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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

:siren:Thunderdome LXXVII Results:siren:

I tried to squeeze a few drops of 'interesting' out of your dessicated brains. Instead, we got scene after scene of Generic People Uninspiringly Discussing Fascinating Things, with an occasional detour into complete incomprehensibility. You had all the awesomely fucknuts/badass/ridiculous material in the world, and that's what you came up with? I'm ashamed of you, Thunderdome. Go to your room.

No, you can't have dessert.

Be aware that not getting a bad mention here doesn't mean your story wasn't awful. Some of you (even regulars!) got away with some fairly atrocious stuff, just because there were a handful that stood out like giant heaps of poo (in a field full of slightly smaller heaps of poo).

Loser: Paladinus. If you just really wanted to write about vampires, I'm sure there were some much vampier options in those hundreds of articles. Nice job shoehorning in LOL I AM WOMAN, ARE YOU? in the most ham-fisted way possible, too.

Dishonorable Mentions: Phobia, JayO, Mr_Wolf

Special dishonorable mention for being the first idiot to straight-up plagiarize an entry to No-Stakes Internet Comedy Forum Flash Fiction Contest: tankadillo

Fortunately there were a few lights in the darkness. Some of you, for instance, managed to actually write about the content of the article you chose! Some of you even did it marginally competently! And a few of you made me feel things!

Winner: Tyrannosaurus. This was competently written, sweet, meaningful, and believable while still holding interest. Nice work.

Honorable Mentions: crabrock, SurreptitiousMuffin.

My crits will be up tonight.


Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

Questionable Content
150 words

“Okay, so there’s this little boy who sucks his thumbs, right? And his mother says: ‘Son, don’t suck your thumbs. You’re no baby anymore!’ But he keeps doing it, and then… oh boy, I love this part,” full of excitement, Mr. Hoffmann starts narrating with his hands, “then a lunatic tailor runs in and cuts off the boy’s thumbs with giant scissors!”

He makes an exaggerated cutting motion and bellows laughter. The editor regards him with an impassive stare.

“Because he kept sucking ‘em, you see.”

The editor does not react. The smile fades from Mr. Hoffmann’s face.

“And, uh… we’ll have creepy illustrations, with blood and stuff…”

The editor looks down at his notes, back up. “This is going to be a kid’s book, you say?”

For a moment, Mr. Hoffmann is silent. He draws another sheet from his binder.

“Okay, so there’s this little boy who slowly starves…”

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

ReptileChillock posted:

Miss Robinson 900 turds

This cracked me up irl

Jan 11, 2014


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

:siren: Space Filler Elegance Challenge #2 :siren:
Prompt: Tell me a story from your childhood.

Babushkina Skazka.
(150 slov)

‘Once upon a time there lived an old man and his old wife. They were very poor and didn’t have children…’
‘Babushka, I know this one already. Can I just watch telly?’ little Ian interrupted his grandmother. Eight years old, but he knew exactly what he wanted.
‘Of course, vnuchek. But give baba Vera just one more chance, alright?’ Vera Mikhailovna adjusted her kerchief and looked at her grandson with a smile.
‘Fine. But make it interesting!’
‘Once upon a time a lion fell in love with a she-bear. So she took her cub and she took her honey, and raspberries, and fish and she went to live among lions. And lions were kind to them. But one starry night the Great Bear decided to see if her subjects are well in foreign lands. So she looked from above into every corner of lions’ domain and she found no bears.’

Aug 2, 2002

150 words

Chester was making his rounds as hall monitor when he espied two kids in black clothing dip into the restroom. He chased after them and opened the door onto the ritualistic rolling of a D20.

“Yo, you just messed up my roll.”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I thought maybe you were using drugs. What sort of tomfoolery is this?”

The kid with a dragon shirt snorted. “Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a game. The best game.”

“I have not heard of this leisure-time activity.”

“Well why don’t you join us on this mission to kill the dragon. I can lend you a sword.”

Chester tugged at the neck of his sweatervest. He should run back and tell the teacher. But he’d never slayed a dragon before. “Ok, just one quick jaunt shouldn’t do any harm.”

After school, Chester went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and murdered his parents.

150 words

Javier knew Ned stole the answers to the algebra test and used them to get the highest marks.

Javier’s mother assured him that fate would catch up.

Ned landed a full-ride scholarship while Javier had to work the night shift as a janitor.

Everybody knew Ned paid for his essays online.

Ned landed a job as a bank manager right out of college and bought a condo while Javier lived at home to pay off his student loans.

Sometimes Javier would be jealous, but he’d remember his mother's words.

Ned was high on cocaine, getting sucked off by a model, and racing down the street in his brand new convertible when he struck Javier’s mother and killed her.

He got 150 hours of community service.

When a thick envelope from Ned arrived, Javier thought maybe it was the apology he’d been waiting for. It was a notice of foreclosure.

crabrock fucked around with this message at 20:32 on Jan 27, 2014

Apr 12, 2006

:siren: THUNDERDOME WEEK LXXVIII: Past Glories :siren:

There is always conflict. In our stories. In our lives. However, I’m flush with victory right now and I’d like to ride that feeling for a while. So, this week I would like you to make sure you include the resolution of some conflict and I would like this resolution to be a triumph.

Perhaps its something quiet and personal. Maybe its something more grand. I don’t particularly care. You pick the triumph. You pick the genre. And, when you sign up, you also pick a decade.

20s. 30s. 40s. 70s. 90s. Etc. Etc. Etc. Take your pick. That’s your setting. You can share years with someone else as long as you beat them. Just know I’m not in the mood to suffer losers.

Make sure you include your choice of decade when you sign up.

Word Count: 1001
Signup Deadline: 10:00 PM on Friday the 31st, EST
Submission Deadline: 10:00 PM on Sunday the 2nd, EST

Bad Seafood

3140s: Chairchucker
2130S: WeLandedOnTheMoon!
2090s: monkeyboydc
2050s: Jagermonster
2040s: Martello
2020s: Opposing Farce
2000s: Mr_Wolf, The Leper Colon V :toxx: (Flash rule: Daryoush Ayyoubi)
1990s: Meinberg, No Longer Flaky, crabrock
1980s: Jay O, Black Griffon, Kaishai
1970s: Nikaer Drekin (Flash rule: What happened to Eddie Akau?)
1960s: DreamingofRoses :toxx:, Jonked
1940s: Quidnose
1930s: curlingiron
1920s: God Over Djinn
1910s: Baudolino, elfdude
1900s: Little Mac
1860s: Whalley (Flash rule: Dinosaurs!)
1890s: Nika
1810s: Noah (Flash rule: someone related to the protagonist must die)
1770s: Danger408
1470s: Lake Jucas
1420s: Etenzahn (Flash rule: third person, different time period, War on Drugs allegory)
1050s: Paladinus
0030s: Mercedes

Toxx yourselves next time or feel free to stay gone ;)
Useless Sacks of poo poo
1950s: poopkitty
2010s: Djeser


Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 19:39 on Feb 2, 2014

Oct 16, 2013


I'm in with 50's

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards

in. 1920s

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

In for the 1930s!

e: More Mystery crits? :shobon:

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 21:45 on Jan 27, 2014

Jun 27, 2013

Nap Ghost

In with the 1960s and a :toxx:.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

In with the 1940s!

Jay O
Oct 9, 2012

being a zombie's not so bad
once you get used to it

I have been greatly dishonored! Erm. Not-so-greatly dishonored. Dishonored by submitting a half-baked story-fetus. Not a terrible way to enter Thunderdome, I guess.

I'm in again, gimme dem 80's.

Oct 9, 2011

In, with the faded and halcyon glories of the 1990s.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

In with the awkward to say '10s.

Djeser fucked around with this message at 23:35 on Jan 27, 2014

Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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

Early sign up? Sure, why not.

In with 30 AD

Jun 18, 2013

In, with the 00s. Or the "Noughties" if you plan on never being my friend.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Well, that round was certainly a thing. I've judged a lot of Thunderdome rounds now, and this one was certainly had, on average, the worst loving stories.

Quick point - I didn't read a single one of your wikipedia entries. If I have to read a wikipedia article to get the gist or tension in your piece, your writing loving sucks. But what's worse is that a non-insignificant number of you decided that, sure, no problem, if you don't read the Wikipedia article, I'll just loving copy and paste it straight into my story and dress it up as a character's ruminations or dialogue. If you did that, you're even loving worse than the people who buried their tension too deep.

Before we get into the crits proper, most of you made the same god-damned mistakes over and over and over. And, as you're not only bad writers, but also impatient cunts who will skip straight to their crit and not read anyone else’s, I’m going to put all the basic advice up here and cite it. Repeatedly.


This a really common mistake with new writers - instead of trying to express ideas in the clearest, tightest way possible, you dress up your prose. Your sentences grow fat on adjectives, similes, metaphors and the trans-fats of language: adverbs.

This isn't a poetry competition, this isn't a place to show off your vocabulary. Choose the best word for the job, not the fanciest, longest or rarest. And the job is...


I repeat this every time I crit. Your absolute first job as a writer, and the hardest one you'll tackle, is conveying what you're trying to say in a cogent, clear manner. This means not dressing up your language (see point #1), but also in structuring your story and action well.

Reaction follows action - several of you put reactions before you showed us the inciting action. Here's a very formulaic, but insightful article on this very topic. Show us something happening (motivation), then show us how characters respond (reaction). Repeat over and over.


Effectively, the old saw "show, don't tell". It's easy to misunderstand. What it means is that you should be putting down the actions and dialogue important to your story. Every single sentence needs to do one of two things: (a) establish/deepen characterization OR (b) advance the plot.

A good story has characters struggling with obstacles. "Characterization" is how a character reacts to an obstacle. That's it.

If you're writing a summary of the wars between King Shitlord and Duke Turdpants, write about those loving people, don't just tell me "the king and duke sent armies at each other and the armies fought and Shitlord won and celebrated." Write narrative passages covering those important plot beats - that's "showing".

(Don't go overboard, see point #4, Televisionitis.)

This also as two sub-points.


A point made often by our own SurreptitiousMuffin - you cannot hang a story on dialogue alone. Many of you either started your story with two nondescript characters talking in a nondescript place or, worse, transitioning into this. If more than 50% of your story is dialogue, think very very hard about what you're doing.

Just because two characters are talking doesn't excuse you from the general rule of showing us things instead of telling us about them. "As you know, Bob, IMPORTANT PLOT INFORMATION," is just as bad as sticking IMPORTANT PLOT INFORMATION in exposition. In fact, it's worse because it's wordier and more tedious to read.

See this article. It's not amazing, but it has some decent examples of bad writing.


This is just internal dialogue. Infodumping via thought is just as bad as exposition or dialogue. Enough said.


You can go too far trying to follow the "show, don't tell" rule. If your story reads like a transcript of a television camera pointed at your character(s), you've gone too far.

The entire point of the rule is to show us interesting and meaningful details. Cut everything else.


Many of you had no character arcs whatsoever. A character was in a situation, then they weren't, generally through no action of their own. Worse, you tried to portray a "slice of life" in which nothing of import or interest occurs.

Here's a really stupidly basic plot outline. This works for every single god-damned character arc out there. Truly.

(Character) wants (a thing). (Character) cannot have (a thing) because of (a reason - preferably a character trait or flaw). Ultimately, (character) (does/does not) get (a thing), because (character) grappled with (reason/trait/flaw) and (made a choice/decision) which led to (victory/downfall).

Plug in the blanks, make sure they logically connect. It's really not that difficult.

With that out of the way, pour yourself a tall glass of Go gently caress Yourself and settle in.

:siren: TD CRITS :siren:

Mr_Wolf: Tonight

I seriously have no idea what’s going on here. A person wakes up. They tell us they’re broken and battered. They muse writerishly for a long loving time, accomplishing loving nothing, and then they seem to kill someone else who gives them psychotic flashbacks to murders committed in previous lives.

Stop trying to impress the reader with how clever and metaphorical and Good-Writer you are and start trying to tell a story.

See points #1, #2, #3B.

Verdict: Bad.

Elfdude: Untitled

This is execrable. You overwrote everything. It takes five paragraphs for a woman to (apparently) get hit on. You’ve laden your prose so heavily with deadly-dull ruminations, it feels like I’m watching a stop-motion film at a single frame per second.

Great, so she’s an obsessive-compulsive mental patient. Nothing’s changed at the end. This story is pointless. Save your goony philosophizing about the meaning of life for people who care (hint: no one), and write a plot next time.

See points #1, #2, #3A, #3B, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Poopkitty: The Turning of the Heavens

A character thinking about their own past is a terrible way to open a story. It’s horribly boring, and it does nothing to introduce the tension or action. You only have nine hundred words, get to the loving point.

Worse, I don’t even know where this character is while he’s sitting there dinking about in his own thoughts. The only time it’s mentioned, you use an acronym, DSV, which I’m unfamiliar with. I’m going to pretend it means "Demon poo poo Vacuum". Henceforth, in my mind, he’s riding in the thing Satan uses to swab out Hell’s septic tank. Which, coincidently, is where this story belongs.

Don’t use acronyms in fiction prose. If you absolutely must, then make sure to introduce the thing to which the acronym refers by spelling it out in full at least once. Preferably the first time it’s mentioned. Also, this isn’t technical writing, so you cannot use shorthand like "100m". That should be written out as "one hundred meters". You may get away with strings of digits for stuff like phone numbers, but ask yourself - are the specifics really necessary? They probably aren't.

"A meter above the silt in the Philippine trench" - I originally read that as 'slit' and thought he was a sex tourist.

There's no loving reason to have a bunch of random Japanese in this story. The characters understand each other, so just slap it out in English. If the fact that they’re talking in a foreign language is important (in this case, it isn’t), then note it somehow.

Anyway, this is boring. Nothing happens. Write a story about something happening next time.

See points #1, #2, #3B, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Paladinus: A True Vampire

Your mechanics need work. Go read up on how to use punctuation.


"Professor Terry Dodgeson." says the bronze nameplate.

"Dialogue," says person. Grammar issue aside, what is this, Alice in loving Wonderland?


"Do not disturb." say clearly disturbed scribbles

HA HA CUTE U R SUCH GUD RITER. Stop writing like you want to be congratulated on how clever you are. You're not. You're not even good enough to rate as a hack. Next time you see a little flourish like this in your writing, cut it immediately.

Seriously, your plot twist was "OMG A WOMAN. WHAT AN UNEXPECTED EVENT." Where do you get such original ideas?! It's a cliche, it's not interesting, it says nothing new, it's not funny, and it hardly even makes sense in context.

You have a serious, serious case of televisionitis. Your characters sit around fumbling with blouses and clicking their teeth and poo poo. Include only relevant details, not everything you can possibly imagine a character doing.

In the end, nothing happens. Two nothing characters do nothing while talking about nothing and the POV character ruminates on and on about all the nothing going on. Your writing mechanics are terrible, your characters have zero personality, your plot doesn’t exist. I can’t even start on a more comprehensive critique, because you’ve given us a full, complete and perfect example of awful writing.

See points #1, #2, #3, #3A, #3B, #4, #5.

Verdict: Travel back in time and abort yourself for the good of humanity.

Reptile Chillock: Miss Robinson

You’re goddamn lucky I know the Catalina's a flying boat, or else you'd be in deep Clarity poo poo.

This takes too long to get started, and once it does, it's a Thunderdome injoke. Great.

The transition between locations happens too abruptly. One moment they're sitting in the cockpit before takeoff, then they're there. I want a scene break or some other indicator that time has passed. Same with the "sudden awakening" bit - as is, it reads like the entire preceding story was a dream.

Anyway, not a whole lot to recommend this. It's not a great joke, and there’s no great characterization or plot. Mostly pointless, but at least the pilot didn't bang about in her own thoughts for 500 words.

See point #5.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Baudolino: Untitled

Seriously, go take a grammar class. This is filled with major errors, to the point of scrambling the meaning of your sentences. You need serious work on the fundamentals of putting a sentence together.

Taking the story out of chronological order doesn't help make this any more comprehensible, nor does it improve the story.

What I want here is a character study, snapshots of the life of a person with this syndrome that shows how they affect the person and their interactions with the world. You’ve attempted that, but there’s no follow-through, no change or outcome. This sort of story hinges on showing us how the character grapples with and either overcomes or is crushed by their disability.

Further, plot-dumping an explanation of the syndrome at the end is just bad form.

That said, you had an interesting subject and almost squeezed an interesting story out of it. This isn't as bad as many of the other entries this week, and an improvement on what I've seen from you in the past. Keep working.

See point #2, #3.

Verdict: Low side of mediocre.

Guiness13: A Dream Vacation

You have a hideous case of televisionitis. You've taken "show, don't tell" to its absurd extreme, and it hurts your writing. Omit useless details. Look at your opening two paras:


Jane grabbed the armrest of her seat as the train jerked into motion. She leaned toward the window, then turned and flashed a smile toward Sean. She reached out and grabbed his hand.

"I can’t believe we’re almost there," she said.

Your second, third and fourth sentences are obviously meant to show that the character is excited, but the first sentence already accomplishes this. Cut three out of the four.

Worse, behind all the tedious, mundane actions, there's no real characterization or story. None of what happens shows us anything about either character or their relationship.

Two people go somewhere and can’t check into their hotel because the town doesn’t exist. Nothing happens. No struggle, neither character changes. Boring. Far too much time spent with characters yakking at each other over nothing, the backstory-dump flashback is pointless and doesn’t contribute to the story.

See #3A, #3B, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

djeser: gently caress You, Got Mine

lovely opening line. Go look at the first line of 1984. That’s how you make this gimmick work.


It was a darkened, half-sagging ziggurat, surrounded by bare, dessicated rock twenty yards out in all directions. A ring of corrugated steel houses and plywood shacks occupied a ring around the structure, about thirty yards wide at the thickest.

You don’t need all these specific dimensions in your descriptions. This isn’t a loving blueprint.

I basically have no idea what’s going on in the middle of your story. You jump around too swiftly. Characters appear, belch a line and vanish. I can kind of piece it together with a few read-overs; not good. Scenes three, four and five seem almost disconnected from the rest.

Your mechanics are okay, but there’s not enough Story here. Stuff happens, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot, and that may largely be because of the incomprehensible middle. Still, I’ve seen worse. Try threading some character stuff in here and it might end up decent.

See #3, #5.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Tankadillo: Breaking Habits

You lifted, wholesale, the plot, characters and situation of the piece you were "inspired by." This is nearly plagiarism. Did you get lost on the way to

Come up with your own poo poo. You get no further crit and are instantly disqualified. And, further, for being the first person in Thunderdome history to actually have the stones to try to steal someone else's story outright, a special gently caress you, you shameful worthless piece of subhuman trash, I hope you die a slow, agonizing death to explosive rear end cancer.

Verdict: Die.

Jonked: The Man from Beatosu

Grammar issues all over the place. Go figure out how singulars and plurals work before you write anything else, ever.

This is a pure nothing-happens story. We get the weird setup of "a man from somewhere that doesn’t exist", characters jabber about it for a long time, and then it’s just dropped. He disappears. No one learns anything, no character changes, no plot arc. This story is worthless, you are worthless.

You also have televisionitis. Don’t write as if you’re describing what’s happening via a camera trained on the character. Describe only consequential details, not every little tic.

See #3, #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Anathema Device: Monowi

Small town melodrama, competently written. Problem: It’s too cliche to have emotional impact. Not much else to say, really. Come up with something original, keep the technique.

Verdict: Forgettably mediocre.

Entenzahn: Futile

This goes on too long, too much back and forth between the husband and wife. It’s flavorless bickering, and the language is stiff and formal, as if they’re nobility in a Jane Austen novel.

The ending is a bit odd. I’d expect the orderlies to be in on the plan to slip the guy a mickey when hauling him off to the insane asylum, but the woman acts like it's all very sudden and unexpected. Clarity issue.

Boring, but generally competent. I think you’re the first person so far this week to present a story that reveals character. Kudos, but not many of them.

Verdict: Mediocre.

No Longer Flaky: Trepanation

Great, you read a wikipedia article and then had two characters barf it back at me via dialogue! This loving sucks, and you've tossed in tons of irrelevant poo poo to pad it up to wordcount.

Summary? Kid goes to the doctor, who suggests cutting her head open for something that’s normally medicated. Mom’s cool with this. The mom and doc talk at each other for a while. Story over.

This story manages to be boring and make no sense at the same time.

Tell. A. Story.

See #3, #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Crabrock: The Sooterkin Affair

Well, that was hosed up. Mindfuck aside, you go on for too long in most places; the back-and-forth between rabbit and mom doesn’t add anything, because the story completely changes gears halfway through. Also, you should’ve noted she was pregnant earlier - it comes out of nowhere, as written.

The whole thing hinges on a huge non-sequitur (evil bunny threatening the baby for no apparent reason). Worse, the story changes from being some kind of supernatural horror thing to being a weird first-person account of peer pressure and public shame being applied to someone who is (apparently?) mentally ill/delusional.

Really, this just doesn't work for me. Pick one of the two ideas and develop it, don't just drop one and go off in another direction entirely.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Schneider Helm: The Obvious Solution

Relationship melodrama, as mediated by comics. The salaryman character's an ugly cliche.

I think the real problem here is that we don’t see what Toaster-tan’s development means for the characters. It’s both the focus of many words, and also irrelevant to their failing marriage.

I don’t get the sense of pressure building up between the two characters, so the last scene just sort of happens and it’s RAWR ANGRY WOMAN DON’T NEED NO USELESS MAN. Blah.

See #5.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Tyrannosaurus: It Means No Worries

You know, this is actually pretty okay! It's cute, it's heartwarming, and there's even a bit of tension mixed in with the macabre-yet-screwball situation.

It goes on a bit too long in the middle. Given your ending, I’d like to see a bit more of a strained relationship between the sisters - the silliness of the ending would end up as a bonding moment. Other than that, there’s minor details that could be polished up. A character raises their arms, then gets shouted at and is described as raising her arms a second time. Little details make a difference now that you've written a story with solid fundamentals.

Not the strongest story ever, but it's got heart, we learn stuff about the characters, and you manufactured your wiki article into an interesting situation instead of barfing it up at us. In any other week, this would be at most an honorable mention, but your competitors royally screwed the pooch.

Verdict: Decent, approaching good.

Noah: Astronaut Ice Cream

A guy dies, his daughters divvy up the loot and fret about what they’re going to do. Then they keep fretting at each other and do some basic dressing and then more fretting. Too much talking, and I have no idea why any of this is relevant.

The titular ice cream doesn’t add anything. Despite starting with a man dying, there’s dreadfully little tension and too much "oh noes, whatever shall we poor girls do" melodrama. Bo-ring.

See #3A, #5.

Verdict: Tedious and mediocre.

WeLandedOnTheMoon!: H'Angus

Man, I really want to change this story’s title to Hungus and make it about a minor character from The Big Lebowski. It’d be more entertaining that way.

Anyway, I hope you’re in graduate school, because this is a Doctorate Thesis in Overwriting. Too many details, not enough details that matter or actually illustrate anything. Stop trying to write like Oh What A Writer Is Me, Oh Look At How Clever I Be! and just tell a loving story.


Two men rushed to her side, easily hauling the figure from the sea. Ann noticed how badly he was injured from the wreck; he hung forward languidly, hands nearly resting against the sand. Poor dear, she thought, must have hurt his back. “Tie him up to be safe,” Thomas commanded, as if he actually were a military officer and not just an assistant clerk for the bank; "we don’t know why he’s here." The men dragged the senseless figure up the beach, fastening him to a lamp post with a dripping cord.

Grammar problems. Weak verbs and redundant adverbs. Stop attaching an adjective to every loving noun. Cut all your said-bookisms; they don’t contribute anything. poo poo, cut ninety percent of all of this, none of it matters to your plot!

In some places, you throw so much bullshit at the reader, you trip over your own heels and contradict your own tone:


“He’s a child.” Anne screamed ...

Look at that. Rub your goddamn nose up against the screen in those five foul loving words. The dialogue reads calmly, then you shat the word "screamed" next to it to try to impart some tension and emotive weight. Grammar aside - you end the sentence with a period when iit should be a comma - the attribution doesn’t carry weight. Use an exclamation point, cut the attribution and move right to showing up the action the character is doing.


Latching onto Thomas’ nose, the boy clamped his jaws like a slamming gate.

More horrendous overwriting. This reads like the kid grabs the guy’s nose with his hands, then chomps down on… something? Like he’s got lockjaw or some poo poo. Keep your sentences simple, move in chronological order. Action, reaction, repeat.

It’s unclear what’s at stake, why the characters are disagreeing, what they're disagreeing over, etc. This whole story irredeemably sucks, period. Any other week and you've gotten a dishonorable mention, if not a loss. Be very thankful others cocked up far worse than you did (though not by much).

See #1, #2, #3, #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Walamor: Death Coaster Live!

I’ll give you one thing - the title piqued my interest, and you managed to extinguish that goodwill within six words. Your first sentence is very passive and deadly dull. It makes me go from "oh boy, a death coaster!" to "ho hum, a woman is checking out the weather-zzzzzzzzz."

Cut your entire dialogue intro. Three talking heads in a white room jabbering mundane bullshit at one another is not interesting. I don’t know who these people are, and watching them go over mundane pleasantries is boring as gently caress. Were I not judging, I’d’ve skipped your story by line five.

The story doesn’t make sense, and there’s no tension. No struggle. A woman goes on a roller coaster for reality TV and LOLZ IT’S A DEATH TRAP. Start with LOLZ IT’S A DEATH TRAP and write an interesting story starting from that point; everything up to there is just filler.

Your mechanics need work too - too many sensing verbs and passive sentences. You try to shout the plot at us through dialogue instead of having any of the characters do anything.

See #3, #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Nikaer Drekin: Posthumous Rex

Two characters jabber at one another over trivial things. No tension, no character arc, I don’t give a gently caress about any of this. It’s unclear what’s at stake until very late in the story - far too late for me to give a poo poo. Write a story where poo poo happens and you’ll get more of a crit.

One good point: your mechanics (grammar, word choice) are nowhere near as bad as most of the other stories rated "bad" this week.

See #3A, #5.

Verdict: Bad.

Quidnose: Signal Noise

Cut the first half of this. The jabber and walking-into-a-trap bit is pointless and doesn’t contribute to your story. You’ve got too many passive sentences and sensing verbs pinging around; it’s like the action is happening a hundred feet away. There’s a touch of televisionitis going on here, too. Cut irrelevant details.

Too much of your jargon and jabber accomplishes nothing. Don’t just inject dialogue to have the characters say things - make the sentences carry some loving water. If they don’t establish/embellish characters or deepen the plot, cut them.


“I f-------p, Rune.” He was breaking up. Between the static of the radio and the static of my ears I was missing every other word. “---t’s milit----de wea----devel--------il safe.”

Cutting the character's dialogue off here doesn't work. Instead of adding tension, it comes off like a cheap trick.

Your ending doesn’t matter. The characters die suddenly, but I don’t care about them. Nothing’s really at stake. This is basically a "stuff happens" scenario, semi-competently written. (And I’ve seen much better writing from you than this pile of words.)

See #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Kaishai: Some poo poo in French

Oh god, you opened with a dream. All goodwill immediately spent, and you didn't dig yourself out of it at all.

Summary: A guy makes sculptures. It makes him happy. Then he's done making sculptures. End of story.

This is competently written, but the flowery writing doesn't go anywhere. Worse, some of your sentences are dangerously close to purple. I’m left with no emotive impact, no character arc.

I’m disappointed, ‘shai. I expect better from you.

See #5.

Verdict: Snoozefest.

Phobia: Gay Bomb something something

What the gently caress. The title grabs my attention, in a bad way. I’m immediately groaning at having to read this.

Your first para is horrible. It takes the entire, 50-word paragraph for someone to say one line. In fact, the first third of your story carries no weight. It’s two people jabbering inanely at one another.


You spent almost your entire story with characters telling me about stuff. Then a bomb goes off and some faceless soldiers sex each other. I seriously don’t give a gently caress. I have no connection to the characters, the situation isn't funny. It's like you farted at the dinner table and are sitting there guffawing at it while the rest of us stare at you.

Write a story about characters, for gently caress's sake.

See #3, #3A, #5.

Verdict: Something Awful.

Meinberg: Distortions

First scene is pointless. We learn nothing and nothing interesting happens. No hook. Were I not judging, I’d’ve skipped this by para 3.

This is overwritten. Cut more adverbs and adjectives. You’re showing us far too many irrelevant details. A bad case of televisionitis, this. Example of a completely worthless paragraph that could've been entirely cut:


The crowd around the cabinet jeered as she performed a quick barrel roll, before dropping a screen-clearing bomb, giving her time to bring her focus back onto the game. Her palm hammered down onto the fire button as she maneuvered through the field, laying down cover fire before she focused on avoiding another spray of bullets from the enemy fleet.

Also, what the gently caress? There’s no point to this story. Some government agency abducts players of a video game, asks them if they’re Reds and then, oops, our mistake, we’ll send you home all tidy-like.

Why does it matter? What’s at stake? Where’s the struggle, where does a character make a loving decision?

Still, not as horrific as most of the other poo poo this week.

See #4, #5.

Verdict: Mediocre.

Surreptitious Muffin: Crow-Marm the Librarian

This is decent, but the intro is unclear. I don’t think you need the crone at all; she never reappears. Focus more on Crow and Alice, and bring up the Orc King (cute foreshadowing with ‘ork’, by the way, but it’s not working for me) earlier.

Amusing, competently written, but I think you’re looking for fish-out-of-water humor - a fantasy barbarian fighting foes in a magical-realistic real world is amusing. It doesn’t totally land, but it’s getting there.

Other thing is, does Alice add much to the story? She’s basically just there for Crow to jabber at. If this is a sidekick origin-story, she needs to redeem herself or prove herself somehow. Bildungsroman and other German words like that.

Were this tighter and funnier, I could give it a nod. As is, #2 in the week, but it's miles behind Tyranno's.

Verdict: Decent, but unpolished.

Fanky Malloons: The Hum

You know, this is pretty good. Deaf kid wants to hear again, gets consumed by some otherworldly auditory force. There’s some good juice in there. However, I really want this to focus more on the deaf kid’s quest for hearing; the intro is too muddled and everyday-lifey and pointless. The story gets going halfway through, which is too late for something this short.

Writing itself is up to par, as expected. Flesh out the struggle for hearing, maybe give us a whiff of Something’s Not Right, so that hearing-and-petrification vs. deafness becomes a big choice for the character, and you’ll have something pretty good.

#3 for this week.

Verdict: Halfway decent.

JayO: And I Knew

You… you fictionalized an internet meme. Seriously. You took an internet meme and wrote a story based on it. :wtc:

It’s not a particularly good story either. You've got problems with overwriting and clarity. Worse, nothing of import happens. No tension, no choices, no plot arc, no character development. Your characters are paper thin.

See #3A, #4, #5.

Verdict: Bad. "The Hampster Dance" Bad.

-- DONE --

I haven't done Rhino or J. Comrade's crits yet. Those are to come, but right now I have a furious urge to drink, and it cannot be denied.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 23:15 on Jan 27, 2014

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

All right I'm in for serious this time, with the far-future years of the 2010's.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards



page 1

Your story is incoherent.

You managed to take something like this:


(1) Jane opened the door and stepped into the room.

and turn it into this:


(2) She grasped the cool, firm protuberance and pushed forward, entering something entirely new.

The second one also describes what’s happening - you’ve got some picture in your head, and the words you’ve written fit it, sure. But a story has readers. So you don’t get to just write words that fit what you’re envisioning; you have to write words that take the reader to what you’re envisioning.

If you’re competent, you can even do this artfully, in such a way that the word choice conveys tone or subtle shades of meaning. The key word is competent. If you’re reading this now, you aren’t a strong enough writer to do ‘literary’ or ‘dramatic’ or ‘artistic’ or ‘ambiguous’ prose. You need to focus on telling a strong, ‘workmanlike’ story first, and then worry about the flourishes.


page 2

Your story is boring.

You were given your choice of loving awesome material. Dramatic deaths. Even more dramatic lives. And you chose to write about Faceless Guy and Generic Girl discussing the story. Or you gave me 300 words of some rando’s backstory instead of skipping to the awesome.

Interesting doesn’t mean fucknuts crazy poo poo is happening all over the place. Interesting means that something is happening and something about your description of the characters, setting, etc has made me want to know about it.


page 3

The emotional impact of your story is contained entirely within a Wikipedia article. And/or you made me read an additional 500 words of Wikipedia to figure out what the hell you were talking about. This is your weekly reminder that your stories are supposed to be stories, and if you couldn’t figure out a way to intimate to the reader what the hell you were writing about without going over the word count via exposition, write about something else.


page 4

You whiffed the ‘gender’ part of the prompt. It’s all well and good to say that there’s really no difference between men and women and therefore that part of the prompt is meaningless and won’t change anything about your writing. But the truth is that men and women are, broadly speaking, socialized differently; this appears, among other places, in how men and women interact amongst themselves and with others, how they talk, the kinds of expectations people have of them, and the kinds of archetypal roles they fulfill in fiction.

Of course, there’s more variation within the group of ‘men’ and the group of ‘women’ than there is between the two groups, so in many stories, gender really will be irrelevant. I didn’t dock anybody points for just not making gender significant. But the fact that I mentioned gender specifically in the prompt should reveal what I was looking for: stories that wouldn’t have the same impact if the main character was of a different gender. Where the character’s experiences take on some slightly different shade of meaning because he/she is male or female.


page 5

Your take on gender is aggressively terrible. Women do not walk around projecting LOL I AM WOMAN, WACKY NO?. You can convey a sense that gender is relevant without having your characters discuss it (especially if it isn’t even part of the plot!).



The Saddest Rhino - How Louis Was Impressed, but Still Won’t Learn to Listen

your article says:


Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, refers to the beans of coffee berries once they have been eaten and excreted by the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

I was expecting:

900-word description of the workings of civet cat sphincters.

You gave me:

A sweet old-world/new-world tale with tone as a strength. Plus coffee lovingly plucked from turds.

On the whole, I liked this. The writing is tight. There are a few places where your word choice is a little weird. A comment in IRC made me think more about to what extent these are just you writing in Malaysian English, and I think a lot of them probably are, but I already pointed them out so I’m leaving this here:

He cried as his Converses stomped wetly into the field. - This sentence is just bad in general, ‘cried out’ or ‘whimpered’ would be better for the verb, and don’t write clothing as if it’s doing things deliberately unless you have some literary reason to, because it stands out.

She yanked on to his arm

Hyeon-Seo thought about it, then removed her heels and left her handbag lying beside them.

You also could’ve given me more of a sense of why Hyeon-Seo was ready to have the kind of revelation that she did. That would’ve made the story more satisfying - as it stands, I can understand why she had this emotional experience, but only because I understand what her ‘type’ is from my own experiences external to the story. I would rather know more about who she is specifically and what makes her go help the little girl rather than just ignoring her in favor of keeping her shoes clean (replacing some of the cute but ultimately unnecessary bickering with Louis, who is not really a character and thus shouldn’t be given so much screen time.)

I’d like to point out that you did a really nice job with the ‘gender’ requirement (and on hitting the prompt in general). It feels relevant that Hyeon-Seo is female, and she reads like a type of woman that I’ve definitely met before, but the story isn’t LOL FEMINISM.


Mr_Wolf - Tonight

your article says:


The term maschalismos has widened to include the customs throughout the different cultures of the world in ritually mutilating their dead to prevent their wrath from affecting the living. In the Moluccas, a woman who has died in childbirth is buried with pins stuck through the joints, and an eggunder the chin and or armpits

I was expecting:

Blood-soaked ancients rending their dead limb from limb as Iron Maiden plays in the background.

You gave me:

A story that reads like snorkeling in mud. Sorry, but this is absolutely atrocious, especially given the ridiculously crazy idea you had to work with, and I was pushing for it to lose. Does the story even depict maschalismos? Is your character male or female? I honestly have no idea.

turn to page 1.

turn to page 2.

turn to page 3.

turn to page 4.


elfdude - Untitled

your article says:


When toast falls out of one's hand, it does so at an angle. The toast then rotates. Given that tables are usually between two to six feet (0.7 to 2 meters), there is enough time for the toast to rotate about one-half of a turn, and thus lands upside down relative to its original position. Since the original position is usually butter-side up, the toast lands butter-side down.

I was expecting:

A pessimist straps toast to her cat and drops it out of a 40th-story window.

you gave me:

A surprisingly witty story with some nice moments, that could nonetheless have been a lot better. At least one of your other judges absolutely hated this (because of the overwrought writing style), but I think there’s something good going on here under all the dreck.

I’m going to do a line-by-line for you because most of your issues are stylistic or mechanical. Also, holy mother of God learn to use a comma.



Trial five thousand, eight hundred and forty-seven, she scribbled in her carbonless notebook.

“What are you doing?”

She spun around in surprise. Then realized it was a boy. She sneered. It wasn’t that he was bad lookingCOMMA (or maybe semicolon) she just had no time for childish romances. All she saw was a distraction. A phony smile, and the attempt at charm. She had no use for charm.repetitive

She returned to her studiesand slathered,slathering (‘and slathered’ sounds like the activities are unrelated) another slice with butter. The cold shoulder was obvious. It was a technique she had mastered. It was a simple tactic, much simpler than her current task. She looked past the man, as if staring into his soul, then without a thought she turned away from him uninterested. She could almost feel the weight land on his head as she did it.the story is not really about the man or about the character’s love life. Cut this to 1 sentence - “She had long since mastered the art of the cold shoulder.”

“Did you hear me?”

Another interruption. She wanted to scream at him; to tell him the importance of her work. She wanted to explain how the very fabric of reality was being plucked apart by her discerning eye. The impulse faded almost immediately. Yet Engaging such a primitive was beneath her. She picked up her belongings and moved to another table. If the man was a balloon she was sure he would have popped. No need to describe whose impressions we’re seeing; you’ve already established who the viewpoint character is

Away from the distractions her experiment was loaded and readied. Her smile was thin and only a careful observer might have known her internal excitement as she prepared to record the data. There was no sweeter thing in life. Science had become her addiction. It was a drug that knew no limit; a prescription that needed no doctor; a comfort that needed no man.

Time slowed down as she lifted her hand and watched as her lunch fellher lunch fall (more active). If math was a color, it was a color that she alone could idea but comes out nonsensical in practice; rephrase. Suddenly the vector quantities of centripetal force became visible in her imagination. The force of rotation was equivalent to the tangential velocity multiplied by the mass of the object inverse to the radius of curvature. It was an equation she knew by heart and it set her teeth on edge.

As soon as it had begun the dream ceased. Her toast landed, buttered side down. She smiled. It was as she had expected. She had long thought that reality was a cruel and evil place and in fact that was her underlying? hypothesis. The Buttered Toast PhenomenaPhenomenon simply proved it to be true. She smiled thinly as reality came into focus. There was clearly no free choice, and there was not even such a thing as luck. There was however a ‘god’. If you could call it that.Either scare quotes or this sentence, not both. A being of pure malevolence who had designed the universe with simpleCOMMA unalterable lawsCOMMA to bring about the misery of all menDASH/PERIOD or at least her.

Soon the attendants arrived and she screamed. They grew angry with her and called for meds. Her fight was pointless. The two attendants outclassed her in mass by a full magnitude. Just like always her choice was irrelevant. The universe was designed to cause her misery.I’m torn on this - on the one hand the detached, clinical tone works for the story; on the other, you’re describing an interesting fight in a clinical way, which is kind of boring.

The morning greeted her with harsh sunlight. Breakfast would begin soon. She smiled in spite of herself andMy god this woman smiles a lot for no discernible story-related reason waited patiently with her carbonless notebook for her door to be unlocked. After what seemed like hours her warden arrived to let her out. There was a lecture of course which followed from the previous day’s events but she didn’t listen to a word.This sentence is clumsy The one thing on her mind was the toast.

Her warden, the man calling himself her therapistCOMMA sighed and had her sit at the table while he went to fetch her breakfast. She shivered in anticipation and closed her eyes imagining the sweet sight of the misery of existence being proven once more to her.does she like that she lives in a cruel world? Or that she’s proving others wrong? The sound of a tray slapping the table in front of her brought her back to reality. She opened her eyes.

It wasn’t there. There was no toast. There was nothing but oatmeal.This moment is really good, play it up. Right now you’re diluting it with the ‘it wasn’t there, there was no toast’ bit. She felt her eyes beginbegan to burn. This was unexpected. This was even worse than misery.see, I don’t get it. Is she happy that she knows the world is cruel, or not? She looked towards her wardenCOMMA thinking it to be a cruel jokeCOMMA but he had already moved on. He didn’t care. A lone tear fell down her cheek.

The sound of a sliding tray drew her attention. In front of herCOMMA appearing by magicCOMMA was toast. She looked up and saw the man who had tried to get her attention before. She glared while she tried to figure out what he wanted. This makes it sound like she’s spending time thinking about what he wants, while he stands there awkwardly.

He just shrugged,PERIOD “You know, if you keep trying the same thing, you’ll always get the same result.” She tried to sneer at himCOMMA but he had already turned to walk away.

Her thoughts did cartwheels as she tried to contemplate the action. For the first time she felt entirely understood. She smiled widely, he wouldn’t see it anyways.awkward sentence This timeCOMMA she would prove it wrong once and for all and she would prove him wrong too.

While her warden was distractedCOMMA she climbed upononto the table. Her knees wobbled, not from weakness or fatigue but from excitement. She stood up and raised the toast into the air. Her warden cried outCOMMA but it was too late,. the toast slipped silently from her hands.

End over end her smile grew wider.awk The math seemed to glow like the sun searing its values into her head. Then with a plop the toast landed, buttered side up. This is another good moment, you might be able to draw it out a little.


poopkitty - The Turning of the Heavens

your article says:


Kaiten. The Kaiten was a manned fast torpedo, which was piloted straight into its target, which in practice was a suicide weapon.
I was expecting:

Suicide-bombing astronauts smashing human-sized craters into an alien moon.

You gave me:

The personal history of some guy I don’t care about, with no mention of Kaiten until the very last microsecond.

Your writing isn’t awful, but the story is pointless. Why are you giving me hundreds of words on the personal/employment history of a guy who is researching Kaiten (which I didn’t even realize he was doing until one of my co-judges mentioned it?) Also, what is the drumming? If it’s supposed to spur some dramatic realization in the reader, it went right over my head (and I’m fairly forgiving of stories that take work to ‘figure out’.)

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.


Paladinus - A True Vampire

your article says:


In mathematics, a vampire number (or true vampire number) is a composite natural number v, with an even number of digits n, that can be factored into two integers x and y each with n/2 digits and not both with trailing zeroes, where vcontains precisely all the digits from x and from y, in any order, counting multiplicity. x and y are called the fangs.
I was expecting:

Number theory-themed erotica. Oooh, his factors glitter in the sunlight.

you gave me:

I still don’t even know, and I read it twice.

I don’t care about either of these people and vampire numbers aren’t mentioned in the story. You can’t reasonably expect your readers to have heard of them, so your entire last section just makes Dodgeson seem like an actual crazy person, where I think the point is that she isn’t, even though the narrator expects her to be? If I’m not right on that, then the story is even dumber than I thought because there’s nothing to justify your having written it. Also the main character is atrociously clueless and your story hinges on the improbable-to-the-point-of-lunacy fact that she, a journalist, doesn’t research her subjects thoroughly enough to know whether their bits are tucked or dangly.

If you wanted to write this story - which you shouldn’t, because I read it and I still don’t know what the plot was - you should at the very least cut the entire beginning section about the interviewer’s backstory. It’s possible that interviewing crazy people for the local news is a fascinating job and leads to good stories, but you didn’t tell us one of em. Flatten and try again.

Also, LOL SHE’S A WOMAN. Jesus Christ.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 5.


ReptileChillock - Miss Robinson

Yeah, I’m not gonna seriouscrit this except to say that the Pauli effect was poorly shoehorned in to your 900-word joke about Martello being gay and it’s a waste of a drat good premise. I was expecting a serious and prompt-relevant 900-word joke about Martello being gay, 0 out of 10 domestars.


Baudolino - Weird prompt.

your article says:


Although its rarity often leads to late diagnosis, infants with this disorder can be identified at birth by a "mask-like" lack of expression that is detectable during crying or laughing and by an inability to suck while nursing because of paresis (palsy) of the sixth and seventh cranial nerves. Also, because a person with Möbius syndrome cannot follow objects by moving their eyes from side to side, they turn their head instead.
I was expecting:

A young man dies gruesomely gurmosley from complicationscmopilations of Moebius Syndrome. Someone is sad about it.

You gave me:

A surprisingly sensitive character-study-that-is-almost-a-story about a girl whose face just don’t work right.

I liked the bit with her and her brother in the restaurant. It felt realistic, definitely in line with experiences people with visible disabilities have described to me in the past.

The story is awfully tell-y. Also, the point just seems to be ‘life with a disfiguring disorder is tough’, without demonstrating how Moebius syndrome is uniquely interesting. These are related problems: you give us “Naturally, everyone teased her relentlessly”; what do they say to her? You give us “Sally was used to not being misunderstood”; who misunderstands her and how? As it stands she might just have an ugly birthmark or something. This would have been better if you’d focused in really tightly on one incident and how it defined or changed Sally somehow in light of her disorder.

If possible, get someone to proofread your next story. You might even talk a veteran Domer into doing it. (We would be thrilled to see you in IRC, no joke.) Problem is, the mechanical and spelling problems make your work painful to read. Story-wise this is a lot better than Rural Rentboys, but it’s still impossible to take it seriously because it just reads so awkwardly.


Guiness13 - A Dream Vacation

your article says:


The supposed location of Argleton was just off the A59 road within the civil parish of Aughton in West Lancashire, England, which in reality is nothing more than empty fields.
I was expecting:

A Google whistleblower tries to draw attention to the abduction of an entire town by aliens, in the only way she knows how.

You gave me:

The last man on earth to never have heard of Snopes.

This was a nice piece if a bit outside the realm of believability. My only complaint is that it both started and ended weak. You had so few words here, you needed to make them count. But “Jane grabbed the armrest of her seat as the train jerked into motion, etc” doesn’t do much to start things off with a bang. You really should’ve started with her asking if Sean is really, truly, absolutely sure that he actually made reservations - that makes the reader wonder whether she’s just being a hideous scold, or whether he’s a total incompetent, or possibly both. Same with the ending. Sean just stands there like a sad sack without trying to fix things? He’s not even going to try to save his marriage? What?


Djeser - gently caress You, Got Mine

your article says:


Such a structure would be composed of at least two but typically more Dyson spheres built around a star, and nested one inside another. A significant percentage of the shells would be composed of nanoscale computers (see molecular-scale computronium). These computers would be at least partly powered by the energy exchange between the star and interstellar space.

I was expecting:

Somebody built the ultimate Buttcoins mining rig.

You gave me:

Well, uh, um, I was right.

You came up with a good premise and your writing, mechanically, is solid (except for a slight penchant for adjectives and overdescription that you really can’t afford, given how much you’re trying to say here). This story is not boring which gives you a huge leg up on the competition.

You’re trying to say an awful lot here and your story suffers for it. I think I get why you put in the section about the guy on the ship with his weed farms (to convey why Alex finally decides that these people are horrible?) but it feels rushed (as does the entire second half) compared to the beginning, which offers some cool description but ultimately isn’t that relevant to the story. You need to have a little more faith in your readers - you could’ve dropped us straight into Alex on the spaceship and explained the buttcoin/capitalism/SPACE TECH SUPPORT thing in little bits and pieces and we would’ve not only still gotten it, we would have been more impressed by Alex’s solution to the problem because there would’ve been more room for you to provide a motivating incident(s). You don’t have to explain everything.

Actually, “Alex stared into the pudgy doe-eyes of a savage captain of industry” isn’t a bad opening line. Sets the tone and theme. Should’ve started there, and let the backstory drop bit by bit so we could pick it up. Again: trust your readers, we are people and most of us have brains in our skulls.

Turn to page 4.


tankadillo - Breaking Habits

I’m not going to seriouscrit this either.


Jonked - The Man from Beatosu

Your article says:


Beatosu and Goblu are two non-existent Ohio towns in Fulton and Lucas Counties, respectively. They were inserted into the 1978–1979 official state of Michigan map.
I was expecting:

Rabid UM fans make an en masse pilgrimage to Beatosu, get stranded when their tour bus breaks down and end up settling the town as peaceful farmers.

You gave me:

The entirely ambiguous tale of a man who doesn’t exist.

So, this was the best so far. At the time of reading I haven’t read too many other ones yet, so don’t get complacent, okay? But it’s well done, in my opinion. Your writing is strong enough to pull off the ambiguity, so that an ending that would normally just be unsatisfying ends up feeling pleasantly unfinished. Makes you think, as it were. I don’t have much bad to say about it, so keep up the good work. Unfortunately at least one of your fellow judges hated it, so when you get his crit you’ll learn what kept you out of the HMs.

Turn to page 4.

Anathema Device - Monowi

Your article says:


According to the 2010 census, it has a population of just 1 person,[5] the only incorporated municipality in the United States with such a population.[6]
I was expecting:

The last man in Monowi is forced to serve as his own surgeon when bureaucratic complications require him to go to the closest town’s hospital.

You gave me:

The most boring story in a week full of boring stories. There’s also a spelling error in the first sentence.

The problem here is that the remarkable qualities of your topic are completely ignored in favor of a dull domestic story about a conflict that everyone’s experienced a thousand times, and you didn’t even treat it in a novel way or show us any interesting facets or quirks. I mean, yes, this is a thing that happens, and you describe it competently - kid returns from the big city, has a conflict of values with his aging parents, etc, etc, but it isn’t a story unless you go deeper and give us something more about that theme. What makes these people different from any other trio of adult child, rural parents? Why are they worth writing about? In short, this story fails to justify its own existence, and in turn the time I spent reading it, since I learned nothing from it (and I’m not talking didactic moral poo poo here, just ‘was my attention drawn to some element of human nature or human problem?’) and it wasn’t even interesting aesthetically.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 4.


Entenzahn - Futile

Your article says:


He is noted for his works of lenticular art, as well as for The Picture of Everything, a massive painting incorporating images of several thousand people and items, both real and imaginary.
I was expecting:

An attempt to draw a Picture of Every Possible Permutation of the Picture of Everything: The Picture of the Pictures of Everything results in the death of the artist and 24 people who just happened to be standing nearby.

You gave me:

There was one obvious way the story could have gone from the beginning, and you took it. The characters are a bit one-note and we don’t see much of their motivations (why did the woman stay with him for this long; why is he and not some other person painting this picture; etc?). If you tried a little bit harder to inject some surprise and wonder into it this could have had almost a Borgesian quality, but once again, we get something fascinating smothered under endless description of a dry-as-dust domestic dispute.

Turn to page 2.


No Longer Flaky - Trepanation

Your article says:


After some time there was an ominous sounding schlurp and the sound of bubbling. I drew the trepan out and the gurgling continued. It sounded like air bubbles running under the skull as they were pressed out. I looked at the trepan and there was a bit of bone in it. At last!
I was expecting:

Somebody, you know, getting trepanned.

You gave me:

A story in which nobody gets trepanned. What the hell, Flaky?

Here’s the problem with this story:
- If the reader is supposed to be horrified by the prospect of trepanning an innocent kid, then you can’t have the doctor describe it clinically as a valid cure for ADD, or you at least need to provide some hint that we’re in bizarro-child-cruelty-world. What you’ve ended up doing is suspending my disbelief just enough that I’m like ‘okay, on my own planet trepanning is horrifying and barbaric, but apparently on this one it isn’t a big deal. Okay, what’s the story?’
- If the reader isn’t supposed to be horrified, then what is the story here? Parent has an unnecessary medical procedure performed on their kid - it’s a sad story, but it happens all the time, and you haven’t given us a new twist on it.

Basically I suspect you’re trying to play on the reader’s preconceptions here, but trepanning isn’t quite awful enough, and the way you’ve described it isn’t quite intense enough, for this to work as satire.


crabrock - The Sooterkin Affair

Your article says:


According to a contemporary account of 9 November, over the next few days he delivered "three legs of a Cat of a Tabby Colour, and one leg of a Rabbet: the guts were as a Cat's and in them were three pieces of the Back-Bone of an Eel ... The cat's feet supposed were formed in her imagination from a cat she was fond of that slept on the bed at night."
I was expecting:

She was actually giving birth to rabbit parts, but modern medical science is just keeping the truth down, man.

You gave me:

A subtly eerie albeit somewhat predictable story with a distinctive voice.

The opening is excellent. There’s something almost magical-realism about the matter-of-fact way she approaches the situation. Your control of the narrative voice really helps you out here, since it sounds both like something from a different time, and like something ‘fable-like’ or magical in nature.

‘Then my baby died’ is the worst kind of telling in the worst possible place. I understand what you were going for, but you stood to gain a really good dramatic moment by giving us a 1-line description of the sensation of having her baby die. Instead it just fell flat. Also, ‘thing that was attributed to magic but then later discredited actually did happen because of magic’ is disappointingly predictable; you write well enough to almost pull it off, but I was expecting a lot of this from the weaker writers this week. (How was I supposed to know they’d all decide to not even write about their drat topics?) Not so much from you.

Ending feels rushed; just one or two more sentences would’ve helped, although the writing is already pretty tight, so I can’t point to anything specifically you should’ve cut. Maybe a tiny bit of the interplay between the rabbit and Toft, since it was possible to ‘get it’ with less than what you wrote.


Schneider Heim - The Obvious Solution

Your article says:


The characters here, usually in a kind of cosplay, are drawn to represent an inanimate object or popular consumer product.
I was expecting:

The brave adventures of Thunderdome-tan and the anthropomorphic BLOOD THRONE.

You gave me:

A story involving nothing startling, interesting, or remarkable. It’s just dull and sleazy from beginning to end. Sure, he kind of gets his comeuppance at the end, but not really. Nobody changes. The wife just goes along with it? Seriously? Even if you think a sane woman would actually do that, it sure doesn’t make for an interesting story.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 5.
Your portrayal of gender isn’t aggressively terrible, but still, ugh. She’s just so passive, and he’s such a pig, and it’ll be that way forever and ever I guess?


Tyrannosaurus - It Means No Worries

Your article says:

I was expecting:

The sad tale of an alienated Tibetan vulture who just isn’t fast enough to get the best greebly bits.

You gave me:

The only story to succeed in depicting characters reacting to a situation, rather than the situation itself.

The first paragraph is what I want to show people when they ask how to write a first paragraph on an extremely tight word limit. It sets the background, it establishes the characters, it tells us where the plot is going, it gives us the beginnings of the tone, it’s great.

The sisters even seem to have distinct personalities from each other, which is remarkable in so few words. This is something you do very well in this story - writing dialogue that gives the impression, in a small amount of space, that real people are speaking it.

The ending is another strength - the ‘Hakuna Matata’ bit made me giggle and then feel really sad and then feel weird that this was Thunderdome and I was feeling things, and then read your story again and be really impressed. It’s a nice example of cultural references standing in for much, much bigger ideas (in this case the idea that people in the sisters’ demographic are unwillingly forming their own cultural heritage based on consumer culture, etc.).


Noah - Astronaut Ice Cream

Your article said, I was expecting:

Beatosu and Goblu again. See above.

You gave me:

The aftermath of the Apocalypse, if it was portrayed as a Lifetime special.

This was an okay idea, but there’s too much meaningless interaction between the siblings, not enough that would give us a reason to care what happens to them. Basically they’re faceless cutouts that exist to get across the point, which I suppose is that the Apocalypse is really terrible and tragic and hope is meaningless? It might have been better if the futile hope of reaching Goblu - which you touch on, very briefly, at the end - actually changed them or somehow benefited them.

For once in a story I’m left feeling like I want *more* backstory and *less* character interaction, which is atypical for the Dome but still not a good thing.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 3.

Turn to page 4.


WeLandedOnTheMoon! - H’Angus

Your article said:


On finding the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions, and many locals were unaware of what a Frenchman may look like,[citation needed] they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French sailor.
I was expecting:

The French sailor that’s actually a monkey ironically turns out to be an unusually hairy, mute French sailor after all. Oopsies!

You gave me:

A story with no apparent monkey. WHERE IS THE MONKEY, MOON

Why is Ann willing to attack Thomas on behalf of some random kid? monkey? she’s never interacted with? If it’s just because she feels sorry for it/him, we need to learn that as readers - we need to see her having some experience that leads her to feel this way. Writing is pretty meh too, there’s too much talking and overdescription, and I see where it’s trying to be dramatic, but the real drama is in the motivations behind the fight and its implications - neither of which you give us. Also, the really interesting thing here - that the kid may or may not be a monkey - isn’t really brought up. There’s a fine line between pulling one over on your readers (so that they feel deceived, i.e. by inadequate description of this monkey/child that any character who was present would have picked up on) and being artfully ambiguous/presenting an interesting mystery (which isn’t what you do here, because nobody seems to be interested in the kid’s species.)

Turn to page 3.


Walamor - Death Coaster Live!

Your article said:


The Euthanasia Coaster is an art concept for a steel roller coaster designed to kill its passengers.
I was expecting:

Supervillain surreptitiously installs a euthanasia coaster at Six Flags just in time for the protagonist to arrive.

You gave me:

A ham-fisted satire of reality TV culture. You gotta pick one: either play it straight, or play up the ridiculous to make it parodic. Right now you’re trying to do both: you’re trying to make the reader feel this pathos of Katie’s hinted-at situation with her father and sister, and the genuine fear of the other riders; you’re also giving us the glitz and glam and trappings of reality TV in a scaled-up way. So what is this, a satire, or a heartbreaking story of self-sacrifice? I’d go with the former, after doing some serious thinking about how what you depict here is analogous to things you see IRL.

The beginning is terrible: start with her walking out to the coaster, we don’t need to hear her chatting with non-characters. The ending is also amazingly unsatisfying and unnecessary to get your point across.

Turn to page 4.


Nikaer Drekin - Posthumous Rex

Your article said:


Through sound and video, VEGMs would, in theory, make visits to graveyards an interactive experience.
I was expecting:

900-word philosophical tract on whether Great-Grandpa is still sentient, given how terrible his audio quality is getting.

You gave me:

A story I didn’t want to like, but actually did, in the end.

You have a really good underlying idea here, or actually a couple of them: that people might represent themselves posthumously as differently from they were in life; that if dead people can speak, they might gain economic power in spite of not being human, etc. The best moment in this is where Denise tries to call her mother out on the discrepancy between what she recommends doing, and what she actually did in life. I just wanted you to take this further - why did Denise’s mother represent herself in death differently from how she was in life? What other discrepancies are there? How does Denise feel about this? As it stands, there are hints of these interesting ideas, but they never really get explored in favor of Denise’s mom yelling at her irrelevantly.

Nice choice going almost-dialogue-only, too.


Quidnose - Signal Noise

Your article said:


self-described sufferers of electromagnetic hypersensitivity report responding to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation) at intensities well below the limits permitted by international radiation safety standards.
I was expecting:

The government is using rogue Wi-fi signals to literally make peoples’ heads explode, but for some reason nobody notices.

You gave me:

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.

This is an interesting idea in principle, but it’s just completely unsurprising. Girl who can detect electromagnetic radiation detects electromagnetic radiation. She finds a bomb; the bomb explodes. There’s just nothing remarkable happening here, especially since it’s set against a backdrop where people probably die all the drat time in far more remarkable ways.


Kaishai - Une Mémoire des Rêves et de la Pierre

Your article said:


a French postman who spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") in Hauterives.
I was expecting:

An earthquake sent by a jealous god destroys the Palais ideal the day after Cheval’s death. It’s revealed to be covering a trapdoor that leads into a secret French bunker full of nukes.

You gave me:

An elegantly written story that you should’ve used all the drat words to properly finish, drat you.

There are lots of pretty words and emotionally evocative images here, but it’s just such a straight retelling with such a completely unsatisfying ending. And then he felt satisfied; so? Did he just spend the rest of his life looking at this nice palace? Was it weird to have completed his life’s work? Did anything change at all? What made him susceptible to this mad desire? It’s a nice telling, but you haven’t given us a lot about the guy’s inner workings, especially for a story that very much feels to exist in the guy’s head.


Phobia - For the Last Time We Are Not Calling It a Gay Bomb!

Your article says:


the theories involve discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.

I was expecting:

Diffuser-wielding terrorists in chastity belts.

You gave me:

Well, at least something happened, even though it was buried at the end of hundreds of words of expository dialogue.

I’m not going to expound on whether this is offensive or not. It’d be fine if it was an interesting and/or well-written story, because you as the author aren’t promoting any hideously offensive opinions as far as I can tell, although some things you have your characters say made the entire IRC channel cringe.
There was absolutely no need to spend paragraph after paragraph having your faceless characters, one of whom may or may not have a vagina, expound upon the origin and nature of the gay bomb. Give us a chance to figure out what the thing is and does on our own, by giving it to us in the context of a story. This was the most egregious example of ‘your story could have been exciting - maybe not great, but exciting - but you managed to make it completely dull’ this week.

Also, your characters are indistinguishable from each other. Read Ty’s story if you want a lesson in how to fix this.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.


Meinberg - Distortions

Your article says:


the Tempest-style game was released to the public in 1981, and caused its players to go insane, causing them to suffer from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies.
I was expecting:

A player of Polybius goes insane, suffers from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies.

You gave me:

A really, really, really bad first line. And the rest of the story ain’t much better.

Stuff just keeps happening to your protagonist. She doesn’t seem to feel about it or be affected by it whatsoever, and the hallucinations, etc. don’t even become a plot point until it’s too late for them to matter. Cut the exposition at the beginning; reveal that she’s been playing this game without spending 300 words describing it (especially since the gameplay is irrelevant to your plot).

Turn to page 4.


SurreptitiousMuffin - Crow-Marm the Librarian

Your article says:


The presence of the archetype is explained by Christine Williams by the fact that librarianship is a traditionally female occupation, far from traditional ideas of masculinity. She writes that male librarians will often use "Conan the Librarian" cartoons to assert their masculinity and reaffirm male hegemony.
I was expecting:

Genderswapped Conan stomping some fools over late fees.

You gave me:

A funny story with colorful, distinctive writing and some nice references.

I like the level of detail you put in; every reference feels both realistic and meaningful. Unfortunately, you may have to cut some of it to fit more character development within a word limit as tight as this. Where this story suffers is in being divided into two scenes (feels really jarring, for a number of reasons), and in that there isn’t much impact or change - it’s ‘just’ a light, silly yarn. Compared to Ty’s piece, this felt very fluffy.

The story is fast-moving and actually deals with occurrences, rather than people talking, which put you on the top of the pile to begin with. You have a nice way of making each event seem to naturally follow from the previous, without dumping a bunch of exposition on top of us. Everybody who I yelled at about ‘trusting your reader’ should read this story.


Fanky Malloons - The Hum

Your article says:


a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming, rumbling, or droning noise not audible to all people
I was expecting:

The hum is actually just the guy in the cubicle next to me humming, like, really loud. SHUT UP STEVE

You gave me:

A total rush job, with the bones of a nice story.

Lots of mechanical problems here, but I’m sure you’re already aware of them and would’ve corrected them if you had any time to work. The idea isn’t bad, and the telling is good, but the order that you present certain things feels a bit scrambled (probably because you were writing facts as you thought of them), and there needed to be more of a sense that the events described either 1. have occurred, or 2. have been contemplated by the characters. Right now a lot of it reads like Fanky Malloons telling us facts about Oscar; some of them need to be described and/or contextualized better.

Overall though not bad, this would’ve stood a chance at least to get HM if you didn’t have to write it so fast.


Jay O - And I Knew

Your article said:


An odd-eyed cat is a white cat with one blue eye and one eye of either green, yellow, or brown.

I was expecting:

Scientists argue over how to classify a cat with three eyes: One blue, one gold, and one glowing red one in the middle of its forehead.

You gave me:

A ridiculously overwrought story about nerds in an everyday situation. Your 'visions based on the cat's eyes' gambit failed because there's no justification for it, either within or external to the story. It's this remarkable thing that's happening, so if the story doesn't even attempt to justify it, the characters at least need to worry about it, instead of taking it at face value. Also because it throws how quotidian the rest of the story is into stark relief.

Turn to page 2.

Turn to page 4.


J. Comrade - Mary Doughal came from Cork

Your article said:


Winchester came to believe her family and fortune were haunted by the ghosts of people who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles, and that only by moving West and continuously building them a house could she appease these spirits.

I was expecting:

A 900-word apology letter. Yours sincerely, Mary Winchester.

You gave me:

I don't even get what's happening here. Maybe I'm just tired, but seriously, what's going on in this story? Did the builder have something to do with the legend of the Winchester House, or did he just happen to be a psychopath? Wait, is the narrator even one of the builders, or just someone who sympathizes with them? If there's a connection here, I'm missing it. Give us a little more.

Turn to page 1.

Turn to page 4.

God Over Djinn fucked around with this message at 00:01 on Jan 28, 2014

Jan 7, 2014

by Lowtax

Martello posted:

This cracked me up irl


Jan 7, 2014

by Lowtax

I volunteer to judge.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012


Erogenous Beef posted:


A point made often by our own SurreptitiousMuffin - you cannot hang a story on dialogue alone. Many of you either started your story with two nondescript characters talking in a nondescript place or, worse, transitioning into this. If more than 50% of your story is dialogue, think very very hard about what you're doing.

God Over Djinn posted:

Nice choice going almost-dialogue-only, too.


Seriously though, thanks guys. I agree that I should have put forth the idea of Denise being financially dependent on her mother earlier on- otherwise her freakout at the end seems a bit unwarranted.

Also I guess E. Beef hates all plays, good to know! (just kidding i love ya man)

Apr 1, 2010


In with the 1910`s ( The Tenties?)

You guys are rigth , my grammar is ungood. I will buy a grammar book and try to improve. It`s been a long time since high school and I have forgotten quite a lot.

I know my punctuation is less then stellar to say the least. I don`t even know how to do it properly in my native language. But what other issues should I be aware of?

Apr 12, 2006

ReptileChillock posted:

I volunteer to judge.

Glad to have ya

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Then afterward, I cried, because there isn't really a tribe of constantly engorged homosexuals named after me.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?

Martello posted:

Then afterward, I cried, because there isn't really a tribe of constantly engorged homosexuals named after me.

Only because you don't have kids yet.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Fanky Malloons posted:

Only because you don't have kids yet.

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Jan 7, 2014

by Lowtax

Fanky Malloons posted:

Only because you don't have kids yet.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


The enigma of who keeps taking my drat lunch

When I came home from the supermarket, it was gone. I dropped the plastic bags with a shout. Baked beans and cat food observe character description via shopping list clattered across the floor but I barely noticed. All my attention was stuck this is a terrible phrase wtf were you thinkingon the empty plate furnished only with also this i get you're being all melodramatic but this is not extreme enough to be funny so it's just awkward a few specks of rye. The lettuce, the mayo, the corned beef: gone without a trace. I took out my phone and called Jimmy.

“Jimmy,” I said, “did you eat my sandwich?”

“What? No,” he said, “I'm at work.” good dialogue.

As far as alibis go, it was airtight. Jimmy had this thing called a job, which meant somebody gave him money to photocopy things. A crooked deal for a crooked system. He often told me I should get one, and also pay my fair share of the rent. Instead, I did the shopping with the money my parents sent, and even bought the nice squishy cat food for his drat cat. It was never enough, though. Sometimes you eat the beef and sometimes, the beef eats you. INJOKE HSSSSS

“The broad then,” I said. “Did she eat it?”

“Stop calling Sandra that,” said Jimmy. Did I detect a hint of guilt in his voice? It was either that, or my own growling hunger adding an undercurrent of worry to his words. I decided to force the issue. kind of a weak last line? Also, you're veering into noir pastiche which is natural for an investigation focused story (and it's funny), but I think you could have started earlier with this

“She's a woman,” I said. “They're unpredictable, inexplicable. Driven by greed, lust and wiles. If there's anybody who might steal a man's sandwich, it's her.”

I don't trust women. Or doctors, or Russians, or marine biologists. Sandwiches don't just get up and eat themselves: that would be horrifying, and probably very difficult for them. This is very chairchuckery (I love that he has become adjectival) but done well so that's cool. 'doctors, Russians, marine biologists' is very fun to say out loud btdubs Somebody had to have taken it, and my limited money was on the broad.

“Maybe she's pregnant,” I said, “and therefore filled with devil-hunger to feed her spawn.”

Jimmy hung up. The rat. He was as innocent as they come in this guilty world, which meant he was harmless, but happy to sit back and let injustice stalk the streets and kitchens, taking lives and lunches as it saw fit.

I heard a plaintive mew, and something brushed against my leg. I spun around and delivered a wide left hook. My fist hurtled like a disappointing meteor, hitting nothing. I looked down and saw Lux, the fat tortoiseshell stray that Jimmy had taken in. Was Lux a woman too? It was hard to tell with cats. She looked even fatter today. Too fat.

The puzzle pieces fell together. The cat was pregnant, and filled with mad woman-chemicals in her brain. She had devoured my lunch in a fit of savage ecstasy, and was here to gloat. These last two lines are pretty sweet.

You,” I spat.

In an instant, she tore off through the house. Nobody runs like the guilty. I didn't have a hope in the world of catching her.

I was left alone with my plate, my phone and my endless hunger. Why the phone, apart from to attain the magical third item in every list?

Overall this is a fun toss-off, you could have polished up the impact of the genuinely funny lines by having it more focused in whatever whackadoodle genre pastiche you were aiming at, but certainly worth the read.

[494 words, title inclusive]

Jagermonster posted:

Rest for the Wicked

This is actually a pretty clever title, though it verges on too on the nose once you get to the end.

994 Words

Brandon clung to sleep through the creeping dawn and his campers’ stirring until a child’s screams tore him awake. that's some melodramatic wordage With blurry vision he scanned the cluttered bunk. and this is a bit self-consciously epic. Shane’s bed lay empty.

Brandon found the boy teetering on one foot by the latrine, scraping his flip-flop against a log, his t-shirt pulled up over his nose. “I stepped in it,” Shane whined to his counselor.

Brandon gagged as he entered the bathroom. Excrement coated the floor, walls, doors, and shower curtains. Flies darted between every defiled surface.
Outside, another camper stabbed a speared turd into an ant pile. Brandon tore the stick from his grip and threw it into the woods. “Did you do that to the bathroom, Nathan?”

“No!” Nathan said backing away. “I found it like that.” He ran back to his bunk, his untied shoelaces flecked with poo poo and streaming behind him. “Somebody pooped all over!” he called to the rest of the boys.

The boys’ counselors flung accusations at an impromptu breakfast meeting. Brandon defended his own like a mother bird. “Shane always takes a shower early, before the hot water runs out. I caught Nathan red-handed.”

“I wish we could just pin it on that little spaz,” Nathan’s counselor said, “but he never left the bunk last night. He pissed his bed twice, waking up half my kids each time. What about Joey, Robert, what was he doing sneaking around?”

Robert sighed. “He was visiting a girls’ bunk. They backed him up.”

“Enough,” the Assistant Camp Director said. “I’m sorry you guys had to clean that up, but this isn’t going anywhere. Cut rest hour and make them all pick up litter as a punishment.”

“That hurts us more than them.”

“Then withhold dessert until one of them tattles, it’s up to ya’ll.”

At the Art Barn Brandon grabbed a camper’s wrist moments before the kid plunged his colored pencil into his neighbor’s arm. “I said stop fighting, you two.” He slapped the table in front of the camper across from him. “Marcus, don’t color on the drat table.”

The Crafts Teacher waved him over. “Get them out of here.” Brandon started sputtering a question when her ponytail nearly whipped him in the face as she motion to the bathroom. Blobs of poop dotted the toilet seat and sink. Her eyes narrowed until they were swallowed up by the bags underneath. “Now.”

Hours later at the ropes course, a cacophony of squeals interrupted Brandon’s fumbling attempt to secure a harness on a wriggling camper. Another counselor stood guard at the nearby restroom. The boys scattered as Brandon approached the crowd. A turd lay nestled in a coil of rope. Brandon wheeled around. “Are you loving kidding me!”

“You guys are done,” the Ropes Course Coordinator said, letting the camper she had on belay freefall before catching him an inch from the ground. She threw her gloves off and began tearing at the knots tied to her harness.

At dinner Brandon tried to recall everyone who’d left his sight that day. Two more locations had been hit: a canoe and a saddle had been used as toilets at the lakefront and the stables. He stared down each of his campers. They silently traced the table’s wood grain rather than risk meeting his eyes. When one of the kitchen staff came by with a box of ice cream sandwiches, Brandon waved her away.

“It’s not fair!” Shane said.

“Who was it?”

A chorus of whines and “I don’t know” answered him.

“Can I go to the restroom?” a camper asked.

Brandon yawned while the camper squirmed. “Nobody leaves the table.” He fumed that other boys were still freely roaming the dining hall after the day’s incidents.

The Kitchen Manager slammed a ladle down on a nearby boys’ table. “Which one of you little monsters just did that to the men’s room?” Her head pivoted along the boys’ side of the room.

The Camp Director gathered the male counselors together in front of the dining hall while the campers fidgeted in single file lines. “You all are going to take shifts standing guard tonight. Three at a time. Spread out along the boys’ cabins. This isn’t happening again.”

“We barely sleep as it is,” someone complained.

“Tough. Some of you are under suspicion too. Watch everybody.”

“What about the girls? And their counselors?”

“The girls’ activities kept them far from the boys today, but I’m not ruling out anyone. It’s not a witch hunt either. Just keep your eyes peeled.”

The boys’ counselors could barely drag themselves to the next night’s campfire. Their campers, having been banned from most of the camp, were restricted to an isolated field. The hyper tweens ugh had drained their counselors, body and mind, as they required constant, varied activity, supervision, and all their meals prepared for them.

A slumping phalanx sort of pompous phrasing of counselors now fanned out along the campfire’s perimeter. Brandon stood at the edge, his boots sinking into the soft mud at the lakeshore as the kids mumbled songs. He gazed into the dark water, fantasizing of leading his campers into the woods tomorrow and abandoning them there.

A loud pop followed by a dull thud announced the collapse of a heavy log into the bonfire’s core. A flurry of sparks danced into the night sky. In the flare of light Brandon saw his scowl reflected back at him. He stared into puffy tired eyes. His face softened and then faded back into the shadows. Darkness again enveloped Brandon, so too, did realization. overblown construction

As he crept up to the boys’ latrine, shuffling and scraping from within confirmed his suspicion. He kicked open the door and trained his flashlight, one by one, on the Crafts Teacher, the Ropes Course Coordinator, a lifeguard, a kitchen staffer, and a horseback riding instructor why do they all need to do it? painting the walls and doors with human excrement from coffee cans. Their bright bag-less eyes betrayed bad word choice the extra sleep they’d gotten since banishing the boys.

I'm torn on this one. Aside from the poo obsession, it's a decent straightforward story idea; but you are visibly straining for clever constructions and complicated sentences without quite being able to pull them off, and it makes the whole thing feel messy. But not terrible.

Baudolino posted:

How Tommie died. (993 words) terrible title

Inspector Isaac looked down AT the young man lying dead and stiff on the frozen parking space outside of “ Grootz`s Golfing shop”. Isaac waived the pathologist over to him. ” Good day Larson, give me the facts”. This is an autistic way to do dialogue. It is how robots talk to each other.

” The victim`s head, neck, and forearms have been smothered with extreme force. It`s possible that he might have been dragged around post-mortem. Very little blood on the scene, so he probably did not die here. His clothes are partially covered in grey dust. We also found his keys and wallet, his driver`s license was inside.” BOOM FACTS GET Larson gave him the card” Tommie Mathieson” it said and included his address. Isaac bade Larson give him the keys. unnecessary. Also, 'bade' is archaic.

Isaac walked towards the shop. this is the sort of bridging description you barely ever need; Beef called it 'televisionitis'. Just describe the shop, and have your guy standing there. We will fill in the details. The man who had found the body, Kenneth Grootz, a mountain of tense muscles, this is actually a decent phrase! was sitting in the entrance. Going on instinct Isaac bent down to shake his hand I thought he was a mountain does isaac have v short arms or what and asked “ Good day, this is Inspector Isaac Dupont, I have a question for you. Why is there a bag of illegal steroids inside your shop?” Kenneth went pale and slowly got up” H—how did you know? “ JESUS BAUDOLINO READ ANY STORY WRITTEN EVER THEN DO WHAT THEY DO WITH QUOTED DIALOGUE =/= COMPLICATED Isaac smiled. He had guessed correctly.

« Kenneth, I don’t care about the steroids. If you let me in and tell me everything you know I will forget about it, ok?” Isaac said. Kenneth opened the door and let him in.

The store looked like any normal sports store. Isaac noticed that Kenneth only carried the most expensive brands. A tiny irregular hole blemished one of the walls. what is this hole it's fascinating tell me more Kenneth leaned heavily on the counter and asked,” What do you want to know?”
“ What do you know about the man you found? Tell me everything,” Isaac said.

“His name is Tommie Mathieson, WE KNOW THIS, DON'T TELL US AGAIN he worked here in the summer. I fired him for stealing. All of this stuff is highly expensive, so he cost me more than a thousand bucks. I …given my habits didn`t want to involve the police”. Isaac scratched his beard and continued, “Tell me what happened when you came to open up? Did you see him snooping around? Did you think he was coming back to steal more? Did the steroids make you act impulsively? “

“No, I swear! When I get angry, I punch the walls. Look, you need to talk his friend Daniel Whitrope . He used to work here too, but he never managed to show up on time. He lives just a block down the street; I`ll write down his address. Those two are always driving around on Daniel`s ATV. You can`t walk peacefully in the woods here anymore because of those two”.

Isaac had heard enough. He bade this is not modern English usage - you say 'told' Kenneth remain in town for the next few days. mega cliche He left the store and got in his car. He felt he should take a look inside Tommie’s apartment before he did anything else.

The apartment was a mess, filled old beer cans. A thick layer of grey dust covered all the furniture expect for a beer-stained leaning chair. In the seat of the chair laid a diary. Isaac leafed trough it and took special notice of something Tommie had written last week,» Went out in the woods with D, had fun, stopped to play` carousel`». Odd, very odd he tougth. sp As he left, he received a text message from Larson” “The grey dust is probably concrete. “ Nice to know Isaac said to himself.

Finally, the time had come to visit Daniel. He lived in a small yellow house on the outskirts of the woods. Through the bare frosty trees, Isaac could see a construction site just a hundred yards away. Just beyond that, he could make out his own house. He walked past a dirty and bulky ATV parked next to a wheelbarrow and knocked on the door. A pudgy young man opened it. “Good day this is Inspector Isaac Dupont, don't have your main character repeatedly introduce himself is this Daniel Whitrope? » Isaac said.

"That`s me, what do you want dude? » Daniel responded.
Isaac stared at him and said with intensity 'with intensity' is sort of meaningless and sounds terribly awkward “We have found a dead body, we believe it is Tommie Matheson, we also have reason to suspect you were with him yesterday”.
Daniel remained calm and said” Well he wasn`t, he wanted be alone.”
“Why , weren`t you two friends?”
“Yeah…but it`s not like we were gay either. We don`t always hang out.”
“Perhaps he was tired of riding around the woods late at night?”
“I don`t have time for this, I have to get to work” Daniel responded in a brusque voice. Isaac got out of his way as Daniel drove off.

Next morning as Isaac walked over to his car he pondered what Tommie could have meant by” playing carousel”. He looked over to the right where he could see a busy construction site. Isaac saw a worker making concrete. The mixer was going around and around….AHA!
Isaac sped away as fast as he could. Daniel was just leaving the house when Isaac arrived “Listen, I know what happened. Tommie kept a diary. I know what “playing carousel” means.`s time for you to tell the truth.”

Daniel went pale and shivered, but he did not run “Ok, I will tell the truth. Tommie and I went over to the construction site behind us. Tommie got onto a cement mixer and told me to turn it on. We had done it before. But this time Tommie wanted to stand on his hands while the machine turned, he said he wanted to make a YouTube video. Tommie lost his grip and fell face first into the barrel. He was crushed to death almost instantaneously.” I am really having trouble picturing what happened here.

“So you dragged him up here and dumped in front for Kenneth`s shop, why?” Isaac said.

“I didn`t want to go to prison, so I dumped him there to lay the blame on Kenneth. I figured the workers wouldn`t say anything 'cause they are all illegals”.

Isaac arrested him.
The rest was just paperwork. this is a splendidly bad end to your story. Which is, don't get me wrong, p bad in its own right. You have bland recitals of facts, terrible spelling, grammar and punctuation, blank faced automatons of characters being wheeled out to spit a few lines of exposition and a huge 'so what' as a revelation. Yes, you're ESL, but so are lots of people here and they don't get basic stuff like this wrong. Keep going, because you're improving, but you've still got a long way to go.

tankadillo posted:

Out of the Attic and into the Cellar
[999 words including title]

“No, you can’t move back in,” said Emily through the phone. “It’s over between us.”

“Wait, listen,” said Jerry, “just for a few days. I promise I can—hello?” The line was dead.

Soon, Jerry told himself, things would turn up. Sure, right now he was just working as a waiter at a dining club. Sure, he was homeless and had resorted to sleeping at the club too, upstairs in the old servants’ quarters. But if he could just persuade Emily to let him move back in with her, or at least just go see her, things could get better.
this para is actually unnecessary

The door swung open and there stood Cheryl, his manager. “I thought I heard you talking,” she said. She looked at the unmade bed. “You mind explaining this?”

“I, uh,” Jerry stammered. He couldn’t tell her he was secretly squatting in the room. “I worked late last night,” he said, “and was too tired to go home.”

She furrowed her brow. “You wouldn’t have happened to run into any of our overnight guests, would you?”

“I’m sorry? I mean, no, definitely not. Why?”

“We’ll talk about this later. You need to go help set up Mr. Newell’s party. Go see Peter downstairs.”

Jerry found Peter in the living room, talking to a man carrying a piano on his back. he is very strong “It has to go in that corner near the hearth,” Peter said. “No, don’t hit the croquet trophy! Hey, you over there, move that out of the way.” He turned to Jerry. “Oh, hey. I guess Cheryl found you.”

“Yep,” said Jerry, “and she sure is in a mood.”

“Tell me about it,” said Peter, “we have to turn this place inside out for the party.”

The piano clumsily thudded on the floor. A man dashed into the room. “Is everything all right?” he said.

Peter looked at the piano. “Yeah, should be fine,” he said. He turned back to Jerry and the man. “Jerry, this here is Kevin Finn, Mr. Newell’s son.” All of this dialogue is wiffle and piffle

The two shook hands. “Good to meet you,” Kevin said. He wore a perpetual smile on his face. It reminded Jerry of a used car salesman. it reminded sebmojo of a terrible cliche simile Of course he’s happy, thought Jerry. His dad’s the richest guy in town, if not the whole state.

“If you’re not busy,” said Kevin, “could you go to room six for me? Please make sure my father takes his medicine.”

Jerry found Mr. Newell lying in bed, reading. Even as he lay, the old man didn’t look relaxed. He seemed as if the weight of all his years were crushing him.

After taking the pills marked for Saturday, Jerry helped him into his walker. Newell insisted that he could handle himself from that point, and shuffled out of the room.

Cheryl must have been in the hallway, because Jerry heard the two talking. “Absolutely not,” he heard Newell say. “I told you, young woman, I want Margaux. Twenty bottles, exactly. I expect everything to be perfect for tonight’s dinner.”

I wonder, thought Jerry, if everyone here is in such a foul mood today.

He felt a draft, and noticed the curtains billowing inward. Behind them, plastic sheet covered a hole where a window had been. He looked closer. Glass shards lined the pane, and a lamp next to it was dented.

“I thought I’d find you here,” Cheryl’s voice came from directly behind him.

Jerry jumped.

“Nothing personal,” she said, “but right now you seem awfully suspicious. I don’t know who broke in here last night, but the guilty usually return to the scene of the crime.”

“I was just coming to help Mr. Newell take his medicine,” said Jerry.

“Is that so?” she said, “Because whoever broke in also tampered with his medicine box.”

What’s going on? Thought Jerry. Someone is up to something, and is trying to pin it on me. It must be Kevin. I don’t trust him. He was the one who sent me to this room, and had that goofy grin the whole time.

There was something else about Kevin too. His last name, Finn, wasn’t the same as his father’s. Jerry couldn’t put his finger on it, but he was sure he had heard it before. 'HM... JOHN BROWN... IT HAS A ...CERTAIN RING TO IT...

When cocktail hour began, the estate was brimming with guests. Jerry had to squeeze between people just to hand out the plates of hors d’oeuvres. Mr. Newell’s frail frame looked suffocated by the crowd.

“Is your father okay?” Jerry asked Kevin.

“He’s feeling a little sluggish,” said Kevin. “That happens when you take too many pills.” IS THIS A THING THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY SAY

He still has that grin, thought Jerry. Kevin definitely knows something.

“Did you hear,” said Peter, “Mr. Newell just announced that he’s giving Kevin his house on South Boundary, along with its horses.” how about its chairs? And the antimacassars? Elucidate the intended disposition of the garden tools while you are about it.

Maybe Kevin was trying to kill him so he could get inheritance, thought Jerry. Although, if Mr. Newell is giving all of this property away anyway, what would be the point?

After the party, Jerry stayed out of sight. He snuck outside to call Emily when a scruffy man in a trench coat approached him. “I’m here to see Finn,” he said.

“Kevin Finn?” asked Jerry.


Now Jerry remembered. Finn was Cheryl’s maiden name. Was she related to Kevin and Mr. Newell? She’s mentioned that she hates her family. Was she just jealous of the money they won’t share with her?

“I’ll be right back,” Jerry said, and dialed Emily’s number.

“Hey honey,” he said, “don’t hang up. This is important. I’m solving a crime.”

“What?” said her voice on the other end.

“Listen. My boss is trying to murder her stepfather. She snuck into his room, or maybe got someone else to, and tried to poison him. Now she’s pinning it on me. I have to prove that I didn’t—hello? Hello?”

Jerry found the servants’ quarters locked. He snuck into the wine cellar and spent the night there instead. Any day now, he told himself, things would turn up. I actually quite like the last few paras, because they have a wit and lightness that the rest of the story doesn't. Remember: words that don't need to be there make a story worse. But the last few paras don't absolve you for taking a potentially interesting story and giving us the least interesting parts of it.

ReptileChillock posted:

A Grand Mystery 999 turds

Martello gave you a decent line-by-line on this so i'll just note anything that jumps out at me.

A knock at the conservatory door and Eleanor almost dropped the derringer. She slid the pistol into her purse, took a deep breath and lifted the oaken cask from under the still.

Mr. Chiu’s men were waiting, silently. Their faces were blank, but she could never read an Oriental anyway. She handed over the cask, the taller one smiled.

“Many thanks from Mr. Chiu, he wishes to see you at the parlour tonight,” he said, lifting the cask into a shipping crate.

“Mr. Chiu can count on it,” she said.

Her father beckoned for her no sooner than the door had shut. clumsy She hurried off to his study.

“Eleanor, child, we worry about you. You’ve hardly left the conservatory in a month! A woman of breeding should not be so involved in botany, and these new friends of yours have people talking.

“It’s this dreadful cold, father. Really brings a girl’s spirits down. I don’t care what people say, Mr. Chiu and his fine restaurant enjoy my tomatoes and you can be sure they pay quite the out-of-season premium. You’ll be happy to know I shall be going out tonight with Arthur.” no one talks like this
Her father groaned.


"Honest to goodness, sir, that’s what ‘appened,” Willy said. He was sweating and shivering, he’d never been questioned before. comma splice, comma splice; comma splice is cool as ice! His filthy sweater hardly kept him warm.

“Explain again what exactly happened that night,” Investigator Serpinski asked, taking a long drag from a cheroot.
The tobacco stirred Willy’s memories of the night at The Bell Hotel. He was suddenly thirsty. you wot m8
“Me’n Eddie was jus’ horsin’ around. Now, mind you we was drunk, but it was all in good fun. I punched ‘im in the gut, real quick, jus’ for larks, I swear, Officer. That’s when somebody shot ‘im.”

“How many times did you hit him, exactly?”

“Once or twice, sir, I was blind drunk. I swear I didn’t kill ‘im,” Willy said.

“Do you remember what your brother was wearing that night?” Serpinksi asked.

“Just a brown suit, sir. Had some patches on, so I think he moved here to leave ‘em hard times out East,” Willy said.

“What’d your brother do for a livin’?” if you're gonna cut to badly written urchin #3 then you had best have established some reason for the cut by the time you cut away agin


Eleanor locked the gardener’s shed behind her. The still was dribbling away, another carboy almost full. There was enough rot gut whiskey to keep Mr. Chiu off her back for a while, anyway. I'd prefer her as the Walter White of Chinatown, full of pride at making the best dam bootleg whiskey in this gosh darned town, but y'know it's your story

She cut the day’s obituaries from the paper and circled the most suspect ones. She pinned the strip to the wall, next to the railway cargo manifests. There was a pattern: unmarked shipments from the East coast, another handful of dead men. The pieces were fitting together like gears in a watch. Mr. Chiu’s criminal empire was about to collapse, and her gambling debts would be erased.


“Eddie always told me he was in sales, selling catalogue stuff to farmers,” Willy said.

“Willy, your brother was a whiskey runner. You haven’t had anything to do with the Chinese, have you?” Serpinski asked.

“,” Willy was shell shocked. “Are you sure about Eddie?” he stammered.

“Positive. Say, Willy, for someone who says he doesn’t deal with the Chinese, you smell an awful lot like you spend time in Mr. Chiu’s restaurant.”

“No! No sir! The room Mr. Chiu rents me is right above the kitchen, honest to goodness. I ain’t afford to do laundry in weeks is why I smell like this! Honest!” AHA THE POINT ARRIVES, LATE AND DROPPING ITS THINGS

Eleanor knocked twice at the hotel’s back door. Someone opened a peephole.

“It’s Elle, with a friend!” She said, pulling Arthur closer. She didn’t have to look at him to know he’d be wearing that self-satisfied smile that drove her up the wall.
“Ah, Ms. Ashworth! Right this way!” The door opened up and the clatter of a Fan-Tan parlour filled the alley. She was led to her usual seat, drinks already waiting. Arthur looked around wild-eyed, everyone else seemed mesmerized by the games. who is Arthur plz

“I’ll have my usual game, usual stakes, and teach Mr. Penner here how to play Pai-Gow. He’s really quite keen at cards,” she said to the server, one of Mr. Chiu’s countless nephews.

“But first, I’ve got to go speak with Mr. Chin,” she smiled and rose, taking her purse.

She walked over to the far end of the room. Men stood at either side of painted blinds, looking straight ahead. She pictured Mr. Chin sitting at a table behind the painted dragons. She breathed in, the smell was unmistakeable.

The same one the night that man, Eddie, was shot outside the hotel. The same night she’d lost her inheritance twice over at the tables. She saw the tussle, the assassin running past with a sweater pulled over his head. A smell she couldn’t place until weeks after, when she’d gone to fetch her mother’s dresses at the Chiu Laundromat.

Spices, sesame oil, bamboo, rice and liquor. A smell so unmistakeable it could have only come from Mr. Chiu’s kitchen. She’d spent weeks piecing things together, trying to figure out the extent of his business dealings. She’d be a hero for bringing him in – she could always make up a story – he had, in any case, killed Eddie.

She nodded at the men, they bowed slightly. She stepped behind the blind and sat down across from Mr. Chiu. Vitality still shone through his weathered face. She smiled as if to speak but drew the pistol from her purse instead. Three short cracks and she let it clatter to the floor.
She stood and announced, “You’re all under arrest” before the screaming started. She is a lady bootlegger cop who doesn't play by the rules! She is WHISKEY LIEUTENANT


I’m sorry to tell you this, Willy, but your brother’s death was an accident. I’m sorry I had to shake you down, but you were a witness. Y’see, when your brother came over, he’d been wearing a .44 under his shoulder. Except he didn’t quite get the holster right, caught a strap on the trigger. Our doctor figures that when you hit him it was enough to set the gun off. OK so he didn't get killed by swarthy chinamen, but he was a whiskey runner, so...?

mmmmmyyyyyyeeeeaahhhhhhhnah. About 70% of the way to a good story - I like a lot of your details, but it's fatally muddled.

Djeser posted:

By the Light of Stars
(998 words)

At night, she watched the shadows of beasts around an earthbound star on the plains.

The star fled before dawn. The beasts gathered around it fled too. In the morning, she came alone.

She lifted her head and breathed deeply. There was the taut, oily smell of hide. Around that, a musk of salt and fatigue. Dung seeped up through freshly torn earth. Blood once clean and steely-fresh now smelled stale and scabbed. Beyond and all around the sweat-scent of the unknown beasts, she found traces of her own kind. Other wolves had been here.

She buried her snout into the gray, sandy dust. It crinkled at her touch. Her nostrils flared. The dust dried her sinuses and gently stung. Beyond the sting was a wet, oozing, salty smell. The lure of fat drove her to dig.

OK so all this is terrrribly Writery and Elevated and whatnot but your eagerness to write Beautiful Words a little bit gets in the way of the picture you're trying to paint. If the star fled, how did it flee? How does hide smell taut? How does dust gently sting?

She dragged a slender leg bone from the debris. Her gut and her teeth ached for meat, but the other wolves had swallowed up all the flesh. The snap of bone broke against her jaw, rattling against her skull.

With a few tired breaths, she crouched to gnaw at the marrow.

She thought she knew the smells of all the animals, those of food and of foes, those of his fur and of newborns and of death and loneliness.

For a moment, pity fought her hunger, but pity didn't keep her alive. She crunched bone between her fangs and lapped the chunks down her throat, pity or not. Wolves and pity doesn't really mesh; I would cut this para.

In her three years, she had been from the snowy, silty-scented mountain peaks in the north to the wet, pine-soaked forests in the south to the rumbling sea with its rotting reek in the west. She had never found a scent like the scent of these beasts. Pretty words.

She slept away the sun with amber thoughts of meat on her tongue and of eager faces, floppy-eared and short-snouted in their youth, panting up at her. She woke, once the glow was gone, to a dark sky, quiet with the shimmer of stars.

Another star had fallen, further away.

This time, she would reach the beasts before the other wolves.

The scents were fresh as she came near. The blood was crisp. The fat was damp. Her ears were flush and drool pooled at the edges of her mouth. The cries of the beasts reached her ears across the open plain.

The grass shifted. Her ears swiveled: soft steps, paw against uneven dirt. She sniffed the air and knew the other pack was already here. She would wait. Maybe they would allow a hungry scavenger to pick through their scraps.

But the steps were coming closer to her. They were ignoring the beasts and their shimmering star. One of them, to her left, howled. Idiots! Had they never learned to hunt?

One of the pack stepped into view and stared at her. She stood her ground, staring back at it. It was made of a child's hide stretched over the frame of an adult. Its eyes were bile-sharp and unreal. Its tongue drooped out of its compacted snout, too big for the short face of a newborn. Its legs were blunted, its tail clipped short. Darkness oozed across its hide in fungal splotches.

The face of her child, stretched between infancy and death, curled as it growled. Another ghoul stepped toward her. The first tilted its head back and howled. The sound whined and tapered into a sad vibrato. These were not wolves.

She ran. Her feet pounded at the earth and her snout whipped through the grass while the dead-wolves lumbered behind, crying their uneven howls.

She would be safe in the trees. Oozing sap choked off her scent and dark leaves clouded her fur.

The dead stayed dead. Why did they haunt her? Her mind dashed through delirious explanations. Spirits riding stars? The dead come to welcome her into her own death?

Low to the ground, she crept to a hill where she could see the plains. In the distance, the earthly star twinkled. A stream of smaller stars drifted across the grass, toward the trees.

She turned and followed the shapes of trunks and exposed stone. Even in the darkness, she knew the way to the stream. She plunged into the icewater, sharp with the cold, stony scent of mountain snow. She dragged herself out on the other side. Fur clinging to every hungry contour of her body. Her paws sunk into the muddy bank. She flopped onto her side, rubbing her fur into the ground until she was caked in brown, damp and shuddering, and smelled only of silt.

She crouched between mossy roots. Her thoughts fled as soon as she tried to make sense of them. She was being hunted by star-beasts and the ghosts of the dead.

The howls grew nearer. Yellowed starlight fell on the trees. The beasts cried to each other.

She risked everything for a look.

On the stream-bank stood the beasts. They stood like bears and looked like furless boars patched with stolen hides. In their hands were not stars but sticks of wood, tipped with living light. The dead-wolves paced at their feet, sniffing with their pitiful noses. In the light, she saw the shine of their patterned fur and their blank faces turned up, panting, toward the beasts. They were ugly, but not dead. Not wolves. Not her children.

She knew better than to lose herself in daydreams. Instinct and logic were the only guides she could trust. Her intelligence was far more keen than old, painful memories. There were no ghosts, no star-beasts.

The mundane beasts and their not-wolves paced around the streambed until their excitement wore off. Exchanging tired grunts, the beasts left the woods.

Fire. Dogs. Humans. Her mind made sense of the night while she followed the stream east. She was wary of the new beasts, but she would adapt, as she always had.

One last howl for old and painful memories, then she slipped into the wild dark. You've definitely got a knack for the tongue-tip and lip skip of alliteratively poetic prose, but this gets a little lost in its allusive windings. What actually happens - a wolf sees some weird stuff, is hungry/sad. Take Beef's template next time and fashion an actual story.

Entenzahn posted:

Little Monsters
920 words

It was a dark and rainy night 'it was a dark and stormy night' is such a cliché standin for bad writing that i would be v hesitant to use it when you're trying to write gud. when the monsters came for little Mary. She found herself awoken, by what she could not tell, to unnatural sounds and crooked shadows. well she was awoken by the unnatural sounds, innit. I hate this sort of thing, as I hate 'IT WAS COMPLETELY SILENT APART FROM ALL THE NOISES'The puppets in the corner of her room looked like a witches’ coven. The colorful shapes on the walls of her room were oddly kill adverbs unless to do so would change the meaning of the sentence twisted. Distorted faces – of demons and zombies and other scary things – maliciously stared at her from all sides. From the outside, something that looked like long, hard fingers repeatedly tapped against her window, and far off in the distance she heard the roar of creatures that were probably big and hairy and hungry for children. An occasional scratching and whining noise came from the door to her room. Mary hid under her sheets.

But no matter how long she waited, the monsters would not go away. They never did. This was not the first time they had come for her. Often she would simply close her eyes and keep hiding where they couldn’t find her until she fell asleep. Other nights she would call for her parents, who would make the darkness go away. Then they would insist that the monsters – the very monsters they had just scared off – were no real monsters at all. “You’re a big girl now,” her father had softly murmured just a few nights ago. “Big girls don’t believe in monsters”. Her mother had stroked Mary’s hair in silence, looking down at her with pity in her eyes. We know about children and monsters; I think you should either cut this or strip it right back.

Mary lifted the edge of her cover to peek out.

A pale grimace glared right at her. It took all of her courage not to immediately close the opening, wrap herself up and wait out the night in shame. She held her breath as she defiantly stared back at the satanic do kids know about satan? If you have a viewpoint, write from that viewpoint. apparition. Then, for the first time, Mary saw through the unfamiliar shadows. As she recognized the shapes before her, the alien face turned into a friendly one; it was none other than Princess Sweetberry, ruler of Marshmallow Mountain.

This seemed rather odd to Mary. Had her beloved doll deceived her all this time? She edged further out of her sheets to take in more of the room. Suddenly that spooky shadow on the wall looked suspiciously like one of the plants on the window sill. The arm that reached out from under her bed was actually a violin case, sloppily stashed on the floor. Even as her head looked all the way out from under the sheets, the creepy clown on the opposite wall didn’t move and didn’t scream and didn’t jump out of his frame and eat her. I think my problem with this is that you're having a bob each way, and describing it all in overblown lovecraftian cosmic horror terms but also trying to sell it as being her viewpoint and failing. Pick one or the other and you might make it work better.

Her feet touched the soft fur of the carpet. Out in the open, Mary froze in place, fearing for a moment that the monsters had only hidden to lure her out of safety. She listened to the sound of her pounding heart and the howling wind outside. The clacking noise from the window persisted. She looked up, and sharply breathed in as long, pointy fingers clawed their way through the window right above her. But then there was another gust of wind, and the fingers bended just at the same time and sparse leaves fluttered and Mary understood. She narrowed her eyes and frowned disapprovingly. Lighting struck on the horizon, briefly illuminating the wooden texture of the not-so-scary twigs. Ordinary thunder bellowed in the distance.

The scratching on the door renewed in vigor. Mary spun around in alarm. She had been brave so far, but there were no trees in the hallway, no thunder or wind. Whatever made that noise was real. She chewed on her lower lip, throwing unsure glances towards the door. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as if resolving herself to her fate. viewpoint Arming herself with a ruler from the homework appliances that were littered around her backpack, she crept towards the door, raising her plastic sword over her head. Her free hand jittered slightly as she reached out for the handle.

She yanked the door open and something hairy rushed over her. The ruler slipped from her hand and Mary let out a hoarse cry as the thing clawed at her belly and slobbered all over her face. She pushed it off and turned to run, but a familiar yelp stopped her.

Mary glanced back over her shoulder. A fuzzy, little dog wagged its stubby tail and ran after her, nervously trying to lick her hands and feet. “Puddles, you stupid dog!” Mary said, stomping on the ground in dismay. Puddles recoiled and whined and Mary’s pouting face softened a little. She whispered an apology and gently stroked the miserable creature’s fur. He was still young and must have been just as scared as she was, Mary realized. The thought of her frightened little doggy desperately trying to get into her room all these nights made her sad. She gave him a pitiful look.

Puddles calmed down a little and sat, looking back up at her expectantly. The wagging of his tail had resumed.

“You’re a big boy now, Puddles,” she said, scratching him between the ears. “Big boys don’t believe in monsters.” Puddles tilted his head. She didn’t know if he understood her, but that was okay. Mary hadn’t understood either, at first. She closed the door to her room with Puddles safe inside, and went back to bed, the dog curling up on the ground next to her. She wished him a good night, and they both slept well, despite the rain.

Yeah, ok. So this has several problems - one is the viewpoint one I mentioned above, but it also tells such a bland story that it's hard to care. Girl is frightened by things, stops being frightened, the end. You have a lot of details in there so that's good, but next time have something actually happen.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 03:04 on Jan 28, 2014

Mar 21, 2010


I'm pleased that somebody noticed the Dick getting eaten by the beef.

Dec 3, 2007

curlingiron posted:

e: More Mystery crits? :shobon:

Yeah I have been slacking on this, I've had less free time than I expected but not sufficiently less to make a decent excuse. I'll get the first set out in the next 24 hours (this is a toxx).

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Last one; if I missed anyone, let me know.

Schneider Heim posted:

A Close Call
992 words

Harriet stared at Iris's corpse sprawled in the middle of the road. It was face-down, its neck loose and broken. I would still call her 'she', even though you're referring to the corpse. And 'loose' is a weird adjective.It was a couple of blocks from the Kensingtons' house, which was just along her street. And this is a terribly disconnected thing, which can work to show shock 'she was lying there dead. I noticed her hair was messy' but I don't think that's what you're trying for here.

"Are you okay?" Officer Graves asked. "Maybe we should contact Margaret."

"Mom's away. I don't even know where she is," hm. mum is poss spy? Harriet mumbled. Her stomach churned as she walked. She had seen many photos of corpses in her mother's study, but not the real thing.

She squatted down and shone her flashlight on Iris's face. Dead eyes stared past her. She reached for the girl's long blond hair, then drew her hand back. Don't leave any prints, spy/criminal? her mother would always say. Harriet's thoughts were lost in the rumbling of a truck in the distance. what does this mean, exactly?

"Their door was open," Graves said, standing beside her. "She was taken without struggle. very strange thing for a cop to say Nobody saw anything until the body."

"No sign of other trauma," Harriet said, finding comfort at the sound of her own voice. "She was... she was terrified in her last moments." spy and criminal w/psychic daughter?

Who could have done this? It was a small, quiet town, where people knew each other fairly well. BUT NOT VERY WELL, OH NO

"Did you know her?" Graves said.

"She was in my class."


Harriet shook her head. "I'll help with the case. Though I can't promise anything." so is this a school kid the chilled out village bobby is chattin' to in the middle of the night next to the corpse in the middle of the road?

"Okay. We'll check for prints, but it'll take a while for results to come up. Call me if you find anything on your own." is this actually how police murder investigations work

Harriet stood up. When she looked back, they were already putting the body away.

* * *

Harriet brewed tea using a bag instead of her usual loose leaves. She walked to her room, frowning at the locked door opposite it, leading to her mother's study. A curt note was taped on it. Don't worry about me, it said.

She left it there, in the off-chance that she could do what it said.

She plopped down in front of her desk. A desktop computer hummed to her right.

How did Mom do it? Harriet had never helped in her work, though she acted the part of a personal servant. She would cook her mother's meals and clean up after. Sometimes she would even drag her to bed after passing out on her desk. spycriminalpsychicdaughternarcoleptic, got it

Harriet grabbed a bag of index cards. They were a constant fixture all over her mother's study, taped on the wall, the whiteboard, the desk. She wrote anything and everything about the case. QUICK WRITE DOWN THE PLOT

An hour later, and she was still staring blankly at her pile of thoughts. Nothing was coming to mind. DAMMIT How was Iris taken from her home? Not how, why? Kidnapping? Then why was she killed? Why did they dump her on the street? How it could happen in the middle of the afternoon, without anyone noticing? She separated the questions from the facts and opinions, shuffling and reading the piles over and over.

Something clicked. She swiveled to the right, brought up a map of their town, printed it, and started attacking it with her pen. Here was Iris's house, and here was hers, three houses away. The body was found here, in another street. She drew a circle around the points, indicating arrows where the killers could have fled to. They were shrewd enough to get Iris to open the front door without suspicion.

"Maybe..." she voiced a budding thought in her head, "they didn't intend to kill her."

Did Iris die trying to flee? It could explain the body's curious placement. It would've been easy for them to dump the body farther away. Or make it disappear.

She twirled her hair with a finger. Iris wore her blond hair long, while she kept hers short. She wrote that down and shuffled the index cards. Blond hair. Broken neck. Terrified. Face-down. Kidnapped along our street.

She called Officer Graves.

"Did you find out anything?" Graves said.

"Yes," Harriet said. "Iris was a mistake. I'm their real target."

* * *

The next morning, Harriet was still in her pajamas when the doorbell rang. The peephole showed a man in gray overalls, with a truck idling in the background. She opened the door.

"Delivery for Ms. Florence," the man said.

Harriet blinked at the truck. "Hmm? I don't think my mom's--" her words were cut off by the man moving behind her, pinning her neck with one arm. In his hand a wet cloth descended on her face.

Harriet shone the tacticalOL flashlight on her assailant's eyes. He gasped and loosened his grip. Harriet bent forward, throwing the man overhead, rolling with him down the steps of the porch. She came out on top, pinning the flailing man down with a joint lock.

"A little help here!" she yelled. Officer Graves popped out of the side bushes, training his gun on the man. More policemen emerged from the other side of the street. dang she is chill for a psychic schoolgirl

The truck's engine roared, and it sped away, open doors swinging. It screeched into a halt on the corner of the street as police cars cut it off.

"That was risky, Harriet," Graves said as the police cuffed the delivery man.

"I needed them to come for me," Harriet said, brushing the dirt off her clothes. "They were most vulnerable here."

"Figured we'd mail you to your mother in pieces," the delivery man said. "Maybe we'll just do it the other way around. The next delivery's gonna be real!" !!!! is he some kind of PSYCHOPATH? maybe the POORLY EXPLAINED KIND?

Harriet stared at him, wide-eyed.

He was still laughing when the police took him away.

* * *

Harriet lay down on her bed, wrapped in a blanket. She was still shivering.

"I've posted some guards on your house until this mess dies down," Graves said over the phone. she is the Ms Marple Jr of the village solving crimes while tending to her narcoleptic mother

If it does. "Thanks."

She made a new call, her deep breathing timed to the numbers she pressed. what? It was a number not listed in her contacts.

"Mom, pick up. Please. What have you gotten yourself into?" ok, I do kinda like this bit, and the girls own adventure concept has some juice to it, but it's a bit clumsy in the delivery.

It rang without being answered.

God Over Djinn posted:

Helios (996 words)

He wakes up in a bulkhead seat.

He wakes up, cold and soaked, in a tangle of polyester blankets.

He wakes from a dream where an octopus with a woman's face stuffs a gooey mass of seaweed down his throat and into his sinuses. He chokes and snorts, gagging on seawater. If only he could open his jaw a little wider, if only - I really like the progression in complexity and weirdness of these images

Gaspy buzzsaw snoring comes from the seat next to him. Rage burns in his jaw. He cocks back a fist to swing at the man, who coughs in his sleep.

Fist halfway to target, he stops. His muscles feel so strange. Like punching someone in a dream, Zeno's paradox made tangible. this is very clever, Douglas, but doesn't really mesh with him being all brain-fogged. He starts to giggle.

He looks at his nailbeds, a startling robin's-egg blue. The freezing air has awakened a cramp in his gut and a twist in his bladder. He has something terribly important to do.

The lavatory. He needs to go to the lavatory.

Parts of him keep floating away. He gets one leg up and looks down to see the other one useless on the ground. He gives up, falling onto his knees, melting against the bulkhead plastic. 'melt' and 'plastic' are a nice conceptual rhyme here

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. Soaked in his own piss, a coherent thought peristalses into his brain: I am shitfaced.

Is he? There's no quinine sticky-sweetness in his mouth, no rancid burped-up malt. The floor sways, but no, he isn't drunk. Drugs, maybe?

The cabin is foggy. His ears are popping, over and over. Drugs don't do that.

The first dynamic stability mode of an aircraft is phugoid motion, he thinks dully, stomach yawing. Tip the nose down and go faster. Go faster, and the nose points itself up. The plane rises and falls in rhythmic breaths.

Phugoid motion. Pilots usually correct it without even knowing it's started.

How does he know that? Is he flying this plane? He pats his chest with a sluggish hand. No tie. No pilot's wings.

A hanging garden of oxygen masks sways gently from the ceiling. feels a little cheaty having an immediately obvious detail like this so late in the piece? minor point.

He rotates ponderously bow-ward. A flight attendant sprawls behind the drink-service cart. A dull urgency rises in his chest. He needs to do something. Not the lavatory. What is it? Think.

Air -

He wakes up in the aisle, emergency track lighting embossing a groove into his cheek.

He wakes up clutching a portable oxygen cylinder.

Hypoxia is a full-body hangover on top of swine flu. Every thought is twenty steps through knee-deep mud. Why is he on this plane? In his wallet he finds his private pilot's license, bluegreen and comforting. He had to do something important. Critical.

Something makes him reexamine the unconscious flight attendant. Long neck, slender limbs. One high heel dangles from a pantyhosed foot. Eyes wobbling over her face he thinks, Give her the oxygen. She isn't safe.

He shakes his head no. But her face has struck some unidentifiable chord. He has to ask her something, right now.

"Help," he mumbles past the oxygen mask. "Mayday."

The sound of the word and the breaths of oxygen rally his synapses to action. "Mayday!" he yelps. He stumbles back to the cockpit, where the pilot lies, mercifully, facedown. "Mayday! Mayday!" He scrabbles at the radio with frozen fingers.

He rubs at the frost-caked windshield, scraping his hands raw. And through the porthole he creates he sees a fighter jet, sillhouetted against the clouds.

Yet: radio silence. "Mayday!" he shrieks. He pounds his palm on the controls. The escort is no more than a thousand feet away. But he is encapsulated, helpless.

Too far.

The radio! It's still set to RDU's frequency. Too far for waves to propagate. He flips switches frantically, a torrent of info from his last checkride flooding him. He is too busy, now, to wonder why he still feels like he's missing something.

He had to ask someone the most important question of his life. A woman -

A tinny voice squawks over the radio. "Do you copy?" He almost cheers.

He keeps reaching out, dazedly, to touch buttons that are in the wrong place. Flying this behemoth is like surfing a truck down the expressway, compared to the fluttering stalls and spirals of his tiny Cessna. Yet it already flew itself to Sea-Tac, a patient riderless horse. Air Traffic Control talks him down to earth in a West Coast accent.

Anybody can fly one of those things, he thinks through hypoxic migraine. He recalls the punchline, in a familiar woman's laughing voice: Yeah, all the way to the crash.

At eight thousand feet the crystalline fog dissipates, and the plane emerges, damp and squalling, from stasis. Passengers scream and sob.

Three thousand feet. The sensation of height lost at flight's apex - paper-mache mountains, lap-quilt fields, streetlights remote as the stars - returns with a thud. Good prose almost demands to be read out loud; viz: this paragraph.

Until five hundred feet, he really thinks this might be a landing worth bragging about.

To who? He has no idea. I'm a bit puzzled about the amnesia; what purpose does it serve in the story?

Then the automated co-pilot chirrups "minimums!" and someone, behind him and very far away, yells "brace!" and they belly the ground and bounce, short of the runway and two hundred feet west, at twenty gees -

He wakes up. Metal groans and wings rip under eyeballs-out deceleration, the floor cants at thirty degrees and something twists and one engine spirals off, inscribing a charred circle into the grass, and the windshield cracks and bubbles and jet fuel boils in his nostrils, and -

He wakes up on the tarmac, gagging on fire-suppression foam.

He wakes up entirely alone in a hospital bed at three in the morning, having had no dreams.

On the nightstand sit his passport and cell phone and a seafoam green denture cup, and in the denture cup is a tiny wooden box, and in the box is an immaculate golden engagement ring.

On the inside of the ring, in cursive script: you make me feel like flying.

Engraved on the outside is a tiny, perfect airplane. Yeah, you (ironically) don't quite stick the landing. The physicality of the waking and landing the aeroplane is all conveyed well, but the emotional aspect of it comes across a little gimmicky. Still nice, mind, but I think you missed something that could have tied the metaphor together. Still, exactingly good work and a deserved winner.


(loosely based on a true story: Aww, they all died. CURSE YOU BOEING AND YOUR AMBIGUOUS ALARMS

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

sebmojo posted:

Last one; if I missed anyone, let me know.

Um, you missed me, I think.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

curlingiron posted:

Um, you missed me, I think.

So I did. Watch this space.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Ugh, gently caress, I'm in, 80's.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Baudolino posted:

You guys are rigth , my grammar is ungood. I will buy a grammar book and try to improve. It`s been a long time since high school and I have forgotten quite a lot.

I know my punctuation is less then stellar to say the least. I don`t even know how to do it properly in my native language. But what other issues should I be aware of?

Hi there, Baudolino. I wasn't a judge for the last round, but I'm going to do a line-by-line of your piece in hopes it will help. My suggested changes and comments are in bold.

Baudolino posted:

Weird prompt. 759 word.

A face, a mask, a human.

Which of these phrases is supposed to be the title? 'A face, a mask, a human' makes much more sense and is much less terrible than 'Weird prompt,' but it's not set apart from the story in any way. Both phrases end in periods; a title generally shouldn't. Neither is capitalized properly. You would want either Weird Prompt or A Face, a Mask, a Human, and I suggest putting the title in bold to make it easy for the reader to distinguish.

I should note that proper title formatting is something a lot of Thunderdome stories don't bother with. That's fine, really. But in this case I honest-to-God can't tell where the story starts, and that's not fine.

May 1987.

You're using dates as headers and scene breaks, not sentences, so the period makes no sense. I personally prefer headers like these to be set in italics so they stand apart from the text, but that's a point of style.

“She has Moeibus Moebius (Möbius would work too, but don't start off by misspelling something this important!) syndrome?" (There shouldn't be a space between punctuation and a closing quotation mark.)

(A blank line between paragraphs for easier on-screen reading is generally the way to go.) "Is that why Sally doesn’t smile or blink?”

These lines are awkward. Refer to Sally by name first, as she second, like this: "Sally has Moebius syndrome?" "Is that why she doesn't smile or blink?" It bugs me slightly that I don't know who said either of these lines, but I'm willing to go with it for now.

July 2020.

The Bride bride didn't smile, but her beaming voice and her proud posture could leave no one in doubt. She she was happy with her match. ('Bride' is not a pronoun outside of Quentin Tarantino movies. These sentences work better when linked, because the second sentence completes the thought of the first.) John said she shouldn`t worry about the photos: “I will smile for both of us.. (Punctuation should always go inside the quotation marks in dialogue. This applies to both British and American English.) At that moment, standing in front of that particular church, Sally did not didn't (this is preference, not rule, but 'did not' gives that sentence a stilted feel) think about what her face could or couldn't do. Somehow, all of those worries had faded away.

September 1990.

Sally`s fate was sealed the minute she was introduced to the other children in the kindergarten. Anna, the kindergarten manager, ('the manager' is a nonrestrictive clause, which means that although it's a useful detail, it isn't necessary for the sentence to make sense; as such it should be set apart by commas) only wanted to be kind when she told everyone, "Sally is a little different than the rest of us, she can`t smile or move her face in any way. She is a very special girl, so you have take extra-good (extra-good is a compound modifier, so it needs a hyphen) care of her."

Naturally, everyone teased her relentlessly from that day onwards. (By cutting the first sentence I've omitted that this started on the first day, but I think that's implicit. When else would Anna say what she did?)

June 2017.

The speed dating had been fun,; (these are two complete sentences and thus can't be properly joined by a comma; you need to either use a semicolon, use a conjunction, or use a period and split them into two) she Sally (I suggest using her name in every section for maximum clarity) was glad that she took had taken (wrong tense; you want the past perfect for a flashback) the chance to participate. But she felt a little sad that she was had been the one that had had (ugly but technically correct--some people would say you could omit this, but I am not one of those people) to ask the men for their numbers. No one had dared to take the initiative.

Not good. You could get rid of the awkward past perfect and punch this up by setting it in the present. Summarize Sally's speed-dating experience as it happens. Something like 'The speed dating was fun; Sally enjoyed herself, but her inner smile faded a little every time she had to ask a man for his number. Not one of them dared to take the initiative.' Those might not be the exact phrasings you want, but hopefully you can see what I mean in regard to the tense.

May 2003.

Paul laughed at her. "Do you think I'm interested in going to the prom with a retard? (No spaces between words and punctuation!) Hello, that would probably be illegal!“

It hurts when the one you love laughs at you. (Her feeling for Paul is a good detail, but I don't like this delivery of it at all.) Sally gave no outward sign that she understood the humiliation. Sally was used to not being understood, even by those she loved. (This is my suggested replacement for the first sentence.) Other People people have faces, she thought. I have just have a mask. (Other than the redundant 'have,' nothing is technically wrong here. You don't have to set thoughts apart the way I have by adding 'she thought,' but personally, I think it makes for smoother reading--although my favorite treatment of thoughts is to set them in italics. There are several valid ways to handle it, including the one you used. The capitalization of 'People' is more questionable. I can't tell whether it's an error or you've done it intentionally to show that Other People are some monolithic group in Sally's mind.)

April 2014.

The sun was shining, beautiful and dazzling, (another nonrestrictive clause; also there are TD judges who'll froth with bile when you open a scene with 'the sun was shining,' and I have to agree that it's awfully bland) when Sally and her brother Brad sat down to eat. Brad ordered first: A a bloody steak with red wine. Then came the insult. "And what should she like?” the waiter asked her brother. He didn`t even look at her.

(Go to a new paragraph when a new person speaks.) Sally kept her composure and said, « (watch out for these odd quotations--English doesn't use them at all) "She should would like to have pork chops in gravy,. she She will also have a Heineken to drink."

The waiter turned to look at her, his cheeks suddenly burning like flames. (Cliche phrase.) “Miss, I’m sorry. I will get it sorted."

It was a good meal expect for that little insult otherwise. (I made this change because you already referred to the incident as an insult above, and the second use feels repetitive. You also had 'expect' where you wanted 'except.') Sally couldn`t stay mad,; it was not wasn't the first time she had been presumed to be retarded, and it would probably not be the last. To think about it was just too draining.

(A paragraph break feels natural here.) Sally and Brad laughed and laughed. They had many good memories to talk about. Sally paid this time around. It felt good to pay with money she had earned on her own. No one cared about her face in the accounting industry. A nimble brain was more than good enough there. (This paragraph is technically fine, but you have many simple sentences in a row, and the rhythm turns choppy. You might want to vary it up by combining at least two of them.)

November 2004.

Someone else got the job, like always. They had no need of her at McDonald’s either. Her labor was not wanted. Not in any of the cafes in the city, not in the stores. Even the soup kitchen preferred to have someone else work there. More and more Sally felt like all the world could see of her was that her mask. She would have no chance to earn her own money this year either,; there would be no holiday trip with her friends,; there would be no updating of her wardrobe. For her there would be nothing but pity and unspoken words of worry.

This here? This is good. I sincerely like it. This one section, combined with the one above, almost pays for your time gimmick. I'll have more to say about that later, but for now I want to emphasize this is really pretty cool.

Hello self-hatred my old friend, have you come to talk to with me again? (This isn't a bad reference either, except you missed the quote by a smidge. I would not stick a 'she thought' anywhere onto this one. It stands best alone. I might put it in italics, but that's me.)

May 1987.

She Sally has Moeibus Moebius syndrome?”

“Is that why Sally she doesn’t smile or blink?”

“Yes, you see the nerves in her facial muscles will never work properly. It is unlikely that she will ever be able to gesticulate emotions with facial expression. She will need a lot of extra training to speak properly. On the other hand, I can tell you that this does not anyway in any way affect her mental faculties. She can still have relatively normal life.. (You sound like you're quoting Wiki here. As far as I can tell, you aren't, but it's still very technical, and would a doctor use a phrase like 'gesticulate emotions' to shocked parents? Maybe 'show emotions through facial expression' would work.)

“Oh my god, (if she means the Judeo-Christian God, capitalize this) my little girl!”

“Mrs. Steiner, Mr. Steiner. You must stay strong. Sally is going to need every bit of your strength."

“Yes, we will be strong. We will We'll (if you're wondering why I made this a contraction but left the sentence before it alone, it's because in my head I hear an emphasis on 'will' there that's not stodgy at all but quite appropriate) do anything for her.”

“Good, Sally is going to need a lot of medical help in the years to come. However, you have to make sure that she is never forgets that she is more than her handicap. If you do that, you will have done more for her than any doctor ever could." ever do”.

This isn't a good ending. The doctor's closing words are so heavy-handed that they hit with the weight and subtlety of an anvil. You haven't resolved anything, really. Your story has no proper conclusion--and yes, I think I know where you were going with that; I'll talk about it below, but it's just not very satisfying to read.

My overall impression: this is infinitely stronger than "Rural Rentboys" in nearly every respect, including grammar. You've improved a lot! Or stopped using that bizarre, virus-ridden version of WordPad. Whichever, it's nice to see.

But your ambition outstrips your execution. I think you were aiming for a play on the Möbius strip with your story that never ends and loops back around to its beginning after several twists, and it's kind of fascinating, honestly, but it's a gimmick that doesn't quite justify itself because the story you're telling isn't worthy of it. It could be, but the real meat of the piece--which for me would be how she transitions from one point of her life to another--is all in the gaps. How'd she find her husband? How did she get a job? What changed? What did she do? Do you see what I mean? Too much is left out. There's still some sound emotion to it, but it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. It doesn't reward the reader enough for following the shifting narrative.

Aside from Dr. McWikiquote, you did a good job with both halves of the prompt, in my opinion. Your writing is rough. It's not unsalvageable. Neither is this story.

If you're serious about buying a grammar book, Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a lighthearted, popular favorite. You can find a lot of information on the Internet for free, though. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a great resource for grammar lessons, and The Grammar Girl offers many useful tips.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 01:58 on Jan 29, 2014

Feb 15, 2005

Thanks for the crits. I'm going in for round two with the 1960s.

Jun 18, 2013

sebmojo posted:

So I did. Watch this space.

Me too.

*watches space*


J. Comrade
May 2, 2008

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

:siren: Space Filler Elegance Challenge #2 :siren:

Pop drove the mule cart down to Denver with all hundred fifty dollars. Plans to fix out a proper cabin for us all, doors windows and such. Buy two doors and window frames, in Denver. Making his way back from Denver (we suppose some cargo here), South of Laramie a wind caught the ash from his pipe. From here it goes: 'you knew Pop' (meaning that tattooed drunken savage drunk again as always) 'drove on hard as he could'. And the cart kindled into a blaze. No notice of danger he’d never let up on the mule (sure sounds like Pop). Finally a singe on his brim, he leaped clear of the wreck. The mule died in the blaze, cart and cargo of course lost. And so that is how Pop arrived safely back home with less-than nothing to show for all the money in the world.

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