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Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


For those who do not venture into CC proper very often: Muffy the Vampire Slayer is running a March CC fiction contest with PRIZES over at http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...hreadid=3536207

Check it out.

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Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

AAA


Pillbug

Some new blood for the dome. I'm in.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Week XXX: The Reckoning, Pt. 1

Nubile Hillock

Jesus, did you run through a Canadian forest and tap every maple tree? This is a story with a sappy bullshit ending. You had 1000 more words of wiggle room to flesh out this idea, but instead, in 600 words we get the emo ramblings of someone with a camera pondering a woman who was supposed to be a man. I know nothing about either of the characters. Why should I care about them? I'm glad she's dead. I hope the narrator gets stung by a scorpion and dies as well, his bones as un-fleshed as the character.

Steriletom

As I neared the middle of your story, the prose dealt my brain a crushing blow as my throat and mouth found themselves in a crushing pressure of burning, vomit building from behind and pushing out onto my monitor.

"the balloon version of Spongebob Squarepants appeared, a giant floating yellow mass, impermeable despite its namesake" Oh my god dude. What would possess you to put that into a story? There is just so much poo poo I absolutely don't care about and has no impact on the story or characters. But you're right--it sure is flowery. I'm sure the pile of poo poo that you left behind for us to read helped grow them.

budgieinspector

"'Try [Rich Girl]’s tits!' said some dude by the pool." I don't think that bracketing that is retarded at all (*sarcasm*). Much like your bro of a character going into the pool, the story's end fell flatter than an anorexic supermodel's chest. The characters were as memorable as a third shot of tequila after a night of bar hopping. Let's me edit your story down for you a bit:

Yo bro, so I went to this chick's party, and she's totes hot and wears wooden shoes. But then like some people and me danced on water, but I fell in, and then I left the party and didn't bang her. She's famous now. Shoulda hit that poo poo.

systran

"Liyan failed to imagine dolphins swimming alongside rusted barges and floating all-you-can-eat buffets." Well, at least she isn't alone in failure. So this broad is riding a sentient bicycle (that's also a she), and some weirdo in a shop gives her some psychedelic rotten plant matter that makes her think she's a dolphin. Despite the obvious lack of sexual tension between the two characters grinding their "seats" together, the story hits a high note (in the form of a head-splitting ringing sound like after an explosion perforates your eardrums) with a stoner realization and a globalization about mankind's fate. Fuckin' A.

Surreptitious Muffin

I'd be pissed if my kid was a retard who couldn't talk. But if I wanted to see a flash story that dense with retard-talk, I'd have watched Nell. It'd be short because I'd turn it off right after I realized what it was. I mean, apparently this kid can read books and operate binoculars without trying to eat them, but every time he speaks, I get the mental image of a cross-eyed Madonna in a pink onsie spazing out on the floor singing "I'm HNNNNNNNNNG up on HOOOOOOOOERS", her jaw agape like a braying donkey.

Erogenous Beef

Nice billion hash-marks you got going on there. You know what else goes back and forth really quickly in a short amount of time? A masturbating hand. So, this pretentious dickweed decides that some rough skies is enough of a reason to inflict his lovely tin-whistling on a group of jumpy passengers, and I'm supposed to suspend disbelief that they didn't cram that poo poo down his emo throat? I was disappointed that the plane didn't crash and kill that pretentious gently caress. I bet he was wearing a black turtle neck and Steve Jobs glasses with fake lenses.

Kaishai

This story is obviously self-referential. It's a product that nobody wants that was squeezed out by some idiot having a seizure in an unforgiving landscape. Then, the metaphorical steaming turd, soon frozen like the impenetrable prose, is placed by the parents on a bookshelf where they try to forget it ever happened because of the intense shame (symbolic of the fate of self-publishers). Then, some other idiot finds this wailing mess and is inspired to squeeze out their own in a soulless attempt at meaningless self-expression which is couched in the grotesquely cliche act of "dancing". Spay or neuter your fingers.

Oxxidation

God, three fourths of this thing is just exposition and world-building. If you're going to build a world that heavy in a flash fiction piece, please make it a world full of meat-grinders and dive into it face-first. You made me drag my eyes across sandpaper until, finally, we see "My home is empty." Well, now we have a story! Oh wait, it nose-dives into black nail-polish and holding a butter knife against your wrist in front of those dumb jocks at school and threatening to really do it this time. gently caress.

Sitting Here

"The air was choked with rain, the rain choked with exhaust and factory fumes." What's with you people and poo poo being choked by poo poo. It's lazy, and you're lazy. And you look like a bulldog. "The city loomed grey and angular ahead, faint behind the thick curtain of rain and mist." It's like you cut up a bunch of bland, tired phrases from pulp novels and used a glue-stick on a page to assemble your story. It's Styori, by IKEA.

Purple Prince

"...then went into the dining room and started eating. The greasy, stodgy texture of the food reminded him of the dinners he’d had to endure as a child. After a minute or two, she came in, sat down opposite him, and started talking about something or another." You started a lot of things, but maybe you should start stopping to start everyfucking thing when you write. Or in other words: start to write well. Also, why did you write me a fantasy story about ghosts and hobgoblins? What the gently caress?

Bug Bill Murray

If you meant for your speaker to speak in a manner that makes me want to cock-punch him until he bleeds out his nose, then you've succeeded. And why isn't that purple-prose-spouting douchebag have completely insufferable dialogue to go with the technicolor hamburger prose? All of that aside, you've produced a fantasy story set in the modern age. And one of your characters is the pathetic fallacy come to life. I'd take that kid and bury him in a Skinner Box under your house so hopefully you get struck by lightning before he dies.

Noah

Beginning with the most important step, I need you to stand in the middle of the road and end yourself. A Noah writing about a Jonah? Hmmm. Although, when I read "The End" I got a bit excited, but then I scrolled down to see the next story, and I was sorely disappointed. It looks like your story arc follows the events of a bout of food poisoning. It begins with a hurried rush to the john that results in a puff of insubstantial, noxious gas--fluff that sets the tone. The middle is a dense plug of dialogue that feels like squeezing out a sandy marble. Finally, you end with a triumphant splattering of actual story, scraps shotgunned into the bowl, and you ask us to stick our heads in there and assemble the pieces into a whole.

Purple Prince
Aug 20, 2011


Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

[Firm, fair, and hilarious criticism.]

I love you. And I need to practice writing endings and keeping my plot tight. Thank you.

Next prompt: I'm in. 'Future memories' just makes me think of Proust. No way am I trying to emulate Proust.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

My submission for the magical realism prompt was my second attempt ever at writing fiction so I don't expect to be good. I don't disagree with the overall message of the critique that it failed, but I'd appreciate if someone could point out specifically what worked and didn't. Last week I was told to cut out internal monologues, show more action, and be less wordy. I tried to ensure that I did these three things when I went back and proofread/edited my story several times throughout the week. I was waiting for the critique this week so I knew what to try to work on for this week's prompt. The above critique really only tells me that it came off as stoner poo poo and that "Jinfei leaving headlight shards behind" was confusing and didn't work.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

Week XXX: The Reckoning, Pt. 1


Sitting Here

"The air was choked with rain, the rain choked with exhaust and factory fumes." What's with you people and poo poo being choked by poo poo. It's lazy, and you're lazy. And you look like a bulldog. "The city loomed grey and angular ahead, faint behind the thick curtain of rain and mist." It's like you cut up a bunch of bland, tired phrases from pulp novels and used a glue-stick on a page to assemble your story. It's Styori, by IKEA.


I am so close. SO close to writing story about an auto-erotic asphyxiation fetishist who attends a dinner party for people with abnormally small esophagi. Written in the style of Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. I hope you choke.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberspook

THUNDERBRAWL: Stuporstar/Sebmojo

A foolish consistency

My goblin left me on the corner of Wilson and Broad Street while I was waiting for the lights to change. I only noticed he was gone five minutes later, when I scratched at an itch on my shoulder and felt the welts where his claws had been.

I stopped dead in the middle of the footpath. A girl bumped into me with a muttered exclamation and I apologised. I met her eyes and there was a hint of sympathy before she flicked them aside, kept walking. A few metres down the road I saw her pat her own goblin a couple times. It was a beautiful bright green colour. Mine had been blue.

At work my desk was full again. I did a quick inventory - five Cabinet papers, a couple of assessments to sign off on, three messages from overnight. One of the messages was from Colin the group manager. I walked down the corridor to see him.

“Colin,” I said. “You wanted to talk strategic plan?”

Colin is a burly man, I’d heard he’d played rugby at a high level until his ankle popped. His goblin was slumped on his desk, snoring.

“Yeah, mate, just give us a--” He looked up. Frowned. “Where’s your, uh, what did you…”

I inclined my head. “Hopped off. It just… Not sure.” I shrugged, not sure what sort of expression was appropriate, settled on a brave smile.

Colin nodded. “Is this a good time? Because we could do it this arvo if you want, or…”

“Let’s talk now,” I said. “I’ll, it’ll be alright.”

Two hours later I was staring out the window. The pile of papers was higher; Ellen had dropped a few off on the way past. She hadn’t stayed to chat. I guessed I was trending upwards in the secretarial gossip charts. Didn’t really care.

In fact right now I didn’t care about much. I’d spent the last twenty minutes massaging my shoulder with my right hand, unkinking its knotted muscles. My scars were starting to itch a little, but not in an unpleasant way. I plucked off the top paper, leafed through it. Closed it and put it back on the pile. It was a beautiful day outside, the sun was sparkling on the harbour.

“gently caress it,” I said out loud. “Early lunch.”

My office is close to the water, and I only had to cross two roads to get there. I was already starting to find the stares and whispers commonplace. Pleasant, even. I polished the apple I’d stolen from the snack bar on my shirt, took a bite. There are bright yellow bollards dotted along the boulevard that runs alongside the harbour. I perched on one, munched. The sun was warm on my skin.

When I finished the apple I tossed the core into the water. From behind my sunglasses I watched the people go by, carrying their passengers. Pictured my goblin, his smooth dome of a head, little black eyes. It was a little harder than it should have been, as though he’d had taken my memories of him when he left. I contemplated going to the pub. Eh, why not. My jacket was over my chair, though. Back at the office. I stood up, enjoying the lightness. God, why do people even… I smiled at a pretty Chinese girl with a jet black goblin. It inclined its head to me, regally.

As I rounded the corner to my building by the entrance I saw a lump of what looked like blue cloth, like a discarded pair of painters overalls . Two steps later I recognised him. My goblin looked up, opened his slitlike mouth, closed it. A forked tongue came out, flicked back.

I felt a tightness in my chest. There were people walking past me, the automatic door opening and closing to let them into the building. I stood there. My goblin held up one hand to me, two, claws opening and shutting. I stood there. I tried to remember what happened to people who lost their goblins and never found them again. It must have happened. I took a breath, pictured myself turning around, walking away. My eyes were dry, and I blinked.

Then before I could stop myself I’d dropped to my knees, reached out, gathered my goblin up, cradled him. His skin was dry and papery, his skinny arms tight around my neck. We held each other as the stream of people flowed on around us. Then I stood up, positioned him on my shoulders. He clung there, trembling. I patted him, got into the lift. The doors closed and the lift hummed as it took me back to work.

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Oct 24, 2013 around 10:59

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Stuporstar posted:

I'm gonna put as much thought into that prompt as you put into making it—none. I'm an OT.

I'm gonna write what I drat well want, and you're all gonna drat well like it.

Edit: And here it is.

The Girl in the Mirror (962 words)



e. welp, sebmojo posted already. BRAWL IS CLOSED I will do my best to get out a judgment tonight, and a full critique for Sebmojo tomorrow morning (or sooner if possible).

Posting your critique now, even though the deadline isn't for another hour or so. An unexpected event occurred that will not leave me with adequate time tonight. I do not think this will impact Sebmojo's efforts in any meaningful way, or sabotage your efforts at winning the brawl by providing your opponent with your feedback.

Cracking out my books for this one.

Prompt: The prompt was magical realism, and unfortunately I think you might have benefitted from waiting for some crits to pop out from this week before posting (I wrote this this morning, thinking more constructive critiques would have been posted for current stories), because I think you missed magical realism like many of us did. Perhaps your hubris got the best of you.

In this story, a clearly magical event happens. A woman constantly sees her younger self through a mirror, and what makes this particular day important is that finally the girl comes to life. This woman is manifesting her own regret into a physical embodiment. That works, its direct consequence of a theme. What begins to set this apart from magical realism is that even in your story your character assumes this to be just a figment of their imagination. They do not take this as reality until they are confronted by an outside source (the mother) to confirm that what she is experiencing is in fact real. This is butting heads with the idea of Authorial Reticence, where she is explaining to herself this idea of magic being not real.

However, your character does take it at face value once her mother joins in on everything, directing the flow back towards magical realism. The issue I have with the rest of the ideals of magical realism is that to quote you, “if he'd only gone further with it.” The magical realism is linked thematically with your story (which does have its own faults, but we’ll get to that), about time and regret, but there’s no distance. I would have loved to see the girl in the mirror being the target, looking in on her old self.
In this way, you have this little girl wondering why she isn’t a famous artist yet, and wondering she was so tired, yet we as a reader knows that’s just what can happen to people who actually want to have a comfortable living on art, but the little girl doesn’t. The theme of time and regret become cyclical, and inevitable, which is from a person seeing their future self is more appropriate than someone looking back on their former self. That clear distance is what the author needs to have to really capture the idea of magical realism.

Character: For a successful short story, you need a character who has a change, OR, a distinct moment in time where change could occur, and does not. I am very aware the constraints of the word count don’t necessarily allow for those kind of things to occur, but you have to push for something. I think you start toying with the idea of maybe this little version of the character will start to influence the character’s life, but I think that’s a stretch. One tiny thing I saw that made me stop was when you referred to the plane as “our” plane, but the character corrected herself. That is a god part, but I don’t think you focused on enough on it. A thought about what if she had herself as a daughter, or just living there, INSTEAD of shipping her off the parents, regardless of what the outcome was, would have been that character defining/defying moment.

As far as characterization of the character, she’s standard overworked post-grad with a graphic design degree, nothing too fancy or unique. Why do we care about this person? What did happen to that dream of being a famous artist? When she tells her former self not to break her ipad, is it because she herself was once reckless as a child, or because that’s just a thing you tell children? Also, how old is her former self? She doesn’t draw arms, but can speak like an adult? And can Skype?

Conflict: Here’s one of my biggest complaints about the story. There is no conflict at all. No tension, no driving force, nothing to move the story from beginning to end. But you could have. Even in 1000 words, there were places where conflict could have come up, but everyone is just along for the ride and agreeable. The child could have been anything, feisty, evil, or uncomfortably attached, and yet still been a mirror of this character. Was ditching the girl with the parents for the protagonists sake, or the parents? Clearly the mom is relieved, and the woman is relieved to be rid of annoying kid, but what’s at stake? If there’s no conflict, there’s no tension, if there’s no tension why am I reading?

Setting: The only setting that got any kind of description was the airport. I’ve been trying to figure out why exactly, and what significance the airport itself has, because if it’s the only thing that gets description, it better mean something. If it wasn’t just random in what was described, then I think it should have had more impact on story. In and of itself, the airport should have been the hub of everything. In the essence of space, cut everything before the airport, fill it in with smaller details. The airport could have been this huge motif of all these options the character had in dealing with this situation, AND at the same time could have (which you started to do) characterized the child. I think you missed an opportunity to really explore that airport and what it meant to the story.

Plot: The plot is really the beginning, middle and end of things. In 1000 words, I feel as though each section needs to have its weight, the beginning sets up the character, background, and at the end of Act 1 presents the character with dilemma. Act 2, and often is the case gets the bulk of attention, is what or how the character is going to deal with this dilemma. Act 3, or the end, is the climax and resolution of things. In order to have a satisfactory third act, you need something to happen during the first act to set things into motion. For the climax to be meaningful, sufficient tension has to be established. The mildly driving point of your story is for the protagonist to get rid of the younger self because she’s annoying. There’s just not enough conflict or tension.

Theme: Magical realism aside, the thematic throughline to me seems to be about regret and lost time. But having to confront the idealistic self didn’t prompt any change or re-evaluation of life, and on the other side there was no indication that this theme of time was cyclical and self-fulfilling. You could have given hints in the child that their mannerisms would turn into this regretful woman, but she maintains her idealistic self. There’s not even the older, wiser person evaluating this child and seeing things they never saw before either.

Overall: You start to scratch the surface and point of magical realism, but you don’t hit it. There’s no overt flags that really say “magical realism” present, aside from the fact that a magical incident happens, and even then that event is still taken with skepticism from the main character which demystifies the entire event. Your characterization of this person is flat, and I feel you could have added some unique elements by weaving the airport motif into the two characters better. Your plot and conflict are the biggest problems in the story, it just doesn’t go anywhere, or set anything up. Without the presence of conflict your themes are limp threads that make no pattern or structure.

Suggestions for improvement (Do with these what you will, but this is how I think your story can be improved): You’re a competent writer, that’s clear. The line by line edits aren’t necessary because I think an entire overhaul is what is needed. Start in the airport, don’t make us wait to get there. To achieve magical realism you need there to no doubt in anyone’s mind this girl is real, and she is the younger version of the protagonist. That has to happen in the beginning of the story. The reason they are at the airport needs to be the central conflict, and at least two outcomes to this conflict need to be addressed. A choice has to be presented to the character intangibly. Does this character do A, or does this Character do B. What is at stake? Is sending the little girl away is the nail in the coffin of all her hopes and dreams? Or does keeping the little girl signify she’s not just a drone, that there is potential for redemption?
The mother is an extraneous character who gets more characterization than the protagonist. Fix that. The mother shouldn’t even be mentioned but in passing. Devote more time to interacting between the self and former self and the setting. Pick a theme and run with it and then show it. What am I supposed to get out of this story?

Lastly, I know 1000 words to work with is a paltry amount of words, critiquing is significantly easier than writing, and 24 hours is a tough constraint. I don’t know if you had anymore time to work with this, but it needs it. Could be the nature of all of the elements coming into play, but so it goes.

ps. Defiantly ignoring the flash prompt makes you look petty and childish.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberspook

systran posted:

My submission for the magical realism prompt was my second attempt ever at writing fiction so I don't expect to be good. I don't disagree with the overall message of the critique that it failed, but I'd appreciate if someone could point out specifically what worked and didn't. Last week I was told to cut out internal monologues, show more action, and be less wordy. I tried to ensure that I did these three things when I went back and proofread/edited my story several times throughout the week. I was waiting for the critique this week so I knew what to try to work on for this week's prompt. The above critique really only tells me that it came off as stoner poo poo and that "Jinfei leaving headlight shards behind" was confusing and didn't work.

For me it was a lot of nice social observation with a bit of ill-fitting magic flimflam pasted on. Not the worst, not the best.

Give it another draft, and post it in its own thread if you want additional feedback.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW



This needs to go somewhere and doesn't. It's a little too urban fantasy and not so much magic realism. Next time post less tattoos and more good writing gently caress you

Steriletom posted:

Macy’s Day

gently caress you

budgieinspector posted:

The Van Gogh Shoes (1,497 words)

Wow magic walking on water thats pretty cool maybe write a vaguely sympathetic protagonist and drop the cutesy "this is about an irl slutty celebrity" chestnut gently caress you

Oxxidation posted:

All You Ghosts (1,093)

you win gently caress you

systran posted:

Leaving Fog City (1,225 Words)

River dolphins how topical I just read about that in the space thread and I'm sick of it also what the gently caress was the deal with getting hit by cars and does she get revived in the end or what gently caress you

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

The Bumper Book of Birds

not magic realism you kiwi fucknugget cuntface shitliver gently caress you

Erogenous Beef posted:

Last Flight from Copenhagen

hmm ok so he plays a loving pennywhistle is he the guy in the American Revolution marching band thing or what and this needs to be way more together not so loving splicy and choppy and who-knows-what-the-gently caress-is-going-on-y gently caress you

Kaishai posted:

The Frozen Child

Ah so it's Narnia but irl and in the future and people have sex with the snow via dancing we've never seen the dancing=sex metaphor before gently caress you


The Birds fanfic gently caress you

Purple Prince posted:

Letting Go (1181 words)

Ghost Dad Part 2: Ghost Mom gently caress you

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


drat good crit, Noah. You hit a lot of good points, and I'm damned rusty. And yeah, 24 hours is not enough time for my stories to bake. Had to post a rough sketch. Gonna, take your crits on board, let this one sit for a while, and revisit it.

However, this:

Noah posted:

ps. Defiantly ignoring the flash prompt makes you look petty and childish.

You have to understand that you can't just toss up word salad and call it a prompt. I expect more from you guys. Whether it's a flash rule or full prompt, put some damned thought into it. We OTs have rejected better prompts than what you threw up. We long ago agreed that poo poo like, "Your character has to be named X, or has to wear a towel," is useless sluff that makes for lovely prompts that encourage people to throw extraneous junk in their stories in order to hit them. Don't do that.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Systran, I will try to elaborate on the somewhat broad points Bohner made in his critique with my own thoughts.

systran posted:

Leaving Fog City (1,225 Words)

Liyan flicked her cup into a pile of discarded chopstick wrappers and napkins underneath the table. She looked to Jinfei and asked, “By the way, how did it go last night?”

“Not so great. We went to dinner and then karaoke.”

“But you like karaoke.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think he liked me. Zhang Wei introduced us and when he saw me he seemed disappointed. He just ignored me all night and stayed with his friends, so I made Zhang Wei’s girlfriend take me home early.”

Liyan stared at the sun without squinting. Diesel and soot chokedlol the sky. Not even her parents remembered why it was originally called Fog City.Ok so I think what you're saying here is that she can look at the sun without squinting because the air is full of pollution? It's a weirdly roundabout way to describe smog “If it helps, Xiaotang has some single friends. I’ll bring you next time we go out.”

“Yeah, okay. You know, it’s really sad...Xiaotang’s parents are going to buy him an apartment soon and then you two will probably be married before I even have a boyfriend.”

Liyan put twelve yuan on the table. “He still won’t have a car, but I guess that’s okay. I do hope he can get a promotion before we get married.”

“Does his dad know anyone?”

“No.”

They walked toward the university.

A crowd formed a circle, blocking the sidewalk. Old men with hands clasped behind dusty grey jackets craned their necks forward. Young people took pictures with their phones. In the center of the crowd a man with several teeth waved his hands, ordering monkeys to throw knives at a wooden board. The girls watched for a few minutes, then continued on.

Jinfei stopped at a tea shop. “Hey, do you mind if we go in here? I want to buy something for my grandparents.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Ok, let me stop you right here. I was nodding along thinking that this was pretty serviceable dialog, and I appreciated that your characters weren't just talking in empty space, and that your setting wasn't Averageville, USA. Except that, other than providing some background and cultural insight for the characters, it doesn't play much into the story.

I feel like you could've started the story at the monkeys, had the girls chit-chat obliviously while watching them. It would set up Liyan's sudden feeling of pity a little better. Either way, your characters spend a good amount of time chatting and wandering their way toward the actual story.

quote:

Inside the shop, the traffic’s drone and smog were replaced by the churning of a waterfall and crisp mountain air. Liyan smelled flowers and earth--pine and dew. She lost track of Jinfei and approached the waterfall.This is a bit confusing and I can't tell if it's because Magical Realism or wonky description. Mountains? A waterfall? How big is this shop? Only now, watching the water empty into the stream below, did she feel pity for the monkeys.

The shop owner came to her side and spoke “Does the waterfall remind you of the river?that's where waterfalls usually hang out, yeah Not long ago, just behind this shop, dolphins swam in the Yangzi.”

“I thought dolphins only lived in the ocean.”

“These were freshwater dolphins, but they are all gone now. Let me show you something.” The owner guided Liyan to a glass display case full of aged tea bricks, then indicated an unlabeled brick near the top of the shelf. “This tea was harvested before the Xia dynasty, before the first emperor ruled. It predates the oracle bones and our entire history. It has aged alongside and despite the many dynasties and states. This brick continues to age and increase in value. What do you think I should do with it?

Liyan failed maybe 'couldn't imagine' would work better, but it's an awkward sentenceto imagine dolphins swimming alongside rusted barges and floating all-you-can-eat buffets. “I don’t know anything about tea. You should sell it and retire. You should sell it to let your parents live well, or if they are gone to give your children a successful life.”

“This tea was a gift. The ancient tree that gave us these leaves asked for nothing. Who am I to sell them?”

Jinfei interrupted, “Hey, I got what I needed. Ready to head back? I have class in an hour.”Bam Jinfei out of nowhere. You don't need to tell us she interrupted since it's obvious from context.

Liyan nodded goodbye to the owner as they left.

Outside, the two girls waited to cross the street by a gap in the guardrail. Liyan watched a group of dirt caked migrant workers sweep up discarded lottery tickets and bottle caps.

A break in traffic prompted them to cross. Liyan slowed. She saw the man with the monkeys hauling a cage behind his bike, the monkeys pressed together inside. One of them locked eyes with her. She thought back to a poem theythe monkeys? had forced her to memorize in school and imagined herself on a small skiff floating down the Yangzi, from both sides of the riverbank monkeys’ hoots echoed off the water.I was expecting a poem here. Was the poem about the Yangzi? Is there some famous poem that school kids would have to memorize? Otherwise it's sort of a weird detail that sticks out just because it doesn't relate to anything.

The monkeys in the cage were silent.

Jinfei grunted. Tires squealed. A black Audi swerved and crushed Liyan against the guardrail. Jinfei’s body left behind a trail of headlight shards Oh I get it, the magical realism angle is that everyone is made of headlightsas it slid several meters ahead. The Audi steadied itself, then accelerated away.

A crowd materialized and hesitated, eventually forming a circle around each girl.Passive, awkward. "Eventually" is an especially weak word because that could be moments or weeks or centuries. It adds nothing concrete to the image you are trying to convey.

“Why jump in front of a black Audi? You can’t sue a government official.”

“They weren’t trying to get hit. The Audi was dodging a guy on a scooter that stopped to look at the monkeys.”

Someone moved to help Liyan, who was rasping in the gutter beneath the guard rail. His wife pulled him back into the collective “Don’t help her. She could sue you.”

A bearded man in a white baseball cap stabbed his finger in the departed Audi’s direction. “It was the mayor’s son! He was eating in a nearby hotel. My friend even saw the black Audi parked outside. It had government plates.”

Liyan watched the tea shop owner pass through the circle and place a bamboo tea table onto the street next to the guard rail. A kettle bubbled in her right hand. She removed the ancient tea brick from her coat.

Scowling men emerged from an alleyway. A nondescript car pulled onto the sidewalk; more men exited.

The man in the white cap had roused the crowd, which now shouted vague accusations against the mayor, his son, various CEO’s--against anyone with a black Audi.

The shop owner used a tea knife to gently separate a few leaves from the brick. She washed the cup and table with hot water, then deposited the leaves into the pot. She poured water inside.

The men from the alleyways converged on the man in the white cap. A fist crushed his windpipe. The speed and brutality of the strike silenced the crowd. The not quite police shot warning eyes <-Read this out loud to yourself. Did you like how that sounded? No? It's because this is a very strange way to describe dudes glaring at peopleto the protesters, who quickly began blaming the man with the cage full of monkeys. Satisfied, the men dragged their bloodied example into the parked car and drove off.

The shop owner emptied the first wash into the tray beneath the table, then added more water to the pot.

“The leaves are opened up now. They are ready to give their gift to you.” The owner poured a small cup of tea. Liyan smelled a stream--smelled small frogs diverting its flow and sunlight reflecting off their glistening backs.

The shop owner lifted Liyan’s head and poured the liquid into her mouth. And then KAZAAM magical stuff I guess

The gift was fully received and experienced even if Liyan now drew her final breath<-Almost as akward as the eyeball-shooting not-police. In the time needed to exhale she had lived through and found irrelevant the whole of human expression. She was the dolphins in the river and the monkeys on the banks when the poet put ink to parchment. She was the Yangzi which had fed the ancient tree and the sun that had allowed its leaves to grow. She was the Yangzi whose poisoned water had killed the last dolphin and the sun whose rays now failed to reach the city’s dying trees.

She accepted her end and no longer worried for the monkeys in the cage. Nature had run its course and now man would find his.

So this wasn't awful and blah blah blah. You could really benefit from reading your work out loud to yourself, I think.

Framing your dialog like "So-and-so walked up and said, "blah blah blah"" isn't technically wrong I guess, but it irked me when I noticed it for the 3rd time.

Prompt-wise, if I didn't know that it was supposed to be magical realism, I wouldn't have even guessed that's what you were aiming for. As a piece of writing it's not bad, and bears coming back to. But it seems as though you got too caught up in the realism of your setting and skimped on the magical part. Her whole feeling one with nature trip, for example, could just be from some psychoactive quality in the tea.

I think that you have a few bad habits with regard to sentence structure and a passive voice, so basically the best thing you can do is keep posting here and in the Fiction Farm. We'll help you see your blind spots.

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

budgieinspector
I HAVE AN EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE BRANCH IN MY RECTUM


Martello posted:

I DO NOT WANT TO CUDDLE WITH YOUR PROTAGONIST, ERGO YOU ARE MEAN

You call those critiques? How the mighty have fallen.

What I'm saying is, y'all are a couple-a weaknuts.

And by that, I mean that your testicles produce very little in the way of viable sperm, and thus you are but feeble excuses for men.

*mutter*Chucking that weaksauce at the people... motherfuckers ought to be ashamed.*mutter*

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


ur weaksauce

win next time and then give awesome crits

also check the OP pls

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Thanks a bunch guys. I will continue posting here and hugely appreciate the great crits.

The poem is actually extremely famous and anyone in China would know what I was referring to. I didn't want to dumb it down for my audience and I questioned whether I wanted to post my own translation of the poem here. I liked the idea of just describing the feeling that the line of the poem evoked within explicitly writing it out.

I'm going to focus on just doing new stuff for the Thunderdome prompts but I would like to redo this and make it better for its own thread. I think I will try to put magical realism in it in a way that ties in more with the political aspects and scrap the whole tea thing.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


sebmojo posted:

THUNDERBRAWL: Stuporstar/Sebmojo

A foolish consistency


Prompt: Your magical realism is stronger than Stuporstar’s, with your goblins representing something ubiquitous like a cell phone, or a facebook; To be looked on suspiciously to not have one, yet not necessarily crucial. I can’t tell if this little nugget about the bollard is part of the story, why would one perch upon a bollard? It makes me wonder if these are not necessarily humans the story is based upon. That starts to tread into fantasy, so be careful with how overtly magical this world is. If you have abunch of trolls living with goblins, there’s no “reality” with which to compare the supernatural to.

My interpretation is that the goblin somehow helps with his workload, but that could also be just because he’s a lazy office worker. I’m going to critique based on its necessity to the workforce, which keys in to a folklore idea.

The magical realism isn’t an event, it’s just a normality. How does this goblin pertain to the main character? Since everyone has a goblin, what makes it so unique to the protagonist? What emotional circumstance does it feed into? What undercurrent is this magical realism commenting on? I don’t see it. I don’t know enough about this character to know why he feels the need to be rid of this societal pressure.

Character: You’ve got some unique ideas that I don’t think get fleshed out enough. Each goblin is an extension of the owner, and you note this by their color and plumage, but I want more. Colin’s goblin gets the most attention and characterization, but it shouldn’t. The characters goblin should be the prime extension, and by that we can begin to infer more about other people’s goblins. The trouble with the goblins is that there’s no distinct function of them, they’re just there, but somehow important. I feel like you had the idea, and the ability to include this, but did not.

Conflict: Like Stuporstar, this is the weakest part of your story, but you had significantly more potential for it than the other story. Why is the protagonist okay with the goblin being gone, what ARE the consequences of the goblin being gone, and that moment he sees his goblin longing for him, why does he pick one or the other? This societal pressure to have his goblin hasn’t actually impacted his life, but it could have. You tease it, but that’s not enough. You need a clear, delineated consequence of what happens if he leaves his goblin there, because otherwise crumbling under outside pressure loses its bite of an ending.

Plot: You only wrote 800 words, and I think you cut yourself too short. You had another 1/5 of the word count to work with and really drive in some points but you left it a little famished. Skin and bones here. Act 1 should have been losing the goblin, act 2 should have been why its so important to have a goblin, and act 3 is his decision about whether or not he has this goblin. You have the structure pretty soundly, actually, but its not plump enough and impactful enough. Deciding on picking up the goblin should be more climactic, as well as losing the goblin should have been more treacherous for the protagonist. Right now its just a small wave that never gets any bigger. You want a wave you can surf.

Setting: The setting here isn’t as important to the story as it could have been as well. The office building could have been a central theme, the goblin representing societal pressure to get a job, go to work, get old and die, and the office building is a perfect representation of that. You start to play with the office environment but you don’t use its full potential. The protagonist is going outside the norm of things by not keeping his goblin, which SHOULD make him care about office gossip, he SHOULD care about his boss suddenly looking at him in a different light. Because that will make his decision to either pick the goblin back up, or let it go, be that much more impactful. Setting this story completely in the office personifies this idea of what happens when you go outside the norm society thinks you should be doing.

Theme: The theme I get from this is how important this little doodad is, even though it isn’t, but everyone says it is, therefore it is. But again, you lack the teeth to really bite into it. You flirt with it so many times that I see it, and I think its clear to you, but when you only have 1000 words to work with subtlety is not your friend. When you’re only using 800 words, you’re just not doing enough in my mind.

Overall: I think you got the concept of magical realism, but you can explain the role of the goblin in society more without losing its supernaturalness. Its importance to the story should be 100% clear, but its not.

You miss a chance to characterize the goblins more but avoiding connecting the goblins to their owners personality. The things you do are good though, the goblins are clearly needy, odd little things but I want more.

I don’t think you have to push the magicalness, I think you have to push the essence of the short story more. However, you established a conflict and tension, which goes a really long way to creating that crucial Beginning, Middle, End arc that a short story needs. If you accentuate these things, I think you have an incredibly subversive and poignant story on your hands.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Thunderbrawl Sebmojo v. Stuporstar

Winner: Sebmojo

Reasoning: My decision to who wrote a better story doesn't involve who is stylistically, or syntaxtually a better writer. I think both writers are competent and create clear visual images using an economy of words. My decision is based on which closely follows the elements of the literary short story, and adhering to magical realism more closely.

I believe Sebmojo's use of conflict makes a more clear separation for where the plot goes, and how it works. The presence of a stronger, more meaningful use of magical realism also edged you over Stuporstar.

That is not to say each were not without their faults, and I actually think that with reworkings, either one of them would be the winner. Stuporstar had a strong opportunity to have a piece thematically linked to time, regret, and life choices appropriately set in an airport, while Sebmojo had that opportunity to have a piece story about societal pressures, life necessities, and abnormality set appropriately in an office complex. However, I think Sebmojo had the stronger piece.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberspook

Very good crits.

quote:

I can’t tell if this little nugget about the bollard is part of the story, why would one perch upon a bollard? It makes me wonder if these are not necessarily humans the story is based upon. That starts to tread into fantasy, so be careful with how overtly magical this world is. If you have abunch of trolls living with goblins, there’s no “reality” with which to compare the supernatural to.

This:

is a bollard. Perching may have been a confusing turn of phrase, it's understood to mean 'sit, slightly uncomfortably' in Kiwi English. The story is set at my office, the bollards on the waterfront are about a metre high.

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Mar 7, 2013 around 06:47

budgieinspector
Mar 24, 2006

According to my research,
these would appear to be
Budgerigars.



Martello posted:

win next time and then give awesome crits

I find myself giving goddamn delicious crits a great deal more than I win. Some might praise my altruism, but I know in my heart that I'm a chump.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberspook

Well let's check the thread I'm sure my learned fellow judges have posted some insightful

Erik Shawn Bohner posted:

bllleeruuruuuuurrughhhh

okay, well maybe not all of them but certainly the other one will have

Martello posted:

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Ooooo. Kay.

Nearly all of you hosed the tamarillo on the magic realism prompt. It's actually real simple - think of an emotional core to your story. Now, externalise it as a magic thing. loving DONE.

Let's see all the exciting ways you failed, shall we?

Nubile Hillock: Same as Mine

This was poncy, incomprehensible nonsense. You have some facility at putting words together - use it to go clear and direct next time.

Budgieinspector: The Van Gogh Shoes

I thought this was a well-written yarn that needed more character in its focus, clog girl. However magic realism it wasn't - it was a regular story with a little garnish of fantasy. And the narrator felt like he was holding the events of the story at arms length - he made it clear he didn't care about woodenshoe lady, so why should we? Magic realism needs the magic to be essential to the drama of the story - it's like how Buffy episodes would externalise an emotional problem into occult terms.

But it was very readable, if a little try-hard (bomb rear end beats? really?).

systran: Leaving Fog City

I gave this a fail on my first skim read, then came to like it on subsequent reads. Which is a very strong sign that your beginning sucks. You've got a tightly imagined world that creates a good window on a foreign (for me) culture. But the magic stuff is awkwardly tacked on, and the Captain Planet moral lands like a lead hippy.

Surreptitious Muffin: The Bumper Book of Birds


Dude. Mate. Let me level with you. You know how to write, no question. But you keep failing here because you try to out-clever the prompt. Don't do that. The point of this place is you work with what you're given. And yeah, blah, thunderdome gently caress you, whatever. Your challenge is to subordinate the cleverness and find the discipline.

All that said, and minus a few annoying twee touches (siffs is borderline, all the hyphens are less so) this is a pretty kickass story. It's a genre, retard gothic i guess you might term it, and you do it very well.

Erogonous Beef: Last Flight from Copenhagen


You're about 60% of the way to a neat story here. The two things holding you back are the laboured music/weather metaphor (which, I know, is the point) and the overly intricate structure. My rule of thumb for wibbly structural stuff is that if the story wouldn't be interesting in order, it won't be that interesting out of order. Plus, I honestly had no idea what was going on in the first three readings. So: work on that. But you get a lot of stuff right, it's competently written, so that's a thing.

Kaishai: The Frozen Child


I mostly liked this. Nice detail, clear physicality, good words. It painted a picture. I'm not sure the circularity in the dancing girls at the beginning and the end is the right idea, it sort of suggests the world is going to be depopulated in a few years. The image of the ice baby is a good one, but it misses a magic realist trick because you don't suggest it reflects a physical or emotional reality - it's just a weird thing that kind of you know happens.

Oxxidation: All You Ghosts


This was the most properly magic realist of the lot, and also a decent story. Hence: victory. The ghosts played a role that was potent yet undefined, which is how you get your magic realist groove on. And that last para? That was the killer poo poo.

Sitting Here: Omnibus


You seem to be developing this kind of Pratchett/Rowling/Gaiman register that is proper delightful, Ms Here, and I for one could do with a lot more of it. That said, this doesn't quite hit the mark it's aiming for. The pigeons talk, but so what? The bus is fast and rude, but so what? The charming parts don't quite hang together. But still, very enjoyable to read.

Purple Prince: Letting Go


This gets the emotion/reality conflux better than many this weak, but needed a trim. Opening on rehearsing a conversation is clever and effective, but there's too much flab before you get to the meat of the story, which is the conflict. The protagonist is a whiny manchild, so either make more of that or go the other way and intensify the drama, faster. But still: serviceable.

Bug Bill Murray: First Time


I haven't too much to say about the craft here, it's solid (if flaccid, you could have cut half the words). But as magic realism goes it's terrible. It's a DUDE WETS DICK BUT MAGIC story, and really has nothing more to say than that. In magic realism the magic has to reflect or enliven the realism otherwise you're writing fantasy and/or poo poo.

Noah: Of Conviction and Man


First up - what the narbacular gently caress is up with that title. Okay, that out of the way, this was pretty bad. I see what you were doing with the disillusioned greenie, but it really didn't play out convincingly at all. As I said in my pm, ending it with a whale re-eating Jonah would have at least given the piece some point, but there's a lot wrong with it in craft as well. When you're considering having a character saying "Phenomenal. A bridge between two worlds," while staring out at the turbulent sea? Make another choice.

Haititian Divorce: A Curious Tree


This story was a bunch of poo poo that happened. I feel like there was the raw material for at least five, different, actually good stories within it, but none of them were the story you chose to tell. And that poo poo's on you, dog.

Jeza: But you, brothers, are not in darkness


No word of a lie I actually had to google that title to make sure it wasn't an Explosions in the Sky song title. Waddaya know, it's from TV's famous The Bible. Apart from that, this story is basically a bunch of problems turned into words. I like the idea of the tunnel, and it's effectively evoked, but everything about the old woman and the boy is tacky, leaden and cliche. You're writing about a Mary Sue who lives down a hole, in the dark. There's an interesting story there, but you chose not to tell it.

Chairchucker: Acting goat in charge of HR


I actually liked this a lot, it's funny. The goat is just hanging out, doing meetings. He's cool. It doesn't quite hang together as a story, you should have wrapped it after the rear end in a top hat left, but: good work little Thunderdome mascot.

Benagain: Quest


This was a middling clever idea, well executed. I think you could have made it sing by taking it a little more seriously. As it is it's not funny enough to sail by on charm, but it's too weightless to work as drama. But still, solid.

toanoradian: urania


Not one of your more successful outings, Mr radian. I liked the trippy 70s sci fi visuals, and the hallucinogenic flavour of it all, but the story really didn't hang together. And was not magically realistic, no it was not.

STONE OF MADNESS: Skirmish


Good craft servicing a poor and weird idea. So they're snakes, fighting a war. Okay. Where now? I liked your language a lot, but the story fell flat because them being snakes fighting a war seemed irrelevant.

monkeyboydc: the maybe machine


This is robust 60s sci fi fare with an even more robust final kick. It fails on craft, first by going on about sunrises (why bother? he finds a box, bam) second by not anticipating him looking ahead (why wouldn't you?) and finally by making a huge, unnecessary deal about how dark it is then letting him read tiny print. But the magic and the realism work nicely together, there's some good imagination, and the ending hooks in nicely.

Destrado: Rocket Science


A lovely piece that was one of my picks for winner. Like the Muffin, doesn't really hit the magical realism bullseye - there's nothing here apart from delusion, which is missing the point. But good words well deployed. I do have some problems with the order and sense of the thing: I'm still not clear about whether Jude wearing the thing comes before or after the end. And the ending needed more space to breathe. But the charm of the thing is considerable. Nice work.

swaziloo: Na'Awleans


While it was full of Good words, I felt like this was about 500 words short. Because while the wishes being granted were nice, there was no sense of why they'd turned bad. And, while it is magical to have a magical wish granting rabbit foot (if cliche as gently caress) it's not magical realism.

Bad Seafood: What to do when Eaten Alive


I loved the poo poo out of this one, and it was my pick for second place. It absolutely nailed the way that magic take the place of a strong emotion in the genre, and had an entrancing descending rhythm, punctuated by the consumption of the titular octopi. Very good work M. Seafood.

Capntastic: Primary Concern


You totally had some good words in here ("a despairing can of red paint", just lovely), but the story flopped. Calling a town Rainbow vs Primary is weak as hell and you needed to run that idea through a few more spin cycles. Plus: where's the magic?

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Mar 7, 2013 around 10:55

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

sebmojo posted:


Nubile Hillock: Same as Mine

This was poncy, incomprehensible nonsense. You have some facility at putting words together - use it to go clear and direct next time.


urban dictionary: "ponce" posted:

Term originated in the UK and came to prominence in the 1960's, initially to describe a pimp.

So you're sayin' my story is pimpin'? You're the best, seb

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Bug Bill Murray posted:

First Time (1495 words)

"singular electricity" "endothermic fluctuation had occurred" "sublimate mist" "probably superfluous" Roman Soldier talk "no ordinary co-ed" "Aphroditic wind" gently caress you

Noah posted:

Of Conviction and Man

don't save the whales lol this was magic realism good job but the characters need more punch story needs more punch you need a punch gently caress you

HaitianDivorce posted:

A Curious Tree

what the gently caress is this you aren't Kipling this ain't a just-so story write like a modern irl adult gently caress you

Jeza posted:

But you, brothers, are not in darkness

oh man the witch could have saved THE WORLD but didn't cuz they never do and you have to keep the status quo you could have done something with this but you didn't gently caress you

Chairchucker posted:

Acting Goat in Charge of HR

lol a goat who wants to eat the dude's jacket best story gently caress you


WoW what a quest this at least was kinda magic realist but verging on urban fantasy gently caress you

toanoradian posted:

Urania (976 words)

lolwtf is this poo poo holy gently caress drugs bro gently caress you


The serpent has a head like a bison i like to eat bison what is going on in this story magic realism kinda but nazis an russians ain't fitting the pieces like puzzles like muzzles of rifles speakin a rifles bolts get slammed in not retracted gently caress you

STONE OF MADNESS
Dec 28, 2012

PVTREFACTIO


systran posted:

scrap the whole tea thing.

I liked the tea thing

e:

Martello posted:

a rifles bolts get slammed in not retracted gently caress you

I am glad of this

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at Mar 8, 2013 around 00:19

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


Martello fucked around with this message at Mar 7, 2013 around 16:14

Greatbacon
Apr 9, 2012

conquistador wuz heer



I'm in.

Bubble Bobby
Jan 28, 2005


That's what I get for not having read magical realism since college next time I get some free time I'll be kicking everyone's rear end with super clipped hardboiled prose it's gonna be sparse as gently caress

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


sebmojo posted:

Nearly all of you hosed the tamarillo on the magic realism prompt. It's actually real simple - think of an emotional core to your story. Now, externalise it as a magic thing. loving DONE.

Yep, pretty much this. I don't know what ridiculous definitions the rest have you have been working with, but Seb's got it.

Benagain
Oct 10, 2007

Student of the principle art of posting

Fun Shoe

Hey judges next time if you want something adhering to a strict definition howzabout you provide that poo poo instead of saying "LOOK IT UP ON THE INTERNET CHUCKLEFUCKS" s'like just telling a dog to go fetch something and then yelling at it when it brings back a dead squirrel instead of the newspaper.

We're the abused dogs in this metaphor.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


At least you're catching on now.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


Next week's Thunderdome prompt: I have a theme in mind. Whoever gets closest to it wins!

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006

WORST WIZARD, THUNDERDOME
LOSER


inny in in in.

HellishWhiskers
Mar 29, 2012

She was an awkward girl


I've never done this before, so I'm sure that there'll be no regrets or shame. In.

JuniperCake
Jan 26, 2013


In.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

I'm in.


6

"How exactly do you plan to get us to Tibet, smarty pants?" you ask Grace. She lights up with a radiant smile. Whether or not she'd be willing to follow you to Russia, she's happy to have you in her corner.

It diminishes your warm fuzzies a bit when she admits, "I don't have a clue."

The two of you try to talk your mother into spending Christmas in the Eastern Hemisphere. You pretend a sudden spiritual conversion to Buddhism, but your mother isn't swayed, though she does buy one of those fat Buddha statues for the living room. When Grace slips and mentions Shangri-La, what hope you had left takes a flying leap.

The telephone rings one night; your mother answers. About half an hour later she calls for you and Grace. Twin creases runs between her brows. "That was Ms. Gannet from school," she says. "Do you want to guess what she told me?"

"No idea," you say. Grace shakes her head.

"She's arranged a school trip to the Kunlun Mountains as a reward for excellent students. Apparently you both qualify. All I would need to do is make sure you bring appropriate clothes, and you could go."

You trade long looks with Grace. Something about this doesn't sound right--nothing about it does, actually. But Grace breaks into a grin and bounces on the balls of her feet. "Yes! Oh, please, Mom! Please!"

"There has to be a catch," your mother says. "I don't know...."

But in the end, Grace's pleading and her own desire for you to get more cultural exposure wear her down. Three days after Christmas you set off for Kashi, China on a coach-class flight, sharing your seating row with Ms. Gannet. No other students are on the plane.

You decide to be forthright. "Why are you bringing us along?"

The teacher's lips press together and their corners tuck up. "Why, fairness. I wouldn't have known where to look if it weren't for the two of you."

Since when has fairness been a concept teachers understand? You can't relax--not during the interminable flight, not in the hotel room, and not during the long drive south. Even Grace spends as much time fidgeting and clutching her book as she does looking out the rental car window.

Snow mantles the Kunlun Mountains in white. Ms. Gannet parks the car when it can't go any further into that forest of stone peaks, and you shudder inside your anorak as you step out. An old place? A cold place? Yes and yes: you feel very young in their presence, and very, very small. And that's before Ms. Gannet grabs Grace and puts a gun to her head.

"Fairness?" you squeak through chattering teeth.

"Let's say instead that I'm afraid Shangri-La won't show itself to someone like me. The legend says it isn't a place for violent people." She gives you another of those tight, thin-lipped smiles, and she jerks her chin toward the trail. "You need to find it and bring the treasure out. Then I'll let you both go--but you'd better drop your cell phone first."

Your cell clatters to the ground. You don't seem to have any choice... unless you want to gamble against Ms. Gannet's willingness to kill, and try to fight.


Will you save your sister directly? Turn to Page 12.

Or will you do as you're told, for Grace's sake? Turn to Page 21.


Kaishai fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2013 around 03:19

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Downhill
Words: 998

Standing in the copy room, Gary watched sheets come out of the color printer. Each page a lead weight in his stomach. He looked at the display. The toner amounts seemed to leak away, pixel by pixel, with every sheet.

Each new page felt like it raised the temperature a degree; little tiny embers heating the room. His vision blurred and he could feel the ends of his ears burning up. Gary had a problem with sweating. He didn’t sweat enough, which gave him headaches and nausea.

I have to fire this person, he thought, at least furlough them. I don’t have any other choice anymore.

Gary closed his eyes and focused on breathing, silently and rapidly. The embarrassment of being reduced to panting made him feel even worse. A throbbing pain pulsed behind his eyes and forehead. Walls closed in, radiating heat and warmth, suffocating him. The door opened. In front of him was Anne, a not quite middle aged, blonde woman who Gary once had a crush on some years prior.

“Oh, hi Gary,” Anne said, ducking her head slightly. She tried to palm the stacks of flyers, but Gary stood in the doorway.

“Anne, c'mon, I know you got the memos,” Gary said.

She looked down. Clutched against her chest was the stack of papers. “Missing Dog,” bolded across the top. A color picture peeked out from where her arm cradled the stack. Gary sighed. Anne mumbled and started to tear up.

“It’s fine, just see me later, okay?”

“Thanks, Gary,” Anne said and rushed out the door.

The printer beeped. “Replace toner,” the display said. Gary felt feverish. Darkness crept into the corners of his vision. Stumbling back to his office, he plopped into his chair.

“Maybe it won’t be that much,” Gary said opening up a catalog. Magenta, Cyan, Yellow, Black, he mouthed, running his finger down the supplies list.

“$1000? gently caress me,” he said slumping back into his chair. He ran his hands through his already thinning hair, picturing his father. A welfare queen is what Gary’s father would have been called, but back then he was just a lazy, laid off drunk. A functionless, irredeemable drain on resources, Gary thought.

He shook his head, I am different, I am functional, he thought. Punching numbers on his phone, he grabbed the receiver.

“Gladice, what’s the budget look like?”

“We’re looking—barely okay, Gary.”

“You didn’t order that toner, did you?”

There was a pause. “No, you said we had to hold out until the end of the month, and to put it on next month’s budget.”

He remembered. Right about the same time he had sent out his third memo about unnecessary printer use. He pictured himself, sitting on a recliner with a bottle of gin between his legs, feet in a bucket of cold water. Lying to his unemployment officer he was looking for jobs so he could get just one more check.

“Put in an order for another set of toner cartridges.”

“Are you sure?”

Gary hesitated. “Yeah.”

“You know, there’s still time to furlough-“

“Absolutely not. We’ve been over this before. Just put it in.”

Gary hung up the phone and leaned back. He sighed and waited. Two minutes, he suspected, would be all it would take. The phone rang after one.

“Mr. Bennett wants to see you,” Gladice said. Gary nodded to no one and hung up. Mr. Bennett was three floors up but still several levels below the top. Gary took the stairs slowly. He walked past his boss’s secretary, who didn’t even look at him.

“What the hell is this?” Bennett said, turning his monitor. Gary looked at the authorization email Gladice’s order required.

“It’s toner, sir.”

“I don’t give a poo poo what it is, it’s $1000 over budget.”

“I have to print-“

“Listen Gary, I don’t know how many memos I have to send you. Your budget, your problem. Handle it, or I will handle you,” Bennett said. Mr. Bennett’s secretary popped her head in.

“Mr. Dennis is on the line for you,” she said.

“gently caress. Handle your poo poo, Gary,” Mr. Bennett said. He flicked his hand and picked up the phone. “Hi Mr. Dennis, no, yes I got the memo. No, it’s taken care of, I promise, no-“

Gary walked back down the flights of stairs back to his office. Gary could feel the tips of his ears glowing red.

“Get Anne.”

In his office chair he remembered his father telling him about sacrifice, and how to make ends meet. That was why he couldn’t get a new backpack for school, why his shoes had holes in them. He pictured himself sitting in his office chair, face red, hair thinning, belt a little too tight, telling Anne about sacrifice. His head throbbed.

The knock at the door startled him.


“Come in.”

Anne put her head in first, sniffing the air for predators.

“You wanted to see me?”

“Anne, sit down please.” She took a seat. Neither said anything.

“The printer,” Gary said, finally. “C’mon.”

“I know, I understand, it’s just, Boxcar, you have to know what he looks-“ she started, words burbling out of her mouth.

“Anne, stop. I have to,” his face felt red hot. Saliva pooled and dripped from his teeth. “I have to. Anne, I have to-“

She looked at him with wet eyes.

“I have to write you up,” he said in one emptying breath. Anne’s eyes lit up and a smile appeared on her face. She quickly put her head down.

“I understand, I’m sorry--won’t happen again.”

Gary nodded and she left. He was still hot but felt it dissipate. He picked up the phone.

“Gladice, I won’t be in next week. I’ll be the one taking that furlough.”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yes. If Mr. Bennett calls, tell him everything’s taken care of.”

“Thanks, Gary.”

Gary nodded again and hung up the phone. He reclined in his chair and remembered the sacrifices of his father.

Steriletom
May 11, 2009

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


Love Found and Lost in Phuket - 670 words

He woke on the beach, his limbs entangled with the woman who had taken his innocence. His head ached and his mouth was parched but he lay still for what seemed close to an hour. He breathed in the smell of the salt tinged tropical air and watched the waves crash against the shore and listened to the wind slipping through the palm leaves above. More time passed before she finally stirred in his arms and woke from her slumber. Without a word, his angel rolled away and rested on her side as she horked up a mouthful of phlegm before turning back to him. In broken English, she asked if he had a good time last night. He smiled as he told her that he had the best time. Her eyes drew him in and he tried to caress her hair but she swatted his hand away and got up.

As she squeezed into her working clothes, he wondered if her age was closer to twenty or to forty. She was not like the girls back home, that was certain. For one, she had let him kiss her and, later in the night, she had let him do much more. He was also fairly certain that the word loser was not part of her limited English vocabulary. Nor were nerd, mouthbreather, or freak. Having finished buttoning her blouse, she chided him to get up and get dressed. There would be other tourists here soon. Playfully, he tried to pull her back down but she ripped away and yelled at him for keeping her from getting rest before her next shift. Not understanding half of the words, he smiled at her again. He was flying home tomorrow. Could he see her again tonight? Maybe they could see a movie first? He told her he would write to her when he got home.

She stared at him for a long time before agreeing to the date—no discount. As he got to his feet, he turned his face away to hide the hurt. He struggled to get into his jeans, wet and gritty with sand. Panic seized him when he checked his pockets and had to admit to her, embarrassed, that he did not have any money with him. It was okay, she told him, his friends paid. A twenty fifth birthday present they had called her.

A chorus of bird calls drew his eyes to the sky where he marveled at the variety of sizes and colours in flight. She agreed that it was beautiful without taking her eyes off the stiletto she was jamming her foot into. His eyes traced an arc through the sky to where the birds had fled from, where water had once met sand. The ocean had disappeared, he exclaimed. Only moments ago the waves had beat against the sand not more than thirty feet from them and now there was only more sand, stretching into the distance before water came into sight again. Her eyes widened at the sight. He asked her if she had seen such a thing before. She shook her head.

They stood together staring at the ocean’s naked underbelly. Wanting to stay with her forever, he grabbed her limp hand and pulled her out past the natural tideline, walking out a small distance. Gills quivering, stray fish flopped around in shock and massive boulders lay exposed to the sky for the first time in living memory. There was not much else. She soon grew bored and turned them back to the shore. Walking by her side, he studied the empty lots on the beach and pictured running a small bar. At the end of the day he would come home to her and the children. The two of them would watch the sun set while listening to the sound of the ocean rushing back in, the volume growing in magnitudes of order.

He was still daydreaming when she grabbed his hand, this time holding tight.

Steriletom fucked around with this message at Mar 8, 2013 around 22:42

Steriletom
May 11, 2009

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


I feel kind of bad about not contributing with any constructive criticism but, at the same time, who the hell wants to hear from the reigning loser?

Well, I'm hoping a former loser will. Right? Right?

Anyway, I've had a go at Noah's story. I'm not one for dicking around with bulletin board code more than I have to, so I just did it in Word. If anyone tells you something contradicting what I said, I'd take their input and run with it.

Colour code:

Red=Excised
Yellow=Additions
Green=My thoughts

https://www.dropbox.com/s/njvd5xpfm...ownhill..docx?m

BarbarousBertha
Aug 1, 2007



In.

Honey Badger
Jan 5, 2012

^^^ Like this, but its your mouth, and shit comes out of it.

"edit: Oh neat, babby's first avatar. Kind of a convoluted metaphor but eh..."

No, shit is actually extruding out of your mouth, and your'e a pathetic dick, shut the fuck up.

In. I need to fuckin' finish one this week, I've been shameful lately. I keep getting 10-hour shifts at work that make the whole week disappear

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Sign ups are closed. I even let you guys have thirty extra minutes because I'm so nice.

Noah and Steriletom have already delivered. The rest of you have the rest of the weekend to come up with something more substantial than the ocean just randomly being gone.

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