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The Golem

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Old 07-16-2014, 07:54 AM
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So this was an assignment in one of my college classes a few months back. We had to try to mimic a style of writing from one of the stories we read that semester. I chose Jorge Luis Borges' story "The Circular Ruins" and I tried to imitate his more "scholarly" style. Hope you guys enjoy!

There he stood with his brow hardened into a cold scowl. His sword was raised up as a salute to the morning light as it peeked over the top of the university library. The great bronze shield he held was a radiant sun made solid. Dew lay slick and shiny on his gray skin. There he stood, with an expression of hardened victory, as if he himself had slain the night.
The students would wake soon, he knew. With sleepy eyes, they would come from other worlds. He knew of only one world: the university library in front of him with its great circular courtyard, the concrete bench below him, and the students that existed only within his line of sight. He watched them as they exploded into being in front of his eyes and then, just as quickly, slipped back into oblivion. Sometimes they would come and sit before him on his concrete bench. They would study their lessons while he stood guard over them in stony silence. No harm would befall those who took refuge on his bench so long as he stood there.
Years passed. He saw thousands of sunrises. He weathered hundreds of storms. He solemnly guarded those students that sought out rest at his feet. He gleaned knowledge of the worlds he did not know. Worlds called Prague and Athens and Jerusalem. He learned of students called Nietzsche and Kennedy and Schiller. He learned of all of these wonderful things, so close yet just evading his fingertips. Still, he remained standing and silent.
And then came one April evening. The storm swept in with such speed and rage that the students had scarcely any warning. He was pelted with torrents of rain as he stood and watched his students run for shelter. The wind screeched and debris flew. A branch from a nearby tree clattered into the courtyard before him. Thunder roared and lightning caressed the storm heads with its spindly tendrils. A young man exploded into his vision. He knew this student as one that spent many hours on his bench. The young man was sprinting toward the shelter of the library, when his flip-flop snapped and sent him sprawling onto the pavement, his head striking it with a sickly thud. He did not rise.
Atop his great pedestal, the gray man tried to fight back the rising panic. Someone would come for his student. Someone would help. Someone had to.
That’s when the hail started.
Small at first, but gaining size.
His student lay there in the midst of it all.
No one was coming.
Lightning illuminated the sky.
No one would help.
The pedestal cracked as he wrenched his feet free from its stony grasp. He stepped stiffly and cautiously onto his bench, hail pelting at his bronze shield. He walked as quickly as his clumsy legs would allow him over to the young man. He crouched low over him and lifted his shield to protect them as the storm continued to unbind its fury.
Nearly as quickly and as suddenly as it had begun, the storm receded. His arm had grown weary under the weight of his shield and he stood up, stiffly and awkwardly. The young man was starting to come around. A stream of people came rushing from the library toward the pair. He backed away slowly as they encircled the injured youth.
It was then that they noticed the man with the bronze shield. They stared at him with awe and with fear. He looked down and noticed that his fingers were no longer hard and gray but soft and pink. He removed his great helm and, where he expected carved stone, felt soft, wet curls. The soft pink flesh was spreading up his arms. He lay down his sword and shield and lifted his hands in peace. The crowd was still and silent.
He looked around at the new world before him. He saw, for the first time, the trees that lined the edge of the courtyard and the buildings surrounding the library. He saw flowers and statues and things he did know existed. He turned to see his once great pedestal cracked and broken beyond repair. The sight filled him with sorrow. He turned his eyes upward and saw the great bloody disc hanging in the battle-torn sky. And it was there, in that moment, that he witnessed his first sunset.

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Old 07-17-2014, 06:14 AM
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very unexpected, I found very little wrong with the story and your descriptions were very nice. But I think you went a little overboard with - the great bloody disc hanging in the battle-torn sky. The last sentence was inspired.
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Old 07-17-2014, 09:42 AM
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I like it. Not overly purple, descriptions can very easily be overdone with this style of writing, though agree with max crash, "battle-torn" is just slightly too much.
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Old 07-17-2014, 03:58 PM
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To start, I don't like reading anything that isn't separated into paragraphs. I find it difficult to read. Think of some spacing as a place to breathe. I'm sure you probably used double spacing in your original paper.

Second, I didn't understand who was narrating. At first I thought it was an alien with slick gray skin standing over some kind of battle field, then I thought it was a gargoyle of a building... then I realized it was some kind of bronze statue closer to the end.

I found him unconvincing and purposeless. Why would an immortal care about college students much less revere them? I'm not saying it isn't possible, but the why wasn't answered for me here.

If he didn't know he was a statue then why would he be shocked about the ruined pedestal? Or if he did know, then why couldn't he see the sunset before?

Hope this wasn't too harsh. You have good command of English grammar and vocabulary and I think you should keep writing. Best of luck!
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Old 07-19-2014, 10:42 AM
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Icon3 The Golem

Great story. I enjoyed most the imagery and setting. You prove your lot as a writer, just by making both elements complete more than one task. Good writers know to worry about being one dimensional with the elements that make a good story.

Immediately you ground the audience into a setting at an university library. You very actively show us the sword and the students moving outside the library. It is natural, in a college setting for students to be moving quickly around a library on any given day. We expect that they know they are far from danger.

You also show us the emblem. The lightning that flashes after it reminds us that we in the presence of a sacred being. The emblem could be used to signify several things. It works. We can count it being an image to return to after the storm.

In a couple places, you do a wonderful job by showing a change in the action. First, the storm occurs. Before there were no worries or signs of trouble. Later, the narrator changes his focus to the trees and statues. Sights he had never seen before.

To improve, give us a quote from Nietzsche. You mention his name along with others, but a quote would be much better to build a stronger allusion.
As the saying goes,
first the Dread,
so remember to Dream the Descent.
No despair- it is the Decision.
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