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Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


TD XCI Crits: I Hate You All, Plus The Earth

This was not the worst week I've read. In fact, there were markedly fewer stories I would call hair-pullingly bad in the mix. Unfortunately, even fewer rose to the lofty bar of merely mediocre - a lot of you got mired in the swamp of Plain Old Bad.

But, you know, progress. Now for my usual up-front lesson, which I'll cite throughout the crits, even though you're going to skip it anyway because you have the patience of a two-month-old puppy, but you're less cute and retained its proclivity for widdling the carpet.

Fetchin' My Newspaper: A word from the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut wrote good. He also wrote eight tips on writing short stories. Let’s go over them.

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

Write a story worth telling. All storytelling is essentially an act of communication. If you have nothing to say, it comes out as hot air (and/or postmodernism, which is the same thing (sorry, couldn’t resist the urge to take a cheap shot (not actually sorry, postmodernism is wretched))).

Most of you hosed up on this one pretty hard, so I’m not even going to bother mentioning it in crits.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

Useful when selling fiction, either to win the Dome or to get published. The more people who can identify-with (or even like!) one of your major characters, the greater the chance they’ll enjoy the story.

Having nothing but dislikeable characters is possible, but it’s much harder to pull off. Many people don’t like amazing, important books like The Great Gatsby or A Catcher in the Rye because all the characters are unsympathetic.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

This is a really loving important one. It should be crystal clear (to the reader) what each character wants at any given time. Any character you include must have a goal, the reader must be able to understand that goal, and the character’s actions must logically follow from that goal.

(Note: This does not preclude layered or conflicting goals. Deep characters tend to have goals on multiple levels, even goals they don’t themselves realize at the time. These goals are often in conflict with one another. For those who’ve done a basic creative writing class, this is where Character vs. Self conflict arises.)

4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

Kill your darlings, cut the flab. This is a short story. If it’s not showing us something vital, something necessary for understanding the story’s characters or action, then cut it.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

Look at your conclusion. What information is necessary to feel the emotional weight behind it, and to understand it? Cut everything else. We only need the barest setup to know what a character’s world is like before your inciting event turns it upside down.

(Has your character’s world not been turned upside down? Then you’ve written a boring story. See next point.)

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

Pretty straightforward, I think. Turn your character's world upside down and show us how they react.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

When you’re drafting a story, draft the story you want to tell. When you’re editing a story, start thinking about what the reader will want to read, and what the reader will find moving or interesting.

In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King puts it like this: “Write with the door closed. Rewrite with the door open.”

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

A common new-writer mistake is to omit important details early on in a story, so that they get a “gotcha!” or “ah ha!” reveal when they put it down later. One common example is that they hint at an event or person which the characters are clearly aware of, but is unknown/unintroduced to the audience.

This is a cheap trick, at best. More often, it will annoy readers rather than intrigue them. It’s hard to care about a conversation or event when you have little context.

The sort-of exception to this rule is mystery writing (as in detectives, as in Sherlock Holmes). Mysteries are essentially puzzles for the reader to solve - and even then you must include all the clues necessary for the reader to solve the puzzle at the same time as the main character.

--

On with the show!

--

Drunk Nerds - Circle of Death (996 words, says the internet)

Well. That was a thing I read.

Your mechanics are a mess. You make a complete hash of grammar (and not in a good, artistic way), and you seem particularly confused about how dialogue, action and attributions get mixed together. This is such a common, basic mistake that I’m going to leave it up to Google to explain it to you.

We start out with a fight between a paranoid guy and a pregnant sister over guilt. Then the woman goes into labor and they get into a car crash because the guy is paranoid. And then everyone dies.

One of the problems is that you start the story with a halfway-decent line making me think this is going to be a story about coping with grief, and then it derails into something about paranoia and unsafe driving practices. The EMT comes out of left field and, really, you could’ve just cut that paragraph entirely.

Your story lacks a clear theme and has little narrative consistency. Did you want to write about grief? About paranoia? About sibling disagreements? It’s all muddled together, and piecing together what you were trying to do is basically like trying to put a blenderized fetus back together.

Also, see my note on Kurt Vonnegut’s Third Writing Tip.

Also also, your horrendous overuse of said-bookisms made me throw up a little. Not a good way to start the week.

Low pile, DM/Loser candidate.

--

Entenzahn - Gambit (721 words) (-250 wordcount due to intro, but gently caress, you’re below that. )

Yeah, so, basically, the usual memory wipe story, except no one cares. Your story is a pile of Things That Happen, but they don’t form a cohesive Plot.

Introduce the elements I need to understand your theme and plot as early as possible. Next, make us understand why this guy wants to wipe his brain. This was never explained. Next, something should stand in the way of that want - conflict! He’d already made up his mind and nothing, internal or external, existed to dissuade him. Result: Snoozefest.

See also: Vonnegut’s last lesson. I thought this story was going to be about lovers breaking up at first, and then about suicide (and it is, kinda), and then suddenly in the second scene I had the sinking feeling you were doing a bad ripoff of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and hey look, you were.

Mechanically, OK. You can write a clear sentence. Now put that skill to work.

Low pile. Fix the plot for mid.

--

Meeple - Prophecy (993 words)

Oh hey, a shaggy-dog story. Ugh.

I don’t care about any of this. There’s no narrative tension, because you omit basically all the details necessary to understand what the guy was working on, etc., etc., which is really loving important when almost all of your words are used up telling us how brilliant this is and how amazed he is with himself. Vonnegut #8, go.

You can omit details when you know them; you can’t omit details just to obscure the fact that you don’t know poo poo. (Hemingway said that, FYI.)

This story couldn't be saved just by adding details, though. We need to know what he wants, why he wants it, and why he can't have it. Then we need to see him trying to get it. Period.

Low pile. DM candidate.

--

Starter Wiggin - Say Cheese (424 words)

Two characters talking vaguely about something we’re unaware of? Vonnegut’s eighth rule, go read it right now.

Show me something unusual or interesting immediately. You’ve wasted one-third of your words in the opening scene. Worse, going back and reading the story a second time, it doesn’t show us anything interesting about the characters or plot - Vonnegut’s third rule, go read it. You could just cut the entire first scene.

In my entirely unscientific sampling of This Story Plus My Memory, you’ve committed this sin a lot. And you’ve been told off for it before. Stop it.

All in all, this is pretty bad. For a second, I thought this was about a dead guy recreating his life through some kind of postmortem photography - you’ve got some work to do on clarity. Nothing particularly interesting happens, I don’t get a real sense of why the old man wants all the photos, nor does the son seem particularly strongly opposed to it. There’s no struggle at all.

You took a potentially-intruiging idea (what would compel an old man to recreate all his life's photos? What happened to the other photos?) and turned it into a soporific.

Low pile.

--

Bushido Brown - Persistence (751 words)

Your mechanics are pretty clumsy, and this is far too wordy for what it is. Strange word choices abound (“the antelope’s vitals”?), your sentences have no flow, and the way you express concepts is tedious. You need to read more good books; go pick up something by Faulkner or Hemingway and see how their sentences are constructed. Very meticulous men with vastly different styles.

On the good side, your character clearly wanted something and there was a reason behind it, sort of. Good work on that, you're standing a hair higher than a lot of folks this week.

Praise done, more stuff I don’t like:

I don’t really feel his struggle; you spend a lot of time going over his aches and pains and being out of breath, but that makes this feel more like a story about old age than about persistence. He never really suffers a serious setback, so it never feels like he’s really being tested. He’s already competent and persistent.

Also, you could cut the son and other trackers. They don’t add anything.

Low pile, could’ve gone to mid if there were some conflict.

--

dmboogie - Larger than Life on the Burning Screen (1000 words)

PASSIVE VOICE, WHYYYYYYYYYY.

This “story” suffers because we have no context in which to place the two characters’ long, tedious swapping of reminiscences. Two talking heads spit backstory at one another, but that backstory doesn’t contribute at all to the resolution of the story, so it’s just hot air. The introduction doesn’t matter - the police drones don’t matter.

There’s no conflict at all. What do these characters want? What keeps them from getting it? They just ride an elevator and poof, tyranny destroyed! poo poo, where were these guys when Hitler was taking Poland?

You’ve also got serious clarity issues. When you talk about a “clanking” “city guard” in “white robes”, I’m immediately thinking fantasy, and I had to re-read the first and second paragraphs for a while to realize that, no, it’s just very-poorly-written cyberpunk.

Your prose is awful and clunky and passive. You use a lot of words to say not very many things. Cut more, burn your thesaurus.

Low pile. DM candidate.

--

WeLandedOnTheMoon - Henry: Portrait of a Goon (750 words)

gently caress you. Don’t waste my time.

Plain old DM.

--

Nethilia - Friend of Mine (996 words)

Generally, this was boring and muddled. The core idea for a plot - someone seeking catharsis after being spurned by a lover - is sound, but she does come to that catharsis largely by publicly humiliating (I think?) someone else.

We don’t have enough information to know if the girl was cuckolded or if it was just a breakup and she’s a vindictive bitch. Who am I supposed to sympathize with here? There’s a lot of dialogue, but it really doesn’t advance the plot.

Clarity issue: I thought Gigi was Colleen’s daughter.

Clarity issue: I have no idea what song this woman sang, nor what its lyrics are, nor what they imply. This entirely murders your resolution.

You need to mention the Theresa detail earlier in the story, and you also need to show us Whitney’s aversion to singing earlier, so that it’s more significant when she does sing.

Too many characters that basically speak and act the same. You could’ve condensed the two friends into one. Really, the friends don’t do much for the story, nor does the mention of the kid. Strip away the extra details.

Low pile.

--

Tyrannosaurus - Aloha (829 words)

This has a lot of heart and a nice colloquial tone, but it seems like you want to tell two different stories. You start off trying to tell a story about the pressure felt by kids whom society expects to excel, and then you suddenly shift over into a story about a kid wanting to measure up to his father-figures (Uncle Abe & dad). The end does not logically connect to the intro. As a result, the story’s schizophrenic and doesn’t land.

Don’t half-rear end two things. Whole-rear end one thing.

Coming back to this, you’re going to end up winning this week because you had good, warm, human characters with relatable goals. It’s not a great story, given the tangled-up ideas, but the prose is strong. I just wish the themes weren’t so jumbled-together.

Mid pile. Would go high if the themes were clearer.

--

Greatbacon - One Last Job (930 words)

Intro scene is useless wank. Cut.

Generally speaking, this story is awful. I have no idea what’s at stake, and the whole thing is a terrible cliche. “One last job gets a guy killed”? Man, watch cop/crime movies much?

Why the gently caress did you decide not to give any character a name? It’s impossible to empathize with the guy, especially since we don’t know why he’s accepting one last job, nor why he wants to get out.

See Vonnegut points two, three, five and eight. (What do I appreciate? NOT THIS STORY.)

Your mechanics are weak. There’s odd comma usage and, worse, you often abuse continuous verbs when you’re trying to depict events which occur in series. You can only use a continuous verb alongside a norman one when you’re trying to depict two things happening simultaneously.

Examples:

Wrong: “Spotting a dollar bill, he plucked it off the sidewalk.” (corrected: “He spotted a dollar bill on the sidewalk and snatched it up.”)

Right: “Looking back and forth for cars, he crossed the street.”

Low pile, DM candidate.

--

Thalamas - Land of the Setting Sun (1000 words)

Bad. Everything prior to the girl entering the bunker is irrelevant; the car crash doesn’t matter at all. None of it serves to give us a read on the protagonist’s character. I don’t know where this girl is going, or why. Point three, go read it.

The bit about her being some kind of secret police pops up suddenly and only seems to serve because, as far as I can tell, she’s the brother of the DPRK Supreme Leader. Point eight, read it.

The Supreme Leader himself is a moustache-twirling villain. Ugh.

This seems like you didn’t really know what you wanted to write about, thematically - you just kinda had an idea for some cool stuff happening and what if North Korea got invaded and haha nukes!!one!

Don't just toss events together; figure out Why You're Writing These Specific Events And What It All Means, jesus christ.

Low pile.

--

docbeard - Archival (767 words)

Self-indulgent scifi worldbuilding tripe. There’s no point here, no characters to get attached to, the situation is cliched. The whole story is uninteresting. You’re trying to ape Asimov’s The Last Question, and it doesn’t work.

Stop trying to be fancy and tell a simple, straight-through story until you get the hang of it.

Low pile.

--

Sir Azrael - Fog of War (650 words)

Ah, a war is hell story. The war-is-hell, eye-for-an-eye-leaves-the-whole-world-blind theme is well-trodden and this one doesn’t till any new earth. Worse, the consequences are never explored, which is the whole point of that theme.

It’s also really confusing when, in the space of a paragraph, you perspective-shift from the LT’s squad to the Chinese/DPRK squad. You need to signpost that shift better, perhaps by slapping it into a new scene.

Lots of smaller, mechanical issues. Clunky prose, cliche dialogue. Suss these out and figure out how to actually end your story. An ending isn’t just where you stop because your wank-weakened wrists got tired of typing, you know.

Low pile.

--

Kalyco - Pura Vida (998 words)

The story is confused, but could be worse. Your ending doesn’t match the expectations set by your beginning, nor are the characters particularly interesting. Is the story about a stiff character learning to be less stiff, or is it an interpersonal drama based on some kind of free-love ethos, or what?

You could stand to cut the first scene. The key details it introduces are that this is the last night on a three-month leave for a military girl, but it doesn’t introduce her character, nor Josie’s, nor does it set up any tension between them over Ethan (which is an odd name for a Spanish character). In essence, we don’t really know what the protagonist wants, and so the rest of the story just sort of meanders along.

Things start to get a little interesting in the middle, where we’ve got a sort of conflict between duty and desire, but then you toss it all out the window with the cuckold/free-love resolution, and the whole thing implodes.

Figure out the story you’re trying to tell, don’t just mash events together.

Mid pile.

--

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - Mike and Doug (991 words)

What the gently caress is this? Stuff happens, we have no context for understanding any of it, the characters are flat, and none of it ends up mattering - there’s no theme. A story is a sequence of events connected by emotional and physical causes; we need to be able to understand all of those things.

Did you have an idea for a story, or did you go on an LSD binge and scrawl your trip on your underpants? Because this isn’t a story you’ve written, it’s just a bunch of poo poo-scribbles.

Read more books.

Low pile, DM/Loser candidate.

--

V for Vegas - Requiem for a Clown (1000 words)

Is this supposed to be about the guy’s loss of faith in himself? If so, then the resolution coming from the small girl jabbing him in the knee is cheap and doesn’t feel internally consistent; it comes from something other than his own flaws or flawed choices.

Further, I don’t see the message you’re trying to get across - is it some kind of defeatist tract, where the clown’s suffering is cautionary?

Writing is fairly clear, as are the images, but it doesn’t have a solid armature to hang on. Also, dude, proofread. There’s spacing, punctuation and capitalization errors all over the place.

Zubrowka, hah. I’ve drank that stuff before. It’s pretty good. Polish, though, not Russian.

Mid pile.

--

Fumblemouse - The Secret Origin of the Midnight Brotherhood (999 words)

Right, so the core of this is about trust and betrayal, and how the truth can cut both ways. You’re relying on dialogue a lot, but the dialogue in the middle seems to lose the edge and whimsical tone, particularly from the Mayor.

You have the core of a good idea here, but there’s some fluff that could be cut. The dead teammate isn’t really necessary; it’s the political expedience that matters for the betrayal. Similarly, the banter at the beginning is good for setting tone, but doesn’t really establish character or plot.

Also also, I’m not entirely sold on your ending few paras. The key turn here is when they kick the other guy out. Reforming into a supervillain club seems out of tone with the rest.

You’ve got some amusing turns of phrase and referential superhero humor. It does start off a little too much like a ripoff of Watchmen for my taste; the key here is the group dynamic. We need to see more about trust and truth so that the mayoral reveal hits harder.

This story was my alternate winner-candidate, but I voted for Tyr over this because his was tighter and clearer.

Mid pile.

--

Some Guy TT - A Hero’s Tale (905 words)

Poor use of framing device. Guy-tells-a-story-to-other-people isn’t interesting unless the substory is being used to illustrate a larger point for the primary story. The kids are just prompts, their interjections serve only to interrupt the flow of the story and contribute nothing to our understanding of it.

The teacher can’t tell a story for poo poo. He basically just recounts events; we don’t even know why he’s telling this story, and he admits he doesn’t either, at the end. poo poo, the characters themselves question “why are you telling us this?!” in the story itself, as a sort of authorial Freudian slip.

Boring, tedious, clumsy, and reads like you just splatted some vague, unedited ideas on a page.

Low pile, DM candidate.

--

Kaishai - Ave Maria (991 words)

Is the opening scene really necessary? I don’t think so. Your story starts out introducing a man’s love of art, then we get a fairly cliche scene where Suits (ugh - cliche) demand something unreasonable (ugh - cliche). And then we take a hard left turn and the story becomes about … something political about intolerance and art or something?

This is all very muddled. The individual words and sentences are pretty, just like individual jellybeans are tasty, but this piece is like blenderizing all the Jellybelly flavors together without regard for what fits or what doesn’t. It comes out a mess, not a masterpiece.

You know your way around a sentence, but you really need to try to unify your theme and plot. The sentences must add up to something greater than their individual parts. Why does the protagonist make a picture of the Virgin Mary? At first I thought this was going to be some weird Oedipal thing, but no, it’s just a picture of Mary, and you haven’t portrayed him as particularly religious.

Argh.

Mid pile only for the strength of language. Low pile for plot/theme/clarity.

--

PootieTang - The Boasting Bastard, Backed into his Bunker at the Battle of Buggered Britain (689 words)

Winston Churchill makes a last stand against Nazis? So what? What is the situation supposed to illustrate? Are we supposed to empathize with Winston? Why is Grant there, what narrative purpose does he serve? What do Winston and Grant want, and what does their refusal to retreat/refusal to die illustrate?

Stuff happens, but I don’t care about the characters. At least there’s some external conflict to drive it forward, but without any emotive weight to land punches.

Low pile.

--

Grizzled Patriarch - Mutiles (812 words)

Lots of stuff happening, no idea why it matters. I think you’re trying to make a story about an old man coping with grief, but we don’t find that out until the very end, and then the story ends unresolved. Point eight, above.

Parent coping with the death of child is a classic idea, but you instead meander off first into some vague thing about a war and a sculptor who makes masks based on dead people (why?). Point three, above.

Too many distracting details, not enough focus on the core of the story, but at least you had a core.

Mid pile.

--

News at 5 - Back Up the Stairs (980 words)

A guy robs a house. He gets away with murder. The end. Seriously, dude?

This doesn’t work because it’s all Event with no Plot - there’s no logical or motivational undercurrent connecting the events aside from physical cause-and-effect.

We have no idea why this guy decided to rob a house, he just does because he’s a bit greedy. I mean, c’mon, that sets him up as a total sociopath, and I’m not going to empathize with a sociopath.

And then he kills a guy by accident (okay, get him deeper into trouble, fine), but then he just shoots a defenseless girl for no apparent reason. We don’t get to see why, and his trite “being troubled by murdering someone” remorse is being unable to sleep at night. Now I'm thinking you're the sociopath.

Further, why does any of this matter? Your theme seems to be “eh, if someone has something you want, just take it, ain’t nothing gonna happen to you”. Shine on, you crazy Aesop. (Kill yourself.)

You spend way too long on the actual mechanics of the burglary, but none of that matters. What does the character want and why can’t he have it? That’s the conflict, and that’s what you need to focus on.

Low pile, DM/Loser candidate.

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crabrock - Just One More Thing Before I Leave (997 words)

Eh, fairly standard “man loses control of technology” story with a rat AI that gets uploaded to the internet. This one’s pretty straight-through and, unfortunately, predictable from the moment I realize the rat’s going to get its brain uploaded to the internet.

The third scene doesn’t add a lot. Instead of focusing on the problems introduced by his ambition, we get a bunch of tedious back-and-forth about vacations and who-does-the-honor, but that’s all just wank.

Your protagonist is kinda schizo, too. He’s driven by his research, and then he’s defeated at the prospect that it’s over, and then he just seems unfazed by the fact that he’s destroyed the western world.

Not sure you had a core idea here, or were just flittering from one interesting tidbit of Gee Golly Science! to the next.

Mid pile.

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Phobia - Empty Victory (996 words)

This coach is a dick to teenagers. Also, way too many characters who appear once and then vanish. Point two, above.

You overuse very short line-lengths. It works for action sequences, but your entire story is written in short lines with paragraph breaks mid-action, and the breaks don’t even change who the ‘focus’ of the story is on. This is really tedious to read.

It’s almost impossible to tell what’s happening in your story. Lots of generic dialogue that doesn’t tell us much, and you shy away from showing us any of the physical actions or emotions needed to piece things together. Everything’s muddy, and I don’t care or like the characters enough to tease it apart. Clarity is your job, focus on it.

Low pile.

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kurona_bright - Unceasing Downpour (863 words, DQ’d for lateness)

Waaaaaay too much internal dialogue. It muddies the action. Cutting quickly between thought/action is very difficult to follow. Restructure your paragraphs, and consider breaking them up.

What’s this supposed to be about? A teenager worries about singing, and there’s some hints of schoolyard drama, and then they sing and… that’s it? What’s the theme, what’s the teenager struggling with? Whatever it is, it seems to go unresolved, and I don’t see a turn anywhere.

Your prose is unclear and muddled. I have no idea what the protagonist really wants. Your sentences don’t flow and there’s really clumsy constructions, like this one:

quote:

she found her vision begin to blur.

That fragment makes me want to vomit gasoline over your head and set you ablaze with rage-lasers.

Not a story, just a sequence of loving events. Die in a car fire, thanks.

Low pile/could go for a DQ.

--

FREE! FREE LIKE A PENIS SWINGING NAKED IN THE BREEZE!

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Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




If anyone feels like trading crits, let me know. I've got some free time and I'm definitely looking for some brutally honest opinions on where I'm loving up so I can gently caress up less this week. (If this isn't kosher just tell me to shut up.)

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.


Hey guys, sorry I'm late! Beef's crit knocked me all the way to Kyoto and I'm feeling some serious jet lag! (also thank you for da crit beef)

I brought you all a book of Japanese Folktales. No it is not a manga holy poo poo why does everyone keep thinking I'm bringing anime into TD I don't even go into adtrw.

Phobia fucked around with this message at May 5, 2014 around 21:44

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011


Huh, three dishonorable mentions in five attempts. Maybe this is a sign that I should stop posting stories in Thunderdome. Nah, that's just silly. I'm in.

Phobia posted:

No it is not a manga holy poo poo why does everyone keep thinking I'm bringing anime into TD I don't even go into adtrw.

It's probably the avatar. Yeah. You think you got problems.

My present: an unwanted avatar

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



DJESERCRIT PART 2

Kalyco - Pura Vida
Another for the confusing pile. Not that your prose confused me, I just wasn't sure what to take away from this. There's something in there about kicking back and enjoyment, and the details about fire-dancing are interesting, but I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about it by the end. It's an interesting scenario, but I wish there was more done with it.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - Mike and Doug
I was with you, dude. I was with you on this one for so long, because you've got some good wordstyles and I loving love psychedelic narratives. They are the way to my heart. Sure, there's too many words in there that do nothing but look good, but if you trimmed, you'd have something rad.

And then your last line was "and then it was all a drug trip."



After that, I didn't feel bad about the DM.

V for Vegas - Requiem for a Clown
Sad clown drama. There's nothing that stood out as egregiously bad to me for this one, though looking it over now, there's definitely some places where you could clear up some grammar and sentence fragment stuff. I don't have a ton to say about this one. It was decent, but there were better ones that didn't get the win either.

Fumblemouse - The Secret Origin of the Midnight Brotherhood
I think superheros, much like anime, are an inherently funny concept, so I didn't have trouble with this one, since it takes superheroes about as seriously as I take superheroes. You had some good jokes that you didn't linger on too heavily, and even though it was a silly entry, it still told a decent story. The one thing that came to mind, though, was that Vanquisher was the one who brought up the Mayor's new law, and he went "I don't know why he has it in for us" when it feels like he might have tried to defend himself by saying like "I know the mayor basically had to but this still sucks" or something. The reveal that he's the mayor could probably be foreshadowed lightly like that, if you made it clear he's more tolerant of the decision than the others.

Some Guy TT - A Hero's Tale
I had to read some of The Things They Carried just yesterday. Those were good war stories. This was not really a good war story. While the horrors of war aspect works all right (you didn't really sell me on how horrifying the soldier's last words were, and I'm not sure how he drowned in mud and still managed to have last words) I don't get why this vet has to say this story every time someone comes over? It's a weird ending that didn't make sense.

Kaishai - Ave Maria
I really liked this one. It was one of my candidates for the win alongside Tyrannosaurus's. You gave me a good image of someone consumed with his work, and particularly with a sort of artwork that isn't a very traditional sort. I like lesser-known art forms, like stained glass or mosaics. The symbolism was a little blunt, but you portrayed his conflict (!) well, so in the end, I liked it.

PootieTang - The Boasting Bastard, Backed into his Bunker at the Battle of Buggered Britain
Another for confusion week. What was the point? Alternate history Churchill is drunk and tries to kill himself so the Germans don't capture him, but they do.

?

??????

???????????

Maybe I missed something.

Grizzled Patriarch - Mutilés
While this one took a bit for me to get it, I finally did. In a way I thought they were death masks at first, until I figured out they were masks to cover up injuries, and then he makes a mask to cover up the damage that being a soldier did to his son's face. Oh, and another confusion point: I didn't grasp at first the shift between talking about the Captain's son and the sculptor's son. A name for the sculptor might have helped that. Still one of the better stories this week.

The News at 5 - Back Up the Stairs
This I wasn't confused about. It was really straightforward. That was the problem. A guy decides, for no good reason, to rob a place, then accidentally kills a dad, then is haunted by it. I don't really have a reason to care about him, and on top of that, you make it seem like he's robbed places before by how he talks about moving around where in the beginning it says he's never robbed a place. Pretty meh.

crabrock - Just One More Thing Before I Leave
Science rating 10/10
Bad pun rating 8/10
Another of my candidates for the win. The sincere, detailed science put it strongly above other entries that casually brushed science but were too afraid to dig in. The idea of a Yudkowskian FOOM caused by a mouse AI is pleasing to me. I spend too much time in the Less Wrong thread.

Phobia - Empty Victory
Yeah, not sure what was supposed to be happening here. The coach is a massive abusive rear end in a top hat, so I guess I'm not supposed to be on his side, which means I'm on Alex's side? Also why is everyone else referred to by the first name and Alex only by the last name? I guess it ends for a victory for Alex except now she has to stick it out with Worst Coach for another year.

kurona_bright - Unceasing Downpour
Man, another song reference one. Since you were late, you weren't in the running, and you probably wouldn't have won, but this is above average for this week. I'm not quite sold on the conflict you had in the middle (whether the song is going to fit) but anxiety over performance is a decent source of conflict, at least. And I liked the idea that this is someone who's not great, but who gets to feel great for this little bit of time, so that she can remember it when she's not feeling great. Could have probably used a little more description of what it actually felt like for her to sing--maybe what it sounds like to have your voice harmonized with the rest of the choir, the way it feels like she's singing out all the air in her lungs--I don't know, but it would have been better if I could have felt that glimpse of glory instead of just heard about it. (That's the problem with relying on a song; if your reader hasn't heard it, they might not be able to imagine how exciting it sounds.)

SO WHAT DID WE LEARN?

Confusion: A lot of the time, I wasn't sure what you were trying to say with your stories. This is not good. I don't want you replying to tell me what you were trying to say, so don't loving do it. What I want you to do is to look back at your story, then think to yourself what you were trying to say with your story. How is your audience supposed to feel? Who are they supposed to like? What are they supposed to identify with? This is why reading your own writing is so important. Think what you're trying to say. Then, look at what you did say. And then fix it.

Confusion Part II - Twist Endings: This only happened once or twice this time, but the reason why a twist ending isn't fun is partially because it leaves the reader confused, because now what they thought they knew was wrong, and then it's over, no further explanation. This doesn't mean you can't ever reveal something, but it does mean that you shouldn't end a story "and it was all a drug trip and none of it mattered."

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Fumblemouse: The Choose Your Own Adventure

Once upon a time, a young lad named Fumble was reading this forums post.

Click here to read on

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011

ICE-MEIN


I'm in, with the present of:

a piece of a mirror.

RunningIntoWalls
Dec 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm in. Got a bunch of old VHS tapes with me. Anyone have a VCR?

Oh, and .

Hocus Pocus
Sep 7, 2011



Of course, if you need to pick something up in a pinch, you could always swing by the grocery store

in

Paladinus
Jan 11, 2014





I get in and retrieve from my pocket a completely foreign language. You can pet it, it won't bite.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



WLOTM expressed an interest in a more detailed crit. If anyone else wants more detail than what I gave in my general crits, just ask.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

I put a lot of firsthand research into my story this week, so thank you all for taking the time to read it. I had to really examine myself to capture the character of Henry; it was an exhaustive process, but we must sacrifice for our craft. I hope the judges like it.
ho ho how ironic


Henry: Portrait of a Goon
750 Words do ho ho those goons what will they get up to next

Henry momentarily turned away from the scrambled eggs on the stove to check on Mariah, who was staring into her placemat with a blank and expressionless gaze. “Hungry?” he asked, before turning back to the grease stained stove top. He added some shredded cheese to the eggs before stealing another look at his wife. Her hair and skin had lost some of their luster over the years, but the rest of her had held up nicely. Henry smelled burning cheese. poo poo. Whatever, she’ll eat it. Okay, unhappy marriage. Ripe setting for conflict. This can't go wrong, right?

He placed the dish in front of Mariah, gently stroking the back of her neck as he circled around to take his seat beside her. She still smells good too, he thought, briefly entertaining ideas of revoking the divorce. This is where I started to get lost, because the physical intimacy seemed at odds with the fact that they've gone far enough in a divorce that he'd need to 'revoke' it.

Mariah’s distant, vacant eyes continued to stare through her breakfast. Henry thought about putting a fork in her drat hand and making her eat, but it wouldn’t accomplish much. “Look,” he said with a mouthful of food, causing bits of egg to tumble into his lush goatee, ha ha ha what terrible hygiene “I know you are mad at me, but people just grow apart.”

She looked at him with listless china blue eyes.

“Don’t say that,” You continued to lose me because she didn't say anything. he told her, “I do still care for you.”

"Then why are you so insistent on leaving?" Now I'm even more confused because you're putting words in her mouth through her expression, but for some reason you didn't do that two lines above. If you're going to have some specific style for showing 'her words', pick one and stick with it. the flat corners of her mouth seemed to ask.

The insolence, Nice style element, showing his thoughts the same way you show her words. Henry thought as he yanked the plate away from her. He cleaned it from the kitchen, ??? calling, “If you didn’t want to get, dumped comma usage you shouldn’t always ride my rear end, Mariah!”

Henry moved into the living room, swapping out his food smeared shirt for a less food smeared shirt. haha messy!!! He settled into his desk, cracking open a can of Mountain Dew. hahaha Henry pulled up the login screen for EVE Online OMG WHAT A GOON when he heard her muttering.

“Typical.”

“What did you say?” he asked, knowing full well the answer. She didn’t understand that the guild fleet needed him. lol what a goon

“But I need you,” If you want to make it clearer that she's responding to his thoughts, I'd put the 'my guild needs me' line in his own thoughts, italicized and all. I didn't catch that until I was writing this crit, I just thought it was dumb dialogue. If it's more clear that she's responding to his thoughts, it's also more of a hint that she's a realdoll. he heard. Mariah was looking at him with that sad plastic stare. It was true; Mariah did need him. She had always been a sickly girl, anxious and nervous to the touch. Her previous man was weak of mind and body, not like Henry. Still, even when Henry kissed the nape of her neck in the way that he knew Mariah loved, she tried her best to avoid reciprocation. Sometimes he felt her shudder. So, how could someone fault him for trading up to a better model? She’ll have a fine life with her new man, he thought with minor pangs of regret. The third-hand market is busy; someone will take her.

When Mariah wasn’t looking, Henry tiptoed into the bedroom to fish his favorite Nyarko-san BAHAHAHA ANIME!!! tee from the bottom of his smelly pile of laundry. He knew that Mariah always loved wearing his clothing. He sniffed the armpit of the garment, pungent, in a manly way. lol cause he's gross

Mariah appeared to be enjoying a moment of peace when Henry crept up behind her, lifting her stiff arms skyward. Cynthia will have more points of articulation, Henry thought as he swapped out Mariah’s shirt, only stopping for a few minutes to grope her chest. There, that was better. BIG REVEAL! Djeser emotion meter: :/, though it was kinda clever the way you'd foreshadowed it.

Under weak knees, How his Henry under his own knees? Henry lifted Mariah and plopped her in front of the TV. He sat down to check his bitcoin HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHA GET IT??? account, but was interrupted before he could assess his gains. The doorbell? I dunno, you tell me His delivery was early.

It took an hour of unpacking, but Cynthia, the blonde Ukrainian made hyphenate bombshell, was truly beautiful. Even unwrapping the plastic was an experience in sensuality as he caressed her silicone skin. Drop the 'as' here and either restructure the sentence or split it into two sentences. Henry had an idea. "Menage a trois?” he asked Mariah.

Five minutes later, Henry was spent. "That all you got?" he heard Mariah whisper, pathetic. Forgot quotes here dude

“Excuse me?” He asked.

"You heard me, you impotent, fat, extra comma dork," her eyes said.

Henry pointed to Cynthia, her face calm and exhausted with pleasure, “She enjoyed it!” He swore He doesn't really need to swear though; it's been established that he responds to what he imagines she's saying, so we don't need to be told that he's certain of it. It's established that he's certain he's hearing her. he could hear Mariah laughing.

Henry jumped from this sweaty, Pokemon haha wat a goon bedsheets and stormed into the garage. He returned, still in his stained briefs, with a hacksaw.

***

Henry carried the garbage bag to the recycling bin in the dead of night, whistling a happy tune to himself. Inside, Mariah listened, wishing that she could smile. Her parts would be melted into bottles and parts of household appliances. She wouldn’t be pretty anymore, but, perhaps, happy. This ending is weird because you've only personified Mariah through Henry's thoughts of her up to this point, so the sudden shift to personifying her outside of Henry's mind is odd.

I know you can write good. Hell, you made some good writing moves in here. I'm willing to say I liked the foreshadowing. You lost me on a few details, but I was still generally following you, once I figured out the reveal, which had me kind of rolling my eyes. Looking at this as humor, the constant goon jokes just didn't click for me. The dude's got a realdoll. I can imagine how gross he is. And a lot of the time, the goon hygiene doesn't matter, except to underscore the point of how gross he is. Yeah, a sweaty anime tee shirt is gross, but when you've already told me he's got a cheesebeard and a realdoll, I think I'm getting it. And then the details like bitcoin and EVE Online are just plain injokes and kind of irrelevant. (Okay, that he's playing an MMO is kind of relevant for the whole 'my guild needs me' thing.) You really lost my sympathy on the goony goon poo poo, dude.

As for the story itself, the problem is that we lose all emotional connection to Mariah once we figure out she's a realdoll and it's all in Henry's mind. You start off sympathizing with Mariah, then whoops, she's not real, it's just this gross guy you don't really care about. He's basically got a conflict, but it gets resolved relatively easily, and he bounces around from being like "ugh I hate you" to "hey let's menage a trois" within a paragraph, so I don't feel his conflict runs all that deep. At the end, when you personify Mariah again, she could have had a resolution for her conflict of being stuck with Henry, but the problem is that the reader has given up identifying with her because all you've given us to identify with is Henry's conception of her. You establish that she's only in his mind, but then it turns out that she wasn't only in his mind, but we only know about that at the end.

So in the end, your story has one unlikeable character with a conflict that's shallow, disappears when he wants to gently caress, and is solved in seconds with no consequence, and a character who you tell us doesn't exist until the end, so we can't identify with her conflict until it's already been resolved.

See Beef's Vonnegut tip #2: The only character we can root for isn't a character until the very end. Also, #4 re: goony goon jokes. Once it's established he's a gross dude, you're not really revealing any more character by making further jokes about how gross a dude he is, and few of the jokes drive the plot.

Djeser fucked around with this message at May 6, 2014 around 01:16

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Oh also because someone was a baby bitch, I ended up not getting to read about a quest for a divine rear end.

I'm in, you dongholes.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




Djeser posted:

WLOTM expressed an interest in a more detailed crit. If anyone else wants more detail than what I gave in my general crits, just ask.




I'd definitely take one. I've only written three stories in here so far but it's really great to feel like I'm actually getting better, and most of that is because of the crits ripping me a new one. You guys put a lot of effort into it and it's really appreciated.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

quote:

Lol Fumblemouse is a hack who couldn't write his way out of a bag

fight me u babby kiwi bitch

On the assumption that FM is no feeble back-downy guy I will judge this.

Heap Big Sitting Mouse Brawl

You are both wily and wordwise. But I want to have my cold, rust-spavined emotion cogs stirred. Give me an epic love story themed around 'straight lines meet at infinity'. Make me care about every character. No genre restrictions.

2500 words max, Friday 15 May, High Noon PST.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



Grizzled Patriarch posted:

Mutilés (812 words)

The studio walls were crowded with the faces of wounded men. Liking this start. The sculptor cast plaster molds of each client, When you put borrowing the photographs later, it makes it sound like he gets the photographs after he does the mold. and borrowed any photographs taken of them before the war. Even after his work was finished, he could not bring himself to dispose of the molds; his wife hated to look at them, but he knew there was nothing that could be said to a person that had not made something with their own two hands, and so the faces continued to accumulate until there was hardly any space left. Long sentence, could split it at the semicolon and wouldn't lose anything.

The bell above the door chimed as two men entered the studio. The first was older, dressed in a collared pinstripe shirt and suspenders. The second wore an officer’s uniform and a wide-brimmed homburg pulled down over his eyes. He clutched a long cane to his chest with both hands.

“Good morning,” the older man said. “We’ve come for Captain Fournier’s appointment.”

The sculptor nodded and dragged a stool away from his workbench without a word. He laid out his brushes, arranging them by size, then plucked a few pots of enamel paint off of the shelf. He opened the drawer labeled with the captain’s name and lifted out a mask, hammered Would it be hammered around a plaster mold though? I would think it would be cast, if it's made from a mold. out of galvanized copper no thicker than a calling card. There were hollow glass eyes, already painted deep brown, the bridge of a nose, the upper left cheek. The mask was connected to a pair of spectacles, though Captain Fournier’s vision had been excellent.

As the sculptor approached the stool, the older man removed the captain’s hat. A machine gun round had scalloped away part of the man’s face, so that the only thing left above his nostrils was a hollow space seamed with angry scars. During his consultation, the captain had told him about watching the bullets stitch a line in the dirt toward him, how that was the last thing he would ever see.

The sculptor placed the mask on the captain’s face, then stepped back and studied it at arm’s length. He took up his brushes and enamels and painted without hurry, matching the hue of his skin and adding a subtle bluish tinge to the cheek to imitate freshly shaved stubble. When the work was complete, Captain Fournier rose from the stool and the older man hooked an arm into the crook of his elbow.

Before they turned to leave, the captain reached out, found the sculptor’s hand, and squeezed it in his own. “My son screamed, when I came home.” The captain’s lips pulled back in a grimace. “My own little boy.”

When they had gone, the sculptor leaned against the workbench. His body felt like an enormous lead weight.

When I first read this next paragraph I thought it was talking about the Captain's son. Here is where some clearer naming might have helped. His son hadn’t come back. Not even a body. The government had paid for his headstone, but the sculptor could not bring himself to visit it, to stand over an empty grave and imagine him buried. His son had sent him photographs from places he’d never heard of. In all of them he looked tired, his face always dark with grease and stubble, his eyes narrowed as if some fierce anger simmered behind them. The sculptor never remembered his son to look like that. Slightly awkward phrase

What he remembered most was the way the boy would never go to sleep without being told a story. The ones he liked best were always about heroes. Sometimes the stories would have frightening parts—the hero might slay a fearsome beast or fall under an evil spell—and the boy would curl up and pull the covers over his head and squeal until the sculptor thought he would have nightmares. But if he ever stopped reading, the boy You were fine with calling him 'his son' in the previous paragraph but the way you're repeating 'the boy' makes it sound almost like it's some other boy. would make pitiful noises until the story was finished.

The sculptor dabbed his eyes with the edge of his sleeve. Turning to the workbench, he gathered a damp hunk of clay and worked at a practiced pace, forming features from memory onto a wooden board. All around him, the faces on the wall seemed to be watching, mute witnesses measuring his progress. That last bit is unnecessary The sculptor scraped away excess clay, wetting his fingers to smooth out rough lines. Slowly, his son’s face took shape. It was not the stern, haunted face of a soldier, but rather that of the boy he used to tuck in at night, who loved to hear stories about heroes and monsters.

When the mask is finished, he will hang it right above his workbench, in the very center of the wall. Nice use of tense He will take down other masks, if he has to. After the lamps are turned out and the door is locked for the night, he will sit down at the bench and let out a long, ragged breath, then lean forward and clap his hands on his thighs. He will look up at his son. “Once,” he will say, “there was a young boy who was very brave indeed.”

On a closer read, I'm not sure where I got the death mask stuff from, but I was convinced, like, trying to figure out how they were carrying in a corpse to get this mask made. Where I could see to improve it, maybe, is that you start off in the beginning talking about him and his wife--his son doesn't come into the picture until the very end, and his wife isn't really important in the rest of the story. A small improvement could be changing the wife's role to saying something like 'his wife didn't like the masks--they reminded her of their son, she said,' that way the fact that he has a son isn't coming out of the blue, and we know the son is related to injured soldiers somehow.

While the conflict here isn't very present until the latter half (sculptor grieving over loss of his son) I still think the earlier half carries it by merit of being an interesting profession and an interesting procedure he goes through. You start with a compelling image and tell us about someone in an uncommon job, so I'm willing to give you a pass on how your character's conflict doesn't show up until later on. Could be smoother, but I was engaged, so it worked, at least.

The hero motif is a little odd, just because I'm not sure if it's supposed to be meaningful (as in soldiers = heroes etc) or if it's just A Kid Thing he liked. I appreciate the detail to what sort of stories his son liked, but it seems specific and repeated enough that there's some broader meaning to it than just role models and whatnot. Or maybe there just isn't any broader meaning. I don't know, but I wasn't sure about that. Other than the vagueness with your theme, I generally liked this story, so I don't have as much to rag on about.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N.
Dec 31, 2011

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In I go, not to confuse,
to ole thunderdo', wherein I'm a goose,
whose quacks say hello and hope not to misuse
language and meaning plus some good booze

(yes, I share with my fellow domers some good booze)

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




I'm In, and my unsolicited gift to you all is a missing person.

Digi_Kraken
Sep 4, 2011


I am in

and I gift you the present of Our Lord and Savior White Conservative Jesus

Bushido Brown
Mar 30, 2011


Lipstick Apathy

In.

I'm bringing a death wish with me.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Experiment: Deep Freeze
After a few days of freezing the samples, the stories were removed and analyzed.



Results:
All stories fared well except for sample DN. It seems to have frozen solid.



I tried to get it moving again, but it just won't budge. This story is stuck and will have no further development. Drunk Nerds, maybe if something happened in your story, this wouldn't have happened.

Status:
Other samples have withstood simple tests. More elaborate experiments must be designed to assess the quality of story. Until then, more simple tests will be conducted on a new set of samples.

Sample WM - WeLandedOnTheMoon!


Sample T2 - Thalamas


Sample K2 - Kalyco


Experiment: Seeds
Sample WM begs for growth. A seed was planted in the pure essence of story.



Sample WM has rolled into the shadows. I poked at it with a stick for a while. I grabbed it with tongs. It has sprouted some sort of orange fruit. I don't understand this development at all.



What a boring development. WLOTM, wtf were you going for--EW WTF THERE IS SOME SORT OF WOUND NOW THIS IS NOT THE SCIENCE I SIGNED UP FOR. gently caress YOU WLOTM, YOUR STORY CAUSES SEPSIS.



Experiment: Caffination
Exposed sample K2 to coffee and money.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spP620kLhNI

Results:
Despite a sufficient dose of 20mg/kg coffee dose and 15mg/kg money dose, the sample appears unchanged. Nothing is happening. Story is inert. Kalyco, maybe you should have something happen next time your story, yes?



Experiment: Caffination
Exposed sample K2 to coffee and money.

Results:
Despite a sufficient dose of 20mg/kg coffee dose and 15mg/kg money dose, the sample appears unchanged. Nothing is happening. Story is inert. Kalyco, maybe you should have something happen next time your story, yes?



Experiment: Caffination
Exposed sample K2 to coffee and money.

Results:
Despite a sufficient dose of 20mg/kg coffee dose and 15mg/kg money dose, the sample appears unchanged. Nothing is happening. Story is inert. Kalyco, maybe you should have something happen next time your story, yes?



Experiment: Exposure to fire
A story should be not only bulletproof, but fireproof. I don't know what this means, but it sounds good. Sample T2 is exposed to open flame for 1.2 seconds.



Story held up well under fire for the first half of this experiment, and then failed spectacularly. Thalamas, I recommend you work on fireproofing the second half of your stories in the future. Sample T2 is no more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR1q4aBzUEI

UNEXPECTED RESULT:
Some sort of combination of events have caused a mutation in sample CC. It has evolved to have legs and eyes.



OH GOD IT'S ATTACKING OUR OCEAN RESEARCH VESSEL



MAY DAY! MAY DAY! MAY D--

end of transmission

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Sitting Here posted:

Fumblemouse: The Choose Your Own Adventure

Once upon a time, a young lad named Fumble was reading this forums post.

Click here to read on

Who are you calling young, Queenie?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry


I am preemptively weeping boozy tears of lament for how utterly you are going to be smote upon the floor of this Dome.

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


I'm in, and I bring this phrase: "was pure and untamed, and they were loving every minute of it".

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

I failed to submit because I was so excited about New Zealander Tim Price winning the Burghley Horse Trials on the quirky but freakishly talented Ringwood Sky Boy

UPDATE

Entenzahn is now a judge and has bequeathed to everyone the genre of "psychological horror." So you gotta include that or elephants. I'll give you your third possibility whenever the next judge pops up.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Is my brawl due in just over 12 hours, or do I more like 36 hours?

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


systran posted:

Is my brawl due in just over 12 hours, or do I more like 36 hours?
YOU GOT ABOUT 27 HOURS YOU WEAK-rear end PUNK NUGGET

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Okay... let me preface my brawl piece by saying that I wanted to achieve an effect of

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.


So apparently the document with all of the line-by-lines I have been working on for Party Week got corrupted somehow. So there's that.

If it’s any consolation, I read some of your stories. That consolation is not for you but for me, admittedly I am an rear end in a top hat.

This is my first time critiquing so, like, grain of salt, whatever. If your stupid story isn't on here that's because I cherrypicked a couple of stories and just headbutted them. I might come back to do the rest but right now I really don't care.

Yes I am extremely salty right now what gave it away?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cache Cab

quote:

House of Leaves-type poo poo

I had a really bad headache. I squinted so hard at this my eyelids are stuck that way. Why the hell are you posting your creepypasta poo poo here? Did you think the judges would simultaneously climax to your blurry-rear end-hipster-poo poo? Well whatever.

Putting on my serious rose-tinted glasses for a second, this was a unique way to hit the word count handicap headfirst. And it's certainly made an impression on me, just... not in the way you were probably hoping it would. Or maybe you don't give a poo poo. That's possible.

Here's the thing - nothing makes sense. And I don’t mean that in the good drug-fueled sense, I mean that in a “who are these three friends, how old are they, where are their parents, how have they not been thrown out of the Chuckie Cheese" sort of way that is not conductive to having fun. You had 200 more words you could have used. It’s good that you didn't overstay your welcome but maybe if you had spouted some exposition or made an attempt to show us the beginning, middle and end, instead of locking the reader into the middle and putting on a Spooky Ambiance CD that you bought 2-for-1 at the local Walgreen. Also you shoehorned “grass” and “water” at the end, wow, how did you not get disqualified.

But hey, you tried something different. Gold star. I didn’t like it though.

that hipster John Mayer-type motherfucker at every party that plays an acoustic guitar in a desperate attempt to get girls to sleep with him out of 10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Drunk Nerds

quote:

Comic book-type poo poo with that one scene from Office Space where they beat up the copier machine as the ending.

Okay. So, like, this story. This story here. I've read this story. The story that you wrote. You wrote this story. Why did you write this story? You shouldn't have done this story.

I want to get my message across but critiquing this story is way too much work and I want you to GET my point. So instead of going into specifics, I'm just going to dress up like Hunter S. Thompson, find where you live, tie a copy of The Elements of Style to a brick, chuck it through your window and then drive to vegas in your mom's BMV. Call me Gonzo Man.

I'm actually being facetious, I wouldn't do any of that because it's stupid and illogical. I would gladly take a bat to it though.

A Keeping Up with the Kardashians viewing party out of 10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WeLandedOnTheMoon!]

quote:

"I swear to god if I see any more of this House of Leaves poo poo I am going to punch someone." Phobia, in his room, brute forcing crits.

At least I can read your story. That puts you above The Cash Cab though that isn't saying much.

Also you have a story so that helps too.

I don't have much to say about this one. I liked it, though I wasn't crazy about it. It's bittersweet, and I normally enjoy me some hopeless melancholy. I love how Dylan's story is frantic but hopeless and Marie's story is slow but numbed. I don't like the epilogue though. Personally, I wished it ended on them seeing each other. But I'm just glad you left the means of apocalypse up in the air. Because that isn't what the story is about. It's about people, not events. I like it when writers don't get the two mixed up.

That one time I went to New Years Eve party for some reason there's a buffet table full of chicken and waffles, nothing but chicken and waffles, which is really weird to have on New Years Eve but I can dig it because I like chicken and I like waffles. I don't know if I'd ever lump them together in the same meal but whatever out of 10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gau

quote:

You drat Kids Get off My Lawn: The Movie: The Video Game

A conversation between Gau and the reader:

quote:

Reader: Why should I care about this guy's stupid house?

Gau:Because, like, there are people sleeping in his house and that ain't cool.

Reader: Okay. I get that. But why is he setting the house on fire?

Gau: Ha ha man, cuz the house is a mess.

Reader: I don't follow.

Gau: There's like penises everywhere, poo poo's covering the walls and someone jizzed on the couch and it's really gnarly.

Reader: ...I... What?

Gau: Don't you just hate that? When the party gets so crazy people start writing naughty words on the windows in ketchup? I hate that.

Reader:...n-no, what? No? When has any of this ever happened in the history of the universe?

Gau: What do you mean?

Reader: Like, all of this is really disgusting and really unnecessary. Is this supposed to be absurdist? Because that's what I want to believe.

Gau: I don't understand. Isn't this how people behave when they're drunk?

Reader: Well this is nothing like any house party I've gone to.

Gau: I haven't seen that movie.

Reader: ... *eyes glaze over*

Gau: Darn! I only have 200 words! I better have Hank set fire to the house now.

Reader: *starts foaming at mouth*

Gau: Wow, the reader is right! Hank won't be very sympathetic if I have him actually go through with setting the house on fire.

Reader: *blood runs out of ears*

Gau: Oh, I know! I'll have Hank back off because he is a nice guy, but I'll some old guy wander past and flick his lit cigarette off of him! That way Hank won't go to jail or something I don't know.

Reader: *claws own throat open*

Gau: Oh man I'm so bagging HM with this one.

You had good opening and ending lines and the imagery is vivid but I have no idea what you were trying to do with this story.

a jukebox filled with nothing but Kids Bop Ke$sha covers out of 10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ChairChucker

quote:

B2000, Robo Party Bouncer

I have this wicked grin on my face and it's all your fault.

Okay, this story boils down to “this guy is a jerk and two friends have a misunderstanding”. I hate when the conflict in a story can be boiled down to “two people having a misunderstanding”, it’s why I hate most romcoms, but I understand that the story isn’t about Gabrielle and Katie but about them and the robot. And I like the robot.

It feels like you had a lot of fun writing this story, and I had a lot of fun reading it. Gabrielle is delightfully sardonic and full of herself, Casper is a dick enough that I hate him but not too overboard and the robot made me laugh on plenty of occasions. I do have a problem with how you seem to be pushing the story downhill in a shopping cart. It’s like your spoonfeeding me apple sauce. I like apple sauce but I can eat apple sauce just fine on my own, mom, thanks. But I can excuse all of that because your story doesn't see itself as a grand epic. It’s tongue-in-cheek and silly, and when you embrace those elements you really soar.

This story isn’t perfect and it's not the best story this week. What I can say is that out of this batch of crits this is my definitely my favorite.

a Ro-Bollywood dance number breaks out at an Oprah Book of the Month meeting out of 10
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
nickmeister

quote:

Fear and Loathing and Refund Checks and Sudden Halloween Parties in Tiki Land

You come off as very eloquent, some colorful choice of words but I feel like I'm missing something. Something vital. Was there even a plot to this story? Or was this some sort of Ullyses fever dream and I just don’t get it? It could just be me, I am a simpleton and my definition of depth is

Okay. Walk me through this. So our protagonist Al and he isn’t having such a good time at his work’s tiki party. There’s this one girl named Alaysha who he likes but he can't be friends with because she's much too young for him, golly gee what a headache!

Alaysha is also a really weird name compared to Al. Al. Alaysha. Oh, I see. It's all symbolic isn't it? Alaysha is Al’s wasted youth and he can’t make friends with her because he’s an old fart.

Or maybe Alaysha is part of Al's multiple system and when he puts on his mask he becomes her? Now he is the Alaysha and not only will she get to kiss the boys she will also get two refund checks with like a million dollars each because mystery money. That must be Al's master plan, it’s genius.

Or maybe there's nothing here and you just wasted fifteen minutes of my life.

You need some sort of conflict that isn't just "Middle Aged Man feels left out of social circle" if you're going for a Snapshot Jamboree. You had conflict, kind of, for like two paragraphs, but the refund check is a really jarring addition that's dropped almost immediately. There was this one paragraph where Al jumps into the ocean and has a pseudo-flashback and I kind of liked that. I have no reason to like Al though, past the Stockholm Syndrome Pity Party, and if I knew the story wasn't leading anywhere I would have stopped reading it at the part where someone throws punch in his face like this is a movie set in high school.

I wanted to like this story but then I realized there was no story and you were just hiding behind semi-colorful prose.

Also who the gently caress dances to dubstep? "Let's Dance?" Hold up a second Starman. You headbang and throw your arms around to dubstep, you don’t tango to dubstep. But I guess if you didn’t shoehorn that detail in the ending the reader wouldn’t know that Al is old cuz only old people do the cha-cha to Skrillex FT. Snoop Dog. How delightfully antiquated!

That one scene in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World where he’s at a party awkwardly talking to Ramona about the anecdote about Pac-Man’s name originally being Puck-Man and there’s the barest minimum of conflict and characterization because he was all confident when he told his underage Asian girlfriend that exact same story earlier in the movie but he's totally falling flat on his face talking to the magic pixie scene chick but overall it just makes you roll your eyes out of 10

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Crabrock

quote:

I Kissed a Girl and now everyone thinks I'm gay, BRB going to drown myself in alcohol

Out of the selection of stories in this crit batch, this has the best overall quality and it almost edges out ChairChucker's Robo-Bouncer as my favorite this round.

You have this talent of really making the reader connect with the character without making it very overt. Like, seriously, I found myself really liking your protagonist and I liked her friend. Lots of funny dialogue.

My biggest problem with the story is that... a lot of it is superfluous? The story is the MC hates parties, goes to a party with her friend, hates the party, plays a game of spin the bottle, kisses her friend, then drinks herself into a stupor. Like, there's a lot of buildup to the moment they kiss and I feel like Spin the Bottle doesn't need to be there. You could have cut out a lot of the descriptions but the descriptions are really, really good.

Overall, good story. Not great but good.

Walking in on your two best friends making out and then you backstep and close the door slowly so they don't see out of 10

Christ. I should be studying. What am I doing with my life?

Phobia fucked around with this message at May 6, 2014 around 14:38

Kalyco
Apr 4, 2013


IN.

I brought road kill.

RichardGamingo
Mar 3, 2014
I know it's dumb to sign my posts, but I can't stop no matter how many times I'm told, because I'm really stupid and I want to make sure that shines through in everything I do and say, forever.

Best Regards,
RG

leekster posted:

Last Ride - 836


I enjoyed the read although I am a bit confused a Sue's behavior at the end and all.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Huntersoninski posted:

Creature Comforts
1,149 words

Jill sat down at her desk and logged in to her computer, blocking. the rest of the story in no way hinges on the fact that she's sitting at her desk, or even logged in to anything, making this opening 100% useless. You've got a strange magical world here, hit us with a solid punch of that right in the beginning. the mouse's cord brushing against a framed photo of a smiling man with blue eyes. who is this man? I honestly don't remember him being mentioned in the rest of the story. Her co-worker, Todd, entered and sat at his desk. more boring blocking. don't do this TVitis stuff unless it really matters that he's sitting for later in the story.

"Good morning, Typhus Mary,” he said.

Jill sighed. "Typhoid Mary. And good morning to you."

He rolled his eyes.

Erik from HR popped his head in the door. "Do either of you have a lint roller?"

right now Jill, Erik, and Todd are all cardboard characters. I know nothing about ANY of them. Always at least give one line to give them personality, a quirk, or an interesting physical feature. I usually try to think of the main thing I want a character to represent, and then give one description that shows that. In last week's story i wanted to show it was an old scientist guy, so i said he had white hair that stuck up, thus invoking all of those "mad scientist" cliches without actually having to say much.

Todd produced one from a drawer and handed it to him. "You too?"

"Not just me," said Erik, attacking his suit jacket. "Lacy, Lisa, Mike upstairs, and like four guys down in IT have them too."

Todd punched the arm of his chair. "What the gently caress is going on? Where the gently caress are all these kittens coming from?" This is a "reveal" but i don't feel like it had to be. having people confused and whatnot might work for the cold open of a TV show, but for a story I really need you to either get to the point or build character. There was nothing important before this. Like, the story could start right here and still be 100% exactly the same. You even establish later that Jill was patient 0.

"I don't know," Erik said. The lint roller made a zipping noise as he brushed his pants. "Kittens don't just appear out of nowhere."

"That's what the animal shelter told me. Rude as hell about it too. They said they were full.” you have 3 characters in here, you should mention who is talking in this situtation. I assume Todd because of the next line, but without that it could have been todd or jill, and you should make the reader wonder that stuff.

"They probably thought you were just some rear end in a top hat who didn't fix his cat and can't afford kittens," said Jill. "I bet it happens a lot." Kinda already got this impression from what the shelter said and how he said they acted.

"You're the only rear end in a top hat in this situation,” Todd said. “This whole mess is your fault!"

Erik laughed and returned the lint roller to Todd. "Why is it her fault? She's not a cat.”

"Um, how about three days ago? When Jill came in all missing words?, 'Hey, guys, look at these kittens that randomly appeared in my house! Isn't that neat?' And then suddenly anybody who came near her desk finds kittens in their home. Now everybody's got these loving kittens showing up! What did you even do, Jill?" He pointed the lint roller at her angrily. Jill shrugged.

"We'll figure it out,” Erik said. “Regardless, don't give them away. Alice gave hers to her parents for their farm, and when she got home, there were new ones waiting. Just hang onto the ones you have and hopefully it'll clear up on its own. I like this part Anyway, I've got poo poo to do; I'll let you know if I find anything out." With that, Erik left. meh on this. do it better.

"Clear up on its own?" Todd cried. "Those little bastards kept me up all night squeaking and scratching all over my poo poo. What am I supposed to do?" Jill shrugged again and turned back to her computer.

The rest of the day was a parade of people lamenting their new pet-owner status and the cost of cat supplies show us some supplies. "...the cost of catnip and canned food.. Jill's day, however, was very productive, despite the commotion and the number of people who interrupted her work to call her a fucker. haha

That evening, she returned home to find five tuxedo kittens waiting. these are her original ones or new ones? Just confused since somebody said you can get new ones. Scooping one into her arms, she rubbed its soft fur against her cheek. It playfully grasped at her earrings. She laughed and scratched its ears. As the kittens played and pounced on each other, scrambling on uncertain legs, Jill was reminded of her grandparents' farm. Every spring she'd track down where the mother farm cats hid their litters and pick one kitten to tame so that she'd always have a friendly cat play with. Without her intervention, they would grow up too skittish and mean.

She remembered when she was upset how she would run out behind the barn to cry. At those times her kittens would find her, cuddling up on her lap as long as she let them. It always made her feel better.

The cat in her arms purred. "I don’t think you’re so bad to have around," Jill said.

The phone rang and the kittens scattered. The caller ID said it was Lacy from work. always a clunky way to handle a call Jill braced herself for another soft-spoken conversation of how are you doing? and do you need to talk? and reminded herself that Lacy had the best intentions. But ultimately the words that were meant to provide comfort were just another reminder that Jill was still pitiable, that her apartment was still empty, that she should still be sad. She sighed and answered the phone. Lacy’s voice was frantic. is this related to the blue eyed man? did her husband die or something? You've buried it a bit too deep, whatever it is.

"Oh, Jill, I've got them too!"

"I heard," said Jill. "How many?"

"Three. I just don't know what I'm going to do. I've never had a pet in my life.”

"Just play with them. They'll wear out."

"I'm worn out. But what about you?” At these words, Jill tensed. “You have five, right? I can’t imagine." what was jill's response after (again, i'm assuming here because you're not really clear on it) Lacy NOT taking the conversation the way Jill was predicting? I think that's what happened?

“Oh, you know, I'm actually doing alright. It’s been good to have something to do in the evenings. The kittens are a great distraction."

"Well, that's one good thing I suppose."

"And since this started, nobody at work has been walking on eggshells around me. I see what you're trying to do, but do it better. I can actually get work done now the kid gloves are gone. I feel awful that everyone else has been having such a hard time dealing with them, but...it hasn't been all bad for me. It’s been strangely nice.”

"Well, I'm glad to hear it. I wish I could be happy about this. I don't know the first thing about animals!" zzzz

For the next two hours, Jill walked Lacy through basic pet care. jesus gently caress. feed them and let them poo poo in a box. not too hard! By the time their talk ended, they both felt better. head jumping That night the kittens slept in a heap at the foot of Jill’s bed, and awoke with her in the morning to beg for food that would have been provided anyway.

At work she was greeted by a cheerful Todd.

“My kittens are gone,” he said. “I’m free!”

Jill raised an eyebrow. "What did you do with them?"

"Nothing, I swear. I shut them in the bathroom last night and when I opened it this morning, no kittens." He collapsed into his chair. "I think it’s finally over."

Jill shook her head. "Mine were still there this morning."

"Maybe they'll be gone tonight."

"Maybe so." Jill's stomach churned.

As it turned out, Todd wasn't the only one whose kittens vanished. Everyone told the same story – learn em dash the kittens had mysteriously disappeared. The building bustled with the news. Though the days before had been preoccupied with complaints and frustration, this day found everyone's mood much improved. No one worried about the state of their drapes or carpets or what new messes awaited them at home. People laughed, shared kitten pictures, and by the end of the day even Todd admitted the strange guests had been "pretty cute." Jill said nothing to anyone.

Her heart was heavy as she opened her front door that evening. "Heeere kitty-kitty-kitties," she called. She listened for the sound of skittering claws or excited mews. She was met with silence. She sighed and plodded back to her bedroom, dropping her bag and coat in the hall. She flipped on the lamp to reveal a single black-and-white fluffball asleep on her pillow. The kitten blinked his blue eyes in the light and gave a happy chirp, stretching his tiny legs before jumping down to meet her.

I really liked your take on the prompt, and was hoping more people would do fun/weird/magical contagions like this.

So the main problem here is you've buried this whole "BIG DEAL" thing. You leave me unsure of exactly what happened. It's ok to put stuff between the lines, but you need to leave me better clues. Make me feel clever for figuring it out, rather than frustrated at the lack of detail.

Your blocking is pretty bad too. You tell me where characters are standing rather than what they're doing or what they're about. If you took out all the blocking and replaced it with characterization, you'd have a much stronger piece.

You cuss a lot to show anger. Some of it's fine, but a lot of it feels over the top, especially in the absence of characterization or action. It's just people cussing. Personal preference, but dial it down some and replace it with things they DO to show they're angry at her.

Other than that, just a few minor things that I detailed above. I thought this was a strong piece, and had it down for an HM. But I can see why the other judges didn't like it as much. Not enough characterization and too much extra zzz blocking.

Thalamas
Dec 5, 2003

Sup?

I'm in and I brought an old photo album!

Who wants to flip through it with me and reminisce?

...

Guys?

Huntersoninski
Feb 15, 2008

kill kill kill kill
kill me now



Thank you very much, I can't disagree with any of it. My first draft was a bit too obvious on the "big deal" and I swung too far the other way. Helpful feedback, thanks!

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Full Disclosure:

I procrastinated my brawl. I wrote like one paragraph on the first day it was assigned, then I didn't touch it until yesterday. I've spent maybe five or six hours on it in the last two days. If it's cool with Seb and Muffin, can I have until Midnight tomorrow (Wednesday) EST? I don't want to ask for way more days, but I just want a few more hours to get it in better shape after work tomorrow. I will still submit by the the original deadline if this request is denied!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Fine by me.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


WHAT IS THIS WEAK rear end poo poo I WILL DESTROY YOU.



Yeah sure. Mojo gets the same extension.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

Schneider Heim posted:

Please do mine, thanks.



Entenzahn posted:

I could totally afford to preface this if I wanted to gently caress da police

Gambit
721 words

“I’ve loved you for years.” This is an almost good opener, but it falls flat because it's immediately undercut by the narrator. he's just doing it to tick off a bullet point, so why should be care?

I’m not the smallest bit surprised to see her reaction: a receding smile, a nervous twist of the ring on her finger. I feel guilty. I know what her answer will be.

“Sid… I’m getting married in June.”

“I know.”

“I mean, why are you telling me this?” mm

I shrug. “I’ll be leaving soon. I guess, I don’t know, I felt like you oughta know. Sorry.

She looks to the ground.

“I didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

The truth is, I really didn’t. I hope one day she’ll forgive me. Weak, weak weak. So this whole first interaction is a rote and bland recitation of a guy being kind of unnecessarily dickish? waste of words.

We spend a few more minutes being awkward. I give her an awkward hug. She awkwardly smiles at me. I leave the park, and I’m sure that everyone notices how awkward I’m walking. ok, cleverish words around the awkwardness

The hardest part over, I stroll along the road on the outer city limits. so none of that mattered, cool Sid Ovenhal is a man who likes long walks. There are only a few houses along the street, situated in respectful distance to one another, surrounded by grass and fields. In the distance, a group of supermarkets and stores are huddled around a huge parking lot. The buildings bathe in the warm evening light. you could have started better with this, it's nice description. As it is it's just WGAF

I sit in the dirt next to the road, on top of the slope that extends away from the the city limit. The sun sets in the distance. The occasional whosh of passing traffic feels soothing.

I pull out my smartphone and open my ToDo-list.

Farewell party. Check. Visit mom and dad at cemetery. Check. Tell Mr. Hammel he’s always been an rear end in a top hat. Check. I check off “Confess to Teri”. My finger hovers over the final entry. “Watch sunset”. My train isn’t leaving anytime soon. I can watch for a few more minutes. Sid Ovenhal always liked sunsets. TELL ENTENZAHN THAT TICKING OFF A TO-DO LIST IS NOT EXCITING OR INTERESTING, CHECK

---

The room is bright, spacious and cool. It looks surgically clean. The chair in the middle reminds me an uncomfortable lot of those you find at the dentist. describe it, don't describe what it reminds you of I take a seat. Next to me, a door slides open and three men walk in.

The balding one, in a lab coat, with rimmed glasses, speaks first. He has a German accent. “This experimental procedure, if successful, will be irreversible. Your memory cannot be restored. If unsuccessful, it can have severe consequences. Heavy anxiety. Permanent brain damage. Death. Do you understand?” lol nazis

“I do,” I say. “It’s a risk, even when it works.” That’s why they pay me. The other man, handsome and groomed, in a suit, lawyer-type, now gives me a clipboard and a grave look. I sign the paper without reading it. If they wanted to cheat me, I couldn’t very much stop them. I really fundamentally dislike your vague dickish protagonist and hope he gets brain damage: this is a bad thing TELL ENTENZAHN HE SHOULD NOT MAKE HIS READERS WISH RETARDATION ON HIS PROTAGONIST, CHECK

While this is happening, the third man, a young lab assistant by the looks of it, uncovers my chest and attaches electrodes to my body. He throws a questioning glance to the scientist, who gives him a nod, and my left arm is injected with some kind of solution and hooked up to a catheter that leads into the chair.

“Well then, Mr. Breckman. Good luck,” he says and the two recede back through the door. recede is a perfectly wrong word choice, they're people not parallel lines heading to the vanishing point, and this scene is terrible soggy cardboard. I don't care about your protagonists fate because he doesn't, you feel me?

Breckman. I will like that name. Breckman, not a loser. Breckman, new in town. Breckman, not unhappy in love. That’s what they think. That’s what they’ll tell me once I've forgotten the truth. ok so he's glum so he's getting a new identity? that's it? yeeeeesh.

A bright light shines on me from the ceiling. “Commence the procedure,” I hear a German-sounding voice roar from the speakers. Giant robotic arms approach my face with a mechanic SHE'S GONNA RUN YOU A FEW DOLLARS THIS TIME, NEED A NEW CORTEX, CEREBELLUM, MANDIBULAR ARCH whirr. There are multiple strobes and lamps you realise a strobe is a kind of lamp I trust attached to them. As they near I realize the inevitability of the coming events and panic, only for a second. Then a dark curtain falls over my heart and an odd calamity sets in. I remind myself that it’s not in my hands anymore.

The light show begins.

Kaleidoscopic impressions, intense flurries of color and light, wash over me, in waves, or random, like static. I try to focus, but everytime my eyes want to hook to some impression, it eludes them. My vision blurs. I become hazy. the indescribable sensation was so indescribable I was completely unable to describe it THAT IT YOUR JOB MOTHERFUCKER GET DESCRIBING OR IT IS TIME FOR THE HAND AGAIN This is what being hypnotized must feel like. this is the blandest analogy ever written since Hector T Analogy invented analogies in 1822 I hope that means it’s working.

I think goodbye to my life in that backwater town. An empty studio apartment with just as empty pizza boxes.

I think goodbye to Teri.

Goodbye to Sid.





Where am I? jeez what did I just read. this has soggy pointless dialogue with cardboard characters, a paragraph of nice description of buildings and a tedious unmotivated 'Eternal Sunshine' rip off that ends where the story should begin. I'm pretty sure you've done a lot better than this.

Sir Azrael posted:

"Fog of War"
650 words

Blood and gore spattered against the back of the trench as a North Korean bullet took Corporal Grassadonio in the neck. this could have been more effective if you'd started with the card game, maybe He fell backwards into the frozen dirt, steam rising from the ground as the blood flowed out of him. Everyone dropped their playing cards and rushed over to him. It was immediately apparent that Grassadonio was not going to make it. ground this kind of thing in characters trying to do stuff - show don't tell No amount of pressure would stop the bleeding. Lieutenant “LT” Lavoie looked at Sergeant Allnut helplessly. The sergeant let go of the soaked bandages and held his hand as Corporal Grassadonio quickly bled to death. this construction is kind of lolworthy, like he bled to death in one big spurt then got th x's over his eyes while a little harp-playing ghost floated up to heaven etc

Allnut sat next to his dead friend in the frozen dirt. He lit a cigarette and inhaled. The harsh smoke filling his lungs, holy gently caress can you proof read your poo poo plz and he exhaled a white cloud that was half steam and half carcinogens. NO who cares about getting cancer in a goddam warzoneHe looked around at his fellow soldiers. The others hugged their rifles and stared at LT, waiting for their orders. He gave none. Allnut flipped his cigarette over the trench wall and crawled over to the lieutenant.

“We have to do something,” Sergeant Allnut whispered so that the others would not hear. It was bad form to question a superior openly, but LT was clearly in shock. tell/show He pulled a cigarette and tried to light it, but his hands shook. whose?

LT shook his head. “You know the rules, Sergeant. There is an armistice. We aren't allowed to fire back.”

“That’s a load of political horse poo poo and you know it, LT.” Sergeant Allnut lit LT’s cigarette for him. “There’s no one but us and the commies out here. The people making those rules are far away and safe in their cozy little conference rooms. They didn't just watch their friend die.” GUDDAMMIT THOSE WUR GUD MEN DAMMIT PTANG I AINT GON LET NO STINKY EYED SLANTS SHOOT UR BOYS PTANG (I am indicating your story is cliché btw)

LT’s eyes widened and looked at the sergeant as if he had never seen him before. nice observation “What are you saying we should do?”

Sergeant Allnut gripped his rifle. “We’re going to kill those motherfuckers.”

They dragged the corpse to the entrance of the dugout and covered it with a sheet. The body would keep until the next supply run came in, and they would take him home to be buried. One of the privates worked a bellows in the corner, trying to breathe life into the fire that provided their only heat. this kind of takes away from the down to business vibe of the para? Outside, and away from the wall, was a stockpile of anti-personnel mortars.

need a scene change indicator

The Chinese officer struck Corporal Bulguksa in the knee with the butt of his rifle. The Korean soldier crumpled to the ground and dropped his rifle. Others gathered, drawn by the sudden violence and noise. The officer pinned Bulguksa's arms to the ground.

“I could not stand the silence another minute! They shelled the factories my family worked in!” Bulguksa shook with rage. “Their bombs killed my wife and son! We sit idle in political armistice and for what? Our leaders have failed us, and the military will not rise to the occasion. I curse them all!”

The Chinese officer shook the man, screaming. “The military sided with our leaders to prevent further casualties to your people you fool! Do you have any idea what you've done, or what the Americans are capable of doing? Military protocol dictates that I execute you for treason, but I doubt there will be much time at all before…” wait what is that CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK noise o right it is the dialogue. even if you are writing a terrible cliché story at least try and give your characters some identity - imagine them as your favourite movie star, if you wish, no one will notice (this is actually a serious suggestion)

The officer was interrupted by the whistling of falling mortars.

scene break again


The Lieutenant watched through his spotting scope as the mortars fell. They burst in the air above the communist soldiers, shredding the area with shrapnel. Next came shells full of phosphorus, which rained corrosive debris on the survivors. When the mortars died down, LT could hear the screams and wails of the enemy combatants. Lieutenant Lavoie turned away, shuddering. He could no longer watch.

“We got those fuckers good didn't we, sir?” Sergeant Allnut cheered, saidbookism celebrating what would likely be the only action he would ever see in this war. tell/show

Lieutenant Lavoie looked towards the rising smoke. ehhhhhhh ok so your words in the first half are pretty terrible, as are the Korean/chinese soldier descriptions. I sort of like your ending, maybe because it is marginally less on the nose than the other stuff though that is saying little as the other stuff is so on the nose that it could easily be a nose cast applied directly to the nose after a traumatic nose injury.

Walamor posted:

The Law of Contagion
1200 Words

“If you keep tugging at that thing, it’s like to fall off,” called a voice from Dylan’s right. Startled, Dylan dropped the end of his rope belt he had been toying with and looked over at the street vendor. The old man sitting behind the table laughed and Dylan flushed. Thankfully nobody was paying any attention to them, the vendor’s laugh merely a small part of the cacophony of calls from the other merchants who lined the street and the hubbub of the nearby market. you could have conveyed this much more cleanly, I think

“You'll need a charm if you’re going to take Belini's test!” said the old man to Dylan. ok, so you're headin up to this wizard test thing - I'd get to that quicker, otherwise we have to go and retrofit it to the things he sees on the way.

“I don’t need your cheap silver,” said Dylan, even as he took a few steps towards the old man’s table. Spread out in front of the old man was a glittering assortment of charms, jewelry and other tokens. Make-believe protections for those who had more money than sense.

The old man held a hand to his chest as though wounded. “Young sir! I promise you, you need this!” he said as he scooped up a pendant. “As long as you wear it, the laws of contagion will not apply to you! A wizard could burn your hair and you would feel no more than a touch of heat! They could destroy a scraping of your skin and no drop of blood would spill from you! What better protection when dealing with wizards?”

Dylan snorted and moved away. No more delays. He had to just suck it up and get it over with.

“Maybe a talisman of luck?” the old man shouted at Dylan’s back. “You’ll need it, he hasn't taken an apprentice in a decade!”


Dylan ignored him and rapped twice on the thick oak door in front of him, a giant stylized “B” the sole decoration. A hole opened in the door and Dylan dug into his pocket, scraping up the last few coins he had. He hesitated, then dropped them into the hole. The door creaked open and revealed an empty hallway, lined with dark stones and lit by flickering torches. Dylan took a deep breath and stepped into the dark. you could have started your story in this para, you know.

Fifty paces later, Dylan entered the lower floor of a brightly lit two story room, large crystals glowing with ambient this word does not mean what you think it means green light positioned along the walls. Across from him on the second floor was a balcony with a single empty chair, a rather simple wooden thing. The drapes behind it fluttered and Belini walked in and took a seat. Belini sighed and waved a hand lazily at Dylan. “Welcome to your test, et cetera, et cetera. Move the book from the table in front of you to the table on the other side of the room.”

Dylan was taken aback. Belini was the most powerful wizard in Magikos, and every other wizard covered themselves head to toe in fine silks and jingled and jangled whenever they took a step. Belini was wearing a simple robe I don't know why the word simple annoys me but it does, held together by a single strip of leather.

“Well, get on with it,” said Belini, raising an eyebrow at Dylan.

“Yes, sir,” said Dylan, and walked to the table in front of him. An ancient text sat on the table, along with a pair of fine scissors. He examined the cover of the book, trying to make out the title, written in what looked to be Atienian, a long dead language. The books he had spent years devouring in his small country town were sadly lacking in Atienian, and he had no time to study the language upon his arrival in Magikos WAIT IS YOUR MAGIC CITY REALLY CALLED MAGIKOS that's hilarious just a few weeks ago. He reverently opened the cover and flipped through some pages. Drawings of various types of plants seemed to dominate so they at first appeared to dominate it but 'twas actually a cunning ruse? the book, with scribbled notes covering the borders of each page.

Dylan jerked his hands back from the book and looked sharply up at Belini. “Is this an Alvaro’s Documentation and Study of Flora?” Belini simply GGN regarded him, saying nothing. Dylan looked down at the book, then back up at Belini. “A first edition?” he said, in wonderment. Was that a hint of a smile on Belini's face?

Dylan stared down at the table and picked up the scissors. He knew he was supposed to cut off a piece of a page and use his skills in contagion to move the book across the room. But this was a first edition of one of the most important medical books ever written. It was priceless, both in money and in historical value. How could he even consider cutting it? Maybe the test was to see how small of a sliver he could cut and use to bind himself to the book. Would the merest shaving allow him to make the necessary connection?

He shook his head and put the scissors down. He gently lifted the book up and carried it as a mother would carry a newborn over to the other table and set it down. He looked up at Belini. “I’m sorry. I know I failed.” Dylan knew he had a long road home, begging for food on the way back to his father’s farm. How they would mock him in town, the boy that thought himself better than them who failed at his dream. aw, that's actually kind of sweet - despite the clunkiness of the start I suddenly like your protag dude

“Why didn't you cut the book?” said Belini, his voice quiet but commanding.

“I had no right to destroy even part of that book. I could not cut it,” said Dylan.

“Well, you’re right about that, it’s impossible to cut,” said Belini.

“What?” said Dylan, stupidly staring up at the balcony.

“Come now, really? I’d let a bunch of idiotic applicants cut up an Alvaro? I don’t think so,” said Belini.

“So, how…” Dylan started to ask, his voice trailing off.

Belini frowned. “These new wizards, they think contagion is the answer to everything. It’s easy, and it’s powerful, to be sure, but it’s dangerous and wizards get trapped into thinking it’s the only way to do things. What happens if someone were to give you a shaving of stone and told you it was from your rival’s castle? And then when you worked your spell on it, it turned out it was from your own? You’d blow yourself to kingdom come.”

Dylan laughed at the absurdity but Belini did not. “It’s happened, more often than you think,” said Belini. Belini stood from his chair and gazed down at Dylan.

“To how many of the other wizards have you applied for apprenticeship?” said Belini.

Dylan grimaced. “All of them.”

“And why did all twelve reject you?”

“I was not as strong in contagion as they wanted.”

“Let me guess, some stupid tug-of-war over an object, whoever ended up with it moved on?” said Belini, shaking his head.

“Something like that,” said Dylan. “I haven’t had any formal training, but I know I can be just as strong as anyone, given time.”

Belini waved away Dylan’s excuses. “Power can be taught, strength can be trained. You were the first to not try to use contagion in any way. You saw there was another answer. A little thinking outside the box, a little bit of manual labor, is quite the under-appreciated thing, yet incredibly important.”

Dylan held his breath.

Belini smiled. yeah, that's sort of sweet and simple (lol) but you probably needed another challenge for him to surmount, or perhaps to fail at - it's too easy and too obvious a victory as it stands. you could have cut all that charm nonsense at the beginning and had another bit of magic test flimflam and the ending would have landed much better

sebmojo fucked around with this message at May 7, 2014 around 03:20

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Grimey Drawer

Drunk Nerds posted:

Euphoria

Word Count: 1099

A panel slid open in the cast iron door, revealing just a pair of eyes. They flickered red and blue underneath the flashing neon sign desribe at least 1 thing about this sign. is it for beer? cashed checks? open? give me a clue about this place, "Password?"

I cleared my throat and expectorated not necessary a huge wad of saliva into the bouncers face. He stood there for a few minutes, letting it drip into his mouth, ew why "alright, you're clean." . and new sentence. you shouldn't have dialogue for him in the same para as your char's actions.

The door opened revealing a long, dark hallway. I stepped past the bouncer and walked to the end, passing several people lying on the floor. The hall took a sharp turn and widened into a large concrete room. i kinda don't care about any of this. what's the point of describing the hallway in such detail, but skipping over the interesting stuff like the people. are they dead? naked? drooling? gingers? tell me the INTERESTING stuff, not the boring stuff. Paper lamps hung from the ceiling, illuminating a large square bar in the center of the room, with stools pulled up to every side. large and some, this really gives me no idea of the scale. Some people slumped in the stools, but the majority of Club Contagion's patients lay tense on the floor wheezing, creating a cacophony of coughs. too cute for this story's own good

"What'll it be, bub?" muttered the man standing behind the bar, "tonight's special is euphoria."

"How much?"

"Oh it's all free," said the bartender, pulling out a spray bottle, "we just charge you for the antidote." The bartender sprayed a fine mist around my head, which I inhaled deeply. your character never even said "ok." or anything.

Dizziness came first, passive I stumbled onto the nearest bar stool. comma splice Waving my hands in front of my face created vivid multicolored trails. passive Then a sense of extreme well-being crept over me. Soon it had engulfed my body like warm water. I felt so good telling I almost lost sight of my mission, soon pleasure waves were cascading passive through me with the intensity of a powerful orgasm, I grabbed onto the bar rail and let out a moan. comma splice

It was a few minutes before the feelings began to fade, another comma splice. time for you to google 'comma splice' I felt a tickle in my throat that evolved into a full-fledged coughing jag.

"Better take the antidote soon, it's all downhill from here," said the bartender, drawing a syringe full of syrupy, clear liquid from a large jar, new sentence. "believe me, you do not want to experience that, comma splice it's like somebody worked over your nervous system with a baseball bat.

Grabbing my shoulder, he injected me with the cure. so why did he even ask him or say anything if he was just going to inject him? have your char be active here and demand it. or pay for it at least. anything to show he's doing something other than just standing there like a prop. Immediately, my head began to clear and I was once again in control of my body. you made no mention of having lost control of your body before this. would probably be important to mention. My hand seized his wrist, I pulled the syringe out of my arm and stuck it straight through his eye. oh god dude. you have no idea how much eye stuff gives me the heeby jeebies

The bartender bellowed in pain. He pulled the syringe out of his eye socket, revealing a gooey, pulpy mess of blood and eyeball. As the bouncer stormed into the room, I hopped seems a little casual for the situation over the bar. Grabbing the jar of antidote, I pulled out a gun. a bit goofy

right now what i'm wondering is, if his whole goal was to come in here and do all this, why go through the ruse of taking the drug? I'm assuming it was to see WHERE the antidote was, but you never actually state that. You're leaving it up to whatever, and I can guess what the reason is, but it might not be the one you intended. If it is, be sure that not everybody will guess the same thing. Give your character some motivation for all the stuff that's happening.

"Take another step and the antidote gets it!" I screamed, putting the barrel of the gun against the jar. meanwhile, this detail is totally irrelevant. it's obvious this is what happens when he pulls out a gun and threatens the antidote. The bartender's yellowed eyes eye grew wide, he raised his hands in the air and froze in place. "Where is she?" I spat. shouldn't have dialogue from your main char mixed in with actions from other people. separate that stuff out.

The bouncer pointed at a swinging door set into the corner of the room irelevent. I crept over the bar and backed slowly through the door. A light bulb hanging from a string lit up some dingy concrete steps. more boring details, yay! Climbing up, don't care I found myself in the bar's "kitchen." Trays of empty glasses littered a nearby counter. near what? you? why do i care what it's near? "littered a plywood counter", or anything of the sort, would have been more informative and less useless. In the center of the room don't care sat a folding hospital cot. passive On the cot, unconscious, lay tense my sister. passive Her face was sallow and purple, her frame emaciated. She had to have lost 25 pounds since I last saw her the day of her kidnapping run on? either way, clunky. and how long was that? a week ago? holy poo poo. 5 years ago? meh. this stuff matters. her position in the room does not. Several tubes ran from her body what parts? tubes running from her eyes are way different than a tube running from her butthole. you tell me all the boring details and skip all the interesting ones. to various IV bags stationed around the bed.

"Emily can you hear me? We're getting out!" nothing clues us in that this is your main char talking. The jar of antidote fell from my fingers, smashing onto the floor as I ran to her bedside. well there goes his bargaining chip. and it's not something he did on purpose. stuff just kind of keeps happening to this guy. I don't think he's made a decision since he's walked into the bar. Ripping the tubes from her spine that seems really dangerous, dude and throat took only a moment derp, and left several oozing scars this is a little awkwardly phrased. scars don't ooze, and a hole wouldn't be a scar. you could say "scar-lined holes oozed..." or something, but not really just scars. I felt a twinge of pain not a good description for an emotional feeling at handling her so roughly, but I was almost out of time. time what? how does he know this? this seems like a random thing THE WRITER threw in to create a false sense of urgency. As NOPE. DON'T DO THIS. I heaved her body over my shoulder and ran to the nearby window, new sentence I heard the swinging door below bang against the wall. I pried open the window, comma splice a rush of footsteps not a good description ascending the staircase.

"Jump!" I barked, lol but Emily could only emit a sour moan. poetic bullshit. Leaning out of the window, I dangled her by her arms until she was only about 10 feet from the ground. see how "until she was 10 feet" and "she was only about 10 feet" say the same thing? edit more. I let go, and watched her fall to the ground. She landed in a crumpled heap redundant, but as I swung my leg over the windowsill I saw her struggle to her feet and stagger into the taxi I left waiting. dude, it takes you a long time to swing your leg. or, DON'T USE AS FOR poo poo THAT HAPPENS SEQUENTIALLY. Hearing the cab pull away, useless sensing verb I swung my other leg out the window and pushed off. oh god, we'll be here for days. Rough hands doubt he could feel the smoothness of the hands grabbed me in mid-air, hauling my body back towards the window. I was pulled inside, a large heavy object hit me in the head and I blacked out. what does large and heavy mean? nothing to me. you should just name a large heavy object that these dudes would be likely to have.

When I came to, I was in the hospital cot. Struggling revealed I was tightly bound to my location "my location" is lazy by at least a dozen leather straps. passive. change to "I struggled against the leather straps that bound me to the table. I heard the swinging door creak open, a single pair of steps came up the staircase. really bad way of describing this. just show a dude coming into the room. why does it matter that he just hears the guy?

"You cost us quite a bit of money, not to mention resources." more non-commital handwaving. you seem really lazy when you do stuff like this, like you're not even trying. "oh yeah, it was just like a lot of money or whatever." the bartender's voice floated softly across the room poetic bs, "that antidote alone took weeks to obtain, not to mention all of the expense of procuring a subject." LET ME SIT AND TELL YOU MY MASTER PLAN, MR. BOND. this is just exposition wrapped in quotes. do this better.

He stepped in front of me. useless blocking. Red, scabby scar tissue puffed out all around his eyepatch. I think you severely underestimate how long it takes scars to form. SCIENCE POINT LOSS "You see," he continued, "staying alive while the body is constantly being harvested is something that not everyone can handle. It takes a special kind of genetic disposition." what? no. SCIENCE POINT LOSS. come up with a better explanation. gently caress, you don't even really need this whole "it had to be her brother because of genetics" angle. just "we're pissed at you for costing us so much, and are going to punish you for revenge."

The bartender put on a surgeon's mask and strapped a white apron around his thin frame, new sentence "on that note, I think we can work out a payment plan that will do quite nicely." HYUCK HYUCK He pulled a syringe from a nearby drawer, filled it with a vial of brown liquid, and stuck me in the stomach. what a dick

As I felt the dizziness and euphoria overwhelm my senses, I barely took note of the doctor intubating my throat. He placed a rag, reeking of ether, over my nose and mouth. why? what's the point? this is a really weird medical set up. As I drifted off, a smile crossed my lips...not from the overwhelmingly pleasurable effects of the bug I was now hosting, but because I had succeeded.

She was finally free. sister lives happily ever after knowing brother is being tortured. cool.

You have some major flaws with your writing:

1) Stop using passive voice. Just stop. That bleeds into stop having passive characters. This is a first person story, but everything feels so incidental. You're just describing stuff that is happening and I don't feel like it's from this guy's POV at all, and I don't feel like this guy is actually doing anything. He has no agency for like half the story. The story's events don't unfold because he made a decision, but because he's there. Major plot points that allow him to be capture aren't a result of his mistakes, just something that happens.

2) BORING DETAILS. Holy christ don't describe how long a hallway is when THERE ARE PEOPLE LAYING ON THE FLOOR. Learn to describe the INTERESTING and RELEVANT details in the story, not the spatial layout of a room. Blocking falls into this as well. I don't care if the sister is on the same floor or upstairs. It really doesn't matter to me. I really never got what the ambience of this place was like. what did it sound like? what did it smell like? With the details you gave me I could draw a map, and that's about it.

3) Grammar mistakes. Too many comma splices. Weird dialogue smushed in with other people's actions. No dialogue attributions where necessary.

4) Structure. Your story needs to be restructured. Right now it is: Guy goes to a place, stuff happens to guy, guy does something, guy goes to new place, guy rescues sister, guy gets capture, exposition dump, guy is happy. We don't see the motivation of the character until the latter half of the story. Then it seems like he doesn't even really know what his plan is. Why didn't he just plug those fuckers? or lock them up?

5) First person past tense. this is related to point 4. Your char seems to be flying by the seat of his pants, but never once did you tell me he was panicking or even slightly unsure about anything. You just kinda gave me boring details about what was happening. The point of first person is to really make you identify with the charcter, but you totally failed to do this. Also this is past tense, but it leaves with him unconscious and us unsure of his fate. From where is he telling this story? And to whom? These may sound like silly questions, but they matter. If you're going to use first person, use it to great effect to let me into this guy's head and share all his fear and hopes and misery. If you're going to do something where the char dies/the ending is uncertain, do it in present tense. This last one is bit of a personal preference, but it really bugs me when stories are in past tense and I don't know where the guy is telling it from.

6) Wordy BS. Alliteration, poetic stuff. Over-detailed descriptions. Settle down with that. Don't use a fancy thesaurus word when "spit" will do just fine.

Overall this was a pretty weak piece, and you need to work a lot on your writing mechanics. Still, you'll notice I didn't devolve into all-caps yelling. You didn't anger me. Keep Thunderdoming.

crabrock fucked around with this message at May 7, 2014 around 05:31

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

I got it wrong. Look, I'm well aware I got it wrong and uh, I got it wrong.


PUT YOUR BRAWLS IN MY FACE: BIGGEST LOSER EDITION

Losers and Dishonourable Mentions, check this poo poo out. This post comes with a soundtrack.

Phobia approached me yesterday and asked if he could get involved in a 3-way with RichardGamingo and Leekster. I said no, because those two lovely lads are almost at the point of climax and I don't want to distract them. However, it got me thinking. I've had five folks judge my brawls recently, and haven't done a whole lot of judging myself. By my count, I still owe three more, so I'm taking them all at once. Three brawls, then a three-way final to see which of you losers wants to make something out of himself.



For this, I will need six people. You will need to have received a loss or DM to enter. Once all six are in, I'll pair you up and assign you with a prompt and a deadline. First in, first served.

LOVER BOYS

1) Phobia
2) Hocus Pocus
3) Meinberg
4) dmboogie
5) Pseudoscorpion
6) Leekster

Six in, prompts up when I get home from work.

Come and get it.

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at May 8, 2014 around 05:52

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Hocus Pocus
Sep 7, 2011



SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

PUT YOUR BRAWLS IN MY FACE: BIGGEST LOSER EDITION

Come and get it.

I got a DM for writing George W Bush fanfiction... I am the biggest loser.

Gonna walk out of this one svelte, and covered in the blood of my enemies.

in

edit: wanna go from a loverboy to a loverman

Hocus Pocus fucked around with this message at May 7, 2014 around 11:00

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