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Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

The worst case scenario in Thunderdome is that you get a losertar. And right now you have a stupid newbie avatar. If I were you I'd try to lose on purpose to get a non dumb avatar without having to pay five dollars.


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Beginnings are delicate times, as Aunty J said a long time ago and SO we will have a :siren:flash rule :siren: to burn that into your thick skulls: Least-good combination of title and first line will receive a dishonourable mention regardless of the quality of their story.

Your title should encapsulate something essential about your story, like a tiny poem with bold tags around it.

Your first line should make us thirst, should make us loving burn to read your second.

The further you trek from these ideals, the closer you get to the jagged rocks and odiferous belching mudpools of DMland:

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 10:38 on Mar 27, 2014

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Some Guy TT posted:

The worst case scenario in Thunderdome is that you get a losertar. And right now you have a stupid newbie avatar. If I were you I'd try to lose on purpose to get a non dumb avatar without having to pay five dollars.

Bullshit. Ignore this and strive; plus free weekly avatars are a privilege not a right, so no more talk like this or the Lowtax may bestir himself to remove them.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Oh no I made a bad joke guess better stop posting forever or everyone will hate me.

(this is what you sound like RunningIntoWalls seriously just keep trying)

Dec 8, 2013

gently caress it, gently caress it, gently caress it. In.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

RunningIntoWalls posted:

gently caress it, gently caress it, gently caress it. In.

Remember no erotica rule still applies.

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014
I am just reconfirming that I am in this week. I don't want to lose my honorable mention again.

Title: Wall's Well That Ends Well
Wordcount: 1,056

Frank had a blank canvas of drywall and a roll of top quality fiberglass weaves; it would be a great day. Frank held a strip of wallpaper in one hand and spun the moistened roller in his other. The handle was perfectly balanced. The room had four electrical outlets and he wanted to remove them, but he always had to hold back.

They could never see his true skill.

He pulled out a fresh piece of sandpaper and got to work smoothing out a few--but not all--of the blemishes. Next, he dipped his brush into the primer, reveling in the scent.

He applied the primer, but intentionally splashed some on the ceiling and floor. He could have applied it within a few millimeters of the ceiling without splashing a single drop. For years it had been enough for Frank to know his own skill; let others think what they wanted.

The Englewood Wallpaper Co. had been renovating the commercial space for Mr. Parati, a suspected mob boss. Frank kept his head down and didn’t do anything to draw attention to himself. Unfortunately, that meant making sacrifices in the quality of his work. He smoothed the wallpaper over the first outlet and sighed.

His boss, Steve, a crooked man who Frank suspected knew about Mr. Parati’s business, and perhaps was even implicit, came by to inspect his work. He kicked at the outlet. “Frank you moron, you’ve covered the outlet again.”

“Sorry sir, I forgot.”

Behind them, construction workers carried rolls of carpet into the room. Nobody stopped to watch Frank get in trouble; he was a nobody.

Steve shook his head. “You’s been here forever, and I know you got nobody else, which is why I ain’t fired you yet, but I need you to step it up.” He pushed a young man forward. “This is Jamie. I want you to train him.”

Jamie smacked his gum and nodded without removing his earphones.

After Steve was gone, Frank handed him a roller. “You gotta put the water on one side, and then roll it on the wall. Got it?”

Jamie shrugged and dipped in the water. Frank stood back and watched as the lackadaisical teen pulled the roller out dripped water everywhere. Frank smirked.

Jamie rolled the paper wet on one side, and placed it on the wall.

“No, that’s too high,” Frank said, stepping in to show the newbie how it’s done. Before he could grab hold of the handle, Jamie slid the roller up the length of the paper and back down. The sheet went on smoothly, without a single bubble. Frank took a step back so he could see the whole piece. “Jesus…”

“Think I got the hang of this, thanks dude.”

The kid dipped the roller again.

Frank shook his head. It was a fluke. No way the kid could be that good. But Jamie threw another piece on the wall and repeated his maneuver, and Frank had to remind himself to breathe. “How…”

Steve walked by and stopped to take a look at Jamie’s handiwork. “drat son, that’s really well done. Frank, why you never do work this good?” The construction guys stopped to take a look at Jamie’s handiwork. They took turns slapping him on the back and whistling. Frank stood in the corner and hid beneath his hat.

He was still undercover, and he wouldn’t blow a 20-year operation for pride.

The room cleared out, and Steve walked outside to greet Mr. Parati as his Bentley pulled up.

When it was just the two of them again, Jamie looked over at Frank and laughed. “How long you been doing this? And you still can’t get it right?” He grabbed another sheet. “Fuckin’ old people, man,” he muttered under his breath.

Frank looked in a piece of discarded sheet metal. He had aged. His skin was looser, his mustache whiter. But his captain said his testimony would bring the whole Parati family down. His cop salary was waiting for him in another account, and as soon as the Paratis were in jail, he’d be able to buy fancy cars and nice clothes. He’d even buy a house and wallpaper the whole thing perfectly.

All he had to do was wait.

Jamie slapped another piece on the wall and turned to him and made a rude gesture. “Man, you smell like efferdent, stand back.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re a creepy old fogey. I don’t like how you’re watching me with your mouth open.”

Frank started to protest, but Steve had come over to see what the commotion was about. “Frank, settle down, man.”

Jamie threw down the brush. Frank winced as he imagined the alignment of the handle getting messed up. “It’s me or him, Steve, I can’t work with this septuagenarian motherfucker drooling behind me all day.”

Frank didn’t respond. He bent down and picked up the roller. He walked over to the bucket and dipped it in the water. You shouldn’t…. The only gap in the wallpaper was in the middle of the wall between two other pieces. The hardest piece: nearly impossible to align both sides and keep it smooth.

He moistened the back and slapped it on the wall. Jamie tried to protest that it was too low, but Frank ignored him, and his voice faded into the sound of circular saws outside. Frank’s hands jumped at the opportunity to do what they loved; what he’d been suppressing for years. He smoothed the wallpaper. He didn’t have to feel it to know that it was in perfect alignment with the two pieces on either side, and when he was done, there wasn’t a single air bubble. You still got it.

The sound of the saws died down, and he turned around to face Jamie as a man. The entire construction crew had gathered around and everybody was staring at him. Even Mr. Parati himself stopped to watch. Frank took off his hat to wipe his brow.

Steve looked over at Jamie. “You’re fired kid, go get your--”

“Hey wait a minute,” interrupted one of the workers. Ain’t that the cop we lost tabs of in, like, the 90s?”

“Indeed it is.” answered Mr. Parati.

The workers all drew their guns. Frank, you moron. Was that worth it?

But amid the hail of gunfire, he knew that it was.

Mar 24, 2013


Thanks for the crits critfolk.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
Sitting Here's crit

Trying a thing here where I do a top-down approach to critting (macro crit first, then line-by-line).

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

:siren: Crits for Week 85: Ground Control to Major Tom :siren:

This week was awful. Thunderdome is for writing stories. A third of you managed to not even accomplish that, to varying degrees of further failure.

A story is not an ~idea let me show you it~. A story is:

- A character wants something
- but he can't have it, because
- something is in the way (preferably a character flaw)
- so he must overcome that obstacle
- and succeeds or fails based on what decisions he makes/actions he takes.

So many of you didn't have any of those. You didn't have characters, merely a list of names, so there were no flaws; some of you didn't even try to have obstacles, and certainly they weren't overcome; and your "protagonists" made no decisions or actions, contrary to the very definition of the word; or their actions made no sense.

Protagonist. Proactive. For god's sake, make your characters do things and give them enough personality to make those things make sense.

Beef's ranted on this before, so I would urge you all to review this incredibly basic thing to know about fiction writing before you waste another judge's time with your non-stories. I have something more specific to talk about.


I was amazed just how many stories - otherwise good stories, from good writers! - tripped and landed flat on their faces right at the ending. In V for Vegas's case, at the very last sentence, making me wonder what the hell was going on. In Krotera's case, for being utterly incomprehensible after a long and adequately-written lead-in that tricked me into thinking my time spent reading might have a payoff. In tenniseveryone's case, for turning an otherwise good story with a talent for building atmosphere into a facepalm-worthy punchline. Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi undid his story at the end, meaning no lessons were learned and no characters actually developed. And those are only the ones I remember offhand.

Don't try to be clever. Don't try to throw in a surprising twist at the end. Don't be so vague as to be incomprehensible. Don't completely shatter your tone by going lolwacky. Don't turn your seemingly serious story into a joke. Don't make the entire thing irrelevant by undoing the point in the last paragraph. Doing any of these things makes me realize that any time I spent invested in your story was a waste, and then I get a bit upset.

This is perhaps worse than being awful from the beginning, because if I'm not a judge, I at least know to skip something that looks terrible; or if I do read it, I know what I'm in for. RunningIntoWalls earned a loss for being unreadable from start to finish and then not even having a point to make the attempt worth it, but at least I knew it was going to be bad from the first paragraph. pseudoscorpion earned a loss for having an awful case of televisionitis, but otherwise being boring-but-tolerable; right up until you directly insulted my intelligence with your AMAZING TWIST and threw in casual racism to boot. You were the first entry to actually make me mad. Congratulations. Please choke on a dinner mint.

Just write a story, the ending of which matches the tone throughout. Don't undermine it with a shocking revelation or a punchline at the very end. Don't try to be vague and throw in a twist without bothering to set it up or explain it first. Don't try to be clever. It only makes the judges irritated.

Some other notes:

PROOFREAD. If you can't be bothered to check your own story for errors, making the judges read it is an insult to all of us and an embarrassment to you. If you don't care, why do you expect us to?

STOP WITH THE "COULD SEE/COULD FEEL." We don't care what they could do, we only care what they are doing - and if all they're doing is hearing or seeing, we care more about what it is they're hearing or seeing, not the fact they're hearing or seeing it. Sensing verbs are bad enough already, don't waste my time even more by taking another step to separate the reader from the action.

Ana heard a loud sound and turned to see a dragon that had smashed through the trees behind her.
"Sup dudette?" she heard him say with her ears that were listening to sounds.

Something crashed behind Ana. She whirled, and came face-to-face with a dragon.
"Sup dudette?" he said, shaking a tree limb out of his claws.

You choose which is more immediate.

And finally (for now), withholding information from the reader does not make you clever. I could have tied this in with endings, but there were other stories that did this throughout. Kaishai is the only one who pulled something like this off, and that was because she didn't try to hide it; the way she wrote the story, the information was naturally revealed in perfectly normal conversation between the characters via letters. Read her story and learn.

CaligulaKangaroo had a variant of this, taking far too long to get to the point and then being coy about the ending, so I barely knew what had happened. Bushido Brown seemed to attempt the reveal, but only made it confusing, also taking too long to clarify the setting (and never getting to a point, too caught up in an ~idea~; see above). Those weren't the only ones, but everything's blurred together by now.

Withholding information that the protagonist knows just to try to make things mysterious or keep the reader guessing only gets annoying. Flash fiction doesn't have room for playing coy. If you're not writing a mystery, don't hide things; and if you are writing a mystery, don't conceal what the protagonist has already figured out just because.

With that out of the way,

:siren: Have your line-by-lines. :siren:

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi
Mar 26, 2005

Many thanks to Echo, Rhino, et al. for the awesome crits.

Thunderdome is the drug that bounds my fate and runs my life. That and alcohol. I am in for another round.

Lake Jucas
Feb 20, 2011


The Saddest Rhino posted:


Thank you.

Since I don't feel I have the time to do the prompt justice this week, I will instead offer my humble skills at critiquing. I'll either do a line-by-line of a previous entry, or offer feedback on an entry for this week. Offer is extended to the first three people who PM me.

Lake Jucas fucked around with this message at 19:38 on Mar 27, 2014

Apr 29, 2007

Why would an ambulance be leaving the hospital?

Thanks for that! Very helpful. The crits here are awesome.

Jul 26, 2011

Thank you goon sir. Time to redraft my brawl with these crits, and I'll try to be less of a waste of air next time.

Apr 29, 2007

Why would an ambulance be leaving the hospital?
I'm in.

Oct 8, 2013

Wow. Thank you so much. I am so, so sorry about the dialogue tags. I swear this is how it's done in German -- which probably means I should read more English-language fiction.

Feb 8, 2014

Much appreciated!

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
:siren: I know some of you aren’t going to read this whole rant, so I’m putting it up here as well: in these crits (with a few small exceptions) I’ve only addressed the first 2-5 paragraphs of your stories. We are talking about openings, after all! Hopefully the tradeoff between breadth and depth here is useful to you. :siren:

:siren: I'd also like to request that every one of you go read this story: and learn something about writing a story with multiple deep characters and a plot with conflict and meaningful change, all in under 1200 words. :siren:



Hey guys. Hey.

So, we need to talk.

A lot of you are getting the hang of the ‘punchy first paragraph’ thing, which is awesome. Don’t poo poo a pile of exposition all over your readers; don’t give us a bunch of featureless and unnamed talking heads participating in some inscrutable event or interacting with some descriptionless object. Present something remarkable right off the bat, no need to be coy.

So that’s the good. The bad is that you passel of chucklefucks apparently have no idea what to do with my attention once you’ve grabbed it, other than toss it to the floor and stomp all over it. In short, we need to talk about the second paragraph.

Generally you use your first paragraph to communicate the same thing: ‘there’s something odd going on here.’ There are a lot of ways you can do this - anywhere from dropping us straight into the action to quietly ruminating on the scene. But in the second paragraph, you need to somehow justify our attention. That is: if you were quietly ruminating before, you need to give us some action, not just paragraph break and then continue to ruminate. (The beginning of the second paragraph is a great place for a previously-described character to take his/her first overt action or have his/her first line of dialogue.) If you dropped us in in medias res, you need to give us something deeper to hold onto before we stop caring about why this sick action scene is taking place. (That doesn’t mean the action has to stop for a moment of quiet contemplation - just that if it’s all action, no characterization so far, this is the point where the audience stops going ‘wow’ and starts going ‘so what?’).

Lemme pick on a few of ya. Everybody go read HopperUK’s first three paragraphs real quick. I’ll even reproduce them here:


Her brother Bill had told Annie that nine-tenths of soldiering was waiting around for something to happen, but she hadn't thought it'd be the same for her side of the war.

When the boys were returning from a raid, some in trouble, sometimes pursued by German planes, of course then it was exciting, even though Annie's friend Kate had been horrified to hear her use the word. Then you got to help, you could do something for the young men who needed you. You could guide them home. Once or twice Annie had been the last voice they heard. A lad with an accent that reminded her strongly of her Birmingham home had been cut off with horrible abruptness during a report once, and she'd had to go outside and have a cigarette before she could go on. Sergeant Cobham had spoken to her after that with the strangest combination of kindness and severity she'd ever heard. Cobham had a husband out there fighting, and Annie couldn't fathom how she could be so cool under pressure.

But between times, when the planes had gone and were due back soon and you had to just sit there waiting, it was downright dull. You weren't supposed to chatter too much, in case an emergency transmission came in, so mostly you just sat there and looked at your fingernails or contemplated dinner. Sometimes Annie found herself forgetting the reasons behind the war. She found herself sick with boredom and worry; she fretted over her brother, a soldier fighting in France, and she found herself doubting that the war would ever end.

The first paragraph is a one-line pithy saying about the Nature of War. That’s all well and good (but not great) - I’m with ya so far, and I’m waiting for this pithy saying about war to be justified or maybe subverted. And we’ve got a character, and she’s waiting. My assumption this point: that the story is going to be about a moment where waiting isn’t what happens - the ‘there’s something odd here’ factor. But then in the second paragraph, you start to totally lose me: instead of any action that moves the story along, it’s just still business as usual. First paragraph: she’s waiting, she’s bored ,thus is the nature of war. Second paragraph: okay, still waiting, still bored, war is rough. Third paragraph: are we going to see why this is worth writing a story about? Nope. Just a lot more exposition that follows perfectly naturally from the first paragraph. You already wrote the first paragraph - we don’t need more of it! Say what you’ve gotta say up there.

Expand that first paragraph into maybe three sentences - and then start the second paragraph with the odd voice coming in over the wires. Then you get that two-beat response in the reader. “War is usually more boring than you’d expect, and our narrator has long since learned this. Except, right now, it isn’t - we have a mysterious child’s voice on her radio, and she’s, for the first time in years, perking up and taking notice. Wait. Tell me more.”

Let’s see another one. Here’s the first third, or so, of Whalley’s story:


If this lady asks me "who's a good boy" one more time I'll bite her in the loving shin, I don't care about the rules. I know you're referring to me, lady. I'm a goddamn lady too. I'm going to count to three, then conspicuous or not, I'm getting my growl on.



"Bad Bitch, please respond." Saved by the time-bell, lady. I barked the code to say I'm not alone, then flashed my surgically-sharpened teeth at the lady. She snatched her hand away from my ear and backed off. Good. I sat and waited for instructions.

"Okay BB, we've got a positive read for you.” Talking to the future always involved some nasty feedback inside my skull. I scratched my ear. “The explosion originated in the back of the Petsmart at four pm. Stopping the bomb would be great, but if you can't find the device, you need to get the kid out. According to our intel, subject wore a horizontally striped shirt and carried a bag of gummy candy at time of death. He is your top priority."

I checked to make sure nobody was close enough to hear me talk. "What flavor gummy?"

"We have a black and white photograph, not a smell index."

"Figures." I sniffed the smellclock sewn into my leash. Three forty five. HQ doesn't normally cut the time this close. I bit the quick release on the loop of the leash and ran into the store.

I really enjoyed this story. But one of its flaws is how it handles that transition from very beginning, to body. First paragraph is funny, sets the tone beautifully, and gives us the premise (but, unfortunately, nothing about plot): hyperintelligent female dog, angry about something, surrounded by people. So as a reader, at the end of that first paragraph, I’m thinking - okay, talking dogs, got it, that’s the premise and it’s sure unusual enough for me. Now the itch I need scratched is to have this remarkable, unusual happening become relevant somehow. Is she fresh out of the pound and looking for revenge? Is she a guard dog protecting a beloved family member? Give us that in the second or third paragraph. But - you don’t. And in fact you do very little with the whole dog thing you’ve lovingly set up, except to use it as a funny bit of window dressing to a plot that’s ultimately commonplace. Expectation: this story is worth telling because it tells us something interesting about dogs. Reward: welp, the whole smell thing is funny, the colorblindness bit is a good gag, but you never give us a reason to care.

Sorry to pick on you two, but I think these illustrate what I’m trying to get across pretty well. Not tryna say this is a recipe for all fiction either, but for fiction this short, it might as well be. First paragraph - ‘something noteworthy is going on here’. Set some expectations about the content & nature of the story. Then - why is this particular noteworthy thing worthy of our interest? Don’t just natter on about it until we decide it wasn’t that interesting after all (this is what gets me going I GET IT I GET IT ALREADY OKAY); don’t have it turn out to have been pointless scene-setting or window dressing; use the interest you’ve captured to get the plot rolling, or to convey why we should be so interested in what you’ve described in paragraph 1, or both.

I’m confident that the inimitable BadSeafood and Echo Cian will do an excellent job critting, so as a not-boss-judge I’m gonna focus exclusively on your first few paragraphs in the crits that follow:

CommissarMega - Aaron’s Burden

Bad. First few paragraphs are way too underspecified - unnamed, featureless talking heads exchanging unremarkable conversation on a topic the reader has no means to identify. This isn’t mysterious, it’s just boring. (I’m gonna assume you thought you were being mysterious and dramatic, because that’s sure what it reads like). If your first paragraph could fit with about five hundred different imaginable plots, it’s just wasting space.

Tyrannosaurus - Theft

Pretty good. Bouncing directly into the sight dialect like that is gonna make your reader do a double take, since we’re not expecting it, and this ends up making it hard to parse at first read - it would’ve been better if you’d eased us into it a bit more. But sure, I’m with you so far, we have some action happening, some characters who appear to have motivation, great. We also have three mechanical errors (needs a period, not a comma, after ‘pistol’ and ‘stammered’, and an apostrophe in ‘Its’.)

Some Guy TT - Almost Forgotten

Meh. You threw me when you started talking about Abe’s inelegance, but then had him say something I couldn’t recognize as inelegant with the information I had up to that point. Sounds like a perfectly nice toast to me, except you’re telling me it was somehow tactless and I don’t know why yet. Obnoxious. Also the believability problem here shows up in the first couple of lines (how do you just forget sending someone off in a spaceship?). My impression after reading the beginning is that these guys are both idiots of the highest order, and that you’re going to continue telling me this rather than demonstrating it. Doesn’t really make me want to learn more.

Pseudoscorpion - The Arecibo Message

Your first sentence made me laugh out loud and also facepalm. You’re really wasting your precious first sentence having a guy effectively say (to nobody!) “Well, we certainly are in a location!” There is just absolutely nothing there to hang my hat on. And why ‘he knew as work’? Try ‘where he worked’. After paragraph 1 I got absolutely nothing on characterization, plot, nothing, except that this Ingram chucklefuck likes to tell the reader what he’s doing. Just some setting that ultimately turns out to be irrelevant. You probably could have cut not only this paragraph but the entire first third of the story, if not more, and the plot would have only been stronger for it.

ZorajitZorajit - Mixed Messages

So-so. Two guys, playing a board game, and one of them wins. Reasonable way to set up a plot about these two guys, maybe one of them gets jealous because the other one keeps winning?; unfortunately, because I read the rest of your story, I know that the board-game thing turns out to just be window dressing. (A drat shame, since it could have been much more, given the premise you’re working with!) I like the beginning enough by itself, as actionless as it is, and I’m not sure how to recommend that you get the same point across without it, but I just feel like you need more of Arat and Visi later on in order to justify it. I want to care why it’s these particular Aztecs, ya dig? Also, ‘sneering’ and ‘hanging one’s head’ are kind of directly opposed to each other, display-of-emotion-wise. First one is smug, second is ashamed.

Anoulie - Self-Service

Blerch. Tell tell tell tell tell, all the way through the first full paragraph. Good on you for starting with something happening (even though it already suggests to me that this story is going to be just as mundane as the lives of the teenagers you’re writing about, since what they’re saying tells me absolutely nothing other than that Deborah is annoyed) but then you dive immediately into Anoulie Gives Us The Backstory. What a waste of an opening; try revealing this stuff through the characters’ actions and speech instead, and if you can’t do it, maybe it isn’t critical for the reader to know.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi - The Boy and the Mariner

I was pushing for this to HM. And the opening is correspondingly quite strong - you have characters, tone, and action, right there. I already know what the story’s going to be about, and I’m interested, because you’ve left me wondering who a 10-year-old boy could possibly want to send a trans-dimensional message to. You can also already tell that this is a fable, right from the get-go: the short lines, the simple sentence structures, the choice of “I am told” which is just a bit anachronistic without being clumsy. The characters are a bit faceless at this point (and faceless characters is something the story suffers from all the way through, in fact) but you’ve convinced me, via the very particular style you’re writing in, to accept it.

RedTonic - Fire-Bringer

I was with you through the first paragraph, and then you lost me pretty much immediately afterwards. Eyestalks, cool. Girding, pedipalps, scent communication, very cool. We’re in a very alien world, we have a conflict (we’re trying to overcome an energy crisis), we have a character (‘the thief’). But then you go spiralling off into orbit around Planet Incomprehensible pretty much in the next paragraph. Check out what I said up there about needing to have some kind of change between paragraph 1 and paragraph 2? Needing to fulfill expectations? So at the end of your first paragraph, I was expecting to find out what this thief is going to do about the energy crisis and who he is. You’d need to tone down the hallucinatory imagery and crank up the plot. But instead we get… waiting around; contemplation; magical eagles; and then a star going supernova for some reason that I can’t connect with the energy crisis. I’m lost. Then all of a sudden he’s losing his body, etc. You’ve piled on way too much detail, obfuscated the poo poo out of it, and not given me anywhere stable to stand. For what it’s worth, I read this three times, wondering if I was actually just too dumb to get it, but I’ve really got nothing - had to get one of my fellow judges to help me even work out the plot. And a lot of what threw me was the excessive imagery shortly after the beginning. My brain can only handle so many details all at once before I start to need solid characters and happenings to set them down on.

Benny the Snake - Worlds Apart

“It’s been a while since you’ve moved to Mars” is barely a half-step above Benny the Snake just straight-up telling us that the guy had moved there. Nobody who actually knew the guy moved to Mars would say that. (Easy mistake to make, though - I did this in my story for ghost week! Rhino rightly called me out on it.) Come up with a more clever way to do this. Got some mechanical problems too (“eachother”). For what it’s worth, you’ve established characters with personalities and a possible conflict within the first paragraph. But the writing style - Captain Mrs. Chipper Explainyson explaining to (apparently) a long-lost love how he is currently on Mars - is killing me here. Have them talk like they know each other, for god’s sake. People just don’t talk like that.

CaligulaKangaroo - Somatics

First two lines are utterly irrelevant, cut them entirely. Fact that it’s dark doesn’t matter much to the story, and if it is, you could mention it somewhere else. Third paragraph is actually pretty cool and I like it. Without being ~woo mysterious~ you’ve managed to present the reader with a compelling mystery: why is this guy in a prison cell, and why is ASL magic? Too bad you took me back into rolleyes territory with the fourth paragraph, where the guy dramatically overreacts. If I knew why exactly he was so upset, this would be fine, but you haven’t shown me anything to recoil from yet. Really, though, this is one of the stronger openings I’ve read so far. Too bad the story came out sort of dumb (specifically, I didn’t follow the ‘homework’ angle at all.)

Entenzahn - White Vision

Ugh. I do not love this. I get what you’re going for, with the whole ‘the world seems very big and confusing to a pigeon who would not be able to analyze peoples’ actions beyond the physicality of them’ thing, but this doesn’t fit well with the rapid-fire sequence of actions in the beginning, since the overall impression is just dull confusion and disinterest while your protagonist is shuffled along by forces outside her control. How does she feel about it? What does she think is going on? And if she doesn’t think or feel, she’s not a good protagonist. Also, it’s spelled ‘sea’. Having read the rest of your story, I think it would be a better story if it illustrated the greater conflict that the pigeon is playing a tiny role in - you do hint at this at the very end, but it might make for a stronger opening if you could get some foreshadowing of it in at the beginning.

V for Vegas - The Champion

First paragraph is way too scene-setting, and the first two sentences specifically are far too cutesy for my taste. (So is the last sentence of the first paragraph - it just made me roll my eyes at how unbearably cute you were being.) In a piece this short, unless the geographical details (and here you aren’t even giving us details, but non-details!) are plot-relevant, leave ‘em out - or sprinkle ‘em around. At the end of the first section I know nothing about your narrator, why he’s in this place, or what on earth Bobby Fischer (Fischer, drat you, not Fisher) has to do with it. That said, the other two judges liked this well enough; unfortunately it felt pointless to me, the reveal at the end went right over my head, and the Twitter angle was very forced.

tenniseveryone - Helium

“This was not unusual for him. It was depressingly banal. Every day aboard the Chupa-1 was more or less the same.” You have just told me. The same thing. In three consecutive sentences. Pick one. Actually, I’d chop the first four sentences, unless his floating is relevant - and maybe a few more sentences after that, since there’s no need to depict him waking up. Why not start with him floating to the control room, or even later? Outer space isn’t so remarkably exotic that your readers won’t be able to follow you if you’re subtle about it, so be subtle. Plus a wise man once said - start your short story as close to the end as you possibly can.

Now, although you don’t give us much of a hook in the first paragraph, I do like the “nothing will work unless you do” ticker-tape message, because it establishes (or it had drat well better be establishing - I’m pretending here that I didn’t read the rest of the story) a thematic focus for the story. Even though I don’t know yet what the conflict will be, I know what we’re going to be discussing, and that’s enough to keep me interested.

The News at Five - NextGen

I think I was the only judge who liked this story. It’s not a great piece of literature, but it’s quirky and fun and there are a few laugh-out-loud moments. In fact, I think the opening was pretty good. In line three (and lines 1 and 2 are necessary for the thing to even make sense, so line 3 is a pretty good place for this to happen) we’ve established what’s going on. In the next couple of lines, the protagonist gets some personality (and there’s also a good laugh with the ‘Caleb wrecks our car’ bit.) I’m already seeing him, without any description - probably a college kid, bit of a partier, has lovable but shiftless friends who like to gently caress around with him a bit. Personally I thought the short lines made it more readable, but some of the judges thought they hurt it - maybe consider some attribution and just a bit of blocking, if only to make it read more like a conventional story.

Nethilia - Letters from Elsewhere

Your writing is competent, but I’m not impressed with the first paragraph. You start with Hayes, which seems to be establishing a story and characters (perhaps a love story - and then the second sentence tells me it’s a story of illicit love, okay, getting more interesting). But the immediate gear-switch to the mother, and then the mother’s flowers, reads like a punch in the face. What happened to Hayes! What happened to the letters! Don’t change horses in mid-stream like this; there’s definitely another place in the story where you could get the detail about the mother and the (rather heavy-handed) metaphor about the flowers in there without totally wrecking my groove. Second paragraph does go back to the letter, but - see above - in a second paragraph I’m expecting something to change, some interesting or insightful comment on what’s been established in the first paragraph. Here, you’d want to talk about Hayes’s letter (assuming you’d managed to unfuck your first paragraph.) But instead we’re getting stationery and a description of how deadly dull the protagonist’s letter is. Actually, there’s another important note - for god’s sake don’t describe how ordinary something is. There is no way to do this well. Why not have her write a personal letter? That’d certainly make for a more dramatic opening.

RunningIntoWalls - Father’s Day

The worst opening paragraph of the week, bar none.

- First sentence: “Johnny looked down at his arm.” Don’t do this. Characters just looking, especially if they’re looking at something that thus far sounds unremarkable, is a terrible way to begin a story.
- Those rapid-fire staccato sentences are doing nothing for you, especially given the two male characters (so at one point I have no idea who ‘he’ is). Think about what you’re trying to do with this (I’m not sure! Convey that Johnny is confused, maybe?) and come up with a way to do it that’s less painful to read.
- I didn’t figure out until a third reading that there’s a time jump between the first and second paragraphs. I’m still not totally sure if I’m right about that, and the other judges didn’t necessarily agree.
- The sentence structures are hilariously repetitive and remind me of the writing in bad childrens’ books.

In short, the opening would have made me put this down and walk away if I didn’t have to read it as a judge. Fix yo’ prose.

Krotera - Interstellar Jokes

I actually really like the first sentence, although your other judges found it confusing. It has a kind of Running with Scissors vibe to it, and definitely makes me want to know more about this interestingly dysfunctional family. Given the tight word count, you could have tightened up the opening by removing the mother immediately, since while her issues are interesting, they belong in a different story. However, I don’t know after reading the first two paragraphs that the story isn’t going to be about the mother, so at that point I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.

The “left-out apple juice” phrase is awkward. Just cut ‘left out’ entirely. Or cut the whole image, or at the very least tie it into the greater image (“I’d sit at the dining room table, drinking apple juice and watching as they entered a receptive state” which ain’t a great sentence but avoids the clunkiness you have now.)

In short this is a good albeit somewhat excessively wordy opening but not for this particular story, which veers off in a totally different direction that isn’t telegraphed by it.

nickmeister - 1151

“Bob couldn’t believe no one noticed it falling from the sky the night before.Bob the whole forest to be swarming with black helicopters, military personnel and other assorted government spooks.”


What is ‘it’? Bob obviously knows, so why hide it from us? Why not just show us the thing - whatever it is - falling from the sky the night before, in fact, rather than removing us one level from the action and telling us Bob’s take on it? Or why not somehow convey Bob’s astonishment, rather than just describing it to us? Then in the second sentence, you lose me. The verb is missing and I’ve got no idea what it was supposed to be (‘expected’, maybe?). Even with the verb, it’d be bad - once again, you’re telling us about Bob’s expectations and beliefs, and we don’t even know Bob or what he’s observed yet.

“Maybe it can make itself look like a meteor to our sensors?” Bob wondered aloud, as he approached the crater. He wasn’t what the “sensors” could be, but surely they would have noticed something like this?

Ugh, this is even worse. Nobody wonders out loud like that. Admittedly there’s some leeway in what you can get away with in writing, but this just screams “author had no idea how to fit in this exposition, so he/she just stuffed it in here” to me. And funny enough, you don’t even need this exposition. I wouldn’t have been wondering “how did nobody notice this STILL loving UNNAMED AND UNIDENTIFIED TO THE READER object? Gee whiz” if you hadn’t done me the courtesy of clumsily trying to plug a, in the scheme of things, rather small plot hole in your story.

A Tin Of Beans - The Last Letter

So-so opening. It’s not horrendous, but it’s weak. It takes you until the end of paragraph seven to introduce the ‘her piece on the side is an alien’ theme, and until then you’re just nattering on about gravel and sunshine and lizards and introducing a speaking character (the postman) who never appears again or has any bearing on the plot. You’re saved by relatively competent writing here and the fact that I’m a sucker for present tense. Most of your readers, by the way, will not be: present tense conveys immediacy, and in a story about very (very, very) long-distance communication, presumably involving lots of waiting around mooning, it isn’t the right choice. Save it for a story with more action.

Schneider Heim - The Playlist You Didn’t Know

I thought this story was pretty uninspired. The nomination for an HM didn’t come from me - sorry bro. The opening is relatively strong in a week of terrible openings, tho’. We’ve got two strangers, one mysterious, one dorky as all get out, both into classical music. An inciting incident (an accidental meeting on the Internet). If there’s one thing you should work on in this opening it’s your descriptions. “Wrinkling his nose” is a little bit off, especially as modifier like that - reads as if he was wrinkling his nose before the call came in. It might be better split into several sentences. “A mousey face” is pretty bad, too. It’s not a disembodied face, it belongs to a person, and Stefan is presumably a human being who can infer the existence of a human being when he sees a face appear. Same with “he could smile at her longer” - what does that even mean? I suppose he could, given that he probably has a mouth and all that… maybe you’re aiming for “He wouldn’t mind having more time to smile at her”? Seems a bit weird still, since he’s just thought of her as ‘mousey’ and there’s nothing to counter the impression that he thinks she’s just some awkward nerd. Also, how does he see her finger stopping over the mouse button via webcam? Either you’re switching perspective (whoops) or this is more crappy blocking.

Bushido Brown - Smoke Signals

The first paragraph is a trite little story in itself. (Also, the repetition of Easton’s name in the second sentence just thuds. Use a pronoun.) He’s traipsing through the woods (camping? Hiding out? No idea) looking for nettles, and he finds them, and he’s happy about it. Story over. So what you’ve done here is land your reader right back at square one. I don’t know anything about Easton, and I don’t know what the story is going to be about, except that it’s probably not about searching for nettles, since we’ve already done that.

Then, the transition to the second paragraph. Ugh. It took me a couple paragraphs to catch on that you were rapid-fire perspective-switching like that. And Fitz also isn’t doing anything fascinating here, although you do give us the barest hint of what Easton’s trying to do (although there’s still nothing particularly interesting about it, since the only conflict has apparently already been resolved). The phrase “cards earthbound repioneers” I had to read a couple times and I’m not sure if there’s a word missing or if this is a spellcheck error, maybe both. But yeah, at this point I’m not particularly excited: you’ve spent two rather chunky paragraphs preparing a grandfather and grandson to have a conversation with each other. Why not just start with the conversation and get on with it? Speaking through signal fires is common enough in literature (Harry Potter!) that your readers don’t need you to ease them into it this gently.

Kaishai - Wish You Were Here

I’m so done with safe, saccharine-sweet plucky teenage-girl protagonists learning heartwarming lessons about life, love, and the meaning of friendship. Your writing is great, I just wish you’d use it to address something complicated or dangerous or surprising or ambiguous. Make me feel something.

Nothing to say on openings here, you know how to structure a story, I ain’t worried. Do like how you revealed that the grandmother was dead, etc., it’s like what Benny wished he could’ve written this week (and instead he slapped us across the face with exposition).

docbeard - Triangulation

This was my pick for winner this week, actually.

I don’t have a lot to say about the opening, because the structure of the story makes the opening less than relevant. (It’s good, though - I definitely want to know why the Abbot’s shaking this poor kid awake and taking him on a mysterious journey requiring silence). It’s the structure that really shines here - the way you braid together the three storylines is elegant; there could have been a little more overlap (think Cloud Atlas) but it just felt like you had a very nice sense of timing here. The level of characterization in each micro-story also impressed me, given how few words you had to work with. In contrast, the ending (geez, I said I wouldn’t talk about endings) is clumsy. Possibly since you introduce the concept of an alien incursion at the last second. I think you were going for something with Victor wearing the locket, but it went over my head.

nutranurse - Brand Tasting

First paragraph is so-so. You establish a time period (far future, at least far enough for self-driven cars to be pretty conventional) and a tone (dingy, morose.) There are more exciting ways to do this, though, and I can’t help but feel like you should’ve started with the last sentence of the second paragraph - especially since the window, the cars, etc. don’t seem to be metaphorical or have any significance in the context of the story.

Also, look at what you do in the middle of the second paragraph - you explicitly describe the guy as a Brand-Tester, but without defining it. Now, it’s a good idea not to define terms, but to let the reader work them out on his/her own. But that means you also don’t need to explicitly introduce the term ‘Brand Tester’ at all. Why not just demonstrate to us that it’s his job to do brand testing (which I gather is some horrific spin on being the subject of market research?) Something like this: Constantine pulled out a chair and surveyed the food that had appeared while he slept: coffee, toast, and oatmeal. Well, he’d certainly tested worse things before. Breakfast was pretty hard to gently caress up. [Or even something that pulls the family angle into it earlier, which would be a good idea in general - “It couldn’t possibly be as bad as the breakfasts his mother had made on her drunker mornings” or something, I don’t know.]

The prose is fairly clumsy as well. For instance, you need the past perfect - “he had been forced to Experience” rather than “he was forced to Experience” - when you’re comparing two past events, one of which occurred prior to the other. Here, because the story is already in the past tense and thus presumably in the past, whenever you delve into the past relative to the story you need to tense shift (generally, not a hard and fast rule, but a good enough rule of thumb for now.)

Jonked - A Letter the Author Recieved in Middle School

Your title is spelled incorrectly. This does not exactly endear your story to me from the get-go.

Opens by telling me that something is unimportant or irrelevant. For god’s sake, you get to choose what appears in your story. If something is irrelevant (to the characters, to the reader), just don’t mention it. Why do people keep doing this? Then the second paragraph is more of the same. A bunch of incredibly vague nattering about what the protagonist shouldn’t worry about and what hasn’t happened. No. No, no, no, no, no. Tell me what did happen, and what was interesting, and if you feel like your plot doesn’t support telling things in this way, then something about your plot is broken and needs to be fixed. If I hadn’t had to read this as a judge, I would have stopped reading this somewhere around the middle of paragraph two.

Sitting Here - The Compassion Vehicle

I loved and totally agreed with Schneider’s crit of this bad boy, but let’s focus on your opening. First paragraph is a little aggressively adjectivey for me: sad-faced, torn up, strong, sun-kissed, sated - all in one sentence. Blerch. But really, there’s nothing wrong with this paragraph structurally. I’m satisfied to allow the concept of Metta (gently caress that fiddly special ‘a’) remain undefined for now, since your first paragraph is supposed to have a little mystery. And there’s another compelling mystery, this time in the form of a character who’s facing a personality-based conflict: he wants to help others, but for some reason he can’t. Then your second paragraph is apparently an explanation of or elaboration on this, which is fine - actually, the last sentence of the second paragraph is very strong, I like the imagery, I now know what Metta is supposed to be, and I’m left wondering whether it’s real or whether this guy is delusional. It’s the third paragraph where you start to lose me with the opening: at this point you’re not giving me anything I don’t know already. Okay, highly empathetic narrator, likes to stare at people on the train, check. Okay, he wants to help people, but he can’t, you already told us that once! Why are you telling me again? My biggest problem with this story was that nothing really happens, and it shows with how you repeat yourself pretty significantly even just in the first few paragraphs.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - The Diary of Babel

First sentence doesn’t need that comma. “No use avoiding” is unidiomatic; the phrase is “there was no avoiding” or “there was no use ignoring”, or similar. Actually, you could kill the second and third sentences and have a stronger opening. We learn through context later in the story that Vanesssa was his wife and she’s dead (i.e. not divorced from him); this isn’t a terribly arcane lesson for the reader to have to learn, so why not focus on the (v. cool) imagery of him tossing his wedding band and then diving in after it, and worry about the interpersonal relationships later?

Also, the first diary entry reads pretty clunky. I get that it’s supposed to be Young Dougie writing it, and kids probably write like that, but that unfortunately doesn’t make it any easier to read. If there’s no way to make it more readable in itself, you might just describe to the reader what Old Dougie sees (‘a mysterious diary from my own past!’) rather than showing the reader the contents, which are pretty uninteresting.

Nitrousoxide - Oregon Trail

The opening is not the problem with this story (the rest of which is terrible). It leaves me wondering, given the ‘email’ device, whether this is going to be some kind of interstellar wagon train pioneered by space-age Old West reenactors or something interesting like that. Too bad you do literally nothing with that device. If you’d written the story that your opening suggests, it could actually be readable.

That Old Ganon - Easy Enough

Yet another story that begins the first paragraph vaguely blattering at me about how dull and unremarkable some facet of the plot or setting is. Nasty first impression, this creates. Also, if it’s all talking, why enclose it in quotes at all? Why not just alter a few lines and let it be the first-person story that it wants to be? If you’re going to do something stylistically this far out there, something about your story needs to really justify it, and it can’t just be ‘well I thought it’d be cool.’ I have no comments about the sight-dialect device except to say that if you do it, you’d better do it damned well and have a damned good justification for it, because I suspect that what you’re doing here is just trying to show that your character is a thug or a brute, and there are far cleverer ways to do that. You do, however, make me wonder with the second paragraph where this story is going, which is better than nothing. It would have been a lot more compelling if you’d shown us the events occurring (or had the character attempt to show us), rather than relying on the character telling the Cliff’s Notes post-hoc version to somebody who isn’t even identified.

Basically, you’re trying to do a lot of fancy-pants poo poo that your story doesn’t support. Quit it, and write a solid plot first.

Phobia - Penpal

Very strong opening! I like. You’ve caught my attention with a bizarre and novel situation (mysterious letters), and then given us the reason this ongoing problem has suddenly become worth writing a story about (the letters just as mysteriously stopped coming). The jump to the third paragraph, though, is just a little bit too big - it reads like a non sequitur. When you tell me the letters stopped coming, the next thing I want to see is the narrator investigating it, or reacting to it, or something - and you just haven’t given me enough to explain Jeremy’s role in all this yet.

Djeser - Uprising

This could be punchier, but it’s not bad. You’re one of relatively few entrants who managed to convey a trait belonging to one of their characters in the opening to the story (Ruchang feels like he doesn’t fit in in England.) We also have a sense of urgency; the story literally opens with bombs about to go off. The mechanics aren’t great: you tell us that he’s uncomfortable in his clothes twice in two sentences; cut one of them. The last sentence of the first large paragraph needs a comma somewhere, or better yet to be rewritten (“He was trying to look casual, but sweat seeped through his shirt”?) I also think it’d be stronger if the first paragraph (the single sentence) and the larger paragraph following it traded places. As it stands, you’ve given us a real punch-in-the-face opener (oh my god, bombs!) but then all of a sudden you’re talking about somebody’s clothes instead. If you give us bombs, you gotta tell us a little more about the bombs, or at least something clearly related to the bombs.

Starter Wiggin - Stay Strong

Hah, okay, your first sentence made me laugh out loud. And you certainly have presented something novel and bizarre: why is his mule a radio? Too bad you didn’t use your extra 400-some-odd words to ever loving explain it, and by ‘explain’ I don’t mean go into the biomechanical details of radio-muling, but rather somehow give it justification within the story so it isn’t a bizarro nonsequitur. Also your first three paragraphs could have been one paragraph with no clarity lost.

Fumblemouse - The Possibility of The World

The first thing I’m doing is wondering whether The World is a brand name or something, because of the odd caps in the title.

This opening is weak. The imagery at the very beginning reads like the schlockiest of chick-lit. Could you possibly have picked a mundaner image? Gloomy person crying; grey sky grey sea and salt air? This is very grade-school. Get what you’re going for with ‘filled every possible world she could imagine’, but this is an awkward way to (apparently) say that she couldn’t not think about it, because idiomatically speaking we don’t really talk about ideas ‘filling a world’; the image is odd, if nothing else. Reads like the kinds of things my advanced ESL students come up with. Then the second paragraph offers no respite from the blank expanse of dishwater-dull doom and gloom. No need to spend half this much time on a bottle approaching the shore; right now this bottle has more character than Caroline does! If you cut the three paragraphs prior to the letter itself down to one (short) paragraph, the opening would be much stronger and you could presumably still convey the details you appear to have found relevant: that Caroline sure is awful sad, she’s sitting on the beach, and a letter in a bottle is bobbing towards her.

Dr. Kloctopussy - Untitled

This opening is weaksauce too. It feels awkward and disorganized. Part of it is the tenses, which are all over the place: in the sentence that starts with “Our cheekbones” you have at least one unwarranted tense shift, and earlier in the paragraph you have something that teeeeecchnically isn’t a tense shift but reads like one because it’s more conventional to use the present perfect rather than the simple past in these situations (“We’ve finished” rather than “We finished”). Also, the “I can feel” at the beginning of a sentence when you’ve already established a viewpoint character: newbie mistake. Just say “Her anger washes…”. Also, ‘our cheekbones don’t get that sharp’ doesn’t parse right for me. ‘Aren’t’, not ‘don’t get’, I think. Beyond the clumsiness, I’m just pretty unimpressed by this; there are a lot of details, but some of them seem unjustified or insufficiently elaborated upon (if you’re going to say that your narrator literally hates someone, you need to give me more than ‘besides looking just like me, she’s way too good-looking, I mean god drat.’ Hate is something that happens over time, and the less likely it is (and here we’re presumably in a scientific setting?? So professionalism should hold her back somewhat) the more justification it needs in the story. Plus, don’t just say that character A hates character B: how does that show in her actions?) Also, the “I try to maintain some realism, even here” seems awfully unidiomatic. Why not just say ‘I prefer my avatar to be realistic?’ maintain+realism = what are you carrying over this realism from? You had to cultivate realism previously, and now you’re maintaining it?? Then, the content - seems unfortunately prosaic, largely because you haven’t given us any of the really exciting stuff (sensory deprivation, real conflict between the two selves, sleeping troubles) at all, but just a lot of dull sludge. Doesn’t make me want to read the thing. Tl;dr sorry for coming down so hard on this thing, but it’s weak compared to your normal stuff and it really shows right from the very beginning, which doesn’t have much to like.

crabrock - Memoria Mia Faba

Shame this is a dumb joke because I like the opening. You really get some clear characterization in there about the kid and the dad: I’m picturing a dreamy, moony kid, a dad who’s sullen and uncommunicative, presumably because of problems of his own, who definitely didn’t want his kid to turn out like this. However, you should’ve gotten the ‘moon’ thing in there sometime before the end of the fourth paragraph, since right now it’s too late for a story of this size and a bit too subtle as well; in fact, even though I really do like the first three paragraphs stylistically and in terms of characterization, you could get away with adding a bit to the third paragraph - just enough to suggest the setting - and using that as the first one.

Cache Cab - The Baptist II

Almost gave up when I saw the title. What on earth made you think that thing needed a sequel?

The no-punctuation thing is dumb. Adds nothing other than making whole swaths of the story close to unreadable, like, literally impossible to read. I’m sure you imagined that a grandpa would type like that, but it’s equally possible to imagine one who just types normally and spare your readers the pain.

That said, structurally there’s nothing wrong with the opening. Inciting event, background detail, characters, etc. Good going. Too bad you killed all of my goodwill as well.

Jul 25, 2012


Echo Cian posted:

:siren: Crits for Week 85: Ground Control to Major Tom :siren:

God Over Djinn posted:


Thanks to the both of you!

Apr 29, 2007

Why would an ambulance be leaving the hospital?

God Over Djinn posted:

Sorry to pick on you two

I do not believe you are sorry at all! :colbert:

Thanks for the crit dude.

Nov 12, 2013

For those Thunderdome gamers, there's a small writing competition going on over in the steam gifting thread. $15 steam card for the winner.

Go crush the competition, warriors.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
Thank you for the in-depth crits, God Over Djinn and Echo Cian! You guys are really raising the bar for them.

Just an idle suggestion, but it would be really cool if we compile or link generalcrits in the OP or someplace convenient.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Schneider Heim posted:

Thank you for the in-depth crits, God Over Djinn and Echo Cian! You guys are really raising the bar for them.

Just an idle suggestion, but it would be really cool if we compile or link generalcrits in the OP or someplace convenient.

I would have to see evidence that people read the whole OP first :byodood:

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

If you really want to read a lot of crits just click on the question marks under the avatar of whoever your favorite judge is. This can also be a good sneaky way of trying to pander to judges by figuring out what they liked in the past. At least it would be if I hadn't just written that.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.

DreadNite posted:

For those Thunderdome gamers, there's a small writing competition going on over in the steam gifting thread. $15 steam card for the winner.

Go crush the competition, warriors.


Try to write a stupid video game spookypasta WITHOUT any nerd/goon/chan/reddit references.

By all means everyone should enter because $$$ is good. But if you write about Spergin' Mario Medal of Duty fanfic - well son, kindly re-evaluate your priorities and stop being such a disappointment in life.

E: Ok wow I just went to that thread and almost every entry thus far is a nerd/goon/chan/reddit reference highlarity fest :effort:

E2: Actually since I'm feeling chipper, despite my discouragement of nerd references, parodying 50 Foot Ant's style is totally fun, cool, and applauded (if you do not write like poo poo). If you don't know what 50FA's writing is here's a sampler:


"Gears of War time, ladies, time to show the penis-slingers that women rule," Candy laughed, climbing out of the car. Gabby giggled too, running a hand over the hood of her trusty car. I flipped my hair out of my face and followed, my stomach rumbling for a slice of pizza.

Candy had already grabbed the X-Box 360 controller and was logging into X-Box Live so she could compete with people around the world. She loved the combat games, loved to compete against other people, to virtually kill them.

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 05:50 on Mar 28, 2014

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Some Guy TT posted:

If you really want to read a lot of crits just click on the question marks under the avatar of whoever your favorite judge is. This can also be a good sneaky way of trying to pander to judges by figuring out what they liked in the past. At least it would be if I hadn't just written that.

I think you'll find we all like stuff that is not crap so if you write like that to make us happy then mission accomplished, you feel me

Jul 26, 2011

And with crits in mind, have a brawl! I intend to either redeem myself in the eyes of my peers, or crash and burn and continue to write poo poo for the rest of my days! Well, the latter one is a given, but maybe I can do the former one!

Blood Stones
(699 Words)
My brother and I? We were like two peas in a pod. Everywhere he went, I went, and through thick and thin, we always knew that the other had our back. So how did I end up with my hands in the air, surrounded by cops? ...well, let's start from the beginning.


It was a normal day, just like any other. Zach and I are – I'm sorry, were – twins, and we've always done everything together. We were roommates, coworkers, colleagues, and comrades. Imagine my surprise when Zach comes up to me, right in the middle of our break, and drops a bomb on me.

“Hey, uh, Adam.” Zach muttered. “There's, uh, something important I need to tell you...” I rolled my eyes, knowing very well where this was leading. Zach wouldn't dance around the question if he didn't mess something up.

“What did you do this time, Zach?” I said, laughing. I fully expected that he messed up a report or an assignment – again.

He chuckled. “You joker!” His smile quickly faded, along with the color in his face. “...sorry, this isn't the time for that.” He gulped. “I made a bad deal. One of my friends was offering to sell me rocks for cheap, and I took the offer.”

I shrugged. “Big deal. Your bad habits are nothing new to me.”

He grabbed me by the shoulders. “I don't think you understand. I was set up! We have to go, now!”

“...I'm gonna regret this. What's our plan?”

“We gotta skip town, lay low for a while. The cops will be looking-”

“Wait, wait, wait. What?!” I growled.

Zach shrunk. “Sorry, bro...You can still back out.”


He grinned. “Let's go.”


We ran for what felt like hours. Zach was never as athletic as me, but his stamina surprised me. Guess things are different when in danger. We ducked down an alleyway on the outskirts of town, a good twenty-something miles from our office, and promptly collapsed.

“Darn it,” I spat. Zach was splayed across the ground, chest heaving with every greedy breath he took.

“So where are we going, exactly? We can't run forever.” I asked between gulps of air.

“There's a safe place a few more miles away, we'll be safe there until the coast is clear. It's just-” Zach stopped, and put his hand up to his ears. I heard it, too. Sirens, heading our way.

“Darn.” I muttered. “If we stay here, we're done.”

“I dunno if I can keep this up.” Zach panted.

“I'm not gonna leave you. We can still do this, we just need to think smart.” I said, pulling him to his feet. “We can make more ground weaving between buildings. C'mon, let's move.”

We jogged between the nooks and crannies of the city, sprinting across streets, occasionally stopping for breathers. The ever-present wail of the sirens behind us was a constant reminder of what we had to lose. We took one last break a few blocks from the safe house.

“Think I twisted the darn thing.” Zach said, nursing his ankle. I frowned.

“We can't stop now.” I said.

“I know, but – ow!” He shouted, falling to the ground. “I don't think I can go.”

“No, come on. I'll help you.” I hoisted him up, but it was too late for us. The sirens reached their peak, and we could make out the sounds of people moving.

Zach frowned. “I'm sorry, Adam. The rocks are worth more than you.” He shoved me hard. I stumbled, landing on my rear right in the middle of the street. I caught a glimpse down the alleyway as I fell. Zach was running away. Liar.

“Freeze!” An overwhelming voice blasted. Slowly, I climbed to my feet and raised my hands in the air. That was it. Game over.


The recess bell rang, and I lowered by arms. The cops cried out in despair. “Maaaan, we almost won, too!”

Zachary skipped back to me, weaving through the trees. “Sorry bro. You know how it is.” he grunted between bites of rock candy. I hope it was worth it, I thought.

Next time, I'll be a cop.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

While we are waiting for Runningintowalls' riposte, who wants a flash rule.

:siren:Flash Rule:siren: for Some Guy TT: Chatty motherfucker chats too much, gets what's coming to him.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 11:10 on Mar 28, 2014

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Pseudoscorpion posted:

And with crits in mind,


It was a normal day, just like any other.


“Hey, uh, Adam.” Zach muttered.

“Darn it,” I spat.

“I dunno if I can keep this up.” Zach panted.





A Tin Of Beans
Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for the awesome crits, Echo Cian and God Over Djinn!

Dec 5, 2003

I'm in. Been waffling all week. Better get wet or get out.


Mar 21, 2013

Grimey Drawer

Dec 8, 2013

Window of Opportunity - 700 words

I threw my gym bag into my apartment. I collapsed into a couch near my only window and opened it to cool down. The breeze that wafted in felt great on my sore, sweaty body and I breathed a sigh of relief. I leaned out off the window to enjoy the view. Cars and trucks, with horns blaring and the occasionally piercing siren wail filled the apartment with sounds of the city. Trees near my window swayed and cast long shadows signifying that the sunlight was not for long.

I left the couch and found a journal, an old used thing that contained my workout routine. I marked down today’s workout: 45 diamond push-ups, 15 minute standing jog, 30 minutes of planking, and 15 minutes of jumping jacks. This was not a personal best but it was a good enough restart after a few weeks of not going. My reward for all my hard work was a shower. The water was warm and melted the stress and sweat from the gym, the city and from work. After I changed into some fresh clothes, I looked into my fridge to see if I had leftovers I could snack on. I took the some leftover chili and hit reheat on the microwave. After half a minute, the chili and the bowl I placed it in were hot.

“It should be fine in a few minutes,” I thought to myself. I looked at the clock hanging above the fridge. It was 5:30 PM, a little early for dinner and the shower, fresh clothes, and the now cool apartment meant a quick nap was in order. I lay on my back in bed with the door half open and closed my eyes.

The next moment I recalled was hearing some scratching sounds. I was groggy for a few seconds and snapped out of it when I hear crash and splat. Sounds of eating came nearby and I crept out of bedroom, grabbing a small Swiss Army knife for meager protection. I peeked around my door and noticed a small, bushy tail. As I saw more of the brown fur and black rings, I realized what happened: I left the window open; this raccoon crawled on from a nearby tree, enticed by the smell of the chili, which is now all over my floor. I moved back in the bedroom, trying to avoid detection, but the raccoon was enjoying the chili so much; the building could be demolished this second and he wouldn’t notice that.
A quick glance at the clock revealed that it was now 7:30. A moment of dread passed over me. What else could be in here, what else was in here? I took two deep breaths. I peeked outside the door and the raccoon was curled up by the radiator, fast asleep. I tiptoed out of my apartment, being extremely careful not to disturb the small thing and sought out my neighbor Mo.

Mo was a big man, standing three inches higher than my 5 foot 10 self with the voice to match. He volunteered at an animal hospital, and as a result, carried humane traps to help transport wounded or sick animals. His expressions soured as I told him my story. At the end of it, he grabbed gloves and cage that locked on the bottom to prevent the raccoon from escaping.
After gently placing the unwanted guest in the cage and closing my window, Mo drove my car to the park, with me and the raccoon sharing the back seat. He woke up about half way there and started to thrash. He clawed at the cage, seat-belt, and the seats. I saw in the rear view that Mo had a smile while I was pressed up against the car door.

The park was deserted when we got there. When the raccoon disappeared into the trees near the opened cage, Mo stared me down and had said the first thing to me the whole night.

“Andy, do me a favor. Either close your window after about thirty minutes after opening it or buy a goddamn screen.”

One silent car ride home and my new window screens were installed a week later.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

There are approximately 2 hours remaining for you talentless hacks to sign up.

Write like your lives depend on it, because, for one of you, it does.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
tenniseveryone's crit

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

J. Comrade
May 2, 2008

Jan 26, 2013

Oct 22, 2012

Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill
Sorry, I'm gonna have to remove myself from this round b/c I just got word that my grandpa's in the hospital (he's old man with cancer) and we're not sure if he's gonna make it.


Dec 5, 2003

Homecoming/A Lightless Sky

Chess took the dental bridge out of his mouth and carefully scratched mark number 9,131 into his wall using the metal end. “Silver anniversary. Where’s my gift, warden?” he murmured to the camera. He put his teeth back in, crossed his legs, and closed his eyes.

The Southport Correctional Facility appeared first, a perfect reproduction in the mind's eye. Breathe. The inmates, the guards, the staff, each one walking, talking, eating, making GBS threads. Breathe. Grass, dirt, stone, roots. Breathe. Elmira to the north, filling with buildings and people and lives. Freedom. Breathe.

On the other end of the camera feed, Dale drained the last of his coffee and swiveled his chair. “Readings are good again. The Battery looks settled. I’m going to grab a little lunch. You want anything, Stan?”

“Nope. Wife sent me in with leftovers.” The Operator shifted his bulk out into the hallway, heading for the mess in the next building over.

Chess floated in a meditative state. The words of his Abbot echoed across decades, the last he'd heard before leaving Sanctuary to make right what he had done. “When you imagine, you empower. Empathy is the best of the human condition.”

For the first time in more than twenty years, his cell door opened. Brunette, leggy, and wearing black, she said, “Alfonso Alvarado?” His skin was pale and he was so much older than the picture, but those black eyes were the same: penetrating. Chess nodded. “We’re here to break you out. Come with me.” She held out her hand. His shook as he reached out for it.

In a whisper, he asked, “Are you real or imagined?” Fingertips brushed. He took hold and she pulled him free. Breathe.

The power shut off when he breached the cell door. For a moment, the darkness was complete. Power returned; the prison hummed as the backup generators kicked in, but the lights outside remained off, visible through barred windows.

She led him by the hand. Thigh-thick cables sprouted like tree branches from the trunk of his solitary room, itself encircled by an enormous machine. The halls were empty, the cells void of contents.

“What is this? Where are the people?” His voice, gaining strength, rang in the hollows.

“Gone. With you here, they don’t need anyone else. The whole unit has been converted for your output. That’s why we’re getting you out. Without you as their ‘Battery’, New York will be without power until they can get the conventional plants running again.”

He stopped walking, but held on tight and yanked. She whiplashed around, crashing into him. “What the gently caress do you mean? This is a prison! My prison.” She skinned leather, pulling a .45. He brought his knee up into her stomach, kicking out as she sagged and catching her wrist. The gun clattered down a grated stairwell. “People don’t power states, mija. I’m not some battery.” He twisted her arm, locking the joint.

“The truth,” he demanded.

“You’ve been locked up for a long time, Alfonso,” she gasped. “The government tells no one, knowing they violate their own laws, but they have captured the power of imagination to fuel this country. The people in prison, in solitary, they sit and imagine; most produce a few hundred Megawatts per hour. You produce more than a hundred thousand, the only one they've ever found who does. They don’t need the others anymore in this grid.”

He let her go. Breathe.

“The window is closing, Alfonso. They’ll have people here soon. The only reason we’ve gotten this far is Southport runs on a skeleton crew. They only have one prisoner – you.”

“Call me Chess, mija. I'm not that man any more.” They ran.

In the control room, Stan frantically flipped through the security feeds they had neglected. “Dale! Get the gently caress in here!” he shouted, praying his friend was back in the building. Jake and Thad, the guards, were collapsed and unmoving at the complex entrance. A Buick Regal with a vinyl top idled in front of the Battery’s containment facility.

He watched, helpless, when a man stepped out of the Buick as Dale came around the corner, returning from the mess. The Taser caught him in the chest and he fell. The man zip-tied the Operator’s hands and feet. Stan grabbed his gun and sprinted for the exit. “Ohgodohgodohgodohgod-“

He reached the pair at the exit. “Stop!” Stan leveled the gun at them. “You can’t leave.”

Chess looked him in the eyes. Breathe. “You won’t shoot me. You need me.” He took the gun from the man’s shaking hands and held it down by his side.

“I know you. I've watched you for so many years. Imagine, the whole state will be without power. The damage would be catastrophic.”

“Don’t listen to him, Chess. They only care about their Battery.”

He closed his eyes and imagined. His grandchildren, cold and shivering in the depths of winter. Breathe. Industry and business shut down. Breathe. The lights of Elmira, Buffalo, New York City, extinguished. Breathe. Coal smoke painting the sky. Breathe.

Four breaths. Could one man, one killer, do better than to provide light, heat... life to more than 8 million people? He walked out the doors and looked up at a cloudless sky, the February sting prickling his skin. So clear. The milky way, perfect in a lightless world. Breathe. A whole land, his to grasp again. To take hold and master, to dominate, to use for his benefit. He would use it.

He would use it up.

“Take me home.”

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