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Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


rat-born cock posted:

At the risk of winning again...

I'm in.

editing to say, thanks for the avatar! I was confused when I saw my post at first, haha.

You didn't pick a genre! Your genre is Last Man Standing fanfiction Banned words: Mike, Vanessa, Kristin, Amanda, Eve, sports, TV, neighbor, fence, lawn

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Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Chopstick Dystopia posted:

Hi, hello, I would like to join in.

I'll try to write some noir.

Sure! City, eye, detective, crime, woman, cigarette, street, car, boss, door

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in with an isekai

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Ironic Twist posted:

in with an isekai

Alien, magic, portal, door, world, planet, dimension, creature, being (as in an entity, you're okay to use it as a verb), ship

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





In with Pulp Horror

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


MockingQuantum posted:

In with Pulp Horror

Terror, town, monster, ghost, alien, being (again, only as a noun), forest, house, dark, man

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


in with near-future sci-fi

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


sparksbloom posted:

in with near-future sci-fi

Computer, internet, web, police, tech, online, corporation, war, virus, government

AstronautCharlie
Jan 13, 2020

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

In with whodunit

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


AstronautCharlie posted:

In with whodunit

Detective, murder, dead, house, family, weapon, mystery, relationship, motive, library

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


I will write a conspiracy thriller

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Something Else posted:

I will write a conspiracy thriller

Government, hack, water, code, corporation, mind, message, plot, plan, secret

GrandmaParty
Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage

Biscuit Hider

First time. I'll take swords and sorcery.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
Eeny-meeny-miny-mo


Saucy_Rodent posted:

If you pick a genre that is too vague (like "comedy" or "horror") I will narrow it down for you

In that case, in with horror :c00lbert:

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


GrandmaParty posted:

First time. I'll take swords and sorcery.

Magic, battle, wizard, witch, dragon, barbarian, castle, king, queen, kill, peace

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Ceighk posted:

In that case, in with horror :c00lbert:

Alien horror!

Light, woods, machine, creature, mind, ship, space, night, stars, sky

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




in with magic realism.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Thranguy posted:

in with magic realism.

Fly, love, walk, body, back (all definitions), need, eyes, face, air, music

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




In, gimme a stupid genre and I also want a flashrule.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


In occult horror

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Yoruichi posted:

In, gimme a stupid genre and I also want a flashrule.

You're going to write me some viciously anti-peanut butter propaganda

Creamy, crunchy, jelly, sandwich, farm, jar, salty, taste, flavor, gross

Your protagonist may not be above the age of eight.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Idle Amalgam posted:

In occult horror

Devil, demon, candle, evil, star, summon, dead, blood, sacrifice, dark

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007

Boom.



In with far future sci-fi

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



In. Hagsploitation.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Uranium Phoenix posted:

In with far future sci-fi

Space, star, ship, Earth, light, beam, alien, planet, device, power

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Tyrannosaurus posted:

In. Hagsploitation.

Old, woman, youth, torture, hurt, kill, biddy, elderly, beautiful, ugly

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give



Screw it -- in with a terrible judge-assigned genre

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Antivehicular posted:

Screw it -- in with a terrible judge-assigned genre

Epic star-crossed Mitch McConnell romance

Kentucky, Senate, Republican, Congress, Trump, great, politician, love, kiss, hands

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS


IN

GIVE ME A GENRE

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


Week 415 Crits

So this week in the middle of writing crits I got a call from a friend who'd just been surprise dumped, so folks who submitted later get drunk crits. Generally a decent week, though, all up, good job 'dome. All crits were done using Low Tech Judgemode, in which an empty notepad window was used to cover everyone's avatars.

:siren:Endlessly
I liked the explicit links between the cycle of abuse in master-student relationships and the temptation to seek shortcuts through forbidden magic, and while it’s a bit underdeveloped in its current form I think there’s a solid story in this setup. As it is, the story gets way too bogged down in exposition, where what it needs is more examination of the relationship between Marcus and Charlie. There’s discussion of how Marcus had it rough when he was learning, and that he’s applied a similar model in his mentorship of Charlie, but that doesn’t ever really reach a head -- the dialogue between Marcus and Charlie at the end would have been a good place to unpack some of this. I also didn’t completely buy the responsibility that Marcus felt for Charlie -- sure, he’d been asked to serve as a kind of guide, but surely the Master bears some responsibility for his young students running around finding improperly filed tomes of eldritch curses and forming pacts with cosmic mind parasites, no? But the Master seems kind of checked out here.

So basically, a lot of exposition that ends up being less relevant, a lot of action (running, tears, clods of earth, etc) that lacks an emotional context.

Is a monster slain? Nope.
Is it emotional? Yes.
Is it too emotional, though? It’s a little overwrought, but the main issue is the lack of plot support for the emotional core.

:siren:You’re It!
Decent bit of psychological horror, leans a bit too hard into the cliches but the buildup of tension from Troya’s imaginary friend to Kamesha realizing her own internal voice is that same entity to Andre physically embodying it is a good three-act structure, and has that familiar satisfying feeling that three-act stories tend to. The characters are a bit one-note -- Troya is the difficult kid/emotional MacGuffin, Kamesha is the underslept single mom, Andre is the violent father, etc. There could be more complexity here; having Troya run wild in the laundromat isn’t a strong enough opener to land Troya as squarely difficult, and the hipsters in the laundromat don’t add much to the story beyond some foreshadowing that you don’t need. Kamesha’s sleep deprivation is nicely done. Andre’s physical manifestation as Smoky crosses the line into corny, but that’s a personal taste thing -- I’d have preferred it if it were less clear whether it was real or whether it was sleep-deprived psychosis.

Is a monster slain? Yep!
Is it emotional? Yep
Is it too emotional, though? It’s a bit by the numbers, but I wouldn’t call it saccharine.

:siren:Ugly Stars
This is a real jumble, and it’s not helped by the extensive craft issues. Best I can tell is that we’ve got a navy guy who experienced some kind of war trauma and is now in a hospital and doesn’t know where he is anymore. It’s not emotionally resonant so much as just plain confusing, which may be an apt choice given the particular struggle the protagonist is going through, but it’s impossible to latch onto.

Is a monster slain? I don’t think so?
Is it emotional? Not really.
Is it too emotional, though? N/A

:siren:How to Survive the Giant Robot That Wants to Crush You
A guy avoids being crushed by robocapitalism by freshening his game and getting up to date with modern plumbing. I liked the imagery in this, and the details were good. The messaging is seriously bleak, like our protag is essentially labouring in the shadow of a robo-Sword of Damocles to make enough money to avoid being crushed, and it’s hard to imagine that not being traumatizing in the long run. Also wasn’t clear on the whole robots-real vs robots-imagined thing -- the fact that our guy is using tools made from salvaged robot parts points to real, but it’s hard to see how people could think these things were extinct if they’re still coming for the plumbers.

Is a monster slain? Nope.
Is it emotional? In places.
Is it too emotional, though? It’s a bit saccharine.

:siren:Dauntless
Patrick O’Brian does Moby Dick: a reluctant sailor goes Inigo Montoya on the seabeast that killed his pop. The naval action is decent, but the plot feels contrived, and I’m not entirely sure what you were going for with the angle on memory here. Our guy needs his grandpa’s key to reclaim his memories of his father, but it seems like other characters in the story remember details of Lachlan Rosewind just fine -- enough so that name recognition alone gets our guy on board. It also lets down the dreamy nature of the piece to have the Gray Behemoth brought down by shooting its teeth out with cannonballs. Needed more payoff to finding dad’s key at the end, there are a lot of questions left over.

Is a monster slain? Yep
Is it emotional? I mean, I guess, but in a very *manly tears* kind of way
Is it too emotional, though? It feels a bit manipulative in that Hollywood “men also cry” way.

:siren:Tough Leather
A kid finds out his hero dad was a war criminal. It’s hard to imagine that the kid had zero inkling of any of this until searching for himself in IT class, but that’s a minor thing. The plotting is suspect, but the core idea of a kid realizing that the dead father he idolized was not the person he thought is a good foundation for a story. There’s too much faffing about, though -- after the reveal of Bad Dad, we spend too much time in the kid’s head, and there’s no payoff with all of the family characters here. This story needs to start much closer to the kid finding out about Bad Dad (or even finding out about Bad Dad from Peter Cullen instead of IT class), so that there’s more room to let the family drama play out -- there’s obviously a lot of unspoken emotion boiling under the hood with Granny, Sue, and Eddie, and that’s the real rich soil in this piece that’s left unturned.

Is a monster slain? Sort of, if you squint -- Bad Dad was a monster, and I guess in a sense the last good memory of him that existed was slain by IT class, but it’s a stretch.
Is it emotional? Yeah, although there’s a lot of setup for not much punchline
Is it too emotional, though? It’s a bit cardboard, but it’s not too over the top.

:siren:Decontamination
I don’t totally get what’s going on here, but I like it anyway -- the worldbuilding info is nicely woven into the action so that it never feels infodumpy, and the stuff about the valve at the base of the neck and the launcher are all really fun details. I like the descent into the weird and horrific post-whatever drowned city, and there are some choice descriptions about the monster that make it just weird and creepy enough. I lost track of the plot at that point, though, and I couldn’t really follow the action at the end -- it seemed like the monster was kind of glomming onto the protag and assimilating them, but I wasn’t entirely sure what the significance of the protag being a Fib was, or why they signed up for such an apparently dangerous gig in the first place. There’s a lot to like here, but it could use some tightening up in the back end.

Is a monster slain? I think so? Or maybe it doesn’t? When the protag says this bullet “misses [their] head”, is that to indicate that they’ve been assimilated, and so the monster isn’t slain? I’m still confused.
Is it emotional? Not so much.
Is it too emotional, though? Definitely not.

:siren:Opening a Door
There’s a lot of “when are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” going on here, which is a shame because it’s quite lovingly festooned with great details -- the ramp on the tension is very slow out of the gate, which gives it a rushed feeling by the time we get to the showdown with the Edimmu. I’d also waggle a palm at the choice of protagonist voicing here, which vacillates between journalistic and an almost adolescent “what I did on summer vacation” (e.g. “I got to spar with a Swiss Guard on Day 3”, which feels very nonchalant for a young preacher from Kansas being trained as a demon slayer). Still, the basic concept is cool, and there’s a fun pulpy Indiana Jones kind of vibe to all the globe trotting and “day at the museum” history/mythology dumps.

Is a monster slain? Yup!
Is it emotional? No; I’d go so far as to say our protagonist is almost eerily dispassionate for the most part.
Is it too emotional, though? Nope.

(MEZCAL CRITS BEGIN)

:siren:black knights and dragons, girl
This opening is rubbing me wrong. It just feels a little too pat, a little too contrived -- like, it’s good, but I can see the seams at the same time, and I can see the show that’s being put on. The whole southern gentleman plus prison tats jam feels like a bit of line stepping, like how far can I take this little character mashup before eyebrows start getting raised, and I for one am not buying it just yet, but let’s see how it rolls out.

The 14/88 thing seems coy, like you have to know about nazi poo poo to know what that’s about, feels a little wink wink, like why not just have it be a badly pinstuck swastika?

Dialogue feels a bit contrived, a bit community theater -- like, objectively it’s good, it’s adding flavor, it’s advancing the plot, but it also feels a bit forced.

“the chemo’s got you emotional” is a good line.

Alright, that’s pretty good, you got me in the end there. I still feel a little manipulated by it, but it’s kind of like getting played by a magician at a dinner table, you know there was a trick there and you kind of saw it happening, but it was pretty good anyway.

Is a monster slain? Yeah, and it was clever too, the old last minute switcheroo was a good touch.
Is it emotional? I’d say so.
Is it too emotional, though? That was a finely walked line, well done.

:siren:A Sword Called Deathwish
  • This title is going to need some serious backup.
  • “thrift shop home of treasures and curses” is not as good a line as you think
  • $20 in her pocket are you loving kidding me
  • I do not buy that a joke sword purchase from a thrift store twelve years later is going in the car instead of the dumpster
  • Erika is mentioned by name *a lot*
  • “stuck in the kind of fantasy novel” oh boy we’re doing the wink wink thing are we
  • I’m about halfway in and I’m bored, and this is a story about a probably magic sword, so that’s a crime
  • “if it wanted her to be ready to die, it shouldn’t have brought her somewhere she was loved” this is a good line, but it’s not earned here.
  • tellanashin / tell her: nah, shin / teller gnashin’ / tell hannah she nuh[thin]... yeah I got poo poo for this if this was a cool joke it sailed past.
  • I see you trying to shoehorn in some kind of metaphor at the end here and I am not buying it for one second.

Is a monster slain? I don’t think that dragon actually died, but I’ll pay it.
Is it emotional? I’m going to say yes, but I’m not thrilled about it.
Is it too emotional, though? Not in a saccharine kind of way, but in a kind of baldy manipulative way.

:siren:Scourge
  • this opening is just annoyingly coy, like ooh lah lah, look at me, hiding details from you, it’s a mystery, aren’t you just *dying* to find out what *really* happened and the answer is very much no
  • I don’t know who adam or joshua are and I don’t much care either
  • “Dylan always loved the rain” gently caress right off with this poo poo

Is a monster slain? I think it was a plant of some sort? With eyes?
Is it emotional? It didn’t work for me.
Is it too emotional, though? on the contrary, I should say.


:siren:Magical Nega-Girl: Triskelion!
  • and here was me doing this poo poo anonymously to try and atone for my judging sins, and then there’s this title. what up sh.
  • Opening line: there are tentacle monsters, and I’m watching them on TV. This could be stronger
  • you wouldn’t be a monster about feeling good about LA being hosed up by purple negamonsters, LA sucks and we all know it.
  • San Francisco-based therapist -- I am so sure that this is sh right now that I’m going to call this out as a very Seattle take on the intra-californian supremacy dispute between LA and SF.
  • ok I am digging olivia so far, let’s see if this lasts
  • reminding us via dialogue attribution that olivia kicked the door down makes me like her less, sadly
  • this is lovely but I’m just going to own it that Petra is a crap protagonist name
  • OK now that Celeste has shown up, I feel like I still want to be annoyed about this but the mezcal says I’m on board.
  • but seriously, “on the cover of a magazine” what magazine? Tiger Beat? The Wire? US Weekly? There are at least several magazines.
  • “Our first argument as adults” when are they going to get to the fireworks factory
  • “I’ll be the first to say that it looks really, really cool” well you were the one who couldn’t get up from the couch because you were sitting on your hair so I guess I’ll just have to give you that one
  • “So much for the power of friendship” about here is where I’m starting to wonder what the endgame is
  • Kudos for not capitalising Californians, showing some PNW superiority there
  • I will never give up my dry couch ramen habit

Is a monster slain? Uh, I think maybe? There was a nega demon at the beginning and then there was some Voltron poo poo, I think maybe something got smacked in there.
Is it emotional? There was a lot about the power of ~friendship~ but I don’t think that “She-Ra but even more anime” was precisely the brief here.
Is it too emotional, though? This feels more phenylketonuric than saccharine and yes I am proud of myself for that one.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


crits part 2

CaligulaKangaroo - Opening a Door

”Aboutness” Priest becomes demon hunter. There’s kind of a running theme here about feeling “out of place.”

POV: First person past, and the story is very much told in this retrospective style, with exact dates and all. I don’t love this, as it places a lot of distance from the events happening here. Sometimes the filter of distance allows this POV to capture a useful insight, but more often it stops me from being immersed on what’s actually happening.

Character: The only real significant character is Colin Mulvaney, the priest-out-of-water. There’s something here in the way he doesn’t seem quite comfortable anywhere he goes, but I wanted to know more about what he wanted, what was actually driving him, in a way this story doesn’t really touch on.

Scene and Summary: This is the story’s biggest weakness, in my opinion. Everything is summarized. Even in the last scene, where Colin confronts the khopesh, we have sentences like “The parishioners, many of whom had already been drained, made their way for the exit as I cut the air,” which is about the most passive possible way you could describe people escaping from a demon attack as your protagonist makes a move. But this is something of a scene, at least – the issue is earlier on, everything is a retroactive summary of a previous incident, with no hint of the actual scene encompassed by the summary - no sensory details, no events for us to be immersed in.

Plot/Structure: As above, there is a plot in this piece of the priest traveling from place to place, but I struggled to get invested without actual scenes or any real sense of stakes.

Style: I think this is well-written in that it’s clear and the sentences are evocative, but I really wish there had been less of a summarized travelogue and we could dive into actual events more clearly, with more detail. I liked “Seminary taught us that God speaks through gut instincts and flashes. The metaphor they often used was the magnetized puzzle. You still have to assemble it yourself, but all the pieces are pulled together.” a lot.

Overall: This left me pretty cold, although the other judges appreciated the adventure-story aspect of it. I just spent most of this story hoping for actual events to happen, and the emotion here left me wanting too.

Tyrannosaurus - black knights and dragons, girl

”Aboutness”: Racist uncle is dying and full of remorse. It’s about redemption.

POV: First person past, but a close first-person past. There’s a lot of voice here and it makes the story a joy to read – it’s lighter than you’d expect, considering the subject matter, but not flippant.

Character: Story focuses on a core dynamic between the protagonist and her uncle Beau. The co-judges felt that Beau was laid on a little thick; I disagree, and I like the way the story travels through a pretty wide emotional range of both character with just dialogue. There’s enough detail in just their dialogue to understand how they get along, how they both reckon with Beau’s racist past, and their thoughts on redemption.

Scene and Summary: This is kind of a master class in how you can convey a lot of backstory from scene, even if the scene here is mostly dialogue. You have a little bit of summary in the beginning, but we can fill it in just from the way these characters speak to each other.

Plot/Structure: Three scenes – the initial encounter, the follow-up later on while Uncle Beau’s watching NASCAR, and the last scene at the morgue. First scene sets up the characters and the themes, second scene complicates them, third scene ties things together. It’s satisfying and well-written.

Style: The style here is all the voice, and as I’ve mentioned, it’s very good. It’s interesting that the story contains a bunch of “said” synonyms and adverbs modifying dialogue, but I don’t find this distracting here; I think they appropriately establish emotion here. That said, I think there’s a sort of “preciousness” to the voice that rubbed some of the other judges the wrong way; for me, it landed on the right side of the line.

Overall: This is a great piece that fits the prompt well, delivering the kind of surge of emotion while also featuring a slain monster, and it was very close to getting the win this week. Ultimately, while this piece is very solid and genuinely made me feel things, the piece also felt somewhat safe. It’s absolutely a great, touching story about the potential for redemption, though, and I’m impressed at the emotional range it manages to cover.

Antivehicular - A Sword Called Deathwish

”Aboutness”: Woman is transported to alternative world through a magic sword. It’s about a need for love and connection.

POV: Close third person present. I wish it was closer, though – the POV here kind of feels like a motherly POV, the POV of someone who cares more about Erika than she cares about herself, and for a story that needs us to feel Erika’s loneliness and sense of not being loved, this takes away from the impact.

Character: This is mostly about Erika – her strange new friends are sort of characters, but the main thrust of this is the lonely, lost Erika. You do a good job sketching in how she got to this point, and it’s clear from the beginning that she’s really just seeking a place where she can feel appreciated, where she belongs.

Plot/Structure: This is why I’m not sure the structure of this works. The dragon suddenly appearing in the third act doesn’t give much of a reason for Erika to slay it, even with the idea that this is just part of the depression-sword. Actually, I found the third act pretty confusing, as it recasts this sword as actually something that’s trying to kill Erika – but she still manages to use it to slay the dragon, and it did bring her to the mysterious friends she’s found.

Scene and Summary: This is balanced well here. Longer sections of summary tend to include a glint of an actual moment or scene to make them more compelling; that said, I do think this story might be a little too balanced toward summary.

Style: Clear and well-written, but I wish the language was more emotional.

Overall: I think this piece is a little overstuffed to the detriment of its heart. We’re working with an unloving family, Erika bonding with her mysterious benefactors, a dragon hunt, her own mental health issues and self-hatred/shame, and there’s just not enough room in these 1,800 words for any of these individual things to bloom.

Thranguy - Scourge

”Aboutness”: Protagonist has escaped an abusive partner and childhood trauma of her cousin’s death. She takes revenge on the monster that killed her cousin. The story is about overcoming trauma.

POV: First person past, from what seems like a retroactive perspective from some point in the future. The tone is heavy with this sense of malaise, and the story leaps through time.

Character: I had a hard time telling the characters apart here, since two of them – Adam and Dylan – don’t actually appear in the story, so it was hard for me to remember their significance. Our main character doesn’t seem especially distinctive, and the main quality I know about her is that she’s dealt with a lot of loss in her life and that she doggedly pursued the truth about her cousin. Joshua is this character’s son and that’s about all we know about him.

Plot/Structure: This feels needlessly complicated. We have one level of this story with the character meeting with a therapist – who is named, but barely recurs after the first paragraph, and I have no idea how this relates to the end of the story in terms of time. Then we have this track of the character investigating the death of their cousin early in life, and this other track of her escaping from an abusive partner. I assume the monster she runs into at the end is what killed Dylan, but I’m not sure why people tried to cover this up when Dylan was killed, as the story doesn’t really give us clues.

Scene and Summary: Most of this story is summary except for the final confrontation, but with the structural confusion this story has, I don’t know if this makes too much of an impact.

Style: Clear on a sentence-to-sentence level; less clear on a paragraph-to-paragraph level.

Overall: I’m just confused at what’s actually happening in this story. I feel like the monster is kind of a metaphor here – like something that confronts anyone who tries to leave this town where all of this character’s trauma resides. That said, this story is so overstuffed with threads and characters that it’s hard to get a handle on this for sure. I like the risk-taking here, but it’s more confusing than successful here.

Sitting Here - Magical Nega-Girl: Triskelion!

”Aboutness”: Superheroes must save Nega-LA with the power of friendship. It’s about friendship.

POV: First person present, which works for telling a story about friendship and getting over yourself.

Character: We have this trio of Celeste, Olivia, and what I believe is the dread unnamed protagonist. I had trouble telling these characters apart. Olivia’s the responsible one, our protagonist is the apathetic one, and Celeste is… the other one. Well, she’s also the responsible one. But the protagonist is closer to Celeste because they share a childhood history.

Plot/Structure: This works for this sort of story – characters need to come together to fight the evil, and the story has them run into setbacks to get them to that point. It works!

Scene and Summary: All scene for the most part, to the story’s benefit. Like a superhero story should be, the story clips along through events and dialogue.

Style: Evocative and clear even with this goofy concept. The whole “hair corona” thing works well to tie things together.

Overall: This feels a bit like a gifted writer phoning it in (or running up against a challenging prompt), and the story feels a little too tongue-in-cheek for the heart to shine through. Olivia not really serving a purpose in this story other than a buffer is a big factor in this, I think. There’s definitely something there with the relationship between Protag and Celeste, but I think the story needs to press on the wounds a little harder. Which I guess is hard when you have to make room for giant magical monsters, as well.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


CaligulaKangaroo posted:

IN

GIVE ME A GENRE

Adaptation of a recent news story as a play in the style of Shakespeare (banned words from genre title: adaptation, recent, news, story, play, style, shakespeare)

Regular banned words: virus, trump, biden, floyd, protests, police, rowling, election, war, scandal

crimea
Nov 16, 2012


I just finished Robert Altman's 1974 classic California Split.

In with Gambling Drama

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


crimea posted:

I just finished Robert Altman's 1974 classic California Split.

In with Gambling Drama

Game, dice, card, casino, money, bet, chip, win, lose, horse

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



Crits week 415

MockingQuantum – Endlessly

Story summary – Marcus wants to stop his friend Charlie from summoning a monster. It’s difficult. He succeeds by showing Charlie he cares.
Monster? – the Endless One
Emotions? – The emotions get lost until the very end. I believe this story was trying to build the emotion over the whole thing, but instead I read it all as plain exposition and detailed description.
Execution – There is a lot of exposition and it’s all up front. And the action we start with is a long crawl to get to the main event. This story can probably start at “The candle circle was flaring blue…” and with details sprinkled in through the action. This would leave more words for building the emotional connection between Charlie and Marcus and making the end not feel rushed.
The descriptions of the ritual magic, the environment and minor actions are over the top. And while a few of them can be great and add depth to the story and setting, the sheer number included here make it a slog to read, especially for only 1800 words.
“His throat threatened to close, his eyes drowned in more half-formed tears, and his hands shook in concert with the ground beneath him.” I like his hands shaking with the ground, but the other two seem needlessly detailed and specific. And again, this isn’t terrible, but there are so many sentences with additional details that slow the pace of your story down a lot which goes against the pacing that the story explicitly states as Marcus wanting to reach Charlie before it’s too late.
As for the ending, since the emotional tension didn’t build for me, it felt flat and too easy. There was the setup of the tough love mentorship that Charlie could have called Marcus out on and therefore worked against him. If you want to do more with this story, I think that’s a good place to explore.


Saucy_Rodent – You’re It!

Story summary – Kamesha is hard up for money, going through a divorce and her kid, Troya, is a lot to handle. Troya’s imaginary friend, Smoky, invades both of their lives and eventually possesses Andre, the soon to be ex-husband. He sets their apartment on fire but Kamesha and Troya escape at least this monster.
Monster – Smoky
Emotions? – Oh, so many.
Execution – This story mostly works, but there are little details that throw it a bit off along the way. This story made me uncomfortable reading it and I think that’s a good thing. It’s obviously repugnant that Andre is abusive but I found it just as awful when Kamesha yells at Troya. And the fact that it made me have a reaction speaks to the reality of the connection built in this story. The problems, setting, actions are all believable and the monster comes across as threatening enough if a little vague.
I think Smoky could have used a bit more substance (heh) to really illustrate what kind of a threat it is, what it’s capable of and etc. just to make it all fit together. Smoky’s insinuations into Kamesha’s thoughts were jarring and confusing while reading. There might be a better structural way to represent the interruptions, but I don’t know what that would be if the purpose was to show just how integrated the thoughts are.
I also got taken out of the story with the Hipster murderer bit. I’m not sure how that really fits in with the story. Does it build Kamesha’s character to see her reaction to that? Being so near the beginning it made me wonder if that’s what the story would revolve around, but instead it was a red herring. And skipping past any disbelief that she had seen a murderer and straight to vindication just felt very off. I think several emotions could be hand waved at and she could land on vindication as it’s the safest option, or something.


Crimea – Ugly Stars
Story summary – A character is in a hospital with flashbacks, fear of loud noises, and confusion…
Monster – PTSD? Dementia?
Emotions – sympathy?
Execution – There are individual bits of this that I like, but it’s missing something to hold it all together. If this story was going for the detached and floating feeling from one thought to the next, as patients sometimes experience, that has been achieved. There is merit in writing stories in a way that reflects the mental state and experience of a character whose thought patterns are not more neurotypical, but the balance between the experience of the character and the experience of reading it is a difficult one to balance since we have to be able to follow what’s going on while feeling connected to something. And I didn’t feel that connection. The reader is floated along to the various places in the narrative and reaches the end without knowing whether the story came to any conclusion about something. With a longer word count, something like this might work because the reader will see more and more and start to piece it together.
I like a lot of the individual scenes and the images you put together.
“Maybe I feel sad, but there’s some kind of gulf in my head where the wind blows through.” I like this, but I’m wondering if I like it because it’s something concrete, something self-aware in a story where we mostly feel completely lost. But the image is still good.


Something Else - How to Survive the Giant Robot that Wants to Crush You

Story summary – Harris discovers robot known to kill people, realizes it’s going to kill him. He learns that there’s a way to delay being killed. He does that thing.
Monster – Giant robot
Emotion? – The familial connection feels forced and too pointedly included.
Execution – The choppy sentences don’t come across as a character voice, instead they ruin the flow of the story, breaking it up so that sometimes I lose the point of the whole paragraph.
I think this piece is a metaphor for oppression/discrimination. It’s always present but people have gotten so tired of fighting it that they just choose not to see it. And not until it affects them do they try to escape it. And escaping it is only accomplished through money. As similar to life as this analogy may be, it’s also presented as the only way. Even if that’s true within the confines of the story, having Harris accept it to save the perfectly loving family we are presented is not only emotionally flat, but also takes away the character’s agency. There’s no struggle. If Harris were presented with a solution by Gabe, denied it saying that there must be another, better way, but ended up crushed into submission in the end (if not literally crushed) then the reader might be more emotionally connected to the outcome. The ending might still be depressing rather than hopeful, but at least we could see it.
I think it would be better to start the story if he were already under the boot of oppression so that the reader has a feeling of time running out.

Uranium Phoenix – Dauntless

Story summary – Rosewind’s father is killed at sea by a leviathan. Rosewind becomes a sea captain and faces the monster that killed his father. He succeeds and reclaims a piece of his father.
Monster – Gray sea monster leviathan type
Emotion? – If anything, this story eschews emotion. And while it’s clear that the main character has an attachment to his father and cares for his mother, all of the characters come across as stoic and detached making the reader feel the same.
Execution – An extremely competently written story. The amount of story that you fit into the word count is particularly astonishing to me, especially after reading the other entries which use all of the words, but in the end it’s difficult to remember what they were all needed for. Here, however, I find it to be a mini Moby Dick without all the gory disemboweling of whales (thank you). The whole story builds nicely and flows from one part of his life to the next. There’s a time when starting in the midst of action is the best choice and another when starting at a logical beginning works best. And this is how the latter is done well. This beginning establishes the important relationship that we’re following throughout and it progresses logically from there.
In the end this story was very safe and predictable. Rosewind was always going to go to sea, fight the behemoth, win and reclaim his father’s legacy. It needed something special or surprising to further engage the reader beyond the awesome prose.


Ceighk – Tough Leather

Story summary – Boy idolizes dead father until he learns the truth.
Monster – I think this was almost a little backward. Instead of learning about the monster up front and overcoming it, we don’t learn about the monster until the end never knowing if he can move past it. And while I’m not sure it’s what sparksbloom was looking for this week, there is something to be said by having an unseen monster looming in the background waiting to pop out.
Emotion? – Fierce love and fierce loss
Execution – The imagery in this story is striking in various places. The setup of the wardrobe shrine is particularly great. The framing of the dresses with the boots in the center, the white cross on the photograph, creates a good picture in my head.
I am pulled in two different directions by the way the narrative is told. I’m not sure I’m going to explain this very well. But the narrator is 11 or younger during the story, but he is obviously relating this at a much later age being able to label his actions/feelings rather than as if it’s being told just after by the younger self. And it’s mostly a very clear remembrance: of feeling mature that he was in on a secret, of reflecting on the artifacts left behind by absent men, etc. You only get into the hazy parts of memory when he actually learns about his father. While I think what the reader gets here is the normal reaction of an 11-year-old being presented with not only a gruesome sight but also that it was his father performing it, I also think it would have worked better if the reader was given the same treatment of this photograph as the one earlier. And since he’s talking about this from a much removed place than his child self, I think he can do that.
I’d like to see more about how he moved past this difficult period and what it meant for him later because we are getting this story later in his life. How did his relationship with his mother change? Did he confront Eddie about it? Did he tell Beth? He is only in the middle of his emotional journey, so the end doesn’t truly feel like an end.
And all of this is a lot about the story contents because the actual story structure works and progresses so know that that was done well.


Ironic Twist - Decontamination

Story summary – A diver goes on a highly specific mission to eradicate a former human that has been transformed in an underwater habitation. Diver finds the monster but then…gets possessed by it? Gives up his mission? Has a new mission?
Monster – Former human mutated after intense chlorine exposure, danger not fully understood
Emotion? – The story doesn’t linger long enough to build a lot of emotion for either the protag or the former humans.
Execution – This story was on the edge of understandability throughout its entirety. I would read a line not sure if I understood what was happening but then suddenly I would make the leap and find that I could follow the narrative. Quite the gamble. If intentional, it is quite the feat. But my reader brain still craved one or two more details that would give me satisfying clarity. Except the last paragraph. I still don’t know what resolution I was supposed to come to. Or at least I thought so.
There were also a lot of small details that really niggled at my brain. They felt off and only after some time do I think I missed something pretty major about the story. Like, is the main character a fish or other type of sea creature? What is a Fib? How does the character’s breathing apparatus work if his mouth is free to hold a glow stick? I feel too dumb for this story.
The scene setting is great. The descriptions of underwater movement are spot on, making me picture everything as a diver would see it. Character is only generally established, but this doesn’t bother me as I’m more engrossed in wanting to know what’s the deal with the water habitation. In the end, not satisfying but oh, so tantalizing.


CaligulaKangaroo – Opening a Door

Story summary – Father Mulvaney appears to be blessed by God for battling monsters. The Vatican sends him with extremely good information and a sword to kill one. He succeeds.
Monster – Depending on the sources could either be Edimmu or Vryolakas.
Emotions? – Not really. It was all very detached and informational.
Execution – This story was high on the exposition. I love exposition but this story presented it as if I were reading from an encyclopedia. Very dry and matter of fact. Needed some flavor. Sometimes that can be added by including the character in the research or the forging of the weapon. What’s his perspective on it? Instead he remains very passive. Which actually isn’t out of the realm of possibility when it comes to the Catholic church. It’s a very do as your told and take what you’re given sort of religion. But it doesn’t always make for a great story.
The first paragraph works to give the Father some mystery. It really works. A demon-slayer priest? Yes, say more. But the reader doesn’t really get to see more. And while he doesn’t have to live up to that title there needs to be something to it. The only actions that the priest takes are summed up from a past event and relegated to one paragraph of an easy victory. While not every story has to be about action, they need to have some sense of progression from one place to another.
I like the call back at the end, but I don’t think what happened in between those two ends really works with the device. What is he choosing to cross the threshold of in either case? And it doesn’t appear that he has much of a choice at all. What does the Father want out of all of this? I would start with that question in this story.


Tyrannosaurus – black knights and dragons, girl

Story summary – Uncle Beau is a singular individual dying of cancer. He makes a final promise to his adopted daughter to slay one last dragon, a real one this time. He keeps his promise, though he dies before disposing of the body of high member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Monster – The various dragons in life, real and metaphorical
Emotions? – Of the week, this story really pushed the emotional portion of the prompt to the limit in almost falling into saccharine, pulling back just in time.
Execution – This story is an exemplary character piece, with its voice, description and integrated details Uncle Beau becomes a fully formed person. The reader gets the full emotions: his hatred, his regret, his love.
But I think it’s only half a story by not telling us more about the POV character. She clearly loves him despite all of his past transgressions and wants to help him, but at what point did she learn about his past, what all of his tattoos mean? Did she have to go through some soul searching? Did they have long discussions?
I was once told in a creative writing class that a story is always about the POV character more than it is about any other character in the story. And while I don’t agree with that statement necessarily, I think if the POV character doesn’t experience some type of change within the story based on the events/other characters, then we have to ask the question why is it being told from this person’s vantage point? Are they just a narrative device at that point? I don’t know what the answer is, but your story is helping me think through these points, which is hopefully making me a better writer in return. So, thanks!


Antivehicular – A Sword Called Deathwish

Story summary – Erika buys a sword then later gets evicted then later gets transported to another dimension. She is taken in by a kind people and then she fights a dragon.
Monster – Literal dragon
Emotions? – Erika does feel some.
Execution – The story, as presented, is the beginning of a much longer story. The buildup is a slow one. Unlike the stories this week that included too much exposition then a rushed ending, this story feels like there’s more to it and it stops before it can get there. Oddly I feel like it could be even slower. I wanted it to linger on the type of person Erika is. Why can’t she seem to find a place where she belongs in her current world? Why is she the type to buy a sword and not fawn over prom dresses? Why doesn’t she deserve the kindness of her new hosts? Because Erika is such a mystery her actions and those of others feel arbitrary and what work for the story and not like they naturally flow.
The fight with the dragons presents a conflict I wish I had seen earlier in the story. Not necessarily fighting the dragon but her working with the sword. I wish she had swung it once or carried it with her more. Twelve plus years seems a long time for a magical sword to wait once it has a new wielder. I think I wanted the sword to be like a supporting character in the story and for her to have more of a relationship with it ahead of time.
I also wanted to see more exploration of the people and land she has been transported into. And, as I said before, it has begun, but it’s a slow exploration. Yeah, I like the beginning of the story here, but as a full narrative arc, it’s not there. I think you said you were doing this as an experiment. Maybe you should take it to a conclusion and get in on that LitRPG market everyone’s talking about.


Thranguy – Scourge

Story summary – Protagonist saw her cousin torn apart by monster. His death got covered up. Her life gets torn apart by an abuser monster. When she leaves him she meets the first monster again and kills it with a baseball bat.
Monster – Abuse also invisible monster with razor tentacles and eyeballs
Emotions? – This story tries more to elicit emotion from the reader through events rather than showing the emotion in the characters.
Execution – This story is a wonderful array of images. Every sentence, to me, conjures a place and time and setting and implied ones around it. But they don’t coalesce into much more than the jumbled amalgamation of someone’s life. That seems like an honest portrayal of life in art, so bravo for that. The story just needed something else, a unifying force, to give it a backbone, a purpose, a goal. Something the reader could hope for for the characters. The protagonist needs further characterization. She clearly has a lot of grit but what is her drive?
Or perhaps if this had gone even more simplistic that might have enhanced the haunting mood rather than confusing things and making me go “Wait, what?” Why did there need to be a cover up of Dylan’s death? Was the family prominent that they could bribe the sheriff? Why does it matter than Dylan loved the rain? Where are they that it never rains in the summer? Why is that significant? If this story had just been seeing Dylan die, getting out of an abusive relationship, bashing a monster to death, I think there was enough potential in just those three concepts to elicit a lot of emotion. The other details weigh it down with reader expectation. But I think either investigating the questions or sticking with the pared down version is worth further exploration.

Sitting Here – Magical Nega-Girl: Triskelion!

Story summary – Petra is part of a magical team of rear end-kicking women who doesn’t want to fight the giant monster taking over LA. Her cohort tries to get back together but there are issues with their friendship they have to work out. A well-placed tentacle helps them out and they find their friendship once again.
Monster – Giant tentacle demon, drama
Emotions? – The characters are clearly feeling some veiled resentment, but that’s about it.
Execution – This story also has a lot of exposition. It’s fun and interesting exposition, but it still feels like it slows down the narrative. The setup really just makes me want to get to the tentacle monster but instead the narrative is more overtly about interpersonal relationships rather than covertly about those things like a lot of anime/action movie stories. The characters feel like real people that have a long history together and therefore lots of issues. But in the present action they are reduced to their primary identifying personality traits.
The balance of action, cute poking at tropes, and real exploration of themes is off. The majority of the story comes across as intentionally breaking down this genre of story and presenting it in a way that shows a larger understanding and cognizance of what’s happening. And that kind of diminishes the fun that these stories innately have. The themes are up front and in the reader’s face and resolved without enough “screen time.” If there were more words, I’m certain there would be more action and more time for addressing the friendship narrative, providing a satisfying feeling of the heroes together again, but sadly it just didn’t have the room it needed.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007

Boom.



ty judges for fast and good crits

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Uranium Phoenix posted:

ty judges for fast and good crits

yes, thank you jugges

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Schoolhouse Crits (Week 370)

PTSDeedly Do, Barter

Swapping 'he' and 'my father's would improve the flow. A bit florid, but I'm digging the unreliable narrator technique here. But it goes nowhere. At the end there's no opposition, no consequence, no epiphany, nothing.

Anomolous Amalgam, Labor& Industry

So is this going to be kind-hearted capitalists week?

This is sort of functional. You may have worked too hard or to clumsily to hit the learning part of the prompt 

QuoProQuid, Space Travel

Nice opening. The not real/wait, twist, real ending doesn't serve it well, though, feels more like a beginning. This is another story from this week with very shallow character work, landing in the middle.

Armack, 10^0: orange goop and solipsism too

Okay, now that's a nice twist. Although you can't really be just one Boltzmann Brain. Like lays.okay, yeah, you got it, eventually. But honestly the math only works with nigh-infinite universes and multiverses. There are no setups where a single BB can come to be. And they don't last long enough to complete a complex thought in the context of their hallucinations; you probably need dozens to form a sentence.

Still, I love a good Boltzman Brain story, feel pandered to. But it's working.

Sitting here, six-and-six

Nice setup. And this is pretty, but a bit empty. But maybe that's the point. The narrator's self-actualization is far better than its opposite, but isn't going to feed her or her mother. Good side, and in the end having the most fleshed-out characters in the week by far earned it the win.

Carl Killer Miller, The Circle Complete

drat. Just drat. This was my top pick for the week. Each of the vignettes were very strong pieces of work, and the frame was interesting and not pointless. The only issue I have with it is at the highest level; the bleakness and fatalism inherent in the premise could have used a bit more hope or grace to counterbalance, somehow.

Antivehicular, First Flight

Short but effective. Pretty good. The first section is very effective as a sort of prose poem. The exposition that follows does its job well enough. Ultimately the biggest problem with this is its abstractness: there's not much to the narrator than their ambitions, no grounding in experience or history for them, and the tutor is even less of a character.

Still, the strengths of this were enough to earn the HM.

SlipUp, The Bastard

Good open.

But it's just an effective pile of unpleasance, with a protagonist who comes across as poorly motivated, whose complaints ring hollow. I think that a bit of dialog could work better than a reference to an oath. Also, it's 'Abbey'.

Middle group.

Something Else Multiply

Pretty good. At the beginning, 'would've' is an awkward choice. And four versions of 'would' in the first paragraph is probably too many in general.

This is a story about a child soldier, and yet it isn't really about that enough; it falls into such generic war fiction that the fact that these are children is feels almost like an afterthought.

This was in the middle group for me.

Sebmojo, PPE

Cute. Also pretty good. But ultimately empty. We have a slow start, some entertaining banter, and then an obstacle that really isn't an obstacle along the way to a low-stakes hookup. Not much learning that I can see either.

This found its way to the middle of the week.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in with dystopian scifi

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Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


crabrock posted:

in with dystopian scifi

Government, society, watch, virus, corporation, police, war, food, water, dead

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