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Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


In me and flash me please. I deserve it.


blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

First two crits done. Man, that took a lot longer than I thought it would. Sledge and JABC, wouldn't mind a quick look at my own (you don't need to be as detailed)

Your Sledgehammer posted:

En Garde

[...] happened.
Stop ending your paragraphs with "it." Give the reader some hint. "It happening" isn't exciting, because it could be literally anything. At the very least, you could do something like "something happened that changed her life forever," which is still vague and not very good, but it at least conveys the importance of "it" and the direction that "it" is going in.

Hairs stood up on her neck and arms, and a shimmering warmth spread its fingers from her chest across every inch of her skin. A metallic smell tinged the air around her and a buzzing whine grew louder and louder in each ear until the sound merged with her vision and everything went black.The everything going black and opening eyes in the next sentence doesn't make sense.
Terrified, Sharon opened her eyes.

A bolt of pure white light crashed across her field of vision, threatening to strike her, only to be met by another line of white. The blades danced and whirled, parry after furious parry, and she was surprised to see that her hand – a man’s hand, no less – was in control of one of the blades. The tip of her blade skittered across her opponent’s white jacket, giving rise to an insistent beeping that merged into her vision and slowly dissolved the scene in front of her eyes.
I have no idea. I don't know how much time elapsed between you writing this and submitting it, but this is clear that you did not read it with the eye of the first time reader. It is difficult, but vital, to develop the skill of reading your own work as if it were someone else's. To the first time reader, this paragraph makes no sense. You need to give just enough details so that each individual sentence makes sense. I figure you want the reader to be confused, but that requires the reader to trust you. Here, your ethos isn't strong enough.
She stole a quick glance at the picture of him that her mother had made the centerpiece of a wall near the entryway as she made her way to the warm embrace of the TV.
I've noticed a few of these types of sentences. There are one too many ideas packed in. I am a lover of the long sentence; my favorite writers are Pyncon and Wallace. But it takes excellent control to do so. Here, you have two problems:
1) Subject-pronoun agreement. The "she" in "she made her way" refers to Sharon, but the last character mentioned is Rhonda. Grammatically, the "she" points to Rhonda.
2) "As she made her way" is seperated by an entirely different character and action, and as such, should be it's own sentence or moved to the beginning.
Recommended Fix: "As she made her way to the warm embrace(cliche) of the TV, she stole a glance(cliche) at the picture of her father that her mother had centered over the entryway."
Still long, but better.

Sharon could count daring bank heists and gun battles from the second World War as among her firsthand experiences. Don't get how this fits When Rhonda had gotten sick and required Sharon’s care, the first thing Sharon had bought upon returning to her oceanside childhood home had been a metal detector.Suddenly she is an adult? BAD transition. Create a sense of time and place.

[...] her breath came out in a painful whistle.Not realistic

One more spadeful of sand and there it Again, stop using expletives. An expletive is a pronoun (e.g., "it") that points ahead to a subject not yet named[...]

[...] Sharon was in a men’s locker room.Boring. I know there is a length constraint, but this is that classic "show/tell" distinction. "Telling" is "Sharon is in ____." Showing would be using details that let the reader realize for herself that Sharon is in a locker room.


She stepped closer to Jack, and a woman’s handdisembodied hand. Describe the woman reaching, not just "a hand" with a sparkling diamond ring on it reached up to grab him by the shoulder. Jack turned and his smile widened just a touch too littleToo little for what? Don't understand. Esp. with next sentence. How do you smile too wide at your wife after winning whatever he won? “I did it, babe!” Jack slurred as the woman hugged him. “The trip to the Games can be part of our honeymoon!” The voice reverberated in Sharon’s ears – the voice of her mother, softened by youth.

Jack’s smile melted away. He lead Rhonda away from the group as the fencers razzed him about needing some private time with his woman. When the two of them were finally alone,If they're alone, how is Sharon seeing this? Jack sighed. “You know, I never really saw this opportunity coming, especially when we were in college, and…” Jack grew quiet. “What is it, honey?” Rhonda prompted, her voice awash in worry. Need a paragraph break here. Seems like Rhonda is talking“I guess what I’m saying is that things have changed, and tonight just settles it for me.”

The scene melted away and was replaced by a familiar beach at night, blurred through tears. A hand hurled the ring skyward, and Sharon watched as it arced into a boiling ocean.[/i]

Sharon blinked, and it was morning again on the beach. She felt the blood slowly drain out of her face as she tried to remember to breathe. She took the ring off, and as the first bitter tears fell, she flung it out to sea, where she hoped it would stay.
The story just ended. There's no hint to what Jack is really saying, or why Sharon gets upset and throws the ring away.

J.A.B.C. posted:

A New Spring

“Come in, Williams,” the Captain’s voice sparked to life in my helmet Maybe picky, but "sparked to life in my helmet," isn't really a speech verb. Fix: The captain's voice sparked to life in my helmet. "Come in, Williams," he said.. “What’s your situation?”

I closed my eyes as the module shook free of the Zephyr, sending me plummeting down through the void.Whoa. What? Need more details. What void? What is a Zephyr or a module? The straps of my seat pulled tight against the bulky suit, keeping me pinned snugly against the side, my hair floating around my helmet as we cut free from the ship’s gravitational field.

[...]Pretty decent dialogue[...]
a chirp ending the banterUnnecessary and vague detail

Stay calm. Easy to say when you’re not riding in a patchwork entry vehicle designed to drop buildings onto a completely unknown planet.
For all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t have been on this shuttle. Looking at the shining bolts and fresh sealant around the seat’s moorings just pushed it back"Just pushed it back" isn't a great way to say "reminded." I had to re-read this sentence to know what you meant. Focus on clarity. into my mind that I shouldn’t have been here. Being surrounded by houses folded in on themselves, white, solid blocks with feet, hanging above me, beside me, around me, all reminded me that I was unwelcome.Why shouldn't he have been here?

It was a foolish move, pretty much suicidal. But it was all we had.This is great. I want to know why your character has to make a nearly suicidal move out of desperation. Unfortunately, the above is unclear, so I don't know exactly what that move it, but I like the idea that it is a last-ditch sort of thing, and that's a good way to say it.


“The shuttle can’t make it,”why is there a paragraph break here? Not only ungrammatical, but confusing

Marsh Daniels, the toweringand tanned Martian who served as our head engineer, stood before a round table with every eye of the Preparation Crew now fixatedfixed on him. We could see the sagging in his face, the sweat on his brow, telling of the sleepless nights he had spent down in the hangar, going over the damage.This is good description, but it does walk the line between the old show and tell. Show and tell is the oldest advice in the business. It's the easiest to spot in other people's writing and the hardest to see in your own (probably because you can envision the scene as it is intended). Here, I'd remove the "telling of the..." and instead let Marsh use dialogue to convey his long nights. That would also let you give him some characterization. If he tends toward grumpiness, he could bitch about the fact that he has been working such long hours.

He coughed, pushing back the silence, and started again. “The impacts tore through everything in the hangar. We’ve been able to patch up the habitation module and the agricultural module, but our planet-bound shuttle took too many hits to its cockpit. The outboard cameras and terrain scanners are also shot, so we can’t fix it by plating down the windows, either.”

Whispers began to run around the table. Who else is there? The "Preparation Crew" but that means nothing to the reader Worries, concerns, doubts, fears, filling the room like a cloud.

The Captain slapped the table, and it unclear what "it" refers to at first. Another subject-pronoun disagreement (referring to the above crit). Here, "it" grammatically points to the table when you really mean the whispers. But that was two sentences ago. So, you need to write: "The whispers stopped it stopped. We Story goes from "I" to "We." I assume "We" is the preparation crew, but I still don't know what that means stared at his grey-streaked mop of hair, unkempt from days of neglect. We saw the bags under his piercing blues. We saw the way his shoulders slumped.

“You said that the habitat module is still mission ready?”

A silent nod.

“Then we have a one-seat ride down to the planet,” He said. “The atmosphere is chemically breathable, but we can’t detect local flora or fauna without a closer look. And if we put the entire ship down, she won’t be able to make it back up.”

I raised my hand.


“I’m going to spare everyone the drama and just nominate myself now, sir.”

His eyebrow perked up. “Interesting. Reasoning?”

“My comms gear was smashed by the impacts, as well. And since what was left went into repairing the jump gate drones and sending out our SOS beacon, that leaves me with no function that can’t be managed by another crew member.”Sounds like he is a robot here IMO. He speaks like comms gear is some irreplaceable thing, and the whole statement sounds coldly, robotically logical/

A few whispers here and there. The Captain nodded.

“Engineering, get the man a seat.”I like your captain's dialogue throughout. Though "The Captain" doesn't need capitalization. "Captain Phillips" would, but "the captain (of the vessel) doesn't


“Then we'll see you on the ground,” (lower case)he said,[...]

“Firing initial jets,” The voice said, What voice?

“Firing secondary jets,” the static relenting enough to hear, letting me brace for the sudden shock of the shuttle's re-fitted jets pushing me against my suit, my stomach turning end-over-end.[Too much going on in this sentence. Too many gerunds. The beginning could use a speech-verb, or :"'Firing secondary jets.' The static relented enough for me to hear..."

Only a little more. We were so close.



The Captain’s voice sparked to life in my helmetRepeating the exact same line as the intro. Don't like it.

“The winter is gone, sir,”

“Then we'll see you in the springtime,” He said back, the radio going quiet.
If winter is gone, isn't it springtime now? Not sure how if that's just banter or what
I left the helmet there, taking a seat at the end of the habitat ramp, and looked up into a unknown sky as the world, and our species, awoke to a new spring.
The whole thing has potential but is just too vague to make any real sense. I get the feeling that your characters are on some last ditch effort, but I don't know why. When they find a habitable world at the end, there isn't a strong enough reaction.

This is a story where the whole is less than the parts. You do have a few good moments here, but ultimately there are too many key details missing to bring the piece together. A firs time reader isn't going to be able to connect, because she doesn't know what is at stake for the characters, or how they really feel when it seems they have accomplished their mission.

Also, grammar note: way too many sentences that follow this pattern: I went to the store, vegetables lining the walls all around. The present-participle, "vegetables lining," doesn't fit the start of the sentence, "I went." They should be written like this: I went to the store. Vegetables lined the walls all around. I'm drinking wine and might be using present-participle incorrectly, so if you don't understand, ask.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

ceaselessfuture posted:


Good intro. Not sure what a wave projection machine is but I'll let it slide

The other students grumbled, but Bryce knew what the old man was like. HeSubject-pronoun confusion. He could refer to Bryce or the "old man." Be clear had taken Physics 11I think you mean II[/b] and failed, threatening his entry into the nearby community collegePretty hard to not get into a CC. He was never good at thinking too hard and sometimes his mind failed him; words and thoughts often blended together. The last time it happened was when Bryce's parents told him and his sister why they were separating, so he knew it got worse with stress. Luckily though, the college’s September semester was far enough away that he could still enroll if he passed this class now. Bryce had studied the material, more than anything he previously had in high school, but he was less than certain in himself.
This whole paragraph gets your point across, but is kind of clunky and fuzzy. Could be more concrete.

As Kolowski doled out the tests, each of the students in the class prepared for them like a prison sentence. Bryce had wriggled off his extra clothes and draped his hoodie over the back of his chair, but even in his thin T-shirt and board shorts he still sweat. He had even taken off his hat, resting it on the end of the white table he and Amy sat at. Too many "had"s. Try switching the verbs to the same tense as the rest of the sentence---he takes off his hoodie and hat but keeps sweating Amy had already bundled up her light coat next to him and set it down to her left, leaving a clear view between them.


Then, in the corner of his vision, Bryce noticed Amy's blonde hair swaying constantly. He glanced over, seeing her blue eyes staring directly down at his page.


He felt her rustle. She nudged his arm with hers then wrote PLEASE faintly on the table and underlined it. Bryce glanced back at her, seeing her wet eyes. Her page had nothing on it and she shivered visibly even in the cloying heat of the room. Although he had only known her for a few months, he never imagined seeing her like this. She needed him, Bryce was certain now. This is pretty good and I can picture the scene. A few more concrete, unique and standout details would strengthen this paragraph, especially since it seems to be where the story really begins


Bryce figured he had no choice. He leaned over and glanced at Amy's page. The girl had already started writing down her responses, quickly filling out the answers. He thought that they must have been similar, in a way — affected by stress, because right now she looked focused. Each line of hers he read focused his mind back into place. He finished with her help, but regretted that he needed it.
Okay, now I'm confused. That was a very random-feeling back and forth. I assume something else is going on, because the Amy doesn't make sense as a character right now.


Bryce and Amy shared a glance then followed the oldthink of some new adjectives here. You've already used "old." teacher out into the hall. The harsh fluorescent light made them blink[/b]cut this. It's school. All the lights are the same. Plus, they'd be used to them. Just stands out to me[/b]

Kolowski brought out their tests, one in each hand. "These are identical," he said. "I'm not going to bother asking what happened. Neither of you are passing this test."

"What?" Bryce said.

"No, wait, please Mr. Kolowski, I don't know what happened!" Amy said, tears returning.

"Sure you do," the man said, walking back towards the class.

Without thinking, Bryce reached out and grabbed his arm. "Wait, Mr. Kolowski, it was me, I did it."

The teacher spun around and stared at the boy. Amy stared too.

"I did it, she didn't have anything to do with it."

"Amy," Kolowski said, gesturing back to class. "Back inside."

Amy nodded and mouthed a "thank you" behind the teacher's back. Bryce decided she looked a bit like his sister.

"Guess I'll see you next semester, Bryce." Kolowski said as he ripped up Bryce's test.

Bryce didn't understand why, but he felt fine. "Yeah, I guess so."

This was a really disappointing read, because at ties it showed real promise, but nothing happened. You have an interesting situation: The star-pupil breaks down out of nowhere and needs help. Then she is fine. Bryce takes the blame and Amy just lets him? Why does he do it? I don't know what else to say other than that it felt like you wrote this in one go without thinking of the characters at all, finished it, and never looked at it again. Do you understand your characters' motivations? Because I sure as hell don't.

Apr 9, 2005

"I'm thirty," I said. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."

blue squares posted:

This was a really disappointing read, because at ties it showed real promise, but nothing happened. You have an interesting situation: The star-pupil breaks down out of nowhere and needs help. Then she is fine. Bryce takes the blame and Amy just lets him? Why does he do it? I don't know what else to say other than that it felt like you wrote this in one go without thinking of the characters at all, finished it, and never looked at it again. Do you understand your characters' motivations? Because I sure as hell don't.

Thanks a ton for this. You nailed it in one, I did it all Sunday afternoon, not by choice. Thanks a lot for your work, and with this and the other replies I've gotten, I already feel like next week will be better!

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Prompt updated with songs. ALSO

chthonic bell posted:

Is it cool to ask for clarification on a prompt, by the way?

Sure but why not do it in #thunderdome or #kyrena or wherever the hell we all hang out these days.

Jul 3, 2010
Click to understand my bad faith posting.

A stranger arrives.


Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


blue squares posted:

That'd be awesome thank you!

Bennycrit for blue squares

Mr. Electroworth's Shovel

Summer Earth / 1,200 words

Just minutes before I whacked my billionaire boss in the head with his own treasured gold shovel, I was thinking about my shoes. I’d scuffed them earlier in the day and I couldn’t get over it. They cost me $400. I never used to spend money like that on shoes or even give the whole affair more than two seconds thought. It’s strange how much you can change when you get some cash in your pocket. I like how you start with our protagonist fixating on one really insignificant detail which shows that he's in shock.

“The real problem is the trees,” he said, waving an arm across the vista. I’d driven him to an overlook of a pristine valley where he planned to build the next great addition to the Electroworth Group Resort Properties. His bald spot shone in the sun. If I held a pair of mirrors just right I could catch my own starting to form in the same spot. I squinted in the bright day, hot, in the height of summer, the sun beating down and sweat starting to drip down the backs of my legs. It felt like little bugs crawling around on me. I held Mr. Electroworth’s famous Golden Shovel in both hands like an armed sentry. Why does "golden shovel" need to be capitalized? The same one he used to break ground at his first property over fifty years ago. He later had it gilded, and we’d come out to plunge it into the earth here. Mr. Electroworth didn’t like big ceremonies. There was something spiritual about the way he’d break ground. Alone, with his own hands, as if assuring himself he still had dominion over the earth.

“The trees,” he said again. “Tough to uproot, and you get so many of those nuts climbing all over them and refusing to come down. They think they can stand in the way of progress. They never learn, my boy. They’re like a weed. You think you’ve crushed them and they pop back up.” He turned to me. He said and turned to me. Despite the heat and my own drenched armpits, I couldn’t see a drop of sweat in his thin gray hair or his bushy eyebrows. He looked quite cool, actually. Not even the sun could have its way with him. “Do you know how to truly kill a weed, son?”

I rested the shovel on my shoulder. “Rip up the roots?”

“You’ll never be sure you’ve gotten them all. No. You pave over them with concrete. Now get me some water, would you?”

I spun to comply, and the golden shovel spun with me. The thin edge took Mr. Electroworth in the temple and he dropped faster than my stomach.

I’d just killed one of the richest men in the world. This doesn't need to be a separate paragraph.

Both our lives ended in that split second. Mine was just going to take a while to catch up. I stood staring at his lifeless body and the murder weapon still in my hands. Neither does this.

No one was around. I moved before I even considered it and seized both of his arms and began to drag him away from the clearing where I’d parked. One of his cuff links popped off into the bushes, and I wasted five precious minutes retrieving the evidence. Paragraph?
No body, no conviction, right? That’s what I learned from TV. I didn’t have time to be ashamed. As I pulled the body along, I remembered my first days at the office.

Welcome back banners were strewn about and everyone wore at least three different party hats. Mr. Electroworth was returning that morning from a month in Sub-Saharan Africa, scouting potential sites and hunting elephants for the cost of only $17,000 per head (double for the little ones of my PhD in 18th century Scandinavian Literature ). I’d gotten an internship there after the receipt and my subsequent failure to find 21st century American employment. Many of my friends had found positions at environmental firms. At first, working for Electroworth felt like a betrayal of some essential part of myself. I’d grown up despising such companies.

When I saw the plans for a new resort at Yosemite, right at the top of Half Dome complete with elevator to the bottom, I told one of my old friends. He pointed out several reasons why the project could never get past the regulatory agencies. Relieved, I brought this to the attention of my superiors. A week later, the appropriate parties had been paid off and the project was greenlit. That hadn’t been my intention at all. But I was rewarded with a $5,000 check, and I smiled and said thank you. The money felt good.

Pretty soon, my environmental friends caught on and quit hanging out with me. By then, though, I had new friends. Richer friends. I helped establish a resort at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that reached high over the rim and could be seen from anywhere in the park. A part of me still felt it was wrong. But that part got smaller and smaller. Now I’m not sure it exists any more. Now I’d call my old friends “tree-fuckers.” This exposition is really awkward. It's just this big info-dump that's dropped right in the middle. There are more natural ways of disseminating your protagonist's backstory than just putting it in the middle like this.

I managed to get Mr. Electroworth’s body out of sight and didn’t have time then to register the irony of using his own prized shovel to kill and bury him. The earth was rich and moved easily under the shovel blade. I couldn’t stand to see his pale face, looking accusingly at me. So I started tossing the dirt at him, and that’s what finally woke him up.

He sputtered, spit out dirt, and jerked upright, dirt cascading off him like an old jack-in-the-box from the back of the attic suddenly springing to life.

“What in the hell’s going on here?” he asked. I froze. I’d been so sure he was dead, and now I couldn’t remember why. He looked from the half-finished hole to me. “Did you...?”

I couldn’t decide whether to apologize, lie, run, or hit him again. Mr. Electroworth clambered to his feet, surprisingly spry for a man his age, and plunged his hand into his pocket. I thought at first he was going to shoot me, but instead produced a more dangerous weapon: a cell phone, no doubt to call the police.

I opened my mouth to protest and he stuck up a finger. I was so surprised that I clamped my lips back together.

“Gregory,” he snapped into the phone. “You’re fired. I want you out before I’m back.” The phone vanished into his pocket again.

He turned to me and said: “Quick on your feet. Important. Self-preservation is man’s most powerful instinct. It’s what made me the man I am. I need more of that around me. You’re replacing that limp idiot. He was always weak. Now get in the car and drive me to a drat hospital, you son of a bitch.”

I followed him toward the car, stepping into the hole along the way and nearly knocking myself out with the shovel. As the shock wore off, I smiled. I could really be one of them. I had what it takes. I saw mountains in my future. Not snowy-peaked ones; those would have to go, make way for industry. No, I saw mountains of money, all mine, and the earth waiting to be subdued.

You have a good premise of a person who betrays his convictions and ideals for the sake of material gain. The problem is that instead of letting the exposition flow naturally, you instead lump it right in the middle. It's a huge roadblock and it breaks the flow. I would've had your character recalling his past actions while digging the ditch or something. Maybe after every shovel full of dirt, he recalls a moment. Maybe even have him talking to himself or shouting how he's compromised his ethics. Keep that in mind for next time.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


Hey a lot of free crits going around. Can I get one for my most recent entry?.

Feb 25, 2014


Benny the Snake posted:

Hey a lot of free crits going around. Can I get one for my most recent entry?.

Sure, here you go.

Benny the Snake posted:

My First Beer

Dad drove his Toyota truck up the hairpin turns towards Jenks lake A lake whose name contains lake should be capitalized, like the Mississippi River with only one hand on the steering wheel. A brown SUV passed us by and Dad waved. "Who's that?” I asked. Opening is a bit weak as it isn’t particularly interesting.

"That's the most important person in the whole park," he said as we went into a tunnel. "He's the game warden."

"What's he do?"

"He's the one who enforces the fishing laws," he said as we made our way out the other side. "And he has the authority to enforce the laws, so you'd better show him respect."

"So he's like a Sheriff?"

"Yeah, exactly," he said as we finally made it to the parking lot.

“I still don’t see why I couldn’t bring my Gameboy,” I grumbled under my breath and got out of the truck.

“Because we’re here to get away from it all,” he said and started pulling his gear from the bed. “Besides, you spend too much time on that drat thing.

“I do not,” I mumbled while unintentionally twiddling my thumbs.

Jenks Lake Why didn’t you capitalize lake in your opening :argh: is located up in the San Bernardino National Forest. The lake is so high up above sea level that, while we weren't above the clouds, we were above the overcast that morning. The forest itself is comprised of almost nothing but pine trees to the point where the scent of fresh pine was overwhelming. It was towards the end of April and the lake was noticeably swollen from the rain. There was constant chattering going on, and it was coming from these dark-blue birds with feathers sticking up from their heads that made them look like they were wearing mohawks This is a very passive line, just say that the birds were chattering. The combination of their chattering and my Gameboy withdrawal strained what little patience I had to its breaking point. While this has some nice imagery, it feels a lot like a Wikipedia article, and something your narrator wouldn’t really know. If you showed what the narrator was feeling and seeing rather then telling us how the forest was, it would be a lot stronger.

“Dad, why didn’t you let me bring your rifle?”

"I told you because this isn't a hunting trip," Dad told me while tying a lure on the line of his rod in a series of intricate loops. "Besides, it's not right to shoot kingfishers," he added and finished his knot, "no matter how much you may hate them."

With his lure tied, Dad was now ready to fish. "Pay attention, son. Casting is a delicate art. You have to be very careful not to flick it too hard or else you'll either get it caught in something or someone. You also have to aim it right," he pointed out towards the shallow part of the lake. "Right past there is where they feed. You understand, me, son?"

I wasn't listening to a word he said. This doesn’t really make sense. If your narrator wasn’t listening to what his dad was saying, how could he tell me what his dad said? I was too busy thinking about Pokemon Red Version and how I was so close to leveling up my Charmeleon into a mighty Charizard. These sort of details aren’t important. I saw his cooler full of beer and I got an idea. "Dad, how are babies made?"

"Well, son," he began, "sexual reproduction happens when...."

"Eww, stop it," I said.

"You're not getting any of my beer," he said and grabbed one from his cooler.

At this point, I was convinced that he could read my mind. "How did-" The line "How did-" implies that your character is suprised by his father, so you don't need the line preceding the dialogue since it's just telling

"I was young like you were, and I know all the tricks," he said and sat down back in his lawn chair. “Like how you can get an adult to give you anything to avoid talking about something like sex."

I slunk back down into my chair. Dad noticed and he handed me his fishing rod. "Wanna try?"

I shrugged and grabbed it. After a couple of practice swings, I pulled the bale back on the reel and let it fly. Dad patted me on the back. "Nice cast, son. Now, we wait."

After what seemed like a mind-numbing eternity, I decided to ask again. "Dad, how are babies made?"

Before he could say anything, the line started tugging. I grabbed it and held on, pulling back as hard as I could. "Hold on!" Dad shouted and helped me pull it back. Whatever was pulling back, it was huge. I dug my heels as deep as I could into the mud and pulled as hard as I could with my Dad holding me back. With one last heave, I finally got the monster above water. It was a huge trout, about twice as long as my arm.

"Grab the tape measure," he told me and I grabbed it out of his tackle box. The trout's rainbow scales glistened in the sun as I measured it. "Twenty-four inches!"

"You're a natural," Dad said with the biggest smile on his face. "We're going to have to chop that sucker up just to fit it in the freezer!"

After a while, we caught a whole bunch of fish and left as the sun set over the lake. As we made our way back, a game warden stopped us. I could tell who he was because he was wearing a badge and a Smokey the Bear hat. "Afternoon, warden," Dad said.

"Afternoon. I see you have two stringers there?"

"That's right," Dad said and held up the lines. "Me and my boy caught them. In fact, he was the one who caught the 24-incher," he said and gripped my shoulder.

The warden smiled. "Heck of an eye there, son," he told me and left.

"Dad, you did most of the fishing," I said.

"I know son."

"You broke the limit, didn't you?"

I could feel him shifting uneasily. "Yes, son."

"Hey mister warden!" I shouted at the top of my lungs as my Dad held onto my shoulder in a vice grip.

"Yeah, son?"


The warden tipped his hat and left. Dad waited until he was out of sight before he eased his grip. "You're breaking the law, aren't you, Dad?"

"What's it going to take, kid?"

I smiled at him. He knew. He grabbed a beer out of his cooler and gave it to me. "Don't tell your mother."

That was my first beer. Tasted like poo poo, but it was worth it.

There was some examples of telling rather than showing, but overall this is an average story that doesn’t do anything spectacular, but doesn’t make me want to gouge out my eyes. It was a cute, personal story with a few problems, but not enough to make it hate it.

You also sometimes use details that aren't really necessary for your reader to know. Try to cut these downs, and leave only the important stuff that your reader has to know, because it could get a little bloated and your reader could get bored about hearing how your Charmelon is going to evolve.

Beef Steakwell
Jul 30, 2012

In, going to use this to pressure myself into writing more. May I please have a musical prompt.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

Thanks Benny!

painted bird
Oct 18, 2013

by Lowtax

Chairchucker posted:

Sure but why not do it in #thunderdome or #kyrena or wherever the hell we all hang out these days.


Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


starr - It's now been a couple of days since I read the story. Here's what I remember: The premise felt strongly of traditional folklore. Strong enough that I assumed it was based on Celtic mythology. And that's a good thing in my books. Folklore persists for a reason; it speaks to the human condition and has been polished through generations of retelling such that it resonates strongly with receptive audiences. In this case, I felt like the kernel of insight was around how death is inevitable and it should be accepted gracefully, and the conflict of the story came about because the protagonist rejected it.

Now I'm going to reread it uninterrupted and give my broad impressions.

There are more technical and stylistic hiccups than I recall. A lot of why this story speaks to me is that there's an obvious way to relate with what the characters are going through: everyone has to cope with death. I think some of the humanity I felt between the characters also came from this; the dialogue felt a little forced, as did the series of events. I'm going to spend some time looking up the folklore before I do the detailed crit. Hmm, a few minutes with Google didn't pull anything up. Is this based on anything? If not, then consider it a high compliment that you've created (as opposed to captured) the feel of cultural tradition.

starr posted:

Two halves of a Whole
1194 words

Deirdre I like the name. It plays on cultural assumptions to establish part of the setting right off the bat. couldn’t sleep I can also relate here; not good at sleeping. Even with the curtains closed she could feel the watching gaze "Watching gaze" is a bit redundant. Based on the mother's summary, I think "longing gaze" would fit your story better. of her death. I like when abstract concepts are personified, so I'm already interested in this story after two short sentences.

In her youth when she was strong and healthy she rarely saw her death. Sometimes she would catch a glimpse of a dark form can be condensed at the corners of her eyes, or in the night when death was strongest she would see a silhouette of a dark form redundant dark form far away. Sometimes she would glimpse a dark from from the corner of her eyes, or at night when death was strongest she would see a silhouette far away. But when her slight spring cough turned into a deep wracking pain in her chest and summer turned to fall she started seeing more and more of her death, until one night Which night? Last night? she woke to find it peering through her window. I get that you want to establish the season and progression of her condition, but this was done in a confusing fashion. Ever since then it came every night without fail, its bright white eyes staring at her through the night, might consider adding "its claws" just so one doesn't think its eyes are scratching at her window.

She finally dozed off as the room started to lighten with dawn "as dawn's light entered the room" has more immediacy. In general "started to" style constructions distance readers, until a fit of coughing woke her. She coughed spat? You just said "cough", and I think other words could be used without turning Purple. into her handkerchief, avoiding Avoiding how so? With her eyes? the bright red that stained it after she was done. She got up and went into the kitchen. There was a double-space here. Look your next story over with an electron microscope -- a little more polish and I think it would've been upper-echelon. Her brother was already at the table, two steaming mugs of tea in front of him. A frown appeared on his face Magic! Better off saying "He frowned". when he saw her.

“You don’t look like you slept too well,'.' you know the healer said you need good rest to keep your body strong, Feels like a line to me, the reader, not to another human, his sister.” he said.

“How exactly am I supposed to rest with that thing outside my window all night, Aedan,'?'” Deidre retorted. She sat down at the table and took the mug proffered to her.

He sighed. “I know, Deidre,'.' Trust me, I know. Do you think I don’t lay awake at night thinking about the death right outside our house ready to take my sister? But the better care you take of yourself the longer we’ll be able to keep it out. I feel like those two sentences could've been smoother. Please.”

Deidre looked at her brother. He was older than her, but strong and vital. He would not Nix the "have to". experience his death for a while yet,';' not have to worry about it at his window.

But she saw the lines of worry on his face, and smelled the healing herbs he so carefully combinedDoes combining healing herbs really require that much care? Perhaps you could show his concern by calling them expensive; I just don't buy that the end result of "tea" can indicate to an individual how much care went into its creation. in her tea, and could not feel resentment. She took his hand.

“Aedan, what if we don’t have to accept my death? What if there was some way to stop it, delay it, maybe even – “

“Deidre,” her brother interrupted. He was shaking his head, as he did every time she brought this up. Believable. “You know that isn’t possible. You know how it has to happen.”

She did know. She, like every other child, was told the story of their death. She could still hear her mother’s voice as they sat beside the fire when she was young "she was young" is somewhat implicit., her mom combing Deidre’s long fiery hair that she Deidre or the mom? loved so much Loved the combing or loved the hair?. This sentence is overcomplicated.

“Every child is born with Alongside? their death, and their death loves them dearly. I like this thought. It's a great way for a parent to try to explain a scary concept. But death's' -- you're referring to the general death creatures for general children. cannot stand the fiery souls of youth and so are doomed to the live away from their children, always wanting to be near but unable to get close. A little clunky, but passable. But You started last sentence with "But". as a person’s fire dims from age or illness death is able to get closer and closer Not sure how I feel about the second "and closer"., until one day a person’s death appears like an old friend and takes their hand, leading them to a place where they can finally be together for eternity.” This little bit of exposition actually helps the piece a lot in my opinion -- it's heartwarming on its own, but it also provides the contrast which magnifies the significance of Deidre's actions. Deidre’s mother always made it sound gentle and kind. She didn’t tell her about the white staring eyes or the scratching at the window. The descriptions here feel lamer than they did earlier. I'd describe different scary aspects about the death.

Deidre got up from the table and went to get her coat. "Deidre fetched her coat.", perhaps? You may want to acknowledge the brother in some fashion; I feel like he just vanishes from the story at this point. Her mom and brother might have accepted that they have to live with their deaths, but that didn’t mean she had to.

She was greeted by crisp autumn air as she walked outside. It was almost the fall equinox and there was a festival in the village. Vendors cried out their wares and stores sold steaming hot ciders and tea. Deidre bought a cider, grateful for the warmth that helped ease her cough, and browsed until her eye was caught by Passive voice. one item in particular.

It was a small silver knife, plain except for the delicate runes etched on the surface of the blade. It was about the size of her palm.

“I see you have you have fine taste, lass. That blade will protect you from any evil you might come across,. Those runes will guarantee it.,” the shopkeeper said. Awfully convenient. But an odd first thing for a shopkeeper to say about a knife. Normally people buy them for cutting.

Deidre looked at him sharply. “It will protect me, you’re sure?” she asked.

“I swear on me mother’s grave, I do,” he replied solemnly.

Deidre bought the knife despite the its high price. She had never heard of someone successfully injuring their own death, but maybe she could drive it away with such a blade. She tucked the knife into her pocket.

She stayed in the village until the sun started setting sunset. She could feel excitement as people talked of the bonfires that would be lit soon in the empty fields. Telling. I don't feel the excitement that she feels. By that time the pain in her chest was constant and deep, and she had trouble breathing. She knew her brother would be expecting her in by nightfall, but all she could think of was how nice the warmth would be near a bonfire how nice the warmth of a bonfire would be.. She followed the villagers as they walked towards the fields.

As the last of the sun vanished and the air grew cooler Deidre’s cough became worst, her handkerchief sodden with red, and she fell behind the others. Eventually she had to stop altogether as a particularly bad fit seized her. The congregating people feel like zombies or ghosts. Nobody in the village around festival time will turn back to help a hacking and coughing woman? Blood spattered the grass. When she finally was able to stand upright Passive voice. her death stood before her.

She had never seen it so close besides at the window Say before. Besides at the window reads oddly, and you want this to be more, not equally, intense for her.. She could see saw that its body was identical to hers but insubstantial and dark, like a the shadow cast by the light of a fire.

“Stay away from me,” she said. She drew out the silver knife and held it in front of her. “Just stay away from me.”

Her death had no distinguishable face yet still Deidre almost felt like it looked at her sadly. Don't say almost felt -- it means didn't feel. "Her death had no distinguishable face yet Deidre felt its sadness." It took a step toward her and reached out a hand. I'm under the impression that it's still reaching out a hand in welcome, in line with the mother's story. I'm not sure if this was what you were going for, but I think it fits the story better if the death actually is amicable and Deidre is just freaking out. So you may want to say more explicitly that it means her no harm (from its point of view).

“No!” she yelled. She stabbed at it wildly with her knife and struck its hand, the knife sinking into its shadowy flesh. You have a lot of these "Part of a sentence, semi-separate description with a present participle conjugation." They're getting old.

Deidre screamed. Icy pain lanced through her hand. It has more impact when they're separate short sentences. She bore no wound yet she could feel the blade stabbed through her flesh. The "stabbed through" throws me off for some reason. I'd feel better about "in". She looked in horror as her death took another step towards her.

She sobbed as she ran away. She ran blindly forward I'd drop the forward. It's slightly in opposition to "away" in the sense of relative directions., hampered by the throbbing pain in her hand and lungs. When she looked back her death didn’t seem to be following her, but still she ran in blind panic. The last phrase isn't great for me. "...but still she ran." sounds better, for whatever possibly personal reasons.
Eventually she saw the dim glow of the bonfire in the fields. It was said By whom? When? Passive voice. that the bonfires of the fall equinox were protective, and she made her way to the very front nearest to the fire to the front of the fire. Heat rolled over her in waves and sunk into her body, and for a moment she felt healthy again. But she could feel her death behind her, its breath rattling like old dry leaves in the wind, its body close against hers. The first time I read this line I thought it was further behind her, as in staved off at least for the evening. Not sure why I missed the "close against hers" bit. If you're trying to imply that she's still about to die, I think you're missing a good opportunity with this story: it would be more poignant if she did find a little bit of peace like the childhood story implied.

Final thoughts: I think the concept is very strong. There were a handful of things (punctuation, style) that could've been fixed with proofreading, and a few things (word choices, different assumptions/expectations) that additional eyes ought to help with. The ambiguous ending (when will she die? How will she feel about it?) does you a disservice, since you've set up a good opportunity to allow the reader (who likely shares fears about death) to experience some hope and grace themselves (when Deidre does realize that accepting death can be beautiful and peaceful). Or you could go in the other direction (although I wouldn't like it as much) and explicitly show her experience to be in opposition to the lies she'd been fed in childhood.

May 5, 2014

by FactsAreUseless

Thanks so much for the detailed crit! I plan on going back and making it a full short story so it was very useful :) I didn't draw on any specific folktale when I made it, just had the image in my head and went with it. Thanks again for taking the time to crit my story.

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

blue squares posted:

Detailed, awesome crit of my work

Many thanks for this, it was great and helped me identify areas that I really need to work on :)
I'll be returning the favor quite soon, mostly likely sometime this evening.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Djeser posted:



Now with Ironic Twist, since you asked for one.

In terms of description, I think you hit the mark pretty well. There were a lot of good, interesting images in there (the sun eating the dress and spitting it back up, soda-jerk rainclouds) and it felt satisfyingly vivid. It's a bit hectic, and by that I mean there's a lot of different kinds of images going on, but given that you were writing about Holi, it makes sense that it'd be a bit crazed and fantastic. "Alien life forms...survivors of distant planets" was a little strange to me, kind of on-the-nose like you were trying to describe the picture itself and not what the character would have seen--though maybe she would see that. Just my impression. There were a few small parts of the description that didn't work as well--Technicolor powder just felt like, well, yes, it's colorful powder, correct. "As pure as snow that never fell to earth" too--not that these are bad descriptions or that they worked against what you were going for, they're just somewhat more typical descriptions, so the image doesn't strike me as sharply. If you did any [adjective] [adjective] [noun] it was well-placed enough that I didn't even notice, so good on you for avoiding that.

Plot-wise I understood most of it, even if it seemed a little odd that she's so vehemently against couples (though understandably so) but I don't really get why she was getting arrested at the end. Because she wasn't legitimately in the race, I guess, but I kind of had to read back to see that. There's some real emotion in there, though, so that's good, and it was descriptive week anyway so your plot wouldn't have needed to make sense. If it had gotten in on time, this probably wouldn't have HMed (the HMs were basically the leftover win candidates) but you would have been just below that rank, in my opinion.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.

It warms the cockles to see all these crits flying around, so I'll toss my hat into the ring, too. First three people to claim 'em get a line-by-line. Doesn't matter what week, as long as it's in the archives I'm willing to take a look at it.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

It warms the cockles to see all these crits flying around, so I'll toss my hat into the ring, too. First three people to claim 'em get a line-by-line. Doesn't matter what week, as long as it's in the archives I'm willing to take a look at it.

I'd love a line-by-line on my story from Thunderdome Week CXV, please.

I'd also like to offer somebody a line-by-line crit. Who is interested?

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet

I’d take a crit of this:
or this:
from anyone who’s interested.

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

Stand aside you plebs. I'm totes mcgotes in.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen

Freedom Garden I do not like this title
Spring, Earth
835 Words

“Get a hobby,” the lawyer said. “Volunteer or something.” nice opening line I stared at her and saw only the walls and floor and ceiling, the tightly closed window. I paced. pacing seems rude when talking with a lawyer, wouldnt you be sitting Outside a chill rain washed away the last of the snowbanks.
i like this opening paragraph

The thought was terrifying. The thought was thrilling.that's a bit of an overreaction? who is this narrator

My soon-to-be ex’s subtle siege had kept me in the shelter for three weeks. He’d broken into my facebook and email, put pressure on my friends to tell him where I went. Nothing was safe.ah, cool. thats serious business so this is a strong start

“The community garden is right next door.”


The smell of bergamot and damp earth suffused the garden office. Bergamot and damp earth. A bell tinkled out in the greenhouse, summoning a young man through the back door. who tinkled the bell? he was summoned through a door? “Hello,” he said, holding out a hand. “I’m Sean.” I stared at the hand, clean except under the nails where dirt lingered in neat half crescents. I knew how to shake hands, I reminded myself. nice

“Jessica.” The wordname? caught in my throat as his hand closed around mine. Gentle. Firm. “I um...I was wondering if you needed volunteers.”

“Sure.” Crow’s feet bloomed around his eyes when he smiled. I thought of him as young, but he was probably my age. Younger than my husband or our friends. “You want anything to drink? Coffee? Tea?”

“Is that Earl Grey I smell?” I asked. He made us tea in silence, fragrant and hot and strong. My husband hated the smell of bergamot. When I raised the cup to my lips the steam smelled of freedom and the scalding tea left a warmth inside that felt like happiness. that last sentence is way too much. the rest of this is good.

“What do you know about gardening?” he asked.

“Nothing much,” I admitted.

We lingered over the tea while he told me what would need doing. “You’d best come back tomorrow,” he said when the cups had gone empty twice. “You won’t want to get your pretty things dirty.”that sounds really condescending. also - if they drank two cups of tea, i want to know what they talked about (or didn't) way more than 'he told me what would need doing'

I blushed like fire.


Dampness? soaked my knees as I knelt in the empty bed, transplanting basil seedlings. The trowel felt awkward and heavy in my hand. I pressed it into the dirt but couldn’t break through the heavy mud.

“Like this,” Sean said, stabbing sharply downward with the shovel. The violent movement sent my heart skipping, made me pull back defensivelya bit passive, maybe "i pulled back defensively", but he just repeated the motion, digging out a hole with a few deft flicks.

I pulled the spade back and plunged it into the dirt. The blade crunched through the soil to the handle. Vicious pleasure surged through me, and I stabbed downward again and again, loosening the dirt and scooping it aside.

My breath was fast and ragged through parted, chapped lips. I shrugged out of my jacket, set it aside. The weak spring sun touched my bare arms. Sweat coated my skin; the cool breeze turned it instantly chill, and the hairs on the backs of my arms stood up.nice

I glanced up to find Sean smiling at me, his eyes crinkling at the corners. cool callback about the crow's feet, makes his appearance memorable

“Are you ready to sign the papers?” My lawyer asked me, as she had every couple days since I’d called her. I picked up the pen, feeling that same warming thrill, that same violent impulse I had so reveled in earlier.

I signed. i like this but maybe "I signed the papers" or "i signed them"? i signed seems like a fragment


“Back again?” Sean asked with a smile. “For tea, or work?”

“Can we do both?”cute

We took our time over the tea. He broke a muffin in half and pushed one towards me he broke a muffin in two halves and pushed one towards me. I hesitated to take half his lunch, but he insisted. “Go on. I baked it myself with berries I grew here.”i don't like this dialogue. "baked it myself with the berries I grew here" reads like a writer trying to shoehorn information into a character, not like a character saying something. its clumsy. what do they even talk about? why do they enjoy their tea time together?

The plump blueberries looked amazing. I broke it into dainty bites with my fingers. broke the plump blueberries? If I caught his eyes lingering when I licked my fingers clean, I didn’t mind.

It was his turn to blush.very cute

“You’ll still have to appear in court,” the lawyer warned me. “You’ll have to see him again.” i like the jumping back to lawyer stuff, to remind us what's going on

My basil plants were growing new leaves. I smiled at them, gently ran a finger along the edge of one sun-warmed leaf before moving on with my weeding. nice but feels out of place/pointless


I gritted my teeth and put on my nicest white pantsuit. White for brides, white for innocence. It made me look pale, fragile. I cleaned the dirt out from under my nails and painted them bright red.

I walked into the courtroom with my head held high, and I looked the bastard in the eye while the lawyers showed the pictures of my bruises. I looked him in the eye and thought of roots growing underground and leaves reaching for the sun and did not flinch or cry or look this is a big deal though so maybe a bit more here? it feels too short and easy, like this is a big deal but it just works out fine really quickly. i get that Jessica's grown and become strong and everything but its a bit of a letdown

Sean found me kneeling in the back of the lot, dirt under my red fingernails and covering my white blouse. My jacket was discarded on the ground, and my pants were ruined. Mascara streaked my cheeks, which were sore from the force of my smile. wait, is her smile forced? anyway this is a nice image, it's cool that she doesn't give a gently caress and just ruins her nicest pants

“So it went well then?” he asked, dropping to his knees beside me. His shoulder brushed mine and heat like sunlight raced over my skin. I leaned against him. whaat, is that it? you couldn't even give us a kiss?

* * * * *

The ending felt really abrupt, like you'd run out of word count and wrapped it up quick. I get it that they'll get together but at least a kiss would have been nice, or something more. Feels a bit limp, the way it is.

I also think the dialogue could use work. Except for lawyer at the start, it felt a bit off, though I struggle to pin down why. Maybe it was bland, didn't say anything interesting? I'm not sure.

The earth imagery was quite sexual in places. Good use of the prompt.

I thought this was a neat story, but no standout. I fear it might be forgettable - the start was strong, with the protagonist in a harsh place, but everything went so smoothly from there for Jessica. This doesn't make for a thrilling tale. After setting up some good hard stuff at the start, the second half of the story felt too easy.

Sean also wasn't much of a character at all, which hurt the piece - we have a romance but we know nothing about him other than he gardens and has wrinkly eyes (although his physical descriptions I did like).

Still, I think this is a legit decent story and I enjoyed it. I like the way you write in general - your style is very nice. It's evocative, interesting, and there was good imagery.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:siren: Week 118 Crits: Part 1/3 :siren:

Don't worry about not getting your crit. I'm toxxed to have them all done by Friday.

In general, this was an ok week. Not stunning, but ok. It was interesting to see how people represented their element/season, though some of the stories veered toward the cliché. A ton of stories had nothing, or very little, happen in them. So, in the future, please have a thing happen in your story.


Personal caveat: why does Thunderdome love planetary landings so much??

The action is reasonably clear, but the main character wasn’t very strong. All I know about them is that they’re the person whose equipment got smashed, so they get the one-way ride planetside. I feel like the head engineer is better characterized, and he’s a relatively minor character. You could do with a lot less “confirmed”s and similar dialog. Give your characters something to talk about that makes this more than a hollow semi-action sequence.

This piece is like a movie preview. You start with action, cut to dialog that explains the stakes of the story. Cut to the shuttle turbulently ripping through the atmosphere. Cut to the narrator stepping onto an alien world. Cue panning camera shot. Cue bleak music. COMING SUMMER 2015.

Hammer Bro

So, like, I’m not going to say, “RRRRrr never do dialog-only ever”. But given that you had some worldbuilding to do, you certainly set a pretty high learning curve for a flash fiction piece. Luckily, Kaishai is in possession of all Earthly knowledge, and was able to suss out (“sussed out” was a phrase that came up a few times in judgechat this week) what your story was more or less about.

The problem is this: The payoff wasn’t quite worth the work involved. I think, if you had done this a little more conventionally, I would’ve been more intrigued by the premise (A wine that either lets people interact with the dead, or brings the dead back temporarily? But kills the drinker while it does it?) . Like, I feel like the dialog-only thing was there purely to obscure the premise. The gimmick doesn’t interact with the plot or theme in a meaningful way.

Judgment took a while this week because we really were hung up on our winner and loser. All of us agreed that you could’ve told a competent and possibly enjoyable story, if only you’d just told the story. But at the end of the day, even though I read it before the big influx of submissions, it was still kind of a chore to get through.

All that said, it wasn’t a total mess. I appreciate what you were trying to do. Now I expect better.


I’m not sure if you meant to start the first four paragraphs with “James”. I guess it’s not a mortal sin, but to my eye it read as unnecessarily repetitive.

I didn’t really like “Beyond a build that made James blush, his best feature was a cocky grin and his worst a near pathologically casual approach to life that left James uncertain about where he stood. James liked the uncertainty most of all.” at all. Mostly because you go on to show Zav’s casual approach to life later, when he decides to ignore the encroaching wildfire for some reason. That line I quoted honestly read like something I’d find in a grocery store paperback romance.

It was really frustrating that these guys would keep boning in spite of the oncoming wildfire. It seemed like you were just setting up for James to take control. There was character development here, but the circumstances felt so contrived and forced that I wasn’t really feeling it.


My only complaint is that this was a bit talky. On the other hand, I quite like your dialog. It’s easy and natural, and you did a good job of showing how the two main characters care for each other. I liked that you created a sense of urgency with the impending migration, very light brush strokes there. But you evoke a feeling no one wants: being left behind.

I think you could have used a few more words to describe the setting a little more. You had about 300 more to work with. While I think this story is a good length, and I appreciate your word economy, it felt slightly sparse. Still, it felt complete and sincere. We were please by this offering from Thunderdome’s resident jester.


This is literally two nameless characters talking about worldbuilding stuff while looking at a flaming mech. I think you take waaaay too much from video games. It’s one thing to be inspired by the media you consume, it’s another to be completely derivative of it.

You had some decent sentences and turns of phrase, like “Flames colored his winter gear orange, and the high snowdrift made him raise his legs comically high.” I don’t like the repetition of the word “high”, but the image is really clear and amusing. But as a story, this doesn’t work.

I’m also not sure whose perspective thes story is from. The narration seems like it’s from someone’s POV, but it’s not clear who we’re “feeling” things through.


This was all kinds of hamfisted and unbelievable. Jack is a caricature of the Dunning-Kruger effect (even though i hesitate to use a common goon-ism). He wasn’t very fun to read about because everything that he did and everything that happened to him was really predictable. Because you telegraphed everything from the beginning. He was either going to fail catastrophically, or overcome his ego and show up the reporter.

Basically, your character does a total 180 because the story is about him doing a total 180, if that makes sense.


Okay, full disclosure. I was so ready to hate this when I started reading. If you want a good example of how to do the “naive kid”, I would direct you to Rhino’s Johnny Beamer character (I don’t have the links handy, but someone in IRC might). On the other hand, the voice wasn’t enough to put me off from the story entirely.

What made me not dislike this was the last two paragraphs. There’s some emotional meat there, this idea that the “good guys” can’t save everyone, and that sometimes when we are hurting, even the good guys seems like the bad guys.

I think it would’ve been better if you’d indicated the dialog with paragraph breaks and quotation marks instead of italics. You kind of added a gimmick to a gimmick. Still, I ended up thinking this was a pretty okay piece.

Anathema Device

This was sweet and very much felt like one of those movies that people force their girlfriend/boyfriend to watch with them so that you can ~cry together~. The dialog was good. The description was good. The background conflict of Jessica’s crazy ex husband is good. I guess this didn’t win just because Chairchucker’s story was juuust a little more original, and a bit more happened.

Thematically, this is strong. You use gardening themes to parallel Jessica’s divorce and healing really well. I don’t have a lot to critique about this, it’s very strong for what it is.

Benny the Snake

This is one of your better pieces. My only concern is...did you learn anything from writing it? I know you got some help with this story. But you’re not going to have people around to be your training wheels forever, you know?

That said, I think this would fit in with some “memoir” type story. Someone (maybe one of my cojudges?) pointed out that it’s weird that the characters motivation switches from “i wish i had my gameboy” to “I want a beer”. I noticed that too, though I think what you were going for was “I don’t get to have my gameboy? Fine. I’m gonna bug you for beer.” But I think you could’ve clarified that a bit more.

I did smile a bit at the part where you’re describing the scenic lake and the birds chirping...and it just pushes the protag over the edge.

All in all, this story had ok dialog and an identifiable arc. Just try to write more like this, but with less help, kay?

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014

Ok I guess nobody else has the courage to go first, and in remembrance of Veteran's days, I will learn from their example and be brave in the face of danger.

I'm dreaming of a Moons Over My Hammy
627 words

I breathed a sigh of relief after I rolled the incendiary bomb through the slightly-ajar door, having never been a competent bowler, and I had been experiencing incredible amounts of pre-rolling anxiety, but everything went as planned.

I jogged back to the lawn where I’d left the others waiting after our late-night retreat from our motel room. "That should take care of the lot of them,” I said, and picked a spider leg out of my teeth.

We set down our arsenal of shoes, fly swatters, and rolled-up magazines.

Johnny, who was both the youngest member of the impromptu spider-assault team at age 7 and covered in spider bites, rubbed his eyes and yawned. "What does ‘imcindry’ mean anyway?" he asked.

The device was given to me by my good buddy Dale when I'd called him up at 3am and said: "I need something to kill a lot of spiders, fast." I patted Johnny on the head. "You stupid, stupid child. Obviously it's poison."

The explosion begged to differ. We were knocked off our feet by the shockwave and peppered with shards of glass. Flaming spider carcasses landed in the yard around us, giving me the worst case of "tight-butthole syndrome" I'd ever had. I let out a series of eeps and meeps as I (having been unconsentingly "stopped" and "dropped" already) rolled over the dewy grass in a futile attempt to ease the pain of the burning spiders fusing to my skin.

But the dead ones weren't cause for concern nearly as much as the ones that, recovering from their shock of jumping a few pegs up the evolutionary ladder straight to "bird," had begin scampering around. I'm talking eight little legs, each independently on fire, each dancing to their own rhythm, crawling every which way but back toward our erstwhile motel.

Johnny, obviously failing to appreciate the gravity of the situation, laid motionless on the grass.

"Get up, you stupid child," I communicated to him with my voice and a thrown shoe. But the stubborn brat declined to move.

"Whatever, we can't wait here for him to decide to develop some semblance of unselfishness. We have to get to the extraction point." I cinched the buckles on my Rollerblades. "But that doesn't mean we can't go in style." I busted out a quick 720 to demonstrate my finesse on the bladed wheel, and the rest of the team enthusiastically or reluctantly (depending on your penchant for denial) grabbed their own pairs out of their bags. "See, aren't you glad I insist we pack them?"

We stood as a family, watching our home away from home burn to the ground, casually swaying on our wheels. The vacation to Florida was supposed to be relaxing, but I had straight-up Griswolded the thing.

I guess it's true that you get what you pay for, and that goes doubly for discount Christmas tree farms, where the employees look straight out of a Tim Burton movie and the trees look like they are straight out of a Tim Burton movie. The price seemed reasonable until the egg sacs started hatching.

Still, besides the burns and bites, it had shaped up to be a beautiful evening: the cracking of the motel fire, the gentle glow of neighboring eves as the conflagrated arachnids roosted in their new (albeit unbeknownst to them: incredibly temporary) nests, and I got to experience it all with my family. We held hands and my stomach grumbled.

"Extraction point had been changed to Denny's," I said.

We rolled down the street, hand in hand, silent but for the unoiled wheels of Sally's blades. We didn't need words to sum up the lessons of that night; Johnny is a horrible, selfish person, and next year: buy a fake tree.

painted bird
Oct 18, 2013

by Lowtax

I guess I'm second.

The Tram
568 words

The tram has been knocked right off the rails by the blast. It now lies on its side amid the snowdrifts, like a dying animal. Snow settles on Isak's face through the shattered windows. He opens one eye and stares up, unseeing. He can taste blood. There's something hard and round under his back. He reaches down and feels someone's fur hat, wet and sticky and then the unmistakable texture of hair.

I'm lying on someone's head, Isak thinks and starts laughing, the sound small and surreal in the stricken tram. To his right, someone swears at him, calls him a lunatic. Isaac turns his head, but he can't see the speaker. He tries to open the other eye and finds it's swelling shut.

The winter wind plays with his hair, whistles into his ears, chills the tip of his nose. He shivers under his shuba, but nothing drives him to move. A curious sort of tranquillity has settled over him, a dream-state that makes everything feel like he's watching his life from behind a thick plane of glass. He hears screaming that barely registers, swearing that passes right over his head and the gentle crunch of fresh snow under feet.

There's a centimetre of snow on his face and the head below him is moving, bumping against his back. In the distance, the Stukas wail as they dive. Another blast makes the tram rock, blows the snow from Isak's face. The head beneath his back jerks up and down, nudging him. Isak sits up, his movements slow and deliberate, like he's moving underwater, and turns to look at the man he landed on.

"Are you simple?" the man growls and Isak slowly shakes his head, though he can't quite understand the question. No, comrade, he's quite complex, thank you very much. The man under him shoves him forward and Isak flops over like a marionette, hitting one of the seats with his knee. The pain jolts him, makes him whine. He stumbles up, finding his footing on another fallen citizen. This one doesn't move. Isak climbs out of the window, the shards of glass nicking his mittens enough to cut the skin of his hands. His boots slip and he lands on his arse, right between the tram-tracks.

Another howl of the Stukas sounds in the distance, but fainter, further away. Isak barely feels the next blast. He climbs to his feet, slowly, slips a little but clears the rails before he collapses again, panting.

I'm not going to make it, he thinks and shivers, again. His ears, exposed to the Leningrad winter, are growing numb. He wonders what they'll look like, if frostbite sets in.

The sirens wail again, giving the all-clear. Isak puts his hands over his ears until the sound dies away. He tries to get to his feet, but his legs fold under him and he flops, face-forward, into a drift of snow. Powder fills his nose, makes him panic, makes adrenaline surge. He sits up, wrenching his face clear and pants.

Around him, Leningraders hurry about their lives. Survivors climb out of the stricken tram. He sits back and reaches into an inner pocket of his shuba and pulls out his ticket and stares at it. Eighteen hundred hours, it says. He glances up at the darkening sky and grins.

He's got time to walk to the Bolshoi.

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

You people and your early submissions. You don't get extra points because you submit before Sunday night. Probably could have used a few days to edit your stories.

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer

In. Flash me up if you have a mind to.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014

Mercedes posted:

You people and your early submissions. You don't get extra points because you submit before Sunday night. Probably could have used a few days to edit your stories.

I challenge you to find even one mistake in my piece. Just because I submitted it before the due date does not mean I didn't edit it. Do you turn in all of your school assignments right before they are due too? I always turned mine in early, and I think the professors enjoyed it.

Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.

Man, Cache Cab, you've really slipped. You used to be a credible idiot, now you've reached Survivor status. I believed in you, man. You were the chosen one!

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


Cache Cab posted:

I challenge you to find even one mistake in my piece.

Well, for one thing, you prefaced it.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014

Gau posted:

Man, Cache Cab, you've really slipped. You used to be a credible idiot, now you've reached Survivor status. I believed in you, man. You were the chosen one!

I don't get this reference because I've never watched survivor. Please explain?

also I said "in my piece." And my sentence before wasn't even about the story. Plenty of people here post something before their story and I don't see anybody else bitching about it, so why don't you get off my loving back?

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

I like how your av is slightly bigger than others that are otherwise the same.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

What, Cache Cab wasn't just joking? He's being fully serious right now?

Feb 25, 2014


Your first sentence is a run-on sentence

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

You have an unnecessary comma in your third sentence.

E. You could use one there, but there's no ambiguity as to who's doing the action.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

Broenheim posted:

Your first sentence is a run-on sentence

Maybe he is trying to goad people into giving him detailed crits. Because I found a comma that shouldn't be there. But I'm not telling him which one.



"Get up, you stupid child," I communicated to him with my voice

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

When you use 'thrown' as an adjective, you deprive us of the action that would otherwise describe the scene. While not a technical fault, I still do not like it.

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

"Oh, you're tapped out? Tap three, play Darksteel Plate. Tap two, equip it to Platinum Angel."

"Is that it?"

"No. I play Trickster God's Heist and give it to you in exchange for that token."

What I'm saying is you should probably edit your document and correct these few things we've pointed out. What's the worst that could happen?

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

It looks like your semicolon and colon need to be swapped in your final sentence.

You also have a random colon to indicate dialogue once, and only once.

Also: editing is not always about proof reading, it's about coming at the story with new eyes to make adjustments after you've had time to get over the honeymoon phase of "I made this thing from nothing."

Jul 17, 2010

In, I've wanted to try this for a while. Flash me!


Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014

If you guys think you're better then me then brawl me

who is brave enough to go up to bat for their friends?

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