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  • Locked thread
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

Surprisingly, I owe no Crits. Then again, I'm not fit to judge others, so there's that.

So I'll be IN for three stories never reviewed. Probably around Friday-Saturday.

Be warned, fools.


Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

You're all monsters to me - Week 138 crits
A Classy Ghost - Tangly
This was a pretty cute story. The chemistry between Lydia and this unsettling but benign monster is a really good relationship, and the scene of them skating is pretty endearing, but the father is pretty one-note. If the dad was written a bit more gently, it may have added pathos. Like if he was still a drunk, but showed signs that he cares about his daughter, just not that he cares about the monster.

hotsoupdinner - Howling
This is well-written, but the flaw here is that Esther's sacrifice at the end isn't given enough space for it to mean anything to me. Most of the time in this story was spent with the narrator alone. I don't have the context to know why Holden and Esther care about each other or why they don't care about the narrator. It's an emotional climax that hasn't shown me the relations between these characters, so I don't know why it's supposed to matter.

CancerCakes - Monster in your head
Yeah, this was as unfun to remind myself of as it was to read the first time. It's barely about a monster, first off, the conflict comes in very late, and when it does, it goes for cheap offense. And then it ends with a joke that doesn't make sense. First off, if you want to use shocking words in your story, you've got to make sure your story's earned it. Second, don't end your story on a joke, especially one that's not funny. Why are white mice racist? I know, the word 'white', but that's not a reason. Moreover, why are white mice homophobic?

Thyrork - The Cauldron.
You managed to squeeze an entire starting quest of an RPG into 1200 words so good job doing that, but unfortunately everything else suffered. In this there were, what, four protagonists, the antagonist, and a monster? Plus an original fantasy race to explain. There's just so much crammed in here that you had no time to develop anyone, and thus the plot seemed like RPG miniatures going through the motions. The one thing I can say about this is that it is a full story, but you rushed through so much to get there that I would have preferred a vignette.

spectres of autism - Silk
This is pretty drat good, and I didn't even have to rely on our mental connection to enjoy it. I wasn't as into the part where he figures he's in an anime, because why does this future-guy in a ruined city with jetpack dinosaurs have Internet Nerd opinions about anime production budgets? If you wanted to improve on this, I would try to show what it takes to use a Caster and why it's impressive that he can do it at the end, as opposed to just kind of implying via dialogue that it's a tough thing to do. (Like maybe he can see what it takes out of Kayla to use it.)

Something Else - Close Your Eyes If You Want To Keep Them
There's a bunch of ideas that seem cool in this but add up to something that's complicated and messy. Eye sprays seem like a very impractical way to disperse something, but I guess it's easy to target things with your bionic eyes? But between that and the goo monster and the worm and everything this was all color and very little to chew on, like zero characterization to actually make me care about this person.

This story feels like the last one but at least it's all pointed toward the same theme. I don't know what's important about the prologue though, and I think I ended up remembering all the wrong bits of it. And the names are pretty tough to wrap my head around when I've got to keep straight Barcleef, Funghead, Tregan, and Agron. The ending, though, was a good reveal, though I had no idea he had a book written about him until then, so it felt like it came as a total surprise.

Jagermonster - The Mind Killer
I don't really care that much about either of the characters here, it's just two jerks of different calibers being jerks at each other. The idea is decent and after Something Else's story I commend you for sticking with one monster. It kind of undercuts the idea of "an unarmed man is scarier than an armed man" when people can have praying mantis scythes built into their hand, though. It took me a reread of the ending to realize that the bug was bullshit.

kurona_bright - Lakeshore Lure
This isn't bad, though I was hoping for more from the character beats. Like a lot of stories this week, there's a little too much in there--the relationship with the kelpie and some of the magic feels like if you removed it, you'd have more time to deal with the shock of what's happening instead of just having it happen and then the story kind of ends.

Screaming Idiot - The Dog in the Sewer
There's a lot of setup about this guy's father that doesn't pay off, and the sex is kind of odd just in how it feels thrown in. Aside from that, though, it's honestly pretty decent. I liked the way the monster looked, but it might have been good to foreshadow that it had corrosive blood and wasn't entirely dead, so that the ending came less out of nowhere. As is, it would make more sense I think for there to be a second creature rather than the first striking a final blow.

Wangless Wonder - Reaping
A girl and her bug go to steal a wizard macguffin but run into a bunch of evil eyes that mean the girl has to take in the evil spirit that she once forced out. I get it, but I also see why this got a DM. Again, just too much poo poo. Big wizard monster, Otto, or bug. Pick two, describe them well, and drop the third, because otherwise it's just too many weird bits of imagery to keep a handle on.

docbeard - Til Chicago
Seriously, this is the week of confusing worldbuilding in stories. Luckily, you decided to focus mainly on the dynamic between two people who don't trust each other, and that made this less weird, but I have no idea what a Behemoth even looks like other than that it's big and has three legs. The coolest thing about it is that it's entirely silent until it sneaks up on you. Why is this girl a cartoon witch next to this weird abstract monster?

Broenheim - Don't Want It Anymore
This is a refreshingly simple story. You take the time to explore the idea instead of trying to throw in a bunch of weird poo poo, and it benefits from the time spent on this monster who just wants to be noticed and doesn't want to lose his friend. This reminds me a lot of Spells of Magic week where Benny Profane won just by keeping it tight.

Tyrannosaurus - The Circumstances of Djeser being too grumpy to type this whole name out
This is fun at least, and the energy makes up for it being a little scattered in terms of plot. She doesn' a whole lot. She tells a guy to go away and then gets chained up for a while until she finally gets to do something and shoot the guy that's probably a demon. You have a way of getting these characters larger than life but just enough so that they're fun, not too much so that they're predictable.

SurreptitiousMuffin - Shadow of a doubt
Don't think I didn't see that alliteration you tried to pull you poet motherfucker I know your tricks. Then again, apparently I stole the idea of a monster that makes you think it's parents from you, so well done. This is a laser-focus on a dreamlike feeling, and the fact that you get so concrete about the monster makes it much better than just some amorphous thing. Good stream of consciousness type poo poo but I don't need to tell you that.

Doctor Idle - The Real Homuncuwives of Atlantis
The fact that this doesn't have an HM or a classic is a disgrace. What's the dome come to? This is the sort of thing that's a delight to read. I'm not critting it on its quality as a story, I'm critting it on the fact that it was so vivid with its Lovecraft-Jerry Springer mashup that I remember it fondly a year and a half later. SPEECH CLOACA.

Capntastic - Acetone
This is neat and weird. The monsters themselves gave me a Roadside Picnic vibe in just how absurd they are. The beginning is kind of weighed down with worldbuilding though, and it's another story where the main character doesn't do all that much, aside from eventually putting down a bottle of nail polish. So I liked it and I liked the tone but it could have stood to have some sort of narrative arc, you know?

Killer-of-Lawyers - Spear
This was simple, but without the emotional weight that a story like Broenheim's carried. It's also a little disparate in that there's the two separate foes she's dealing with, and I'm not entirely sure why the spider shoots electricity when a regular spider would be scary enough when you're bug-sized. Also, by the end I'm not sure whether her wings are okay or not or what. Seemed like they were pretty messed up in the web. :ohdear:

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

sebmojo posted:

I'll do my crits by submission deadline, :toxx:. Quote this if you want me to crit your stories first.

Also don't apologise for doing crits, if people don't like what you say about their story they should have written a better story.

What if I'm quoting this to say that I don't want crits.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
I want crits though

Oct 30, 2003
In with the first part of week 192 crits (REM week).

With these I have posted my judging notes, then the approximate placement I had for them, and then some more notes upon a re-read (more like a re-skim). I will have the rest done by the time I enter my story for the week.

Extra Noise
If that’s what it takes
I took your name

I don’t like this. It was pretty obvious he was dead from the start, and I didn’t buy her motivation for killing him at all. Also this was a story about writers in an annoying way.

Going back to this now there’s a paragraph in the middle that sums up what I don’t like about the story, where he talks about them meeting in a creative writing class. It’s too cute, but also lacks interesting detail to make it feel real.

Disturbance at the heron house

So much boring mundane poo poo, then a riot. The end.

Now I look at this it really seems like a chapter somewhere in the middle of a longer piece. There’s not enough interesting detail for the world-building to shine, and the action is just completely avoided - we miss the military police entirely.

Foreign Flower
"The Flowers of Guatemala"

There’s some pretty tortured language in this. Eg “gyred” and “gallant”. tone it down. Simpler language will be clearer.
Clarity was an issue. I didn’t get that the people in the circle were deaf until we revisited them.
Interesting idea, but it was kind of all over the place. There was good characterization of the protag.
This story still seems confusing, going back to it.

Anime was Right
Ain't No Girl Like Me
The Wrong Child
I did feel a little something for the protag, but apart from that this was fairly average. Kinda felt like a nerd fantasy or something, but even the nerd can’t bring himself to win the nerd. Not in a good way.

I like this a little more now I look at it, but it’s still very middling. It needs something surprising to zazz it up a bit.

The Beat That's In Every Blast
World Leader Pretend
Didn’t feel the song in this one at all. The others at least tipped their hat to it. The story was kind of bleh as well.

I actually like the dialogue between the two in this - the way they sort of talk past each other is quite an effective technique to avoid bullshit. I think my main problem with this story is that I really don’t connect with the protag at all. He seems quite disconnected and passive and then he just isn’t any more - there doesn’t seem to be any reasoning behind his character arc.

Carl Killer Miller
Ash Knowledge
"King of Birds"

I liked the start of the bird story. Was disappointed it just stopped. I like this a lot, except the central point of the bomber not realising what was happening didn’t ring true for me. Bombing in WW2 was not some kind of precise instrument where you actually expect to hit what you were aiming at.

I think the last section and the early degue about ‘allegory’ hurt this quite a bit. The idea is good, but it needs to be less obvious. GREAT TITLE.

I remember I liked this story more than the other judges at first, but not enough to defend it from their unanimous DM decision. Looking back it at now I see their perspective a bit more. The analogy between the two stories isn’t close or meaningful enough, with combines with the hamfisted WAR IS BAD moral to make the story clumsy over all.

Men Over Mission
"E-Bow The Letter"

This is a good little scene! Quite exciting, decent characterization. I liked it quite a bit. It is only a scene, but it’s a good one with a good bit of an arc to it. This was solid.

I liked this a lot at the time, but now that I go back to it there’s too much useless dialogue in it. Cut the chatty crap and give us the highlights.

R.E.M. song: "New Test Leper"
Obviously I know this song particularly well. I guess I can see the links to the prompt. This broke down at the end - I had a lot of trouble understanding what was happening - Nehemiah just stood there and let Ezra kill his buddies? Very strange.

There were a few errors but some of the prose was nice.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Here's the first tranche of crits taken from teh 0 crit bunch, incl kaishai, grizpat, trex and lots of ironic twist for some reason.

say if you want to be in the next set

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 01:29 on Aug 11, 2016

Jan 27, 2006

J.A.B.C. posted:

Surprisingly, I owe no Crits. Then again, I'm not fit to judge others, so there's that.

So I'll be IN for three stories never reviewed. Probably around Friday-Saturday.

Be warned, fools.

Be warned that you have misunderstood the prompt. The crits are not what's getting judged this week. There is still a writing competition, for which crits by Friday's signup deadline are the price of admission. If you want to write a story this week and get it judged, then crit at least one never critted story before one-minute-to-midnight on Friday.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you


I have no outstanding crits of my own, so here's my offering to the crit-gods:

Week #191 - We Talk Good

Incentive - Kaishai

I chose this one as a contrast to Muffin’s ICU from week #207. I’m not really a sucker for ghost stories or anything, but the ‘talking to someone in a coma’ scenario can lead to interesting things. ICU was clearly a goodbye, and yours is someone trying to hang on.

With a couple edits, you could have made the entire thing ambiguous – and the reader could interpret it easily as a traditional spirit communication, or as the entire thing taking place in the Jackie’s head. Your driving character is the conscious one, so I’m in her head rather than Sam’s throughout. Sure, she should believe she’s actually communicating (unless you have a twist at the end where it’s clear she’s manipulating the Ouija board as a goodbye/what might have been) but maybe leave it to the reader to decide what's really going on.

Rather than have the planchette skitter away from Jackie, it could just lead to the handwritten note on the board, “I’m the one moving this thing around.” That deserves to be printed on every Ouija board, honestly. Otherwise, it’s unclear what extra letters and punctuation were written on the board. A colon, I guess?

Either way, it would be a sweet touch if either subconsciously or knowingly moved it to something that is a big character trait for Sam – someone Sharpie-ing that phrase on a Ouija board tells a ton about that person in a very economical way – sense of humor, isn’t really into supernatural stuff, but is willing to play along, especially since it’s his board.

Same goes with the candles – hospital staff would be more upset about flame candles than Mom, plus they make LED ones that would be fine to use and a supernatural flicker of electronic candles would be an indicator of Sam’s presence. Similarly, if the whole point was that Mom is not a spiritualist and the entire Ouija contact is a secret thing they do together, then that would add more character. I’m not sure if Jackie sneaked the board out from Sam’s room or something under his mother’s nose. Making that clear would build more backstory about their relationship (Ouija boards have a history like being debunked by Houdini, even, so a skeptic like me will always assume it’s just in her head. If you really want supernatural, then choose a different device for their conversation).

So, if you stick with actual supernatural communication, then when you divorce the dialogue from the context, it reads just about like any romantic comedy ‘love was right beside me the entire time’ sort of situation. Sam is a quip machine and Jackie is pretty stiff and formal until the dialogue loosens up and gets a lot more simple and human right after you say “grammatically correct.” I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but it happened, so if you revisit this story, I’d capitalize on that as they start talking about the date. I might even rearrange that a little so the entire date question is after the toad exchange and you’ve got Sam’s quips and Jackie’s formality out of the way -- make the way they speak unify by the end with each personality coming from a different side of the spectrum.

It may not be everyone’s first question, but a "How are you talking to me?" should come up if communication is that clear and there doesn’t seem to be any time limit on how long they can keep the spirit telephone working. The answer can still be I don’t know, but I’d want to see it addressed somehow.

Speaking of ‘toad,’ I don’t know if that’s the best insult choice for someone who got squashed by a truck, unless your characters comment on it. You drop a Diablo Cody-style “nerdiest nerd to ever nerd” which is not to everyone’s taste on the whole, but it’s also a little inconsistent with Sam’s other dialogue. Embrace it and punch up Sam, or scrap it and make him more milquetoast as the best friend who missed his chance (maybe).

Aunt Denise wants you to take your bra off is going to elicit a laugh (or chuckle) from your readers. But neither character laughs. One whispers it like a wistful memory, and then the other calls it creepy. I think it’s a good indicator of sexual tension between two people who are afraid to say it out loud, but you kill that feeling immediately. I’d let it breathe a little, with a physical reaction like at least a smile, and ditch the creepy. It could still flow into Sam calling himself a ‘toad’ with comment about toads and trucks.

Even the Latin name is dropped without comment. It sounds in my head like “buff-o Sam-o” like she either enjoys or is poking fun at his physique. I had to think about that one for a long while before figuring it out and verifying that that was the actual taxonomic reference and not just a straight up joke like most people do with fake Latin names.

You call back to toad at the end, but then finish with a Thank God. I don’t usually associate Ouija spirituality stuff with a capital ’g’ God, so it seems out of place. You have occult beliefs and scientific medicine as the two main components (though there’s no real conflict between the two) so ending with a third possibility about the afterlife adds confusion.

Five hundred words is tough to make work, and you did an decent job (and I realize this is like twice the length you had to work with). With a little refinement and maybe a little rearranging, it could be a tight character piece.

e: added url to title

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 16:18 on Aug 12, 2016

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Week 148 crits: I Called Your Bluff

Le Woad - God Doesn't Play Chess
You elaborated on your concept pretty well but it doesn't go much of anywhere. Problem one, the stakes aren't revealed until the very end, so the tension is very light. Problem two, I don't see why this matters to the main character aside from the stakes that are revealed at the end. Problem three, this conflict doesn't really change his character at all or cause him to reevaluate anything. This was interesting but not particularly engaging and it stopped right where it got interesting.

Lake Jucas - To Tell the Truth...
Why is she a vampire at the very end? This is why twist endings suck. Leading up to it, it wasn't great, either--you've got the girl threatening to kill herself over infidelity, which is a crazy overreaction, and the guy that can't actually say what's going to get his girlfriend to not jump because he's too concerned about this relationship that he apparently doesn't care about and arrrgh.

Jonked - Balcony Two of the Theater of the Mind
This is a pretty good character study though it's light on the plot development. I didn't hate reading it, though, and while the Waldorf and Statler were a tone shift from the introspectiveness of the rest of the story, they did make it more entertaining. They're two good tastes that taste all right together in the end--I don't think they fit the rest of the story as well as they might something else.

Broenheim - Can't Put a Price on a Fool
This is the lowest-stakes, chillest smuggling operation I've seen. I don't think anyone even pulled a gun or anything. The no guns thing is fine but it feels like none of the characters are that worried about anything, to the point that this guy goes to a karaoke bar to win a pendant--yeah, he plans to just take it, but why did he have to humor him with his bullshit that long? Why wait until the end to reveal he swapped the pendants?

Tyrannosaurus - Rugby Players Eat Their Dead
Goons have this allergy to sports but I'd absolutely read a longer-form work on sports from you because you've got a way with the motivations behind competitions and sports. This probably slipped a mention because it's only barely about gambling or bets, but it's energetic and short and makes good use of its scene breaks.

JcDent - Pushing luck
The writing here is a bit sloppy in places, and that's part of what pulls energy out of this, along with the long scene where they're rolling dice with ill-defined rules, and the fact that there's just not a lot of chemistry between these characters before they decide to gamble on whether they'll split up or not.

Killer-of-Lawyers - The Sure Bet and Tough Break
The concept behind this is good, it's a pretty classic example of hubris. The execution could have been better, since you skip over any of the action happening and make this all set up (and dialogue-exposition at that) and then reflection, no action. It left me wondering why this had happened, why the humans were being such idiots. It's fine for humans to be dumb, sure, but I would have preferred some actual explanation why they had gone full post-apocalyptic instead of just fixing stuff.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Athabasca, Honeyed City
Was a poetic redemption
Written in a week when G. P.
Gave no explicit exemption

To the standing rule against verse
But neither did he restate it
And since Djeser had already
DQ'ed we should not...


You know, what, no, I'm not going to write this entire crit in verse. But anyhow, that's the structure of Djeser's piece: 4 line verses of trochaic tetrameter with two-syllable ('feminine', in the old parlance) rhymes in -A-A pattern.

Now, the thing is, when you have a structure like that, you really shouldn't break it without a really good reason, which is to say, a much better reason than 'I couldn't make it fit otherwise' And, in light, comic verse, 'a good reason' generally involves using breaking the expectations to make a joke. So there's no excuse for the single-beat rhymes in verse 12, the extra beats in verse 3's rhyming lines (which at least match up), the extra beat at the end of verse 4, the one in verse 9's second line, or the one in the third line of verse 11. It's sort of frustrating: in some verses there are some really clever wordings used to fit the meter perfectly, while in these you just sort of try to stuff an extra beat in and hope nobody notices.

Anyhow, like I said, the proper excuse for breaking meter deliberately in comic verse is to hammer a joke or punchline. So I have to assume what you did with the last line, which doesn't even come close to the meter at all, was intentional. But it doesn't work, really, because there's no matching semantic broken expectation or punchline in it, so all it does it turn the whole piece into an anti-poem, like one of those things where someone write four lines of a limerick and then ends with a huge rambling run-on sentence or something, and this is too long for being an anti-poem to work for it.

As to the content, it's a nice, light comic story. But, again, the ending doesn't work. If you don't end a comic story almost right after the main punchline, you need to end on a sort of chaser joke or vile pun or something, not a sort of pointless moral.

Also, in

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 18:36 on Aug 10, 2016

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Silenced by the Thunderdome Wizarding Cabal - Week 175 crits
For full crits, see my audio critiques, where I read each story and gave my thoughts on them. These critiques are nowhere near as good.

ZeBourgeoisie - Isolated with a Beast
This is the skeleton of a story that should have had another third where I actually got some resolution for the character. Why does he decide to protect the eggs after killing the frightening pterodactyl thing? Also when I say it should have had another third I don't mean it should be 600 words longer, I mean you should have cut 400 words and given it an ending.

This is memorable enough that I don't have to reread it. Wizards being college idiots trying to show off is cool, but they're all too cool, even when someone like sets the whole place on fire. It ended on a reference to some music that I knew nothing about, so it just left me baffled.

Broenheim - Drowning
I took this as more of a mood piece than a story and in that sense I liked it. It's both peaceful and desperate in an afterlife sort of way, and ends with a chilling feeling of regret that stuck with me. Reading this aloud helped me appreciate it more than just reading normally.

WeLandedOnTheMoon - The Apple of Benus
Too many time jumps, too many characters. I like the idea, or what I think the idea was (getting the love you want but not in the ideal way) but this was such a chore to actually follow. Please don't try to have this many characters and scenes in a story that's only 1400 words.

Thranguy - Fingers of a Loathful Sky
What I remember of this is the imagery you used in showing how people do this tornado magic, and that was pretty good. The plot is vaguer in my mind and I don't recall finding it all that compelling. Nebraska tornado witches is a cool idea though.

Benny Profane - Modern Telekinetic Housekeeping
Laser-focused on a single strange magical situation and how one wizard solves it. I think I ended up being the one who forced this through to get the win?

Fumblemouse - The Basingstoke and Worting Ladies Thaumaturgical Society
Turn the twee-Brit-ometer all the way up because boy is this covered in doilies. A good idea that's pretty slow to start and is solved by maleficus ex machina. For as quaint as it is, the tone is pretty enjoyable.

jon joe - Moistman
Other judges liked this one more, but it's like he flips a switch haflway through the story and goes from incompetent to able to defeat anything. It reminds me a bit in Avatar where there's stuff like oh, we can bend lightning because that's like fire, or because there's water in your body I can use you as a puppet--powers taken to a logical extreme, except here it just kind of happens all of a sudden.

Killer-of-Lawyers - Persistence
A number of tech support calls from a wizard who keeps screwing up. Wizard tech support is a good idea, it's not a good idea to make your whole story dialogue with no real conflict beyond this guy being bad at reading directions.

crabrock - Unrequited Love
I didn't like this one because so much of it was snappy dialogue between two characters. Okay, the dialogue was fine, but there was a bunch of it, then she runs off, then she comes back, then finally at the end something happens. I am immune to your otterly charms.

C7ty1 - Heroes
We talked about this a lot in that week's recap but it's just a dream logic-y mess and the pun of gyromancer is cute but doesn't carry this hectic jumble of police coming in, but not coming in, and the guy is a jerk, and he levitates a burrito out the window to go get it like someone would drop a pencil, and I still don't understand this story.

spectres of autism - Cold Turkey
I think the other judges didn't like this as much but I thought it was really cool to have this duality emerging between two versions of yourself and realizing that you've changed so drastically that you're practically another person. I think the issue is the start builds up more of a teen adventure vibe before it takes a left turn into philosophical drama, and that might be what the other judges didn't like so much.

Kaishai - Brothers and Sisters
A story of sibling relationships where the relationships probably weren't as well-defined as they should be. Aileen seems like more of a jerk in the beginning than she's meant to come off as, I think.

Grizzled Patriarch - Marginalia
I think this is one where I managed to win over the other judges who were more upset about the quick ending, but I didn't agree that this doesn't have an ending. It's a cool, academic horror-ish story about shifting identities and the weirdly flowing way it's presented works for its tone.

kurona_bright - A Flight Home
This is like the prequel to an actual story, or maybe a sequel, but whatever it is the whole story is happening elsewhere. Because it's so intensely anime and has maps and stuff all I can imagine it as is the bar in Rabanastre from Final Fantasy XII.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011

I'm in, please.

I technically have no debt (plenty of debt to those who have suffered through my writing), so I did these in judge mode and picked them randomly. Was going to do a third (, but the audio file wasn't there. Sad. I was looking forward to the different format.

Fumblemouse – The Old Monk and the Mouse

This wasn't bad at all. After a bit of difficulty at the start, I was fully engaged throughout. Probably I'm to blame for that, not the writing. I wasn't long out of an Olympics-induced coma. The writing was good enough that I wasn't aware of it most of the time. Found the monk's anger a bit off. But I guess it made him more interesting than a stock monk with buckets of tranquillity. And it did work with setting him for his fall. The monk's dismissal of the mouse's fears and his lack of belief in the words of the mouse worked a treat. I enjoyed the ending, even if it was expected. I'm glad the mouse could scurry home, having learnt something of the value of prayer. Nice wee story, full arc, characters, and dialogue that didn't scream dialogue.

Positive grading.

Welcome Back – Sterileton

Uhm. A dickhead cleared the room? The protagonist cleared the room? The story is just a series of insulting comments made by the protagonist. Devoid of humour. Would comedy have saved such a piece? Not convinced. I wonder what the prompt was. Some of the writing itself wasn't to my liking. But it wasn't woeful. The main problem was that for such a short story, I feel there were a lot of redundant words. An example:

“Her disappearance left a hole in the circle causing everyone to move closer together to close the gap.”

Everything after circle could be dropped and it would be enough to show the awkwardness. Anyway, this was dull and its saving grace was its short length. Might have been more interesting if J. realised he was a dick? Someone told him? I mean you have four characters who hate your protagonist. Plenty of conflict to be had there.

Negative grading.

Feb 25, 2014
in even though ill likely fail

im only missing one crit from both of my accounts (ignoring redemptions, which i am) somehow so here's one for

Something Else/Newtestleper's Work Experience

this week was an interesting one. an awful one, but an interesting one, and its really no surprise that a lot of stories were terrible. i mean, you have to get a beginning without knowing what it'll be and how good it'll be and then try to finish it in an interesting way without editing the beginning at all. what was surprising was how terribly followed the prompt. lightheartedness may not be TD's fortay, but jesus. though i think this week was judged fairly. most of the dms were for the bad stories, some of them were for stories that had good intros and then ended terribly, some of them were for stories that had bad intros and the person who ended it buckled down on the badness or made it worse.

though, this story DMed for a different reason, but that's for later. This story isn't great, obviously, as i dont think any story this week would be great. but i like the intro. it's fun, it's lighthearted, and while the kid is kinda cliche dumb idiot kid, im ok with that since its just lighthearted and silly that it works for this week. maybe im trying to like this story too much, but it works alright and it keeps a tone set for lighthearted. there are issues, such as "Paxton failed to detect the irony in the fact that his father quoted that phrase at least twice a month," that try too hard and also are terrible because its one of those "characters didnt do" thing which is lame. it does lean away from lighthearted as the knife is brandished and then the story shifts authors!

why did u describe the stilletos as sexy yet professional. thats an uhhhh odd description atm. you know reading this, i was thinking, with the kind of sillyness of the main character and everything, this couldve been a great humor piece. he pulls out a huge knife and then its like you guys know what you have to do and then they have to like chop up a salad or someting. that wouldve been fun and lighthearted and with the tone of the beginning, actually tonally consistent. with this, its not that i dont like it, it just breaks away from the lighthearted elements of it and just goes pure action. and the action is kind of meh i think. oh lol the cheap billionaire erotica thing i think that was a dig at systran lol. also geez how is this incompontent kid able to knock out a girl with a headbutt and man that mustve hurt to hit her hard enough with his head to knock her out, but also not hard enough to knock himself out. and the ending. man, the ending. i was going to go on a big tirade about the ending, but you know what, it's not worth it. it just makes the whole thing moot. lame.

but overall, i dont think this was a terrible entry (sans ending) though it couldve been a lot more lighthearted imho. but it dmed for the ending and thats something i dont regret.

Aug 2, 2002




Lazy Beggar posted:

Was going to do a third (, but the audio file wasn't there. Sad. I was looking forward to the different format.

Hm, this is my fault, and it was working but now it's not. so I definitely broke something. I'll look into it when I get home.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:

I'm in, I think I'm square on crits besides the second half of crits from judge week.

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo
crits of thao by chili

language seems a bit awkard. precisely is a lame word, also should just sigh instead of letting a sigh go

shouldnt directly tell me that the husband is loving. have him show it by idk squeezing her shoulder or someth

also his name is dung. i mean, ig this was an intentional thing? ill assume thats a real vietnamese name but ok heres a second thing

so her name is thao, which also sounds vietnamese. this means that this is a vietnamese person talking to another vietnamese person. so why are they talking in english?

i feel like november 1, 1991 is the last day anyone would conceivably be psyched to be in america. on another note, remembember how 20 yrs ago america went in and napalmed vietnamese dudes by the hundreds? "im so glad to be in the place that bombs people rather than the place that gets bombed"

why would an 18 year old leave the house? i mean thats a place to live and also the mother would prolly need taking care of.

t minus four years till air maxes show up amirite?

"thao accepted dungs dreams" this is not a good phrase. also i hate like the "if she was pressed" or any variation on that idea. who would press her? apparently no one did so why would it matter? i would instead try to describe what its like when feelings boil in you close to the surface

then youre like moving to the us is like impossible. but in the next para they pull it off. "ten years of work and living frugally" like who in vietnam doesnt live frugally

also do they have money to burn on market researchers while living frugally?

again as a running thing going forward get rid of simply and preciesly and words like those. literally just read sentences w/o and see how much better they are

also its just like
im starting to realize starting in media res and just dumping expo after doesnt work for me. this stuff should flow more naturally and be laced thru the story somehow. cuz you go thru all this stuff and are like i cant wait to get back to the compelling scene where theyre in a car

dungs speech on still being a family is p much irrelevant to thaos dilemna

a robust smile cant begin to grow. if its still growing it isnt robust yet

exciting kissing someone on the cheek action

you cant exclaim w/o an exclamation mark. thats literally like, i mean, its in the name of the mark

if winston crashes his truck and they adopt his baby i swear to god

grammar stuff

everyone smiles in this. why is everyone so happy? theres no tension if ppl arent miserable or scared for some reason

i like clouds parting to reveal the westbound horizon. i dont like "the beauty was becoming even less questionable"

but what is the terrible secret of howler city? werewolves???

this is more of a "vignette" as they are called than a story. not bad character work, tho. but yeah not especially compelling reading plotwise. grammars off. the basic idea of this could work as the intro to a larger story if you took out filler and sharpened yr prose up.

more crits coming soon!!!

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo
double post!

crit of More Impossible by Ironic Twist

i dont think ive ever critted a twist story b4

i think all gopros are cameras so just say gopro

okay so what the heck? what is a fictional horde of social media followers? are they all bots? paid accounts? what would the point of that be?

then theyre filming a movie? but if a movies already being filmed the producers would stop being potential producers and just being producers

then is this her real daughter? is it an actress? both?

its possible she could be doing real crimes and filming them for the benefit of characters in the movie but actually for the viewers of the movie about someone who is filming crimes for social media followers? is that whats happening? congratulations this is more complicated than anything ive written

i dont think skyline is usually capitalized

this is actually good dialog

so i guess since the daughter is here this isnt a flashback, which means that she might not be super method about her acting since she appears to not be dead or arrested

yeah so i have no idea. but at any rate i get the ending, she decided not to miscarriage herself and stop doing stunts while pregnant because tom loves her. but what did she do when she was pregnant w her first daughter? did that put the brakes on her career for a bit?

at any rate my brain clearly couldnt handle this story but i liked a lot of the dialog and casual stuff like refs to movies ive never heard of and some good writing when mayas yelling and throwing things

stay tuned for more crits!!!

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Just spoke with head judge Jitzu, and he's generously allowing a stupid idea of mine.

After judgement has been rendered this week, probably sometime on Monday night or maybe the following weekend, there will be a video hangout where my cat Butterscotch will join me in critting/chatting about stories.

We'll talk specifics regarding time probably somewhere on IRC.

In order to join the chat however, you will have to submit a story this week. Do that, and you'll get the url for the chat.

This is not my rule, it is Butterscotch's rule, for even a plate of lovely kibble is better than an empty plate.

And I'm only going to do this if there's interest.

Jan 27, 2006
Still could use a third judge if anyone's interested.

Jul 25, 2016

I'm in!

Crit of Double Take by Paladinus:

Right off, you really should avoid starting a work with dialogue. Your reader has no idea who's talking or what they're talking about, and there's very little clarity for that in the next few lines either. If you at least followed the quotes with directions on who was talking (‘What on earth is going on here?’ said the man in a lab coat, brandishing a bat like a cornered animal) this would be a much stronger start.

Branching off of this, the characters don't really have any distinguishing actions or characteristics. The majority of this piece is dialogue, but it's equivalent to talking heads. We're not given any information on how anyone says what they say, or what their body language might be, or really anything besides their word choice. Would the naked guy who apparently just escaped be breathing a sigh of relief when labcoatman doesn't beat him over the head with a bat? Would the labcoatman snort sarcastically when he asks ‘Do you really think I would kill you to cover it all up'? The reader doesn't have anything to go on here to care about these people as characters and believe that they're anything more than robots reading a script.

Unfortunately the reader also doesn't have any information to go off of to understand what they're talking about regarding experiments. We get vague statements like "input tray," "the machine," "analogue indicator", and "pod," but nothing to piece together what any of this means, and therefore nothing to hold on to so that we get invested in these people who (revealed by the ending twist) have both escaped violently from unwilling experimentation. This feels like you could replace the setting with a drug cartel or a medieval jail or an underwater ghost base and it would change absolutely nothing about the story. You can't spend too much time building up a setting's history and features in such a brief medium, but at the same time you also need to give the reader something to contextualize about where the story takes place and why the characters matter in that setting.

You have a decent idea here, but it really needs some flesh on the bones.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
In, also with

Week 149 crits, part 2

This would've been nice but it ended abruptly and unsatisfyingly. Does Dakota save the day? Don't leave us hanging! I quite liked the dinosaur's dialogue. I think the exposition in the beginning could've been reworked into the rest of the story, it's too big of an infodump.

s7ndicat33 - IT WAS A HOT DAY IN JUNE
Boring story. Too much military detail bogged the pacing down. Frank's motivation wasn't given satisfactory context and he comes off as an unsympathetic loony. The ending is rushed and weird? This was a pain to read.

Cache Cab - The Termolenator
Very brisk, almost breathless in pacing. The ridiculousness of the mole people was done rather well. Other than that I don't really have much to say. I liked the ending.

Grizzled Patriarch - Kevin Costner on the Tarmac
I didn't think this was very blockbuster-y, but that's about the worst thing I could say about this story. I liked the last scene (although it's a bit melodramatic), the protagonist didn't need that kind of characterization but it sure did help elevate him into A Character, and not just some bodyguard.

Ironic Twist - On The Low End Of The Dial
Exposition done neatly to give action more words. Wendy's betrayal came out of the left field, which I liked less, but this is otherwise a strong story that earns its mention.

SlipUp - The Last Hunt
Lots of proofreading errors soured the reading experience. Learn the difference between "breath" and "breathe". There's lots of action, which is good, but there's not enough grounding in characterization to really make it worthwhile. The first scene is wooden and a tad bit too long.

Lazy Beggar - Goodbye, Nuclear Holocaust.
This was ridiculous in not a good way. Eleanor, brain scientist, does secret agent stuff without explanation. It was really off-putting and the doomsday plot whizzed by without trying to endear me to anything. Why does Eleanor want to erase humanity? Where did she get all those skills? Why should we give a drat? The ending is also unsatisfying, like it just cuts off.

SkaAndScreenplays - Iron Pony
Good action. Setting could've used some more spice, though. Show more of the IRTF's fearsomeness instead of telling us about it. I'm a bit iffy on why Ria trusted the bike to reach her friends, wasn't it an old model? There were some proofreading errors I noticed.

Entenzahn - Captain Hank Rockford’s Space Adventures Episode 1 – Rescue of the Damsel Princess
This would've been an enjoyable romp if not for the twist. It felt like you thought playing the whole action-hero-rescues-the-princess trope was too cliche so you added the twist for its own sake. I wasn't expecting it, and the story's title suggested a straightforward story. Anyway, the narrative voice was funny and I enjoyed the protagonist, all things considered.

newtestleper - Stockholm East Africa
I thought this was an idiot plot with the most incompetent pirates ever. The attempt at an emotional connection (Maako pleading to be killed) was laughable, and... strange. Who is going to kill him? Why? Also, firing a gun is hard. It rags on my suspension of disbelief that Simon was able to figure it out and kill people with his stolen rifle.

Jonked - An Investigator, An Accountant, and a Fistful of Bullets
It looks like you had fun writing this. That's good. What isn't good is that you seemed to have neglected to keep your readers from being confused. I could only follow half of the hard-boiled cyberpunk narration, making this read like Shadowrun fanfiction. Unsatisfying ending--twist left me sighing. I liked Flores, though.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Pulling An All-Nighter For Remedial Doming - Week 188 crits
SlipUp - Come Hell or High Water
I like the fact that this story focuses on just one event, but there's a lot of stuff around it that's distracting noise. Why does he let the alligator INTO his cell? What's the deal with the girl? Does he die in the end or does he survive? A tale of a guy surviving a flood in a jail cell isn't a bad idea but there's space you could have used to pack in something more meaningful about this character. You try to conceal what happened but it doesn't feel like it's offscreen out of focus, it feels like you're trying to hold your hand over whatever he did, which doesn't work, it just makes it all the more telling that you're trying to leave something out. Why have the sheriff in the story if he's only going to go "oh that thing you did, that was a bad thing, don't do that thing"? Just give him the gun and have him think "oh the sheriff gave me this so i wouldn't have to drown" or whatever.

FreudianSlippers - Castle Doctrine
This wants to be a crime drama, but when you pull back the curtains it's just a bunch of popsicle sticks and strings. So there's the thief, and his job is stealing from his employer so he can collect his insurance money, but it turns out it was a setup and he gets beat up, but then the detective he knows who he met in the supermarket shows up and saves him. This is the turning point in his motivations, but there's not really much character development here, and the plot's scattered across a bunch of scene breaks.

spectres of autism - Things (Sirens)
I'm sure there's a buzzword for whatever kind of genre this is. It's a really good impressionistic piece that gets across the feeling of being in an altered state without relying on any of the usual metaphors you'd find if someone less creative was writing it. The overflowing energy here helps make up for the fact that it's less clear what's going on or what the main character is trying to do, or why that matters. It's just a fascinating series of sensory events washing over you, and that feels like what you were going for, and you succeeded.

Tyrannosaurus - Listening to: Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
I remember recapping this and finding myself trying to defend it against everyone else. The reverse-chronology doesn't add a whole lot to the story, but I didn't find it that jarring, and everyone else fixated on two things: a) that the vampires act like teenagers and b) that they think he dies in the end. I think that a) is the whole point, that these are immortal beings with bad taste who aren't very emotionally mature, because why do vampires always have to be cultured and elegant? And I don't think that b) is even true, but I guess you know what you were going for better than I did. To me, this story's worst crime is that it's a relatively minor quibble but it was nowhere near my DM picks for the week.

Carl Killer Miller - Dust Dust Dust All Night
Yeah, this story's problem is all about jerk protagonists and disproportionate retribution. Now, I'm not saying a protagonist can't possibly be a jerk, but when they have no endearing qualities, it makes the reader care much less about what they're doing. And here, your jerk gets high and then somehow hypercompetently manipulates this whole party into bursting out into an orgy of violence, so the people we don't care about all kill themselves at the end, I supposed to care? Should I be upset for them, glad for him, what? This whole this is a power trip with an unpleasant guy.

Grizzled Patriarch - You Could be a Winner
This has GrizzP Syndrome: a weird, quasi-fantastic premise that ends abruptly without resolution. What does this character do, now that he's able to see the ants and/or has been given the same neurosis that his mother suffered from? What's the deal with the 'winner' thing? I don't know, because you ended the story. I don't need everything explained to me, but this is not where the story of this guy, the ants, and him being a winner ends. I know that, and yet there's nothing more on the page. Why is there nothing more on the page, GP?

flerp - story about a dog who can't fall asleep
I don't know what you want me to say about this. It's a really simple lowball story that didn't surprise me at any point, either with the prose or with the content. As sebmojo says, either say something unexpected, or say what I expect to hear in an unexpected way. Don't give me what I expect in the way I expect it, or I'll just stop paying attention.

Killer-of-Lawyers - Beat
Another one that I didn't think was as bad as Twist did, but it's true that there's not much the character does in the end. It's an interesting an odd circumstance he goes through, but he doesn't do much and it kind of rolls off of him at the end. Maybe the length had something to do with that; if it was shorter and more vignette-like, maybe it would be more palatable.

sebmojo - Condom wrappers and Woodstock cans
Even when you're doing mumblecore you've got a voice that's enjoyable to read, though this kind of rolls off the mind rather quickly aside from the good turns of phrase. A girl is taking photos of her Geography teacher because...uh, I'm not sure why exactly, just because she thought it would be interesting, and then gets caught and runs away. That's not even nominally a character arc I think, that's just things happening in a sequence and then it ends.

Sitting Here - Stuck Animation
This is also decent mumblecore, and while the voice isn't as fun there's a bit more of a character dynamic going on, and I think it captures that late teen restlessness pretty well. I think you had this metaphor in mind, though, and were trying to stretch it into something meaningful, but you dwell on it so long that it ends up not really working because you gave the reader too much time to think about it.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Oh, okay there was one more crit

Julias - September Selves

First paragraph does not bode well. Flowery atmosphere and no characters to speak of. At the end of the second paragraph there are two men who are gaunt, and they are doing a task. Two paragraphs in and I do not know who anyone is yet. The third paragraph doesn't add in anything much more interesting. Also, you've swapped from present tense in the first paragraph to past tense, and then by the start of the fourth paragraph, into present perfect ("have been").

Fifth paragraph. I think the metaphor is getting away from you a little. I still don't know what's going on or why this is important.

Sixth paragraph. "...growing more violent" it sounds like the vessel is getting violent. Seventh paragraph. These metaphors are getting very tricky, because the water is not hitting the boat the same way the moonlight is.

Is there a word missing from this poem? Also it's loving awful to sing and has no meter.
"The brother knew they had to"

What the gently caress is the Terror. What is this, you wrote a story about two people fishing and then holding hands and somehow they're keeping watch for some horrible monster? Thanks for telling me what was going on at the very end, I would have been really upset if I'd spent the whole story not knowing why any of this was happening. Oh wait, that's what happened.

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005

A review for:

Thoughts in the Forest

“You’ve always been lost.”

You’re first line has so much promise, then the switch to a memory of our father, something that seems sweet yet is vague. The moment before we were given something solid to consider, a blade of grass, and now we’re given vague memories. Of course this give us information, we don’t need to be told as you do following this that we cannot recall his face, but it feels unsatisfactory (to me.)

This is very dreamlike. I like that. I’m in the mood for it. When you tell us that the forest throbs when we throb, like we throb, I buy it as a literal statement. I want it to be literal. That this is not a real forest, this is something else, a dreamscape.

There is nothing in the running sequence that makes it visceral, if that was the intent. Lacking in specifics, something kinetic.

Repetition plans a large part in the style of this story. Some of it is quite on target. “You ask the forest/you tell the forest.” Some of it is not so effective, restating that we do not know something when we already know that we don’t because WTF is happening in this story? How the Christ would I know? Cut, cut, cut.

It was a literal statement <3

This is a good framework for a story… But it lacks something, a heart, and maybe that heart is the Dad? Something tangible to hold onto, to elicit some emotion beyond bewilderment… Like instead of telling us about Dad towering over us like a tree in the woods, why not tell us of a time when he stood over us?

People lose their way in life all the time, if not everyone at some point in their existence, and those towering figures be they parents, teachers, policemen, or idols, can be sirens singing us to shipwreck or the pillars we pass by.

Not bad, flerp.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Link the stories you crit you idiots the world should not be denied the joy of Julias' sublime Fishing Today fanfic

E: fuckit, here u go

Julias posted:

First off, my story for Week 188

715 Words

September Selves

Smoldering ashes from rustic fireplaces tinge the midnight air. cool Autumn leaves drift off their resting branches, being cradled by the breeze, into the loamy soil. fascinating, loamy is literally my favourite kind of soil The clouded atmosphere casts shadows of illusory beasts onto the lake’s surface, intermingling with the shapes of real creatures that lie beneath. oh, neat i love that particular kind of cloudy atmosphere

Above the surface, the only remarkable feature wow! was a wooden craft, oh plastered with emblems of the Rabul Kingdom, AW poo poo YEAH THE RABUL KINGDOM only half-visible through the layers of mud and moss. Two gaunt figures were sitting of the edge of the boat, one on the bow, the other on the stern. Though they faced apart, both men were concentrating deeply on their task. I am completely invested in these two undescribed men who have not yet done anything except think really hard

The inside of the boat seemed fairly standard. cool, good to get the chandlering sorted out and to know it's all in orderBoth the port and starboard were lined with oars, nets, and harpoons - interesting - why on earth would they have all that stuff on a boat of all places? the usual equipment for fishing, oh, i see and there was a black chest bolted !!! to the center of the ship. Indeed, indeed! each of the men wielded a fishing rod, cast off into the depths beneath them. ahhhhhh tehy are fishing thank u that clears up so loving much

Fishing good reiteration here, just to remove the doubt was not only a hobby, but a traditional pastime among the citizens of Rabul. nice reincorporation! the fishermen of Rabul are probably legendary The Tobias brothers have tense, tsk been fishing since they could hold a rod. phwooarrrr? (not sure if rude) Eager to make their parents happy, they made it a competition to catch the most fish, or perhaps the biggest fish, on each of their ventures to the lake. (im just gonna break character for a moment to say this is maybe the clunkiest way this sentiment has been or could have ever been expressed in all the long ages of man)

Though they may have tense, tsk grown up, both brothers still harbored a deep passion for the sport, and have spent countless nights aboard various ships, passing the time away. this sentence is phenomenally dynamic Normally, the nights would pass on by quickly, but tonight the minutes seemed like hours. oh, no but it's fascinating when two undescribed people sit at either end of a boat not doing anything Storm clouds began to metastasize across the healthy night sky tight metaphor, and soon only a few rays of light pierced through the heavenly awning. Like a dilapidated roof, rain began to drip through the awning, startling the people that were unfortunate enough to live underneath it. given they are living beneath a vast curtain of cancer, this seems an understatement

Both brothers sighed, and each abandoned their HIS YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE GENDER NEUTRAL THEY ARE BOTH MEN post to find some tarp buried beneath their provisions. Instead of their usual jovial attitude, discussing about their catches (with both fish and women), they merely cursed at their bad luck. After tearing apart some sheets and wrapping themselves in it, they sulked back to the port and starboard, unsurprised that no fish and taken their bait. i'm honestly losing my spirit for jolly mockery here, so far you have achingly scrabbled your way to an opening scene that could be described in a line, say 'The two brothers looked sulkily at the rain spattered water, fishing rods idle by their side.' WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME WRITE YOUR STORY I HATE YOU

The vessel bobbed on the rippling waves, growing more violent as the sky darkened. Soon the rain doused the duo. Their ambition was to go fishing, oh is that waht tey are doing why did not you say so but at this rate the only thing that they were likely to catch was illness. lol nice pun (play on wodrs)None of the fish were biting today, and there were not even any other vessels on the lake. Despite this, the brothers stayed adamant in maintaining their post.

Soon the wind began to intensify. The dilapidated awning was falling apart, and streams of moonlight and water began to strike the boat. The chilling air cut through the tarp, and the two brothers began to ache. Teeth chattering, they both backed up to the black chest, and sat on top of it, back to back, staring out into the tempest that was consuming them.

Jeremiah grabbed Michael’s hands, and squeezed them tightly. Bound to his younger brother, Michael reassured him by singing for him the same lullaby that their parents would sing when they had trouble sleeping as children:

“Unless you wish to take a
Come here and hold out your own hand
There is no glory, there is no pain
Crying out for the already slain.”

Only this time, the brother knew they had to stand through this terror, less they risk losing it all.


Another quiet night cycles on by, with no appearance of the Terror. Now that day will tense, tsk break soon, the brothers can return home and recover tense, tsk from their ordeal. They both sighed in relief, never having to crack open the black flare chest, never having to strike against a real monster. It has been generations since the Terror overcame Rabul. The horrors that plagued their ancestors have tesne, tsk now become faint memories, a distant dream that is now a myth. Jeremiah and Michael remembered their vows to take a stand, and to always watch out for the children of the Rabul Kingdom, just as real to them as the oncoming Terror that would shatter this peace one day. And that was the most terrifying thought to both of them.
lol gently caress youuu don't spring some bullshit monster twist on me goddammit this is nonsensical

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 05:51 on Aug 12, 2016

Apr 11, 2012

Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Still could use a third judge if anyone's interested.


Jan 27, 2006
:siren:Just under 12 hours left to sign up and get your crits in.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo
Doctor Rope

Jan 27, 2006

One TD submission that didn't DQ, and you judged once a year ago with no recorded crits. Green ketchup never really caught on. I'm afraid you're too green for the sandwich this week.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Oh and the walls of crits were to say I'm in

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Djeser posted:

Oh and the walls of crits were to say I'm in

also CALLED SHOT: from my pulp week, IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM taking place on A MOUNTAIN

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Djeser posted:

also CALLED SHOT: from my pulp week, IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM taking place on A MOUNTAIN

I hope you rolled your dice :colbert:

Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

Three crits, as promised!

Sebmojo: Wild Horses (Wk. 209)

I read through this story. Then read through it again. And I really don't understand what's happening, how it meets with the prompt or what I'm supposed to be feeling here. There's a demon that I guess can't be seen or can't be touched, who ends up falling for another human instead of the one he's bound with, and Meredith is crying for some reason. It feels like there's so many things missing that you tried to fill with memories that it doesn't work.

You tend to focus a lot of Meredith's memories with loving detail, but it doesn't go anywhere or serve the purpose of your prompt. I feel like you're trying to build up her character, but it just falls flat.

Another thing: what is the demon's deal? What is he offering? What constitutes what is your 'human', and how long had he been there? He just exists, and his obsession over Helena, who I believe he'd know by now judging on how much of Meredith's past he knows, just kind of comes out of nowhere.


Dr. Klocktopussy: The Cat, The Cockroach and the Nice Old Dog
(Wk. 42)

Just under a surface of talking critters sits a story of jealousy, manipulation and slight after slight growing atop one another to boil over into injury. I was impressed about how well you were able to frame your world and set the tone of your characters with the space you were given. And a bit jealous that I can't seem to do that with my own work. Really enjoyable to read.


Jitzu the Monk: The Ascension of Paul VI: What the Vatican Doesn't want you to know.
Wk. 209

An interesting premise that ends up dwelling a bit too much in the details. Tension is hard to do with limited words, especially when you space it out piece by piece like you do in the first act. But it works well enough.

Also, points for avoiding the Anthropormorphic Problem with your alien.

As for the rest of the story, the duel in Limbo was a bit strange (I know about Catholic Limbo, but I didn't think we had sweet duels in it. Then again, not catholic) and didn't really seem to be needed. It did feed into your prompt in a way that I didn't quite expect but did enjoy.

Apr 12, 2006
Sup. I'm in. Also, I wrote these while I judged blind back on week 156 but never posted them.

:siren: week 156 judgement :siren:
I asked for stories about love. I got a bunch of suicide and death. Goddamn it.

1. epoch. - Trench Walkin’
This isn’t a story. This is a summary of a story. It is also a lovely summary of a presumably lovely story because it takes way too long to read and I don’t give a gently caress about any of your characters. You’re writing flash fiction here. You don’t have to time to go womb to tomb with characters. I’d much rather get a glimpse at something interesting than a boring overview of a character’s entire goddamn life.

Before anything else, epoch, you need to focus on not wasting so many words. You seem to love to throw out concepts and metaphors and flowery descriptions (which is fine) but you just leave them there. Hanging. You do nothing with them. In your first paragraph I can spot two right off the bat: “like she was pretending to be an airplane” and “”Like Danny. The tree could break under pressure.” This is going to come across as extremely nitpicky but, gently caress, isn’t that the point of getting a crit? The airplane line gives your reader an immediate impression of the wrong thing. Why like an airplane? Why not like a tightrope walker or something that has to do with keeping balance? While giving me a good enough visualization of the action, throwing out “airplane” makes me expect to see some sort of flying motif but, no, nothing, nothing there. Just wasted words. Same with the pressure/skinny tree thing. I think your writing there is actually really neat so its a shame nothing ever happens. Danny doesn’t break and he doesn’t seem to be in any real danger. At least not until the end which comes out of nowhere in a terrible way.

Everything needs to have a point. Every word you write needs to build on something else-- a concept, a motivation, a motif, loving whatever. Now feel free to write like a madman and let inspiration take you on a journey but when you sit down to do some editing you need to go through your story, possibly line by line, asking “Is this line necessary? What is this line doing that is critical to my story?” And then cut cut cut cut cut. And then maybe write some more to fill in the gaps and then cut some more ad nauseum until you’re left with something tight.

No more outlines.

2. spectres of autism - Amber
In theatre, a playwright gives you a taste of something different. Something out of the ordinary (at least for the characters on stage). Said characters have had wonderful little lives doing who the gently caress cares until the moment the audience keys in because that’s interesting and worth watching. No one wants to watch someone quietly brew a cup of tea for fifteen minutes and then read the newspaper silently and then go out to the post office because they need to get some more stamps. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t start off your story with “Everything is exactly the same.” Much like seeing a show, I’m hoping when I begin a new story that something is happening or is about to happen or literally just happened. You spend a couple hundred words blathering on about the sameness of everything and why should I keep reading? Just cut right to the chase!

Don’t over explain. The whole “I’ve used a telepathic chat program to cross digitized blah blah blah space time dildo”-ery is a mess. Its hard to read and I’m not interested in any of it. You have a cool idea. Don’t over explain it. Keep your audience hungry.

Your ending makes no sense.

What character here got hosed up on love?

3. Thranguy - Believing the Strangest Thing
I’m sorry, Thranguy. I didn’t think this story deserved a DM but I got outvoted. There are certainly some issues here but I didn’t think what you wrote was particularly horrible. Oh well. Let’s look at what didn’t work for me.

Your choice of perspective was puzzling to me. I don’t know why you chose to write this from the point of view of the passive brother who didn’t really contribute to anything (plot, conflict, motivation, character development). He just sat there and narrated and you might as well have gone full third person. I mean, maybe it was a stylistic choice or maybe it was something that started off as a neat idea to you and you didn’t develop it. I dunno. It didn’t work for me. Going from Dad, Ian, Grandpa, or even Holly’s perspective would have been more exciting imo.

You have some good dialogue and some bad dialogue. Grandpa and alcohol? Great. Was funny and quick and gave excellent characterization. Ian monologuing about love and parts? Preachy and wordy and unrealistic. You, the author, are hammering in your point too hard and it detracts from the flow.

Having the ex-boyfriend show up with zero foreshadowing as to his existence doesn’t work. This is where a different perspective would have been helpful. If we were going from Holly or Ian then on the way to dinner there could be some preview of the past relationship: “oh I’m so happy to meet your folks my ex would never even let me leave the ship he was craaazy” or whatever. I dunno. You do you. But you can’t just throw poo poo midway into a short story with zero foreshadowing. It’s sloppy.

Woah. Ending paragraph is terrible. What are you trying to do there?

4. C7ty1 - Long Treehouse Title
You didn’t capture the “kid” voice for me. This was very “I’m an adult trying to sound like a little kid” and lacked authenticity and it drove me a little nuts. When you write stuff like this you have to decide where you are telling the story of a little kid who is still a little kid at the point of narration or of a little kid who is remembering it as an adult. This is a very important distinction that changes a fuckton about how you, the author, can approach the story. I think you were constantly changing your mind as you wrote this. Moving on.

Your dialogue did you no favors. I think a lot of this comes from the whole “aiming for little kid voice and missing” but there was also a lot of “this just isn’t how people talk in real life.”

There was a lot of indecision in your writing. You couldn’t decide how serious the tone should be. You couldn’t decide on how far to take the fake soldier stuff. You couldn’t decide on what was important to keep and what needed to be cut. You could edit this into something good. I like the idea behind it and you definitely hit the prompt.

5. WLOTM! - Mister Feelings
I think going with highschoolers was a smart call given the prompt. I’ve told my students before that I’m envious of the ability to feel things because they do it so openly. So fully. And then the sci-fi emotion drug bits? Brilliant stuff. Just a really great idea and a wonderful exploration of a unique world. One of my favorite things you written (that I can remember).

Good opener. Catchy flow. Even going back to do this more in depth crit I find myself zipping through this. Motivation was solid and easy to follow. Character was active in the pursuit of his goals. And the dose of apathy at the end is jarring in a good way. Well executed. Exceeeeeeeeeeeppppppttttttttttt I don’t really understand why Chuck got beat down. What was the one voice calling through the void? Argh! I don’t know! A sadly weak ending on otherwise tight piece.

6. Ironic Twist - Summer in December
I wasn’t going to HM this but the other judges liked it quite a lot and convinced me to do so. I’m glad they did. There is something quite charming with your writing here. You capture an excellent balance between summary and story. We see a long term relationship and you keep it just tight enough to make it interesting and to make it worth reading. Your little summary bits, which is something I hated in so many other stories, added to your piece. They contributed something to the plot or to characterization. That was very nice and I’m very appreciative of that. Oh, nice sharp opening line. This was a complete opposite of what spectres of autism did. I would, however, have liked being clued in to the conflict a little earlier. Nice ending. Nice imagery. Very beautiful language.

7. Jonked - Space Barf Opera
You gave me a lot of puke and no plot. I actually thought your vomity drunk scientist man was an interesting idea but he’s flat. He’s two dimensional. Over the course of 1300 words nothing about him changes. He doesn’t grow as a person. He doesn’t come to terms with the defeat of his mission or strengthen his resolve to fight NASA orders or do any number of interesting things that lends itself to if not growth then at least interesting characterization. No, he just wakes up hungover and, after being threatened, takes a shower. Whoopee.

Your other two characters were equally two-dimensional and equally stuck in arrested development. Somebody needs to change, man. Somebody. Anybody. Something needs to be different by the time your reader reaches the your story.

I’m not a big fan of all caps yelling. It never works for me and takes me right out of the moment. Also, it was awkward when Carl threw up and then giggled. Do people do that in real life?

8. Fuchsia tude - vague somethings with sculpting maybe
Man this is so close to being good. You hit on a really lovely bit of language all the way through this. I don’t know a better way of putting it. This is just super easy to read. Its… elegant? In a way? Very clean.Unfortunately, you leave out too much. The sculpture, the relationship, the bit with the lawyer at the end. I don’t know what’s going on and it kills you. It kills what you’ve written. It makes it uninteresting because it's impossible to tell why it should be interesting. I feel like I’m reading, like, a quarter of a story. And not the beginning or the middle or the end but just a bunch of random pages that were torn out and taped together. Gimme some more meat.

Also, at one point you call Liana “Tara.”

9. tentacleDate - Kuya and the Filipino Death Squads
I like stories about brothers. I like stories about brothers who like each other and dislike stories where brothers aren’t friends. I guess its because me and my brother get along in spades so it throws me when I witness a relationship that's rocky. I’m like “Why? They’re brothers. They should be friends.” Unrealistic? Yes. Also, I don’t give a poo poo.

So. Congrats. You unwittingly hit on a subject I like to read about it. Straight up, though, I wouldn’t have HM’d this. But, lucky for you, my co judge lurved it so here we are. I’m sure he’ll suck your dick on what you did real nice so I’m gonna focus on what was bad.

“That’s all I can hear my brother scream clearly through the sound of the rifles firing.” Way wordy. I’m two sentences in and you’re already hurting my brain.

Ugh. You don’t need to repeat yourself so many times on just how, like, aware your main character is of the bullets killing everyone he knows. Especially in instances where he wasn’t directly witnessing it occur. Trust your reader to remember it from the first time.

The dog came out of nowhere. And not in a good way. The action sequence was well-written and easy to follow but giving your reader a little foreshadowing that dogs are around and are a threat would’ve been nice.

10. crabrock - Let’s Kill a Baby at the End
I legitimately loved your opener. It was evocative and intriguing and made me want to read more because I didn’t know where you were going with it. I was exceedingly disappointed with where you went with it. Straight up, I was going to DM this. You give me a visceral description of a car crash but not much else. Zero plot. Nothing happened. And then you killed a baby at the end. Who was getting hosed up on love here? Wounded Mom was certainly acting hosed up but if you were going for some “This world is ugly and you’re better off not living in it” you didn’t hit it. I don’t really have much more to say-- your opener was tight, your descriptions were good, you didn’t have a plot, you killed a baby. Okey dokey.

11. Kaishai - welp. this happened.
I know what you were going for here. I know you were trying to give me a story about a dad who made excuses for his son but through his actions inadvertently let the son go down a bad path. I understand that (which is something that several people in irc have insinuated that I didn’t). Here’s the thing. You didn’t give me that story. You didn’t give me a story at all. I was stunned when I saw you were the author because I have a great deal of respect for you as a writer and consider you far better at the craft than myself. So I was kind of stuck in a quandary where I kept asking myself “Well do I give Kaishai a DM? I mean, who am I to do so? She’s such a good writer.” Well. For better or for worse I stuck with what we three decided upon when everything was anonymous and so here we are. Let’s go over why I hated this.

As I’ve already said, you didn’t give me the story you intended. I get three little boring snapshots of this relationship which tell me nothing. Stage 1: Dad stops a six year old from yelling at his toddler. Okay. Pretty reasonable. He’s overly angry but the response still falls into the realm of “You are yelling at my toddler.” Stage 2: Son gets a bad grade and complains the teacher is too tough to which Dad replies “Okay I’ll talk with her but lets first look at your homework.” Also, pretty reasonable. Much more reasonable than a lot of the parents I deal with when a kid gets a bad grade in my class. Stage 3: Kid gets caught selling pills and Dad refuses to post bail or pay for a lawyer so that he, the dad, can “take a stand” or something. What? Why? These three scenes don’t work together. They don’t form a complete story. There’s just these extreme jumps in time and one extreme jump in “feeling responsible” and it just doesn’t make sense and it isn’t fun to read and it’s… It’s bad. And your descriptions feel so amateur here. “The bright orange of Gabe's prison uniform swims in his vision, but this is not a hallucination, no matter how much he wants it to be.” You had five hundred extra words. Why did you so often resort to telling instead of showing? I don’t know. I don’t know what you were doing here. This story just feels so slapped together and sloppy and screams “I don’t really give a poo poo I’m just throwing down some words.” And I feel like you missed the prompt.

So here we are.

12. Broenheim - oh my god another suicide story whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

“Hey do you love me?” “Yes.” “Will you leave me?” “No.” “Even though I’m dying?” “No don’t die.” “I’m dead.” “Nooooo.”

13. Grizzled Patriarch - Seawall

I feel like you didn’t know what you wanted to write about this week so you just threw something together and then killed the girl off at the end for dramatic effect and ugh god why did everyone do that this week I’m so sick of reading these stories.

Couple things. I liked your intro. It was interesting. Then you pretty much completely dropped it. Why?

“The responding officer is left with the unenviable task of handcuffing a one-armed man.” Beautiful. You lots of little bits in your story this week that I liked and that made me grin. You can be a very charming writer.

I think your main problem here is that you tried to show me the entirety of a relationship over 1300 words instead of just giving me a really great moment. If you had picked any one of your sections and used the full 1300 on THAT instead. Well. Maybe you’d have come home with a win or an HM.

14. Schneider heim - I wonder if she’ll see this and know I’m talking about her...
I disliked everything about your idea here. That’s rare for me. This read like a teenager’s angsty, angry livejournal post shortly after getting dumped. “Oh, by the way, in the future you can get married to someone else but I’m going to be SUPER RICH AND POWERFUL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE LEFT ME GODNOWHYPLEASECOMEBACK” *listening to dashboard confessional*. The trans revelation was bizarre and didn’t add anything and was, honestly, a little offensive. Your dialogue was awkward and unrealistic. You didn’t show me a character getting hosed up on love. This was just bad. My personal vote for the loss.

15. newtestleper - No Suicide Here, Thanks. Just Hacker Girl Stuff.
I’m not sure you hit the prompt. Like. At all. But this was bizarrely beautiful to me and sometimes that’s enough. I wanted to HM you but got outvoted on the “where is the getting hosed up on love” bit. Oh well.

Really nice really poetic descriptions of some pretty mundane poo poo here. That takes talent. You gave me a good sense of character. Good feeling of what was going on between them. I don’t know what else to say. I hope you didn’t just throw this together because I liked it a lot.

16. Sitting Here - Hi I’m Sitting Here I Do Dreams and Stuff
I figured this one was you. Not really your best work but a very intriguing idea. Very interesting take. I do feel like you swung a little hard on your names though. Like you went for some symbolism but it just comes across as disingenuous and hokey. Oooh depressed guy! Let’s call him “Nobody!” You’re better than that.

You had something here and you let it slip through your fingers. I can’t quite put my finger on what “it” is but it isn’t here. Something needs to be fleshed out more for this to be really good. Oh well. I liked your idea and I thought this was well written and that goes a ways with me. Plus you hit the prompt.

17. Flesnolk - Three Hours for One
This was sweet. It flowed well, it kept my attention, the character was easy to identify with, it was just nice. It was lacking in a plot and you didn’t have much of a build or a conflict but, you know, nice job other than that.

19. sebmojo - f=ma
In the first week of my first year of undergrad I hadn’t realized yet that I didn’t have to be friends with someone just because we met at orientation. So I ended up hanging out with this kid and he blathered on about he was a writer and how I should totally check out his livejournal because he posted some really good stories there. They weren’t very good. I don’t know if you could even call them stories. It was just a bunch of wish fulfillment bullshit where this kid talked about how his future relationship with ________ was totally awesome and how they totally got along in spades and how he was the best and how she loved being with him.

That’s what your entry read like to me. It’s some dumbass who both characters recognize as being a dumbass “getting the girl” because… he’s the main character, I guess?

Also, none of your jokes hit for me. I didn’t find this funny. I think if I had then maybe everything else would have been forgivable but I didn’t. And with me not laughing the dialogue got real painful real fast. The goat bit in particular left me cringing with his livejournal-ness.

At least you hit the prompt. Well, better than a lot of people. But that’s not saying much.

20. Djeser - Late Story
This story was late. You should submit earlier. That would be good. This is my crit.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Critiques for Week CCI: In Soviet Judging Commissariat, the Joke Is on You

Why does a request for happy endings turn your livers to water and your minds to mush, comrades? So many of you had trouble sticking an upbeat landing that I'd assume Thunderdome were terrible at everything that isn't doom and gloom if I didn't know better. (Obligatory joke: TD is terrible at doom and gloom too.) The images of skeletons, demons, and whatever is going on here complicated the task, but that was the challenge. Oh, well; we all survived the experience, and that's a darned good ending whenever Russian revolutions are involved.

Marshmallow Blue, "The Other Side of the Wall"

The key to success with an art prompt seldom lies in spending the first paragraph describing your picture. You give it new context, but I would have preferred something less literal, especially considering the requirement of a happy ending: the grim mood you set here pervades the piece up until the final section, which tries to force a happy tone and ends up feeling tacked onto a story that should have ended two paragraphs sooner. That's a problem several writers have this round, so at least you're in good company.

The story could stand to underline its points less and let the reader draw some conclusions on his own: the sentence "The punishment for both was a front row seat to the firing squad" doesn't tell us anything new, for example, and the introspection/exposition level is high enough that cutting redundant information couldn't hurt.

Minor mechanical errors are common, e.g. a lack of subject-verb agreement. Dialogue isn't punctuated properly. Check out this link and absorb its wisdom ASAP.

That last section could and probably should be cut. The transition is super clumsy. It doesn't add significantly to Alex's story, which isn't itself all that fresh. A firing-squad rifleman has a moment of hesitation, is shot, and feels relief when he can't do his duty anymore. It's a standard "war is hell" piece in which the characters are stock roles. Aside from the errors, though, the prose is serviceable, and there's nothing terrible about it--just nothing exciting. I preferred the energetic-if-absurd adventures of Mr. Chips, but that might be my weakness for a well-timed fist bump talking.

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Chernabog, "Grim callings"

A comma splice right in the first line! Oh, dear, and they just keep coming. Comma splices are tools that ought to be handled with care. Fling them every whichaway and the result is awkward rather than artful. Your frequent use of them is more distracting than effective, calling my attention to the prose and away from what the prose says. The odd speech pattern you've given to Death works (or doesn't, as the case may be) similarly; it's not fun to read and doesn't make logistical sense.

Death as a woman with a job, known and recognized by the whole village, is a good concept and unusual insofar as she doesn't appear only to a select few at the right time. Everybody knows she's there and what she's up to. Her special relationship to the man responsible for letting her in through the gate is potentially interesting. The execution isn't great, unfortunately. Issues with the prose aside, the bear fight is dull, mechanical and lacking immediacy. There's plenty of step-by-step description of physical actions but little sense of what Yuri feels in the moment. Terrified? Angry? What is his pain like? I don't buy either the central idea that most people don't ask Death for help or mercy. Who wouldn't ask Death to spare a loved one in a world in which Death was right there and available for conversation?

I regret the wasted potential, but I'd still say this is relatively all right. You're improving! Keep that up!

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Chili, "Never Again, You Scum!"


Oy, the storytelling style you employ here is lethal. Theoretically exciting things happen, but in my mental ear it all sounds like some stranger on the bus droning his life story at me: everything is told in retrospect and at a remove, with details thrown in that add nothing to the narrative but length. For all the exposition about Luca's life, I don't feel any connection to him. He might as well be a robot aside from his childhood fondness for Poparov and the glimpse into his heart that the final three lines provide. His whole revenge quest comes off as mechanical, like he and you are going through the motions--it's a lot less interesting than you'd expect murder-suicide via boat Whac-A-Mole to be.

Can we talk about Luca's murder method for a second? Tying a man to a mast and then beating holes in the boat is the sort of thing James Bond villains do! I don't believe for a second that Yuri dies! He completely gets away while Luca is martyring himself for justice; right now he's on a beach somewhere smoking cigarettes and drinking Mai Tais. Luca's suicide isn't even slightly upbeat, because dying needlessly to emulate a man who himself died by chopping down a treehouse full of raiders--not the soundest strategy--isn't heroic, only stupid. Credibly stupid. A traumatized and broken young man might do something like that, albeit by different methods. The credibility makes it bleak, however, as suicide usually is.

There were definitely better ways to slant the end of this story upward. Luca might have abandoned revenge, or he might have killed Yuri and then shared a fist bump with Damien, or he might have killed Yuri and then sailed off into the sunrise uncertain of what life held for him next but finally free of the past. Anything like that would have shown the positive forward motion QuoProQuid required. Luca's death couldn't do that.

Going back to the extraneous details, why did Luca write his life story? Why did Yuri's boat have a name? Why didn't Luca's godmother take him in immediately, skipping the bit about his life on the streets? Why did Luca spend some of his last moments alive looking at Yuri's porn? Who takes pictures of drinking? These pieces of information may be intended to develop the setting and Luca, but they aren't incorporated well; they don't do their job, so they should have been cut or made to matter.

One point in your work's favor is that it has the shape of a story. There are obvious attempts made at plot, action, characterization, and hitting the prompt--which you did so far as the image went, although it wouldn't shock me if you flat forgot the rest. Most of what you did this time wasn't successful, but you have good instincts. What you need most is more practice.

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a friendly penguin, "February"

Does everything float in that hill? Naming the monster IT possibly wasn't the best choice. But I sort of like the first section, King flashbacks aside. The terse sentences deliver the right mood. It makes me think of a reversed "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," Ursula K. LeGuin's famous story of the welfare of many vs. the welfare of one. I guessed when I read this the first time that the hidden child had a twin and that was why the speaker thought it would successfully escape, and that was soon borne out; you could have been more clear about it--clarity isn't a strength of this piece, sacrificed for style--but I think I understand the story's general shape.

When the switch to IT's perspective happens, the terse sentences no longer work as well. The creature's voice isn't distinct from the villager's. Should it be? IT is in the villager, so echoes might be expected. I'm not convinced the similarity is an intentional choice, though.

The ending, like so many others, hits an off note: for it to be upbeat, it would need to be set in the perspective of the child or a villager--someone for whom the boy's escape is a triumph rather than a defeat. Furthermore, IT's loss is strictly temporary. My strong impression is that IT will come back to destroy the survivors eventually. Not a cheerful thought! That conclusion also draws another parallel to the novel It, which isn't a good thing. The monster of King's book preys upon children, lives underground, and is temporarily defeated but destined to return; there's emphasis on how It possesses the town of Derry and has shaped the minds of the people. Sound familiar? Glad as I am that there's no sewer gangbang in this story, I still eye it sidelong. On the off chance you haven't read It yet, check it out: it may be right up your alley.

I could have voted for an HM for the first section, but the second half drags the whole down into the swampy middle.

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Black Griffon, "Alika and Marcius"

The first line took me three attempts to parse. Two paragraphs in, I'm ready to stamp this with OVERWROUGHT in large, red letters. The phrases don't flow naturally, so the voice doesn't work. By the fourth paragraph I'm wondering whether you're ESL, but I'd guess you're trying for literary style and missing hard--like "fall off the tightrope and break both your legs" hard. Another judge liked what you were doing, so take my complaint with salt if you like, but for me the prose makes following the story difficult and unpleasant without offering any benefit in exchange.

From what I can tell, Mercius is a warrior who's ridden five horses to death so far in his quest to kill one man: Alika, lord of a city. The death of the fifth horse drove him to flee, but he's come back to his nemesis one last time to end it, scourged on by the memory of his cowardice. He ultimately wins what feels like an empty, broken battle, washing his cowardice away in blood.

This stumbles on the "happy ending" concept. Marcius wins and frees himself of his obsession, but he's right: he's a broken man who has defeated another broken man. Age has weakened both of them. The tone of the fight suggests futility more than joy even though you tell me joy exists. Is Marcius free now? How can he be when he's lived for nothing else to this point? It's all rather depressing, although it meets the prompt when all's said and done: Marcius will move on toward something else, and that's a positive development.

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Entenzahn, "Bystander Effect"

Too many dog stories in TD have made me resistant to this one's attempts at pathos. Not your fault, really, but it's still a bit like reading another Newbery medal winner with a dead kid in it.

It's a decent story, though. I enjoy the view of the bystander effect from two sides, not to mention the first protagonist of the week with some rounding to him. I like his solution and the way the dog fights against being saved. It adds an extra layer of difficulty to doing the right thing. Even the question of whether the punks' dog victims are ultimately better off complicates the issue in an interesting way--though I don't know whether you meant it to be a question. You've left the violence at the level of a few shoves and slaps, definitely abuse but perhaps not so much for a dog to endure to get out of the shelter and into a bleeding-heart home. I can understand how people passing the scene by can justify doing so to themselves. If that's intentional on your part, good job; if the punks' treatment of the animal is intended to be seen as flat-out torture, you softened the blow too much.

What I don't like all that much is the end, which sort of falls over, as though you had no more idea of how to move forward than your protagonist. He's done a good deed. Now what? I'm not certain what else exactly I want from this story, but there's something it doesn't deliver that keeps it insubstantial. This may be what held it back from honors, as all three judges liked it--a rarity, so be proud--but none of us thought it rose above the competent plateau.

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magnificent7, "Untitled"

I'm morally obliged to tear this a new one. It's practically a holy vocation. First, though, I want to salute you for your choice to write something, anything, in the face of distraction and too many failures. You knew there was a good chance of loss (dear Heaven, I hope you knew that) but went ahead for the sake of doing what you'd said you'd do. Bravo. I'm glad I got to read this thing, whatever my thoughts on its quality.

Okay, warm fuzzies over. You used a screenplay format to have a very obvious, very preachy, somewhat prolonged conversation with yourself about the evils of religious fanaticism. Therefore, the only thing the entry has is dialogue--there's no setting, plot, description, or action; characterization barely exists--and that dialogue is mostly artless and stale. It's no surprise the humor falls flat, given the subject matter. The gilding of story is so cheap and thin that my eyes are turning greener just looking at this.

The message isn't a bad one. "Hey, people, stop reading excuses to kill everybody into your holy books" is a sentiment with which it's hard to disagree. There are points to consider when it comes to drawing inspiration from current events, though. You still want to deliver a good experience, if only so your audience will pay attention. A lecture is not usually a good experience when the reader is hoping for fiction. Show your message in the actions of characters and the details of your setting, don't tell it as a game of conversational Pong between talking heads. You may not need that advice in these circumstances--I doubt you wrote the story this way because you thought the approach would be brilliant--but maybe it will serve someone else who's reading this.

Toward that same goal: don't misspell the name of one of your characters as FIRSTNAMEFIRSTNAME at any point if you can help it!

I wholeheartedly love the last two lines and their brazen shoehorning in of the prompt. More humor like that and less circling around and around a point might have spared you.

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Thranguy, "Mince"

The commas are probably left out of the fourth line intentionally, but I don't like it. Nor am I keen on the period inside the parentheses in the sixth or the use of parentheses in the eighth--though I could warm to the latter if it weren't for what they do to the mood; more on that shortly. The long parenthetical digression about the princesses is exactly that: digression. The end of the story feels abrupt and shortchanged, and it's easy to point to the princess paragraph and ask why it's comparatively bloated.

The nuts and bolts are altogether rougher than I would expect: "A ruler should have a sense when his men are lying to him." “And his boot-lick were not making sport of your kitten's walk.” Are you trying to give the general strange diction? Why? Then again, "it's walk" appears shortly after. It looks more like you missed more in editing than you generally do.

I like the serving boy, although I wish more time were spent on and with him; I like Owyn. I like the general. I feel for Owyn, a boy-king who isn't remotely ready and isn't remotely respected. The problem with the way his tale ends, in terms of the prompt, is that the parentheticals suggest he's in denial to a degree that makes me worry for his sanity. I don't finish reading and think, "Aww, Owyn has a friend." I think, "Owyn is miserable and may be about to crack." That's not happy! The intention is present, but the tone's wrong. He may have met the serving boy and he may get to play with a cat sometimes, but his father has died, he's the king, and he's not coping well. That doesn't seem like a net improvement in his situation.

You made top-notch use of the picture, however, drawing elements of the story from it without being completely literal. Since the prompt is no longer an issue, more polish and a little expansion--the general in particular just drops out of the story without word of how he and King Owyn get on--ought to be enough to take this from promising-but-flawed to solidly strong.

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Paladinus, "Funding Cuts"

I won't pretend this is good, but I like it anyway. I almost love it. Bickering, alien bats from space fly to the assistance of a blacksmith and accept his tongs as repayment, with which they repair their broken spaceship. It's so completely stupid it ought to be awful. Logic is nonexistent. The prose looks decent only relative to the poor showing this week. But it makes me smile when little else does: it's the only thing with a wholeheartedly upbeat ending.

What's the difference between this and the unabashed idiocy of certain stories I've loathed in the past? The picture has to be what makes this funny instead of just dumb, at least in part. You were given a picture of bats flying around a thrashing man with tongs, and that's by God what you wrote, in an unexpected and lighthearted way. Something about taking a peculiar prompt and playing along with it charms me. It probably helps that I'm almost sure you know this is a farce. You had fun, and I have fun reading it. Thanks, Paladinus. I'm glad you stick around.

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Screaming Idiot, "And he had black wings"

First section: good. Second section: bad, because it cheats. Yuri isn't still "here" at the story's end, so he shouldn't talk about it in the present tense. Otherwise this part's all right, although it's where the murky metaphysics start. Why does it matter whether the childish hell inspires hope? Do the dead only travel toward what they think they'll find?

Third section: part good. Mostly bad. I'm not convinced Yuri has been searching for himself as much as for some place to be that isn't a cartoon hell, so the man with the black wings turning it into a Quest for Self-Realization comes out of left field. It's bad when someone has to tell the protagonist what his goal is, yo. Yuri regains his name and memory too quickly and too easily. What should have been the climactic moment is passive. Effortless.

Once the narrative turns into the ending of The Wizard of Oz, it's just a mess, and I wish Yuri had found peace or hope in death rather than returning to life like (very like!) the protagonist of Fallout: New Vegas. I can't tell whether the man with the wings is a stand-in for God the Father. The visual symbolism is all wrong, but the role is right, so...? The metaphysics operate on dream logic--which reminds me that It Was All a Dream. I sincerely like parts of the prose, but the finale ruins everything.

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flerp, "The Monster in the Lake and in My Stomach"

Screamed has synonyms that convey subtly different things. Dad screaming at his daughter while they fight works--sort of: screaming is shrill and I'd prefer yelling, bellowing, shouting, etc., but it passes. Dad screaming as she flees the house doesn't, because that suggests a different sort of distress than what I believe you mean to imply, something more along the lines of fear. Then again... could that be your intention? It depends on how I'm meant to see the dad, and that's by no means clear cut. I got hung up on this point on my first read. I'm intrigued by it in retrospect.

When Julie first wants to scream but can't--or won't--I see a similarity to her father that she's either rejecting or can't express. Maybe his yelling is what makes her see herself as a monster. Maybe her guilt does that, because it turns out he has reason to yell. She stole a bunch of booze and drank it with a boy with whom she then had some queasy-making sex. It's ambiguous whether her father mistreats her or whether his protective instincts are making him shout at the wrong person (although she earned some shouting by stealing the vodka), but by the story's end I've just about decided that Dad's an all right guy and Julie's inability to act in her own interest is the villain of the piece.

There's zero suggestion she loves Derek or wants him. She goes along with his plans because... why? The reason is probably ugly, but what is it? Insecurity? Crippling passivity? Did she think she was a monster before she told a horny teenager she loved him and let him do things that made her sick inside? She takes too much initiative for me to call this a rape scene, but it's uncomfortable as hell. Especially when remembering it makes her want to throw up--and yet she doesn't block his number.

If Derek pressured Julie into sex and their tryst made her loathe herself, then for Julie to stop herself from severing with him is about the least happy way this could have ended. It would be different if she wanted to be with him and were defying her father to that purpose, but surely this isn't meant to be a love story. Surely. Julie spends the story nauseated by the decisions she's made but doing nothing to mend them. There's power in her despair, but it's so completely unsuited to the prompt that you're a little fortunate the bottom of the barrel is so low.

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Benny Profane, "1905"

Nadya's rise from her grave and view of the changed city are good reading. I can't say as much for the chunk of exposition about worker strikes and current events. You take such pains to ground your entry concretely in time that it reads as though you want to show your work in researching 1905 Russia. Unfortunately, this makes the story slow and dry, and when I reached this part on my first read my hopes of having found a win contender dwindled. I didn't realize then that clunky factoids would remain among the week's least sins.

The pace never reaches full steam again. It improves when Nadya drifts toward the women. The contrast between what she expects and what she gets there is more striking since the female social world was hers once, and the exposition is less cack-handed. Her library, still present though decaying, represents the timelessness and relative immortality of the written word. The books there connect the past to the present, and they connect the past and present to the future in the form of Nadya's descendant. I love what this suggests about reading and stories, and I love that in the eye of change, there's stability so long as elders care for children. Some patterns of our lives and hearts are less changeable than our worlds. If only you hadn't felt the need to make a similar idea--that all this change is part of the same cycle as always--explicit! That's another gob of exposition I'd scoop out with a melon baller if I could.

The concepts here are stronger than the story itself thanks to the latter's burden of exposition; not much happens, either, but I enjoyed the quiet change in Nadya's perspective on the present year. This isn't your best work. It's good enough regardless that I'm pleased by its victory.

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Tyrannosaurus, "Eden"


The problems I have with the first half or so--the stuff before all the asterisks--are closer to subjective than objective. Walter and Maxine are robots in name only. They banter just like people, and I'm puzzled why they couldn't have been two humans with finite resources wandering together in a post-apocalyptic world; if nothing else, that wouldn't have brought back memories of Robot Week or, more intensely, of Daphnaie's winning story in Eurovision Week III. That's a more significant barrier to my enjoying this: it reminds me of something else I've read recently in concept and emotional gist. The stories aren't clones and the similarity may not be your fault, but your premise doesn't feel fresh as a result.

One of the differences from Daphnaie's entry is Maxine's desire to be human. My co-judges liked that characterization better than I did. You want to talk about a robot trope that's too familiar....

Other than that, the prose is solid, the characterization good enough to make me care, the conversation enjoyable; it's familiar ground, but the execution makes it worth reading again. Then everything after the series of asterisks kills it. I can't tell whether Maxine and Walter have died and gone to robo-Heaven or have somehow been teleported into a bank vault in the middle of the Amazon. You'd think, from that sentence, the answer would be obvious, but what would error messages and horrible, lurching gaits be doing in robo-Heaven? I dislike either option: robo-Heaven is too twee and teleportation too WTF.

This ending also appears stapled onto the rest of the story rather than organic. (Maybe it's the teleportation thing.) As with others, it seems you wrote a grimdark story and then stuck a happy ending on with crazy glue. You shouldn't have had to do that! You're more than capable of upbeat work!

We all disliked the epilogue, as one judge called it, a lot. You would probably have done better to stay with the bittersweet shutdown, which would have fulfilled the prompt about as well as anyone else managed to do.

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skwidmonster, "A New Friend"

Things start off a little repetitive with the verb tumble and the phrase my body appearing twice in the first paragraph. Then see and seeing in the second. I'm interested in where this is going, though. Making the protagonist a severed head is a bold choice. The odds of a passive protagonist go way, way up!

I'd like more description of Snerb the first time Manya sees him; she thinks of him by name when he's still only a clatter in the darkness, as far as the reader knows. I'd most assuredly like for Manya and Snerb to not be talking in the same paragraph.

Why have Snerb and the other heads been waiting for Manya? Why do they know and yet not know each other? The story doesn't end up addressing this, so it probably shouldn't be there--"I just know somehow" on its own is weak. You're vague about the entire rite, and I suggest hinting at mysteries and purpose to it beyond releasing the unfortunate dead is a bad call at this length. You don't have the words to explain, so keep it straightforward.

This is my favorite story. Its rough edges are too rough to let it be as good as one could wish. The thing is, it makes me smile, and it does what so many entries failed to do in turning the image that inspired it into something truly upbeat. I love Snerb, especially at the end when he prays as the odd priest of an odd, yet moving faith. You made the right choice of protagonist despite Manya's unavoidable passivity. Snerb works best when seen from outside, and the reader gets to follow Manya to the edge of the light, if not beyond.

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Fuubi, "Legends of War"

It may be late, badly formatted, full of errors from the first line on, subject to ill-advised experimentation, purple as a plum, and plain old boring, but this story is sincere. I think. Sincere stories leave hope for improvement in a way women with tomato heads do not, so there's that.

But boy, oh, boy, do I hope that improvement comes fast.

Your first few paragraphs are a distinctly lilac stereotype of fantasy writing. The melodrama! The adjectives! Would you describe coal, say, as "black and black"? Then why describe anything as "obsidian and raven"? The mechanical flaws in the text don't help you: myth is singular, but you attach it to a plural verb; "there were one" is not an acceptable phrase in this context; you don't capitalize "Queen" consistently; commas are missing; apostrophes are missing; you misspell contrived and whimper. You refer to a character as "the evil one." This isn't a technical error, but ouch. What's interesting is that you almost get dialogue right when half of the rest of Thunderdome screws that up!

If it weren't for the misspellings I'd assume you're finding your way still with grammar, and maybe you are. Those, however, suggest you didn't take the time or put in the effort to run a spell check, much less proofread the piece line by line. You need to leave yourself enough time to make your work presentable. That also means putting a blank line between paragraphs, by the way, because otherwise the text runs together on the screen. Consider blank lines the forum equivalent of tabs.

When push comes to shove, it's not the technicalities and not the purple prose that sink you--although the latter sets fire to all the bailing buckets and staves in the lifeboats. The narrative style delivers the deathblow. Telling it as a series of excerpts from contemporary accounts makes it read like a school paper, removing immediacy and adding bloat. The story is already basic and somewhat cliche, other than the contrived part--I don't buy for a minute that the queen would regain her lands peacefully when the Spider King dies--and you make it more dull, not less, by putting the reader at a distance from it.

The counterargument is that experimentation isn't inherently bad. Trying it out before you've proven you can tell a coherent or enjoyable story is premature, but a corner of my mind approves of going for broke like this. You had an idea and an ambition. This time they didn't work out. With more practice, someday they may.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 16:48 on Sep 5, 2016

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
That post should suffice as my tithe. In.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren: Mmmmm, that's some good ketchup. Signups closed!

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)
From Capes to Cameras
931 words

Ahmed Al-Khaldi stood at the head of the table, addressing his fellow heroes.

"Thanks for coming here on such a short notice. I have an important announcement to make."

Silence. Several heroes started to sweat, the smell picked up by Ahmed's hyper-senses.

"No, it's not some world-ending scenario, rest assured. It's just... I'm resigning from active duty, due to personal reasons," Ahmed said.

Rainbow Ranger's arms were crossed, his goggles turning a shade of yellow. "I would like to know these personal reasons, Dyna-Man."

"Neal!" Stargazer said.

"It's fine, Illyana," Ahmed said. "Saving lives and fighting villains is important work, but it has left me empty and unfulfilled. I'll still use my powers for good, but this won't be my full-time job anymore."

"So what could possibly be more important to you?" Rainbow Ranger asked.

Ahmed smiled. He produced a black rectangular object from under the table. He held the camera at arm's length, like a tourist would. "It's beautiful, isn't it? I got this from the proceeds of my old costume's auction."

"You don't mean..." Stargazer said, at a loss for words.

"I've decided," Ahmed said. "I'm going to be a photographer. Say cheese!"

And with that, Ahmed Al-Khaldi took his first photograph.


At the studio, Ahmed's model frowned at her face staring from the LCD preview.

"I don't like that shot."

"What's wrong with it?" Ahmed asked.

The model bit her lip. "Can't you see? The perspective is unflattering, and it looks like I'm missing an arm. It's a bad shot."

"But your face here is beautiful," Ahmed said, his big green eyes meaning it. Everyone was beautiful. That was why he became a photographer in the first place. Heck, even General Gnarlax himself could schedule a photoshoot and Ahmed would gladly oblige, provided that he behaved.

"I don't like that shot. It's not going into my portfolio," the model said. "I could take better pictures," she muttered, which Ahmed pretended not to hear.

"Okay, let's try again." Ahmed walked back to his camera.

The model threw an exasperated sigh and smiled again.


After the shoot, Ahmed took to the streets to clear his mind from the stress of work. The spontaneity of street photography appealed to him, and he enjoyed capturing candid smiles. After having protected the peace for so long, it felt like a well-deserved retirement.

He spotted a father and son bonding in an outdoor cafe. The man was watching the boy, who was carefully drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Ahmed thought the mixture of joy and apprehension in the father's face made for a good expression. He lifted the camera to his eye, framed the two faces inside a nearby arch, and snapped a photo.

The man, upon hearing the shutter, looked straight at Ahmed. Frowning, he stood up and confronted him. "Excuse me?"

Ahmed smiled back. "You have a beautiful smile," he said, showing the man a preview of his photo.

"I don't want to be photographed. Delete that or I'll call the cops on you."

The photo was quite good, but one had to respect the rights of people being photographed. It was a shame, but Ahmed decided to comply with the man's request. "There, it's gone. Have a nice day, sir."

"Hmph." The man went back to his seat. Ahmed went on his way, but not before hearing a snatch of their conversation.

"Dad? I thought he looked familiar. I think that was--"

"Dyna-Man would never violate your privacy. He's just some creep."

The words stung. Ahmed found that he couldn't take any more street photographs after the incident. He wandered into a park and sat on a bench, staring at the clear sky. There wasn't even an interesting cloud formation to capture.

His shutter finger twitched in frustration. He knew that photography was hard and that he did not possess the innate talent for it. Sometimes fighting General Gnarlax felt easier than doing a photoshoot. Being a hero seemed like something he was born for, but it did not nourish his soul as it did for others. He secretly envied some of his fellow heroes for that.

A fire truck passed, its sirens blaring. Ahmed had heard that sound many times before, but it carried an ominous tone. What if the firemen couldn't arrive in time? He followed the truck a couple of blocks until he saw the burning apartment building, about ready to collapse. People were filing out, ducking and screaming.

"Someone's still inside!"

Ahmed concentrated with his hyper-senses to find the trapped person. Before the firemen could even disembark, Ahmed was already scaling the stairs with all haste. On the top floor he found a woman slumped on the banister, the fire quickly spreading around her.

Ahmed picked her up, shielding her as the ceiling came crashing down.


The woman woke up coughing. She was covered in soot, but was otherwise unharmed.

"Are you okay?" Ahmed said, kneeling by her side. His clothes were singed from the fire, a small price for the life he had saved.

"I guess I am..." The woman sat up, squinting at the siren lights. The firemen were containing the inferno, having already secured the area. "Thanks for saving me. And, um, sorry for your shirt."

"I just did what I had to do," Ahmed said. "Say, could you do me a favor, please?"

"Sure!" The woman beamed despite her misfortune.

"Can I take your picture? I think you're really beautiful."


Smiling, Ahmed took out his camera.

The woman smiled back, and Ahmed Al-Khaldi took his best photograph yet.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Sup. I'm in. Also, I wrote these while I judged blind back on week 156 but never posted them.

you did


Jan 27, 2006
Entenzahn's right. But since the archives listed those crits as missing yesterday, I can see why he thought he owed them. Given extenuating circumstances, I grant dispensation. You're still in, Trex.

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