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Look, But Don't Touch · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Nature's Way
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#1 ·
I have kind of the same:

Problem with this one as with the dragon one. I like the setting and the characters, but I'm not quite sure what's going on with the story itself. Maybe if I had a better idea of what Sheeleel wants at the beginning, it would help guide me through to the ending, but as it is, I'm left uncertain about the whole thing. Is it all an allegory for religion, or is it magic versus science? Again, I'm not sure.

#2 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Baal Bunny
I agree that this reads a bit oddly -- a concept struggling to wiggle its way into a narrative. The characters are interesting, the setting is well-portrayed, and the story's structure is pretty much there... strikes me as the kind of story I might write, which means that I'm of no help to suggest specific improvements (limits of imagination, yay!).

For technical flubs, I only glimpsed a missing possessive; not sure if "nature's way" was a thing that was supposed to be capitalized outside of dad's words.

Is Sheeleel insane after all? Or is there more than is dreamt of in their philosophy? That is the line of questioning that holds this together.
#3 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Baal Bunny
Really interesting choice for a main character! I had difficulty slipping into Sheeleel's point of view initially, mainly because I couldn't picture what exactly she was. From the first few paragraphs, the descriptive words I got were "wings" and "beak," and then later "blue fluff," so with hindsight it's obvious she's a bird, but it was kinda tough to tell at first. It was even more difficult when you consider the other character in this first scene is a mushroom, and I, not being a shroomologist, had no idea what an annulus was.

BUT, all that said, I think the elements themselves still work well to serve the narrative in an interesting way. I would have liked to see them presented in a more straightfoward way at first, is all. Birds contemplating death--such a cool vibe! Thank you for sharing.
#4 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Baal Bunny
For minific rounds, it's easy enough to remember what I wanted to say when I get to the end, but not so for these longer ones, so I'll have to record my thoughts more or less as they occur to me.

Given how blue jays get other birds to raise their young for them, I'm surprised the main character's father is one. How would she know who her father was? I'd expect her to think some other species is her dad, but if they're intelligent enough to think and speak, do they know that? And if so, how do those other birds perceive being tricked into raising a blue jay? Or do these intelligent versions not do that?

Likewise, the mention of non-talking bugs raises some questions. Is she saying "non-talking" just to differentiate them from the birds, which do talk? Or does this mean there are some bugs that do talk? As a predator, she'd have to make some pretty split-second judgments on which ones to eat.

"How've you been doing lately?" The voice spoke again

Not sure if you meant that to be a speech tag.

standing on a little rocky ledge just outside the splash zone of the outcrop she was standing on

Kind of soon to use the same phrase again.

'nature's way'

Given what she said earlier, I'm surprised she doesn't capitalize this.

We've none of us ever even been outside this forest

So this is a universe where none of the birds migrate? There's kind of a lot you're changing from what would be initially implied at having them be birds in general and Sheel being a blue jay specifically, that isn't obvious, and I don't know that any of those changes are essential. That makes me ask why you have them or why you didn't pick something where they'd flow naturally from it.

Ensper scent

Missed an apostrophe.

Her wings feeling like they were about to pop from their sockets.

I think you probably meant "felt." As it is, participial elements make for really strange sentence fragments.

Overall, I really like the characterization here, and it was a cool interpretation of that art. I feel like I'm only getting about half the story, though. There are a lot of things that get glossed over. Sheeleel and Ensper sure seem to have a history going a long way back, but there's nothing in story to give any detail about it except her seeming to be familiar with him and swooning over him. But the way he relates to her makes it sound like they'd at least been friends for a while, yet I don't get any of that from her side. Neither one reacts that much to them being engaged, and maybe that's because it's not that big a deal in this world, but I'm guessing there. Then she jumps from him being a fiance to a husband.

I think at the end she's promising never to talk about her uncle and Ensper again? I was never sure whether any of the other birds would even be capable of hearing the mushrooms (or, for that matter, whether it was a delusion), but it seems like once Ensper's parents learn of his death, things will go even worse for her. She might be able to use the possibility of speaking to their dead son enable her to get them to try talking to him, but it seems like she would have already tried that before with her father and uncle, so I don't know.

What's here is engaging and well-characterized, but it feels like it needs to explore a fair amount more to give it all enough context.
#5 ·

Thanks, folks!

I've already done some rewriting based on the comments here and plan on sending the revised version out to my online writing group Wednesday to see that they think.