with a bit of restructuring. Take the above as an example. If I read that he's spent eighty years doing something before you told me what it was he'd been doing, I would feel greater emotion when I read what it was he'd spent all that time on. As opposed to reading what he was doing, feeling neutral emotion, and then finding out how long it took. Does that make sense? I'd restructure it to something like this: James spent eighty years building for himself an army of stone men...

A miracle from the sky, a machine from the Gods.
I love the way you described the soldiers coming to life and the clay being cooked. It had a Frankensteins's Monster feel to it. I especially liked how they held their spears in Jame's honour, as if the gods had not only blessed James by bringing them to life, but by making them loyal to him. At the end of this paragraph, it would be a great addition to describe how this all makes James feel. I expect it made him very happy, but there's no text to confirm this. Just one or two sentences would make this paragraph complete.

The deaths of his disciples wounded James deeply, but he did not forsake his duties, and continued ruling righteously.
You say this a few scenes after the one I mentioned above. This is what I was suggesting, just one or two sentences telling the reader about his emotions.

"What drives forth the bowmen of Akkad? What fuels the fires that burn so hot? Who sows the crops and tends the land? Who dyes the cloth? No Gods live on, though the folk amidst the rivers endure yet!"
This is so poetic. :D I don't know if you intended it, but I actually noticed a faint rhyme. Hot and cloth, they're very similar in pronunciation. I can imagine the speech formatted as a poem something like this:
Who drives forth the bowmen of Akkad?
What fuels the fires that burn so hot?
Who sows the crops and tends the land?
Who dyes the cloth?
No Gods live on-
Though the folk amidst the rivers endure yet!

You see? It's a poem! This has nothing to do with the quality of story, it's just something cool I noticed.

I say to you now, he who preaches emptily shall not rise with me.
I said before that I didn't think you'd based James on Jesus, but now I'm questioning that. Did you?

No memory was left of Antes, and no one would bear recollection of its past. No one disobeyed the law of James from that day forward.
I don't think this was out of character, because James had grown to care tremendously for his people and Antes threatened them. But I do recall him saying that Antes wasn't his to judge- so what changed? I think you should give more insight into his reasoning for such destruction.

Matthew gathered the people and grieved for three days and nights, and on the fourth day, they departed to Jerusalem, naming it Zion in honor of James.
I wasn't sad at this ending, though the characters were, because the story felt concluded. James had led his people to his satisfaction and I think he died happy with himself and with them. It was a good touch to say what the characters did after his death, even though the story was more or less from his point of view.

Overall, I liked your very detailed writing style and Jame's growing dedication to his people. As for improvements, I suggest looking at the way sentences are structured (could the words be more impacting in a different arrangement?) and to fill in any plot holes. Thank you for sharing this. :D

Well I'm glad at least someone found some form of entertainment in it. Sentences can be restructured, grammar can be fixed, and I will do this with all three (potentially more, especially since the life of Matthew will be explored yet) parts at a later date, when I compile them into the true Epic. Hopefully it won't be as gravely flawed then.

As for comparisons, not only did I wish to portray James as a Godlike prophet, but also a failed one. This is mentioned more in the previous parts, but his greatest wish is to be omnipotent and Godlike. Since he cannot achieve this, he instead preaches as if he were God, as if he were Moses, Jesus or Muhammad. He never was a true prophet, just a man who had some right ideas and led a semi-successful city-state as a result.

As for the question of Antes, I heartily agree. It is a hole in the plot, I think, but I'd explain it with James' final words. He admits to have judged others wrongly at times, and since Azmat attacked Zion and refused peace, he judged him as he saw fit. While not intentional, I suppose it might hint at James not being a real prophet, but an impostor.

Even though I'm still a rather poor writer and this piece was average at best, I'll follow it up with Matthew and his people in Jerusalem. Don't know if I'll come up with anything interesting. Hopefully I will.

Dracula says...

Awesome. You could possibly fix the Antes bit by having one of his people question him about it on his death bed, and then he goes on to admit...
Let me know if you'd like me to review your future writing. :D

Eh, I don't really think I'll be doing much more writing, to be honest. If you look at what I wrote, it's not even a story as much as it is a summary of the things which happened. While this was my intent (trying to make it as much like the Old Testament as humanly possible), it seems that I have not hit the spot.

I suppose I could focus on writing the common fantasies with elves and orcs to gain more of an audience, but I don't know if I could offer anything new through that.

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Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:49 am
Kale wrote a review...

Hello there and happy RevMo (even if I am a bit late to the reviewing party)! I, a bold Knight of the Green Room, am here today to review you.

Now, I haven't read the previous parts, even though you recommended doing so, because I am on a frenzied spree of trying to reach the fifty-review goal for RevMo in these remaining few days, so if you'd like me to take a look at them and maybe give my thoughts on all the parts as a whole, feel free to drop a request in my WRFF thread and I'll be happy to oblige.

With that all said, there were a few sentences that stuck out to me as being not quite grammatically-sound.

To be alone, with no doubt, far worse than to have no power it is.

This sentence in particular knocked me out of the narrative because the structure is drastically different from the other sentences, and it isn't structured well either. If you wanted to end on the verb, a more comprehensible structure would be "It, with no doubt, far worse than to have no power, to be alone, is", but even then, that's unnecessarily convoluted, and a more sensible form would be "It is, with no doubt, far worse to have no power than to be alone."

with skulls as hales falling from the clouds

Here, "hales" appears to be mistakenly used instead of the "hails" of hailstones.

When Moses brought the Israelites East of Zion, three hundred years passed since the creation of James' law.

This is another strangely-structured sentence, and it reads that three hundred years pass the moment Moses brings the Israelites East of Zion, rather than there being an interim of three hundred years before the arrival of Moses.

The simplest fix would be to use "had passed" to distinguish between the timing of events, though I'd recommend restructuring since Moses is kind of an aside in this part of the story, and having him in the leading clause attributes him greater importance than even Sargon had.

As for the piece itself, while I enjoyed all the references to ancient history, I was ultimately left wondering what the point of this was, which might be a result of not having read the earlier parts, but nonetheless, without the foreknowledge to recognize and appreciate the references to figures and locations of ancient history, there isn't much holding this piece together aside from pretty language (when it doesn't trip over itself) and Biblical references.

I think if I knew what you were aiming to accomplish by writing this, I'd be able to be more specific, but as of right now, I'm left with the impression that his part lacks substance enough to stand on its own without the references, i.e. the references are a structural support rather than items which enhance the decor, which renders this piece mostly a miss due to most readers lacking knowledge of the sources of the references.

I suppose you're right. Another failure of mine. I wanted to pull a Gilgamesh, really. Just felt like writing a story about some guy who wanted to be immortal and in the end achieved something entirely different, but I guess it is quite dull in the end.

Honestly, I've given it my best. The grammatical errors I'm willing to accept, because writing in this fashion clearly comes with many unintentional screw-ups, but if it really was this boring, then I have failed on a level far greater.

I don't really know what to do to fix it. I swear that I gave it my all, but my all wasn't enough, and just like James, it stings that I failed despite the days of hard work. I suppose it goes to prove the point of the story, that no matter how hard and long one tries, it may never be enough, and they may never reach their goal.

I wrote yet another abomination, and now I think it's best I just take the message and quit. Three years have passed and I've written nothing half-decent. The search for immortality made James miserable, just like the search for writing skills cripples me, and so I'll actually take the lesson my story offers and quit. If I did not, I would be as the hypocrites, preaching emptily whilst not following my own law.

Thank you. It is much better that I am told upfront than receiving blind praise that is often seen around here.

Actually, knowing myself, I'll grieve for a few weeks and write another atrocity. That seems to be the cycle at hand. So I probably won't quit, even though no one in the history of anything ever finds it even somewhat intriguing. And that makes sense, because we've got the Old Testament and the Epic of Gilgamesh, both of which do what was done here much better.

I should quit though. It's just too damn painful dedicating so much time and effort, and then having it be worthless. If that's really what writing is like, than I'm best fit for engineering instead.

Kale says...

I wouldn't call this an abomination, and I definitely got vibes of Gilgamesh (which I thought I mentioned in my review but apparently didn't whoops). It's just that I think you need to spend a bit more time considering what audience you are writing for. Do you have a specific one in mind, because if you don't, then I think that a lot of your frustration can be pinned on not finding an audience that can appreciate what you're trying to accomplish with your writing.

So, what are your goals in writing, and what sort of audience do you want to appeal to?

Don't try to sugarcoat it, you really don't have to. It sucks, I realize. I'm not at a skill level sufficient to write epics yet, and I'm plying at something I'm not.

My audience? I don't know. I'm someone who enjoyed both the Old and New Testament and the Silmarillion, books that are considered damn near unreadable by most. I guess that's my issue, along with insufficient skill.

Kale says...

It's pretty insulting how insistent you are on placing your own opinion in my mouth. I am quite capable of expressing my own thoughts, and if I really thought this piece sucked, I would have said as much. I have never been one to sugarcoat anything.

With that said, this needs work. It lacks focus and so gets caught up in its trappings for lack of its own substance. You can fix that if you can pinpoint what it is about epics and the Bible and the Silmarillion (which is seriously underrated imo) that you found enjoyable. Take a look at other mediums that employ those elements and find the commonalities in the people that enjoy those works: that is your audience.

I'll tell you now as someone who also enjoyed reading the aforementioned texts that one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed them was because they provided a greater context for something I already had interest or knowledge of. Without that context, even the Bible falls flat as a work of literature, and Gilgamesh in its unembellished form would flop as a story because modern storytelling has developed rather dramatically from the ancient forms, and most audiences expect more than a telling of events from their stories.

So you have a choice: either shift your entire approach to writing in order to appeal to a wider audience, or adjust your focus to writing pieces that create and build upon their own context to create something greater than the raw sum of its parts. The latter will be very niche, and you'll have a hard time finding an audience for it, but if you do find that audience, it will be a dedicated one, and I would recommend looking into groups that revolve around worldbuilding because in my experience those groups tend to have a high concentration of people within the sort of audience you may be seeking.

Insulting, eh? Oh well, I suppose.

Anyway, you're right. It's raw and unfinished, and since I don't intend to be a writer by profession anyway, I suppose it doesn't matter if anyone reads it.

Thanks for the review and the tips, it's all much appreciated, honestly.

Kale says...

It's insulting because I am not a mouthpiece for your own insecurities, and I don't appreciate being used as such.

Writing is clearly important to you, and while there's nothing wrong with writing for an audience of just yourself, you do have the skills to reach a larger audience if you so chose to, which is something you do seem to desire. However, if you want to be successful in reaching an audience, you have to present your work to the correct one. Right now, you're essentially trying to feed liccorice to a group of people who don't like liccorice and then assuming there's something wrong with the liccorice when the fact of the matter is that people who don't like liccorice just don't like liccorice and you're completely ignoring the people who do like liccorice and would thus appreciate your efforts.

If you're insulted, that is a shame. There is not much I can do about that, I'm afraid.

If most people don't like the licorice, then logic would dictate that perhaps there is something wrong with the licorice indeed, because of majority rule. Historical narrative is an inherently flawed style even if done correctly, and I daresay that it is my style of choice for that exact reason. I can use the excuse of a flawed style to cover up my own flawed writing.

Whatever the truth may be, I write something maybe once every two or three months, in bursts of inspiration. Bad writers do that. I am a bad writer, and I don't think I really want to put in the effort necessary to become a good one.

Kale says...

Point = missed, and yet you managed to make it yourself.

Case in point: I said nothing about a majority, and that is something you interjected into what I literally said to confirm your own preconceptions. Even still, in a scenario where a majority does not like licorice, the licorice being the issue is only ONE logical possibility among several, with several of those possibilities being equally plausible.

I refuse to be used as an excuse for you to give up on writing well, which is currently what you're trying to use me for.

If you don't want to put the effort into improving as a writer, then fine. Just realize that by doing so, you forfeit any right to complain about the quality of your writing, its reception by others, or your abilities as a writer.

If you're truly not focused on improving, then why are you so upset about how "bad" your writing is?

See, you misunderstand. This is not upsetting for me at all. I'd like to believe that truth is more important than its effects, and so I accept truth as it is. There are traits that define poor writers and I possess nearly every one of those traits. The only difference is that it doesn't really hurt me.

I am not using you for anything. I've written many works and been critiqued many times, and one critique hardly makes any difference. However, it does show that there is little point in pursuing this style of writing, and since I don't really have the time or patience to learn any other style (except for first-person narrative, which is just as poor), it might be time to throw in the towel.

Kale says...

Your actions run counter to your words.

Which actions might those be?

Kale says...

Lost yet another writing contest.

How to deal with insults against your work?

And how you keep coming back to writing and posting things despite all the frustrations you've expressed.

Old threads, old beliefs. At this age especially, outlooks change and values drop like flies. At the moment, I've got far too many half-baked hobbies as it is, and I'm not decent at any of them. Writing's probably the oldest and most miserable of these hobbies, but I'm starting to see that one must be quite masochistic to keep at it.

I don't think I'm masochistic enough. I say that as I write another shitty "story" about the exact same bloody thing, just with a different cast of characterless characters.

Kale says...

Prophecies have a funny way of being self-fulfilling.

I will tell you this: from a technical standpoint, you write far better than most, including most adults. You have the mechanics down, so stop fixating on the mechanical aspects. Focus instead on finding and conveying the soul of the stories you desire to tell.

Quite frankly, your ideas of what qualify as "good" writing are so stuck on the mechanical, quantifiable aspects that you completely fail to see the contextual, qualitative elements that contribute to a work being viewed as good or not. There is more to storytelling than mechanically writing every day or else everyone who diligently wrote every day would automatically be bestsellers. There are many who follow the "rules" of being a good writer and never become so.

Part of that ultimately comes down to how there are no rules in writing: only conventions that adhering to increases the likelihood of people being able to appreciate your work. Some of those conventions can be broken, and some of them sometimes have to be to better serve the goals of a work.

Try deliberately breaking a few of the ones you hold as truest and see what that gets you.

I have consciously attempted to break nearly every convention there is. There are no happy ends to my stories, the underdog does not win, and justice rarely finds a way to flourish.

Could it be that by the very act of breaking convention, I have created a convention far more unpleasant than the one which came before it?

Kale says...

All the above are hardly conventional at this point, and subverting those tropes has become a convention in its own right.

Regardless, I was talking more of conventions like "stories must have a clear act structure", "conflict is necessary", "the progression of events should be chronological": in other words, assumptions about the fundamentals of storytelling you may not consciously take for granted.

But be under no illusions: experimentation rarely turns out good in its own right, however, the experimenting will lead you to a greater awareness of the assumptions you make while writing, the conventions you fall back to time and time again, and the more aware you are of those, the more easily you will be able to play to them or subvert them depending on what you are trying to accomplish with a particular piece.

At the very least, experiment without any expectations as to quality and focus more on the exploration of what makes a story a story. It can be quite fun, and it will certainly lead to something a lot more interesting than the same-old same old.

I suppose so. I tried to break them a tad more with my newest abomination, in which there is pretty much no conflict at all.

Anyway, thanks much for the tips. I write for the sake of writing, so I suppose experimenting can only be a good thing.

Science is the best idea humans have ever had. The more people that embrace that idea, the better.
— Bill Nye