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The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


HARK! 2 HOURS REMAIN

OUTSTANDING

Chairchucker - Academie d'Cake l'Orange
Accretionist - Maniac-Depressive Aero-Space Academy (or something)
Unknowing - Mars Institute for Waste Processing and Reclamation
Wash Clothes -Rob Dyrdek School of Skateboarding (X-TREME requirements)
Schneider Heim - St. George's School of Monster-slaying and People-saving
Barracuda Bang! - The Cooper Union for the Cooping Arts (must be canon)
M. Propogandalf - Starkhall Training Academy for Truancy Investigations and Corrections (STATIC) (all depts must have acronyms that work)

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dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Colin Agonistes
589 words

Colin "The Crusher" McPherson sat zazen on the dented steel table. His eyes were closed and his hands were composed in the mudra of absorption. Overhead a fluorescent light flickered in fitful counterpoint to his breathing.

The door to the changing room crashed open. Colin's manager Henry stood in the doorway, stubby arms flung wide. "Go time, mate! Monster Mike got'em warmed up for you, they're all yours big fella!"

Colin exhaled then opened his eyes. "I am sorry, friend Henry. There will be no fight today," he said.

Macrae squinted. "Come again?"

Colin smiled gently. "I will not," he said, "fight."

Henry gave Colin a dubious look, checked the corridor behind him then let the door swing shut. He pulled over a folding chair with a scrape.

"Is this about the money, because there's maybe a little I could—"

Colin shook his head. "Violence." He pronounced the word as if it were a slug he was spitting from his mouth. "Violence is no more a part of the life I must lead, friend Henry."

Macrae's face crumpled up like week-old chip wrapper for a few moments then smoothed itself back out as comprehension dawned.

"This is about that Jappo sheila you picked up at the Waverley Arms last week," he said. "Isn't it?"

Colin inclined his huge head. "Kumiko-san has helped me in my journey to enlightenment. She explained to me how the wheel of samsara can only be escaped by the sevenfold path. But I chose to walk that path off my own… uh… bat.” He unfolded his legs with a grunt, and slid off the table. “Hell Henry, it’s no life whacking fellas in the chops. We’re not getting any younger.”

“Sure, sure. Colin,” Henry said, “I’m sympathetic to yer sevenfold whatsit and the Samsung wheels or whatever that was all about, but mate there’s a hundred and fifteen punters baying for blood out there. What are ya gonna do, meditate at them?”

Colin stretched massively, cracked his knuckles and let his silk robe fall to the ground. His purple and green spandex glistened as he flexed. “Don't worry, mate. She’ll be right.”

Inside the Waverley Tavern it was hot with beer fumes and bloodlust. A baying cry went up as Colin vaulted into the ring. The lights dipped, then raised on his opponent Charlie ‘Chiseller’ Wallace. Charlie was dressed in black and red, his mask a bestial rictus.

With a roar, Chiseller charged. Colin waited until the last moment, then stepped aside, smiling. Again and again he dodged his opponent. At each pass the yelps of the crowd grew louder, the frenzy on Charlie’s face more intense. At last it was too much, Charlie bounded up the ropes and launched himself feet first at Colin with an ululating battle cry.

Colin waited, his expression inscrutable, then bowed just in time for Chiseller to sail over his head, over the ropes and knock himself out on the bar.

Later that evening Colin and Henry sat around the same table. In the middle of the table was a mound of crumpled bills. In the corner of the changing room Kumiko hummed to herself as she made the tea.

Henry cleared his throat. “So that’s your sevenfold path then? Just wait for the other fella to knock himself out?”

“Feeling my way, mate. Professional wrestling and total non-violence is a treacherous row to hoe, but— ta love,“ he said as he took the tea cup from Kumiko, “with the right spiritual stance all things are possible. Tea, Henry?”

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Sep 13, 2013 around 08:50

Barracuda Bang!
Oct 21, 2008

The first rule of No Avatar Club is: you do not talk about No Avatar Club. The second rule of No Avatar Club is: you DO NOT talk about No Avatar Club

Grimey Drawer

Sorry, dudes and dudettes, been working on a potential job thing, which unfortunately has to come first.

I realize too, of course, that if I didn't wait until Sunday to write this one, I would have been fine.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


sebmojo posted:

Colin Agonistes

589 words

Fumblemouse posted:

Fumblemouse vs Sebmojo - Bloodsport
Edited because SebMojo cannot get his poo poo together and paid for it in blue pencil.

Wordcount: 734

Puddles

Copied down Sebmojo's original and Fumblemouse's edit. I'll crit these from 30,000 feet and post the winner after I play Does The Hotel Provide Free Internet Access Like A Civilized Place Or Do I Rub Together Rocks And Bear Skins To Try To Get Some Internets Up In This Bitch.

It's my favorite travel game.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

To whoever has been making the deadline effective PST rather than EST, I thank ye kindly.

Trackers
1429 words
Flash rule: All departments must have acronyms that work - Failed (sorry)

The lights are dimmed as the projection screen shows the grainy image of a man in military regalia. His right arm crosses his chest as his chin juts at the sky. As his picture flickers up front of the class theater, the blare of brass and percussive instruments courses through the public address system of Starkhall Training Academy for Truancy Investigations and Corrections. Candidate 15 of Division 2, stands chanting with her fellow candidates as Starkhall’s anthem closes with its final lines:

Children are Resources
Children are Future

Preserve our Resources
Preserve our Future

Preserve Yourselves


The music fades out and the projection screen rolls up. Cold light refills the room. The D2 instructor walks to the front of the classroom. Dressed in the traditional Starkhall cassock and cap, only the small antennae behind his left ear distinguishes him from instructors of generations prior. He crosses his arms behind him before facing the class.

“Sit.”

The candidates take their seats by their gunmetal desks. Before the instructor can speak again, something causes him to turn aside. He cranes his neck and reaches behind his left ear, before turning back to the class.

“We will be reviewing the errors on Examination K3. However, Candidates 9 and 15.”

15 stands up, speaking in exact unison with a voice behind her.

"Instructor."

"Both of you are to see the headmaster at his office immediately."

"Yes instructor."

15 pivots and moves towards the door. The other candidates keep their eyes straight forward. From her peripheral vision however, 15 sees the edge of a smirk from Candidate 32. She waits by the door until 9 joins her, before they march side-by-side down the hall.

***

15 feels herself pale. This is the first time she has been called before the Headmaster. Three months ago, 22 was called. A different 22 returned to take her place. Nothing more was said. As she marches alongside 9, she feels an overwhelming urge to talk to him. It is 9 who breaks the silence first.

"I can feel my heart beating."

"We should not talk."

“It does not matter. We have every reason to be proud today.”

“What makes you say that?”

“We are being accelerated, of course.”

15 nearly breaks her march.

“H-How do you know?”

“The examinations are complete. Do you doubt your scores?”

“I do not presume to know my results.”

9 let out a sigh.

“Sometimes, you can be too cautious, 15. There is no question that I am second ranked in our division. There is no question that you outrank me. Now there may be questions as to whether you outrank the entire academy. But I do not presume when I tell you that your examinations were flawless.”

15’s face begins to fill with blood. She suddenly recalls the smirk from Candidate 32.

“I observed 32 as we were being called.”

“And?”

“He… presented a manner that suggested our meeting with the headmaster would not be as auspicious as you believe it to be.”

“32 is an idiot. He will be reallocated, assuming there is a school that can accommodate his worthlessness.”

15 purses her lips to fight off a smile.

“So 22… the previous one. She was also…?”

9 stops in his tracks. 15 turns to see 9, his shoulders slunk.

“That was different… Her performance was… inadequate.”

The remainder of the march passes without a word.

***

They reach the marble door of the Headmaster’s office. It is the only door in the academy that has no buzzer or card reader. The figure of an iron falcon gripping a ring in its talons forms the door knocker. Above it, a segmented circle encased in metal covers the eyehole. 15 takes the ring and bangs it against the door. The circle shutters open, emitting a green light.

“Candidates 9 and 15 reporting.”

The shutter snaps shut. There is no immediate response. 9 turns to 15

“We may be assigned to separate districts,” 9 extends his right hand, “should we not see each other again, I wish you the best.”

15 takes 9’s hand.

“I hope that will not be the case, but yes, the best to you as well.”

The door swings open. They pull their hands apart. A man in a red cassock steps out, scrutinizing them. He turns to 9.

“Get in.”

15 marches alongside 9, but the man in red holds up a hand.

“Candidate 9 only. Candidate 15 to wait.”

15 sees a look of uncertainty pass over 9’s face. She steps back as 9 follows the man inside. The door swings closed. 15 waits.

***

15 is ready when the door swings again. The previous man in red points to her.

“Now you.”

15 follows the man through a short corridor, before arriving at the headmaster’s office. The headmaster wears a cassock, but his cap carries a skirt running along the back and sides, reaching past his shoulders. His elbows are propped against his desk, the palms of his hands together, his finger trilling against one another. Behind the headmaster is a television screen, currently off, that makes up the entire back wall. 9 is nowhere to be seen.

The man in red walks in with 15 behind him, and halts.

“Headmaster. Candidate 15.”

The headmaster nods. The man wheels around and marches out. 15 stands uncomfortably as the headmaster continues to trill his fingers while inspecting her. Eventually, he motions at the chair in front of her.

“Sit.”

As 15 takes her seat, the headmaster reaches to pull open a drawer.

“Roll up your left sleeve.”

As 15 does so, the headmaster brings out a machine that looks like a sphygmomanometer, a miniature telescope, and a typewriter haphazardly connected together by various cables. The headmaster wraps a cuff around 15’s wrist, before aiming the telescope gadget at her face. 15 blinks rapidly as green light temporarily fills her eyes. A robotic voice chirps from the typewriter, followed by the rapid chatter of print against paper.”

CALIBRATION COMPLETE. SUBJECT READY FOR TESTING.

The headmaster stands up.

“The screen will come on. Do as it tells you. I will be watching.”

The headmaster exits the room. A minute later, the room lights turn off, and the television turns on.

Administering STATIC Final Examination, Serial 2B.

Part One: A video will play depicting a public venue with individuals. Maintain uninterrupted eye contact of ten seconds on all suspected truants. Image displays in 3… 2… 1…

* * *

The screen turns off with the end of the examination, and the lights return. 15 is exhausted. The headmaster walks in carrying a glass of water.

“Drink?”

“Yes, please, Headmaster.”

As 15 takes the glass, the headmaster continues.

“Effective today, you are no longer Candidate 15 of Division 2.”

She pauses midway in her drink.

“You are hereby accelerated to begin field training.”

She accidentally breathes bubbles into her glass. The headmaster is not amused.

“The training begins once you are finished your water. You have but one task before you are dismissed for the day. We will be heading outside to the academy training grounds.”

Finishing her glass, she joins the headmaster as they leave the office, escorted by two men in red cassocks. They walk out of the building to the grass field of Starkhall’s academy training grounds. From a distance, she notices a group of three individuals already on the training grounds. As she draws closer, she makes out two of the men in red cassocks. The other is 9. His hands are tied to his back as he stares at the ground. She forces herself to march to steadily. At her approach, 9 looks up. The look of surprise is followed by a wistful smile.

“So, you were accelerated.”

With her eyes averted, she nods. The headmaster points at 9.

“This boy is no longer Candidate 9. He should not have been a candidate. He is utterly corrupted by Heretic Joysing’s falsehood. He is an abetter to the truants. Depriver of Starkhall’s resources.”

She barely registers the sensation of her right hand being opened as the headmaster places a piece of heavy cold metal in her hand.

“He is an enemy. Correct him!”

She weakly lifts the pistol and aims at the boy she once knew as 9. He looks at her and sighs.

“My name was Vaughn. What is yours?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Find out.”

She pulls the trigger. He slumps to the ground. A moment passes before she feels the hand of the headmaster on her shoulder.

“Congratulations, Tracker 15B. You will do Starkhall proud.”

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

So, about 27 minutes to go huh? Better start writing. Straight into the browser, the best way to write!

Academie d'Cake l'Orange

"Hey, are you listening?"

Jemima had not been listening, because honestly, Bert had the tendency to waffle a bit. "Sorry, what's that then?"

"I was just saying, I don't see why I always get stuck with orange picking duty."

"Ah well, let me clear that up for you." Jemima took a citrusy bite and spat out some seeds. "It's because you're catastrophically bad at baking."

"Catastrophic seems a bit harsh. There was no permanent damage."

Jemima shrugged. "I think it's possible you need to start setting slightly higher goals. Although actually at the moment I think maybe you should set goals that don't involve baking. Did I mention you're not good at it? Because that's an important piece of information you should remember."

"So how come you always get sent orange picking?" asked Bert. "Your cakes were really good."

Jemima finished off her snack and threw the peel on the floor. "I'm a dangerous dissident. I tried to bake with unapproved fruits."

"Why?" Bert was flabbergasted. "I'm flabbergasted! Why would you run that risk?"

Jemima shrugged again. She enjoyed shrugging. It was honestly one of her favourite things to do. "It's not that I don't love oranges and their applications to baked goods," she said. "It's just, sometimes a girl wants to experiment, y'know? I don't see what's so wrong with occasionally slipping something different into a cake. A grapefruit, maybe a couple of lemons, whatever."

"An apple?" suggested Bert.

"Pffft." Jemima shook her head. "Don't be silly, I wouldn't even compare the two!"

"Uh oh." Bert stopped talking and started being very obviously busy and involved in his task. Jemima glanced behind her. Terence was slowly striding towards them. She returned to being very disinterested in her task.

"Hello Bert," said Terence. "Jemima." No greeting, just an acknowledgement that she was there too. He glanced down at the basket she'd been filling. "What are those?"

Jemima looked at the basket. "Diet oranges," she said. Terence seemed unconvinced. "Would you believe junior oranges?" It didn't appear he would. "Travel oranges? Fun size oranges?"

"They look like mandarins," he said.

Jemima looked again. "Well, juice my innards, so they are. You clearly paid attention in fruit recognition 101."

"You know oranges are the only approved fruit," said Terence.

"Well," said Bert, "mandarins are important for our 'Languages other than English' quota."

"What?" Terence looked puzzled. "I am puzzled. What does that even mean?"

Bert sighed. "Too obscure? My jokes are wasted on this audience."

Terence shook his head. "Whatever, this is not my problem. I'm sure the head chefs will have something to say about your fruit picking habits," he nodded towards Jemima, "and about your attitude." He turned and walked back towards the Academie.

Jemima smiled. "Way to go, now you're a dissident too! I liked the joke, by the way."

They continued to pick the wrong fruit in silence.

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


School: St. George's School For Monster-slaying and People-saving

Nobody's Princess
1480 words

Sabrina stepped inside the ring. Her leather armor felt like a second skin, after months of inseparability. Her wooden sword and shield felt like extensions of her limbs.

Everyone was perspiring in the midday sun. She particularly baked in her armor. Brave Harold, their arms teacher, did not, even despite his shirt of mail. Or probably because of it. Not even a drop of moisture on his golden beard.

Sabrina assumed a stance that offered no opening. Alwyn's sword traced circles in the air, eager for contact.

They did not speak. Taunts had become meaningless on Sabrina. Sometimes Brave Harold would pit her against older students. Sometimes she would win. Nobody ever celebrated.

"Begin!" Brave Harold's hand slashed the air.

Sabrina let Alwyn charge. She deflected the lunging stab with a flick of her sword. The boy was different. Hungry for valor, to exchange for the family he had lost. Sabrina envied him for it. Envied the near-suicidal drive that drove him to the top of the class.

This match would decide which one of them would carry that title.

Sabrina beat back Alwyn's attacks with increasing effort. Her movements were precise, but Alwyn's strength threatened to shatter the balance. Her preferred tactic of wearing her opponent down would not work. This fight meant so much to her opponent.

She slashed Alwyn's exposed leg. Alwyn didn't yelp in pain. He tried to smash his shield at Sabrina's face. Sabrina blocked with her own. They pushed against each other, eyes unyielding as their efforts.

Alwyn's strength won out. Just as Sabrina let him. She turned the blow, unbalancing Alwyn. She kicked his legs out and fell on top of him, pointing her sword at his back.

"Sabrina wins," Brave Harold said, over the din.

Sabrina got up from Alwyn. She offered no hand. She had learned not to.

Alwyn glared at her, which quickly lost venom as the gravity of his loss sunk in.

"You wanted to win a test of strength, so I let you," Sabrina said. "It cost you the match."

Alwyn opened his mouth, and closed it. Anything he would have said would only be an excuse.

Sabrina avoided the sullen stares of her classmates. Why did they come to hate me like this?

What could she have done?

* * *

Sabrina climbed up the Stalwart Tower, heading towards the Headmaster's office. She was wearing her uniform, the crisp white starting to look brown despite multiple washings. She was fine as long as it didn't stink.

She found him at his desk, flanked between towering stacks of papers.

"Headmaster," Sabrina said. "When you said your door was always open, I didn't think you meant it literally."

"It's a gesture to encourage my approachability, but the very state of my room is a hindrance," Headmaster Marius said. "How can I help you, Sabrina? Please, don't mind the papers."

Sabrina smile faded as she stated her purpose. "I don't believe this is a secret to you, but my classmates hate me. They think I don't belong here."

The Headmaster steepled his fingers on the table. "I have heard rumors, and read the teacher's reports. But I would like to hear the details from you, child."

"When we introduced ourselves to each other, part of it was telling our story. You know, the story of why we're here. I didn't have anything worth telling. It's the truth. What should I have done, lie to them? Even my very clothes marked me apart from them!

"I never lost anything. My family is alive and safe. We're rich. I could be anyone I want to be. And I choose to be a Brave. Is that wrong?"

"No," the Headmaster said.

Sabrina continued. "Do I have to endure great suffering to help others? Do I have to feel pain, in order to prevent others from experiencing the same? I just want to do good!

"I want to be their friend. But my status makes it difficult. They think I'm pitying them."

"And yet you are at the top of your class."

"It only makes my life harder. They want to wrest my standing from me. The more I try to prove that I can be a Brave as much as any of them, the more they resent me. It's as if I'm not supposed to be this good. Not to brag, of course."

The Headmaster smiled. "Our school was built on the belief that anyone can be a hero. Anyone can be a Brave. I want to say that being a noble or a commoner has no part in it, but I am aware of our school's demographic. And I cannot blame it. Yours is a difficult road, Sabrina, but you need to overcome this challenge if you truly want to become a Brave."

Sabrina hung her head and said nothing.

"All this talk, and I cannot help you," Headmaster Marius said. "But I can give advice: sometimes you just have to win them one heart at a time."

Sabrina gave her most dignified bow. "Thank you, Headmaster."

* * *

The mock dragon was the ugliest thing Sabrina had ever seen. It was made from goblin technology, and used for their Basic Dragon-slaying class.

"...since this is Basic Dragon-slaying, Grath'mak's snout will only produce a stream of ash. You will still gain failing marks if you get hit by it," Harold said, giving basic instructions.

The iron sword's weight was unfamiliar in Sabrina's grip. She couldn't sleep last night, thinking of her conversation with the Headmaster.

"Any more questions? Good. Sabrina, Alwyn, and Rue, step up. You're Team One."

Alwyn groaned.

"I'm sorry," Rue said, flanked by the two achievers of the class. She kept her eyes on the ground.

"Just don't get hit," Alwyn said.

"Rue, you have the spear. We'll draw Grath'mak's attention and clear a path for you," Sabrina said. "Don't attack until I--we say so."

Rue nodded, not meeting Sabrina's eyes.

"Begin!"

Grath'mak sprang to life, gears whirring inside his mechanical body. His mismatched red-and-gold eyes dilated at the sight of Team One. He drew back his head.

"Disperse!" Grath'mak sprayed ash in a wide fan.

"Stay back, Rue!" Sabrina said. She held her breath, trying not to inhale the ash, and closed the distance. Alwyn flanked Grath'mak from the left.

The mock dragon whipped its tail. Sabrina and Alwyn threw themselves to the ash-stricken ground. A shrill yelp pierced their ears.

Rue hung on to Grath'mak's tail with her spear.

Alwyn ran towards Grath'mak. It reared up, exposing its vulnerable underside. There was a red circle painted on its left breast, where a dragon's heart would be. He threw his shield away, wielding his sword with two hands. He plunged it into the mock dragon's heart and missed.

Sabrina yanked Rue away. "Stay back," she said, retrieving the spear.

Rue nodded, looking forlorn.

Sabrina ran to Alwyn, who tried to pull out his sword in vain. Grath'mak's tail went after her. She raised her shield as the tail smashed at her, forcing her to her knees.

Rue choked up in protest, stumbling forward.

"Go!" Sabrina passed the spear to Rue. Rue hurled it towards Alwyn. Alwyn let go of his sword, diving for the new weapon. The mock dragon stared at him with eyes of artificial hate.

He hurled it at the dragon's chest. One half went in, and Grath'mak roared.

"Get back!" Alwyn called, already running away with his remaining dignity.

The tail lifted over Sabrina's head, and she ran to get Rue away. The mock dragon reared up one last time, aiming at the two of them.

Sabrina shoved Rue away, turning to face the ash with a smile.

* * *

Harold walked to them. Rue was already up, dabbing the ash away from Sabrina's face with a handkerchief.

"Failed!" He pointed at Sabrina, laughing. "What a pathetic effort, coming from you."

"I'm sorry, Sabrina," Rue said, looking down on her ash-streaked boots.

Sabrina smiled. "At least you won't need to spend hours cleaning up."

Harold pointed at Alwyn, who had already dusted off. "And failed!"

"What?"

Harold faced them. "You are studying and training to become Braves. To slay the monster, or to save people? There is no 'or' in our school's name. You must do both. At the very least, each one of you must survive! And that is why you pass or fail as a team!" He walked to Grath'mak's "corpse", chuckling as he began the long process of reviving the mock dragon.

"I guess he's right," Alwyn said. He glowered at Sabrina. "I still don't like you, Ash Princess."

Sabrina smiled at him. "Ash Princess? That's cute. I like it." It was her first comeback in months.

Alwyn walked away, fuming.

"Sabrina?" Rue said, her eyes concerned.

"I'm all right, Rue. What is it?"

"Thank you."

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


As a benevolent person (rhino) I'm giving Accretionist, Wash Clothes and Unknowing detention so get your act together and write and submit something within TWO (2) HOURS' TIME. Also you are not allowed to reenact the dance of The Breakfast Club instead of writing your predetermined essay topic because I'm a big meanie who hates fun.

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Because gently caress sleep, that's why.



Nikaer Drekin posted:


Detective Dick DeForest's Private Eye Hard-Boiling School
(1,337 Words)

John Magnum's mooks tied Ted Lilith's hands behind his back and plunked him down in front of the toilet. decent opening line. I liked "plunk" as the verb, here.

"So, Teddy Boy," John said, "what's this I hear about you hanging around my dame?"

"Johnny, please, whatever you heard was a lie, I swear to you!"

"Dunk him, boys."

They plunged his head down, into the bowl of grimy, cracked porcelain, great, disgusting detail. also lol at "plunged" Ted caught off guard and gulping the water down when he gasped for breath. but the second half of this sentence is incredibly awkward. had to read it three of four times to parse what you were trying to say. also, why would he be caught off guard if the guy said "dunk him boys"? After twenty seconds they let go and he sprang upright, coughing out the tepid water.

"I hope you're ready to sing now, Teddy. We can give you another drink if you're throat's still a bit dry."

"You're a psycho! I talked with her, that's all, at the drugstore checkout. I don't even know her name, Johnny, honest to God."

John smirked and bent down to face Ted. "So it's you who was lying, huh? When you said you'd never seen her. I don't like people who lie to me, Teddy. I'll be in touch."

He signaled to his thugs, and they shuffled out of the men's room, all cackling like loons in between cigarette puffs. John left last, whipping out a butterfly knife to slice the rope binding Ted's wrists. Ted stayed kneeling, hair and shirt drenched in piss water, forcing himself not to cry. He figured he was already plenty washed up. Well that ended...suddenly.

*******

Dean Thornton sighed and stubbed out his Pall Mall. "Ted, I sympathize, but the administration confronting these punks? Well, it's just not done here."

Ted stared at him. The Dean's voice was rough, like the croaking of a toad mafe made? of sandpaper, and he could feel it try not to tell me how something feels to a character when you could just show me. grinding away at his nerves. "What do you do around here, then? I mean, come on now, verbal tic, doesn't belong in dialogue this is harassment. Assault, even! I'm prepared to take legal action against the school if you don't at least try to make this right." this is very bland "says exactly what he means" type of dialogue. why not spruce it up a bit and use it to reveal more character?

Thornton paused, leaned back in his chair. Darkness swamped his office, the only light coming from a sharp desk lamp and the dying embers of the Dean's cigarette. not a big fan of epithets used this way. I couldn't immediately tell that Thornton and Dean were the same person, because you started off with "his" office, and then said "the dean's" cigarette in the very same sentence, even though you're referring to the same person Thornton swiveled to the side in his chair, his rugged face sinking into the shadows. good description Ted watched him tug another Pall Mall from the pack in his breast pocket, then strike a match on the desk to light it. After a calming lungful of smoke,which character's perspective are we in right now? he turned back to Ted, who wrinkled his nose as the tobacco haze spread.

"Apologies," Thornton said, waving away the smoke. "Your, uh... disinclination for the habit slipped my mind. that was a whole lot of words spent on describing the dean and his smoking habit, plus ted's dislike of it. does it mean anything to the story? Anyway, what I was going to say is that the administration doesn't step in to resolve spats between students. The students have to deal with each other. Man to man."

"That can't possibly be legal."

"Look, Ted, you're a fine student; you have a sharp mind and you've done good work here. But are you sure this place is the right fit for you?" again, this is bland, placeholder dialogue. I get nothing about how these characters feel about each other, based on this alone. find more specifically-voiced things for your characters to say to each other.

"Goddamn it, sir, I'm not going back to Encyclopedia Brown Academy. I want to be a private eye working the city streets, not some small-town hick investigating whether little Billy Olson stole from the till at his mom and dad's store!" this line is a little better; it does a lot of work in giving me backstory

"I understand that, Ted," Dean Thornton said. "But this is a school for detectives with grit, ones who want to immerse themselves in the hard-boiled way of life. You, on the other hand, don't smoke, I guess this is the payoff for the paragraph of detail about smoking? you don't slap mouthy dames around, and I've hardly ever seen you at the shooting range. As far as hard-boiling goes, you've barely dipped your toe in the water. now that is a great line. Here, I have just the thing for you."

Thornton pulled out a desk drawer and rummaged through it. A moment later he lifted up a .38 snub-nosed revolver and slapped it down on the table.

"You see, Ted, hard-boiled detectives handle things for themselves. That gun is loaded and the serial number has been filed off." Ted started to protest, but Thornton cut him off. "Don't say anything to me. Take care of what you have to take care of. Be discreet. Now go."

*******

Ted sat motionless on the bed in the dark room until he heard the doorknob rattle and the door creak open, a burst of light striking the back wall. John Magnum shut the door and flicked on the light switch. The bulb hanging from the ceiling emanated this is a thesaurus word, and I'm not sure it did more work than just saying 'glowed', or 'gave' or 'shined' or whatever. a dim amber glow. He turned around and saw Ted in the corner of his eye, but it didn't register until a second later. again, whose head are we in? His head jerked back to face him.

"The gently caress are you doing in my room, Teddy?" John asked.

"Hello, John. We've got business we need to settle." bland, placeholder dialogue.

John snorted. "Uh huh. I'm thinking you should get out of here if you don't want to go diving in the latrines again. Go on, I'm feeling like a very forgiving individual right now."

Ted pointed the revolver at John's chest and pulled the hammer back. "Sit down in that chair by the desk." Shrugging, John lifted his hands and complied.

"So how about it, Sam Spade? You're going to gun me down in cold blood,cliche right now? I don't think you could. Not in your wildest fantasies, cliche. kid" bland dialogue.

"Don't be so sure," Ted said. "I might not be as much of a hard-rear end as you and your subordinates, but none of you have any right to tell me I don't belong here. I'll do what's necessary to get the message across." very, very bland.

John sat frozen for a moment, but then fell apart into a giggling fit. He doubled over, face creased with mirth. awkward, thesaurus-y word Stifling his laughter, he sat back up and noticed the gun wobbling like pudding in Ted's hand.

"And what's that?" John asked. "What message are you going to tell the world, Teddy Boy? I'm dying to hear it."

Ted took a slow, deep breath and squeezed the pistol grip. "They're all going to know," he said, "that Theodore Lillith takes crap from no man." He pulled the trigger. i really wanted a more powerful bon mot here. wouldn't he have enough built-up rage to say something original, and, more importantly, more personal?

There was a click. The smile on John Magnum's face dissolved. "You son of a bitch," he said. "You were really going to do it."

Ted didn't say anything. He sat and stared over John's shoulder. that seems to be a very flat affect in response to what just happened

"Hey, Ted," John said coolly, "you look at me. You were really going to kill me over a couple swirlies? That's... pretty cold, man."

Ted gulped. He wished more than anything to be tracking down a wayward pet pig right about now, solving some suburban dilemma far away from John Magnum, his butterfly knife, and the cold, wretched pistol. now this is what i'm talking about. this is a much, much better paragraph. strong, vivid language, and it has specifically to do with our hero. much better.

John kept his voice soft and steady. "I was wrong about you. You're plenty hard-boiled, and I didn't have any cause to say differently. We're square, okay? I think you should leave now, though. My nerves are pretty strung-out, and I bet yours are too, huh?"

Ted nodded once, slowly.

"All right then," John said. "You go on back to your room. The two of us are cool now, I swear it." He lifted a hand, the sly grin coming back to his face. "Honest Injun, okay?" this was weird because it felt like you were setting up for something else to happen, but it never did

Ted nodded again, then stood up and sidled to the door. He kept the gun trained on John, but as soon as he was out in the hall he flung it away and bolted to the stairwell. Once he reached the steps, he took a breath and started up toward his dorm, but decided to go for a walk instead. He needed to think about his future.

Pushing past the double doors in the main hall, Ted breathed a lungful of the sweet, damp night air. He looked back up at the building and saw John Magnum's dorm room, his head silhouetted against the window shade. Ted shivered, even though the night was warm. He thought of how easily his finger squeezed the trigger, trying to convince himself it was just some freak twitch, but knowing that was a lie. good line

"I bet you a million bucks," he mumbled, "Encyclopedia Brown never had to do anything like that." good, specific closing line




Overall this wasn't bad. My biggest complaint is that it looks as though you struggled with the dialogue in certain places and so left cliches and filler sprinkled throughout the entire piece. This kills any attempt you have at voice or drama, as the lines being said could have been said by anyone at any given time or place. That's what makes for good voice and for good dialogue--a given line that could have only ever been said by that particular character in that particular situation.

Every story has a few lines of filler, but when your writing has a lot of lines like this: "you've done good work here. But are you sure this place is the right fit for you?" and "We've got business we need to settle" and "Not in your wildest fantasies" and "I was wrong about you" are all lines that could come from literally countless different pieces of writing. I think it's important to try and add voice to everything you do--otherwise it will come off as flat and forgettable.

re: thesaurus words--every editor I've ever spoken to hates these with a passion, and I've learned to hate them too. Sometimes you really need to reach for a fancy word because you're going for a specific effect or because no other word, flat out, will do. Most often though, writers use these to spruce up otherwise bland language, so it just looks badly out of place and lazy.

Also: watch the head-hopping.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Submissions are closed. Gold stars all around.

Barracuda, Accretionist, I want you in my office. Unknowing, Wash Clothes, I have no idea who you guys are.

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

gently caress Sleep--Redux



Sitting Here posted:


The Flow Fascile

did you mean Facile? either way I dig the title


"How come you never told anyone about it?"

"It was like, at first--you know how easy it is to get little kids to keep secrets--they just told me my parents would be mad if they knew I wasn't going to regular classes. Then I started to understand what the Institute was about, and I didn't want to tell anyone."

Tessia rolls over check the time on her phone, and to Seamus the dent of her absence on the pillow smells like fresh rain, even though they've been laying in this bed for the better part of three days, under-showered and undisturbed. i didn't much care for the dialogue that opened this piece, but this is a really great paragraph that has me intrigued as to what the hell is going on.

He says, "how much longer?"

"Long enough."

"For what?"

"To tell you the truth about everything. I'm tired. Of it. i like how you broke those two sentences up I don't know don't know if I'm the Flow or just the Shape that the Flow moves through anymore," she says. Seamus doesn't follow. "You know how like musicians can't listen to music and writers can't read books and magicians can't fall for an illusion? With the Institute--it's like that, but bigger. It's like they shove your face close to the mosaic until you see that it's all bits of glass and stone."

"So they took you out of school and made you look at a mosaic?" I hope this line was supposed to be funny, because i really laughed. i know a lot of people who regularly miss the point like this

Tessia lights a cigarette. "I was never out of school, just didn't go to normal classes. The Institute, they're like an underground railroad for making more Facilitators. The people who run the whole thing, they can do poo poo that make it seem sometimes like the world is just a fancy marionette."

Seamus dusts hot ash off Tessia's thigh that she doesn't notice has fallen there.

"The first thing they teach is Shape and Flow. Not all events are equal. Lets say you hold the door open for someone. You, the door-holder, in that situation become the Shape, and the door-holdee is the Flow. You're the bed to their river, the stadium to their concert." i still have no idea what's going on, but this is good dialogue with good, original imagery. so even though i'm confused, the voice is good enough for me to want to keep going

"What you're saying is that they taught you--and I'm picturing this in like a smoky janitor's closet with some guy who hacks on his cigar and says smooth in a surly plumber's voice--is that they taught you to be a doormat."

Tessia and Seamus are in Seamus's downtown apartment on the morning of what is supposed to be the largest national day of anti-surveillance demonstrations in history. Seamus can tell that Tessia is pretty shook up about the whole thing, even if it is all just pebbles and glass and smoke and mirrors. But she's having none of his blasé attitude. i would have preferred a more specific description than "blasé attitude". Also this paragraph might have been a bit better as the opener; it would have grounded me a bit better as to the situation during those opening lines

"What's wrong with being a doormat? We're always denigrating the stuff we need most. We should all be so lucky to be as decent of people as your standard doormat."

"But so anyway, the Institute," says Seamus as he takes the now mostly spent stub of a cigarette from Tessia's hand where she seems to have forgotten it. There are little stiff-edged holes in the sheet from before he figured out how to shape himself around her chaos. maaan that's a really good sentence. i wasn't a big fan of the first one in this paragraph but the second one made that setup worth it

She says, "the closet isn't far off, though. When I first started going, back at Garfield Elementary, the Institute had us meet in the boiler room behind the kitchen. It always worked out that none of the staff happened to pop into the boiler room while we were in there. It's always like that, whatever the Institute is doing, wherever they are, it all slips beneath people's attention. Because they control everything. We control everything.

"Shay, they start us so young. They make you think it's a good thing, what we do. What Facilitators do. First it's all holding doors open, replacing the paper in public toilets, taking bags of dog poo poo off of people's porches. You know. Random acts of kindness. Those moments when all you can do is look up at the sky and say, give me a break. Well, we do, when we can. Give you a break, I mean. i think i know who's talking but some attributions would help a bit.

"When I talk about Shape and Flow, I'm talking about sort of a like-a-bridge-over-troubled-water-I-will-lay-me-down thing. We are the 'path' part of the path of least resistance." same thing here, or else put in some more basic action to break things up a bit

This whole time Seamus has been stretching and swinging his legs over the side of the bed and looking around for pants and shoes and generally indicating with his body language that they should probably get up and get going if they want a good spot at the civil uprising. vivid description, felt like i could see him

"I don't know if I can do this, is what I'm telling you, Seamus."

"Mmm, yeah. You are definitely some sort of sleeper cell set to trigger in a Thriller-dance flash mob."

Seamus pulls on his hoody and when he turns around Tessia is standing there naked but her body is closed, folded in on itself under the protective nest of her crossed arms. great loving description, original. "The Institute," she presses on, "likes order. But they'll take advantage of chaos to get it. They don't--they're not who you think. The NSA, FBI, CIA, those are all broken tools set to a job they can't hope to understand or accomplish." She's shivering now. "I can't--I can't--"

Seamus watches himself watch her hyperventilate. Growing up on a sterile California cul-de-sac and having tested positive, his parents claimed, for allergies to every sort pet he could think of, he has never seen an animal in true physiological distress before. nothing to say other than another great line

"What do I--Should I--" Then he's kneeling beside her, alternating between awkwardly rubbing her shoulder and awkwardly patting her back. He is momentarily ashamed of finding the sheen of sweat on the ridge of her spine sensual in the room's low lamp light.

"Air," she says. "Outside. Now. I shouldn't've--shouldn't've said."

Seamus helps her put on a big sweatshirt and a pair of his pajama pants and her faded canvas sneakers and helps her close her fingers around another cigarette. just loved this a lot



Tessia breathes easier in the open, where the air is, even in the heart of the city, crisp enough to thin out the fat and grease smell of the burger place over which Seamus lives. She fumbles with the lighter until Shay flicks it for her, and the heat on her face reminds her to unclench her teeth, a little. thank you for clearly establishing that we're in her head at this point, rather than seamus'

Down the block protesters are already gathering in the public plaza outside of city hall, even though the Mayor has given his blessing to the demonstrations (privately, he understands that he is at a juncture where he must needs play both the face of comma here and an advocate against an increasingly martial regime, though he doesn't like that his mind jumps to that word when thinking of the current administration).

The crowd is substantial, even in the early morning. Tessia has confirmed what she's pretty sure she already knew: She physically cannot tell anyone the extent of the Institute for Anonymous Public Facilitator's control, nor its goals, nor anything, it seemed, that would be damaging to the Facilitators' goals. didn't like the use of the word 'goals' twice in one sentence. Which means that anything she'd been capable of telling, say, Seamus was in all likelihood meant to be told, and so whatever choice she makes forthwith is in all likelihood a choice she has been long conditioned for, which means stay or go, she is probably already so deep inside the Shape that the Institute is trying to get the world to Flow around that there is no choosing her way out of their machinations. i've trusted your voice enough thus far that i've read this sentence several times to try and parse it, and i think i have, but it could still stand with just a bit of editing/trimming. i think i get the frenetic feel that you were going for, though

"Are you sure?" Seamus asks as Tessia drifts in the direction of the protest.

"Go with the Flow," she murmurs, and lets him take her arm and lead her, lamb-like, into the crowd.

Tessia wonders at slogans on signs, high-end smart phones, and at faces covered by black bandannas. She wonders at all the kids drinking Mexican Coca Cola out of those tell-tale glass bottles, wonders who planted the idea that the cane sugar is markedly, quantifiably better-tasting.

She wonders, when the crowd parts for a moment, at the apologetic look on the face of a police officer several feet away on the opposite side of one of those temporary fences that the cops use to kettle rioters. He raises his arms, which come together to punctuate in something black, and Tessia at first thinks to move, thinks that he is shooting someone behind her, for her protection.

To Seamus it begins and ends with a pop, and then Tessia is on the ground and people are both backing away and pushing closer to get photos and in some cases to livestream the day of action's first blood live to the protest's online counterparts, who are momentarily ashamed to admit that they are glad it was the cops that dunnit and not one of their own.

Roughly-outfitted, self-appointed "field medics" shove through the crowd, demanding space, demanding air.

The last thing Tessia sees is Seamus, caught in the inevitable tide-shift toward violence and retribution, ripping one of those touted glass Cola bottles out of another protester's hand and surging forward with the rest toward the police line, he and all the others certain that they are the ones Shaping history today.

gently caress, man. I had to re-read the last couple of paragraphs a few times to really understand what was happening--but not because it was confusing, or bad, or anything like that. It was just...drat thought-provoking. And really so. Originally I thought it was bullshit that she just randomly gets shot at the end, and then I thought about what she'd been saying, and it was just... (part of what tipped me off was the fuckin awesome usage of capital S there in your last sentence)

This piece is at the point where I can't really think of anything I could say about it because it's so well-polished and, while a bit dense, it's rewardingly so--to where I'd easily read this were it a longer short-story or even a whole book. Great fuckin' job, seriously.

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Sleep joke goes here:



M. Propagandalf posted:



Trackers
1429 words


The lights are dimmed as the projection screen shows the grainy image of a man in military regalia. His right arm crosses his chest as his chin juts at the sky. As his picture flickers up front of the class theater, the blare of brass and percussive instruments courses through the public address system of Starkhall Training Academy for Truancy Investigations and Corrections. Candidate 15 of Division 2, stands chanting with her fellow candidates as Starkhall’s anthem closes with its final lines: this opening is a bit bland. I didn't much get a sense of time or place

Children are Resources
Children are Future

Preserve our Resources
Preserve our Future

Preserve Yourselves


The music fades out and the projection screen rolls up. Cold light refills the room. i really liked that description The D2 instructor walks to the front of the classroom. Dressed in the traditional Starkhall cassock and cap, only the small antennae behind his left ear distinguishes him from instructors of generations prior. He crosses his arms behind him before facing the class.

“Sit.”

The candidates take their seats by their gunmetal desks. i liked when Mccarthy used gunmetal to describe a color and i liked it here as well Before the instructor can speak again, something what 'something'? try not to play coy with the reader like this causes him to turn aside. He cranes his neck and reaches behind his left ear, before turning back to the class.

“We will be reviewing the errors on Examination K3. However, Candidates 9 and 15.” that's not a complete sentence. if he gestured or something for them to stand up, say so.

15 stands up, speaking in exact unison with a voice behind her.

"Instructor."

"Both of you are to see the headmaster at his office immediately."

"Yes instructor."

15 pivots and moves towards the door. The other candidates keep their eyes straight forward. From her peripheral vision however, 15 sees the edge of a smirk from Candidate 32. She waits by the door until 9 joins her, before they march side-by-side down the hall.

***

15 feels herself pale. only now? not when her name was originally called to the headmaster's? This is the first time she has been called before the Headmaster. Three months ago, 22 was called. A different 22 returned to take her place. interesting Nothing more was said. As she marches alongside 9, she feels an overwhelming urge to talk to him. It is 9 who breaks the silence first.

"I can feel my heart beating."

"We should not talk."

“It does not matter. We have every reason to be proud today.”

“What makes you say that?”

“We are being accelerated, of course.”

15 nearly breaks her march.

“H-How do you know?”

“The examinations are complete. Do you doubt your scores?”

“I do not presume to know my results.”

9 let out a sigh.

“Sometimes, you can be too cautious, 15. There is no question that I am second ranked in our division. There is no question that you outrank me. Now there may be questions as to whether you outrank the entire academy. But I do not presume when I tell you that your examinations were flawless.” I was surprised that any of these students know anything about each other at all, given the way you've set this thing up

15’s face begins to fill with blood. what emotion is that supposed to convey? She suddenly recalls the smirk from Candidate 32.

“I observed 32 as we were being called.”

“And?”

“He… presented a manner that suggested our meeting with the headmaster would not be as auspicious as you believe it to be.”

“32 is an idiot. He will be reallocated, assuming there is a school that can accommodate his worthlessness.” good line

15 purses her lips to fight off a smile.

“So 22… the previous one. She was also…?”

9 stops in his tracks. 15 turns to see 9, his shoulders slunk.

“That was different… Her performance was… inadequate.”

The remainder of the march passes without a word.

***

They reach the marble door of the Headmaster’s office. It is the only door in the academy that has no buzzer or card reader. The figure of an iron falcon gripping a ring in its talons forms the door knocker. Above it, a segmented circle encased in metal covers the eyehole. 15 takes the ring and bangs it against the door. The circle shutters open, emitting a green light.

“Candidates 9 and 15 reporting.”

The shutter snaps shut. There is no immediate response. 9 turns to 15

“We may be assigned to separate districts,” 9 extends his right hand, “should we not see each other again, I wish you the best.”

15 takes 9’s hand.

“I hope that will not be the case, but yes, the best to you as well.”

The door swings open. They pull their hands apart. A man in a red cassock steps out, scrutinizing them. He turns to 9.

“Get in.”

15 marches alongside 9, but the man in red holds up a hand.

“Candidate 9 only. Candidate 15 to wait.”

15 sees a look of uncertainty pass over 9’s face. She steps back as 9 follows the man inside. The door swings closed. new paragraph here for the next line 15 waits.

***

15 is ready how is she ready? what's she thinking about? when the door swings again. The previous man in red points to her.

“Now you.”

15 follows the man through a short corridor, before arriving at the headmaster’s office. no detail, so to me they're in a formless room. why not give me a little bit of visual help, here? The headmaster wears a cassock, but his cap carries a skirt running along the back and sides, reaching past his shoulders. His elbows are propped against his desk, the palms of his hands together, his finger trilling against one another. Behind the headmaster is a television screen, currently off, that makes up the entire back wall. 9 is nowhere to be seen.

The man in red walks in with 15 behind him, and halts.

“Headmaster. Candidate 15.”

The headmaster nods. The man wheels around and marches out. 15 stands uncomfortably as the headmaster continues to trill his fingers while inspecting her. Eventually, he motions at the chair in front of her.

“Sit.”

As 15 takes her seat, the headmaster reaches to pull open a drawer.

“Roll up your left sleeve.”

As 15 does so, the headmaster brings out a machine that looks like a sphygmomanometer, a miniature telescope, and a typewriter haphazardly connected together by various cables. The headmaster wraps a cuff around 15’s wrist, before aiming the telescope gadget at her face. 15 blinks rapidly as green light temporarily why temporarily? fills her eyes. A robotic voice chirps from the typewriter, followed by the rapid chatter of print against paper.”

CALIBRATION COMPLETE. SUBJECT READY FOR TESTING.

The headmaster stands up.

“The screen will come on. Do as it tells you. I will be watching.”

The headmaster exits the room. A minute later, the room lights turn off, and the television turns on.

Administering STATIC Final Examination, Serial 2B.

Part One: A video will play depicting a public venue with individuals. Maintain uninterrupted eye contact of ten seconds on all suspected truants. Image displays in 3… 2… 1…

* * *

The screen turns off with the end of the examination, and the lights return. 15 is exhausted. The headmaster walks in carrying a glass of water.

“Drink?”

“Yes, please, Headmaster.”

As 15 takes the glass, the headmaster continues.

“Effective today, you are no longer Candidate 15 of Division 2.”

She pauses midway in her drink.

“You are hereby accelerated to begin field training.”

She accidentally breathes bubbles into her glass. The headmaster is not amused. good description, but try for something better than telling me how a character doesn't feel.

“The training begins once you are finished your water. You have but one task before you are dismissed for the day. We will be heading outside to the academy training grounds.”

Finishing her glass, she joins the headmaster as they leave the office, escorted by two men in red cassocks. They walk out of the building to the grass field of Starkhall’s academy training grounds. From a distance, she notices a group of three individuals already on the training grounds. As she draws closer, she makes out two of the men in red cassocks. The other is 9. His hands are tied to his back as he stares at the ground. She forces herself to march to steadily. At her approach, 9 looks up. The look of surprise is followed by a wistful smile.

“So, you were accelerated.”

With her eyes averted, she nods. The headmaster points at 9.

“This boy is no longer Candidate 9. He should not have been a candidate. He is utterly corrupted by Heretic Joysing’s falsehood. He is an abetter to the truants. Depriver of Starkhall’s resources.”

She barely registers the sensation of her right hand being opened as the headmaster places a piece of heavy cold metal in her hand.

“He is an enemy. Correct him!”

She weakly lifts the pistol and aims at the boy she once knew as 9. He looks at her and sighs.

“My name was Vaughn. What is yours?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Find out.”

She pulls the trigger. He slumps to the ground. A moment passes before she feels the hand of the headmaster on her shoulder.

“Congratulations, Tracker 15B. You will do Starkhall proud.”


I'm not really sure what to make of this. Has a bit of a Brave New World kind of feel, but without the commentary. There was a lot of sterile detail (which perhaps you were going for) that kept me from really relating to the characters or their situation. I feel like a lot of the robotic dialogue could have been reworked to provide at least a somewhat more human connection to the characters. I know you were going for a certain effect, but you still want the reader to relate to your characters, at least on some level.

I'll say this, though: the bit about her aiming the gun at him and him telling her his name and him saying "find out", was really great. That tiny bit was enough to make me at least a little disappointed that the story ended when it did.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Chillmatic posted:

Overall this wasn't bad. My biggest complaint is that it looks as though you struggled with the dialogue in certain places and so left cliches and filler sprinkled throughout the entire piece. This kills any attempt you have at voice or drama, as the lines being said could have been said by anyone at any given time or place. That's what makes for good voice and for good dialogue--a given line that could have only ever been said by that particular character in that particular situation.

Every story has a few lines of filler, but when your writing has a lot of lines like this: "you've done good work here. But are you sure this place is the right fit for you?" and "We've got business we need to settle" and "Not in your wildest fantasies" and "I was wrong about you" are all lines that could come from literally countless different pieces of writing. I think it's important to try and add voice to everything you do--otherwise it will come off as flat and forgettable.

re: thesaurus words--every editor I've ever spoken to hates these with a passion, and I've learned to hate them too. Sometimes you really need to reach for a fancy word because you're going for a specific effect or because no other word, flat out, will do. Most often though, writers use these to spruce up otherwise bland language, so it just looks badly out of place and lazy.

Also: watch the head-hopping.

Thanks a bunch for the crits, Chillmatic. I agree with you 100% on the head-hopping note; I realized after writing it that most of the second scene seemed to be coming from Dean Thornton's perspective and tried to correct it, but I don't think I went far enough. The smoking description was meant to show that Ted was somewhat uncomfortable with the whole hard-boiled lifestyle. On the same token, his flat bon mots at the end were an attempt to show that he had no clue what to do or say in a situation like that, but I realize saying that reeks of "MY STYLE!!" and there are likely more vivid ways to convey all that.

Interestingly enough, a bunch of my favorite writers are big on/famous for interesting dialogue (the Coen brothers, Elmore Leonard, Tarantino) so I think I need to give myself some homework (in keeping with the week's theme)and study one of their screenplays/books.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Chillmatic posted:

gently caress Sleep--Redux


gently caress, man. I had to re-read the last couple of paragraphs a few times to really understand what was happening--but not because it was confusing, or bad, or anything like that. It was just...drat thought-provoking. And really so. Originally I thought it was bullshit that she just randomly gets shot at the end, and then I thought about what she'd been saying, and it was just... (part of what tipped me off was the fuckin awesome usage of capital S there in your last sentence)

This piece is at the point where I can't really think of anything I could say about it because it's so well-polished and, while a bit dense, it's rewardingly so--to where I'd easily read this were it a longer short-story or even a whole book. Great fuckin' job, seriously.

I feel so dumb about the title. It was indeed supposed to be facile. I swear to god there was no angry red spell-checker squiggly under it, so I don't know what to say for myself.

At the risk of pissing off the TD elder gods, thanks for all the crits, Chillmatic.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Thunderbrawl Results: Fumblemouse v. Sebmojo

The Prompt:

Erogenous Beef posted:

Word Count: 750 words
Deadline: Saturday the 25th, 23:59:59 UTC+0

As you're both feeling pugnacious after an ichorous week grading horror: write punctilious prose about a person whose life is deeply changed by a blood sport, real or invented.

Focus on the emotion and the changes wrought by the character's relationship with the sport. What draws the character in? How does it change them? Are the changes for better or worse? Focus on character development, not gore.

After carefully conferring with a most trusted advisor (myself) from the dubious luxury of the rearmost row of a 767, Sebmojo emerges victor without a drop of blood spattering his Kiwi keister, although he does smell faintly of patchouli and green tea.

In-depth crits follow, along with reasonable reasonings:

Fumblemouse posted:

Puddles

Harrison held the small syringe in his pocket with one hand, while the other clutched the chain that served as a leash for Puddles. Awkwardly phrased. Drop "that served as a leash", just show him yanking on a chain around Puddles' neck. Stupid, cutesy name, he thought. Good spot for the free indirect voice. Sarah came up with it when Puddles was an adorable, trickle-prone puppy. She found it hilarious and somehow the name had stuck. Sarah didn’t laugh much any more. Okay, I better find out why; that's your hook here, nice cute puppy is now scaring the girl - why?

“Jesus,” said Harrison to Puddles and whoever else might be listening, “not again? All right, c’mon boy.” Two things. Drop the attribution; you've got two characters and one's a dog. Clearly the dog ain't speaking, especially if you include "c'mon boy". Also, what's happening "again"? I have no idea what action is taking place that's pissing Harrison off. He stood up and yanked the chain. Puddles was already fascinated by the noisy warehouse and needed no encouragement to see and smell the surroundings, only resisting a little when Harrison ducked through a door and into an deserted corridor. These two sentences are your scene-setters. The first is weak, the second is somewhat effective. This waiting area is oddly quiet; are there no other dog-owners? Also, warehouses have hallways? News to me.

“Shhh, boy, this won’t hurt a bit.” Harrison checked to make sure they were alone, whipped out the syringe, removed the needle cover, slid it into the scruff of Puddle’s POSSESSIVE APOSTROPHE GOES AT THE END :angry: neck and squeezed. Oof, awkward. "Checked to make sure they were alone" is telling, can you rephrase it or show me Harrison's concern some other way? Sebmojo did something similar by having his character simply checked behind him, which is a classic "are we alone" thing. Remove the needle cover bit, it's an unnecessary detail unless you're going to make a fuss about Harrison's fastidiousness. The dog keened, high pitched and anxious, until the needle was removed. Harrison watched and waited, empty syringe in hand. Puddles panted a little. Time passed. Add some internal monologue? Good place to show me some of Harrison's anxiety since you're trying to make time pass. Also, Harrison doesn't seem to have much motivation yet; he's been sitting around somewhere in a warehouse and now he drugs up his dog. Why? Is he just a cruel rear end in a top hat who hates his dog and wants to see him trip out?

Long seconds passed. Remove this or make it interesting. You already have the time-occupying "waited" above it. “Jesus Crapdancing Christ,” Crapdancing? Unconventional but kinda charming. said Harrison, throwing the syringe down the hall in exasperation. "in exasperation" is an adverbial phrase. Throwing the syringe shows us he's exasperated, no need to belabor it. You could also remove "said" and just make this an action. Still no other human characters around, so it's obviously Harrison. Unless he was turning Puddles into The Brain with some kind of doggy super-smarts serum, which would be awesome. He crouched down, grabbed Puddles’ THIS IS HOW YOU DO A POSSESSIVE APOSTROPHE, YES face in his hands, shook his blocky Rottweiler head. “Wake up, Puddles. Dammit, boy, you gotta show some spunk. For Sarah.” Okay, something's on the line. Puddles has to compete in something, and he has to win to help his owners. But... what kind of trouble are they in? What kind of trouble is Sarah in? What's her stake?

Puddles cocked his head to one side as if to say “Wut about Sarah?” cute and stared at Harrison with wide, lopsided eyes. Did they seem a little wider than usual? Good aside from the dissembling "a little" modifier. You're already casting enough doubt by phrasing it as a question. They started rolling crazily, and the dog’s whole body shook with tiny convulsions. Puddles barked several times at nothing. The shaking stopped and Puddles started pulling at the chain, his paws slipping on the scratched linoleum of the corridor floor, going faster as they failed to get purchase. This action needs strength. You keep adding modifiers that weaken your sentences, "tiny" convulsions, barking "several times". The "shook with tiny convulsions" bit needs a stronger verb: twitched, quivered, convulsed, shuddered. No need to mention it starting/stopping; make it imperfect-tense if need be. "Puddles started pulling" is too weak for the slippy bits accompanying it - you need "Puddles yanked" or something similarly forceful.

“Yes!” said Harrison, his free fist pumping. "Yes!" Harrison pumped his fist. <-- more effective, terser. He grabbed the leash with both hands, and dragged Puddles back to the door. Puddles skittered this way and that, at times almost attempting to climb up the corridor walls. Grabbing the leash with both hands is a good way of showing that the dog is stronger. I like it. The rest of these two sentences I like less. Maybe have him hear the announcement from the next para coming up from down the hall, which provides motivation, then drag the struggling dog ringside, his paws skittering (etc etc).

They emerged just in time. Emerged where? They were just in a whiteroom corridor off a whiteroom waiting zone (alone?). The changes-of-location are rather tedious so far. Above the din of dogs and owners Comma a boom box that was doing duty as a loudspeaker called out “Razor versus Alpha”. Set this off as real dialogue. Better yet, move it way up in the story so Harrison has something to curse about when he says "not again" and has some reason to drug up his dog. Razor was Puddle’s GRRRR Nom de Guerre. You don't need to capitalize nom de guerre. Also, fancy French, does this show us something about Harrison or were you plucking it from the air? In the latter case, eliminate the French and explain it differently. Some things, Harrison felt, a dog should not have to bear in front of other dogs. Cute, this shows something about Harrison's personal insecurities and/or views on machismo. Granted, will those become relevant? They haven't so far. I still don't know why he's fighting, why he drugged his dog or what Sarah's stake is.

Harrison led Puddles to the makeshift holding pen. Led? A moment ago he had to drag the dog around. It smelt so strongly of dog piss and fear Sounds like a French subway that Harrison had to pick up Puddles with each arm around two legs to prevent him scrabbling away - even then he ended up with a bloody scratch as Puddles was dropped into the pen. Oddly vivid description, but it makes it look like Puddles is scared. Puddles seems like he should be slavering to fight now. That's what would build some anticipation. This just kills it.

Whatever was in the syringe had taken full effect now. b]Weak, telling and belaboring the point. You're about to show it to us anyway:[/b] Puddles was throwing himself against the walls of the enclosure. Simple past tense ("threw") would work fine here, no need for the imperfect tense. A few punters looked at the wild-eyed, slavering dog, and went to the bookie to place a bet. Simply going to the bookie is enough to tell us what they're doing. Harrison took this as a good sign, and began to breathe a little easier. He hasn't been that anxious yet. Just irritated and a bit physical what with yanking Puddles around by a chain and tossing him into the pooch pen. He saw Mr Billings at the edge of the ring. Mr Billings, who had given him the syringe and told him that they could make a lot easy money together with Harrison’s Rotty and his own ‘patent-pending formula’, tipped his hat and then looked away.

Awkward delivery of backstory via an indirectly-sensed run-on sentence. Drop "he saw", move this to its own para to emphasize it and split the sentence in two. First sentence delivering Mr Billings' backstory, the other shows us he's disinterested with the hat-tip/turnabout. Using scare-quotes around "patent-pending formula" is telling me Harrison doesn't believe in the poo poo, which is odd. Also, who's going to patent the Underground Doggy Mortal Kombat Superfighter drug? Just calling it "special formula", sans quotes, would be enough. Also, why does Harrison want lots of money? So much he's willing to let his dog fight? Puddles' reaction makes this seem like it's the dog's first time. This is all very weird.

Somewhere a bell rang and the cage doors were opened. Puddles exploded out into arena. His opponent was only slightly less eager, a medium sized Bitzer with a good dose of Staffordshire. "only slightly less eager" is slowing down the action, find some other way to show that the other dog is eager to fight. The dog breed is very specific, Harrison is clearly a dog connoisseur. "Medium-sized" should be hyphenated, but I'd rather it were eliminated. We don't care about how big he is unless he's actually really big or small. They snarled at each other, and Harrison could see drool forming dangling strands from Puddle’s NEIN NEIN NEIN lip, could even see Puddle’s YOU WOUND ME SIR chest vibrating like a jackhammer. Eliminate the goddamn indirect sensing verbs, they weaken and slow down this HIGH TENSION situation. Versions of "to see" should be yellow flags during an edit pass, they distance the reader from the action.

The Bitzer lunged forward and Puddles leaped right over him. Harrison thrilled to see it, hating himself for doing so, for putting his pet into such a situation. Buh? This is the first time we see Harrison kinda worried about his pet. Also, you're directly telling us his emotions; can you do it more elegantly? Also, if he's so nervous, WHY is he doing it aside from being a bastard? Mr Billings had sworn that his formula would turn any dog into a winner, strip away the learned habits of domestication and reveal the beast, with a hefty dose of canine adrenaline to provide weight to the raw instinct. Move the canine adrenaline bit to the previous clause; as is, this is a monstrous run-on in the middle of a HIGH TENSION action situation. "Mr Billings had sworn that his formula, plus a hefty dose of canine adrenaline, would..." Maybe even replace the earlier description of the special formula with this. Harrison wondered if there was anything left of Puddles there in the ring, of the puppy that had made Sarah laugh. But she stopped laughing, and we still don't know why. Puddles was pretty docile up until he got shot full of doggy drugs.

The two dogs were circling circled each other Period, paragraph break when Puddles collapsed. Period, paragraph break. This is your climax, your big turning point. Offset it with its own paragraph to give it more impact. Harrison yelled at him to get up but the dog was deathly still. The Bitzer pawed the ground uncertainly, sniffing at his fallen opponent. Eliminate the preceding two sentences, or at least the one with Harrison yelling. It weakens the following reaction: Harrison leaped into the ring. The moment his hand He touched Puddles period he could feel the lack of felt no heartbeat period and smell the leaking dog piss that pooled beneath his dead hope.

Hope for what? You never explained his hope or his troubles or how his girlfriend was involved or why he went to some dodgy doggy doc to get doggy drugs to turn a docile housepet into a slavering beast.

Fumblemouse, this entry was weak, like Puddles' poor puppy heart, and I think you know it. There's some odd turns of phrase and unnecessary bridging details that would've gotten caught in a more-extensive editorial pass. The deeper problem is that I'm not seeing a whole lot of emotion from Harrison; he brings his dog to a dogfight, pumps him full of puppy adrenaline and then runs into the ring when the dog's heart explodes. You've shown me the bloodsport scene without showing me the changes wrought by the bloodsport aside from the direct results of the match itself (i.e. dead Puddles), which is exactly the opposite of the prompt.

To be fair, I didn't see where it was going until later on; I thought the dog would simply lose instead of flopping down dead. That's a good twist, but I need some more context and emotive backing for it to have an impact. Harrison doesn't seem to have any regrets (or incentives!) for bringing his beloved pet (?) into a dangerous place. You hint that it's for money, but never explain why he needs it. Is it greed or need? A sentence or two setting this up as his last-ditch attempt at paying off a nasty debt would've sufficed there; it's a classic cliche story-starter, but it works.

Harrison's utter lack of apparent motivation guts your character arc and is the primary reason you're going to lose this duel, and you've got a lot of hair hanging off the story - why is the girlfriend even mentioned? She doesn't seem to play a motivating role that we know of. The doggy doc is just there as a drug dispenser, we don't know why Harrison had to turn to him in the first place.

You have some trouble portraying action in a fluid, tight manner. You puff up what should be "fast" sections with a lot of indirect sensory verbs, breathy phrases and run-on sentences. Fast action should use simple, short, choppy sentences. Characters have no time to think, only to act, because poo poo just got real.

Stratospheric Saskatchewan Caesar gives Puddles the thumbs-down.

sebmojo posted:

Colin Agonistes

Colin "The Crusher" McPherson sat zazen on the dented steel table. His eyes were closed and his hands were composed in the mudra of absorption. Overhead a fluorescent light flickered in fitful counterpoint to his breathing. Yoga, nicknames and a run-down room. This sets the tone pretty well. My only complaint is that I had to look up zazen and mudra. When I first read this, I noted it down as a potential point of confusion, but it fits well with the coming tone, so I'd say let it stand for the atmosphere.

I also want to call out the first seven words, which establish an interest-stoking contrast - tough-guy fighter, new-age yoga term. Sir, you have my interest.


The door to the changing room crashed open. Minor bit of clarity needed here; you've been spare with the setting description up to here, so I'm not sure if the changing room is this room or one adjoining. This is cleared up later, but it's somewhat important now. Colin's manager Henry stood in the doorway, stubby arms flung wide. Not 100% sure, but I think you need commas around "Henry". "Go time, mate! Monster Mike got'em warmed up for you, they're all yours big fella!" Space between "got" and "'em". This is good, the patois sets up the characters without being overbearing.

Colin exhaled then opened his eyes. then -> and? "I am sorry, friend Henry. There will be no fight today," he said. Could remove "he said". It's clear who's speaking. Again, the contrast between the character's nickname and the dialogue helps build the character.

Macrae squinted. "Come again?" Confusing bit: I thought this was a third character being introduced until I got two more lines down. You might want to set this up as "Henry Macrae" here or in Henry's introduction. Or add some kind of clarifying action.

Colin smiled gently. "I will not," he said, "fight." Hmm. The split works for emphasis, I suppose.

Henry gave Colin a dubious look, checked the corridor behind him then let the door swing shut. Mm, with the door being described as "crashing open" and Henry having his "arms wide", I didn't picture him as holding the door. Important detail, or something to be excised/altered? He pulled over a folding chair with a scrape.

"Is this about the money, because there's maybe a little I could—"

Colin shook his head. "Violence." He pronounced the word as if it were a slug he was spitting from his mouth. Could tighten this up, "he spat the word as if it were a slug in his mouth" or something. "Violence is no more a part of the life I must lead, friend Henry." A bit stilted, you're laying on the new-agey bit a little thick here. Keep the tone, yes, but tone it down a hair?

Macrae's face crumpled up like week-old chip wrapper for a few moments irrelevant then smoothed itself back out as comprehension dawned. You're about to show us that he comprehends. No need to belabor it.

"This is about that Jappo sheila you picked up at the Waverley Arms last week," he said. "Isn't it?" Until now I thought this was solidly UK, now it's clearly ANZAC. "Sheila" is new slang to me, fortunately it's explained in the next para. Slang-users, take note - this is a good way to ensure you don't alienate foreign readers.

Colin inclined his huge head. "Kumiko-san has helped me in my journey to enlightenment. She explained to me how the wheel of samsara can only be escaped by the sevenfold path. But I chose to walk that path off my own… uh… bat.” He unfolded his legs with a grunt, and slid off the table. "with a grunt" is adverbial, so think carefully. I tend to prefer "He grunted, unfolded his legs, and slid off the table." “Hell Henry, it’s no life whacking fellas in the chops. We’re not getting any younger.” Ah, the characterization shifts and reveals more. You had my interest, now you have my attention.

“Sure, sure. Colin,” Henry said, “I’m sympathetic to yer sevenfold whatsit and the Samsung wheels or whatever that was all about, but mate there’s a hundred and fifteen punters baying for blood out there. What are ya gonna do, meditate at them?” Good, solid, made my chuckle.

Colin stretched massively, necessary adverb? The knuckle-cracking already makes him sound meaty. Maybe have him stretch massive shoulders or something? cracked his knuckles and let his silk robe fall to the ground. His purple and green spandex glistened as he flexed. “Don't worry, mate. She’ll be right.” Purple and green spandex? An odd but important detail. What kind of bloodsport is this? Up until now, I thought we were at some kind of backroom pub MMA thing.

Inside the Waverley Tavern it was hot with beer fumes and bloodlust. A baying cry went up as Colin vaulted into the ring. "A baying cry went up" is weak and passive. Not sure if that's intentional - is the crowd excited or bored? I can't really tell here. The lights dipped, then raised on his opponent Charlie ‘Chiseller’ Wallace. They have spotlights? Classy backroom venue, this. Charlie was dressed in black and red, his mask a bestial rictus. Mask? Australian MMA luchadors? What? Rictus is an odd term to use here, as it would imply more linguistic sophistication from the narrator than I'd expect from a tight-third on Colin. It's a bit distracting.

With a roar, Chiseller charged. Colin waited until the last moment, then stepped aside, smiling. Again and again he dodged his opponent. At each pass the yelps of the crowd grew louder, the frenzy on Charlie’s face more intense. Yelps? Again, not sure if the crowd is excited, frustrated or bored. Do they like or hate Colin? At last it was too much, Charlie bounded up the ropes and launched himself feet first at Colin with an ululating battle cry. You really like the "with a x, y happened" construction. I'm not a huge fan of it, it feels slower to me than "Chiseller roared and charged" or "Chiseller charged, roaring" or even "Roaring, Chiseller charged". This is action, so I'd expect a terser pace.

Colin waited, his expression inscrutable, then bowed just in time for Chiseller to sail over his head, over the ropes and knock himself out on the bar. I'd split this into two sentences: action/reaction. Colin waits/ducks, period. Chiseller sails over, knocks himself out, period. It's a bit languid for battle.

Later that evening Colin and Henry sat around the same table. Took me a moment to realize this referred to "the dented table". I thought it was a long way of saying "sat together". In the middle of the table was a mound of crumpled bills. In the corner of the changing room Kumiko hummed to herself as she made the tea. The "the" in "the tea" - not sure if intentional. Without it, it becomes a background action. With it, it indicates that the tea has a purpose and is special. On the balance, I'd keep it - it's a call-out to the new-agey characterization.

Henry cleared his throat. “So that’s your sevenfold path then? Just wait for the other fella to knock himself out?”

“Feeling my way, mate. Professional wrestling and total non-violence is a treacherous row to hoe, but— ta love,“ he said as he took the tea cup from Kumiko, “with the right spiritual stance all things are possible. Tea, Henry?” I chuckled. Cute ending.

On the whole, Sebmojo, this is strong; strong enough to take the win despite the extra time. The major deciding factor is both a better attention-hook and also better treatment of the character's emotive arc. We're seeing a snapshot of a greater thing that's hinted at, here, and that helps make the story feel bigger than its sub-600 wordcount.

One weak bit - the main character never has any doubts. He goes in fearless, triumphs and wins. I'd like some moment of doubts in the locker room and in the ring. I need some tension, a bit of "can he make this work?" to help raise the stakes a bit - the man's new philosophy is being tested in the most visceral sense, and the struggle would sweeten the victory.

The message seems to be less about faith in one's principles and more about finding a reasonable "third way" between principles and reality. Colin has to keep fighting (right? Could add one sentence or something here - in a longer story, I'd want some tangible reason for Colin to fight) and yet he also wants to be true to his enlightenment (and not just for the girl, right? Or is he just doing this for tits? Again, something to explore in a longer story, rightfully excluded here), so he forges a pseudo-Judo that means he takes no action and pulls off the ultimate Rope A Dope.

Either way, faith or realpolitik, we need to see the belief tested as well as its triumph.

Still, the atmosphere is clear, the characters are well-voiced. Colin the nonviolent Australian luchador gets a thumbs-up from Economy-Class Caesar.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at Aug 26, 2013 around 22:49

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Good crits, thanks.

Since I probably should have failed for submitting late, Fumblemouse can flash rule me next time I 'dome.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

quote:

Puddle's

GAAAAH!

Clearly attaining middle-management has lowered my IQ substantially.
QED.

Thanks for the crits, EB. Tough but fair.

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Will try and do a few more of these through the evening.

sebmojo posted:

Colin Agonistes


Colin "The Crusher" McPherson sat zazen on the dented steel table. i was this close to dinging you for the thesaurus word, but this is one of those times where it fit thematically and added something to the story His eyes were closed and his hands were composed in the mudra of absorption. Overhead a fluorescent light flickered in fitful counterpoint to his breathing. i liked the contrast of harsh light with the calm image of him

The door to the changing room crashed open. Colin's manager Henry stood in the doorway, stubby arms flung wide. "Go time, mate! Monster Mike got'em warmed up for you, they're all yours big fella!"

Colin exhaled then opened his eyes. "I am sorry, friend Henry. There will be no fight today," he said.

Macrae squinted. "Come again?"

Colin smiled gently. "I will not," he said, "fight." i really dig the way you broke this up--gave it more voice and had me picture it as though he was peacefully breathing and then exhaling as he said it

Henry gave Colin a dubious not a huge fan of 'dubious' here, but that's just a stylistic thing on my part look, checked the corridor behind him then let the door swing shut. He pulled over a folding chair with a scrape.

"Is this about the money, because there's maybe a little I could—"

Colin shook his head. "Violence." He pronounced the word as if it were a slug he was spitting from his mouth. great description, felt like i could hear him say it "Violence is no more a part of the life I must lead, friend Henry."

Macrae's face crumpled up like week-old chip wrapper for a few moments then smoothed itself back out as comprehension dawned.

"This is about that Jappo sheila you picked up at the Waverley Arms last week," he said. "Isn't it?"

Colin inclined his huge head. "Kumiko-san has helped me in my journey to enlightenment. She explained to me how the wheel of samsara can only be escaped by the sevenfold path. But I chose to walk that path off my own… uh… bat.” He unfolded his legs with a grunt, and slid off the table. “Hell Henry, it’s no life whacking fellas in the chops. We’re not getting any younger.” i like the transition of his voice from eastern-y stuff to what i'm guessing is his usual

“Sure, sure. Colin,” Henry said, “I’m sympathetic to yer sevenfold whatsit and the Samsung wheels lol or whatever that was all about, but mate there’s a hundred and fifteen punters baying for blood out there. What are ya gonna do, meditate at them?”

Colin stretched massively, cracked his knuckles and let his silk robe fall to the ground. His purple and green spandex glistened as he flexed. “Don't worry, mate. She’ll be right.”

Inside the Waverley Tavern it was hot with beer fumes and bloodlust. nice description/alliteration A baying cry went up as Colin vaulted into the ring. The lights dipped, then raised on his opponent Charlie ‘Chiseller’ Wallace. Charlie was dressed in black and red, his mask a bestial rictus.your voice is strong enough here that I'm not sure you needed to use this word when 'grimmace' or whatever would work as well.

With a roar, Chiseller charged. Colin waited until the last moment, then stepped aside, smiling. Again and again he dodged his opponent. At each pass the yelps of the crowd grew louder, the frenzy on Charlie’s face more intense. At last it was too much, Charlie bounded up the ropes and launched himself feet first at Colin with an ululatingbattle cry. also unsure about this one

Colin waited, his expression inscrutable, then bowed just in time for Chiseller to sail over his head, over the ropes and knock himself out on the bar.

Later that evening Colin and Henry sat around the same table. In the middle of the table was a mound of crumpled bills. In the corner of the changing room Kumiko hummed to herself as she made the tea. i like this detail a lot

Henry cleared his throat. “So that’s your sevenfold path then? Just wait for the other fella to knock himself out?”

“Feeling my way, mate. Professional wrestling and total non-violence is a treacherous row to hoe, but— ta love,“ he said as he took the tea cup from Kumiko, “with the right spiritual stance all things are possible. Tea, Henry?” this line felt a bit flat/generic compared to the rest of the dialect-rich dialogue you had going

Overall I liked this piece and wished it was longer. (I know you had a low-ish word limit) We only get to see the results of Colin's enlightenment but no glimpse of his getting there, which I think I'd have liked. I especially liked the dialogue and thought it clipped along nicely until that line there at the end I already pointed out. Definitely a solid job, though.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


Hey EBeef, if you have the time, could I request a crit of my entry for this week? In exchange, I'll do two flash rules of your choosing for my next dome entry.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Mercedes posted:

Hey EBeef, if you have the time, could I request a crit of my entry for this week? In exchange, I'll do two flash rules of your choosing for my next dome entry.

Request granted, but I make no promises as to when the goods will be delivered; I do not have a predetermined slab of Free Time before Saturday. If Critting Time arrives before then, it will be a luxury, and I may or may not be drunk.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

Request granted, but I make no promises as to when the goods will be delivered; I do not have a predetermined slab of Free Time before Saturday. If Critting Time arrives before then, it will be a luxury, and I may or may not be drunk.

Drunk critting is best critting.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

sebmojo posted:

Drunk critting is the only critting.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning




In case it's not obvious:

Winner: Sitting Here
Loser: Chillmatic [not because of flash rules]
(Very Near) Loser: Mercedes [your writing is very very rude and I'm directing your case to a disciplinary officer]

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at Aug 27, 2013 around 07:25

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Skyrim fanfic or Game of Thrones tribute? One way to find out:



Schneider Heim posted:

School: St. George's School For Monster-slaying and People-saving

Nobody's Princess
1480 words

Sabrina stepped inside the ring. this opening line fell a bit flat for me. were there people cheering? booing? was she nervous or excited? confident? i think it's a good idea to try and set some kind of tone with an opening line, whenever possible Her leather armor felt like a second skin, after months of inseparability. Her wooden sword and shield felt like extensions of her limbs. hmm, these descriptions are also a bit cliche. i've heard armor feeling like second skin and weapons as extensions of limbs a whole bunch of times. is there a more original/engaging way to get this across?

Everyone was perspiring in the midday sun. She particularly baked in her armor. it seems like it'd be more important, to me anyway, to start with how she is feeling about the heat, rather than the crowd. Brave Harold, their arms teacher, did not, even despite his shirt of mail. how do you know? are we in his head? how do we know he's not sweating or baking under there? Or probably because of it. Not even a drop of moisture on his golden beard.

Sabrina assumed a stance that offered no opening. i don't know what that looks like. try and be more specific when it comes to action Alwyn's sword traced circles in the air, eager for contact. who is alwyn? this is a third character out of nowhere

They did not speak. Taunts had become meaningless on Sabrina. i try not to simplify everything to 'show, don't tell' but this is a pretty solid example of when that principle should be applied. show me how taunts are meaningless to her. don't bother telling me. Sometimes Brave Harold would pit her against older students. Sometimes she would win. Nobody ever celebrated. not sure what you want me to feel in response to those sentences.

"Begin!" Brave Harold's hand slashed the air.good description

Sabrina let Alwyn charge. She deflected the lunging stab with a flick of her sword. The boy was different. Hungry for valor, to exchange for the family he had lost. how do we know that? are we in his head? do these two have a history, where he told her this? Sabrina envied him for it. more telling when showing would be better. Envied the near-suicidal drive that drove him to the top of the class.

This match would decide which one of them would carry that title.

Sabrina beat back Alwyn's attacks with increasing effort. Her movements were precise, but Alwyn's strength threatened to shatter the balance. Her preferred tactic of wearing her opponent down would not work. This fight meant so much to her opponent. you already established that, and this was a really flat way of repeating it

She slashed Alwyn's exposed leg. Alwyn didn't yelp in pain. well...what did he do, then? it's usually better language to tell us what happened rather than solely what didn't. He tried to smash his shield at Sabrina's face. Sabrina blocked with her own. They pushed against each other, eyes unyielding as their efforts.

Alwyn's strength won out. Just as Sabrina let him. awkward sentence. 'just as sabrina wanted it to' or something would have worked better She turned the blow, unbalancing Alwyn. She kicked his legs out and fell on top of him, pointing her sword at his back.

"Sabrina wins," Brave Harold said, over the din. man for as hopped up and badass as you've tried to make this guy out to be, you really blew this line. it sounds like he's glancing up from his iphone to announce the results of a round of video trivia

Sabrina got up from Alwyn. She offered no hand. She had learned not to. good line.

Alwyn glared at her, which quickly lost venom as the gravity of his loss sunk in.

"You wanted to win a test of strength, so I let you," Sabrina said. "It cost you the match."

Alwyn opened his mouth, and closed it. Anything he would have said would only be an excuse. super anticlimactic

Sabrina avoided the sullen stares of her classmates. Why did they come to hate me like this?

What could she have done?

* * *

Sabrina climbed up the Stalwart Tower, heading towards the Headmaster's office. She was wearing her uniform, the crisp white starting to look brown despite multiple washings. She was fine as long as it didn't stink. great line

She found him at his desk, flanked between towering stacks of papers.

"Headmaster," Sabrina said. "When you said your door was always open, I didn't think you meant it literally."

"It's a gesture to encourage my approachability, but the very state of my room is a hindrance," Headmaster Marius said. "How can I help you, Sabrina? Please, don't mind the papers."

Sabrina smile faded as she stated her purpose. "I don't believe this is a secret to you, but my classmates hate me. They think I don't belong here." this is more plainspoken dialogue that doesn't do any work; it reveals no character or plot information and could have been said by literally anyone, anywhere, anytime. that shows a lack of voice which is a killer to any story.

The Headmaster steepled his fingers on the table. "I have heard rumors, and read the teacher's reports. But I would like to hear the details from you, child."

"When we introduced ourselves to each other, part of it was telling our story. You know, the story of why we're here. I didn't have anything worth telling. It's the truth. What should I have done, lie to them? Even my very clothes marked me apart from them! ...but your reader doesn't have this information. cut us some slack and let us in on what you're talking about!

"I never lost anything. My family is alive and safe. We're rich. I could be anyone I want to be. And I choose to be a Brave. Is that wrong?"

"No," the Headmaster said.

Sabrina continued. "Do I have to endure great suffering to help others? Do I have to feel pain, in order to prevent others from experiencing the same? I just want to do good! emphasizing again what i said above re: dialogue. If you copied and pasted this stuff into google you'd find thousands of results from other things written with exactly the same lines of dialogue.

"I want to be their friend. But my status makes it difficult. They think I'm pitying them."

"And yet you are at the top of your class."

"It only makes my life harder. They want to wrest my standing from me. The more I try to prove that I can be a Brave as much as any of them, the more they resent me. It's as if I'm not supposed to be this good. Not to brag, of course."

The Headmaster smiled. "Our school was built on the belief that anyone can be a hero. Anyone can be a Brave. I want to say that being a noble or a commoner has no part in it, but I am aware of our school's demographic. And I cannot blame it. Yours is a difficult road, Sabrina, but you need to overcome this challenge if you truly want to become a Brave." really flat, bland dialogue

Sabrina hung her head and said nothing.

"All this talk, and I cannot help you," Headmaster Marius said. "But I can give advice: sometimes you just have to win them one heart at a time." i'm pretty sure those are the lyrics to an actual country song

Sabrina gave her most dignified bow. "Thank you, Headmaster."

* * *

The mock dragon was the ugliest thing Sabrina had ever seen. It was made from goblin technology, and used for their Basic Dragon-slaying class. ...and you didn't describe it to me at all, so for all i know it looks like something out of Skyrim

"...since this is Basic Dragon-slaying, Grath'mak's snout will only produce a stream of ash. You will still gain failing marks if you get hit by it," Harold said, giving basic instructions.

The iron sword's weight was unfamiliar in Sabrina's grip. She couldn't sleep last night, thinking of her conversation with the Headmaster.

"Any more questions? Good. Sabrina, Alwyn, and Rue, step up. You're Team One."

Alwyn groaned.

"I'm sorry," Rue said, flanked by the two achievers of the class. She kept her eyes on the ground.

"Just don't get hit," Alwyn said.

"Rue, you have the spear. We'll draw Grath'mak's attention and clear a path for you," Sabrina said. "Don't attack until I--we say so."

Rue nodded, not meeting Sabrina's eyes.

"Begin!"

Grath'mak sprang to life, gears whirring inside his mechanical body. His mismatched red-and-gold eyes dilated at the sight of Team One. this is decent description that should have come earlier He drew back his head.

"Disperse!" who said that? Grath'mak sprayed ash in a wide fan.

"Stay back, Rue!" Sabrina said. She held her breath, trying not to inhale the ash, and closed the distance. Alwyn flanked Grath'mak from the left.

The mock dragon whipped its tail. Sabrina and Alwyn threw themselves to the ash-stricken ground. A shrill yelp pierced their ears.

Rue hung on to Grath'mak's tail with her spear.

Alwyn ran towards Grath'mak. It reared up, exposing its vulnerable underside. There was a red circle painted on its left breast, where a dragon's heart would be. He threw his shield away, wielding his sword with two hands. He plunged it into the mock dragon's heart and missed.

Sabrina yanked Rue away. "Stay back," she said, retrieving the spear.

Rue nodded, looking forlorn. forlorn is an incredibly bizarre adjective to use during an "intense" action scene.

Sabrina ran to Alwyn, who tried to pull out his sword in vain. didn't he already have it out? Grath'mak's tail went after her. She raised her shield as the tail smashed at her, forcing her to her knees.

Rue choked up in protest, stumbling forward.

"Go!" Sabrina passed the spear to Rue. Rue hurled it towards Alwyn. Alwyn let go of his sword, diving for the new weapon. The mock dragon stared at him with eyes of artificial hate.

He hurled it at the dragon's chest. One half went in, and Grath'mak roared.

"Get back!" Alwyn called, already running away with his remaining dignity.

The tail lifted over Sabrina's head, and she ran to get Rue away. The mock dragon reared up one last time, aiming at the two of them.

Sabrina shoved Rue away, turning to face the ash with a smile.

* * *

Harold walked to them. Rue was already up, dabbing the ash away from Sabrina's face with a handkerchief.

"Failed!" He pointed at Sabrina, laughing. "What a pathetic effort, coming from you."

"I'm sorry, Sabrina," Rue said, looking down on her ash-streaked boots.

Sabrina smiled. "At least you won't need to spend hours cleaning up."

Harold pointed at Alwyn, who had already dusted off. "And failed!"

"What?"

Harold faced them. "You are studying and training to become Braves. To slay the monster, or to save people? There is no 'or' in our school's name. You must do both. At the very least, each one of you must survive! And that is why you pass or fail as a team!" He walked to Grath'mak's "corpse", chuckling as he began the long process of reviving the mock dragon.

"I guess he's right," Alwyn said. He glowered at Sabrina. "I still don't like you, Ash Princess."

Sabrina smiled at him. "Ash Princess? That's cute. I like it." It was her first comeback in months.

Alwyn walked away, fuming.

"Sabrina?" Rue said, her eyes concerned.

"I'm all right, Rue. What is it?"

"Thank you."

I'm trying to stay positive but this story was a bit tough to get through. It doesn't seem to go anywhere or have much of a theme. I understand it's these (teenagers?) going through dragon-slaying school or whatever, but it really felt like it wasn't a real place and the characters weren't real characters--mostly because of the flat dialogue and filler action sequences. It might help to visualize not only the scene in your mind before you try to write it, but also to think about your characters more and find out what they, and only they, would say at any given time. This will hopefully help you avoid that kind of placeholder dialogue in the future.

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Mimes are people too. no, they really aren't.

docbeard posted:

The International Academy Of Practical Mime


Flash Rule (Self-Inflicted) - No Dialogue


Marc stood on the sidewalk. aw man, this is another opening line that really doesn't say anything and is without voice. the best approach is usually to try and immediately hook the reader and engage some/all of their senses, and this line just has some guy I neither know nor care about just hanging out. It wasn’t too late. He could call another cab, go back home, apologize to his parents and enroll at the community college. He could take the money he’d saved for tuition and go rent an apartment and look for work. He could...stand out here all day and eventually die of heatstroke. He didn’t have to go through with this. you already showed me the content of this line through the previous sentences. no need to tell me here

The heat made his decision for him. that surprised me a bit, considering how serious a decision you're setting this up to be. He started dragging his suitcase through the gates, up the path, past the twin fountains, and toward the stairs leading up to the double doors to the administration building of the International Academy of Practical Mime, Southern Campus. At the very least, he could go through his crisis of indecision in an air-conditioned building. but didn't the heat already make his decision for him?

When he was at the foot of the steps, the rightmost door opened, and a tall, gaunt man stumbled outside as if pushed. He was dressed all in black, hair slicked as close to his scalp as possible, and his face was covered in white greasepaint, with three thin smears on his right cheek. He stood up straight, turned toward the door, and held up both hands, palms out, fingers outstretched.

A middle-aged woman, about half the man’s height, stood in the doorway, a severe expression on her face. She wore no makeup that Marc could see, certainly not the white clown-face stuff the man was wearing, and she was dressed in a dark gray business suit with a floral print blouse.

The man started to move his hands from side to side around him, giving the impression that he was trapped in an invisible box. The woman just shook her head and pointed to the street. He put his hands together, looking up. She drew one finger across her throat, and then resumed pointing.

The man drooped, and turned around, not acknowledging Marc in the least. He reached down, fingers closing around the handle of an unseen suitcase, lol, that's a great detail and started trudging down the path. The woman turned to face Marc, tilted her head to the side, and motioned him forward. Marc, still completely unsure of himself, gah, you already showed us he's unsure of himself. show, or tell, whichever is more appropriate. but never do both! began walking, sidestepping to let the apparently-banished mime you've already done a good enough job of showing us he was banished; have faith in your descriptions and don't hedge like this. pass him by. Once he was at the top of the stairs, he opened his mouth, but the woman lifted a single finger to her lips, and gestured to a sign hanging just inside the door.

Nothing was written on the sign, then you don't need to tell us! just explain the pictures, no need to clutter the sentence with what isn't there. but there were two pictures, both with a red circle and a slash through them. The first was of a pair of lips, the second was of a stylized clown. The woman held up one finger, pointed to the sign, pointed to her lips, and made the motion of a key in a lock. She then held up two fingers, and raised both hands to her face, rubbing them across as if applying makeup, before mimicking the invisible-box routine that the man she’d sent packing had been doing. She shook her head slowly, and then looked at him.

Marc started to nod, and then he frowned. He didn’t quite understand. And didn’t know how to ask the many questions he now had. Maybe that was the point. He raised his hand. The woman smiled, and gestured for him to follow.

Marc did not hear a single word spoken for the next four months, and the words he saw written down were few and far between, all part of the total immersion ideal that went into the Academy’s curriculum. The first day of his first class, Introduction To Nonverbal Communication, Marc was called to the front, as were all the other students. The professor, Doctor Alden, a balding black man with horn-rimmed spectacles, pointed to Marc, and to the ground, and then held his hands up in an exaggerated shrug. Why are you here?

Marc couldn’t answer, he had no way to explain without speaking, and speech was, he knew, an expulsion offense. He stared at Doctor Alden, and tentatively raised his hands. Doctor Alden shook his head slightly and pointed to Marc’s seat, as he had with every other student, before gesturing to the next one.

The first weeks were a hell of incomprehensible gestures and utter frustration, mitigated only by the fact that his fellow students were just as frustrated as he was. Some of them couldn’t handle the frustration, and one memorable day, Jim Perkins, from Abilene, Texas, was heard to shout obscenities in his Gesture Studies class. He was gone the next day, and Marc, like the rest of the students, quietly resolved that this would not be their fate. you did it again--you told us that some of them couldn't handle the frustration, and then proceeded to show us this fact. this can work sometimes, but your telling was so flat and bland that it could have easily been cut and the paragraph would have been much stronger for it.

He couldn’t, later, point to a specific moment when everything became clear to him, not to any grand epiphany. But, as weeks turned to months, Marc found himself understanding more and more out of every gesture, every head-tilt, every brow-narrowing, every shift in stance. His classes became less about struggling to understand his professors, and more about struggling to understand the theory behind the material. and what theory is that? He’d had no idea that mime had its origins in the martial traditions of Tang Dynasty China, and, though he wouldn’t have dared say so, even had he dared speak at all, he strongly suspected this wasn’t the case at all. awkward sentence, repetition of the "at all", and confusing in general. But it didn’t matter. He was learning practical communication skills he had no idea even existed a few months ago. He was learning that the invisible box was a conceptual cage, a prison from which he could break free, not a petty sideshow. He was learning that a completely ridiculous school that everyone knew had been set up as a tax dodge in the seventies could nonetheless teach him things. what things? be specific! you said a little bit, but now you're alluding to much more which you don't let your reader in on.

He was also learning that fellow classmate Elaine Ferris, from Vermont, enjoyed Thai food, silent (of course) films, heh, nice detail. could make surprisingly direct suggestions without using any muscles below her cheekbones, great detail, well-voiced also and believed in aliens. And that Will Fallon, from somewhere that comma apparently comma really was called Lost City, West Virginia, had enrolled here because his parents believed it was a school of Practical Mining, and he hadn’t yet bothered to correct them. yeah, i laughed. And that Philip Jensen, who had signed up for every single class on understanding nonverbal cues, and as few others as possible, worked for the Federal government in some capacity which he was unwilling to share.

And that Marc Markov, while he still had no idea what he ultimately wanted to do with his life, was, for now, in the right place. I feel like there's a much better line to go for, here. "In the right place" doesn't tell me anything interesting.

Winter break approached, and with it his first batch of final. finals? Intro to Nonverbal Communication required what Marc was thinking of as a nonverbal oral exam. very awkwardly parsed sentence. try and find a more clear way to phrase this. Five minutes in front of the class, answering a question posed by Doctor Alden. Always the same question, the question he’d opened class with. Why are you here?

Elaine pointed to the stars, and then to herself, and then pantomimed an elaborate conversation with something completely incomprehensible, using only her left hand. Marc was, by this point, wild about her, why won't you show me how he's wild about her? why tell me in this flat, cliche way? but he had to admit that sometimes she was a bit of a show-off. Will swung his hands over his head and brought an imaginary pickaxe down on Doctor Alden’s desk, over and over, before drawing his hand across his throat. Phil just shook his head and folded his arms, radiating silence for five minutes.

Marc’s turn came. He strode with confidence to the front of the class, and when the professor pointed to him, and then to the ground, he was ready. He pointed, not to anyone present, but to someone he imagined standing before him, slightly taller. And then he held up that same hand, opening and closing his fingers and thumb rapidly, before putting both hands over his ears. He pointed again, this time to someone slightly shorter, in another direction. Once again, he opened and closed his fingers and thumb, once more put his hands over his ears. And again, pointing to someone half his height. Over and over. people around him, people who wouldn’t shut up.

At last, he pointed to the ground. gestured around him, raised a hand to his ear, and smiled at the silence.

Will coughed, slightly ruining the moment in Marc’s estimation, but it didn’t matter.

I'll admit that I have no idea what is happening there at the end. Marc prefers silence? He joined mime school to get away from people who talk too much? I don't know! What about his love interest? That didn't go anywhere. Did the teacher approve? Did he pass? You ended the story at a very awkward point, leaving no questions answered at all, which more or less makes this a sort of 'slice of life' exercise.

Something like that is hard enough to pull off without dialogue, and so I think excluding it altogether might have handicapped you significantly. I think it's a cool idea to try something like this, and a mime school has a lot of interesting potential, but I feel like you tried to cover a little bit too much ground with too little space. That's a temptation I fully relate to and am often guilty of, but in something like this, I never even had a chance to attach myself or even know one single compelling character.

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


Chillmatic posted:

I'm trying to stay positive but this story was a bit tough to get through. It doesn't seem to go anywhere or have much of a theme. I understand it's these (teenagers?) going through dragon-slaying school or whatever, but it really felt like it wasn't a real place and the characters weren't real characters--mostly because of the flat dialogue and filler action sequences. It might help to visualize not only the scene in your mind before you try to write it, but also to think about your characters more and find out what they, and only they, would say at any given time. This will hopefully help you avoid that kind of placeholder dialogue in the future.

You know, I wasn't able to catch those problems with voice. Thanks for pointing that out.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

So uh, I guess Rhino announced the winner and loser in his own special way.

for those of you who are bad at reading his scribbles:

Winner: Sitting Here

HM: Nikaer Drekin

Loser: Chillmatic

DM: Mercedes

-----------------------------------

Crits!

Nikaer Drekin

Overall this story is ok, but it needs a lot of work. The other judges liked it better than I did, although I didn't hate it. The idea is solid but the characters are mostly stock. This is because it's pretty much a parody, but you could do more with them. I really liked the Dean, his lines were my favorite. I liked the fact that he gave him a gun and told him to go be awesome. The ending was a little weak. I know he’s just still at the academy and is learning, but it would have been awesome if we saw him do something really hard-boiled like a girl walks up and says hi as she lights her cigarette, and he smiles because he knows what comes next, now that he’s a real badass.

Also john’s letting him go was a little stilted and weird. that whole scene could be redone to better effect.

Line-by-line:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

Grade: Straight streetlight-shining-through-slats.

Chillmatic

This academy was supposed to be weird and teach some sort of vocation. It seems like a normal correctional facility or alternative placement for bad kids, which actually exist. Furthermore her badness wasn’t really a source of anything other than for her to be smug and rebellious for no reason. she was really unlikable and didn’t have any redeeming qualities. You didn’t give us any reason to feel sorry for her, or to care about her at all. You gave us a lot of adjectives to describe her and the other lady, but not much else.

The lady was a caricature of the “mean old headmistress.” You said in your prompt that this was a school to turn bad girls into bad ladies, but the headmistress directly defies that by being [cartoonishly] upset about the main character’s behavior. If you were going for subtlety or “hurr, the system just makes bad girls grow into bad women without fixing anything because the whole system is broke,” then you missed.

AND WHERE WERE THE loving DRAG QUEENS? a lesbian != a drag queen.

Also my google docs says this was 1520 words. I don’t know where that discrepancy came from, but it doesn’t usually lie.

You wasted your scholarship.

Also, 250 words of dialogue in 1490 words of story is ~19%, not 25%. It contained maybe 1 term used by drag queens. Part of thunderdome is following the rules, and making your story work around them. The other half is writing an interesting story.

I see why you talk down on us so often, you failed to do either.

Full Line-by-Line:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

Grade: A unfavorable double minus. Ah gently caress it, tack a third one on there. TRIPLE MINUS.

Mercedes

You are getting a better at a few things. Still, there were too many other things in this story that sucked and made this confusing as gently caress. You don’t have any dialogue attributions, and your voices aren’t distinct enough for me to know who the gently caress is talking about what. You use way too many “he” and “him”s to let me reasonably work things out. A few “Said Omar” or “Said Kenneth” would go a long way in making this more understandable.

The middle part of your story is long, boring parkour porn. So vanilla. You should have really sold the polite parkouring here, with them jumping off of things and apologizing or like, fixing things as they jumped on them. picking up dropped groceries and flipping them into a bag or something. That would have been funny. right now it’s just bleh.

The climax is confusing. who/why did they rob the bank? You could have set this up a little bit better. I see places where you tried, but it wasn’t enough.

line-by-line:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

grade: You will not win, and next time, you won’t give me a prediction at the beginning of your story.

Docbeard

This is another one that Seafood liked more than I did. Your story is pretty boring, sorry guy. There wasn't much practical miming either. There was only really philosophical miming. Practical means you can do things with it. What does Marc do with his miming abilities other than wax poetical or understand better? You would have needed to show him out in the real world landing a plane or directing traffic like a boss or some poo poo to make the school live up to its name.

Luckily your story was a lot less confusing than the one about the salty water blood mouth guy (i still don’t know wtf). There wasn’t a bunch terribly horrible with this other than I didn’t want to keep reading it, so i didn’t give you a line-by-line because I didn’t feel it needed one. the problems were more thematic for me.

Grade: If it looks like I’m walking down the stairs to gtfo of here….

Kaishai

I don’t really have too much to say about yours. I don’t really feel like you succeeded in writing a very interesting story, although I can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong with it. I think that I just felt like I’ve seen this before (somebody having to pull off this one thing, and is sabotaged and has to pull something amazing out of their rear end). You wrote it competently, but it’s competent drudgery for the most part. I was hoping for something a bit more amazing at the end. I feel like you tweaked the ending a bit and submitted this to a Christian lit journal they would accept it.

Grade: Dim

M. Propagandalf

Your story is very dry. Like, it could have worked because it’s about truancy, and it would be funny to have a super serious organization that kills people and calls people by numbers dedicated to fighting truancy, but you don’t really work that practical application in at all. This is a story that has been done a lot: nameless people in a oppressive environment, the audience being slightly uneasy because it’s so foreign and alien. I don’t feel like you brought a lot of new ideas into this. You mostly rehashed the old ones. It felt more like a tribute to other stories/films rather than being your own creation. The prose was competent so I’m not going to give you a line by line.

Grade: Antiseptic

Chairchucker

For 27 minutes, this is good. It made me lol several times. I think you aren’t hoping to win, because there wasn’t much of substance here, but meh, who cares.

Grade: Waffletime

Schneider Heim

I wanted to like your story a lot more than I did. It has a lot going on, but unfortunately a lot of it didn’t belong in a short story. You spent way too much time describing this dragon fight, which wasn’t particularly interesting or illuminating about the other characters besides the one thing that I expected all along (for Sabrina to earn the good graces of another student). There are some particularly competent moments in here, but also a lot of things to improve on.

I gave you a line-by-line here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

Grade: You require additional damsels.

Sitting Here:

I’ll get back to yours later. I liked it, but I want to crit it with fresh eyes in a bit.

crabrock fucked around with this message at Aug 27, 2013 around 17:41

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Week 56

Everything that happens to us in our lives is the result of everything else that's happened to us in our lives. At any given moment, how you act and the choices you make are a keyhole view into all of the actions and choices of your past.

And that's what I want this week. Keyhole views. You, dear writers, need to get to know a character in your head, then portray that character in a mundane situation that gives us some perspective on who they are. Maybe it's a sad clown, sans makeup, riding an airplane full of screaming kids. Maybe it's an exultant young lawyer-to-be who's just passed the bar exam who overhears a cynical judge talking in a bar. Et cetera.

This is pretty open-ended, so here is what I'll be judging closest:

*Dialog. Make it meaningful.
*Economy of words. No fluff. Every sentence should do something.
*Depth of characterization. Don't just tell me about your dude, put yourself in their shoes and empathize with them.
*Heavy-handedness (or lack thereof). It's ok to tell us they're a clown or a lawyer or whatever, but the point of this prompt is to make me understand them through their actions and reactions throughout your story.
*Meaning. This is flash fiction so we can only be so poignant, but try to infuse at least some modicum of understanding of the human condition into your story.

Try to steer clear of scifi/fantasy, if only because I've noticed that those genres force you to pad out your word count with description of the setting, and that's not really what this week is about. I won't absolutely disallow it, but keep that in mind.

Some of you are going to be compelled to describe, in detail, your character's morning routine, starting from when they wake up. Don't do that.

Ok, go. That's all you get. Do with it what you will.

Wordcount: 1000
Judges: Me, 'Mojo and whoever
Signups due: Friday, August 30th at 11:59 PM PST
Submissions due: Sunday, September 1st at 11:59 PST

Contestants:

crabrock
CancerCakes
Jeza
Mercedes
Jagermonster
Anathema Device
Lord windy
Nikaer Drekin
Fumblemouse
Chairchucker
Helsing
Econosaurus
Didja Redo
Schneider Heim

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Aug 31, 2013 around 02:06

Chillmatic
Jul 25, 2003

always seeking to survive and flourish

Schneider Heim posted:

You know, I wasn't able to catch those problems with voice. Thanks for pointing that out.

Believe me, I feel your pain. Voice is one of the most difficult things in all of writing to get 'right' (not that there's much objective truth to it--another reason it's so tricky). Every writer I know is constantly tweaking his/hers as they go, and especially as they progress to different stories. I know that I couldn't even imagine what it would feel like to think I'd gotten it exactly as I wanted it, forever.

It bears repeating that the only thing I've found to be consistently true when talking about voice is that it absolutely must belong solely to those characters and to that story. Generic filler-phrases are story killers. And I've found that when I just can't get engaged in what I'm reading, this is often the reason why. A solid voice gives the reader a tangible reason to read your writing, specifically.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

In. (Notice my economy of words. I have indicated that I would like to participate in the upcoming Thunderdome challenge with a single word. Now that's fresh.)

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


crabrock posted:

In. (Notice my economy of words. I have indicated that I would like to participate in the upcoming Thunderdome challenge with a single word. Now that's fresh.)

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

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


"In," he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the draw of the Thunderdome go through his veins and into his heart.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.


One of these days I'll not be the "almost loser."

In.

EBeef, you got some rules for me before I go working on this story?

Mercedes fucked around with this message at Aug 27, 2013 around 18:43

Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


In.

Martello, call that Thunderbrawl between captaintastic and me.

Anathema Device
Dec 22, 2009

by Ion Helmet


In.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Mercedes posted:

One of these days I'll not be the "almost loser."

In.

EBeef, you got some rules for me before I go working on this story?

Work on your basics. This is a freeform prompt, so work on having a clear structure (inciting event, climax) surrounding a well-developed character.

Tell you what, to help work on your style and structure:

Flash Rule 1: You may not use any profanity or offensive slang anywhere in the piece, at all. This includes "nigga" and all variants thereof.

Flash Rule 2: Your story will be structured into two scenes of roughly equal length. There's flex room there, so if you need 420 words in act 1 and 530 words in act 2, don't sweat it. Just make sure to obey the word limit.

In the first scene, establish your character and a problem that challenges the character in some way. Both the character and problem should be clear within the first two paragraphs. By the end of the first act, the problem has forced the character to make a difficult decision that reveals some inner conflict about the character's morals or motivations.

In the second scene, your character deals with the consequences of the decision at the end of the first act. The decision has backfired and made things harder on your character. By the end of this act (and your story), the character must face some sort of critical personal crisis - a conflict of motivation or ideals that forces them to make another, more difficult decision that leaves them a changed person. This decision should be somewhere in your final two paragraphs.

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


I want to give this a go, I am in.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

Judges: Me and whoever

'Sup.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


I'm in again this week. Hoping to put a special emphasis on dialogue!

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Sebmojo and........drumroll................Chillmatic will be the arbiters of your destiny this week. Chillmatic is just positively chuffed after his inverted victory last round, so I'm sure he's all set to go nice and easy on everyone

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