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Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

I suck at action scenes.



Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Predator (1000 words)

My head snapped up from the rabbit spoor at the crack of a branch through the trees. The noise was muffled by snow, but something large definitely approached. I nocked an arrow to my bowstring and took a knee. My stomach rumbled at the thought of fresh deer meat. The last rabbit seemed a very long time ago. For that matter, it had been; Loth was a terrible month for hunting.

The noise got louder. I could almost taste venison - but as it neared, I had misgivings. A prey animal shouldn't be so loud. I raised my bow and took aim on the shape that lumbered into sight. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't a deer.

Its figure resolved through the falling snow and my gut sank. A body double the size of a horse, lizardlike features like some ugly mockery of a true dragon.


My breath caught in my throat. I had only seen one once, dead - but there were stories, oh were there stories. Faster than a horse, stronger than ten men, a thick hide that weapons barely penetrated. If I stood, my head might reach its belly. Its teeth, when it paused and sniffed the air, were as long as my hand. And this was a small one. What was it even doing here? They shouldn't be in this sort of climate.

I huddled in the brush, my heart pounding so hard it surely must hear it. I should run. Could I run? Was there any chance it could see movement and not think me prey?

No. And it would scent me the moment the wind shifted.

A short gust stirred the falling flakes and wafted a stench of rotten meat toward me. I bit back a cough and put arrow back to bow. I was a fool, to try to take this thing down alone - but then, I was always the fool. I raised the bow, took aim and a slow breath, and released.

It gave an ear-shattering screech as my arrow sank into its neck - barely deeper than the arrowhead, but it drew blood, which was better than I'd expected from the tales. I drew, nocked, fired again. Chest. This time it heard the bowstring snap and spotted me in the brush. Its pupils dilated.


I ran.

It smashed aside the tree I'd left behind like a twig. I jumped a log and broke hard right into a small copse, whirled with my blood pounding and another arrow raised. It barreled headlong past me, spun with a sinuous grace; scrabbled for traction in the snow and shrieked at my third arrow. Left flank. It crashed in after me and I dove out before it could snap me like the unfortunate trees.

I chanced a glance back to see it savaging the small trees like toothpicks. It met my eye. I swallowed and ran with all I had. Three arrows didn't even slow it down. I needed broadheads, why hadn't I made broadheads? Damndamndamn.

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

I scooped up a handful of arrows and wrenched myself onto my knees. My fingers burned with the cold and my shoulder with pain but I drew and fired again. Right haunch, and this one buried in halfway up the shaft. The wyrm stumbled as it tried to rise. I drew another and loosed again. Left hind leg. Then it was back on its feet, hissing in pain. I drew again-


-it was on top of me.

It batted me into the embankment like an insect. My bow jolted from my hand. The wyrm hissed again, louder, and I had the terrible feeling that it no longer only wanted to kill me. No, it wanted to kill me messily for the pain I'd caused it.

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

I took it by surprise - only for an instant, but it was enough. It snapped at me but I twisted past teeth, past claws. It lowered its body and I crouched with it, slid under it, and drove my sword up into the soft flesh at the crook of its foreleg.

It howled and jerked away. My sword went with it. Its tail whipped toward me and I rolled with the impact, sparing myself fractured ribs; but a crack beneath me made me wince. My bow hadn't been so fortunate. The wyrm limped away with its leg off the ground to examine the latest thorn.

I dragged myself out of the snow for the third time and pulled out my boot knife. Hellfire, everything hurt. The wyrm kept a wary eye on me, but it was now defensive, curled around its leg. Blood spread in the snow, leaked into the stream. The water burbled over the beast's harsh breaths. We stared at each other for a long moment.

Then it faltered; stumbled and slipped on the ice, went down on its bad leg. Its screech as my sword drove in further was weaker. I moved in warily. It hissed and snapped, but the pain and blood loss had finally slowed it. I slammed the knife into its throat two-handed and darted away from its thrashing claws.

The great beast gurgled and convulsed, but its movements slowed; and finally it slumped to the snow. Cold had begun to seep through my furs and into my bones by the time I checked to make sure it was dead. My hands shook as I yanked the knife out. But, despite the cold and the pain, I smiled.

This would last much longer than a rabbit.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011


Useful things.

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

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

:siren: Thunderdome Week XXVIII: Show me the love! :siren:

Echo Cian
Sitting Here

Prompt: Last week, there was a whole lot of telling instead of showing. Yuck. This week, your job is to show us an existing romance in 1200 words or less. Preferably a lot less. The love between the characters must be clearly shown, but your entry may not contain the phrase "I love you" or its variants, nor may it include a sex scene.

These are crutches. Show us a strong, loving relationship between the characters that's not based solely on how good they are in bed. Don't tell us how much they love each other because we'd have no other way to know. Any "clever" attempts to circumvent the spirit of these rules will be treated accordingly. :commissar:

Sign-up deadline: 11:59 PM Friday, February 15th EST
Submission deadline: 11:59 PM Sunday, February 17th EST

- SkySteak | Paradise
- clammy
- BadSeafood | Engine Troubles
- swaziloo | Amber Grove
- Symptomless Coma | In the Kingdom
- HereticMIND
- sebmojo | Chandrasekhar
- Noah | Monday Nights
- V for Vegas | Last Day
- Fanky Malloons
- Jeza | Milk and Honey
- BlackFrost | Coffee
- Cancer Cakes | I Only Have Eyes for You
- JuniperCake
- Zack_Gochuck | The Purple Dory
- Erogenous Beef | Second Chances
- Nubile Hillock | Little Mesa
- Steriletom | Remembrance
- Lord Windy
- Fell Fire | Waking
- Benagain | Revolutionary Love
- HaitianDivorce
- Chairchucker | Pick One Person
- toanoradian | How the Legendary Hero Got a Legendary Wife
- LJHalfbreed | Embrace
- Down With People | Brunch
- Purple Prince
- Kaishai | Heart and Soul
- Baggy_Brad | Rescue
- DivisionPost | The Great Escape
- Horrible Butts | RV
- budgieinspector | Bess
- twinkle cave | Hank the Petulant Vibrator

Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 15:34 on Feb 18, 2013

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Funny, I don't see any of your names on the judges list.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

22 hours left for sign-ups.

And 70 left for submissions. Get crackin'.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

^ Sneak.

:siren: SIGN-UPS CLOSED. :siren:

48 hours left.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

twinkle cave posted:

This is romance equivalent to "The Day my Grandma Died" stories in creative writing 101. Am I in GERIATRIC DOME OF SADNESS?

My thoughts exactly.


Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

I'll get to a more thorough read and some crits later today, but until then:

Someone who knows what he's talking about posted:

“Dialogue” attribution.

Screenshot this quote, print it out and tape it on your monitors, because godDAMN this many people should not be making this mistake.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

HereticMIND posted:

My forgetfulness once again bites my rear end. I have no other excuses.

Also, I suck balls at writing sex scenes because holy poo poo am I really uncomfortable writing them.

Echo Cian posted:

Prompt: Last week, there was a whole lot of telling instead of showing. Yuck. This week, your job is to show us an existing romance in 1200 words or less. Preferably a lot less. The love between the characters must be clearly shown, but your entry may not contain the phrase "I love you" or its variants, nor may it include a sex scene.


I'm doing this in order of sign-up rather than order of submission, because that's how I recorded them and heck if I'm going back through the thread.

SkySteak: Paradise
Okay, uh. This needs work. Here's a partial line-by-line because I don't think I can just summarize the technical problems. Take DivisionPost's advice into account (I'm more focused on the technical side of trying to demonstrate how it make text flow but he had good points too), work on it and post it in Fiction Farm.

First off to save myself some trouble:


Dialogue " attribution.


An explosion shook the palace, deafening the muffled shouting outside. Dylan scrambled around in the bedroom, leaning against the golden lined bed huh? Are you trying to say it's trimmed in gold plating? And how is he leaning on it while scrambling around the room? as he scrabbled through various drawers. Another nearby bang this trips me up - drop "nearby", it looks too much like "nearly" and then looks like it's in the wrong order made him jump, almost making him and nearly lose his cigar. Try to keep -ings to a minimum.

‘Margaret, where’s the drat safe key?’ he shouted. Even after a question mark or exclamation point in dialogue, the attribution is always lowercase. ‘Of all the time for an uprising’ He thought. Find another way to show thoughts. Single quotes work only if you use double quotes for normal dialogue. Italics are an option. Or work it into the narration: You don't even need the 'he thought' there, since it should be evident.

‘In the left drawer, second draw down dear.’ She said behind a nearby door. Why is she hiding behind doors? "she called from the other room", maybe.

‘I’m not seeing it! We don’t have time for this!’ He said, his yellowed wrinkled hands scrabbling through various junk. Clunky again. You can drop the attribution since it's clear from the action he's talking: "His wrinkled hands scrabbled through..." ...the drawers? "Various junk" sounds amateurish. He was hoping that his 30 year rule would’ve kept going, but that was not to be.

‘Dylan dear "dear" is an interjection, offset it with commas, you do this through the entire piece you were never good at finding things’. The ebony door was pushed opened to reveal an elderly woman, towel on her head and partially dressed. This needs to be reworked entirely. You open with a passive - the ebony door was pushed - and everything that follows is awkward. You're thinking in a cinematic, describing exactly what you picture in your head for The Reveal, but remember you're not writing a movie script. "Margaret pushed open the door, partially dressed with a towel still in her hair." She paced toward the drawer, systematically dumping the various tat she's dumping the drawers out while she's still pacing toward them? Watch out for these. Think sequentially, not "as, during, before adverb -ing." "She hurried to the drawer and systematically dumped their contents out" on the king sized bed. Does it matter that it's king-sized? In little time Margaret soon handed Dylan a slip of torn paper, a slight smile on her face.

Another thing here: Drawers are the parts of larger pieces of furniture. You probably want her to go to, say, the dresser and pull the drawers of it out, because switching between "drawer" as a singular piece of furniture and "drawer" as the smaller pieces of that furniture that can be removed is very confusing.

‘Don’t know what I’d do without you’. He said, a grinning back before pushing himself up and ambling why are they ambling if they're in such a rush? toward a large silver safe at the other side of the room. Ugh. "He grinned and made for the safe at the other end of the room." Going through the motions of pushing himself up and ambling is more cinematic. We can fill that in ourselves. He entered the combination, opened it and took out a large black leather suitcase. He then opened that up, smiling at the sight of rows upon rows of diamonds. "He entered that and opened that up and took it out then opened that up." No. Rework.

Margaret, now more dressed, put a hand around his side that's a big hand. "put an arm around him and smiled, giving him with a smile and a kiss on the cheek.


Dylan checked the peakhole peephole while another with a hand was on his revolver. Soon after he opened the door, revealing a muscled man in a fine suit and sunglasses. Cinematic again. I'd suggest Dylan seeing that through the peephole, recognizing him and then letting him in.


Dylan and Margaret rushed through the array of rooms in the palace, ending up at to the back of the building palace. They stumbled through the garden, flanked by loyalist troops. ‘So much many PROOFREAD and the rest of this sentence doesn't even make sense expensive foreign flowers and then there’s an uprising. My luck isn’t always the best’ Margaret thought, looking mournfully at the plants.

They reached the garage? driveway? and got into a large shiny black car, quickly getting into it. Dylan wasted no time then don't waste ours slammed the keys into the ignition and started the engine. Bodyguards opened the gate.


‘We’ll get killed by your lunacy dear, neve rmind PROOFREAD rebels’.


A deafening bang was heard passive/cinematic again and the car skidded off road, flying into nearby foliage and almost tipping the car the car the car the car. Margaret shrieked as she was thrown against the front seat like a frail crash test dummy. Dylan’s seatbelt was the only thing stopping him flying out of the front window. The airbags burst just as he was thrown into it into what? The airbags (which are plural), the windshield (which we were just told he didn't hit), the steering wheel (which, while the most sensible, was never mentioned?), hat sent flying. I'm inclined to dub this story "abused hat porn." That aside, the action here is stilted and repetitive. Use fewer words in action: "Dylan's seatbelt saved him from crashing through the windshield. The airbags deployed and slammed him back into his seat." And if you want a bit of dry humor, "His hat flopped to the dashboard."

Dylan barely had a moment to recover before gunshots started to hit the car. He looked at his dazed wife before ducking under cover. A tinge of worry was setting through him. Passive again and those three sentences seem wordy. "Dylan barely had time to recover before gunshots rang out. He quickly checked on his wife to find her dazed from the wreck. He bit his lip (or some other sign of worry) but was forced to duck for cover as The bullets hammered the vehicle yet didn’t pierce it. Dylan pulled out his revolver, thankful the car was armored (if you want to emphasize that they're not getting through, otherwise chop this), before quickly and popped back up for a quick scan of the area. There were Three masked men were approaching the car, their angry cries were muffled by their weapon fire. Their jeep was parked behind a bush nearby.

Dylan popped open the car door before quickly shooting STOP THIS down two of the rebels down AND PROOFREAD. He threw himself behind the door was bullets rattled against the door. PROOFREAD GOD DAMMIT After a sdhgldj several potshots from both people, Dylan finally got a killing shot in. Ugh. Okay. I'll try it: "Dylan threw the door open and mowed down two of the rebels, flung himself back behind it before their return volley found him. Shots rang back and forth. Finally there came a cry as Dylan found his last mark."

Everything had gone silent. He slowly slinked awkward, find a better word out of the car and looked around. His car’s The engine was spewing smoke and the front tires were had burst.

He was about turned to check on Margaret, before he felt but something heavy pressed against his head. ‘You’re going to die, you loving dog’ said a voice behind him. Before Dylan could even react But Dylan had no chance to react before here's where you can work in one of those "befores" you like so much he heard a pained cry along with and a thud. The briefcase spilled out its cargo. Too banal now that I've changed the rest. Something about the diamonds spilling instead. He spun around and shot the rebel point blank.

Behind the body stood Margaret, still looking slightly dazed but bearing her familiar smile and the open briefcase. (Now that can come in.)


‘We should probably pick up those diamonds’ Dylan said, seeing them glint brilliantly across the ground. Establish the diamonds when the last guy goes down and this isn't needed. Words saved!

‘Forget the diamonds dear. We should probably leave now.’ She said, ambling you really like that word, don't you? toward the jeep. Don't need attribution here. Just say she headed for the jeep and it's clear who's talking. ‘Besides, there is enough in that Swiss bank account we have. However, now you can’t complain about me pestering you about that dear. It was like the time you ended up losing that entire inheri-" Cutting off dialogue like this still ends with quotation marks. You do this a couple times.

‘I think she we? should go’. Punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. Dylan said. Sometimes he wondered about the woman he had married. Cute.

They quickly got to made it to the airfield and made it found a private jet with a loyal pilot waiting for them. They soon took off from what was once their tropical kingdom. A few parting shots at the plane confirmed it was now a lost one.


Margaret let out a content sight PROOFREAD and sat back. Sometimes she wondered about the man she had married. Nice end.

Overall, lots of beginner mistakes, but you were one of the few that did what I intended with this prompt: A story with things happening (albeit too focused on the action) featuring a couple who love each other, without merely tacking on an "I love you/I love you too" exchange in the last sentence. There's a clear connection between the characters, even if they didn't seem nearly as concerned over their situation as they should be. It read a bit like parody, so if that was what you were going for, great; if not...that needs work, too.

Bad Seafood: Engine Troubles
There you go taking my names again. :argh: This was solid and I only have a couple things to criticize:


A biker had pulled in before, bearded and grinning, gold in his teeth and too much wind in his hair.

That little word right there. I had to reread that paragraph a couple times to get my head around the fact that was a mistake and it wasn't referring to another motorcycle guy who had come by earlier. I'm guessing it was an artifact of an earlier phrasing, but that's why PROOFREADING is important.

And "She'd dead Jim."

True love is stealing motorcycles from jerks.

swaziloo: Amber Grove
I was happy to see fantasy finally! But it was just a guy and a dog and when dryads showed up I'm really not sure what was going on. There's being vague for an air of mystery to a story and there's just plain forgetting that we're not in your head, and this felt like the latter. Technically okay, interesting setting, but missed the prompt and missed making sense.

Symptomless Coma: In the Kingdom
Only a couple problems stand out at me besides the lack of line breaks. You mistyped Lucia as Luccia at one point, and this:


I stood on tiptoe, and saw a pair of eyes penetrating mine for the briefest second, and then the great orange head turned, the Amur’s body bounded away into the trees.

Reads awkwardly. The last clause does not follow from the one before it. Needs a restructure.

It got a bit expository with the meeting flashback, but it said a lot for the characters and it was written well so it works. I also can't be sure what the mention of the clinic results is doing there. It doesn't mean anything when left that vague, and it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the piece. If you can cut it out without changing the meaning of anything else, it doesn't need to be there. I could also read this as a pair of good friends rather than a couple in a romantic relationship aside from one or two lines, so I'm not sure how well it fits the prompt. It does show an interesting dynamic between these two, though.

sebmojo: Chandrasekhar
Uh. If you want critique you'll have to get it from someone better at it than me. Nice play with the title, some good turns of phrase (Teamwork, indeed). The ending tips dangerously close to losing the prompt though, and the characterization is rather lopsided.

Noah: Monday Nights
I despise The Bachelor. I also hate crude humor. Competently written, but you won no favors with this judge.

V for Vegas: Last Day
Another solid one. Not going to pick on single quotes much because that seems to be a UK thing, only that it does tend to be easier to read with double quotations. I only have nitpicky things like "small newspaper wrapped objects" sounds odd (it at least needs a hyphen for newspaper-wrapped), and:


Once it was full he would pick it up and take it to the loading dock door, ready for collection.

Not incorrect, but reads awkwardly. Have him go pick it up and set it at the loading dock to demonstrate, or find a different way to word it.

For the prompt, even though you tell us that they're married, this is another I could read as simply friends and business partners, and with this prompt telling doesn't count.

Jeza: Milk and Honey
What STONE OF MADNESS said. I could find nothing to critique that he didn't already mention. I enjoyed it.

BlackFrost: Coffee
Another solid one. No mistakes to be found, good characters, stuck to the prompt.

CancerCakes: I Only Have Eyes for You (I don't do all-caps.)
All these good entries don't make it easy for me to try to crit them. Just a few notes: Starting with "she" for the girl in the part, then switching to "our/you," is rather confusing until the very end. It works when you get down there, but there's probably a better way to do it to make it less jarring in the first place. And this:


When she reached me I tried to casually glance at her face, but her amber-gold eyes (that went emerald when angry or excited) held my heart in their gaze.

Don't need the parentheses or what they contain. "Overtime we moved with each other..." should be two words unless they're getting paid for it. "When we had finally managed to take everything from our tiny flat..."

Unfortunately, although I liked it, I'm not sure it fits the whole "showing" thing.

Zack_Gochuck: The Purple Dory
Again, pretty much what STONE OF MADNESS said. It's nice but just kind of putters off into nothing. We don't know if he's supposed to have drowned, or if he's just late, or what. It reads like the setup to something but never gets there.

Erogenous Beef: Second Chances
This is trying to do too much in too few words. You've got starvation, an apparent post-apocalyptic wasteland, people out by the river, a dead kid and a cougar attack. In a longer work, these elements could be better tied together, but as it stands you need to pick a few things and stick to them. Adding too much is clutter. It was trying to be both an action piece and a romance, and you didn't have the wordcount to do both along with the rest.

I'll get to the rest later.

DivisionPost posted:

I'll try to knock out some more crits later tonight, but let me just say: great prompt, Echo Cian!


Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

:siren: Thunderdome Week XXVIII: Show Me the Love! :siren:


Most of the stories this week were solid - but those that failed, failed hard. For a prompt about showing an existing romance there was an awful lot of murder, suicide, and senility, and several of you missed the point entirely.

THE WINNER: Newcomer Kaishai, for the best display of the prompt with some touching moments in the prose to boot.

Honorable Mentions: Jeza, whose story was a bit overwritten but quite lovely; and BlackFrost, who took the apparent coffee motif of the week and made something out of it.

THE LOSER: Other newcomer Horrible Butts, whose piece, though amusing, relied on explicitly telling the reader that the "characters" in question were in love, when the prompt just as explicitly said not to do that.

Dishonorable Mentions: Noah, who showed us more toilet humor than love; and toanoradian, whose story was barely sensible but at least didn't ignore the prompt.

Kaishai, Martello and I will be joining you on the judging panel this week. We await your prompt.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

I don't have the energy to finish last week's critiques thoroughly, so here's an overview of the things that stood out for the rest of you.

Nubile Hillock: Little Mesa
Enjoyable, but this was the beginning of the string of deaths in the love prompt, for one thing, and it fell apart for me at the ending. I don't know why the lizard suddenly had a third eye or (Actually I'm dumb :downs:) who was supposed to be speaking. I can make guesses, but I prefer not to have to guess.



"Dialogue attribution."

This will continue to be quoted until we stop seeing this mistake. :argh:

Steriletom: Remembrance
This relies on cliche to draw a response, and that doesn't get a response. Not badly written, but it's been done to death.

Fell Fire: Waking
You wrote 375 words but forgot to do something with them. It's an okay lead-up to a longer piece, but on its own it's a non-story. You also managed repetition in those few words ("breast" twice in the same paragraph, for example).

Benagain: Revolutionary Love
I liked this, a bit too expository though maybe.

Chairchucker: Pick One Person
I liked this too. Maybe a bit too much on the humor, but it made me chuckle anyway so I won't count too much against it. It was also the first lighthearted entry that addressed the prompt by showing a relationship with both parties alive and mentally intact.

toanoradian: How the Legendary Hero Got a Legendary Wife
This had its amusing moments but for the most part I had no idea what was going on. You didn't lose because Horrible Butts ignored the prompt more thoroughly and I like your current avatar.

LJHalfbreed: Embrace
Another one where I wasn't sure what was happening. I got that he was a ghost, eventually, but did she kill herself? Did they kill each other? Heart attacks? Why are they both dead? Too vague.

Down With People: Brunch
I don't know why someone in his fifties who's been with his wife for ten lovely, wonderful years (blech) would be acting like a shy schoolboy with his first crush. Not enough characterization to make it look like this was a fitting trait.

Kaishai: Heart and Soul
The best use of the prompt with one of the lowest wordcounts, and MUSIC. :neckbeard:

Braggy_Brad: Rescue
There are these things called "linebreaks." Use them. This felt flat. Repeating dialogue felt more stilted than endearing. There was a description of events, but no look into these characters' heads and not much personality from them as a result.

DivisionPost: The Great Escape
A solid story, even if my eyes glazed over at the names and close descriptions of the game, but what I read was a good friendship, not a romantic relationship. Missed the prompt.

Horrible Butts: RV
You know what you've done.

budgieinspector: Bess
Over the wordcount, and yet again more telling than showing. A yeti transformation was just...odd, besides.

twinkle cave: Hank the Petulant Vibrator

Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 17:22 on Feb 24, 2013

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Martello posted:

:frogsiren:THUNDERDUEL: Echo Cian vs Noah:frogsiren:

Prompt: Write a story that takes place this year, on this planet, with no fantastic or speculative elements, and no explicit genre elements at all. Mundane "lit-fic" is what I'm looking for here.

Include at least one male and one female character.

Wordcunt: 850 words

Deadline: 26 2000EST FEB 2013


Study Hall (820 words)

The food court was crowded, but Myra's target was easy to find, huddled in a far corner away from the bustle. She'd noticed him here before - alone, reading or taking notes or listening to music. Today he was doing at least two out of three. She slipped through the crowd clustered near the doors and smiled when he glanced up. "Busy?"

Carmine frowned across the mess of books and papers spread before him and slipped his headphones off his ears. "What do you want?"

Myra shrugged. "You're always hiding in the corner. Thought I'd give you some company."

He gave her a dry look. He had sharp features, high brows and cheekbones - an imperious face. But she didn't think he was arrogant. She'd seen him help others in class. "The real reason?"

She shrugged again as her smile turned sheepish. No reason to get bristled, yet. "Okay, you caught me. I need help with class. I saw you exchange notes with Sandra, so I thought it was worth a shot."

"Ah." He leaned back in his chair with a sigh, flicked his phone on to pause his music. "I gave her a copy of my notes from when she was sick last week. How much do you need?"

Her mouth twisted as she hooked the chair out and took a seat. "Everything?"

He laughed. It was more of a snort, like it caught him by surprise. "That would take a while." He looked much better when he smiled, she decided, even if it was only a thin one; it softened that highbrow look.

"Can't you just take them to the copier?"

Carmine shuffled loose sheets into a stack at his left hand and dragged a binder from the corner of the table, flipped it open to a page marked with a green tag. "I write shorthand. Have to copy it out fully."

"Oh." Myra moved her elbow out of the way as he gathered up a stray blank paper that had drifted across the table. "Then...yesterday and today's, I guess? I can usually at least get the gist of it, but the professor went too fast for me this time."

He was already writing, left-handed. She hadn't noticed that before, but he wasn't one to draw attention to himself anyway. He only spoke up if he was asked a question, or if he was the only one who knew an answer, but he knew a lot when he did. She chuckled at that thought. "You're way ahead of most of us. I'll never catch up."

"Study," he said, without looking up.

She glanced at the books he had scattered around and registered their titles for the first time. Forensics books from the college library, one from a bookstore with a label still on it. "That's what you do here?"


She pulled the one with the price sticker over and checked the cover. But what caught her attention wasn't the content of the book - it was the marker. She flipped to the marked page and found a guitar pick.

And found the book flipped back shut and pulled from her hands. She looked up to see Carmine glaring at her. "Do you mind?" He set it at his elbow well out of her reach and stacked the rest on top of it with more thumping than was necessary.

Strange. No musician she'd met had been shy about their talent. "You play guitar?"

He went back to his writing and didn't answer, but edged his elbow protectively in front of the book stack.

Myra propped her chin in her palm and stared at his bowed head before her gaze slid back to his hands. Long, slender fingers. She couldn't tell if they were callused, but she could easily see those hands strumming a guitar. "My mom plays violin."

"That's nice." But he'd hesitated mid-letter.

Had she found a chink in that antisocial armor? She eyed his phone and decided to ignore that comment in favor of a different tack. "What were you listening to?"

Carmine let out an irritated breath and glared at her again. "Do you want these notes or what?"

She raised her hands disarmingly. He held the glare for a moment longer, then bent back to his copying. So much for that.

But after an awkward moment, he murmured, "Nightwish."

Aha! She pounced. "Which album? My favorite's probably Imaginaerum."

He straightened, still writing. "Once, but I like Imaginaerum too."

"My favorite song's 'Rest Calm'. I think. But there's so many good ones."

He hunched his shoulders and paused to glance at his phone. "'Song of Myself', I guess." But before she could ask more, he shook his head. "Look, I'd be happy to talk about music any other time, but I'm trying to write your copy."

"Okay, okay, sorry." Myra watched him return to his work and hid a smile. She'd remember those words.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011


Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Turncoat (996 words)

The entire South Quarter was ablaze when Marcus charged up the staircase of Stonebridge Manor. It was deserted; the only sounds came from the anxious chatter of his men outside and distant shouts that drifted in through the open doorway. Marcus charged to the last door in the hall, flung it open and hitched a breath. "Gods help me, they were right after all. What are you thinking?"

Alerio greeted him with a raised goblet and a lazy smile where he lounged in the window like a satisfied cat. "Ah, Marcus! So good of you to join me."

"Are you drunk or are you mad?" Marcus stalked across the room. "The South's gone up, the fires will consume this district before the hour's out. We have to leave!"

"Why the rush?" Alerio took a deep drink from the goblet and waved it toward the window. "Enjoy the view. You'll never see the likes of it again."

"I've seen enough!" Marcus took the goblet away and dumped its contents on the floor. Red wine spread splattered on the wool carpet. "Why are you still here? Rio-" He paused, staring at the noble's nonchalant poise, the detached way he watched the chaos outside. Horror crept into his voice. "Did you have something to do with this?"

Alerio snorted. "Arson? Certainly not." Now he turned from the window, unfolded himself from the divan with leisurely grace. He smiled, lips red from the wine. Marcus swallowed against a rush of heat through his body as Alerio slipped an arm around his waist. "You think in simplicities. Won't you join me?"

Marcus shied away. "You are mad. So help me, Rio, even if you're connected to the rebellion, I'll not abandon you to this!"

That earned a bemused glance. "If I were, would the end be any better?"

Marcus swallowed. "So you are connected to it." It was so hard to focus with Alerio this close, leaning against him, silk on steel. "I could put a word in. I could...I could find an excuse." He gritted his teeth, seized the man's shoulders and shook him. "Dammit, Rio, why? You knew what I'd have to do if-"

Alerio pressed a silencing finger to his lips. "Yes. So say no more." He took Marcus by the shoulders in turn, pressed him down to the divan and kissed him until they were breathless. When their lips parted, Alerio caressed his lover's face, cupped it in his hands and directed Marcus's gaze outside. "Just look at it, Marc," he whispered. "Have you ever seen such a beautiful sight?"

Marcus looked. Flames licked across the rooftops, vivid red against the smoke that turned the southern sky to starless night. It was entrancing, in its way, like an ever-changing sunset in the wrong direction - but Marcus knew there was more to the east, and soon to the north. Alerio could usually get him to see things in his odd way, but this was one scene Marcus couldn't reconcile.

He turned back to Alerio, all fine bones and lean limbs, long lashes and wine-red lips, consciously sensual in every movement and far too calm as the world turned to chaos around them. It was nearly enough to make him forget why he'd come here. The man he'd fallen in love with. A traitor to the kingdom. His voice cracked. "No. Nor will I again, if you don't come with me."

Alerio chuckled softly and traced a hand across his back. "Not what I meant." He curled against him and kissed his neck.

"This is hardly the time-" The kiss turned into a bite. Marcus gasped and pulled away, though he longed to give in. "Don't do this. I can get you out of the country."

Alerio sank back against the sill and stretched, tilting his head playfully. "My loyal little soldier, disobeying orders?"

Marcus forced himself to look away from that invitation. "For you, yes. Please, whatever you've done, I can keep you safe."

Alerio sighed. The levity faded. "And lose you, as well? They already know about me. Don't think they won't catch you."

"I'm willing to take that risk."

"I'm not." He sat up and spread his arms. "If you're so willing to burn along with me, then lay with me here! Otherwise, leave. I don't intend to escape. We would meet the same end either way."

Marcus stared at him. One of his men shouted up the stairs for him, but he didn't comprehend the words. "You intended suicide from the start?"

Alerio dropped his arms and quirked a wry smile. "Hell of a way to go, don't you think?"

Smoke and flames blurred in his vision. Marcus blinked back the tears. "You never were one to do things in half-measures."

Before his vision cleared, Alerio rose again, wrapped his arms around him. This time was a kiss of finality. Marcus felt it in the firmness, the near desperation. He choked back a sob and held his lover for the last time. Only when footsteps pounded up the staircase did Alerio step back and stroke Marcus's cheek. "Go, love. Be safe."

Marcus turned and walked out the door. He met his man in the hallway and shook his head, heedless of the tears that streaked his face. "Back to the horses. We're leaving."

Behind them, the notes of a violin rang out into the still air - sweet, lilting, utterly unsuited to the situation. So thoroughly absurd when destruction loomed on the horizon. So wonderfully, hopelessly brazen. Marcus pictured the nightmare alternative - his lover bound to a stake, blindfolded, bundles of sticks stacked at his feet. A traitor's death. He stumbled to the bottom of the stairs and buried his face in his hands. If Marcus were caught aiding a traitor, that would be the end for both of them. "He's right, drat him," he whispered.

He gathered his men and rode off, leaving the burning city and Alerio's reasons far behind.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

In seeing as I kind of inspired this prompt.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

magnificent7 posted:

At what point is it possible to just give up on explaining the science, and push the plot/characters/scene harder instead?

The moment you open your word processor.

Unless you're trying to write hard sci-fi, which that obviously wasn't.

In this example, no explanation would salvage something that made no sense in the first place. The story on its own amused me; trying to justify bad "science" doesn't. Accept it as something silly and utterly implausible and move on.

To compare, people enjoy Doctor Who, and that's essentially fantasy with SF aesthetic. Trying to explain scientific details over focusing on the plot and characters would ruin it. Even more straight-up SF handwaves the science and gets on with the story.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Nubile Hillock posted:


Your petty threats and insults are meaningless (especially since Kaishai already signed up forever ago). :colbert:

...But I have an idea now so heck, I'm in with Phantasmagorical Fantasy Fantasia Weekly.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

In for outlaws.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Excision (983 words)

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

oh gently caress I have to read poo poo agai-


:siren: Week 65: Songs We Were Singing :siren:

This week is simple: I want genre fic with music strongly incorporated into the plot, setting, whatever; the more integral and creative, the better. My only caveat is that I don't want to read about something as mundane as a dude starting a band in his garage. I'd prefer it not be set in the modern world at all. It's genre fic - use it.

Finding a specific inspirational song is optional.

Wordcount: 1000 words max
Co-Judges: BadSeafood and Sitting Here

Signup Date: 11:59:59 PM on Friday the 1st, EST
Submission Date: 11:59:59 PM on Sunday the 3rd, EST

As usual, feel free to join #kyrena on SynIRC for any questions.

And one other thing, just so we're clear:


"Dialogue" attribution.

Roguelike - Little Drummer Girl
Fraction - The Games
Tyrannosaurus - Slave
Chairchucker - God from the (Tin) Machine
Quidnose - Etude #44
Erogenous Beef - Sharp Harmony
inthesto - Duet
Fumblemouse - 'Dimension' for Strings
Kaishai - Music to Draw By
Mercedes - 237
Ronnie_Long - Do Robots Dream of LeAnn Rimes?
Schneider Heim - Take Me Home
docbeard - The Day the Music Died
Helsing - it's a bitch convincing people to like you
Jeza - Blood and Tequila
DasNasty - Ballad of the Cicadas

Bitchtits McGee
Fuckin' Nubile Hillock

Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 04:41 on Nov 5, 2013

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Entrants this week don't have to use GDoc links, though it is an option for some quick comments. If you give a link post in the thread proper too.

Also submissions closed two hours ago or something.

Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 07:20 on Nov 2, 2013

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Quidnose posted:

Signups closed two hours ago, submissions go through Sunday.

Or else I'm hosed. :v:

Yeah that.

I hadn't slept in two days okay. :saddowns:

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

I wasn't paying attention either so you're okay I GUESS.

Submissions closed (for real this time).

Haam, Bitchtits McGee, dmboogie and Nubile Hillock are all slackers and/or cowards. Give them dirty looks on the street.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

:siren: Week 65 Results :siren:

I gave you a simple prompt: Music, genre, don't be boring. I got people finding old pianos in vandalized buildings with nothing remotely related to any genre, an even more boring version of Revelation than Left Behind, Conan the Barbarian fanfiction, and autistic robots. For all that, there were some standouts - perhaps all the more standout when compared to mediocrity.

This week's winner is Kaishai, just barely edging out Jeza for having that bit more emotional impact to her story.

Both Jeza and Chairchucker deserve mentions for taking flash bounties unto themselves and coming up with stories that nailed all prompts better than several of you even handled one, and were written far better than most of the rest.

The loser is Mercedes, for writing anatomical parts instead of characters and forgetting he was supposed to be writing genre fic strongly featuring music, not as an incidental detail. And also forgetting how to spell and/or proofread.

Dishonorable mention goes to Tyrannosaurus, for taking an innocuous prompt about music and writing a rape metaphor for some asinine reason while also missing the genre prompt.

Crits up sometime soon.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Trends last week:
- Boredom (5 entries)
- Clinical autistic robot prose (3 entries)
- Not knowing what 'genre' is (3, maybe 4 entries)
- Or how to write a character (7 entries)
- Relying on someone else's intellectual property (6 entries)

I didn't expect "write interesting genre featuring music, idiots" to be such a difficult request.

Roguelike - Little Drummer Girl
Oh joy, a "those silly Christians and their rock-n-roll-hatin'" story. That certainly hasn't been done to death. Oh wait, it's actually about a band, just like I said I didn't want this week.

Setting it in "Neo Beijing" did nothing. You didn't even try to give some flavor to the setting with giving them Chinese names; you might as well have called it Cyberpunk City. You could have brought in something interesting, indicating some sort of fanatical religious cleansing that stomped out the original culture. Even setting a story during Revelation should be interesting (unless you're Jerry Jenkins). Yet you veer sharply away from doing anything remotely exciting with the premise by turning it into Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay.

As for your characters, Sitting Here described them in irc as cartoons. They were flat and their motivations aren't clear. Is Mercy supposed to be a hypocrite, slipping out of worship because it's boring and then chastising Jair for not showing up in a while for the same reason? Why punch the guy out if she's just going to take the music anyway? Why does he even want to broadcast something that's going to cause trouble if he could just do what she wants to do and change the lyrics? What's the point? You have a lot of pieces here but you stuck them together with a hammer and glue.

More specific comments in your GDoc.

Some nice descriptions, but they made up 2/3s of the entry, and the final third was too vague for my taste. Then I realized it was, inexplicably, blatant Conan the Barbarian fanfic. I expected better than that from you.

Fraction - The Games
I had to read this twice - mostly because the first time I hadn't slept in two days, and partly because I had to get to the end once to figure out most of the beginning. I like the voice you used here; you captured the feeling of the era well. Maybe a little too well. I could glean most of odd names and words from context the second time, but it could have done with a bit more explanation on things like what the drakaina was - but the more I look at it, the more I like that mythic feeling. With more wordcount you could flesh out the character beyond "I want to win and losing makes me sad also that guy's kind of a jerk I guess," and make things clearer.

Tyrannosaurus - Slave
Ah, rape metaphors. Just what I wanted to read for a music prompt. Clearly I need to flash rule goons not to be loving creeps. The idea of the metaphor at its base isn't bad, but you went too far overboard with the fingering (thanks for that, by the way, never going to be able to use that word in a musical context again) and piss.

Chairchucker - God from the (Tin) Machine
You fill me with such delight. This is exactly what we all needed after the last story. It's better done than the prequel, and a good parody. Why do we not have a Chairchucker award yet?

Quidnose - Etude #44
Sadly you missed part of the prompt - there's nothing genre about a couple workers finding an old piano. Even if he's only imagining its potential, why does it still sound good enough to even be worth playing after so long? I only have my grandmother's piano as a basis of comparison, but if the best pianist in the world sat down at it, the other people in the room would not greet the sound that came out with "Nice." Your prose shaded to purple at times, but it was a decent vignette.

Erogenous Beef - Sharp Harmony
I don't know what to say about this that SH didn't already cover. I barely knew what was going on. I felt like I should, and that it was probably funny, but you were too busy being obtuse to write something coherent, and for that I'm disappointed.

inthesto - Duet


“The great Emmanuel Fritz Bach, too busy to tend to his most beloved woman and violinist, only stops his fawning over his dead father to beg for her talents, long since buried!”
OUCH that exposition brick hurt.

I only know this was supposed to be genre because you mentioned it in IRC. You forgot to bring it into the story itself, and as a result it also missed the genre mark, which is a shame since I like the story. On a revision, make what you meant for it clearer, and emphasize the relationships and the actual performance more; everything feels very much crammed into the wordcount.

Fumblemouse - 'Dimension' for Strings


“I think,” said Stephen, “that you will find it a more than reasonable offer for the phonic generation algorithms”

Stephen’s LifeTrack played an unusually sour note. he unconsciously tapped the side of his head.

Competent, aside from those typos, but I didn't much know or care what the characters were talking about at the start, and I have no clue what happened at the end. People can rewind reality at will in this world? I did like the idea of aural implants breaking down, but you lost me with the ending.

Kaishai - Music to Draw By
Sweet and cute, with actual characters, and probably the closest to what I wanted to see this week. When I was debating between you and Jeza, your ending still made me smile every time I reread it, and that carried the win.

Mercedes - 237
It's a hospital suite. And it doesn't improve. Thanks for referring to every female prop- er, "character" in this story by one attribute. Too much spread out over a time frame, no sense of the characters other than Skeeve 1, Skeeve 2, Panicking Woman and Boobs. A lot of typos, unclear ending, you barely shoehorned in the music part of the prompt and didn't make it genre at all (no, working in a modern hospital is not science fiction).

This isn't even worth trying to salvage, but next time you write perhaps consider focusing on a narrow event and getting into the characters' reactions to it, rather than skimming over a long sequence and missing every opportunity.

Ronnie_Long - Do Robots Dream of LeAnn Rimes?
Holy exposition dump, Batman. I'm sure those first four paragraphs could have been trimmed to a few sentences, or removed outright. The rest is very clinical - a story about autistic robots, written in the voice of the autistic robot. This could have been interesting but listing a couple song titles followed by "Then it worked and life was good" misses the mark by a mile.

I'd considered flash ruling that no one was allowed to reference actual songs and artists (aside from Chairchucker's flash bounty). This seems proof that I should have.

Schneider Heim - Take Me Home
Adequate, but unremarkable. There was no sense of the characters, and thus no reason to care about either of them. I have no idea why Esteb started out naked, especially with his door unlocked; it might have indicated eccentricity, but nothing else followed that up. There wasn't a point in her being from a place he'd never heard of, or having a strange-looking instrument, other than spending more words describing both. Could have been a cute ending, but loses its impact when the reader has no investment in it, and it was telegraphed from the start.

docbeard - The Day the Music Died
The song you ripped off had more impact than this. For a story about someone committing suicide over missing music, there was no emotional resonance. Everything was very clinical: This happened, then this happened, that's too bad, oh well. As a result, I don't know why the protagonist is thinking about going the way the woman went at the end, since she didn't seem to care about the incident and neither did I.

Helsing - it's a bitch convincing people to like you
I'm disappointed this is over wordcount because I enjoyed it quite a bit - just the right blend of silly and serious. Funny how, between a story about Revelation and a story about literal Satanists, this one was actually interesting, had consistent characters, and far better written (at the very least, you know how to capitalize proper nouns).

If this is the Satan that Roguelike's world hated, no wonder his characters were so bored.

Jeza - Blood and Tequila
I'm sure someone is going to show up to complain about your wordiness but who cares, you only lost because Kaishai had more of an emotional edge and closer focus on the characters. You worked in your prompt well; at first glance I didn't like the guitarist seemingly turning into a monster, but I looked the monster up and liked it a fair bit more. Still could have used a bit of lead-in so it didn't come so out of left field. I was also iffy on using random Spanish words here and there when most of the prose was English, but I eventually stopped noticing it. Maybe I just didn't like them being italicized. Overall, great piece; you and Kaishai nailed what I was going for with the prompt.

DasNasty - Ballad of the Cicadas
Your writing is clunky. A lot of was/were -ing, which slides to passive voice and is a good sign that your sentences need restructuring; and all the emotional impact of realizing the drive-thru forgot to give you a straw. Oh cicadas are nice isn't that sound pretty OH BY THE WAY EVERYONE IS DEEEEEEAD. Tonal dissonance can work when done well, but this had the same clinical feel I'm getting sick of this week. It just feels completely disconnected. Also not sure if it met the genre mark.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Oh by the way, look what I just got.

sebmojo posted:

Submit your story now, and post a screencap of the acceptance.


(I never got the standard acceptance note. :mad: )

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

magnificent7 posted:

Oh COME ON dammit I was gonna take that one and not write anything again.


FINE. I'll take Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter and I'll write that poo poo tonight with delight. Because I hate poetry. And revise revise revise.

What's this, I get an idea and check the thread and the guy who chickened out last time is taking the line I wanted, without even the guts to toxx himself over it?

I'm taking that line, too, because you're PROBABLY not going to submit again, and even if you do, I'll do it better.

This is an in-prompt brawl, yo.

Going to accept or wimp out of it too?

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

What is this, wimpout week?

Cantata Mortis
(1446 words)

Life ends, as do all things. Whether that end comes sooner or later isn’t always up to us. Pierre knew that better than most, perhaps – or maybe he didn’t know at all, and that was why they’d found him sprawled facedown in a gutter beneath his apartment window. He’d still held a pen in his inkstained left hand.

I sat in his studio amid a sprawl of fifty sheets of erased paper, while the fireplace sat cold and empty. Why not burn them, if he didn’t want them? He'd erased some so roughly they were crumpled and torn; it wasn't as though he intended to reuse them.

Anette set a tray of teapot and cups beside me and looked over my shoulder at the paper I'd just rubbed graphite over. “Mom, where's that one go?”

Words showed in relief: child, why are you so cold? “Third pile,” I said, and she set it on top of the rest that opened with similar lines.

All these pages were revisions of song verses, his finished progress kept in a hand-bound book propped on a music stand. It ended mid-verse in a jittering line. There were several points like that. For each of them I’d found drafts beginning at the interruption, and organized them into several stacks on the floor in front of the fireplace. Most of them belonged to the last unfinished stanza. I wondered which draft had finally made him throw himself from the window. Lord knew all poets were already at least half-mad without their creativity blocked.

My second day, I found a candidate on a sheet hidden under the edge of his rug. In the margin, in scrawling letters unlike the rest of his handwriting, he'd left a note: THEY ARE NOT REAL.

Maybe it hadn't just been writer's block that drove him out the window. I frowned at it. He was odd, for certain – but surely he hadn't gone mad in a year? I moved his furniture and rolled up the carpet, but found nothing else.

I'd known him, but not well. Several years ago, long before this started, he came to my door with a notebook in hand and asked if I could play him the latest melody he'd written. He said he had no talent for instruments, only writing the words and music. He sat by my piano, propped the book in front of me with an inkwell and frowned at the floor while I played. I barely remembered the tune, something in a minor key that toyed with discordant notes. I liked parts of it, and told him as much. He'd thanked me and wandered back to his studio, his brow furrowed all the while.

A week later he back with the lyrics and a changed melody. I played it for him once again, and this time, sang. The images stayed with me though I'd forgotten the exact words. A man on the street with holes in his shoes who patted a growling dog. A traveler of many lands whose only friend in the end was the grass. Pierre again sat staring at the floor. He didn't frown. When he left, he thanked me with the briefest of smiles. I never heard more of that song.

This poem, though, was a string of nonsense verses about childhood. Another poet might have known what they meant, but I was no poet. Other people wrote songs; I just played them. I found notation on the third day, but only one legible line of it. The rest had been scribbled over. I copied the stanza down and hummed it. An odd tune. I compared it to the words until I was sick of hearing the same bit of melody and Anette complained about me repeating it, but it was no use; I couldn't find where it belonged.

The days passed and I spent more time in that studio. Bits of melody stayed in my mind all waking hours, kept me awake at night, entered my dreams when I did sleep. In those dreams I saw Pierre, hands clenched in his hair in front of the fire. He tapped a rhythm on the floor and beat his fists against his head as the words refused to come. As something else did come. Something he didn't want, couldn't bear, that lurked at the edges of his imagination, that was itself and many others all one and wanted him as One of Ones. I woke up sweating but couldn't have said why.

Anette wanted me to read to her, but I could only think of the poem, and she said it was creepy and she didn't want to hear it anymore. I stared at the notation and slammed my fists on the table and paced the room, humming and scattering sheets in my wake. Nothing sounded right. It wasn't right, wasn't real needed to be real.

A week later, Anette refused to come with me to the studio, and my pen ran out of ink. I picked up the first one I found on his desk, but it didn't write. I opened it to refill it and smelled something rancid. The inside was packed with something reddish-brown. I recapped it and threw it into the wastebasket, then buried it under crumpled paper.

Pierre's message had been scrawled in blood ink.

Didn't make sense. I had to know what had driven him. I wrote the notation on different sheets and shuffled them in front of the book until musical staffs merged together and notes became spiders that crawled across the sheet until I looked away and they were still again. I stared at the notation and hummed a new line in a different order, and I had it. The song clicked into place like a piece in Anette's jigsaw puzzle. I snatched paper and pen and wrote it down, staff and notes all. The words fit it. At long last. I flipped to the first page, and sang the poet’s last song from the beginning.

The melody flowed through my mind. The words rolled off my tongue, in a language I knew yet didn’t know. The words he’d written didn’t mean what I thought they’d meant. They didn’t even mean what he’d meant them to. I saw him at his desk, crouched over a paper out of reach of the sun. He wanted to write about a childhood lost and found, love crossed and returned, but the words were not his own. No matter how he tried, the poem ran away from him, and he felt it growing. Whispering in his ear. Tapping his shoulder. Write, it demanded. Write us into the world. We exist through you, you exist for us.

it demanded of me as the words ran from me like water. I heard the melody, alien, twisting, clawing. Sing us into the world. We are you. You are us. This song was theirs. It was Pierre’s, but it was never Pierre’s. It was mine but never mine, never meant to be mine but here I was and there they were and they needed me to sing as they’d needed Pierre to write or they couldn’t exist, couldn’t come into reality like I was. They wanted that reality, flesh borrowed from words that described humanity, souls taken from stories of love and loss, but they didn’t understand any of it. They knew the words but they did not feel the words. I felt the words, but did not know them, but that was okay, I only needed to sing for them, weave them their flesh and their spirit and draw them into the One I was One with them and they were part of One and One and One and infinite Ones through worlds of song and music and melody they could not make because they could not feel could not understand could not Be part of World they wanted Me and Them become Us my flesh Theirs my soul Theirs my song Theirs the world Theirs hunger Theirs devour Theirs

tears burned My flesh


I opened my eyes.

Anette clung to me. The song cracked, memory fractured. I was still me, and me alone, standing next to the open window and my daughter was hugging me and crying.

That was what Pierre had tried to escape. Why he'd erased his work, why he had thrown himself from the window rather than let Them use him. I found my own words. “Honey-”

“Burn them,” she sobbed.

They didn’t want it burned.

I swept up the paper, threw them into the fire and lit it. They howled, They raged, but They were not real. I hugged Anette to my chest and listened to paper crackle.

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Lest you or anyone else think humor isn't welcome in the 'Dome, since this seems to come up a lot: The thing about jokes is they have to be funny, especially if you're dragging them out for 400 words.

Mercedes recently won a brawl with a story that featured Black Jesus turning bottled water into fried chicken, among other things. Because it was funny.

If yours had been a funny story, he'd have judged it accordingly.

It wasn't.

The Leper Colon V posted:

Whatever. I liked it.

I'm sorry for your condition. It must be rough. :(

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

sebmojo posted:

Extra points if you make it a drawing room comedy set in the Regency period.


Call a Spade a Spade
226 words

When the dust sheet fell away and Philipe's painting was revealed, Lord Henrick gasped. Lady Eustace nearly swooned into his arms. Lady Penelope started to shriek but caught herself before she broke all decorum.

"It must be symbolic," Penelope declared after a fraught silence. "Of course it is - Philipe wouldn't paint something so… Unusual, otherwise."

Every segment of the worm's armored rocky carapace and many-fanged maw was rendered in loving detail. It rose over the stone scenery like some demon out of Hell.

Philipe knew well what she'd wanted to say.

"It's a metaphor," Henrick announced. "For - war? With the teeth and armor?" He glanced to Philipe, who stared back, bemused.

Penelope sniffed. "How brutal. I'd put money that it's a man's-" She was hastily shushed.

"Could it be death?" Eustace still sounded faint. "Death is ugly and no one likes to see it or think about it."

"Ah!" Henrick clapped Philipe on the shoulder, nearly knocking him off his chair. "A perfect allegory, then. Well done, chap!" He eyed it and turned to the door with a faint shudder. "Now then, I do believe I was promised tea?"

They were all too happy to filter out. Left in silence, Philipe poured himself another glass. "It means," he muttered to the carpet, "that I wanted to paint a giant worm." He downed his cognac.

e: screwed up word count, apparently

Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 19:58 on Dec 19, 2013


Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Purple Prince posted:

let me spend two long, boring paragraphs boring you with how I wrote this boring thing in five boring hours because no one else has ever written better things in less time in the history of Thunderdome PRAISE ME

Purple Prince posted:

a week isn't enough wah wah waaaaahhhhhhh

Easy solution: Whine less, write more.

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