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  • Locked thread
sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Lord Windy posted:

Holy crap, there are a lot of good stories out there.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

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STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Words I never want to see used in the Thunderdome again:
grunt
guttural
burnished
colon
woo
(feel free to add your own words to the list)


e: Oh yeah, and SUBMISSIONS CLOSED NEARLY 2 HOURS AGO
If you got in before this post but after the deadline, no problem.
THE DAMNED AND FORGOTTEN
Capntastic
SC Bracer
Impermanent
Sebmojo
toanoradian
meis



More crits. I'm up to Echo Cian, will start with Nubile Hillock tomorrow. Good thing I'm unemployed right now

Blackfrost – Mine

Supermikhail's crit addressed some of my concerns, I don't agree with a lot of what he said but let's not start metacriting each other's crits or it will never end.
I have to say two things, though.
1. Sci-fi thrillers are FULL of action, they don't work without action, thrillers require an action-packed climax. Just because Hurricane Smith is an 'Action' movie doesn't mean your story needs Carl Weathers jumping over a bus. Anyway Hurricane Smith starred Jurgen Prochnow as the bad guy and he's about as Sci-Fi as you get but I digress.
2. Let's just say you'll never be able to avoid using pronouns, but you definitely do want to vary the types of sentences your reader has to work through.

I don't think you need have bothered trying to construct a frame for your action sequence – it doesn't contribute anything. The opening was completely stock:

quote:

A man regains consciousness somewhere. Why is he there? Who is he? He can't remember – OH MY GOD TERROR STRIKES!
Done to death, I'm afraid.

quote:

He snapped into action. In one swift motion, he flicked the light switch off, then made his way back to the desk. He tilted it, caught it before it hit the floor, and ducked behind it.
Good stuff, I'd do this too. If I was trying not to be detected. Which is your prot's objective, BUT YOUR READER HAS BEEN GIVEN NO REASON TO KNOW THIS. You need to establish motive before your hero starts busting plans.

Use better adjectives, write more thoughtful descriptions.
'its main features' 'It cried out—an awful, indescribable sound' TRY

quote:

Then, he felt searing pain—like something splitting the back of his head open, down the middle—and everything went dark.
'LIKE'?'LIKE'? ARE YOU FOR REAL?

The verdict: DEATH



Sedgr – Duel

This stinks; it is a chore to read.
Not because there's anything wrong with your ideas – it's all in the execution, which is painfully unexciting. It's like reading a historical report.

Ever heard of 'show, don't tell'? There is plenty of telling to be had in this story. In your defence, this is ACTION, so we'd expect to be told a good deal, but below is a good example of what irks me:

quote:

The wound on Renault's arm would make the great-sword difficult to wield.

If this was the night before the duel, and Corman was staying up late plotting a strategy to defeat him, he might well think about Renault's wound in this way. But this is the heat of the moment! He's wounded Renault's arm bare seconds ago, and now Renault's mighty sword-arm starts to flag, and Corman sees he's weakening, and NOW it's time to press the advantage, driving him back with a flurry of swift blows, cutting in from either side, driving the great captain backward towards the brink of the precipice with every furious impact and THAT's the kind of pace you want to be setting, and you want to be describing real-world phenomena that mean something (ie. Renault's sword-arm starts to flag, Corman sees his chance) rather than simply writing down their meaning (the wound had given Corman the advantage).

Going back to the sentence quoted. Even if you'd written this line into a scene the night before, plotting a strategy, this sentence might still be 'telling'. Let me show you what I mean.

quote:

Corman was thinking about how to kill Renault. Renault's great-sword was a powerful weapon and Corman doubted he'd survive more than a single blow, unless he incapacitated Renault's sword-arm. He decided to stab Renault in the elbow at the earliest opportunity. The wound on Renault's arm would make the great-sword difficult to wield.

or

quote:

Corman thrust his saber dead forward, its tip perfectly levelled and quivering in mid-air. He'd nail him straight away, right in the elbow, and the old bastard wouldn't have a chance. The wound on Renault's arm would make the great-sword difficult to wield; Corman would have nothing to fear. Yes, he'd lead him a merry dance then.

Typos, tense conflicts and the like throughout this piece lead me to suspect you didn't really edit it closely. Fair enough, that's your prerogative, but you're not going to learn much from writing first drafts only. The first draft is blocking; you've blocked the action well enough, and you've put in some placeholder expressive flourishes, but the problem is they suck at the moment because they haven't been critically reviewed. For instance:

quote:

Renault backed off, and lowered his blade, circling Corman like a lion would circle prey.
WOULD? WOULD? ARE YOU FOR REAL? WHY 'WOULD' A LION DO THIS?
Not how you do simile.

quote:

She lay half-buried in the snow, her flesh shrunken like a faltering erection would be shrunken, her frozen lips blue like blue m&ms would be blue. High above her snowgulls circled like a compass would circle around a piece of paper which would have a circle drawn on it, like a simile would be drawn out far too long if you would construct it like this.

Don't repeat yourself, and don't make it hypothetical because the power of simile is that it casts a concrete image.

quote:

Renault backed away, lowering his blade, circling Corman like a lion closing in for the kill.
Renault backed away, lowering his blade, circling Corman like a lion awaiting the collapse of its prey.
Renault backed away, lowering his blade, circling Corman like a lion stalking its prey.
OR EVEN
Renault backed away, lowering his blade, circling Corman like a lion.

The single most important thing you can do to improve your writing (assuming you revise, revise, revise) is READ WELL. This is not some subjective bullshit. It doesn't mean reading the most upvoted Draco/Hagrid 'ships, or even the latest published fiction in your preferred field. Read old stuff, genre classics, whatever it is that interests you but seminal works. I say this because if you're going to write, it's vital that you have a feel for good writing. You need to learn when a comma is needed, you need to know how to construct a sentence so that it emphasises what you want it to. You need to learn how to make your clauses support, not bury, each other.

The verdict: DEATH



SterileTom – Getting Paid

quote:

adversary. The man whose only goal today was to turn Eddie’s face into a hamburger patty was lean, muscled like a mountain lion, and twenty years Eddie’s junior.
Top-heavy. What's the payoff here? Is it that he's younger? Or is it the idea that Eddie could be about to get his rear end kicked?

quote:

adversary. He was lean, muscled like a mountain lion, and twenty years Eddie’s junior – and he looked like his only goal today was to turn Eddie’s face into a hamburger patty.

quote:

Eddie saw stars. Eddie couldn’t hear anymore. Eddie dropped to one knee.
I'm wary of this but you do it with such confidence that I want to think it works.

quote:

He ducked to his right under the not incoming punch.
'Not incoming' not good. Find a word that means this or approximates it, it's a big ol' language son, you can do it. Likewise 'soon to be winner'.

A good solid story with very few flaws. Interesting that the combat sports stories are doing so well this week.

The verdict: PAIN



Zack_Gochuck – The Ball

Ceci n'est pas une histoire.

quote:

The Troll

The troll looks at the prompt. The troll considers the prompt. The troll looks at his fingers. The troll is thinking. The troll has conflicted emotions about the prompt.

The troll writes. Its fingers flicker across the keyboard, forming clear, unmuddied sequences. Objects move. Action is performed. The troll smirks. The troll has found a way to beat the prompt.

DEATH



Sitting Here – Mutiny

Not gonna lie – I hit my threshold for absurdity pretty early on reading this. However, I think you've used the prompt well.

quote:

"It would be hilariously ironic if you were to ask me if this is a dream," he said just as I was opening my mouth to wonder as much.
comma after 'said'. Seriously, makes a huge difference. Read it out loud if in doubt.

quote:

followed the pig's pink backside up a ladder and through a trapdoor style hatch, and
Plenty of published writers do this kind of thing, but in my view it's failure-like. It's ineffective style. It's almost always superfluity-like. There's usually a word that does the trick, and in cases where there genuinely isn't (I've yet to see one, not that I'm really au fait with trapdoor synonyms or anything), I'd question the necessity of that clause to begin with. And to be blunt, it just seems amateur, as if the writer knows the kind of thing he wants his words to say, but just can't make it happen. In this case, what's wrong with a simple 'hatch'?

'pope's hat' or papal mitre? Eh? Eh?

quote:

I pushed myself to my feet and made my way toward the bow and tried to ignore my brain as it balked at the sheer impossibility of simply walking in spite of the motion of the ship.

I think someone needs a little visit from Mr


quote:

A massive gust of frigid air knocked the top hat from the pig's head and took the breath from my lungs.
This is a nice example of something that's been niggling at me through a bunch of these submissions. It's such a little thing, but FUCKS SAKE GUYS be less wordy. Every time you throw in an unnecessary 'and' or 'then' or 'of the' you are pushing your reader further and further away. In this case your massive gust of frigid air sweeps in and does its business but now it has to stick around just because some guy needs the air sucked out of his lungs and it's tedious man, it really is.

quote:

A massive gust of frigid air knocked the top hat from the pig's head, sucking the breath from my lungs.
Still not a perfect sentence, but improved.

All of that said, while your concepts were confusing (as befits the true letter of the prompt), your action was all pretty clear and I don't think I have much constructive to say about it. Then again, the scale of your epic spectacle makes it difficult to even find, let alone scrutinise, the kind of minute mechanics involved in a man-to-man combat scene.
(I liked this piece!)

The verdict: PAIN



Echo Cian – Predator

Quite a tight story, and written with balls – you'll make a good fantasy writer if you keep improving. But it doesn't read as smoothly as it needs to, and there are some pretty basic mistakes in your prose.

quote:

My head snapped up from the rabbit spoor at the crack of a branch through the trees.
The rabbit spoor was at the crack of a branch. No, wait, the branch cracked through the trees. No wait it was the sound of a branch carrying through a forest... too late.

took aim on at

quote:

A body double the size of a horse, lizardlike features like some ugly mockery of a true dragon.
Unweildly and decidedly modern language unsuited to a woodland fantasy. Twice the size, 'like some' breaks the setting for me.

quote:

A body twice the size of a horse, its features base, a lizard's, a mockery of the true dragons.
or somesuch.

“a thick hide that weapons barely penetrated.” Too literal – suited to the MtG card, but not to fantasy fiction. Find a way to SHOW NOT TELL this. Eg “a thick hide that shrugged off...”

quote:

It smashed aside the tree I'd left behind like a twig.

Why is your hero leaving twigs everywhere? He could probably do something with all those twigs. Maybe he could eat them or use them to trap food. YOU'RE WASTING TWIGS MY FRIEND

quote:

It was seconds behind when I reached the bank. I threw myself over the edge and landed hard in snow to a crack of stream ice. Pain lanced my shoulder; arrows spilled from my quiver. The wyrm shot over me and landed in the streambed, splintering ice beneath it. The impact drove the arrow in its flank deeper.

Messy. 'to a crack of stream ice' makes no sense. The following sentence is a non sequitur; the one after it, 'the wyrm shot...' isn't, but reads as if it were. Splintering ice is actually quite unlikely, though it would look cool, but the way you attribute 'splintering' makes it seem almost like a deliberate act on the wyrm's behalf.

quote:

...landed in the streambed, black ice splintering under its bulk, my arrow driven deep into its flank by the force of its impact

quote:

Too close for the bow. I drew my sword. And, since I was a stupid fool, now I charged.

I took it by surprise (telling – showing us could be as simple as saying 'it drew back, surprised') - only for an instant, but it that was enough. It snapped at me but I twisted past teeth, past claws. It lowered its body (convenient, but why? What was it trying to achieve?) and I crouched with it, slid under it, and drove my sword up into the soft flesh at the crook of its foreleg.

From 'and I crouched with it' you commit a fine instance of what I consider to be a problem for most here, which is writing your action as a list.

quote:

He did this, and I did this, this and this, which enabled me to do this.
ie. He swung at me and I dodged, parried, and stepped backward, and then swung my sword around in a big arc and planted it into his head.

Already you can see there are too many 'ands', but there are also too many clauses in that sentence. Break it down, not to the point of stultification, but so that each sentence is a moment. Otherwise it looks as if your hero is cheating because he's done all this cool stuff before the enemy (or the reader) has had a chance to even breathe.

Overall, as I said, pretty good.

The verdict: PAIN

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 10, 2013 around 18:11

Canadian Surf Club
Feb 15, 2008

Word.


Deadlines? We don't need no stinking deadlines. What kind of wretched time zone is GMT +8 anyway.

Encounter - 1000 words

Miao found the assassin on the mountain's plateau, overlooking a valley of cloud and peaks of cypress. The years had not been kind, robbing him of his hair color, the fat under his skin, and scratching deep ravines across his face. He had taken up pottery in the years since they had last met and was surrounded by shelves of white porcelain stenciled with scenes in blue.

“I spotted you on the pass and made some tea.” The assassin said.

Miao was given a cushion and a warm cup and they sat together at a low table. The young watched the old as he finished a design, cutting in detail and slicing away the excess with an obsidian knife.

“You may recognize this.” The assassin said and he handed the plate over for Miao to inspect. From the center a story spiraled out, depicting a payment, a long search, and eventually a murder. Miao's hands trembled and he tossed the plate out over the plateau's edge, the two of them watching it sail and disappear into the clouds.

“It was only a matter of time then.”

Miao nodded.

The assassin took a sip of tea and then was over the table, planting a hand and vaulting into a Striking Scorpion. Miao pushed himself up and swiped the backwards heel aside. His open palm met the assassin's exposed rear, sending his opponent spinning back across the table. He followed by jumping off the table's edge, rising high into a Hunting Falcon. The assassin stuck his landing and slid back towards his shelves just in time to catch Miao's downward kick, using the momentum against him to throw him into the stacks of porcelain. The shards slashed a thousand tiny cuts across Miao's skin but he scrambled to his feet and returned with a Leaping Panther. The assassin was slow this time and took a blow to chest and chin before spinning and striking with his heel again. Miao, concerned with blocking the obvious attack, did not see the closed fist that followed, the wrinkled right hand coming all the way around just as he dropped his defense and shattering his cheekbone. The side of Miao's face drooped and he stepped back to create some space but the old man was on him again, this time with a Pecking Crane. It was an old technique, a forward double jab that every apprentice learned to counter and he reflected it easily but had no follow up, allowing the assassin to go low and sweep his legs. Miao leapt, but that's what his opponent wanted, and without any time to counter, he was grabbed midair and thrown flat to the ground in submission.

Miao sipped his tea.

“Your master taught you poorly.” The assassin said and smiled.

The insult could not be allowed. Miao flipped his end of the table and channeling his inner strength stepped forward, sending a straight fist through the center of the wooden panel. The entire block shattered into a million splinters and the punch resonated an audible crack from deep within his opponent. Pressing through, the cloud of debris obscured his vision just long enough for him to lose the old man, who tumbled backwards then crouched into a Patient Frog. Miao plucked the obsidian dagger from the air as it tumbled downward and sent it flying towards the assassin, who easily deflected it into a plate behind him. The Patient Frog pounced, Miao flipping back and staying low to avoid the two open palm strikes coming from either side. With a quick spin on the ground, he kicked upwards and caught his opponent in the chest again and sent him careening overhead, but before the old man could tumble, Miao rolled with him and snatched his ankle, flipping him back the way he came and smashing him into rocky surface.

The assassin quirked a brow. “An abnormality, I assure you.”

He threw the steaming tea towards Miao's face, then sent cup and saucer and dagger flying after it.
Miao knew many of the martial arts but little could prepare you from the coward's way. Quick cover from his sleeve absorbed the tea but the dagger flew true, slicing through the garment and drawing blood across his cheek. He tumbled backwards and saw the assassin coming on. He tumbled again and again, avoiding each swipe and kick sent his way and the two of them inched closer to the plateau's edge. Miao snatched a handful of loose gravel and tossed it into his opponent's eyes, blinding the assassin who stumbled back as Miao slid into a Fighting Monkey. Jabbing upwards with the base of his palm, the old man caught it without looking and twisted, snapping bones all the way up his arm. Miao screamed but did not relent, spinning his mangled arm back and opening the body's center. With his free hand he chopped at the base of the throat, cracking the collarbone and damming the blood in the jugular vein. The assassin flew into a fury, releasing the twisted arm but following with an endless number of punches across his body. Miao deflected them with his good hand, the blows quick but predictable, fueled by rage. He stopped one low, then high, then straight on, then to the side, a knee towards his thigh, then another one high. He saw an opening and took it, turning to avoid another straight and uppercutting into the exposed armpit. The shoulder popped and the collarbone pierced the skin, a lettuce work of nerves curling out and blood gushing over the assassin's clothes. A quick spin and planting of the foot at his heel and Miao flipped the old man around, one last kick sending him hurtling over the plateau's edge and disappearing into the clouds below.

The assassin finished his tea. “Then it is inevitable, your master is avenged.”

Miao watched as the old man grabbed the obsidian dagger and slit his own throat. A wind blew over the plateau.

###

Canadian Surf Club fucked around with this message at Feb 10, 2013 around 18:40

Zack_Gochuck
Jan 3, 2007

Stupid Wrestling People


STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Zack_Gochuck – The Ball

Ceci n'est pas une histoire.

quote:

The Troll

The troll looks at the prompt. The troll considers the prompt. The troll looks at his fingers. The troll is thinking. The troll has conflicted emotions about the prompt.

The troll writes. Its fingers flicker across the keyboard, forming clear, unmuddied sequences. Objects move. Action is performed. The troll smirks. The troll has found a way to beat the prompt.

DEATH




At the time it was an earnest attempt to stick within the parameters of the prompt and do something genuinely different from everyone else, not a troll at all, but holy poo poo, dude, now it's a troll.

quote:

The Judge

"My Prompt."

Zack_Gochuck fucked around with this message at Feb 10, 2013 around 19:26

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe


I cleaned up your reply for you.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

The Gravity of the Situation
Word Count: 797

Darren's ears picked up the clattering noise of AK-47 fire growing closer. He pulled his hands away from his ears, and began considering how to ensure the next five minutes weren't his last. He was hunkered down next to Cody's truck, with all of the expensive surveying equipment in the back. Cody had ran off with the keys, meaning Darren couldn't just try to drive up to the military checkpoint and explain that he wasn't part of the spontaneous uprising. Darren didn't even have an AK-47. Outside of the geological equipment in the truck, he had a box of grenades Cody had found before taking off to find help. Might as well use them.

Knowing his pocket protector wouldn't do much to stop a bullet, Darren knew that hiding behind the truck was the best bet. He took his hardhat off, since bright orange would just draw attention. Even handling the grenade made him nervous, turning it over in his hands, feeling its weight through his gloves. He was certain that anyone, even a crazed rebel with a big old gun would run from it. The noises grew closer, and in the alleys on the other side of the truck he heard fences getting kicked down and windows being broken. Greasy smoke from cordite and molotovs was mixed on the breeze. He heard spent casings hitting the ground now, after the occasional bursts of fire. He had to move. There was a tall chainlink fence behind him, at the bottom of a grassy embankment. Beyond it was an abandoned construction site. That's where he'd hide.

He put his finger through the ring pin of the grenade and tossed it out into the street, slipping the pin into his chest pocket. There were shouts of surprise that were quickly blasted out as the thing exploded all noise into a gentle ringing. Darren slid down the hill towards the fence and began cutting away with his multitool's clippers. The clippers had trouble biting through the fence, and the gloves Darren wore made his grip awkward on them. Looking over his shoulder, he saw men with guns approaching the truck. He tossed another grenade and looped the pin onto another one of the pens in his pocket.

With a thunk it landed in the bed of the truck, bouncing against the hammers and measurement tools strapped down against crates of computerized data logging equipment. He winced, knowing precisely how valuable all of that was. He winced again when the grenade went off, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and blowing out the windows of the truck. The men had given him some room to continue working in.

He tore a small flap of fence away, and as the gunfire started back up, this time directed at him, he pulled himself under the fence. Driving his fingers down into gravel and dragging himself underneath the clawing bits of fence, tearing at the back of his legs. He forced himself to ignore it. His dress shirt was absolutely wrecked, so anything less than a bullet was fine at this point.

Putting distance between himself and the pursuers, if they even decided to try to follow, Darren began charging across nail-filled planks and cracked panes of glass left out in heaps next to concrete skeletons. The firing had died down, so he slowed his pace to prevent any footsteps echoing outwards and giving away his location. There was a paved walkway, full of shadow from tarps tied up all around. A good place to catch one's breath, Darren decided, sliding behind a blue tarp stained with rust trails from the rain. Within moments Darren realized that Cody would have a hard time finding him here, which might be alright given how Cody had left the truck's valuables in his care. Oh well. Without the truck's GPS, finding a route to the military checkpoint would be rough and take hours. Might be best to wait until night.

Darren slipped along the blank concrete hallways looking for a place to sit down and wait. He heard a tinkling noise inside one of the unfinished apartments. He slowly peeked his head inside to see one of the rebels in the middle of the room urinating into a bathtub, AK held aloft in one hand. Darren reached into his pocket and retrieved his last grenade. He pulled the pin and waited for the man to finish relieving himself, holding the lever down. In a few tense seconds, the man turned around to zip himself up.

"Drop the gun and get in the tub, or I'm taking you to Hell with me." The AK-47 thudded onto the half carpeted floor. Darren added another ring to his pocket as his captive curled up into the fouled tub.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

STONE OF MADNESS posted:


Then again, the scale of your epic spectacle makes it difficult to even find, let alone scrutinise, the kind of minute mechanics involved in a man-to-man combat scene.
(I liked this piece!)


See kids, we are bullshit magicians. Don't be afraid to use smoke and mirrors to trick the reader by burying your shortcomings in obfuscation.

Steriletom
May 11, 2009

My inability to write has angered the ghost of Thunderdome! Beware my example, lest you be haunted.



I knew something was wrong with the first parapgraph you chose to critique but it eluded me. Rereading what I wrote, there's a few other terrible pieces of prose that I would like to redo and I thank you for being kind and not sodomizing me.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO



I know you were in earnest, and I was a little ambivalent about my response to your story but I think it stands. All mechanics and no soul makes The Ball a dull story. It was very tightly executed and original but there's no reason for anyone to read it.
Not meant as an insult, merely


vvvvv In this case you'd be ineligible for victory, but you'd still get a crit. I say post what you got, you went to the trouble of writing it for this thread and even if you can't win, you won't lose either.

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 04:45

supermikhail
Nov 17, 2012


"It's video games, Scully."
Video games?"
"He enlists the help of strangers to make his perfect video game. When he gets bored of an idea, he murders them and moves on to the next, learning nothing in the process."
"Hmm... interesting."


You bastards! (I mean Capntastic and Canadian Surf Club.)

My grudge is that when I first decided to join the dome I was a bit late for entries, but I had already written the submission (before figuring out what timezone everything was happening in, or something). In the end I decided to not try to break the rules. I probably wouldn't have gotten any points for being a newbie, but what makes you so special?

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Why can't late subs/no subs not lose?

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

They can lose, they just won't win.

And you won't instant-lose if you throw something out there. At least, that's what makes sense to me.

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.

Submitting late is always (in my opinion) better than saying "Oh well, the time has expired, guess I just won't end up submitting anything to the 'dome after all. No one will think any less of me. It won't reflect poorly on my character or anything like that or make me look like a big dumb baby for not writing anything."

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Basically, don't be late. But if you are late and you have an entry, put it in because no submission is worse IMO. You probably won't win, and maybe the official stance is that you can't, but if there were a truly outstanding late entry I would consider it. The point really is to write, so if you're here and you're interested in writing then just write things and post them.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Capntastic posted:

They can lose, they just won't win.

And you won't instant-lose if you throw something out there. At least, that's what makes sense to me.

Correct.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

It's a matter of Honor to at least make an attempt.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Ten pushups. A crit. Fifteen crunches. Another crit. Ich bin immer die Ubermensch.

Nubile Hillock – Tensegrity

An interesting story that nearly works. Not quite finished, but you raised an excellent point.

quote:

I've read it too many times to make any (other) changes
This is completely valid. On average Thunderdome entries are the product of 2 – 4 days work (citation needed). To perfect a story in that time would be nigh on superhuman. If you were writing this to submit to a mag or journal, you'd spend weeks getting it right – and the time spent not working on it, or even thinking about it, would be equally important. With distance comes perspective. Reread this story in a week or so and you'll start seeing a bunch of flaws you didn't have the energy to notice this time around.

Anyway, the story. I was intrigued. You switched perspective smoothly. You blocked some great action and you imbued it with feeling. This is the one thing that is tanking other stories this week – without feeling, all is machinery.

quote:

He could see it: Claire’s train pulling in, the Customs officers hauling her off the platform. He’d be running, sweaty, covered in grit but still blocks away from where he had to be. Or maybe he’d be stuck in a crowded bus or getting maced by a cabbie after he stiffed the bill.

This paragraph makes sense to me now, having already read the story, but there's a fatal ambiguity in here. The first time, I read this as a memory: 'He could see it' scanned as 'He could still see it' rather than 'He could imagine it'. So I entered the story thinking Claire had already been arrested, and Kasey was sweatily running around in and out of cabs while having flashbacks.
Not that I'm suggesting you use that last, 'He could imagine it', because it's ugly and it's telling. Whereas, 'A scene flashed before his mind's eye', though unpolished, is the kind of thing you need to be expressing.

Telling:

quote:

Claire tightened her grip on her handbag, pain shooting across her molars as she realized she’d been grinding her teeth. Her heel tapped the cardboard box beneath the seat. She stopped when she remembered that she wasn’t even supposed to think about it. Thinking would give her away. Kasey’s words ran through her head as the click-clack of the train against the tracks slowed with every passing moment.

I'm sure it's obvious, now that it's highlighted for you, that these things are told, not shown. For the reader, this is a dealbreaker. Telling is the mark of non-fiction – and not even good non-fiction, but the flat, utilitarian, grade-school kind. As I was saying to Sedgr, telling works in a historical report – but let's not forget that good, exciting, emotive history is possible, and valid (though hardly scientific.)
So how could you have shown these things?

quote:

Claire's fingers clasped the handle of her handbag, too tightly, her knuckles glinting white with tension. Her molars ached; she'd been grinding her teeth. Her heel tapped the cardboard box beneath the seat. No. Can't draw attention to the box. Can't even think about it. They'd read it on her face, they could do these things. Kasey’s words ran through her head as the click-clack No. How old are we exactly? Are we going to have a bang-bang of gunfire next? Rattle, clatter, resonant burnished grunting. of the train against the tracks slowed with every passing moment.

quote:

Kasey made it four blocks before zero hour hit. No more room for fuckups.
Kasey could almost feel the click as a plan fell into place.

There are a few of these. Good concepts, I get what you meant but it sticks out from the rest of the text. They need to feel more natural – good luck to you, I hope you can retain the meaning and the attitude of these words but they need to be reworked.

quote:

some guy was about to chain his bike to a pole. Kasey could almost feel the click as a plan fell into place.

“Hey! That guy stole my wallet!” He yelled and pointed behind the guy with the bike.

Heads turned; Kelsey was already on the move, using those few seconds of confusion to leap onto the guy with the bike,shoving him to the ground. Before the guy could pick himself up, Kasey was already weaving through traffic.

GUY SPOTTED

I did what I did up there because the struckthru text prolongs what should be a very short moment. He's already done the yelling, he did it in order to create a split second's distraction, and now that second is filled up with frankly needless attribution. I know why you wrote that text, it was to show us that the bike guy was the target and set up the bike theft, but you did have alternatives. Really, pacing should be your primary concern – people will drop your story with a sigh if it starts to lag, no matter how good your concept or vocabulary.

This is already quite long and I want to wrap it up now but
“He tensed as each car passed, the rush of air trying to knock him off balance”. Reread your piece in a week and a bunch of these will jump out at you. Rushes of air never try to do anything, do they (unless you're some kind of Aboriginal mystic but that's a long story for another time).

The verdict: PAIN



Benagain – Lucky

After churning out these crits I feel like I've started to 'automatically gripe' a bit myself, but there's nothing for it I guess...

quote:

She leaned in closer. “Tell me, are you really so attached to her that you’d give up” and that was when he whipped his hands around and took her by the neck and threw her into Rex. To his credit Rex was already moving but the split second it took him to grab the Dragon was enough for to dive at Stef and knock her to the ground as the knife flew over them.

He sliced her bonds quick, but Chen already had his gun out and Rex was drawing his and all he could do was cover her with his body and hope the bullets would maybe slow down a little and that was when Pat decided to finally make her presence known by driving through the warehouse gate with a truck.
Give the goons credit, they reacted smoothly and scattered, Rex grabbing the Dragon and doing a fine job as a bodyguard while Chen whipped around and aimed his gun at the cab, squeezed out a few desperate shots trying to off her. She put the truck into a tight spin and managed to catch him with the better part of a truck bed, sent him flying. She poked her head out of the cab with an amazed expression.

I'm glad you did this because it's completely wrong, and is thus a teachable moment.
So, class, what's the problem here?
You conflate many actions into single moments. Literally every sentence packs in several actors and their actions, while at least half of them attempt some kind of omniscient commentary as well. I see why you thought this was a good idea – to make it seem like it's all happening FAST, RIGHT NOW – but it is exactly the opposite of what you need to do to make an action scene coherent.

The reason is very simple. Readers read small chunks faster.

quote:

Bill shot Ted, Ted fell backwards and the knife fell out of Ted's hand, impaling Larry who in turn managed somehow to unleash the full fury of his Micro Uzi in one long, uncontrolled burst, killing Jane, Tim and Ian where they stood upon the warehouse catwalk so that they toppled down to splatter on the uncompromising concrete floor in a gory ragout, which so disgusted Maria that, overcome with nausea, she staggered backwards, desperate for any private place in which to vomit, and in her inattentive state managed to accidentally snag her sleeve on Launch Control causing giant thermonuclear warheads to obliterate the Eastern Seaboard and casting radioactive fallout high into the atmosphere and deep into the sea, as a result of which generations later the Unspeakable Metashoggoth was born, demoniacal malice already glinting in its shrunken, evil eyes as it devoured the inhabitants of Shanty World four dozen at a time.

Exciting things happened here, but the required to process them isn't very exciting at all.

I liked the feel of your characters and dialogue (the oh-poo poo bar indeed) but the action totally sucked. Maybe you were trolling?

The verdict: DEATH



swaziloo – Thirty-Two Lincoln to Third

The makings of a decent story in here but a lot of those familiar mistakes.

quote:

Seven months of incessant auto shop poo poo-talking preceded this moment. "Jimmy v Eric Two Thirty Lincoln to Third" flew from phone to phone all afternoon and into the evening. The crowd that waited at the corner of Third and Main had climbed from their parents windows and slinked through the shadows to arrive downtown without alerting anyone.

The horse behind the cart had been put there by you in every one of these sentences. It's like you'd gathered all these good, useful ideas and faxed them through to the Dagobah system for some mentorly assemblage.

Let's talk about and.

Good ands:
Smoke poured from beneath his hood and a sickening squeal emanated from Jimmy's VTEC Turbo.
Cassidy raised her silver and purple pom-pom
and both cars screamed to life.
The VTEC launched itself at the Charger and Jimmy shoved it into second gear
Jimmy held his foot against the floor and tried to drive the transmission,
They came up on the line much faster than either expected, and the planned photo-finish wasn't even necessary.
Jimmy sat inside, slumped and bloody in his harness

Terrible, pace-destroying ands that should be sardine-packed into a mass grave somewhere quiet:
As the cloud dissipated, Jimmy rolled to the crosswalk and Eric's window slid shut
Eric shifted in synch with the drop of the glittering ball (this doesn't work though, see below)and punched the accelerator just as the tranny caught.
Jimmy held his foot against the floor and tried to drive the transmission,
Eric roared past the cheering crowd and checked the rearview just in time
An instant later Eric bolted around his car and dashed to where the crushed VTEC protruded from the storefront.
An alarm system chirped inside and he could hear the whine of the turbo
Eric grasped the handle and yanked on the door with no effect.

Generally if you could substitute 'and' with 'then', don't put either unless the sentence already just looks wrong. How else could you do this?

quote:

Jimmy held his foot against the floor, trying to drive the transmission,

otherwise it looks like Jimmy held his foot against the floor for reasons unknown, oh 'and' also he tried to drive the transmission.

'And' creates time.

Again, as I said to Benagain above, be wary of loading too much into a sentence. If you've reached the point of 'as the other guy was doing this to that thing', you've probably taken it too far.

A bit of telling to be found here, too.

quote:

trying to unbuckle the harness but fumbling with the situation.
"No, man." He made it clear that Eric wouldn't be freeing him from his car.

See crits above for examples of how to rectify this.

I owe you an explanation on the 'glittering ball'.
Because this

quote:

Cassidy raised her silver and purple pom-pom above her head, the laser-cut strands glittering in the reflected lights

is clumsy, your later reference to the glittering ball is weak – the reader will get it if they go back over the preceding paragraph, but you didn't make a strong enough impression for it to click straight away.
Again, this is only because it is clumsy. Too many 'the's. 'The' assumes familiarity. Your reader has to know or work out precisely which laser-cut strands, precisely which reflected lights, and while that's not hard to do, it's which breaks your reader's interest. I'd say

quote:

Cassidy raised her silver and purple pom-pom above her head, its laser-cut strands glittering amber under the streetlights (or 'in the wash of Jimmy's foglamps' etc)

In all an OK effort, will require a thorough overhaul if you want it to read well.

The verdict: PAIN


SaviourX – Suit on Suit

You're 'a really bad writer' and I don't even want to give you a crit unless you can list for me the last ten books (paper books) you read, and allow me or others to give you recommendations for style so that you can pay close attention to good writers and compare their writing with your own. Seriously man, your ideas are great, your imaginings are clearly very vivid and fresh, but the execution is really really terrible. It's incoherent. I can't engage with it; I can't discern which bits of advice would be most helpful, or even whether my advice would help at all.

Serious about the booklist man. You need to absorb some poo poo STAT.

Sorry if this violates your trust, 'Domers, but I just can't

U R DED

Bad Seafood – Flight

Yeah, this is okay, you poor tortured soul you – and like Sitting Here I get the feeling you're absorbing the prompt to serve your own ongoing needs, which is commendable.

quote:

She cradled it now, that small German gun. Like a child with a doll.
Dumping periods is a cheap, effective way of creating punchiness and dynamism. It lends attitude to your story, but you'd do better here to allow the humble comma space to shine. Try it and you might agree!

quote:

There the train passed beneath us, the five o' clock sharp.
You're a sentimental writer, which is fine, but this is overly familiar. I simply will not permit you to knuckle the chin of this patch of space over which a train happens to be passing. All you need to say is

quote:

A train was about to pass beneath us.
If you're using the 'five o'clock sharp' reference to imply that your swain has planned it all in advance, be aware that this sort of contradicts his flippancy earlier in the piece; if you're only including it for detail, it's gratuitous. Anyway you make the call but as it stands, well, it doesn't.

quote:

With a dull thump we landed and held on for dear life.
did you mean: dull thud?

quote:

I surrendered myself to the rush of the water. The train dropped away and the world seemed to turn. For the briefest of moments, I’d thought we’d part ways. Then I saw her drop as well as the train turned the bend.

"Knew she liked me," I muttered as I broke through the water.

This is a little clumsy. Swain mentally prepares himself for the rush of water, but cannot surrender to it until he's landed – of course, this sentence makes you think he already has, which fucks us timewise and then doublefucks us when he subsequently drops away from the train. 'Then I saw her drop as well' is awkward – consider a semicolon after 'part ways', a comma 'as well', and it might work.

Good luck muttering anything as you break through water after jumping off a bridge. Just sayin'.

All well and good, you articulated intelligibly, not particularly exciting though.

The verdict: PAIN

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 07:46

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Last batch. Winner will be announced after some judgely consultation. Late submitters get late crits.

Chairchucker – What's for Dinner?
See also: SaviourX

Go to the library. Go to 'Fiction'. Select a battered, well-thumbed trade paperback. OPEN AND READ IT.

What you will be looking for are points of difference between the way in which that writer permits himself/herself to construct a sentence (and then to construct a paragraph out of those sentences), and the kind of thing you currently feel comfortable trying to get away with.

Looking past your darling avatar, there are some really cute and pithy observations in your work. I like your ideas, even though some of them are desperately unoriginal, and you realise them with a sense of fun that could really work for you as a writer. But it's very, very obvious you need to read more.

More or less everything I've written in my other critiques apply to you, I suggest you read them and figure out for yourself where you've missed the mark. Writing is not the poor man's anime. Putting your ideas into words is never enough – you need to think about those words, you need to imagine yourself paying for the privilege of reading for them, or you need to gently caress off to some circlejerking fanfiction hugbox where no-one will ever criticise you because no-one ever reads (books that have pages and a spine, I mean).

The verdict: DEATH



Lord Windy – Johnny

As above.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMnvlWqFf_0

ninja edit: I can't help myself.

quote:

With a sharp kick to the gut, Cassy dropped to the floor. This makes it seem as though the kick originates with Cassy. Bringing her knees up to her chin in absolute agony she could do nothing but she did do something, she brought her knees up. Acting, she could not act. You mean she could do nothing to prevent Trixxie being slammed against the wall.as Trixxie was slammed against the wall. “Big man Johnny, beating a poor little gal like me.” I have the feeling Trixxie said this, but you've given me no good reason to make a firm assumption either way. If anything, we should expect this and the following spitting to have been performed by Cassy as the paragraph is still coming in from her perspective – oh but wait, Cassy 'can do nothing' at the moment.She spat, blood tinged spittle ran down Johnny’s face.This is one of those situations where an 'and' would actually help. I would write, 'She spat, and enjoyed watching her blood-tinged spittle run down Johnny's face. Johnny’s bloodshot eyes bulged. Yeah and?

Prose editors use a technique called 'reading literally' to help determine whether your writing is good or not.

quote:

Johnny roared with little veins on his neck rising, “Y-


DEATH



Supermikhail – They Are In The Walls!!!!1

You talk big, but frankly son you still have a long way to go.

quote:

“Ionizers,” Heather said sideways, firing at the man, which had the necessary effect on his partner.

Sorry, what?

I just – you guys – there's so much in this story that is unclear, action which is implicit, reported by its symptoms after the fact, descriptors which are just repeated ad nauseam, 'dark objects' that remain so until the one character that can describe them gets around to it, uncessary detail that would look great on camera but just boggles the mind in print.

Watch fewer movies, read more books. Or become a Flash animator and just churn out this incoherent flashy crap for the thousands upon thousands of illiterate children who watch that kind of thing.

quote:

As they started off again, Rowan glanced at the woman. She sat, leaning against the wall, next to her partner, his face reflecting in her visor.

What is this even doing here? This is the final sentence, the closing sentence of your piece! I know I said 'just write a scene, don't bother with a story', but this doesn't seem to serve any purpose at all?!!?!?!!1

The verdict: DEATH



Etherwind – Disquiet

Oh, thank goodness for you.
A little confused – you need to foreshadow a little more concretely, though not by much – but a lovely bit of work, at a beautiful tempo.
You're a bit purple at times, but that's easy enough to file back later. What's really hurting this piece is that you haven't taken a step back and tried to read it literally. Below is a brief edit where I address this, but also some other things.

quote:

The street lights were (boring. All things that have been 'were', but what do street lights do? I would put 'usually shone' neon orange, but now, as he staggered out of his house, they appeared blood red twisted by his lack of sleep. They made his skin look scalded, and to his fevered mind |the sweat that rose from him in the cold boiled from him|I'll leave this for you to fix – it's broken. Six nights without rest will do strange things to the world a man's perception? One's lifeworld? The way one sees the world? Apparently it takes more than a week awake to change the world, you need angel bombs or something. He was aware of this as he stumbled down the steps outside the old tenement, stooped at the bottom with his fingers dug into his bald and angry scalp. Again, I'm leaving this for you to fix, but I want to point out that though there is a lot of emotion bound up in these last few actions, you've given us only the actions themselves, creating a distant third-person perspective. You do compensate for this later on with a lot of intimate reflection, but for now this is undermining the depth of your character's feeling.


quote:

At first he had blamed the sleeplessness on his reading, on things that learnt to walk that ought to crawl and seals in precious metals cast in certain ways and for fell purpose, but on the second night the voices had stirred.
Oh it's like that is it? No dude, you can't just spit out that ol' eldritch mouthful and expect us to swallow. Slowly, carefully. Cinema theory is conceited garbage but the term Mis-en-scene comes to mind, there's probably something more writerly and appropriate but I'll leave it for the nerds.

quote:

He continued to intersperse his questions with phrases that were not his own, unaware.
Unaware of what? Say what you mean to say. Say 'though he did not know it'. Say something that refers back to that important thing you just wrote, rather than leaving 'unaware' dangling there like the guy has an attention problem.

quote:

Whether he will see me directly, or by my reflection against the swollen darkness in the window, I cannot say, though I know the inevitable outcome.
Well, I don't, and I'm having trouble envisaging the kind of inevitable world-destroying outcome that's going to happen when the conductor spots him. I like the idea of something really bad happening, but I honestly have no idea what that thing could be. That's the major flaw in this piece. Something nuclear/nephilic is going on out there but we are left guessing. A little too much.

Finally, a word of caution, lest you gaze for too long into your own vocabulary, etc. If you find yourself wondering if the flowers should be pruned, try it and see, you can always put them back if it turns out they were essential (never happens).

The verdict: PAIN



JuniperCake – It's a Hobby to Some

Well okay, this could have done with some editing. And the premise is totally loving implausible. NOTHING lives at the top of a mountain (except the Gods, arguably). Seriously, a goatbear does not attack at the anaerobic snowblasted pinnacle because it's too hostile an environment. Sure, in writing anything can happen, but equally, the reader is allowed to put your story down in disgust.
Also, eyes are filled with vitreous humor. I accept that sickly pus could spew out of an eye, but unless you've told us that the creature was sickly, stank of fleshly corruption, was renowned for ocular sepsis, etc, it comes as an unexpected, and incongruous, surprise.

quote:

Francis scaled up towards the peak, precariously lifting himself up with the footholds studded precariously? in the slick frozen rock.

His hands were scabbed, and his face scrubbed raw by the lashes of the wind, lashed by the wind. Francis would not be deterred, not after he had come so far.

quote:

The wind shuddered deeply after a while, a guttural wheeze interrupting it.
A resonant, burnished, grunting wheeze? Seriously does everyone just learn 'guttural' and go home?

quote:

It was the dreaded Screwhorn Mountain Goatbear, which Francis knew was the fourth most dangerous kind of dire goatbear.


quote:

It tore at his already dying arm, as its claws shredded through layers of leather and fabric as it peeled the many layers of leather protecting his torso.
Yeah, edit.

The verdict: PAIN, I guess.

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 10:55

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Holy Jesus what a massive mountain of terrible stories. We are narrowing in on a winner, to be raised to the utmost heights, and a loser who is to be shunned with the heaviest shun-mallets we can locate at short notice.

In the meantime, have some brief crits:

Jeza: The Blues

This needed another edit pass. I like the setup, the final spasm of resistance reads well, the visuals work well. But there's way too much clunk, too many unecessary words making GBS threads up their sentences, and it's lacking elegance of the brutal noir cool it aspires too.

HereticMIND: HARD. AND. DEEP. INTERROBANG.

This is pretty crappy, and you'd have done well to have put it aside for a day or two and revised it. Some fuckig heinous turns of phrase that should have been glocked. Also, for a blow-by-blow recounting of a battle it's way light on detail. HE RUNS, HE GUNS, HE FIRES HIS GNU.

But points for stepping up, and it's got a bit of vigour. Not the worst of the week.

CancerCakes: Unclean

'Sup domejudge. This is exempt from victory/failure, but not immune to critique.

And that's good because it's full of bullshit. Okay, first: 'Woolnex(tm)'? That is what we call 'arch', and unless you're going to follow through shouldn't have stayed in your story longer than the half second it took to consider typing it.

Next, the language is clunky as hell. Too many adjectives, too much telling not showing. Calling the captain 'the madman' reads like a twelve year old is writing it. You also need to be clearer about the physical logic of what's happening. Block it out in your head before writing (or as you write). If someone has been hit in the head, what weapons/actions/moves are available to them? This reads too much like ANDTHENANDTHENANDTHEN which makes it much less convincing as a good fight scene.

That said, the fight's got some juice in it, and I like the height of the stakes.

Symptomless Coma: Epistemology

I liked this a lot. It's bold in its weirdness, but the style is assured enough that the reader can trust enough information will arrive to decode it. And it does. In doing that it neatly skirts a whole bunch of cliched cyberbollocks, and manages to be both gritty and witty.

V for Vegas: Krakatoa 2: The Krakening

See, Cancer Cakes, this is how you do arch: THESE ROLLS ROYCE TURBOFAN ENGINES PUT OUT 11.23 KILOWATTS OF ENERGY AND SHOULD ACHIEVE A VELOCITY OF BLAHBLAHBLAH I made a frowny face when I first read it then turned that upside down when I saw how well it fit into the borderline parodic jutjawed can-do-ness of the story.

That said it's potentially a little cheaty to write a story in the style of a guy who's a terrible writer of YA crap, so I'm glad you didn't skimp on making the story hang together. There are minor things I could criticise, but it's solidly workmanlike. And a goddam mountain explodes in like the first line, NUFF RESPECK

Noah: Up and Coming

This is pretty strong, but I think you could improve it in a couple of simple ways. I don't like the protagonist being 'the boy'. There's a place for anonymous characters, but it doesn't work here. Also - the ending is weak as a newborn kitten. And gently caress, man, that is not where you want a typo.

I think with an internally focussed story like this you need to pay more attention to his emotional journey. It's sort of implied, but you could do a lot more with it given the strength of the framing story.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 11:58

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010


STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Lord Windy – Johnny

As above.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMnvlWqFf_0

ninja edit: I can't help myself.


Prose editors use a technique called 'reading literally' to help determine whether your writing is good or not.



DEATH


LOL, thanks for the crit. I didn't realize my spelling was that atrocious.

Do you know of anything online that I could read in terms of reading literally? I tried googling it but I'm getting nothing but "why not to read the bible literally" or "literary technique" if I aid technique or writer to the end.

EDIT: I can't see where my spelling is atrocious. I found three spelling mistakes in pummelled, arsehole (I find I say rear end rather than arse so I spell it rear end in a top hat instinctively. Not a defence, it's something I need to fix.) and knobbly. Other than "anymore" or "makeup" which I think are acceptable (happy to be corrected) I can't find any others.

Were they the main ones or have I missed a million little ones?

Lord Windy fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 11:27

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


Lord Windy posted:

have I missed a million little ones?

P much. Look, kudos to you for taking it on the chin.

As for 'literal reading', it is exactly what it sounds like. It's nothing esoteric, it's reading your sentence stripped of preconception (easier, of course, if it's not your sentence) and seeing just what the words mean if you take them dead literally.

Don't know of resources on that topic but here's a good blog that often plays on literal readings:
http://reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com/

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010




Well, I think I have worked out what happened.

Thanks for the blog!

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.

STONE OF MADNESS posted:


Chairchucker – What's for Dinner?
See also: SaviourX

Go to the library. Go to 'Fiction'. Select a battered, well-thumbed trade paperback. OPEN AND READ IT.

What you will be looking for are points of difference between the way in which that writer permits himself/herself to construct a sentence (and then to construct a paragraph out of those sentences), and the kind of thing you currently feel comfortable trying to get away with.

Looking past your darling avatar, there are some really cute and pithy observations in your work. I like your ideas, even though some of them are desperately unoriginal, and you realise them with a sense of fun that could really work for you as a writer. But it's very, very obvious you need to read more.

More or less everything I've written in my other critiques apply to you, I suggest you read them and figure out for yourself where you've missed the mark. Writing is not the poor man's anime. Putting your ideas into words is never enough – you need to think about those words, you need to imagine yourself paying for the privilege of reading for them, or you need to gently caress off to some circlejerking fanfiction hugbox where no-one will ever criticise you because no-one ever reads (books that have pages and a spine, I mean).

The verdict: DEATH



Sooo, did you like it?

Hmm, everything you've written in your other critiques? But I didn't use 'guttural' once! I counted, and I come to zero every time!

My lack of adjectives aside (I don't like them) while my writing can most likely be accused of many things, (And has. Many of them bad.) an indication of not having read books shouldn't really be one of them. (This is because of all the book reading I've done.) (It's quite a lot.) (It is possible I plagiarise [dammit what's the code for that strikethrough thing on the font people do I don't argh whatever it's bed time whatevs] borrow heavily from Robert Rankin. Who probably falls victim to many of the same 'failings' [I like them which is why I shamelessly rip them off] that I suspect you don't like. Wait I need to close that bracket.)

Although I didn't actually do that much in this story. Was it the short paragraphs? I'm not really sure. You haven't really said much about my piece. I mean, I appreciate the detailed crits, but when the meat of the one directed at mine is the no doubt well intentioned 'read more' (this is not useful advice for someone for whom that isn't as much of a problem. Is what I'm saying here) and 'see also every single other crit I've written', I guess it's kind of useless for me.

Although I guess I regularly critted... critiqued. Better word. I regularly critiqued with such phrases as 'I didn't like it, the end' so whatevs, crits are hard and I was in the last batch.

That aside, I see my 'death' is in good company.

Well, it's in company. So that's something.

So. Who's the winner? Was it Rhino? C'mon, that second person story was something special.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


The bulk of my criticism was already present in nearly thirty other crits I wrote for better pieces that had been given more studious attention and garnered more insightful responses because of it.

Read more. You need to read more. You need to pay very close attention to what the words say, what they don't say, and how they're put together. Read to learn.

Chairchucker posted:

What’s For Dinner?

Work had gone a little longer than usual. Some files had gone missing. This had gone this. That had gone that. Always bad. Even having two similarly structured consecutive sentences looks amateurish. I'd go for 'Work had run a little longer than usual; some files went missing, and by the time they'd found them, the hour she'd normally spend preparing dinner at home had already elapsed. In the end they’d found them, but it had taken an hour that she would usually have used to make dinner. No time for what she’d planned; she’d make a very simple pasta. Last two sentences are fine.

The pot of water was on the stove, all she had to do was pour in the pasta. Maybe she had some kind of instant pasta sauce in the pantry somewhere. Yawn, but ok, you're pacing things, you're characterising. Even so you're saying 'pasta' a lot. You could get away with just one instance of the word 'pasta' in this entire story.

And there was his car. She’d hoped to have dinner ready before he arrived; this was not ideal.

The door opened, and she heard him walk through to the dining room. Stopped, then called “Where’s dinner?” That's not how it works. You don't just dump a new sentence like that. 'He stopped', fine, or 'walk through to the dining room, and stop." I've mentioned in numerous critiques this week (which I still suggest you read) how 'ands' and 'thens' tend to suffocate prose, and this is a classic example of a lovely 'then'. Rather than
'Stopped, then called "Where's dinner?"'
I'd go for
'dining room, and stop. "Where's dinner?"'
That's all you need. But remember, this is our first introduction to this rear end in a top hat - until now, all we know is that she wanted to have dinner ready for him. Here's an opportunity to characterise him, because rather than calling, he could be sneering, or growling, sighing, gutturally grunting, etc. 'Called' is as not 'said' as any other term, you are already embellishing, so embellish better.

“Just making it now.” Leave it at that. Stay at the stove, studiously looking at the pot. Willing it to boil faster.
Yes, the inside voice is great. 'Studiously' confuses it because few people think of themselves as 'studiously' looking in this context; it's unnatural, which draws us away from this close perspective. I'd sub in 'staring' instead of 'studiously looking'. Remember, adverbs are red flags - there's probably a single word for whatever you're trying to express.
“Why isn’t it made already, and on the table?” His voice was from directly behind her now. Bad. His voice was from? No. His voice came from. I wouldn't even couch this in terms of 'his voice', though, because that's wasting words - you've just given him a line of dialogue, you don't need to tell us he's using his voice. I'd focus on what's important - he is standing behind her like a domineering rear end, and this threatens her. “I work hard all day to make sure all the bills are paid, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect dinner to be on the table when I get home.”

She turned around. “You’re not the only one in this house who works, you know.” What? No. Wrong thing to say. Why did she say that?Yeah, totally fine and good.

“What did you say?” He walked towards her, stopping less than a foot from her face. Blocking, mere blocking - something I've said time and time again to people this week. You might as well say later, 'He curled his fingers up around the palm of his hand and swung his arm through space, extending it slightly as he did so, stopping when it contacted her face.' There are expressive, dynamic ways to express these things, and there is simple, mechanical object-posing, and here you're guilty of the latter, and if that's what your story is doing then it doesn't deserve the attention of a reader.“I get enough smartarse comments at work, I don’t need them when I come home!”Great characterisation though, I hate this guy.

He raised his hand. She should’ve seen it coming. Should’ve heard it in his voice. Try a comma rather than a PUNCHY 'TUDE PERIOD and this would be ok. His arm swung across, hard, but she’d learnt how to move with the slap ('slap' is weak). She turned as she was slapped,(and here you repeat it while talking about the very same thing, a cardinal mistake his hand making a loud whack that would likely satisfy him that he’d put her in her place, but wouldn’t leave a bruise that she’d have to explain to a co-worker. Wordy, but ok. A bit Reader's Digest.

“You get home more than an hour earlier than me,” he said. “Plenty of time to have dinner on the table.”

“I had to work later than usual tonight,” she said. “We had to look for some files.”

“You don’t know when to just shut up and apologise for your mistake, do you?” She didn’t see it coming this time. Boring, you already used 'see it coming', what's wrong with 'anticipate'? He slapped again THERE ARE SYNONYMS her on the other cheek and she stumbled (this 'and' is ok but I'd have put 'cheek,sending her stumbling' against the kitchen counter. The side of her face DURR THE SIDE OF HER FACE ON THE EDGE OF HER HEAD what about 'Her cheek' felt numbnumb eh well could be worse, but she didn’t have time to think about that; he was upon her, and his fingers were around her throat(not a bad 'and', but could be so much more interesting. Again with the object posing. GO FURTHER. 'he was upon her, his fingers working their way around her neck, pressing in, and she could feel the cartilage warping in her throat.' “You know this is your fault, don’t you?” he said (was he really deadpan when he 'said' this? Because this is one of those occasions when a 'resonantly grunted' would've worked wonders). She couldn’t answer. She couldn’t say anything. She couldn’t breathe. She wasn’t sure what she would’ve said if she could’ve spoken. She. She. She. She. I know what you were trying for. It didn't work. It might if the rest of your writing was more sophisticated but right now it just sticks out as unfoundedly ambitious. Her vision was starting to blur.

She kicked out with what little strength she still had; her knee connected twice with the outside of his leg, then she somehow managed to bring it what? his leg or her knee? Don't rely on your reader to work it out, they'll get bored. If you're finding it difficult to fix this, question what's really important in the preceding sentence. Little strength ✓ maneuvering it into position to knee him in the balls ✓ connecting twice with the outside of his leg X. Doesn't mean you have to delete that bit of blocking, just divvy up the sentence boundaries so that the important bits gain emphasis. in towards her body, and forward once more, hard, into something soft and vulnerable. HIS THROBBING COCK He released her throat as he stumbled back and clutched himself between the legs 'and' makes it sound deliberate. Commas instead of the 'and' and 'as he' and you'd have a better, punchier, more spontaneous sentence. His eyes narrowed. “You’re gonna pay for that.”

She felt (groped for a weapon. by the end of the sentence we have already groaned and reluctantly agreed to understand she's looking for a weapon despite you having given us no reason to do so = bad.) behind herself as he advanced once more. It was a shame she hadn’t been chopping up vegetables; there was no knife for her to grab. There was only a chopping board; ironic, since she’d ended up opting for a dish that required no chopping.Fractal prose dude u r trippin me out She grabbed it with both hands, and as he sprung upon her swung it around to meet him. Chopping board met human head in marital kitchen - don't do this with a crackif you have to emphasise your own words then they are too weak. If it's boring normally, it's boring italicised, and he stumbled backwards once more. She couldn’t let him attack again. Advancing, she swung it at him again, this time on a downwards arc Object posing, inexpert at that. A) we don't care if it's a downwards arc or not. B) Should you decide that for some reason it's important that we visualise the downwards arc, set it up. Make it important. I'm not going to tell you how, go and scrutinise some published writing. Crack. It struck him on the forehead and he fell down onto one knee. Again and again, she swung the chopping board. Crack. Crack. Crack. Again and again you wrote that thing that happened. Until she was confident she was safe. Until he stopped staring at her with those angry eyes, eyes that still told her she was useless. Until he couldn’t move at all. Until she couldn’t recognise any of the features of his face behind the red mess that coated his face, covered the chopping board, covered her hands. Yeah ok, commas for flow vs. PUNCHY 'TUDE PERIODS, commas win every time. A judicious period makes a hell of a difference but this poo poo is lovely.

She stopped swinging the chopping board, now using it to prop herself up as she stared at the floor and breathed heavily In Poser, for the benefit of some perverted German programmer who had spent hours one-handedly modelling these actions. He was a fetishist; that much was obvious, because despite his efforts, the finished product was still unspeakably boring. Slowly she regained her breath, and looked down at her husband. He wasn’t moving. Good, he couldn’t attack her again. Too literal, too unnatural. Make these her words, and we've got a deal.

He wasn’t moving.

She took his wrist and held it for ten seconds. Thirty seconds. A minute. Nothing. Tried at his throat. Again, nothing. She’d killed him.

What to do. Call the police?
What to do, what to do, dum de dum, doo de doo. What NOW Not even. Make these her thoughts, not some lovely synopsis of what happened.?

She’d called them once after he’d fractured her wrist. Her fault, he’d told her, for putting her arm in the way when he’d been trying to punch her in the stomach. Not their business, they’d told her. It was a family matter. Good

No, not the police. She looked down at his body. What had they said? A family matter. Yes, not their business. No, not, yes, not, good, not

The stove buzzed to indicate that the water had finished boiling bleep bloop TO INDICATE it's the single most domestic thing in the world. She's responding to an egg-timer, not SCANNING ITS FUNCTION. She looked at the pot of boiling water, then back down to her late husband. She walked over to a drawer, opened it and pulled out a cleaver. Mere posing, but yeah ok. It ended well.Dinner could wait; first, she would make soup.

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 12:59

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


I hate 2nd-person. Stop telling me what I'm doing! I'm sitting here reading your loving story, that's what I'm doing.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

STONE OF MADNESS thanks for the crit! I'm gonna let that story sit for a week then take it to the fiction farm. The things you pointed out are glaringly obvious now. I had no idea how I'd go about rewording things...and I'm actually really disappointed in myself for the first scene with Claire...how did I miss so much telling? I knew the 'guy' construction was clunky and I really dig how you changed it.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Nubile Hillock posted:

STONE OF MADNESS thanks for the crit! I'm gonna let that story sit for a week then take it to the fiction farm.

This is how you handle crits in the 'dome, kids. And especially taking it to the fiction farm.

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 1854 days!


Soiled Meat

STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Oh, thank goodness for you.

I'm stunned you received it so well. Everyone else knows this, but I wrote it in one draft, on a laptop, while sitting on the toilet being violently ill. Huh.

Etherwind fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 19:54

Symptomless Coma
Mar 30, 2007
for shock value

Sounds like somebody's found their method.

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


I know I wrote whatever that thing was in a half drunken stupor but I wouldn't mind crits. I'll be out of the country in 7 hours' time until Saturday with dubious Internet connectivity so unfortunately I'm unlikely to participate for the coming round either.

PS surreptitious muffin was the one who wanted thunderfuck renamed something less gently caress-oriented, which I refused to comply and that hurt his feelings. That is why you get a child suicide bomber called Balls Deep. Please send your love and gratitude to mr muff.

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO



How exactly? That poo poo was untouchable, dude. It was caustic venom. I wouldn't even know where to start.

e: vv That's beautiful

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 17:37

Etherwind
Apr 22, 2008
Probation
Can't post for 1854 days!


Soiled Meat

STONE OF MADNESS have an upgrade.

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


STONE OF MADNESS posted:

How exactly? That poo poo was untouchable, dude. It was caustic venom. I wouldn't even know where to start.

http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Your-Imagination

quote:

Tips

Always pretend during the day. Pretend you are a secret agent, an extraterrestrial, or something interesting.

Warnings

Don't be over-imaginative as that can scare some people away. It's all right to be a monster, alien, dragon or soldier but if you act violently or in an inappropriate manner around people, they are going to think you are weird rather than clever.

Basically crit while pretending to be an illegal alien is what I grasp from this guide.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011



STONE OF MADNESS posted:

Useful things.

It seems I trimmed too much wordcount from the wrong places. You clarified some other things that were bugging me about it, so thanks for this (and the rest), all very helpful. I'll work on it for Fiction Farm.

Symptomless Coma
Mar 30, 2007
for shock value

Etherwind posted:

STONE OF MADNESS have an upgrade.

Hear bloody hear. You might also want to have a hot bath after this is over.

Symptomless Coma fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 17:47

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW



Haha holy poo poo dude you're so bad at writing.


Also this:

quote:

Playing it straight, just for the chicks.

makes you look like even more of a giant dog's anus than you already do. Leave the banter to people who know how to do it, tia.


Unlike STONE OF MADNESS I'm going to actually give you a full crit. I will start by saying that as much as I truly do think of you as a tremendous canine butthole who probably still lives with his mother (possibly in the basement, playing it straight, just for the chicks), I will say that the idea and concept of this story is actually pretty good. Not that EVA combat has never been done before (Shattered Horizons, etc) but it's still a cool setting. Your execution is garbage.


quote:

Suit on Suit (non-erotic) Holy poo poo thank God, I can't imagine how awful your erotica must be

It's about six in the morning far, far below, no, don't do that, bad. far, far (adjective) sounds like you're spoofing Star Wars and the sunrise line cutting across the dark Serengeti is stunning this is a cool visual in concept, but how is it stunning? Are the women in your stories also just "beautiful?" Come up with a stronger adjective or describe it visually. Unfortunately, I only have a moment to enjoy my spacewalk, as a swarm of shots shear past me and into void, fired by a madman on the station. I only notice how close they come because the EVA suit deigned to let me know. this is not clever or cute, a suit "deigning" to do something. Just cut to the point that the narrator learned it from the suit.

Floating out at the nadir spindle, I can't get a good read on anything happening the hundred or so feet down at the station itself. I could have loosed the magnet tethers and went down, but I decided to keep safe up here. How about you just say that he did this or didn't do it instead of having him blather on about what he could have done and decided to do instead? He's telling us instead of you showing us.

Safe. gently caress, if being suspended out here trying to do repair EVA duty—by myself no less—could be anything close to safe. This sounds like a douchebag talking, which I guess is appropriate. Figure out a better voice or just drop this kind of obvious and unnecessary introspection

At the start I had heard Trev shouting about sabotage, Gurpreet calling out about an intruder, but then the headset died, withered on the vine.
Put this at the beginning if at all. Here it's just confusing, and it's telling again.

And now here he is, ravenous Ravenous for what? The annoying narrator's blood? Crumb cake from Mills Bakery in Wood-Ridge? Deer semen? Use a different adjective inside a stolen suit. I see the he'sYou didn't edit this even a tiny bit, did you figured out the burst jets, fumbling toward me up the long, long spindle We get it, it's long. Is his cock also long, long? Or is it just average?, scrambling past the huge letters spelling Canadarm II.

An errant bit of insight hits me overwroughtwriting.txt and I realize that he's somewhat competent, and a cold wash hits Cold wash of what? Holy gently caress dude did you even read this after you wrote it? Also notice that the "errant bit of insight" and the "cold wash" both "hit" him., despite my suit's thermal underskin. gently caress me. Absolutely not, but thanks for asking so politely.

I move the tether and climb earthward from my spotSee, this is actually a good line. You're using correct jargon that actually makes sense to the reader., down around a mounting dish as fast as I can, which all things considered, is too slow More toolbag introspection. Cut it or make it interesting. I vote cut it.. The vibrations of his clumsy rear end bouncing against the structure are getting closer.

There's a maintenance panel nearby, but there's nothing useful in it. What does this line do for us? Nothing. I curse Lisbet for being too sick to come out on assist duty.Why? What would she do for him? This line is useless too, without a purpose or explanation. I check the suit's welder and powerjack, both still hosed from skipped maintenance. Almost everything your awful protagonist does is "I do this, then this happens." How about something like "Suit's welder and powerjack are both hosed, I swear to God I'll never skip maintenance again if I get outta this alive"

I use what little suit power I have left to burst down and around a forest of antennae, hoping the lunatic is out of rounds. Everything here is delicate and there he is, thrashing along. I wonder why he's fixated on just me, and the only thing I keep coming up with is too horrible to think. Oh yeah? What's that? More wasted words, since you never follow up on this.

I grab for some ladder rungs sweeping around the array and back to the main strut, but my gloves slip. I can feel the sweat pouring out despite my fine mesh weave. loving nerves. I grab again and hold tight, re-tethering.

Just in time, too, because a wild, primordial scream comes through my ears and freezes me Passive voice. How about "I freeze.", combines with the maintenance suit full of crazy as it barrels right into me from above.

Somehow he's managed to reverse burst and crash on through some of the antennae spires, grabbing hold at the tip of the spindle. The visor's polarized, but his mad breathing, the arrhythmic cadence of his panting, Use one or the other of these descriptive clauses. No need for both and it makes the sentence clumsy. brings up old movie monsters, killers, psychos.

I've got the pneumatic tool in my belt, and a barely sharpened cutter attached to the suit glove, and I ready both of them.Very slow and dull sentence structure. Try "I ready the pneumatic tool (whatever the gently caress that is anyway) and the dull cutter attached to my glove (we know it's a loving suit glove at this point). poo poo, the air's on reserve. Breathe normally, you can do it. There's definitely a better way to say all this, but I can't be bothered to suggest one at this point.

I tether in to what? and grab hold of a rung, then another, and psycho boy comes sailing toward me, the backdrop of African morning outlining him from below. Finally, another decent descriptive clause! Still, could be better. What does the "African morning" look like in a few words? He almost comfortably lands in my lap. What does this mean? Apparently he's not really in his lap at all, or the rest of the clumsy fighting he does wouldn't be that hard. Or did he just "almost" land in his lap? I can't picture this at all. I swing, miss, swing again with the tool Is this like a drill thing or is a miniature statue of you irl?, try to invert and swipe with the tip of the glove's cutter. He just bursts away and bumps us up into the structure, both of us flailing, barely in control of momentum.

I connect with him just once, the tool, but it glances, poo poo I was trying to hit the neck collar this little aside is stupid and useless, and he hooks up under my knee with one leg and reaches in to give me a grandma hug The gently caress is a grandma hug? Does he smell like cinnamon cookies and Odor-Eaters?. Too close, too cl— This is more "telling" introspection. Cut this poo poo out and just show us what happens.there's a slight zip sound, then a sigh like a disappointed lover More overwrought bullshit, and then the suit goes crazy.

Motherfucker had a knife. Somehow strapped it to the suit before putting it on, These must be some pretty interesting suits if it's so incredulous that he was able to strap a knife onto one, SOMEHOW something sharp enough to Jeeze more irritating introspection instead of just showing us what's happening -the readouts are going crazy, and all I hear is laughing, laughing, and decompression sim was years and years ago and the inner weave can only support so much imbalance and be calm, just calm, there's a minute or so before, before.... You're trying to get us to feel the desperation, and it's not working. Holy poo poo just show us what happens. Have this dude shut the gently caress up. Also an ellipsis is ... not ....

Achingly slowWhat does this old chestnut mean? Is the slowness of his reaching making him ache? Come up with something that makes sense, I reach out to grab at his boot. I feint at the other, then disconnect my tether, grab a near rail with both hands, and try to get some force behind my kick I thought he was trying to grab him? What is this dude doing?. Up and under Up and under what?. I connect, but he barely moves.

I wind up again, but let go with one hand, twist, and come up into his face, knocking helmets, gazing straight into his visor. There's nothing there but a charcoal smudge of abandon, of something sinister. His face is a charcoal smudge? The visor is? What the gently caress does a "smudge of abandon" mean anyway? It doesn't work at all.

Luckily he lets go for a second and despite my suit blaring warnings, I find some footing, aim and throw the tool Still losing sleep over what kind of tool this is at him, catching him off guard. He slips back a ways to the now-crumpled forest Forest of what? Those antennae you mentioned earlier? Or are there trees growing outta your space station now?.

I look down at the station, slowly spinning on the axis, and think I can make it in about ten, fifteen, feeling the force of absolute nothingness pulling at my tissue, and then freak crashes into me again.

I adjust, fall-floating down the spindle, using the one good leg jet to burst me over and back to the access panel. A laugh over the comm comes out a garbled ghost-wail, and he's coming as fast as he can.

I pound at the panel as I re-tether, starting to feel the gasps come on, the discomfort, that slow gut punch feeling. One chance. The madman's grin is all I can see I thought the visor was polarized? How can he see his grin?, despite the oblong white suit bearing down at me like a floaty cannonball. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...you wrote "floaty cannonball"

The panel releases and I punch a few numbers. He's close. I check the display, wires leading back. Real close. I put my clumsy mitt up and into the crush of cables that I hope is near the quick solder I did last week. Tug. He's right at me, have to time this right.

I jet back to take some of the impact, my one hand grips his arm, the other pulls out of the panel, tearing free the cabling inside. We travel about a foot, him, me, my hand on the too short length of electric, snapping wires. I'm breathing so heavily and nothing's coming through my lungs, nearly full on gasping.

He shouts something in a demon tongue I doubt exists Is the madman an irl demon or is this just more bad writing?, and I use the last of my suit power to whip him in a balletic arc up and over. As he goes, I hit the emergency release seal on his glove, and by the time he crashes the suit into the panel, I expose a gap in his forearm. Letting go of the station, I roll, hard as I can, shoving his arm fleshfirst into the mangle of live cables, sending volts coursing, sending his body into minute convulsions. Sending and then, sending.

He stays trembling like that for half a breath, more.

I grab the tether and haul myself up, kicking at the man savagely, That's rude, he should have kicked at him in a civilized manner. and he comes off the panel, floats free, voice hitching on the comms. I kick him and his jets fire half-assed hahaha no and directionless, coughing. I kick once more and off he goes, no resistance, carried offBy what, the invisible hand of justice or God or something? into the black and debris, a stranger. Was he a stranger before, or did him being "carried off" into the black make him one? This is a terrible statement.

I take as big a breath I can, look down at the station, un-tether, and push for home.

***

Like STONE said, read more. Stop re-reading all of Martin's works and pretending you hate his writing in your absurdly-spergy devotion. Stop writing erotic fanfic garbage. Work on your craft, work on editing. Post in Fiction Farm or a dedicated thread so other kind goons can help you get better.

And do us all a favor -- never judge a fiction contest again.

Martello fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 19:26

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


sebmojo posted:


Noah: Up and Coming

This is pretty strong, but I think you could improve it in a couple of simple ways. I don't like the protagonist being 'the boy'. There's a place for anonymous characters, but it doesn't work here. Also - the ending is weak as a newborn kitten. And gently caress, man, that is not where you want a typo.


You're right about the ending, I changed it at the very end, within the post. The typo is inexcusable.

Thanks to Stone of Madness for doing some excellent crit work. That's some dedication.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Fallen Rib

Their zeal and bloodlust is certainly admirable, but it's the screeching avatar that lends it that special Thunderdome flair.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


STONE OF MADNESS has done some epic crits, and Sebmojo has done a few as well, so I am feeling slightly surplus to requirements, but here we go. I am going to look at the basics: if you didn't hit the prompt you will not live, if you didn't hit my personal criteria for an action scene you will not live.

Failure to hit the prompt includes being over time and over budget, and lacking in action. My personal criteria is: Motivation, Environment, Tension, Resolution. If your piece didn't show these clearly and interestingly you fail. I need to know why the people here are fighting and not running or vice versa, feel that there is some danger involved, the setting needs to grab my attention and it's pretty annoying if your scene doesn't

Finally if you somehow manage to miss both the prompt and my criteria, but write something good, you get a special prize.

Minor typos are flesh wounds, but most of these submissions will neccessarily be 2nd or 3rd drafts, so they get a pass.

Begin!

Jeza posted:

The Blues - Word Count: 1000

I enjoyed this, although as Stone has said you need to do some "stop being racist" awareness course. Your characters can be horrible racists, you didn't succeed in showing that it was their views. Motivations were clear, interesting environment, and you didn't know how the fight was going to go so there was some tension there. Finally the resolution worked, there could have been a little more foreshadowing of the fire but it worked well. Queue =/= cue.

Life


HereticMIND posted:

Hard and Deep (Word Count: 430)

Action isn't just saying your prot shot a few dudes, you have to describe the action, not just say it was there. There is maybe 120 words of not action in your 430 word scene. Your character was so one dimensional he didn't need motivation, I could see the environment because I like everyone else has seen blackhawk down, but there was no tension, and your deus ex machina nuke ending was woeful. But keep writing, you will read this again in a month and cringe. In a year if you come back to it you will laugh, and be better for it.

Death by being repeatedly shot in the balls with a paintball gun


Symptomless Coma posted:

EPISTEMOLOGY. 874w

I didn't enjoy this, but it was original, and worked quite well. I have no idea why your character is in a library, but I can visualise the place. However the prot doesn't seem overly worried or concerned about the fight, so I'm not either. No tension makes the resolution a foregone conclusion, and tricking a robot by a poisoned input is a bit of a scifi staple.

Death (just) by Raskolinov’s axe-blade

V for Vegas posted:

Flash rule - Written in the style of Matthew Reilly
Krakatoa 2: The Krakening. - 1000.

Dante's Peak did it better, but the motivation of not wanting to be immolated by lava is clear, and the vents are well painted. There is some tension building, but then you ruin it by someone making a perfect turn into a vent a 180MPH, ie 80 metres PER SECOND. If your prot is superman I am not so worried about them anymore. But there is resolution, and enough action from beginning to end.

DEATH by major whiplash from making tight turns at 180MPH.


Noah posted:

Up and Coming

I'm not a wrestling fan, so I almost wrote this off straight away, but in truth it gripped me. The betrayal felt real enough to make me feel for the kid, and I wanted to know what would happen. "The boy" also underlined that this has happened before, and will happen again, so wasn't a problem for me. I loved the popping a knuckle line. If I went through it line by line I'm sure I could find some things to pick at, but the broad strokes are there.

Life


Martello posted:

Cherry Job

As stone said this could have been straight out of the shield, or any other hard boiled cop show, but on paper it is a shopping list of names and model numbers. Your characters are motivated, but completely interchangeable. The day-after-tomorrow time frame works well, but you could use it better - the smart specs etc could have been used to greater effect, as it was it was just window dressing. Making Tommy ok at the end took the strength out of the story, perhaps if he had just pulled through it would have felt more like a challenging encounter for the team, as it was it felt a little too routine. Resolution of rogering the wife was just a little over the top for me.

Death by undercover narc

BlackFrost posted:

Mine - 1,000 words.

This flat out didn't work, and you know it. It didn't flow, and the chase had some major problems. However I did like the fingers digging into the cheeks, which gave some small idea of fear, but it needed more. I wanted this guy to be reeking from the sweat, piss and poo poo pouring out of him due to the existential fear he was undergoing.

BlackFrost posted:

He stumbled over the desk and fell, but was back up in moments. He flew out of the room and collided with the adjacent wall.

Back up in moments? You just killed your chase before it even started, if he can take a few minutes to get back up why is he running at all? No tension. Your character wakes up in an office, hides, is found, goes and hides in another office and is found and killed by some indescribable monster - I didn't find the plot interesting. A office block inside a mine just sounds a little unlikely, and there doesn't seem to be a reason for it. The horrible "like" at the end as been brought up already. You already got some good crit,

Death by something LIKE something splitting the back of your head open

Sedgr posted:

Duel (1080 words)

LONG, so by my judging you are already dead, if you can't find 80 words to cut then you need to take the 5 mins to proof it again, delete some superfluous adjectives or something. You started right in the action, one of the few to do it, and it just about worked, but the problem is your exposition necessarily slows down the action. No one likes wordy fighters, action is better untainted with people explaining themselves. Why doesn't the bad guy off and murder the third in command after this? In the end I simply didn't care about any of the characters.

Double death by someone hacking off small bits of you while talking about their holiday to North Wales

Steriletom posted:

Getting Paid - 900 words

Another story in the ring, this one didn't quite hit it for me, although the motivations were clear and there was some tension. I would have had the guy taking a dive, a punch in his face and pride for his daughter's baby. There wasn't much mention of the crowd, what is around them. I know the fighter is focussed on fighting, but we can see a bigger picture occasionally.

Life


I actually quite enjoyed this, and thought it was a genuine attempt to do something different. That said there was no tension, and thus little resolution as I didn't care if the cat caught the ball or not. This was a major missed opportunity here, because you could have done something like

quote:

A stray cat sees the ball. The cat chases the ball. If the cat catches the ball, it will pounce on the ball. It will stop the ball. The ball rolls downhill, the cat close behind. The cat runs fast and faster. It is slowly catching up to the ball. The ball is approaching an three-way intersection. The traffic is thick today.

And then there is some tension. Personally I would then have played with some ambiguous car impacts, then resolved it with the cat licking its paws on the curb like it didn't care as the ball is punted down the road, but you could kill a cat and try and shock us if you want.

DEATH by being chased by a giant ball, Indiana Jones Style.

More soon.

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Noah posted:

Thanks to Stone of Madness for doing some excellent crit work. That's some dedication.

It really is. Thunderdome '13: BURNISHED GRUNTING.

Martello: Cherry Job

Lol I just broke a teeth on your story on account of it being hardboiled and poo poo also one dude’s got your name did you know that

This one’s nothing fancy but it’s solid; story just fuckin’ rolls up to the drive-thru window, pays its five bucks and gets its action monstermeal, peels out chewin’ on hamburger.

Specifically it’s got a nice metronomic ticktock of description that meshes perfectly with the pro-rear end in a top hat characters you’re describing. That said, you could have ditched the nearfuture stuff and set it present day, as it is it’s a bit distancing and doesn’t really pay its way in the story (eg maybe it would be better if they’d had a camera that could see through walls/doors or something?).

Black Frost: Mine

This is essentially Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and do not get me WRONG that’s a great thing to crib from. However you need to tidy your poo poo up. There’s a solid core of action sequence here, but it’s spoiled by a bunch of clumsy phrasing and redundancies. What I do like is some of your attention to detail – covering the mouth to breath through the nose, and the details of how hosed he’s feeling. What I don’t like is this sort of thing:

He snapped into action. In one swift motion, he flicked the light switch off, then made his way back to the desk

The bolded words are just cruft. You’re trying to evoke emotion, and every word that does not do that must be burnt away. AWAY.

Sedgr: Duel

This is fairly bad. Melodramatic, clumsy (he’s carefully unsheathing his sword as someone’s slashing at him? SAFETY FIRST!) and sort of cliché with the black veins of poison and the blood draining from the villain’s face.

However there’s a solid line through the story, motivations are well-established, the fight matters, cleverish turnaround. So it’s not a complete fail. But in future, write better words.

Steriletom: Getting Paid

Okay, this is the good poo poo. Children, observe and learn. We have a protagonist, motivation, wry observation, attention to the sort of details that the protagonist would notice, cleanly described action, ebb and flow. And because of all this, you care.

Excellent work.

Zack Gochuck: The Ball

Lol Hemingway balls.

Sitting Here: Mutiny

This is delightful and now I totally want to read more about our hero/ine’s adventures with Sebastian the Talking Pig, but I’m not sure it really works as action. Because your protagonist doesn’t act. I guess that is the point, given the title, but it saddens me you couldn’t have crafted a more sinewy narrative out of those awesome materials.

Please do continue this one though, I’d love to keep reading it.

Echo Cian: The Predator

It may be because I’ve been playing too much Skyrim lately, but I liked this a lot. First sentence is clumsy, but apart from that you carried me along like a speeding destrier (<= note appropriate fantasy simile, cheers). You nailed the almost chess-like move and countermove of good action writing, while keeping the momentum up and not making GBS threads up the place with bad words.


Nubile Hillock: Tensegrity

Tight, very tight. I like the back and forth energy of this but it falters a little at the end, and the feline payoff is kind of a WTF? rather than an AHA! But drat if you don’t nail the momentum of a plan that just. Has. To work.

I think you missed a few words at the actual pickup of the box – it goes from awesome, vivid precision to vagueness. I wanted the physicality of the McGuffin slapping into his hand, maybe nearly missing the catch and juggling it over the abyss. Then the cat coming out at the end is… nice? I suppose? But in the absence of further context you’d probably be better leaving it mysterious.
Still, solid stuff.

Benagain: Lucky

While it’s not terribly written, this reads like an AAR of a roleplaying session and is the poorer for it. There are a lot of cardboard characters and a sense of lightness – they know they’re not in danger, so we don’t care what happens to them.

Sounds like it was a fun session though so there’s that.

Swaziloo: Two Thirty Lincoln to Third
There’s a simple, brutal rush this story wants that you don’t quite achieve. We don’t need the cheerleader’s backstory, the final line is cheesy as hell (WE’D REMEMBER THAT SUMMER… FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!) and I found the driving bits more opaque than they needed to be. Honestly, I’d give it a rewrite and focus on making the driving diamond sharp.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Feb 11, 2013 around 22:39

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