The Official Writing Challenge
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A very interesting take on the topic! I have a few comments...I am definitely not an expert so I am only writing what comes to my mind:

I tend to "hear" the words I read and there is something about the first sentence that confuses my "ears." I needed to read it a couple of times before I got the jist of it.

"Astoba had to be of course..." I think I am missing something here as I am not sure what she had to be.

Below that, the story really picked up my interest and I enjoyed reading it to the end.
Found your story interesting. However, carrot should be carat in relation to ores and jewels. There is a 'whom' that should be 'who'. God bless you.
04/12/08
I get the feeling this is just a tiny slice of something bigger. Yes, there's mistakes, but those are fixable. I like it.
I know who wrote this. Mick, your Forgotten One tales are awesome. My only complaint is that they always leave me hanging and craving more when you enter them into the challenge. You will have to send me the rest of this via e-mail friend. :)

Thank you for sharing.
04/16/08
Now this is writing! Thank you for the posting. Excellent!
04/18/08
Congratulations, Mick, on placing 15th in your level with this piece. Great work!