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Short Story: Gladiators

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  #1  
Old 05-13-2006, 01:23 PM
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Short Story: Gladiators


This is something I was thinking about for days, but it wouldn't take shape in my mind, until today. I hope you enjoy it


Gladiators

The thunderous cheering of the crowd suffocated the scream of the dying man as he fell heavily to the sand. Staring at the sky, he blinked in shock, pressed his hands on the injured ribs as if trying to contain the stream of blood that came out of them. The blood felt hot on his hands and fingers, and although it was not a new sensation to him, he felt as if it was the first time he had sensed it. The pain became more intensive and he realized what had happened. His lips twisted in a smile and blood poured from his mouth and ran down his neck. I’m free, he murmured, so low that he couldn’t even hear it.

The wind blew fiercely and the scattered sand crashed on his face. He closed his eyes and opened them again only to see a human shadow standing above him. He couldn’t see the face, for the sun shone upon open his back and absorbed his features concealed by an helmet, but he clearly remembered the face from the day before when he had seen him training in the ludi. From that moment, he knew he would die within minutes the next day, when he would have to fight him. And so it had been.

He discerned as the shadow raised a finger to the crowd and turned around so that everybody could see it. The shouts of the crowd were so mixed that he barely heard what they yelled. He saw the standing man look down at him and instantly new what had been the answer: death!

He closed his eyes again.

The fighter tossed his gladius aside and removed a knife from his belt. Kneeling, his two hands crossed around the hilt of the blade and plunged it in the chest of the fallen man. There was no scream this time. Again, the crowds cheered loudly and shouted the name of the winner, which resounded in the walls of the Coliseum like a storm.

Decimus! Decimus! Decimus! Decimus! Decimus! Decimus! Decimus! Decimus!
The gladiator wiped the knife clean on the ripped skirt of the fallen man. He knew his name, but he had never met him. For him, he had been another man, another soul, another kill, and yet, his soul had filled with sorrow as his blade had tore the man’s heart. For how long would I be doing this? He asked himself but the answer he did not find.

“Shall your soul find the way to the underworld and walk with the heroes in the halls of Pluto’s palace,” he murmured. Reaching for the gladius, he stood up. The sun shone upon his tall figure and his ears filled once again with the sound of the bloodthirsty crowd. He raised his gladius high in the sky, and the sun shone upon it, sending sparkles of light to the people, who blinked as the reflection hit their eyes. Nevertheless, they kept screaming his name.

Decimus smiled, the crowd loved him, and the least he could do for them was to offer and spectacle that they would enjoy. Kill to survive or die to be eaten by the beasts. That was his life, the life of a gladiator.

Putting down his sword, Decimus swiftly headed to the black gates from which he had come from, the gates of life and death, the gates that one day, he would enter as a dead corpse.

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Old 05-20-2006, 12:32 AM
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Hi Tarantio, (when I see your name I keep thinking Tarantino, as in Quintin Tarantino.) anway... heheh. here's my critique.

The thunderous cheering of the crowd suffocated the scream of the dying man as he fell heavily to the sand.
not the best starting sentence, try to make it shorter and more powerful, less wordy. The rest of the paragraph is great. It could even use more description, to increase drama. but the 1st sentence should never be like that, it doesn't draw one in.

From that moment, he knew he would die within minutes the next day, when he would have to fight him.
ok this very much confused me. I had to read this sentence a couple of times to realize you meant, the previous day, he knew he would die within minutes the next day, (today) when he was fighting the gladiator. it's just very awkward, and is a tense change that doesn't really work, or was worded weirdly. try something simpler, such as... "from that moment, he had known he would die soon... one day when he had to fight Decimus." also, remember i stuck in the "had." this is the most important part that you left out. the story is in past tense already, so when talking in past past tense (or whatever it's called..) you need to put 'had.'


He saw the standing man look down at him and instantly new what had been the answer: death!
you keep mentioning death nearly every paragraph. we know he's dying, try to be less blatant about it. hehe.

The fighter tossed his gladius aside and removed a knife from his belt.
when you change perspectives here, it is also confusing and throws the reader off. you end with the gladiator dying with "he closed his eyes" then you go right into the fighter's point of view. it's just a bit rocky. try to make some sort of "interlude" to clearly show the reader you're changing persepctives. and to be more clear the gladiator has died, (because he goes in and out.) something like.." the stadium was now quiet for a minute. the gladiator had died, and there was nothing left but the new chamption, the fighter standing there, victorious over the bloody corpse." an interlude like that would be very helpful for the view change. Also, I think the view change is a bit too personal. I mean, you begin inside the head of the dying man. Then you go right into the fighter's head. this works better in chapters, but since this is very short, try to stick with one persepctive, or if you change persepctives, keep the thinking of the new one minimal. it's just better overall for a short piece.


Decimus smiled, the crowd loved him,
I thought there were mixed cheers in the crowd?

Putting down his sword, Decimus swiftly headed to the black gates from which he had come from, the gates of life and death, the gates that one day, he would enter as a dead corpse.
bit of an odd/confusing ending. you don't really need to refer to him dying in the future, as the story began with the other guy dying after he just killed him. especially because the reader has been given this victorious yet honest feel to the winner, and this sort of takes away from it, or twists it.

Overall, I did like the piece, it was a very interesting topic you chose, a nice change in fantasy from the regular orcs and goblins. I think you need to iron out those confusions, mainly the intense perspective change which is again quite odd in a short short story. some other things to be fixed up too, as i mentioned. also, why not make this longer? it seems like this story wants to go somewhere, as you have established a very interesting scene. lengthen it if you want, i'd be interested. anyways, hope that helped, and good luck!

-dogwood
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Old 05-23-2006, 05:00 PM
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Hey. I'm sorry that I have taken so long to asnwer. Final exams have kept me and still keep my busy for a while, so I have barely time to check on the forum.

I liked your recommendation about the begining of the story as well as the change of POV. I will surelly be working out that soon.

When you say "I thought there were mixed cheers in the crowd?", I don't quite get the meaning of the question, enlighten me on that if you're so kind.

Well, the ending I know I didn't work it out as much as I possibly could but still, gladiators die in the sand,fighting. I just wanted to somehow tell the reader that Decimus was a man who, besides being a killer, he would accept his death whenever it would come.

About the last paragraph, the thing is that I chose the topic because it seemed interested to me. As you said, almost everybody writes about globins and elves. But hey, this is not fantasy...yet. Actually there's nothing here that you can tell as a fantasy scene. This was historical fiction. Now that can change, though as soon as I apply a litle twist to it.

Regarding the lenght....welll, I didn't mean this to be a story at all, just a thought, since something inside my head was telling me to write about gladiators. So, I just did. But as you said, I can make it more lengthy, but once again, final exams...so, I'll probably work on it this weekend.

Yes, of course your review helped! It always does.

Thanks for taking your time to look at my stuff and critique it. I really appreciate it.
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Old 05-24-2006, 09:01 AM
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The thunderous cheering of the crowd suffocated the scream of the dying man as he fell heavily to the sand.

[You have two adjectives together whose meaning is held in the verb, and an adverb used to modify a verb where the meaning is also held. When this occurs, you should begin to strip the sentence down into something like “The cheering of the crowd suffocated the scream of the dying man as he fell to the ground.” When you use “the cheering of the crowd suffocated” the reader knows the cheering was loud without you using the word “thunderous.” Likewise, when a body falls to the ground, it’s assumed that it fell with a thud (e.g. heavily). Unless the body “gently” fell to the ground, there’s no need to describe how it fell.]

Staring at the sky, he blinked in shock, pressed his hands on the injured ribs as if trying to contain the stream of blood that came out of them.

[There’s no “as if” to it. The gladiator either tried to stop the bleeding or he didn’t. “As if” is used to draw an analogy, but there’s no analogy present. Try “…pressed his hands on the injured ribs in an attempt to contain the stream of blood…”

The blood felt hot on his hands and fingers, and although it was not a new sensation to him, he felt as if it was the first time he had sensed it. The pain became more intensive and he realized what had happened.

[All week I’ve read authors trying to explain what isn’t happening instead of what is happening. It isn’t necessary to write “although it was not” “he felt as if.” Simply state that it wasn’t a new experience. Also, fingers are attached to hands (I hope) so blood on the hands (not hands and fingers) will do. “The blood felt hot on his hands, a sensation he experienced many times before. Pain grew in intensity as he realized what happened.”

His lips twisted in a smile and blood poured from his mouth and ran down his neck.

[“while” or “as” not “and”]

I’m free, he murmured, so low that he couldn’t even hear it.

[Quotes around “I’m free” Delete “So low that he couldn’t even hear it.” “I’m free” is powerful enough.]

The wind blew fiercely and the scattered sand crashed on his face. He closed his eyes and opened them again only to see a human shadow standing above him.


[Try “The fierce wind blew, scattered sand crashed on his face. He closed his eyes in defense. When he opened them, the shadow of a man towered over him; the sun blocked his face.”]
He couldn’t see the face, for the sun shone upon open his back and absorbed his features concealed by an helmet, but he clearly remembered the face from the day before when he had seen him training in the ludi.

[Confused. He can’t see the face, but remembers the face? How can he remember a face he can’t see? See above comment.]

From that moment, he knew he would die within minutes the next day, when he would have to fight him. And so it had been.

[Still confused. You used three different aspects of time: “From that moment” “within minutes” “the next day.” Is there something wrong with, “He knew he would die tomorrow?” And what is “And so it had been?”]

He discerned as the shadow raised a finger to the crowd and turned around so that everybody could see it.


[Discerned what?]

The shouts of the crowd were so mixed that he barely heard what they yelled. He saw the standing man look down at him and instantly new what had been the answer: death!

[Try “The crowd was in a frenzy; he couldn’t tell what they cheered. When his opponent looked down at him, he now realized what they were yelling: ‘Death!’”]

The fighter tossed his gladius aside and removed a knife from his belt. Kneeling, his two hands crossed around the hilt of the blade and plunged it in the chest of the fallen man.


[My favorite! A dangling participle! Look at the sentence beginning with “Kneeling.” Do you see what you said? Since there isn’t a subject, you said “the two hands were kneeling” rather than the “gladiator was kneeling.” Hands can’t kneel. A dangling participle will modify the closest noun, which is “hands.” You’d have to re-write the sentence to say the gladiator knelt and that his hands plunged the blade.]

There was no scream this time. Again, the crowds cheered loudly and shouted the name of the winner, which resounded in the walls of the Coliseum like a storm.

[Crowds that cheer “loudly” sound “thunderous” which is similar to “a storm,” but why the emphasis on how loud? The feeling is already there in the context of the event. Try “The crowds loud cheering of the victor echoed in the walls of the Coliseum.”]

Decimus! Decimus! Decimus!


[Three times is enough.]

The gladiator wiped the knife clean on the ripped skirt of the fallen man. He knew his name, but he had never met him. For him, he had been another man, another soul, another kill, and yet, his soul had filled with sorrow as his blade had tore the man’s heart.


[Since he wiped the blade clean, I know he stabbed his opponent. Try “For him, the victim had been another man, another soul, another kill, and yet, his heart filled with sorrow.” The past-perfect tense “had filled” isn’t necessary. Just have his heart fill.]

For how long would I be doing this? He asked himself but the answer he did not find.

[Quotes around “For how long would I be doing this,” comma after the reflexive pronoun “myself,” and use a contraction for “did not.”]

Decimus smiled, the crowd loved him, and the least he could do for them was to offer and spectacle that they would enjoy.


[“a” not “and”]

Kill to survive or die to be eaten by the beasts. That was his life, the life of a gladiator.

[That made no sense. Is he just dying to be eaten by beasts? Maybe you meant “Kill to survive or die by the beasts.”

Putting down his sword, Decimus swiftly headed to the black gates from which he had come from, the gates of life and death, the gates that one day, he would enter as a dead corpse.


[Don’t like “as a dead corpse.” The closing is good, but those two words stuck me the wrong way. In fact, how about, “Putting down his sword, Decimus swiftly headed to the black gates from which he had come, the gates of life and death. One day, he would enter no more.]

Summary
Keep working with this, I think you can turn it into an excellent short story. Do you think you cold expand it?
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Last edited by xfacktor; 05-25-2006 at 03:32 PM..
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Old 05-24-2006, 12:23 PM
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As I previously said: I don;t have time to discuss your critiques right now because of the final exams. But on Friday have for sure that I will.

The only thing I can do now is to thank you for your time as well as your critique. Oh, and by the way, I do plan to work out or expand this thought even more, maybe over the wekeend.
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Old 05-26-2006, 02:16 PM
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h
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Old 05-31-2006, 11:42 AM
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I don't know what all was discussed, so I'll throw out my two cents about what I noticed. Hopefully I am not repeating anyone.

Nice short story so far. Hopefully you will post more, but even if you didn't it had a pretty good storyline going. Little rough in some spots, but the main elements were portrayed nicely and we were able to get a clear picture of what was going on. Nice job.

The pain became more intensive and he realized what had happened.
Maybe it is just me, but I think just the word 'intense' would fit better here.


He couldn’t see the face, for the sun shone upon open his back and absorbed his features concealed by an helmet, but he clearly remembered the face from the day before when he had seen him training in the ludi.
Check on which word you want to use.

From that moment, he knew he would die within minutes the next day, when he would have to fight him.
I would reword this sentence. It is difficult to understand the first time you read it.

Decimus smiled, the crowd loved him, and the least he could do for them was to offer and spectacle that they would enjoy.
should this be 'a'?

Putting down his sword, Decimus swiftly headed to the black gates from which he had come from, the gates of life and death, the gates that one day, he would enter as a dead corpse.
Did I read this right, or did you mean 'leave as a dead corpse.' ?
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Old 05-31-2006, 07:59 PM
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Hi there and thanks for the corrections.

I'm glad you liked this piece of work. I wrote another version if you're interested. It's under the name The Chronicles of Decimus the killer.

Regards
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Old 05-31-2006, 08:25 PM
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Tarantio, remember that English is a messed up language. I'm a teacher, and my minor is in English. Sometimes it is the imperfections of a piece that makes it special. My advice, don't jump through too many hoops, unless directed by an editor....
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Old 05-31-2006, 08:34 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I know English is an all messed up language. I'm still learning it, so I know the "complications" of it.
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Old 06-01-2006, 05:28 AM
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JHarrison wrote:
Sometimes it is the imperfections of a piece that makes it special.
JH, are you serious?
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Old 06-01-2006, 05:28 AM
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Hey, I liked this piece. You captured the moment really well.

The only thing that bugged me was this
concealed by an helmet, but he

Some people(mostly newcasters)use an before words that I think it really shouldn't be used with. Some people here might disagree with me, but I say change an to a.


Other than that, no qualms. Good job.
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