Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Feb 25, 2014
in :toxx:


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes

Week 493 :toxx: crits

Organburner - Royce at the end of the world

You have an interesting idea but it feels like you’re focusing everywhere that the story isn’t. We get the principal’s name (never used again) but not those of the bullies who have been tormenting the protagonist. We get the protagonist’s inner thoughts, fine, but none of the action. I’m not saying I want a play-by-play of a bully being ripped apart by a troll but an entire town managed to fall into the void and it gets maybe two lines allocated to it. In the story as it’s presented, nothing really happens to the protagonist - our point of view for the story - after the opening scene in the principal’s office. Everything happens just offscreen. Even the ending just boils down to “well it sure sucks that we fell into the void. Oh well.”

This just didn’t do it for me. Sorry.

Ceighk - Johan, Johan!

I like your opening; it’s clear and confident. There are a couple of typos (e.g. “... even today we bore …” switches tenses AFAICT) but nothing that distracts from the story. And this is a fun story so far; you gave the repetition of the poisoning attempts just enough of a wink and a nod to drive home the humour.

The section in audience with the Empress didn’t hit quite as hard. The dialogue felt just a little bit stilted. After that, though, things pick up again. “Dance as fight” / “fight as dance” is a bit of a cliche but you make it work; you give the action just enough detail to be evocative.

Only two other things really stood out: lots of Proper Nouns (“Dusk Palace”, “Aquarian Ball”, etc.) which I always find a bit jarring (despite being guilty of it myself), and the point of attraction between Cordelia and Johan could have been established a bit firmer. “And for some reason I like you” has big “Somehow Palpatine returned” energy. Let the spymaster lust after the assassin himbo.

This was a fun story and I enjoyed reading it.

Staggy - The Monument

Hey dumb-dumb, you want to maybe try not waiting until Sunday afternoon to start writing? Also, 2nd person? Really?

“Oh boy I’m going to toxx for all the crits and then only use like 300 extra words” - this is you, this is how foolish you sound.

Surreptitious Muffin - To Those Who Came After

From your opening paragraph it seems like your p.o.v. is a construction robot having an existential crisis. Rad.

I’m enjoying the tone you’ve set up; bleak but hopeful, striving to understand.

You’ve got a couple of typos but nothing major, nothing that breaks you out of the story. You use a lot of run-on sentences. I like the effect it has of stretching out the sense of time but I think you could stand to vary it a bit - it’s tricky to separate the discrete memories from the greater passage of the story. If that’s the effect you were going for, great! I just found the sections that were a bit more vivid, with shorter and punchier sentences, to be more impactful.

This was a story that didn’t lack for overall impact, though. Good work.

Noah - Don’t Forget to get a To-Go Plate

I’m not averse to using titles as names but you throw a lot of Proper Nouns at us in a very short amount of time and the effect is to blur everyone together until I’m not sure who is important and who is only around for a sentence. It gives the Usher (mentioned three times; one line of dialogue) equal weight to Roda (one of the main characters). You have quite a lot of characters for 1,100 words in general; I think you’d have a clearer focus if you whittled it down and threw everyone else into the background.

You have some great lines (I’m a particular fan of “a boy in skeleton makeup and an oversized suit teaches two uncle-in-laws how to skank”) and I enjoy the scope of what you’re writing about. I think the prompt makes for good, small-scale stories and this is a very “human” story with a lot of potential for conflict and drama. I think you spread yourself a little thin, though, given the word limit. You touch on lots of problems but never deeply enough to be satisfying. I think the effect you seem to be going for - the constant pressure of more and more little problems that add up and the human desire to just get this right - would have been preserved by summarising a lot of the problems up-front, giving you time to focus in on one or two in detail.

This was ambitious and touching.

My Shark Waifuu - Goblin-mother

You do an excellent job of setting the tone of your story; the image of Griselda sweeping the cartoon “ball of whirling first and fists” goblins into the chicken coop is great. It took me a moment to realise the italicised line at the start was the prompt and not actually part of the text. I like your interpretation of it, though - the speech pattern of the goblins is really fun.

I think my only real criticism is that your story feels very brief, even for 922 words. A lot of time is spent on the set-up; the main chunk of dialogue is over too soon and the ending is incredibly swift. I wanted to spend more time with Griselda the Goblin-mother; which, I suppose, is the sign of a job well done.

This was fun and over too soon.

Albatrossy_Rodent - The Sea Turtle and the Octopus

I like your core concept. It’s confidently done too; you do a good job of just laying out “hey this is the octopus, who is a wizard, and who speaks Ancient Octopusish”. It just feels a little threadbare. I’m not saying you need a ton of action scenes for no reason but I’d like to know more about these characters, see more through their eyes. You have the last sea turtle and an octopus wizard and I struggled to root for either. You let a lot of information about goals and motivation drip-feed very slowly into the story and while it’s organic it’s slow and comes far too late as a result. Use that confidence that I mentioned above and give me more up front so I know why to care.

This was a bittersweet little story in hindsight.

Idle Amalgam - Super Crypto Bros

With a title like that I was expecting a wild ride. What I got was a relentless downhill slog.

I side with Pete. I don’t think I’m meant to - am I? Pete seems fun. Pete gets a lucky break and decides the first thing he’s going to do is share his (eventual) luck with a friend with no expectation of return. Pete goes off and cashes in his luck and has fun and dies on a yacht. The protagonist whines and moans about Pete for no reason that’s ever explored and becomes an annoying crypto bro. The saving grace is that he’s so repellent that he drives away anyone who might be caught in his blast radius.

Like, I’ll laugh all day long at “all my apes gone” tweets but this?

This is just depressing

GrandmaParty - Priorities

I like your dialogue. I like your prose too but wanted to draw attention to the dialogue. It’s crisp and believable. The only problem I have with it is that you’ve got big chunks with no attribution and when you do attribute, it’s not as clear as it could be.

Other than that? There’s not much I want to say. Maybe a dialogue-heavy piece like this would have benefited from more distinct voices, touching on the blurring of lines I mention above. You could have afforded to cram some character in, particularly Slow Hand’s voice.

This had a twist ending that was blindingly obvious in hindsight, which I liked.

Chernobyl Princess - Paper Hearts

Your first scene sets the tone and scope nicely; the mention of the Creator’s mortality hints at what’s to come. If I have one criticism, it’s that the tenses/sense of time are a little vague. My first reading was that everything after the first line or two is a flashback to some indeterminate time before this current meeting. On re-reading I’m not as sure.

You establish clear goals, though, tying in to the scene-setting I mention above. Then you have a nice scene with the Creator and tie it all up in the ending. It’s a little pat and it doesn’t address that this is just kicking the can down the road until the Creator dies but it works as an ending.

Tyrannosaurus - in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news

I found your story heartwarming and sweet. You do a good job of setting up just enough oddity to the world that I can take at face value that this is told from the point of view of a sentient talking dog, or that music is something that can be grown on a farm.

Your dialogue is solid and I like the device you use towards the end of suddenly eloquent speech (paragraph starting “‘Hm’, I said again.”). It was a nice, effective moment of humour. The next set of dialogue from Carl, though, felt a bit saccharine and I wasn’t sure if that was a continuation of the device or just regular text.

If that sounds pedantic that’s because I’m struggling to think of anything else to say. This was a sweet little tale and you captured the Dog-ness of Carl very well.

Antivehicular - The Ride-Along

I am absolutely captivated by your worldbuilding here. It’s so hands-off but so effective; you squeeze a hell of a lot out of a single word like “scrip”. I don’t know enough about American geography to tell if you’re playing with the place names/borders/etc. but that’s fine.

I’m struggling with anything to say on this which, to be clear, is a good thing. The last few lines did trip me up a little bit, though. I initially read the references to the tire and the engine as literal, which confused me because Dee’s power means that this shouldn’t be a question. It worked as a metaphor when it finally clicked but the choice of wording was maybe a little too close to the actual events of the story.

Good story.

Thranguy - The Basilisk Score

You hooked me fast with the opening. The clear heist setup works and then the added twist of being dragged back to hell came at just the right time to really heighten my interest. You raise just enough questions with things like hearing’s R voice without an earpiece to get me invested. In short: good start.

And then you drip in that this isn’t really literal hell but some sort of simulation to rip off another end of time super intelligence.

The major problem I have (because I’m disregarding the few typos here - but check that last line again) is that I can’t tell if this is a good story in its own right or a very good setup for a story that I then don’t get to read. There’s a lot of setup but not that much story, which is a shame because the story that is there is great.

I have no idea how to judge this story. Luckily, that isn’t my problem this week!

The man called M - How Andy became a man

You have a solid story concept here, with a new angle on an old cliche. Your prose and dialogue just let you down a bit; they’re both a bit clunky and lack confidence.

Take the second paragraph, for example (starting “To many young men …”). Cut out the last two sentences (so that the final word is “Ann”) and read it again. See how the meaning is preserved, with fewer words, and it ends on a stronger beat? You need to trust that the reader will pick up the implication without you having to state it outright. As it is, the last two sentences are the equivalent of explaining why the joke you just told is funny. Less, here, is more.

The dialogue in that first scene is cheesy. Cheesy can work but it isn’t believable and I think (subjective opinion here) that you really need to lean one way or the other. Either commit to 80s teen movie dudetacular dialogue or make it sound like something an actual person would say. Reading it out loud to yourself is a big help for the latter.

The scene between Jamie and Andy is cute but doesn’t really add much to the story. You get the potential love interest in one sentence and the rest is filler; you’re just restating things the reader already knows. Jamie might not know them but unless they react in an interesting way that’s not the reader’s problem.

FYI calling him Chad is a bit on the nose. Again, if you were leaning into the radical, 80s side of the story it would work.

There’s the bones of a good story in there. You could do a lot with the idea of what it means to be a man just based on the idea of wearing a helmet versus not; “I’m a man, not an idiot”, etc. It just gets buried under you explaining and re-explaining yourself; the constant justification of why it’s called the Kettle, don’t worry they told the police about the corpses, etc.

Write with confidence.

Yeah ok ok yeah - “Deep Rich”, Excursion 385

I will neither confirm nor deny the extent to which your gonk gangtag influenced my mental image of Deep Rich.

I like your early characterisation of Deep Rich with the .wav files. It’s a small but evocative touch. The later boasts about its features don’t add as much, particularly in the context of it being a puzzle why the responses didn’t mean much. Pneumatic strength is irrelevant to that question and even the fluff details about positronic brains tells us little; it’s enough to say “... which was odd, because it was a thinking machine”.

Which I realise now is the opposite of what you actually said. Is that a typo or were you going for something else?

Not much happens to Deep Rich which is fine because I like the idea of this being a trundle through a ruin where the story lies in the environment and what happened to the outpost. It’s just a little thin - if anything, you could stand to focus less on Deep Rich and more on one or two evocative setpieces/rooms it comes across. If you needed the words you could cut most of what comes before it arrives at the door to the outpost - it adds little that couldn’t be summarised.

Your ending wasn’t clear to me. Did the outpost survivors scan themselves into the machines? Did they turn themselves into the weird cat? I can’t tell.

A Classy Ghost - The Dead City Marches On

Two words that I very much like: “Nimothy” and “metropolich”. You’re going for a very literal title, I see.

“his boss kept telling him he was essential, but refused to give him a raise” - ouch.

Another word I like: “murderwitch”. I want to read more about Ananastasia the Murderwitch.

I like your setting. I like your setting a lot. There just wasn’t that much story here; you spend a lot of time on setting up the conflict for Nimothy, then jump right to the resolution. It just leaves me with questions about what happened in-between; that’s the story.

CaligulaKangaroo - Final Exam

I love everything about your opening. It pulled me in instantly.

I just don’t get why Gray stays in the classroom. Waiting for a call back from Eddie? Why here? If it’s just to take shelter, fine, but that could be made a little clearer than “Got to kill time” and the decision to stay once people break in (“A blast rings from downstairs …”) could stand to be a bit more decisive. Your opening paints them as a risk-taker, sure, but as someone who has goals and plans and acts on them. The followup doesn’t match that.

“You were so close” - good guilt-trip phrase but also describes the story here.

Crabrock - Liebrary

This is getting a bit outside the scope of these crits but everything your partner said about this story is validated by that title pun.

See, this is what happens when you recruit a bunch of teens with attitude. Only I think that joke has been made a hundred times before.

You’ve proven you can write well in the past and this felt rushed. Why does the protagonist know about pirate tricks? Why do they tell the mayor that they’re waiving the late charges when Whitney was the one to check it out? And so on.

Flerp - To the Reclaimers

I guess I’d describe this as a meditation rather than a story. It’s heartfelt but a very dense reading experience. Once that’s unpicked, it seems a little repetitive in its ideas (which I suppose works well for a slow, meditative experience) but I’m afraid it doesn’t really work for me. It’s not bad.

I’m struggling to explain this well. The closest I think I can come is the expression that I “bounced off” this when trying to read it. Does that make sense? It’s so dense and poetic that it’s hard to engage with and I can’t really take much away from it other than the surface level analysis.

I think this just isn’t for me.

Apr 10, 2011

This avatar helped buy Lowtax a new skeleton.

The previous prompt ruined me (yes I'm deflecting blame!), hoping I can redeem myself by being in again.

Mar 21, 2010
oh no this old person knows all the herbs, the ones that cure but also the ones that definitely don't cure
this guy is nasty, he is friends with all the bugs, every bug, my guy is just crawling with the loving things

organburner posted:

The previous prompt ruined me (yes I'm deflecting blame!), hoping I can redeem myself by being in again.
golden oldie who was once the most famous musician in all the land but they are being HUNTED, oh no!

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Crits I guess:

Royce at the end of the world

Couple things. Felt really weird and jarring that the principal casually drops the f bomb like it's no big deal, and basically says 'lol we're not doing anything about bullies you big nerd why not get revenge.' Also 'we can't do anything but I'll have a talk with them'. I dunno just felt really dumb, like he's totes in there getting in trouble but they're literally not able to punish bullies? Doesn't make any sense.
Oh, dialogue attributions. Let's talk about those.

When you've got some dialogue, and then some attribution, there's some weird thing that goes on where, while the dialogue can be its own full sentence, the dialogue plus attribution is also a full sentence. I'm not explaining this well, I'll use an example from your story. You've written the following:

"Hey it's the pervert!" One of them said loudly

OK so, "Hey it's the pervert!" is a sentence, but 'One of them said loudly' is not a separate sentence. Together they're still just one sentence. Someone else can probably better explain the exact terminology but the point is, you don't need a capital letter for the attribution, because it's not a new sentence, and wouldn't make any sense as a separate sentence. So the way you would write this line would be something like this:

"Hey, it's the pervert!" one of them said loudly. (I also added some extra punctuation which I thought it needed.) Oh wait, you got it right elsewhere, maybe a momentary lapse? Anyway, try to be more consistent I guess. Oh also, if you've got the attribution before the dialogue, you need a comma. So, in the following sentence:

Back in class he thought to himself, "I wish a troll or something would just rip those fuckers apart." (I added a comma before the quote.)

'A slight bit later' is a super awkward phrase. 'A little while,' perhaps? I dunno, workshop it, but that one's not working for me.

'They rounded a corner and before them was the corpse of a troll and some things Royce couldn't identify, but there was a lot of blood.'

That's an awkward as heck sentence.

'School staff were standing around, some nursing wounds from the fight with the troll but Royce managed to identify the parts of his bullies.'

OK so now he can identify them? Which parts, exactly? The faces, right? It's really weird if he's identifying other parts of them. BTW, that 'but' doesn't make sense because the connected statements aren't at odds with each other or whatever. Staff nursing wounds have nothing to do with Royce's ability to identify bully chunks.

'Back in his room Royce was fuming, this was all so unfair.'

Hmmm, not sure about the comma, I'd go semi-colon, or period and new sentence.

'“No.” Royce lied.'

So, dialogue attribution again. I'd go with a comma after the 'no'. Otherwise they're not really connected, they're just two separate statements.

“Royce, this is very important. Did anything happen?” the principal continued with a forced calmness.

OK so I changed the above sentence so you weren't starting a new sentence with the dialogue attribution. It's a bit of an awkward attribution even without that, BTW. Sometimes people are too intent on busting out their thesaurus and trying too hard to describe how people are talking. Nothing wrong with just 'said' and 'asked' tbh. I mean sure there are times when something else fits better or whatever, but most of the time those two can do your heavy lifting. Also, 'with a forced calmness' seems kinda meaningless tbh, and the subsequent sentence seems more useful to tell us his demeanour.

'Opening his eyes again to answer the accusations, Royce discovered he was outside the dorms.'

BTW you could probs afford to scatter a few more commas around, break up these longer sentences. I've taken the liberty of adding one here as an example. Say the sentence in your head, if you pause to take a breath, probs want a comma or something. (The 'or something' could be a full stop, could be a colon, could be a semi-colon, depending.)

“Is that what’s causing all the problems? I wish that chalice didn’t exist! I didn’t mean to do anything!”

Boy, Royce is dumb as hell. Not really a literary criticism I guess, but drat.

“Why were you keeping this thing in here where students are constantly coming in and out?” Royce asked, trying to deflect blame.

No no, he's got a point. Principal is dumb as hell too.

Anyway, this story was a bit of a mess. Apart from all the grammatical stuff, it felt a bit tonally muddled. A whole bunch of wacky hijinks with a dumb as hell protagonist who slapsticks his way into causing all mayhem, but ALSO you have a bunch of children dismembered, so that's a bit weird. And our psychotic little protagonist just goes, 'oh good, this is much better now that we're in some kind of void and a bunch of my fellow students got murdered.'

I'll make a separate post for my other crits, this one got a bit long.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


in, too

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009


Well, tie does rhyme with die. And today is a good day to die.

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

I can't believe I HMed! I am going to take this overconfidence and declare myself IN

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
Already starting this year off with a fail and dishonor. Yeesh.

Let's hecking do this. IN.

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
week 493 crits

“Deep Rich”, Excursion 385 - yeah ok ok yeah
I like your use of forum code blocks for the robot’s log, it’s good use of the medium - if anyone crits you that it’s gimmicky don’t listen to them. The one thing is it took me an embarrassingly long time to realise what the CMD_CONSOLE4 tag signified. You might be able to make that clearer by putting the first one of those after the reference to the ‘response’ arriving, separating it from the robot’s lines, or just by explaining it better. I like the way you use audio files but would space robots use still use .wavs? I feel like there’s almost a joke here about it being the year 2500 and commercial tech still uses Windows XP or something but that could be heightened if so.

On style, there’s a really nice sense of the setting and mystery to the start of this, but some of it can feel a bit flat. Avoiding the passive voice is one of those writing ‘rules’ that can often be more trouble than it’s worth as it absolutely has its place, but this piece demonstrates why it’s good to be conscious of its over use. While the events being described here are interesting enough until the ending, there’s a whole lot of unnecessary wases, weres and had beens, which make the picture feel a bit static. Rewording some of these would save word count and make things much more dynamic.

The ending could definitely be clearer and more interesting. Is it just a joke about a cat walking on a keyboard saying random stuff? They do be like that, but I don’t think the story is funny enough to sell the comedy end: the first half creates a genuine sense of mystery, so a joke ending feels like a let down. Or is the implication from the tape labels that it’s an intelligent genetically modified cat or something? If so that could definitely be clearer and the implications of it should be explored in some way. If not then the labels are a big and unnecessary red herring. Also the mystery of who’s sending the messages is less interesting for the reader than what happened to the colonists, which could be hinted at more even if it’s not the robot’s job to find out.

The Dead City Marches On - A Classy Ghost
Hell yeah zombie city maintained by wagey necromancers, sick concept, extremely good visuals, made me think of gnarly anime like Dorohedoro (big compliment).

The main problem here is that it feels like two separate fragments which don’t quite come together to make a story. Everything up until your guy losing his job creates a real sense of place, but also nothing important happens until the witch shows up - this would be fine in a longer story but at this word count I don’t think you had the space. Then the second part introduces a whole bunch of new plot and character details but speeds through them very quickly, so there’s no sense of setup and payoff. Your guy goes from laid off schlub to prospective venture capitalist in a couple of lines, after we spent several paragraphs earlier setting up stuff to do with their original job that doesn’t ultimately feel that important. It’s very disjointed and feels rushed.

I’d also have liked to either see some more agency from the character rather than just happening to have the right skills at the right time, or a clearer sense of satire or pathos from the fact this society just swings from one bizarre solution to another at random. I feel like the ending wants us to be happy for Jimothy, but it’s all so arbitrary. I don’t mind that in theory, that’s how things like this work, but the story seems to want me to feel sympathetic towards his good fortune when I have no reason to be. Either we could’ve got to see Jimothy’s struggle so we’d want to side with him more, or the absurdity or nuance of the situation could’ve been taken seriously to give it some depth, but as it is it doesn’t really do either. With a bit of restructuring and some more time, though, there’s potential here.

Final Exam - CaligulaKangaroo
Kinda long paragraphs and short staccato sentences maybe aren’t the best combination. The short sentences create a fittingly terse, punky tone, but when half of them are just like ‘subject verbs object’ and the other half start with conjunctions that could easily be folded into the sentence before, the effect is needlessly repetitive.

Sentences like this are the worst offenders:
‘I press it, opening a series [of] subfolders. One of which says “General Education Development.”’
‘Don’t know what a green gable is exactly. But I’ve used enough fake names myself to guess why this chick wants to go by “Cordelia.”’

it’s fine to use breaks like that for emphasis, but here it does the opposite, taking sentences that could break up the otherwise fairly rigid rhythm and unnaturally forcing them to match it. It’s jarring and works to the expense of the prose’s flow for no gain.

On the plot, lots of the individual pieces of it are great, but I’m not really sure why the guy is in his mum’s classroom - which is a bit of a problem when that’s what ties it all together. You mention something about getting tickets from the recruiter’s desk, so I guess that’s why he came to the school, but why’s he in the classroom and once he’s there why is he just hanging about? Did he go in because he was sad about his mum? If so there’s so much drama to that decision that you don’t mine at all.

Since the conflict ends up being about the test I feel like it could’ve been a lot more cohesive if he was breaking into the school specifically for that purpose, and has to try to focus even while the school is getting raided by scavengers. I really love the visual you create of sneaking around under fire to do an exam in a warzone, but it’s a shame that that feels incidental to the plot rather than the primary focus of it, despite it getting so much wordcount. Still, cool concept that I think you could improve a lot with another draft.

Paper Hearts - Chernobyl Princess
This is a very nice little story and well written but I can’t help feeling that it sets up a huge existential crisis for the paper guys that is not resolved or acknowledged by the ending. The Creator is still going to die fairly soon, and since they still need her the dolls have only really delayed the inevitable, which jars with Heinrich’s (somewhat cheesy) declaration that his plan might save the village.

Is there some way that the puppets can set it up so that they can use the paper cutter without help in the future? The other alternative would be acknowledging that they are bringing a child into a doomed world but I don’t know if that’s in the spirit of things. The reliance on the creator is also confusing given what is implied about making puppet guys early on: if only the creator can make them using the paper cutter, why did the couple think they only needed paper? Surely more dolls would just turn up and they’d have no impulse to create them themselves? If dolls usually do just show up but for some reason this particular couple wants to create one themselves then that could be explored. I’m not asking these questions to nitpick - ‘making sense’ is overrated - but if you had the time to really think through the implications of your world there’s a lot of space to add some depth.

On a different note, a guillotine seems like a very inconvenient way to make a paper doll, but props for the creative response to the prompt.

Priorities - GrandmaParty
This is structurally solid but feels very slight in relevant/interesting details. Mostly dialogue, almost entirely untagged, not too much description (and what there is is fairly generic), no interiority. You convey the information you need for the story to ‘work’ but there’s not much meat on the bones to sell it or give it a unique flavour.

The whole story hinges on Davis being tricked to abandon his convictions for the sake of his family, but I’m not convinced of his thought process either for staying to begin with or for changing his mind in the end, and the reasons we are given through the dialogue are very cliche. He apparently believes the ideology about king and country without question, then he gets told war is more nuanced and reminded of his beautiful children, so he leaves. It’s all very clean and socially acceptable and discrete: reasonable motivation A is deemed more important than reasonable motivation B, so he picks one and goes, with the difficult tension between the two going mostly unexplored.

A shade of unflattering human complexity here would go a long way. Is he afraid of death on his own behalf and using his family as cover? Or does he actually enjoy some part of being in war in a way he won’t admit to, which makes him reluctant to leave? I desperately want some nuance or idiosyncrasy to your guy’s motivations that just isn’t here.

I think the ending needs a bit more detail too. How does realising that the captain was tricking him make Davis feel? Was the captain right that Davis would get away fine and the occupying army wouldn’t treat the castle residents too badly? I like the twist that the merc has been bought out by the enemy - like any good twist it surprised me but in retrospect makes total sense - but I don’t really know how to feel about it. Maybe it’s good that the castle will fall without a fight as less people will die, maybe it’s not, I dunno. As it is this feels a bit like a sketch, a solid foundation that needs something more interesting built on top of it.

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
also i'll go in

Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage
Biscuit Hider
Let's do it. I'm in.

May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch

Sep 3, 2020



Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

:toxx: in

yeah ok ok yeah
May 2, 2016

Jul 26, 2012



Apr 12, 2006

Oct 6, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!

Guess im doing two grumpy wizard stories in a row. In.

Jul 26, 2016


Sep 3, 2020


Crits for Week 493: Hope is Absurd

Royce at the End of the World - organburner

You’ve got a few things to work on here. You use a lot of distancing language (he felt, he saw, etc) which removes us from the protagonist’s perspective. Your voices aren’t distinct from each other (everybody says gently caress? Is this Big Fucker Academy? If it is, you need to tell us that!) You tell us how characters are feeling instead of illustrating it through their actions (lines like “Royce could tell the principle was angry” have no impact, whereas “the principles nostrils were flared and his fists were clenched” says the same thing and also provides an image).

My unsolicited advice: Read the Winner and HMs for this week and pay close attention to their prose. They’re all using different styles, but they each have close character work, distinct voices, and illustrated emotions. Pick apart how they did it, see what you like, see what you don’t like, and try and apply what you like to your own work. This is the way.

Johan, Johan! - Ceighk

drat! That was really good. It fit the prompt, it fit the subprompt, it was well-paced, the characterization was solid, the prose was really nice (with room for improvement in a few places) The ending felt a little abrupt, could’ve used a line or two more, and the opening paragraph doesn’t quite fit the timeline of the rest of the story. Nevertheless, I loved it and I’d happily read more with these characters. Nice work!

The Monument - Staggy

This is an example of what I’ve mentally dubbed ‘The Thunderdome House Style. Beautiful imagery, thematically consistent, structurally solid, but very little grounded character work. The protagonist seemingly has nothing tying them to this world (No family? No friends?) and their grieving is largely performative. Still, everything else in the piece is solid. It’s not my cup of tea, since I read for characters above all else, but I can’t deny that it’s nicely executed.

To Those Who Came After - SurreptitiousMuffin

Lovely. Great 17776 vibes. Also reminded me of Metal Like Blood in the Dark by T Kingfisher. I felt for the robots, even if I didn’t/couldn’t understand them as individuals. (But maybe I wasn’t supposed to. )

The line “Mars-Colony-008 has zero confirmed survivors, and yet somehow they persist” threw me at first; were there survivors off the map, or do the dead persist in the memory of the robots? (It’s the latter). I think the second paragraph goes on a little too long, which seems common in this week’s entries. You don’t have to worry so much about setting up the themes and tone when they’re consistently applied throughout the work. Also, the run-on sentences make more sense once the cadence and character of the narrators is established, but it’s a little much up front.

I appreciated the through-lines: the puns, the persistence, the orange seeds, the war paint, the cursing, and the relentless contradictions that come from living without being alive. Close to perfect with room for clean-up work. Edit it and submit it to Uncanny; it seems right up their alley.

Don’t Forget to get a To-Go Plate - Noah

This is one of those odd stories that made me feel like I missed something because so many things were happening at once, and the supernatural elements came and went without much fanfare or explanation. My fellow judges liked it more than me, however, so I won’t sit here and say it’s objectively not working. I think it just wasn’t for me, because I am a baby who likes things explained to me.

Goblin-mother - My Shark Waifu

Cute. Not great, not bad; cute. The pacing dropped off in the second half since the adventurers weren’t actually a threat. Have the adventurers pose a real threat to the goblins, one that forces Griselda to make a difficult choice, and then you’ve got a story.

The Sea Turtle and the Octopus - Albatrossy Rodent

Short but sweet. I liked the message, I liked the old Octopus and the Sea Turtle, and I thought their bumbling interactions were well-done. It probably could have used another hundred words to flesh out things like the Octopus’s desire for further adventures and the Sea Turtles desire for female hatchlings, but overall, it was a competent piece given the prompt and the space.

Super Crypto Bros. - Idle Amalgam

The ‘Some years later’ section is disjointed. Aside from that, it’s a pretty boilerplate retelling of the crypto story we’ve all heard in one form or another. Guy misses out on Bitcoin, goes all in on subsequent -coins and NFTs. What this piece is missing is something to make it stand out from the archetype—something that turns this from a post into a story. What makes this guy different than all the other crypto guys? Why did you choose to write about him?

Priorities - GrandmaParty

You can cut paragraphs 1-3 and weave the necessary exposition into the body of the work. In doing so, ask yourself how much of that backstory was really needed for the story to make sense. I did like the characters, though, and I thought the progression of the conversation worked well.

Paper Hearts - Chernobyl Princess

I liked it! The middle was a little dull, as the obstacles they faced on the walk to the house didn’t actually challenge them (husband waved the birds off with a stick and then they got bored and left). I thought the husband and wife were cute and I liked their dilemma, and their solution was natural without feeling too obvious. Having said that, their solution is only a band-aid over the creator’s inevitable death, so it didn’t leave me feeling as hopeful as it could have.

in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news - Tyrannosaurus

More buried ledes than an r/relationship post! I thought this had way too many weird concepts for the small space, but my fellow judges disagreed with me and they won me over, probably because I actually liked the story a lot. Still, the relentless barrage of new concepts forced me to stop and reorient myself every paragraph, so consider that dumb readers (like me) may not pick up everything you’re throwing down and adjust accordingly.

The Basilisk Score - Thranguy

You need to get out of your own way when you’re working with such a small amount of space. This kind of pseudo-philosophical poo poo works when it’s 1100 words in the middle of a larger work, not when it’s the whole thing. Scrap the big brain over-explaining and just tell me a story.

How Andy became a man - The Man Called M

Watch your verb tenses. Also way too much telling. The dialogue is unrealistic, too. “I want to, as well, but The Kettle?” What teen says ‘As well?’ In general, your prose needs real work.

My unsolicited advice is the same I gave Royce: go back and read the winner and the HMs and pay attention to how they structure each sentence. Those stories are very different from each other, but they all have strong voices and competent, confident prose. As you read these stories, ask yourself what else they have in common, then see what lesson you can apply to your own work. Also, SH is right that you should ask people for crits on your work before you post it. Believe it or not, us other domers are here to help, so let us help!

“Deep Rich”, Excursion 385 - yeah ok ok yeah

A vibe, I guess. Not good, not bad; a solid ‘eh.’ I get what you were trying to do with the sub-prompt and the text, but it didn’t pay off in any meaningful way. If you’re going to throw in garbo text because you have to, try and make it mean something.

The Dead City Marches On - A classy ghost

Good concept, saw the ending coming, pacing was off. Clunky prose, though Metropolich is a great word. You can cut out a lot of the cruft up top and use the space to develop the apprentice’s relationship with the maggots to add weight to the end.

Final Exam - Caligula Kangaroo

Oh, I liked that. Good use of setting, good character work. The prose needs work and that’s the main thing holding the piece back. Sentence structure lacks variety, both in size and construction. Get more practice shaking up your prose and you’ll be in good shape.

Liebrary - crabrock

poo poo, that’s a lot of prompt to pack into a little space. Given that, you did admirably, but your exposition dump at the start is still unforgivable. I’m also not a huge fan of the Whedonesque dialogue where everybody has a clever comeback. I know some people still love it, but I’ve seen a lot of snark in the past few decades, and I’m just so tired of it. But again, kudos for doing what you could with the prompt. It was DENSE.

To the Reclaimers - flerp

Lovely prose. Poignant message. Not a story, though. It’s more akin to an essay, like something your protagonist would slip through the cracks in the crumbling building that once housed The Atlantic. Now apparently, as SH explained to me, this ‘vignette-not-a-story’ concept is completely legitimate for flash fiction, and that explains a lot about Thunderdome that I never understood, but it’s going to take me a while to wrap my head around the idea that flash can be a scene without progression. Until then, if you see me judging again, just write me some drat characters!

Feb 25, 2014
friendly chili princess brawl results

crits in reverse order of submission


this is extremely messy. it shifts pov so much and so drastically that its hard to get a bead on character locations and actions and how everything relates. everyone moves around so much and end up in different places that its hard to keep track of everything going on, esp given that seems to be a mostly plot focused story. its plot is uhhhhh weird. i think its supposed to be funny, or at least wacky, and there's lil bits of humor in here that do work, but its also like... they jump into a gorilla pit and thats legitimately harrowing. im not sure, i feel like the tone didnt quite work for me, just because Lou is a type of character that i think is a legit scary stalker. this also has wayyyyyy too many characters (which doesnt help with all the pov shifts) that none of the main characters really have time to shine or show any depth. there's just lesbians who are on a date and creepy lou and then a gorilla and a worker but i cant really tell you their personalities. there's not much to grip onto here. the story is legit tough to read (this is the shortest of the bunch and took me the longest to read because i had to mentally map out where every character was and what they were doing during every pov shift) and there's not much here to gain when you spend the time. a wacky plot with (too many) barebone characters.


this is a pretty cool concept and i like that you approached the prompt by having TWO of the characters be non-human. the world building is alright but expository (but hey what you gonna do w/ 2k words) and the plot is pretty alright. you set up two characters although i think their relationship is a bit too generically cutesy-adversial-kind-of-romantic that i feel like we've seen like these enough times without rly doing new or interesting with it. its fine and better than nothing but idk i feel like ive seen a lot of this that i just want more. but overall, you do a lot here with 2k words and most of it works. you set up a decent world and concept (altho the magic is kind of confusing and im not sure how it works), you give characters personalities and distinct motivations that makes it make sense for why theyre all fighting each other. this feels like an intro scene to a larger fantasy story, which is a nice way of saying the ending didnt feel conclusive, but if it was a larger fantasy story, id probably have kept reading, so hey, that's good i supposed. you did resolve the conflict, but the conflict felt small when i think this was trying to be bigger. its still fine tho.


this one im not sure of. there's more emotional stakes here than the previous two and i generally tend to like the approach of ghosts and grief and blah blah blah, but it starts out as a story that seems to be about the character accepting his mother's death and what her ghost is and whether the ghost is real or not or if the ghost is his mother or not but then it kinda devolves into actually his mom was a powerful witch and another witch needs to be beat her and like... idk if these two things go together. maybe, somehow, there's this really cool way to bridge these two together, of grief and uncertainity and ghosts and powerful witches, but im not sure what that is and its certainly not here. it feels disjointed and the story ends, like princess's, with a to be continued, but in this one, it doesnt work as well. in princess's, they were able to resolve the main conflict while still having a clear continuation. here, your conflict isnt really resolved. i mean, sure, the mom is actually the ghost, but is the character's grief understood more deeply here? it just doesnt feel like anything's super changed for any of the characters and they still need to do more stuff to solve the conflict you set up.

final results

princess wins by a good few legs ahead of friendly penguin while chili trips right at the starts and falls into a gorilla pit

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


Crits for Week #493

Obligatory crits follow for the :toxx: gods. I might crit more stories later when there’s less time pressure.

Noah - Don’t Forget to get a To-Go Plate:
Yep this was good, I liked this one. I can see that the continual Proper Nouns for characters could be jarring and off-putting, but I think it really works, especially given the premise that this is the end of the afterlife and we are, presumably, down to a very limited number of people. I like that the story doesn’t concern itself at all with the implications of the afterlife ending, or what’s going to happen next — it would have been very easy to try and be ironic about “oh lol till death do us part” but there’s no sign of that at all, it’s all played very straight, and it’s the better for it. It’s just a lovely little moment that the characters are dragging out for as long as they can, and I’m here for it.

My Shark Waifuu - Goblin-mother:
Yeah, this was a fun read. I’m a sucker for humorous fantasy, which can be a hard genre to write without coming across as overly derivative, but I think you’ve struck a nice balance of relatable genre tropes and some original characterisation. The way you’ve leveraged the prompt to give the goblins a unique voice works well here.

The ending does wrap everything up a bit too neatly — the story can’t quite decide if the adventurers should be a credible threat or an annoying inconvenience, and the way Griselda just uses magic to solve the problem undermines any tension that the start might have carried. That said, I also think the ending is kind of horrific, and I’m not sure the image of a goblin happily eating birds that used to be adventurers matches the lighthearted tone of the rest of the story? I’m also wondering if the implication that the other bird carcasses belonged to other adventurers is intentional, or if she’d previously used less fatal ways to dispatch them?

Albatrossy_Rodent - The Sea Turtle and the Octopus:
I feel like this is a sweet little story which seems a bit indecisive. You don’t outright tell us these are the last Sea Turtle eggs until three-quarters or so into the story, by which point it’s too late for any real tension to develop. (You mention “her last hope” but by the end it’s revealed the stakes are “the continued survival of her entire species” so it feels a bit jarring.)

The ending feels rushed, especially considering you had a luxurious 300 or so words left. It basically feels like the Octopus downplays the Sea Turtle’s (perfectly reasonable!) existential angst and is all “hit me up next time you want to party” before leaving the Turtle to cry by herself. The revelation that the Octopus is happy to have gone on the adventure, despite apparently complaining the whole time, feels unearned, and I think you could have explored his change through the story a bit more.

Maybe it would have been nicer if you’d found a way to end on the stars coming out, since you mentioned them earlier, and it would have been a nice way for the Octopus and the Sea Turtle to reflect on their time together. (Would it be too much to have them wonder about life on other worlds in the sky? Probably! But the story needed something else.)

Idle Amalgam - Super Crypto Bros.:
Every now and then I’ll find myself wondering if I should reference cryptocurrency in a story, and I always step away from the edge when I realise it’s both too easy a target for mockery, and too boring a target to get excited about writing seriously.

I’m not sure where you’re trying to land with this story — at the start I’m intrigued by why the protagonist has such a problem with Pete, and when you paint him as a stereotypical cryptobro with Axe bodyspray and Ray-Bans etc I begin to wonder about the dynamics of their friendship, and the obvious imbalance there. Pete, for all his contrived faults, at least seems earnest, and I would have appreciated maybe a nod to how Pete’s actually changed since the protagonist first met him, or how maybe the protagonist feels insecure with Pete around, or something to explain his avoidance of the guy that’s not surface-level “lol ray-bans and popped collars, what a douche”.

The story abandons Pete about as quickly as the protagonist does, though, and the remainder is basically a paint-by-numbers history of cryptocurrency through the ages, culminating in what I assume is a reference to that Cryptoland thing. Which means I rapidly lose interest because there’s no characterisation and the stakes are telegraphed by the real-world history of some fake digital money.

Thranguy - The Basilisk Score:
I had much the same experience as Staggy, which was essentially “oh sweet, I love heist stories” to “oh sweet, plot twist, he’s in hell” to “okay, when are we getting back to the heist?”

To be fair: I think it would be asking far too much to delivery a competently-executed heist story in 1100 words. And I think the “extended metaphor” you’ve got going on with the quantum rips and the galaxy brains using computed minds to steal … things … works really well.

But I’ve been paying a lot of attention recently to how important expectations are at the beginning of a story, and I feel that this story subverts those expectations without delivering an equally satisfying payoff. I’ll happily read a heist story and I’ll happily read a story about a galaxy mind waxing philosophical about quantum rips and the nature of consciousness, but if you begin to tell me one and then finish with the other, I’ll just end up feeling cheated.

I think I probably would have enjoyed this story more if R wasn’t a disembodied voice in Jack’s ear, and if you’d acknowledged the subprompt a bit more and explored why Danni killed him with the pillow, and if the circumstances of his death play any part in him not wanting to run this heist with the galaxy brain behind hell.

Mar 21, 2010
this land is filled with rotten old machines and this guy knows 'em all, he can breathe life into them like god breathing life into clay

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Guess im doing two grumpy wizard stories in a row. In.
everybody in this entire land is a wizard EXCEPT this guy, but he's got a few tricks up his sleeve, yessir
birds, whoever your old person is just loves 'em, knows all their songs, can whisper sweetly to 'em, just all birds all the time babyyyy

CaligulaKangaroo posted:


old old old, a methuselah, has walked the land for an endless aeon and has seen it all, and more importantly they've seen what's coming
the world is changing, a new era is fast dawning, and an old legend and/or monster has found themselves being left behind, but they're not going out quietly
the first mistake the dead make is to assume that nature is kind; nature simply does not care. Your old person understands this accutely, and who betide those who cross them
he's a walker, he walks everywhere, ain't nobody who has walked as far, has seen as much up close and beautiful, but the world is getting too drat fast
they see patterns in the smoke, possibilities, past and present and future all in the roiling haze, what do they do when the world is afire?

GrandmaParty posted:

Let's do it. I'm in.
GrandmaParty I want you to write a Party Grandma, she's so loving fun omg, and the world really needs that right now

Ceighk posted:

also i'll go in
this is the wise old wizardly mentor to a thousand young men and women, except magic isn't real and he's totally just faking it

Idle Amalgam posted:

Already starting this year off with a fail and dishonor. Yeesh.

Let's hecking do this. IN.
this person keeps dying and being endlessly resurrected and each time they die they come back young but each time they die they come back just a little more wrong and they know this and they're starting to have doubts about the whole immortality thing

Chernobyl Princess posted:

I can't believe I HMed! I am going to take this overconfidence and declare myself IN
this is two old people, a sweet old couple who bicker but love each other deeply
is there anything tea CAN'T do? If anybody would know it's this oldie, they're a renowned expert, but can their deep knowledge and love of tea defeat the dragon/end a war/save the world etc?

The man called M posted:

Well, tie does rhyme with die. And today is a good day to die.
headmaster of a school for assassins finds themselves called back in for one last job

My Shark Waifuu
Dec 9, 2012


Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:

Week 493 Crits

Organburner's Royce at the end of the world

The one where a kid lights a wishing chalice and wishes his school into the shadow realm.

This was actually a little hard for me to follow initially. Things just kept happening in a slightly discordant way, jumping from the principal's office to a troll ripping up some bullies to the void at the end of all things to being Okay With The Void, Actually. You probably would have done better to focus more tightly on the bullies and on a series of increasing “accidents,” a more personal apocalypse for Royce, rather than a sudden “okay I guess we're here now,” which might have given it more of an emotional punch. As it is it feels like you're traveling through some well-worn set pieces, making them happen at Magic High School didn't quite freshen them up.

Ceighk's Johan, Johan!

The one where a spymaster falls in murderlust with an assassin.

Ok I'll be honest, I'm kind of a sucker for a good murderlust story. So this is thematically up my alley. I agree with the prior crits that my attention wavered in the conversation with the Queen, but otherwise it worked well enough to be a story where everything felt in its place.

Staggy The Monument

The one where the world is ending, but we're building a monument to our existence anyway.

I liked this a lot. I liked that it didn't bother trying to answer the question of why the world is ending, just that it is. I think that the central conflict of destruction vs creation is echoed really nicely in the protagonist first wrecking his apartment, before deciding to build the monument, then the Reverend almost burning the monument down before deciding to go back to work on it. It was a very human moment of consciously making a choice to not give in to despair. Good stuff, imo.

SurrpetitiousMuffin's To Those Who Came After

The one where robots develop faith and hope while chasing generation ships.

From the Pratchett reference, to “it is not orangical, but it is true,” to the robots smearing coolant over themselves to simulate their orange hazard paint decoration, everything about this story is beautiful. The repetition helps move the story through time without getting preachy or weird. You manage to encapsulate generations of time so neatly within the word limit. I'm mightily impressed and if this had not won it would have been a crime.

Noah's Don't Forget to get a To-Go Plate

The one where the Afterlife is ending but this woman has a wedding planned and it's not going to end until she says so, god drat it.

I've spent some time thinking about why the vagueness of Staggy's ending works so well and why I don' think it works as well here, and I've come to the conclusion that it's the sheer crush of characters that you have. In Staggy's story, you've really just got the narrator. In this, you've got Roda and Joe and the Usher and the Planner and the band and the photographer and and and and it all kind of stacks on itself with so much specificity that the lack of specific apocalypse becomes questionable. You clearly know how to set a scene, the emotional energy between the characters exists and works, but it doesn't seem to have anywhere to go. Not quite a story and not quite a vignette.

My Shark Waifuu's Goblin-Mother

The one where a witch protects goblins from adventurers.

For such a life and death setting, there isn't a lot of tension here. I am interested in Griselda's whole deal, but I kind of wish you'd written a story about her early goblin-saving career. This “haha silly adventurers, your guild cannot protect you against my chicken magic!” doesn't feel as satisfying. Especially with the adventurers making the quite cogent point that the sudden goblin population boom is loving up the environment in a whole lot of other ways. There's a lot of ink spilled and to be spilled on the theme of Dungeons and Dragons Morality, but this didn't leave me walking away feeling hopeful about anybody's decisions.

Albatrossy_Rodent's The Sea Turtle and the Octopus

The one where a sea turtle and an octopus try to make sure her eggs hatch female.

You mentioned already in the discord but a single line about how climate change has made sea turtles hatch overwhelmingly male would have resolved a lot of questions left over in this story, so I won't harp on that. Ultimately though, the dreary sighing of the sea turtle and the pompous frumphing of the octopus didn't leave me with a lot of character to enjoy, which definitely tempered the “world is ending but life moves on, yeah?” vibe of the piece.

Idle Amalgam's Super Crypto Bros.

The one where a guy gets waaaaay too into cryptocurrencies

Oof. I get where you were going with the foolishness of hope thing here, but man, what a bleak place to take it. I liked this story while reading it, but for this week's prompts it kind of fell flat. I feel bad for the guy, and I don't exactly feel hopeful for humanity or the future.

GrandmaParty Priorities

The one where a mercenary captain convinces a young soldier to leave his post.

Sometimes all a person is looking for is the permission to do the thing they desperately want, and know in their heart of hearts is the right thing to do. And I liked the way this showcased that. Who knows if the Wenland army is telling the truth? It doesn't matter. Davis got to live another day and see his family, and Slow Hand got a bag of money. Everybody with a name wins. A good, simple, story with a neat twist.

Chernobyl Princess Paper Hearts

The one I wrote

Yeah, you probably should have wrote the version where the village burned down and Honey and Heinrich were rebuilding it. Next time don't wait until seven hours before deadline before you start putting words on paper.

Tyrannosaurus's in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news

The one where a good boy helps a banjo player with his anxiety.

This was my favorite because it had a good dog in it. I like good dogs. I generally like absurd trees that grow musical instruments, but honestly that kind of took me out of the story. I don't know why talking dogs are totally within bounds and guitartubers and violastalks are out of bounds, but it's probably that one is a standard fictional character and the other is a Cool New Thing I Want To Know More About. But I don''t get to know more about it, because it's flash fiction.

Antivehicular's The Ride-Along

The one where a group of people with D-tier superpowers try to find a better place to live.

Of all the stories this week, this one stuck in my head the most. The limited cast of characters helps you out a lot, you manage to put a ton of personality into each of them. The tragedy of Dee knowing nothing about cars and having a car-based power is painfully funny in the best sort of way. While this story feels complete in itself, it very much makes me want to read a full length novel set in this world.

Thranguy's The Basilisk Score

The one where a galaxy brain invents a guy to be mad at break into a bank for it

This is a super cool idea that I really feel like you needed 4-500 more words to really explore, which is such a lovely crit to give. Sorry about that. The last line is what fails it, because it's not a complete sentence. “Better x than y” would have been fine, but we just got “Better X and here's a random slam on Robin Hood out of nowhere.” Cutting some of the musings on hell and making sure you'd completed your final thought would have improved this a ton, and you probably could have done it in under 48 words.

The man called M's How Andy became a man

The one where a transdude sleds down a dangerous hill and maybe interacts with a supernatural monster?

So yeah, I'm not super sure what happened there. The plot was a little muddled and you keep Doing That Thing where you Capitalize random Nouns. It's always going to read as stilted. You can claim it's a stylistic choice all you want, but if it's not a consistent stylistic choice, nobody will be able to tell the difference between it and a typo. If you're going to call it Sledding instead of just sledding, then it needs to be capitalized every time you use it.

Another feature of your writing that I've noticed is that you almost never say “said,” it's always “yelled” or “exclaimed” or “cried.” I kind of get why, this is a problem I had when I first entered Thunderdome. You get told by writing teachers to use descriptive verbs, and they always say “for example, don't use 'said' when you can use 'yelled' or 'exclaimed' or 'cried.'” But that's terrible advice, because it makes your stories feel like they're full of barely-hanging-on weirdos. There are other ways to indicate emotion than dialogue tags, and I'd encourage you to explore those more!

I'm focusing on that for now because those are practical things you can use, I straight up did not understand what happened in this story with the weird igloo and the bones and poo poo, did Andy fight a witch? I wish I'd seen him fight a witch, that would have been badass, but as it is I just know he sledded down a scary hill and a douchebag thought he might have died but then he didn't.

Yeah ok ok yeah's Deep Rich, Excursion 385

The one where a robot finds a cat in a deserted lab.

You do such a great job setting up a grim and creepy tone with little blasts of chipper humor and then don't do anything really with it. The lab is a great setting, the clues left behind by the scientists are unsettling. Is the result of their experiment? Or is it the lone survivor? Ultimately the questions I have left over prevent me from feeling relief from the grim and creepy tone, and I can only assume that this robot is accidentally unleashing the Thing.

A Classy Ghost's The Dead City Marches On

The one where blue collar necromancers learn about class solidarity and bargaining

I love your ridiculous names, I love your horrifying dead city, I love your gross necromantic pill bugs. I have no good critique. I just want to read more hosed up necropolis maintenance worker fiction.

CaligulaKangaroo's Final Exam

The one where a cyberpunk stays in a bad situation and finishes his high school exit exam.

I liked the layers of guilt and shame that this built up slowly. I like the complicated feelings. I don't understand when he decided he was going to stay and take this test and risk certain death by scavengers or baron's men looking for holdouts. The emotional stakes make sense to me, but it's undermined by the physical stakes not being fully clear. I think another editing pass would make this a really solid story.

Crabrock's Liebrary

The one where a team of librarians (and one non-librarian) are a super sentai team

No crit I can give could possibly be as harsh as the one I know you received from your wife. You know what you did.

...nah legit you had the legs of a decently funny story here but couldn't quite form the head. It reads like you tried to pack every Teen Superhero League trope into a suitcase. It's frustrating because it's so close to being something enjoyable.

Flerp's To the Reclaimers

The one where a person at the end of the world considers all the life around them.

A beautiful scene, a beautiful musing on resilience and peace. I like the fact that the conflict they experience, running from predators, isn't the focus. I like the kind of peaceful resistance to the idea of death, neither flinching from it nor succumbing to it. I know some people prefer a full story rather than just a lovely vignette, but for me this worked.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

I would like to get in thank you

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


More crits I guess, this next lot won't be as long because they had fewer issues

Johan, Johan!

I didn't like this as much as my co-judges did so you can thank them for your HM and thank me for completely removing the possibility of you having to read a bunch of stories this week. The shift from 2nd person to 1st person (kinda) didn't really work for me. It's kind of weird how shocked the protagonist was at the Empress wanting to kill the dude who was supposedly trying to kill her. How could she be so cold and brutal and dangerous, meanwhile I'm totally hot for this guy who tried to poison me three times. And then the 'ending' kinda felt like a big nothing. I dunno this just annoyed me a bit ending where it did I think.

The Monument

Second person works better here imo. Overall I kinda liked this, it just felt almost devoid of characters if that makes sense. The only bit where I reeeeeaaally felt like there were characters interacting with each other was where the protagonist hugs the vicar. Speaking of which at one point you call the reverend vicar 'he' and then in the hugging bit you refer to 'they' which is not wrong, but felt kind of odd with the changed up pronoun. Also I dunno sometimes it's a bit difficult to get too invested in such a fatalistic story.

To Those Who Came After

This was really good. It was well written and it was cute and poignant and stuff I dunno I don't really have any criticisms of it, it was a really solid piece.

Don't Forget to get a To-Go Plate
I kind of enjoyed this but also I wasn't totally sure what was going on. I guess it's the actual literal afterlife which is ending for some reason? IDK. I guess we're not supposed to know, which, fine, but that's a bit annoying sometimes and this is a little bit one of those times. Zoot Suit Boner Flute was really fun. Also I don't really get the point of the lie at the end, are we supposed to know what's up with that? I'm usually in favour of not doing exposition but on this occasion, IDK it's just too obtuse for me.

This was decent I guess but also like
Are the goblins endangered and thus deserving a spot on the endangered species list, or are they a scourge that is totally ready to crush a bunch of human towns, IDGI. Hard to care about any of the characters TBH. Also, 'he's only about your age in goblin years' kinda doesn't seem like a strong argument, like they're the same age he's not younger than them, what does that sentence even mean?

The Sea Turtle and the Octopus
This feels too short. It's 824 words and it feels like 200 because the entire story is 'a turtle lays some eggs, the end.' I guess there was some epic journey to get there but all we get is 'a turtle and octopus come onto land and she lays eggs'.

Super Crypto Bros.
Write me some fiction, not an essay on crypto being bad. If you'd focussed on the missing thumb drive or something you might've had something, but no, instead you had to go and give us a twitter timeline of crypto events that I don't care about. TBH there was part of me that wanted this one to lose, because for all the (many) sins of the two other negatively mentioned stories, they at least tried to tell a new story, whereas in yours, everything from 'May 2018' onwards was kind of bland.

This was mostly fine I guess. There were a couple grammatical errors that annoyed me, like a missing period after the first sentence of the second paragraph. Also the sentence 'I like to imagine it’s different when your own.' That doesn't really make any sense to me. Missing a period at the end of 'Might even give you a medal.' Unnecessary capital letter in the 'there' of 'And There are other people still here that need me and depend on me.' Surplus quotation marks after 'They’d string me up before I got through the gates.' Also the old dude is called Slow Hand, and then Evans, for no particular reason. I'm assuming it's the same person, anyway. Bit confusing there.

Paper Hearts
I really liked this. It was cute and sweet and did a better job of most up to this point of being hopeful. Probs could've done more in the middle, but imo stuck the landing.

in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news
Here were my live critting thoughts:

" I love an excellent soup above almost all other dinners" wtf who loves soup
imagine having strong feelings about soup
DM for messed up soup opinions

I like the soup story.

It's very silly but in a way that panders directly to me

I want you to know that although I started off on the wrong foot with this story on account of my incredulity that someone could have strong feelings about soup to the point that it is one of their favourite meals, it was really fun and silly in a way that I personally really dig, so GJ pandering to me. Possibly the most fun of any of the stories.

The Ride-Along
This was good too. I'm a sucker for a story with POWERS, and this was well written and the characters felt real.

The Basilisk Score
Kinda muddled. Is it about hell or a heist? Kinda neither I guess. I'm more interested in seeing a heist tbh, that sounds like fun, instead we get some ruminations on hell which tbh were not very fun. Shame you stopped before the heist, oh well.

I'm gonna stop there for a bit because my next crit is likely to be long and need its own post I think.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
493 crits

organburner - Royce at the End of the World

Tip for next time: your protagonist should ideally be the most interesting person in the story. Royce kinda just bumbles around while things happen to him. Meanwhile, Principal Grundwisser is notably young for his post and is challenged with trying to manage a magical student body while protecting an absurd powerfully artifact. I know whose head I’d rather ride around in! As for the rest of it, I dunno. I wish Royce had learned something, or cared about something. As it is, he’s kind of a dud.

Ceighk - Johan, Johan!

Oh I adored this so much. I love Cordelia! She is clever and competent and yet you still found a way to confront her with a problem she couldn’t solve with pure cunning. There were so many bits that made me chuckle (Hello Johan!). I am an absolute sucker for charming spymasters. I want to read this book! Write a book, Ceighk.

Staggy - The Monument

This is a nice mood but I think it lingers too long on the same sentiment. I’m completely here for the themes, but this could have been a 500 word vignette.

Surreptitiousmuffin - To Those Who Came After

I’m struggling to articulate my feelings about this piece. It’s very very good and prompty. The story is explaining its goodness to me in slow, patient terms with swelling music in the background (in my head it’s the Sunshine soundtrack). “You belong in a magazine,” I tell the story, and the story smiles a soft, sad smile, as befits a piece so evocative of the beautiful futility of sapient striving. It knows.

You might feel a ‘but’ coming, because there is!

There’s a certain voice endemic to all stories that know they’re pretty. I do it. You do it. Other authors are doing it right now. I would characterize this voice as distant, possessed of the remoteness we might ascribe to a sage or a god. It speaks of universal truths with poetic authority, with humble hauteur, with unassuming grandiosity. The characters are always the exact perfect mix of irreverent and deeply wise or poignant. There are no truly tragic shitheads in these tales; the characters are always joking and singing and crying and fighting and

Oh, and we love the unpunctuated run-on sentence before the paragraph break, don’t we? I see you. I am you. We love using ‘and’ when a comma would do just fine. But, ho! We have range. We also love the comma splice. We take it home, kiss it softly, whisper many tender things to it.

This story will possibly win. It will absolutely HM. But for me, it hits on too many things I’m trying to get away from as I craft my own writing voice. And I think you’re at the point in your craft where you’re just hands down really loving good and most critique is going to come down to personal preference on the part of the readers. I think we owe it to ourselves to continue to challenge one another in the development of voice, themes, and style.

Noah - Don’t Forget the To-Go Plate

I feel like I missed something here. Taking the first sentence at face value, this wedding takes place at the end of the no-poo poo afterlife. The bride is postponing the inevitable end of the Afterlife by being a low level bridezilla. This keeps everyone sort of stuck in the comfortable purgatory of the hours leading up to a wedding. If I’m wrong, then I am not sure what you were going for! I think the issue is that there are too many characters with speaking roles and not enough time given to what is “actually” happening. There are little details I like, like the bridal fathers hanging out and sipping beers while enjoying not fixing the heat lamps. I dunno, this is interestingly weird, but its lack of grounding makes it weaker than it might’ve been.

My Shark Waifuu - Goblin-mother

This story makes me wonder: how am I meant to feel at the end? Happy for Griselda? Relieved for the goblins? As I was reading, I was hoping that she and the young adventurers would come to some sort of mutual understanding, but nope—they die unceremoniously. It might help if we knew a bit more about why Griselda was so set on raising goblins. There’s kind of an ecological message, I suppose, but it’s undercut by the fact that Griselda is fostering an increasingly invasive species. So am I supposed to feel bad for the adventurers? I get that this is a story about a villain, and of course most “villains” don’t believe they are doing anything intrinsically wrong. But she doesn’t have especially sound logic behind her villain MO.

Albatrossy_Rodent - The Sea Turtle and the Octopus

Gosh, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did. It’s sweet and silly with a dash of worldbuilding and a nod toward the very real problems of extinction. The octopus’s dialog at the end needs to be rewritten a bit, but otherwise I thought this was exactly the vibe I was hoping for this week. Good job!

Idle Amalgam - Super Crypto Bros

You know, the whole time I was reading this story I was waiting for the pivot. It genuinely did not think it was going to be a stark retelling of the rise of crypto and NFTs. I’m not usually a stickler for the prompt, but I’m not really sure how this relates to the overall theme of the week. Your sub-prompt, sure, but not the other stuff I asked for. It’s just…one guy’s point of view on stuff that actually happened. And he doesn’t even have a personality to speak of, so it’s not like a character portrait. ‘Pete’ is completely one-dimensional; if you’re going to do a cliche, do it with panache. Don’t just check familiar boxes. The only moment of any interest is when the protagonist realizes with mounting horror that he could have been a millionaire, which causes him to undergo a complete 180 in spite of himself.

The more I look at this piece, the more I’m in awe of how much it’s working against you. The format, the POV (2nd person), and the subject matter are all challenging things to pull off. You chucked them all together like a kid playing scientist with the chemicals under the kitchen sink. I kind of have to give a respectful nod to the hubris.

The only thing I’ll give passing marks to is the writing itself. It’s competent and self-assured, no frills.

GrandmaParty - Priorities

This is well-written and I like the characters. That said, it feels very explainy, almost patronizing. Almost. And yet I managed to read it all in one gulp, and felt some genuine feelings for the characters. The end got a soft snrk out of me. I think having Slow Hand and his crew take the crafty way out was a good choice because it shows he really stands behind what he told Davis.

Chernobyl Princess - Paper Hearts

There’s a lot to like here. The small, mundane magic of the dolls. The overall sweetness of the premise. The beginning felt a little As You Know, Bob—characters explaining stuff they already know. Still, I wanted to know more about this world of living paper dolls, so it was okay. I also kind of wish the characters introspected a little more—what does it mean to be a paper automaton? What does it mean to bring a baby into the world when their creator is dying? I think you left some interesting questions on the table, but overall this was a nice read.

Tyrannosaurus - in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news

Haha this rules. It starts out whimsical, gets absurd, throws in some cool worldbuilding that is deeply relevant to the characters, and then continues to spin the characters against each other like two well-oiled gears. Every few sentences you introduce a new thing that delights me. When the dog busts out a long chunk of dialog about the nature of success, I don’t mind because it’s grounded wisdom in the middle of a story that has its head way in the clouds. I love how the idea of surprise is woven into this—bad surprises, happy surprises, whimsical surprises, surprises that don’t give a gently caress who you are or what you were doing a moment ago. I think surprise is one of the most hope-inducing qualities in the universe.

Antivehicular - The Ride-Along

This is one of those stories where I really love all the stuff it doesn’t say. I am so curious about the version of the world these characters inhabit, but I’m glad you don’t use up a bunch of words telling me about it. The writing is great. The only quibble I have is that Dee is pretty easily convinced to change her ways—which makes sense, she’s tired and lonely and wants to settle down. But I don’t know why it’s this ride rather than a different one. Stuff happens a little too easily. I’m completely here for a low-conflict story, I just needed Dee’s change of heart to feel a little more hard-won, or like it’s a long time coming. The story begins with Dee feeling restless, ready to hit the open road, so I had her in my head as someone who has trouble settling down. What changes about her on this particular ride? How could that be played up more? Just some food for thought.

Thranguy - The Basilisk Score

Conceptually: I love this. Planning a heist with Roko’s Basilisk to help it conceive of a literal galaxy brain heist in the real world. The insane hubris! It’s hopeful in its own way; the protagonist has cause for some hope, and spending eternity planning heists with a galaxy brain sounds a lot more interesting than other conceptions of hell. The only thing that didn’t land for me was like…I didn’t really see why this moment was the one the two characters chose to have this very huge, important discussion (namely, the persistence of self in a simulation, the revelation that there are other galaxy brains out there possible doing even more inscrutable things). It’s one of those things where I love the premise, but the execution is kind of just a teaser of how cool the premise could be rather than an exploration.

the man called m - How Andy Became a Man

This story shifts between present tense and variations on past tense. You should enlist the aid of a proofreader before you post. Hell, next time you plan on submitting, send your piece to me.

As for the subject matter: I wasn’t super into the plot. Andy was sympathetic, but you have to be doing something really savvy with either your character or your description to make me care about sledding. On top of that, you throw in some corpses, which Andy for some reason has time to forensically examine even though he’s presumably speeding past them at tens of miles per hour. There are a bunch of details in this story that never really pay off or go anywhere in particular.

Also…it’s 2022, and while outdated definitions of masculinity are certainly still around, I personally don’t like reading stories where manhood is defined as a willingness to do stupid hubistic things to prove one’s toughness. I wouldn’t care, except the story doesn’t really make any allowance for the fact that Andy is a man regardless of what Chad or anyone else thinks. If you’re going to make a point of writing about people who are trans (i don’t know how you identify so ignore this if the word “trans” in any way describes you) you should at least be current with the discussion on gender. That said, this story doesn’t feel especially transphobic—just well-meaning with a bit of ignorance. Sort of like if I tried to write a story about, idk, a Jainist.

I’ll close on sort of a subjective observation note. Most of the people who have success in Thunderdome and beyond are those who tap into something that’s true and real or at least meaningful to them. It’s what give their stories a kernel of universality, food for thought. I think you would benefit from writing a little closer to home.

Yeah ok ok yeah - “Deep Rich”, Excursion 385

This is pretty cool. I’m not totally sure I understand the nuances. I get the broad strokes: some sort of genetically engineered cybercat is communicating with an exploratory AI. All the humans have been killed, but maybe they’ve created something that survives them? I think you spent too much time on exploration and not enough on the cool part of your story, and the dialog between deep rich and the…cat? Is a little hard to follow at times. That said, I did enjoy Deep Rich’s POV.

A classy ghost - The Dead City Marches On

I really like the setting and premise of this piece, but this story is caught somewhere between sincere fantasy and parody. There’s this thing in short fiction where authors mash together two words and call it worldbuilding (eg murderwitch). It’s easy shorthand, but it leaves me feeling like the author isn’t taking their own setting very seriously. Which is a shame because I think your setting would make for a great novel!

I used the word “parody” above because while the automation of jobs is certainly an issue, this story kind of addresses it on a very surface level. So it doesn’t feel like a full-fledged theme, more like the story is pointing at an existing thing and going (late night talk show voice) “You seen this? Automation. You head about this? They're giving jobs to bugs."

CaligulaKangaroo - Final Exam

This is one of those stories that I think I should objectively like except I kept bouncing off of it. Rereading it now, I find my eyes skimming a bit. I think it’s because you offer a lot of description, with the plot-crucial stuff intermixed with the dense set details. There’s almost a little too much technical detail. I wasn’t entirely sure why it was so important to complete this test in spite of the critical danger. I wasn’t sure who Eddie was, or what the significance of the tickets were. A lot of stuff just kinda comes up and then isn’t brought up again.

It’s a shame because reading each line, it’s very vividly dystopian. But put together, it’s a parade of details that I don’t really connect to.

Crabrock - Liebrary

I really like the first few paragraphs of this because it reminds me of the intro voiceovers to lovely 90s/early ‘00s scifi shows. This isn’t a good story but it’s not pretending to be.

flerp - To the Reclaimers

I really liked this piece even if it’s not a traditional narrative. It’s a lovely reflection on endings and continuations from the point of view of someone who has truly accepted their small role in the comings and goings of the universe. It’s absolutely melancholic, but it doesn’t make me sad.

Mar 21, 2010
packrat, endless pockets, can improvise their way out of anything

Something Else posted:

I would like to get in thank you

Aug 2, 2002




i loving hate old people and i dread becoming one

in. give me the worst old person so i can just really lay into them

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


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Three Crits

To Those Who Came After

You open with an evocation, which can be strong: I am reminded of the opening to William Tenn's The Liberation of Earth. By comparison (to Tenn and also to the rest of the story) it's a bit dry, not as strongly voiced as it might be.

I can certainly see why this won. It's tightly constructed and evocative. I can offer a few nitpicks (in the same paragraph you spell out fifty thousand but don't for 20,000. I don't get why they can't lime the soil. Wait, no, the opposite, which should be even easier. The plural point of view implies a hivemindedness that isn't entirely supported by the content) but for the most part this is just good stuff. 

How Andy became a man

First off, there are rules for capitalization in titles. It's not that one should never break those rules but when you do it should be on purpose, and I don't think that's what's going on here.

On to the actual opening. It's an interesting choice of style, a sort of old fashioned, journalistic or documentary narration tone. Old fashioned, like I said, so much so that it almost sets up an expectation that it's being done ironically when you use it today.

In general the point of view and voice are ones that are generally out of style for modern fiction. (Omniscient narrators that head-hop, switching between the internals of different characters are usually a bad idea. While I've seen much worse in the 'dome, you have more dialog tags that aren't 'said' than the ideal, and two 'snarked' is at least one too many.) And the corpses are an escalation that is jarring as all get out. And doesn't make sense, why would they still be there unless everyone who goes there died? How does he get back to the top without the others seeing him come out? And why not exit the normal way? 

"Deep Rich", Excursion 385

Starting with action is a solid choice. Marching and walking leaning into the wind are two different forms of movement, and with a nonhuman character here clarity would be best.

Two hundred and forty-two what? Days? Years?

So the problem with this story is that it's setting up two parallel mysteries, what happened to the colony and who is communicating, and then instead of resolving or paying off either of then you end with "and there's a cat." Not even, apparently, a colony cats, so rather than a solution we get a third mystery of how old this kitty must be.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 12:23 on Jan 19, 2022

Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.

Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"

Week 493 Crits

Orange Burner’s Royce at the End of the World
This reads more like a summary of something, rather than a short story. Too much happens ‘on screen’ and although I like the path it took me on, it’s far too overly paced for me to get to sit back and enjoy anything. There’s not a lot of detail because you’ve had to pack so much plot in on screen. Cut to the middle (because the middle is really the beginning) and tell the first part in a sentence of flashback so you can indulge in details later on.

Ceighk’s Johan, Johan!
Ah now this is fun. It’s campy and silly and fun. I like the characters, I like the melodramatics and I like the pacing of it as well. There are some slightly strange word choices, but there is also some beautiful imagery and I like the names of things in this
Staggy’s The Monument
This is the sort of thing I really like to read. It can be difficult to get a full sense of character in this kind of writing because you boil them down to the bare bones to make points. Despite this, I think the interactions and thoughts give a fair sense of character. The language and the flow is the real star of the show though.

Muffin’s Tho Those Who Came After
Publish. It’s good enough that even with the repetition of themes and ideas, I would have read a longer version. It caused a lot of feelings and one of them was definitely hope. Good job.

Noah’s Don’t Forget to get a to-go Plate
There’s a lot going on here and I don’t know how much of the confusion and blurring of edges here is on purpose. That said, I also don’t this it matters because it worked for me. I like the mystery of it and the supernatural elements.

My Shark Waifu’s Goblin Mother
Another strong entry. The pacing is nice and you give yourself enough room to explore the moment in each scene. I like the weird fairytale style magic that she does and she’s so lovely. The descriptions of the goblins really brought them to life.

Albatrossy_Rodent’s The Sea Turtle and The Octopus
A good example of a short simple story where characters come alive. I really really enjoyed the interactions between the characters and despite being magical fish, I could really identify with them and their silly little interaction. Bizarrely, this story made me think of Dark Souls with the sombre parts of story crossed with over the top dramatics. Really liked it.

Idle Amalgram’s Super Crypto Bros
Enjoyed this greatly. Although it’s a fairly straight narrative, the arcs I had expected did not appear and things went differently from how I expected they would. Initially thought the whole story would be someone moaning about missing out on bitcoin, then I thought it would just be them getting rich. The rise and fall pattern played out nicely in the end. The character is so wretched and pathetic but also so relatable and when they were doing well I really did want it to end happily for them. It’s delicate character work and I love it.

GrandmaParty’s Priorities
Another fantasyish story but with really relatable characters that I fully believed in. I wanted everyone to get out of it okay and was very satisfied with the pay off. Priorities is a good title and I like how little it gives away before the story starts.

Chernobyl Princess’s Mumble
More excellent character work and a lovely blend of beautiful writing and a bittersweet plot. I got big Tim Burton vibes from this (in a positive sense) and there’s a bit of Wes Anderson whimsy in it too (again, in a good way.) I couldn’t work out if the implication was that they were no longer reliant on the woman or that they would be in trouble once she died but either way there was a slightly morose edge to the hopefulness.

Tyrannosauras’s In front of a funky green screen, a banjo player gets some bad news
I loved the strange world built up in this story even if it was perhaps done a little too delicately. The hope hitting early in this story really works for it because it means the reader gets to languish in the nice part. This is the first one that’s put an actual smile on my face.

Anti-Vehicular’s The Ride Along
This is cute and corny and the hope is thick. There are so many beautiful little twists of phrase and language in this and it suits the story. It also felt like a tacky anime that I would probably watch and adore. The little twists of irony just make the whole thing more adorable.

Thranguy’s The Basilisk Score
This played out like an old Twilight Zone episode and because of that I was always going to like it. The burn is slow enough but the piece still feels a little tightly constrained by the word count and you could have maybe done more with more. That said, this works well and even though I was never going to dislike this kind of thing, it stands on its own legs.

The Man Called M’s How Andy became a man
I found this too hard to follow to give it a fair review. There are some individually nice sentences here and there and I can sort of sense the plot occurring around me, but I found it hard to follow and there were sections where I was not entirely sure what was happening.

Yeah ok ok yeah’s “Deep Rich”, Excursion 385
I had some questions left over at the end which I think you probably expected and are okay with. My instinct is that the mysterious messages were being typed by the cat running over a keyboard? But maybe it’s a monster shapeshifted to be attractive to humans so that it gets picked up? Who knows. Even with all this though, it’s still a cute little story and I like the protagonist in the same way I like WALL-E.

A Classy Ghost’s The Dead City Marches On
I like all the elements at play here. The characters are funny and grumpy and likable in their loserdom. The setting is imaginative and I would have loved to get a little bit more description. I’m sure there are other times the dead world thing has been done but I like this version of it very much. I’d read a whole book here.

Caligula Kangaroo’s Final Exam
I like this but I can’t tell how hopeful it is. Charming and touching certainly, but it feels like it’s a happy ending rather than a hopeful one. The world building touches were delivered just right and pitched to the right level of obnoxious. I wanted the guy to a get a happy ending and I was satisfied with the payoff.

Crabrock’s Liebrary
Colourful, funny, and definitely made me smile in places. It’s another story where it’s just silly enough to let you deliver some genuine like …wholesomeness. I think this thrived in the word count and was just long enough, but it was missing a little something that I can’t quite identify.

Flerp’s To The Reclaimers
Not truly a story but I absolutely don’t care about that. I think this is a nice example of writing where the author understands the rules well enough to break them. This little description of a life that you’ve created has as much power and character in it as a story and it means that the reader gets to wallow in the language and writing itself.

Mar 21, 2010

Royce at the End of the World. ‘show don’t tell’ is a bit overplayed but all the interesting stuff in this story happens offscreen and is reported through dialogue and it ain’t good. This guy has gained the ability to reality-bend and somehow it’s just a series of boring conversations, and what he’s actually DONE has no real impact because we never see it. I think “learns the value of” in a subprompt already kinda hamstrings you because it’s pushing you towards moral storytelling instead of emotional storytelling – it’s more interested in making a point than taking us on a journey and letting us reach the point ourselves.

Johan, Johan! Oh no, you made me actually enjoy Enemies to Lovers. It’s quippy and clever but in a way that feels natural, and it has some real banger lines that almost remind me of This Is How You Lose The Time War. Excellent character work via prose. The doppelganger twist probably needed more early setup? It felt like a bit of a desperate “oh gently caress gotta wrap it up” but it didn’t need to, it just needed better planting/payoff.

The Monument. Absolutely love this, it’s so tremendously human, a lot of writers went BIG this week with plotty high-concept blah blah but the tight focus is what gives this a lot of its power, it’s both gentle and spiky, it’s intimate, it talks about death without needing to be so gauche as talking about death. It’s how I imagine some people would really act at the end of the world and it’s messy and strange and beautiful. Honestly really surprised it didn’t HM/Win.

Don’t Forget to get a To-Go Plate. I finished Babel’s Odessa Tales relatively recently and I got a lot of the same energy from this – there is something both funny and beautiful about Jews living on the edge, it’s wry and clever and quick but in a way that’s also warm and human. I think a lot of the best stories this week were crammed with detail, all this human complexity, these souls going off like fireworks as the earth burns. Very cool.

Goblin-Mother. A fun little deconstruction of D&D, but I can’t but feel it’s attached itself a bit too much to the tropes of the forgotten realms when it would’ve been able to sing a lot more in a secondary world of its own. Fanfic giveth and fanfic taketh away, but I don’t think d&d really has enough depth to take advantage of fanfic’s strengths.

The Sea Turtle and the Octopus. This is getting there, I think I’d like to see a but more physicality and blocking rather than just straight dialogue, but the dialogue is good and it’s doing a decent job of standing on its own, it would just stand better with more of a support structure around it. Decent, but put some meat on those bones.

Super Crypto Bros. So I think this is actually a sort of interesting take on the prompt, that toxic hope gradually ruining our guy’s life, showing the dark side was a bold play and I think crypto is a viable way to go about it; scammers prey on hope, after all. I think the problem is the format, it’s distancing, it strips it off emotion, and then a bunch of other stuff makes it seem more like HAHA CRYPTO rather than the tragedy it is? Like, I love crypto bros taking the L, but you can’t set up this story about grief and self-destructive hope and THEN laugh at the stupid dorks, the impulse to mock and the impulse to empathise run against each other.

Priorities. It’s alright? It’s a very well-realised world for the short size and how little exposition there is, I just felt like it didn’t stick the landing? The decision he makes is fine, it’s more that ending with him climbing down the rope and carrying away a big sack of money feels weirdly cartoony for something that’s otherwise about this very lowkey realism.

Paper Hearts. Oh hey, literal paper dolls, I see what you did there. It’s sweet, it’s hopeful, it does the business. Like the previous though, I felt it ended on too cartoony and twee a note. It had this really cartoony setup already but it was given this intimacy and grace and edgy that made it pop, but the end was, well, schmalzy. I don’t mean you needed to kill the kid, I just mean the “birth” needed to be handled less cartoonishly.

in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news. In a week that was often painfully real, this just felt a bit twee? I’m not saying it needed to be grimcorehyperdeath or anything, the ideas are fine, but the ideas are already cute, and then the execution tips it over the edge into Too Cute for me, it was always going to be a hard tightrope to walk and I’m not feeling it.

The Ride-Along. I like this but I feel like I missed why people hire Dee? If she doesn’t drive and she doesn’t fix things and she just kind of complains, what is she actually doing in the truck? What role is she actually serving that helps them get to their destination? She almost seems like a hindrance, how does she “get them across the finish line”? I dunno why this was such a major issue to me but it’s sort of core to why she’s there and it made no sense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written and emotive and does what it’s trying to do, it just has this gaping plot hole that I found myself constantly skirting around. Others in chat suggested she has some sort of probability-manipulation power but that probably needs to be explicit because I took “As long as I'm in the car, you'll get where you're going” as a mechanic being confident rather than like, a wizard power.

The Basilisk Score. It’s cute, but I feel like I wanted more heist and less existentialism? Existentialism is fine, but you kinda set up this slick noir-y thing and then it’s people having very interesting conversations about a heist they’re not doing. It’s very Tell-y, y’know? It would be an excellent piece of dialogue in a longer MS that actually explored the stuff, but as-is it’s just kinda people brooding.

How Andy Became A Man. An Attempt Was Made. “Trans dude trying to prove himself in an ultramasc arena like sports” is an idea with power, the execution just feels very blunt? Like, an infamously dangerous sled track sure, but one that’s just randomly littered with corpses? Just left to rot on the track? It’s so heightened, it goes from 0 to 1000 but in a way that’s kinda flat instead of exhilarating, it creates this sense of bathos.

“Deep Rich”, Excursion 385. This is sweet without being twee, I liked it a lot. I feel a little bad I subbed another Robots Being Human thing first because I may have undercut this one, which is pretty low-key but has a really lovely bittersweet buzz to it.

The Dead City Marches On. I like the worldbuilding in this one, but I also think the worldbuilding is the problem: it seems more interested in describing this place than doing anything with it. And it’s an interesting place! There’s just no real stakes or hook to make us care about what’s happening in it.

Final Exam. So I do like this conceptually, I don’t really feel the urgency when he’s taking the test? Like, doing a kinda pointless thing before you die because you want to go out making your mom proud is great, but he … throws a bookcase across the stairs and that apparently holds a team of soldiers at bay long enough to complete his social studies and science tests? It seemed pretty IMMINENT, like he’s got a minute or two tops, and the buggy wiring there makes the ending hit a lot less hard than it could.

Liebrary. The winking silliness detracts from any impact it could have, and it’s a perfectly adequate piece of silliness but you’re a lot better than adequate; I am putting as much effort into this crit as it feels like you put into this story.

To the Reclaimers.
Absolutely gorgeous, feeling a little guilty I beat this to be honest. Lyrical but still sharp, doesn’t really have a PLOT to speak of but doesn’t need one, as a pure mood piece it’s wonderful. Really captures the sense of smallness and fragility of a human in the world, suddenly bereft of the structures that separate us from animals. Did not, as far as I can tell, even remotely follow the subprompt, but I love a little cheeky rulebreaking if it makes a better story (NOTE TO ALL ENTERED THIS WEEK)

Mar 21, 2010
humans never stop growing, every year that passes they get taller until their bodies can no longer support them, and this is the oldest man in history

crabrock posted:

i loving hate old people and i dread becoming one

in. give me the worst old person so i can just really lay into them
mean old mister whatsit lives in a house with legs and he kidnaps and eats children but he makes them listen to poo poo music first because it makes the meat taste worse

Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage
Biscuit Hider
Week 493 Crits

Royce at the End of the World

Two things:

1) It's disjointed. I know the reason for that effect, I know what you're doing, but it just doesn't hang together that well for me.
2) There's a lot more telling me than showing me things. Something like "The principal, Aaron Grundwisser, was a hot shot young wizard" could have been done with "Trophies lined his desk, all covered in dusk, the bronze plaques showing a much younger man."

Don't Forget a To-Go Plate

Things are Happening but I have zero sense of place. It's a wedding! Give me some gaudy designs! Give me a feeling of a place! Let me know how Roda made tacky decorations. Precious moments figurines, everywhere!

I want to feel grounded in where we are. Other than that, I love the setting and the character.

Super Crypto Bros

I get it. It drips contempt and mockery and that's what it's supposed to do. But the problem I have with second person is that it really takes a character out so there really aren't much. It's an archetype but doesn't really get me there.


May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch
crits part 2.

Antivehicular – The Ride Along
Does this satisfy the Prompt? Yes. Does this satisfy the subprompt? Yes.

I enjoyed this, but the thing I think I’m missing is Dee’s hesitancy to try again? Is there a deeper fear that we just aren’t seeing, we as in me. I enjoy her power, but why is it so outlandish that she stay, or that someone offers her the place to stay? I love there is the underlying element that Dee will get your car (her relationships, life, anything) where it needs to go, but there is no guarantee of what condition it will be in when it arrives, and if it is worth salvaging afterwards. I want to see more of that.

Thranguy – The Basilisk Score

Does this satisfy the prompt? Unsure. Does this satisfy the subprompt? I don’t think so.

I don’t believe this is the end of everything, so much that for R, time is flat and compressed, or at least Jack has been in Hell for a very long time, but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s an interesting premise, but this is 100% set up, which means you don’t have to execute and I don’t like that. I’m unsure of what is hopeful about the situation, or why Jack has to do anything? Is it the reference to boredom being the real hell? Also, I don’t think the scenario agrees with itself. If R can recreate Jack from the origination of the universe, R can also perpetually recreate someone to torture them for however long it takes to break someone, throw them out and do it again. You’ve got the opening constraints of a heist, but you do not have a story unfortunately. 

The Man Called M – How Andy Became a Man

I do not like this sitcom-y narrator explaining to me basic concepts such as what it means to ‘become a man’. Your job is to show me why Andy feels its necessary to succeed in sports. Its your job to show that the young men of Colorado view success in sports and masculine and a rite of passage. Then apply this to every paragraph from here out.  

Yeah Ok Ok Yeah – Deep Rich
I get the format of a message board lets you play with the presentation of the story but I don’t think its adding anything to the story. There’s parts you over-explain, and parts you underexplain, and also break the conceit of the story. Why would anyone know what a faberge egg is in the apocalypse? Why not just an egg? The entire explanation of what a Class-S model is totally unnecessary, where as the final portion of the story barely explains what has happened to everyone. You also tell us how the machine is feeling, but you don’t really show us. There’s a little bit of play/humor in the playing of the .wav but even that is a relic of our contemporary recreation of things. Why does in the future of AI and Class-S models, are they using .wavs? I want to see impact. Why is it so important to find life, and if a robot finds potentially dangerous life, how does it approach resolving this scenario?

A Classy Ghost – The Dead City Marches On

It’s cute, and a great imagery, if a little over-explained. Tonally, I’m not sure why I’m worried about Nimothy’s sick brother. Everything that dies can get brought back it seems, so that downplays the stakes, and also everything but that is comedic. I guess I would have liked to see a little more in the transition, or, really I think you could have started the story from break, and then what happens now that Nimothy is the sole provider of pillocks. Wouldn’t that make him quite the target? I think what would benefit this the most is a critical line edit, and really trim here and there. Its fun, its fine. 

CaligulaKangaroo – Final Exam
Does this satisfy the prompt? No. Does this satisfy the subprompt? No.

This story clearly ended with the passing of a test, not started. The story itself is fine, but it doesn’t give itself room to breath. Why is Gray completing a test when imminent death is on its way? You’re almost there with why Gray wants to do the test, but in the current scenario, it comes across as a little farcical. Is Gray resigning themselves to death? I don’t think the story sets that up, as they have clearly risked a substantial amount to procure an escape route. Also, no Wikipedia Augments? I don’t believe that someone practically part cyborg should have trouble on general education tests. Perhaps let them ‘challenge’ themselves to do it without a crutch. 

Crabrock – Liebrary
gently caress that AI. It was a dick. 

Flerp – To The Reclaimers

It’s a little navel-gazy and admonishing for me. I think its also a sentiment most people have already. I mean, me too. This place sucks, but here we are, arent’ we. What else can you say about it? What does it mean to the protagonist, what choices do they make? I think you can do it, and you touch on it oh so briefly. Running from wolves, climbing to the top of buildings, chasing raccoons. I want to live in those moments, not be told about them.

Noah fucked around with this message at 07:24 on Jan 20, 2022

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply