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  • Locked thread
Aug 2, 2002




Crits 11-20

11. Old Lady Carbuncle
“simple folk like you and me.” HEY I’M HALF A FAKE DOCTOR. I like dis story. The voice is good, though I think you force the country folk talk a little too strongly at points, such as ob-lee-gations. The climax is good, but the actual ending is a little underwhelming. I think ‘cause on first read i didn’t get she took ALL the trash with her. just “her trash” isn’t enough. even with that, it still feels like there’s a little bit missing. Why is this story told from this perspective? why can’t the granddad tell the story? anyway, good job on this, it was a fun read.

12. Tulpas for the One Percent
I wouldn’t call offering you 18 million euros nickel and diming you. I don’t understand why he’s demanding LESS money. Was this an oversight? “ global half-percent.” that would actually be much lower than being in the top half percent of a wealthy country, because the poor countries drive the global average down by a loooooot. I feel like your char is just like, talking about all the points of the story you should be showing me. It feels very wooden to just have a char tell you a bunch of poo poo. “stay virgins until thirty” that’s all it takes? gently caress man half the dome be wizards by that definition. also that’s loving dumb. i pasted that line to a few people so we could laugh at how dumb it was. “slave-driver.” that don’t need to be hyphenated. “waifu project” kill me. Ok what the gently caress, that ending was goony as gently caress and hella weird. and not like, in a good way, but in an actual “that creeped me out” way. You have a dude that can make ANYTHING and he’s loving drawing living child porn. that’s hella weird, and this isn’t a good enough story to pull it off, because it’s mostly just a guy sitting around telling me about things while he strokes his cock. at least i hope he’s jacking it, so at least somebody wasn’t wasting their time, because you and I sure did. Loss candidate.

13. Untitled
Not titling your work is like, a big neon sign that says “I don’t give a gently caress about this story.” I don’t feel like “aged” is the right word to describe the deterioration of an apartment. “before throwing both to the ground as he found a third.” no, he threw them on the ground AFTER finding the third. finding is an instantaneous thing, you can’t do it while you do do something else. “ridiculous in amongst” typo. “more than a surprise.” what is that? double surprise? “path was every formed” typo. His friend is basically a deus ex machina. He pops into the middle of the room, gives him the answer, and then leaves. How is that exciting? What did your character do to earn that? A character should come up with that stuff on his own, forged from the trials he endures on his journey; it shouldn’t just be given to him. “power emanating was immense” show don’t tell. “projecting his will into the gap and tried” tense shifts. You’re describing a lot of physical things, but without much finesse. Just some basics like “oh that was real big! and there was a shock wave! and vibration!” Slow down and really help me feel these things, and flourish them out a bit. But more importantly, make me CARE about all these physical things. Right now I feel like I’m watching a TV show, but i have no idea why this dude wants to find this thing, how long he’s been searching, how his failures have impacted him. that’s the poo poo writing excels at.
Ugh. this story. here’s what’s wrong with this story: almost everything from the point of storytelling. We don’t know any of Luke’s motivation. Even after he finds heaven, why? Why did he want to? what did he hope to do when he got there? after he found heaven, what was going wrong? where were the people coming from? why the gently caress would he go to hell instead of be in trouble in heaven, paradise lost quotes notwithstanding. in the end, what did he learn? why do we care that he’s in hell? things happen for the sake of happening, but there’s no real REASON. it’s like you thought “oh hey, what if a guy who thought he was gonna go to heaven went to hell instead? heh heh.” Try harder. DM candidate

14. The Ruby Fountain of Ghel-Gamort
Skipping for DQ. Will come back.

15. Hourly Wages
Because you start the story with “a boy burst into magnus’ shop,” you’ve set Magnus up to be the POV character. Then you have this line: “He had heard” which is from the boy’s POV. Pick one and stick with it. No head jumping. I finished reading this story from this point, which is good, because it means you have a good flow and relatively few errors that jar me out of the story. I started to care about your little boy, and WHY he was willing to do all this stuff, but I never really got a sense of Magnus. He is a cardboard old wise man, gruff and short, but by golly, really wants to help all along. Give a bit more time to all your characters. they should all want something, and that should be apparent in the choices they make and the things they say, so that when the resolution happens you think “oh yes, he DID want an apprentice the whole time, what with complaining and saying he didn’t have time to help the little boy cause he had too much to do on his own,” etc. Furthermore, the characterization of the little boy is all over the place. He wants to act because….. it fits the plot? He likes to play by the river with his sister because…. thats what little kids do? I don’t know who this boy is, what makes him tick. I don’t know if he wanted his sister back for love of her, or because of the guilt/shame of being a coward. how does being a coward fit with the rest of the story? Sounds pretty brave to both approach a wizard AND demand he do the thing, even after he’s said no. But story structure aside, your writing was easy enough to read, and pleasant at times. Fixing macro stuff is doable, once you learn how.

16. The Nightly Portents
It’s like adverb city up in here dude. Stop. They are mostly redundant and unnecessary. “worn It “ why caps? “creepy-menacing, not blow down your house menacing.”” creepy shouldn’t be hyphenated, but blow-down-your-house should be. Your saidbookisms are starting to stick out. I’m reading this, i’m to the part with the technicians and the crystal balls, and i just really don’t want to read it anymore. Why the gently caress is all this happening? It’s like this parody of wizard operations that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and there’s no actual story going on. A guy gets burned by a woman, gets a little sexist, and then things switch over to this woman with a lizard…. so what? I skimmed the rest, and looks like there is a wizard news show and he is the weatherman? I dunno, I’m not going to bother figuring out this mess, because it’s all pointless. It’s a joke for the sake of a joke, and there’s nothing really redeeming about it. Even Airplane had a plot.

17. The Eye Thief
“a three-feet-long worm, and my companion” this is ambiguous, as it sounds like you have a three foot worm AND a companion. “mould on the walls” typo. “I found myself in a large hall” this is passive and boring. ““Let’s to touch that”” missing words? The worm grabbing the eye seems too contrived. how the gently caress would that work, and how would he even know? i’m incredulous about this part. You have a crapload of comma splices in this piece, and I’m starting to suspect that they aren’t all intentional style choices. Use some conjunctions and what not. e.g. “shot out of the fountain, seized him, pulled him down.” “I drew my sword. It burst from the water, and it was hideous!” you are saying that your sword burst from the water. pronoun antecedents. another example “it landed on the floor, rolled away harmlessly.” you shouldn’t be doing this all the time. an “and” would work much better. “a dagger between in my teeth “ typo.
So reading this, knowing your wizard power, I kept thinking, “why don’t the “eyeless” remove their other eye so the power doesn’t work?” This ended up being the climax of your story, but without knowing the wizard power, it wouldn’t make any sense. You talk about eyes a lot, but never flat out state that eyes are where she gets her power. So when he stabs out his other eye, most readers would be confused as to why that worked. Your story makes it sound like she just has an obsession with eyes. The scene by the fountain where the worm dies happens too quickly. you could get rid of some of the stuff before it and lengthen that out a bit so it feels more natural and meaningful. Your main char didn’t really sound redeemable or likable in the end, if the things she said were true. She went away and he cheated on her, and then killed her? That’s pretty hosed up. Usually when you have a bad character like that, it’s good for them to not get what they wanted. I mean he doesn’t get both eyes, and one is itchy, but that seems like a small price to pay for cold-blooded murder.

19. Nothing More. Nothing Less.
“the the warring season” typo, and also, war has a season? i hope it’s after winter, cause i’m real angry then. “Searched the room.” doesn’t work for me as a fragment. I’m guessing that this one is Tyrannosaurus, because it’s competently written about young people, and the ending is a little lackluster. There’s a lot going on in this story. There’s this blossoming/established friendship, then there’s the “i don’t wanna do what my dad does.” thing, then there’s the discovery of new power and using that to save his friend. Each of these topics could be enough for one flash fiction story, and I feel like having all three really doesn’t allow you to do service to any. That’s why the ending feels a little shallow: they’re friends, ok, but they’d been friends for years and years and that friendship is never tested/in doubt. He’s not doing what his dad does, but he’d already figured that out mid story and nothing bad happens from his new discoveries besides one guy getting mad, but that’s not really an issue since it’s solved with one sentence. Then finally, he uses his power to save his friend, but there’s little foreshadowing or consequence to his decision to do so. At least, I don’t know what will happen: will she come back angry? will he suffer for disobeying the rules his father gave him? Who knows, because you never actually tackle those questions. It’s pleasant and fun to read this, but it needs to keep going, because it deals with way too much in a short time, and is ultimately unsatisfying.

20. Hair of the Dog
“I brushed splinters out of my shirt” is too quick of a transition. I thought he was like, preparing to do the hair thing on the locked door, so i got confused. “replaced it with recollection.” lol that’s corny. I’m about a third of the way through and this is all just cliche hardboiled stuff. I’ve been told this story a billion times. So many times, in fact, that even the character is like “oh no, not THIS again.” Welp, got bored and skimmed the rest. looks like there was a fight scene and a double cross. Didn’t miss much. Write original stories, don’t try to ape things you’ve read before.


Aug 2, 2002




Crits 21-30

21. Thinking Dogs for the Stupid
Your title made me laugh, so i hope your story can live up to that. “that pile carpet” is this a typo? “ “a trifle uncertainly” is horrible adverb usage. This story has a plot that gets caught up in itself a little too much. You have basically a super smart dog and really dumb wizards, but I hardly ever get to see their interaction. The stuff that’s told by the dog is confusing at first, as I was struggling to understand if he was a dog or a man. There’s a few things you could change to force the dog thing, like opening doors and stuff. describe how his nose nudges the door handle, things like that. the car scene is really confusing, because you have him like grabbing the scruff of his neck, pushing him, then it turns out they’re still just in the car? Also, the dog gives himself up way too easily. there needs to be more of an internal struggle there. it’s the climax of the story, and it just sort of wimpers along. Certain elements of this are very good, and others are just plain confusing. This needs a few more editing passes to be 100% clear and focused.

22. Lethal Ingestion
“I terror-puked, a grade-A barfficane” lol. best line so far this week. “trembling quietly” people don’t normally tremble loudly. “Platte picked up a champagne flute, stuck it on his dick and pissed, then saluted me and drank” uh, is this guy balancing a glass on his dick? “[Maks] plunged his fingers up his rear end and yanked out a waxen plug. [...] Maks stuck a finger up his nose, then into his mouth.” pretty sure this guy just ass2mouthed himself. “shoved my away from the body” missing word?
Ok uh, that story…. It seems like it’s trying to flit between being a joke and a serious piece. It feels like x-men: the gross years. I was a little unclear on how deep the conspiracy ran. Was this a sith type thing, one wizard master, one wizard apprentice? was platte a wizard? too many weird things and unanswered questions, but it was fun to read at least, and several lines stand out, but others cross that line into self-parody and make it hard to take this story as anything more than a dumb joke.

23. Old Soldiers
“we were for it” missing word? “Brass lasts longer than bone” but skeletons! I want to like this story, but i’m confused. I think he is like, saying that an item can hold a piece of a person’s soul? and then if you use the power of the souls in the item, it sucks afterwards? but he can use it for magic? and he uses the medal’s soul to make his friend not retarded for a little bit? I think that’s what happened anyway, and if so, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and you didn’t explain it very clearly. The writing is good on a sentence by sentence level, and I enjoyed reading it, and did so pretty easily, but the whole time I kept wondering “what the gently caress is going on, on the secondary symbolic level.” like i understood all the actions you wrote, but didn’t understand why they were happening and what the larger picture was. some minor additions would probably fix this.

24. Minor Opportunity
“resembled a working oil well, red and mad,” this does not sound like an oil well??? WHY IS THIS MAN YELLING?! “all at once sat up and stilled.” oh good, he didn’t sit up in segments… wtf, man. “azure-slick with sweat.” wtf does this mean? “suddenly staccato heartbeat.” before it was just blurry? STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS. THIS ISN’T A TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOUR MOM.
ok you know what? I can’t even right now. I’m not gonna read this. it’s so bad. your prose is just confusing and alienating, and you’re just throwing descriptions out that make no sense. There’s no discernable plot yet, just a big guy walking through doors. shut doors, open doors, such a fascination with doors. I’ll try to come back to this later and finish it, but nobody got time for that right now.

25. Helka's Inheritance
“began to fill the parchment.” but they never finish? why not just “words filled the parchment?” “Helka stands from the throne” tense shift. “deepest sense of dread filled Helka’s heart.” show don’t tell. You start a new paragraph with a new quote: ““It is tragic that this has be” but i think it’s still the father talking? You need some attributions in this. not many, but a few.
This isn’t much of a story. What you’ve done is the setup for a story, the beginning of a quest, but then it just ends. For it to be a story, she’s got to have some sort of motivation. She kinda has it, in finding her father, but we don’t know why she wants to find her father, or what happens is she fails. we start the story with her looking, and then she finds him. when she does, he talks exposition at her for a while, and then the story is over. think about how unsatisfying that is. it’s like Luke is sitting in ObiWans lovely shack and after he gives him the lightsaber and tells him about his dad, the movie ends. Your char needs to go on a journey with trials and tribulations, and change in some way for it to be a true story. just finding dad and having him talk at you is not enough. the actual writing isn’t terrible, and was ok to read, but it didn’t go anywhere.

26. Randolph the Green
“It tugged [...] like a dog tugging at its leash.” kinda silly to use tugging to explain tugging. “self segregating” all words with self should be hyphenated. These first several paragraphs i feel like you’re just explaining the rationale of the story to me. Great, they gotta be not super poor, but not super rich. SHOW me that by having the person drive by different neighborhoods on the way to their target. Don’t just lecture at me with exposition, it’s boring as gently caress. I don’t care about your views, I care about the character’s actions. “simple white chalk” what does complex white chalk look like? “In a home a block away Jane struggled to lift her pen.” ok now we’re onto a different POV. You should usually avoid this in flash fiction. ok so uh, you have some girl hoping to kill herself or something? but instead the wizard, who has only been shown to be greedy unto this point, kills himself instead off screen? is it supposed to be like “oh cool, he saved her!” or “oh no, he got a bad wish!” Also why is the title called randolph, when there’s no loving randolph?! Is Ryan short for randolph? If you really want to show a wizard making a selfless act, you A. actually need to show it on the page, not this stupid bullshit of cutting away, and B. you need to actually show that he has the capacity for caring, and that for some reason, this particular girls’ wishes actually made him feel something. If you’re just trying to show that he got a bad wish… then uh… don’t know what to tell you, cause that’s a boring story pretty much. The underlying idea isn’t bad, but then again, it’s not really yours, since it was assigned. Still, a wizard that goes around and steals wishes is pretty cool, and you squandered it by only focusing on the wizard enough to bitch about different classes, and then switch to some sniveling girl. Talk about wasted opportunity.

27. Corruption and Power

28. Hunting Golgoth
“Marrow tended to her bone garden” I see what you did there. “Then she went inside and waited.” for what? she just is like “oh look, things on the horizon. guess i’ll just go inside and sit here.” this is boring. “The three of them on a giant hunt.” this sentence seems incomplete and out of place. is it perhaps missing some words? “They combed through the forest separately.” oh that seems like a good idea. why the gently caress would they do that? A lot of your descriptions are weird and don’t quite work. e.g. “rotted happily away.” “Closer, ever closer.” this belies the time here. “ever closer” sounds like it takes a while, but in reality this is seconds. use better wording, and not dumb cliches you conjure from a half-effort memory. “There was a heavy grunt,” passive voice. “Golgoth looked at nothing in particular because he was dead.” this is dumb.
you have a good idea here, with the different wizards of different bodily things, and their hunt feels like a frankenstein’s monster thing. Then you really throw a lot of it away at the end with the pointless death of golgoth and the fizzling out of a climax. like i was about to come and then you were like “nevermind i’m not in the mood.” now i’m sitting here all blood wizard blueballin’. What was the point of any of this? like, marrow had to save the life of these people she hated because….? she had to murder that weird toddler monster because….? then in the end everybody just shrugs and says “i guess we’ll go home” then she sits in her garden and nothing has changed except for she has a new statue and a monster has been murdered….. ok. great.

29. When Alice Miller Fought City Hall
“she knew instantly” ugh, this is boring. show me what she sees or feels that gives her this knowledge. just saying that somebody knows something instantly is really boring and i’m like “uh, ok?” lol @ her using craigslist missed connections to summon a thing. This story starts off with a bunch of exposition, then hooks me for a while, and then uses a little twist that i didn’t particularly enjoy to wrap things up. You’re definitely stronger in the middle, when I’m guessing you’re settling into your character and not concerned with forcing an ending. Still, it’s a complete story, which is better than the last several entries have been. I liked the setting and the everyday item magic. You definitely the prompt on your wizard, and did so well. I would read more in this world, but the beginning needs to be shortened up and the ending needs to feel more… substantial and not just like a cheap trick. I pushed for HM on this.

30. The Hum of the Woods.
Wooden armor? Not clear on what the knots she got out of the bag were. “She was the last.” who is the last what? this story is strange. like she acts all weird about “hunting humans” and then they just give them some good tree crack and that’s it? and then they order them to go sell their poo poo? I was confused about why they couldn’t sell their own stuff? i thought they were gonna eat them :( the ending is a little strange as well. like the whole plot of this is “we need to find somebody to sell our stuff so we can get medicine!” only we don’t know that the whole time. the plot shouldn’t be revealed at the end of the story, and the plot shouldn’t just be “get somebody else to do something for you.”

Feb 25, 2014
i offer to judge this week unless it is already filled

Aug 2, 2002




ravenkult posted:

Nine Wolves, 1220 words
The men smiled.

“I was within my rights. I will pay her master nothing. She had the blood of another man on her and she held a knife.”

“She murdered her master. Her life was mine to take, for killing my brother.”

Svartr held his arms out and said nothing.

Feb 15, 2005
I'm in I guess whatever

Feb 3, 2011

Your crits are bad and lazy, your reading comprehension is lacking. Let's duke it out.

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski
Count me in

Aug 2, 2002




ravenkult posted:

Your crits are bad and lazy, your reading comprehension is lacking. Let's duke it out.

Nah, I don't brawl over crits.

Apr 12, 2006
I'm in.

Jul 16, 2014

by Ralp
Phew, can't believe I dodged a DM. I'm in it to win it this week.

(Unless you want to hold me to my word about judging this week.)

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Note: I was reading on judgemode in the archive, so your usernames were invisible. If you don't know the title of your own story not my problem. Anyway, this is Part 1/3, entries 1-20

Wesley the Wizard

I was kind of excited when I started reading this. I was like, oh man, this is going to be an awesome story about how tweens and teenagers don’t understand the power of language. But after my first read, I was left feeling like “...what?” In retrospect, I guess Wesley created a phrase that would make a guy fall instantly for the first girl he saw after he heard it? And since he was already “in love” with Cynthia, it didn’t have any effect on him when she said it. So, it didn’t kick in until he saw Janice, I guess? But that only works if he didn’t see run into any other girls between seeing Cynthia and going to the bus. This seems like a really straightforward story, but I’m actually not so sure what happened.

Three Dimensions, More or Less

I started off mostly enjoying this. Then the explanation of the books and paper cuts kept going. Almost the whole story was exposition on these books. I was intrigued by the fact that the narrator kept their gloves on, and thus didn’t develop the necessary callous to handle the more dangerous books, but that didn’t really go anywhere. I mean, it resulted in the narrator getting an eldritch paper cut, but that was it. We don’t see much of the action in or surrounding this story. It’s just a big tell leading up to the reveal that the wizard has turned most if not all their former acquaintances into paper.

Nine Wolves

You feel that? That’s a slight shift in the gravitational constant because of how hard I’m frowning. Why am I frowning so hard? Because you decided to have a male witch as your wizard. Why? I don’t even care about the prompt that much. All I wanted was a wizard. Which this guy basically is, only you got all coy with it and called him a witch. That aside, there were too many characters. I don’t really know why Svartr wants to send Thorfinn to Lindisfarne. That seems like a pretty indirect way to get him killed when he can apparently send his undead wolf pack after whoever. In fact, the whole story hinges on the fact that the girl killed the Earl’s brother, and everyone wants her either dead or undead. For all the threatening banter, I can’t actually figure out why this whole story feels so fuzzy and complicated, but it does. The writing was okay, so I think it’s just an issue of too many characters and too much backstory.


Readable, but uneventful. A bit wordy at parts, but nothing a quick pruning wouldn’t fix. There is a slight theme (trying to find joy the easy way), but you kinda sacrificed a plot to make a point about, I dunno, achieving true happiness? I thought the very last line was a good note to finish on. At least the narrator 1) was a wizard, 2) had a goal, 3) accomplished that goal, and 4) observed the consequences of achieving their goal. Audrey’s ending was a bit tacked on, but was kinda okay I guess. Just because she knows she didn't earn what she had.

Colours and Councils

Instantly, I’m drawn to this world. I really enjoyed the giant temporary wizard city in the Sahara. The Michelangelo/Beethoven mini-reveal could’ve been done more gracefully, but everything else went along pretty swimmingly. They way you used not only color but sound was fantastic, and Ryncraft was fairly solid and likeable. The rivalry between he and Lobiathis was realistic. Most importantly, I was interested the whole way, right up to the last line.

The Rules of Return

A diplomat has to put up with being pestered by her boss’s son. To get him to go away, the diplomat uses her magic on the ethereal threads that indicate Hines’ desires, intentions, etc. Things backfire. Salt says, “what could work on a crowd sometimes backfired on a lone boy”. Which I took as foreshadowing; trying to get him to go away and leave well enough alone caused the total opposite. I guess I was going alone with the premise until the very end, where Salt pretty much just meets up with the kid at lunch and calls his mommy, and everything goes back to the way it was at the beginning. It all felt very mundane? The writing is otherwise good, but I really wanted the protag to do something more significant with her powers. Thank you for the glitterpoop link though, I may very well use that.

A Distant Hand

The tense is real wobbly at first. I like the premise a bit, and the story has heart. That said, I think I’d have liked it a lot better if we’d known more about the pilot’s life before she tells the wizard her husband is comatose. I felt a bit blindsided. And while it’s perfectly reasonable that the wizard and pilot should become friends, it’s not actually too clear to me how that happened. They had tea and chatted, which I suppose would be a fine thing for a solitary wizard, but it feels rushed, kinda. Still, I like that you wrote a scifi story, but your wizard still had a nice wizardy wizard tower.

Chance Man

This was tight and clean and easy to follow. I actually emitted a satisfied “heh” when I finished reading this. I didn’t really like the narrator’s reaction to the driver who nearly struck him, mainly because I don’t think a guy who understands the inner workings of chance would be quite so quick to judge someone’s behavior. I wish the Bad Guy had a bit more characterization than “soviet counterpart to the main character,” too.


I liked this a fair bit, but then the ending threw me off. The intro with the grandson was tight as hell. Whipping up a ball of recursive eyeball power in that first confrontation with death was cool. But things got fuzzy after that. I wasn’t too sure what was going on with the telescope. I gather that Dante needed tons of power, so he used his rooftop vantage point to magic-snipe a bunch of random people and plants. But….did he kill everything? Did killing death reduce his power? I can’t put my finger on what happened at the end.

Seeds on the Wind

I’ve always thought the whole “one sided conversation” thing was a bit of a conceit. I say that because I thought you used it well in this story! The unseen person is clearly just an everyman who got lost kayaking, so I thought it was smart to not waste words on him. I really liked the implication that this wizard was responsible for like, GMOs or something. He’s sinister but naive, which worked amazingly. I just really liked reading this, tbh.

Old Lady Carbuncle

IDK, I’m not the biggest fan of the blue collar folk voice in this. But ok. The characters are fairly likeable, if not a bit generic. The showdown with Old Lady Carbuncle herself was satisfyingly wizardy, which admittedly contrasted kind of nicely with the banality of the rest of the story. Carbuncle was also pretty human, what with the whole sparing grandpa thing. I dunno. This was a decent story, but nothing about it grabbed me in a way that was like, “WHOA I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT” because you tell us straight up, the mayor meets a grizzly end, and we know grandpa stuck around to tell the story.

Tulpas for the One Percent

On the one hand, I want to give you credit for taking a weird internet thing and incorporating it into your wizard power. That said, having Tulpa in the title, dropping “waifu”, and having wizards all be 30+ year old virgins was a little too niche internet. The lack of real plot or ending wasn’t good either. This was vignette. It kind of just explores its own idea in a gross way for a bit and then fizzles out.


This story has a fatal flaw. You structured the whole story around the “reveal” that Luke was looking for the path to heaven. So, on my first read, I was wondering what path they were looking for and why. Some of it didn’t really make sense until the second read. Isaac mainly shows up to drop some info and a quest. He’s a walk-on bit of plot. The bummer is, I kind of actually like the ending bit. The idea of some geometry-bending wizard accidentally pissing off all of heaven by wandering in before his time was the one part of the story I liked, so I wish you hadn’t been so coy about it and just jumped right into Luke’s adventures in other dimensions. Oh well.

The Ruby Fountain of Ghel-Gamort

DQ for massive wordcount overage. I actually read and kinda enjoyed the story, but it’s not really fair to everyone else to give it too much in the way of kudos. I guess my biggest crit would be: cut cut cut. Even a good story at this length could be trimmed down. I would've probably liked this piece a lot if you'd fit it in the word count.

Hourly Wages

This was like, the truncated beginning to a longer story. Nothing important actually happens “on-screen”. The wizard doesn’t even have to do anything to make his magic work. You never get the sense that giving up acting is a huge deal for the kid. It’s a false moment of conflict. The ending was cheesy. I don’t really care that the wizard found someone who ~understands~ because there’s nothing at stake for him in the first place. He has a cool power that he can use with no effort, and now he gets to teach it to someone. That in and of itself isn’t a satisfying resolution.

The Nightly Portents

This story seemed like a brainstorming session on wacky wizard parallels to our modern world. At its core, it’s about a bitter TV personality who got rejected after a first date. I guess the whole doom-saying TV news broadcast was kind of novel, but nothing really happened. At the very end, the staff unleashes pointless havoc on the region, but that’s kinda it. At one point, you switch to the nameless producer’s POV as she walks through the set, but we don’t see her again once the show starts. There’s not much of a plot here, tbh.

The Eye Thief

Plot-wise, this is reasonably well done. Your protagonist wants his eye back. He does things to achieve that. There’s some intrigue regarding Cassandra, since they have history together. Ultimately, he makes a number of sacrifices, and victory is bittersweet. That’s not altogether half-bad. The whole liberation side plot felt kind of superfluous. In a longer piece, you could’ve done something more interesting with it, but Id’ve liked more weight given to the final confrontation.


Hi Chillock. I gave you a pretty ridiculous prompt, but actually the first part of your story could pass as semi-serious fiction. Things got a little bit jokey once your wizard went all ALPHA BRO but I knew what I signed up for. Unfortunately, as I am a huge public transportation nerd, and since you set your story in Seattle, I have to point out we don’t have a subway. We have a hybrid bus/train tunnel. feh. I kind of wish I’d assigned weed powers, because tbh i was highly (hehe) amused by the scene where he makes a pentagram out of spent bowls. Nice touch. The rats were pretty cute, and this bumbling wizard trying to cope with modern times was a decent enough plot-maker. That said, you had some awkward comma splicing, and a few mistakes that could’ve been cleaned up with better proofreading.

Nothing More, Nothing Less

The main plot thread was the friendship between Ivar and Hrefna. I thought that was well done. This was an easy read, but I think it was lacking a bit of tension. I’m not entirely sure what you could’ve done different, but the stakes never felt super high until right at the end. And then it’s the end, so we don’t get to see the consequences of Ivar’s new-found power. Not really. Still, a nice read. Read the whole thing in one sitting, but the ending let me down.

Hair of the Dog

Ah, a PI whose case goes wrong. I’m actually please you didn’t start with the dame walking into the office. Beginning in the basement was a good plan, and the way you show your wizard’s power initially was pretty good. That said, the motivations were kinda vague. The wizard does PI stuff because he’s a PI. the villains do villain stuff because they want vague, shadowy villain things. There were a few typos. The wig thing at the end was clever, though I didn’t really like that you had your wizard do some unseen thing to Eddie’s pubes. It felt like a way of getting around describing the magic. Maybe to save words? Not sure, but it didn’t sit so well with me as the penultimate climax.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Thinking Dogs for the Stupid

Seth and Val were adorable. The idea of a thinking guide dog for dumb wizards is pretty cool and original. The archmage showing up felt kinda I dunno. That wasn’t the conflict I was expecting, and I’m not entirely sure if I was totally satisfied. Like, you take Seth away from Val, which means you had to quickly set up this whole other situation and give it meaning to the plot. I like that Val shows up to reclaim his friend, but I’m not totally a fan of how they got seperated in the first place. That said, the characterization of Seth and Val earned a lot of good will, so from a characterization standpoint I think this story is pretty strong. Also, this was modern wizardry and worldbuilding done right, IMO.

Lethal Ingestion

Chaos and deception in a world of covert wizard fascism. I’m down. I think I’d definitely read more adventures in this world. The way you used your particularly gross wizard power was excellent. The rear end shrimp was particularly great. My main complaint is, I’m not entirely sure how clear the mechanics of your wizards’ power would be if the reader didn’t know the prompt. Maybe it’s not an issue, and you do take SOME steps to clue the reader in (like how the protag doesn’t eat his burger in the car). Otherwise, this was pretty ace.

Old Soldiers

This was nice. And short. oo la la. The use of wizard power was subtle but good. At first I was like, oh no, is this wizard syphoning magic off of his friend and making him senile? But the way you used your power was really clever. As I understand it, your wizard takes the power from old, treasured things. The lingering attachment behind when previous owners pass on is the source of his magic. And once that essence is used up, the item loses whatever made it special. I really liked that, exchanging the intangible quality of sentimentality for a bit more time with his friend. Pretty well-done. Except at one point I think you actually refer to the penny whistle as the watch, which is just an editing oversight but it did break up my reading a bit.

Minor Opportunity

So a wizard goes and has a duel with another wizard because….the other guy cause the protagonists’ client’s sweat glands to overproduce? Have I got that right? I suppose the idea of a wizard who uses his hole powers to move rich people’s sweat off their body is pretty novel. But none of it hangs together, really. The antagonist is kind of just a generic rival, not too sure why he’s stepping on the protagonist’s sweat gland turf. It took a lot of going back and rereading to figure out what was going on, which made it a rough read.

Helka’s Inheritance

This is like, the intro to a video game or something. Your protagonist is super passive. She just wanders into this tower looking at things. Sure, they’re fantastical, pretty things, but it’s all just observations. The actual “inheritance” is just a setup for the story you should’ve written. Your character doesn’t have the opportunity to do anything remotely interesting. She wanders where she’s meant to wander because she has to get to the top of the tower. I don’t care about any of the worldbuilding because there’s no real emotional context for it. There’s no tension.

Randolph the Green

A wish-stealer accidentally grants someone else’s death wish for himself. Pretty short and punchy. I thought the beginning was a bit hamfisted, but at least it was topical. The fact that he inadvertently saved someone’s life was a nice touch. The fact that you left a lot to the imagination was cool in my book. I think, had the protagonist been a bit toned down in the first part, this could’ve been stronger.

Corruption and Power

So, a wizard uses his power to masquerade as a doctor and punish people for minor slights. But I have no idea what’s going on in the first few paragraphs. I think maybe Roger is watching the wizard on TV? And then ends up in the wizard’s hospital? But there are a bunch of names and no character blocking. I didn’t get a sense of where anyone was in relation to anyone else. In the end, a petty wizard continues getting away with the pointless torment of random people, and Roger hasn’t really done anything except be tormented.

Hunting Golgoth

I really liked this. It felt like an entire story. All 4 characters, including Golgoth, were distinct and seemed to have decipherable motivations. There was action and a bit of suspense. There were feels. There was a satisfying ending. Am I dreaming.

When Alice Miller Fought City Hall

I like the double meaning in the title, in retrospect. Alice is pretty likeable. I liked the way you used your power. I would read a book about that sort of magic. That said, it was a little talky. It felt a little bit like a vehicle for two opposing ideas, which isn’t really a bad thing, but I felt the “point” of this story a little too sharply. Still, it was a nice read, and a reasonable amount of interesting stuff happened.

The Hum of the Woods

This is pretty decent. The fast pace left me feeling a little detached from the characters, but I liked the part at the end where Juliana obviously couldn’t stomach Cassandra’s choice to do anything necessary to survive. It works ok because these forest-dwellers don’t seem to have much of a choice. I was a bit disappointed you didn’t go any further with the forest as a character. I mean, it’s called the hum of the forest, and you do introduce the forest as alive and aware. But the resolution has very little to do with that.

A Day in the Forest

This is kinda flat. I get that it’s from a kid’s perspective, but I feel like you used that “reveal” as a crutch at the end. And then the kid effortlessly flings the hunter dude around with magic. Not entirely sure what the rabbit is there for, other than being a cute lil sidekick. For a second, it seemed like you were gonna do something more with that character, but nope. The story just ended, at half wordcount. ho hum. Why is this kid even out in the woods? how does he know he’s a wizard? Why does he have a house? The answer is, I don’t really care because this story was too short and simplistic to draw me in.

Familiar Patterns

Ha. I liked the premise of this. The writing was a bit meandering at times, and the jump back in time to the party wasn’t delineated clearly enough from the rest of the story. I like the idea that this reluctantly recovering wizard must find the courage to relapse. That’s catchy. Also, I really like Mayor Dogspot. Maybe because he’s called Mayor Dogspot. I could’ve done with a bit more of a sense of setting--most of this feels like blank, generic rooms to me--and maybe some actual interaction with the raiders. Something. I don’t think mentioning Archfield really added much to this story, since you only had 1300 words and you were lacking, as I said, in setting.

The No-Nothing Thief

This was okay. Your protagonist has a good motivation and a cool way of going about it, but some of the writing is super passive. Or, in other places, it feels like you had an image in your mind, but didn’t quite convey it with the words you chose. I think the combination of those two things gave the story a cluttered feeling, which was kind of a barrier to my enjoyment. The scene at the end with the box confused me. Did the protag die? Why did the wizard have the box? Cutting to random nameless bystanders at the end didn’t help matters.

Of a Feather

This was really well done. Good characters, decent writing, a complete plot. Very wizardy, would be wizarded at again. I liked who I was supposed to like, disliked who i was supposed to dislike, and I especially enjoyed the bird-poo poo powered Rube Goldberg-style regicide thing.


As with other stories this week, I got the feeling you were writing this with a clear picture in your mind. But the words didn’t always convey that to the reader. The when the Paladin shows up. I don’t know who he is, where he came from, or where he is standing in relation to the narrator. That said, I like the idea of this kid coming up with some high school notebook-caliber doodle, then using it to invoke ancient powers. I thought the ending was actually kind of clever. Changing the guy’s memory and marking him with his sigil was way more interesting than if he’d, say, blasted the guy apart with magic.

Cities Fall Yet Rivers Still Flow

Well this was gross and problematic. But I kept reading? Obviously this was going for shock value, but the protagonist wasn’t detestable or anything, and there was rising action and a competent finish. Goddamnit. Honestly, you could’ve done without the dick grabbing and the vomit dribbling down the pubic hair. Like, in the future i recommend excluding those things from writing and probably every aspect of your life.

Cloning Blues

I don’t really know why any of this is happening. How did your wizard not consider that his clones might go out of his control? All he does is run away from things. And at the end, his response is basically, “whatever I hated this place anyway.” The spell names are very Final Fantasy. The narrator was hard to like or relate to, especially when he observed how cool he probably looked surrounded by blood mist.

A Brat’s Request

This is kind of sweet, but you didn’t really veer from your own formula at all. Your narrator gets a task, goes to another god, gets another task, and so on. Even when he attacks the last god, it’s more out of a fit of pique. He could’ve asked nicely, so there was never any real tension. This story follows a line instead of an arc. There are also some repetitive and/or grammatically confusing phrases. Get yoself a line crit, goon.

The Square Root of 13

Pretty normal detective-type yarn with some wizardy embellishments. I guess the numbers wizard was pretty cool, though I’m not sure how I feel about actual numbers leaping out and attacking the narrator. You’d think a wizard who could rewrite the rules of the universe when he felt like it could do something a bit more creative than that. But ok. The writing was mostly serviceable. Your tense shifts a couple times, I think. I think the reason this didn’t grab me too hard was because like, we know the narrator has backup coming. So it’s just a matter of him keeping the wizard occupied until that happens. But I don’t think the narrator does anything too terribly clever during that time, he just gets attacked and then the other Good Guys show up on schedule.

Mo Wizards Mo Problems

Tone-wise, I couldn’t tell if this story was taking itself seriously or not. I enjoyed some of the description, but other parts just felt tongue-in-cheek. So I wasn’t sure how to feel. This story was more colorful than others this week, which was nice. Very vivid.

Perceive and Deceive

I guess my main complaint is like, I didn’t get a sense for why any of this is happening. You drop us in the middle of a plan for a heist, which is cool. But then you take away any sympathy I had for Red by making her a liar. The ending was very “that’s dames for ya.” This had a decent structure (there was a defined beginning, middle, and end), but it was really sparse and dialog-heavy.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

La Voz Silenciada

Benny. Benny, Benny, Benny. I know it’s you even on judge mode, because I gave you one VERY SPECIFIC TRAIT for your wizard. And that was, it’s virtually impossible for violence to happen around him. I was actually kind of into your story up to the point where pointless violence happened. Was there really no other way to resolve your story? My other critique was, I think you ate up too much of your word count with lyrics. I didn’t read all of them because I wanted to know what happened in the *story*.

Sif the Strong

This evoked a reasonable amount of “aaawe”. I liked Sif, I liked her dad, I even liked the dragon. The ending was kind of open-ended fantasy book intro, but that’s not always bad. Though, having Secundus come out of nowhere to whisk her away to wizard school was a bit Harry Potter tbh. I know Harry Potter doesn’t have a monopoly on wizard schools, but I kind of wanted the ending to...i don’t know, change Sif’s status within her home/kingdom, if that makes sense. I wanted the ending to connect with the beginning, not introduce a whole new idea. It didn’t really make the story less enjoyable, it just felt like a missed opportunity.

The Fast and the Bearded

Dunno about the other judges, but I took a liking to your protagonist from the beginning. I think races make for okay flash fiction because you have a built-in goal. You did the smart thing and threw in some interesting obstacles. I think I might’ve liked it if you’d skipped the cops and gone straight for the old orthodox beardos, but otherwise I thought this was a pretty fun piece with some good characters and a reasonably satisfying ending.


Despite this being mostly dialog, I read it all in one sitting so that’s something. I guess my biggest critique is that Rochefort’s purpose as a character is pretty much to demonstrate Iris’s power. He’s kind of impotent otherwise, though in this kind of story it’s not like there’s a whole lot of action. The question then becomes, was this clever or not. I thought it was reasonably clever, though the whole time paradox thing wasn’t completely revelatory or unexpected. Of all the dialog-heavy pieces this week, though, this one definitely was one of the more readable.

Open and Honest Discourse

I kinda hated the smugness of the first part. But once the tenacious reporter showed up, I was interested. She’s smart! That was fun! I felt like she challenged the narrator, which was a needed change in tone after the intro. It’s hard not to be kinda ham-fisted when talking (even vaguely) about political stuff in short fiction. This does well by being vague and not too topical, but it still borders on satire which you really need to do super well in fiction this short. You didn’t flop or anything, but it’s something to keep in mind.


The writing is gorgeous. The story is poetic, but hangs together enough to be satisfying. I don’t always like to speculate what the author’s intent was, but in this case the part I related to the most was where the narrator sees the old Diau’s unhappy memory. It’s a deeply personal moment for both of them, I imagine. It’s hard when you are old enough to understand that your parents/elders are people who have secret loves and shames and pains. I think the only thing that was unclear was the exact nature of the narrator’s “mistake”, which she refers to at the very end. Her first journey into the wail was rough, but it seemed like a necessary roughness? It’s understandable that she would flinch the first time she encountered someone else’s pain firsthand. But it’s necessary if she’s going to be the sort of liaison between her people and their memories. Because the writing was somewhat poetic, I can’t really pinpoint an obvious gently caress up on the narrator’s part, so I feel like I’m taking her word for it when she mentions the mistake at the end. I dunno. But this was a smooth read, and I really liked it.


It funny how sometimes a story will make me double check the wordcount. Not because it goes on and on, but because I’m surprised the author fit so much in. This is one of those cases. You didn’t use any more words than you had to on any given detail. Like setting up the connection between Jonathan and the little girl, via her mom working at the library. The veeeeery ending was a little bit much. I dunno, the statue thing was sweet, but it was very “happily ever after.” I would’ve rather seen Jonathan on a “normal day”, doing the stuff he wants to do. A minor caveat, since you wrapped up the plot itself very neatly.


You should’ve cut some from the beginning and spent more time in the dream world. Then Jarl could’ve done more than imagine a knife into existence. It would’ve been cooler to have him wrangle the nightmare, too. But I have no idea what the ending means. I guess the Red King could be an Alice in Wonderland reference, re: the whole dream thing, but I have no clue what “another dream has started” means.

Twelve Steps

This could’ve done with more colorful description. I dunno. If you’re writing a wizard at an AA meeting, you really need to play up the ridiculousness of the situation. Instead it went on and on, and Ana just kind of waited for her turn while trying to suss out what the OBVIOUS WIZARD was doing with a bunch of jars. Then, the big confrontation is the wizard monologuing about who he is/why he’s there. Boring. Things get mildly interesting when everyone attacked the wizard, but then BLAMMO, his magic backfired, and no more wizard. And then everyone just wanders off. Why on earth would Ana feel happy after all that?


This is how to do a ridiculous submission well. Underneath the twitter antics, there is a kind of sweet story about a young god/burgeoning troll trying to stake out his place among the olds. It is truly the struggle of our time. I admittedly didn’t “get” every hashtag and etc, but that didn’t reall hamper my enjoyment. The ending was a little non sequitur. I’m not exaaactly sure what it has to do with the rest of the story. God police, where are you coming from? You started out goofier than you finished, but I liked the tone you ended up with. Ultimately, I was entertained, which is good because a poorly done version of this would’ve flopped hard.

Jesus Walks into a Motel

Creepy and sad. I kind of wish you hadn’t played coy and described the missing people as wraiths earlier on. I wasn’t quite sure I knew what was going on until you described them swirling in the headlights. Once I had that confirmed though, I really liked the story. I think it hits on something, that attachment we have to our memories, even though memory is basically nothing. It’s intangible. I guess this wasn’t the wizardest wizard. I didn’t mind, but it was kind of unclear what the protagonist’s connection to the wraiths is. It sounds like she’s pulling them out of the places she and her partner used to enjoy or something, but again, it’s never said outright, really. Really, this just maybe needs a couple tweaks for clarity. It was otherwise very good.

The Wizard’s Song

Hubris is a bitch. I enjoyed the setting. I didn’t really like how you laid things out re: the protagonist having a choice. Of course he has a choice. That felt clunky. There was probably a cool metaphor in here for like, trying to intellectually understand the Tao and failing, or something. The ending was okay, nothing crazily unexpected but kudos for not killing him brutally or something boring like that. Oh, the other thing I didn’t like was the forced tension of the assassins at the beginning. Otherwise, cool story bro.

A Gift for Amy

Okay. I had a couple grumpy things to say, but the ending kinda melted my rage at the clunky writing in earlier portions. But still...what was happening here: “the bolts were diverted at the last second and drawn towards his opal, on which they bounced off.” On which they bounced off??? You have a few other clunkers that I think you’d probably notice on a more careful editing pass. But the ending is so goddamn adorable I can’t be mad at you. My other issue is, despite common movie and game tropes, I don’t think most black market weapons purchasers go around killing the dude who can supply them weapons. Not without a good reason, at least, which you didn’t give.

Run Wizard Run

Right off the bat, you’ve got some wording issues. Eliminate as many instances of ‘was’, ‘that’, and ‘seemed to’ from your stories as is grammatically possible. Brush up on comma usage. These issues put a barrier between me and your story. And re: the ending. Who the hell is Lethe and why is it shocking or even interesting that he’s dead? This was kind of an orphan chase sequence, with no real context to make me care overmuch about what was happening. You had lots of words left! What happened? Also, for being more or less an action story, the action was pretty distant and unclear. You have to choose your words carefully, and only pick the ones that describe the most important things in each scene.

The Bone Loom

I pretty much love this. It was haunting. It made me wince and it made me feel. It’s a story about deep, abiding love tainted by the hypocrisy of others. It’s about how groups react to shared horror. It’s one of the few stories where the magic (and its limitations) felt notably organic. The ending is soul-crushing, because I don’t think anyone wants to see Tissai use her power for vengeance. But you have to hate the villagers a little for turning on her. My only complaint was, due to wordcount, you had to rush a couple spots a little bit. There was some mild glossing over. I think if this were like maybe 1500-1700 words, it would be something worth shopping around.


So, a dandruff wizard interferes in a wizard duel. I got that, even though he’s pretty much a mute spectator for the whole first bit. Then….I’m not sure what happens. Some guy crashes down like a meteor? And is like...wizard Elton John or something? IDK. I think he controls centipedes or something. Sorry dude, I kinda lost you there. And then everything explodes at the end, due to I presume some sort of magical chain reaction where everyone has a psychotic breakdown because bugs? See all the question marks in this crit? Your last line says it all: Perfectly, Magnificently inexplicable. Except without the pleasant connotations implied by ‘perfect’ and ‘magnificent’.

That Was a Pretty Wizard, Wasn’t It?

Hi Chairchucker. I have a special grading system for you, which mainly consists of “did I lol or not?” And the answer was: yes. I loled. But then you exploded a cat, so I’m not sure what to think. I guess in the end, you broke even. I want to say, “good job,” but again there was that whole exploding cat thing. So I will just say, “job.”

When He Sleeps

Uh, I’m not sure how the title relates to the story. But okay, that’s a pretty pointless crit. This is a vignette I guess about some old wizard who hangs out with kids and does cool magic for them. Most of it is told via Prescott, who is a dubious eye witness at best. You dance pointlessly close to the whole pedo thing, but there’s no point. It’s not even clear if Lara accepts that there’s real magic afoot. She certainly shouldn’t believe the whole slug-riding story unless magic is somewhat common place in the world of this story. But really, this is just too short and too unfocused to really qualify as a whole story.

Puzzle Pieces

The way you used your magic was cool. The plot The ending was pointlessly bleak, which is my least favorite type of ending aside from “the protagonist dies from splattering headfirst into the word count limit. I’m wondering if this story would’ve been better from one of the boys’ perspective. Hell, maybe even the injured boy. I get the feeling that there’s a good story in here, but there is a POV issue and a serious ending issue. And the whole story was screaming “THIS WON’T EVER WORK, EVERYTHING SAD HAPPENS TO THIS WIZARD”, and then sad things happened. Which is a shame, because I really was a fan of how you used the prompt otherwise.

The Tapping Anticlimax

Well, I guess I should’ve taken the title at its word. There was tapping, and there was an anticlimax. There’s barely any magic! This was way late, so I assume it was written kind of last minute and you didn’t really have time to develop the vague semblance of a plot you kind of developed in the first scene. But ultimately, this is just a slice of boring office life. And then ending reads like a failed punch line.

Sundance Shot
Oct 24, 2010
I am in with a toxx to actually finish this time.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
I'm quoting the prompt post because it got literally buried under a whole page of crits!

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

:siren: :siren: THUNDERDOME WEEK 143: Smells Like Dome Spirit :siren: :siren:

Inspiration: This week, take time to stop and smell the roses. Or at least imagine how they smell. Or just read about how they might smell if they were combined with a bunch of other scents by a weird goth lady in her basement. Go on over to a fun indie perfumery. Pick one of their many scents. You will see that included in the description of nearly all their scents is a myth, or a poem, or an entire Thunderdome story. Find inspiration within the scent of your choice. It's name, description, what the scents themselves conjure up in your mind. I don't care. I'm sure as gently caress not going to read the description of your scent when I read your story.

You don't have to tell us what your scent is. You can change your scent as many times as you like and as late in the week as you like. Don't post about it if you do (no one cares), just do it. More than one person can use the same scent. If you can't decide, as always, I will assign you one.

Don't post the name of your scent in your story post (I mean, you can use the name of the scent in your story, or as the title, or whatever, but don't write like "My scent was XXXX, here is my story."

Guidance: A common bit of writing advice is "get into your character's head." Well, this week I want you to get into their body. This week's theme is "writing with all 5 senses." Too often, description is limited to sights. Occasionally a sound. Build the texture of your story by immersing yourself in the environment. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures. Put yourself there, feel it all, then put it in your writing. In judging, I will take into consideration how effectively you have done this. Not how many senses include. Not how well you describe the immaculate scent of lavender on a summer's day. I know what lavender smells like. This isn't a contest on who can describe poo poo the best (hint: it's lovely).


Complete. Independent. Story.
Goals. Motivation. Conflict.
Characters. Plot. Setting.

Thinking about how characters would experience their world in all five senses is intended to benefit you, the writer.

Also: No synesthesia. Be wary of writing about hallucinogens, too.

Boring but Important:
Sign up: Friday, May 1, 23:59 PST
Submit: Sunday, May 3, 23:59 PST
Max Word Count: 1,250
Judges: DrK, Muffin, Grizzled Patriarch

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009

Sitting Here posted:


some high school notebook-caliber doodle

the Sigil aint nothing to gently caress with

thanks for the crits

Feb 3, 2011

in with :toxx:

Oct 4, 2013

Oh hey there was actually a prompt back there


Jun 26, 2013


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
oh also sorry for all the typos in my crits, but actually not sorry. Don't ever read/crit 71K in 2 days, just don't. If I said something really confusing, please hit me up in IRC and I can probably clarify.

Aug 2, 2002




thehomemaster, you requested an archive account and for the verification to be sent through forums PM, but you don't have PMs.

Jul 19, 2011

Speaking of crits, here are some of a couple of random wizard stories. (Literally. picked which stories I critiqued.) Might have a few more in me, might not, though I'll at least give Hammer Bro's a going over (thanks much for your critique, man), and do the same for anyone else who isn't a judge who gave/will give me a crit.

(Note that there is no time frame associated with this promise. I feel that it is best to manage expectations.)

Jesus Walks Into A Motel - Grizzled Patriarch

There's an idea here that I absolutely adore, the person who creates a sort of apocalypse in an attempt to bring back a lost love. I can't quite tell if it's just your protagonist doing this or if it's everyone, and maybe it doesn't matter, but I think it probably does.

The thing is, I don't know if more details, more facts would strengthen this or just weigh it down. The emotional beats ring true, and whatever dissatisfaction I feel at not being quite sure what's going on is probably preferable to losing that emotional core. Ideally, you could have both, but it would be one hell of a balancing act, and in this case, I think you made a choice that is at least defensible.

Twelve Steps - curlingiron

I love the premise here. It's simple, clear, and sets up a genuine conflict that feels completely natural once you've accepted the idea of an emotion-stealing wizard at all.

But it's undermined when your wizard takes center stage. I think the reaction to him feels real, because of course they'd be angry, but he feels too much like a cartoon character, and it works to the detriment of the general mood of the piece. Make him a little more sinister, or pathetic, or anything that doesn't just outright clash, and I think you've really got something here.

Also, I was surprised that he didn't at least try to capture their anger, though I could see him just being taken by surprise by Ana's direct assault. Though why he wouldn't expect them to be pissed off when he was all 'lol I have been exploiting your misery for my own personal gain', I don't know. But that, again, circles back to the wizard not being a believable character at all in the context of the rest of the story.

Randolph the Green - Killer-of-Lawyers

I don't get your title at all. Is it a reference to something?

Another story where I love the premise but the execution leaves something to be desired. I think your essential structure works: establish Ryan as a wish thief, establish Jane's suicide attempt, and give us Ryan's comeuppance. It's the opening segment with Ryan that really cripples this, an almost textbook example of "show, don't tell". Maybe instead of going through Ryan's thought processes as he seeks out the wish that dooms him, give us some examples of him at work that establish these same ideas, that he has no use for selfless or impractical wishes, that he has to take the consequences of the wish he's stolen whether he wants them or not, etc. Use those examples to establish not only the rules of your world, but also the things that make him tick, that make his ultimate fate something he deserves.

Aug 2, 2002




oh also this from judging this week

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Microburps for the last 20.

benny la voz kind of gloriously terrible, but with at least a sort of narrative. early dm

djeser sif the strong bangin yarn but runs out of puff at the end

dmboogie the fast and the bearded eh

jay o recompense boring

aurabox open and honest discourse clever idea, good story hm?

ironic twist diau pretty cool, mayyybe hm if it hangs together

kaishai epitaphs tight-rear end and baller wiz fight, but ending is a wet fart

jonked oneiromancy great dream freakery, ending a bit slack

curlingiron twelve steps eh

muffin selfiemancy beginning hilarious and awesome dumb, ending regular dumb

grizpat jesus walks into a motel whoa good bible hm/w

hotsoupdinner the wizards dong potent well-turned and affecting hm?

classyghost a gift for amy awwww that’s cute as heck kawaii hm

crazysalamander run wizard run jumbled word salad

dockloc the bone loom sleek and nasty, hm/w

gnap intangible intricate fibble bibble

chairchucker that was a prety wiz wunnit dumb dm

skwidmonster when he sleeps second bit great, first bit cuttable in toto (the raaaaains down in aaaaafricaaa)

the shortest path puzzle pieces tight, nasty and well-evoked. hm

kurona bright the tapping anticlimax blah

I can probably expand on the more derisory ones if needed

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 05:32 on Apr 29, 2015

Jul 16, 2014

by Ralp

crabrock posted:

thehomemaster, you requested an archive account and for the verification to be sent through forums PM, but you don't have PMs.

Ah, OK I emailed you.

Feb 25, 2014
guess judge spots are filled so im going to write instead


Apr 12, 2007
eat up
I appreciate what all the judges said about my work this week.

I'll be doing some crits for the newbies while plane hopping tomorrow and shall post when I get reliable internet.

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
DocKloc> well, if procrastinating in TD helps you actually work on other stuff, then it seems like you can get the best of both worlds by entering

i got a prescription to be in

Benny the Snake
Apr 11, 2012

I'm a bit late, but here's my crit for Homemaster's Week 142 entry Untitled.

This story would feel better served without all that akward dialouge at the beginning. There's no real indication of why Luke and Issac are friends in the first place, so Issac appears as if he's there just so Luke can narrate his motivations off of. There's also an awful lot of tell in this story, and it feels as if it's the concequence of trying to jam too much plot and not letting the narrative or characters grow or even breathe naturally. Don't get me wrong--I struggle with the same issue myself. The world count should not be your enemy. Perhaps for the purposes of this story, Luke's conversation with Issac could have been instead used as flashbacks while he make his long and perilous climb up the mountain. I'm just spitballing here.

I'm gonna have to agree with Crabrock, there was a definite lack of motivation in this story. Why was Luke driven to ascend to heaven in the first place? I mean, there isn't even an inkling that the heaven you portrayed was in any way aesthecially pleasing to your protagonist who's supposedly a person who's studied all sorts of ancient and arcane geometries. I mean, I would think heaven to someone like that would be a little more involved--something with perfect and symmetrical geometry. Instd it's a room full of chairs and people waiting. There isn't even a hint of irony and if there was, I din't notice it.

Then again, what would I know? I have four losses and six dishonorable mentions--take any advice I give with a grain of salt, man :shrug:

Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at 07:25 on Apr 29, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Benny the Snake posted:

I'm a bit late, but here's my crit for Homemaster's Week 142 entry Untitled.

This story would feel better served without all that akward dialouge at the beginning. There's no real indication of why Luke and Issac are friends in the first place, so Issac appears as if he's there just so Luke can narrate his motivations off of. There's also an awful lot of tell in this story, and it feels as if it's the concequence of trying to jam too much plot and not letting the narrative or characters grow or even breathe naturally. Don't get me wrong--I struggle with the same issue myself. The world count should not be your enemy. Perhaps for the purposes of this story, Luke's conversation with Issac could have been instead used as flashbacks while he make his long and perilous climb up the mountain. I'm just spitballing here.

I'm gonna have to agree with Crabrock, there was a definite lack of motivation in this story. Why was Luke driven to ascend to heaven in the first place? I mean, there isn't even an inkling that the heaven you portrayed was in any way aesthecially pleasing to your protagonist who's supposedly a person who's studied all sorts of ancient and arcane geometries. I mean, I would think heaven to someone like that would be a little more involved--something with perfect and symmetrical geometry. Instd it's a room full of chairs and people waiting. There isn't even a hint of irony and if there was, I din't notice it.

Then again, what would I know? I have four losses and six dishonorable mentions--take any advice I give with a grain of salt, man :shrug:

Good crit, Benny. 5 points.

Ol Sweepy
Nov 28, 2005

Safety First
Holy Crap just had to speed read the 100 or so new posts since I last looked.

Thank Meeple, Sitting Here, Grizzled Patriarch and Crabrock for your crits. (And judging)

Anyone let me know if I have missed their Crit!

IN for smelly stuff prompt.

Ol Sweepy fucked around with this message at 07:36 on Apr 29, 2015

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Thanks judges for your crits. Here are mine:

Rules of return by redtonic:

Odd place to start the story, mid-conversation, without any real hook to it.

I'm 2/3 through and still kind of confused about what's going on.

"The snarled puberty-jangle he dragged around writhed in smug satisfaction." ...What? This is some kind of metaphorical she-can-sense-auras ability?


Kelley strangled the copy. “Thank you for bringing this to light, Ms. Salt. In the future, I suggest you don’t stage skits in the cafeteria.” She gripped Hines’ shoulder. He seemed to curl in on himself as his triumph evaporated.
This whole scene completely confused me, especially right at this point. I missed that Kelley had showed up earlier.

So I just read this through a second time and I'm still confused about what's going on. The ending doesn't feel very conclusive, but let me list what I think is going on. Hines' parents are getting a divorce. He tries to get Salt to keep them together (she works at a government sorcery bureau, and so does Kelley (and Hines? how does he get in to the lunch room?)) He gets angry that she doesn't, starts mail-and-fax-bombing her, she stages a showdown in the cafeteria. Kelley knows it was him, the end.

So many actions are vague and alluded to that could just be stated outright, it's really hard to follow the actions and intentions at any given moment.

The Ruby Fountain of Ghel Gamort by SadisTech:

I'm about 1/4 through and I like it so far. The first lines are a bit too bland; only the "black blood-flies" really grab interest. If you can't start with action because the ritual is important in the story, maybe you could at least open with a bit of foreshadowing, illustrating why the scene that follows will be important?

What exactly is the merchant warning about?

That whole exposition from Arashai could have been much shorter and all the more effective for leaving specific details to the imagination. As it is now, it feels a little too "As you know, Bob..."

I like it! I really wish you had gotten it below the limit. Your story structure is pretty good, grammar and sentence construction had no real problems I noticed... aside from descriptions being a little too florid and excessive. So often you used a long, sprawling phrase where a word or two would have worked. I think if you had cut all but the most necessary adjectives and descriptive passages, then chopping down the intro pre-ritual and the dialog with the rioters should have gotten you more or less to the limit.

I'm serious, this story deserved better than a DQ, you just wouldn't do the work to get it past that point. "Darlings" nothing, there was tons of dead wood you could have trimmed without hurting the overall arc, or even many of the details; and the story would have been much more vibrant for the cutting.

The Nightly Portents - Omi no Kami


“Aha!” she growled, snatching into the darkness and triumphantly returning with a squirming lizard gripped tightly in her knobby hands. Oblivious to the poor creature’s struggles she hooked its tail around her ear and twisted it until its head sat just beside her mouth, clearing her throat experimentally.
This should probably be 3 or 4 sentences. In any case the gerunds do not work as they're positioned here.

And it's done. That was a kind of interesting set up I guess, demonic sorcerers giving a news report, but what was the point? Nothing really happened from beginning to end, there was no conflict or issue resolved, it was just like a day in the life of WEVL-TV. The ending especially felt pointless, not even a punchline to it. It's all written competently enough, but it feels like it needs more work behind it at the top-level design stage.

Jagermonster - Of a Feather

Sorry, I don't have much to say about this one. The only surprising bit might be the shield bash, but other than that this all feels very by-the-numbers, like I've read it all before: the overbearing taxation, the murderous enforcers, the chaos that the wizard is sorry not sorry for. Nothing too much really surprised me here. Sorry I can't be more specific about where it goes wrong; there's no technical problem in the construction of any sentences or phrases, at least none that really stood out to me.

Chairchucker - That Was a Pretty Wizard, Wasn't It?

OK all of these parenthetical and hyphenated asides are getting tiresome. They're not clever enough to work here, and the story is too short to stand on its own without them. The sarcastic humor is not working for me, and I don't see any reason for a wizard woodpecker to have the demeanor of a surly pre-teen, if the narration is supposed to be reflecting her mindset.

This story is just kind of pointless. She's never really at risk from the cat, because she's a wizard and she can explode things whenever, right? So there's not much of a conflict here, there's no tension about what's going to happen. The cat is too minor a character for anyone to care about its ultimate outcome, either, and it obviously doesn't phase its exploder.

Also, logs are dead (especially logs being carved) and dead things don't use nutrients.

kurona_bright - The Tapping Anticlimax

"Guy was doing thing." Come on, you know how dull an opening line that is. You could at least add some kind of descriptor about him to indicate why he/this event is interesting in some way. But considering what happens in every line after it, you might as well have scrapped it and rethought the whole thing, top to bottom.

I mean, that's how it ends? She spends months searching for details about this guy, gets his number, calls him, the end? That's completely anticlimactic (ho I see what you did in your title), not any kind of interesting dramatic structure. It reads like a comic strip or something. Her use of powers is almost nonexistent; it doesn't do justice to the story seed at all. Honestly, I think this would have been much better if it was set in just about any time and place other than business meetings, todaysville. The name "Sorcetel" doesn't even have any purpose or meaning in the story, it's just some kind of lazy callback to the prompt!

It's possible to write an interesting story about someone with your power, maybe even one set in the business world; but this is not that story.

CrazySalamander - Run, Wizard, Run

Not really a fan of the archaic grammatical constructions. They're not used skillfully enough to make up for their word-flow-arresting effect, and they're used in narration, not dialog.

Why was I here? It's dark. - Tense mash makes things confusing and difficult to read.

All right, so second time through: this is the POV of some dungeon master who's set traps to stop theives. Mind thief chases him into his inner sanctum, steals his spells as he tries to cast them, he uses his sister's deus ex machina which kills them both the end. Random third wizard (Strella?) says gently caress.

Except for the pointless epilogue that's some kind of structure, I guess. But the overdone prose tended to obscure what was happening, and I didn't have any reason to care about the wizard or his killer. No one had any motivation except thief wanted protagonist's mind, apparently. Protag had a talking sister murder necklace because ???

You had plenty of space in your word count to flesh out these sketches into actual dimensional people. Without any emotional weight this just falls flat.

A Classy Ghost - A Gift for Amy

Nice first few paragraphs. Sets up the goals and descriptions with minimal but effective lines. "Amy needs me" and kissing the opal might be a bit too obvious, but not terribly.

Pretty nice ending, too. I was a little worried you were losing things in the middle with the attack, but then the chase and the use of the wands kept things interesting. You teetered on the edge of cliche a bit in some places, but managed to stay on the right side of it.

Overall good structure, and some good descriptions and general sentence construction.

hotsoupdinner - The Wizard's Song

I like the introductory scene. You have a good balance between exposition and action.

So, the descriptions are nice throughout, but I'm not sure exactly what happened at the end. Wizard thought e'd find the secrets of the universe behind this door that the key unlocked... turns out it meant the end of that listening power wizard had and that's it? Because... the spell wasn't strong enough? Or the hubris of man? Or...

That was fun. I should do this more often.

I'll crit my critters tomorrow.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen
Thank you to everybody who took the time to read and crit my piece.

A crit for The Square Root of 13

Things I liked:
Strong start! I read the first couple of paragraphs and pumped my fist in the air and said "YES this is going to be GREAT" (it wasn't exactly, but the start was).

The elevator code number stuff at the wizard's apartment was neat. These little details are tasty.

Creative wizard stuff. I immediately want to know more about the Mad Wizard of Numbers. And the 13th floor tie in is cool, too. Basically, the concept = pretty awesome. Nice one.

The fighting numbers – although they should have been dumb as hell, you pulled them off.

Protagonist has a good consistent voice that works well.

Things I didn’t like:
A bit… plain. Wizard commits crime, wizard-hunter cop goes to get him, cop gets him. It’s fine, but not particularly interesting.

Wizard's motivations are laaaaame. That seriously hurts this piece, actually.

The quality of writing drops near the end, but everyone does that cause you proof-read it less, I guess.

Tone is weird, too. It gets real comical in the second half but doesn’t do that enough in the first. I know the tone is playful/irreverent as a whole, but it didn't fly well in the last bit, after we confronted the wizard. Maybe you you didn’t set up enough silliness at the start or maybe I just hate silly poo poo but - it's too silly at the end. The tone shifts and it’s bad. When we met the wizard, I felt the piece nosedived.

A few places where the prose ain't too pretty: “screams irately”, “moving more limberly”, watch that stuff. You could use less adverbs.

The end is boring.

The present tense is fine but doesn’t add anything. You know how sometimes it can make stuff feel immediate and exciting? It didn’t for me, and it might have been better in past tense, but maybe that’s a personal preference.

When first I read your magical story while listening to the 13th Floor Elevators,
I was initially excited because the start suggested something cool, mysterious and interesting. Then when we met the bad wizard I wanted to skim because it was neither of the three.

I think your enchanting piece is:
Despite my being really mean with criticism above, it's pretty good! Real decent piece.

Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.
Thanks for the crits!

Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.
Thanks for still more crits! :D

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax
Fun Shoe
I'm IN for writing about stink. Thanks judges for the crits.

Mar 31, 2015

Prompt's so tasty, I can't help but be in. Also thanks to you lovely motherfuckers for the crits, I'm too lazy to go back and list y'all :butt:

Dec 6, 2014

it's a nose, right? right?
Not nearly enough toiletwater was produced last round to drown in, so I'm still here and IN for the next round.

And thank you to everyone for the reads/crits! I'll be throwing more of my own around this time, now that I've got the lay of the place a bit better.


Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.
More crits.


CancerCakes posted:

Corruption and Power *Less than whatever the word count was* words

The opening was confusing. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but instead of intriguing me I kinda bounced off. Jumping between Roger, the sorta lovely husband, and "the wizard smiled" just didn't draw me in. You were going for something poetic there and unfortunately it didn't work this time. If I hadn't known your prompt, this section would have been more frustrating. The ending, while funny, didn't fit the tone of the rest of the piece. It's interesting to have the antagonist wizard (or at least, Roger felt more like the protag) just be kind of a sadistic rear end in a top hat, but he didn't really wind up as much of a character despite having a mention in almost every other paragraph. I really want to dig this story because playing with formatting is intriguing, but it didn't pull together.


Entenzahn posted:

Hunting Golgoth
1298 words

The first line was out of place, especially in addressing the audience, but I think your piece had the strongest set of characters out of any of the stories I've read so far this week. You gave us a good sense of who each character was and at least a good hint of their individual motivations. The action writing was especially strong. The only place where I was (briefly) confused was the ending; at first, I thought Golgoth's actual remains were the statue, but then I re-read the beginning. Nice one.


docbeard posted:

When Alice Miller Fought City Hall
1277 words

This story was really tidy. My only complaint is that I wish the first half had included a bit less exposition and maybe a little more confrontation between Alice and the spirit of processes. The it/it sentence at the end of that section was awkward; you could have condensed the visual (being slapped with a glove/the gauntlet tossed down for a duel) for better effect. A slap is its own punctuation. I'd like to read more of the oddly ordinary magical adventures of Alice. She sounds pretty boss.


Thyrork posted:

The Hum of the Woods.
Wordcount: 1,265

Stating from the start that Cassandra is on a nighttime caravan raid would increase the tension right at the start. We're more than a few paragraphs in before this is stated. Until then, it just seems like this weirdo is having a well-armed nighttime jog a la Rick Perry. There's a lead (the element) and led (past tense of "to lead") confusion in paragraph 3 and you let many sentence fragments slip in. If you want to use these to control pacing or flow, you need to use them more sparingly. I think you can make the nature of the supplies Cassandra's people need earlier instead of referring to "things." Is Clare's name a reference to Cassandra Clare? Anyway, I think you've put together a pretty interesting plot here and how you interpreted your prompt worked well. I'm just disappointed by the proofreading errors.


cargohills posted:

A Day in the Forest
631 words

I don't know why the wizard-hunter warned Landon that he was coming and I don't know why there's a cute rabbit sidekick who doesn't really have any importance to the conflict. Was this an early draft of your idea and you ran out of time? The story just doesn't feel complete. The first section could have been dropped altogether. I also don't know how the kid can build his own cabin and use language and read but simultaneously be illiterate. Why does the hunter want to kill Landon? Just because he's a wizard? Is Landon really an innocent, or does he have a habit of feeding inconvenient visitors to his animal friends rather regularly?


Noah posted:

Familiar Patterns
Words: 1220

This story could have used a pass through a grammar checker or proofreader. You've got a lot of simple errors and weird phrasing that made reading this story difficult, which is a shame. The weird phrasing ("confident being able to say that Meredith was visiting her mother’s and not because he had a made a scene") doesn't seem to come from you trying out new ways of showing us things, you're just mangling regular ways of telling us things. What is it with wizards taking terrible care of their reference tomes and grimoires? You'd think they'd be on the "wash your hands, turn a page" team, but this week was full of messy wizards treating texts badly. Meredith is mentioned a hell of a lot for someone who never actually shows up in the story. I'd rather hear more about Mayor Dogspot. Unfortunately, you end the tale right before things get interesting, and you started it with someone waking up in the morning... No, please. I hope you revise this entry in the future, though, because your alcoholic, cowardly, and possibly incompetent wizard might make a great protagonist.

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