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A Crucial Gift (probably the best short story out there)

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  23:41:57  15 March 2006
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
Let's clarify one thing beforehand: I am the contest administrator, not the contest judge. And will never become one because it will destroy my objectivity as the contest administrator.

Being the admin for the contest, it is my duty/role to make way for new stories into the contest i.e to welcome them. However, being well aware of the contest judging criteria, I also have the obligation to advise contestants when and where something is inappropiate. In short, I'm like... God (not that I possess omnipotent power or anything like that!): God can't interfere with one's free will, but God can devise rules that tell you when and what is inappropiate when doing something. While the contest certainly welcomes adaptation of certain STALKER ideas, entire change of concept of The Zone, such as that in your case (Religious, Genesis2 etc.) is almost certainly not going to be well-received by the judges (who are going to be given strict code of conduct when they start the review process).

Finally, no one has yet to get away with the Russian/US/Ukrainian thingy yet! Judgement Day isn't upon us just yet. As far as I'm aware the judging method isn't officially announced yet.
  21:49:17  15 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
I do not know how

The smile has gotten there.. that little sneak. please do not consider that!
  21:37:53  15 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
Hmmmm....
A smilie normally indicates I did not mean the thing... needless comentary with the siro thing. Still I do not think he is a bad reviewer at all, no matter what he thinks of my story.

And then I wonder if you really written a reply to my statements... Somehow you do not seem to get to the bottom of it. (btw I'm fine with my paragraphing. And I do not see how I could take offense in your "harshness", so do not trouble yourself. It is either inappropriate or well... good advice (concerning the stalker stuff))

I could open up each point again to tell you that... there is no point in telling me what I admitted already (like not caring too much about research, yet) or what is obvious (like the intention of my story: I did write it out in reply to your statments, not because I feel it is necessary to explain things I IMPLIED ( you shure you've understood that concept?)or not even appropriate (politics and religion have been always mixed up even now One could name dozen of events in past and recent history... yup... so?) but ... no, this mess needs to stop.

I only totally agree with point 8.

Still the question is and I agree to your objection concerning the Gensis 2 Idea from a contest judge`s pov) If the story is innapropriate why welcome it into the contest, and if there is room for genesis 2 why keep yapping about its suitability?

The thing I would like an answer to nonetheless: why does almost anybody in this contest get away with implementing guys from Russia The US and so forth and only in my story there are impassible anomalies hindering guys from outside coming in. More specific: why do the rules of the stalker world only apply to my story? If there is no way a guy can get from kiev to the zone, then my story as well as half those posted on the board as accepted entires should really be taken out of the competition because their content will confuse people.

I will wait for your reply on the last two points until deciding whether it is a waste of time to try re-write the story (fom the participating pov) or write down the other one that's begun haunting my mind since yesterday.
  05:58:19  11 March 2006
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
Don't meant to be harsh, but here's a rebuttal. (Although not everything in life is my enemy, heh ) If it is too harsh... oh well.

1. I don't really care. IT is a religious head figure of some sort. I'm Methodist btw.

2. Your story focused on the priest - I didn't bother to include the rest. That said, Ukraine is not part of Russia, so why would someone from Russia interfere? Also, Roman Catholic isn't that popular in Russia, it more to Russian Orthodox, and in Ukraine Ukrainian Orthodox. Ask Siro the friendly Commie.

3. It still sounds dodgy. The Zone is supposed to be an all-dangerous place, why would it even be a place for (mutated) preachers/priest and a group of believers?. That said, you tried to lay out your "intentions" for how the plot should be like, but you did not phrase them out clearly in words. That's why I've to say again: it's not well thought-out. A well thought-out plot is one thing: a well thought-out written story is another. It takes meticulous planning to get your story written right, to bring out different characters and plot . If it were well-thought out, it would have been easier to bring out that part of the plot which you don't have to discuss after the review.

4. Bounty hunters kill and don't say a word. That said, after the bounty killers done their jobs klling the bounty killers isn't as complicated as sending a group of "believers" to do the klling in the name of "religious".

5. Have you read about the gravity anomaly of STALKER? And even if the gravity anomaly doesn't affect choppers, The Zone is controlled by the Authorities, with security checkpoints situated at the borders of The Zone. For some reasons I seem to have the impression you have not gone through the details of the game completely - an unfortunately a good STALKER fanfic deserves thorough detail as that of the game. This goes to the Genesis 2 thing as well: based your new stories on something that we already know, not something you imagine up. In my experience (and I have been here for 3 years) this sort of stories does not work unless you based your fanfic to specifically entail this "Genesis 2" item.

6. Tediousness can often occur as a result of 3 things:
1) paragraphing: There is a huge chunk of words initially in your story, but it improves towards the end.
2) irrelevant events: things that you think may be relevant to the characters, but does nothing to help fleshing out the story or be relevant to the plot. People are looking to be entertained; they are not seeking to get every exact details of in your head. It's your job to make sure you write down only relevant part of your imagination so that we all get the geist of it.
3) interests: get your intro right.

7. It doesn't matter. It is extremely easy to draw distinction towards the Knight Templer in the 13th century or so when religion and politics are thrown in the mix together.

8. Of course not. But this is your first STALKER fanfiction, which has to follow a strict rule and it's to follow the details of the game.


---QUOTATION---
GSC Game World would like to announce A CONTEST ON THE BEST LITERARY CREATIONS about the world of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. project,
---END QUOTATION---



You have to base your story on the STALKER's Chernobyll Exclusion Zone, what makes every author different is how he "plays" his characters.

***

My suggestion may sound harsh, but as the contest administrator I also have to telll you this so as to be fair to every contestant: read everything you can about STALKER. Otherwise you run a serious chance of running afoul with the judging panel.

This is the best site to start looking: http://stalker.myexp.de/en/index.php
  01:57:46  11 March 2006
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
If you proposed Siro to be a judge for the contest just because he gives such a short and all-positive review, then he's not qualified to be a judge at all. Too bad.
  22:50:39  10 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
Btw, how do I make letters to be a flowing script (like in the quotations), for when I posted the story from word, this kinda like was not heeded by this site
  22:43:46  10 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
The last two where meant to be .
  22:31:34  10 March 2006
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Blank4G
(Novice)
 
On forum: 02/17/2006
Messages: 14
The privilege to criticise the critic.

First thank you both for your opinion. And thanks for the kind words (ok, the other words, too). I would like to ask Siro to specify the mistakes he has noticed (except those that I will now admit).

Usually I would not waste a word on what I did and how it was meant but I perceive it will be necessary here. (Hold on, This will be long even for my standard.)

First of all I have to confess that due to many reasons I have only had time for a sloppy research on the Stalker game background (which I will change). Secondly you will find that most things in the story are implied not shown, but it makes for complexity without having to trouble too much to write out every idea (something we are harassed with in many a story here.)

Admitting the unforgivable:
Lets get to the apologies first. Chernobyl is in the Ukraine… right. Sorry for that. (Can an aouthor in this competition even make a worse mistake?)
If you felt insulted by too specific reference to the Roman Catholic Church it certainly wasn’t intended… since I am roman catholic myself (at least baptized as such. And Unitarian. Great. I’ll get two seats in heaven , … though maybe not after this story). I have resolved to make the appearance of the church less obvious though. It might suggest my intended criticism in this story would only apply to the church in certain areas. In the end it does not even apply to the Christian religion, but human nature itself.


Now to the other things:

1. It is not the “Archbishop”.

2. The bishop sends the team in to murder them all, not only the priest.

3. The bishop’s reasons are:
a)fear of the movement, and it gaining influence among the population. It is obvious that their beliefs are in no way tolerable to the church, and the exposure of the problem it did not care about (providing for the poor and lost souls in the zone). I tried my best to show that things are about to get political, and that is what the bishop and the other’s do not want
b) fear that the priest wants to take revenge on him. The bishop and the priest have been friends before (which is why Makarov recalls his face), but the bishop has abandoned the priest in the zone, once he has become a mutant. I tired hard to show the priest is not simply a priest, but that the people that are gathered around him form a group of fanatics that are indeed dangerous and devoted. (which can be seen in the way Makarov makes the "attack" for them in the end. This incident proves the bishop’s concerns to have been justified. By the way: Makarov does not take the lives of his “victims”, he only takes away their humanity, thus their immaculate “masks” they hid behind. That is his “crucial” gift.)
I think all this would warrant killing I suppose, especially because there is no other way to handle it.


4. A bounty would not be suitable. Secrecy is mandatory for the bishop, specifically because of the bishop’s own implication and guilt in all this, as well as his omission to care for the problem. The less people know, the better. And a bounty only works when attracting attention (at least in certain circles). A priest from the bishop’s diocese being a mutant and the leader of a heretical group is something the bishop does not want to read in the newspapers about.

5. Seclusion of the Zone: Choppers can fly in and out of every place on this earth that is not situated at an extreme altitude. If engines work inside the Zone and Chernobyl itself, a chopper’s turbine will also, no matter any anomaly. I can’t think of any good reason they would not. Surely this service is not provided for stalkers in the game for evident reasons, but this fact clearly can’t mean we may not include any persons from outside entering the Zone (Particularly because almost every story does so (not to mention whole contingents of U.S. Marines).)
Still, the problem remains how the mutants have escaped the zone. I admit not to have been specific enough there. The Genesis2 movement has spread through the army - which I linked to the movement by the use of the ration cans - for some military stalkers will inevitably suffer from mutations, thus being susceptible for sympathising with the movement’s cause, maybe even join it. They could certainly be flown out into the world beyond Chernobyl and gather people who hate the (governmental and clerical) authority’s hypocrisy there and set up splinter cells. (And those could buy a spray-can…).

6. Tediousness. This surely is open to personal taste. Still each sentence in the first part, which is the only one I recognize to be tedious, serves either to explain 1. the background 2. Makarov`s chocie to betray his old comrade Boris at the end of the second scene (whithout previous info it would feel strange for him to betray a comrade he had himself picked as trusted and reliable.), or 3. to hint at his mutation that is later revealed, and show that Makarov consciously postpones it I tried to implement most things, for example (the similar descriptions of irradiated landscapes set in comparison to his own picture of himself) rather than to explicitly write them down, so there might be a tendency to overlook them in the usual manner people fluff through the posts (as do I).) I tried hard to get rid of all dead weight but still leave the background ambivalent and reasonably rich.
In particular the scene in the tent serves not to show their comradeship, but the opposite. I wanted to show that underneath their obvious comradeship, there are hard feelings between Boris and Makarov, who on the one hand dislikes his inhuman, homicidal tendencies, but on the other hand recognizes him for his battlefield skills as well as owing him his life. So the betrayal at the end comes only at the cost of regaining the innocence to consider without the rehearsed acceptance of things life forces one into. Thus the priest kind of liberates him. He who has been sent to murder them, ends up being their “messiah” (do not take this term literally) fighting to make the world realize and admit the catastrophy of chernobyl.

7. Intention and Topics and problems with it
Actually the story is about more than freedom. It is a (timid) plead for political honesty and against the hypocrisy dominating our media and politics, that are the premise for the STALKER world to exist. The story tries to elucidate the opinion of those overlooked. It is also about the fact one cannot keep the hungry, the outcast, and the misfortunate down forever. That everybody desires a voice, and needs somebody to trust, or rely on. I have tried to deal with exactly those issues in my story in a way I think matches the game backdrop while still make it a short and comprehensive story. So to turn around your question: What more can be desired (with the set topic and goal (publication in the manual) of the contest)? (This raises certain concerns about the impending judgement in the contest, that I have dealt with in another thread. Please check it out.)

I have tried hard to give my characters reasonable goals, motivations, and put my character into an internal conflict (or more).

Besides: This is not the first story I have ever written (If you meant that) though it is my first post on this board. I can’t help myself, but that it is quite obvious.

I think it is now understandable why, regardless of my thoughts and intentions being interesting or not, I object to the story not being well thought out.

I feel a bit misunderstood, since what I revealed now had been there all along.

In conclusion, I think I’ll work on those Ideas a bit and come up with an improved version you should give another, unbiased try (since I understand you are one of the judges ) It is not so much about winning, as being understood (although winning is fine with me ).
So, I will try to improve the obviousness of all aforementioned points, and largely re-work the story.
Since your comment made me reconsider certain parts, I have started to read a few more stories, (had only read 3 before) and discovered a religious topic the protagonist being a mutant himself, wasn’t really that much new (Yup, should`ve been here 3 years before).
I have settled to use the religious topics only that much to 1. give the bishop a plausible reason for the measures he is willing to take. 2. Explain how the Group’s name is meant, as well, as how much they had to twist their beliefs around to still be able to retain a sense in their existence, not to mention their dignity.
I thought to focus on the mutants motivation for this sort of "Faction", and put Makarov`s dilemma in the focus of things. In addition to that I will rework the geographical and hierarchical issues with the church. (If you read exactly I am not the only one with geographical mistakes though. Nearly all you've entered into the competition have some.)
As soon as I have found the time to work this over, it would be an honour to be considered in the competition.

P.S. I propose Siro to be judging the contest.

Thanks for reading all this.

Now, I hope y’all excuse me. All this typing made my dizzy.
  16:25:03  22 February 2006
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Siro
Local Law-Enforcement
(Moderator)

 

 
On forum: 03/02/2005
Messages: 7378
Wow man, great story. Very readable, none of the (small) mistakes in it detract from the experience. Well-paced and easy to imagine, although easier if you live in easter Europe.

I am too lazy to say anything more other than keep on writing. Very good effort, a fine piece of literature.
  09:45:13  18 February 2006
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Amoki
back with a vengeance
(V.I.P.)

 

 
On forum: 07/31/2003
Messages: 1729
Well, I can say for certain (I've been in the contest for about 3 years ) it's not the best story out there, but the attitude will get you to places.

There is supposed to be a permanent reviewer around (Ian_C and Grisly! Where are you? Come out or I'll give you a good hiding!) ), but I guess the two of them are catchingt up with life.

The story is not bad, even refreshing, but not well thought-out. The comparison to the Roman Catholic Church is even intriguing (in a bad way). Why the heck would the Archbishop of Russia wants the priest in Ukraine dead, and actually bothered to send in a strike team (wouldn't giving out a bounty would have been signigicantly easier? However, having said that, I like the way how you encompaass ideas of freedom into your story - a good point woth mentioning.. And how the hell would the bishop in Russia know about a priest in Chernobyll - which in the game is completely seperated from the outside world.

The pace of the story can feel tedious at times (in my opinion), but I guess you're trying to bring out the camaraderie of the team.

Not bad for a first try, not bad at all. There is more to be desired, but for now you have my respect: I didn't do so well on my first try .

Keep up the good work. And oh, on behalf of the STALKER team I welcome you to the contest (if you want it to be included in the contest that is.)
 
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