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Time Heals Most Wounds · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Excerpt From 'A Grimoire: Madness Writ Death'
Section 2: Preface

In examining the document, its make and inscription can be precisely dated to 47+/-2.3 of that century, a period which coincides with the author's death. The manufacture is unremarkable, in keeping with many similar thread-bound tomes of the day. The paper as well is consistent with composition, tone, degradation, weight, and refinement of other period examples[1]. The ink, similarly, is standard iron-based formula, well within standard deviation of that time[1].

Given this, the fact that the writing on the parchment, on all pages but one, are in no known language. The symbols bear elemental similarities to Nordic runes[2], the Cyrillic alphabet, and period English-German alphabets. Numerous attempts at decrypting the contents have been made, and will be discussed in greater detail in sections 7 through 9, and we present our own analysis in sections 10, 11, and in the conclusion. This debate remains ongoing, and this volume makes no illusion to supplying a definitive resource on the matter.

What bears noting before the analysis of the book in question is its context as it pertains to the (supposed) man who wrote it. From available information[3][4], the parchment was manufactured and likely sold within a year of the advent of his dark chapters of life, if such a term any longer applied. Mystics are quick to suggest that its contents then reflect the 'demonic channeling'[2][5] that lead to (or stemmed from) his reported otherworldly abilities. His deeds speak for themselves—including the defiling of graves and crypts, consumption of raw animal and human flesh, and the immolation of a cathedral full with Christmas mass—but none are beyond explanation by rational means. The text itself is no more likely the product of demons than it is of a fractured mind, creating a code of inscription that it alone could read.

This volume aims, if indirectly, to supply context to the tale. Biographical reports consistently note[4][6][7] two prominent players in his life. First, in his prime of life, a lover, consort, or other liaison or affiliate by name of Emily. Little is known of her beyond her name and that the two were, for a time, very close to one another. Fondness, even romance, cannot be ignored, even in scholarly debate on the issue. In his last days, the record shows another Emily, a frail girl of pre-teen age and purported servant, who appeared with his madness and disappeared in his death.

From this, then, it is curious and important to note again the only sentence in the entire tome written in recognizable glyphs:

"For Emily"
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#1 · 2

I almost want to take offense to this story. Though this probably wasn't the author's intention, I get the feeling that it's deliberately trying to confuse someone like me who isn't as well-read or doesn't enjoy reading dry textbooks.

I mean, the problem is that it's well written, so I get the feeling that the author of this entry knows what he/she is doing, but I don't know what's going on. It's so hard for me to follow. The language isn't as clear as it could be, nor is the content. I don't get the significance of the last line, though it's emphasized like it's super significant. While reading, I was actually squinting in trying to focus on this one and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Maybe I'm an idiot. Oh well, joke's on me then. I might have to take a break now.
#2 · 1
Hmm. Apologies, author, but I can't see the story here. I get the feeling it references a legend or tale that I'm not aware of, and it would all be clear if I knew; but I don't, alas.

I get the feeling, also, that there's a puzzle in here. I tried collating the footnote references, and they do make a kind of sense (footnote [2], for example, is called for Nordic runes and for a section on demonic summoning, so presumably that footnote talks about runes of all stripes, mundane and arcane), but again, I can't tease out the bigger pattern behind it.

Spelling is good, grammar is solid. A few turns of phrase here and there that could be tweaked - I've listed the ones I caught below for the sake of thoroughness - but they're pretty minor, all told.

TLDR: Fairly solid wordsmithry, but I can't tell what's going on story-wise. If it is referncing something else, try to lean on that a little less next time around (that, of course, depends a lot on what crowd you're rolling with, so if this does reference something well-known to a different circle, then the problem is just with me and not the writing; although you should still try to pick your targets. If it's not referencing anything at all, of course, then ignore me :P).


"in keeping with similar tomes" is a tautology. It's basically saying 'it's similar to things it's similar to'.

The opening sentence of the second paragraph reads like it's missing a part: " [...] the fact that the writing on the parchment is in no known language means that...".

"this volume makes no illusion to supplying a definitive resource on the matter." - I probably am just being finicky here. You could have "makes no illusion about supplying..." or you could have, which I suspect is the one you were going for, "makes no allusion to supplying..." An advanced mistake, though, and to be honest I might be wrong myself on this. Other grammar nerds! To me!

"The text itself is no more likely the product of demons than it is of a fractured mind..." - this is stating "The text probably wasn't written by demons, and it probably wasn't written by a mad person either." It should be "The text is less likely the product of demons than..."

"disappeared in his death." Minor one: should be 'with', not 'in'.
#3 ·
Ok I won't nitpick grammar and English, as it was already done.

So that guy delved into necromancy to bring her first and only love back to life, that's what you mean I guess. It's cleverly hidden, and the academic writing is not badly imitated, but it hardly lends itself to telling a story.

So I'm of two minds here. The idea of the disquisition was nice, but at the same time it comes across as very dry.
#4 · 1
· · >>FrontSevens
I'm going to have to agree with the other reviews posted.

Lemme address the first concern: I don't think this counts as a story- don't get me wrong, this is written persuasively and gets the reader to think (That is very good). This comes across as an academic paper- not a short story. As listed above, the piece comes across as very bland and dry. This 'story' lacks an identity or personality, as any short story has.

Not to mention I was a bit confused until the other reviewers shed some light on the subject (so call me ignorant). But, as in any writing, your goal is to get the reader to think- not to confuse- but have individual inferences. I deem it safe to say that confusing a veteran like FrontSevens is grounds for questioning.

TL;DR: Fairly good as a 'persuasive essay', not really a short 'story' though.
#5 · 1
Lol, first of all, I wouldn’t consider myself the smartest person that frequents these writeoffs. I do appreciate the complement, but I’ve never taken to story-puzzles (as I believe this one is). If I’m confused by something, sometimes it’s not a problem for anyone else, so it’s not grounds for questioning, I don’t think. But thanks. :P However, the fact that I’m not the only one confused is grounds for questioning.

Second, I’d like to revisit this one because I feel that I sounded too harsh in my initial review. I was just frustrated from being confused. I will now go back and reread and try to figure out what’s happening as far as I can tell (I should note, this was difficult for me to do) in an effort to try to figure out what my issue was specifically with this story:

Paragraph 1: There’s an old document that a now-dead author wrote.

Paragraph 2: The document is mostly written in some unknown language(s).

Paragraph 3: Okay, so there are details about the author, some things that he’s done and that he was dark and possibly insane (though he believes he's not insane and he has demon powers or something), all of which I’d argue is backstory as opposed to plot.

Paragraph 4: He was in love with Emily, and I guess there were two Emilys.

Last part: The only legible part of the document is “For Emily”.

First, I think it’s important to note that the fact that I’m doing this is a sign that my immersion was definitely broken. In general, any time a reader has to reread something (a sentence, a paragraph, the whole story) hurts the flow of the story, and often their immersion, as was the case with me personally. To name another example, anytime a reader has to look up a word (for instance, grimoire and immolation, which I didn’t know off the top of my head and couldn’t imply from context) hurts the flow of the story.

Second, as I noted above, this is more backstory than plot. Even then, paragraphs 1, 2, and 4 were simple things to note but buried enough under elaborate / dry / technical verbiage that they needlessly (imo) confused the information.

Is it out of bounds to write in a realistic technical, academic voice? No, I don’t think so. If you’re trying to emulate a dry textbook, for whatever artistic reason, cool. I can't think of a specific example where it works, but I don’t doubt that in a certain application and in a certain execution, it contributes to a story in some meaningful way.

However, it’s hard for me to get invested in something that’s labour-intensive just to read. Maybe if it was worded a slightly different way, or if more story was involved and less technicalities like whether or not the author’s language had any “elemental similarities to Nordic runes[2], the Cyrillic alphabet, and period English-German alphabets”, then perhaps I wouldn’t have had an issue with it. And hey, maybe I’m just not the target audience here. But if I could make a suggestion, it’d be that whatever your intention was with this story, it’s important to write with your audience in mind. I don’t imagine all of the readers here are academic scholars. I know I’m not.
#6 ·
Personally, I don't mind the research paper-academic voice thing you've got going on here. Maybe it's just because the subject matter is interesting, but it's not nearly as dry and boring as many of the actual academic papers I've read. It might also help that this is short, which is unfortunate, because it leaves me unsure if I would want to read more of this or not.

This is really more the suggestion of a story than a story itself. I don't necessarily have a problem with that either. But as I'm sure you realize, suggesting a story like this is a lot more difficult to do well than simply telling a story is, and I think you faltered a bit. I think your biggest problem is that most of what you gave is backstory and details, with just a few bits of actual story. When you tell a story through hints and suggestions like this, you want the readers to still be able to piece together a full story. All I've been able to piece together here is that this guy turned to dark magics to bring back his dead lover. And unless I'm missing some bits, that seems to be all there is to it. I admit that I do enjoy how it does basically take that story that we've all seen before and tell it from a new perspective, but I would still like there to be more meat in there.

In the end, I still enjoyed this story quite a bit, perhaps more than I can really justify, and I expect that will show in my ranking.
#7 ·
Gah, I'm just out of time this round, in between the con and helping a friend's cousin temporarily move into my place for a week while he's waiting for the lease to start on his new apartment. >.< How did I get down to just five hours left in prelims and I've barely started my slate?

As to this story ... Lightning impressions. The style here is an interesting choice, as in, it actually interested me. The lack of footnotes is interesting in more of a faint-praise sense; it's daring and I think I like it but what's left without them seems a little short on context, especially given that this isn't even close to the word limit. Mostly, though, the actual story seems a bit thin for me. I don't really get a sense of what's at stake that Emily, or Emilies, are involved in this tome of unspeakable evil, and the choice to take the dry, clinical research tone pretty aggressively removes the emotional impact of it. I applaud the experiment, but experiments don't always pan out. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ NW