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Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week XXXV: Steriletom, Martello, SpaceGodzilla, CantDecideOnAName, V for Vegas, Voliun, Nikaer Drekin, crabrock, Symptomless Coma, Greatbacon, and Canadian Surf Club


Well. So. This was an... interesting week to be a judge, I'll tell you that for nothing.

Let's just get on with the crits, shall we? I have over eight thousand words to spew at you all, and time's a-wastin'.


Steriletom, "Red Scare":

The biggest problem I have with your piece is its predictability. Nothing about it came as a surprise. Mr. Ares' name bought you some time, as I hoped he was literally the Greek god of war riling up America during the red scare, but nope, he's an alien. The Ares/Mars thing is a clever hint, but your chosen picture already invokes rockets; you don't need more clues. I wonder too whether Farrow shouldn't have noticed this guy's name is essentially 'Mr. War.'

And seriously, Glarny agGlarn? That book title? Martians are an honored staple of classic SF, but the book's name and the author's name slide right into Cliche Valley. The revelation of a title as your final beat reminds me too much of the famous Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man." Related grammar nitpick: book titles should appear either underlined or in italics, not within quotations. Quotation marks are for the titles of short works (or TV episodes). Short or long, 'by <author>' is not part of a title. You left off the period on your last sentence.

Less related: some of your sentences are short on words, such as 'No answer and no sound from within' (no verb); 'Perhaps I’ll send you a copy once complete' (why wouldn't he say 'once it's complete'?); and 'You’ve never filed any taxes and no birth certificate' (again no verb, at least pertaining to the birth certificate). At the same time, you've got superfluous words elsewhere. What's with all the 'the X began to Y'? Stop that. I'll give you that 'began closing the door' is reasonable, if limp, since the action is interrupted by Farrow, but the construction is pointless everywhere else. The lock turned. Farrow pulled out his handcuffs. The house rumbled. Look how much more dynamic that is. And behold, six words freed! Maybe you could put your verbs back now.

'Like the house, Ares was cleanly groomed and nicely dressed'--the house is groomed and dressed? In what, a tuxedo? To make the simile work, you'd need something more like 'Like the house, Ares was tidy and elegant'--words or phrases that could apply to a building.

Much as I'm picking on you, I like the way you establish your time period: between the title, the word 'Soviet,' the TV being a new thing, and the FBI being so concerned with spies, you didn't have to come out and announce exactly when this is set. It's a touch of subtlety the story otherwise lacks.

On the whole, I don't hate or even dislike this. It's mediocre, not horrible. It works with the prompt and the picture. It just doesn't do anything at all that's new.

********

Martello, "The Cranes Came Home":

As I read this story, I constantly had the sense it was going somewhere interesting. I still had that feeling when it ended. What seems to happen is that a man who accepts work as hired muscle, probably for illegal activities, takes a particular job as a favor to an old contact, despite being on vacation with his lady. She's been reading a Japanese story that possibly has some double meaning. The man reflects on this as he waits for his job for Captain Tory to begin.

There may be more to it than that--I thought the sense of foreboding, enhanced by the plot of Jade's... book? Scroll? Is that an E-reader brand, or is she reading a literal scroll, and if it's a literal scroll then why is it capitalized? Distracting. Anyway, I feel there's a strong implication that this job will be Gabe's last. He's never going to make it home to read that book with Jade, is he? But that's outside the text (and possibly completely wrong). What's actually here is a vignette in which very little occurs. It's got life in its characters and life in its setting--though the Italian brand names, food names, and city names together are slight overkill; I'd rather have more sensory description--and I like it more than I should because of that, but the plot is functionally absent.

Arranging the sections out of chronological order doesn't serve you particularly well. When you start alternating the present moments of watching for the sailboat with flashbacks, that works, but why not have the earlier flashes in sequence?

Similarly, some formatting touches would help: italicize the book title, and italicize Tory's IM. Other small things: 'She stabbed in the air with her fork,' 'She cut the air sideways with her fork'--if she's going to wave that thing around like a conductor's baton, vary the phrasing more. 'He seamlessly pronounced the name like a native' is redundant, and I suggest losing 'seamlessly.' '“poo poo’s translated by a Greek-Japanese-American-whatever mutt, not even the original text”'--why does Gabe know that, and why does he care? It reads like it's shoehorned in for the sake of establishing the book.

Gabe, Jade, and that foreboding feeling are the strengths of the story, and they almost carry it... but not quite. I almost like that the plot is implicit--but not quite. It probably needs more words more than anything. You get points for going somewhere unusual with the picture. I didn't expect your interpretation, but I can still see it in the work.

********

SpaceGodzilla, "The Diary of Georgia Munroe, Age 10":

You've done a good job with the diary format. 'The whole farm belongs to us, after all' is the only blatant sore spot: would she write that for any reason but to establish it for an audience? Do we even need to know? I agree with Hillock that 'swinging' is a weird word for grass (I suggest 'swaying'), and while I'm dwelling on your first paragraph, an ellipsis that closes a sentence should have four dots: three for the ellipsis, one for the period.

Format-wise, I wish you'd underlined your dates or something to break the sections more cleanly. I'm not sure how Georgia could rip out such a big swath of page by opening a book--did she drop it? Oh, well, that bit of contrivance is worth it for the story's sake. I like this one; I like the voice; I like the nesting of imagined books within imagined books; I like the interpretation of the image. You do glide over the whole mother-attempting-to-filet-father thing, but Georgia's lack of reaction to that shows just how messed up her head is. You might want to cut the apostrophe in 'i don’t know' since Georgia doesn't use punctuation in that paragraph otherwise.

I don't have much to say! This is good. The child viewpoint is strong, and the suspense you set up from the start regarding Georgia's situation pays off. Whether it contends for the win will depend on everybody else, but you're not going to be near my low tier.

********

CantDecideOnAName, "Eye":

So about your picture: this was my secret favorite picture, one of two I especially hoped people would pick. (The other was Mr. Linden's Library.) Anyone who took this and did a halfway decent job with it would probably have had an advantage with me, and when the time came for the judges to fight over the deposition of souls, perhaps that would have been enough to spare him or her; who can know?

Maybe you can already tell from my verb tenses that you're in trouble.

Look, I'm not inherently opposed to vignettes, and I don't believe a protagonist needs to change for a story to be worth telling. I do think something interesting has to happen! And what happens here? A man who isn't given a name goes somewhere cold where there are trees with eyes, a thing about which he seems quite unruffled. Goodness knows it's not like that's wonderful or weird or anything. He's so drat blase, you've taken the sense of wonder that your idea--the only thing the piece has going for it--should have and stomped it flat. Constance cuts some bark off with a pen knife, which the tree just watches, like you do. And the protagonist decides he doesn't want to be around trees with eyes in the future. And that's it.

Your connection to the picture is tenuous at best--although you used the caption, which counts for something. The foreboding, possibly grim mood the image holds is missing. Maaaaybe something nasty will happen to Constance for slicing up these trees? Maaaaaybe the trees will detach themselves from the taiga and take revenge on the protagonist for witnessing their violation? Maybe you meant to suggest such things? It's possible. But because the main character doesn't seem to give a drat, I'm not worried.

As for the imaginary book prompt, Janove's journal is such a nonentity in the story that I'm inclined to say you wiffed it. The book's main purpose seems to be to tell us things that would be better shown.

I don't know. Your prose is stodgy and dull, but I have an impression you can write, although you've chosen here to tell everything interesting about the tree, to populate your story with colorless stick figures, and to have absolutely nothing of consequence occur. You put in all that information about David that was ultimately irrelevant, probably for the sake of atmosphere--but atmosphere needs to pay off. I'm so disgruntled by this. How did you write a story about trees with eyes that's this lifeless??

Dammit. Also, the semi-colon after 'spotted our treasure' should be a colon. There are a couple of other, minor things I could nitpick, but grammar is not your problem.

If you pair your decent grip on grammar and description with better storytelling techniques next time (and a plot worth the bother), you'll be better off. Keep competing.

********

V for Vegas, "The Library of Unwritten Books":

You've got two brands and flavors of story stuck together here. You should have kept to one. The warm, folksy beginning, suitable for a children's story, has charm that fits your picture even as you take that image in an unexpected direction. The zanier, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, silly middle and end could be amusing. You're heavy-handed with it, throwing in stuff that doesn't make particular sense in the context, but the tone could still work. Ask Chairchucker!

...Or don't, given his avatar. Where was I going with this?

Right: two flavors. Either of them might work individually, but not mashed up. You set up a particular tone and then disrupt it. The silly half--more like two-thirds--is also the weaker, which doesn't help you. I'd get at you for consistency, only I don't think you tried to be consistent. Alpha Tory and Beta Tory don't share much more than a name. You end up with this weird creation like you tried to make a centaur by cutting the legs off a man and the head off a horse and gumming the bodies together with rubber cement or something, and then you didn't even tie a scarf around the scar for camouflage.

The result is all too broken and slightly unsettling. The good first third may carry you through. You met the prompt; you evoked the picture. Odds are looking good that I'll have worse fish to fry--but that's a bit of a lucky strike for you.

********

Voliun, "S.O.S":

I'm going to be honest. This is a mess. Picking apart why is going to take a lot of words on my part, so get comfortable.

Your biggest overall problem is that the story doesn't make sense. You have a reporter arriving at a dentist's house to interview him regarding... well, her topic isn't clear at all at the outset. She works for a reputable paper, but also for a tabloid, and for this tabloid she wrote a possibly libelous story that accused Dr. Ashford's brother Richard of sabotaging his work. Whatever that work might be. Apparently it involved something called a 'portable smart house,' which you reveal at the eleventh hour. After that, everything is so murky I don't even have a clue. The take-off of the smart house was possibly sabotaged? And Richard may have been 'murdered' in the incident, so the sabotage was done by someone else? But Ashford claims Richard left the house an hour ago--when did this crash happen? Or was there a third brother? What the hell is going on, and who are the 'children'? Robotics in the house? But why would they like looking at plates? The parts I can follow are vague to the point of obscurity, and in the end it falls apart into a jumble of pieces I can't hope to connect.

(I mean, I figure they're in another one of those 'smart houses,' but so what? And why is a lone reporter going after the story of a house taking off, crashing, and killing a man? That's not important enough to rate more interest? Is Mr. Ashford supposed to be this Richard fellow and there never was a brother? Is that the deal with the coat? These are questions your story raises but doesn't answer. I suspect Ashford killed Richard, but I make that guess based on how stories work rather than on reasons you gave me.)

What could you do to fix it? Introducing the 'smart house' concept earlier would be a good start. Don't make the subject of the interview or the subject of Miss Rivett's tabloid piece a point of suspense. That brings nothing to the table but frustration. Explain your concepts: what a portable smart house is and why it flies, what Ashford's brother was up to, what happened in this crash, why Miss Rivett would interview a dentist about it, and why she suspects murder. When it comes to everything that matters, you're way too oblique.

When it comes to stuff that doesn't matter, you put in too much detail. Take the start of your fifth paragraph: 'The doctor wobbled aside, opened the door, and pushed an overgrown potted thin tree further against the wall near the door's hinges. Near the plant, he hung his lab coat on a hook beside a black dress coat that have a golden name tag with 'Richard Ashford' on it. A drooping rose with pink petals lay in one of the dress coat's pockets.' I now know more about this tree than I do about Richard Ashford. I don't need to know anything about the tree, though. I don't need to know the hook is near the plant, or that the name tag is golden, or that the rose in the coat pocket is pink. And if the 'Richard Ashford' name tag isn't visible (I'm having trouble picturing how it could be, hung on a hook), then you shouldn't tell me about it. Reduce this to 'The doctor opened the door wide for her and hung his lab coat on a nearby hook, beside a black dress coat with a wilting rose hanging from one pocket' and you suddenly have a lot more words free to use elsewhere.

Or here: 'A thin reef hung above both closed windows. One of its ends were hugging one side of a square glass clock. Both hands of the clock was near the number five.' That is one long-winded way to say it's 5:25. You aren't making your setting come alive when you point out details that don't matter, although I'd guess that's what you're aiming to do. Describe things that are unusual, interesting, and relevant; remember smell and touch as well as sight. What do those olive-colored vines smell like? Is the metal stool comfortable? Is the doctor's voice scratchy or smooth? You may not need those details either, but they would build the scene more effectively than what you've got.

Several of your sentences are awkwardly constructed. 'The maple door creaked open seconds later while the doorbell's jingle faded.' Later than the ringing of the doorbell, I presume, but you shouldn't say it that way. 'The maple door creaked open seconds after the doorbell's jingle faded' would be better, but I suggest something else: 'The door creaked open seconds after Miss Rivett hit the doorbell.' Now your lead character is introduced right in the first line. Then you have 'Arching away from a pile of overgrown leaves above'--so he bent backward? Probably not, right? But that's what 'arching' suggests. And there's a pile above? Piles usually rest on a surface. So maybe 'Ducking away from a clump of overgrown leaves overhead' would do a better job of saying what you mean.

'The brunette's face gleamed and pointed at the dentist.' What?

Now, let's talk grammar. You need a proofreader. Among other things, the final S of your title needs a period after it, since it's an abbreviation; hyphens are missing from compound modifiers like 'thick-rimmed' or 'square-shaped'; commas are missing from descriptive phrases such as 'overgrown, thin, potted tree'; you mix your tenses; and sometimes you've used the wrong word, like 'wines' when you mean 'vines,' or left a word out entirely. If you take this piece to the Farm, you may find some help with getting these things in order.

You hit your picture, more or less, but you missed the imaginary book entirely. At most, you had an imaginary newspaper and imaginary article. Not the same thing!

To sum up: This doesn't work. You've got a lot of room to improve. I am 99.9% sure you'll get the losertar this week.


********

Nikaer Drekin, "The Lumps":

This is almost entirely serious--absurd, but grimly so--but you've peppered it with strange notes that seem to be aiming for humor, and the effect is a bit like munching on a decent homemade cheeseburger with a Lucky Charms marshmallow mixed in with the onions. Your imaginary book ("Now with graphic illustrations!") is the prime offender. It's shoehorned in, and that sticker makes it even more out of place. Ptoo! Get that purple horseshoe out of my dinner!

Really, everything between 'giant's drumsticks' and 'Over the next three weeks' is weak. Dr. Campbell may as well be a sitcom psychiatrist. Your finale is the more stark for following such literary dishwater, but it doesn't need so much help: Milo's end is effectively creepy and set up well by his hypnosis session. Clearly something is going to go wrong, but until it happens, there's suspense regarding what. This is where the story is successful. You do a much better job with the horror elements than the borderline wacky hijinks.

As for the beginning, it's serviceable. Not as good as the end. I do like your scab simile. I would decapitalize 'lumps' when Milo first refers to them. Your grammar is generally fine, and I'd call your prose serviceable too in that it's not exciting, remarkable, or offensive; it gets the job done without much flair.

You wiffed the book as badly as CantDecideOnAName, but you hit your picture square on. In this case, the image appears in the story almost exactly as it does on the page, but by setting the bulk of your story after that moment, you gave yourself room to go somewhere unpredictable.

********

crabrock, "Suspended Without Pity":

crabrock posted:

I made my fiance give me permission to post it out of fear it'd be too creepy or weird so this is totally on her.

Well, that's a good sign!

(Pssst: it's fiancee, with an accent over the first E, for a female betrothed. And don't blame your creepy fiction on your significant other. Own it.)

True story: at one point last week Nubile Hillock and I were discussing prompts, and this paraphrased exchange occurred in connection to a different idea:

Kaishai: Maybe we should specify 'no pedophilia,' though.
Nubile Hillock: I like to think goons won't write about pedophilia if it's not mentioned.

Hillock, this is when I point and laugh.

Anyway--your hedging actually works against you. What you've written is creepy, but it's horror-creepy, an indictment of pedophilia that's extremely sparse on detail (thank you). It's sickening; at no point do I doubt it's supposed to be sickening. But the apologies make it sound worse than it is.

I respect the direction you took the image, as you've gone somewhere very dark but still recognizable with the fairy-tale feel of it. The book in the picture could be sinister or wonderful. The book in your story sure as hell isn't wonderful. Mr. Linden thinks it is, though. His 'love' is a toxic vine creeping out to poison Isabella, never mind Amber. You've got a strong relationship between story and source. Your imaginary book is also integral, so you hit that part of the prompt.

Here's the thing. Why does Linden give Isabella that book? Why does he think she'd enjoy it? And why in hell's name would a professor self-publish a pro-pedophilia novel with his name right in there--is this the career equivalent of suicide by cop? No one sane would do this, but the idea that someone whose publications are a critical part of their livelihood and whose background is of deep interest to his employers would do it shatters all suspension of disbelief. Please tell me I'm not insufficiently cynical when I think no college would keep this man on the faculty. The premise goes beyond merely straining credibility, and that weakens the story as a whole.

That said, Isabella's reactions--aside perhaps from the part where she didn't leave her copy of the book on the Dean's desk--ring true to me. You make me sympathetic toward someone who was banging her professor for a grade. That's something. Each character thinking the other is 'loving broken' is one of the better touches.

Your prose has some issues. 'Absconded.' 'Vamoosed.' Neither of these are appropriate for their contexts--they're over the top, and 'vamoosed' in particular sounds like Isabella is the Road Runner fleeing from Wile E. Coyote. You don't want that kind of absurdity. 'The boy's heart fluttered like the flag on a sinking ship'--we're not in his perspective, and Isabella can't feel his heart flutter. Cut that line. 'Yea' and 'yeah' are different words; you want the latter, or 'yes.' Mr. Linden himself doesn't write well at all, but I'll assume that's intentional.

You'd have horrifying horror on your hands if the base concept were plausible. Maybe Isabella could have found a notebook in his office with a handwritten version of the novel. Maybe he could have sent her an anonymous printout if he wanted her to read it for some reason. I don't know, but the way it stands, your premise is--alas--loving broken.

********

Symptomless Coma, "Rashomon's Vector":

I like your idea more than your execution, I think. This is one of those stories where I'm not dead sure my impression of what's going on is the one I'm meant to have. My take: a giant liner, tall as a skyscraper, rolled into a canal city in the past of the future; the main characters live in the slum created by the broken buildings. Anne discovers a book that requires cool temperatures to open, and it contains instructions for piloting the wrecked ship... which may not be a ship at all. As her brother looks on, she takes it, herself, and him out of the ruined city.

Not bad at all, and you've got a good atmosphere marred slightly by rough writing (more on that in a bit), but I have questions. What were Anne's mother's parting words; what happened to Anne's mother, anyway? What is 'the camp'? It's mentioned only once and never explained. Likewise 'the protectorate'; throwing these terms around does give the impression of a future dystopia, but the camp especially is more confusing than it's worth. What is the ship? A Cthulhoid vessel from beyond the stars? 'Pressed it' is a bad choice of verb phrase for Anne stabbing herself with a needle and bleeding into the ship, which I think is what happens. I wondered on my first read whether the blood was a metaphor and if so, for what. I end the piece unsure who built this thing and what the purpose is. Maybe you don't want me to be sure. I think you take the vagueness too far, however.

I see you scraping against the 900-word ceiling, and that's probably why. Writing a concept this complicated in such a short span is a difficult business, perhaps not even possible. You captured the feeling you wanted (I think) despite all my questions above, and I salute you for that.

I mentioned the writing earlier. With your premise being so complex and potentially confusing, your prose really needs to be crystal clear. Rashomon is 'she' on first reference, but 'it' on every reference after. 'Hand-work, though dirty and baked in the sun'--the hand-work is dirty and baked? I seriously imagined making pottery for a second here. 'Ash slid along the frosted sheets'--frosted sheets of what? Glass? Ice? 'She clenched that metal block to her'--I'm not absolutely sure of this one, but I don't think you can clench something to. You probably want 'clutched.' 'Through the little porthole, his sister pulled at levers and dials'--'Visible through the little porthole' would be better unless Anne's reaching through the porthole. Etc. There are enough small things like that to add up and damage the piece. It needs another polish.

(Oh, I almost forgot. When used as an adjective, 'X-year-old' is a compound modifier and calls for two hyphens, so: 'twelve-year-old,' 'thousand-year-old city.')

You do a great job with the picture and the prompt. Full marks there. You should keep this story and expand it.

********

Greatbacon, "Brother Francis Cried No More":

Oooh, a book of artifacts. I love these things. I love artifacts in general, and I would read your fake catalog. You put your picture in your fake book, which would be rather literal if it were the only connection, but the image is clear in your setting and plot, too, so the result is a delicious layer cake of inspiration. I like this! I also dig your final line; it's good and strong.

Your writing here isn't as sound as your ideas. Not that it's terrible, but take this line: 'As silently as he had disappeared, the chaplain returned to the entrance bearing a towel.' That's our introduction to the chaplain? We didn't see him disappear, silently or otherwise. It's backwards. (You said you went over the limit originally; perhaps this is a cutting scar.) Francis is 'awakened by the excitement of the unexpected storm,' but he wasn't asleep. Maybe 'made alert' would be better? The line 'It was dated 1142, over a hundred years ago' sticks out. It's a clumsy way to set your piece in time, and the vague sense of 'in the past' that the story gives may be sufficient.

"Even if this book contains falsehoods, someone is seeking out evil in earnest. I must warn the head of this congregation that one of his flock has fallen to temptation." Clunk! Would even a monk say this? In a room where he's alone? If nothing else, I'd make it an unspoken thought if I were you, and I'd probably cut it off after 'congregation' too.

You need a lot more commas than you've used; your prose sounds choppy to my inner ear (too many short, unpunctuated sentences), and this is one reason why. For the most part the prose is functional and simple. Watch for repetition: 'The stairs seemed to spiral downward forever.' 'The sound of it dropping seemed to echo forever.' Be careful too of stuff beginning to happen instead of happening.

I especially enjoy everything after Francis drops the book. More polish would strengthen the story, but it's a nice read regardless. Your approach to both halves of the prompt is top notch.

********

Canadian Surf Club, "The Old Sadogue":

Canadian Surf Club posted:

Tried to make friends with the comma again

Bless you.

You've done a good job, too--your comma usage isn't perfect, but it's respectable. Same goes for your overall grammar. Your story's easy to read, flows well, has good imagery and characterization, refers to your chosen image, and includes an imagined book. The book could use a trace more definition. It could be a collection of local fables or an entire book about the Old Sadogue for all I can tell. But it's probably for the best you didn't shoehorn in a title; I have the impression of a book with a very small printing, perhaps one of a kind. To your lead, it's just 'the book.'

One thing: 'Da'' drives me nuts whenever I see it. Lose the apostrophe. Treat it like Ma or Pa. You also misspell 'dinghy.'

In many ways this is the father's story, even though he isn't the perspective character. He's the one who gets the most development and the one whose faith is really being tested. He's the one who keeps the faith, and since he's an adult, there's magic in that. It makes it seem more possible that the Sadogue legend is real. It's all well done. And this: 'I wanted to say something to cheer him up, but knew better than to say anything at all when he was like that, and instead buried my face in his coat sleeves.' That's like the experience of being a child when your parent is upset encapsulated in one sentence.

This story is one of my favorites so far, and there's not much else for me to say. Good work. It was a pleasure to read.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Dec 31, 2013 around 16:15

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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.

Oh, right. Thunderdome. I was going to write a story but instead I played Planescape: Torment all weekend, which was time well spent.

Nonetheless, here is a story I made up just then which kind of semi addresses some of the prompts and is only most of a whole day late. Woo. I think I exhausted my knowledge of museums writing this.

Museum of Chairs

‘Empty Chair’ were the words on the display sign. The chair in question was a large, straight backed wooden number that was stood on top of an ornate rug. Plush cushions were on both seat and back, with tassels on all four corners of each. In it slumped a gentleman of perhaps seventy years, eyes closed.

“The irony’s brilliant, isn’t it?” said Kate. “It’s clearly a statement on society’s attitude towards and rejection of the elderly. ‘Look’, it seems to say, ‘here is what you’re calling nothing.’”

“Well there’s that, of course,” said Alan. “But I think it also speaks to society’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle.”

“Yes, of course, I see that now! This performer is one of the better ones I’ve seen, I can’t believe I’ve not seen him in anything before.”

Kate felt a tug on her sleeve, and turned to look into the face of a small girl. “Excuse me miss,” said the child, “but do you know where the dinosaur skeletons are?”

“No,” said Kate, “this isn’t that kind of museum.”

“Oh.” The little girl stood and pondered this for a moment. “Then can you tell me where the woolly mammoths are?”

“Hmmm?” Kate glanced down at her again. “No, look, kid…”

“Gracie,” said the girl.

“Look Gracie, this isn’t a natural history museum. It’s an avant-garde art museum.”

“Oh. Why can’t dinosaurs be Avon Guard?”

“Well I suppose they could be,” said Alan, “in fact that could be a very interesting piece. You’d have to do something different with it, though.”

“Being a dinosaur isn’t enough?”

“Well, everyone’s seen dinosaurs before,” said Kate. “You’d have to show them in a different light. Show a different angle.”

“I haven’t seen dinosaurs,” said Gracie. “We’ve been to three different museums today, and none of them had dinosaurs.”

A short, bald man walked up from behind them. “I see you’re all admiring my latest work,” he said. “I’m Fritz, I made this piece. Except for that old guy, but I liked how he changed my work.”

“That’s my grandpa,” said the girl.

“Well,” said Fritz, “It might be best if you wake him up before we view the interactive part of this exhibit.” He gestured towards a small button mounted on the display sign.

“Wake up, grandpa!” said Gracie into his ear.

“What?”

Gracie dragged him off of the chair and back behind the line of the rug. “Now?” she asked. Fritz nodded. Gracie pushed the button.

Nothing happened, and Gracie moved towards the button again. “Patience,” said Fritz. “Good things come to those who wait, mmm?”

There was a metallic creak. The chair rose up, slightly, then tilted away from them, and then straightened up and kept rising. The whole rug seemed to be rising.

While the first couple of movements had been laboured and slow, the next were very sudden. So violent was the movement that the chair was flung across the exhibit hall, out through the open French Windows. A splash could be heard from out the front of the museum. Underneath the rug had risen the Tyrant Lizard King, Tyrannosaurus Rex. A disco ball hung from one of its lower fangs, and lights from the chandeliers on either side of the exhibit reflected off this orb. In its small claws was clutched a large acoustic guitar.

“I would’ve gone with an electric,” said Fritz, “but getting an amp in there was too much of a hassle.”

“This is the best museum exhibit ever!” said Gracie.

Kate frowned. “I don’t think I understand this piece anymore.”

“I don’t get it either,” said Alan. The two of them turned away to admire an exhibit of a basket containing a dead snake.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week XXXV: Fumblemouse, Chewie23, Sitting Here, CancerCakes, Noah, Erogenous Beef, Jagermonster, Bad Seafood, sebmojo, JuniperCake, and Chairchucker


Fumblemouse, Signals and Wards:

I don't mind too much that I don't know the nature of Sam's lights or how she got her secret book, but it bothers me more that this little girl can read, can think, but the doctors are going to scramble her brain. Why? What's wrong with her that cutting her head open is necessary? She seems very normal. If there's supposed to be something awry with how her brain is wired, I don't see it, aside from her muteness. But if she's only mute, brain surgery seems extreme, and wouldn't she know the whens, whys, and wheres of her operation? I got hung up on this, and I never got my answers.

Your writing's pretty solid, though. There's an odd word choice or two. The phrase 'allayed the troubling uncertainty of the Children’s Ward' contributes to the impression that Sam isn't only neurotypical, but educated--it's a bit much. When you use terms like 'incomprehensible,' 'fluorescent,' and 'surgical' while we're inside her head, it implies to me that Sam understands these terms, knows what they are; again I'm troubled by what's about to happen to her, not because it's dreadful--it is, of course--but because I don't understand the reason. This distracts me. Your grammar, however, is excellent, save for a missing comma or two. You describe things well.

I appreciate your take on the picture, but the book does mystify me. Is it literally imaginary and Sam hallucinates? If it is, I guess it's a further expression of her premonitions of death. That would serve the prompt. If it isn't, it's more confusion than it's worth.

Your own vocabulary may have gotten in your way here. It could be a good story, but it's gone wrong in some way I find difficult to point to, like Sam herself.

********

Chewie23, "The Wind Charts":

'The book floated along the river bank before being spotted by the boys.' Making this your first line sets up the book, not the boys, to be your protagonist; you should probably rephrase it. 'Rubbing away the mud, the cover read in big bold letters'--this is a dangling participle, meaning your participle ('rubbing') modifies the wrong noun ('cover'). You're telling me the cover rubbed off its own mud. Nice trick! (I kind of want to read about a sentient book now.)

Your tenses are all over the place. 'The waters did their damage and washed out the text on the pages'--unless that's happening as the boys watch, you want to say 'The waters had done their damage and had washed out the text on the pages.' You should use 'could,' not 'can,' in 'How hard can it be reading a book?' With 'It was not the first time the boys consulted him,' you should say instead 'the boys had consulted him.' Watch for this, because you do it a lot; I'm not pointing to all the examples here.

Leaving out dialogue and reporting it all secondhand is the equivalent of telling, not showing, everything Michael said. I don't recommend this! I don't recommend quite so many exclamation marks either! Those would probably be fine if they were in dialogue, though!

Why do the boys go to Castletown at all? Michael drops them off--but where? The book is theirs, and I expected them to take it to the Book Menders with Michael along for the ride. Now Michael's looking like your main character. You should probably rearrange your opening so that it's from his perspective. Have the boys rush in and shove the book at him; show its ruination through his eyes.

The finale is anticlimactic, but it sort of suits the whimsical mood you wanted.

I don't think you quite got there--the story read to me more like you were trying to do children's fiction and trying too hard, with the exclamation points especially--but it isn't charmless. It does remind me a bit of the only Miyazaki film I've seen. Whether it would have if you hadn't mentioned that, I don't know, but I kind of doubt it; I don't dislike the piece regardless, though I think it could be better. You did a nice job with the picture and the prompt.

********

Sitting Here, "Fire Escape":

This. This is lovely. Dystopian SF, done with a light hand. You do as Greatbacon did and put your picture literally into the story. In your case, the pastoral splendor of the harp's garden is warped in the warring outside world. Isolation, melancholy, and beauty all feel like themes here. I want to see the missing pages from the sketchbook. What was there, why are they gone? I'd like to read a story set in the father's time that touches these things. If you can't tell, I like your story a lot.

It's not perfect. 'My dad never did own up to it, but I knew there was something.' Something what? 'Something he kept hidden,' I expect, but on my first read that wasn't obvious. You use semi-colons when you should use colons in 'One month; that was how long' and 'caught my eye; a small catch.' I'm not sure why the father was so anxious to keep his son away from the book. This really does have a lot of hints at a story left untold, which distract slightly from the story you do tell.

Still, it's hard to complain. Beautiful work. This is likely to end up either on top or just slightly below.

********

CancerCakes, "Unlock your imagination in the library":

'The House is full Of Leaves.' Be honest, CancerCakes: did you commit this abomination of capitalization on purpose? Your effort is futile! Try as you might, you're not losing this week! Besides which, you're the first person to format a book title correctly. That would absolve you of almost anything.

You don't even need the help, in seriousness. This is the strongest piece of yours I've critiqued and the strongest I can remember reading. Part of that might, admittedly, be my weakness for your picture (it's my other favorite) and the very concept of secretive, labyrinthine libraries, but I think this is genuinely good. You've written entries in an imaginary book about imaginary books, but the imaginary books are hidden and quite possibly imaginary even to the protagonist. That's fantastic. It's got this neat unwinding horror feel that goes wonderfully with the labyrinth. I want those card catalogs in my house. I will say the use of the picture as opposed to its title is rather weak.

Nor is that the only weak point. I wish there were a month attached to the days in that journal. Kind of odd that there wouldn't be; who writes just the day? Your story's title isn't capitalized properly and doesn't fit the mood. The diary format makes it possible to blame wording mistakes on your protagonist, but I have my doubts that 'I am yet to find any books' is an intentional gaffe. (The verb should be 'have.') You flat leave words out of the phrases 'Escaping auction house will be good for me' and 'I had to helped to my bed.' In the sentence 'Since the profit would likely be wholly stolen by parasitic lawyers or my spouse, so I am not inclined to speculate upon the effort required,' 'since' and 'so' are redundant: pick one.

Then there's the last paragraph. When I line up the capitalized letters, I get 'IWETATKYMAEVIS.' MAEVIS is obvious, but IWETATKY eludes me as I'm sure it does not actually mean 'I wet at Kentucky.' Adding HOL from the aforementioned abomination doesn't help either, it just gets me (with some unscrambling) 'HOLY TEAK WIT.' Or 'HOLY WEAK TIT.' Or 'WITH TO LEAKY.' I guess it could be 'WITHOUT LEAKY' if I assume the one word capitalized in the title should also count as an oddity. 'OUT WITH LEAKY'? Probably not. Whatever you're going for here is kinda obscure, is what I'm saying.

You've got some problems; they're relatively minor, and I like the story anyway. You should write about libraries more often, but rethink the anagrams.

ACTUALLY! Jeza figured it out! Thanks, Jeza. I had to outsource this puzzle. So it's the first letter of every word in the last line, huh? I WILL ESCAPE THIS ASYLUM TA KILL YOU MAEVIS. Pleasingly grim, but I share Jeza's distaste for 'ta' amidst the mad ramblings of an otherwise articulate man. And let us not forget that no sane reader will bother.

********

Noah, "The Next Chapter":

It's inevitable your conclusion would be anticlimactic--that's the point--but the sense of having been left out of the real and more interesting story still overpowers my sympathy with the protagonist, who of course is in exactly the same position. The idea is an interesting one, and you lend the image (or take from it) a mood that's far different from what Chewie23 got, yet just as valid. I just don't think you've quite pulled it off: when the story ends, I'm dissatisfied.

I suspect you haven't left enough room for the aftermath. We're with the protagonist in his lonely melancholy for only one paragraph. When he's with the others, he's less compelling than Bernie, and he has no quest of his own--no story of his own. No name, even, of his own. He's an accessory to someone else. Maybe his loss in having to leave the story, and my ability to care, would be more intense if he definitely had mattered, if he'd played a more active role. What if he always had to wonder whether Bernie could have succeeded without him?

Other than that, the piece is very reminiscent of "The Body"/Stand By Me, and I want to find out what happened to the other children. You've hit both aspects of the prompt. I like how little you explain about the book. It's a mystery, part of the story we don't get to see. In this context, that works. There are odd bits: the protagonist desperately wanted to know what the book smelled like? An old book a boy has been clutching through a sweaty adventure? Really?

But you've done what you wanted to do, as best I can tell. That I think it would be better with some changes may be a matter of taste.

********

Erogenous Beef, "Don't Skip To the End":

You had me at 'The library is yours to keep.' You kept my attention throughout, and I'm glad I didn't read ahead. I absolutely love your premise. Describing a dust-covered room as a 'domestic winterscape' is great; I enjoyed the metaphor of the book as a fishing lure; to put things in books is the best possible rationale for theft; your final line was not what I expected, and it landed like a brisk slap. Do you know how much I love not having much to criticize?

Even your grammar is drat near ideal. One major exception: you should have used the past perfect during the flashback. (So: 'my classmates had called Mr. Wilkins an old gypsy,' 'Between its covers, I'd soared over the Alps,' etc.) And your book title should be either italicized or underlined.

Your use of the picture might be slightly weaker than some (you're almost as close to Mr. Linden's Library as The Harp), but it's still good, and magical, imaginary books are the core of your concept.

At this point there's some stiff competition for the win. You're a contender, though, as far as I'm concerned.

********

Jagermonster, "Uninvited Guests":

Your writing is rough. I don't remember noticing so many errors in your entry last week. Your use of the imaginary book disappointed me too, although maybe it shouldn't, since I wouldn't be surprised if Googling +"Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates" actually got me somewhere.

('Your search - +"Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates" - did not match any documents.' Thank you, Google. It's good to be wrong now and then.)

The point remains: the book is relevant for one paragraph. The story doesn't need it at all, which goes against the spirit of the prompt.

You've certainly used the picture, however, and Jeremy's ultimate level of violence was surprising yet believable to me: he's afraid and hates what he fears, so he bends everything he has on destroying it. This moment could be his transition out of childhood. The deepening voice and sudden expletives suggest that too, not to mention the business of having just roasted Stuart Little alive. The mouse-things can symbolize youthful innocence, more or less. Jeremy gets angrier when he realizes what he might have done--I like that too; I'm guessing that consciously or subconsciously, he realizes what he's lost, with no one to blame but himself.

So your symbolism is pretty effective. The prose, less so. You too should remember to use the past perfect in your flashbacks. Your third paragraph is a wreck: 'Too afraid to head down the stairs and turn on the lower light, only the dim bulb at the top of the stairs provided illumination. He reached in his pocket and removed his father’s lighter. He lit it, but it didn’t provide any better illumination.' The first sentence tells me the light bulb is afraid, and both sentences use a variant on 'provide illumination,' which is much too distinct a phrase to repeat so quickly. Only one person should speak in a given paragraph, but two people speak in your fourth. You say 'Only one thing lived behind doors like that in basements' and then list several possibilities. You left a period off the sentence containing 'apredo portalis arroha.' Later, you don't capitalize 'gently caress you!' Etc. I would also split your final paragraph into two and put the break after 'Or Narnia.'

Why did the mouse-things know his name? Why did they choose that moment to emerge? It strains coincidence a little. I would rather he'd knocked or something before the knob turned, though I suppose he's too scared for that.

This isn't on my high-score list, but it isn't bad. It's a decent take on the picture, and the action has energy behind it. You should haul this over to the Farm if you want to work with it further.

********

Bad Seafood, "Descartes":

'His head lulled lazily.' 'There were fields there, tick and beautiful.' 'Suicide. No fowl play.' Oh, dear. Were you rushed? This looks like it wasn't proofread, and the misspellings aren't the only symptoms. I'll get back to that shortly.

If I understand it right, this is a post-apocalyptic piece featuring an alien whose personal library of seven books brings destruction to the humans who read one. It's possible these books caused The End. Roger has finally tracked down a third book, leaving four still abroad to cause damage. His niece died to recover it. The alien's motives are unknown, but human deaths only amuse him; he was captured fifty years ago, nailed to a chair, probably blinded, and now communicates through a radio.

That's a fascinating interpretation of Mr. Linden's Library. The picture is there, except with blood in place of vines. Your imaginary book is incorporated well. The premise inspires a lot of questions, natch, like what the alien's role was, how the books work, etc., but I don't feel I have to know in order to get the story... though it wouldn't hurt. For ideas, I give you thumbs up.

Honestly, though. Fowl play?

And your sentence structure is so oddball: 'it seemed a strange and curious thing to look back on the war as thing thought of fondly.' What? I know what you mean (I think), and I think you want either 'it seemed a strange and curious thing to look back on the war and think of it fondly,' or 'it seemed a strange and curious thing to think fondly back on the war' for bonus concision. Similarly, 'in his hands crumpled the letter that accompanied it' is bizarre. You might want 'his hands crumpled the letter that accompanied it' or 'in his hands, crumpled, the letter that accompanied it.' I recommend the former. 'The voice from the radio was tired and distant, yet carried itself with a musical bearing.' What? (Again.) I'm not sure where you were going with that clause, whether you intend to tell me the voice is musical or convey some sort of audial poise on top of that. Maybe 'yet held to a musical dignity'? I don't know.

'Was comprised of such sentences' -- 'Comprise' doesn't work this way, weirdly. Go with either 'was composed of' or 'comprised such sentences.' That last one looks unnatural to me, but it's correct.

It's a decent piece, would probably be a good piece, but right now the lack of polish is too obvious.

********

sebmojo, At Torneträsk:

As usual, I don't have much to pick at with you. This is good, as you know perfectly well; I think you must do stuff like stick the period of your last line outside its quotation marks just to screw with us. You have incidents of multiple people talking in the same paragraph fairly consistently, though. Cut that out.

Young prodigies are among my favorite characters when they're drawn well, and you do that thing where one shows an ultra-intelligent child's ultra-intelligence through formal speech patterns without taking it into absurdism. Per's relationship with Ulli is a pleasure, the setting details are evocative, and you've got sensawunda all over the place. It's upbeat. You've brought in a Twilight Zone-style magic without the TZ cheesiness. I really appreciate how light this is. Thunderdome stories have a tendency to go grim; humor and happiness stand out and shine when they work.

I don't know whether you'll win--good as this is, I'm not ready to call it definitively better than certain other pieces. It's a great story, though. Excellent work with the picture and the imagined book.

********

JuniperCake, "Sanctuary":

'Can still lose even if I can't win'? Nope! You're out of luck on both counts! Kudos for posting anyway. You've gone a more direct fairy-tale route, I see, which is appropriate for the Linden picture.

I'm not sure I understand your piece, though. Violet is a sweatshop worker, apparently, overseen by many 'parents.' They lock her in a closet for reading a book. She accidentally sets clothes in the closet on fire, then believes the parental unit that comes for her is actually a monster. I think she's imagining that? (Or seeing through the physical truth to a deeper truth, considering.) Then a modern fireman arrives. Violet doesn't recognize him for what he is.

Your opening suggests an honest-to-goodness, once-upon-a-time fairy tale, and deviating from that so relatively late--you do mention a lighter early on, so that's a clue, but it's easy to miss--is jarring. The ending is hard to follow, a casualty of Violet's unreliable perspective. I wonder that Violet can read at all. How old would she have had to have been in the long-ago time when she learned, given that she reads a book without difficulty? Four, minimum? Five? But she doesn't know the overseers aren't her real parents? Not sure I buy that. But--I'm intrigued by your use of a sweatshop. This was a good idea. I'd like to see it made to work better.

You break your text into paragraphs more often than you need to: the first three sentences would read better as one paragraph. Your prose in general needs some fine-tuning. Examples: 'She twirled in the cramp space' should say 'cramped space'; 'she was confronted by a closet full of smoldering smoke' doesn't sound like she's in the closet, though she is. It sounds more like she's rolled a Closet Full of Smoke on her random encounter table. Then, in your final four paragraphs, you switch tenses entirely from past to present. Don't do that! I think you might have done it on purpose, to switch out of Fairy Tale Mode and into Real World Mode, but from Violet's perspective there's no difference. Nothing has changed, and the fireman is a monster to her. The tense swap is thus weirdly meta if intentional, and whether it is intentional is by no means clear.

Work on your commas. They're absent from many places, such as 'The boy pushed the book into Violet’s hands and she hid it in her clothes'; 'That night, when everyone had gone to sleep'; 'in strange, beautiful places'; 'For her own good, her parents said'; and 'Exhausted, she slumps to the ground.' (I've put commas where they ought to be in those phrases.) That's not a comprehensive list.

Your ideas outstrip your execution--you're not alone in that this week, or any week--and you wouldn't have been in my top echelon, but you wouldn't have been in the bottom, either. This is decent and more interesting than some.

********

Chairchucker, "Museum of Chairs":

Oh, Chairchucker. I'm glad you were late with this. This way I can enjoy it without caring about prompts and such. I'll critique you on those grounds anyway, mind you; I've got a kind of theme going here, and I've frowned at other people for changing their approach at the last minute. Integrity is key.

You've got a chair, you've got a rug, you've got movement under the rug, but "The Seven Chairs" might have been a more appropriate choice if you wanted to go in this direction. (I notice your clever reference to French windows. 'Ended up in France' indeed.) On the other hand, there's something to be said for hitting more pictures than one. It's like a trick shot or a video game challenge run. I don't see anything even slightly resembling a book, however. No matter what Alan and Kate might say if I asked them, you can't 'read' a dead snake.

When Gracie says '“Wake up, grandpa!”' 'Grandpa' should be capitalized. 'His' is also vague in that sentence--you could be referring to Fritz's ear. The 'window' part of 'French window' should be in lowercase. I'm not convinced of the ability of a T. Rex tooth to hold the weight of a disco ball. If the T. Rex is alive, it wouldn't put up with the indignity; if it's dead, that tooth's probably just glued in the jaw, you know.

Okay, seriously now, I love the story. Your irreverence entertains without fail. Kate and Alan have no taste, is all I can say about them. Please tell me the disco ball spins and that Gracie grows up to be a paleontologist.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 17:00

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Kaishai posted:

CancerCakes, "Unlock your imagination in the library":

'The House is full Of Leaves.' Be honest, CancerCakes: did you commit this abomination of capitalization on purpose? Your effort is futile! Try as you might, you're not losing this week! Besides which, you're the first person to format a book title correctly. That would absolve you of almost anything.

You don't even need the help, in seriousness. This is the strongest piece of yours I've critiqued and the strongest I can remember reading. Part of that might, admittedly, be my weakness for your picture (it's my other favorite) and the very concept of secretive, labyrinthine libraries, but I think this is genuinely good. You've written entries in an imaginary book about imaginary books, but the imaginary books are hidden and quite possibly imaginary even to the protagonist. That's fantastic. It's got this neat unwinding horror feel that goes wonderfully with the labyrinth. I want those card catalogs in my house. I will say the use of the picture as opposed to its title is rather weak.

Nor is that the only weak point. I wish there were a month attached to the days in that journal. Kind of odd that there wouldn't be; who writes just the day? Your story's title isn't capitalized properly and doesn't fit the mood. The diary format makes it possible to blame wording mistakes on your protagonist, but I have my doubts that 'I am yet to find any books' is an intentional gaffe. (The verb should be 'have.') You flat leave words out of the phrases 'Escaping auction house will be good for me' and 'I had to helped to my bed.' In the sentence 'Since the profit would likely be wholly stolen by parasitic lawyers or my spouse, so I am not inclined to speculate upon the effort required,' 'since' and 'so' are redundant: pick one.

Then there's the last paragraph. When I line up the capitalized letters, I get 'IWETATKYMAEVIS.' MAEVIS is obvious, but IWETATKY eludes me as I'm sure it does not actually mean 'I wet at Kentucky.' Adding HOL from the aforementioned abomination doesn't help either, it just gets me (with some unscrambling) 'HOLY TEAK WIT.' Or 'HOLY WEAK TIT.' Or 'WITH TO LEAKY.' I guess it could be 'WITHOUT LEAKY' if I assume the one word capitalized in the title should also count as an oddity. 'OUT WITH LEAKY'? Probably not. Whatever you're going for here is kinda obscure, is what I'm saying.

You've got some problems; they're relatively minor, and I like the story anyway. You should write about libraries more often, but rethink the anagrams.

ACTUALLY! Jeza figured it out! Thanks, Jeza. I had to outsource this puzzle. So it's the first letter of every word in the last line, huh? I WILL ESCAPE THIS ASYLUM TA KILL YOU MAEVIS. Pleasingly grim, but I share Jeza's distaste for 'ta' amidst the mad ramblings of an otherwise articulate man. And let us not forget that no sane reader will bother.

Thank you! This was probably the thunderdome entry that I enjoyed the most so far, and it took a lot of time. That last paragraph alone took ages with thesaurus.com! I know the TA doesn't fit, but my rationalisation was that aura has almost an O sound. I almost capitalized the AU but then it wouldn't have fit the scheme.

The House of Leaves is a modern marvel, this was in homage to it. Seriously, read it, it is probably one of my favorite books.

The month was actually in the dates, but I cut it because of word count, then never put it back.
I know the title was crap but I couldn't think of anything else that wasn't a horrible cliche.

As to this:

You've written entries in an imaginary book about imaginary books, but the imaginary books are hidden and quite possibly imaginary even to the protagonist.

It becomes even more complicated if you are familiar with House of Leaves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_leaves

My piece is a diary about an imaginary card catalogue produced by a madman, for an imaginary library that he knows is imaginary BUT that contains Zampano's manuscript, an imaginary thesis about an imaginary videotape, produced by an unreliable narrator in The House of Leaves. The fact that it almost stands on its own makes me much happier than I have any right to be on a Monday morning.

Sorry to poo poo the thread up with my poo poo, I wanted to PM you.

CancerCakes fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 09:08

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Black Griffon posted:

I just got home, I'm quite hungover, I'm terrifically happy and I'm certain my piece won't be done on time. Oh well.

black_griffon.txt

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


systran posted:

Martello - The Cranes Came Home

Further in you mention her “scroll,” and then at the very end of the story you have “a chat ar-box.” Why not make the first phone call in the restaurant mention the ar-box or something similar? This would have established the time period straight away and I could have focused on the actual plot.

I love science fiction, but in this story I think cutting the descriptions of 2050’s/2060’s Venice and 2040’s Venice to show more about the relationship between the characters or to just do something else would have made it more successful. Even if it was more obvious early on that it was set in the future, I didn't see any real reason why this couldn't have just been set in 2013.

Good feedback, thanks.

I definitely could have set it in 2013, and she could have been reading a Kindle instead of a Scroll, whatever that is anyway. I set it in the 2060s because these are the characters I like to write about and this is when they live.

And obviously, I rushed the whole thing. I knew I'd have no time to write on the weekend. Typical 'domer.


The no italics was lazy copy/pasting from Word. More words is definitely what I needed, what I did had no room to breathe. So basically, I suck is what I'm saying.

Mazedonia is a fake cigarette brand from Tintin if you'll believe it. I borrowed the brand as a little homage. Made-up cigarette brands have a long and glorious tradition, from Victory to Red Apples to Morleys.

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


Thunderbrawl - Noah vs Nubile Hillock vs sebmojo

RESULTS: sebmojo, as interloper of this historical brawl, arrives from Last Chance Kitchen, defeats his fellow contestants with a last minute propane-fueled stir fry and takes the helm as the Next Creative Convention Celebrity Chef. Guest judges smack their lips and approve - they wonder if spiders can be shoved up their rectums too.

Critiques and line edits to come later when I'm not working/sleeping.

Symptomless Coma
Mar 30, 2007
for shock value

Kaishai posted:

Symptomless Coma, "Rashomon's Vector":

I like your idea more than your execution, I think. This is one of those stories where I'm not dead sure my impression of what's going on is the one I'm meant to have. My take: a giant liner, tall as a skyscraper, rolled into a canal city in the past of the future; the main characters live in the slum created by the broken buildings. Anne discovers a book that requires cool temperatures to open, and it contains instructions for piloting the wrecked ship... which may not be a ship at all. As her brother looks on, she takes it, herself, and him out of the ruined city.

Not bad at all, and you've got a good atmosphere marred slightly by rough writing (more on that in a bit), but I have questions. What were Anne's mother's parting words; what happened to Anne's mother, anyway? What is 'the camp'? It's mentioned only once and never explained. Likewise 'the protectorate'; throwing these terms around does give the impression of a future dystopia, but the camp especially is more confusing than it's worth. What is the ship? A Cthulhoid vessel from beyond the stars? 'Pressed it' is a bad choice of verb phrase for Anne stabbing herself with a needle and bleeding into the ship, which I think is what happens. I wondered on my first read whether the blood was a metaphor and if so, for what. I end the piece unsure who built this thing and what the purpose is. Maybe you don't want me to be sure. I think you take the vagueness too far, however.

I see you scraping against the 900-word ceiling, and that's probably why. Writing a concept this complicated in such a short span is a difficult business, perhaps not even possible. You captured the feeling you wanted (I think) despite all my questions above, and I salute you for that.

I mentioned the writing earlier. With your premise being so complex and potentially confusing, your prose really needs to be crystal clear. Rashomon is 'she' on first reference, but 'it' on every reference after. 'Hand-work, though dirty and baked in the sun' -- the hand-work is dirty and baked? I seriously imagined making pottery for a second here. 'Ash slid along the frosted sheets'--frosted sheets of what? Glass? Ice? 'She clenched that metal block to her'--I'm not absolutely sure of this one, but I don't think you can clench something to. You probably want 'clutched.' 'Through the little porthole, his sister pulled at levers and dials' -- 'Visible through the little porthole' would be better unless Anne's reaching through the porthole. Etc. There are enough small things like that to add up and damage the piece. It needs another polish.

(Oh, I almost forgot. When used as an adjective, 'X-year-old' is a compound modifier and calls for two hyphens, so: 'twelve-year-old,' 'thousand-year-old city.')

You do a great job with the picture and the prompt. Full marks there. You should keep this story and expand it.

********

Many thanks for this! Especially your last paragraph, that's brilliant. I spent so much time trying to fit events together that some real clangers have slipped through.

I wanted to answer your questions really quickly (and ask one), to see if they change anything, because I think if I can get it right I'll take it further.

Your take is right, except for in the last line I'm trying to imply that Rashomon is bound into the ruined city, and that when it starts the city comes with it. My question to you - is that idea so weird that it has to be stated more explicitly than that? I'm still addicted to being vague. A part of me thinks it's clever.

Vagueness - Ash is a device to add artificial vagueness, but Anne doesn't fully know what the book is either, just that it'll change their lovely fortune in some way. Again, I take it I didn't get this over properly, right?

Anne's mother's words - This was a way of not having to say "their mum's dead". I thought it would be interesting to just drop that there and let people wonder, assuming its some admonishment against babying Ash... but is there no room for uncertainty?

Is the answer to all these questions the same? It is, isn't it?

Symptomless Coma fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 19:43

Chewie23
Mar 17, 2013

Damn. It feels good to be a gangster


Kaishai posted:


Chewie23, "The Wind Charts":

'The book floated along the river bank before being spotted by the boys.' Making this your first line sets up the book, not the boys, to be your protagonist; you should probably rephrase it. 'Rubbing away the mud, the cover read in big bold letters'--this is a dangling participle, meaning your participle ('rubbing') modifies the wrong noun ('cover'). You're telling me the cover rubbed off its own mud. Nice trick! (I kind of want to read about a sentient book now.)

Your tenses are all over the place. 'The waters did their damage and washed out the text on the pages'--unless that's happening as the boys watch, you want to say 'The waters had done their damage and had washed out the text on the pages.' You should use 'could,' not 'can,' in 'How hard can it be reading a book?' With 'It was not the first time the boys consulted him,' you should say instead 'the boys had consulted him.' Watch for this, because you do it a lot; I'm not pointing to all the examples here.

Leaving out dialogue and reporting it all secondhand is the equivalent of telling, not showing, everything Michael said. I don't recommend this! I don't recommend quite so many exclamation marks either! Those would probably be fine if they were in dialogue, though!

Why do the boys go to Castletown at all? Michael drops them off--but where? The book is theirs, and I expected them to take it to the Book Menders with Michael along for the ride. Now Michael's looking like your main character. You should probably rearrange your opening so that it's from his perspective. Have the boys rush in and shove the book at him; show its ruination through his eyes.

The finale is anticlimactic, but it sort of suits the whimsical mood you wanted.

I don't think you quite got there--the story read to me more like you were trying to do children's fiction and trying too hard, with the exclamation points especially--but it isn't charmless. It does remind me a bit of the only Miyazaki film I've seen. Whether it would have if you hadn't mentioned that, I don't know, but I kind of doubt it; I don't dislike the piece regardless, though I think it could be better. You did a nice job with the picture and the prompt.


Good stuff, Kaishai. I'm starting to get a feel for these short fiction pieces now, since before I never had much experience with word limits. I'll try to tighten up my tenses and ending(s).

Also, should I include what I was shooting for in my pieces (like mentioning Miyazaki) or leave it out in future TD writing? It seemed that I colored your expectation when I mentioned Miyazaki, and I can't decide if that is a good or bad thing for me

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Your work should stand alone without having to preface it with any information. If you have to tell us what you were going for that means your story didn't carry itself well enough.


Edit: Saddest Rhino, that's loving ridiculous. You're next.

Noah fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 21:34

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

More critiques: Nikael Drekin, Symptomless Coma, Greatbacon, Canadian Surf Club. I will try to have the rest out by today and then hopefully the judges will have time tonight to discuss who will win and who will lose.

Nikaer Drekin – The Lumps

I liked this, but you could have made me like it more. I agree that the book felt kind of half-assed, though I at least will give you credit for having the book help to set the overall tone and feeling rather than just shoving it in there. The way you described the book and the fairly ridiculous method of hypnosis fit together and created a mid-to-early-twentieth century vibe where people still thought hypnosis was a thing and psychology was some kind of voodoo. I really only felt this vibe from those two aspects (the book and the hypnosis), so it kind of just hit me 65% of the way into the story rather than feeling consistently campy throughout.

It would have been better to up the campiness or to cut it entirely and make the story’s tone just ‘disturbing.’ Taking out the crazy pinwheel and using shock treatment and a bunch of drugs would have made it creepier and more realistic; the description of these would have also given you a chance to insert more disturbing imagery. Something Milo read in a book could have caused him to see the lumps or exacerbate his psychosis.

On the other hand, you did the campiness effectively where I mentioned, so maybe putting more elements like that in throughout would have been the better route?

It felt a bit muddled since you didn’t go entirely one way. I also don’t buy that he would bother to write that out on the wall. He could have just been dying when Charles walked in and Milo could have been in the act and said, “FROM INSIDE ME” out loud.

Crabrock – Suspended Without Pay

This story also felt muddled: Is Isabella using Dr. Linden just to get a good grade or is she involved with him because she respects him and thinks he is a genius?

I’m thankfully not an expert on this, but aren’t pedophiles generally not attracted to adults? If Dr. Linden is a pedophile that goes for 11-year-olds, why is he involved with an adult? Why did the pedophile thing have to happen at all, really? I feel like having him just be a creepy guy that abused the power dynamic of being a professor and having younger students would be enough to work with and you already spent the first half of the 900 words developing this. You could have made the book disturbing by thinking of something more interesting rather than relying on the inherent shock value of pedophilia.

“and instead a rose bush made out of pure love grew from the pages and when Mr. Linden got home later that night and ran into her room he saw a solitary rose resting on his lover’s cheek. “

This really should not have been one sentence. It would have been a nice ending to have Isabella unable to feel love since the book somehow distilled all of her capacity to love out into the rose, which Mr. Linden took. I thought that’s what happened until the last sentence which instead implied: "No, the rose was pointless. She was just creeped out by him."

Symptomless Coma - Rashomon's Vector

You tried to do too much in the 900 words. Being vague works better if you combine it with something that is extremely clear and blatant; but very little in this story was explicit. It was kind of interesting how the book was metal and almost mystical, but you had to use up so many words telling us that the metal was contracting, that the pages were frosted, that it was heavy, that the symbols were nightmarish.

I liked the feeling you evoked, I liked the imagery, but I didn’t like how you spent your word count. I think you needed to choose an extremely clear focal point and leave everything else out of focus. You could have went crazy and made the story from Rashomon’s point of view as if it were almost alive, with the book as part of its sensory organs. You could have just cut out a lot of the world building and made it very tight on Anne or Ash’s point of view and cut out most of the words that didn’t involve something explicitly happening. You could have ended with a vague description or made various elements vague, but making everything vague hurt your narrative. The end result was some nice feeling imagery and setting, but a very lukewarm plot. I understood what happened at the end, but again it was just cool imagery and I didn’t know why the city moving around with Rashomon really mattered. I didn’t know why Anne was so set on making the ship move and I wasn’t invested in her or her brother as a person.

Greatbacon – Brother Francis Cried No More

I will echo that the way you made the book have the image you used inside of it was great.

“Finding a staircase behind the altar he figured this would lead him to his goal. “

Sentences like this and some other writing problems hurt you though. Especially with a relatively low word count, bad sentences like this kill the flow of your story and dilute it.

“The stairs seemed to spiral downward forever. His breath began to appear in soft clouds before him. The smell of burning incense and the sound of chanting began to waft up towards him. The ceiling seemed lost in the darkness ”

There were A LOT more “seemed to” instances other than what I bolded here, but those were all in a row. You have more than five verbs in a row that are seeming to or beginning to happen.

I don’t have any suggestions for what to do with the ending; it worked as is but I think having something more creative happen would have strengthened your ending significantly. The description of all the artifacts in the book intrigue me, but then we just have him being offered to sit in the chair at the end. I would have liked to see what sitting in the chair did to him.

This could have been much better with some cleaned-up writing and small tweaks.

Canadian Surf Club – The Old Sadogue

This was good but your opening flow was ruined because this confused me:

"He sailed in a dingy (before the mayor of St.John's gave him a schooner so he could travel faster, but that wasn't written)"

I don’t think you needed the parenthesis, and because you used them I thought “dingy” was an adjective which was going to modify whatever noun came after the parenthesis. When I didn’t see that noun after the long sentence in the parenthesis, I only then realized “dingy” was the noun itself and was referring to a type of ship. I had to reread a few times here to understand and it badly hurt the flow of what was otherwise a tight piece. I think you should just drop the parenthesis here entirely. I also agree that Da’ was annoying.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 16:38

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Chairchucker posted:

Oh, right. Thunderdome. I was going to write a story but instead I played Planescape: Torment all weekend, which was time well spent.

Nonetheless, here is a story I made up just then which kind of semi addresses some of the prompts and is only most of a whole day late. Woo. I think I exhausted my knowledge of museums writing this.

Museum of Chairs

‘Empty Chair’ were the words on the display sign. The chair in question was a large, straight backed wooden number that was stood on top of an ornate rug. Plush cushions were on both seat and back, with tassels on all four corners of each. In it slumped a gentleman of perhaps seventy years, eyes closed.

“The irony’s brilliant, isn’t it?” said Kate. “It’s clearly a statement on society’s attitude towards and rejection of the elderly. ‘Look’, it seems to say, ‘here is what you’re calling nothing.’”

“Well there’s that, of course,” said Alan. “But I think it also speaks to society’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle.”

“Yes, of course, I see that now! This performer is one of the better ones I’ve seen, I can’t believe I’ve not seen him in anything before.”

Kate felt a tug on her sleeve, and turned to look into the face of a small girl. “Excuse me miss,” said the child, “but do you know where the dinosaur skeletons are?”

“No,” said Kate, “this isn’t that kind of museum.”

“Oh.” The little girl stood and pondered this for a moment. “Then can you tell me where the woolly mammoths are?”

“Hmmm?” Kate glanced down at her again. “No, look, kid…”

“Gracie,” said the girl.

“Look Gracie, this isn’t a natural history museum. It’s an avant-garde art museum.”

“Oh. Why can’t dinosaurs be Avon Guard?”

“Well I suppose they could be,” said Alan, “in fact that could be a very interesting piece. You’d have to do something different with it, though.”

“Being a dinosaur isn’t enough?”

“Well, everyone’s seen dinosaurs before,” said Kate. “You’d have to show them in a different light. Show a different angle.”

“I haven’t seen dinosaurs,” said Gracie. “We’ve been to three different museums today, and none of them had dinosaurs.”

A short, bald man walked up from behind them. “I see you’re all admiring my latest work,” he said. “I’m Fritz, I made this piece. Except for that old guy, but I liked how he changed my work.”

“That’s my grandpa,” said the girl.

“Well,” said Fritz, “It might be best if you wake him up before we view the interactive part of this exhibit.” He gestured towards a small button mounted on the display sign.

“Wake up, grandpa!” said Gracie into his ear.

“What?”

Gracie dragged him off of the chair and back behind the line of the rug. “Now?” she asked. Fritz nodded. Gracie pushed the button.

Nothing happened, and Gracie moved towards the button again. “Patience,” said Fritz. “Good things come to those who wait, mmm?”

There was a metallic creak. The chair rose up, slightly, then tilted away from them, and then straightened up and kept rising. The whole rug seemed to be rising.

While the first couple of movements had been laboured and slow, the next were very sudden. So violent was the movement that the chair was flung across the exhibit hall, out through the open French Windows. A splash could be heard from out the front of the museum. Underneath the rug had risen the Tyrant Lizard King, Tyrannosaurus Rex. A disco ball hung from one of its lower fangs, and lights from the chandeliers on either side of the exhibit reflected off this orb. In its small claws was clutched a large acoustic guitar.

“I would’ve gone with an electric,” said Fritz, “but getting an amp in there was too much of a hassle.”

“This is the best museum exhibit ever!” said Gracie.

Kate frowned. “I don’t think I understand this piece anymore.”

“I don’t get it either,” said Alan. The two of them turned away to admire an exhibit of a basket containing a dead snake.

Mary Sue spotted

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Good crits.

Kaishai posted:

Oh, dear. Were you rushed?
No.

Yes.

Maybe.

Yes, actually, but I brought it on myself. No excuses. It is what it is.

Kaishai posted:

If I understand it right, this is a post-apocalyptic piece featuring an alien whose personal library of seven books brings destruction to the humans who read one. It's possible these books caused The End. Roger has finally tracked down a third book, leaving four still abroad to cause damage. His niece died to recover it. The alien's motives are unknown, but human deaths only amuse him; he was captured fifty years ago, nailed to a chair, probably blinded, and now communicates through a radio.
Possibly.

I refrained from using exact terms to try and create an atmosphere of ambiguity. Once you slap a label on something it becomes something definite, something expected, whereas dancing around the need to definite it allows the reader to define it for themselves.

I won't go into the particulars because I don't want to influence the other judges' interpretations, but I will say there's a hint in the nature of the title.

Kaishai posted:

Honestly, though. Fowl play?
I never said what kind of apocalypse it was.

But nah, you totally got me on that one. However,

Kaishai posted:

'The voice from the radio was tired and distant, yet carried itself with a musical bearing.' What? (Again.) I'm not sure where you were going with that clause, whether you intend to tell me the voice is musical or convey some sort of audial poise on top of that. Maybe 'yet held to a musical dignity'? I don't know.
I'll accept the rest of my editorial shortcomings, but Merriam Webster has my back on this one.

JuniperCake
Jan 26, 2013



Thank you so much for the excellent critique. You are right on the money on all counts. I was kinda rushing through with the end of it and I think it ended up really choppy as a result. Though to be sure there are errors all over this piece that need fixing. As far as the tense change goes, no, that was not intentional and I have no idea why I did that. It makes things hella weird though, so I'm definitely going to fix that.

I think I'll work on this piece some more and then send it to the fiction farm(and also work on my commas which are terrible). Hopefully, I'll be able to make it much better than it is now.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Fumblemouse, Chewie23!!!, Sitting Here, CancerCakes, Noah, Erogenous Beef, Jagermonster, sebmojo

Fumblemouse - Signals and Wards

The writing was clear and effective on this piece, but nothing blew me away. The book was there and integrated into the plot, but it didn't do much for me and felt extraneous.

Some examples of where your writing felt effective to me: "They drew lines on her forehead, and their talk wasn’t about tests or diagnoses?, but schedules...

This was a nice transition and elegant way of showing a lot of with few words. You should have ended the sentence right after 'schedules' to give it more punch.

I liked the overall dream-like quality, especially in the last paragraph where she sees her death. You managed to make 789 words of a girl laying in bed and unable to talk not completely boring.

I didn't feel any tension, unfortunately. When they asked if she was the one, my first guess was, "Is she the one that is going to die and that the glowing orbs take away?" My first guess turned out to be right and the whole story was just a dream-like haze of her waiting to die. Then she dies.

You have some punctuation and sloppy writing mistakes that also detracted from the piece.

They weren’t here yet; however, there were only the doctors and today the doctors weren’t leaving

I fixed the punctuation here, but really you did not need to use "however" at all. There are many more effective ways of expressing this. I think it would have been best to just make it two sentences without "however".

I think you can write well and have some good ideas, try to push everything further next time and edit more.

Chewie23 - The Wind Charts!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello Chewie23! I think your piece achieved the whimsical tone that you sought! Successfully... at that! Not everything was successful, unfortunately!

When every loving sentence ends with an exclamation mark, I am forced to hear the entire story with with a crazy rising tone at the end of every sentence! Children's books and whimsical stories will use more exclamation marks than normal and I think you could have used a few, but holy poo poo calm down!

The story was cute and I liked the "lesson" at the end! It felt like a children's story and without all those loving explanation marks I think it could have been rather enjoyable! Adding in the mother engaged the fun brakes on my windcart! If you revise this and add some loving periods, you should cut the mother out as well! Whimsical journeys usually involve a lack of parental supervision; I think Michael already acted as sufficient parental figure without the mother muddling things up!

Sitting Here - Fire Escape

I liked this and you know it's good so I won't say too much. The last line confused me though:

I filled napkins with sketches of windows and doors. I'd be a long time in the city. Wouldn't do to waste ink.

She is drawing on napkins, thus using ink? Is she using less ink by drawing on napkins rather than paper? Is she using charcoal to draw on the napkins? If I'm not completely dense and missing something, then the ending could have been stronger.

CancerCakes - Unlock your imagination at the library

This was good but I did not like it as much as Kaishai. Somehow I recognized The Navidson Record and "Zampanò," but not the more blatant "The House is full Of Leaves." As soon as I saw The Navidson Record I asked myself if this was fanfic or just lazily stealing the imaginary book from House of Leaves. After reading I saw similarities to House of Leaves, but realized it wasn't fanfic or just lazily ripping off.

I don't know how I feel about the insertions from House of Leaves. On one hand, people who didn't read that book would never notice, but people who read 3/4 of the book ten years ago (me) recognized the references but then wondered why you were doing it. I feel that your concept was unique enough that it didn't need the crutches of House of Leaves references to stand on its own. The idea of a card catalogue hinting at the existence of a library and leading a man through infinite catacombs is interesting on its own, why must it connect to House of Leaves?

Noah - The Next Chapter

The injury that took the protagonist out of the journey should have happened more obviously. As written, he passes through some bushes and comes out with a giant thorn going through him. At first this seems trivial but then it is serious enough that the others have to abandon him on a piece of driftwood? Hopefully he won't die while laying there, but Bernie and the gang don't give a poo poo.

I agree that you needed "a gang" rather than just Bernie and the protagonist, but you unfortunately spent too much time naming characters who never did anything (and as Kaishai noted this made the protagonist nameless). This sentence is a good example:

I lagged behind the gang, Bernie, his brother Gary, and their friends Evan and Mary.

Then at the end

“Bernie! The cart’s ready!” Gary shouted.

Think back to when you wrote this last line I quoted, did you have to look back at the first line I quoted and then randomly choose one of the names since it didn't matter who said it? When I first read the line where I learned that Bernie's brother is Gary and they have friends named Evan and Mary, I struggled to remember these relationships, but it turned out they didn't matter. I think leaving "the gang", except for Bernie and maybe Gary as nameless kids would have worked fine. Gary and Bernie being brothers kind of works, but either work it more into the action and dialogue or drop it for clarity.

The concept was effective and you did a nice job with the prompt. I liked the ending: You achieved a successful mix of fantasy and realism. You should revise this so that readers care more about the protagonist. The opening was okay as is, but I think the protagonist should have cared about the adventure, because as the reader I felt most affected that the protagonist missed out on a cool adventure even though he clearly stated at the start that he only cared about getting Bernie and Gary's dad back.

Erogenous Beef - Don't Skip To The End

I couldn't resist the fourth-wall breaking and I read the last line first. What if we were supposed to read the last line first? That would have been cool.

beside which sat a polished wood harp - my mother’s, right down to the scar on the base where I’d stuck gum when I was nine.

This was a nice way of showing that it was her mother's harp without being hamfisted.

I don't know if it matters too much, but after reading three times I still don't understand the "mechanics" of what happened. What would have happened if she didn't read ahead?

The feeling of having to end so many people's stories and then just not being willing to do so was a strong image that worked even if I didn't understand exactly why everything was happening.

Jagermonster - Uninvited Guests

The buildup was pretty good but I didn't buy the climax. I think the level of violence he had prepared was too high to be believable. Jeremy felt so afraid for the entire story and then suddenly he is more or less throwing Molotov cocktails and yelling "gently caress you!" More importantly, I don't feel that the climax resolved anything properly. There was a lot of violence and action, but it suffered from Vambraces at Sea or Grinding MOBS in the Mine syndrome from last week where the action was just kind of happening for the sake of action. I felt tension in the beginning of the story and was wondering what was going to be behind the door. I liked that you didn't explicitly state what it was, but too much text was just fire going off and poo poo burning, then the relatively unsatisfying ending of him hugging his mother and brother left me not caring too much.

Bad Seafood - Descartes

Okay... so the Guest was the radio voice. I feel stupid for not noticing that as I think you gave enough clues that I should have noticed. The idea here was great and I wish the rushing weren't so obvious. There were enough punctuation errors and mistakes to detract from my enjoyment, and this:

“P-popular? POPULAR?”

I couldn't help but hear this as a Dragonball Z character yelling in astonishment at someone's power level going off the charts. I think all caps works for the alien to make him seem more unearthly (and that's definitely a maybe), but using that type of dialogue for your protagonist pulled me out of the story.

I liked the idea of this chain of people being held prisoner by the Guest to do something they couldn't at all fathom. I would have found it creepier if the Guest just didn't care and wasn't so evil, but needed to use the humans and needed to find the books. Maybe even have him show some sympathy but still do horrible things to them because he needs his goal achieved? What is Descartes referring to? I have learned about him before but forgot most of it and had to look him up again. If it's anything deeper than a "I think, therefore I am" reference, then most people probably won't get it.

Also, is the Guest Jesus? You can just tell us if it is or tell me I'm a dipshit if it's not. There are a lot of cool ideas here and I ask myself if they are over my head or uninferrable from what you have given us.

sebmojo - At Torneträsk

I want to say you are playing off the northern lights and that's why you set it in Sweden. If so, cool idea.

I most enjoyed the light feel of this as well as the imagery. The picture was also my favorite and I'm surprised no one else used it.

This is up there for me, but there were some more complex and "risky" attempts this week which may win out.






angel opportunity fucked around with this message at Apr 8, 2013 around 21:01

Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


Kaishai posted:

Jagermonster, "Uninvited Guests":

Your writing is rough. I don't remember noticing so many errors in your entry last week. Your use of the imaginary book disappointed me too, although maybe it shouldn't, since I wouldn't be surprised if Googling +"Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates" actually got me somewhere.

('Your search - +"Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates" - did not match any documents.' Thank you, Google. It's good to be wrong now and then.)

The point remains: the book is relevant for one paragraph. The story doesn't need it at all, which goes against the spirit of the prompt.

You've certainly used the picture, however, and Jeremy's ultimate level of violence was surprising yet believable to me: he's afraid and hates what he fears, so he bends everything he has on destroying it. This moment could be his transition out of childhood. The deepening voice and sudden expletives suggest that too, not to mention the business of having just roasted Stuart Little alive. The mouse-things can symbolize youthful innocence, more or less. Jeremy gets angrier when he realizes what he might have done--I like that too; I'm guessing that consciously or subconsciously, he realizes what he's lost, with no one to blame but himself.

So your symbolism is pretty effective. The prose, less so. You too should remember to use the past perfect in your flashbacks. Your third paragraph is a wreck: 'Too afraid to head down the stairs and turn on the lower light, only the dim bulb at the top of the stairs provided illumination. He reached in his pocket and removed his father’s lighter. He lit it, but it didn’t provide any better illumination.' The first sentence tells me the light bulb is afraid, and both sentences use a variant on 'provide illumination,' which is much too distinct a phrase to repeat so quickly. Only one person should speak in a given paragraph, but two people speak in your fourth. You say 'Only one thing lived behind doors like that in basements' and then list several possibilities. You left a period off the sentence containing 'apredo portalis arroha.' Later, you don't capitalize 'gently caress you!' Etc. I would also split your final paragraph into two and put the break after 'Or Narnia.'

Why did the mouse-things know his name? Why did they choose that moment to emerge? It strains coincidence a little. I would rather he'd knocked or something before the knob turned, though I suppose he's too scared for that.

This isn't on my high-score list, but it isn't bad. It's a decent take on the picture, and the action has energy behind it. You should haul this over to the Farm if you want to work with it further.


Thanks a lot for the crit. I had intended that the imaginary "book" (here, internet article) have a more significant role in the story by contributing to his fear and providing him with the knowledge of how to make the improvised incendiary weapons, but I guess that didn't come across. That leaves my score at 0 for 2 at effectively following and implementing the prompt in full. Third time'll be the charm.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Jagermonster posted:


Boy howdy I sure do love me some black paragraphs.
http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/davidc...vitedguests.htm

Uninvited Guests
word count: 890

Jeremy sat at the top of his basement stairs staring down at a small wooden door. He had been afraid of that door at the foot of the stairs for as long as he could remember. His right hand trembled as he felt for the glass bottle next to him. His left hand touched the aluminum can on his other side. His tools comforted him a little, but not enough to give him the courage to go down the stairs and execute his plan. Jeremy only had another 15 minutes before his mother came home with his little brother Dylan. Overly obtuse, long, wordy

Four months ago Jeremy’s dad spent the better part of a weekend cleaning up the basement. Jeremy had attempted to open the door, hammer in hand, ready to face whatever horrors lurked behind it, knowing his father was there to protect him. When it didn’t budge after his repeated tugs at the tiny brass knob, his father remarked, “Doesn’t open, Jer. I think it’s just a silly little door the last owners attached to the wall.” Jeremy knew better. It was probably sealed with some evil magic or sinister spell.

Jeremy squinted down at the door. Too afraid to head down the stairs and turn on the lower light, only the dim bulb at the top of the stairs provided illuminationno kid thinks about things "providing illumination". He reached in his pocket and removed his father’s lighter. He lit it, but it didn’t provide any better illumination. AND YOU'RE DOING IT AGAIN

One night at dinner Jeremy had tried convincing his parents he heard mice scurrying around behind the door. He implored them to hire an exterminator to check it out. When they told him they weren’t worried about it and that it would be too expensive, he started crying.

“Are you scared of the door?” his dad had asked him, in the same tone he took when coaxing Jeremy to go to bed and assuring there weren’t any monsters under it.

Embarrassed and defiant, Jeremy said he wasn’t. Dylan admitted he was. That’s when his mom butted in. “What if there’s a little magical world behind the door? Like Oz? Or Narnia?” What a bunch of stupid kids’ stuff. Only one thing lived behind doors like that in basements: monsters, demons, or unnamed, undiscovered terrors.And suddenly your young prot is H.P. Lovecraft himself Jeremy knew of countless tales where small carnivorousas opposed to those goddamn herbivorous ones monsters emerged from basement holes and ate the kids and other inhabitantsso many words that shouldn't be here of the cursed house. Jeremy knew it was only a matter of time before they came for him and his brother.

Since his parents didn’t seem willing to help, Jeremy searched for the means to open the door on his terms.again, why is he talking like a twenty year old basement dweller? According to an online excerpt of Portals, Doorways, and Demonic Gates all he needed was to say “apredo portalis arroha” The author, simply known as “Cyberw1ccan,” in the section Dealing with Monsters of the Dark, so many useless detailshypothesized that some kind of nocturnal, light-averse creatures most likely lived behind such a door. The article recommended several ways of dealing with them once access to their realm was achieved with the door-opening incantation.jesus christ just hit me in the face with a club etched with words next time, it'll be less painful than reading this exposition

Jeremy picked up the aerosol can next to him. He didn’t have much time left now before his mother brought Dylan home from day care.AGAIN!? He opened his mouth and huffed the entire contents of the can, dying instantly., but no words came out. His heart was pounding. He was sure he had seen the door knob turn. The door creaked open. “Jeremy,” something whispered. Jeremy screamed. A tiny shape emerged from the door. Jeremy leapt up and jammed his thumb down on the nozzle of his mother’s can of hairspray as he bounded down the stairs, screaming. He ignited the stream of hairspray with his father’s lighter and unleashed a river of fire upon the creature. This action could be cool but it's so broken. He runs, but only sprays fire AFTER he's run up the stairs. We don't need to know WHO the things he's using belong to right now. The important parts are RUN, MONSTER, FIRE. The creature’s shrieks mingled with Jeremy’s.mingled? makes me think of like old guys in tiki lounges Jeremy’s shrill screams transformed into a guttural roar.this sucks He sprayed a nonsensical torrent of vowels and consonants at the dooryes goon sir, vowels AND consonants! as he bathed the crack in streaming fire. My crack streams fire after tacobell, I tellyawhut. Jeremy could hear screaming now on the other side of the door. His roar transformed to, “gently caress you!” we get it, they're yelling. YELLING IS HAPPENING

“gently caress you! gently caress you! gently caress you!” he shouted through tears of shock, fear, anger, and adrenaline as he ran back up the stairs. He dropped the can of hairspray and grabbed the glass bottle he had filled with gasoline from one of the cans in the garage.so you tell us about who's stuff his using but you hide the molotov from us until NOW? He leapt back down the stairs, two at a time. He wrenched open the tiny door. He could make out small sizzling lumps in the darkness. The thing that had poked around the door had crawled back a few inches. It was hideous and smoldering. It resembled a small naked guinea pig with a humanoid head. A murderous kid-devouring gremlin, Jeremy thought. Or a harmless gnome from a little magical world. Like Oz. Or Narnia. The hideous thing looked up at Jeremy. It tried to speak, but only emitted a soft gurgle. “Shut up!” Jeremy shrieked as he lit the gasoline soaked rag sticking out of the glass bottle. He threw the bomb in to the darkness and slammed the door. A chorus of anguished shrieks followed him up the stairs. He slammed the basement door as his mother entered the front door, holding Dylan. Jeremy threw himself into his surprised mother and buried his weeping face in her stomach. He wrapped his right arm around his mother and his left arm around his little brother.So what did he kill? Shouldn't the house be burning? You waste a lot of words on useless stuff like online wicca forums but don't even give us a hint of what really lurks behind the door. Is it elves? Did he just massacre a bunch of Keebler elves?

Fumblemouse posted:

Word Count: 789
Prompt: A tiny voice asked, "Is he the one?" and a book from the imagination

Signals and Wards

Sam awoke and touched the book hidden beneath her pillow, feeling the creases in its leather cover. Knowing it was still there gave her comfort and knowing that it was secret gave her a reassuring thrill that allayed the troubling uncertainty of the Children’s Ward. way too long, redundantLooking around, Sam saw she was unobserved,saw she wasn't seen. ALWAYS DESCRIBE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SEEING THIS IS WHAT I loving LIVE FOR the other residents of the ward being busy with their own sufferings.this doesn't work with the character's voice She slid the book out from its hiding place Mayhaps I propose you mention the book is hidden goon sir! and opened it to the most recently written page.not the most recent page, not the last written page. Nope! She traced the reassuring words with her finger, mouth moving as she slowly read the shapeswat. “We’re coming,” they said. “Not much longer now.”

A door banged shut at the far end of the ward. Sam shoved the book beneath her pillow and lay back, as three doctors arrived. They came to her bedside first, checked her chart and discussed the various ways in which her head might be cut open and its insides rearranged. Sam lay there silently as she always did, waiting for them to go to the other children and leave her to her book and her dreams.

Sam had dreamed a lot during the past months in the ward,I DONT KNOW IF SHE'S IN A WARD curled up on herself with one hand holding tightly to the book beneath the pillow. She always dreamed of other rooms, painted blue, like water for the sail boat that sat on a shelf above her, or green and adorned with posters of angry bands, or simply bare wood - but never the same twice. She dreamed that she was closing her eyes, pretending to sleep, and that a fresh breeze blew in through an open window. Sounds rose from outside, ringing chimes - but strange and distant like bells underwater. Even though Sam had her eyes shut tight, she began to see bright, moving lights casting yellow shadows behind her eyelids. At the edge of her hearing were tiny voices, asking “Is he the one?“ or “Is it her?” in rising, musical tones. She turned toward them to welcome and thank them, opened her eyes to see them at last and woke up in the ward yet again.

Some nights, the chimes were louder, some quieter, but every time Sam awoke there would be a new line written in her secret book, asking her to be patient, and telling her that they were on their way.

They weren’t here yet, however, there were only the doctors and today the doctors weren’t leaving. They drew lines on her forehead, and their talk wasn’t about tests or diagnosis, but schedules, exploratory procedures and how long it had been since she had eaten. Sam began to fret, looking anxiously between the faces of the doctors, but they were unfamiliar and impossible to read. She wanted to say that they were coming, and that they would be here soon, they had told her so, but Sam had never had never had any words of her own, just her secret book. They made notes on her chart and summoned an orderly, who made adjustments to her bed, and wheeled it out of the ward.

Sam watched helplessly as she was whisked down unfamiliar corridors, into a large, metallic elevator, down several more corridors and finally into a room filled from wall to wall with incomprehensible machines, made of pipes and dials and sitting on wheels. The orderly, who had babbled with pleasant but one-sided chatter the whole way left her there alone. Above her, where her bed was parked, were bright, long fluorescent lights.

In time, another man arrived, wearing a white coat. He wheeled a machine of cylinders and breathing masks over to her and explained the she would soon be asleep, and that she shouldn’t worry, in a moment she would be awake and everything would be fine. When he placed the breathing mask over her face, she tried to wriggle away, but found her eyes closing despite themselves. The lights above her made yellow shadows behind her eyelids. This wasn’t like the ward, listening to the other children’s noise drift into nonsense, counting sheep into slumber. This was hard and cold and precise, a surgical removal of her consciousness.

She looked down as if from a great height. Sam’s body lay there perfectly still, and the man beside her twiddled some knobs, removed the mask from her face, pounded upon her chest several times then raced from the room in a panic. She could hear familiar chimes, getting louder, but sounding pure and glorious. She looked up, and saw the lights - not the fluorescent bars on the ceiling, but the joyous radiance of those she knew and loved. They were here, they had found her. At long, long last.

You waste words and leave us with more questions than when we started. No idea what's going on, but apart from the opening it's a pretty solid piece of writing

autism ZX spectrum fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 00:31

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Martello – Technically good, but didn’t do anything for me. Some guy’s waiting for a boat, some geopolitical stuff I glossed over (IN THE NEAR CYBERFUTURE!?) and some girl that’s got a thing for Lady Snowblood or something. I like to think this is the chapter that leads into your story about that fish-cyborg tranny thing.

Symptomless Coma – you crammed a lot of detail into your story and I’m not sure it worked in your favour. I’m the only one who thinks this, but your #’s made me irate. The story flashes from place to place. Reading it is like having a tiny, dreamlike seizure. I know the #’s are editing marks, but I have this nagging suspicion that your story would be almost illegible without a big hamfisted SCENE BREAK. Super cool ideas, really hope this turns into something sometime. I’d read the gently caress out of it. You clearly have some sort of larger world in mind but you don’t go out of your way to shove it down our throats.
Some purple prose issues, some actions weren’t distinct. If you clean it up and take it to the farm (maybe make it longer?) I’d love to edit it.

Nikaer – I’m really torn on this one. You’re improving and it shows. I wanted to do a line-by-line but said gently caress it. A lot of the stuff I found is more voice related and could be a choice of style. Some words and passages end up being way too descriptive to the point of detracting.
“the rubbery scales”
“showed through like raw layers of skin under a torn scab”
“The chair flew up and down, knocking the end table over and tumbling the clay lamp on top of it to the floor.”

These sentences really bothered me, and probably cost you my vote.

The story, however, is very good. I should have seen the ending coming, but I didn’t. Unlike a vague hand-wavy implication of pedophilia, your character’s actions genuinely shocked me and were believable. Unlike Kaishai, I enjoyed the title of your book AND the sticker. It’s absurd, it’s funny, it makes the story all that much weirder.

Greatbacon – I really liked this. Hit the prompt very well, it was an entertaining read. You are my pick for winner, though the other judges think your story is too bland. I’m always a fan of religious horror-conspiracies, and you did this well. I like how I learned about the character and his personality by reading a book over his shoulder. Atmospheric.

Canadian Surf Club - It was like renting a Japanese smut tape and then finding the last half was missing. Sure, it was enjoyable but at the end I felt cheated. The character’s voices were good, maybe some of the prose was a little too purple.

Sitting Here – Beautiful, atmospheric, sad. Not really sure if it goes anywhere, the last line is enigmatic. Why’s he trying to save ink when he’s drawing? Why wouldn’t one want to waste ink in the city? You’re teasing us with something bigger and I don’t like it.

Cancercakes
1. I guess this is a novel way to write things.
2. My this is getting pretty hard to read, I hope the whole thing doesn’t go on like this.
3. This is really mechanical and there’s no feeling to your character. You’re explaining things instead of showing them.
4. I get there’s an old-timey voice, but no one writes so impersonally in their diary.
5. So he loses track of days and you lose the format but keep going with dashes. I didn’t care for that. A sense of place didn’t really
jump out at me, a lot of the descriptions were really confusing. You go on about cupboards and curved walls and hallways and some
library and I’m not really sure what’s going on.

Noah – “was still a thorn in my [x]” is a sequence of words that should not have happened. Your fifth paragraph would do much better as your first. Small waves don’t lap the shore like small ripples. They lap the shore with small ripples or lapped the shore turning into small ripples if you absolutely have to use a poor simile for waves. Infinite horizon is another sequence of words I don’t care for.

“Bernie! The cart’s ready!” Gary shouted. All at once he disengaged and looked back to the group.
This part here breaks the scene. The word ‘disengaged’ has no place here.

I couldn’t look him in the eyes. He just put his hand on my shoulder and walked away. The second to last thing I ever saw of Bernie and the gang was him walking away, with that book hanging by his side.

Repetition in this part. The ending is a sham.

Erogenous Beef – Ha! What an ending! Enjoyable characters, novel premise, even a plot twist right at the end! Well played.
Bad Seafood – Fowl play. Some repetition of words, some of the sentences are clunky and could do with an edit. Pretty strong story, the weird deadguy could be described a little better, had to do a re-read on my first pass. Nothing is explained, it’s a neat vignette though. Who is everyone why should we care? We may never know.

sebmojo – In all my days, I ain’t ever heard no willow clatter. Also gently caress you. This is really good.

autism ZX spectrum fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 00:37

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry


I always envision plots that are a little too big for the word count. The premise is pretty simple: After his parents die, a young man finds his father's secret book, which allows the user to draw portals to other places. The ending is purely a consequence of me wasting precious words with world-building, but I imagined that the character might practice drawing portals on napkins because he was going to be in a dismal, dystopian version of Omaha for an extended period of time.

My stories are pretty much always about escape from some bleak version of reality. I need a new thing to ruminate on.

Thanks for the quick/excellent feedback, judges. but if i'm runner up again so help me god. LOL j/k I'm not kidding

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Week 35: Pictures and Books RESULTS!

Loser: Voliun with a gripping tale of children who like to look at plates, a plant that is next to a coat hook, a reporter who works for two publications, and a dentist who cooks for said reporter who allegedly slandered someone that the dentist knows but the dentist killed someone whom the reporter also knows... OR DID HE? SOMEONE'S COAT IS STILL ON THE RACK!

Runner Up: Erogenous Beef. You almost won, but you had a few odd word choices and typos. Of the three judges, I was the only one tempted to read the last line first. I seriously thought you were testing us and wanted us to do it. I was disappointed when I was wrong. According to the other judges' positive reactions to your ending, I did myself a disservice by reading the last line first. I realize I did the exact opposite of what the title said, but I still say it's your fault. This was a great story either way; you did impressive things with the prompt and the image... though not as impressive as our

Winner: Sitting Here. You came extremely close to being runner up again, but a few things put you over the top. We went back and forth on this, but for me you won because having the book show the picture from the story and have music coming out of it was beautiful. I preferred your "backdrop" of the war going on and using the book as an escape to Erogenous Beef's backdrop of someone packing stuff up. Once I realized what the ink was for (we figured it out before you told us,) it really made me want to give you the win.

Erogenous Beef, if you would like to be a judge next week you are free to do so because you came so close to winning.

People who are poised to blow us away next week: SpaceGodzilla, GreatBacon (great use of the prompt), sebmojo, Canadian Surf Club.

Kaishai summed up CancerCakes not being on the above list with: "Missing CancerCakes' stuff (references to House of Leaves) didn't hurt me either, but apparently *getting* it does."

Steriletom: Voliun's plate children were watching over you behind a green plant in a pale red ceramic pot located on the left-most side of the sitting room, because you would have definitely lost otherwise.

It's also worth mentioning that the TRUE LOSERS are the ones who didn't loving bother to participate. You know who you are.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 02:08

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

I wanted to give the win to go to Erogenous Beef, just to be clear. Picking a winner was really hard, and we doubled back on our pick a whole bunch of times. Before the mechanics of SH's story were explained to me, I didn't care for it that much. I kind of got something was going on with portals and magic but it was pretty vague. Once it was explained to me it was a very good story. I may be dumb. Definitely a story worth expanding. I think the beginning of seb's story didn't catch me as much as I wished it would. Congratulations Sittinghere!

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Congratulations, Sitting Here! You've won the best kind of victory, a hard-fought one against worthy contenders. My favor was divided almost evenly between your piece and Erogenous Beef's, while sebmojo could have taken a seventh crown in almost any other week, and several other people trailed by only a neck.

To everyone who said thanks: you're welcome!

I don't want to clog up the thread with back-and-forth past this point, but while I'm posting anyway:

CancerCakes posted:

The fact that it almost stands on its own makes me much happier than I have any right to be on a Monday morning.

It does stand alone pretty well. I'm with systran: I think you could remove the House of Leaves references and let the story be its own entity. Whether you leave most of them in or not, you should ditch the H-O-L capitalization in that one diary entry. It looks like sloppy writing if you don't catch it, and it's possibly too obvious if you do.

Good story, anyway. 'Observations' might work in place of 'auras.'


Martello posted:

The no italics was lazy copy/pasting from Word. More words is definitely what I needed, what I did had no room to breathe. So basically, I suck is what I'm saying.

Mazedonia is a fake cigarette brand from Tintin if you'll believe it. I borrowed the brand as a little homage. Made-up cigarette brands have a long and glorious tradition, from Victory to Red Apples to Morleys.

Nah. You can write. The core felt hollow, but I liked what you did have. If you've written about these people and this setting elsewhere, it explains a lot. They were the best parts. (Also, sorry for screwing up your title initially. I've fixed that.)

Didn't catch that reference, but missing it didn't hurt the story any, and knowing about it now adds a little sparkle.


Symptomless Coma posted:

Your take is right, except for in the last line I'm trying to imply that Rashomon is bound into the ruined city, and that when it starts the city comes with it. My question to you - is that idea so weird that it has to be stated more explicitly than that? I'm still addicted to being vague. A part of me thinks it's clever.

Vagueness - Ash is a device to add artificial vagueness, but Anne doesn't fully know what the book is either, just that it'll change their lovely fortune in some way. Again, I take it I didn't get this over properly, right?

Anne's mother's words - This was a way of not having to say "their mum's dead". I thought it would be interesting to just drop that there and let people wonder, assuming its some admonishment against babying Ash... but is there no room for uncertainty?

Is the answer to all these questions the same? It is, isn't it?

That idea is pretty weird! At least in the sense that I wouldn't expect buildings to be bound to a ship, even a living tentacle-ship, unless it's sunk tendrils into each one (or into the bedrock?), and even then I'd expect physics to tear most of them apart. I thought the ship was knocking the skyscrapers over when they lurched forward. I think you're going to have to explicitly say it brought the city along, even if you don't want to get too deep into how.

There's room for uncertainty. You just have too much uncertainty, so stuff like the mother's parting words is more frustrating because it adds to the feeling of not knowing what's going on. If you expanded on other cloudy ideas--maybe your dystopian setting and the protectorate, maybe the nature/origin of the ship, maybe both--the little stuff wouldn't gall. You don't need to explain everything, but you've hit the wrong balance (for me) of confusion and satisfaction.

If you want to talk more about this, call my name three times in front of a mirror in the Fiction Farm and we can chat there.


Chewie23 posted:

Also, should I include what I was shooting for in my pieces (like mentioning Miyazaki) or leave it out in future TD writing?

Noah's right. If there's something you really want readers to know, you could try putting it in spoiler bars at the end of the story, but what you wanted to do doesn't really matter for judging. You could get more into that in the Fiction Farm afterward.


Bad Seafood posted:

I'll accept the rest of my editorial shortcomings, but Merriam Webster has my back on this one.

Hrm. Maaaaaybe. I'm still squinting at a voice carrying itself, sir.

When all's said and done I'd like to know what I've missed in the title, if no one else gets it first--I looked up Descartes pre-crit and couldn't make the connection.


systran posted:

Chewie23 - The Wind Charts!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 02:56

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


More crits. Wonderful.

systran posted:

What is Descartes referring to? I have learned about him before but forgot most of it and had to look him up again. If it's anything deeper than a "I think, therefore I am" reference, then most people probably won't get it.

Also, is the Guest Jesus? You can just tell us if it is or tell me I'm a dipshit if it's not. There are a lot of cool ideas here and I ask myself if they are over my head or uninferrable from what you have given us.

Nubile Hillock posted:

Nothing is explained, it’s a neat vignette though. Who is everyone why should we care? We may never know.

Kaishai posted:

When all's said and done I'd like to know what I've missed in the title, if no one else gets it first--I looked up Descartes pre-crit and couldn't make the connection.
High concept, middling execution. That certainly sounds like me.

Now for some light reading.

Wikipedia posted:

[Descartes'] Demon, sometimes referred to as the Evil Genius, is a concept in Cartesian philosophy. In his 1641 Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes hypothesized the existence of an evil demon, a personification who is "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me." The evil demon presents a complete illusion of an external world, including other minds, to Descartes' senses, where in fact there is no such external world in existence.
Descartes' Demon

And as long as we're on the subject:

Wikipedia posted:

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is a short story by the 20th century Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The story was first published in the Argentine journal Sur, May 1940. The "postscript" dated 1947 is intended to be anachronistic, set seven years in the future. The first English-language translation of the story was published in 1961.

In the story, an encyclopedia article about a mysterious country called Uqbar is the first indication of a massive conspiracy of intellectuals to imagine (and thereby create) a world known as Tlön.
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

Wikipedia posted:

Arcadia...refers to a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature. The term is derived from the Greek province of the same name which dates to antiquity; the province's mountainous topography and sparse population of pastoralists later caused the word Arcadia to develop into a poetic byword for an idyllic vision of unspoiled wilderness. Arcadia is associated with bountiful natural splendor, harmony, and is often inhabited by shepherds. The concept also figures in Renaissance mythology. Commonly thought of as being in line with Utopian ideals, Arcadia differs from that tradition in that it is more often specifically regarded as unattainable. Furthermore, it is seen as a lost, Edenic form of life, contrasting to the progressive nature of Utopian desires.
Arcadia

Wikipedia posted:

The Summerland is the name given by Theosophists, Wiccans and some earth-based contemporary pagan religions to their conceptualization of an afterlife.

As the name suggests, it is often imagined as a place of beauty and peace, where everything people hold close to their hearts is preserved in its fullest beauty for eternity. It is envisioned as containing wide (possibly eternal) fields of rolling green hills and lush grass. In many ways, this ideology is similar to the Welsh view of Annwn as an afterlife realm. However, the Summerland is also viewed as the place where one goes in the afterlife in traditions of Spiritualism and Theosophy, which is where Wicca got the term.
The Summerland

Wikipedia posted:

Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an "escape" from the perceived unpleasant or banal aspects of daily life. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to help relieve persisting feelings of depression or general sadness.
Escapism

Wikipedia posted:

Myst is a graphic adventure video game designed and directed by the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller.

Myst puts the player in the role of the Stranger, who uses a special book to travel to the island of Myst.

The game's instruction manual explains that an unnamed person known as the Stranger stumbles across an unusual book titled "Myst". The Stranger reads the book and discovers a detailed description of an island world called Myst. Placing his hand on the last page, the Stranger is whisked away to the world described, and is left with no choice but to explore the island.
Myst

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Dude if I've gotta take a whole semester of Obtuse References 32A w/prof. Skoffsatyue there's something terribly wrong with your story.

I'm voting Chairchucker for King of Australia

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Nubile Hillock posted:

Dude if I've gotta take a whole semester of Obtuse References 32A w/prof. Skoffsatyue there's something terribly wrong with your story.
You could always take an audit.

And you only really needed to know that first one, I just felt like sharing everything I cribbed from for the sake of autism completeness.

Chairchucker is already the King of Australia.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


crabrock posted:

I'm so sorry:

Suspended Without Pay
899 Words


crabrock posted:

I made my fiance give me permission to post it out of fear it'd be too creepy or weird so this is totally on her.

Grown Man Takes Tequila/Taco poo poo In Elementary School, Blames Fiancee For Giving Permission

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Alright you bastards, the old loving guard is back in the judge's sanctum and we're doing something a little loving different this week. gently caress.

As I look around the 'dome, I see mounds of wasted flesh, and those desiccated story corpses are starting to pile up. This prompt is going to require a slight amount of reading comprehension, try not to lose your poo poo:

1)Pick a PAST Thunderdome entry. It must not be one of your own. Entries are on a first come basis. Once someone has chosen a past story, no one else may choose that story You can choose entries from either Thunderdome thread. The link to the old one is in the OP.

2)REWRITE that story, entirely in your own words. The goal is to improve upon it. Don't feel compelled to rewrite the story scene-by-scene, but it should be similar enough that someone who read the previous story would recognize themes, characters, plot, etc.

3) There is no hard wordcount, however your rewrite must be NO MORE than 100 words over the original wordcount.

4)Please post a link to the story you're rewriting, along with the original wordcount.

5)BONUS poo poo OMG READ THIS: If someone, anyone WINS by rewriting an entry that was the loser of its week, I will personally buy you the avatar/custom title of your choice and you will be known for all eternity as a Cool Dude.

I reserve the right to punish people similarly for loving up stories that won or were runner up. Choose wisely, choose boldly. Plus this:

Martello posted:



Still, I'd definitely love to see someone take a good story and make it better.

FLASH RULE: Take an already good story and make it better, and I'll buy you the avatar of choice. Obviously "better" is up to my judgement so good luck fuckers.

Sign-up Deadline: Friday, April 12th at 11:59 PST (That will be early Saturday for many of you)
Submissions Deadline: Sunday, April 14th at 8 PM PST

Wordcount: No more than 100 words over the story's original wordcount, meaning the actual number of words the author used and not the max limit for that week. I.E. if the story was 747 words, you get 847.

Judges: I'm forcefully electing SaddestRhino and Erogenous Beef to be my co-judges.

BTW, before you ask, yes, only one person gets to rewrite Hard and Deep.

Now go forth and disappoint.

Fodder
Nubile Hillock-Rural Rentboys by Baudolino Per Beef, must involve the Russian peasantry, either as they were prior to the October Revolution or as they are in the post-Soviet Ukraine.
Capntastic-The Fourth Temptation by Baggy_Brad
Magnificent7-Don't Bite the Eye the Feeds by Sitting HereMUST take place in either the Old West OR Sengoku-Era Japan
Can'tDecideOnAName-S.O.S. by Voliun Must not use any dashes in this or any other piece written between now and May 9th and preferably, ever. Per this thread.
Voliun-Untitled by Toanoradian
Systran-It was all a (Teenage)Dream by Chairchucker
Fumblemouse-Tagged for love by Capntastic.
In a needlessly complicated but somewhat entertaining twist, Kaishai will be facing down Canadian Surf Club and Fanky in a rewrite-off over The End by JonasSalk. I guess in addition to general judgement, combatants will be judged against each other under pain of extra mockery.

V for Vegas-The Drone of the Tower by Wrageowrapper
Sebmojo-RIP my dog he died as such things do by Muffin
SpaceGodzillaHank the Petulent Vibrator by Twinkle Cave
Auraboks-Personal Conspiracy Theory by Omniphile. Good luck.
CancerCakes-Suit on Suit by SaviourX
Jeza- An ungodly amalgamation ofIn the Details by SaviourX and Walls by WHR 49.5
Martello-By special judge edict, you will be rewriting Synchronicity by HereticMIND. You may remember effortlessly defeating this piece in a thunderbrawl. Judges must be titilated or else.
SterileTom-Nightmares by the dearly departed Etherwind, who is surely scowling down at all of us even now.
Nikaer Drekin-Control Within by Bodnoirbabe, from the non-cis, exotic locale prompt.
Bad-rear end motherfuckin' Seafood-HARD AND DEEP
Noah-Blue and Pink by Jimson
Jagermonster-Vambraces at Sea by Kris Kruel
Crabrock-Yardwork by Sebmojo
Black Griffon-Prowling of the Night Raider by Kangaroojunk
JuniperCake-The Apocalypse of Peters by CancerCakes




Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Apr 11, 2013 around 16:23

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

In with Rural Rentboys

autism ZX spectrum fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 04:07

SpaceGodzilla
Sep 24, 2012

I sure hope Godzilla-senpai notices me~


Nubile Hillock posted:

In with Rural Rentboys

God drat you that was my first choice.

gently caress it, I'll choose one later. Homework to do.

SpaceGodzilla fucked around with this message at Apr 9, 2013 around 04:09

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Nubile Hillock posted:

In with Rural Rentboys

Post a link you dumb stinkyhole

lol reading comprehension

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Martello posted:

Post a link you dumb stinkyhole

lol reading comprehension

I thought the link had to be submitted with the story, you poo poo-brained meatsack.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Your mother's my girlfriend irl

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


So wait. gently caress. How do I find out who won this most recent round? I'm on vacation. Ain't nobody got time to go read every loseringest story but I'm going to do one of them. Most room for improvement there.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Martello posted:

Your mother's my girlfriend irl

You owe me child support, dad!YOU'RE STUPID AND I HATE YOU AND YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD AND I CAN LISTEN TO LINKIN PARK AS LOUD AS I WANT MY REAL DAD HAS A HARLEY AND A TATTOO AND HE'LL BEAT YOU UP WHEN HE COMES BACK

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


magnificent7 posted:

So wait. gently caress. How do I find out who won this most recent round? I'm on vacation. Ain't nobody got time to go read every loseringest story but I'm going to do one of them. Most room for improvement there.

FLASH RULE

For not learning how to scroll up and read the appropriate post announcing such win, you shall rewrite a previous TD entry of a judge for this current round.

If you manage to rewrite it to be worse you know what's coming for you.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

magnificent7 posted:

So wait. gently caress. How do I find out who won this most recent round? I'm on vacation. Ain't nobody got time to go read every loseringest story but I'm going to do one of them. Most room for improvement there.

It's me. I won the round. Abase yourself and etc.

Now, go back to ANY Thunderdome story ever. Just pick one. You don't need to read every story, just find one you want to rewrite and then post it before anyone else does.

If you ask me to explain this any more clearly I'm going to weep tears of frustration and wonder if I'm actually retarded and typing nonsense at you.


What Rhino said.

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?


I have no idea what Voliun was trying to accomplish with last week's prompt but since I'm lazy I might as well give that one a try.

Capntastic
Jan 13, 2005

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

Fallen Rib

In with Baggy_Brad's "The Fourth Temptation", which was a Loser in its Time.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

CantDecideOnAName posted:

I have no idea what Voliun was trying to accomplish with last week's prompt but since I'm lazy I might as well give that one a try.

OK I'm going to clarify, please at LEAST post the author AND the story title in your sign-up post. You MUST link to the original story in your actual submission, at the least.

Also since I'm feeling capricious, from right now until whenever I get bored I will assign a story to anyone who asks. This may work out well for you, it may not. Yep should've known people would dogpile on that.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Apr 10, 2013 around 00:03

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Voliun
May 31, 2012


In it with Suit-On-Suit

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