A Response to DesertRat Critique

Essay written by kt6550 on Tuesday 1, March 2011

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Just a thought.

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You make an excellent point; no question there. However, there is one thing you must consider: the name of this website. We are "The Den of Amateur Writing." I think all of us would like to write a bestseller, like Stephen King or Anne Rice. Alternatively, perhaps be considered in the same breath as a Faulkner, Dickens, or Coward. However, the Den is amateurs, and that is probably all of us will be. A while back, we had a member called 'studentsofenglish' who contributed quite a few writings. The member was, in actuality, a bunch of thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students from Lima, Peru, who were learning English as a second language. They submitted quite a bit, and I read, commented, and rated everything they submitted. I was very generous with my ratings. I felt it would be unfair to judge them as one who grew up with English as a first language. I do not regret my decision. When I rate, I try to consider the age of the person. We had a writer who was dyslexic and having a tough time. He asked me to proofread his work, which was quite imaginative, and I obliged, emailing my corrections to him. He has not been back since. I fear some of our comments frightened him away. We have another writer who writes, I believe, marvelous poetry. He is French, I think, by birth. However, now he resides in the USA. I try and take these things, and I believe other readers do as well, into consideration. So, to accurately gauge spelling and grammar, print the writing and take a red pen to it. Then use a scale, and deduct so many points for errors. Flow? That's easy. Try to outline the writing. Better yet, flow diagram it. If you cannot, it does not get a good flow grade. Vocabulary? Keep the thesaurus open as you read the story or essay. Plot? I think taste plays a large part in this, but is the tale being told a good one, worth writing? Imagery? Well, I've read no one at the Den, myself included, who beats this: "The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least." "Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;--was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?" "...Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to his boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,--honor answering honor." "As each successive division masks our own, it halts, the men face inward toward us across the road, twelve feet away; then carefully 'dress' their line, each captain taking pains for the good appearance of his company, worn and half starved as they were." "Here comes Cobb's Georgia Legion, which held the stone wall on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, close before which we piled our dead for breastworks so that the living might stay and live." "Now makes its last front A. P. Hill's old Corps, Heth now at the head, since Hill had gone too far forward ever to return: the men who poured destruction into our division at Shepardstown Ford, Antietam, in 1862, when Hill reported the Potomac running blue with our bodies; the men who opened the desperate first day's fight at Gettysburg, where withstanding them so stubbornly our Robinson's Brigades lost 1185 men, and the Iron Brigade alone 1153,--the men of Heth's Division here too losing 2850 men, companions of these now looking into our faces so differently." These passages are from the journal of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a Union officer in the Civil War and a hero of Gettysburg. He was ordered by Grant to accept the final muster and surrender of The Army of Northern Virginia, on April 12, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, commanded by General Robert E. Lee. He had the Confederates form ranks and pass in a final review in front of his division. I think the imagery would rate 100%. In fact, I think the whole thing would rate 100% in every category. Should I judge my fellow Denizens by this standard? I would have a hard time sleeping if I did. Peace. Bob

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    I appreciate your input on the matter, as well as that from all others that have commented on my post. This made me think of "Jesse James : The Last Rebel of the Civil War." Never got to finish it though, maybe I'll get it again from the public library soon.
    Thank you Kt; eloquent as always.

    My feelings, expressed perfectly, are in this piece.
    hmm... never thought of rating like that; haha i will have to rethink how i rate now =-b
    Nails and heads n'stuff, kt.

    You hit them.