Talk:The Siege of Bordeaux

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edit Pee Reviews

Humour: 7 Nice funny tale. Perhaps a bit of tightening would be in order. See the endnotes.
Concept: 8 Nice idea. I like tales about things that sort of might have happened, maybe.
Prose and formatting: 7 Mostly good writing. I made a correction (for some reason the verb for "to execute a siege" is "besieged").
Images: 7 That image, sir, is a valiant attempt to photoshop a difficult subject.
Miscellaneous: 9 I like the idea, I like the execution, I hope it succeeds.
Final Score: 38
Reviewer: ----OEJ 02:50, 27 December 2007 (UTC)


My usual long and boring endnotes:

On the image: it doesn't quite look real, but it's an awfully hard image to get photo-realistic. I mean, shoot, where are you going to get the source images for a giant snail approaching a castle? So good marks for tackling the subject. It passes.

On the prose: This is more difficult for me to pin down. It has to do with the paragraph structure, I think.

According to the writing teachers, in strong writing the most important words in a sentence usually come at the end.

For example, in the previous sentence the important words are "at the end". The writing would be weaker if I wrote it "In strong writing the most important words in a sentence usually come at the end, according to the writing teachers." It finishes the sentence with a subordinate clause, which is weak.

Similarly, a strong paragraph is usually structured so that it leads to a strong final sentence. That technique is most obvious in humor, especially in jokes -- the last line is the punchline!

It is the most important part.

Now then. The long paragraph of Month 1 should probably be broken down, because it contains several discrete segments:

"The arrival of the 'devil snail,' as they called it, was met among the people with general hysteria and panicking that defines the French people when presented with a miniscule threat. The frantic peasants and noblemen alike waited four agonizing weeks for the snail to travel from the hills to the city walls. The 100-foot gastropod finally stopped at the walls. The French soldiers fired a cannonball in the direction of the snail. It noticed, and the French's so-called 'surrender reflex' suddenly kicked in."

This is good. I wanted to know if they hit it and did no injury, or if the cannonball merely kicked up dirt...that detail seems important. But more important, the "punchline" of this segment seems to be the French "surrender reflex". So that should end a paragraph.

The next segment is a digression explaining the surrender reflex.

"The Surrender Reflex is a disease contracted only by the French. It affects the entire population, from infant to geezer. When a sufferer of the disease (a French person) is presented with a conflict, the Surrender Reflex takes effect. The Frenchman immediately yields to all terms and enemy occupation."

So, put the digression in a separate paragraph and make the final sentence its punchline. (Can you make that final line funnier? "...yields to all terms of surrender: hostile occupation, troops quartered in the master bedroom, virgin daughters yielded up without resistance, and truffles-in-wine-sauce surrendered to the enemy." I dunno -- you can probably make it funnier than that. But punch it up a bit.)

Finally:

"However, the snail seemed uninterested in despoiling the city it had just won, and instead muched on nearby trees."

(Munched of course.) This is the "punchline" for the entire section. It's anticlimactic, which is the point. But I would make it as strong as possible anyway: put it in its own paragraph, and maybe break it into two short sentences (according to the writing mavens short sentences have more impact than long ones).

Then do the same kind of work on all the other sections.


In Her wisdom Sophia allows unlimited rewriting of a piece. She does it for a very good reason: it allows us poor mortals to write with inspiration and then revise toward precision.

My advice: Rewrite this inspired idea with the idea of breaking the longer sections into paragraphs, and then making each paragraph as powerful and coherent as possible whilst still keeping it part of the whole.

If I could practice what I preach then I would be writing for Random House and not Uncyclopedia, eh? So this is mostly just warm gas from a gassy, gassy man. Take it for what it is worth.

And good luck with this piece!

----OEJ 02:50, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

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