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Smashwords Writing Duel, страница 1


Smashwords Writing Duel

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  By: Jonathan Antony Strickland


  Part 1

  Reviewing the Reviewer

  From an early age he had been clever. Even in nursery school he had been above the other children when it came to learning. Excelling at math’s, learning to add, subtract, times and divide long before the other kids could even talk properly or write the simplest of sentences. Yes, for Trevor Ian Thompson growing up possessed no fears or concerns what-so-ever.

  As he entered into his teenage years he was considered one of the brightest students of his year and achieved good grades in most lessons as he grew. He earned the nickname “Clever Trevor” from one of the other school kids who had heard an Ian Dury track of him singing the song of the same name. He listened once or twice to this song but for him the lyric’s and sound from the great song writing poet where a complete mystery, though inwardly he was quite pleased with the nickname, completely missing the point that the kid who had thought it up for him had meant it originally as an insult.

  It was however in English that Trev would prove most adept. Coming top of his class, year in and year out, mastering the English language and getting a distinction for his final GCSE result. His other results had been virtually as good, A’s and B’s in History, Chemistry, Tech Drawing, etc. etc…Only in art and music classes did he do very badly.

  Alas, art was something he was never good at. Not that he couldn’t draw, it was just the whole concept seemed quite alien to him, but this did not trouble him in the slightest. Paint strokes splashed around a blank canvas creating a picture seemed a complete waste of time and effort.

  And as for music, well, he believed the less said about that the better. Those droning vibration’s supposedly being a form of inspiration and an art form in itself only made him shake his head and smile pretentiously as he watched people plucking strings or blowing into instruments.

  For him, art and music was for……losers!

  He’s only real artistic pleasure came in reading certain types of fiction. Horror, sci-fi, western’s, sword and sorcery…etc. etc. these he would gobble up with his eyes as he read to take a break from his other love, the love of studying!

  By the age of sixteen he knew what he wanted to do with his life. The English language with all it’s full stop’s, comma’s, noun’s, pronoun’s, plural’s, adverb’s and interjection’s was still his one true love so becoming an English teacher seemed obvious to him, his parents and everyone else who knew him well as he’d discussed with the school’s careers advisor what he was going to do when thrown out into the big bad world.

  Of course he excelled yet again and by the age of twenty two had a full time job in the same school he had grown and been educated in. And in truth he was happy, being very good at his job teaching teenagers English. He particularly delighted in marking essays and tests, priding himself on his strict scoring. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors he considered the most heinous of crimes in his class, and many a poor kid would be ridiculed by him as he pointed out to the rest of the class of youngsters the mistakes a child had made.

  As the years went by and progress progressed (as it tends to do), the internet grew and a new form of media came into being for the “would be” amateur writer to make there stories accessible to the world. Now was the case that anybody who fancied telling a tale could be heard, and writing sites dedicated to said amateur’s could be accessed easily for posting there stories on.

  As he delved into the site, reading the odd free story of interest to him (mainly short sci-fi and horror yarns) and checking out stories that had received reviews (some bad some good) he was appalled at times by bad grammar and spelling mistakes of some of the writers. What annoyed him even more with these various stories where such writers would receive high marks from a review, only occasionally would a comment by the reviewer mention that there where mistakes in the text, but because the story was gripping and original would still receive high acclaim.

  This angered him, and soon he was posting his own reviews, always acknowledging mistakes and marking down a story greatly, even if the said story was original and good. After a month of this and reviewing around thirty stories, only rarely giving out high marks if the story was told in the correct manner, he began to notice that some of the other reviewers where becoming annoyed at what he was doing. One such post by an author/reviewer called Jack Van Mason, about a short semi-erotic horror story entitled “Blood On My Y-Fronts” that he’d been particularly critical about read:

  “A truly gripping read and a new take on the vampire genre. It had me hooked from beginning to end. Very original and highly recommended to all lovers of the macabre.

  I would also just like to say that as a fellow author I think it unfair what Trevor Ian Thomson has said (marking it down to a lowly one star) just because of a few measly spelling mistakes in the text. I too noticed the odd mistake but this did not detract at all from the pace and thrill throughout its telling. After all, we are writers, not editors. Surely we should judge the idea and flow of the tale first, then mention perhaps if it needs a little tweaking in spell checking and grammar.

  I could understand if it had been unreadable or particularly badly written with the mistakes spoiling the story but this was certainly not the case. And let’s face it, if the only people who wrote where all of the Oxford English Dictionary type then the world of story-telling would be a rather dull and uninspiring place.”

  The reviewer had scored “Blood On My Y-Fronts” with five stars. In fact “Blood On My Y-Fronts” had received a total of five (not including his own) other reviews with four awarding it five stars and the other four. But all reviewers liked it, with only two of them commenting that it had one or two spelling and grammar mistakes and mirroring what Jack Van Mason had said when it came to the mistakes in the text.

  This got Trevor a little angry, “who the hell does this Jack Van Mason think he is anyway”, he said to himself out loud as he finished reading the review. He decided to click on the guys name and check out this so-called authors work.

  It turned out he had written quite a bit of stuff, twelve poems (all for free) and total of sixteen stories, some long some short. The shortest being a mere seven hundred and thirty seven words to the longest of sixty four and a half thousand three hundred and twenty two words. Twelve of these stories where free, the other four being priced at around three dollars apiece.

  Reading the description of the stories he discovered that the writer mainly wrote horror and sci-fi, where as the poems seemed more emotionally based. He decided to download one of the free sci-fi stories first. The particular story he chose was only around eight thousand words and sounded bizarre and stupid to him, something about a genetically enhanced bounty hunting hippo that was suffering with a bad case of depression. It had been reviewed by three people, all who had loved it and awarded it the full five stars.

  He gave a sneer as he spat out “Pah…there probably all morons sucking up to each other in the hope of getting good reviews for there own stuff”.

  Once the story had downloaded he immediately opened up the file and began reading, making notes on a piece of paper as he read.

  Once he’d finished reading he sat back in his chair and smiled. The story had had quite a few mistakes throughout. In fact in total he had counted six spelling mistakes, a sentence that had missed out a comma, and another sentence that was clumsily written. He had found the actual story quite good. Perhaps not up to the standard of a professional writer, but reasonably good all the same.

  But that did not matter. The mistakes where there for all to see. So there would be no five star review from him. This is some of what he wrote: “Oh my. What an absolutely diabolical piece of writing. Although the story possessed a certain charm, I do not think this justifies the blatant mistakes throughout it”….and so on and so forth.

  He then went on to meticulously point out
each mistake, and as he did he grinned throughout, occasionally even giving the odd chortle and smug smile for he knew he was exposing the idiot for what he was. He gave the story two stars.

  During the next week he reviewed several more stories from a host of different authors, most of which he found mistakes in, rewarding them a star or two as he saw fit as he pointed out there mistakes with a shark like critical attack. Not all the stories though possessed errors, some of which where very well written and with these he upped the scores, even if he found the story itself to be a bit flat and dull.

  He even reviewed three more by Jack Van Mason, and read three of his poems. Poetry however was not something he had ever been particularly keen on. Throughout his years he had met the odd individual who would claim to have a love of verse. To him they always seemed air-heads, dreamers who refused to see the world for what it was.

  He took great pleasure in criticising Van Mason, the fool who had tried to discredit him. There would always be a few mistakes in his works, always something to get his teeth into as he tore away at the mans work. When it came to him he would make a point of exposing his errors and expressing what he felt about the incompetence of the man.

  What happened in the next few weeks took him completely by surprise. Other people began to point out when reviewing a story he’d reviewed there own conclusion to his abrupt criticism. Many agreeing that he was just the stereotypical cowardly critic who took more pleasure poking fun than giving praise or even constructive criticism. And of course these claims struck a nerve, for although this was indeed the case he felt the service he was providing from his experienced eye should be acknowledged and appraised by all. Indeed he felt if anything that he was improving the writers who he attacked, disagreeing completely with what had been written of his reviews.

  But there was one story he’d reviewed by some guy called Derrick Feldman (a horror writer who wrote short gruesome tales and had gotten much acclaim from other reviewers on the site) that had later been reviewed by Jack Van Mason, who had again commented about Trevor’s two star score of the story.

  “Again it appears that Trevor Ian Thompson has missed the point. The writing was not that bad, in fact the story itself was told perfectly and the few measly spelling mistakes that Trevor Ian Thompson has pointed out where so few and far between that it is quite laughable that this guy who has never published his own story on here should harp on and on about how poor that most of us are. And more annoyingly hardly ever mentioning the story itself”.

  This really irked Trev, he knew that the gauntlet had been thrown down. But if this imbecile thought for one second that he would limp away from the challenge he’d set, then he was in for one God-almighty shock. Trev would write his own story, and he would show Jack Van Mason up for what he was.

  “Have a read of that then you cretin”, Trevor said as he posted the story he’d just finished writing. It had taken him three days to write the short horror story about a serial killer who drove at night picking up hitchhikers, murdering them, and then burying there bodies out in the country. What he was most pleased about though was the writing, there was not one mistake, nothing within the whole fourteen thousand words was wrong. Nothing for Jack Van Mason or anyone else to moan and snipe at.

  All he had to do now was wait. Wait for the reviews, see what the other writes and readers made of it.

  After three days he received his first review. It was from some guy called Randy Stodgeflaps (and yes, he knew it must be a made up name) and it was not what he’d expected.

  “Not a badd first atempt, but in truth their was not much two it”, started the reviewer. “The storie did what it siad in the breif descraption on the page used to promote it. And noting more. Perhaps next time a bitt more plot and a litle bit less winded would be better”.

  The reviewer had awarded his story three stars. And yes Trevor noted the many mistakes in the review itself. E’s before I’s, misspelling of words, the guy was obviously an idiot and Trevor was not amused.

  After a fortnight several more reviews came in. Some people liked it but all seemed to say the same thing, going on about the writing being good, but flat, and the story being overly long and a bit boring. Also several of the reviewers where from people he had reviewed in the past (usually he’d been less than complimentary about there work) and he guessed that it was probably a case of sour grapes and a little bit of revenge on there part, for not one of them could criticise the grammar and spelling.

  By around week three, he had received in total seven reviews, gaining four stars from one, three stars from four others and lastly two stars from two.

  Then on the nineteenth day he got the review he’d been waiting for. A review by Jack Van Mason. To say he was disappointed by what he read was an understatement.

  Van Mason basically repeated what the others had said, only adding that at least the writer had tried his best and though very critical in his own reviews did at least have the balls to post a story of his own. Even if it was dragged out with very little plot.

  He had then gone on to give it three stars.

  Trev gritted his teeth. “What the hell do these illiterate deadbeats want?” For him they had completely missed the point of his little exercise. But he was determined to try again, this time he’d think up a plot of such perplexity that there tiny underdeveloped brains would probably explode upon reading it.

  He spent the next two days working on a story about a man working in a factory where an accident happens involving a fork lift truck. A crowd of people gather around a dying man impaled on the truck’s forks. On seeing the crowd gather the man shouts over to someone he knows if he can help.

  He finds himself ignored by his friend and so shouts out to the group, but again he is ignored.

  As the dying man is removed from the forks and laid down onto the floor, he decides to go over and investigate the tragedy for himself. He finds himself looking down now at the back of the dead man’s body who has been removed from the trucks forks, his blood forming an eerie lake of death around him.

  The twist of the story comes when the dead man is turned over and he realises that he looks upon his own lifeless face.

  Again the results came in, and again he wasn’t too pleased.

  And then to top it all Jack Van Mason posted a review. There was nothing particularly different about his review from the rest (though he did mention how he could not falt the actual spelling and grammar) and finished by saying how disappointed he was with the whole thing, awarding it a mere two stars for it’s unoriginality.

  This was actually above the average score from the six reviews it received in total, only one other reviewer had awarded it two stars. The other four had not been so generous.

  Two days later however it did receive a five star review, this brought a huge smile to Trev’s face until he started reading the review. The reviewer was one of his pupils from school, one who could not write for toffee, and throughout the review he shook his head in disgust as he read mistake after mistake (even though the brown-nosing little brat heaped praise upon his beloved masterpiece).

  Fazed only slightly, he continued writing. He produced two more stories over the next month. One, a quirky comedy story about a day in the life of a kitten. The other a sci-fi story of an alien race reviewing humanity and finding them cruel, then coming to the conclusion that they must be wiped out and the earth destroyed to stop them spreading themselves throughout the universe if they ever managed to evolve.

  Yet again when the reviews came in, it was the same old story as the readers expressed there disappointment in his ideas. Saying he was still regurgitating other people’s work and being far to flowery in his writing. He got his customary critical and badly spelt review by Stodgeflaps that made him wince and go red in the face. And of course Van Mason had his little dig.

  “The writer shows some promise. Indeed when I first began reading Trevor’s work (and after what he had said about my own stories) I was quite glad that h
e was no Will Shakespeare and got the criticism that at the time I thought he deserved. However, now I have read some of his stuff I do think that he does put at least a little “oomph” into it... O.K. So the ideas are not the most original, and he does tend to yabber on a bit about nothing, as though he was padding the story out purposely to make it longer. But who knows, perhaps in future he may produce something of some worth.

  Also when reading through his profile he mentions he is a school teacher, teaching English for the past thirteen years. Because of this I will finish my review in a way he should appreciate by saying: Trevor Ian Thompson tries hard at his writing. He obviously can spell (and very well at that) but he needs to pull up his socks when it comes to creativity. Two stars….PS_Must try harder”.

  Throughout this month Jack Van Mason had also submitted another story. It was free and upon reading this last statement from Van Mason about him, he downloaded the story, read it, and although he actually found it rather good and better written than some of Van Mason’s previous work, gave it a scathing review, awarding it the one star.

  Trevor was furious. He was certain Jack Van Mason was an idiot but how could he know for sure. Then it struck him. The profile of Van Mason…of course it described the town he lived, what he did, and along with a poem he had written about his home it would be easy to put the pieces of the jigsaw together. And a plan began forming within Trevor’s head.

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