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Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


You can post flash fiction and snippets of work here if you want other people to critique it. I expanded the word limit because of flash fiction (usually) being listed at =<1000 words. Please don't abuse that.

1) If you want to post a whole piece that is a little over 1000 words but is a complete flash fiction piece, that's fine.

2) If it's over 1100 or so, just post a new thread and make people aware of it here.

3) If you want a critique, post one first. 1:1 ratio.

4) Put effort into your critique: no "I like it X" or "I did't like Y". That mean's that if you get called out for giving low effort crits, we're going to blackball you and pretend you don't exist.

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Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


This is a story I wrote for thunderdome, that I really liked and would want to send it out in the future. I'll also get in a crit for someone as soon as they post it.

I'll see you again one day, old spice.

Word count: 750

Archie sat in his wheelchair at the top of the grassy hill and slapped his helmet.

“Okay, now just let go,” Archie said.

“I’m really having second thoughts about this,” Douglas said.

“If I crash I won’t feel a thing.”

Douglas knew Archie was smiling. He couldn’t see his face from where he stood behind the wheelchair, but he could hear it in the sound of his voice. Douglas remembered that sound from the first day he heard it, nearly-drowned in mud and muck in a Vietnamese jungle. Ambush, landmines, grenades, bullets, screaming, so much screaming. Archie tackled Douglas. Blood was coming through Archie’s teeth. Archie snapped out of it.

“Are you alright?” He remembered shouting.

“I don’t feel a thing,” Archie laughed. He had tears in his eyes.

“Hey, let go,” Archie said, fighting with his wheels.

“You’re going to flip over and break your neck,” Douglas said.

”No I won’t, I put all the weights I could in the backpack to act as a counterbalance,” he said, reaching behind his back and using his thumb to point at the backpack strapped to the back of the chair.

“You dirty son of a bitch,” Douglas said. Douglas, who had never let go of his Army routine, had stayed in shape throughout his retirement years, but even he had struggled to push Archie to the top of the hill. “I knew I wasn’t out of shape.”

Douglas leaned forward over the back of the wheelchair, using Archie’s shoulders as a rest. Archie’s Old Spice deodorant filled his nose, a mixture of nostalgia and regret wafting about. Archie reached up and stroked the hair on the back of Douglas’s head near his neck. Douglas took two more deep breaths and pushed himself upright.

Douglas stood there behind Archie at a military ball some time after they had been shipped back. They were both dressed in their formals, watching couples slow dance across the floor. Archie drank from a flask, Douglas stayed dry.

“Go and dance,” Archie said. Douglas shook his head. There was no way he was going to go and dance in front of Archie, taunting him and rubbing the question, Why me, in Archie’s face, Douglas thought. Truth be told there was no good reason why Douglas should walk and Archie shouldn’t. Douglas even wondered if the thought plagued himself more so than it did Archie. He would stay up all night with only those thoughts and the smell of Old Spice next to him.

“Come on, you pussy, let go,” Archie said, beginning to sound annoyed.

“I’m trying to enjoy the view just a little longer before the ambulance arrives,” Douglas said.

Douglas loved Archie, there was no doubt about that. But there was a hidden guilt that kept Douglas around, he liked to think. If Archie hadn’t been shot, they wouldn’t be together, he was positive. They would still be friends, write to each other, but they would have moved on and found another, more perfect partner to be with. Douglas wanted to convince himself of that, that there was someone more perfect for Archie, because then he wouldn’t be an imposter.

He would give anything, everything, his legs, medals, to throw off his disguise and tell Archie, I love you, but I’m not in love with you. And then Archie would breath a sigh of relief and laugh and say, that’s okay, I’m not in love with you either. They would shake hands, and even though they were both old and bony, they would have a whole new life left to live.

“Alright, enough monkeying around, are you going to let me go, or not?”

“I’m scared,” Douglas said.

Archie put his hand on Douglas’s and rubbed it softly. Archie turned in his chair and looked up at Douglas.

“Dougie, please, just let me go,” Archie said. He had tears in his eyes. Douglas flashed back to Archie laying on top of him in Vietnam, tears in his eyes. “I don’t feel a thing,” reverberated through Douglas’s head. He let go. Archie’s chair lurched forward slowly before taking a steeper angle.

The chair plunged down the hill, skipping off lumps in the grass and clattering away. Douglas’s stomach fell and he panicked.

“Archie!” He shouted. Douglas took off after him, his knees and shins aching as he raced down the hill. Douglas’s tears streaked the sides of his face, wetting the edges of his mask; it peeled away in strips and floated away into the sky.

Benagain
Oct 10, 2007


Noah posted:

This is a story I wrote for thunderdome, that I really liked and would want to send it out in the future. I'll also get in a crit for someone as soon as they post it.

I'll see you again one day, old spice.

Word count: 750

Archie sat in his wheelchair at the top of the grassy hill and slapped his helmet.

“Okay, now just let go,” Archie said.

“I’m really having second thoughts about this,” Douglas said.

“If I crash I won’t feel a thing.”

Douglas knew Archie was smiling. He couldn’t see his face from where he stood behind the wheelchair, but he could hear it in the sound of his voice. Douglas remembered that sound from the first day he heard it, nearly-drowned in mud and muck in a Vietnamese jungle. Ambush, landmines, grenades, bullets, screaming, so much screaming. Archie tackled Douglas. Blood was coming through Archie’s teeth. Archie snapped out of it. Who's snapping out of what here? Did you mix up names? Also I think you're using names too much, you can drop Douglas for him a few times since you're being consistent with the narrator.

“Are you alright?” He remembered shouting. I don't think you need a capital letter here for he.

“I don’t feel a thing,” Archie laughed. He had tears in his eyes. This would work better as "Archie laughed, tears in his eyes."

“Hey, let go,” Archie said, fighting with his wheels.

“You’re going to flip over and break your neck,” Douglas said.

”No I won’t, I put all the weights I could in the backpack to act as a counterbalance,” he said, reaching behind his back and using his thumb to point at the backpack strapped to the back of the chair.

“You dirty son of a bitch,” Douglas said. Douglas, who had never let go of his Army routine, had stayed in shape throughout his retirement years, but even he had struggled to push Archie to the top of the hill. “I knew I wasn’t out of shape.” Again, too much Douglas.

Douglas leaned forward over the back of the wheelchair, using Archie’s shoulders as a rest. Archie’s Old Spice deodorant filled his nose, a mixture of nostalgia and regret wafting about. Archie reached up and stroked the hair on the back of Douglas’s head near his neck. Douglas took two more deep breaths and pushed himself upright.

Douglas stood there behind Archie at a military ball some time after they had been shipped back. They were both dressed in their formals, watching couples slow dance across the floor. Archie drank from a flask, Douglas stayed dry.

“Go and dance,” Archie said. Douglas shook his head. There was no way he was going to go and dance in front of Archie, taunting him and rubbing the question, Why me, in Archie’s face, Douglas thought. Truth be told there was no good reason why Douglas should walk and Archie shouldn’t.This is awkward but I've only had a cup of coffee and I have no suggestions for how to make it less awkward. Basic message is fine, just needs to be tinkered with. Douglas even wondered if the thought plagued himself more so than it did Archie. He would stay up all night with only those thoughts and the smell of Old Spice next to him.

“Come on, you pussy, let go,” Archie said, beginning to sound annoyed.

“I’m trying to enjoy the view just a little longer before the ambulance arrives,” Douglas said.

Douglas loved Archie, there was no doubt about that. But there was a hidden guilt that kept Douglas around, he liked to think. If Archie hadn’t been shot, they wouldn’t be together, he was positive. They would still be friends, write to each other, but they would have moved on and found another, more perfect partner to be with. Douglas wanted to convince himself of that, that there was someone more perfect for Archie, because then he wouldn’t be an imposter. I like this sentiment but I feel like the sentences could be swapped around more to reduce comma pauses. "If Archie hadn't been shot, he was positive they wouldn't be together."

He would give anything, everything, his legs, medals, to throw off his disguise and tell Archie, I love you, but I’m not in love with you. Then Archie would breath a sigh of relief and laugh and say, that’s okay, I’m not in love with you either. They would shake hands, and even though they were both old and bony, they would have a whole new life left to live. This is good. Lotta pain coming through these words.

“Alright, enough monkeying around, are you going to let me go, or not?”

“I’m scared,” Douglas said.

Archie put his hand on Douglas’s and rubbed it softly. Archie turned in his chair and looked up at Douglas.

“Dougie, please, just let me go,” Archie said. He had tears in his eyes. Douglas flashed back to Archie laying on top of him in Vietnam, tears in his eyes. “I don’t feel a thing,” reverberated through Douglas’s head. He let go. Archie’s chair lurched forward slowly before taking a steeper angle.

The chair plunged down the hill, skipping off lumps in the grass and clattering away. Douglas’s stomach fell and he panicked.

“Archie!” He shouted. Douglas took off after him, his knees and shins aching as he raced down the hill. Douglas’s tears streaked the sides of his face, wetting the edges of his mask; it peeled away in strips and floated away into the sky. Nice ending.

This made me feel sad, which I guess is the point, so good job. Nice piece that you should totally send out, just needs some spit and polish.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


I did a couple critiques over in the other thread and didn't post anything. I'd love to get this Thunderdome entry from a while ago picked apart:

Check Engine (644 Words)

Nothing. Not a god drat thing. Somewhere there’s this guy laughing his rear end off because he tricked some guy up in Newfoundland into paying $90 for a cactus. I could have paid for the whole night with that. I’m going to head down to the festival anyway.

The cab pulls into the driveway. It’s an old piece of poo poo, but gently caress, I’m just getting a run downtown. The driver backs out of the driveway, “Where to, my buddy?”

“George Street.”

“Busy down there tonight. My jesus, there’s some nice lookin’ young women around.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I don’t know how half of ‘em don’t freeze. Goin’ around with nothing on.”

We’re driving down Main Road and holy poo poo. Someone’s grabbed hold of my brain and they’re pulling it in three directions. I don’t say a word. We’re driving past the dairy farm. I’m glad the cows are alive. Does their life matter once they're dead? Does anyone know they exist?

Ping. The check engine light comes on. It’s the car screaming, “For the love of god! I’m going to die.” The cab driver floors it. This car is dying. It dies just like a man. The doctor/mechanic says “I’m sorry sir, you have cancer/a cracked engine-head.” Is there a difference? Am I just a car? Am I a machine made out of meat? Maybe the only difference between us is a few misplaced atoms. I’m just a machine made out of meat, pretending I don’t have a one track mind and that I have this god and that I’m special. A machine built to pass on DNA and that’s it. A car is a machine that carries people. People are machines that carry DNA. I’m a machine. Oh gently caress I’m just a machine.

The cab driver interrupts my thoughts, “It’s alright, me buddy, it’s only the check engine light.”

He knows about the mescaline. He has to. How could he? He can’t. He knew I was looking at the light. “You’re some quiet.” It’s sinister. This man is sinister. The universe is sinister. Fump! The car misses. Fump! It misses again. “You loving piece of poo poo!” Fump! Fump! Fump! “Sorry me son, I’m gonna have to bring her into the shop. My buddy got one just down the road.” We pull into the garage. He picks up his radio and calls another cab for me. I get out. The cab driver talks to the guy at the garage. I go off to the side of the building to wait for the cab by myself. I watch them talk. I know every word they’re saying. High b’y, high as a fuckin’ kite. What are ya gonna do? Call the cops I ‘spose. They’ll cart him off in the paddy wagon. It’s all a big loving trap. Washroom. Go in. Left foot right foot. I lock the door. I’m safe. No one exists outside this little box. I’m just a sperm machine floating through space in my own, quiet little box. I always existed in the box. Nothing else ever did. Never outside. Never in. The mirror this is not me the me in the mirror is not the me in my head is this the me that everyone else sees the machine the truck the pulley the shovel

Calm down.

Breathe slower. Nobody knows. Nobody knows you bought a cactus. No one knows you made cactus tea. You look fine. You look normal. Smile. People go down the street high every night and nobody knows. I scrawl, “Everything is OK ” on my hand. You can do this. I look at my hand. “Everything is OK .” Thanks hand. I leave the washroom and walk around to the back of the garage. Hordes and hordes of corpses. Broken down. Beat up. Every year, make and model you can imagine. My fellow machines.

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

I have to learn forbidden magic I took an oath to wipe out, stop an invasion of Orcs, rescue the Council of Seven, and on top of all that, I'm stuck with you.


Noah posted:

This is a story I wrote for thunderdome, that I really liked and would want to send it out in the future. I'll also get in a crit for someone as soon as they post it.

I'll see you again one day, old spice.

“Are you alright?” He remembered shouting.

“I don’t feel a thing,” Archie laughed. He had tears in his eyes.

“Hey, let go,” Archie said, fighting with his wheels.

Okay, this isn't terribly confusing, but I'm not sure that the transition between flashback and present is as clear as it could be. Maybe another line of Douglas coming back to the present before Archie speaks again.


“You’re going to flip over and break your neck,” Douglas said.

”No I won’t, I put all the weights I could in the backpack to act as a counterbalance,” he said, reaching behind his back and using his thumb to point at the backpack strapped to the back of the chair.

“You dirty son of a bitch,” Douglas said. Douglas, who had (The previous three words could be replaced by He'd.) never let go of his Army routine, had (this sentence is a little long. Maybe break it into two. Another thing that might work is replacing ", had" with "and") stayed in shape throughout his retirement years, but even he had struggled to push Archie to the top of the hill. “I knew I wasn’t out of shape.”

Douglas leaned forward over the back of the wheelchair, using Archie’s shoulders as a rest. Archie’s Old Spice deodorant filled his nose, a mixture of nostalgia and regret wafting about. Archie reached up and stroked the hair on the back of Douglas’s head near his neck. Douglas took two more deep breaths and pushed himself upright.

Douglas stood there behind Archie at a military ball some time after they had been shipped back. They were both dressed in their formals, watching couples slow dance across the floor. Archie drank from a flask, Douglas stayed dry.

“Go and dance,” Archie said. Douglas shook his head. There was no way he was going to go and dance in front of Archie, taunting him and rubbing the question, Why me, in Archie’s face, Douglas thought. Truth be told there was no good reason why Douglas should walk and Archie shouldn’t. Douglas even wondered if the thought plagued himself more so than it did Archie. He would stay up all night with only those thoughts and the smell of Old Spice next to him.

“Come on, you pussy, let go,” Archie said, beginning to sound annoyed.

“I’m trying to enjoy the view just a little longer before the ambulance arrives,” Douglas said.

Douglas loved Archie, there was no doubt about that. But there was a hidden guilt that kept Douglas around, he liked to think. If Archie hadn’t been shot, they wouldn’t be together, he was positive. They would still be friends, write to each other, but they would have moved on and found another, more perfect partner to be with. Douglas wanted to convince himself of that, that there was someone more perfect for Archie, because then he wouldn’t be an imposter. (Good stuff.)

He would give anything, everything, his legs, medals, to throw off his disguise and tell Archie, I love you, but I’m not in love with you. And then Archie would breath a sigh of relief and laugh and say, that’s okay, I’m not in love with you either. They would shake hands, and even though they were both old and bony, they would have a whole new life left to live.

“Alright, enough monkeying around, are you going to let me go, or not?”

“I’m scared,” Douglas said.

Archie put his hand on Douglas’s and rubbed it softly. Archie turned in his chair and looked up at Douglas.

“Dougie, please, just let me go,” Archie said. He had tears in his eyes. Douglas flashed back to Archie laying on top of him in Vietnam, tears in his eyes. “I don’t feel a thing,” reverberated through Douglas’s head. He let go. Archie’s chair lurched forward slowly before taking a steeper angle. (You go from present to flashback to present in the same paragraph. Perhaps "He let go." should start a new paragraph.)

supermikhail
Nov 17, 2012



Not quite a critique of "Check engine", but that thing set me wondering if there's indeed a niche for so much swearing in published literature. Also, for me the high point of trip reports has been descriptions of visual hallucinations. Although I guess those may be cliche nowadays. However, the theme could have been conveyed better with something visual instead of the cows thing, which sounded a bit pathetic.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


supermikhail posted:

Not quite a critique of "Check engine", but that thing set me wondering if there's indeed a niche for so much swearing in published literature.

Hahahaha YES.

Maybe it's just because I cuss a blue streak, but I think swearing is fine to have in your work, especially if it's dealing with blue-collar subject matter like a guy out of his mind on mesc catching a taxi to a festival. It wouldn't fit in everything, though.

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


supermikhail posted:

Not quite a critique of "Check engine", but that thing set me wondering if there's indeed a niche for so much swearing in published literature. Also, for me the high point of trip reports has been descriptions of visual hallucinations. Although I guess those may be cliche nowadays. However, the theme could have been conveyed better with something visual instead of the cows thing, which sounded a bit pathetic.

Mescaline isn't generally as visual as other psychedelics. Like, it IS there, but the effects on your train of thought and excessive paranoia are far more pronounced. If you read most of the trips for mescaline, it's more about a feeling of connectedness with the universe and constant epiphanies, most of which are wrong. I can't find it now, but there is a quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Thompson explains how Mescaline is more inclined to twist and contort something that already exists as opposed to straight up visual fabrication like LSD. Visuals on mescaline are generally more along the lines of say, "Wow everything is so dirty" as opposed to, "Look at this space monkey." That's not to say it like, never ever happens, but focusing on the visuals with mescaline is like talking about this peanut butter and jam sandwich you ate on top of the Empire State Building, instead of talking about the view.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say the cows thing sounds pathetic. Would you mind clarifying a little? It's taken from something someone one mescaline said to me once, but if it comes off that way, I would like to clear that up.

Zack_Gochuck fucked around with this message at Jan 13, 2013 around 16:51

supermikhail
Nov 17, 2012



Oh, okay, if it's a mescaline thing... For me all drugs look alike. In the context of that maybe cows make sense. Initially when I read that I felt that this guy is just whining that he's so small and insignificant. And I just didn't like it.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012



Down With People posted:

Hahahaha YES.

Maybe it's just because I cuss a blue streak, but I think swearing is fine to have in your work, especially if it's dealing with blue-collar subject matter like a guy out of his mind on mesc catching a taxi to a festival. It wouldn't fit in everything, though.

I never understood the idea that somehow, profanity just "doesn't look right'" on the typed page. We already had the realistic dialogue conversation, and while I don't want to transcribe the absurd excess of "gently caress" in the speech of, say, an infantryman, I certainly DO want his speech to be peppered with obscenities. He wouldn't be believable otherwise, just like a street criminal who won't even lower himself to say "poo poo."

supermikhail, you really need to work on your critique. So far what I've seen from you has been along the lines of "i don't get this/i don't like it." Look at other critiques in this thread and elsewhere, and get better at it.

I Am Hydrogen
Apr 10, 2007



My first critique here. I figure I should finally take a crack at it.

Zack_Gochuck posted:

I did a couple critiques over in the other thread and didn't post anything. I'd love to get this Thunderdome entry from a while ago picked apart:

Check Engine (644 Words)

Nothing. Not a god drat thing. Somewhere there’s this guy laughing his rear end off because he tricked some guy up in Newfoundland into paying $90 for a cactus. This line is a lot more engaging than the first two. The other two seem to just be filler, and no one wants to start off reading fillerI could have paid for the whole night with that. I’m going to head down to the festival anyway. This sentence doesn't really work for me for some reason. I think because it comes out of nowhere.

The cab pulls into the driveway. It’s an old piece of poo poo, but gently caress, I’m just getting a run downtown. The driver backs out of the driveway, “Where to, my buddy?”

“George Street.”

“Busy down there tonight. My jJesus, there’s some nice lookin’ young women around.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I don’t know how half of ‘em don’t freeze. Goin’ around with nothing on.”

We’re driving down Main Road and holy poo poo. Someone’s grabbed hold of my brain and they’re pulling it in three directions. I don’t say a word. We’re driving past the dairy farm. I’m glad the cows are alive. Does their life matter once they're dead? Does anyone know they exist?

Ping. The check engine light comes on. It’s the car screaming, “For the love of god! I’m going to die.” The cab driver floors it. This car is dying. It dies just like a man. The doctor/mechanica would remove mechanic because just having doctor pushes the idea that a mechanic is the car's doctor says, “I’m sorry sir,. Comma splice you have cancer/a cracked engine-head.” Is there a difference? Am I just a car? Am I a machine made out of meat? Maybe the only difference between us is a few misplaced atoms. I’m justI would remove just because (a) you just used it and (b)I think it's more effective if he completely commits to the idea of him being a meat machine. It also ties in better to the last sentence in the paragraph without just. a machine made out of meat, pretending I don’t have a one track mind and that I have this god and that I’m special. A machine built to pass on DNA and that’s it. A car is a machine that carries people. People are machines that carry DNA. I’m a machine. Oh gently caress I’m just a machine.

The cab driver interrupts my thoughts, “It’s alright, me buddy,comma splice it’s only the check engine light.”

He knows about the mescaline. He has to. How could he? He can’t. He knewtense change I was looking at the light. “You’re some quiet.” It’s sinister. This man is sinister. The universe is sinister. Fump! The car misses. Fump! It misses again. “You loving piece of poo poo!” Fump! Fump! Fump! “Sorry me son,splice I’m gonna have to bring her into the shop. MyBe more consistent with me/my buddy got one just down the road.” We pull into the garage. He picks up his radio and calls another cab for me. I get out. The cab driver talks to the guy at the garage. I go off to the side of the building to wait for the cab by myself. I watch them talk. I know every word they’re saying. High b’y, high as a fuckin’ kite. What are ya gonna do? Call the cops I ‘spose. They’ll cart him off in the paddy wagon. It’s all a big loving trap. Washroom. Go in. Left foot right foot. I lock the door. I’m safe. No one exists outside this little box. I’m just a sperm machine floating through space in my own, quiet little box. I always existed in the box. Nothing else ever did. Never outside. Never in. The mirror this is not me the me in the mirror is not the me in my head is this the me that everyone else sees the machine the truck the pulley the shovel

Calm down.

Breathe slower. Nobody knows. Nobody knows you bought a cactus. No one knows you made cactus tea.I don't think the fact he made tea is important - just that he took mescaline You look fine. You look normal. Smile. People go down the street high every night and nobody knows. I scrawl, “Everything is OK ha! I approve of the smiley face. It's surprisingly effective here. on my hand. You can do this. I look at my hand. “Everything is OK .” Thanks hand. I leave the washroom and walk around to the back of the garage. Hordes and hordes of corpses. Broken down. Beat up. Every year, make and model you can imagine. My fellow machines.

I like how you handled him tripping. I'd rather read something that's more reserved than something that is overblown. It's more effective that way, I think.

FauxCyclops
Feb 25, 2007

I'm the man who killed Hostess. Now, say my name.


Zack_Gochuck posted:

I did a couple critiques over in the other thread and didn't post anything. I'd love to get this Thunderdome entry from a while ago picked apart:

Check Engine (644 Words)

Nothing. Not a god drat thing. Somewhere there’s this guy laughing his rear end off because he tricked some guy up in Newfoundland into paying $90 for a cactus. I could have paid for the whole night with that. I’m going to head down to the festival anyway. Lol, good job dumbass

The cab pulls into the driveway. It’s an old piece of poo poo, but gently caress, I’m just getting a run downtown. The driver backs out of the driveway, “Where to, my buddy?” I'd change 'my buddy' to just 'buddy' or 'my friend', something about 'my buddy' just sounds a little stilted to me, but I could be gay.

“George Street.”

“Busy down there tonight. My Jesus, there’s some nice lookin’ young women around.” Capital'd.

“Oh yeah?”

“I don’t know how half of ‘em don’t freeze. Goin’ around with nothing on.”

We’re driving down Main Road and holy poo poo. Someone’s grabbed hold of my brain and they’re pulling it in three directions. I don’t say a word. We’re driving past the dairy farm. I’m glad the cows are alive. Does their life matter once they're dead? Does anyone know they exist? What's going on here? Where are we? I got the idea that we're in the city.

Ping. The check engine light comes on. It’s the car screaming, “For the love of god! I’m going to die.” The cab driver floors it. This car is dying. It dies just like a man. The doctor/mechanic says “I’m sorry sir, you have cancer/a cracked engine-head.” Is there a difference? Am I just a car? Am I a machine made out of meat? Maybe the only difference between us is a few misplaced atoms. I’m just a machine made out of meat, pretending I don’t have a one track mind and that I have this god and that I’m special. A machine built to pass on DNA and that’s it. A car is a machine that carries people. People are machines that carry DNA. I’m a machine. Oh gently caress I’m just a machine. Good articulation of the drug freakout here.

The cab driver interrupts my thoughts, “It’s alright, me buddy, it’s only the check engine light.” There's that me/my buddy thing again. What's the driver's ethnicity? That could help clarify the choice of dialogue.

He knows about the mescaline. He has to. How could he? He can’t. He knew I was looking at the light. “You’re some quiet.” It’s sinister. This man is sinister. The universe is sinister. Fump! The car misses. Fump! It misses again. “You loving piece of poo poo!” Fump! Fump! Fump! “Sorry me son, I’m gonna have to bring her into the shop. My buddy got one just down the road.” We pull into the garage. He picks up his radio and calls another cab for me. I get out. The cab driver talks to the guy at the garage. I go off to the side of the building to wait for the cab by myself. I watch them talk. I know every word they’re saying. High b’y, high as a fuckin’ kite. What are ya gonna do? Call the cops I ‘spose. They’ll cart him off in the paddy wagon. It’s all a big loving trap. Washroom. Go in. Left foot right foot. I lock the door. I’m safe. No one exists outside this little box. I’m just a sperm machine floating through space in my own, quiet little box. I always existed in the box. Nothing else ever did. Never outside. Never in. The mirror this is not me the me in the mirror is not the me in my head is this the me that everyone else sees the machine the truck the pulley the shovel I really like the imagery here, you're nailing the panic attack; but probably it should be broken up into some more paragraphs. I get that you're going for a sort of solid block of stream-of-consciousness but that generally doesn't wind up translating as well in post.

Calm down.

Breathe slower. Nobody knows. Nobody knows you bought a cactus. No one knows you made cactus tea. You look fine. You look normal. Smile. People go down the street high every night and nobody knows. I scrawl, “Everything is OK ” on my hand. You can do this. I look at my hand. “Everything is OK .” Thanks hand. I leave the washroom and walk around to the back of the garage. Hordes and hordes of corpses. Broken down. Beat up. Every year, make and model you can imagine. My fellow machines.

All in all, you wrote a good little scene here. It doesn't really tell a story on its own, but as a panic sufferer I got right in there.


Here's a piece I'd like to clean up some and submit to some magazines or contests. Based on some previous critique I'm going to shave the word count even further ('The Fixers' to just 'Fixers', for example) and maybe nip a few paragraphs. I'm thinking I'll submit the short around some and then turn the concept into a full-length down the line if a good story comes to me out of it.

--

The Fixers (997 words)

The Fixers do not have faces, only angled shapeless things, pitch-black like the tongues of long-dead dogs that have lain in the sun for far too long. They are impossibly tall, and thin, with joints and fingers knobbed and gnarled and bare, like the branches of oak trees in autumn.
They come to what you would think are the safest places of all. In this case a gated community, where the well-to-do sequester themselves and their material things from a harsh and undue world. The Fixers do not pause for any fence, or gate, or wall built by a man, stepping over them as you would a fallen log. To them our cities are forests, our suburbs like meadows and glades, where a million little stupid things mill in and out of makeshift homes of dirt and wood, where they eat and mate and die.

Nobody could tell you why the Fixers came for Cynthia James. Some in their medieval thoughts suppose they eat children like her, which is ludicrous, for they do not only take young people, and we are all someone’s child. The best guess we have is they come to right some wrong. Their place amounts to upkeep, to tweak and shuffle and sweep away the mistakes of a fallible god. This assumes you believe a just creator would abide such creatures as them, and the alternative is a reason as vague as life itself.

The Fixers come in the night, because we are creatures of daylight, and in the dark we are in our homes and not on the streets. No neighbors see them as they come, for a curiosity of their being makes it so. Anytime a late-night driver, or someone having a smoke on the porch or getting a midnight snack might catch a glimpse of them, we are always preoccupied with something for just that moment, and they slip by.

Sometimes the Fixers must only reach inside a window and pluck someone out, but in Cynthia James’ case they had to venture indoors. No lock means a thing to them. There were four of them, and two stepped inside, bending down on knobby knees and brushing their heads and backs on door frame. They made their way to Mr. and Mrs. James’s bedroom, where one of the Fixers whispered something calm and ground a seed between its palms. It sprinkled the dust across their eyes, and they would have deep and enthralling dreams and no sound would rouse them for at least an hour. They seem to abhor disturbance and distraction above all else.

When Cynthia James awoke to the Fixers looming over her she understandably screamed. Outside, a parked car shrieked its alarm from one end of the neighborhood to the other, ensuring nobody would hear her, as had in the past cacophonies of barking dogs or passing trains or traffic. It is these ways the Fixers use the details of our daily lives to veil themselves as tricks of light, bumps in the night and overheard suspicion.

If you could call it luck that one person did see them take Cynthia James, then feel free to call it that; his name was Henry Mills. A handful of people can see and hear the Fixers at their work, and Henry Mills across the street watched as they went into the James’s house and came back out again. Some people say they walk into the forest, but there are not forests everywhere. Some people say they descend into the earth, and that might be truer. Henry Mills saw them walk on stairs that were not there until they reached the sky.

These people who see them note, while curious or frightened, at first things go as you might expect. Cynthia James’s parents became hysterical, and for a time the streets of this sequestered place teemed with police, and news cameras, and relatives. In this case a man named Joseph Small was convicted of a kidnapping he did not commit. If such motive and evidence could be found to make a judgment of him, perhaps it is better a person like that no longer wanders free.

After a time had passed since the Fixers came, Henry Mills noticed a curious and frightful thing: all trace of Cynthia James seemed to vanish with her. Not just the physical, but the emotional too. The color returned to Mr. and Mrs. James’s faces, and they went about their lives, freer and more purposeful, and if Henry Mills ever asked them how they were, they were as fine as ever; and if he ever asked them about Cynthia, they certainly had no idea who he meant.

Henry insists he never wanted Cynthia gone, but he is sure there is a way to ‘mark’ one to be Fixed. Though he has looked since, he cannot find anything to suggest it is an occult word or ritual, and concludes the answer may lie in simple superstition. A ‘God drat you’ or ‘Go to Hell’, with the proper intent would work just as well as anything else, and it suits that the way to call the Fixers should be as benign as the ways they use to hide their work; but this is all speculation.

If one can learn anything from Henry it is to consider the tiny ways and places the Fixers show their work, and choose with prudence each word you let escape your lips. But take solace in the fact unless you are very fortunate, should you ever be passed over by the Fixers you will never remember it.

It leaves, however, many questions regarding Joseph Small, a man put in prison for a crime he cannot remember, and which no-one ever brings up. Do you suppose the Fixers will come to fix this end as well? And what exactly is the truth Henry Mills should tell?

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


FauxCyclops posted:

The Fixers (997 words)

The Fixers do not have faces, only angled shapeless things, pitch-black like the tongues of long-dead dogs that have lain in the sun for far too long. They are impossibly tall, and thin, with joints and fingers knobbed and gnarled and bare, like the branches of oak trees in autumn. This is very evocative, but it's a little clumsy. In particular, how is something 'impossibly tall'? How tall is a Fixer? Six feet? Seven? A light-year?
They come to what you would think are the safest places of all. In this case a gated community, where the well-to-do sequester themselves and their material things from a harsh and undue world. Can you use undue like this? The Fixers do not pause for any fence, or gate, or wall built by a man, stepping over them as you would a fallen log. To them our cities are forests, our suburbs like meadows and glades, where a million little stupid things mill in and out of makeshift homes of dirt and wood, where they eat and mate and die.

Nobody could tell you why the Fixers came for Cynthia James. Some in their medieval thoughts suppose they eat children like her, which is ludicrous, for they do not only take young people, and we are all someone’s child. The best guess we have is they come to right some wrong. Their place amounts to upkeep, to tweak and shuffle and sweep away the mistakes of a fallible god. This assumes you believe a just creator would abide such creatures as them, and the alternative is a reason as vague as life itself.

The Fixers come in the night, because we are creatures of daylight, and in the dark we are in our homes and not on the streets. No neighbors see them as they come, for a curiosity of their being makes it so. Anytime a late-night driver, or someone having a smoke on the porch or getting a midnight snack might catch a glimpse of them, we are always preoccupied with something for just that moment, and they slip by.

Sometimes the Fixers must only reach inside a window and pluck someone out, but in Cynthia James’ case they had to venture indoors. No lock means a thing to them. There were four of them, and two stepped inside, bending down on knobby knees and brushing their heads and backs on door frame. I got the impression from the previous paragraphs that they could walk through walls and poo poo, so I can't see why they'd need to be bending down to get through doors. They made their way to Mr. and Mrs. James’s bedroom, where one of the Fixers whispered something calm and ground a seed between its palms. It sprinkled the dust across their eyes, and they would have deep and enthralling dreams and no sound would rouse them for at least an hour. They seem to abhor disturbance and distraction above all else.

When Cynthia James awoke to the Fixers looming over her she understandably screamed. Outside, a parked car shrieked its alarm from one end of the neighborhood to the other, ensuring nobody would hear her, as had in the past cacophonies of barking dogs or passing trains or traffic. It is these ways the Fixers use the details of our daily lives to veil themselves as tricks of light, bumps in the night and overheard suspicion. Why didn't they grind up some dream seed into Cynthia's face as well if they don't want distractions?

If you could call it luck that one person did see them take Cynthia James, then feel free to call it that; his name was Henry Mills. A handful of people can see and hear the Fixers at their work, and Henry Mills across the street watched as they went into the James’s house and came back out again. Some people say they walk into the forest, but there are not forests everywhere. Some people say they descend into the earth, and that might be truer. Henry Mills saw them walk on stairs that were not there until they reached the sky.

These people who see them note, while curious or frightened, at first things go as you might expect. Cynthia James’s parents became hysterical, and for a time the streets of this sequestered place teemed with police, and news cameras, and relatives. In this case a man named Joseph Small was convicted of a kidnapping he did not commit. If such motive and evidence could be found to make a judgment of him, perhaps it is better a person like that no longer wanders free.

After a time had passed since the Fixers came, Henry Mills noticed a curious and frightful thing: all trace of Cynthia James seemed to vanish with her. Not just the physical, but the emotional too. The color returned to Mr. and Mrs. James’s faces, and they went about their lives, freer and more purposeful, and if Henry Mills ever asked them how they were, they were as fine as ever; and if he ever asked them about Cynthia, they certainly had no idea who he meant.

Henry insists he never wanted Cynthia gone, but he is sure there is a way to ‘mark’ one to be Fixed. Though he has looked since, he cannot find anything to suggest it is an occult word or ritual, and concludes the answer may lie in simple superstition. A ‘God drat you’ or ‘Go to Hell’, with the proper intent would work just as well as anything else, and it suits that the way to call the Fixers should be as benign as the ways they use to hide their work; but this is all speculation. So is that how you mark someone or not? How'd Henry figure this out, anyway? I get that you'd have less room for fleshing things out with an article word-length restriction, but these are things to consider even so.

If one can learn anything from Henry it is to consider the tiny ways and places the Fixers show their work, and choose with prudence each word you let escape your lips. But take solace in the fact unless you are very fortunate, should you ever be passed over by the Fixers you will never remember it.

It leaves, however, many questions regarding Joseph Small, a man put in prison for a crime he cannot remember, and which no-one ever brings up. Do you suppose the Fixers will come to fix this end as well? And what exactly is the truth Henry Mills should tell? Ending the story with a bunch of open questions feels a bit weak.

This is pretty good. If you plan on shaving things down some more, I'd recommend either going from the perspective of Henry Rills or Joseph Small rather than mentioning both. I'd certainly be interested in finding out more about Small - what is it about him that made him the prime suspect in a child's disappearance?

Also: how much Slenderman did you consume before writing this?

Stabbey_the_Clown
Sep 21, 2002

I have to learn forbidden magic I took an oath to wipe out, stop an invasion of Orcs, rescue the Council of Seven, and on top of all that, I'm stuck with you.


FauxCyclops posted:

Here's a piece I'd like to clean up some and submit to some magazines or contests. Based on some previous critique I'm going to shave the word count even further ('The Fixers' to just 'Fixers', for example)


Don't shave words off just for the sake of shaving words off. Certainly do it if there are faster and more efficient ways to say what you want, or if you're trying to reach a specific word count. I'm not sure how much bloat there can be left in a sub-1000 word piece.

Sometimes an extra word is more important. The difference between "Fixers" and "The Fixers" is that the second one makes them sound more important and special than without the 'the'.

* * * * *

In this case a gated community, where the well-to-do sequester themselves and their material things from a harsh and undue world. The use of "undue" here sound odd. By "undue", do you mean excessive or inappropriate, or were you thinking of something else.

Nobody could tell you why the Fixers came for Cynthia James. Some in their medieval thoughts suppose they eat children like her, which is ludicrous, for they do not only take young people, and we are all everyone is someone’s child. The best guess we have is they come to right some wrong. "We"? That's implying that the narrator is a person, but no such person materializes, the narrator seems to be a distant omniscient type who can see everything without being there. I would leave the narrator as just a narrator without assigning him/her personhood by putting the word "we" in their mouth. I've edited the lines above to remove the "we".

In this case a man named Joseph Small was convicted of a kidnapping he did not commit. If such motive and evidence could be found to make a judgment of him, perhaps it is better a person like that no longer wanders free. That seems like an odd judgement for the narrator to make, and a wrong one as well. The narrator knows perfectly well that Small didn't do it, but has the opinion that if the cops arrested him he must be guilty of something, even though he knows there is no evidence.

If this is to imply that the Fixers planted the evidence, then there are other problems. If the Fixers planted evidence implicating Smalls and the narrator knows this, that implies that the narrator believes that the Fixers are right in doing whatever they want. "Oh well, if the mysterious abducting beings we know literally nothing about are doing it, they must have a good reason".


I also find the idea of Cynthia being forgotten confusing. At first, the normal things happen with normal reactions, then everyone except Henry seems to forget she existed. That seems contradictory - if they can erase all trace of her existence even from memories some time later, why not do it immediately? If they can't do it right away, why bother doing it later at all?

Henry insists he never wanted Cynthia gone, but he is sure there is a way to ‘mark’ one to be Fixed. Insists to who? No one knows who that is anymore. Is the insisting him worrying that maybe he's the reason? If so, why? Why would Henry want Cynthia gone, even subconsciously? That would be the starting point for a longer work, but it's completely unexplored here. We know nothing about Henry or Cynthia at all.

I also agree that the ending is a non-ending. It's limp.

FauxCyclops
Feb 25, 2007

I'm the man who killed Hostess. Now, say my name.


Down With People posted:

Also: how much Slenderman did you consume before writing this?

Zero. I hate Slenderman.

I will respond to these fine crits when I'm more awake, but I just had to get that out of my system.

e: I re-watched A.I. recently



Right! To respond a little more in-depth; thanks for your crits, it seems like the general feeling is that the concept should be adapted into a longer work, and I think that's going to be the direction I go with it. I'm in the middle of a project at the moment but I'll put it on the pile for when I'm free again.

I think maybe I'll axe the bit about the dreamy-dust, it just adds an unnecessary mechanic.

FauxCyclops fucked around with this message at Jan 18, 2013 around 01:24

Somberbrero
Feb 14, 2009

There, I cast Flame Shield on ya's! Also, I spat on ya's!



I'm participating in Traditional Games' monthly game design contest.

One of the bonus objectives to the contest is to write a 1000 word piece of fiction about your game.

I feel like I'm reading fanfiction at a writing workshop, which is the most embarrassed I've ever been for another human. I will attempt to critique this week. I hope you rip me apart.

Unfounded Rumors (1000 Words)

The Ludus was built into the cliffs overlooking the southernmost inlet of the Great Lake of Fire. To reach there, one had to either fly or travel away from the highway to Pandemonium through a series of labyrinthine paths that circled back into themselves as often as not. It was a holdover from a more adversarial age in Hell, when contests between Princes rolled back and forth across the boundless expanse of the underworld. The Ludus had suffered the eons with enough dignity as one could expect, but its owner was not sure he could say the same.

Kimaris sat in the vault that rested in the bowels of the Ludus, behind a door only he knew existed. All around him, piles of milky white coinage shifted and moaned about each other. They were souls, each one representing a doomed mortal; the closest thing Hell had to a hard currency. For the first time in as long he could remember, Kimaris began to sweat. There had been a Harrowing in Hell.

Clerical errors happen, as often above as below, and small strains of good had been found in many souls. Kimaris and many like him had gone to their vaults only to find their treasure halved and their position of power threatened. Kimaris picked up a handful of coinage in his tremendous paws and watched as it squirmed away from him and clinked to floor, leaving his grasp as easily as his fortune had vanished. Without means for taxes and tribute, it was entirely possible he could end up on the same ichor stained sands the gladiators he had trained fought on.

A pig faced little bird crashed through the vault’s messenger vent, carrying a small scroll in its mouth. It landed gingerly on Kimaris thorny shoulder and he plucked the note away, absently feeding the creature a rat from his pocket. The bird squawked and retreated through the vent as Kimaris turned to exit the vault, with a wicked edge to his smile.

In the courtyard of the Ludus, new recruits sat shackled in the black sand. From the balcony overlooking the crowd, Kimaris saw his salvation. The captive stood tall above the motley bastards alongside him, a captured seraphim. Covered in wounds, bound in seals, and wrapped in chains, it was the most dangerous being Kimaris had seen since a stray god from an alien pantheon had wandered into their realm.

Kimaris walked down into the courtyard, his many eyes assessing the recruits. Many had held some station in Hell at one point or another, brought low by the ever-shifting politics of the damned. Kimaris could place demons from at least three different beliefs. Hell was nothing if not welcoming. A sentient storm that had been lashing out against its bottle-prison with bolts of lightning stopped as Kimaris raised his hands and began to speak, “To those of you who would curse me, hold your breath! Many of you, the damned among the damned, were born into a high caste, only to find yourself here on your knees before me.”

Kimaris paused, looking intently at the faces of those who had faces to judge their reactions; the storm spirit had turned a light shade of chartreuse. He raised his voice, saying “Some of you will die on the sands of Pandemonium’s arena. Those of you that may yet rise up from this, however, will not do so without my help. For the grand champion this year, I promise this, freedom.” The seraphim’s eyes narrowed at this, and Kimaris repressed a smirk before continuing, saying “I have time for three gladiators in my school. Those that emerge from here will be as fine as any that have ever left a Ludus. Now, earn your place.” Kimaris clapped his hands, and while the seals and collars on the gladiators stayed in place, the chains and restraints fell off.

Kimaris retired to the balcony above the courtyard, and dined on an embezzling bishop he had been saving for a special occasion as the chaos below played out. By the time his meal’s screams had subsided, the seraphim and two fiends, one a vicious poet who had torn his competition to shreds with the power of verse and the other a large silver woman with a distorted face and blades jutting from her body, were the last beings standing. Each was splattered in some form of ichor or blood, as bits of ash borne from hellfire and holy flame alike fluttered about the arena. They stood still, compelled by the same seals that insured their obedience, as Kimaris rose from his chair and clapped his hands before his captive performers.

Time spitefully defies reason in Hell, but it can be said that what seemed like much later the seraphim stood in Pandemonium’s final battle for the season, his colleagues from Kimaris’ school long since consigned to centuries of torment and rebirth in the Abyss following their defeat. Kimaris’ remaining student had become an infernal celebrity, drawing massive crowds and encouraging massive bets. Whether out of fear or respect for his abilities, the mute seraphim could not be sure, but its master had never interfered with his actions in the arena, allowing his unerring combat prowess to flourish. It did not resent Kimaris anymore than any other demon; the contest of the arena allowed it to do nearly as much as it would have done in the service of Heaven.

The seraphim stood opposite a pillar of living flame and a giant blue djinn with a beard of frost. It closed its eyes, allowing its divine intelligence a moment to determine the correct course of action, and then moved beyond speed. Its fist struck, but not the target intended; An action that proved all others immediately following it meaningless. The seraphim experienced a moment of confusion, then for the first time in its existence, a moment of fear, and then oblivion. Some fortunes fall, other rise, and from his owner’s box, Kimaris smiles.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Somberbrero posted:

I hope you rip me apart.
Unfounded Rumors (1000 Words)

The reason this reads like fanfic is because it pretty much is; you've written it duty-bound to articulate as much of your gameworld as possible within the very meagre word limit and that's pretty much how fanfic is constructed - jam in as much detail as possible in the hope that one's improbable romance/sex story can be validated thereby.

It's not a very good story. The idea is ok, just ok, but it's very, very game-y. It reads as if you're providing a synopsis for an in-game cutscene. The problem is that the cutscene would have the benefit of an ongoing narrative (ie. loving Lizardman fights his way up the ladder), and nobody would ever watch it otherwise.

Here's what I see going on here:

You establish an infernal setting. You introduce Kimaris. We learn about his function in Hell and you slip in some glibness (but whether it's attributable to Kimaris or the omniscient narrator, it's hard to tell sometimes, which confuses and diminishes both). Then a gladiatorial match happens and one of the contestants is super powerful and then months pass and he loses because we don't know but Kimaris seems to have made him lose for fun.

Sorry, profit. Kimaris is match-fixing, yes? And the proceeds are helping him pay Hell Tax.

It's not by any means invalid to cast the supernatural world as just another version of our own - Tom Holt, Terry Pratchet, Neil Gaiman all set a successful precedent for this - the problem is that this has been a popular SF staple for something like 30 years now, and that it's nearly always done for laughs. In fact, it kind of has to be.
And thus your Hell dimension loses all gravity; it's just a stand-in for the familiar. Because I know Kimaris is just another balding career-minded bureaucrat, I frankly don't give a poo poo anymore.

The story would hit harder if you wrote about a legit fight-fixing. Plenty of concrete, familiar historical settings in which you could spare yourself the trouble of establishing exactly what specific kind of Hell dimension we're in, and instead plunge into characters we can care about.

There's a lot in here which isn't really fleshed out enough. There's been a Harrowing in Hell. So what? A pig-faced bird delivers a note. What the gently caress does it say? We never learn - at best, we can guess the kind of message, but it's clear at all. If you want to foreshadow the twist in the tale, you need to either flag it hard and early, or quiet and consistently as the story builds - in this case, we have a happening and then another happening, and they're not necessarily related. You've given us the cutscene version.

ALL of your dialogue is buried within thick steaming mounds of blow-by-blow object posing. He stands this way, and someone's so scared they turn chartreuse (NO!), and he puts his hand here and lowers his brow, and then he says, 'Something,' and then another guy reacts by squinting and he represses (NO!) a smirk.
Economise. Don't smother your characters' speech. Their choice of words, coupled with what we know about their motivation, their relationship with others present, etc, should already tell us what their face is likely to be doing. Only include it if it's going to enhance the story, not if its another detail of the - cutscene.
It's difficult because Kimaris is only really permitted to utter formal addresses. More characters, less setting, and you might not have this problem, 'cos you'd have more words at your disposal.
Still,

quote:

Blah blah clauses clauses then eventually Kimaris raised his hands and began to speak, “To those of you who would curse me, hold your breath! Many of you, the damned among the damned, were born into a high caste, only to find yourself here on your knees before me.”

The words have no impact. 'Began to speak' NO NEVER DO THIS. I hope you understand why, (one reason because you're wasting the reader's time, another is that dialogue is INFINITELY MORE IMPORTANT than how a character's neck is cocked or eyebrow arched and deserves its own distinct space.)

I'm running out of but I do want to address the way you're constructing descriptions of things. You do not need to catalogue every article of coolness that you thought up; and generally, if you've introduced a new concept once already in a sentence, we are unlikely to be able to process another without a small break of some kind. That is to say,

quote:

There were dinosaurs in the room, but unlike normal dinosaurs they had psionic lasers fitted to their platinum-sheathed fangs, which glinted in the chartreuse gloaming cast by eldritch mist-ghosts that had come into this part of the Hell dimension, the Arcane Arcanum, where people went to really get punished, from their homeworld, Ethgoross, the biggest planet in their system which itself was only visible once every Doomyear, which was a unit of time they had down there, because of dust from Mount Volcanos which had been temperamental, so to speak, ever since the Fall of Seraphs, although not quite so much as its master, the Countess Menopausa, etc
Now if you were using familiar objects, you could go on listing and stacking them for quite some time. But you're not.

I Am Hydrogen
Apr 10, 2007



Somberbrero posted:

I'm participating in Traditional Games' monthly game design contest.

One of the bonus objectives to the contest is to write a 1000 word piece of fiction about your game.

I feel like I'm reading fanfiction at a writing workshop, which is the most embarrassed I've ever been for another human. I will attempt to critique this week. I hope you rip me apart.

Unfounded Rumors (1000 Words)

STONE OF MADNESS touched on everything pretty well, so I won't rehash what he said. I want to make a few comments though.

This reads like someone who doesn't write and doesn't read novels or short stories, but has some vague idea of what they should sound like and wrote it based on that.

A few quick tips:

- Don't cram every detail possible into every sentence.

- Stop writing with a thesaurus

- Read more

- Lighten up on the jargon

- Tone down the language and keep it simple

- Chill with the adverbs

I read the first two paragraphs and had no idea what was going on. Your phrases don't have any meaning - they're just words strung together.

I knew it was going to be a rough read before the story even started.

Somberbrero posted:

I feel like I'm reading fanfiction at a writing workshop, which is the most embarrassed I've ever been for another human.


Stunted and awkward . Who talks like that?

I think one of you're biggest problems is that you use a lot of empty phrases that maybe you think sound deep and insightful, but don't com across that way. Most of what you wrote lacks any concrete meaning.

Read books and short stories if you're going to attempt to write a story. Please.

theworstname
Jun 9, 2011

Spider Robinson's posterior.


I'm going to take great liberty with the word 'critique' here:
How cool would it be if-
The story was told from the first person point of view of one of the gladiators.
How the gladiator reflects on things around him would set the tone of the game in concrete.
Maybe establish Kimaris as a mysterious and powerful being, in the eyes of a gladiator. Kimaris would be a lot more intriguing than he currently is, at the moment he comes across as a bit of a saturday-morning cartoon villain on his day off.

I don't know what the focus of the game is, whether the player/s play as either a gladiator or as Kimaris, leaving the true nature of Kimaris elusive works in favor of both.

Opening scene from an untitled work (1027 words)
A tall bald man with shiny skin and a gormless stare entered a chamber. He wore a grey skin-suit and a large black box on his back that peaked over his shoulders. Its curved surface reflected small luminescent tubes that dotted a low ceiling above.
He was followed by a short, stout woman wearing a orange closed-cycle hazardous environment outfit.
A heavy-duty reinforced door closed behind them.

“Hi!” said the woman. She waved at a plump man in a sleeveless pink jumpsuit who sat on a couch in front of a large display screen. “My name is Izee, it's good to meet you Bryce.”

She stepped forward and offered Bryce her hand. Bryce accepted it and Izee shook vigorously. She gestured to the tall man next to her.

“I have a friend with me today. Introduce yourself man.”

“Hello, my name is Carac.” said a voice from somewhere below Carac's chest. A gurgling noise emanated from his gaping mouth. Bryce blinked at him.

“Good. Great.” said Izee, “Okay. The mule is outside refreshing stock and retrieving dried waste. We would like to take the opportunity while we are here to take a blood sample and maybe have a chat with you.”

She brushed aside some empty food packets and sat next to Bryce.

Izee busied herself with a medical kit. Carac and Bryce watched the screen with rapt attention.

On the screen played the drama 'Captain Moreheart'. In it the titular character confronted Cedric, a powerful psionic and master criminal on a narrow walkway over a automated waste reclamation and dispersal plant in full operation.

“Curse you Moreheart!” yelled Cedric spraying spit as he spoke his arch-enemies name. He held a shiny cylinder to his chest. “You may have hidden your mind from me, but I still hold the key to my inevitable reinvention as the father of a new age!”

“It's over Cedric.” said the exhausted captain, “Do not be a fool, think of the good you can do with your powers if you would only-”

“Only what?” interrupted Cedric, “Join you in the ranks of the Second Division Council and its lackeys?”


Izee dabbed a patch of skin on Bryce's arm with a swab doused with alcohol.

“Cedric's Reckoning, final episode of season nine.” she said, “We have other entertainment mediums we can make available to you Bryce.”

Moreheart and Cedric wrestled. The cylinder was knocked in the fray and rolled from the walkway and into a great grinding machine far below.

“No!” exclaimed Cedric.


Izee stuck a needle-tipped syringe into Bryce and drew blood.

"Your available options include hardware, like nerve pads and full sensory suites.” she said.

Bryce raised a finger to his lips and pointed at the screen.

Cedric had the captain by the throat and against a guardrail. There was a sound of gunfire, Cedric clutched his chest with both hands and slowly staggered backwards. He keeled over the edge of the walkway and fell, both arms flailing about, into a vat of boiling oil. Moreheart panted as he straightened himself against the rail and came to rest on his knees.
A Second Subordinate rushed onto the scene, it was Estien, a compatriot-in-arms. He knelt by his captain.

“We did it sir,” Estien said, he placed a hand on Moreheart's shoulder, “Cedric is no longer a threat to all the citizens of the Complex.”

“He could have been a great asset.” muttered crestfallen Moreheart, “If only we got to him earlier, before he became twisted inside, before he began to hate those he thought were beneath his power.”

Estien nodded, “If someone had alerted us to him sooner something could have been done, but the crisis is over now sir, you are a hero.”

“But at what cost Estien? A person of potential is dead and there is a part of my mind that I will never get back.”

A solitary tear rolled down Moreheart's cheek. A popular song about keeping faith played, the camera slowly zoomed out from the scene of the two men on the platform. The credits rolled.


“When I was a kid my best friend disappeared.” said Bryce without emotion, “Maybe the reason I am here is because I'm psionic.”

Izee laughed and patted his hand.

“Maybe you are Bryce,” she remarked, “but don't obsess over it. That's definitely a way of suppressing your latent abilities.”

The next episode began, a brass instrumental wailed as the opening credits for season ten scrolled across the screen. Quick cuts of Moreheart in an office, Moreheart running from an explosion, Moreheart firing a gun and so forth flashed across the screen in quick succession.

Izee stood, “We have your sample, it looks like you have settled in quite well Bryce. I'm going to add those nerve pads I mentioned to the next shipment, they should help take the edge off of your sedentary lifestyle.”

Bryce paid no attention, his glassy eyes fixed on the screen.

“Carac, get the door please.”

Carac turned to Izee, turned back to the screen, then strode over to the keypad by the door. He pressed a series of keys, the door swung open. Izee waved to Bryce and walked out of the chamber with Carac close behind into a ill-lit devastated subterranean promenade. The door closed, shutting off the sound of Moreheart talking to a psychologist in mid-sentence.

“I have lost a vital part of myself in the service of the Second Division, doctor. I wish I could say I don't reg-”

Izee glanced at Carac, who scooped gel out of his mouth with both his hands and smeared it across his face and scalp.

“You like that show Carac? Does it remind you of someone?”

Izee gave the bulky mechanical mule a kick, it whirred and with a click pulled its headless torso out from a recessed docking station in a adjacent wall. She rubbed a hand against its wide flank and a receptacle popped open. She took the syringe from the medical kit and dropped it in. The receptacle shut into a seamless finish.

“We don't much care for it ourselves,” said Izee, “but we do concede that such programs are unfortunately necessary.”

theworstname fucked around with this message at Jan 31, 2013 around 18:42

Baldbeard
Mar 26, 2011



I was looking through CC and didn't see anywhere to post short humor pieces within the first few pages. I occasionally write hokey comedy list crap and they usually don't make it out of my facebook. Recently I've been writing a lot more so I wanted to expand my audience a bit. I'll post my newest (very short) piece here and hope I'm not making GBS threads the thread up!

Baldbeard's Pro Tips On Using Chopsticks

Eating with chopsticks is hard, and there's nothing more embarrassing than being the only one at the table using forks and spoons like some kind of barbarian or regular person. So I've compiled a short list of tips to give you the edge when dining out at Asian restaurants with friends.

Posture is key.

Are you sitting up straight? Why not? Do you know how much you are disappointing your mother right now? When using chopsticks, it's important to have your knees parallel to the floor, elbows parallel to the table, and head tilted upwards until parallel with the back of the chair ( This should be uncomfortable but not painful).

Are you sure those are chopsticks?

The line between chopsticks and drumsticks is vaguely drawn. Even experts in the music industry disagree on how to define the differences between the two. So don't be embarrassed if you have mistaken the musical utensil for the dining one. The only way to be sure is to check the small serial code on the top of the stick. If the 8-digit number starts with the letters CHOP it's a drumstick. If you see musical notation, it's a chopstick.

When was the last time you updated your drivers?

If you don't have automatic updating enabled, chances are your chopsticks aren't compatible with the food you are attempting to eat. Your best bet is to check the manufacturer's website for updates before each meal.

Hold the first chopstick like you would hold a pen.

Unless you are European and hold pens awkwardly using your middle and ring finger. In this case you are better off just using a fork. I'm sorry, a 'forke'.

You have two hands, use them both!

While one hand is operating the chopsticks, the other hand should be gathering the foot into small balls so it is easier to pick up.

Are you in outer space?

Do not use chopsticks in low gravity situations as this is a surefire way to void the manufacturers warranty.

theworstname
Jun 9, 2011

Spider Robinson's posterior.

Can I use chopsticks to eat drum kits with the latest version?

Baldbeard
Mar 26, 2011



theworstname posted:

Can I use chopsticks to eat drum kits with the latest version?

Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.




Is it wrong that my first reaction was "Why not zero gravity? Chopsticks would work just fine there! Better, even!"

I laughed. It's worth proceeding in this direction- there's definitely room for this kind of Woody Allen/Shouts and Murmurs sort of writing when it's done well.

Baldbeard
Mar 26, 2011



Here's a snippet from an animated short I'm contributing to (I'm writing the dialogue). The theme is pretty standard medieval times + vampires stuff. I didn't choose the setting, but I was happy to have something to work on. I was told to just write it any style I wanted, and others would pull out a script from it.

-There is great danger in communal suffering, because there are those who feed on the suffered.-

"Welcome" Lambert said, standing from a large wooden table that was clearly constructed for a taller man. He walked over to the window at the far end of the room and looked out towards the township. It was raining, as it had been for several days. He wondered for a moment, at what point does the sound of falling rain turn from comfort to agony?

He spoke to the two travelers, eyes fixed on the numerous ponds spreading across the marketplace.

"Have you ever found a testimony of will to be peculiar?" He asked in a soft, almost tired voice.

"I've often wondered to myself, why does a dying man's request hold so much weight? I will tell you, and you may be surprised to find that it has nothing to do with the dying man or his will. No, it has to do with the living. We see to a will because, and for no other reason, we want to believe that another sees to our will when we pass. I tell you it is as simple and selfish as that. Every ceremony we have at the time of death is no more than a shallow comfort for those who live on."

Lambert turned and looked at the visitors standing in his chambers. After considering their expression, he shrugged and continued to gaze out of the window.

"I hear you are expert vampire hunters. I've long studied the vampire with fascination. Not that I've ever met one. Although I suppose it is possible." There was now a hint of excitement in his somber voice.
"Have you heard of the Curse of the Last Breath? I'm sure you have. They say if any man breathes a vampire's dying breath, it too will become his last. It's difficult to believe something so beautifully poetic, but if there is a fraction of truth, then I think it speaks volumes about the creatures. Despite their supernatural ability, it seems the vampire remains as frustrated with fate as ourselves. 'All are meant to die', it says."

"Of course even this rule carries certain, insufferable, exceptions --which brings us to the matter at hand."

"In times of need, these simple people seek penance with providential gods, but sadly they also seek bargains and sacrifices with less merciful deities. You see, they bring calamity onto their own heads with their trifling in the forbidden. And on who else, but this lowly land owner, does the burden of removing said calamity land?"

"Grievous circumstances," he said, shaking his head.

"Perhaps some fool made the right pact with the wrong witchdoctor. Or more likely, two lovers took their quarrel to the grave. What matters is there now resides a beast, an abomination, in my land, at the abbey of which this township is named. So, I hope you see clearly why you are here. "

Little Mac
Jan 3, 2006

Super Mario Bros 3

Hi, I'm a teacher and I've been writing short pieces of flash fiction based off of my students' silly journal prompts. Would it be okay to share the Tumblr where I've been posting all of them and ask for critique or should I just pick my favorite or the one I think is strongest and post it here?

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


You should critique some else's work before you post anything. It generally works on a 1:1 basis. Give at least one critique for every piece you want to post. No one has critiqued Baldbeard yet.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


Hi, this is my first critique so I apologise in advance if the critique itself isn't that great.

Baldbeard posted:

"Have you ever found a testimony of will to be peculiar?" He asked in a soft, almost tired voice.

"I've often wondered to myself, why does a dying man's request hold so much weight? I will tell you, and you may be surprised to find that it has nothing to do with the dying man or his will. No, it has to do with the living. We see to a will because, and for no other reason, we want to believe that another sees to our will when we pass. I tell you it is as simple and selfish as that. Every ceremony we have at the time of death is no more than a shallow comfort for those who live on."

To start with, I love this little bit of writing. I've never looked at wills and such like this and it was a bit of a 'ahhhh' moment for myself when I really thought about it. It just doesn't fit with the story, in fact I'd go as far as to say most of the short story feels a little out of context. I'm having trouble putting words to what I mean, so I'll try to illustrate the problem I am seeing as someone who is looking at this without the benefit of the rest of the script.

Baldbeard posted:

"Welcome" Lambert said, standing from a large wooden table that was clearly constructed for a taller man. He walked over to the window at the far end of the room and looked out towards the township. It was raining, as it had been for several days. He wondered for a moment, at what point does the sound of falling rain turn from comfort to agony?

He spoke to the two travelers, eyes fixed on the numerous ponds spreading across the marketplace. Two travellers just entered the room, and Lambert is greeting them

"Have you ever found a testimony of will to be peculiar?" He asked in a soft, almost tired voice.

"I've often wondered to myself, why does a dying man's request hold so much weight? I will tell you, and you may be surprised to find that it has nothing to do with the dying man or his will. No, it has to do with the living. We see to a will because, and for no other reason, we want to believe that another sees to our will when we pass. I tell you it is as simple and selfish as that. Every ceremony we have at the time of death is no more than a shallow comfort for those who live on." And now we are left wondering why he even said this. It's out of context, and while I enjoyed it I'm not sure why Lambert is saying this. Is he a lawyer and finished reading a will? Did a family member die? Is he an odd man with a morbid mind?

I like the line, I would be wanting to keep that in if it was my own story. I'd just look for someway to give it context. If one of the person's who died was a family member or friend, than maybe have his family or friends leave the room just after reading the will. Maybe have him put down his own will in progress or something? If it's too difficult to give this context than save it for later or get rid of it.

Lambert turned and looked at the visitors standing in his chambers. After considering their expression, he shrugged and continued to gaze out of the window.

"I hear you are expert vampire hunters. I've long studied the vampire with fascination. Not that I've ever met one. Although I suppose it is possible." There was now a hint of excitement in his somber voice.
"Have you heard of the Curse of the Last Breath? I'm sure you have. They say if any man breathes a vampire's dying breath, it too will become his last. It's difficult to believe something so beautifully poetic, but if there is a fraction of truth, then I think it speaks volumes about the creatures. Despite their supernatural ability, it seems the vampire remains as frustrated with fate as ourselves. 'All are meant to die', it says." It's still out of context, but more importantly it has the feel of more telling than showing. Rather than let the travellers who sound important speak, he is still prattling on and to be frank it's getting kind of boring. At the same time, it feels suspiciously like clumsy foreshadowing.

"Of course even this rule carries certain, insufferable, exceptions --which brings us to the matter at hand." At this point the Vampire Hunters should be trying to say something here rather than keep standing there. If you think about this same kind of situation in real life, you probably wouldn't just stand there while someone just prattles on.

"In times of need, these simple people seek penance with providential gods, but sadly they also seek bargains and sacrifices with less merciful deities. You see, they bring calamity onto their own heads with their trifling in the forbidden. And on who else, but this lowly land owner, does the burden of removing said calamity land?"

"Grievous circumstances," he said, shaking his head.

"Perhaps some fool made the right pact with the wrong witchdoctor. Or more likely, two lovers took their quarrel to the grave. What matters is there now resides a beast, an abomination, in my land, at the abbey of which this township is named. So, I hope you see clearly why you are here. "


I really feel like this isn't advancing the story at all and is now it's all padding. I would just cut this out entirely and do dialogue with the Vampire Hunters instead


I'm sorry if this was a bit harsh. My opinion is just to rewrite the second half of this work with dialogue between the Vampire Hunters and Lambert rather than the current monologue.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012



Lord Windy posted:

Hi, this is my first critique so I apologise in advance if the critique itself isn't that great.


To start with, I love this little bit of writing. I've never looked at wills and such like this and it was a bit of a 'ahhhh' moment for myself when I really thought about it. It just doesn't fit with the story, in fact I'd go as far as to say most of the short story feels a little out of context. I'm having trouble putting words to what I mean, so I'll try to illustrate the problem I am seeing as someone who is looking at this without the benefit of the rest of the script.


I'm sorry if this was a bit harsh. My opinion is just to rewrite the second half of this work with dialogue between the Vampire Hunters and Lambert rather than the current monologue.

Two things - any feedback is good feedback, as long as it's more than just "I like this/I don't like this." And harsh critique is good critique.

Baldbeard
Mar 26, 2011



Lord Windy posted:

Hi, this is my first critique so I apologise in advance if the critique itself isn't that great.


To start with, I love this little bit of writing. I've never looked at wills and such like this and it was a bit of a 'ahhhh' moment for myself when I really thought about it. It just doesn't fit with the story, in fact I'd go as far as to say most of the short story feels a little out of context. I'm having trouble putting words to what I mean, so I'll try to illustrate the problem I am seeing as someone who is looking at this without the benefit of the rest of the script.


I'm sorry if this was a bit harsh. My opinion is just to rewrite the second half of this work with dialogue between the Vampire Hunters and Lambert rather than the current monologue.

Thanks for the feedback Windy.
Yeah, I'm now realizing that I basically gave no context to the story itself, which makes the snippet pretty confusing since it is not a standalone short-story. Lambert is something close to a feudal lord, and he's kind of let things go to poo poo. He also has no family, and so he's turned into the lonely philosopher type. The scene I posted is basically him having visitors for the first time in a long time, and he's struggling to interact with them because he has so much to say.

Most of the things you commented on were things I was worried about. So that really helps. I should have injected more of Lambert though exposition than his own rambling. That way readers know this guy is a little eccentric and prone to rambling.

Baldbeard fucked around with this message at Feb 6, 2013 around 14:08

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


theworstname posted:

Opening scene from an untitled work (1027 words)

You never got a crit for this and I doubt you'd like your piece to slip forgotten into forums history, so here goes.

First up, we need to talk about our mutual friend, the humble


While we tend to think of commas as an 'anything goes' kind of luxury option, they are required and there are a few places you just aren't using them. This will always hurt your prose.

For pacing:

quote:

She waved at a plump man in a sleeveless pink jumpsuit, who sat on a couch in front of a large display screen.
...
“We have other entertainment mediums we can make available to you, Bryce.”
If you don't use commas, your clauses will blur together. Sometimes this is desirable, other times, not so much. The first sentence is just difficult to read. "... jumpsuit who sat..." vs "... jumpsuit, who sat...".
And then there's this:

quote:

In it the titular character confronted Cedric, a powerful psionic and master criminal on a narrow walkway over a 'AN' FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE MAN automated waste reclamation and dispersal plant in full operation.
Hang on a master criminal on a narrow walkway over HANG ON WHAT what is a 'criminal on a narrow' oh right WELL I WAS STILL READING THAT CLAUSE THANK YOU VERY MUCH

In dialogue:

quote:

“Hello, my name is Carac,” said a voice from somewhere below Carac's chest.
This last is especially important because you always, always do this where you'd normally put a period. Question or exclamation marks are a different matter - you let them do their job. But it is NEVER acceptable to have
"Dialogue." he said
because it reads like
"Dialogue." He said.
which, if you'll cast your mind back to kindergarten, is how the retarded kids used to read out loud. Don't encourage them.

Just for completion's sake, this

quote:

She brushed aside some empty food packets, and sat next to Bryce.
is a sentence in which a comma could be used, but it's up to you. As it stands, the sentence passes briskly and if that's the tone you want, then perfect.

And just to spit on my own statements above, this

quote:

Izee gave the bulky mechanical mule a kick, it whirred
would work a whole lot better as

quote:

Izee gave the bulky mechanical mule a kick. It whirred

Enough about commas; let's talk about style.

The TV show works great. I was uncertain about the italics at first, but I think it was a good choice as it allows you to eliminate 'THEY LOOKED AT THE TV AND' when you so choose (and when you don't, you're quite gentle about it, which is ideal). One thing that's really noteworthy about this part of your story is that all of the action and dialogue is reported in summary, ie. 'told', and it works fantastically, because you're contrasting the TV show with the 'real life' of your story. Obviously, when it comes to the story proper, this is to be avoided.

'a' instead of 'the' and vice versa

quote:

Its curved surface reflected small luminescent tubes that dotted a low ceiling above.
I'd put 'the' low ceiling. You're allowed to treat your setting as a given; God knows your characters generally will, especially when it comes to ceilings. And it just reads better this way.

quote:

stout woman wearing a orange
No comment

quote:

Carac turned to Izee, turned back to the screen, then strode over to the keypad by the door.
I'd put 'a keypad'. Unless I missed you drawing my attention to it earlier, this is the first we've heard of this keypad and keypads are rare enough to warrant specific mention. 'The' assumes, 'a', um, doesn't really. If you want us to know that this is a universe where there are keypads on every door BECAUSE, put 'the' and be prepared to make it worthwhile.

It's a bit too early to tell for sure, but I think you might have a tendency to get excessively wordy in parts. Remember, just because you happen to be endowed with a compendious vocabulary, you are not obliged to deploy its entirety at any given moment.

quote:

Izee waved to Bryce and walked out of the chamber with Carac close behind into a ill-lit devastated subterranean promenade.
A clear example of when the temptation to use all the cool words just gets too exciting. You're actually wasting details when you pack them in so tightly. Tell us that it's dark, tell us that it's the darkness of the underground, tell us it's a street (unless it somehow deserves the distinction of being a promenade - this could be, but hasn't yet been established to my satisfaction), tell us it's been destroyed. Actually no wait show us these things instead tia

Your sci-fi secrets are presented a little too opaquely for my comfort - I'm being alienated by references to dried waste and mouth-gels that I'm not familiar with and don't understand. This is fine as long as you don't keep us hanging too long. By dumping the names of these things, 'gel from his mouth', 'mule is picking up the dried waste', you're actually making it more difficult to prolong an explanation than if you'd tried to allude to the nature of the things via an on-sight description (hope that makes sense). I have no loving idea what's going on with the gel-smearing but I definitely want to find out.

Finally, the POV is omniscient at this stage, and it doesn't really feel like we're getting any one character's perspective. Fine when we're looking at the TV show, not so great for holding a reader's attention. I suspect that Bryce is your man, now make me feel it.

I've got to admit - I'm intrigued by your story so far. Definitely post more once it's written.

Blarggy
Sep 7, 2010


Hello, I was directed to this thread by Mr. Martello and despite my protests I managed to write out a scene from a book I will begin writing soon. This scene does not have much dialogue(read: any), but it is the only scene from the book I have so played out in my head that I could write it at seven in the morning. It's possible depending on the reception of this piece that I will write of their second meeting, which will contain significant dialogue, so that I can get a full critique of my writing, dialogue or otherwise. In the meantime; thank you in advance for any critiques.

Scene from a currently unnamed novel, 1016 words.



Boston was frigid in the middle of winter, unfortunately that was no excuse to close the schools, not in Massachusetts, they were far too used to the snow and cold here to get any time off. His father left for work earlier than he woke up, leaving him no choice but to walk.

He kept his bare hands stuffed into the pockets of his fluffy winter jacket, weaving deftly between the early morning crowds. The thick faux fur along the neck of the coat took the place of a scarf and his scruffy brown hair stretched over his ears enough to keep them from freezing off. It was a twenty minute walk, depending on the crosswalks, and he usually cut through the city hall plaza to save a few minutes in the bitter cold.

Today was a day like any other, he mentally prepared himself for a biology test in first period, one he feared he might not pass as he had done no studying the previous night, having spent the night out with his friends.

It was when he passed a strange girl as he was exiting the plaza that he snapped out of his world of thoughts and turned his body, craning his neck to see where she was going. She was somewhere around 16 years old, probably the same as him, with golden blonde hair in thick wavy curls down to her shoulders. As she passed him he happened to be glancing up to check his path and had noticed the most striking green eyes, as bright as emeralds, and as hard set as the stone.

She was, in a word, beautiful. An amazing girl in any place, nevermind New England, but what caught his attention wasn’t just her beauty, it was her clothing and her apparent destination as well. She wore a pair of plain blue jeans, torn in a few places, stylishly or otherwise, a pair of black sandals and a beige wide necked short sleeve shirt. Clearly she had not dressed for the weather, and it seemed as though she were headed for city hall itself, but why would a girl be going into city hall by herself he could not discern.

As he turned his head and lifted it slightly to see if she entered, it felt as if his world had suddenly fractured. As soon as the door closed behind her, the concrete pillars buckled outwards, cracking and shearing under apparent immense pressure, in the following second, a flash brighter than anything he had ever seen shone through the windows, and pillars of flame and smoke flew from the shattering glass.

His brain did not have time to process exactly what was going on, other than a resounding roaring noise, and that the entire front of the city hall building, thick concrete pillars, stone floors and brick pavers, were now shattering like so much glass and flying through the air, mostly in his direction. Before he had time to think, the wall of debris reached him, his arms flew up in front of him and his eyes squeezed shut in a vain, unconscious attempt to defend his vital organs and head.

He felt a strong wind flapping all around him as if he were caught in a hurricane, and he was blasted backwards by the shockwave, it lifted him off his feet and send him sprawling over the rail of a starcase and into a set of bicycle stands, where he finally came to rest, struggling to remain conscious.

He tried to groan, but the effort made it obvious there was no air left in his lungs, having been forced out when his back contacted a solid steel pipe behind him, his lungs frantically searched for air that was not there as he gasped in a new breath, every second if the inhalation felt as though his ribs were cracking, and they probably were. He felt a warmth on his temple as his disoriented body attempted to stand, something one would not normally associate with the current season.

As he stood, wobbling to the side, one hand rose to his temple and touched it gently, creating another sharp pain. The entire world snapped back into focus before his eyes and with it came the realisation that the warmth was from his own blood, now smeared onto his fingertips. He raised his eyes up, towards the building that had just previously been a stalwart sight every morning, but was now nothing more than a pile of rubble with bodies strewn about.

It was then he saw the rubble all around him, concrete blocks bigger than his body with steel rebar piercing through them, but none close enough to have hit him. In fact, there appeared to be no rubble within a few feet of him. He looked towards the point where he had been standing moments before and traced back his route to the bike stands. There was not a single piece of rubble on the path, not within five feet on either side. A semicircle of debris and dust stopped mere feet from where he had been, as if he had been encased in a glass ball.

Someone grabbed his shoulder, and he dimly registered a noise of some kind, distant and quiet, like someone talking through a long tunnel. The arm turned him away from the building, a policeman was shouting at him, but he could barely hear the words. His ears rung with silence, a deafening silence, the officer pulled him roughly away from the former building, pulling him across the road and sat him down on the sidewalk, apparently trying to ask him questions.

When all he got in response was a blank look, the man hurried off, back towards the numerous bodies laying all over the plaza, some of them were moving, standing, jostling. Some were not.

Unfortunately his brain could no longer handle the various sources of information streaming into him, the pain in his ribs and ringing in his ears went away and he fell sideways, the blackness of unconsciousness embracing him.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007

Reppin' the Row since 1536.



Blarggy posted:

Scene from a currently unnamed novel, 1016 words.

Feels very formal and detached. I get the impression that we're hearing a disinterested narrator describing events rather than experiencing them from the perspective of the protagonist. Phrases like "a biology test in first period, one he feared he might not pass as he had done no studying the previous night" and "thick concrete pillars, stone floors and brick pavers, were now shattering like so much glass and flying through the air, mostly in his direction" really take us out of the action. It's like we're getting a commentary from outside. If you used shorter sentences and more immediate language it would help to keep us in the moment, with the protagonist.

And if we're supposed to be getting the story from the perspective of a teenager then the word choices are really odd. What teenager uses words like "deftly", "faux" or "discern", even in their own thoughts? Or is this supposed to be someone else telling the story? If so, there's not enough of the narrator. It feels like an old man telling a story about himself but for some reason he's a teenager at the same time.

Purple Prince
Aug 20, 2011


I'm not going to do a line edit because it'd be a rewrite. I can't identify individual problem areas, it's generally awful. Here is some general advice and criticism.

- You don't name your viewpoint character. I'm going to call him Toby.

- Bad grammar and sentence flow. "His father left for work earlier than he woke up, leaving him no choice but to walk." Who walks? The father or the unnamed viewpoint character? Because you haven't named your viewpoint character this sentence is unclear. Almost every sentence is inelegant or flows badly in one way or another.

- Weakness of prose. Related to every other point on this list, but also applies on a smaller scale. You use a lot of abverbs and useless words. There's nothing wrong with ornate description and sentence structure (I love Jane Eyre), but if words aren't serving any purpose, kill them. "Unfortunately his brain could no longer handle the various sources of information streaming into him, the pain in his ribs and ringing in his ears went away and he fell sideways, the blackness of unconsciousness embracing him." Unfortunately is almost comically worthless. Too loving right it's unfortunate. He just passed out from shock. Let the readers form their own opinions on scenes and quit transparently trying to manipulate their feelings. Personally, since Toby is a fashion dummy with no personality, I don't give a crap whether he lives or dies.

- Too much useless description. "The thick faux fur along the neck of the coat took the place of a scarf and his scruffy brown hair stretched over his ears enough to keep them from freezing off." Why do we need to know this? Also, is Toby paying this much attention to his own clothes and hair? Why is Toby a narcissist? Generally when you use a viewpoint character you only want to report the things they see or think about, which is why 'character looking in mirror' is a common conceit in many novels.

- Telling rather than showing. Especially with the strange girl. "It was when he passed a strange girl..." "She was, in a word, beautiful. An amazing girl in any place, nevermind New England, but what caught his attention wasn’t just her beauty..." This looks like a Mary Sue. Don't tell us she's strange or beautiful or anything, tell us what she looks like. Cut the crap. The reader can figure out she's beautiful from how she is described. Also, your choice of descriptive language is clichéd to the max. "Striking green eyes, as bright as emeralds", "Golden blonde hair in thick wavy curls". I have heard this description a million and one times. Also, why the hell does Toby talk about her clothes for a paragraph? Is he a fashion designer, or writing articlevertisements for Vogue? Who gives a gently caress what she's wearing?

- Your characters don't feel real. Toby is a boring average Joe with no character. Strange girl is a strange beautiful girl. They have no personalities, they're just ciphers for the plot. In the other thread you posted in, you said you'd explored how the characters' powers could be used in many different situations. If you'd got rid of half those situations and replaced them with situations where the characters faced emotional problems and developed, you might have the makings of a decent story.

Blarggy
Sep 7, 2010


Tiggum: Right you are sir, now that I've gone back and read some alternating third person novels, I can see how my writing seems a bit detached and sort've forced. I should be able to fix that by more properly setting up the narrative and sentence structure to suit the style better.


Purple Prince: Thanks for the detailed critique! As for the character not being named, that was by design in that I wasn't even sure what his name would be. I actually had chosen Tobias in the early stages of planning; seriously. So that was a little freaky. Many instances of 'he' will be switched to Travis now, as I'm pretty sure I decided on his name, I also want to put more of the exposition into his view rather than a detached outsider.

This scene was originally intended to be about twice or three times as long, as the first chapter in the book it would set the stage, the main character, etc, but not develop any characterization until he woke up later on. Having said that, I really should have just wrote it out and posted it somewhere else, but in this form it happened to be about 1000 words so I settled and decided to post it in this thread instead of writing out everything I wanted to in the introduction and making my own thread.

That's also the reason for the almost forced descriptions, as an introduction to the characters I generally go a bit overboard describing what they look like when really I should just give an outline in a more natural way.

Oh, and the clothes thing...yeah. I'm heterosexual but BOY do I love describing clothes. I honestly do not know why I do it. In this case they're vaguely important because who wears torn jeans, sandals, and a short sleeve shirt in Boston in the winter? It's supposed to be part of what drew his attention.



Anyway, I'm going to work on refining and expanding on this scene until I can form a workable first draft for the first chapter, thanks a lot guys.

Tiggum
Oct 23, 2007

Reppin' the Row since 1536.



Blarggy posted:

As for the character not being named, that was by design in that I wasn't even sure what his name would be. I actually had chosen Tobias in the early stages of planning; seriously. So that was a little freaky. Many instances of 'he' will be switched to Travis now, as I'm pretty sure I decided on his name

You know you can just use a placeholder name for people or things you haven't decided on, right? Like, call him Tobias until you decide if you want to use that or something else. You don't just avoid using his name in the story to put off having to choose a name.


Blarggy posted:

This scene was originally intended to be about twice or three times as long, as the first chapter in the book it would set the stage, the main character, etc, but not develop any characterization until he woke up later on.

You want to have an entire chapter in which the reader doesn't discover anything about the character or personality of the protagonist? That sounds terrible. You really want the audience to get a good working understanding of the protagonist very early on, to put events in the right context. Once we know who he is we can relate that to what's happening.

Unless your protagonist is supposed to be mysterious, of course, but I don't get the impression that that's what you're going for.


Blarggy posted:

Having said that, I really should have just wrote it out and posted it somewhere else, but in this form it happened to be about 1000 words so I settled and decided to post it in this thread instead of writing out everything I wanted to in the introduction and making my own thread.

Given how much you have to work on, posting short bits like this is probably your best option.


Blarggy posted:

That's also the reason for the almost forced descriptions, as an introduction to the characters I generally go a bit overboard describing what they look like when really I should just give an outline in a more natural way.

Oh, and the clothes thing...yeah. I'm heterosexual but BOY do I love describing clothes. I honestly do not know why I do it.

If you know you have these problems, the next step is to catch yourself doing it, stop, and fix it. If you find you've written a paragraph about someone's clothes, stop, delete it and move on.

Blarggy
Sep 7, 2010


Tiggums: Sorry, let my clarify. When I said two or three times longer, I didn't actually mean the scene itself. It is supposed to start at his home with him waking up, and getting ready with his younger sister, where I had intended to include a basic introduction to the character. The problem was, in my haste to get the explosion scene out of my head, I sort've skipped to it much quicker than intended.

Naerasa
Aug 5, 2004

Do you not know that Death is the servant of Chaos?

Blarggy posted:

It is supposed to start at his home with him waking up, and getting ready with his younger sister, where I had intended to include a basic introduction to the character. The problem was, in my haste to get the explosion scene out of my head, I sort've skipped to it much quicker than intended.

For the love of God, please do not start a story with the protag waking up. That poo poo is amateur hour and I'd rather you start the story on the sentence where the bank explodes instead of the sentence where Toby gets up and eats a piece of toast.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012



Blarggy posted:

Hello, I was directed to this thread by Mr. Martello and despite my protests I managed to write out a scene from a book I will begin writing soon. This scene does not have much dialogue(read: any), but it is the only scene from the book I have so played out in my head that I could write it at seven in the morning. It's possible depending on the reception of this piece that I will write of their second meeting, which will contain significant dialogue, so that I can get a full critique of my writing, dialogue or otherwise. In the meantime; thank you in advance for any critiques.

Since my bullying got you to actually produce something, here's a crit for you. I will bold the sentence or words I don't like, and then my comments and suggestions will be in italics.

quote:

Scene from a currently unnamed novel, 1016 words.

Boston was frigid in the middle of winter, unfortunately that was no excuse to close the schools, not in Massachusetts, they were far too used to the snow and cold here to get any time off. This is basically a run-on sentence. How about "Boston was frigid as ever this winter, but of course the schools were still open." That's good enough. We don't need the rest of the editorial. This is third-person that reads like first-person. You're not Tolkien and you're not writing The Hobbit. His father left for work earlier than he woke up, leaving him no choice but to walk. This sentence just sits here and doesn't really tell us anything. Who is "he?" As you've already been told, give this guy a name. Toby is fine so I'll keep going with that. Why do we care that Toby's dad left for work? We never see him at the end of the story so at this point you need to conserve detail and leave him out completely. At the most, say "His father had already left for work, so he had to walk to school.

He kept his bare hands stuffed into the pockets of his fluffy winter jacket, weaving deftly I'm not a super-anti-adverb guy like a lot of people here, but deftly is a bad one. Make "weaving" into a stronger adjective or just leave it as is. Since he isn't tripping or slamming into people, it's assumed that his weaving skills are deft. between the early morning crowds. The thick faux fur along the neck of the coat took the place of a scarf and his scruffy brown hair stretched over his ears enough to keep them from freezing off. Does hair stretch? Mine doesn't. Pick a better adjective. It was a twenty minute walk, depending on the crosswalks, and he usually cut through the city hall plaza to save a few minutes in the bitter cold. This whole second paragraph drags just as badly as the first, and so far nothing has really happened. You need to build some kind of tension and there isn't any yet.

Today was a day like any other, he mentally prepared himself for a biology test in first period, one he feared he might not pass as he had done no studying the previous night, having spent the night out with his friends. Holy poo poo another run-on sentence! You really need to work on these. Periods are not the enemy. Also, this is more boring non-information. If you're trying to set him up as the cliched "ordinary high school student," I strongly advise against it. Especially for a superhero story. We've seen it a million times and we don't need to see it a million and one times.

It was when he passed a strange girl as he was exiting the plaza that he snapped out of his world of thoughts and turned his body, craning his neck to see where she was going. I'm coming to the conclusion that your sentence structure is just God-awful. Try something along these lines - "He saw her when he was leaving the plaza. A strange girl coming the other way. He snapped out of his thoughts and spun around to watch her go." She was somewhere around 16 years old, ugh, teen romance...if you're 16 too, give yourself four years or so because young teenagers can't write. It's science, look at Christopher Paolini. It's okay to keep writing, though, in fact please do. You might learn some things the rest of us had to learn after college. probably the same as him, with golden blonde hair in thick wavy curls down to her shoulders. As she passed him he happened to be glancing up to check his path and had noticed the most striking green eyes, as bright as emeralds, and as hard set as the stone. If this happened when she passed him, that's the first thing that you should have shown us in this paragraph. Really, it's too much description anyway so leave it out. Or just make the picture of her much more concise. "She had thick golden curls to her shoulders, green eyes like emeralds." Like emeralds is kind of an awful simile so try to think of another one.

She was, in a word, beautiful. An amazing girl in any place, nevermind New England, but what caught his attention wasn’t just her beauty, it was her clothing and her apparent destination as well. She wore a pair of plain blue jeans, torn in a few places, stylishly or otherwise, a pair of black sandals and a beige wide necked short sleeve shirt. Clearly she had not dressed for the weather, and it seemed as though she were headed for city hall itself, but why would a girl be going into city hall by herself he could not discern. Cut this entire paragraph, holy poo poo. Too much and none of it poo poo we need to know. You really need to cut down on the number of words you use, too. I bet this entire scene could be written in 500.

As he turned his head and lifted it slightly to see if she entered, it felt as if his world had suddenly fractured. As soon as the door closed behind her, the concrete pillars buckled outwards, cracking and shearing under apparent immense pressure, in the following second, a flash brighter than anything he had ever seen shone through the windows, and pillars of flame and smoke flew from the shattering glass. Okay, this entire paragraph needs a rewrite.

"He watched her walk in, close the door behind her. The world fractured. City Hall's pillars buckled outward, exploding into a million shards. A supernova flash was followed by tongues of flame through the blown-out windows." That's 36 words to your 71, and it could still be shaved down. This is a novel, not a school writing assignment. More words are not better.


His brain did not have time to process exactly what was going on, other than a resounding roaring noise, and that the entire front of the city hall building, thick concrete pillars, stone floors and brick pavers, were now shattering like so much glass and flying through the air, mostly in his direction. Before he had time to think, the wall of debris reached him, his arms flew up in front of him and his eyes squeezed shut in a vain, unconscious attempt to defend his vital organs and head. Same thing, rewrite this entire paragraph. Way too many words, overwrought sentences. Worst of all, you're just reiterating what the last paragraph already said. Just tack on to the last paragraph something like "He barely had time to react, closing his eyes and throwing out his hands to protect himself." Done, point made. All the rest is just bullshit. We already KNOW he saw the explosion and assume that it was loud. You just described it in the last paragraph. You don't need to describe it again through his eyes.

He felt a strong wind flapping all around him as if he were caught in a hurricane, "Hurricane winds rushed around him," and he was blasted backwards by the shockwaveperiod! and new sentence: It lifted him off his feet and send him sprawling over the rail of a starcase What other kind of rail would it be? Also use spellcheck. and into a set of bicycle stands, This is just one more place you use three words when you could use one. How about "some bicycle stands." where he finally came to rest, struggling to remain conscious. Just cut this.

He tried to groan, but the effort made it obvious there was no air left in his lungs, having been forced out when his back contacted a solid steel pipe behind him, his lungs frantically searched for air that was not there as he gasped in a new breath, every second if the inhalation felt as though his ribs were cracking, and they probably were. He felt a warmth on his temple as his disoriented body attempted to stand, something one would not normally associate with the current season. Holy poo poo this is getting worse! "He tried to groan but no air was left in his lungs. Each new breath felt like his ribs were cracking." And holy gently caress just cut the rest of it.

As he stood, wobbling to the side, one hand rose to his temple and touched it gently, creating another sharp pain. The entire world snapped back into focus before his eyes and with it came the realisation that the warmth was from his own blood, now smeared onto his fingertips. He raised his eyes up, towards the building that had just previously been a stalwart sight every morning, but was now nothing more than a pile of rubble with bodies strewn about.
Not gonna line edit this. I think you get the picture, this is overwrought and awful too.

It was then he saw the rubble all around him, concrete blocks bigger than his body with steel rebar piercing through them, but none close enough to have hit him. In fact, there appeared to be no rubble within a few feet of him. He looked towards the point where he had been standing moments before and traced back his route to the bike stands. There was not a single piece of rubble on the path, not within five feet on either side. "Rubble lay all around him, man-sized concrete chunks prickling with rebar. But a" semicircle of debris and dust stopped mere feet from where he had been, as if he had been encased in a glass ball. "Like he'd been inside a glass ball." or something

Someone grabbed his shoulder, and he dimly registered a noise of some kind, distant and quiet, like someone talking through a long tunnel. The arm turned him away from the building, a policeman was shouting at him, but he could barely hear the words. His ears rung with silence, a deafening silence, the officer pulled him roughly away from the former building, pulling him across the road and sat him down on the sidewalk, apparently trying to ask him questions.

When all he got in response was a blank look, the man hurried off, back towards the numerous bodies laying all over the plaza, some of them were moving, standing, jostling. Some were not.

Unfortunately his brain could no longer handle the various sources of information streaming into him, the pain in his ribs and ringing in his ears went away and he fell sideways, the blackness of unconsciousness embracing him.
That's all the line editing you get, all the rest of this is just as bad as what came before.

I think you know what you need to do at this point. I highly recommend you start writing some new poo poo, maybe enter Thunderdome next week. The 'dome will help you keep your to a minimum, a skill you desperately need to develop.

Molly Bloom
Nov 9, 2006

Yes.


Blarggy posted:

Tiggums: Sorry, let my clarify. When I said two or three times longer, I didn't actually mean the scene itself. It is supposed to start at his home with him waking up, and getting ready with his younger sister, where I had intended to include a basic introduction to the character. The problem was, in my haste to get the explosion scene out of my head, I sort've skipped to it much quicker than intended.

May I stop you there for a second? Unless you do something really special with it and blow the cliche out of the water, starting with waking up is probably a bad thing. A bad, bad, thing.

Also, introducing the character into the story is not the same as an introduction to the character (I'm just going on what you've written here, your intent may be different). You don't have to read us down a list of 'he's blonde, he's shy, his sister bullies him, etc...'. You're not reading down a character sheet. You can show us all these things, but remember that people are going to be really pissed off if the only things you ever know about the character and how he works turn up in the first paragraph, presented in a list rather than shown.

Why not introduce him with his explosion? If you're bored writing his 'introduction', it probably shows, and your audience might be bored.

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STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO



what is this

e:

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2013 around 17:53

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