"Tell you what," he said at last. "I'll tell you a story about Malachor. You decide whether it explains it or not.
"It happened a very, very long time ago. The exact century has been lost to the ages, but it was around the time when we were pushing beyond the sector of our homeworld, scattering groups of ourselves to the far corners of the galaxy in search of great new planets to conquer and civilizations to battle.
"It was a truly great time, you see, because the leader of our people was personally directing one of these grand expeditions. He was called Mandalore the Visionary, and he's one the most shadowy and mysterious figures in our entire history. Some people don't even believe he ever existed. He-"
"Did he ever exist?" I asked anxiously. As much as I liked stories back then, I really wanted a straight-up answer from Dad this time.
"Shuddup for a minute, will ya? As far as the story's concerned, he existed!
"Well in any case, he was called Mandalore the Visionary because that's what he was. Now, as with any important figure from a time so long ago, there's as many different versions of him as there are ways to skin a cannok." I didn't and still don't have any idea what a cannok is. "But just about all of them – well, all the good ones, anyway – paint him as a man with one hell of an imagination... and great with words, too. He could give speeches as well as tell stories. Many of the legends even say he could see into the future.
"That helped a lot with telling stories, which was apparently one of his favorite things to do.
Support (3 Archivists/4 users/7 total)
This story was a very engrossing read. I particularly enjoyed how MPK stuck to the overall theme and how he presented it as a "tale within a tale." The allegory is very well-presented and illustrates one of the core facets of the Star Wars ethos, namely how good intentions can result in great harm. I'm sure another Archivist will have objections, but right now it is definitely worth my vote. GoodwoodDebating Society12,018 Edits 02:49, June 5, 2011 (UTC)
Per Goodwood. This was yet another very good read by a very good author. Two thumbs up to MPK for this wonderful story. --D.W.(talk) 04:04, June 5, 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I do have a list down there of little "issues" I had with it, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the story or ddin't think it was good. I just can get carried away when reviewing. <blush> -Solus Talk to the Hand 06:19, July 2, 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I see what you were going for with the whole father-telling-son thing, the boy was the audience surrogate and the author was the father telling the story - that's why neither of them got any character development, they're a tabula rasa on purpose. That's fine, so I won't complain about that. ;) I will say, however, that we had just set up this framing device for the story and maybe two sentences after that we're headlong into the other story. It moves really quickly one into the other, and the dialogue doesn't really....well, work for this part. I shall try to explain:
"Why is that planet forbidden?"
"Tell you what, I'll tell you a story about Malachor. You decide whether it explains it or not."
Two problems here I see:
We don't know that the planet the kid, and therefore, the audience (supposedly) is Malachor. It sounds as if the Dad doesn't wanna answer the question and is gonna just tell him about Malachor to shut him up.
"Um, Dad, I just asked why it was forbidden...I wasn't expecting you to keep going on...and on...that isn't what I asked...wait...don't hit me in your drunken stupor. Uh, I gotta pee."
<---- My coding for that was "#::#." It's funny-looking. :\
Still going on about the Father-Son framing device, I also see some of the other reasons you did it: to project asides and to create a history that may or may not be true and may or may not be slightly exaggerated. Such are folk tales. The latter works fine, the former... Well, it does for a while, where you get some asides and some mentions of the boy or what the dad is doing, but then it just disregards that altogether and turns into a regular story caged by quotes. If you're going to use it to make asides and point out any inconsistencies or have it be a commentary or whatever, at least have it somewhat consistent or not do it at all. It isn't too much of a problem while you're reading it, though, as you get to just thinking of it as just a non-embedded story with a quirky narrator when suddenly it'll break the flow and mention his boy or his booze.
And now a special section I like to call "Thought Patterns"
Hmmm... Line, next section.... wut? GEAR SHIFT! omigoodness, we're not dialoguing anymore? HARD GEAR SHIFT! What? WAAAAT?
Okay, here's my thing. I'm not against stories switching gears like that, quickly and changing the mood - but generally it isn't this harsh. As well, it gives a false start. The beginning is kinda whimsical ("And he ran out of ammo and kill the rest of them with his OWN TEETH!!!! While BLINDFOLDED!"), then suddenly... "Oh? We're in a drama now...? But I thought it was lighthearted..." It kinda gives a false sense of what the story is going to be like.
I'm not totally merciless, though. :p
I do understand what you are going for with the two dueling narrators - sort of like if I were watching a movie where you saw things happening with someone narrating who was on the opposing side. That's fine, that's cool, that adds depth. I'm all for understanding all sides of a conflict. What I'm trying to say is that its overall tone is not matched by the tone at the beginning - i.e., the tone of the hook is not the tone of the story. Maybe...maybe you could shorten the beginning, the setup, to only what is necessary before moving right on in to the point. Besides, again, in answering the question the boy posed, he didn't ask how Malachor V was won, he was asking why it was forbidden - which is the main part of the story, not the part where Mandalore kicked a guy so hard it created a mountain range (a VOLCANIC mountain range). Therefore, making the beginning more concise and to the point would be nice, have better flow, have a more consistent tone, and make me happy. :p
Okay, fine. FINE. I'll give you uber-bingo-coolness points for making what amounts to a war story with some "supernatural" ally. I wish his mysteriousness was played up more, like who he was, if he was a demon or whatever, but as it is it's pretty cool looking from the unknown at the known, and seeing it. And fearing it. It's kind of a reverse of what I usually see, and I like it.
Mandalore by the climax I think was meant to be seen as totally obsessed with killing Deyrus, but if it was, it was kinda more something I read into it than something actually there. I mean, rather than just be obsessed with stopping the insurrection just obsessed with killed Deyrus. Not in desperation, but in anger. If that's what you meant, maybe making it more of a part of Mandalore's personality, as there is so little of it acurately presented here (He gets so hot when he's angry that he MELTS METAL).
What's with Deyrus's "story arc"? We don't get a glimpse of his past and his motivation and his personal problems until late, and only then they're barely touched on only to come up again at the climax and be resolved. It's almost like his arc was presented and resolved in the same paragraph it's so underdeveloped - almost like it was put in at the last minute. I understand, you want him to have a conflict about what to do about Mandalore and you don't want him to be perfect, so he has to have problems. Okay, so we're presented with the fact that fire can't calm him anymore because he was too frightened of what he'd done and/or almost done and that he's disturbed by it. Fine, that makes sense. Next time we see him? Has his epiphany two minutes in and no longer has to worry about it! Phew, I'm glad we settled that! ... it feels rather lame and anticlimactic. As well, it begins to explain who he is far, far too late for it to matter to us. Really, I would have preferred it if he had no backstory, if he simply Was. If you're really going to play up this inner conflict, have it come into play more in the climax. Speaking of the climax...
...IT IS LAME. I mean, whaaat? That's my climax? Okay, lemme explain. Definition of climax (in my own words): "The mental, emotional, and/or physical high point of a story." This "climax" Has none of these. The first battle between Deyrus and Mandalore? That's has much more mental, emotional, and physical weight to it. Mental: Deyrus has inner demons. Emotional: Same, also affects Mandalore and Narrator Dad. Physical: It's an actual fight that Deyrus might actually lose (not die. It's too early for him or Mandalore to die). The "climax"? Mental: Deyrus has an epiphany early on, so that's resolved. No tension. Emotional: Same. Kinda some passionate aggression from Mandalore, but it's not really shown, some sadness from the Narrator Dad, but he doesn't put in any imput. Later kinda bummed out by the fact that he turned all Darkie, but it doesn't affect anything and actually doesn't affect the end very much at all. Physical: None. After his epiphany, Deyrus is pretty much The One. He won't die, therefore, there is no tension (that's why Neo became The One in the Denouement of The Matrix- it wrapped things up, resolved things, not provided the climax. The whole battle is a foregone conclusion from the beginning of it. If you don't care what's happening, there is no investment. No investment = not a good climax. Here, I have some things that might have made a better climax. Not that these are ideas for you to use, though you may if you want, that's totally kewl with me, but I'm just trying to illustrate what I'm talking about.
As this isn't supposed to be an intellectual treatise, the mental problems given are that Deyrus has inner demons. The problem here is that this is resolved far too soon. He suddenly has an epiphany, yay! -_-
Have his inner demons play and toy with him. They obviously can - and have - gotten control over him. Maybe have this happen here. Not in a corny "Oh no! I almost killed him in my anger! I'm so not ripping off the climax of VI!" something a little deeper and less cliche (VI could get away with it because it wasn't so much of a cliche then. Don't be hatin'). Maybe....hm...obviously Mandalore might have a consort, maybe Deyrus kills them, or kills all but one who is barely alive and claims that this is proof that he is a demon or something. Eh. I dunno, at least have something that would affect Deyrus. Maybe he sees he's losing against Mandalore because of maybe some technique Mandalore uses (especially if you're going with the "near-insane obsession over killing Deyrus" angle) and he unconsciously begins using the dark side to overcome it. Maybe he gets badly hurt or maimed or something. Eh, maybe, I dunno. You're really clever, I'm sure you could think of something better if you wanted to. :)
Don't make Deyrus invincible until either the very end of the climax or during the Denouement. Invincible heroes are boring because we know they're going to win. Additionally, there was a lot of buildup from Mandalore's side about this climax, and then we don't see his payoff for his buildup. He just dies - offscreen, by the way. As well, it builds up that he's been training like a madman to beat this guy, and it doesn't even come into play because Deyrus is invincible. We don't even much see his rage at all. What, you wanted a tense, emotionally charged climax? Pfft! He's got god-mode on - and when god-mode is on, even the final boss carries no weight. The villain is nothing. Remember, the villain is the plot - if not for the villain, there would be no story, so if your villain is nothing, your story is nothing. Mandalore is supposed to be awesome - but he doesn't get to show off this to either Deyrus - and incidentally the audience - because Deyrus went super sayan. Whoop-de-doo.
Okay, there are several ways to get an audience to care. One main one is having something the audience wants happen in a very satisfying way - in general, by having something really cool happen. Another is seeing someone we care about fall or triumph. Deyrus doesn't triumph over anything, he just suddenly has an epiphany and it's all over. Yeah, you know what drug addicts really need? An epiphany. Those solve everything without actually having to work for it. Feeling suicidal? Have a heroic epiphany, suddenly your dog or something will come back to life or visit you in spirit and everything will be cool again! ugh. If you're going to have an epiphany, build up to it or don't have it at all. Have it happen for a reason other than "Oh darn, this is the climax and this plotline needs to be resolved! Um...THERE! He's over it! Like that! ...Phew. Dodged another bullet." Getting over something just doesn't happen because you know it needs to. You have to want it, to work for it, and then it is satisfying. What would you rather have, a beautiful painting given to you as a gift, or making that beautiful painting yourself, stroke after stroke, day after day? Which one would feel better upon hanging it up on a wall, stepping back, and looking at it? No question. Personal accomplishment is more fulfilling to a character - and, incidentally, the audience - than being given their happy ending on a platter.
Now that the main explanation of what I mean is over, here are some ideas, if I can think straight. :p
Deyrus dies. We care about him, I know I do, so have him die - but if you do, have him die meaningfully. Granted, it is kinda predictable.
Deyrus is maimed. This one is a bit more risky and more difficult to properly handle, but have him lose an arm, a leg, an eye, something. As well, since this is thousands of years ABY, maybe getting a prosthetic isn't as easy or as pleasant. Either way, give us a sense of loss. We got a happy ending, but it came at a price.
Deyrus turns to the dark side. I know you already did this, but it wasn't pulled off very well. In fact, upon reading the climax I was sure that Deyrus had turned to the light side of the Force completely. Then suddenly he's on the dark side? WAAT? Because of the metaphors used, I couldn't tell if his epiphany was good or bad, and it didn't seem gradual at all. Turning to the dark side is not very easy to pull off well, but it could be done, and we'd feel bad about it, and, especially if it was believable and, most importantly, SYMPATHETIC (keywordkeyword), we'd get our ending, we'd get our conquest that we've wanted - but now that we've got it, do we really want it? It also would give another viewpoint on how fighting and everything isn't as glorious as it's made out to be. Heroes are just villains from another POV. To get what I'm saying, Imagine if the protagonist was Mandalore. I'm not saying it should be, this is just an intellectual exercise. Mandalore is our protagonist, the "good guy" to us. We care about him. Everything's going well, he has dreams, he has goals that we care about. Then suddenly this insurrectionist comes along and starts messing him up. It drives him mad to the point of obsession and dies at the end trying to conquer the destroyer of his dreams. That sounds like a Greek Tragedy. Of course, Mandalore's the bad guy, but what I'm saying is that...............um, I forget my point. OH LOOK! A BUNNY TRAIL! <3
Oh, I think my point that I totally missed was mostly that his turn to the dark side was unsympathetic. We have to feel for him. We have to understand why he turns, not "Oh! He's evil now! SIKE!" Essentially, to us, he turns from good guy to bad guy in one (confusing) epiphany. People don't do that. Maybe if they're insane, but real people don't suddenly flip sides like that. There has to be a lot more buildup than that. This is supposed to affect the audience but still be understood by them, after all.
Is that it? Phew! I'm tired. -_-; Anyway, to sum up: I liked the story and the characters and the plot and the tone and the POV, but hated the third act.
All right, you may begin arguing about how wrong I am and how I didn't understand you. ;)
I am literally sitting at my computer groaning in agony, because I'm never going to be able to get around to fixing all this. -MPK, Free Man 13:35, June 7, 2011 (UTC)
And if I may elaborate (btw why isn't this stuff under objections?), starting with responses to numbers and stuff:
(3) I always kinda figured that the story of how Malachor was won was (in the Dad's mind especially) an important part of why it was forbidden, I dunno..?
(5) Beats me. Characterization wasn't the top priority in this story, which I'll explain below.
(6-7) GAAAA WALLS OF TEXT. Really, I understand where you're coming from about Deyrus' character development going a mile a minute. When I was writing, I didn't want to spend too much time on him, explaining a shitton of his backstory, or anything like that. I wanted to give at least a little insight into everyone (to both sides, I suppose, in two flavors - the leaders (Deyrus, Mandalore) and the grunts (Truman and Tome, who vanishes after his one scene)), giving enough characterization to get by and get the gist of them. I never really thought that much about who the hero is and who the villain is. I mean, I know Deyrus fits the hero slot and Mandalore the villain one, but I never really thought about this as being Deyrus' story or Mandalore's story as much as the story about Malachor. It's for the same reason that I didn't think much about this investment thing you mentioned, or about the final battle needing to be a ginormous challenge for Deyrus. I suppose regarding the latter, I figured that the external conflict between him and Mandalore was small potatoes compared to his internal one and that nobody would mind.
I think that I actually did consider adding in more scenes to tell us about Deyrus' past life and problems, and his philosophies and stuff, but I didn't like the idea of focusing so bloody much on him - not least because every single short story I write here turns into a novella by the time I'm done with them. I didn't want to drag the story out even more than I already had, especially considering the framing device. I figured that the information I gave on him would be just enough to get a feel of what he's going through. Maybe not? I dunno.
I did have fun with the Dad's stories painting Mandalore as a memetic badass, though I never thought that that was supposed to translate into him being a real challenge for Deyrus in a fight, because, well, Deyrus is a bloody Jedi Knight and he's using the dark side. Maybe a bad idea? I suppose.
I kinda figured that Deyrus' turn was sympathetic, and while I admit in retrospect that the metaphorical explanation might have been far from airtight, I'm pretty sure that its vagueness was at least partly deliberate. After all, Deyrus neither knows nor believes that he's turned evil, and technically one of the only reasons the reader knows for absolute certain that he has is that the reader knows what the dark side is. Isn't when a character screws something up because of knowledge that he doesn't have but the audience does have called dramatic irony? I thought it supplied at least some rudimentary level of sympathy here.
Again, I always thought that Deyrus' character got enough focus, and didn't want to drag the story out longer and longer and longer by dumping buildup to a rather simplistic and predictable, archetypical resolution on the reader. Also, it didn't make sense to me to build up his mysteriousness from the perspective of the Mandalorians to a huge degree since the fact that he's a Jedi is pretty damn obvious from early on (and hell, you could pretty easily guess from the title).
In closing, I'm not even sure anymore I want this nomination to go ahead. Pretty much all of Solus' points are legitimate; when I look back on the writing process I see that I really wasn't thinking nearly as much about characterization pacing or consistency in narrative focus as I was in just getting this story out the way I first saw it, in the style that I first conceived of it (which now that I think about it was very different from the writing process for The Beast of Rutan, which I'd like your opinion on sometime). Now I'm not going to be able to read this story without noticing the holes in it - and more importantly, they're not gonna be filled in anytime soon. The only way I would be able to fix this thing would be to rewrite the whole damn story (probably as a three, four, or even five-parter, from the sound of it), and I don't do rewrites. Maybe in a year (or two or three) I'll feel different, but where a tree falls, whether to the north or south, there it shall lie (or is it lay?). -MPK, Free Man 15:01, June 7, 2011 (UTC)
This is a classic example of "Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it" with regards to the comments below. It's up to you how to proceed, but I think that the story could be really good if some work was put into it. Cheers. Atarumaster88(Talk page) 17:16, June 7, 2011 (UTC)
I'm not angry or anything that Solus found problems in my story, and I don't want her to feel guilty for killing it :P - I do welcome it, since it means I know more about what to not do in the future. And no doubt it would be much better with some sizable work, but like I said, that work ain't gonna happen anytime soon. -MPK, Free Man 17:23, June 7, 2011 (UTC)
Oh, no! I didn't want this story not to pass! I didn't want to hurt it or you! That wasn't my intent. I just figured it was my job to point out the negatives, however small and nitpicky they may be to me. I expect to be wrong on a lot of these points I bring up - both here and everywhere else I put up objections. They almost always get whittled down to maybe just one or two or sometimes none just by me talking back and forth with the author and others. I'm dyslexic and I'm not really good at reading metaphors into things or grasping the creator's true intent - that often solves most problems there, just explaining to me what you meant so everything shifts into the correct perspective. I didn't want to strangle the story - I like it, I really do. It has its problems, all stories do, some are just a bit more glaring. I want this story to pass, but for me I just want a few things cleared up and, if applicable, fixed. I liked this story! I really did! I focused on the negatives, not enough on the positives, of which there are many! Don't be sad or ashamed, please. I never want that. It's such a different story, a different take, a different perspective. I don't mean lots of work for you. I know that if I, personally, got critiqued by someone like me on one of my stories, I'm the kind of person who'd be devestated. I don't want that for you. :(
I'll go ahead and respond in the order recieved. Please don't feel bad about the above, MPK. :(
(3) Okay, that works, more personal and stuff. Maybe explaining that in a quick sentence to the Boy would fix the logic problem.
(6-7) So sorry about all the text! I just kept typing as words came to me......that's why it's probably a rambling mess. Your rebuff is subdivided into different subjects, so I'll go ahead and subdivide this, as well.
Oh, okay. The story was about Malachor V...so the goal was to make it like a dramatized history book - impartial? Is that what you mean when you say that? I'm just trying to understand, sometimes I get weird ideas as to what different things mean. :p
Okay, the goal was not to spend a lot of time on Deyrus or any character - this wasn't a character study or a character story, it was an event, an event viewed by two people on opposing sides. Am I right or did I misunderstand? Okay, so Deyrus is not meant to be much focused on, but to be seen only by his actions and from that to judge. Hm, maybe, if you want to go for a more impartial, actions-based viewpoint we could just not have any backstory for Deyrus and we just know by what he does and what he says who he is. I don't know if that's what you're going for, though, or if that would even work at all well.
Eh, it's just that there was a lot of buildup about Mandalore's fighting ability and it just seems...I dunno, maybe you're right, he was fighting a Jedi, so I guess you could theoretically say that there was no question to who would win, but it still seems kinda empty and anticlimactic. Maybe have Deyrus constantly be trying to keep himself in check the whole time? Ehhh.
Hm....about sympathetic turns, here's an idea. It might not work and negates some of my other suggestions, but it's an idea. Maybe not a good one, but w/e. Never mention that Deyrus is a Jedi, we just assume he is the whole time and have him turn out to be a Sith or a Bogan or someone who at least is partial to the dark side the whole time. Not act a whole lot different, maybe, but just reveal that he is one, kind of to give us a reason as to question his motives and wonder what they were and give us a deeper look at how he sees the world, the Force, and morality. Ehhhh. Just a random thought. I have a lot of those. :\
In closing, I'm sorry to cause you any hurt. I'm so sorry. I just want to make your story the best it can be. You have a lot of talent, you really do. Don't feel bad. :( -Solus Talk to the Hand 21:48, June 7, 2011 (UTC)
Were this my story, you'd be laughing maniacally in glee at the mere thought that you might have hurt my feelings. Double standards ITT! - Brandon Rhea(talk) 03:54, June 8, 2011 (UTC)
Ah, Brandon, Brandon, Brandon - my naive little Baccie. You have forgotten one very important detail, my sweet: you're a total scumbucket. <3 -Solus Talk to the Hand 06:05, June 8, 2011 (UTC)
I will therefore endeavor to track Solus down on IRC sometime and figure this out. -MPK, Free Man 16:04, June 9, 2011 (UTC)
I've given some thought to this whole thing, and since I haven't been able to reach Solus on IRC to discuss any of this, I'll just say that her critique has led me to suspect that this story was not as well-constructed as I thought; and despite this, I've decided to not withdraw this nomination (as I somewhat melodramatically suggested I would earlier). -MPK, Free Man 01:51, June 26, 2011 (UTC)
If you want to meet me, I can set up a time to meet you, if you want. I want to be as supportive as possible here. I really want to help. -Solus Talk to the Hand 17:06, June 26, 2011 (UTC)
Archivist Review from Atarumaster88
Legends of the Jedi: Burning Bright, like the other stories written by renowned author and critic MPK, centers on a very few characters. Also following his pattern, the protagonist is a Force-user, clashing against a central antagonist. However, this simplistic character arc is layered inside a story rich in description and characterization. I enjoyed the narrative structure of a "story within a story," an arrangement uncommon in fan-fiction. Burning Bright contains all the hallmarks of an excellent story. While the dialogue is a little sloppy at times, it is otherwise well-written. 4.5/5 technical, 5/5 narrative. Atarumaster88(Talk page) 05:15, November 27, 2011 (UTC)