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  • Locked thread
Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

sebmojo fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2014 around 21:01


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Clapping Larry

sebmojo posted:

[quote="sebmojo" post="434585433"]
1200 words


r u ok

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Clapping Larry

Week 116 Results!!

Well, this was a weird week to judge. Lots of war, lots of sad old people, lots of refugees. Lots of characters I flat out didn't like. Lots of cliche and bumbling description, but some nice gems, too.

I think one of the most essential things for good description is a keen sense of observation. A lot of you guys were clearly regurgitating descriptive-type phrases that you've seen other writers use. Some of you obviously had a movie-like picture of your story in your head, but couldn't figure out which parts to focus on.

Obviously it's good to read more if you want to write better, but I think it's good practice to be mindful of what you yourself notice every day: sights, sounds, smells, sensations. It's not always the blistering sun or the glittering river or whatever.

Which brings me to your WINNER : Crabrock gave us a story that was detailed, realistic, and very well-observed...until it went all absurd. But it worked. Go read Crabrock's story right now, newbies.

Your Honorable Mentions this week are Kaishai, who wrote a beautiful, breathless, mythical, and poetic piece; Muffin, for showing us beauty in destitution through the eyes of a cat, and Entenzahn, for an evocative picture of fading honor.


Which brings me to the part of the week I hate most. Picking which of you butts is the worst.

JcDent! Welcome to Thunderdome! Unfortunately, your first piece was really really rough. The judges appreciated what you were trying to evoke, but redundant writing, a weak "twist" ending, and a few too many stumbles in the prose landed this in the loser spot.

Your Dishonorable Mentions are: Jitzu_the_Monk, for writing an after school special from the '90s; Benny the Snake, for writing a wikipedia entry, and Newtestleper, for creating two characters who the judges actively disliked as people (your last paragraph saved you from the loss).

Lord Crabrock, the blood throne is yours.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2014 around 04:07

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

by R. Guyovich

my reign of bumbling, inconsistent mediocrity continues forth

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Clapping Larry

Crits Part 1

N. Senada

The gist: Kwami finds himself injured and wandering the savannah after his village gets attacked. In his dying moments, he is nuzzled by a lion cub, just before the pride shows up to presumably eat him.

Your best line: “He clumsily let the barrel lean against the ground, the boy unsure of how to handle the device which was as long as he was tall”

Worst line: “The sweat had left large stains on his shirt. Dark circles marred his threadbare shirt under his armpits and on the small of his back.”

This was rough in some places and very vague in others. I could tell what you were going for (a confluence of innocence and violence), but it came out kind of rough. I feel like, for the sake of word count, you could’ve cut out almost all of the flashbacks other than Kwami’s face-off with the child soldier. I mean, you have this disembodied chunk of dialog where a random young man tells Kwami that “they” are going to attack. Then They attack. Presumably Kwami got shot, or something. His wife never comes up again, so I’m not sure why you mentioned her.

I picked out your worst line because you wrote two very redundant sentences. You used a lot of words to convey very simple information: that his threadbare shirt is stained with sweat. It doesn’t help that “man is sweaty on the savannah” isn’t the most interesting piece of information you could have given us, though it is useful in establishing the setting, I suppose.

As I said, I did get what you were going for, and the ending with the lions almost hits it, but not quite. Your first paragraph is pretty good, and the ending is ok, but everything between those two points is kind of scattered.


The gist: Ron’s mom is afraid that the ocean will claim Ron, just like it did his dad. For some reason, they live near the ocean anyway, and Ron inevitably answers the siren song of surfing. He does well at a competition, and decides to show off out on the water. He then gets his foot bit off by a shark. He starts to die, but then realizes that he’s not dragging an old man like his dad was, and decides to stay alive instead. Also, he’s kind of a jerk to his mom.

Your best line: Ron took to the waves, climbing them meter by meter, saddling the white-capped crests beneath his board

Your worst line: “Ron explained, “This is who I am. I can’t bear the responsibility for your feelings.””

I wasn’t really a fan of how you went from Vince’s perspective to Ron’s. I didn’t think it was necessary to have Ron distance himself from his mother and for her to get cancer, felt like cheap feels. I wasn’t a fan of the surprise shark at the end, though I guess it wasn’t really a surprise because you telegraphed SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHILE SURFING from the beginning of the story.

I thought it was annoying that Ron was SO sure that he won the expo that he didn’t bother to go find out.

This bit:

“Marta let her son know how much she cared, and how sorry she was that they grew apart. She told Ron of her troubles: That she was no longer able to work, but that the treatment had left her thousands of dollars in debt.”

Is so vague and contrived and unrealistic that I actually rolled my eyes. It’s also pretty cliche.

The action was clear, so there’s that. But everything about it felt forced, like the story wasn’t moving along on its own steam because you had to force everything.

Guiness 13

The gist: An old widower considers suicide on a scenic hill, but is talked out of it by the ghost/memory of his wife.

Your best line: I imagined laying there, drifting away from a life where I sat on the couch next to an unused indent, letting the leaves pile over me like a shroud.

Your worst line: Honestly, none really stuck out as The Worst. But I got kind of tired of all the scenic description, since you didn’t do anything terribly thematic with it, other than maybe the sort obvious connection between autumn and old people.

Okay I’m biased. I’ve read so many stories that are about an old, sad widow/widower who wanders around looking at things, who is mournful and regretful but somehow finds the resolve to keep shuffling around for a few more painful years. So this felt kind of cliche. \

You really tried to nail the sensory part of the prompt, and you succeeded to some degree. But again, you wandered into cliche territory. For example, having a river that glitters like diamonds.

The dialog between the couple was kinda typical, milquetoast “saying goodbye to a loved one” dialog like you see in so-called Oscar bait movies (but like, if those movies were made in the ‘80s, before we got too culturally cynical to be moved by sledgehammer displays of emotion).

That said, this probably won’t be in my low pile this week. While not much happens, it is colorful and crisp and chilly. I appreciate that you obviously put thought into incorporating both your picture and the texture requirement of the prompt. Just, next time, try to think of a more unique subject, and try to focus on less obvious sensory details.


The gist: Some guys are carrying part of some sort of artillery up a snowy hill, which is snowy and hilly, and also there is snow, and a sharp incline. Eventually, they get to the top, in spite of the snow and the hillyness, and decide that this particular piece of artillery will definitely kill Italians. I am pretty historically illiterate, so I don’t know if that last bit is cleverly ironic or accurate or what. But it’s a strange way to punctuate a story that’s otherwise mostly about snow and hills.

Your best line: “Sure, it wasn’t very nice when you had to go somewhere: thick as little Hans’ pants used to be, he could still feel the jagged edge of the crusts when advancing in snowdrift.”

Your worst line: “Scarf might have naturally been an ally of the neck that also saved the nose from falling off. But playing nice with breath wasn‘t one of its strong points.”

“Yet it still gave out the characteristic snow squeak, compacted as it was by the long line of mine plodding up the path, hunch under they packs.”

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m a little disappointed that, given a whole world of photographs to choose from, you told me about SNOW SNOWY SNOW SNOW and not much else. There was snow, and then the story ended.

I didn’t really like how you handled Hans’s point of view, either. The story is very deep in Hans’s head, but we’re very removed from anything he’d actually doing, since you spend all this time musing about snow and childhood and steep, icy paths. For example, I think the detail about their crazy looking snow goggles should’ve come closer to the beginning, where it could’ve helped establish who these guys are and what they might be up to.

In my opinion, you used too many ellipses and exclamation points.

I can kind of see the concept of this. It’s similar to N. Senada’s story in some ways. You have these guys trudging up a treacherous mountain carrying a tool of war, but the narrator is musing on how snow used to be this happy thing when Hans was a kid. I feel ya. But you didn’t quite pull it off, and your editing was pretty rough.


The gist: Safi is trying to get across a fenced border to escape poverty and find a way to support his family.

Your best line: “He felt like the desert he had come from, parched and dry and desiccated.”

Worst line: “He had come too far, had suffered too much to have his journey end here at the edge of his destination.” (It’s not terrible in and of itself, just very cliche)

Well. This was quick and sharp and focused. Good job! This was a quick read, which in TD is a good thing. I didn’t stop to check IRC even once while reading this.

I don’t have too much to say. I guess I wished it was a little less repetitious: the pain, the dust, the sun. I thought you did a really good job of painting a picture of the lushness on the other side of the fence, though. I really wanted Safi to get there.

I didn’t really like when you talked about HIS JOURNEY. The word journey is one of those big vague words that doesn’t really have a place in fast-paced microfiction like this, IMO. I mean, obviously that’s not a rule to live by, but that particular choice of words didn’t really fit with the scene, since Safi is literally fleeing for his life, and by extension, the lives of his family.

The ending was pretty dismaying, but in a satisfying way. I really wanted him to at least touch the grass


The gist: Franklin watches over a poppy field where his comrades died at war. One day, a bunch of French punks with chips on their shoulders decide to make it their new hangout, and tear up some of the poppies. Franklin confronts them and is savagely beaten, but the punks lose interest in the field, and Franklin resolves to keep watching over the poppies.

Your best line: “From the bottom of the hill the old poppy field went out as far as the eye could see, until a crimson ruffle married a blue sky.”

“The field was a neverending sea of red. It reached out as far as the eye could see, until a crimson ruffle married a golden sun.” (I thought these two lines were very nice bookends for the story)

Your worst line: “Safe for one spot.” (save*)

Well. I was just scolding Guiness 13 for writing a story about sad old people, but here you’ve gone and made me eat my hat. I thought this was pretty good. I could really see everything, and the way you described the poppy field was gorgeous.

At first I thought it was a little much how you had the punks beat Franklin up. But then I remembered that he’d pointed his bayonet at them, so maybe these particular punks WOULD attack him on principle. Also, you threw a touch of xenophobia in there, which I thought added to the tension between Franklin and the punks.

I was worried that Franklin was gonna die and be a martyr, but you didn’t do that and I’m glad.

Overall this was beautiful and relatively tense.


The gist: Three bandmates are at a restaurant. Two of them are arguing. Eventually Cheng gets drunk, and there’s another argument over who pays the bill. They’re thrown out of the restaurant, and yet another argument ensues in the car. Li, the mute narrator, finally loses it and screams at her bandmates. They both turn to tell her to shut up, and the car is hit by a truck. Everyone but Li is killed. At the end, she thinks about how much easier it is to talk with her bandmates dead.

Your best line: “Flames exploded from hot, burning fat. Fumes of seared pork, the salt of soy, and sharp sweetness of onion beat through the sweaty stench after the show.”

Your worst line: ““I hate pork buns, they make me feel like I’m carsick,” Cheng paused,” :|

““For all of us,” Cheng circled with his finger,”


Okay so, RE: your worst lines: The way you put your characters’ actions in the middle of their dialog is really weird. I want to read it like a said-bookism (he uttered, she whispered, he lamented, etc). Like, it sounds like you’re trying to tell me that Cheng said “for all of us” by making a circle with his finger.

Plot-wise, I think you needed to reveal a loooot earlier that this story actually has a first person narrator. I guess you kind of try to hint at it with the three glasses, and when you say “Guitar, singing and bass washed out the drums”. Xian and Cheng mention Li, but it’s in the beginning of the story when we have no reason to think that Li is the narrator.

I really liked the description in the first couple lines of the story. But then the rest is mostly just talking heads (and the aforementioned oddly placed action), all the way up until the end where you do a music metaphor for the sound of the truck hitting the car.

The problem with have a mostly mute narrator is that, unless you use inner monolog to show us what they’re thinking, they’re basically like a walking camera. Like, I didn’t really feel for Li at all at the end because I didn’t know anything about her.

Finally, I feel like you shoehorned in the cell phone thing. Honestly, I wouldn’t have even noticed if you hadn’t mentioned the phones, even though they were in the picture.

I will give you this: The picture makes me imagine a very loud and possibly busy place, and this story had that feeling. But I felt like the drama between Xian and Cheng was kind of forced and over the top.


The gist: Our narrator is on a crowded subway and it’s a pretty awkward situation. A lady with really overpowering perfume gets on, and the narrator has to sneeze. She does, and then...something happens. She either hallucinates, momentarily teleports or… know what, I don’t really know, but I’m super ok with it.

Your best line: “I’m sitting on the subway, trying to look at anything else but this dude’s crotch.”

“I’m underground. Not in a cave or mine shaft, just under the dirt. Being crushed by elephants and skyscrapers and semi-trucks that push it down into my stomach. Lye and phosphorus work their way under my eyelids and disintegrate my retinas. Worms crawl along my skin, looking for an orifice to tunnel through. I want to throw up, but opening my mouth fills it with decaying leaves from autumns long forgotten.”

etc etc etc.

Your worst line: j/k, it’s all of them, i hate you.

Okay so anyone reading this week probably knows that this is a top contender. It’s detailed. It’s textured. It oscillates between realistic and loving weird gracefully and satisfyingly. What the hell happens to this girl when she sneezes? I don’t need to know, but it was fun to ponder while I was reading. Whether she was hallucinating or not, it didn’t really matter for my enjoyment of the story. I was right there with her in the crowded, suffocating train, and also when she’s in the ocean or buried underground.

What I can gather is that she seems to be kind of an anxious germophobe with bad allergies. Maybe her allergies are so bad that she literally experiences some kind of crazy metaphor every time she sneezes? Who fuckin knows. It works as both a literal device and a metaphor for an intensely socially awkward person who’s afraid of people watching her sneeze in public.

I felt like I’d gone on the journey after I read this. Pretty cool. Way to exploit my well-known love of public transportation, also.


The gist: An unfortunately maimed girl with trauma-induced self esteem issues gets cat-called and freaks out to the point where she can’t eat or go anywhere. Ultimately, she has some sort of breakthrough about how she’s sort of desirable to someone. Life, am I right?

Best line: “I was an unknown paramecium suddenly thrust under the microscope and I was being observed and named and labeled and studied and remembered. No!”

Worst line: “I. Was. Mortified! Flabbergasted! Flummoxed! I was exposed! It didn’t even occur to me that I was being sexually harassed.”

So, I was kind of worried where you were going with this when I started reading. I’m leery of the idea that your protag would find validation or self esteem or w/e from really crude cat-calling. I think you went to great pains to have her be self aware of how gross the situation is, but at the end of the story her conclusion is basically, “huh, I CAN be desirable, and that’s a good thing”.

I dunno. Nothing about the writing is terrible, though I thought the character’s voice was a little over the top. I did like when she was going a little nuts, hiding in her dorm (?) and imagining that everyone was barking at her. But some of the “omg bros, ugh” type stuff came across as slightly patronizing.

I think it would have been better if it were more obvious that the narrator is kind of crazy, and thus developed a fixation on the cat-calls of some random idiot. I’m not sure if you’re trying to make any kind of statement with this story, but it does read like you’re saying that ANY kind of of validation of a woman’s desirability is better than nothing. Which is kind of

But right at the end, your narrator says: “Maybe it’s politically incorrect to have a breakthrough over childhood trauma via an unwanted fratboy hollering but that's what happened.” So I don’t know. That line comes across as a little...defensive? And kind of distracted from the story itself.

Not bad, just sort of contentious. Which fiction has every right to be, I suppose.

My other issue was that this wasn’t very descriptive. Not a whole lot of texture, since so much of the story was your narrator telling the reader how she feels and why. Not a whole lot of sensory details.


The gist: This time, we find Black Jesus deep in the heart of Nazi territory, trying to take down Hitler while not breaking the ten commandments. Jesus ultimately prevails using literal bible beating and massive amounts of marijuana cigarette smoke, though you imply that he lets one of his soldiers do actual killing. IDK about that, Black Jesus.

Your best line: “ Bullet holes allowed sunlight to criss cross, highlighting the motes as they wafted by. He pulled out a joint from his breast pocket and placed it to his lips.”

Your worst line: “said Black Jesus, his tongue flying around his mouth like a flesh colored whip.”

I mean, your Black Jesus stories are clearly something you do for fun and to make people chuckle. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am a BJ fan, so I tend to read your stories in the spirit they were written in.

Technically, I wish you wouldn’t wedge so much action and dialog into single paragraphs. Like, this:

““FAITH!” Black Jesus shouted and then slapped the bible out of the soldier’s hands. A soft music welled up as Black Jesus flew into a speech. “We’re walking into the maw of hell to stop an evil -- a real evil, before it destroys humanity.” The music rose in tempo and volume. “We are humanity’s final hope! We alone hold back the flood. We alone can do it!” The music reached a brilliant crescendo. “We must do it! For we are the Sandal Men!” Black Jesus pumped his fist in the air and shouted.”

is a pain to read. Break it up. That very last sentence is especially weird, because intuitively I want it to say “...Black Jesus shouted, pumping his fist into the air” or something like that. Basically, if the preceding dialog was shouted, you should indicate that immediately after that dialog.

To be honest with you, every time I read your BJ stories, I want them to be in comic form. I’m not sure how well these stories would work on a non-TD audience, since most of us know you. But if you could add a graphic component, I feel like you actually have the makings of something a lot of internet people would enjoy.


The gist: Olivia goes out to a wasteland and catches a ride with a giant, spirit world-traversing bone snake to get to the shade of her twin brother. She begs him to...come back? Move on to the afterlife? Let his family see him one last time? And he seems to just want to forget and disappear. At the end of the story, you reveal the Olivia is all alone, and seems to have nothing to do but wait for the snake’s return, and remember her brother. I -think- the implication is that he’s in some kind of purgatory? And that the rest of their family is dead, and Olivia wants him to go to them? I don’t know. I get a different idea of what exactly is going on each time I read this, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Your best line: “The snake drops both halves of its jaw. Olivia steps between the juts of bone and under a fanged canopy. Down the snake's throat she goes, past other ghosts whose clothes leak grit and whose eyes are fixed on the flat horizon. In a clear space, she reaches above her head and grips the serpent's spine. She remembers having hands. Edges of knobby vertebrae dig into her fingers.”

Your worst line: None!

You’ve been on a real mythical kick lately. I mean, your writing usually has a poetic, mythical feel, but your last three or so entries feel like they could almost be in a collection together.

So anyway, this was a cool piece, if not a little vague at parts. I really like the idea of this snake who swims beneath a dead land, who can apparently traverse the world of the living and the dead. Or maybe Olivia is dead, too, but she’s somehow managed to hold on to her own shape.

There’s a cool sort of mythos or cosmology going on here, but you don’t put all your cards on the table, so to speak. So it’s very mysterious.

I guess I would’ve liked a bit more concrete description? You’re clearly quite comfortable describing otherworldly things, and I KNOW you’re good at realism, and I guess I wish this piece had been more of a marriage between those two qualities. It works fine as a vignette, but I wish I’d been just a liiiittle more grounded in what was going on. Otherwise, good stuff.


Crits part 2 will be up tonight!

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


my reign of bumbling, inconsistent mediocrity continues forth

for us, victory is our name's not being on the board at all.

also, thx 4 the crits

Echo Cian
Jun 16, 2011

Sitting Here posted:

I think one of the most essential things for good description is a keen sense of observation. A lot of you guys were clearly regurgitating descriptive-type phrases that you've seen other writers use. Some of you obviously had a movie-like picture of your story in your head, but couldn't figure out which parts to focus on.

This was the biggest problem this week. Things turn cliche because one person uses them, and then someone likes that description, so they just keep using the same phrase until all meaning is lost instead of coming up with something new from personal experiences. Think of impressions, not just the plain fact of the inanimate image sitting before you.

I didn't get in-depth, but here's my commentary for the week. I can get into more detail if something is unclear, but I doubt I'd say anything the other judges won't cover on their own.

Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Way late, but thank you Echo Cian and God Over Djinn for your crits back in March.

Mar 22, 2013


I'm sleepy so here's part of my crits, the rest to come soon. This has N. Senada, Jitzu, Guiness13, JcDent, starr, Entenzahn, LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, and crabrock.

I've tried to pull helpful examples and offer general tips, so if you're just skimming through to see your crit, take a minute to pause and check out my comments marked by for HOT TIPS.

N. Senada - Kwame Was Thirsty
There's nothing that bad about this, but I'm saying that because there's not a lot that stands out about this. The emotions work well enough: tired, worried, exhausted, and finally feeling free. It doesn't say much about the attack and the child soldier, though--it seems like they don't really have a reason to be there other than for drama. If you wanted to take a 'life makes no sense' tack with that section, that could easily have worked--focus on the absurdity of being run out of his home by a ten year old boy, something like that.

Structurally, there's some sentence fragments that bug me. Something like this is okay:


Kwame closed his eyes and tried to rest. But, a crunch.
It makes sense as a fragment because it's not related to the previous sentence. It's like an interjection more than anything else. This is what I don't like:


He opened them and saw a young cub. Its eyes without malice
You can see how here, it's more dependent on the sentence before it. Either turn it into its own sentence or merge it into the previous sentence. (At least, that's what I'd do.)

Finally, for a week focused on description, I felt like your prose was weak in places. I might do a small effortpost at the end of these crits on effective descriptive prose, but I'll provide an example of something that worked and something that didn't work from your story, so you can get an idea.

This worked for me posted:

He desperately held the liquid in his mouth, trying to coat his tongue, his gums, his lips. This is a good, interesting image. The metallic taste was too much and he spit it on the ground in front of him. Metallic taste is meh, it's kind of the default descriptor of blood, so it's not as interesting. His eyes failed to see the difference between it and the soil. This is wordier than it should be, but it tells me about his fatigue in an interesting way, by way of the color of soil and his blood.

This didn't work for me posted:

Kwame felt the soft, golden fur and silky, white whiskers. If he's feeling it, why are the colors important? He looked deep into yellow eyes. Aren't most lion's eyes yellow anyway? Also leaving out the article feels odd to me. The cat lazily Adverbs: not usually a good idea. Try to show what a lazy lick is like. licked Kwame’s hand with its scratchy, pink tongue. This is more of 'stuff I already know' and by this point the [adjective] [color] [noun] pattern is bugging me.

Jitzu_the_Monk - Tidal Forces
What you were going for is a decent story, even if it’s a Disney Channel original movie-type story. It didn’t work for me for a couple reasons, but I can see the intention behind it. First, as I was reading it, there wasn’t a clear transition between Vince’s viewpoint and Ron’s, stylistically or in terms of tense. At the very least, I’d put Ron right at the beginning of that first paragraph (“Ron’s memory of his father blurred…”) so that it’s clear we’re not in Vince’s head any more. Second, the mom doesn’t do much more than act as a concern prop--first she worries about him, then he worries about her. Third, it’s both kind of weird that he wins a competition that they were still holding despite inclement weather and keeps on surfing despite said weather, and it’s also weird that he just gets attacked by a shark out of nowhere. (Three-point-fifth, while I liked the closure, you could have made it less explicit. I like realizing cool synchronicities in stories, but I like it less when the author says “hey, look at this synchronicity.”)

And for a week that focused on description, you didn’t put a lot of it in. As I read it, I thought a bit about what might have been, and I wanted to know things like how does Ron feel about when the sea smells kind of gross or when he gets seaweed tangled in his toes or something other than the most picturesque examples of beach. Most people like warm sand and cool waters, but maybe as someone in love with the sea, he even finds the unpleasant parts comforting. Also, I was expecting to hear more about what surfing feels like--even if you haven’t done it in your life, I bet you could imagine all the forces at work and pull something interesting out of there.

As some parting notes, don’t be afraid to use “said”. You’ve got six dialogue tags, and you used ‘pleaded’, ‘explained’, ‘snapped’, ‘call’, ‘told’, and ‘asked’ (this one is all right). Let your dialogue speak for itself. Ideally, use said bookisms (that is, words other than ‘said’) when it substantially changes or enhances the meaning of what’s been said. There’s points where dialogue doesn’t quite connect up logically, and just generally, you had some odd turns of phrase. (“The sea, salty in all its malice”, “Ron, it’s your mother” out of the blue attributed only to ‘someone’, “Ron looked off to the sea,” in the middle of a hospital room.)

Guiness13 - In the Autumn
I like it. There’s some spots where it’s a little less than it could be, but overall it’s strong and you use the opportunity to get descriptive well. Some of the images are a little traditional fall stuff--kaleidoscope of colors, that kind of thing--but it felt like getting your footing before moving onto more interesting sights, like seeing a river filtered through a fall canopy and lines like this:


The joint was nothing but a knot of pain by that point. It throbbed like an overworked heart.
Interesting, because of the analogy to other ailments associated with aging--it feels like the way someone like Will authentically would think about it. Or like this:


The faded smell of earthworms and the slow decay of autumn stirred memories…
Interesting, similar to what I was talking about with Jitzu, because earthworms and rotting leaves aren’t really appealing, but in the context you make it warmly nostalgic.


My ears felt like prosthetics glued to my head.
Interesting, because it’s just a weird image but yeah, when your ears get really cold they can feel like that. It’s authentic, but it’s not something I’ve thought of before.

For something that’s really focused on description, you did a good job of presenting a story, too. You brought in Evelyn quickly in the beginning (after some weird tense shifts in your first sentence) and you didn’t try to make a thing of hiding important information from the reader. We know what’s up, so it doesn’t feel cheap. For a week when vignettes were okay, you gave a satisfyingly full plot arc, so good job.

JcDent - Snowing Awful
There were things I really liked about this, and things that I really didn’t like. What I did like was the variety of description. It felt real, the way someone who’s been playing in snow since they were a little kid feels about snow. At the same time, what you’re saying about snow and cold and all that doesn’t feel too tired. There’s some parts that are a schmaltzy but generally, the things you have to say about snow are solid, and like a lot of good description, they say more than just what they say on the surface--here, we get to see some of what Hans’s childhood was like.

The first problem I have is that you could have easily cut 100-200 words just by going through and cutting out all the conversationalisms. That’s a word I made up for things like “well,” or “yet,” or “really” or “just” or starting a sentence with “Now,” or “Of course.” This is a problem that I’ve had, which is why I’m so sensitive to it. The extra words clutter your meaning and make them less effective. If you want a conversational tone, do it through word choice, not by adding extra words.

Second problem is that you need to do an editing pass. There’s some lines that are just mangled (“the long line of mine plodding up the path, hunch under they packs”, “Scarf might have naturally been an ally of the neck that also saved the nose from falling off.”) and there’s times when the tense jumps around between past and present, and that’s the sort of thing you catch and fix with an editing pass. I hate editing personally, but it’s something I just have to do, every time.

Third and last problem is that I’m not a fan of concealing information, as I’ve mentioned in my other crits. I know vignettes are okay this week, but really, there’d be nothing wrong with a vignette being “a German (Swiss?) soldier reminisces over his childhood while climbing a mountain to set up an artillery battery”. Twist/reveal endings or last lines can make the reader feel cheated, if they come out of nowhere, or like the whole story was a shaggy dog story just to set up the ending. This isn’t a particularly egregious case of this, but it bothered me just a little with how it felt kind of intentionally obtuse, not willing to come out and say they were soldiers carrying cannon parts but insisting on “tubes”.

But, in the end, you’ve got some good ideas, so stick at it, work on polishing your pieces, and I’m looking forward to seeing crushing you in Thunderdome next time you enter.

[editor's note: I wrote that joke before you lost, haha oops]

starr - Velvet
This is 2/3rds of a good story stretched out over a whole story. You’ve got a simple, clear goal for your character, and it’s all about him working to achieve it. You’ve got the start of some good imagery with the contrasting feelings of arid, dry vegetation compared to the wetness of irrigation and shade and all of that. But those ideas don’t get much further than the adjective level. There’s flickers of good stuff (“He thought of the trees just behind him, as scraggly and hard as he was.”) but most of it is describing heat and dry and dusty versus cool and shady and wet. You’ve got lines like this:


The white hot heat of the noon sun glared down at him.
First, white hot is kind of cliche, second, “hot heat”. This is the sort of thing you trim out in editing passes. (It happens again, though less egregiously: “In the hot sun the chain links had become heated.”)

The plot works, though it got a little odd when you’re saying he’s going from Africa to Europe--I’m not sure where this is supposed to be taking place (Turkey?) and it seems weird that a border fence would also be a border between hot and arid and wet and shady. That said, I’m giving less weight to plot this week since it is Descriptive Week and all.

That said, for a Descriptive Week, you could definitely have taken more risks with your prose. The plot was well-presented, but it felt like a simple plot with a lot of adjectives more than a simple plot making space for vivid imagery.

Entenzahn - This Field of Flowers
You’re lucky this is Descriptive Week, because otherwise featuring the literal living embodiment of street punk would be a bit too corny for me. So, to focus on the wordwork for a bit: this is good. It gets a little flowery (hurr hurr) at points, but there’s interesting images to be had, stuff like:


From the bottom of the hill the old poppy field went out as far as the eye could see, until a crimson ruffle married a blue sky.


He held on to the gun for too many reasons.
But then sometimes you make little mistakes and it brings me down a bit. (“Safe [save] for one spot.”) Sometimes you’re kind of redundant, and it’s kind of redundant. (“a nonchalance and directness to them that gave the group a certain air of laissez-faire,”) The imagery is vivid enough for the most part though.

The plot is, as a lot of plots this week, light and/or a bit cliche. That’s fine, just saying. Personally, I felt that Guiness13’s kind of cliche plot was a bit more rooted in reality, whereas this one is more rooted in a post from the BNP’s Facebook page or something. Touching, but more artificially sweet than your partner-in-Lifetime Originals up there.

Your story is heavier on the plot than a lot of other stories this week, and it means that the description took more of a back seat. What was there was pretty good, but in a way it feels like you started and ended with description in mind and filled the middle in pretty quickly. Not saying that’s bad, just my impression.

Plot-wise, I thought it was nice, but the issue I had was that you hid your hand a little bit too well. I never got the feeling that they were three, because the way Cheng talks about Li, it’s like she’s not there. If that was your intention, great job. Except that’s really all the exposition we get about Li until much later. Too subtle is not usually a problem in Thunderdome, but I think the reason it happened was that there’s two pieces of information here: there’s a third band member, Li, and she’s the first-person narrator. The pieces that suggest this are too far apart, so it took until “Shut the gently caress up Li!” for me to put it all together. Once I got that, I read back through the beginning again and noticed the hints, but I hadn’t picked up on them until then. It made this end up being a story where information is concealed--in a stylistic way, sure, but it was too subtle and strewn in little bits that it wasn’t clear to me.

Description-wise, I could imagine the scene of the restaurant and the car ride and the aftermath of the crash, though the crash was a little abstract--still an interesting image, but maybe the simile could have been more grounded. Aside from some slight redundancy with burning flames, it’s generally good, and it fits the more plot-heavy story well enough that it’s shorter and quicker.

crabrock - Blessed
This was a lot of fun, and I’m going to pull some of my favorite descriptions out as I go through, partially to show you what worked for me and partially to show everyone else the sort of thing that works. You did a lot with the senses, and the choice to go with someone sensitive to smells is a pretty good one, but you go a lot beyond smells here.


flower-print pants, red nails, gold necklaces drooping from her neck
To talk to everyone for a minute: Why does this work? A part standing in for the whole. When you’re describing something, you don’t need to lay out everything. Don’t be all-encompassing, give the reader a few quick jolts to let them draw the picture in their mind. Crabrock didn’t say she was ostentatiously colorful, and he didn’t even mention her perfume there, but the description gives us an image of a person, and we can fill in the details because what he’s given us is so vivid.

Some other ones I liked: “Being crushed by elephants and skyscrapers and semi-trucks that push it down into my stomach.”, “that throaty sigh that sounds like a choking animal”, “a lungful of snotty, warm air”.

The plot is pretty simple, like starr’s this week, but it works, the scenes keep it interesting, and it’s an unexpected image, to be sneezing yourself into different worlds each time. The only thing plot-wise I can complain is that she doesn’t really do anything, it’s mostly her reactions, but hey, it’s Description Week, I’ll give it a pass.

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer

Thunderdome Week CXVII: Tired of your poo poo

Listen. I'm tired of your poo poo. Yes, you. Yours in particular. Get off my lawn.

Luckily for you, it's Halloween. You can put on a costume and saunter right up to my door. I'll never know it's you. I'll just figure it's some other Slutty Pineapple.

This is an anonymous week

You will be contacting N. Senada via PM or NSenadaSA at to sign up and submit your story. Only after signups close will this person reveal how many people signed up this week.

The judges this week will not even know who signed up, let alone who wrote the story. The caveat is, I am not going to tell you who the other judges are, so no judge pandering this week (other than to me; I also take bribes).

What to write about?

I'm tired of your poo poo. Of whining that you don't get the prompt. Of whining that you DID meet the prompt, it was just a loose interpretation. This week it's easy. YOUR STORY MUST HAVE A PUMPKIN IN IT. Like a physical, actual pumpkin. Not a pumpkin spice latte. Not a lonely house or a butt as a metaphor for a pumpkin, but A loving PUMPKIN. the orange kind. With a stem. Tastes like poo poo and is gross to carve. THAT KIND OF PUMPKIN. I don't care what the hell you do with that pumpkin, or what genre it is, or anything else, other than YOU HAVE A PUMPKIN IN YOUR STORY.

Wordcount: 1500
Signups close: Friday, 11:59 PM EST
Submissions close: Sunday, 11:59 PM EST

? [Judge1]

Costumed Writers:

Things I like:
Things [Judge1] likes:

Things I don't like:
Expository Dialogue
Kidney Stones
Things [Judge1] doesn't like:
Stories that cut off in the middle

crabrock fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2014 around 23:35

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

I'll take the requests, I'm out this week.

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer


crabrock fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2014 around 01:22

N. Senada
May 17, 2011

I prefer PMs but email is there for those who need it.

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


my reign of bumbling, inconsistent mediocrity continues forth

If you have enough time to whine, then you probably have enough time to brawl.

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer


Humboldt Squid
Jan 21, 2006

Woops sorry about that, copy\paste error on my part. Your avatar should be fixed soon.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Is the losertar permanent?

What happens, now that I lost?

What does Toxx mean?

Is "16teen" "2014teen" a joke I'm not getting or is my English at fault?

Mar 22, 2013

Losertars are your badge of shame until someone (possibly you) changes it, just like any old avatar.

You lost, but now you can learn from your mistakes for next time.

Toxx means you submit something, or you get banned. It's your choice if you decide to toxx yourself.

18teen is from a historically bad TD story.

Sorry that this post wasn't funny

Sorry that my posts are never funny

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

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

It's ok djeser we still laugh at you sometimes.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Djeser posted:

Losertars are your badge of shame until someone (possibly you) changes it, just like any old avatar.

You lost, but now you can learn from your mistakes for next time.

Toxx means you submit something, or you get banned. It's your choice if you decide to toxx yourself.

18teen is from a historically bad TD story.

Sorry that this post wasn't funny

Sorry that my posts are never funny

I had some early impression that Losers miss the next TD, that's why I'm askin'.

Is that historically bad story linked in the OP?

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

JcDent posted:

Is "16teen" "2014teen" a joke I'm not getting or is my English at fault?

To expand on this one, in the last Thunderdome thread, Baudolino posted the immortal epic "Rural Rentboys." Nothing before or since has topped the sentence 'England,Shropshire, Wroxeter, two 18teen year old boys are entering an abonend bunker.' That's not to say some writers haven't tried. Baudolino's opus finds a place in the hearts of all who read it, and the thread title and any other teenteen jokes are fond tribute.

The story is linked in the second post of the thread, toward the bottom.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2014 around 05:42

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer

JcDent posted:

I had some early impression that Losers miss the next TD, that's why I'm askin'.

No, how will you ever get better if you miss weeks? You can, and SHOULD enter (this week is a little different, see prompt post). If you end up winning, somebody here will probably buy you a new avatar. Or you can always change it yourself if it's important, but as you'll see looking through this thread, it's not very uncommon and nobody will look down on you for it. It just means you have nowhere to go but up.

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Losertars are cool and you should keep them forever IMO, until the thread is just one throbbing pulsating mass of losertar.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


Christ it's been too long. I hain't even had time to read the prompts I've missed, much less the stories.

Which means I'm in with whatever the current/next prompt is. And I need a flash rule. Something technical/stylistic, as opposed to plot/setting.

Hook me up. I'm going back to bed.

Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Hammer Bro. posted:

Christ it's been too long. I hain't even had time to read the prompts I've missed, much less the stories.

Which means I'm in with whatever the current/next prompt is. And I need a flash rule. Something technical/stylistic, as opposed to plot/setting.

Hook me up. I'm going back to bed.

Looks like somebody done goofed. (It's you.)

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer


for obvious reasons. If you can't think of a great, award-winning story with the excellent prompt of "a pumpkin" then you're never going to make it as a writer.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Kaishai posted:

To expand on this one, in the last Thunderdome thread, Baudolino posted the immortal epic "Rural Rentboys." Nothing before or since has topped the sentence 'England,Shropshire, Wroxeter, two 18teen year old boys are entering an abonend bunker.' That's not to say some writers haven't tried. Baudolino's opus finds a place in the hearts of all who read it, and the thread title and any other teenteen jokes are fond tribute.

The story is linked in the second post of the thread, toward the bottom.

I read it.

I can see forever!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Clapping Larry

Week 116 crits part 2

Your Sledgehammer

The gist: The universe gets created, and fireflies, like stars, watch over the various planets and creatures. One firefly spies on a couple having a misunderstanding, and ultimately is happy that humans are empathetic and nuanced enough to find meaning in something as simple as a blueberry muffin.

Your best line: “The firefly hummed joyously. The humans thought they were falconers when they were in fact falcons, carrying out the purpose that the Divine had decided before she’d even lit up the night sky. But for all their delusions of grandeur, they were special. They were the only things in the universe capable of that kind of intense, occasionally misbegotten empathy. Only a person could imbue a blueberry muffin with meaning.”

Your worst line: “In the beginning, there was Nothing.” (I’m just a curmudgeon about cliche openers though)

So, I was ready to be annoyed by this. When I read the opening, I thought this was going to be your typical world-creation fable. But you went a direction I didn’t expect with the whole muffin thing. You took a good observation about humanity and couched it within a mythical context.

I feel like we could’ve spent a little less time with the creator deity at the beginning. The bits where you’re telling us about how the cosmos happened were kind of cliche, and I found myself scanning. But I really liked how you used the firefly to kind of “zoom in” on what was happening on Earth. I like that you showed us the inherent joy in what was otherwise a mundane and sad situation.

Like I said, you could cut some stuff out. But on the other hand, your story fits well within the word count, and had kind of a nice moral. Pretty good job this week!


The gist: A couple goes on vacation to Africa. The husband wants to do Africa stuff, the wife is a full-time golfer. They appear to hate each other. While they’re bickering, a bunch of refugees try to climb over the border fence. The couple argues some more, and then the wife starts hitting balls at the guards chasing the refugees.

Your best line: “I looked at the scarlet and blue barred shirt. The peeling decals of the old sponsor and the name Ibrahimovic had left a dirty crusted outline of glue.”

“She shanked the first ball, but the second flew true and pinged off the visor of a climbing guard. Guards were running towards her, but she just kept swinging. She’s drat good at golf, I’ll giver her that.” (because you at least kind of redeemed a very unlikeable character)

Your worst line: “I guess that’s what hard work gets me, emasculation at the hands of a Wife who spends all week at the club.”

““Quit daydreaming. I’ll let you away with that one.”” (I think you’re missing the word “get”)

“Sherri rolled her eyes “They can’t be doing too badly, I know how much your soccer shirts cost. They better not stop us getting down the back nine.”” (This is where Sherri gets comically bad)

Okay. This was a rough one, Newt. Not gonna lie to you about that. Your characters were too unlikeable. Only the very last line redeemed Sherri, and only just. Otherwise, it’s a story about how a benignly sexist guy and a benignly racist, golf-nut woman got their groove back.

I guess I can see what you were going for. Here are these entitled, obnoxious westerners bickering on a luxurious golf course while less fortunate people run for their lives. I think the narrator is meant to be sympathetic, but honestly they both come across as the sort of people I dread interacting with, even in fiction.

The last paragraph might be the only thing that saves this. I was afraid Sherri was about to start taking pot shots at the refugees, and was pleasantly surprised when that wasn’t the case. I may have let out a sigh of relief.

Your sensory details were touch and go. That line about the fading shirt was pretty vivid and meaningful within the context of your story, but sometimes you let it slip in favor of making this couple as unlikable as possible.

Grizzled Patriarch

The gist: Some guy, presumably sent from the coroner’s office, comes to pick up the body of Paul Owens. The only problem is, Paul isn’t dead. The family complies, thinking it’s all just a mistake that will work out in the end, and end up burying Paul alive.

Your best line: “My father was sitting in the back of the hearse. He parted the curtain and waved at us through the tinted window, and I waved back. My mother forced a weak smile, but she was squeezing the steering wheel so tight that her fingers had turned the color of chalk.”

Your worst line: “She told me that no one likes to admit when they’ve made a mistake. That sometimes, you make a mistake and it just gets out of hand. Sometimes, it goes so far that you can’t take it back, even if you want to.” (WAY TO RUIN THE FEELING OF YOUR WHOLE STORY BY EXPLAINING THE POINT IN THE VERY LAST SENTENCE AAAHHHHH)

Phew. Okay. So, I liked this story all the way up until the very last line, where you just friggin throw everything in my face. It was really absurd, but in a quiet mundane way. It was a very normal thing (a bureaucratic mistake) mixed with a very creepy and weird thing (burying dad alive). And then you go and explain the whole point of the story in the last paragraph. That’s like punching a dude in the balls right before he’s about to blow his load, man.

The descriptive details were understated but effective. I particularly liked the lines I quoted for your Best Line. Other writers take note, sometimes gushy and over-the-top isn’t the best way to approach description.

Anyway, I was gonna put this down for a solid HM, but now I just don’t know.


The gist: We see the city from the perspective of a stray cat. The cat finds a young woman who is very sick (though I’m not sure if it’s some kind of necrosis or if she’s just very very skinny), but is well enough to show the cat love, and receive affection in return.

Your best line: “The booming proclamations from the minarets had fallen silent, leaving only the brook-water babble of conversation.”

“She passed an alley, and heard a very acute nothing: the deep silence that underlies a disorder of the soul, and the sort of sickness you don't come back from. It hung thick in the air, a miasma of suffering. A sort of blue-grey colour-not-colour that tugged and jack-knived away when she tried to focus on it. The men and women of the market walked by without noticing. They had seen it too many times to care. A crust of indifference had formed over their eyes. All over the world, the same drama played itself out a million times a day. Humans were selectively blind to pain. Cats did not have the luxury.”

Your worst line: None stood out.

This was sweet and sad and pretty. I could see Mahtab scampering around the city, and smell the market and the sickness. I thought the way you used color was particularly interesting. Am I interpreting correctly that Mahtab perceives smells as color? Or something like that? Either way, it seemed like some cool cat synesthesia was happening.

I liked that a little animal could show a sort of compassion to a human, even though she’s doing what cats do and seeking basic comfort and safety.
I guess the whole “indifference of humans to suffering, as seen by an adorable animal” trope is kind of tired. That was the only thing that I didn’t enjoy as much. I mean, it’s true: we all walk past hurt and needy people everyday. We tell ourselves there’s nothing we can do, and move on. And you’re right, an animal doesn’t think that way. I just wish you’d approached it differently.

Otherwise, good stuff.

Schneider Heim

The gist: A queen must wage a war she doesn’t want a part of. Her younger sister is eager for combat. They discuss war in a massive room full of artificial red poppies, one for every 100 dead in the war. The queen dies, and the princess becomes the queen. War continues, and it appears that the rebels are going to win. The new queen tries to parley with them, but they refuse, so she blows them the hell up. Also, there’s a white poppy for peace, or something.

Your best line: “Vivianne touched the unmoving petals. Ceramic, perhaps. Sharp enough to cut, even. She had been fooled by their authenticity.”

Your worst line: “"As many do proclaim. But I wonder if we can pursue another way. I know I must not waver, but..."” (P. cliche)

Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said that you and Entenzahn wrote similar stories. Poppies and war, who’d have thought. This is a little too “I MUST FIGHT, BUT AT WHAT COST?” for me, especially considering the ending where she nukes the other guys out of existence. I guess you’re trying to make the point that as much as we want peace, we’re always going to be locked into this endless dance of violence and war.

There’s a bit more worldbuilding here than I would have recommended for a flash fiction piece. Especially because you’re trying to deal with ~themes~ and imagery. So I don’t care as much about the giant robots.

The imagery was okay, but you also got kind of talking head-ish with the dialog. It’s just flowers, lamenting about war, some explosions, and then another explosion.


The gist: Benny the snake goes on a walk to get some pictures for his senior thesis. He finds some hummingbirds, who do a mating dance. Benny almost falls over! In the end, the birds bone, and Benny takes some black and white pictures for his thesis.

Your best line: “They were revolving around me, like a pair of tiny green moons around a giant planet.”

Your worst line: “Their main plumage is green while their undersides are light gray and their heads are black. Like their namesake implies, their throats are covered with ruby-colored feathers.”

“ they are incredibly fast and they consume more than their own weight in nectar.”

“And then they danced.
"Danced" is probably the wrong word.”

“And boy, did I ever.”

Benny. Benny, Benny, Benny. You took what could have been a cool little scene--someone photographing two mating hummingbirds--and made it into a cross between a “what I did over summer vacation” essay and a wikipedia article.

Why did you clump up your paragraphs like that?

You should completely get rid of interjections like “amazingly”, “strangely enough”, “actually”, and so on.

Pretty much all I can say about this is that you buried anything good or interesting about this story inside of dry info-dumps and walls of text. C’mon, Benny.


The gist: A recently single woman sneaks into the Holi Run to have her wedding dress pelted with colorful powder. She’s having a cathartic time, but then she looks over and sees a happy young couple. Just then, race security shows up, and she bolts from the race, feeling free but lamenting the future of marital bondage in store for the young couple.

Your best line: “The first blooming handful of powder ran down her side, the next swiped across her back, wisped its way through her trailing hair. The light blows kept coming as the crowd cheered and whooped, poofs of pressure against her body. Green and yellow and blue and pink and purple bruises against her cotton-and-crinoline skin, joyous blows that fed her hunger for punishment over and over again. With each one, she felt a part of herself disappear, felt it puff away in a plume of smoke, the things he had piled onto her in his effort to keep her pristine, as pure as snow that never fell to Earth. Sweat dripped from her cheeks, dripped across the bridge of her nose, made reddish trails, as if she was weeping blood instead of tears across her pale face.”

Your worst line: “She began to walk toward them, wanted to tell them what she knew, that they could still save themselves—” (not super bad, it just feels weirdly trite compared to how strong everything else is. SAVE YOURSELVES)

So, had you submitted this on time, it probably would’ve been a really strong contender. I don’t have much to say about it. I wish I’d had a better sense of who the protagonist was, I guess. She felt kind of like a stand-in for every recently divorced lady ever. But that didn’t detract from it too much, because the setting and the colors and the description was spot on.

Be faster next time.

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


Haha, sweet. Can't even catch a break with blind bravado in the 'dome. What are the odds? (1 in 117?)

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Clapping Larry

I'm sure someone somewhere is probably in, and they will most likely rip all your heads off and defecate down your esophagi, but I can't be sure.

Since we can't post high quality "in" posts, POST THE 'DOMEST PICS U GOT

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

by R. Guyovich

Chairchucker posted:

Losertars are cool and you should keep them forever IMO, until the thread is just one throbbing pulsating mass of losertar.


Apr 9, 2005

"I'm thirty," I said. "I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."

ceaselessfuture fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2014 around 23:15

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

(People pictured are not really dead. It's staged to help with training. May be a bit graphic for those with weak stomachs. (It's not))

Mercedes fucked around with this message at Oct 28, 2014 around 23:50

Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills

Also: Crits From Week Whatever The Week I Judged Was For: Gau, Tyrannosaurus, Some Guy TT, Your Sledgehammer, kurona_bright, Shaky Premise, Grizzled Patriarch, crabrock, Sitting Here, and Phobia.

The Rocks and Shoals - Gau

Your writing style is solid, your narrative arc is decent, and I couldn’t connect with this at all. The biggest problem here is a lack of context for the situation in which Ithaca finds himself. Some notion of what he was doing in space, and why he was so ill-prepared for something as predictable as a comet might have grounded this a little better. You do give us some sense of Ithaca’s humanity, he’s not a complete cipher, but it was just enough to make me yearn for more.

Awesome - Tyrannosaurus

The feel-good hit of the week (which is kind of odd, given the events of the story, but I suppose that’s the point). This story’s strengths are character and charm, particularly in the person of your endearingly self-absorbed protagonist. While that wasn’t enough to surpass the best this week had to offer, this story was a genuine pleasure to read. I really don’t have much to say beyond that.

The Big Crunch - Some Guy TT

This story had its flaws, but it also did some things I really enjoyed, and with some polish it could become something special.

You’ve got a bit too much going on in the background, and it all comes across as a muddled, jumbled mess, enough to serve as a distraction. Professor Stevens’ mindset, and his complicated, conflicted relationship with Doctor Salisbury are your real strengths here, but it’s easy to lose sight of that while you’re trying to work out just what the hell’s going on. I like the robot (and I love “MY CONGRATULATIONS. FATE SAVED YOU FROM MAKING A MORAL DECISION”) but again, it’s never quite clear exactly what’s up with it. (I’d assumed that Salisbury had uploaded her consciousness to it or something, but the ending seems to contract that.)

Your ending, while more satisfying than many this week, lacks something. There’s no real emotional payoff and, given the revelations (sort of) about what sent Stevens on his path in the first place, I’d like to see something more than what you give us.

Catch You on the Flipside - Your Sledgehammer

I like the conceit of a press conference as an expository device. I think you oversell it a little (and you really don’t need to open the “can/should we kill Hitler” can of worms at all if you’re not going to actually deal with that question, not in this short a story) but it’s a nice touch. Unfortunately you spend so much time here that you don’t really have much space to deal with the crisis that results, making anything you could have done with this feel inadequate.

Jon seems completely superfluous to the action. Not that Ben’s especially well-realized either, but Jon seems to be there entirely so you can say “Jon and Ben” a couple of times. You could probably cut him entirely.

The situation you set up is pretty well-trod territory for time travel stories, but that doesn’t have to be a problem. The real problem here is that this crisis should be the centerpiece of your story. Whatever you’ve done to develop Ben seems to stop cold the instant Old Ben shows up, and we’re given a (well-rendered, I’ll grant you) action sequence instead. Your ending should be a powerful moment of Ben and Jon destroying their life’s work. And it’s just so completely sterile, just a thing that happened, without meaning, without life.

All Gone Wrong - kurona_bright

I have a feeling this all made perfect sense in your head. Unfortunately, that sense never quite made it to the page. I think I was able to follow what was happening, more or less, but I’m sure that a lot of the nuance eluded me. You could be a lot clearer in setting up your premise, and I think you’ve just made this too complicated. I can sympathize; lord knows I have a tendency to try to fit 5,000-word ideas into a 1,000 word box.

Your perspective shift did you no favors either. Sometimes this can work. It didn’t really work here, though I see why you did it.

And your ending, if you can call it that. The revelation that John’s trying to protect his brother from summary execution or mega-shunning or whatever-the-gently caress with what is possibly the most transparent ruse ever feels like it should have been the start of things, not the very end.

Your descriptions are solid, and you’re pretty good at setting a scene, but you just didn’t deliver a complete story, and certainly not one that made a great deal of sense.

Grandmother - Shaky Premise

Your structure kind of works, but not well enough. Where it shines is in your rendering of Mr. McKinley’s emotional responses to the memories he’s relating. Unfortunately that falls away pretty early on. If you’re going to do this, commit to it hard, make us feel the importance of this event as Mr. McKinley relates it. Your direct interactions between McKinley and Jane are your best work here, and I would have liked to see you bring that sensibility to the rest of the story.

And your ending. What the hell? That’s not even a twist ending, that’s a wrench-your-head-straight-off-your-neck ending. It’s completely alien to anything you’ve developed in the story, it adds nothing thematic, and it really just feels like you wrote yourself into a corner. It’s deus ex machina of the worst sort, and it completely undermines what you’ve accomplished here.

Leading Out To Sea - Grizzled Patriarch

I don’t see this story’s relevance to the prompt at all, but on the whole, I’d much rather read a good story that’s off-prompt than a bad one that’s on-prompt, and you’ve written a good story here.

My only real complaint is that I wish Farah were more an active part of the story. I think it works as is, but I think it would be stronger if Farah weren’t simply watching this all play out around her. Though maybe it’s the beginning of the Epic Tale of Farah Going Off To Rescue Her Mother Under The Sea. I would read that.

My First Break - crabrock

This does a lot of things that I like, but there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on that keeps me from wholeheartedly embracing it. I think (typically for this week) that it’s your ending that brings this down, though it really doesn’t bring it down far. Martin’s delusions of becoming a robot don’t really inform his interactions with his brother (aside from a short conversation about NSA listening devices), or his final moments with his mother’s body; I don’t see that this story would be any different if Martin were just numb with grief rather than actively delusional.

Even so, you evoke this particular sort of grief, where you force yourself to keep going because you can’t afford not to, very well. This was absolutely one of the better pieces this week.

The Bridge and the Thingness - Sitting Here

Where this story excels is in its evocation of its setting. You do a fantastic job of giving life to a place and making it feel real.

I truly don’t have a lot to say here. At first I wished the protagonists were more a part of what was going on, but the more I consider, the more I feel that Corina’s feelings about the bridge, the connection she feels to it and its history, are the story, that the actual events are secondary. That wouldn’t work for every story, but I think it works well here.

No One Expects Death until the Eleventh Hour - Phobia

Your version of Death is pretty derivative of Pratchett’s (and the game of Twister is straight out of the second Bill and Ted movie), though I think it’s probably hard to write a truly original personification of Death in this day and age. Originality of ideas isn’t that big a deal, but if your ideas aren’t unique to your story, then something else ought to be there to distinguish it from all the other “dying person bargains with Death for their life” stories out there. And there really isn’t, here.

Matilda doesn’t feel like a distinct person, and her situation doesn’t quite make sense. I actually like the idea that avoiding one form of death only to fall prey to another would cause an existential crisis of some sort, but you could have committed harder to that premise.

Given that Death’s skeletal nature is critical to your ending, you could have benefited from a clearer description of him earlier than “he didn’t look like she expected’ (and what did she expect?) and a reference to skeletal fingers.

For its various flaws, though, this story has a certain charm that, while it doesn’t really elevate the work, probably at least salvages it. It was never going to win but I enjoyed reading it.

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.

Aug 2, 2002

Grimey Drawer


Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.

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