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Okua
Oct 30, 2016


In.

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Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007



IN

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Week 233: IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG

yeah, in

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016





Thanks for judge crits and burps.

to get my outstanding crits done before judgement is rendered this week.

Also, in.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Words resound from a timpani of tin,
Like the thrum of a splinter-laden tongue;
But the whispered white noise screams, “I am in.”

Bang away, as the first chair sits barren,
While Maestro’s bidded meter goes unsung;
Words resound from a timpani of tin.

Uterine radio dreams blare within,
Nurturing melodies born far too young;
But the whispered white noise screams, “I am in.”

Lyrics on a calfskin, stretched paper-thin,
Fall dead as ghosted notes carelessly drummed;
Words resound from a timpani of tin.

Nature’s hymn ends where fearful bleats begin,
With the low coda of mourning bells rung;
But the whispered white noise screams, “I am in.”

Account the measures of discord and din,
Beat by beat until the mallet is swung.
Words resound from a timpani of tin,
But the whispered white noise screams, “I am in.”

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


Jitzu_the_Monk posted:


2) Some poets get real cute by altering the refrains (the repeating parts) slightly throughout the poem and they can go gently caress themselves slowly, THAT DOUCHEBAGGERY WILL NOT BE PERMITTED HERE. Your two repeating lines must not change at all throughout the poem, not even in terms of punctuation, even though wikipedia says you can do it.


So, just to be clear, Sylvia Plath can go gently caress herself slowly for that semicolon in the first line?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


SkaAndScreenplays posted:

Your Soul My Crits:
Installment One Of Three...

post the crits ska

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


sure I'm in

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


Thranguy posted:

So, just to be clear, Sylvia Plath can go gently caress herself slowly for that semicolon in the first line?

Yes.

For the purposes of this week's prompt the refrains need to be wholly unchanged throughout the poem.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016





Week 228 crits and burps continued

Hopefully you remember the stories you wrote, I selflessly reread them. Chairchucker and Mojo have said things I mostly agree with, and as more seasoned critics their opinions are probably the ones you want to listen to. THAT SAID, here are some thoughts:

Erogenous Beef - A Change of Mind

“Psychic murder fungus” was enough to make this stand out, but the other reason it won was because it was crisp and had good bones. You leveraged scifi’s existing language/settings/detritus well (without falling into the gravitational fields of scifi’s tropes and clichés) so that I had a really clear picture in my head of where it was, who the people were and how things played out. I didn’t see the twist coming, and it worked because it was so sudden.

Just to balance it out, I had an issue with your para about the effects of the fungus. Being a psychic murder fungus, the orgy and the course plotting threw me a little because they weren’t murderous actions. You’ve probably got a logic in your head for why this worked, but you didn’t share enough of it with me as the reader.

flerp - In some mythologies, the whole world is on the back of a turtle which is pretty cool

This didn’t get an HM but it was in the running. I felt things when I read it, but you didn’t really spin a good story here - I’m not going to begrudge you your vignetting, but that’s pretty much why you didn’t get any accolades. Some form of needs/wants/challenges would have helped you better demonstrate your protag’s ineptitude - you’ve written endearingly about a dude and his turtle buddy who face the end of the world in pretty chill fashion. Arguably he’s only inept at panicking appropriately in an armageddon situation.


Sitting Here - One-Sided Conversation

I felt like this was part of something bigger, and because you couldn’t give me that broader story it didn’t satisfy. You’ve lovingly crafted a character (who is inept at what? Grasping reality? Non-violent muggings?) and there’s some fantastic imagery in the opening - there’re excellent words throughout, but I felt less strongly about the tail than I did your initial scene-setting.

Farchanter - We’ve All Been There
Of all the science fiction we got this week, this was not the best. It wasn’t bad bad, you would have DMd otherwise, but it was not great. The issues were more related to your setting and protagonist rather than anything technical for me.

Gary seems like a heavy cruiser-class fuckup who somehow got a highly technical qualification - how can you get through astroengineering college and then view everything as if through the eyes of a toddler? Why do they keep letting him near the controls? He doesn’t sound like someone who has masked ineptitude and today has to pay the price, he sounds openly rubbish at being a spaceman and has somehow been given a free pass for it.. Basically, what I’m saying, is you need to ground this in some reality - or at least describe the strange spaceship logic this vessel runs on.

Thranguy - Empty
You did something bold in choosing your perspective, and it paid off. It needed a proof for tense issues and typos, but really Thranguy, who doesn’t need to proof more here? This was gross and vivid and engaging, and I really enjoyed reading it. Only issue would be that you probably didn’t have room to weave the two plots together in the space you had, and both therefore suffered from the short wordcount this week.

BeefSupreme - Mean Things

Because you submitted second, it was your story that gave me déja vu rather than Jagermonster. I try to be an objective judge, but having to read the same story twice means that the second one better do something good to not be drowned by the ennui. Thankfully it did just enough. The setting made it less LOL NICE GUYS(™) and more “boy, youths really have some misguided ideas and naiveté don’t they?”, and the characters were therefore more likeable.

Some things though - who has brunch at school? Also, while your dialogue was mostly ok, it got a little bit too formal for the context. I know high-schoolers do the verbose thing where they try to make themselves sound smarter than they are and come across not that - but I don’t believe that’s what you were doing. If you were doing that, signpost it better. Specific example? Marcus’s last line. Also, your setup could have been punchier - figuratively. What would the story have been like if you started with “Don’t say things like that”?

Flesnolk - Night on the Front

I got confused about connecting names to characters on the first read, partly because I don’t have enough military rank knowledge tucked away in my head - Given that you actually explain in words that one was in charge of the other, I can’t figure out whether it wasn’t a good explanation, or if I read too fast first time. Haig I also had to look up, and that one is on you. Also I don’t know why you bothered with fourteen men, because really you gave me three.
Having a poor grasp of the names made the lack of clarity in your final scene downright impenetrable. Rereading after establishing who is who, it wasn’t heaps better. A tank can be both a military vehicle and something to carry fuel, the “nodded” could have been read as a description of action accompanying the speaking, rather than a response.

This all said, the story underneath all this was good, if grim. It hit the prompt pretty well, and did so tragically which set it apart well from the other pieces. This crit reads like I’m outlining my poor reading comprehension - but a good story should probably still be accessible and engaging even if the reader is a little bit tired.

GenJoe - A Murder.
I strongly suggest you go listen to the thunderdome recap episode that covers this one. The TD elders are wise, and their observations should be heeded. If your story was better maybe you’d get away with inventing a word that was a cross between a scowl and a glower - but it wasn’t and you didn’t and scour is already taken.

Initially I thought a step back and a look at the realism of this story might have helped you. Because why is the insinkerator the first place police look for a phone? But actually, I think you could have wound the story back to “David is that you??” and rewritten the ending from there - with something other than “oh no they caught me and I had to pay a fine”. Take the sebmojo approach - tip a big bucket of clichés and likely outcomes on the table, and then burn, twist, dismember, manipulate and combine them until you get something interesting that you’d want to read about.

widespread - Silver Nitride Is A Hell Of A Thing.

Again, the audio recap episode is a good thing for you to listen to if you haven’t already. BeefSupreme also gave you a good line by line, so I won’t retread old ground.

In general terms, the tone just didn’t quite work - it felt mismatched in places. I know I only gave you 800 words, but this is kind of three connected ideas together. Maybe try writing the whole thing out next time - what paragraphs you would have written instead of “-----------------------------------------------------------” and then edit it down. You’ll probably have something that is less disjointed, and through the process of writing it out in full your story might tell you to write a different, better ending.

Bad Seafood - Weakness

Your use of good words, your inclusion of a phantom brother, and our third turtle of the week, is what makes this more than “man hits other man with a bat. It’s super effective”. Unfortunately, it’s not very much more. While it was well written, you needed to do something to turn this into a story where I cared about actions and choices. I’m not super harsh on vignettes because I like them too, but you needed to write a story about ineptitude - Was Francisco bad at repressing his feelings? Because he feels pretty adept at doing the one thing he was tasked with - unless he wasn’t meant to kill the guy in the chair?

As you probably noticed within a minute of posting, you had a couple of typos and you spelled Francisco in multiple, creative ways. If you haven’t noticed this yet, a month after submission and post-Sebmojo line crit, shame on you.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


In

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016


Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

The Last Quiet Place (156 words)

Kept behind risk and filled up space,
a lost sensation lives in taboo lore.
I’ve plans to find it, “The last quiet place.”

In a white linen bar my drink is at toast.
The nurses and jailers proclaim “No more.”
Kept behind risk and filled up space.

I’m banned from the guarded case.
No way to sleep with no wine or no whore.
I’ve plans to find it. “The last quiet place.”

Noise haunts my lids, leaving no rest.
My bloodshot eyes watch for the door,
kept behind risk and filled up space.

The guard’s cycloptic gaze is at close.
I throw a rope of bed sheets out to the floor,
I’ve plans to find it. “The last quiet place.”

Silence waits in an unbroken green clasp.
Her payment is my filled in flesh and gore.
Kept behind risk and filled up space,
I’ve plans to find it, “The last quiet place.”

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


https://thunderdome.cc/?story=5433

Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:21 on Dec 28, 2017

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Hey there! I am apparently TD's designated poetry guy, so I have a tip for y'all that is really obvious but nobody ever does it

Before you submit, read your poem out loud. Write it down on paper, stand up, walk around, read it out loud. Things will clunk that didn't when it was on the page and you'll be thinking lol muffin the judges are reading if it's fine on the paaaaaage shut up, no. They won't notice directly, but it'll register in a subconscious way that something about that line is wrong. Poetry is supposed to create its own music from the arrangement of syllables, and the only way to know if you've got it right (unless you're some seamus heaney s-tier poem god) is to hear it with your ears.

Hell, find a partner/friend/dog and read it to them. More ears is better. Poetry sleeps on the page, but it lives in the air.



also if you need to twist your grammar around to make a rhyme work, it's probably not a very good rhyme

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



lol if you don't slam submit as soon as you finish the last word my dudes

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


serious answer: the writing/editing balance of poetry is totally whack compared to prose: you'll often spend 5-10x as much time editing as writing. That's totally normal, and you shouldn't fear it.

but lol here's my poem loser

where we store our best gear

My woman lies back - spits out smoke, fingers unfurled –
Cigarette dancing, eyes: bloodshot pearls. Words - so frail.
She’s sayin’ ‘someday soon, gonna rule the whole world’.

In summer we dance to Morrissey. We’re sweating:
wallpaper stinks of sex and other substances.
My woman lies back - spits out smoke, fingers unfurled –

My lighter has run out; spoons are burnt. We grow wings
to fly free from this place but fall back - sleep calls us.
She’s sayin’ ‘someday soon, gonna rule the whole world’.

How I hate Morrissey. English prick. He’s singing
‘woe is me’ out of a posh London studio.
My woman lies back - spits out smoke, fingers unfurled –

Track-marks run from shoulder to elbow. Skin itching.
We’ve lost time; time lost us in a maze of needles.
She’s sayin’ ‘someday soon, gonna rule the whole world’.

One day soon we’ll get off this old couch and – something-
I forget. It’s easy to sleep. Hard to - to –
My woman lies back - spits out smoke, fingers unfurled –
She’s sayin’ ‘someday soon, gonna rule the whole world’.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

KING OF BLOOD

Upon what meat doth this
our Caesar feed that he is grown so great?


In

GenJoe
Sep 14, 2010


hi in

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Okay fine, I'm in. Poetry is hard.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013

Did you FAIL THUDERDONE Kunona?

I'm going to regret this but in

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


yeah, let's go in

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


Sign-ups closed. Good luck, goons.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007



quote:

1) Notice Sylvia Plath didn't rhyme the final word of the each stanza's second line with each other. You don't have to either unless you want to, despite what wikipedia says.

Is it ok if the the second line of every stanza shares the rhyme with 1 and 3? (AAA rhyming structure instead of ABA)
I already have it like that but I guess I could make it not rhyme if it comes to that.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


His Name is Hershel, By the Way.

154 words

Colleen and Sam, and Sam’s pet pangolin
were out past late, and Sam, who had no doubt,
said “This is more trouble than I’ve been in.”

The walls of Trevor Tanner’s mighty tin
tall tower rose imposingly to keep
Colleen and Sam, and Sam’s pet pangolin

outside, while their adventure lay within.
They climbed. Coleen, while mounting that redoubt
said “This is more trouble than I’ve been in.”

Past birds and clouds they met Krozanthar, kin
to kraken and to rukh. They had to leap.
Colleen and Sam, and Sam’s pet pangolin

were netted by a passing zeppelin.
Colleen and Sam, at once and at a shout
said “This is more trouble than I’ve been in.”

Then Trevor Tannor’s terrible tin men
as one fired taser-tridents. They knocked out
Colleen and Sam, and Sam’s pet pangolin
said “This is more trouble than I’ve been in.”

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


Chernabog posted:

Is it ok if the the second line of every stanza shares the rhyme with 1 and 3? (AAA rhyming structure instead of ABA)
I already have it like that but I guess I could make it not rhyme if it comes to that.

Allowed, yes.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Week #221 Crits: Flash Frontier Bird Week

SurreptitiousMuffin - Under the sun

I like the way this story establishes a very specific setting and just hints at the alienation of the space between cultures. There’s a wistfulness in the piece, and it’s buoyed by the strong voice behind it. I do think the prose could be cleaned up a little bit, though. A majority of the sentences are cleaved in two by a semicolon, a comma (including a comma splice on the last sentence), or a dash. And while on one hand, I like this, since it echoes the way the narrator feels divided, it feels a little repetitive. The weightier lines -- like the last one -- would benefit from having that rhythm to themselves. It’d help you sell them a little more, too, since the last line feels like it’s reaching for a profundity it hasn’t really earned.

J.A.B.C. - War on the Wings

This starts okay. I’m fond of the image of the guy strapping birds to his car as he speeds away from a war zone, and I even like how you don’t even tell us why this is happening. Unfortunately, I like that because there’s nothing else that distinguishes this story from action-movie tropes. The dialogue is perfectly generic, and the rest of the prose is poor, stuffed with unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and devoid of evocative verbs -- which your action story desperately needs! The story both begins and ends on your protagonist, who claims he’s staying so the place “won’t die alone,” choosing to do absolutely nothing but observe what’s happening. It’s hard to get invested in that sort of character.

Jitzu - Doping

I like the emotional sweet spot this story hits. The idea of this dad working with his daughter out of desperation, only to find that she’s sicker and more damaged than he thought is really solid. The last three paragraphs of dialogue, though, can’t really tie it together the way you need to, though. They’re just exceptionally abrupt, like you’ve run up against the word limit and can’t continue the natural arc. But I do like the bizarre, unusual contest juxtaposed against the stark demands of grief and poverty, and it’s why I found this one of the more memorable stories this week.

a friendly penguin - Passenger Pigeons

I think in the podcast someone made the “some things just aren’t worth dying for” comparison, and that’s what lingers in this story -- it’s very trite. With fiction of this length, you really need to work on the image level, but so much of this story is spent in the head of the grumpy protagonist that the image you do have (the pigeon eating a little bit a pretzel) just seems really mundane. It doesn’t help that you explain the metaphor directly, or that someone outside of the character’s mind just reaffirms their nihilism about life and traffic. There is no complexity or specificity here, which is why this story just falls flat.

ZeBourgeoisie - Something Innate

So the narrator feels like a bad person because of their father, and then this bird comes into their life and they feel better, and then it leaves and there’s another voicemail. I’m left wondering what the intended conclusion here is: is it that happiness is fleeting, and it’s really just an escape from “something innate?” Or has the experience of caring for the bird changed the narrator’s perspective? Ending the story where it ends leaves a lot of ambiguity in this story and I’m not really a fan. Most of the story focuses on how nice it is to care for the bird and this idea of dad’s voicemails feels parenthetical. A few more specific word choices could help give an idea of what kind of relationship this is, and that would allow the bird care side of the story to give this more meaning. But maybe I’m misinterpreting the point of this story; maybe you were going for the “nothing ever changes” nihilism, in which case a hint of this character’s reaction still wouldn’t hurt.

Mercedes - The Ineffable Mr. Bancroft

This is well-written, outside of the redundancy of “prepubescent children.” It’s likable, there’s a “what’s going to happen” tension here, but it’s also a little anticlimactic. This is the first act of cruelty he’s seen, in his long time living in the house? It’s a wizard exacting divine retribution on the deserving, and it’s a well-told anecdote, but there’s not a lot of verve to it or surprise in the imagery. I guess I just feel like this one is a little cartoonish, without emotional resonance. Overall, it’s fine, but totally disposable, when fiction of this length needs to really strike the reader.

anime was right - From Loaf to Crumbs

This is a puzzle of a story, and while you might argue that the confused, vague descriptions are important for getting into the head of the dementia-riddled protagonist, it’s also just really confusing and frustrating. That’s doubly so when you’re a judge, either for a magazine or for Thunderdome, and you need to get through a lot of entries pretty quickly. I had no idea what was going on here the first and second times I read the story, and while I appreciate what the story is trying to do, I’m frustrated by the coyness of the phrasing: “the sun had switched places” and “they who wore white” feel like riddles, not phrases that accurately convey the disorientation of this old man.

Hammer Bro. - The Feast

This didn’t make me angry, and I kind of like the cleverness with which you built up to the dumb joke, but this is just a dumb joke and not a piece of writing that’s meant to be taken seriously. So I won’t.

Fleta Mcgurn - Kotjebi

I like this story a lot, and I think there’s already been a lot of good words on its virtues. The humble, plainspoken voice tugs at my heartstrings without being cloying, and the work the story does to establish a setting and atmosphere in its very small wordcount is impressive and it should be an inspiration to other writers of microfic. That said, I was against this taking the crown because I’m not a huge fan of the structure, particularly the third paragraph. It’s a meandering turn that takes the focus off of this story, and while it adds some compelling emotional detail, it makes the story feel looser than it needs to be, especially compared to the winner. You do have a killer of a last line, though, which makes me very fond of this piece.

widespread - Squawk at Night.

I’m not sure what this story is attempting, and the cynical part of me says “nothing,” because that’s what I got out of it. It’s full of bizarre and redundant turns of phrase:
“injured via unknown measures” and “heavy bags, a sign of sleep deprivation” are both atrocious. The podcast hosts suggested this might be a metaphor, and I guess I can see that, but in that case this would be the equivalent of “hey, isn’t it weird how sometimes we resent the things we’re supposed to care for?” If you’re going to write a metaphorical story, you’ve got to take some stance on it. “It’s fine” just isn’t enough.

The Cut of Your Jib - Pin Feathers

I don’t remember reading this story at all, though that’s not for a lack of interesting elements. I’m not one hundred percent sure what’s going on here. I don’t know what the narrator’s relationship is to Chrissy and Tim. I thought they were siblings, but the narrator seems pretty unperturbed by their sister running away forever. I don’t really understand why the silent Chrissy made more noise than the backhoe -- a bigger impression, I suppose. And I’m not sure why the neighborhood kids have all biked over to watch a house get built. Mostly I like the image in the second half of the caught bird on the fishhook, and of the spell being broken when Chrissy rescues the bird. But I really feel like I’m missing some key element here, as this is clearly a carefully crafted story, and I feel the sound structure. I just don’t understand the first half of this story at all.

Sarkimedes - Grandfather’s Pigeons

I liked this far more than the other judges. I just liked the emotional resonance of this young protagonist beginning to grasp the inevitability of death, though I do think the ending being “just not thinking about it” isn’t a great decision. And I think the sentence level writing is good, and there’s a lot of compelling specific detail here. There’s a good variation in the sentence level structure, and I think the narrator here is one of the more well-expressed protagonists this week. I don’t blame the co-judges for finding this trite, because it’s certainly pretty sentimental, but I think the piece does a good job couching sentimentality in the perspective of this child.

Crab Destroyer - Cuckoo

Writing about bad people doesn’t work when the point is for the reader to just notice “hey, this is a bad person!” The impression anyone’s going to get from this story is just “wow, look at this deluded dad, willing to believe anything to not have to be a parent to a son who isn’t masculine enough.” It’s a story that invites us to hate this strawman of a bad person, but it doesn’t offer anything else. There’s no detail that would connect us to his humanity, no satire that would connect him to real-world chauvinists, and no joke other than the elbow-poking irony at the end. At least there’s some sort of an arc here, so it’s a quick read and not a confusing one, but the lack of detail and complexity here made this one of the most annoying pieces to read this week.

Ironic Twist - Oh

I’ll be honest: I don’t entirely understand the purpose of all the details in this story, and I found that pretty frustrating when I was judging. But there’s a consistency of tone and a sense of vision to this story that makes me feel like it’s worth it to keep re-reading and re-assessing. The narrator’s Gothic sort of depression is captured well, and I think the generally clipped prose helps to bolster that. I do think the line about the black holes eating each other is probably a little over the top, and there’s a bit of coyness about the details that’s needlessly frustrating -- like the delay of letting us know that Happiness is a vulture.

Some Strange Flea - Legion

I guess this was published to FF, and congrats for getting in, but I don’t remember reading this story at all. On the prose level, this is very skilled, and I appreciate the strong imagery and the way you build up anticipation to angry, murderous birds. I also like the element of mystery in “his for theirs,” which suggests several possibilities that are more meaningful in the ambiguity. You pulled the story from the archive and SA, so I’m not sure if the version published on FF is the same you posted, but I’m surprised I didn’t remember a story that took advantage of its word count as well as this did. Maybe I was already getting bored with the “a flock of birds attack” climaxes.

flerp - Twittering Machines

I’m glad this won, because I was very taken with the tone of this piece. It’s a bizarre, surreal scenario, sure, but unlike other bizarre stories this week, this piece is clear and crisp in its prose, and it’s never difficult to know what’s going on. And there’s this melancholy feel to it, despite the strangeness. I’m just very drawn to this kid who’s gradually become disenchanted with the mundane magic of this world, and I love the visceral, mechanical details of the demise of the birds. It’s a compelling take on the prompt, and aside from the Big Bird story, definitely the most memorable thing coming out of this week.

Sitting Here - Deep Sky

After hearing you read this out loud on the recaps, I definitely appreciate this story more. During judging, though, I found this pretty but overwritten. The sentence-level prose, taken sentence by sentence, is really excellent, and hearing the piece read aloud brings out the beautiful, flowing meter. On the page, though, it’s alliterative flourish after flourish, and the poetic writing brings attention more to the prose than what’s actually going on. And I do like the beauty of this encounter, the alien voice of the sea-crow and the celestial grandiosity. I just think that the multiple rounds of editing put into this added a little too much polish.

Moxie - Kill the Messenger

Why do I -- should I -- care about this father and this son? Other than, hey, it’s sad for a child to die of malnutrition, you don’t really give us any reason. Or a sense that this is impending, either. There’s plenty of fish, apparently, and if that’s causing some sort of malnutrition, give us some visceral details. This is a story about two people accomplishing a mundane task with no obstacles, and reading that kind of story tends to feel like a waste of time. I’m not sure what’s going on with the ending, either. You haven’t offered enough clues for me to feel comfortable guessing what that paper could be. A message, I guess, but from whom? It could be anything from anyone, so there’s no reason to care. You were lucky to escape a dishonorable mention this week.

Thranguy - Fossils

The imagery in this story is solid, and I like each of the three substantial paragraphs here in the specific details they use, the cosmic arc they strike out on. On the other hand, I really chafe against the structure here -- a wise, calm speaker telling someone who’s upset that their problems don’t matter because of the immensity of time. That’s pretty upsetting, to the point where it prevents me from enjoying the pleasures of the story’s prose. I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of the person being addressed, and I find the speaker condescending, full of themselves, and totally ignorant of my suffering in place of their cosmology. And this clearly isn’t what you’re going for. This intends to be a hopeful, even inspiring piece. It might even work that way for some people, but I just have a “gently caress off” reaction to this speaker.

Beige - Morning Coffee

During judging, this story especially felt like a big puff of nothing. It lacks drama, narrative motion, and its interior focus makes it feel slight, especially in the context of the week. On one hand, this isn’t really a story, and it’s barely a vignette. The only events here are the narrator feeding crumbs to the pigeons, a sign falling down, and the narrator looking at the girl who gives him food. I’ve grown to appreciate this for what it is with time. I do like the narrator’s quiet, dignified desperation and the way the narrator identifies with the pigeons. And I do feel like this story fits with the Flash Frontier aesthetic much more than a lot of the other pieces -- and that’s not a small thing, writing with an idea of your market. I still think this is a pretty average entry, though, and it was only memorable to me in how bland it was on first reading.

steeltoedsneakers - Birdsong

This is another piece layered with striking, pretty imagery. I’m especially fond of the son saying he can hear the wind weaving through branches; it’s a good image, it’s appropriate for a child, and it establishes something about the narrator, too. The prose is all around excellent, and every sentence has a fitting rhythm. My only qualm with the piece is the ending, which doesn’t quite hit the note of elevated profundity that it’s aiming for -- and that’s because you’ve already implied that sentiment through the structure of the rest of the story!

dmboogie - Gray Wave Symphony

The prose in this piece has a lovely meter, but the wordy sentences and semantically empty adjectives (“ill omens,” “eternity words,” “her familiar rocky shores,” “a grand ship”) makes it hard to appreciate. The archaic, wordy style also robs the events of this story of impact. The protagonist is cast as a mythic figure, which makes the tragedy of the end difficult to appreciate except as the resolution of a myth. But it’s the choice of generic adjectives over specific details that really makes this piece feel distant, and while I understand that might be a stylistic choice, it made it very difficult for me to get into the events happening here.

llamaguccii - Power In Death

This is another piece that lacks immediacy, but this one lacks good prose to make up for that. The problem here is that the protagonist spends half of this story reviewing incidents that happened in the past, and that makes this story feel scattered. A story of this length can’t take such a macro-level view without seeming surfacey and insincere, and you’d probably have been much better off covering the moments before the protagonist’s attempt at death. And I do like that element of it, their steely bitterness at their condition. But we really don’t need thoughts like “I admired vultures” because it doesn’t cohere into a narrative, it’s just background information, and at this length you cannot include a single bit of unnecessary information.

Fuubi - Night’s Flight

quote:

He soared over the countryside, his sharp eyes seeing weak verb even the tiniest movement far below. metaphor or a specific example of a tiny movement would work better here He swooped down at a slight movement, unnecessary comma and rose with the night's dinner in his sharp talons. repetition of “movement” and “sharp” isn’t great, especially given that “a slight movement” is frustratingly vague, and most talons are sharp. He was used to the taste of raw flesh by now, unnecessary comma and the white rabbit in his grip was still fat from summer's bounty. He would feast well this night.

The first time he found himself like this, he'd been lying in bed, watching the birds fly far above through his window, wishing he could fly away with them. His eyelids had grown heavy, and then he had found himself again, repetition of a vague, passive phrase like “found himself” robs the story of character soaring like the birds but he is a bird, at least if he has feathers and talons, right? above the clouds, feeling the wind through his feathers, breathing the cold night air.

Now he flew every night, taking to the skies to escape his father's shouts, ungrammatical comma and his mother's tears. He soared high above the hurt and the pain that always followed, ungrammatical comma when his father sought someone else to take out his drunken anger on.
He knew these were only dreams. That he was not flying high up in the sky, unnecessary comma but asleep in his bed, his mind escaping the reality of his wretched life.

There was a shift in the air. more frustrating vagueness He banked, dropping the rabbit carcass in the progress process, and flew across the rooftops of the sleeping village. His sharp eyes fixed on a particular open window, and the drunken man standing above a sleeping boy.
His talons felt sharp yeah you already told us, and he swooped in.

The boy slept on.

This is probably the weakest entry in the birds-as-revenge-fantasy mini-genre this week. I think you take on the "birds = flight = escapism" idea with aplomb, and the passage about him being the bird and escaping is strong -- aside from those commas that don't need to be there! It’s mostly hobbled by the mechanical errors, because I do think this is a compelling idea and I think a rewrite would be worthwhile, since there’s a genuine emotional core here.

a new study bible! - Comfort Food

I kind of like this. It’s sweet, light, and not too substantial. The dialogue is crisp, and I just like the image of this crow choosing to stick with this lonely old man and keep him company. That said, the beginning is a little rocky, although I suppose it’s important to show the man’s loneliness and isolation from even his son. And the stuff about him naming the parrot Toucan Sam makes it seem like this is going to be a goofy, ironic story, when instead it’s genuinely heartwarming. It makes me think this wasn’t too well-thought out, but even so I appreciate it for what it is.

Jay W. Friks - Ciacco

I don’t quite understand what’s going on here, although a google search on the title clarifies things to some extent. I found myself thinking that the protagonist was a mouse or a rat for the first half of this story, honestly. And then I started thinking that the idea behind this is “factory farms for humans,” and maybe that is what you’re going for, and I think that’s an interesting idea, but now I see that the protagonist is a reference to a character in Dante’s Inferno battered by rain. So as near as I can reconstruct it, this story is a man being tortured in Hell for his gluttony by a demon bird-lady. I guess in life he was losing his sanity after an aneurysm -- I’m struggling to figure out how that fits in. And as the final message, she unleashes a rain of birdseed upon him, which causes chickens to chew at and eat him. This causes him to come to a “painful understanding,” which I don’t understand at all as a lesson, or an ending. How does this teach him to regret his eating?

What are we, as the readers, supposed to take away from this? Are we supposed to find this a just punishment, or are we supposed to be horrified at its brutality? I like my factory farm theory, but I’m not sure if it’s intended.

I also find it really difficult to tell where this is going on. The “Hell” thing I only figured out after doing a little bit of research, so on my first read I start by thinking he’s taking a walk by a carnival, smelling the deep-fried treats, and then getting carried away with it. It isn’t until the woman’s words that I realize it’s a torture scene. And while “feathers” and “raw hide” indicate this is something supernatural, there just aren’t enough clues toward Hell.

I don’t know how this escaped a DM, other than sheer judge fatigue and the absence of too many mechanical errors.

my cat is norris! - Vutures

This was pretty good, but it gets worse as it goes along. It’s fairly well-written grimdark material, but the piece has a strong sense of setting and I appreciate the specific details, like the wedding ring falling off the emaciated finger. I start to lose you with “my lady,” which has an aristocratic pretension that doesn’t fit this piece, and she’s also ultimately meaningless. The protagonist stays alive for her, but then decides she doesn’t really matter because, hey, suicide by vulture. I also found the image of the protagonist just lying there, stoic and at peace, as vultures chew at him at length a little bit silly. And yes, it’s here at the ending that the grimdark starts to spill over to Myspace poetry. I’m speaking specifically of “Their seduction invites me to forget my pain,” but it’s not the only instance where you make the protagonist’s suffering meaninglessly vague.

ThirdEmperor - Flying Machines

Unfortunately, this is the most aggressively boring story of the week. Your prose is fine, verging on good, but an entire story full of nice descriptions of animatronic birds watched by an engineer devoid of personality just isn’t interesting. I don’t know what the intent is behind this story. Maybe you were just compelled by the image of two animatronic birds hanging out in a workshop, one better-built than the other but perhaps more fragile because of it. And that’s fine, but there’s no drama, no pathos, no arc. There’s no reason we should care when the German Wallcreeper breaks other than this sense of “gee, she put a lot of effort into making it, and it’s all gone to waste because of this silly parrot!” That’s not enough to power a story, not when it’s just your protagonist watching this happen with next to no reaction.

Entenzahn - Polly

On one hand, I like the concept behind this piece, that a parrot is the last echo of a dead lover, and that the protagonist only mourns Marcus after that last echo is gone. That’s a really touching idea, but I’m not in love with the execution of it. The story doesn’t do enough work connecting Marcus to the parrot, aside from the bird repeating his diagnosis. And I don’t think you do enough to sell the pain of that last echo. Wanting to wring the bird’s neck is too generic -- the kind of thing you’d do for any noisy bird, not one that reminds you of your lover’s death. Details about Marcus’s ant farm or kissing him in the vines aren’t the most relevant details here, and those are the sort of details you need. I get that you want to establish a history of the relationship, but her sticking with Marcus through his illness is enough for that, and it just takes away from bolstering the symbol of the parrot with more impact.

SkyAndScreenplays - The Peacock and the Raven

Why a peacock? This story doesn’t deal with any classic peacock features, like the labored display of its beautiful feathers. I suppose, being a rather large bird, that it might be more likely to get the “big fish in a small pond” feeling that this peacock has than other birds, but when you signify “peacock” and you don’t follow through with qualities specific to that bird, it’s distracting. I’m also not sure how a zoo peacock gets onto a roof -- what roof? -- but doesn’t just fly over the gate. This is just basically your story about how a Manic Pixie Dream Raven gives this peacock a new lease on life, and inspires him to go get out there in the world. The great escape from the zoo is less than thrilling, so what we’re left with really is just that hackneyed trope of a girl teaching a dude to really live again. Also, there’s no thermals like eight feet off the ground, and this story is full of mechanical errors.

Tyrannosaurus - Tuesday Afternoon

I’m actually really taken by the magical realism of this piece. The economy of detail here allows this story to set out a full arc without getting cramped. I fully buy the panic and desperation of Kaitlin here, the rush to bargaining. I think what took away from this piece is that no one was really sure what the “trade” was here. The first “he knew” seems to indicate some past miscarriage or loss of a child, and that’s a really poignant detail, but I’m a little lost toward the end. Is Kaitlin hoping to trade her life for her child’s? But then she wouldn’t get to “keep being a mother.” And I’m not sure what the second “he knew” is in reference to -- her desire to give up her life for her child’s? But in any case, the vulture turns the “trade” down, and the story ends with Kaitlin knowing that the vulture would be coming soon to take her child. I like that beat, but I just think things get a little muddled in the lead-up.

Leftovers - kurona_bright

This is another one that has me totally befuddled. It’s a dude being attacked by seagulls who reminisces about his old flame Francine, who seemed to cause some witchy cosmic apocalyptic mischief in NYC. I don’t recall this one even being in contention for a DM, which is strange because it makes next to no sense. What is happening here: “a ridiculously theatrical stunt involving a snakeskin briefcase, a polka-dotted tie, a washed-up Navy SEAL and his jock strap taking place 70 feet above the city had been broadcasted live on national TV, followed quickly by sloppy make-outs.” Is this just monkeycheese nonsense, or is this a reference to something that I’m just not getting? What is the intent here? You’ve done an alright job at describing this apocalyptic scene by the ocean, but as soon as it gets into the Francine flashback I’m confused beyond belief. Why is this included? Does it have something to do with the seagulls? Did Francine not only cause vague worm creatures to attack NYC, but also bewitch seagulls to attack Our Hero? Why? And why should I care, since you give us zero reason to care for this person?

The Saddest Rhino - Cock

I like the bitter voice in this piece, as well as the details that sell the strange, mundane facts that make up the troubled kid’s suicide. For once this week, I’m left wondering about details in a good way. I have an idea of who this troubled kid is, you give us an idea of why he might have hung himself, but nothing’s told with exact finality, and the irony of the protagonist here being left with a losing rooster is a good tone to strike. It’s only the prosedy that stopped this from getting an honorable mention. While I like the fragments, they don’t flow together as well as they could, and sentences like “Other than for hurting you, it seems fairly useless” are leaden with dead weight, and that numbs the emotional impact this piece strives for.

Chili - Keepers

The prose is this piece is relatively strong, but I’m a little unsure of what the impact of the ending is supposed to be. This kid runs into the forest to tell the birds about his abusive dad, and once he has that catharsis, he goes home. But he realizes the birds will migrate south soon, and he thinks this is a good thing, because they’re bringing the secrets of his broken home away. If this is meant to be a sense of purging the pain, or if the kid sees it that way, it’s not very evident from the text of the story. Or if the kid is upset at losing this outlet of catharsis -- that’s not evident either. The kid seems to find something sacred in the birds keeping his secrets, but this seems pretty abstract to me, and not like something a kid would believe. I think it’s an interesting vision, and there’s an arc, but I’m not sure I really “get” the kid at the center of this.

Hawklad - Echoes Over the Water

I’m a bigger fan of second person than most people, but it’s a bad choice for this story. The forced intimacy with a dad who murder-suicides his cancer stricken son because he doesn’t want to watch him die is just distasteful and unpleasant. If your aim with the second person is to corral us into sympathy, it was not successful. Neither was the decision to cast the kid as a paragon of innocence, begging the birds to a reprieve, while the Dad says nothing at all. The effect is just distilled melondrama, and the attempt to link the son’s argument (birds don’t deserve to be hunted) to the Dad’s (it’s unfair that everyone I love dies of cancer) doesn’t really make that much sense, beyond the attempt to make “they don’t deserve this” into a mantra. I think this is reasonably well-structured, although I think Dad’s haunting silence would have worked better to build tension if the story wasn’t told in the second person. The prose is also competent; it’s the storytelling decisions that don’t work here.

sebmojo - The Cuckoo of Kaitaki Close

This story manages to be both creepy and light, and would probably have HMed if you’d taken a couple more editing passes at it. “Cellphone ringtone” is redundant. “‘Oh is that the time,’ I said brightly,” could use a comma, a question mark, and an adverb deletion. “Fly on out of our street” is very difficult to parse at first. But I do like how the creepy eccentric lady places her creep eccentric imprint on George. The specific details -- the laugh and the tui squawk -- give the piece a sense of place and texture that benefits what could have been a stock story. And Janey is probably the most memorable character of this week because of that.

BeefSupreme - Trickle-Down Economics

This is a story about a bird pooping on a statue even though a guy hopes it won’t. That’s why there aren’t any dramatic stakes here, and that would have cost this story, but what really put me off was the dialogue and the half-attempted dialect. I’ve warmed a little bit to the Sisyphean tragedy here -- and I think there’s a handful of stories that deserve the loss more than this -- but it’s still a poorly written story (how many times can you use the word “ladder?”) and fairly pointless.

Dr. Kloctopussy - Junk

I liked this story a lot for the strength of the voice, the lurching melancholy. It felt distinctive, accessible, and full of strong images. I also finished my first read of the story thinking that the protagonist had given birth to a stillborn bird, and the more I think about the details of the story, it doesn’t really hold up. (The point the recappers had about milk not really happening until after pregnancy is pretty critical, in my opinion.) But in a story of this size, I’m going to like something with a confident voice, actual events, and yes, fuzzy logic, a lot more than a precise, gauzily written story.

Chairchucker - A Dish Best Served Bird or Why She is Totally the Baby, Not Me

I had this up for a DM, and in the “deluded, awful person” aspect of this story it’s awfully similar to “Cuckoo.” I guess the banter has a little bit of verve, but it’s not especially telling about who either of these characters are, and when you have so little space to convey meaningful details, this empty banter feels like a waste of my time. And then it just ends with those quirky little anecdotes meants to show how in denial this protagonist is, and it doesn’t feel like an ending, it feels like a half-assed character sketch.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


thank you for the crits

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Sitting Here posted:

thank you for the crits

Aye, and that's awesome effort considering the stories were short. Thanks, sparks!

Chili fucked around with this message at 02:42 on Jan 22, 2017

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


thanks sparks for the crits!

Doing this, because I might as well,

to finish Week 220 Crits before subs for Week 233 close.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016





Week 230 burps - Slaying the Cursed Yearking
So, if you want to know what good writers think about your work, maybe go read what mojo and sh wrote about it. I’ll consume your words, and let you know what they taste like - but I consume a lot of junk and my taste buds are wrecked. Take from this what you will:

sparksbloom - earthquake season
My notes from this were a bunch of questions, I didn’t know what was going on. Why the gently caress was satan there? Are they in New Hampshire? or Rhode Island? are Coventry and Benton the same place? I don't really care, but I shouldn't have to worry about this stuff - I’m reading from the antipodes and I’m unfamiliar with your locale. Hold my hand. Don’t drop in place names unless you can tell me where one is relative to the other.

Your biggest issue though? Your protagonist didn’t really do anything except walk and drop a bag of cocaine on a table. The one decision made wasn’t really a decision - it’s just getting lippy. The rest is observation. Make something happen that forces your protagonist to actually protagonise.

Benny Profane - My Washer Is Full of Baby Boomers
This was cute. Other judges liked this more than I did, but to be fair it sat higher in the mix for me than a lot of other stories this week. There wasn’t a lot to fault about it, it was a solid story and it made me smile.

flerp - To Punch A Ghost
Gonna punch a ghost gonna punch a ghost gonna punch a ghost gonna punch a ghost didn’t punch a ghost. I mean I guess that’s a twist but it didn’t knock me off my chair. You wrote some words that weren’t bad, so technically you’re pretty sound here - but I guess what you wrote them about wasn’t super riveting?

Also maybe lose your last line. Or rewrite it? I mean, you do you - but those endings that hammer home the fact that your wrote in past tense by using that whole “telling a story to the last person left at the pub” tone? It doesn’t feel like it adds much, it’s not a believable sort of regret.

Entenzahn -This is One of My Hardest Tricks You Know
That's a very sizable middle para, isn't it? I felt like the story relied too heavily on me having read the prompt and knowing it was about procrastination. Knowing this makes it more reasonable to have been confronted with relatively illogical procrastination - but I’d rather you had used some of your unspent words to tell me a story where the procrastination made sense for the character and the dire situation they were in? I’m a master procrastinator, the only reason you’re reading this crit is because I gave myself a toxx deadline - but I’m doing it before the deadline. I procrastinate up until the eleventh hour and then burn my fingers off typing at inhuman speeds in the dying seconds before the deadline. I don’t procrastinate until after a deadline. That’s silly. Your protagonist is silly.

a new study bible! - Universal Donor
I liked this. More specifically, I liked the second act of this story, and I think that you spent more time on the setup then you maybe needed to. What’s difficult is that you haven’t written a lot of dead weight into the opening scene, so you’d need to be ruthless. You know which of those words are your darlings, so you’re best placed to murder them.

Also the link between the prayer to the cosmic entity and the weirdness could have been stronger, I reckon. Not necessarily more spelt out - just the distance between “tickling of too-cold fingers” and “What did you do?” feels too far to me.. Also, if someone says “Please. Please no” in front of me, I’m not going to accuse them of cosmic meddling - so maybe that’s what’s actually irking me about this sequence of events.

Baleful Osmium Sea -
I enjoyed the heck out of this, but only because I would read and or write that blog. But man, not a lot of anything happened here. You had me kind of excited that you’d maybe written in a timeloop, and I nearly read your whole story twice. I agree with Sitting Here, tell us more about the Little Computer People.

SkaAndScreenplays
Well that was a sharp turn. Too sharp, in my humble opinion - and I also reckon that you took me on that occupational health and safety hazard of a ride because you took your cursed image way too literally. Your characters and their streaming show were pretty solid and could have done something cooler than get eaten by a baby.

Chili - You Have No Self Worth, Take Some of Mine
Chili, I fuckin’ love this nun, she seems like a hoot. I fought for her, but it wasn’t to be. Do what Sitting Here and sebmojo said, they probably know how to make stories good-er.

Hawklad - A Hard Reset
I liked the writing about the relationship in the opening section, but I think you needed to maybe draw a distinction between the Sheila in Gordon’s head and the Sheila that was actually there? I mean - extended time in another person’s company can make the way a person eats suuuper gross, even though nobody else notices. The way you’ve written it, it feels like the narrator has already taken Gordon’s side in this.

I’d never advocate for a shimmery transition and Gordon waking up in bed sweating, but man you have written a Gordon fantasy here that couldn’t be anything but a dream. I liked your last few lines, not sure I like how you got there.

BeefSupreme - Clockwork
Sorry Beef, I got very bored. I read the whole thing, and you bored me quite competently with good prose and characters, but not enough happened. Next time punch Father Time in his relentless face.

QuoProQuid
I had a bit of trouble following what was going on physically in the opening paras. The rest was nice though, you wrote your characters well and made them do some believable talkings that warmed my heart.

Thranguy - Lantern Fish
Although you did many things right, your protagonist was swept along by a beautifully written river and didn’t really do much until the end. They walked along with a group, reflected a bit while people died around them until eventually are not impeded from doing the thing they wanted to to.

However, I didn’t care about that and this one was my favourite of the week’s stories.

katdicks - Pardoned
Ok, so my biggest issue with this story was that you didn’t earn your magic knockout fart. I thought you wrote really well about a believable problem, but I didn’t realise we’d transitioned into magical children’s fiction land where farts are a hazy green cloud that can knock people out - and therefore found it jarring.

Reene - Take With Food
AND IT WAS ALL A TRIP wibble wibble wibble gently caress right off. To be honest I would have prefered if you played the old gods angle straight. I would have preferred if the whole thing was that stuff, that whole section was great.

Krunge - Bugging out
I don’t even know. Use the words you didn’t spend to make this make more sense - at the moment it’s an unbelievable farce.

Man fumigates house - steps on cat - starts fire - burns down house - boss doesn’t seem to realise that burning down houses comes with consequences and is strangely calm about everything - more cat - man fights boss.

I mean, I can see the rube goldberg machine that you set up here - but did you ever stop to ask yourself if you should have built it? (You shouldn’t have built it).

Sitting Here and sebmojo have said things about this. Read them. The audio team at Thunderdome FM also said things. Listen to them.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Week 233 Submission

A Fawkes in the Henhouse
137 Words


Her smile arrays a gunpowder plot.
The flicker of fuse spins gold in the haze.
Nary a word betrays, but I am caught.

Old tales are rephrased of new Camelot,
Avalon’s mist burns away with her gaze.
Her smile arrays a gunpowder plot.

I sip from the font of blasphemous thought,
A furtive communion no priest would praise.
Nary a word betrays, but I am caught.

Too heady a draught, I wobble besot.
It’s love at first sight and other clichés.
Her smile arrays a gunpowder plot.

A treasonous laugh ensnares by fiat
I dream of escape on fancied forays
Nary a word betrays, but I am caught.

The barrels explode and all is for naught;
As my betrothed cuffs roving eye sideways.
Her smile arrays a gunpowder plot.
Nary a word betrays, but I am caught.

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

GUESS WHO'S LYING


Grimey Drawer

115 words
Beyond the Veil

Life is severed from what I dream.
To bring forward my new meanings,
There can be nothing to redeem.

Others hold me in false esteem,
But I can only make mistakes.
Life is severed from what I dream.

I am the puppet ruler of a team;
True rulers bring the mythos to masses.
There can be nothing to redeem.

Easily and happily they all misdeem,
Yet beyond their merry masks
Life is severed from what I dream.

Life is offered per diem.
Dreams are mistaken for menus.
There can be nothing to redeem.

Truly alone, I plot and scheme
With escalating ennui.
Life is severed from what I dream.
There can be nothing to redeem.

Chernabog
Apr 16, 2007



163words

My sorrow

A gleaming rainbow; a missive in the sky.
A peace branch, a memorial, one final goodbye.
I claim it for myself with a passionate cry.

Though anyone may see and anyone may spy,
the message is for me so they mustn't pry.
A gleaming rainbow; a missive in the sky.

All your words have been exhausted so this is your last reply:
A colorful eulogy; an apology, a lie.
I claim it for myself with a passionate cry.

The rain wanes steadily, the sundown is nigh,
I'm fearful to witness your ultimate sigh:
A gleaming rainbow; a missive in the sky.

A tear slides and trickles down from my eye.
The grief is obvious, I cannot deny.
I claim it for myself with a passionate cry.

All sensations have now faded, but my bleak desire to die.
Though within my will awakens through your silent lullaby:
A gleaming rainbow; a missive in the sky.
I claim it for myself with a passionate cry.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


A couple of crits, just because:

Six Portraits of Negative Space

It’s been said in Thunderdome that a valuable way to critique is to state where the story lost you, so on that note we’re going to start with section number 3, because, well, that’s where it went off the rails in my opinion. The first two sections are serviceable, they outline a conflict and a character and a setting, they work well as portraits. But the third section…I don’t know what detailing all of these bland and interchangeable dates in the parlance of a lab technician—or an alien observing the human species—is supposed to give to the story.

“…but there was always a bit of doubt in her mind on that score.”
“…they talked a long hour over everything in it that they both found absurd.”
“The presence of the other couples made any kind of advanced shenanigans impractical.”

It feels like something vital’s been sucked out of the language. And even if the dates were somewhat interesting, I don’t really get a sense of either character or why I should care about the fact that they’re not having sex. If you wanted to keep the theme going, you should’ve just focused on the seventh date and put the reader into that moment like you did with the first two scenes.

I’m in agreement with the other critiquers that the speculative twist just sort of comes out of nowhere when the beginning of the story is set up as more of a mundane thing. This story just seems like it’s trying to explain itself too much. There’s this interview with Amy Hempel that I keep coming back to, and at one point she talks about how her students think that stories are supposed to be explanations, and they always put in this drawn-out section at the end of the story that explains everything unexplained, when the mystery and viscera of the unexplained would be more compelling. I think that gets at what bothered me about the last three sections—the characters like the “detective”, like “Gwendolvn”, they don’t seem like characters, they seem like explanation-delivery-vehicles, like they’re only there to fill in the missing parts of the story. Video game NPCs. And even then I’m still not sure what’s being explained.

I know you like the subheadings, and I’m glad you were able to give a format like this more space, but I wonder if the extra words didn’t just end up hampering the story in a way that a few more concise scenes like Part 1 wouldn’t have.

Neurotique

The thing that cripples this story for me isn’t that it’s derivative, it’s that there’s not a lot of depth or dimension provided for the main character. All of the character development in Finn is only given to us after he makes this devil’s bargain: we see his life changed in various ways, but we don’t know what his life was like before the bargain, whether he was kind or virtuous or conniving or what else. So there’s no standard to measure against.

And even then, there’s not a lot here in the way of torment or struggle. The mental illnesses he takes on just stand out as annoyances, not curses, and his life is actually made better in certain ways because of the money. Even when he buys the entire shop from Kip, there’s very little fanfare or anything meant to signal something major’s happened. Kip doesn’t even seem particularly menacing or devilish at any point. Basically, I’m saying that there’s not that much at stake—even at the end of the story you get the sense that Finn will easily find someone else to pass the store along to.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



The Cut of Your Jib posted:

Week 233 Submission

A Fawkes in the Henhouse
137 Words


Cot-caught merger detected

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Fuschia tude posted:

Cot-caught merger detected

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weste...ylvania_English
(cot-caught barely scratches the dialect woes)

And thanks all for the crits that have been posted recently.

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Okua
Oct 30, 2016


Peace at last
(149 words)

No corpses are hanging from lonely gallows
after the war, like a fever, has gone;
though blood of dead nymphs remains in the shallows

Crows have settled on shallow graves
and sated themselves on boils and brawn:
No corpses are hanging from lonely gallows

The fallow fields grow, even trampled by slaves;
ash-fed weeds hide the shivering fawn
though blood of dead nymphs remains in the shallows

The wet nurse Demeter comes forward and saves
abandoned dead on the battle-ground lawn:
No corpses are hanging from lonely gallows

These bodies are turned into hollowed-out caves -
from their river-veins nourishing life-blood is drawn
though blood of dead nymphs remains in the shallows

like pomegranate seeds floating on waves
that will carry death east to be swallowed by dawn:
No corpses are hanging from lonely gallows
though blood of dead nymphs remains in the shallows.

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