00:00
00:00

Poetry + flash fic workshop thread

826 Views | 19 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic

I don't know about you guys, but I've read some stuff on here that was just of such a poor quality I didn't know where to start my criticisms. I know this sounds harsh, and I know this should be a community of equal opportunity and all that, where writers of all variations of quality and skill are allowed to test their skills and learn and frolic and play and what-not. But when some half-assed story with terrible grammar, cliches abound and very little actual development and depth is recieving positive remarks with no critical value, I'm stumped as to what the writers of these stories have to learn from their writing and these *ahem* criticisms. I don't know. It feels to me like it's just encouraging writers to produce a larger volume at that lower quantity. Who cares? They're having fun. What's the matter? Well, should they ACTUALLY want to learn something and develop their skills, I get the impression that this place is not always the best place to go for good, honest feedback.

So, without further blah blah blah I'd like to explain what I've made this thread for. Here, I'd like to give my own criticisms and suggestions to help you guys hopefully come to a better standard of writing. I don't want you to just post your stuff and say "tell me what you think", because writing is not ever that simple. Drafting, redrafting, editing, it's all part of the process. Even the better stories and poems on this forum could use with a bit of extra work (and I know I am most certainly no exception).

Here are the ground rules:
If you would like to workshop a piece of poetry or flash fiction, you may post it here, but please note, if you just want a review on a final product, you will not get it here. It will just be a waste of time for myself and others who may wish to put forth their comments and ideas.
Poetry should be within 10-50 lines. No epic poems. Nothing that drags on and on and on.
Likewise, flash fiction posted here should be no more than 500 words. This place is for developing ideas. And for that to work effectively, we need to keep the clutter out of here.
If you're interested in providing critiques, it would be advisable that you've had experience in group workshops, or are at least familiar with the drafting process and have a keen eye for the things that hold a narrative/poem back.

Oh, and one more thing. Please be aware that posting a poem or flash fiction piece here means that you're willing to listen to my (and others') criticisms, however harsh they may be. If someone says something you don't like or don't agree with, don't get all riled up about it, but instead try to think of why they said it. Of course, criticism is a matter of opinion, and you may disagree with what someone says, but that's up to you to take away from the workshop what you will and incorporate into future revisions (which also may be posted here for further criticisms).

That's about it for now, so feel free to send your stuff this way, and I hope this can provide some good development for the writers on this forum. ;)


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE

Signature Picture by: Spartan204

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 00:05:15


How about doing my robot day story? As I literally posted that on the last second and feel very excited because of that :P


Failure should push you until success can pull you.

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 00:10:48


At 7/11/10 12:05 AM, TrevorW wrote: How about doing my robot day story? As I literally posted that on the last second and feel very excited because of that :P

Read the rules, man. It's more than 500 words and already in a competition (which suggests you're already finished with it). Maybe a poem instead? Something I can workshop.


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE

Signature Picture by: Spartan204

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 00:18:09


At 7/11/10 12:10 AM, WritersBlock wrote:
At 7/11/10 12:05 AM, TrevorW wrote: How about doing my robot day story? As I literally posted that on the last second and feel very excited because of that :P
Read the rules, man. It's more than 500 words and already in a competition (which suggests you're already finished with it). Maybe a poem instead? Something I can workshop.

A good writer knows that nothing is ever complete. Revisions can always be made to even the greatest works!

Sorry I missed the rules. I won't ask you for advice on poetry. Poetry has all but died for me lately.

Cheers and sorry again.


Failure should push you until success can pull you.

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 00:25:24


At 7/11/10 12:18 AM, TrevorW wrote:
At 7/11/10 12:10 AM, WritersBlock wrote:
At 7/11/10 12:05 AM, TrevorW wrote: How about doing my robot day story? As I literally posted that on the last second and feel very excited because of that :P
Read the rules, man. It's more than 500 words and already in a competition (which suggests you're already finished with it). Maybe a poem instead? Something I can workshop.
A good writer knows that nothing is ever complete. Revisions can always be made to even the greatest works!

You can edit and edit and edit until the cows come home, yes, but opinions are always subjective, no matter whose opinions they are. Eventually, there has to be a point where you're not willing to work on a piece any more. For example, I know a lot of my stories lately are rife with characteristics which defy the rules of grammar. If I were to 'edit' these things out I would please the grammar nazis, but it would alter the nature of my prose. I think that a work of fiction is complete when the writer deems it complete. Whether it's good or not is an entirely different matter.


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE

Signature Picture by: Spartan204

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 01:36:01


It's a good thing you're doing here, this forum has become some half-assed blog where most people post their stories without any condsideration.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 01:44:19


It will be a sad day when this forum becomes the equivalent of Deviant Art.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 02:35:39


At 7/11/10 01:36 AM, Frakenbourrough wrote: It's a good thing you're doing here, this forum has become some half-assed blog where most people post their stories without any condsideration.

If I've learned anything from the time I've spent here, it's that the writing forum is synonymous with exactly what you just said. This is the unfortunate truth. So long as there is a place that accepts it, there will be those who post their drivel. And unfortunately they will always be the majority.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 02:55:02


Would one be able to post in small chunks of a larger story as long as it fits into the maximum of 500 words? I'm currently working on a larger project and have been put off with the occasional one shot here and there (The June MWC and the more recent "Contact Right"), and if I take even more time away from it to put up flash fiction, even if it will improve my quality, I fear that it could be even longer before I get up the next chapter.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 02:59:43


At 7/11/10 02:55 AM, sinfulwolf wrote: Would one be able to post in small chunks of a larger story as long as it fits into the maximum of 500 words? I'm currently working on a larger project and have been put off with the occasional one shot here and there (The June MWC and the more recent "Contact Right"), and if I take even more time away from it to put up flash fiction, even if it will improve my quality, I fear that it could be even longer before I get up the next chapter.

Sure, that should be fine. The only issue with it being from a larger body of work is that it won't have the full conflict/resolution pattern that is to be expected of a completed story. But, as long as you're fine with that aspect of your work, then definitely, I'd be glad to go through a segment of your piece. I know, 500 words isn't a lot, but for the detail of the criticisms I'd like to go into, a larger body of work would just be too much to maintain.


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE

Signature Picture by: Spartan204

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 03:03:47


At 7/11/10 02:59 AM, WritersBlock wrote:
Sure, that should be fine. The only issue with it being from a larger body of work is that it won't have the full conflict/resolution pattern that is to be expected of a completed story. But, as long as you're fine with that aspect of your work, then definitely, I'd be glad to go through a segment of your piece. I know, 500 words isn't a lot, but for the detail of the criticisms I'd like to go into, a larger body of work would just be too much to maintain.

Just making sure. I'm aware there will be issues of dealing this way, especially with characters that may be jumping in and out of the scene that haven't been seen before a particular 500 words that could be a main character or just an aside. Really, I'm not looking for too much on plot but more on the actual structure of writing itself.

However, I've so far really only gotten praise, and only a few pieces of good criticism. As much as praise makes me feel good, and lets me know I'm entertaining people, I'm happy, but I can still be better.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 03:05:30


The following is the end segment of chapter 8 of my story. A bit of a ways in, but I felt it somewhat weak. It may be weird looking at it, as it refers to events that happen prior to this particular segment, but I'm interested to see what I could do to revise this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alan walked carefully amongst the dead, holding his sword tightly in his fist. His helmet lay abandoned somewhere in the sand as he shuffled amongst the mutilated corpses, all of them wearing the uniform of the Lionheart. There were no others, none of Du Lac's men, no Saracens. Even most of the column was missing rather than laying desecrated in the desert. Curtis bent by each body, trying to see if any still lived, despite the very obvious state of death. The scout commander took daggers and swords from the fallen, strapping them to the horse that followed him obediently.

"My God," Alan muttered, eyes flicking from one torn body to the next, and finally settled on a spear driven into the ground, Garret's head impaled on the blade, blood running down the shaft. A buzzard had already landed on the knight's head and was picking at his eye.

"Get away from him," Alan yelled swinging his sword at the vulture. The bird let out a squawk and took off into the air, circling above the massacre with his fellow carrion eaters.

Falling to his knees, sword falling from his hands, Alan pounded on the ground, sorrow and rage clashing within him. Before him, the decapitated body of another friend was slumped against the spear. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looking up, saw Salaam standing above him.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to take up arms and destroy the evil which is doing this to both your people and mine," the Saracen warrior said calmly.

He moved to stand before the desecrated body of Garret, blocking it from Alan's view, and held out his hand. Alan clasped it firmly, letting this man who should have been his sworn enemy, help him to his feet.

"Together then," Alan said, pulling back his shoulders and not releasing Salaam's hand.

"Together, we shall fight the true holy war," the Saracen said.
%u2003

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 04:04:43


I think, for the most part, it is written well. It just needs a few points to be tightened up and changed around and such, but certainly nothing excessive.

At 7/11/10 03:05 AM, sinfulwolf wrote: The following is the end segment of chapter 8 of my story. A bit of a ways in, but I felt it somewhat weak. It may be weird looking at it, as it refers to events that happen prior to this particular segment, but I'm interested to see what I could do to revise this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alan walked carefully amongst the dead, holding his sword tightly in his fist.

Be careful of using too many adjectives when you write. Usually you can create the effect of an adjective through a motion or through concrete detail. 'Carefully' and 'tightly' feel too close to eachother and thus, decorate the sentence with unnecessary clutter that slows the reading down. Also, "Holding in his fist" is redundant. If he's holding a sword, the first place we assume he's holding it is in his fist. Perhaps he clenches his sword instead?

His helmet lay abandoned somewhere in the sand as he shuffled amongst the mutilated corpses, all of them wearing the uniform of the Lionheart.

I like the imagery here, although I feel like you're holding back. He's discarded his helmet under what I assume is a highly emotional turning point for this character. It would be great if we could share this experience with this character, as I felt quite distanced reading him shuffle along like the corpses were the overgrown weeds in his front garden. Unless that was what you were going for. ;)

There were no others, none of Du Lac's men, no Saracens. Even most of the column was missing rather than laying desecrated in the desert.

Plot stuff, maybe a finicky grammatical inclusion of a comma between missing and rather, to break the sentence up. Good.

Curtis bent by each body, trying to see if any still lived, despite the very obvious state of death.

This sentence reads quite clunky. Especially the very obvious state of death. It needs rephrasing. Something that works both to inform the reader that he's going around looking for survivors, and that he feels like it's a pointless task. Since it's reading like third person limited narration and it may feel out of place to say "he doubted there were any survivors" or something along those lines, you could probably evoke that feeling from his body language.

The scout commander took daggers and swords from the fallen, strapping them to the horse that followed him obediently.

I don't know if you mention the obedient horse earlier, but if not, it's teetering on the edge of a light deus-ex machina. Basically, it feels like the obedient horse was tacked on the end of the sentence as a convenient place for the scout commander to store the weapons. All you really need to do is rephrase the sentence to make the horse less of a convenience and more part of the story (inclusion earlier in the narrative would help, but, yeah, excarpt, I'll shh). That and "took". I don't really like that word here. I think it's because there's no movement, and it feels like the fallen are just getting up and handing him their weapons. Maybe if you mention something about him wandering the area and collecting their weapons maybe?

"My God," Alan muttered, eyes flicking from one torn body to the next, and finally settled on a spear driven into the ground, Garret's head impaled on the blade, blood running down the shaft.

A powerful image, although there's some hesitancy with tenses. His "eyes flicking" clashes with "finally settled". It should either be "eyes flicked" or "finally settling". I do this all the time with my tenses, pain in the ass. You may also want to spend more time extrapolating upon this image and evoke more of a reaction from the reader through it.

A buzzard had already landed on the knight's head and was picking at his eye.

If it landed before they noticed, I don't think you should mention it landing. A buzzard sitting on his head. Otherwise, the act of landing on the head should ellicit a defensive response from Allan immediately.

"Get away from him," Alan yelled swinging his sword at the vulture. The bird let out a squawk and took off into the air, circling above the massacre with his fellow carrion eaters.

"Yelled, swinging" - grammar. "The vulture. The bird". Two differeint images of the same object so close together creates confusion. And the word "with" sticks out for me here. Maybe "to join" would be better, or "massacre, his fellow carrion eaters calling and jeering at the knights." Something to ellicit another image from the circling vultures, perhaps.

Falling to his knees, sword falling from his hands, Alan pounded on the ground, sorrow and rage clashing within him.

Falling-falling, too close together. Pounding the ground, sorrow, rage, you know, the complete emotional package. It feels like quite a generic image here. I'd try focussing on something specific, like the way his chainmail (if he's wearing chainmail, just using an example here) tugs at his neck and makes his throat dry. Something specific to the character that draws the emotion out of him in a way that moves the reader.

Before him, the decapitated body of another friend was slumped against the spear. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looking up, saw Salaam standing above him.

"Another friend" is a less powerful image than the guy on the spear with the name. Try to keep it specific, else you'll lose the power and intensity from the moment.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to take up arms and destroy the evil which is doing this to both your people and mine," the Saracen warrior said calmly.

Get rid of "calmly", unnecessary adjective, yadda yadda yadda. I know it probably suits your genre, but try not to sound too generic with your dialogue. "We must be strong and fight evil" is just meaningless dialogue without some concrete ideas supporting it. The warrior is talking about alliances and refusing to give in when times are tough, so he really needs to get through to this poor, broken man on the ground and inspire him.

He moved to stand before the desecrated body of Garret, blocking it from Alan's view, and held out his hand.

"Moved to stand" sounds a bit clumsy. "He stepped across to block Alan's view of Garret" reads a bit smoother. It's better for readers if you can say what you want to say in as few words as possible.

Alan clasped it firmly, letting this man who should have been his sworn enemy, help him to his feet.

"this man, who should have been his sworn enemy," or "this man- who should have been his sworn enemy-" grammar.

"Together then," Alan said, pulling back his shoulders and not releasing Salaam's hand.

"Together, then," grammar.
Then he did something and also not-did something. The opposite of not releasing something is holding onto something. Could use rephrasing.

"Together, we shall fight the true holy war," the Saracen said.

Good.

I hope this helped. Not specifically with the sample you posted here, but also with your editing process with the rest of the story.


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE

Signature Picture by: Spartan204

BBS Signature

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 10:55:15


Thank you, it really did help. I know now to really keep an eye out for some of those redundant moments like "clutched in his fist".

However, the only reason I used the term "Another friend," to replace the name was because the character had already lost a friend to the villain of the story, and I was trying to emphasize that. However, if you think that still doesn't work, I'll take another look at it to get a bigger punch, so to speak, out of the scene.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 13:21:51


At 7/11/10 03:05 AM, sinfulwolf wrote: The following is the end segment of chapter 8 of my story. A bit of a ways in, but I felt it somewhat weak. It may be weird looking at it, as it refers to events that happen prior to this particular segment, but I'm interested to see what I could do to revise this.

In the future, maybe a synopsis to help tie a couple of the ambiguities would be suitable. Just so we can pick-up the mood, as mood can also affect how something is written.

Alan walked carefully amongst the dead, holding his sword tightly in his fist.

Adverbs should be used only when needed. In this case, you over used it. Also, if you're going to use an adverb, try to be more expressive and try to be consistent. In this first sentenced, he's walking "carefully" but in the next we get a sense of him being "aimless" or emotionally distraught to the point of dispondency. A better adverb to emphasis this fact, and enforce the next sentece, would be something that links to his emotional state. Also, if you're going to mention his fist, give it a purpose. I imagine he's holding his sword tightly, as if it were a security blanket; as if it were the only thing holding him together at this point. Perhaps "; he held his sword in a white-knuckled grip."

His helmet lay abandoned somewhere in the sand as he shuffled amongst the mutilated corpses, all of them wearing the uniform of the Lionheart.

To follow up on WB's critique, this is something that should be further empthasised. Perhaps before this excerpt, when he actually does take the helmet off, or have him take it off now.

There were no others, none of Du Lac's men, no Saracens.

"There were no others;"

Even most of the column was missing rather than laying desecrated in the desert.

This makes no sense either. Not the content, but the sentence itself. I wouldn't be able to draw meaning even if I did have context. It just seems... superfluous.

Curtis bent by each body, trying to see if any still lived, despite the very obvious state of death. The scout commander took daggers and swords from the fallen, strapping them to the horse that followed him obediently.

This seems unnecesary as you're focusing on things that don't matter, such as the action, or what's beeing gathered. You're drawing the image for the reader, rather than letting them do it themselves. "Curtis checked each body in vein, looking for signs of life. The scout commander gathered weapons from the fallen, collecting them onto the horse..."

"My God," Alan muttered, eyes flicking from one torn body to the next, and finally settled on a spear driven into the ground, Garret's head impaled on the blade, blood running down the shaft. A buzzard had already landed on the knight's head and was picking at his eye.

I agree with WB on this point as well. The sentence runs on, but not smoothly. Rework this, and be sure to use language that evokes anger from the reader. You want them to feel alan's anger, or at least feel something for Garret (who is important because he's named, right?). As I understand it, this probably a "hole shit Garret is dead" moment. You really need to capitalize on that.

"Get away from him," Alan yelled swinging his sword at the vulture. The bird let out a squawk and took off into the air, circling above the massacre with his fellow carrion eaters.

The bird should have taken something with it if you were going to mention what it does. Perhaps something a bit more visual, like dog tags (if applicable), or something with inherent meaning.

Falling to his knees, sword falling from his hands, Alan pounded on the ground, sorrow and rage clashing within him. Before him, the decapitated body of another friend was slumped against the spear. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looking up, saw Salaam standing above him.

This needs to be slowed down. You run through his emotions and actions, and by the time the passage is done, the reader is left feeling as if Alan was being melodramatic. You should also consider the type of situation this is. They're warriors, and death is expected. It may be tough, but they should have some sort of coping mechanism built in by now.

"Now is not the time to grieve. Now is the time to take up arms and destroy the evil which is doing this to both your people and mine," the Saracen warrior said calmly.

Like I said, a warrior shouldn't be coming apart at the seams. Otherwise, they would have been killed in the field. Also, the unnecessary adverb at the end. Nix it.

He moved to stand before the desecrated body of Garret, blocking it from Alan's view, and held out his hand. Alan clasped it firmly, letting this man who should have been his sworn enemy, help him to his feet.

"Together then," Alan said, pulling back his shoulders and not releasing Salaam's hand.

"Together, we shall fight the true holy war," the Saracen said.

If Alan is still thinking Salaam is his sworn enemy (or the thought at least lingers), this moment should provide a bit more impact. They need the cement the fact that they're no longer sworn enemies. Provide a bit more emotional confrontation. Expound a bit more on how Alan felt that led him not to release Salaam's hand.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 13:29:38


And I apologize for not mentioning it earlier, but please take my criticism for what it is: a critique on the words-- not you. Aside from typos, I didn't bother commending you on your good work. This really was a solid piece, it just so happened to also be a first draft. I think the mood of the scene is captured very well, there's just characterization, and world building, that needs to be improved. Over time, and over drafts, as you continue to develop these characters and this world, you'll find it gets easier and easier. You're still sculpting, even if you feel you're done. Once the full figure is realized, only then can you go back and hammer out the finer details.

Good job, and good luck.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-11 18:10:25


Thank you much Deathcon for the critique. It's nice to know that both you and Writer's Block think it's good writing, even if it needs a lot of touching up. And really that's what I was looking for. I'll look over everything the both of you said and edit up that piece again.

More importantly however I'll take all these tips and pointers to help craft the coming chapters. Whether or not I'll share more 500 word segments remains to be seen, as if I keep feeding more and more through here, one might as well go over the entire story.

Thanks again the both of you. I'll have my edits up within the next couple days when I can sit down and start plugging away once more.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-13 15:48:55


Hello. Enclosed is poem. Please give me constructive criticism. I wish only to improve.
Be as scathing as necessary.

The Wild's Way

Cradled by sun and wind's embrace,
a pile of earth,
whose soul is planted in Gaian flesh,
tiny green,
whose prophecies talk of brown muscular boughs,
sprouting green multitudes,
one day extending from soil smotherdom,
in the quest for golden light,
a journey that is repeated,
until empty soil,
becomes a tangled cityscape,
of tall and slender,
green haired,
silent sentinels.

Whose green hair,
falls to soil,
and is devoured,
by a legion of tiny mouths
who are subsequently eaten,
by an opportunistic amphibian.

All life acts without explanation.
Ants as they walk,
do not ponder,
not once does a bird wonder why,
the truths of the moment,
in forests before us,
offer a single reply:

All will be.
whispered by wind,
in the ears of the trees,
as leaves dance.

Truth does not speak up,
out of silent star bed.

We must notice inscribed,
in peculiar leaf and insect pattern,
our role in the invertebrate and plant conspiracy:
let be.

Change the way we see,
to notice love and find further binding:
quoth the forest- all will be.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-07-13 18:14:39


At 7/13/10 03:48 PM, Personaphobe wrote: Hello. Enclosed is poem. Please give me constructive criticism. I wish only to improve.
Be as scathing as necessary.

Okie.

The Wild's Way

This title is terrible.

It hurts don't it :P
Cradled by sun and wind's embrace,
a pile of earth,
whose soul is planted in Gaian flesh,
tiny green,

These four lines would be a really strong start if you drop a syllable from the third line into the fourth. While you shouldn't be counting syllables, you shouldn't ignore them either. Rhythm and meter can be really important to a poem, and should be delivered entirely, if provided in part.

whose prophecies talk of brown muscular boughs,
sprouting green multitudes,
one day extending from soil smotherdom,
in the quest for golden light,
a journey that is repeated,
until empty soil,
becomes a tangled cityscape,
of tall and slender,
green haired,
silent sentinels.

The form here could have been shaped like a growing plant as it seems that's what you're going for, but otherwise the line structure becomes really erratic and confusing to me, the reader.

Whose green hair,
falls to soil,
and is devoured,
by a legion of tiny mouths
who are subsequently eaten,
by an opportunistic amphibian.

This is where your imagery breaks down and the poem becomes nothing more than a CBS special on saving the rainforests. You might as well write an essay for what's being delivered.

All life acts without explanation.
Ants as they walk,
do not ponder,
not once does a bird wonder why,
the truths of the moment,
in forests before us,
offer a single reply:

All will be.
whispered by wind,
in the ears of the trees,
as leaves dance.

Truth does not speak up,
out of silent star bed.

We must notice inscribed,
in peculiar leaf and insect pattern,
our role in the invertebrate and plant conspiracy:
let be.

Change the way we see,
to notice love and find further binding:
quoth the forest- all will be.

quoth the forest, 'All will be.'

Aside from the above, there's not much critique I can offer. Personally, I'm not very good at critiquing poetry. What I can tell you, however, is that your theme is very weak. Your message is short of clouting the reader on the head. If you used more examples, rather than directly delivering your message, the poem would be much stronger. You should also further develop your chorus. As it stands, it crops up throughout the poem, but is never delivered strongly.

Response to Poetry + flash fic workshop thread 2010-09-07 05:51:59


This thread seems an extremely good idea, yet it has all but died of late. If no-one else minds, I'm going to bump it with something a little different. I recently tried writing a play in verse form, a Shakespearean homage if you will. If you haven't tried this, let me tell you it's extremely difficult. However, I would like critique on it just to know if I can make it clearer or more effective.

We set our scene in the city of Acre at the time of the Third Crusade, where a soldier, Malcolm Wren, stands trial for insurbordination. And before anyone asks, it is less than 500 words. I checked :)

Malcolm: And thus to execrable justice
I must lay profound in muted prayer
To await my chosen execution
Without supplication, nor despair

Sebastian: The accused one stands before our view
In full countenance of his own crime

Malcolm: No crime commit did I that no full man
Would not himself commit in mine estate

Sebastian: The sins are listed thus, that Malcolm Wren
Former bearer of arms of our order
Did, with callous frame and villain's will,
Refuse to march against the heretics
That, even now, keep their narrow glare
Close to the sanctum heart of Acre's walls.

Pasquale: How dost the guilty plea?

Malcolm: Why, thou must know already, O wise judge.
The prophet has gifted thine with his eyes
If thou name me such before I speak my case

Pasquale: Does thou make a mockery of our tenets?
If it be so, speak it plainly, so we
May put thy intentions to light at last

Malcolm: Not mock, fair and noble justices, no
I do not intend to play the fool to thee
Rather illuminate, to unveil
All false creeds and couplets that construct
My situation. You call my acts crime.
What crime? Is staying blade from babes a crime?
Is letting mothers stray about their homes
A crime? If it be so, we all have sinned
For we have left our sons untouched, unchanged
And kept our mothers safe from battles call.

Pasquale: These are not good Christian folk you spare
You speak of them as such

Malcolm: How are they not?
Do they not pray as we? Do they not work?
Do they not scratch the dried earth for sweet seed?
They are as much our mothers as our own

Pasquale: They are our foe, blind and foolish soldier
Quiet these rebellious thoughts and think
Upon the demands of our people's war!

Malcolm: So, our foe is now endless. Enemies
Not bound by the lines of innocence.
All may be accountable, all guilty.
The ranks of Ares manned by mewling children,
His chariots driven by frightened babes.
Wives clutch their broomsticks made sarrisas
For families are not spared high Battle's call.
Who else supplies the war? Are we to slay
Cattle in their pens for dwelling with those
Who worship strange exotic deities?
Are we to strip those mountains that dare ring
Sparkling waters with jagged horizons
Slowing our sacred duty? Should we hunt
The sun for granting them light to see or
The moon for cloaking them with sable hoods?
Call it war, good sirs, if name it you must.
But name it not a people's war, for they
Fear you make them part of it. They fear that
When shields are raised and lines of conflict drawn
They will stand at arms to greet the dawn.