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Dec 28, 2012

Sure, I'll tackle the Thunderdome chimaera.

Flash rule: your poem must be an acrostic poem, spelling out ONLY DEATH IS REAL


Dec 28, 2012

gently caress it, I'm done. Let this be a lesson to us all.

supermikhail posted:

a poem featuring my vision of the late Thunderdome MMXII.

The Ballad of the Challenger
371 words

Three slav'ring heads the creature had
that staggered forth to greet me;
And though I knew it only meant
to judge me, not to eat me,
I felt a wave of panic wash
throughout my timid body –
For though I'd laboured through the night
my poetry was shoddy.

I knew that surge of primal fear,
that heralds one's demise;
And yet I struggled onward,
for to vindicate my lies.
I'm in, I'd said, I'm down for this,
you've lessons, I'm to learn them –
But one glance at my writings,
and I yearned inside to burn them.

The creature knew it – this I sensed
from 'neath its wrathful glares;
The eyes of all three heads were turned
to scrutinise my wares.

And now its dread mouths opened,
and let out a slew of scorn,
That did, though just, diminish me
to that which I'd been born –
An infant! Just a suckling babe,
all withered on the teat,
Not capable by half, it seemed,
of standing on its feet;
And all around, the jeering calls
of others in that Dome,
Did flood me with desirousness
to lock myself at home
And curl into a little ball
beside my TV set,
And lose myself in pabulum,
that I might soon forget
Those aspirations that had called me
to the written word,
Instead to lumber on through life
an illiterate turd.

Alas, it was too late for this.

My efforts were exposed;
that dread Judge laid its tentacle
upon my stinking prose,
And tearing, as an octopus
might shuck a barnacle,
The beast excoriated me:
'A try-hard, and a fool.'

I wept, though no emoticon
could justly represent
The depth of sorrow that I felt –
but lo, the monster went
To criticise the next poster,
whose prose, I knew, was worse!
My terror dissipated like
some ineffectual curse,
And sighing with relief I sank
into my writer's chair;
The Thunderdome Chimaera
was reputed to be fair.

I could relax – I ate and slept,
and went about my life,
But niggling doubts kept at me,
always twisting, like a knife.
Before too long, I'd logged back in,
myself to reassure;
Imagine, then my horror –
'neath my name – the SHAME-ATAR!

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 11:26 on Jan 10, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

^ Clearly you two now have to Thunderbrawl for the haiku prompt..?

Dec 28, 2012

Etherwind, Symptomless C, I've read 'em both and crits will follow ere the 12th :crossarms:

Dec 28, 2012

Sorry to have held up the judging, I had a job interview (which incidentally couldn't have gone better)


Symptomless Coma posted:

The Remainder. (579w)

At risk of tendering a copout, I thought this was great. You slam-tackled the prompt, and from beginning to end, remained on target. The Minister socks it straight to us about the impossibility of doing the same for anyone else; at least, we might very well think that.

There are a few proofreading issues, obvious ones though and you don't need them spelled out by me.

The way Richard's written in is problematic. On my first reading, I didn't actually connect


I have an email - just like Richard to make contact at four, after a year.


It's 2008 and I'm being introduced to Richard Phillips who will run the campaign
and to be honest I'm not even sure they have to be the same person. The idea of a hidden gay relationship would be enough on its own - though it's cool that you made it the campaign manager.

The main problem for me is the flashback device. It's jarring. It interrupts the rhythm of the to-the-minute, well, minutes, and I had to read around it a couple times to understand that you weren't jumping forward to 8:08 pm. It'd be simple enough to have the Minister cast his mind back to 2008 in relation to one of the minutes and this would have saved it. The dialogue in that scene is great though.

Also, I found the Minister's flippant remarks in the first few paragraphs a little overdone. One of the three just doesn't sit well on top of the other two, I think it's the one about the glycemic index.


It's 0202 and I'm debating the difference between sorrow and dismay using Winston's old thesaurus. It's in surprisingly good state. I think he hardly used it.
I close the book and type, sadness.



Etherwind posted:


Again, the prompt is overcome with sneaky tricks; well and good.

The interchange at the core of this story works pretty well, it keeps things flowing and resolves neatly at the end, creating plenty of opportunity to flesh out interesting characters. I think you may have tried to cram a little too much in there, though, as some of the elements you chose didn't really have much room to breathe. The narrator is might be a student, an aspiring comedian, an :emo:, a recent convert to a religion of some kind (WHAT DAMMIT?); s/he is also queer, in some way, for his/her partner in a somewhat ambiguous mentoring relationship, about whom we know equally little.
As it stands, the emo thing seems pretty gratuitous and you'd be better off without it. (In every circumstance.)

You have some good dialogue going on, but it's marred in parts by clunky sentences, format errors and blocky action. You're rightly conservative with linking words, but at the same time, sometimes they are needed!


I was on my feet, my drink bounced off the trash with a feeble throw.
This just blows toad cloacae


"How about I tell it gay, so you see what I mean?" He nodded, sat back.


He just shook his head. "Won't work with a straight guy," I repeated.
Here you've got action attributed to one party coupled with another's dialogue. Not always illegitimate, the second example is passable but it will only lead to sadness and confusion in the end.

Finally, it's 'callus'. 'Callous' describes behaviour or thoughts and you know what it means.

I didn't like this story because I hate comedians, bars and mentorship :jihad:, but you did tell it well, it just needs some judicious pruning and a good polish.

Dec 28, 2012


Etherwind posted:

The real difficulty lies in making sure the regional stress pattern you follow when speaking actually corresponds to English proper, since there's substantial variation between how stresses are placed on words regionally and how they're supposed to be placed.

Really, though, why would you do this? It's not like any of us is born region-less, and though I'm hardly well-versed (Ha! Ha!) in prominent poets, I imagine a great loving many of them write to a local idiom and gain recognition as a poet from x.

Sure what you describe may be the correctest possible approach to English, but at the same time it suggests that only English speakers of a certain region and class are capable of natural, fluid self-expression and everyone else must imagine their words spoken in such a tongue, and that can't possibly be right, can it?

Dec 28, 2012


Etherwind posted:

Points, all of them valid

But still, what is the point of being a poet? Is it
a) being a conduit for the automatic speech of the culture (your culture)
b) casting a spell of words to lend your speech a mystical, hypnotic effect (see above)
c) adhering to the rules so that you technically achieve a recognised form of poetry
d) success

I mean, there have to be heaps of American poets that don't give a poo poo about proper English stresses, right?

Dec 28, 2012


swaziloo posted:

Poetry is hard.
I Cannot Say

Look I'm going to have to be brief.
I liked some of your images,

"Gerrymander cross-stitched thighs
Supported flesh thick white zip tie"


I didn't get a sense of continuity throughout this piece; that is to say, I looked, but didn't find. Doubtless there is a thought-process behind these :words:, but to me all is opaque. To my mind poetry of this kind is little more than word design (there I said it), accessible to the academy and those invested in it, perhaps by a kind of placebo effect as much as anything else. I know I'm not completely stupid - if a piece is communicating something, I should be able to perceive it and I just don't. I'm not even getting a mood here beyond 'help me, I'm lost in a hobo's notebook.'

If you were trying for a consistent rhythm in this piece, be advised that you may be leaning too heavily on audience interpretation; of course if performing this, you could speak it as you wished, but lines like "Perversion cunning evident" and "Frigorific seas shut it down" would need beat-play, or anacruses to fit the rhythm. If, I stress, if that was your intent; when meaning is allowed to elude the audience, there seems to be little point in trying to enforce any standards whatsoever (see also: everything).

This may or may not be a minority opinion, but when twinkle cave identifies poetry as a 'near worthless art', I think he's right. Especially today. If all you have behind your piece is a piece-building system or game, then I don't see why anyone should care.

Beyond a desire to seem hep:

Dec 28, 2012

In for sure. Great prompt this time.

Dec 28, 2012


Chairchucker posted:

"Dialogue" he or she said "and then some more dialogue."

Dec 28, 2012

Ok this is more or less as polished as it's going to get by deadline. I'd already written this pre Bohner's rule, but I'm going to cite 3, 4 & 5. Hadn't read Vonnegut's article before and they are, indeed, good tips. I'm particularly interested to see if you think I am pitying the reader enough (or, too much?) as I suspect this could be a weak point in my writing generally..?
[ninja edit] Oh, and I'm watching It the movie right now

A Threshing
~1749 words (processor counts em dash)

Frauds. They were a bunch of loving frauds.
The worst part, though, was still that smug, not-quite smirk on her father's face, when the intervention finished and she got into the car.
Of her own volition, mind you. You'd think that'd count for something.
Galton stood against the doorjamb, a file of papers – her file – clenched in his hand.
“Sarah, I've been meaning to speak with you.” He waited, his face unreadable as he studied hers.
She knew better than to react; no need to give them an excuse. “I'm listening.”
Galton moved into the room, and at once she felt uncomfortable, as if all the air had been displaced. He sat on the desk, his spread fingers dominating its surface, and leant back against the wall with a practised ease.
“Sarah,” he said again, “I'm a little disappointed.” He was staring into the ceiling, his bald head propped against the bricks, as if to say this situation is beneath me, but you, I don't know. She read him, clear as day; the only thing she couldn't figure out was if he knew it.
“We expected better. When you first came in, we thought, I thought, here's a girl who's got her head on right. Here's someone who knows what life's about, she just got sidetracked on the way. Here's someone we can fix.”
For fourteen thousand a semester. The cheek of the guy was unbelievable, and the speech was so stock, so obviously rehearsed, it made her hate him even more.
“Now I've been talking to Dr. Amarro,” he continued, an unfamiliar curtness to his voice, “and he says some things that concern me...”
She heard him out; she always did. There was nothing else to do, and once he was gone there'd be even less.

“I got something for you.”
She didn't turn around, but kept half-assedly digging the potatoes.
“C'mon, Sarah. I made it. For you. You'll like it.”
“Go away.”
“C'mon, Sarah, I want you to have it. I made it for you, it's for you. It's yours. C'mon, Sarah –”
He touched her, lightly, on the shoulder; Sarah whipped around, an elbow raised towards his face, the hoe held high above her.
“gently caress off, Oren. I am not interested.”
He backed away, out of reach but still cloyingly close. “But – I made it – to keep you safe –”
She glanced at the small object in his hand. It looked like he'd used his own hair.
“Leave me alone, you four-eyed little tard.”
Behind the streaky lenses, his eyes widened; she'd hurt him. “Well, fine then! Be a bitch! Be a bitch, see if I care!”
He'd care, she knew; he'd always care, far too much, and it didn't matter what she told the staff, they'd never do anything about it. Unless
The very thought was beneath contempt, but she did it anyway.

“How many was he offering?”
“I don't know.”
“And you don't know what they were.”
“He didn't say. Benzos, though, for sure, little creep wants me nice and relaxed.”
“Sure.” Galton frowned, leaning back into his chair, gazing fixedly at his paperwork.
“I'm serious. He's a loving rapist. I've told you about this before, I need you guys to do something. Get him away from me. You should be protecting your customers –”
The irony of the word was unintended, and she stopped, still fuming; already, that sense of defeat came trickling in.
“He's not a rapist. That's completely unfounded.” Galton looked at her across the desk, his dark eyes glinting in the half-light of his office. “But, as for the pills, well I appreciate your telling me. We'll deal with it.” He rose, and stood by the door. “Thanks, again.”
That was it, then; she considered protesting, but a look in his eye suggested otherwise. He clasped her arm, as she passed into the hallway.
“Rest assured,” he said, and she could smell the stale coffee on his breath, “I'll take this into consideration on your next appraisal.”
Yet again, she felt the urge to hit him; instead, she simply left. There was no point in making a scene, and there was no-one there to see it if she had.

She still had a cigarette, flattened up inside the lining of her jacket – one solitary smoke, and she'd been saving it for weeks. Tonight, though, was the night.
The loving cheek of the guy.
She'd climbed out of her window and was sitting on the roof – they still didn't know about the deadbolt she'd unscrewed. From here she could see right across the complex, all the way over the barrens to the two faint streetlights that demarcated Main Street.
loving Main Street. The only street. They could've just called it Street.
She'd been there, once, to go help with the shopping – a 'trust exercise', they'd called it – and of course she hadn't run away, she hadn't gone trying to whore for crack or whatever it was the rest of these scrotty bitches liked. She simply helped them shop, and went back to the centre like a good girl. Like she'd being doing all along, because there was no contest; no drug was worth your freedom. She knew this. She'd told them as much, mom and dad, and they'd packed her off anyway. Sectioned her, it felt like. And as for the staff –
gently caress the staff. They knew, too, the hypocrites; they knew she was ready, they'd known it for months. They just kept her here to keep the bills paid, at the mercy of these creeps, these loving lechers.
The thought flashed, unbidden, to her mind.
Well, no longer.

There was a large tree down by the building's north face; its limbs were too big, too expensive to cut down, and they'd grown out thick and strong, from the roof to the wall. In seconds, she'd already done it; pad across the corrugated steel, clamber into the branches, and swing herself down, over the wall, and onto the grass below.
My wallet. gently caress.
Never mind; she'd hitch out of this craphole, and catch up with Jamie – no Xanax, though, this time. In the meantime, she could use a place to sleep. A bridge, a bus shelter, a barn. There probably was a barn, around here. Fields in three directions, and a farm road, she remembered, to the west. She headed west.

It was darker than she'd realised, out here beyond the lights – or maybe it was the lights, now distant, that made it so dark, casting shadows over everything. Still, the rows of crop stood out against the soil, and Sarah learned to walk between them, where the dirt was most compact. The stars were out, some of them at least, peering through a screen of smouldering cloud. She'd never gotten used to seeing the stars, or to the silence, for that matter, in which her footfalls crunched with an unnerving clarity. The stillness of the place; the total emptiness, the miles and miles of void, no people, no –
A voice, piercing, cold. So, it was still happening, after all these months withdrawing –
– she couldn't boost her heartrate without that adrenal surge kicking in, and then –
– the anxiety, creeping slow, and that inevitably led to –
– dissociative thoughts. She was running, now, dead straight between the rows of stubble, scanning back and forth for any indication of the road. There had to be a road. No, I have to be calm. There would be a road, or a barn, or something. She just had to get out of the cold, somewhere she could curl up, away from these loving mosquitoes –
C'mon, Sarah.
“It's in my head,” she said out loud, mist curling away before her face. “It's just in my head.”
But – was it? Because she could have been spotted, she could have been followed, it could be Dr. Galton out there somewhere – but why would I think that? If anyone, it would be Oren. Oren, limping after her on his weird, broken stumps.
For you, Sarah.
She wheeled around, nearly losing her footing on the clotted earth, her arms held out for balance, peering blindly into the night.
“If that's you, Oren, you deformed little rear end in a top hat –”
But the voice, when it came again, came from behind her.
Got something for you.
She ran, hurdling the furrows that rose up to trip her, feeling the chill air whip through the sweat-soaked crevices of her clothing. It's not too late, she realised, I could just head back, hit the intercom, gently caress the consequences. But she'd come too far; the lights had disappeared behind some plane of earth, there was no way to find her way back. So, nothing for it then; she kept on running, downhill, away from that voice that wasn't quite just in her mind.
It had stopped. She hadn't noticed when; but now there was only the silence between her heavy footfalls, her heartbeat raging through her ears, the ragged breaths booming like a cataract inside her. That's it, just work through it. Just let your body burn it off, feel your energy come back to normal. That's it. That's it.

There was something up ahead; she saw it only faintly, a darker black against the blackened night, a large, square-sided thing, and now it loomed up above her, its edges jutting up against the stars, a building, a barn.
“Thank God,” she whispered, panting hard, squinting into the darkness, fumbling for an opening. There – a metal knob – she twisted it, and a door opened before her, and she was inside. It was warmer, in here, substantially so.
“Oh, thank God...”
There'd be a lightswitch, somewhere, hopefully – she groped around the wall behind her, gingerly, cringing as her fingers gathered stiff, tacky cobwebs. She found it, flicked it on.
For you, Sarah.
A moan burst from her lips, before she could stifle it – her knees trembled, and she sank against the wall.
There was something in the centre of the barn – she couldn't tell what it was – it wasn't right, though, it –
Made it for you, Sarah.
To keep you safe, he'd said, but that didn't make sense, she didn't feel safe at all, and it was moving, it was unfurling towards her, knots and clumps and tangles, it was – looking at her –
C'mon, Sarah...

vv oh yeah, thought it was Sunday today...

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 10:41 on Jan 19, 2013

Dec 28, 2012


Dec 28, 2012


Dec 28, 2012

Anyone looking for a crit partner? It's my understanding that we're not allowed a separate Dome Crits thread, but if you want to swap crits pm me or mention it in your submission post and let's sort something out. The crit process is too valuable to ignore imho.

Power Lies
1462 words

Kleppman knelt before the altar of Nameless and prayed, not to his own God, but to that of his parents. The words came slowly, as if unfamiliar; more important, he knew, was the feeling of prayer, the divine communion, a connection of the heart. But this was never coming back – at least, so the books had told him.

Kleppman prayed that someday, when all had been accomplished, it might.

The candles had been lit, the incense smouldered, and now, from far above him, deep intonations sounded – the Angelus bell. Time, then, to dismiss his trepidation; time to begin.

He drew the pouch out of his cowl, and probing a finger within, gathered enough of its septic ichor to coat the idol's face. The stench was overpowering, even through the camphor in his nostrils – but already, as he daubed the leathern thing, its face was softening, its features starting to respond.

His fingers trembled; he spoke the incantation, and this time the words spilled out of him, too fast, running together, watery and indistinct. And after the final phase – Ia! Ia Ialdabaoth! – he felt a surge of panic, for he knew his tongue had slipped.

The idol flexed before him; so he had not yet failed. Entrails, then. A cloth bag hung around his shoulder; he opened it, spilling its cargo into the verdigris-stained dish at the idol's feet. Then, working quickly, he sliced open the belly, drawing out the intestines, the kidneys, the lights, fixing each to their respective points across the idol's granite base. It was done; the sacrifice had barely uttered a sound. The idol began to glow, a faint, humming crimson, and he stroked its gnarled horns, as the papyri depicted.

It spoke, and though to Kleppman's ear its dry, glottal raspings were completely unintelligible, another voice now sounded, flat and echoless, in his mind.

You who would approach, be warned; <Nameless> hungers greatly, and does not forget. Turn back, fool, lest you trespass too far; lest <Nameless> come to know you, and remember.

It had spoken the Name; too late, he wished he had anticipated this, that he might have researched a protection or countermeasure, for he did not want to know. Still, he had merely heard the noise of it; he had by no means understood.

It is my wish to approach, he replied, his inner voice directed to that thing which spoke within him, and now an image found its way into his mind: a falcon, soaring upward through the clouds of night, and far above, a great dark condor, circling to strike.

If it is your wish.

The idol changed; its shrivelled limbs unfolded, stretching out across the wall, turning back upon themselves, shrunken joints ensnared by lengthened fingers, a weird geometry of skin and bone. Gradually, the thing grew still again, and Kleppman noted the profound disharmony struck by the angles of its body against the painted frieze behind.

Speak, then.

The Maghrebian scrolls agreed; there were six things a man could require of the Nameless. Only two might be granted without penalty of death, and it was for the gaining of these that Kleppman had devoted a lifetime's research.

Gnosis. Exousia.” Total knowledge, earthly power. He spoke the words out loud, and the echo came back sharply, almost instantaneously, lingering between the ancient walls as if to commit his speech, forever, to the place.

For a moment all was silent, save for a constant muffled dripping from the cisterns nearby. The idol's mouth hung open; Kleppman found his gaze sucked towards it, playing on its shrunken, tinctured lips, its rotted charcoal-teeth, and a sudden vertigo seized him, pitching his consciousness forward, out-of-body, as if he were about to topple through that flaking aperture and into some lightless abyss beyond.

You will pay the price?

For a fraction of a second, Kleppman considered the question – but the deed is already done, he told himself.


All of the arrangements had been made, and for the most part, it would be silent, instantaneous, as painless as possible. He'd sought skilled men, professionals, and found their price; he'd bought their expertise, and the instant he gave the word, they would fulfil their contracts. A children's home in Namur. A convent in Béziers. And Alice, home in Ravensburg; dear, innocent Alice, for whom there could be no intermediary, no agent but himself.

Excellent, the idol said, and a horrible suspicion took hold of Kleppman – that it spoke not to his mind but from within it, that it dwelt inside his head, and knew his thoughts. Again, that image flashed before his eyes, a bird-thing rising from the earth, dark wings looming high above; but whether it was a product of his own mind or a suggestion from the idol, he could not tell and did not want to know.

<Nameless> accepts your offering.

* * *

He knew the Name. Its four constituents were seared into his brain, so very simple, so infinitesimally complex, and never to be unlearned. Within them, every evil was compounded, encoded, waiting for expression. The Name was the key; the Nameless, now, his hard-bought ally.

Well, nearly. He'd spent the evening making phonecalls, some quite expensive; everything should by now have been completed. All that remained was his own, small task.

He'd already taken care of June. Her body lay within the cellar-crypt, deconsecrated, after the correct fashion; but this was merely a token, a gesture of obeisance. For, what was marriage, after all? If anything, she'd had to be killed as a matter of convenience.

No, the real meat was yet to be served.

Alice lay asleep in bed, upstairs; he'd tucked her in early. She'd exhausted herself at the playground – he'd seen to it, chasing her around, playing horse, or dinosaur, or handsome prince – and she'd loved it, chirping and squealing, her old delightful self. Even June had managed a smile.

Her face, though peaceful now, had not looked quite so calm this evening. He'd broken her heart, he knew, it was the moment that she saw the knife, and realised –

But he could not allow himself to entertain thoughts of pity. Better to think of the prize.

Alice's door opened smoothly, brushing softly against the thick blue carpet, and a shaft of light sluiced into the room, just enough to make out the little figure curled upon the mattress. Starkebär was up there, too, he saw; it was only recently that she'd grown strong enough to heft him from his chair up to her bed. Very gently, he lifted her arm from around the teddybear's neck and lowered him to the floor, his button eyes pointed at the opposite wall, as if to shield him from the violence to come.

The knife was clenched within his left hand. His right caressed the hair above her brow.

Goodnight, my darling...

The knife flashed through the air, descending fast, and stopped. Alice turned, a half-roll sideways, burrowing her shoulder deep into the crevice of her pillows.

He already knew; the deed was already done. Yet he found himself frozen, his white knuckles hovering, unable to finish.

Alice sighed, and a wiggling thumb crept upwards, as if to place itself within her mouth – I thought we'd broken that habit – and now Kleppman knew he could never do it, and would never be able to do it for as long as he lived.

And now the Nameless knew it, of course, just as It knew all his thoughts.

Quickly, then, before he was made to do something – unthinkable

* * *

Kleppman lay spread-eagled on the bathroom floor, and focused on his breathing. It had slowed, markedly, over the past minute – and now a coolness swept throughout the muscles of his body. His fingers relaxed. His back was warm, and wet. The tourmaline handle of the knife crept over, slightly, as the blade settled inside him; his arm slapped flat against the dark-slicked tiles. There was a great deal of blood.

It hadn't been easy. For a moment, as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror, it had seemed that even this simple deed might be beyond him – but his terror of the Nameless overcame.
And now he awaited his release.

* * *

A new sensation stirred within his chest, as if his sternum had turned to light; for a second, his body seemed to flood with brilliance, and then the wave withdrew, pooled at his heart, and rose out.

The ba-bird flexed its owl-like neck and stretched its wings; its glowing claws pushed down, and without as much as glancing at its former body, it took off on its journey to the stars.

Circling in the firmament, something nameless spotted it, and plunged.

Dec 28, 2012

Budgieinspector your system sounds good to me. (I will totally fail to comply with it though, because of my field of work. It's still a good system)

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STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 10:47 on Jan 28, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

I'll be sitting this one out, but will provide a crit for the 3 worst entries.

Thanks for your kind words Capn :toot:

Dec 28, 2012


Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

How can I best reflect the general air of unyielding eroticism through my voice while reading?

Massage your balls the entire time

Dec 28, 2012

Sure, I'm down. I'll roll over my 3 losercrits to this coming week too, if that's ok, I haven't really paid much attention this time(favouring my big project, as one does)

Dec 28, 2012

Thunderdome XXVII: There is only PAIN

Okay children, this week's challenge is ACTION. <1000 words. Don't feel compelled to write a finished story - that's not strictly necessary, just write a good, solid action sequence. It must excite, it must thrill, but it absolutely must not confuse. Characterisation should be evident, but taken as read (no need for contextualising devices such as flashbacks, just give us your characters doing what they do). The sequence itself should have an arc; it should begin, develop, and resolve, whether for better or worse.

This is more difficult than it sounds. It's very tempting to dodge this kind of work by reporting after the fact and so on, but this week you have no choice. Should you manage to create something that stands on its own, more power to you; but all that counts is clarity and purpose.

Your judges: Sebmojo, CancerCakes, and myself. Some very harsh criticism awaits the three worst entries.

Condemn yourselves by midnight, Friday, Feb 8th GMT+8

Submit or seppuku midnight Sunday 10th GMT+8

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 17:20 on Feb 8, 2013

Dec 28, 2012


Etherwind posted:

Sitting Here asked this in IRC, and I figure it's worth clarifying: you don't just mean "action" to be "fighting," right?

I know, prompt abuse in service to good writing is basically the whole point of Thunderdome, but I'd like to deliver what you're actually looking for.

A good question, and while fighting's what I generally think of because :black101:, the answer's no, definitely not. I'm not even going to say it has to be fast-paced (although the odds are good it will be). Action could be anything from bull-wrangling to bullet-dodging. Arguably a loving sports story shows action.

However, I'd like to see people posting the sorts of action they're going to be dealing with in their own writing. Only the very safest of lit-fic pabulum is going to totally avoid anything that could be described as such; good, exciting sex scenes are action sequences.

That said combat/chase scenes are what I'd expected, so if you're going to go out on a limb, just be certain you're meeting the prompt.

Dec 28, 2012


judgement has been passed but not pronounced

[edit] YET

Dec 28, 2012

It's the last loving minute of friday you loving douchebags. Meis, s'mikhail, you are IN.

Dec 28, 2012


supermikhail posted:

You mean it's the first loving minute of friday. (You're quite obviously jesus since your gmt+8 lags by whole 2 hours from mine). Oh, well, I don't think I can be the loser even with rushing the thing out.

Time will tell my friend, time will tell

Dec 28, 2012

Entries are now closed.

Noah ✓
Benagain ✓
Canadian Surf Club
Bad Seafood ✓
Chairchucker ✓
SC Bracer
BlackFrost ✓
Etherwind ✓
Jeza ✓
CancerCakes ✓
Nubile Hillock ✓
Sitting Here ✓
Swaziloo ✓
V for Vegas ✓ who must write in the style of Matthew Reilly
Echo Cian ✓
Sedgr ✓
steriletom ✓
SaviourX ✓ who must not attempt ironic SOIAF fanfic OR ELSE!
Symptomless Coma ✓
Lord Windy ✓
supermikhail ✓
JuniperCake ✓
Zack_Gochuck ✓

Martello ✓
The Saddest Rhino with a beautiful :effort: post

supermikhail I wouldn't stress too much. as long as you've given it a polish or two I can't see that completing or submitting 'early' makes a difference - the real risk is in dumping your wordpuke and ONLY getting feedback saying how you need to edit. So good on you for writing something, hugs all round :yum:

e: in fact the earlier you submit the more time I can put into your crit (take your time if you need to though)

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 18:50 on Feb 10, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

Blowing my load straight away like the doddering old man that I am, here I criticise those who came in early - your little reward for submitting. More will follow as events warrant.


Jeza – The Blues

This wasn't too bad. You've constructed a tight little story that resolves well, but suffers from a few burdensome problems.

- Straight up, it's racist. You jump the shark with the 'greasy wops from uptown' line (and ensuing characterisation), after which it doesn't matter how many different words you use for 'friend of the family' because every instance seems gratuitous. Nothing wrong with your characters being racist or using racist language, but here there seems to be an unhealthy conflation of voices between protagonist and narrator – your perspective isn't quite close enough, in my view, to pass off descriptions of greasy, oily-pored guidos as Edgar's own thoughts (contrast with the description of the saxophone – it's not impossible for a person to have such a thought about themselves, but it would be unconscionably vain). The slurs are too generic and direct and the net effect is that your dialogue reads like the script from a Cannon movie.
What I'm saying is, tone it down a little. If your prot is thinking WOPS WOPS GREASY WOPS from the get-go I'm unlikely to take a considered view of whether he should get beaten up or not. Plus, race is not the only factor at play here. You could be taking issue with their crassness, their criminality, their class, but you're selling them short. Think of your Mediterranean readers. (Points for not using 'goomba' though.)

- You have thought of some pretty decent similes here. However, you're burying them (and perhaps the finer nuances of your characters and setting) under a clutter of unnecessary descriptors. This is a common problem, one that I'm as guilty of as anyone, and one that's best solved by judicious culling. Less is more, and you don't want to throw in a slew of adjectives unless you know you can't do without them. I have the feeling I'll be saying this a lot, but just because you have a great vocabulary, doesn't mean you have to use it all at once.

- Furthermore, try and avoid using the same construction for similar types of expression. In this case, most of your similes contain 'like a' or 'like when' (one outright begins with it) and while that's probably the most valid form for a simile, your poor reader is getting a lot of 'de dum te dum te dumty LIKE te dum te dum te dum'. If you can't reconstruct 'em, cut 'em altogether – a simile is rarely more than authorial cleverness anyway, and when it does contribute – as with the (slightly overdone, but definitely appropriate) funereal imagery that opens the piece – that's when you let it shine.

- I think it would have been beneficial to give the lead mobster some defining characteristic that allowed you to refer back to him without using 'the lead mobster' every time. You tried with the pencil moustache, but it wasn't enough to avoid 'the lead' which is akin to using 'street punk #2' like they do in Cannon films. poo poo, doesn't Edgar know the guy (if he's been around forever and has been paying protection/accepting Mob investment)? Why not give him a name?

- It's 'callused'.


“This the best you got?” the greaseball “Figures.”
- Fail to edit, fail to learn. Obvious typos/format errors/non sequiturs indicate that the writer hasn't gone over their work very closely. But that's exactly what writers should be doing, constantly, if they hope to improve.

Remember, anyone who doesn't (as there are more than a couple of you),
"Dialogue" he or she said "and then some more dialogue."

- Okay poo poo I haven't even talked about your ACTION SEQUENCE. I'm not feeling it, to be honest. The pace is marred by awkward, cumbersome sentences and laborious detail. Things take. A bit. Too long. To happen. Only slightly, but you need to avoid the stultifying effect of the colon; spice it up a bit with some other punctuation, see how you can improve the flow. Avoid 'and's.
As for laborious detail,


The man fired, three harsh guttural barks in languid succession.

pick one of each. Preferably, the simplest ones. No-one cares about your embellishments when there are facts to be had.

- And, be careful that your prot isn't transcending his limits. He's an ol', ol' man, and throwing mobsters around like he can't even believe it himself and manoeuvring with the deftness of a ninja may not be in character, or even necessary. To be honest, I would write him losing the fight – because that's plausible. He's shrewd enough to gain the element of surprise with the bourbon bottle – he's mean enough to hurt 'em good before he goes down. I like that Lead Mobster shoots him – that's cowardly, which is great for his character – and then Edgar gets them in the end. The reveal, by the way, was perfect – your language, as throughout the piece, could do with a bit of a polish but the pacing was great and with just enough foreshadowing.

The verdict: PAIN

HereticMIND – Hard and Deep

Well, this is crap. But it's very nearly publishable crap. I've skimread James Pattersons that are every bit this crap. In fact if James Patterson were to pen the Gears of War novels I would expect them to be this crap, and having skimread the Gears of War novels themselves (snidely), I can confirm that they pretty much are this crap.

Idiots love to read crap of about this level of sophstication; let's turn to Nietzsche for some understanding.

”Nietzsche” posted:

There will always have to be bad writers, for they reflect the taste of undeveloped, immature age groups, who have needs as much as the mature do. If human life were longer, there would be more of the individuals who have matured than of the immature, or at least as many. But as it is, the great majority die too young, which means there are always many more undeveloped intellects with bad taste. Moreover, these people demand satisfaction of their needs with the greater vehemence of youth, and they force the existence of bad authors.
-Human, All Too Human 201

You hacked your way through this and it shows, but it's reasonably competent. You've chosen to mess around with grammatical conventions in a way which usually works in this context, but you've overdone it a bit with the repetitive bite-phrasing, commas, etc. I'm a bit leery of the listed dialogue snippets, but again, in context it's hardly impermissible. The ellipses are entirely superfluous IMHO.
Yep. Cheap tricks, abundantly deployed. You can do better and with a better suited prompt (ie. a project you can respect), you probably will. Take your time next round, don't try to be ironic, and don't stoop to the uninspired and obvious.

The verdict: DEATH

CancerCakes – Unclean

On a tablet, you say?
An entertaining story. Points for writing clear, unmuddied action. It's important to tell us exactly which body parts are damaged, how, and to what degree – it's vicarious agony, not a report on mad combat skillz, that make a fight scene interesting.
Points off for cumbersome, ineloquent phrasing and sentence structures better suited to adventures 20,000 leagues below the sea.


On top of the murderer knelt my father, punching him in the face: each blow made Samuel's head bounce off the floor.
What a lovely sentence – I could read this kind of thing all day, but I doubt you or I could get away with it much were we writing action fiction for a living (post about 1940, anyway).
Word clutter is a bad thing, but you allow it to break the pace of the action, and this, unless it's going to massively increase tension, is very very bad. Especially when the superfluous words are generic, everyday qualifiers. Just cut 'em out. Consider


I went to work putting the control panel back together. The holo was cracked, but other than that intact; all I needed to do was splice the wires back together. I peeked outside when I heard a roar and my fingers fumbled as I saw the attacker The captain roared, slapping my dad off him like he was slamming a door (this analogy doesn't really work yet), Suddenly and now the hulking madman was standing stood over my small wiry father, blinking the blood out of his eyes.

One thing I'd like to stress is by this point in the narrative it's well established that you're using first person, past tense. Therefore it's a given that everything that happens in the story was seen or otherwise experienced by the protagonist. Your reader only needs to know that the prot has seen something in those rare cases that the act of seeing is itself pertinent – she saw something when she wasn't supposed to, or might not have noticed. It's like if she was served a meal. You could say 'I bit into the piece of steak and I tasted the rich spices that had been cooked into the broth', or you could say 'They served steak in a richly spiced broth.' When the situation requires that you're concise, as it does here, then word economy is everything.

More could be said. This


The sabotage had rendered the escape capsules useless, and without warning Captain Samuel had tracked down each crewman, family member, pet and passenger, and murdered them.
is a pretty clumsy bit of exposition. The first three words kill it; horribly passive construction. The sabotage hadn't done anything because 'the sabotage' is not an agent.
This sentence


"You cannot leave this ship," he growled, his muscles tense |beneath once white blood soaked pilot suit|.
needs to be far more succinct. As it stands, each additional term just weighs down the sentence. At the same time, you don't want to just throw away the fact that your bad guy is covered in blood (and by leaving it out there for your reader to trip over, you are throwing it away). If you absolutely must describe each detail, do it once only and pick your moment so that you're not hampering the procession of events.

So to conclude: an okay effort. Pick better words and be more picky about their arrangement.

The verdict: PAIN

Symptomless Coma – Epistemology

Very nice concept with some neat detail. A good story. I'll repeat some of my points from CancerCakes' critique above, although your offences are far less egregious.


It sounded as though the words had been cut from an earlier time and patched together. Then Jack heard a whirring and saw the Stacey’s fist rise above the shelf. The air around the fist shimmered and a piercing tone rang out, making his eyes vibrate. He heard a crack and looked up. The glass lattice webbing the griot library’s ceiling rippled with thin lines, then fell away, sending the huge plates raining down around them. He rolled under one of the desks and covered his eyes as the glass splashed across the floor around him. Beneath the crashing, he heard the crunch of approaching footsteps.

This passage suffers from word clutter, passive construction and the cardinal mistake of telling us the protagonist both saw and heard things, in a scene which the reader already knows to be shown from his perspective. You could correct all of these things in a single, attentive revision.


It sounded as though the words had been cut from an earlier time and patched together. Then (unnecessary, as we naturally assume the events of your story to be consecutive) Jack heard a whirring and saw the Stacey’s fist rise above the shelf. (Jack heard and saw the Stacey doing things and making sounds. Why not give us words about the Stacy actively doing things, rather than Jack percieving them? When the Stacey is acting, Jack can only do three pertinent or interesting things: he can react, he can think, he can emote. The act of perception does not warrant the reader's attention every time it occurs.) The air around the fist shimmered (this is constructed as reportage and would read better if it were linked to the sentence in which the fist rises) and a piercing tone rang out, making his eyes vibrate. He heard a crack and looked up(yes, well). The glass lattice webbing the griot library’s ceiling rippled with thin lines, then fell away, sending the (consider: 'its') huge plates raining down around them. He rolled under one of the desks a desk and covered covering ('they' say not to stack actions with a secondary 'ing' but I reckon it would work right here) his eyes as the glass splashed across the floor around him. Beneath the crashing, he heard the crunch of approaching footsteps.
A good, inventive story. Prompt deftly jiu-jitsu'd.

The verdict: PAIN

V for Vegas – Krakatoa: The Krakening

Exquisite pastiche. 10/10. Not much more to say except you must be pregnant cuz you missed a couple periods, and everyone who wishes to publish action/adventure stories would do well to look to this.


Vance sat on the driver seat. Kristen paused while climbing up behind him.
Line break/carriage return
‘Uh Vance,’ she said. ‘These tunnels, they’re old lava tubes right?’
(Don't bury your dialogue. You're making your reader hunt for it, and somewhat paradoxically, it's going to grab their attention immediately, forcing them to skim over the preceding action. That's why we separate the two.)


A rumble shook the earth.

‘So please tell me that isn’t what I think it is,’ said Kristen,
Oh, and


Vance yelled to Kristen ‘hold on to me’ and
See above. Immersion-shattering aberrations of this kind must be avoided.

The verdict: PAIN

Noah – Up and Coming

I wish you'd edited this more closely, because it's a really well executed blow-by-blow rasslin' story. You absolutely nailed the prompt. :black101: Robert E. Howard would be proud :black101:

- 'the boy'. Way overused, clamouring for a substitute or two. Not a difficult thing to fix, which (along with the presence of typos) leads me to assume you didn't really go over your draft at all. You should do this, CC rules stipulate we all must and it's not out of bloody-mindedness. You'll get better feedback after a couple revisions.

- Some bland, unimaginative language. Don't get me wrong, most of your prose was clear, direct and appropriate, but I haven't really called out anyone on this yet and it's going to happen right now.


The sounds of heaving and vomit splattering in a tin trashcan with no liner echo through the locker room.

This is probably the only sentence I can pull out to exemplify what I mean. You are talking about a trash can with no liner, itself a great image – I can hear the puke spattering against the naked tin – but you've gone the economy route and as a result we have this ugly, cumbersome phrase 'with no liner' dangling in the middle of your sentence. If 'unlined' is too ambiguous (I think it is), why not describe, rather than simply report, the puke sounds in a way that shows us they're produced on bare, unprotected metal?
Again, not really your problem more than anyone else's, but this irked me. It's a question of Style.


They writhe out of control as the man stalks down the gangway.


The boy looks at Ref. Ref wasn’t bored, he realizes. Ref’s seen this before. How many other people have been in the boy’s place.
Straight down. Not his signature, which puts a person ON their back.
Neither of these two reveals are quite clear enough. 'Ref wasn't bored' needs a counterpoint for emphasis – you may not want to spell it out directly, but 'Ref's seen this before' actually weakens our expectation of a twist because it sort of confirms the idea that he was bored.
ie. '...but straight down onto the roof of his skull.'


his neck cracks like a norse god popping a knuckle

The verdict: PAIN

Martello – Cherry Job

Most days the Jargon Train runs direct thru to Pastiche Island, and disembarking can be difficult. Too many gunspecs and suddenly it becomes very difficult to negotiate the maze of attributions – too few and we're back in preschool, playing with crayons. Action is a fickle mistress.



Bronco parked the Jeep in front of the small ranch-style house. It was 3 AM in a quiet neighborhood. The boys slid up the front steps, near-silent on softsoled boots. Roger took point, breaching slug the first round in his Dearborn Reliant.
is lovely. The details have a function, they complement each other, they carry us onward.



Gabe Martello, his cousin Bronco Halligan, and their friends Roger Morris and Tommy Galgano rolled to Hicksville from Hoboken in Bronco's silver '35 Jeep Trapper.
is an impregnable mesh. And this,


A brilliant flash washed out his and Gabe's cybereyes, Bronco and Roger's smartspecs.
in context, just litters the path. Too many particulars – it's alienating.


The back of the man's skull exploded, blood and shredded brains splattering the room.

Unless they're very common, I'd avoid using the same word more than once within visible proximity – narco, narco, covered, covered, paste, paste.


The kitchen was the jackpot; stacks of money and foil-wrapped bricks of silverpaste covered the table. The refinery in here, too - burners, metal pots, beakers, and centrifuges all over the counters.
or somesuch.
The verdict:

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 10:27 on Feb 9, 2013

Dec 28, 2012


Jeza posted:

I'll use my calloused British hands to throttle you old man, then beat you to death with your own stultifying colon.

How did I say "colon" when I so clearly should have said "period"?!?! Highly embarrassing, evidently I need more dietary fiber...

Dec 28, 2012

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

e: Oh yeah, and :siren:SUBMISSIONS CLOSED NEARLY 2 HOURS AGO:siren:
If you got in before this post but after the deadline, no problem.
SC Bracer

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

Blackfrost – Mine

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

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


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


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

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


Then, he felt searing pain—like something splitting the back of his head open, down the middle—and everything went dark.

The verdict: DEATH

Sedgr – Duel

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

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


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

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

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


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



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

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


Renault backed off, and lowered his blade, circling Corman like a lion would circle prey.
Not how you do simile.


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

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


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

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

The verdict: DEATH

SterileTom – Getting Paid


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


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


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


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

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

The verdict: PAIN

Zack_Gochuck – The Ball

Ceci n'est pas une histoire.


The Troll

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

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


Sitting Here – Mutiny

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


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


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

'pope's hat' or :eng101: papal mitre:catholic:? Eh? Eh?


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

I think someone needs a little visit from Mr


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


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

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

The verdict: PAIN

Echo Cian – Predator

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


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

took aim on at


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Overall, as I said, pretty good.

The verdict: PAIN

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 19:11 on Feb 10, 2013

Dec 28, 2012


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

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

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 05:45 on Feb 11, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

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

Nubile Hillock – Tensegrity

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


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

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


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

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



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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

:siren:GUY SPOTTED:siren:

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

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

The verdict: PAIN

Benagain – Lucky

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The verdict: DEATH

swaziloo – Thirty-Two Lincoln to Third

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


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

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

Let's talk about and.

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

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

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


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

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

'And' creates time.

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

A bit of telling to be found here, too.


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

See crits above for examples of how to rectify this.

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


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

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


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

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

The verdict: PAIN

SaviourX – Suit on Suit

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

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

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


Bad Seafood – Flight

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

The verdict: PAIN

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 08:46 on Feb 11, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

The verdict: DEATH

Lord Windy – Johnny

As above.

ninja edit: I can't help myself.


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

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


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


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

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


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

Sorry, what?

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

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


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

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

The verdict: DEATH

Etherwind – Disquiet

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


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


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


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


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

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

The verdict: PAIN

JuniperCake – It's a Hobby to Some

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


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

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


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


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


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

The verdict: PAIN, I guess.

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

Dec 28, 2012


Lord Windy posted:

have I missed a million little ones?

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

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

Don't know of resources on that topic but here's a good blog that often plays on literal readings:

Dec 28, 2012

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

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

Chairchucker posted:

What’s For Dinner?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wasn’t moving.

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

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

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

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

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

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 13:59 on Feb 11, 2013

Dec 28, 2012


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

e: vv That's beautiful :kiddo:

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 18:37 on Feb 11, 2013

Dec 28, 2012

Thunderdome XXVII - There is only PAIN

:ughh:JUDGEMENT DAY:ughh:

Ideas are like giant lead statues, perched along the muddy banks of Satan's cesspool.
-Plato citation needed
It doesn't matter how strong, or cool, or fresh they are - it really doesn't - they will inevitably sink and be forgotten, unless a ROCK SOLID structure exists to keep them afloat.

Some of you failed to provide such a structure this week. Those of you who sucked now have a rough map to redemption. At some point the trail runs through a library.


Due to popular demand, the winner this week is Echo Cian, who wrote a solid, serviceable bit of elemental chase and topped it off with some grand-scale dragonslaying. It was a vivid, exciting and, most importantly, coherent piece. It can be improved; a hundred others like it can be written also, and whether it's Echo Cian who does this or some other one of you will determine who gets a paycheck. This stuff sells.

Honourable mentions to SterileTom for a very tight story and good editing, Symptomless Coma for refusing to submit to mere physicality (yet meeting the prompt exactly), Sitting Here for sharing their Moorcockean wet dream and of course Saddest Rhino for dumping a massive fly agaric in the Xbox party punchbowl.

THE LOSER: SaviourX. There were many bad stories, but yours truly screamed of a lack of knowledge about how meaning is conveyed through language. All I can say is, keep trying. Read to learn and when (not if) editing, try to forget you're the writer. Read your own work as if you didn't already have a mental image in place.

I'm joining Echo Cian on the judging panel this week (much less actively this time), there is room for one other and I'll leave it for E. C. to nominate who that person is when he drops the prompt.

Dec 28, 2012

^you didn't suck, you RULED for entering. Everyone won this week :yum:

If anyone's irl friends with Echo Cian, might want to let her know she won! Give us a prompt EC!

Dec 28, 2012

Flash prompt: Your characters have to shut the gently caress up about time zones

Dec 28, 2012

Heh, but taking this seriously for a moment, it's all in the OP. Basically whatever Martello/the other elect/the judges says, goes. The minimum requirement for entry is that you meet the prompt. Anyone can enter a flash rule, but pick your moment, don't poo poo up the thread. If you're the next person to enter after a flash rule is posted, it's your flash rule, and it is loving COWARDLY to ignore it - but (unless stipulated otherwise) a flash rule only applies to that one next poster.

As you entered directly post my (flippant, spurious) flash rule, you are obliged to make your characters shut the gently caress up about time zones. Up to you whether they begin the piece talking of nothing else but later (lovingly) learn their lesson, or simply never mention them to begin with. It's down to Your Interpretation. Now shut the gently caress up about flash rules.

If you suck this week I will be merciless.


V for Vegas posted:

shut the gently caress up and post your story.

Dec 28, 2012

^ This is maybe a little too short, and there's a lot of telling. It's practically all exposition, with no backgrounding, no context. You need to show us these things. Also,

Dec 28, 2012

I'm going camping, it wasn't planned and I'm not going to have time to crit/judge beyond these here crits until I get back. So I'll leave the judging to the pros and return with brief crits for anyone who got in by deadline. Post it in the Farm if you want feedback, I'm hungover and covered in ticks

Steriletom – Remembrance

This is executed well enough, though there are a few things you could work on. Get to that in a minute. What really concerns me about your (and other) pieces is the subject matter. It's pretty cliché – I'm sure you can see that – it's hardly a big reveal that she has dementia/alzheimer's, it's hardly untrodden ground, and the will-they-won't-they battle over retirement homes is stock also. And the drama is pretty much played out already. I can see bad things happening to John before he makes a heroic self-sacrifice in the 3rd quarter of a Stephen King novel, but I'm still not sure this is the best use of the prompt.
What I'm trying to say is, it would be more of a challenge (and quite a lot more useful) to apply the prompt to the kinds of characters you're already writing about, ie. a bona fide Steriletom love scene, than to simply create something that addresses the prompt. This goes for all of you, by the way, and yes I know I'm assuming you don't normally write about geriatric couples, simply gently caress me off if I'm wrong about this.
Prose-wise, I'd urge you to trim more fat.


“makes his way through the well kept, tidy kitchen.” (tautology) he thinks back to the day he helped carry her brother's casket out of the church. Dolores cried into his chest at the cemetery as they lowered the coffin into the ground. with her brother inside.
The good news is you're writing pretty well, and the unnecessary bits are simply confusing and cumbersome, rather than outright revolting.

Watch your telling. Hard to really come to terms with how much we tell in the couple of days T'dome allows before submitting. Stuff like this:
“The sudden ringing of the phone startles both of them.”

Shorter crits this time 'round. Decently told, pretty flat though.

LJHalfbreed – Embrace

Oh yeah, this was the ghost story. Well it sucked; there's no 'but'. Keep trying, though, you can only improve with practice.

I'm not a fan of the 'oh yeah. I'm doing it again.' device. It's cheap; it's too easy, and ultimately, it's telling.

Reread from a distance. Read each clause of each sentence literally. A lot of your writing doesn't make sense. For instance:


Another flash, and things have changed. Looks like the police kicked the door in and tromped all over our clean floors. (See this is what happens, or rather doesn't happen, when you use these devices to tell a story. Things don't happen, they have happened) I’m now in the living room, facing the couch, my heart dropping, and realizing that I was right It's easy for us to just scan across this sentence and take in its meaning. But what it literally means is, 'my heart was dropping, and my heart was realising that I was right'. Now whether your reader spots this or not depends on what kind of reader you intend to have. You can get away with all kinds of garbage as long as you're happy publishing Shapeshifting Jaguar HighlandersTM Taking Brides anthologies, let's assume you're aiming higherIt’s true, they can’t see me.

From 'was realising', you're telling. You haven't intimated that he has this suspicion that he's become invisible, you're just dumping 'see? I'm a ghost'. This stems from the 'first-person reveals his secrets' device I objected to at the outset. Until this point, I'd read your character as a run-of-the-mill mercy killer.
It's problematic, because you've given us this massive soliloquy divulging all of your prot's thoughts, presumably starting at the moment of death, but you haven't mentioned this 'suspicion' that he's a ghost. So if your reader is to be subjected to this surprise twist, then it really should be coming as a surprise to your protagonist, too – 'I talk but they don't hear, I wave but they don't see, I touch but they don't feel OMFG I”M A GHOST'. Yes, this is cliché, but I'd rather have a solid cliché than an internally contradictory attempt at something new.

Prose-wise, you really need to watch your literal meanings, as I've said above, and also tenses. Cos frankly they're all over the place.

Nubile Hillock – Little Mesa

Great story. “I liked it.”

Here's what's wrong.

Insightful ideas are just flashing into your mind as you write this, white-hot and difficult to handle. At least that's how it reads, because they're expressed so succinctly; too succinctly. Although your reader is able to guess what you mean, the language is unclear.


This was the third time he'd started over, emotion kept taking the place of knowledge.
knowledge isn't quite the word, is it? You mean to say his feelings are preventing him from concentrating on the process, I think, or perhaps that they're so intense that he's unable to correctly intuit or divine; that kind of knowledge makes sense, but your sentence doesn't yet. In addition, this is a lousy way to conjoin two clauses – you've effectively created a non sequitur around that comma. Even though the clauses are topically related, they don't support each other... yet.

the heat lamp would kick on and its buzzing would bring in noises from outside:
I know what you intend to mean, but 'bring in' is not right. 'alert him to, by contrast' is the meaning, now find something elegant to say it

He began again, swearing the words he’d read had been spoken to him.
My image is of him beginning again, swearing that words he has at some other time read have been spoken to him, but I don't know when that was supposed to happen, or why it's so important that he'd swear it. The resultant effect is that I imagine this character trying to have a memory of when exactly it was someone spoke words he'd once read, when what you want to convey is the immediacy of the impression that words you are reading, you already know; that fresh wisdom was there inside you all along.

The first few pieces were obvious; he felt a heavy warmth within them.
Given that we don't know he's placing the pieces yet, I'd consider
'The first few placements were obvious; he felt a heavy warmth within each piece.'

Tense conflict: You need some means of preventing your character's past being conflated with his present. Currently all of the flashbacks read as if they could be happening in the moment. Either start using 'had said' or create a framing device through which we understand, effortlessly, that as of this sentence we're in memories. Italics are popular, but cheesy – you work it out.

Finally, a word on dialogue, commas etc.


“Are you busy this weekend, I kind of miss you.” She said.

As I've been saying in the Farm, the above is how the retarded kids used to read out loud, back in kindergarten. Never write dialogue this way. For the above,


“Are you busy this weekend? I kind of miss you,” she said.

“Hey, do you have a minute?” she asked.
Quoted dialogue never ends with a period if an attribution is to follow, unless what follows is not a direct attribution but some other action by the speaking party.


“I kind of miss you.” She flopped onto the bed, her arms flung dejectedly across her pert, spongy tittays.
Good story though, keep on editing for clarity and you'll only get better.

twinkle cave – Hank the Petulant Vibrator

There are forums for this kind of thing dude... oh wait

All I can say is, this thing lags in the middle a bit (I don't really get what the deal is with his digital painting/loungeroom window interface). Otherwise, kinda cool, you could totally get a better edited version of this published in the mid-tier spank mags.

If you're going to get dirty, use a comma. Especially when writing dialogue – real (non-Dalek) characters don't spew out all their words without finding a natural pause.

It's/its, your/you're

Uhhhmmmm...... - don't do this. Only amateurs do this.
No other comments on this piece really, it was pretty stupid but also fairly cute. You made me smile.

Zack_Gochuck – The Purple Dory

Sweet, but a little too short. Very suddenly, the story recedes and your premise is left flapping around, suffocating on its own exposure.


When Elma got up, Jack was already headed out the harbour and into a bank of fog in his purple dory, the stern weighed down with lobster pots. This right here. It's a total non sequitur into the Purple Dory origin story. We just get slammed with exposition like a pilchard to the face. If anything, this would work best at the very end of the story, perhaps followed with some final iteration of how lonely and worried Elma is becoming now that Jack is drowned at sea. BUT NOT HERE IN THEMIDDLE OF YOUR loving STORY WITHOUT ANY SORT OF WARNING OR CONTEXT When Jack went to paint the dory for the first time, he accidentally bought a can of purple paint. He pried off the lid, looked at the paint, then at Elma, “Sure I can't paint me boat wit' dat. Everyone'll tink I'm a queer.”

… And that's it, really, isn't it. Story Completed. It's a pity, you could do a lot more with this.

Prose-wise, why isn't the boat's name capitalised? Doesn't seem to be any good reason, unless it's some sort of appeal for favour to the twee gods.


Jack put his hand on Elma's hip, “Stay in bed till it warms up, me duck. I'll get a bun for breakfast and throw a few splits in the stove.”
make it 'hip. “Stay' and we're talkin'

Chairchucker – Pick One Person

Well, I don't like this one bit, but it's a substantial improvement on last week's work. You do this sort of pedestrian chatter pretty well. The car accident could be a little clearer though. Blockquoting so I can pick through it.


Hugo broke the silence. “Roo!’ he said. The marsupial in question This is appropriate for humorous (or legitimately nineteenth-century) writing but it distances us from the action, especially when 'It' would suffice right here. Actually this whole sentence is unnecessary, had apparently made a last minute decision that the grass over the other side of the road looked a little tastier. Victoria swore and stamped her foot down on the brake, swerving sharply to the left to avoid the macropodian pedestrian again, excessively verbose. I can't think of any context in which referring to a kangaroo as a macropodian pedestrian would be advisable, UNLESS it's being described as such by a character. That character would be a wantonly glib rear end in a top hat who thought he/she was funny when in actuality they were really irritating. Don't make this your narrative voice or you will alienate your reader Their detour took them through three guide posts and into a guard rail, where their vehicle scraped to a stop. Behind them, the kangaroo had successfully crossed the road and was now chewing on some grass. This last is fine and still in keeping with the lightheartedness of your story – which is, in itself, a good trait

Victoria looked over at Hugo. Hugo was slumped forward, and his face was smeared with blood. “Oh no, Hugo!” She opened her door and jumped out. |Her fellow drivers didn’t seem interested in pulling over to see if the two of them were all right. |Telling|Some of them beeped at her as she tried to get off the road| showing. Synthesise the two and we'll have a sentence that says what you want said in a way the reader can enjoy and around to the passenger side door. When she had successfully negotiated the traffic and gotten to the other side of her car, she pulled at the door handle without any discernible effect. Again, excessive verbosity, and telling. Consider: 'she pulled at the door handle, and the whole door came with her', or somesuch.

Definitely an improvement. Just remember there's a difference between cleverness and humour.

Jeza – Milk and Honey

You get a line edit, because I think your writing's at the level where not a whole lot else is going to help. That's a good thing, by the way. I come across as really harsh but I think this is pretty competent first-draft material.


Their squalid little flat, home, smelt of failing-to-dry awkward – 'mildewed'? 'long-damp'?clothes and lower-middle-class drudgery (hyphenated to avoid 'class drudgery'. Elsa stood in the living room, a dirty mug of black coffee steaming in one hand, a and bad mood written all over her face. 'and peanut butter all over her face', yes, 'and garish jewellery all over her face', yes, but not 'bad mood' because it's basically always 'a bad mood'. She stared out at the miasma outside, concrete through condensation. you're not really doing anything with cool word 'miasma', you could make it 'She let her eyes drift out through the window, over the miasmatic wash of concrete-through-condensation – it was the indistinctness of the world outside that held her attention' or somesuchIt was the fuzzy indistinctness that held her attention, as if at any minute Sarah's neon-pink anorak might break out of the murk like a bat out of some especially lurid hell. questioning the appropriacy of this simile tbh

The next para is solid recollection and you could save yourself some clutter by just jumping straight into it – allow me to demonstrate.
It had been aAnother stupid fight, this time over something even more trivial than usual. Where was the milk? Hadn't she told her to pick some up on the way home? Well, who had used up what they had with their cereal? Hangover and an empty wallet had put the words in her mouth. or Not her words, not really; just hung over, and broke. It had beenwas cheap gratification which and she regretted it instantly. There had been tears and shouting. Slammed doors had echoed through their walls, and Sarah had vanished off into grey air. Elsa had been angry at first, had lashed out at their broken dryer,] and slapped the letter magnets off the fridge with a furious swipe. Then, inevitably, predictably, sadness took up the reins and she had she'd – too much this or that had already, spice it upspent a pathetic couple of minutes on her knees, picking up them all up again.

(So what I did above, where we segued from simple past to past perfect, was really made possible because the attack was so direct. BAM! And we're in the memory, and then we're recollecting its aftermath. This, now, would be a good time to switch back to simple past, as you're recommencing the story with Elsa making the wonky rainbow.)

Happiness was so unfairly asymmetric. So long to build up, so quick to knock down. I'd lead with this – it's strong, too strong to be buried in the middle of your para, where it actually impedes the flow of things.Gingerly,gingerly why? Give us more, tell us how she's trying not to upset the pieces or something she had put them back in a wonky looking rainbow-coloured 'Sorry' – an apology to Sarah as much as a confession to herself. other way round. ' much a confession to herself as an apology to Sarah. A few hours before, they had been lying in bed together. She had traced her fingers round Sarah's hipbones and basked basking (in...?) while Sarah had run her fingers through her hair. And then here they were here, drowning in loving bowls of cereal and cups of milkless coffee, and loving fighting about it. The mundane sticking its grubby hands all over the sublime.

Minutes drifted into hours and melancholy drifted into trite – 'became' worry. Outside, the light began to fail. Sarah had She'd run away before. Avoidance had always been her coping strategy, ever since they had first met. But this time felt different. She hadn't loitered on the doorstep before crossing, hadn't looked back at her with hurtful eyes. Elsa hadn't even heard her footsteps hesitate down the corridor outside. That keened. Absence is fear's playground. They lived in a bad neighbourhood. Her texts went unanswered. Grim possibilities painted themselves on the whitewashed walls like 35mm film. unsubtle crap. You could just say 'and they lived in a bad neighbourhood', augmented to fit of course.

At last, she couldn't bear it any longer. She wrapped up, slipped her feet into knee-length boots and grabbed her umbrella. In the beginning she wandered aimlessly – resisting struck with the ridiculous urge to call out her lover's name into the fog, but she resisted. She peered into the coffee shops and pubs, any and every one all of Sarah's usual little haunts. |But each bright idea brought more disappointment.| This says what you want to say but 'bright idea' isn't working, reconsider The rain got heavier and the sodium streetlights stuttered into life.

Water got into her boots.Too impersonal. 'Her feet were getting damp' (we'll work out the rest). Each footstep squelched and the cold wet wicked its way up her jeans. After two hours of searching, she came to a halt like some wound down clockwork toyI'll take your word for it, but you should try to make us feel that she's felt this way. She collapsed onto a wooden bench and felt the damp slats press into her skin. She dropped dropping the umbrella limp-wristedly onto the pavement and stared staring up into the starless night sky. Illuminated raindrops raced down to meet her.

It had been a night like this that they had first met, she remembered. Nearly ten years ago. They had barely been teenagers. SheHer, a rebel with dyed-black hair, silly nails and a whole journal full of bad poetry, and her,Sarah, the quiet as a dormouse pale and blonde princess. She'd had been running away that night, too. She had met Sarah's father only once, years later. A thick built (either 'thick-built' or 'thickly', cruel-faced),man. She remembered the way Sarah had dug her nails into the palm of her hand, when they had confronted him. (Instead of the comma after hand, 'when they'd' would work too – pacing niggles)

Where had it been again, the very first time? The memory came back with startling clarity. TheThat dingy little fairground, thatthe one near the Southbank. She had gone to there to skulk and be moody; Sarah had gone there to hide, and to sleep. She had come across a feral little girl that night and she had given her her hand. An achingly simple gesture. so trite, but ok, it works, pick your market At her age, Sarah's situation, at her age, was more properly felt than understood. She didn't have real solutions for real problems. All she had were pocket-money bought no. You can't just stack any old words and make them an adverb (or an adjective) plasters and keys to her bedroom window, somewhere safe and warm – but it had been enough. HOLY poo poo THIS IS THE BIG EPIPHANY BETTER MAKE IT IMPACTFUL

She would be there, at the fairground. Elsa got to her feet and ran, leaving the umbrella collecting water by the bench. Bare minimum. Consider being more explicit about the fact that Elsa's realised something.

When she arrived, panting, soaked and out of breath, the place was dark and empty. It was a Sunday evening – of course it was closed.Closed, of course – it was, after all, a Saturday evening. Her stomach twisted why?. She swung her legs over the railings as they had done together so many times before in years past. |These sorts of places were eerie when deserted, even more so at night. The demonic eyes of merry-go-round creatures lay dormant and suspicious, and the barred and shuttered stalls were all ominous. | WEAK. Show, don't tell. This ain't Reader's Digest.Elsa worked her way past all of those to the centrepiece – the Ferris wheel in the middle of it all.

And she was there.Italicise 'was', or 'And there she was.', or 'there; a pink silhouette, hunkered A pink silhouette hunkered down in one of the carriages. Elsa approached, and peeked her head over the door. Sarah sitting, hugging her reading, shaking my head Elsa knocked on the window. Sarah started and turned, her eyes wide with shock. -Elsa realised she must look a state. Ghostlike with hair, like some kind of ghost, the way her hair was plastered all down her cheeks. A feral young woman. Sarah leant over and opened the door. Elsa stepped in.

“You look a bit wet.” offered Sarah.
“Dialogue” attribution.

There was a moment of emotional latency, inertia, telling while Elsa stood and dripped. Then she threw herself at Sarah like a waterlogged blanket, enveloping her in a desperate hug. Her whole body was racked with asthmatic half-sobs, half-laughs is as 'half-man, half-horse' is to 'centaur', ie. shitter.

With difficulty, she pulled herself back a little to look Sarah straight in the eyes.

“I'm sorry.”

And she wove her fingers together with Sarah's into a beautiful tapestry, and she pressed her lips into hers and imparted a passionate kiss. And for a moment, there they were again – lost teenagers, in a world where milk was free at school, dryers didn't exist and nothing was ever mundane.
'And', contrary to popular belief, does not impart an instantaneous lyricism to whatever follows. This last para is objectionably trite and needs to be reworked. It's not enough to tell us there was a tapestry of fingers. Last sentence is almost fine though.

STONE OF MADNESS fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Feb 19, 2013


Dec 28, 2012

In, with Capricorn.

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