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Updated: Dec 13, 2021

It is a cold, lonely arena with no hope, no warmth, no dreams; it is a deep abyss of crimson-colored metal stains, rusty firearms which have seen far too much use their time, and empty men who have lost their reason and will to fight; it is an endless tunnel of fear and hesitation. As the bell tolled for the young, brave men, the blazing field of...

Sigmund Brant stared blankly at his friend and classmate Cecilia Belle's story. His mouth slightly twitched before he broke into a laugh.

"Dude, Cici, this intro is way too freakin' drawn-out and pretentious. I get what you're trying to do here, but, man, you lay it on heavy for an introduction. You're only describing a fictional high school paintball tournament, after all. This won't get you a good grade in our creative writing class."

"Yeah, I guess that's true."

"Yup. Impatient readers, especially younger ones, will stop reading if you write the whole thing like this. Plus, y'know, you're trying to write for a college professor who doesn't have time to read too much crap. You ought to try and trim down your sentences and avoid using overly descriptive adjectives in general. Less is more, for sure."

"Hmmm, alright," Cecilia replied. "Well, what else would you suggest I change?"

"What I would do, personally, is to depict the students as, y'know, actual students. You make them look like they're soldiers about to invade a country or somethin' like that. Try and make 'em less serious and more comedic. Here, gimme that pen and paper."

Cecilia passed her manuscript to Sigmund. His hands moved quickly on the page, not taking any pauses.

"…Ok! Read this summary and tell me if you think this is better."

James "JaJa" Jasper lead his herd of hip-hop homies towards the school. Big Beautiful Bad Boys High School's 43rd annual Proud Paintball of Power tournament was minutes away. JaJa's adrenaline level was high, but his excitement was even higher. He could almost taste the stadium's level of enthusiasm in the air around him.

"…. you can't be serious. James "JaJa" Jasper? Herd of hip-hop homies? Big Beautiful Bad Boys High School? Proud Paintball of Power? Sig, are you even trying? I mean, seriously. I can appreciate the fun use of alliteration here, but it's too immature for my taste."

"But you get what I'm trying to say with all this, right? This kinda tone is more appropriate for this type of story. Your original opening felt wayyyy too grim."

"Ok, look, I know what you're getting at, but your intro sounds more like something out of a dumb Japanese cartoon created for little kids or something."

"Ummm, excuse me, Cici. It's called anime! You'd know if you weren't part of the uneducated, plebeian masses! Get on my level, nerd!" He flashed her a smug grin.

Cecilia groaned. "Yeah, yeah, I get it. You love those giant robots and beam swords. It's cool, I understand." Cecilia let out a sigh. "All that aside, your portrayal is also a bit over-the-top. The tone might be different, but it's incredibly ridiculous."

"Alright, fair enough, I suppose." Sigmund took a deep breath. "Ok, let me be serious for a moment. I think the best way to start this story would be to, more or less, mix the tone of our two stories. Having a balance between serious and goofy would be good. I mean, it's about freaking paintball. We're not talking about infant mortality rates in some third-world country or whatever. It'd probably be best not to be too uptight while also trying to have fun with the material."

"Ok. I have an idea. Let me have that pen and notepad." Cecilia took the pen and wrote, barely taking a pause. She finished writing after only a couple of minutes.

"You're going to love this story, I guarantee it! It's straightforward yet shows how intense paintball can be," she said while smirking. "Read it and tell me you don't agree." Sigmund took the paper from her and began to read.

A group of high school students played in a paintball tournament. One of the students tripped on a paintball. He fell to the ground, breaking his nose and right wrist. The team had to forfeit the tournament due to his injury. THE END.

Sigmund stared deep into her eyes and uttered: "What on Earth did I just read, you absolute mad lass? That was just grim and repetitive nonsense!"

"Me realizing a high school paintball tournament would, honestly, be a pretty lame read. The primary demographic would likely be younger elementary school children. Also, to accurately portray high school students, I would need to use incredibly graphic and over-the-top language."

"Ah, yeah, that makes sense. Good point. High school can be pretty rough."

"Yeah. Writing realistic-sounding dialogue would obviously not be appropriate for elementary students. I don't want parents telling me 'I soiled the innocence of their child,'" she said using air quotations. "I'd like to write something a bit more meaningful that's not just for little kids. I'd much rather write for an older, more mature audience. An audience who can appreciate both comedy and drama, you know?"

"I know what you mean. It's always good to establish beforehand the target demographic for a story." Sigmund coughed. "Well, anyway, I wouldn't want to read an entire novel about a high school paintball tournament. Not really my cup of tea. So yeah, writing something different might be a good idea."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Writing a large narrative like this would be too big of an undertaking for me anyway. It might be better for me to focus on smaller yet meaningful segments. I think I'd get a better grade if I focused on writing stories with more grounded characters, conflicts, tones, and all that kind of stuff."

"I agree. You have strong attention to detail. Focusing your efforts on short yet strong narratives would be a good fit for you. You know me, though: I usually like more goofy, lighthearted stories. You're clearly more suited to the more serious stuff, though, for sure."

"That's a good point. By the way, I was meaning to ask you if would you be willing to continue looking over my stories going forward? It's always helpful to have someone who can give constructive criticism."

"No prob! It'll help to have someone who can give me feedback on all the stupid and dumb shit I write, anyway. It'll be nice to have someone to write and read with."

Thus, they worked together to ensure their papers would be given top marks in their college creative writing course. Cecilia Belle and Sigmund Brant wrote the following stories not just because they were obligated to, but also to vent their thoughts and feelings.

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