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Urgent help needed

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Level 3
Feb 1, 2010
I wrote this story for Blizzard's writing contest (http://eu.blizzard.com/en-gb/community/contests/writing2011/), I wish for some proofing before I submit it (grammar, punctuation and structure) If you notice anything wrong in any way let me know. +rep to all who help and thanks in advance.

To Darkness and Back

The summer breeze brushed his hair backwards while standing under the afternoon sun. Its warming rays revealed to his eyes what he believed to be the most beautiful scene ever, the golden wheat fields; Jerald was home.

"We are in for a good harvest this year." announced the young man who walked up to the absent minded Jerald.
"We do indeed," then added with a proud smile. "and this year you are old enough to help out."

He turned to gaze upon the fields that he planted with his own hands once again but was distracted by a very soft voice:
"Lunch is ready." said the little girl who was standing next to his leg.
Jerald bent over and picked up his ten year old daughter and cuddled her in his big arms.
"Look Emily" he pointed to the fields while adding: "we'll have a great harvest this year".
"You'll have an angry wife if you don't hurry up to the kitchen" answered the blue eyed girl while straitening her long blond hair.
Jerald couldn't suppress his laughter and kissed the girl on the forehead before heading back towards the small house nearby.

He thought about how he needed to build a new room for his growing daughter since she will soon be no longer able to stay in the same room with her two brothers.
His thoughts were interrupted by a shrill scream and he confirmed the source as soon as he entered the room they used as a kitchen.
"Mickle! How many times have I told you to wash your hands before eating," said the blond woman standing next to the stove in an angry tune.
"But mom, they are clean! I washed them this morning." answered the young boy.
Jerald cut the discussion short before his wife could get any angrier and said sternly:
"Don't argue with your mother, go and wash your hands or there will be no lunch for you."
Mickle slumped his shoulders while being pushed forward by his older brother, their sister walked silently behind them.

Carmin sent a grateful look towards her supporting husband and Jerald took the chance given to him by the absence of their children and gave his beloved wife a tight hug and a passionate kiss.
"You still have to wash your hands too" she said kindly.
"I know, I have to make a good example for the children, right?"
He gave his wife another kiss before leaving for the front yard where the well is.

"Noooo! Mean Mickle! Stay away!" Emily was shouting desperately while trying to avoid being doused with a bucketful of water.
"Mickle! You really want to be punished, don't you?" said Jerald while patting his daughter's head.
"Oww, I was just kidding. You know that I wasn't serious"
"Yes you were" said the angry girl with tearful eyes while hiding behind her father's leg.

After receiving a scolding and washing his hands, Mickle went into the kitchen followed by his two siblings and their father. The whole family gathered around the table and started eating while reporting their activities for that morning like they usually do.
Jerald looked at his family and smiled; after years on the battle field, he was able to come home and have his dreams realized:
"I have everything I ever dreamed of" he thought to himself while appreciating the happiness he felt inside.

Thunder roared in the horizon announcing the coming of a storm. Jerald looked carelessly to the north trying to estimate whether it would arrive before the end of his patrol or not.
The sound of heavy boots on the blighted ground pulled his thoughts back and he increased his speed to catch up to the patrol party. The dead trees shock their leafless branches under the influence of the northern wind which hauled in the ears of the grim faced soldiers like an omen of death. It was still dark and even though there were no clouds in the sky yet, there were no stars either.

The darkness gripped Jerald's heavy heart tightly and squeezed in his mind the feelings of loss and despair. He wondered when did things become like this and how could he have lost everything just like that. He reached in his dark memories and found nothing but blood and carnage, he sought desperately for that warm place that he knew existed somewhere in his past, yet his search gave no results and he couldn't understand how he could ever forget it.
"Patrol the surrounding region and report any enemy activity" echoed the commander's orders in his troubled mind as something within him reminded him of what he was supposed to be doing.

The main army has been lost and the only defense between the scourge and the few remaining survivors was the resistance force garrisoned in the nearby keep. The undead have been pressing the attack recently but the resistance has somehow held their ground so far.

The patrol went on without any major incidence and Jerald soon found himself staring at the blackened banners of the half ruined keep, the shady figures of the wall guards loomed over him as he and the rest of the party crossed the gate and into the courtyard. After a quick report, Jerald was reassigned to watch the south eastern corner of the wall while the rest of his party was distributed with various duties around the keep. There was no time to rest; the undead didn't rest and they didn't give the resistance the time to do that either. An attack was always on the way and all the soldiers had to be in their positions at all times. The soldiers that weren't on guard duty were repairing the walls, carrying equipment or patrolling the premises.

Compared to the other assignments one would get in the keep, guarding the walls was considered a resting time even though the mental stress was much greater. Jerald stood in his designated place and looked at the dead forest beyond the walls while paying no head to the sound of thunder which was getting closer and closer; the storm wouldn't arrive until the next night and he had no reason to worry about it until then.

The shadows of the trees grew to the west as the rising sun cast its light on the world. Jerald looked to the east and couldn't tell why the sun appeared black; its rays were faint yellow and seemed to make everything they touched pale and colorless. He raised his opened palm in front of it and felt no warmth; it was as if the sun has lost its will to warm this dying world. He looked at his hand and wondered when it became so thin and bony or whether it was like that from the beginning, when did he have his last meal and when was the last time he took a good drink; the past was shadows he could no longer distinguish from the darkness that filled his soul, a darkness that not even the sun light could banish.
"Watch the walls and report any movement" echoed the orders in his mind, hollow and cold. Obeying the orders was all he had left; after losing everything he cherished, everything he ever held dear to his heart, becoming a shield so that others wouldn't feel the void he feels became his only reason to live, that and revenge. He took a last glance at the sun as it hid its red face behind the western horizon then he turned back to his guarding duties.

Thunder roared yet again, but this time he could see the lightning strike a nearby tree and set it ablaze despite pouring rain. His eyes welcomed the bright red color of flame with great delight hoping it would warm his heart which grew tired of the dark colors of night.
Seeing in such conditions was very difficult, still the guards kept watchful eyes to detect any enemy and warn their brethren about it before it is too late; duty was all that is left to those who lost all they ever had.

Jerald stood ready to sound the alarm as a small figure seemed to move through the lifeless forest. Lightning revealed the identity of the figure to be an ally, one of the soldiers who left on the last patrol party. Seeing that the rest of the party is missing, Jerald sounded the alarm declaring that enemies have been contacted. The noise from the running soldiers grew laud as the surviving scout entered through the gate and into the command post to report. Jerald knew what the report is and could predict what would happen next; this was not the first time such a thing happened, and as much as he hoped that it would be, he knew that it would also not be the last.
For the past few months, the enemy lunched a number of attacks against the garrison and most of them were aimed at the scouting parties. But this is the first time they lost this many soldiers at once.

"Form a retaliation force and annihilate the enemy" the orders came out furiously and the garrison came to life as soldiers ran in all directions and assembled in the courtyard.
The retaliation force consisted of eight soldiers, twelve young recruits, two big warriors, and two mages. Jerald was ready to meet the enemy as he took his place in the formation of the squad. While gripping the hilt of his sheathed sword, he swore to himself that he'll make the undead pay for all the lives they took on that night. The marching order came as soon as everyone took their respective places in the formation and the squad marched through the gates of the keep with a promise to avenge their fallen brothers.

Moving through the rain did slow the squad down but it didn't put out the rage that swelled within them. The big warriors mumbled as they usually do without making much sense, the young recruits did their best to control the urge of shouting their usual battle shouts while the mages carried their wands in silence that couldn't hide the fury that set their eyes aglow with magical energy. Jerald and the rest of the experienced soldiers wore grim faces that hid whatever storms that raged within their hearts.

After marching for several minutes, a shady figure revealed itself from the shadows of the trees ahead of the squad, the dark person moved closer as the squad leader recognized it as one of the stealthy watchmen that hide themselves near detected enemy forces and maintained knowledge of their location to be reported to any nearby ally.
"Seven warriors, one mage and one sharpshooter" said the scout with a ghastly voice while pointing a black hand east towards a nearby hill "their camp is just beyond that hill" add the man before going back into hiding.

The plan was simple, the task force would split into three groups: four recruits and two soldiers are to circle the hill and attack from the north, eight recruits and four soldiers are to be led by one of the big warriors and cut the enemies' retreat from the south, the remaining soldiers would escort the mages and the other big warrior and attack from high ground. It was a simple but risky plan even though they outnumbered the enemy and overpowered them in terms of classes.

Jerald joined the climbing group over the hell. The rain made the trip uphill difficult and the other groups kept that in mind moving slower to maintain the timing of the three attacks.

Once Jerald's group was on top of the hell, the big warrior unleashed a mighty battle cry to announce the beginning of the attack. The other two groups moved in on the enemy encampment. The big warrior charged downhill to disrupt enemy formation and was successful as the enemy squad split in unequal halves, one group of three warriors and the mage moved north to meet the north attackers, the second group included the remaining warriors and the sharpshooter moved to the south leaving the charging warrior in the middle of the battlefield.
Jerald moved with the soldiers accompanying him to crush the bigger group but the enemy shooter jumped to a nearby tree and aimed his gun at the hill. Jerald knew what the shooter was aiming for and turned to warn the mages behind but the mages were in mid cast and stopping the spell at that stage would cause it to backfire. Jerald disparately tried to stop the shooter by jumping through his line of sight wishing to distract the sniper. The sound of gun fire was followed by a blast from the top of the hill, Jerald hoped that the mages took the backfire but avoided the shot; both mages were rolling down the hill with no sign of resistance.

"Too fast! We lost the mages too fast!"
Jerald screamed in his mind furiously and charged with his company towards the tree where the shooter located himself but they were interrupted by a great haul, Jerald turned his head expecting another disaster; his expectations were met by the blazing figure of the warrior who just charged downhill. The big warrior struggled to put out the magical flame that engulfed him to no avail.

Jerald felt rage boil up inside him and without much consideration, he and the rest of his company launched an attack on the mage. Two soldiers headed from the left while another one attacked from the right, Jerald decided to take the unexpected route jumping over the burning warrior and followed with another jump towards his target.
The mage blasted the two soldiers on the left with a fire blast while one ally blocked the attack from the right. One of the warriors who were holding the main northern attack sent one of his two big axes flying in Jerald's direction.
Jerald pushed the incoming projectile to the side with his shield but miss judged the strength of the attack getting himself pushed too far to the side and wasn't able to land a hit on his prey who used this chance to blow him away with another fire blast.
Jerald used his shield once more to block the attack but couldn't hold his ground and was sent further away from the fight.

Once the force of the blast wore off, Jerald struggled to his feet while sending a glance southwards to chick on the south attacking group. The group was already decimated by the cooperation of the warriors and the sharp shooter, all that still stood of it was the big warrior who was hauling in agony from the continuous attacks he was receiving.

Jerald diverted his eyes north hopping for a better result but was answered by the sound of yet another fire blast that sent the last of his company blazing into the night. He and his group couldn't land a single attack.
The other two groups didn't do any better and the victor was already decided.

Pain felled Jerald's chest as he started to run for his honor; he couldn't meet his family with such disgrace. Even if he gets killed, he must at least take one last enemy down to the grave with him.

A strangely familiar voice called in his head, he couldn't tell what it said nor could he determine the identity of its owner. It wasn't the usual echo of the orders he previously received, it wasn't a memory resurfacing to his conscious and it wasn't a hallucination; it was the voice of someone who whispered into his very soul and made it hard to move. His feet wouldn't obey him anymore and he fell to his knees. Jerald desperately tried to move but the voice only got stronger and started to kill his very will to fight. The soft voice continued to whisper while his eyes showed him the end of the last man in his squad; they lost.

"Stand and fight! Kill them all! Let none survive!" the commands came to him from the darkness of his mind. It wasn't the usual echo; it was a strong hollow voice that combated the effect of the first one.

The screaming and whispering continued to tear Jerald' mind to pieces, one urging him to fight while the other soothed him into giving up. He opened his eyes hoping to perceive a piece of realty he could hold onto yet his hopes were answered with more madness, for before his eyes stood the sharp shooter who took the lives of so many of his brethren, only that he was a human!
Jerald realized that he's gone mad and was no longer able to distinguish friend from foe. He reached into his recent memories searching for his enemy's real face but his memories told him that the one standing before him was a human from the very beginning. Not only that, but they also told him that he was someone he know all too well that it was strange he couldn't remember the young man's identity.

The shooter looked past the kneeling man. "Are you sure this is him?"
"Yes, there is no doubt." answered the voice that has been whispering in Jerald's head for the past minutes, only this time Jerald could actually hear the voice in his ears rather than his mind.
Something moved into the scene and Jerald looked up to see what it was. The owner of the mysterious voice was a young human girl. Her small figure kneeled before him giving him a better view of her youthful face. Her long blond hair glistened with water from the rain which reflected the moon light.
Jerald realized while gazing into her blue eyes that the storm was over. Not only the thunderstorm that was roaring over head a few moments ago, but the one that raged within his head as well. He could no longer hear the soft whispering nor the raging echo of the commands and for the first time in what felt like an eternity, his mind was his own.
He looked at the soft features and couldn't believe how familiar they looked.
"I know these blue eyes" He thought to himself "I know this blond hair and this pretty face. Why can't I remember? How could I ever forget?"
"It is alright now" said the young girl fondly "the nightmare is over and we can finally go home. Let's go home father."

That last word hit Jerald like a lightning bolt which broke the barrier that blocked his memories and they flooded his head like a bitter sweet river of scenes, sounds and feelings that told him of things past.
The memories filled his darkened heart with colors while telling him of who he was, what he had, and finally, what he became.

The last part of the story was too gruesome to withstand. He wanted to deny it but his hands confirmed the truth; the fleshless bony fingers confirmed the horrible truth of what he is and a haul of agony escaped his mouth all the way from the very depths of his soul.

The forsaken warriors recognized the scream since many of them have uttered it in the past. The scream of freedom, and the requiem that spelled the nightmare which they will endure for the rest of their existence in this world.

"It's alright" the young girl shouted in tears while trying frantically to comfort her agonizing father "it doesn't matter. We can still go home and you can still grow the wheat fields you love so much. Mother will scold us about not washing our hands before eating. Let's go home, please, let's go home"

Jerald couldn't stop hauling despite his daughter's tears. The pain in his heart wasn't going to subside any time soon. The pain from realizing that the one he thought to fight against was the one he served, the pain from taking so many innocent lives without knowing it, the pain from realizing that he never lost the things he cared for but only lost himself. All these years he spent in darkness were all in vain, just a cruel joke orchestrated by the dark lord of the dead.
"You are free father!" said his undead son "the Lich King no longer command you and your well shall never yield to his again. Whatever crimes you think you did are actually his, whatever blood you think you spelt is on his hands alone. Your mind my still be confused, but your now free heart knows the truth of who you are. Listen to your heart father, it is finally free from the darkness and it is telling you the truth you have been missing all these years".
Jerald started to calm down as he started to accept this new reality. The shivering embrace of the young human mage softened the pain he felt givng a space in his heart to feel his own existence like he never did over the years of his enslavement.

"Captain Harold, what are your orders?" asked one of the Forsaken warriors.
"Make sure none of these wretches rise again. We head back for the camp once we are done with that"
"Hey Harold, when will you come home?" asked Mickle.
"They'll give me a vocation as soon as I take down that garrison" answered the twin axe Forsaken captain.
"Well, you'd better make it for the harvest season or mother will get really angry"
"We'll see about that"

Jerald was led through the forest and was ushered onto a wagon. His daughter hugged him as tight as if he'd run away the moment she'd let go.
Mickle started to drive the wagon towards the south where there home is.

Jerald's mind was still disoriented from the shock he just received. Questions still swirled in his head, questions about who he was and if he can be that ever again, questions about the people he is supposed to call family and if they expect him to be the one he used to be and questions about his ability to meet their expectations.

The sound of hooves onto the dead earth lulled his troubled mind into slumber while gazing at the peaceful face of the young girl who rested her head on his shoulder.
Jerald closed his eyes and something started to wash over him, he couldn't tell if it was a memory or a dream but he felt the summer breeze brush his hair backwards while he stood under the morning sun. Her warming rays revealed to his eyes what he believed to be the most beautiful scene ever, the golden wheat fields; Jerald was home.

Post was updated after Ignited's most appreciated notes.
Last edited:
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
not 100% on this, but I think you should use a comma ( , ) not a full stop ( . ) as the break when quoting direct words at the start of a sentence.

so this:

"We are in for a good harvest this year." announced the young man who walked up to the spaced out Jerald.

should read:

"We are in for a good harvest this year," announced the young man who walked up to the spaced out Jerald.
Level 3
Feb 1, 2010
Thanks a lot.
Is that all there is wrong about it? Is there no inaccuracy in sentence structure? No expressions that don't appear to make sense?

What about what you thought of the story?
Do you think it is good enough for the contest (in terms of English writing and plot)?

I appreciate the response but can you blame me for wanting more?
note:+rep for both of you.
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
The story is nice (admittedly, I only skip read through parts of it). I think you have a decent plot worked out.

As with all language though, it is not what you say, but rather how you say it. Stories, especially short ones, involve stirring emotions in the reader and capturing their imaginations. You have to transport them to this place of love, fear, despair, happiness and anger (and then back to reality) in like 10 000 words.

Keeping that in mind, there are some places you could improve the general "English" to make the language fit the theme/feel of the piece.

Like Vermillion Edict said:

absent minded works better than 'spaced out'

With a proud smile, Jerald responded: "We do indeed, and this year you are old enough to help out." feeling even more pride as he looked at his eldest son, Harold.

try not use the same word that often. 'Proud/pride' it just sounds funny.

picked up his ten years old daughter and cuddled

ten year old daughter

a womanly scream

a shrill scream

and there are quite a few more places like these....

Okay, if this seems a bit harsh, keep in mind I'm looking at it from the perspective of an English "First Language" student. If you're going for the competition you want it good right??!

If you are serious about entering this contest, might I advise you hire an "editor" or find someone that will re-write the story to fix up any little 'irregularities' that you might have left in.

Good luck, an Good Job!
Level 3
Feb 1, 2010
Now that is more like it!
First of all, be as harsh as you can! If it can help me get this in better shape I am all happy and singing in the rain.

I always thought the plot was good enough (maybe not for winning but at least for being worth the time) but if it isn't written in good English then it is nothing.

About your suggestion of "hiring" someone, I can't do that because I have nothing to offer as fee. All I have is free help from helpful forums like wc3c and the hive workshop. Besides, I was hoping that someone would point out my mistakes and I would fix them instead of a rewrite. Do you really think a rewrite is needed?
Or could you point out these few more places you mentioned? I know I am asking for much buy I have no one else. If it is too much trouble then don't mind it; I guess I am just not ready for writing contests yet.
Thanks for everything.

Vermillion Edict, I used to think that I wrote it in good English then I started to have doubts and now I just have no idea what good English is anymore. If I could tell which parts may be off, I would have googled around to find the right expression but I can't.
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
dude, don't get me wrong... your English is good, in fact I understand perfectly well what you are trying to say all the time. What I was saying was that English, as Literature, is far afield from the spoken language. The use of metaphors, paradox, alliteration (and all the 5000 other figures of speech!) is an integral part of the written language. When I read your piece, it is just not all there yet... I'll give it like 6.5/7 out of 10.

This "feeling for the right word" can not be taught, it is learned through experience and practice. My advice to you would to read stuff like Robert Jordan's, Wheel of Time Series. (Not only is it an awesome story, but the writing is out of this world!) Wilbur Smith also has a nice style. (Shakespeare, and even Tolkien's, writing is almost to "ancient" to be useful 'study material', still good though.)

Finally; sorry mate, but I am not going to 'review' it... It's just that if I do, I would change almost every sentence a bit (NOT THAT IT NECESSARILY NEEDS CHANGING!!) and it would seize to be your story and would become mine... (as weird as that sounds...) When it comes to stuff like this, I am very particular and opinionated to what I believe is right! As such, I would tear this thing apart editing away small things that most people would not even consider need changing, you get where I'm going....!??

Anyway, if I come across more blatant errors I'll let you know!
Good-luck with the comp!
Again, my offer is still open.

What I think Kno_Mad means, is that with the right wording, you can turn something simple, like a guy getting out of bed, into a noteworthy event with plenty of depth.

Think, "He got out of bed". Try redoing that.

In the crisp, morning air, along the golden, misty hills of <Insert Town Name Here>, a man pulled his hulking body from his sheets. Lifting his heavy eyelids, the man dragged himself to his feet, looking through the dusty windows of his hut.

Summary, he woke up, got to his feet, and looked outside.
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
what i think kno_mad means, is that with the right wording, you can turn something simple, like a guy getting out of bed, into a noteworthy event with plenty of depth.

Think, "he got out of bed". Try redoing that.

In the crisp, morning air, along the golden, misty hills of <insert town name here>, a man pulled his hulking body from his sheets. Lifting his heavy eyelids, the man dragged himself to his feet, looking through the dusty windows of his hut.

One of the best way to use this, that I know of, is contrast. If you're doing a war story, with suffering and destruction, show everything beforehand to be perfect. The morning air is crisp, damp and soothing, while during battle, it is fetid, ashen and sickening. The lush hills are golden under the sun, while during battle, they are grey, the clouds appear to be full of ash and some manifestation of pain. Where there were trees, unmarked graves, topped with the broken helmets of fallen soldiers now lie.

Everything was perfect, almost utopian, and now, life and normality have faded away, with the color the land used to hold.

See? Contrast.
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
(another example: here I adapted your intro into one of an adventurer coming home...)

He was tired and he was walking... still walking. Not far now, just over the next hill. Then almost out of nowhere it was there, just like that. For a moment he just stood there, then he started down the hill. The sweet-smelling summer breeze brushed his hair backwards over his eyes as he tilted his face up to the late afternoon sun. The warm glow of the disc still illuminating the vast sky in a magnificent blaze of orange. In wisps of white clouds outlined pink and red, was captured the essence of a portrait he imagined not even the greatest of Diamani Artists would be able to capture. Below him, on the slopes of the hill overlooking this lush land, the sun's last warming rays revealed to him what he believed to be the most beautiful scene he had ever laid eyes on. Tol'Amarod, the golden wheat fields of Ithaben. He thought he had lost this place forever; this was the land he knew, this was the land he loved, this was the land he was born in; Jerald knew that he was home. He was home.
Level 3
Feb 1, 2010
I understand now.
Kno Mad's last post made realize how much I was overestimating myself.
I may have good English, but I am just an amateur as a writer and my skills are average at best.

I remembered that writing isn't about describing events in word but about painting the seen using words as colors.

Since the contest is annual, I have decided to sit this one out and try again next year and use the time to work on my writing skills. This story may get 6.5/10, and now that I know what it is missing, I may be able to make it better (7.5/10) but I believe that writing should flow out of the writer's mind like a river not forced out like drawing from a well. I don't like to rush things and would rather take long time to give good and solid results instead of working hard for a short time and hope I did enough.

On a side note, Kno Mad, I really enjoyed reading what you wrote and can't help but wonder how good and beautiful the story would be if you rewrote the whole thing. Would you like to rewrite it and maybe submit it as your own?
Level 4
Aug 17, 2011
Thanks mate, but no can do. Year-end exams start for me in 1 month.... gotta study and stuff. Should prob. stay off THW too!! Also, keep in mind, I spent like 5 min coming up with 1 paragraph and I just changed it! The story was all there for me to just work with!

Anyway, I suggest re-writing it, keeping what was said here in mind. (otherwise, leave it and re-write in 1 month / 2.)

writing should flow out of the writer's mind like a river not forced out like drawing from a well

see you are getting started already...

Also, if you re-write it, heck, even if you don't; send it in and check the response. It will be a good yardstick of the competition. Maybe you do get your 7/10. 'Coz, you never know! : )

One of my favorite devices when writing, is to start with the ending. A hurried chase, a nameless protagonist. They reach a quiet, empty barn or something, and recap on the story (How do it come to this?), and then reach back upto that point and beyond.

Also, if you're lucky, the more you work at it, the better you'll get. Kno_Mad here has to work for his paragraphs, as he said, while an image comes naturally to me, due to practice. The only time you'll 'waste' is the time it takes you to type it out.
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