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Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


I'm going to try to crit these as well as I can. This was loving painful, as many of you picked horrific stories to revise. Do you fuckers realize we have to reread all of those, plus all the new sewage flowing into the judgement pond? Heading back over for the crit pass, this quote stuck out to me.

CantDecideOnAName posted:

I didn't say I was aiming for gold, but turning poo poo into tin seems a lot easier than turning bronze into platinum.

A recurring complaint I'm going to toss out revolves around this. A lot of folks took their source story and just did a line-level rewrite, without taking an axe to the story's theme, characters or structure - and often, if you look beyond the obvious grammar and spelling errors, that's where the majority of the flaws in the losing pieces lay. What's worse, the crits for said losing pieces often mentioned these very problems. Unhappy Beef!

Now on to the show. I probably won't get through all of you at once; anyone I'm missing tonight will get a crit tomorrow.

Some Crits For Thunderdome XXXVI

Feed The Eye That Bites by Magnificent7
Flash Rule by Sitting Here: Must take place in the Old West or in Sengoku-era Japan

Source Material: Don't Bite The Eye That Feeds by Sitting Here.

What makes this piece tick, and tick well, is the feeling of slow, creeping horror. Something off-kilter is shown to us immediately, and successively weirder things happen until the climax - and even then, the true depth of what happened is implied, so our fertile imaginations can fill it in with Things Man Should Not Know.

Your Remake:

The first thing that hit me was grammar errors. Sure, it's an easy thing to pick on, but it's also an easy thing to fix. Look here:

quote:

Mopping my soaked forehead, I said COMMA “make CAPITALIZE it fast as you can. The less time I’m in this desert, the better.”

You're missing a lot of COMMAS between dialogue and attribution. Your other problem is heavy-handed exposition. See here:

quote:

When we arrived, the sheriff was waiting for me at the station. His tall frame was dressed in clothes far too formal for the heat; sweat soaking into every crease of his shirt, vest, and hat.

You've already been going on and on about the heat. You should've described what he was wearing, and how he was reacting to it, as these show that he has some respect for the visitor. Hell, simply cutting out everything from "his tall frame" to the semicolon would be an improvement. (Hint: if you spot a semicolon in your prose, think long and hard before you leave it in.)

There's plenty more tightening up you could do, example:

quote:

BEFORE: Through the windows of each storefront, I could see a few faces watching us. I looked closer - every face was dingy and smudged with soot
AFTER: Dingy, soot-smudged faces pressed up against the storefront window, watching us.

Backing up to a more macro level, the main problem is that you've eliminated the creeping horror feel. Yeah, we have a city boy walking into a dingy shitbox of a town. (Cliche, but fine, whatever.) But until we get to the old woman, there really isn't a feeling of dread to the piece, the protagonist doesn't feel like he's in any danger and is plunging headlong towards his own oblivion because of his own personal flaws. Sitting Here's character was flawed by curiosity. Your guy seems to be just some mook sent by a rich dude who happens to get hosed over by a cult.

An Improvement? No, unfortunately.
Stands On Its Own? No, unfortunately.
On The Beef Scale: Haggis.

--

The Opera House by systran

Source Material: It Was All A (Teenage) Dream, from which Chairchucker got his ultraloser avatar.

A girl goes into a Katy Perry ("K Po") concert by accident. Tries to escape, fails, some absolutely random poo poo happens. Twist at the end: Katy Perry comes to perform for her in the hospital. gently caress you for making me re-read this.

Your Remake:

Oh boy. I had high hopes for this. Your first line has a good hook. I want to find out why this woman won't leave the building, what that building is, etc., etc. You could cut the bit about her husband in that first line to tighten it up, as it comes across to me as heavy-handed.

Also good: The KPÖ gimmick made me laugh when I got to it. It's cute. Probably too cute.

However, you've also done a few things that I can't understand and don't like. Why are you referring to your characters only by initial or by their relationship to other character's? Having to decode phrases like "her husband's colleague" repeatedly makes me want to drink. You have some pretty leaden exposition that needs to be shown instead of told:

quote:

V. imagined how things could have been were she not the seventh daughter and had she married into a good family, as her older sisters had done. Though her husband was allowing her to attend, he had stipulated that she must not allow the opera to, “Corrupt her with its bourgeois spirit.”

In the end, this seems like you got a cute idea - KPÖ - and then proceeded to do a line-level rewrite around it. The problem is, as I stated earlier, the source material is just too weak to support a line-level rewrite. You needed to dig into the core of the idea - the feeling of being trapped somewhere antithetical to your being - and deal with that struggle. And no, "running around looking for an exit" isn't all that interesting of a struggle. I need more hints earlier on that things are going to go bad wrong. I want a sense of dread, of "no, don't go in there, the monsters are in there" that the protagonist nonetheless cannot resist because it's a core part of her personality.

Alternately, you needed to go all the way into satire territory, and this wasn't funny enough for that.

Finally, you have a couple anachronisms that are jarring. Given the aristocratic tone, the operatic setting, I'm guessing this took place during the Belle Epoque, prior to WWI. However, Austria was not a part of the German Empire, ever - it was proudly part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918. Also, Czechoslovakia didn't existing until after WWI.

An Improvement? Yes, but that's not saying a whole lot.
Stands On Its Own? No, sadly. You needed to rework the bones of this story.
On The Beef Scale: The week-old bratwurst I left in the bilgewater in the bottom of the fridge.

--

Yard Work 2: The Reworkening by crabrock
Source Material: Yardwork by sebmojo. A lovely piece that slowly horrifies the reader as the mystery of "what happened" slowly reveals a murder. Very tight, this will be hard to beat.

Your Remake:

You also decided on a line-level rewrite. You've added details, and, in doing so, you've purpled up sebmojo's crisp prose. You've also hit the piece's tension over the head with a shovel by tossing the murder up halfway through the piece, and you mention the grave long before you introduce any tension with Tracey's fear. The slow reveal on the murder was the absolute essence of sebmojo's story.

What you've added doesn't really contribute to the piece. I'm not particularly interested in the fight, you haven't had enough time to establish or hint at a motive. Hell, you don't even really give me an idea of why these men are fighting. Is the guy a drunk? Is he jealous? Was there an affair?

There's some issues with telling and exposition as well:

quote:

Behind me, I heard the screen door slam shut. "I heard". See my note, below. I didn’t need to look up; it could only be Tracey: my late neighbor’s wife. Thump. That's the sound of exposition hitting me in the face. I heard a rattlesnake in the distance, A DOG BARKED followed by her meek voice: “Dan, if we’re not going to talk now, when are we?” she pleaded.

I took a moment to turn around and look at her, "I took a moment"? Get rid of that. "I turned around and..." squinting as sweat beadinged into my eyes. Her golden locks were plastered to her forehead and I could tell she’d been crying. That bit I crossed out? Pure telling. Show me that she's crying, somehow. Mention her red, puffy eyes or tears on her cheeks or something.

If you ever see something like "I heard", "she saw", "he smelled" or similar sensing verbs in your prose, you should consider cutting them. You can strengthen the sentence or image by making it more directly relevant or simply saying that something happened. In the example above, "A screen door slammed shut". You could even trim the fact that it's a "screen" door, since that's irrelevant. "A door slammed shut". 4 words in the place of 9.

An Improvement? Resoundingly no.
Stands On Its Own? It's weak, but not entirely stillborn. With a lot of love, this could work.
On The Beef Scale: Last night's cold hamburger, but it's from McDonald's.

--

chips beer babies shirts blood by twinkle cave
Source: Something from martello, I have no idea. You have the distinction of being the one guy this week I'm judging solely on your own merit, or lack thereof.

Your Remake:

I'll be honest. I absolutely hate the first half of this. I had a hell of a time keeping your characters straight, and your chaotic prose doesn't help. You have dialogue+action from one character mixed with action from a second character:

quote:

"Isn't that your losertard friends," Seth chuckled. Kaitlyn repositioned herself in the truck seat. "Classic," Seth said, "roadshow head."

See that "Kaitlyn" bit in the middle? Either move it to its own paragraph or cut it. Is it important? I can't tell. Also, I have no idea why Seth's responding like that. What's classic? Am I just out of touch with what white trash are doing these days?

Also:

quote:

Courtney, hands on the wheel, stayed straight ahead while her sister Toby leaned forward to wave, "You slut, where's your panties. I could see the wobble from here Katie-O-Asses." PARAGRAPH BREAK Kaitlyn hated that name. Kids called her Kate or Katie. Said she was stuck up when she insisted on the full Kaitlin.

Again, multiple characters doing poo poo in one para. Fix that. Why is Courtney's reaction important? You've now got four characters flying around and all that's happened is some farting. Where's my loving tension? Also, you have a character referring to herself as both "Kaitlyn" and "Kaitlin". Fix.

It only gets harder to follow from there:

quote:

About five games in Seth was already cleaning them out. He kept up a smooth banter egging the amateurs deeper in the hole and then bluffing them out or dropping a mean hand depending. Most of them were having a good time, despite losing. Then Courtney arrived followed by a argument in the yard. "Who the gently caress is that guy?" one of the kids said over his cards redirecting annoyance of getting broker.

Clumsy. Rewrite this whole para, add some goddamn commas. Stop telling me that people are having a good time and show me that they are. Hell, is the card game even relevant?

Skipping ahead though, once you get to the scene with the two girls doing the abortion in the bedroom? I was riveted. Boom, finished the rest of the story without blinking. You've got an interesting core there, a tale of a bond of friendship and sisterhood between two girls, one of whom wants a kid and the other who wants an abortion. You can scrape out the fight scenes and all the other irrelevant bullshit, and you'll wind up with a nice silver nugget.

An Improvement? No idea.
Stands On Its Own? Sorta. Needs editing. Lots of grammar errors and run-on sentences.
On The Beef Scale: A turkey carcass that you shot in the backyard with a sawed-off while drunk, but it's still fresh and steaming.

--

Slave and Slaver, Weave and Waver by Dr. Kloctopussy
Source: The Lion and the Jackal by Bad Seafood.

A difficult stream-of-consciousness piece about an old slave in the desert, chained to a young one. The young one rebels, kills their captors and then the old slave is looked to as a leader after the young one runs away? And then collects his teeth, because he's a hard desert mercenary sort who's seen this poo poo before.

I get a strong "life goes on, seen everything, nothing changes" vibe from the source piece; that's the attitude I'd expect from an old slave, and his actions seem to bear it out.

Your Remake:

Okay, well, as Seafood noted, this is considerably improved simply by not being a Joycean brick of literary lead. You've added or clarified a few nice details, and I like how teeth are more central to the plot at the start. You've largely captured the tone of the original, as well; I can feel the struggle between the old man's cynicism and his hope.

Two things irk me, one minor, one not. The minor one is in the second-to-last paragraph. I blundered over your first reference to "Torgoth", and the action that follows ("Torgoth is the whip now") is jarringly unclear compared to the rest of the story. Insert a mythical reference to Torgoth earlier, perhaps, or change your first reference to "Torgoth-the-boy" and change your third reference to merely "Torgoth".

The second thing is that the old man forgets the teeth that he lusted after to begin with! He decides to follow the boy, that's good, that's character development. I like it. But he's following the kid to "make a pretty penny" and forgets the teeth that would do so, which you mentioned early on! It's a dangling Chekhov's Gun. Sad Beef.

In general, I think this was pretty well done, and I'm rather happy with it.

An Improvement? Yes, definitely. For a line-level rewrite, you had one of the easier jobs, as you had a strong piece that just needed some polish.
Stands On Its Own? Yes, I'd say so. You could've settled for just clarifying Seafood's story, but I like the character development you added and the details.
On The Beef Scale: A t-bone with a little too much gristle on the trimmings.

--

More to come later, I need a break.

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twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


twinkle cave posted:

I've become fond of my boozy Peter Pan avatar

Martello, if it pleases the court, and after seeing that awesome ghost of thunderdome avatar, I ask that my potential new avatar that unshames me be applied to someone that deserves shame.

In other words, gently caress up someone's world.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


Erogenous Beef posted:

I'm going to try to crit these as well as I can. This was loving painful, as many of you picked horrific stories to revise. Do you fuckers realize we have to reread all of those, plus all the new sewage flowing into the judgement pond?

I was going to tell you that this is your own fault for volunteering to judge, but then I remembered that SittingHere didn't give you a choice, so don't blame us, blame her.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Thunderdome Week XXXVI - MORE CRITS because I haven't had enough pain yet tonight

--

Skin on Skin by Cancercakes

Source: Suit on Suit by SaviourX.

A plodding tale of murder in near-future space. Some guys are fighting over... something. In space. SPACE, DO YOU HEAR ME? SPACE!

Your Remake:

Let's start with the good. You've improved on the original by adding some character motivation, and you still have a sort of plot arc in there.

Your exposition is still a bit stilted, and you've tinged your prose with some odd distractions that don't seem to contribute anything to your story, like this:

quote:

I reach the skewed dish quickly and take the most expensive hand drill ever made out of my pocket. That doesn’t necessarily make it special - everything at the ISS is the most expensive of its kind, since it cost so much to get it here. But this is a beauty, with bronze casing glinting in the sun and capable of enough torque to start a tractor. A few adjustments and I’m ready to head back to safety.

You could dump the entire bit about the drill being expensive without losing a thing. You still need to introduce the drill, though, as you're relying on it later on!

I'm not entirely sold on your opener either. I want to see a hint that something's going wrong, or has already gone wrong, not "ho hum, another day in space". This is where you should be introducing us to some tension between Gurpreet and Trev, showing us that Trev resents Gurpreet or something.

I'm also not sold on Trev's dialogue. Astronauts are pretty highly educated people, so when Trev starts sounding like a street thug, it's jarring. That's not to say he should be using giant words, but maybe less profanity or something? Dunno.

The thing that really kills this is that your writing becomes quite muddy towards the end. I completely lost track of who was alive, who was dead, who was in space and who wasn't.

It seems like Trev came out on EVA and attacked Annie, and she kills him with the drill. The dude she hits with the drill goes still and silent. Then Trev starts talking over the intercom again, and seems to wake up again, only to die a second time. I still can't quite parse what's going on here. You basically need to clean up everything past the point where Trev starts slinging around accusations. (Of what, by the way? Your intro made it sound like a little fling. Make it more serious, so this has more impact, maybe.)

Also, the horror of the situation is that Annie is now trapped in space to die. End with that horrific realization. It's a good denouement.

An Improvement? Marginal, but yes, by dint of not being utter dross.
Stands On Its Own? No, I'd say not. This needs heavy editing, maybe a better intro and definitely more clarity.
On The Beef Scale: Lunchables. And you stole them off the class 'tard.

--

Ruble Rentboys by Nubile Hillock
Flash Rule from me: Must take place in either pre-Soviet or post-Soviet Ukraine and involve Russian peasants

Source: Rural Rentboys by Baudolino

First off, I hate you forever for making me reread Rural Rentboys closely to figure out a theme. It's about desperation in the face of poverty, and the shame of being different in a closed, rigid society. Also, funky buttsecks with a janitor.

Your Remake:

Your title is clever. Excessively so. I giggled.

Look, you've improved on the original simply by being a decent writer. Your images are evocative, and your dialogue is pretty good. However, on a macro scale, it feels unfocused. You seem to have three conflicting ideas.

You have the desperation and alienation; the need for work, the need to be accepted by society to get by. You've got the shame of homosexuality in a hostile culture, and the paranoia resulting from it.

You have the relationship between the two rentboys, but it seems undeveloped. Do they love each other? Is it a one-sided relationship? Things like this are confusing:

quote:

A place where he wouldn’t have to pretend, wouldn’t have to look for double meanings in men’s voices, where he could sit and drink and talk about yardwork and marriage

Wait, if he's gay, why does he want to talk about marriage? I went back over the piece, and I don't see any other tinges of regret that might indicate that he's just selling himself for money and secretly hates being some dude's asstoy.

And, finally, you have a story about bike repair. Which kills a dude, for some reason. I think this is the weakest part of the piece, to be honest. It violates the bleak, hopeless tone you've set. The moment the guy gets on the bike, you have a ray of hope, he's thinking of how much better life can be now that he has a bike.

I'd like to see that snatched away in a way that's more directly pertinent to the plot elements you've previously introduced, as opposed to having him hit a pothole and die. It's almost comical.

Also, you had a throwaway line about a car engine humming in the distance. Somewhere, a dog barked. Don't do that.

In the end, I came out a little disappointed, largely because I expected a tighter story from you. This is one of those places where sticking too closely to the source hurt the resulting rewrite. You left out the gay janitor though, thankfully.

An Improvement? Boy howdy.
Stands On Its Own? Sure does.
On The Beef Scale: All the bacon and eggs you have.

--

Sabotage by CantDecideOnAName
Took a losing story because "the only way to go is up"... right?

Source: S.O.S. by Voliun.

A meandering piece about an unwary reporter getting killed by a mad scientist, or something. Also, coats and plants and bookshelves. Did I mention coats?

Your Remake:

Dude, I'm sorry. You're the poster child for "what's wrong" this week. You took a bad story and did a line-level rewrite, when you really needed to look hard at the story, extract the good bits and throw away all the junk. And there was a hell of a lot of junk.

Your source piece was originally criticized for detail padding, but you left plenty in:

quote:

“Come on, come on.” You mean "come in"? Ashford led her into the dining room/kitchen room-slash-room? Clumsy and reads poorly, a small room with more skylight than ceiling how is the skylight important. On one wall there were rows of shelves passive voice that looked like weasel words, these weaken your sentencecolorful corals and fungi the shelves look like corals and fungi?, and in the center of the roomirrelevant was a circular irrelevant table with wooden stools instead of chairs. Don't note the absence of chairs unless it's really important Mandy waited for Ashford to pick up the pair of plates that were on the table before she sat down. Why? Why would she do this?

Rewritten:

quote:

"Come in, come in." Ashford led her into a small dining room and cleared two plates from the small table. Colorful corals and fungi stood on a shelf. PARAGRAPH BREAK

Mandy seated herself on a stool and SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE

You've added technobabble, which is also not a good thing. It's basically irrelevant and looks like you poked around Wikipedia for a bit while writing. If you need a Macguffin, it needs to get introduced way earlier.

On a macro level, you've improved the ending by not making it horrifically confusing. I like how it ends on an ominous note. However, there's no introduction or plot development to speak of. You need to set up this twist better, give us some hints that poo poo AIN'T RIGHT from line one.

An Improvement? Marginally, yes.
Stands On Its Own? No. No no no. This needs a page one rewrite. Take the concept, a mad scientist murders people who come after him, and reapply them to a new, similar draft.
On The Beef Scale: A barrel full of rancid pinto beans that you're going to use in chili anyway because you hate people, specifically, me.

--

Pursuit of Honor by Jagermonster
Source: Vambraces at Sea by Kris Kruel, and some metal song

A story about a struggle for power between two siblings, about how the lust for worldly power destroys sibling bonds. Also, some of the most overwrought anime fight scenes I've had the displeasure of reading this week. Ugh, thanks for making me reread that.

Also, I don't like metal, so I skipped your song, sry bro.

Your Remake:

You have a plot arc, to start with, and that's good! Your source piece lacks that. You have characters with clear motivations, that's good, your source piece lacks that. On the level of pure mechanics, your prose isn't terribad. I'm not seeing many egregious spelling or grammar errors.

You have a few tense issues. You wrote the present in the present tense, and then mixed the past between the past and past perfect tense. Not ideal, but easily fixed. Using the third-person present is an odd choice, but more a matter of taste than a real error.

The problem is that you shoot a giant Viking-sized hole in your plot right at the outset. You present Olaf with a choice: battle or exile, presumably abdicating his throne. He chooses exile - why? It's unclear to me what he wants or seeks. Then Erik pursues him, even though he seems to have gotten what he wants.

I mean, if exile isn't what Erik wanted, why not just off Olaf right there? Why let him run to his ship? Argh.

You've removed the giant tedious fight scene, good. However, you replaced it with equally-tedious exposition:

quote:

Their father had kept Olaf close and relied on him for counsel. While Erik had proven himself on the battlefield, Olaf had planned those battles. Olaf was not only bigger and stronger than Erik, but more naturally adept with a blade. Olaf mastered fighting techniques in days that Erik spent weeks drilling. Olaf’s kindness and affection toward Erik had been the greatest insult of all. Erik saw it as more acts of mercy, further eroding his honor.

Jesus, just hit me over the head with your story, why don't you? You need to find a better way to show all this without just saying it outright.

This is terrible, never do this:

quote:

Olaf realizes there is no way out of this. His attempt at self-exile merely delayed the inevitable. Although Olaf doubts it will soften his brother’s rage or slow his desperate pursuit of honor, Olaf shouts back, “I merely wished to spare our people pain and turmoil, Erik. We both would have been fine leaders. That’s why I left. Neither of us need die.”

The first two sentences are, again, smacking the reader about the head with "HEY HERE IS THE IMPLICATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING, DO YOU GET IT? HUH?" You're telling me stuff straight up. And your dialogue here is basically pointing out your giant plot hole. As far as I can tell from this, Erik is just some murderous rear end in a top hat.

This is frustrating because you could've had a neat story about sibling rivalry that ends with the exile-or-death choice, but you larded it up with belabored telling and your antagonist is terribly one-dimensional.

An Improvement? Kinda.
Stands On Its Own? No.
On The Beef Scale: Plokkfiskur.

--

Consequences by Fanky Malloons
Three-way minibrawl!

Source: The End by Jonas Salk.

A poorly-written stickup tale, which turns into Lovecraftian horror as otherworldly things consume the would-be robbers. Relies on a flashback sequence.

Your Remake:

This is competent, but flawed. You've got some decent characters, your pacing is pretty good, and there's only a few mechanical issues. I spotted a few places where you had your tenses mixed up.

The problem is, you've got a few issues where you're telling us stuff instead of showing it, and a few issues with passive voice. They're often linked together!

quote:

The robbery had not gone well.

quote:

Unnerved by the silence, Shep eyed the door, which was now directly in front of him.

quote:

One of the customers sitting near the door, old Mr. Atkins, who Shep had always assumed was as stupid as he was ancient, stood up and closed the door. The lock clicked loudly in the silent restaurant and Shep knew that things were going to end very, very badly.

Unhappy Beef.

quote:

“Oh, Shep,” said Barb, the shift manager,

Don't tell me she's the shift manager now. Tell me that earlier, or show it. Or eliminate it, because it hardly seems relevant.

quote:

Shep saw Barb’s skin start to peel back as her true form exploded out of her human body.

Never use the phrase "true form" ever again, unless you're writing Dragonball fanfiction.

The bigger issue I see is a sort of thematic schizophrenia. You're sort of going for Lovecraftian horror, but the vibe is ruined by the comical nature of the situation. Barb seems more funny than sinister, and the "arterial spray" bit is way over the top. At the same time, it's not funny enough on its own to be a comedy piece.

An Improvement? Oh yes, definitely.
Stands On Its Own? Eh, needs some work, but not a whole lot.
On The Beef Scale: Moons Over My Hammy. Or a bacon cheeseburger, but it's still coming from Denny's.

--

untitled by Voliun

Source: untitled by toanoradian.

Your source is a cute piece that's incredibly meta and toys with punctuation. It plays with the distinction between writer and character.

Your Remake:

A computer counts down your wordcount. I saw what you were doing with the numbers pretty fast, but, unlike the original, it didn't feel like it really tied into the story. Basically, you wrote some words counting down your own words.

High concept, not the best execution.

An Improvement? No.
Stands On Its Own? No.
On The Beef Scale: Soggy alphabet soup.

--

Enough for tonight, it's super late for me. More tomorrow.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


Erogenous Beef posted:

I spotted a few places where you had your tenses mixed up.

FUUUUCK. Literally the worst mistake, because I loving hate it when other people do that

Thanks for the crit, dude. I think I didn't commit enough to what I was writing, because it was someone else's idea rather than my own. I'll be interested to see what you think about my other entry!

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Erogenous Beef posted:

BEFORE: Through the windows of each storefront, I could see a few faces watching us. I looked closer - every face was dingy and smudged with soot
AFTER: Dingy, soot-smudged faces pressed up against the storefront window, watching us.
Aaaaaahhhk god dammit. How do you pull these strings of magical words out of your rear end in a brief write up? poo poo like that - I struggled with the words forever to make it something more than, "there was poo poo, and then there was creepy poo poo in there."

Thanks for the crit. I hate you for making it look so obvious.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

Ebeef! Thanks for the crit. I've got a ton of excuses, but this isn't the place for that. The "yardwork and marriage" thing was me trying to show the prot wanting to be normal and to fit in, not wanting marriage itself. I want to argue that no Soviet town is complete without an automobile sputtering to death I don't know how it happened but the beginning and end are comical and the middle is Soviet Melodrama by Comrade Hillock.

Here's a picture of Eugene Hutz, I feel it's somewhat appropriate.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


magnificent7 posted:

Aaaaaahhhk god dammit. How do you pull these strings of magical words out of your rear end in a brief write up? poo poo like that - I struggled with the words forever to make it something more than, "there was poo poo, and then there was creepy poo poo in there."

Thanks for the crit. I hate you for making it look so obvious.


It's actually a mechanical process. I didn't introduce any new words or concepts.

"I could see", "I saw", "I looked" - I mentioned this in another crit. If you are saying "this character <senses> this thing doing XYZ", then you really need to rewrite the sentence to be of the form "thing does XYZ".

"Each", "every", "some" can also often be eliminated.

"Of" is another word that tends to expand a sentence. "Through each window of every storefront", bam, you have three words right there that set off my editor filter. I just tried to eliminate those while preserving the things you mentioned: storefronts, glass, faces in windows, and the details about the faces.

There's actually details on this in a book I recently read, Ken Rand's "The 10% Solution". Go check your local library or hit up Amazon or something. He gives a list of keywords that he watches for when editing. All of the above are in there.

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


Fanky Malloons posted:

FUUUUCK. Literally the worst mistake, because I loving hate it when other people do that

I WAS SO MAD READING THOSE TENSE SHIFTS

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Erogenous Beef posted:

It's actually a mechanical process. I didn't introduce any new words or concepts.

"I could see", "I saw", "I looked" - I mentioned this in another crit. If you are saying "this character <senses> this thing doing XYZ", then you really need to rewrite the sentence to be of the form "thing does XYZ".

"Each", "every", "some" can also often be eliminated.

"Of" is another word that tends to expand a sentence. "Through each window of every storefront", bam, you have three words right there that set off my editor filter. I just tried to eliminate those while preserving the things you mentioned: storefronts, glass, faces in windows, and the details about the faces.

There's actually details on this in a book I recently read, Ken Rand's "The 10% Solution". Go check your local library or hit up Amazon or something. He gives a list of keywords that he watches for when editing. All of the above are in there.

It's a real 'They Live' moment when you click on to this - so many words just don't need to be there. Even my Yardwork, which Beef talked about above, and which I consciously wrote to be as tight as possible, reading it again I just did another pass and dropped maybe 20-30 words without hurting the piece. And if you cut words and don't hurt the piece you've improved it. Serious. Cut cut cut.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?


The Saddest Rhino posted:

I WAS SO MAD READING THOSE TENSE SHIFTS

LOOK, I ALREADY SUCIDED ABOUT IT WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

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


First off, no, the shelves actually looked like coral and fungi. I wanted him to have cool shelves. Secondly, dammit. I thought I had made it better, but I suspect I'll be sporting a new avatar before the end of the week. Oh well. Thanks for the crit, I worked hard on the ending.

twinkle cave
Dec 20, 2012


Erogenous Beef posted:

What's classic? Am I just out of touch with what white trash are doing these days?

Not anymore! Dude person - great critique. Thank you.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Erogenous Beef posted:


Slave and Slaver, Weave and Waver by Dr. Kloctopussy
Source: The Lion and the Jackal by Bad Seafood.

....

The second thing is that the old man forgets the teeth that he lusted after to begin with! He decides to follow the boy, that's good, that's character development. I like it. But he's following the kid to "make a pretty penny" and forgets the teeth that would do so, which you mentioned early on! It's a dangling Chekhov's Gun. Sad Beef.

In general, I think this was pretty well done, and I'm rather happy with it.

An Improvement? Yes, definitely. For a line-level rewrite, you had one of the easier jobs, as you had a strong piece that just needed some polish.
Stands On Its Own? Yes, I'd say so. You could've settled for just clarifying Seafood's story, but I like the character development you added and the details.
On The Beef Scale: A t-bone with a little too much gristle on the trimmings.


Thanks for the crit. I am actually reading Ulysses right now and even Joyce uses more commas than Seafood did in the original.

Your major irk point (the forgotten teeth), was actually sloppy writing. I meant to imply that he was getting the teeth and actually might be separated from the youth and the rest of the slaves since he stayed behind for them. Obviously when it comes to writing, it doesn't matter what you meant to do, only what you did do. I'm actually more embarrassed that I just flatly failed to convey such a simple idea than I would've been if I hadn't thought of it in the first place.

Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


Erogenous Beef posted:


The problem is that you shoot a giant Viking-sized hole in your plot right at the outset. You present Olaf with a choice: battle or exile, presumably abdicating his throne. He chooses exile - why? It's unclear to me what he wants or seeks. Then Erik pursues him, even though he seems to have gotten what he wants.



Oy. Looks like I completely failed to make clear that: Olaf loved his brother and wouldn't kill him. At the end Olaf realized it was inevitable when Erik chased him down. Erik pursued Olaf because without actually defeating Olaf, the throne and everything else would be a Pyrrhic victory. Their father doomed them both the second he spared the younger brother. Thank you for the crit.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Erogenous Beef posted:

It's actually a mechanical process. I didn't introduce any new words or concepts.

"I could see", "I saw", "I looked" - I mentioned this in another crit. If you are saying "this character <senses> this thing doing XYZ", then you really need to rewrite the sentence to be of the form "thing does XYZ".

"Each", "every", "some" can also often be eliminated.

"Of" is another word that tends to expand a sentence. "Through each window of every storefront", bam, you have three words right there that set off my editor filter. I just tried to eliminate those while preserving the things you mentioned: storefronts, glass, faces in windows, and the details about the faces.

There's actually details on this in a book I recently read, Ken Rand's "The 10% Solution". Go check your local library or hit up Amazon or something. He gives a list of keywords that he watches for when editing. All of the above are in there.
Thanks for this. Fantastic info.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


HereticMIND posted:

Synchronicity (WORD COUNT: 654)
hnnnnnggggg



Solitaire

985 words

Amanita figured virtual dating would be worth a shot, better than the old online dating. With regular online, you could do a virtual meet-up but you had to feed the program a 3D scan, speak into the mic, even stroke the feedback pad so it could record your touch and the feeling of your skin.

For Amanita, that wasn't an option. You can't do a Facebook angle with a 3D scanner, and you can't fix a flat round face and beady eyes. Sure, surgery and biosculpting and genetweaks and every other loving unnatural thing was affordable these days. Especially on her Nessus Stellar Resources salary, what they paid her for designing asteroid mining modules. Worked for seven years designing the things, a master's in astromechanical engineering, and she'd never even been on a suborbital let alone near the Belt. She lived in a world of wonders but was too scared to experience much of it. Space would kill you with radiation, and who the gently caress knew what lasers, knives, splicers, and gene treatments would do to you?

So virtual dating; nobody had to meet ever, so none of that RealYou bullshit. She could pick any look, any persona, any voice. She could tweak her e-self as much as she wanted, and the only thing it cost her was time and a monthly subscription. The v-dating went okay for a while, felt better than the real thing, the real thing being one quick, awkward humping session with a blacked-out halfback in high school. But then she started thinking too much. She knew the guy on the other end of the virch session wasn't some hard-bodied Adonis, so it stood to reason that he knew the same about her. She couldn't stand the thought, him probably imagining her fat rolls, inadequate tits, her moonface. And what if, god forbid, it wasn't a man on the other end at all? A kid, maybe, some little pimply pre-teen, or even a woman?

So she bought that one program, the one that had single-player as well as the multi. Nobody on the other end, just the most advanced LoveMate algorithm and whatever body, face, and personality you wanted. Upgraded her harness with a new vibrator attachment, and she started playing.

#

"Hello," he said. "My name is Phillip."

Amanita smiled. She knew what his name was; she'd picked it. "Hi Phillip." She stepped closer to him, played with the frilly edge of her black silk nightie. She ran her hands over her shapely hips, up her flat stomach and to cup her honeydew breasts. "How are you doing today?"

Phillip was doing very well, indeed.

#

"So, Phillip, where would you like to eat tonight?" Amanita looked up at him from where her head rested on his muscular thighs.

He flashed her those fantastic teeth, straight and ivory-white. "Where ever you want, baby."

"No, I want to know where you want to eat."

Phillip kept smiling. "You liked the Chinese last night?"

"Yeah, it was great." She sat up to look at him better.

"Let's go there, then."

"But we went there last night."

Phillip blinked at her, his smile stayed the same. He stretched, magnificently. Then said: "Then let's go to the pizzeria. You ate a lot there, you must have loved it."

"Are you saying I'm fat?"

"No, of course not, beautiful!" Phillip touched her face; his hand just calloused enough to feel manly but not so much to be rough. "I like your appetite. It only goes to the right places." He started working on some of her right places.

Amanita pushed him away. "Not right now, honey, I'm trying to talk to you."

Phillip sat back. "How's that latest module coming?"

#

"Hello Amanita, this is Ian with Customer Relations, thank you for holding!"

"Hi Ian," Amanita said, not looking at the screen. "I'm having a problem with single-player. The, ah, my boyfriend isn't acting very, I dunno, very real."

"Hmm, well could you be a bit more specific? If it's an intimate issue, I can certainly redirect you to a female representative if you'd feel more comfortable -"

She cut him off. "No, it's fine. It's not that, the, ah, intimate stuff is amazing. It's when I try to talk to him about things, get his opinion on stuff."

Short silence. "Well, Amanita, the LoveMate software is not designed for deep conversation."

"But that's what I want. It says 'a truly perfect companion' right on the loving page. I'm thinking I might need a supervisor."

"Amanita, I have my supervisor right here. She's telling me I can set you up with a new pilot program. It uses an, ah, improved LoveMate program with enhanced conversational skills due to programmer input."

Amanita leaned back in her chair. "What does that mean, exactly?"

"Well, at the moment, the improved program is proprietary. But I can assure you the communication will be much more, ah, life-like."

"Okay, I'll take it."

#

"Let's go to Thai Basil tonight, baby," Phillip was saying. "The new chef just added a yellow curry to their menu. I hear it's absolutely amazing."

"Okay, honey." Amanita laced her fingers through his, looked up at his square jaw and shining eyes. So kind, so warm. He truly was a perfect companion, responding to her every need. "Let's go."

#

Gary at Intimate Feedback watched Amanita's avatar smile up at him stupidly. This customer was so easy to please. Have a friendly conversation, gently caress her, take her out to dinner. When he didn't know the answer to some question, the database always prompted him. His shift was almost over, had to finagle a bathroom trip or something like that so he could switch out with that bulldyke who worked nightshift. Did this Amanita bitch even have a job? She was playing 24-7, seemed like.

Holy gently caress, she might really be in love with a virch puppet!

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

I am actually reading Ulysses right now and even Joyce uses more commas than Seafood did in the original.
Wikipedia broke my heart that week. And everyone else's with Magical Realism. In retrospect, I suppose I'm fortunate to have learned my lesson early.

Doesn't let Danny Boy off the hook though. He's just lulling you into a false sense of security. You'll get a good dose of the stuff later on, whenever it is that he gets 'round to Molly.

James Joyce posted:

a quarter after what an unearthly hour I suppose theyre just getting up in China now combing out their pigtails for the day well soon have the nuns ringing the angelus theyve nobody coming in to spoil their sleep except an odd priest or two for his night office or the alarmlock next door at cockshout clattering the brain out of itself let me see if I can doze off 1 2 3 4 5 what kind of flowers are those they invented like the stars the wallpaper in Lombard street was much nicer the apron he gave me was like that something only I only wore it twice better lower this lamp and try again so that I can get up early

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Apr 16, 2013 around 04:51

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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


I think you posted the wrong quote Here, let me help you:

James Joyce posted:

You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I hosed them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to gently caress a farting woman when every gently caress drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


If I ever become famous I am burning all my letters.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Okay, I have time for a few...

More Thunderdome Crits Week XXXVI

--

Terminus by Kaishai
Three-way minibrawl contender #2!

Source: The End by Jonas Salk.

As before, a poorly-written stickup tale, which turns into Lovecraftian horror as otherworldly things consume the would-be robbers. Relies on a flashback sequence.

Your Remake:

This is pretty good, so I'm going to start with the bad stuff. You have a few places where you're using sensing verbs unnecessarily, and a few bits where you're telling us stuff that could easily have been shown:

quote:

all he'd smelled for hours

quote:

Shep was very much aware of the Colt shoved through his belt

quote:

Shep heard the crickets again in his mind

This sort of thing is where the majority of your problems lie; if you can fix them up, you'll have a tighter, crisper piece without losing any action. See my post to magnificent7 above about sensing verbs.

On to the good! You've got the best pacing I've seen this week, your descriptions are rich and vivid, and your action sequence is short, shocking and to the point. I like the way you've ended it, it's far more elegant than the original, and you've captured the creeping horror very well - the slow reveal that starts with the metronomic synchronization of the staff and customers is ideal and very creepy.

So, in brief, this is a strong piece with a few stylistic or technical issues that can be easily fixed. Polish her up and you'll have something good here.

An Improvement? Most definitely.
Stands On Its Own? Yep, yep.
On The Beef Scale: A New York Strip that's a little too rare.

--

The Song by V for Vegas

Source: The Drone of the Tower by Wrageowrapper.

what the gently caress did i just read. No seriously, what?!

Your Remake:

Okay, this is competent, although I have some issues with your opener. You have a big brick of exposition, and your hooks are your second and third paragraphs. You could easily move those two to the top and merge the two "savior of the favela" bricks into one big third paragraph. Punch this up a bit somehow, give me an idea that things are off. You've got a good magical tone that develops later, so start leading into it!

The middle is the part I really take issue with. It's meandering. I think it's the saggiest part of the piece, and you're starting to talk more about the Vorpale. Thing is, you never develop the idea - it's a Chekhov's Gun that you've just left sitting on the mantlepiece. It needs to be either developed or cut. Since your ending is based around a song, I'd like to see the song developed more here, as well.

Your ending, however, is very strong. I love how the song plays into the piece, it's now integral to how the whole thing works as opposed to some weird Disney Musical Interlude. My only issue is how sudden it is; it feels like I skipped right over the climax and went into the denouement. Again, this is the fault of your second act.

I shouldn't even need to compare this to the original; it goes without saying that this is a massive improvement, probably one of this week's most-improved.

An Improvement? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand voices sing yes.
Stands On Its Own? Definitely.
On The Beef Scale: A hearty bowl of chili that's lacking one or two peppers.

--

The Shadow over Islamorada 2.0 also by Fanky Malloons

Source: The Shadow over Islamorada by Martello.

Future hit man meets future mer-thing, does job, gets future sex. In the future.

Your Remake:

Well, this is half an improvement and half not. It's a very very close rewrite, nearly identical to the original. The flirting is better, and I like your characterization of Bronco better than Martello's original. You've punched up the characters well, they're much clearer. The ending, therefore, makes more sense to me.

However, you've retained some of the labored exposition:

quote:

Bronco tried not to look down, distracting himself with the fact that Serene Azure had once been Jeffrey Stoltz from Miami Beach.

Keep the gender-bender reveal for the middle bit, don't blow it with exposition at the start. You've retained some weird metaphors; I still don't get the one about "finishing school." I want you to go over this again and edit out every loving adverb. Strengthen your verbs and tighten your prose.

You also made a mistake or two when revising. At one point, you edited out a mention about a "yacht accident", but you retained the dialogue where Serene objects to being accused of causing a yacht accident. Fix that.

This is competent, both because of the rewrite and because the original was decent to begin with. However, it could still stand to get some love.

An Improvement? Fifty-fifty.
Stands On Its Own? Sure.
On The Beef Scale: Vat-grown geneloaf.

--

The Deviant Machine by Nikaer Drekin

Source: Control Within by Bodnoirbabe

"Being a demonic jaguar trans-gendered lesbian Otherkin who's married to Tifa from FFVII is who I am, so check your privilege!" ENOUGH SAID. gently caress YOU FOREVER FOR MAKING ME REREAD THIS.

Rhino and I both were wondering how the gently caress this didn't lose in the first place. I forget the answer. It's irrelevant and so is the source, which is an utter travesty of internet fanfic trash writing. No plot to speak of, bombastic gloating, cardboard characters, and videogame/anime references everywhere. Please go drink everything under your sink.

Your Remake:

This is really, really bad.

Your concept is "Man creates AI which will destroy him, fine, a staple scifi plot." We're starting with a cliche. This is bad.

Your first scene is a giant wad of plodding exposition that goes precisely nowhere. You're not setting up any tension, your characters are still cardboard cutouts, your relationships are hollow. I'm finding it really hard to find anything good to say about this.
You tried to be cute with the dialogue, by cutting up the machine's voice with dashes, presumably to imitate text-to-speech software. First, that doesn't exactly spell "genius super AI that's going to take over the world", that spells "MC Hawking". Second, it's incredibly irritating to read - this is a problem with any kind of patois. You should be using these tricks sparingly, not smacking me in the face every other sentence.

I also want you to lose the "click" device. I get that you're trying to show it, but I want you to describe how the AI sounds instead of just barfing up the word "click" twenty times.

Your second scene isn't a whole lot better. Your major problem is that you're lacking tension and a clearly defined plot arc. Here's what I want you to do next time: write down a one-sentence summary that encapsulates the core idea for your story, preferably one that clearly demonstrates two characters with sharply different goals. Then, write down a sentence that describes how the two characters' goals differ and how that will be resolved.

Now write three sentences.

The first sentence is a one-line summary of how your story begins, which means it has to mention both of those characters and set up their differing goals, preferably also hinting at your setting.

The second sentence is what one of your characters does in order to achieve their goal, and how the second character reacts.

The third sentence is how that reaction brings your story to its conclusion; one of the two characters has achieved their goal and defeated the other character (this doesn't necessarily mean combat! rookie mistake!).

Now go forth and rewrite your story around that three-sentence outline.

An Improvement? In name only.
Stands On Its Own? for(int i = 0; i < MAX_INT; i++) { printf ("NO! "); }
On the Beef Scale: A carton of pink slime I left out in the summer heat and now there's a dead raccoon collapsed on top of it. Or maybe it's Tifa. gently caress knows.

--

Enough for now, more later.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at Apr 16, 2013 around 19:32

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Erogenous Beef posted:

Source: Control Within by Bodnoirbabe

"Being a demonic jaguar trans-gendered lesbian Otherkin who's married to Tifa from FFVII is who I am, so check your privilege!" ENOUGH SAID. gently caress YOU FOREVER FOR MAKING ME REREAD THIS.

Rhino and I both were wondering how the gently caress this didn't lose in the first place. I forget the answer. It's irrelevant and so is the source, which is an utter travesty of internet fanfic trash writing. No plot to speak of, bombastic gloating, cardboard characters, and videogame/anime references everywhere. Please go drink everything under your sink.

Cuz Chairchucker's was worse somehow I guess? I honestly don't know, looking back, why we didn't pick Bodnoirbabe's. I think it was decided that her story was vaguely amusing in a self-aware "let's make fun of stupid tumblr people guys" way.

It probably should've been the loser.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Erogenous Beef posted:

crit crit crit

...well at least I didn't just do a line-by-line rewrite

No, really, thanks for the feedback. I agree that my focus when writing this was misplaced- instead of trying to craft a good story I tried to rework the original one in an interesting way. Whether or not I accomplished that doesn't really matter if the characters are poo poo, though, so lesson learned I guess!

The computer-speak patois was based on the way Tik-Tok speaks in the Oz books, but I can see how it was used in a clumsy way here.

Also, the technique you described sounds really helpful in getting to the core of a story- I'll definitely try that out in the future. Not sure if I'll spend the time re-working this; I'd rather put it aside for now and make my next piece the best it can be.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


twinkle cave posted:

Martello, if it pleases the court, and after seeing that awesome ghost of thunderdome avatar, I ask that my potential new avatar that unshames me be applied to someone that deserves shame.

In other words, gently caress up someone's world.

Workin on it

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

It's a real 'They Live' moment when you click on to this - so many words just don't need to be there. Even my Yardwork, which Beef talked about above, and which I consciously wrote to be as tight as possible, reading it again I just did another pass and dropped maybe 20-30 words without hurting the piece. And if you cut words and don't hurt the piece you've improved it. Serious. Cut cut cut.

This isn't in direct response to EB's crit, but the issue I have with cut cut cut is when a story was written in the first person past tense (such as your yard work). When people are telling a story they say things like "I saw," "I heard," etc. They're describing the experience they had, which to me is the point of writing in the first person. To say "A door slammed shut." leaves the story incomplete. Did they hear it, see it, feel the vibrations? Nobody talks like that, and it makes the story seem like it's being told by an overly dramatic person who is either trying to be pretentiously terse or trying too hard to be a gruff old man like they saw in a movie. All of the sentence fragments in such a short story just seemed awkward and forced. Maybe my rewrite wasn't the best, and I obviously still have a lot to learn, but I think avoiding all instances of "I [sensed] something" is leaving out a large part of a person's story-telling repertoire. If you want to stick to facts then just write in the third person.

But in essence I was rewriting a story about a man who looks a lot of directions:

"I [...] looked up. [...] I looked down [...] I glanced up. [...] looked up [...] I looked [...] I’d looked up"

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Because the story is from a first-person perspective, it is implied that, "a door slammed shut" is being perceived by the narrator. If it's important to the plot that the narrator HEARD it rather than SAW it (or vice versa), then you can mention that. Otherwise it doesn't matter what sense the narrator used to know that the door shut.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

systran posted:

Because the story is from a first-person perspective, it is implied that, "a door slammed shut" is being perceived by the narrator. If it's important to the plot that the narrator HEARD it rather than SAW it (or vice versa), then you can mention that. Otherwise it doesn't matter what sense the narrator used to know that the door shut.

I hardly think that anybody is advocating getting rid of any exposition that is not necessary to drive the plot forward. Hearing a screen door slam shut evokes a very specific feeling than simply describing that a door shut (in itself not important to plot at all either). You could just skip to some lady on the porch talking to the main character, but the whole reason the door stuff is in there in the first place is to provide a bit of narrative. If you don't care how something affected the narrator, why put it in at all?


edit: like this sentence: "After a while we heard the train-whistle way off below on the other side of the plateau, and then we saw the headlight coming up the hill."

You could argue "oh well of COURSE they heard the train whistle. Why say they heard it? What's the point. Of course they see the headlight. Those are both wasted words and would make Hemmingway cry. You could cut out words and end up with "A train-whistle blew on the other side of the plateau and a headlight shined on the hill." or even shorter "A train was coming." but that doesn't necessarily make it better. Saying HOW something happened is how people tell stories, even made up people in your writing. It's important to inform your reader of what your character is experiencing, not just what is happening. That is boring. Objective reality is not as important as how people perceive it. Also that quote is from "The Sun Also Rises."

crabrock fucked around with this message at Apr 16, 2013 around 15:19

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

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


crabrock posted:

I hardly think that anybody is advocating getting rid of any exposition that is not necessary to drive the plot forward. Hearing a screen door slam shut evokes a very specific feeling than simply describing that a door shut (in itself not important to plot at all either). You could just skip to some lady on the porch talking to the main character, but the whole reason the door stuff is in there in the first place is to provide a bit of narrative. If you don't care how something affected the narrator, why put it in at all?


edit: like this sentence: "After a while we heard the train-whistle way off below on the other side of the plateau, and then we saw the headlight coming up the hill."

You could argue "oh well of COURSE they heard the train whistle. Why say they heard it? What's the point. Of course they see the headlight. Those are both wasted words and would make Hemmingway cry. You could cut out words and end up with "A train-whistle blew on the other side of the plateau and a headlight shined on the hill." or even shorter "A train was coming." but that doesn't necessarily make it better. Saying HOW something happened is how people tell stories, even made up people in your writing. It's important to inform your reader of what your character is experiencing, not just what is happening. That is boring. Objective reality is not as important as how people perceive it. Also that quote is from "The Sun Also Rises."

I think this bears repetition. There is kind of a dangerous tendency in the critting, in TD and around CC in general, to try and eliminate any and all superfluous prose - and what is considered superfluous from a subjective point of view at that. Obviously to people who can't write at all, cut cut cut is always and forever the order of the day, but not every piece of great fiction is barebones straight-to-the-chase. It is not always a crime to sacrifice clarity for creativity in my books, or establishing mood/character.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

I allowed for that in what I said: If it's important to the plot that the narrator HEARD it rather than SAW it (or vice versa), then you can mention that.

The critique of your piece had a large amount of examples of "I could tell," "I heard," and "I saw." I don't think the critique meant that you needed to remove every single instance of this, but rather you need to pick and choose which of those you really want to leave in. If you have "I heard a screen door shut," the reader is going to hear it shutting more than they will see it shutting. This can be a useful tool, but just like if you bold/underline every fifth word, each bolded/underlined word loses weight. Each time you have "I heard/felt/saw/sensed," the reader becomes more immune and those extra words become dead weight. If you otherwise just have "x verbed, y verbed, z verbed, I heard x verb," the reader is more likely to really think of the sound when you finally do use it.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

systran posted:

The critique of your piece had a large amount of examples of "I could tell," "I heard," and "I saw." I don't think the critique meant that you needed to remove every single instance of this, but rather you need to pick and choose which of those you really want to leave in. If you have "I heard a screen door shut," the reader is going to hear it shutting more than they will see it shutting. This can be a useful tool, but just like if you bold/underline every fifth word, each bolded/underlined word loses weight. Each time you have "I heard/felt/saw/sensed," the reader becomes more immune and those extra words become dead weight. If you otherwise just have "x verbed, y verbed, z verbed, I heard x verb," the reader is more likely to really think of the sound when you finally do use it.

Like I said, my issue wasn't in response to the crit of my piece specifically, but to the notion of "If you ever see something like "I heard", "she saw", "he smelled" or similar sensing verbs in your prose, you should consider cutting them." and sebmojo's "cut cut cut."

I will definitely be careful with the "I heard, I saw" etc. in the future (honestly only see a few instances of that in my last submission anyway, and still prefer to keep them in as they are. most of my sentences are declarative), I just take issue with blanket statements telling people to trim down their writing into boringness because that's what the readers apparently prefer to write.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

The main idea is to look for that and then consider cutting it. Cutting is generally going to be a good thing to do especially if the piece isn't working well. You still see people on here saying, "You should have fleshed this part out more" or "You should have given us more details about x thing." It's still much more common for people to add too much and have too much, which is where those blanket statements are coming from. If you think something is exempt from the blanket statement, then risk it and don't cut it; just make sure you think about why.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Erogenous Beef posted:

Skin on Skin by Cancercakes

Source: Suit on Suit by SaviourX.

You could dump the entire bit about the drill being expensive without losing a thing. You still need to introduce the drill, though, as you're relying on it later on!

I might be wrong, but I believe CancerCakes is riffing on my crit of ScabierRex's original drivel.

Martello posted:

[I've got the pneumatic tool in my belt, and a barely sharpened cutter attached to the suit glove, and I ready both of them.Very slow and dull sentence structure. Try "I ready the pneumatic tool (whatever the gently caress that is anyway) and the dull cutter attached to my glove (we know it's a loving suit glove at this point).

...

I swing, miss, swing again with the tool Is this like a drill thing or is a miniature statue of you irl?, try to invert and swipe with the tip of the glove's cutter.

...

Luckily he lets go for a second and despite my suit blaring warnings, I find some footing, aim and throw the tool Still losing sleep over what kind of tool this is at him, catching him off guard.

So I thought it was p clever and it made me chuckle.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Also if you guys wanna go back and forth about cutting words go and do it in Fiction Advice and Discussion. We write, crit, and shitpost here. We don't have long conversations about stuff that belong in other threads.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Right, I have time for Another Crit Or Two From Thunderdome XXXVI:

--

Roadbumps

Source: Personal Conspiracy Theory by Omniphile.

A "slow reveal" story about a horrible, yet charismatic politician who turns out to be mind controlling people. The dialogue is notably tedious and there's a lot of telling.

Your Remake:

So, the problem I have here is that you're probably going for an irreverent comedy piece, but it's not especially funny. Without lots of funny, this turns into a leaden trudge towards your plot twist. Until Jamal shows up, your plot seems to basically be "today is awesome, everything is okay, man this guy is a jerk but also a cool dude".

Your first paragraph is a serviceable opener, you have a few plot hooks here. You should be elaborating on why this dude is so adored by the public, and why he's so confident about knocking out the other candidates. That's your opportunity to take this to dark (or hilarious) places.

The problem is, you then go into a boring back-and-forth with the guy's toady. I get that you're trying to establish that everyone wants to suck up to the dude, but can you do that while also revealing some interesting details, perhaps about where this guy's charisma comes from? Where his confidence comes from?

Jamal's entrance is abrupt this is where stuff really starts to get rough. You pull a gun and the dude gets shot, but it's okay, everyone loves him. I want you to show us this last bit, not tell us "it was all ok". Also, set up the gun earlier (literally a Chekhov's Gun opportunity here).

An Improvement? Yes.
Stands On Its Own? Not quite. This needs cleanup and plot surgery.
On The Beef Scale: Freedom fries.

--

Sudden Loss by Black Griffon

Source: Prowling of the Night Raider by kangaroojunk

It's a sonnet. About a dude who steals girls' panties. You are why I drink.

Your Remake:

The biggest thing that sticks out here is that you're very obviously hampered by a lack of wordcount. Your first scene is competent, not stellar, but competent. You have a few issues with sentence structure:

quote:

"Yes."

The cop nodded, and for a moment he looked down, didn't say a word.

Then he said, "I need you to understand that it's bad. They're doing the best they can, but it's bad."

You broke that across three paragraphs. It could easily be one:

quote:

"Yes." The cop nodded, and for a moment he looked down, didn't say a word. "I need you to understand that it's bad. They're doing the best they can, but it's bad."

The dialogue is a little bit stilted and cliche, but I can let it slide. I have an issue with one of your metaphors:

quote:

Police radios and angry voices receded to a dull rumble, the protagonist is distracted, this is good and for some reason, <-- NEVER DO THIS a washing machine still on spin cycle rushed like thunder though Marian's head. This is a metaphor I don't quite get. How does a washing machine rush like thunder? Clarify or rephrase.

Drowning until the cop opened the door.What? I don't even know what's happening here.

Your second two scenes are weaker, this is where the word count is murdering you. You have a crackhead antagonist who murdered a girl for her panties or something? I actually need more details here, more than just "well, he spazzed out and got caught in the clotheslines". The third scene is similarly too abrupt. You can do the capture in the second scene and eliminate the third, or eliminate the second scene and figure out how to make the reaction to the capture interesting.

An Improvement? Yes, sir, I do believe so.
Stands On Its Own? Almost. Almost.
On The Beef Scale: Pommes Frites.

--

Tagged For Love by Fumblemouse

Source: Tagged For Love by Capntastic.

Future ditz goes to future work, has future man save her from future rat. In the future. FUTURE. Over-specific details and leaden exposition issues, but I've seen lots of that already today.

Your Remake:

Eh. This is so-so. You're dropping in plenty of details that could be plot hooks and then not developing them. You started out pretty strong, this is a decent first paragraph. The leering coworker bit is good, but could be developed further. And then rats out of loving nowhere; that needs foreshadowing. Really, I'd rather there be some incident more related to either Attus, the dystopian setting or the stomach trouble you mention in the first line.

Here's the thing, though. You shot a giant hole in your foot with the ending. It seems to be "BUT IT WAS ALL A DREAM!" and this is a great example of why it doesn't work - you just invalidated the point of your entire story. Unless...

This could be a brilliant knockoff of the ending to Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The stomach trouble is from amnesiacs (or something), and the characters are doomed to an eternal recurrence - encounter each other as coworkers, fall in love, and then get memory-wiped, only to do it all again the next day. Forever. If you want to try to pull that kind of plot, though, you need the characters to discover their recurring fate, struggle against it and, ultimately, punch us in the gut by failing.

Since there really aren't any hints that lead me towards "Brazil" and away from "It Was All A Dream", I'm leaning towards "lovely cliche". If you added some kind of weirdness or uncertainty, I'd believe that this was a sort of repeating cycle of love thwarted.

An Improvement? Sorta, kinda, until "it was all a dream".
Stands On Its Own? Not quite.
On The Beef Scale: Tofurkey.

--

More later tonight.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at Apr 16, 2013 around 22:36

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


My point in the crit was wondering how he turned my clunky bull in a china shop description into a stripper approaching me for a lap dance.

quote:

BEFORE: Through the windows of each storefront, I could see a few faces watching us. I looked closer - every face was dingy and smudged with soot
AFTER: Dingy, soot-smudged faces pressed up against the storefront window, watching us.
Not caring about the word count NEARLY as much as that perfect description.

I'd STILL want to add I slowed my steps when I saw dingy, soot-smudged faces pressed up against the storefront windows, watching us.

Is that just a "you should read more and you'll come up with prettier ways to say poo poo" kind of a thing?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer

Martello posted:

Also if you guys wanna go back and forth about cutting words go and do it in Fiction Advice and Discussion. We write, crit, and shitpost here. We don't have long conversations about stuff that belong in other threads.

farts

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW



hello

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:


Is that just a "you should read more and you'll come up with prettier ways to say poo poo" kind of a thing?

It may also help you convey your message better, yeah.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

aka sticklegs



Grimey Drawer


why write AND shitpost when you can combine it into one fluid movement? ho ho ho

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

RESULTS POST though after this week I am really, really tempted to let you all languish in perpetual uncertainty

Our Winner pretty much by consensus is Dr. Klocktopussy-Slave and Slaver, Weave and Waver which was a rewrite of The Lion and the Jackal by Bad Seafood. Better pacing and a clearer arc, nice details and of course a friendly visit from our good friend .

Kaishai gets an honorable mention, and is also the winner of the three-way brawl with Fanky, who came in second, and Canadian Surf Club, who came in third. This was honestly my favorite part of this week, because it was interesting to see three takes on that story. All of them improved on the original while taking sufficient creative license to make them distinct from each other.

V for Vegas and Sebmojo were also considered worthy this week. Jeza, for some reason on my first pass I didn't care for your story but I really enjoyed it on a reread.

Our LOSER for this week could really be any number of people. I'm actually choosing this piece by executive privilege because all three judges are in vastly different time zones and it would take UN intervention for us to democratically decide on which turd was, in fact, the smelliest one in the bowl.

Perpetulance, come on down to the stockade. You rewrote Close Door Button by dromer, a losing entry of its week. The premise already doesn't make sense to me....I don't know many people who would get confrontational with someone they are alone in a stuck elevator with. It makes a little teeny tiny bit more sense in the original when she was suppose to be a strawman vegan treehugger whatever type.

But in this case, you characterized the guy as a little more sleazy, and the woman a little more stereotypically "empowered". Nothing either of them do makes sense. She's just there to be a bitch, he's there to be a pick up artist or something. And then what should be the climax of this whole exchange isn't even shown. What does she lay into him about? How exactly does he react? Why is this woman raving at random creepers in stuck elevators?

Was this an improvement? No. I'll have actual critiques for you sometime later today or early tomorrow; we have much to talk about, Mr./Ms. Perpetulance.

Now, I didn't really think about what to do if someone lost with a losing entry. Maybe a special losertar is in order. I'll let your peers decide. Thunderdomers, my is on the table. What say you?

Close behind you were....a lot of people. We'll say Crabrock, Nikaer Drekin and Voliun.

Crits to follow soon. Dr. Klocktopussy, PM me or whoever you would like your judges to be and get that next prompt rolling.

Judgenote: In the (unlikely) event that anyone does this sort of thing again, I recommend putting people in pairs or groups of three and assigning stories. This was a difficult but interesting week to jusge.

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