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  • Locked thread
crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

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Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

Whose kitty litter did I shit in?


Mercedes I'm so, so, sorry, but I'm going to have to drop out of your brawl.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



thehomemaster posted:

I don't think I will be able to write a brawl entry. I have a really neat idea but have literally had no time and have no time between now and the end date.

Please forgive me (I know you won't).

Benny the Snake posted:

Mercedes I'm so, so, sorry, but I'm going to have to drop out of your brawl.

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

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at Oct 29, 2014 around 05:24

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

oh look how appropriate

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


HEY CHUCKLEFUCKS, I AM INTRODUCING A NEW THREAD RULE




ALL BRAWLS ARE TOXXES FROM NOW ON. IF YOU SIGN UP TO BRAWL, YOU MUST TOXX YOURSELF.

thank you return to being terrible

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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





crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

HEY CHUCKLEFUCKS, I AM INTRODUCING A NEW THREAD RULE




ALL BRAWLS ARE TOXXES FROM NOW ON. IF YOU SIGN UP TO BRAWL, YOU MUST TOXX YOURSELF.

thank you return to being terrible

Schneider Heim
Oct 17, 2012


LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE posted:

my reign of bumbling, inconsistent mediocrity continues forth

Schneider Heim posted:

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

In case you missed this, I am challenging you to a brawl, LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, for the crime of whining about not being mentioned in the results post.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXtSw1FPkhM

JimsonTheBetrayer
Oct 13, 2010

Game's over, and fuck you Jimson. It's not my fault that you guys couldn't get your shit together by deadline. No one gets access to docs because I don't fucking care anymore, I hope you all enjoyed ruining my game, and there won't be another.


Aaawwwh man almost missed this one.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Oh, BTW, listen to the muffin man:

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

HEY CHUCKLEFUCKS, I AM INTRODUCING A NEW THREAD RULE




ALL BRAWLS ARE TOXXES FROM NOW ON. IF YOU SIGN UP TO BRAWL, YOU MUST TOXX YOURSELF.

thank you return to being terrible

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

dope

Baby Babbeh
Aug 2, 2005

It's hard to soar with the eagles when you work with Turkeys!!





So, uh, do we have to say we're participating or do we just email the story by surprise when it's done?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

Baby Babbeh posted:

So, uh, do we have to say we're participating or do we just email the story by surprise when it's done?

crabrock posted:

You will be contacting N. Senada via PM or NSenadaSA at gmail.com to sign up and submit your story.

N. Senada
May 17, 2011



Really, don't post about the prompt unless you are me or crabrock, instead

Sitting Here posted:

POST THE 'DOMEST PICS U GOT

Only registered members can see post attachments!

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Quoting Crabrock's prompt post in case you chucklefucks get confused by all the pretty GIFs and jaypegs.

crabrock posted:

Thunderdome Week CXVII: Tired of your poo poo


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

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

This is an anonymous week

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

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

What to write about?

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

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

Judges:
Crabrock
? [Judge1]
?

Costumed Writers:
?

Things I like:
Characters
Pineapples
Brains
Things [Judge1] likes:
Mysteries
Rum

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

But keep postin' the domest pics u got

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


I'm not saying I'm a judge or anything but the spoopier your story is

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I'm not saying I'm a judge or anything but the spoopier your story is

...?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer



I almost included it as the prompt picture but then i was like "no, these some pretty dumb motherfuckers, i don't wanna confuse them."

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


crabrock posted:



I almost included it as the prompt picture but then i was like "no, these some pretty dumb motherfuckers, i don't wanna confuse them."
thank you crabrock for helping I just want to remind everybody that I am not a judge this week

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


this is not a submission I was just filled with storytelling fever I had to get it out ok my story is called "THE BIG ADVENTURE"

okay so there was this guy called Brock Lasercock and one day he looked down inside his pants and his duck was a pumpking?! He said to his big-titty girlfriend "oh no my dick is a pumpki?! what is this?!?"

so he go to the doctor and the doctor said "no more pukkin jumping on the penis!" THEN HE LAUGHED VERRY LOUDLY BECAUSE OF THE JOKE HE MADE.

"Brock Lasercock, you are a recurring character in the Thunderdome threads, who is a self-insert of Martello except Martello doesn't write him. Notice how I am subtly getting my exposition across through dialogue. Lol aboned bunker. Let's go laugh at the self-pub thread because we're big meanies who hate self-publishing and thing we're better than them."

and everybody laughed then they ate the puckin for dinner.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



SUPERVILLAIN BRAWL, AGAIN

Sterling Sliver
2405 words

Sterling reached down and speared a garlic-poached shrimp on the metal spike that extended from the tip of her right index finger. She stuck the shrimp whole into her mouth and chewed mechanically as the spike slid back into her fingertip.

Mrs. Carrick stared at Sterling from across the room, mouth agape under her permed blonde hair. Sterling looked up at her, and she clacked her mouth shut.

“Is good, no?” said Sterling.

“Yes, yes, very good,” said Mrs. Carrick. “Getting hot in here, isn’t it? Unseasonable. I’ll go get myself a drink.” She turned and walked towards the front hall, barely stopping herself from tripping over a lampstand. Sterling stared after her, then turned away.

The room was decorated with dozens of dried sea-creatures, as well as bottles filled with sparkling sand, miniature clipper ships, and ersatz bound messages.

She could feel the eyes of the other party-goers dart towards her every time she looked away. Sterling had been the first and only one to approach the table full of finger foods, and now the housewives were grouped against the walls, whispering in sharp tones to each other. They were all dressed in light pastels, cotton blouses and cashmere sweaters paired with inoffensive khaki pants. They looked like marshmallow stars, circled around the black hole that was Sterling, dressed in snug black leather pants and a long-sleeved black military-style jacket, polished silver buttons running all the way up to her neck, a thick-brimmed colonel’s cap perched on her short dark hair.

She returned to the platter of shrimp and skewered another one, scraping the platter as she did so. A toneless voice sizzled through her head: Silver-plated steel alloy: 97% iron, 1.3% Nickel, 0.7% Chromium, 0.67% Manganese, 0.33% Carbon.

Mrs. Polk appeared at Sterling’s side, smiling at her. Sterling swiveled her neck to look at her. She noticed her straight white teeth framed by coral lipstick, her mouth pursed outward like a suckerfish.

“You should take your hat off,” Mrs. Polk chirped.

“Why?” Sterling said through a mouthful of shrimp.

“You really should,” said Mrs. Polk again. “It’s not polite.” She gestured to the coat rack in the corner. “You can put it over there.”

The other women looked at each other, fear on their faces.

“Is fine,” Sterling said.

“Here,” said Mrs. Polk, reaching up towards Sterling’s cap. “Let me just—“

Sterling moved at the speed of sun glinting off glass. Before Mrs. Polk finished her sentence, Sterling’s left hand surged upwards and caught Mrs. Polk’s wrist, gripped it until Sterling’s knuckles turned white.

Mrs. Polk breath caught in her throat.

The half-eaten shrimp fell to the table.

The room fell silent.

Sterling blinked, let go of Mrs. Polk’s wrist. With her right hand, she took the cap off of her head. She pressed the insignia on the front.

A six-inch metal spike shot out from the top of the cap. Mrs. Polk yelped and jumped back, cradling her wrist.

Sterling walked over to the corner where the coat rack was. She turned the cap sideways, then stuck the spike into the drywall with a shuck. It stayed put. She turned back around. “There,” she said.

No one moved.

Sterling walked back over to the table, speared three more shrimp as well as a smoked salmon roll, and then walked through the kitchen doorway, ducking her head underneath the fake cargo netting as she went.


Sterling sat out on the patio, eating the shrimp and salmon off of the skewer that extended from her finger, half-listening to the muffled party noises filtering through the kitchen’s screen door. She was here waiting for her prey, Green Witch, to show up. She almost preferred him to the rest of the invited guests.

She was barely an invited guest herself. The gift basket had sat at the gate of her compound for two days before she noticed it. Nothing was delivered directly to her door anymore, not since the incident with the Jehovah’s Witness and the cluster of diamond-edged spinning blades next to her doorstep, disguised as a patch of pachysandra. The community’s response had been mixed.

By the time one of her arachnoid automatons had brought the basket back to her in its wiry fangs (after testing it for contaminants and explosives), nothing was left but a torn open bag of cardamom shortbread, some sour-smelling tissue paper, and the gnawed-at envelope with the invitation inside. Raccoons and squirrels had probably scavenged the rest. They had become her biggest arch-nemeses ever since she’d moved to the sterile suburbs.

It was her plan all along when choosing a fortress location—somewhere split between a place everybody would want to visit and a place nobody would want to live. Neither the tropics nor the tundra appealed to her. Of course, there had been some issues with people complaining that her ten-story tall compound violated a few building codes, not to mention the protestations about property value being affected by gun turrets and front lawn landmines, but those people had been dealt with one way or another.

She remembered her excitement at receiving the gilded invitation (Bleached Paper, Artificial Gold Leaf, Carbon Ink), thinking that her arch-nemesis Green Witch had finally shown some long-lost class and had invited her to his own slow and painful death. But the letter wasn’t from Green Witch (she should have guessed, no recycled paper, no patchouli-scented ink).

Hello,
Mrs. Claire Polk would like to invite you,

Ms. Finsterling Nachtstahl Oberfrau,
to her monthly Glasgow Park Ladies Luncheon.
Theme: “Seafood and Eat It”
Address: 32 Sherwood Avenue
Date: Saturday, June 9, 2014
Time: 11:30 AM
Dress: Summer Casual
Please RSVP at: (973)-412-0629


She’d never eaten a luncheon before, and she hated being called Finsterling, but she still couldn’t shake the feeling that she could beat Green Witch at his own game, warp the surrounding flora and fauna to fit her needs. She could convince a Claire Polk and her synthetically scarved-and-sweatered friends to fight against a bunch of tree-humping eco-terrorists.

But now, she was stuck out on the patio, left with more in common with the stainless-steel hibachi than Claire Polk, looking out at at the green-cloaked branches waving in the summer wind. If she looked straight out her tower window, she only saw sky. She liked overcast days the best, the world bleached and faded below her, grey and soft and pulsing like the mechanisms within her.

Being alone didn’t bother her as much as she thought it would. She was made to be alone, had had it drilled into her brain ever since Heinrich Stahl, her creator, had created her. Took her when she was twenty and filled in the half of her that she never knew was missing, made her from polymers and alloys and chemicals, built her up over time to withstand beatings, bombings, destruction and death, her machinery gradually overtaking her humanity until one day she had to use finer and finer instruments to look for it. “You are meant to stand tall,” Stahl had lectured her, “proud, firm, inflammable and unflappable. A monolith in tribute to humanity’s progress.”

Now Stahl was dead, his liver broken down by too many glasses of Alsatian wine and too many cigars and the falling of too many regimes, and here she was, eighty years later, smooth as silk and strong as steel, sitting in a random backyard looking at the birch trees and holly bushes and puny petunias and wishing she could mow them all down, douse the grass in gasoline, burn it all and pave it over with cement—

“Want a cigarette?” a voice said. Sterling turned.

A woman in her late twenties stood by the kitchen door. She was dressed in a dark blue top and jeans, and walked with more grace than the other women—which was because, as Sterling realized, she wasn’t wearing heels. A lit cigarette was wedged between her caramel-colored index and middle fingers. She held out a half-full pack of cigarettes.

Sterling shook her head. “I don’t smoke.”

The woman blinked, tilted her head slightly. “Really? You look—“ She shook her head. “Nevermind.”

“I look like I smoke?”

“You looked like you needed a smoke,” the woman said, “back in there when you almost broke Claire’s arm.” She stood next to Sterling’s chair. “Either that, or you just don’t like being touched.”

Sterling stared at her. “I can’t afford to be touched,” she said.

The woman took a drag of her cigarette, blew a stream of smoke. “Well, either way,” she said. “Don’t let those old birds get to you.” The woman stuck out her hand. “I’m Carina.”
Sterling looked at her hand, and then looked back up at Carina, who smiled at her. Sterling’s eyes widened. She took her hand, grasped it, didn’t shake it. “Sterling. Pleasure.”

They sat still for a few seconds, then Carina wriggled her hand free. “Did you just move here?” said Carina.

“Yes,” said Sterling. “I am originally from Europe. Germany.”

Carina shook her head, whistling. “No kidding, huh? That’s more culture than they deserve.”

Sterling turned away. “I am not too big a fan of culture,” she said softly.

“Then you should be getting along better than you are,” said Carina. She tapped the ash from her cigarette onto the criss-crossing patio bricks. “Listen to me,” she said.

Sterling looked in her direction.

“I know the feeling,” Carina said. “I came here two years ago on the back of a white guy who slept around on me every chance he got, and I had to hear them”—she jerked her thumb back towards the house— “whispering behind my back every time I turned to look at their tacky paintings, and you know what I did when I turned back around? I put a big dumb smile on my face, because it made everything easier. It made—“

“Why are you telling me this,” spoke Sterling. Her hands gripped the armrests of the patio chair.

Carina turned her head, looked down. Flicked the cigarette butt in front of her and ground it with her heel. “I like seeing them scared,” said Carina as she stared down at the ash mark. “You know how much it takes to make them scared? I’ve been here five years and I couldn’t do it once.” She swallowed. “But they always win, because they know where you live. And you know where you live. So let it rest for a bit.”

They were both silent for a minute.

“I better head back inside,” said Carina. “You can come back in whenever you want.” Sterling heard Carina’s retreating footsteps on the patio, then they stopped. “Let me know if you need anything,” she heard Carina say, then she heard the screen door swing shut.

Sterling sat and thought. She heard Carina’s voice in her head like she had sunk a spike into her: toneless, no trace of an accent.


When Sterling re-entered the living room, the women all stopped talking. They all looked at her, waiting to see what she would do next.

Sterling looked at Carina, who gave her a thumbs-up.

“I just want to say, to say thank you all for inviting me here.” Sterling cleared her throat, tried to smile. “Is just hard, coming to a new neighborhood, and reaching out to people, is difficult.” She stopped smiling. It felt unnatural. What to say next?

Sterling picked up a glass candleholder with a lit votive candle inside it. She raised it in front of her. “I want to make—make toast. To all the lovely wives in my new neighborhood—“

There was a knock at the front door.

“Who want to see me and others happy—“

The knocking grew louder. Still no one moved.

“And who love all their fellow man—“

The front door flew off of its hinges in a blaze and clattered to the floor. A man with well-defined cheekbones and frosted tips walked into the room, carrying a flamethrower.

Sterling saw him and shook her head, laughing at herself. She set the candle back down on the table. “I knew you would find me, Green Witch,” she said. “What, someone sent up smoke-signal?”

“The name,” said the man as he adjusted his bulletproof argyle sweater-vest, “is Greenwich. Rod Greenwich. How many times do I have to say it, steel-skull?”

Sterling curled her lip up in a snarl, her hands forming fists. “The name,” she said, “is Sterling.” She tensed her muscles, ready to spring. “But you call me Death.”

He pointed the flamethrower at her. “We’ll see about that. “

She ducked under the burst of fire and lunged towards him. Greenwich caught her by the shoulders, flinging her into the mail-table. He drew back a fist, just missing her as she rolled out of the way. She quickly upended the table of finger foods and ducked behind it as he unleashed another stream of flames.

“Every conversation we have is the same, Stahl,” said Greenwich. “You think you know how to live. But you only know how to die. And you want to let the world die with you. But I’m not going to let that hap—“

He stopped, tilted his head just before the silver platter caught him square in the face.

As he staggered back, Sterling lunged forward and swiped at his face, all five spikes extended. He screamed, high-pitched and bloodcurdling, “NOT MY FACE, NOT MY FACE—“ Blood trailed down his bare cheeks. He fled out the front door, covering his face with his hands.

The voice rang out in Sterling’s head: Red blood cells. White blood cells. Plasma. Platelets. Dogfish Head IPA.

Sterling heard a scream, and whipped around towards the kitchen doorway, where Mrs. Polk stood, screeching with anger.

“Look at this place!”

Sterling looked around at the burning drapes, the stained carpet, the smashed mirror above the mantel, the splintered tables, the broken picture window. She lifted her index finger in the air, then carefully made her way back to the corner, extracted her hat from the wall, and stuck it on the coat rack.

“Better, right?”

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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




MERC SUPERVILLAIN BRAWL

An Open Letter to Whoever Keeps Parking Their Invisible Car Outside My Window (775 words)

I am going to find you.

Every night for the past four days, you’ve parked somewhere on the street facing my window. And every night for the past four days, your car alarm has gone off while I’m trying to sleep. I thought I could just ignore it, at first. After an hour, the sound bled into my skull, burrowing in like a splinter. Earplugs didn’t help. I even tried plugging in the box fan, hoping that the white noise might drown it out. I can’t bear it anymore. I’m exhausted.

Ever since Captain Crimson “accidentally” dropped me off the edge of a third-floor balcony, it’s been an ordeal just to get out of my own bed. Two shattered ankles, impacted vertebrae, and a pelvic reconstruction. Every step is agony. Do you understand my pain? My humiliation? Can you even imagine? The Midnight Count’s right-hand man, “The Terror of Taberville,” reduced to this. All I want is a good night’s sleep. One night.

Instead, when that alarm started blaring again two nights ago, I dragged myself outside and spent an hour limping up and down the street, step by painful step, groping around in the dark for your invisible car, white-hot hatred holding me upright like a therapeutic harness.

I didn’t find it, of course. Maybe it’s inside a garage somewhere, or maybe it exists on an entirely separate physical plane. Eventually I hobbled home to sit on the edge of my bed, massaging capsaicin crème into my aching joints and taking what solace I could find in fantasies of spectacular violence. I saw myself waiting for you to get in your car before I unleashed a blast of raw psychic power from behind the hedges. I imagined the pale blue bolt arcing across the asphalt, the electric stink of ozone. Splintering bone, grinding steel as the car crumpled like a tin can. The smash of atoms.

I taped fliers to the lampposts begging you to park somewhere, anywhere, else. When the alarm went off again last night, I wondered if maybe you hadn’t seen them. But this morning I woke up to find every single one of those fliers crumpled up outside my door.

So now, I am going to find you.

I lay awake until midnight, and then I get dressed.

I haven’t worn the suit in years. Not since the incident on the balcony. It smells like mothballs and stale beer, and nowadays it fits tight around the middle, but it doesn’t look half bad, all things considered. Even still, my reflection in the mirror frightens me. The skin under my eyes is deep and grooved and dark, as if someone has scooped it out with their hands. I don’t even need the black grease paint.

Standing in front of the mirror, it all comes back for a fleeting moment: blasting vault doors off their hinges with only a thought, taking on ten cops at once with my bare hands just because I could. Back when I was worried about the Vigilante League instead of stubborn pickle jars and bad reception.

Even though it’s about 40 degrees outside, the adrenaline takes the edge off of my throbbing ankles. It’s a long street, and truth be told, I’m not sure where to begin. As I walk, I think about the apartment I turned down before I came here, because it was full of other retired capes to remind me of what I’ve lost, and because the only view was of the weed-choked alleyway separating the complex from the one next door. I think about how all of those dark windows must look right now, everyone sleeping comfortably in their beds, and in this moment I would trade with any one of them. Isn’t life funny? Not in the hah-hah sort of way, of course.

It hurts my back a bit, huddling up here behind the trashcans. I think it is the best place to wait – right in the middle. I chew on my lip and push the pain somewhere deep inside, listening for the sound of an engine, the crunch of tires on a gravel driveway.

I find myself wondering what you’ll look like. Will I know you? Are you an old nemesis with an axe to grind, avenging some slain sidekick by driving me to madness? Perhaps there will be a dim flicker of recognition on your face when I rise up in the shadows, one brief moment of wide-eyed panic as I bring the full brunt of my mind’s power down on you and that god damned invisible car. You will know oblivion. And I will know, at long last, sleep.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME Entenzahn? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

this is not a submission I was just filled with storytelling fever I had to get it out ok my story is called "THE BIG ADVENTURE"

okay so there was this guy called Brock Lasercock and one day he looked down inside his pants and his duck was a pumpking?! He said to his big-titty girlfriend "oh no my dick is a pumpki?! what is this?!?"

so he go to the doctor and the doctor said "no more pukkin jumping on the penis!" THEN HE LAUGHED VERRY LOUDLY BECAUSE OF THE JOKE HE MADE.

"Brock Lasercock, you are a recurring character in the Thunderdome threads, who is a self-insert of Martello except Martello doesn't write him. Notice how I am subtly getting my exposition across through dialogue. Lol aboned bunker. Let's go laugh at the self-pub thread because we're big meanies who hate self-publishing and thing we're better than them."

and everybody laughed then they ate the puckin for dinner.

accurate except she's my wife now

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



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

I assume this is Thunderdome

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

You have like 7 hours or so to PM/email N. Senada to join TD this week.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

SIGNUPS ARE CLOSED.

N. Senada, hit us with those sign up stats. how many people?

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


Every cute animal in these pictures represents one entry.









which is 21 in case you guys are too lazy to count

Good luck with the submissions folk, I eagerly await them!

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


Also, we've got a this week

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


Since I guess it wasn't explicitly stated, please include your word count with your entry. I've gotten a couple already where I've had to look it up myself.

If you don't do this, in return for this very minor inconvenience, I will replace every instance of one commonly used word with the phrase cum-guzzler.

Guiness13
Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

A little late, but thanks for the crits!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

Did you FAIL THUNDERDOME crabrock? Don't worry, here's an example on how to write!

Grimey Drawer

NEVERMIND. WRITE

crabrock fucked around with this message at Nov 2, 2014 around 04:03

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week CXV: a shameful boehner, LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, ZeBourgeoisie, Superb Owls, Jitzu_the_Monk, Fumblemouse, Morning Bell, N. Senada, Brother Walken, and Entenzahn

Something went wrong in the eleventh hour. I didn't figure this for a hard prompt, but it gave a lot of people trouble. Never mind the butts, the Krugerrands, or the were-STDs: so many stories had no ending to speak of that it felt like I was back in Professional Mystery Week. Eight or nine of you made death or dying a major story element, though only one outright flunked the requirement that the protagonist not kick the bucket. That's not a problem so much as it is funny. Thunderdome can't go a week without killing people, can it?

The end result was a round with depressingly low average quality, yet a few bright points shone through.


a shameful boehner, "Not This Time"

To center a story on death and dying in a round for which one of the restrictions was that your protagonist shouldn't die or kill was to miss the spirit of the rule a bit, I think. This interpretation of the eleventh hour lacks in tension. The whole piece is soft and slow without any peaks or valleys in its mood. On my first read, I'll admit I was disappointed. But I can't dislike it. It's a very gentle story that gives my heartstrings the slightest tug, then lets me move on. I won't remember it tomorrow, but of the four debuts this round it was probably the best.

The qualifier comes from the lack of ambition here. You wanted to tell a small story. That's absolutely fine. You could still have reached higher within that goal. Your entry is a quick glance back at the life of an elderly man, culminating in the death of his dog. The faithful dog dying as its loving and beloved master looks on is a familiar idea. The main character has a perfectly nice and perfectly unremarkable personality. While this glimpse of his old age is pleasant enough and your execution is top notch--qualities I appreciate, believe me--it's also as bland as warm milk. I don't think there's been a round bad enough yet for the literary equivalent of unseasoned oatmeal to have a chance at winning. Add a dusting of brown sugar or some raisins or something next time.

Most of your prose is solid; I can tell you took time to polish it up. However, it gets foggy toward the end. 'He stared at his own shaking, wizened hand as it struggled to turn the doorknob, unable to see through the frosted glass of the window.' The phrasing here gives me pause: was his hand unable to see through the glass? Of course not, but you could have said that better. 'A gentle tongue brushed his bald pate, as watched the plunger depress through fading sight.' You're missing a pronoun after 'he,' but worse, 'the plunger depress through fading sight' sounds like the plunger is depressing through his eyeballs. Not what you meant. You should aim for more clarity so your reader doesn't stumble on the prose even for a millisecond. You also repeated 'late' nearly as often as BEGAS repeated 'toilet' and Superb Owls repeated 'cake,' though in your case it was less grating, possibly because it emphasized the important theme that he was always late.

Your interpretation of the prompt could be better since the old man making it in time to be with his dog as it died didn't disrupt or change that event. It's a minor issue. Nothing to be miffed about, which sums this entry up in a nutshell.

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LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE, "Quite Frankly? I'm Flushed."

You know that part of the prompt where I said you needed to write a full story and not just a description of the event? Remember that? Then why did you submit something best summed up as haw haw asses amiright! Plus a wedding I guess? It was difficult for me to figure out what went on in your story because I so little wanted to read or reread it, but this is what I got: for whatever reason whereof Reason knows nothing, Daniel travels through the 'toilet dimension' to get to a wedding. He gets to the wedding. The end. I don't think I have to tell you that's not a full story by any stretch of anyone's imagination. Maybe you thought I wouldn't care because I'd be so busy going butts, tee-hee! You guessed wrong, Grasshopper.

I prefer a single joke not be beaten like a rented mule until it is naught but a smear of pulped meat on the pavement. Butts don't offend me--let's get that idea out of the way, 'cause I have a hunch someone is thinking it even if that someone isn't you--but all you did here was point to butts and wait for guffaws, nothing else. You didn't have a plot, you didn't have engaging characters, you didn't have anything but an awful lot of mentions of toilet bowls and derrieres, and the effect was the same as if you'd kept bellowing in my ear, "DID YOU NOTICE I AM WRITING ABOUT TOILETS? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED????" No, BEGAS, I wasn't. Reading this entry was like spending an evening with a dude who thought kumquats were the funniest thing on Earth and who spent hours making kumquat jokes, ramming his elbow into my side after every one to make sure I didn't miss it. By the time it was over I was fantasizing about cutting the brake lines in your car.

When I slam somebody for unfunny humor, I worry it'll sound like I'm saying humor isn't worth trying or that a story needs more than humor to justify its existence. The former is bollocks. The latter... it depends. Humor is subjective, and you have to figure what you think is funny won't crack up everyone else in the world--especially if you lean too hard on a single comic idea. So what happens when your story doesn't hit a reader's funny bone? The best humor pieces have something to them to make them worthwhile anyway: characters you care about, an interesting plot, a cool idea, fodder for thought, whatever, and when you don't have anything but the one joke, you've left the reader who doesn't laugh with nothing to enjoy. If you keep flogging that joke, it's worse. Your prose is pretty decent here, but it's shot through so repetitively and tiresomely with TOILETS TOILETS TOILETS that it doesn't matter.

A best man arriving at the wedding a trifle late barely fulfilled the prompt. It would have helped you ever so much to start before Daniel entered the toilet dimension and explain what held him up and why he chose that way of all ways to travel. Whether the result had been funny or not, you wouldn't have lost if you'd connected your porcelain continuum to a story--just look at Jitzu_the_Monk and his corpse sex for proof.

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ZeBourgeoisie, "The Harvest"

As I said to my co-judges, this entry may have been the best when there were only three stories, but that sure didn't last long.

Don't get me wrong: you were in no danger whatsoever of losing. You had a plot; you hit the prompt; stuff that could have been exciting happened; the prose did its job, albeit with a weakness that I'll talk about shortly. You did the same thing as a shameful boehner, though, and served up ideas so old that their edges have curled up. Deals with devils and malicious beings that can be bested by keeping them distracted until sunrise are both careworn concepts, so if you were going to bring them out you should have made them your own somehow. A harvest demon is kind of intriguing, or would have been if it had seemed threatening at all, and I do wonder what he wanted all those gourds for, but the storyline still followed the stock pattern.

You overdid the horror language too, in spots: 'awaiting its dark duty' was melodramatic, as were 'a haunting scream' and calling blood 'dark liquid' as you did. The phrase 'echo bitter cold' didn't make sense. Cold is not a sound. It can't echo. Sometimes I got the sense you were trying for atmosphere and landed on purple prose, as with 'each step issuing a massive creak from the floorboards of the aging barn.' Issuing? You used it in a technically correct way, but yeeesh. 'The tiny calf thrashed beneath the burly farmer as the blade approached the animal’s throat' would be more or less okay in isolation--it could do with at least one adjective fewer--but it compounded the over-the-top impression given by the rest. In turn, the prose and the reheated concept worked against each other. The story probably wouldn't have felt as tired with fewer horror cliches in the language; the language wouldn't have called as much attention to itself if the plot had been fresher and more compelling. The problems together resulted in awkward, amateur horror. Not bad. Not really good.

I mentioned that the demon wasn't a threatening figure. It really wasn't. It didn't do anything or hurt anyone on-camera, and you specifically mentioned its 'frail shoulder' when frail is an adjective that weakens its subject. The boy calling "Yoo hoo!" to it? Closer to farcical than frightening. The antagonist wasn't clever, and it couldn't even catch a kid. You can't just say demon and expect that word to do all the work.

"Red Eggs" was a more memorable and more effective story despite its weaknesses. I know you have the potential to write horror that's horrible in the best/worst ways. You just didn't do it here.

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Superb Owls, "Gold in Every Slice"

Hello, Superb Owls. You've written a very bad story. The prose clanks like a cabinet's worth of pans falling down stairs, your premise of gold coins appearing in cake is straight out of some AD&D wild-magic-effect table, and you did nothing with it at all. The story presents a strange situation: Krugerrands in cake! How did they get there? I don't know! Neither do you! The end is a giant "Bwuh?" It isn't funny--which is good, actually, because I would have disliked it a lot more if I thought I was supposed to laugh at the wackiness. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't provide a resolution. The only reason yours wasn't the dumbest ending of the week is that someone else decided on a dead-werewolf STD, and that's the kind of gift you shouldn't count on receiving more than once.

Despite all of that, it wasn't my initial choice for the loss. There's an amateur charm to it. Yes, the prose is poor, but it's poor in a distinctly unpracticed way. Yes, the core idea is nonsense, but it's a striking visual. You could even take it somewhere. This would be a very passable magical realism premise if those coins had more relevance to the main characters' circumstances. If nothing else, there's some creativity on display.

Of course, if this is your twentieth story instead of your first or second or fifth, you can scratch most of that and imagine me banging my head against a wall.

Once you have more practice under your belt I can almost guarantee you'll wince when you look back at the sentences you wrote. This stretch especially: 'They went outside the kitchen with their cake. They were both holding the cake tray at one side so that it didn’t fell and make a mess. The constant shaking from the two put the cake in jeopardy. They both saw Kahn at his table and saw how impatient he was, which caused them to hurry up with the cake. They placed the cake on Kahn’s table with the utmost care.' That is one paragraph, and holy hell. Could you possibly say 'cake' a few more times? I think I might have missed it the first five! The prose has as much flow as a set of instructions for assembling furniture. They did X. They did X like so. Then they did Y. Then they did Z. You're describing every beat of setting that cake down on the table when you absolutely do not need to. That their hands shook is a good detail. Cut the rest. Something like this is all I would need to see the same scene in my mind's eye: "They brought the cake from the kitchen, and the tray wobbled as their hands shook. They set it down in front of Kahn with the utmost care."

You have to work on your mechanics. The errors start in the first paragraph and don't let up. 'That was what was going through Julia and Stanley Cox’s mind.' They only have one mind, then? (Not to mention that 'X. That was what John Doe was thinking' is awkward writing.) Your first sentence is in present tense, and while that sort of works in combination with the sentence that follows, the change from present to past clunks in my mental ear. 'Julia and Stanley Cox wondered how something so simple as making a cake could have become a nightmare' or something of the kind would combine the sentences and smooth them out.

I want to talk about the rest of the paragraph, but it's full of cake cake cake and my eyes are glazing over. Deep breath, Kaishai. You can do this.

The exposition you deliver here is clunky as all hell. Other than repeating 'cake,' the second line is fine; the rest hurt my head. 'The cake, while simple enough to make in theory, proved to be a disaster thanks to spending more time preparing the cake and less time actually making the cake.' The tenses are not right: when you're describing something that happened in the past of a past-tense story, you need to use the past perfect. Like so: 'The cake, while simple enough to make in theory, had proven to be a disaster' etc. Who or what spent time making the cake? The sentence reads like the cake spent time preparing itself. To say 'thanks to Stanley and Julia spending more time preparing the cake than making it' would be technically correct, but I'll be damned if I know what it would mean. That would be like saying I spent more time swimming than I spent moving my arms and legs about in water. They're the same action. Did you mean they spent longer planning the cake? Why would that be a disaster unless they didn't bake it long enough and served him a raw cake? Which they didn't. You also give away too soon that something is wrong with the confection. 'But this was all going to be the least of their problems' etc. is super clumsy, needless exposition. Don't tell me that! Show me that in the story, as it happens!

'Their cake was going to be tasted by their friend' is incredibly passive. Simple fix: "Their friend, Robert Kahn, restaurant critic and lover of sweet things, would taste the cake." I'd try to work the information that this is taking place in their restaurant in somewhere else; it's awkward here.

Was Kahn supposed to be a 'Dread Pirate Roberts' joke, by the by? I can't think why else a critic would ever be called a pirate. I would strongly suggest cutting that line. If it is a reference, it adds nothing to the reading experience but a slap of my palm to my forehead. If it isn't, it's nonsense.

'Kahn enjoyed eating at the Cox’s restaurant. The Cox’s didn’t.' The Coxes didn't enjoy eating at their own restaurant? Oof, that doesn't say great things about the food. A clearer way to phrase this would be something like 'Kahn enjoyed his visits to the Coxes' restaurant. The Coxes didn't.' Check out this link for a guide to pluralizing family names. An apostrophe should not be involved.

You need commas after your dialogue tags, such as after 'added' in 'She added “This cake' etc.

The redundancy in the story isn't limited to cake alone. Julia says that the cake is a token of gratitude right after Stan implies the same thing. Stan says they must have hit a fortune in Krugerrands, then Julie (I guess?) exclaims (I guess? There's no punctuation on that line) that they've hit a fortune in Krugerrands. Stop that. Your readers have more long-term memory than a goldfish, and repeating things you don't need to will chew up your word count. You could have used those words on something else! Like an ending!

Let's step back now to look at the overall story again. Kahn and the appearance of the coins seem entirely thematically unrelated. Kahn isn't shown as an especially greedy man. He drops out of the story entirely when he's done choking--the oh no, our critic friend is going to taste our cake, which is massively stressful to us for some reason even though he's been eating here for years and we ought to be used to it by now part of the story and the Krugerrands, WTF? part of the story have little to do with each other. I wonder whether you started with the critic story, didn't know where to go with it, and threw Krugerrands in because why not? Maybe it's no surprise to you that it didn't work. I can't buy that the Coxes made that cake and did not notice that there were solid gold coins in the flour. Just. No.

I came around to agreeing that this entry deserved a loss as much as LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE's did. It's a worse disaster than gold coins in baked goods could ever be. Nothing about it suggests that you can't improve, though. As long as you want to and make an effort, you very likely will, and I hope you stick with Thunderdome so we can see it.

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Jitzu_the_Monk, "Calvin's Business"

Hoo, boy. This one. So far in my TD judging career I've been at the post for a pedophilia story, a poo poo geyser, a handwritten account of discovering nekkid pictures on Wikipedia, and now the tale of how a necrophiliac contracted lycanthropy by screwing a corpse. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. You made some very strange decisions in this entry. The one that killed you was not, in fact, the choice to give your protagonist a romantic predilection for the non-consenting dead. Are you amazed? I kind of am!

See, the necrophilia was irritating not because it gave anybody the vapors, but because it didn't serve any good purpose. Aside from the terrible ending, the story would have worked exactly as well if the main character had been a more ordinary mortician. Or if you wanted him to be an unsettling and unsettled figure, you could have given him a fascination with corpses that didn't go so far as banging them. That might even have been more effective; I don't sympathize with a character once he's boinked a corpse, and creepy protags are so much creepier when you do sympathize with them. When you can allllmost see things the way they see them, at a remove. You went that step too far, and why? Shock value? Pshhh. So you could give him the were-clap? That is an even worse reason, somehow.

You had a good thing going once you stopped talking about corpse sex. The mystery of Suzanna drew me in. How she died, what her werewolf life was like, what the private investigator might have uncovered and what more she was looking for--you started with random necrophilia and still managed to draw me in. That's some good writing, Jitzu. Then you threw it all away by ending on something I can't even call a punchline, because nothing whatsoever about this story was funny. You dropped everything good like a hot rock in order to drag the necrophilia crap back in. I want to believe you ran out of words and time and threw up your hands, but the corpse sex had no point but to lead to that ending. You had to have been planning it from the very start.

If I were a gambler, I'd lay money on you having lost hands down if it weren't for the compelling storyline that you abandoned. At least you offered us a few brief moments of enjoyment, bookended though they were with terrible things. We all liked the dead werewolf mystery. There was never a possibility, however, that you were escaping without a DM at best.

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Fumblemouse, "The Eleventh Hours"

At first I only saw that this was as pulpy as home-squeezed orange juice. Maybe I've read too many TD pieces: I didn't immediately pick up on what you were doing with the technobabble. The second interruption in italics clued me in. Suddenly the pulp that had seemed surprisingly heavy coming from you made sense. Jeff Steele was a little boy locked deep in a dream, and he had a little boy's perspective on science fiction. Of course his narrative was sort of cheesy. Of course it felt cliche. He was young enough to still love and embrace Moonerangs and sonic alien brain spies. When I had that flash of insight, my appreciation doubled. I wanted to find out where the story would go.

But the problem with the trick was that knowing the reason for all that pulp didn't make it more fun to read. I'm not sure it didn't make it worse. I latched onto the frame story, and I wasn't too interested in micro-dimensions of the mini men or prototype Dimensislips that couldn't be anything but throwaway references. I just wanted to know whether Jeff would be all right. It's good that you didn't dawdle too long before braiding the outer world and Jeff's dream world together.

I didn't catch the significance of the phrase 'Jeff's training took over' on my own. I finished the story uncertain what the last line was supposed to imply, whether you'd badly bent the rule about dying protagonists, and what your eleventh-hour event had been. docbeard got it, and he pointed out the repetition of that phrase probably meant that at the last possible moment, Jeff fought to live. I mostly like that ending. It's too ambiguous for my taste, though. Some of the blame for not seeing what you wanted me to see belongs to me for not reading closely enough, but some of it belongs to the pulp tone that I started tuning out in order to keep going. My one piece of advice would be to rein that in after the second set of italics if not sooner. Your story's worthwhile and you had a neat idea, but it didn't quite pay for itself.

Your execution was generally excellent, with at least a couple of sloppy errors: a missed period after 'hopeless as this' and a tense shift in the phrase 'the sound is definitely there.' (Would this have been better told in present tense? Huh. Maybe.) Your entry dropped in my rankings once certain other stories came in, but it had enough merit that another judge liked it for the win.

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Morning Bell, "Julie, Mon Chéri"

Non! Ce n'est pas le bon francais! Since Julie is a lady, "Julie, Ma Chérie" would have been the way to go. Although that mistake showing up in dialogue later made me wonder whether Pierre was not, in fact, French, but had lied to Julie so she would think he was exotic. A sub-story now lives in my head in which Pierre is this plumber from Milwaukee and he goes around affecting an accent and wearing his shirts unbuttoned to charm a series of lonely housewives.

Characterization and tension were this entry's strong points. Neither of those elements were common this week even among the high-tier stories. Selfish, stupid, careless Julie was an entirely unlikeable figure drawn beautifully and from the perfect perspective: the present tense and the unnamed omniscient narrator gave a sense of immediacy to the events and a sense of distance from the woman taking part in them. You didn't ask me to sympathize. That was a fantastic choice. In terms of tension, it's the more impressive that you managed it given that your story was predictable from the moment Richard called. Of course there would be a race to the apartment. Of course he would catch her. I nevertheless got caught up in the description of Julie's flight, shoeless and coffee-soaked. This was all done so well that it did not matter that I didn't like your main character or want her to succeed.

It's a shame about the ending. In the last paragraph, Julie effectively gave a bewildered shrug. She didn't know what to do next. I didn't know what would happen to her family. I cared about that a little, even if she didn't. The story didn't show any change in her as a character, and it didn't give me her comeuppance. It felt to me like something was missing that would have made the story complete. At this point in the roster your entry stood above the rest, but I hoped something more satisfying would come along, and something eventually did.

You should be proud of this anyway. Your Dewey Decimal story was hardly bad, and the two are still like night and day. There's a crown in your future if you keep writing this well, and it may not be long in coming.

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N. Senada, "Second Chances"

Heavy-handed message fiction. The moral of the story isn't only clear, it's hammered in without subtlety. In fact, there isn't much story. Instead there are two characters talking to one another. Eighty percent or so of the content is dialogue; very little happens. To your credit, I believe that dialogue up until Vincent starts his speech. You provide clues to Tommy's drinking habits and let me draw conclusions--again, until Vincent's monologue, when it all comes crashing down. I agree with Vincent: Tommy is a selfish rear end in a top hat to ask for a kidney with no plan to change the lifestyle that probably ruined his first pair. It doesn't matter, though. If I wanted a sermon, I'd go to church.

I don't like the way you use 'he' in your first sentence and name Tommy in the second sentence. Why would you do that? It's almost always better to establish your protagonist's identity right from the start. I do like the details in your first and last paragraphs, the last especially. The loss of heat and power in the bar and the red EXIT sign are great metaphors for Tommy's death. You have the ability to make a point without beating the reader upside the head with it, so do! That final paragraph is my favorite part of the whole thing.

You really did a fair job with everything that came before 'I talked to that doctor for a long while Tom.' (Side note: There should be a comma after 'while.') You informed me of the situation through the things Vincent and Tommy said to one another without lapsing into "As you know, Bob" awkwardness. Theirs was a conversation two real people might have. Vincent's spiel, not so much. He told Tommy things they both already knew for the reader's benefit. It read like something out of the script of an after-school special. Tommy's 'After all that stuff we did together as kids' response didn't ring true to me either. I could see your hand moving the characters' mouths. It spoiled the ending; it gave the story a bad aftertaste despite most of it being quite passable, even decent.

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Brother_Walken, "The Clocks"

My guess is that you aimed to hook us by keeping what exactly your protagonist was so afraid of unclear throughout. That choice backfired. The main character seemed to know what was coming, but he persistently thought of it in the vaguest terms: 'it would happen.' 'It was going to be bad.' It, it, it. What? I wasn't intrigued, I was annoyed, because this shouldn't have been a mystery. It grated on me too that you completely handwaved how this guy knew of his approaching doom. 'It had told him when, but not how.' What had told him? There was no reason for him not to think about it more clearly other than author manipulation. You never did say, which gave me the same impression I got from Superb Owls' mystery Krugerrands: you didn't know the answer any more than I did.

Man, that was annoying. I disliked your first few paragraphs as a result. I disliked your last couple of paragraphs even more. I love The Twilight Zone, but that shocking-twist-ending business is hard to pull off without getting melodramatic and hokey, and you didn't manage. 'and his eyes tick- the door- the gun- the clocks- the door- the gun- the door-the clocks- the clocks- the clocks- the clocks-the clocks-' Ughhhhhhh. That punctuation did not pay for itself. You overdid it, and using a hyphen where you wanted an em-dash or double hyphen didn't help. Then the clocks stopped and he was trapped in his house. Dun-dun-dunnn! Only not really. I would need some idea of what was going on in order for the finale to mean anything.

But! The central stretch is a saving grace. That description of the man's visits to town, the way people looked at him, the way he saw them--that was good. It made him more than a clock-obsessed nut. It made me pity him. I could imagine how he made the people around him feel, too, how he could be so desperate and yet so detached, and how unsettling that would be. If the rest of the piece had been as good as that section, even the TZ premise might have flown. You're another new fighter I'd like to see fight on.

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Entenzahn, "Manhunt"

Your entry stood out by doing nothing wrong and being a fun read. In a strong week, that would have been just above the baseline. This time around it contended for the win. You submitted competent prose that told a story with decent characters, logical progression, an ending, and a plot that held onto my interest and surprised me just enough. It didn't blow me away, but it was solid. Good stories that readers enjoy deserve respect. Wide appeal isn't easy to achieve! That we liked this piece was one point on which the judges agreed.

I don't have many suggestions for you. Other than remembering the difference between 'reigns' and 'reins,' I mean; you should certainly do that. Don't capitalize 'whiskey' unless it's part of a brand name, either. Or use 'quieten' when you want 'quiet.' Or 'hose' when you want 'horse.' The prose could have more oomph to it, I suppose, and your visual details could be stronger. I can picture Julie's coffee-stained blouse from Morning Bell's story even now, but when I'm not reading yours, the images in my head are all provided by my dim sense of what a standard Western setting looks like. This isn't a stock story, but it doesn't stray far from what I'd expect from its genre.

All that said, the sparseness of detail and prosaic writing leave a no-nonsense impression that goes with Jones' personality. This piece doesn't need to be much different than it is. If it has a fault, it's that it isn't memorable. Look for ways to make it stick with the reader, maybe by strengthening the setting or digging deeper into the characters--if that's something you want to do at all. The story as it stands gives its readers a few moments of pleasure; maybe that's good enough.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Dec 29, 2014 around 23:50

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week CXV: Gau, Tyrannosaurus, Some Guy TT, Your Sledgehammer, kurona_bright, Shaky Premise, Grizzled Patriarch, crabrock, Sitting Here, and Phobia


Gau, "The Rocks and Shoals"

Speaking of stories that aren't memorable... it's great to see you back, Gau, but your tale of a man who was in space for some reason, sitting through a shower of comet debris for some reason, was the one of the bunch that I kept forgetting existed. That's not all bad considering that others stuck in my head for reasons of Krugerrands and corpse STDs, but. It hurt you too that you were wedged between two of the round's better stories. a shameful boehner's piece was much more bland, but it looked good in its company.

Your entry had the tension that so many lacked. That's nearly all it had, unfortunately. What happens: a man named Ithaca (was this an Odyssey reference? It threatened to backfire on you; more about that shortly) is alone in space on some sort of mission. Exploratory? Who knows. Whatever his purpose, it involves sitting in the middle of an impact field. A comet appears in his periscope--why would a spaceship have one of those?--and somehow he had no idea that it would be coming his way, making me wonder things you'd probably rather I didn't. Ithaca repairs his spaceship as best he can, but he doesn't try to move out of the field. When the inevitable finally happens and his lame-duck ship is destroyed, he gets into a life pod and floats, naked for more reasons unknown, until he is rescued at the last minute.

Problems with this: Ithaca feels incredibly passive. He suffers by comparison to Homer's clever, proactive, manipulative hero. He doesn't try to escape the comet or even think about doing so. Despite his repairwork, his story is one of floating helplessly and waiting for whatever may come. Why did he do that? I don't know, and that kills you. Everything that happened to him seems pointless, because I have no idea what any of it was for. Why oh why was he out there to begin with? What does the destruction of his ship mean? Why didn't he know that comet was coming? Who sent him out to this bit of space, and why didn't they know what he should expect in the vicinity? Apparently that part of space gets some traffic, and yet that comet just kind of showed up? Are all the world's astronomers asleep?

I won't pick too much on the generally good mechanics, but 'A dozen things aboard a spaceship can make a loud bang; none of them were good' drives me nuts. You could have gone with present or past tense here, but you needed to choose one.

The things you did right--tension, drama, clear use of the prompt--couldn't balance out the frustrating vagueness that left the story so empty.

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Tyrannosaurus, "Awesome"

Fun fluff, appreciated for what it was, but it didn't make much of an impression. There's something alllllmost deep about the main character's priorities as her world literally falls down. Almost. She's just too shallow herself. You were going for humor, and you got a smile--but you overdid it with the Valleyspeak, like, y'know? And wow, that protagonist was one narcissistic mammajamma. The story succeeded only on the comedy level, and it was a touch too heavy-handed there. Thus fluff. Thus a story I liked but wouldn't count among your strongest.

It's worth keeping, though--make the main a hair less selfish ('She’s just your stupid backup anyway' undermines the sweetness of her confession) and vapid (ecstatic about the tongue as she's dying? That edged over the line between amusingly dumb and facepalm-worthy stupid) and the piece would still be light, but it might be funnier and a little heartwarming too.

P.S. Implying the main character would die just after the story's end did not follow the spirit of the no-dead-protags rule, sir, but in this case I didn't much mind.

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Some Guy TT, "The Big Crunch"

Trying to work a lot of stuff into this story while withholding some details early on in the name of suspense led you to incoherence. If I understand correctly, Professors Stevens and Salisbury, whose names are visually similar enough to complicate keeping track of who's who, were colleagues and rivals once upon a time. In the heat of an argument, Stevens shoves Salisbury into an experimental neural jail cell that... makes her endure the equivalent of millions of years of sensory deprivation? In a few real instants, I guess? She comes out of it--or seems to--a madwoman, which at least makes sense enough. In repentance, Stevens acts as the guinea pig for another experimental device: a hibernation/stasis unit. At some unknown point in the future, a robot brings him out of stasis and leads him to a second laboratory; to get there he has to pass a mob of people who blame him for an artificial gravity experiment that is destroying the world around them, even though it was Salisbury's experiment and not his. Can I just say it's really hard to feel any grief for Salisbury's fate when her science destroyed the world? Moving on. Apparently there's 'a beam' in Laboratory Two that will accept Stevens and only Stevens, presumably saving him, although he doesn't feel he deserves to be saved. Yet for Salisbury, he saves himself anyway. Sort of. He dies, but the beam accepts his soul, I guess. He ends up somewhere outside the universe with Salisbury, who somehow still exists in the void beyond void. Where she programs robots. Stevens is quite happy about the death of the known universe, because SCIENCE!

I dislike your characters an awful lot. The last two paragraphs are to blame. Until then Stevens was an unlikable but complex man, a ruthless scientist who could still feel regret and didn't want to kill any more people. His cheerful happiness at the death of the known universe kicked that characterization in the pants. Salisbury, meanwhile, caused the apocalypse but cared only about rescuing the man who pushed her into hell. What a charming couple. Some of this was surely intentional--flawed protagonists are interesting protagonists--but the ending colored Stevens in shades of pure rear end in a top hat.

The overload of ideas and resulting difficulty in following the plot are the major issues, though; you throw idea after idea at the reader, and you save the back story that explains some of it for very late. Maybe you could have gotten away with that if the writing had been better. Your prose is clumsy. For example, from the first paragraph: 'Professor Salisbury did most of the design work, and had specifically said it wasn’t ready for human tests, so of course the experience wouldn’t be enough to kill Stevens. So much for poetic justice.' Ugh. The first clause is in the wrong tense; you never specify what she designed, leaving me to figure it out (not hard to do, but why trip the reader in the first paragraph?). That 'not ready for human tests' = 'not enough to kill' is not an obvious deduction, but you don't really explain the thought process there. Stevens wanted it to fail and kill him, right? And expected that it would, a reasonable enough assumption given how Salisbury's gravity experiment apparently went. It didn't fail, but that doesn't follow from Salisbury's warning that it was dangerous. What I think you were going for is the sentiment that of course it went wrong, because everything goes wrong for Stevens, at least in his own mind. The idea works, but the phrasing doesn't.

My suggested fix: 'Professor Salisbury had designed the device, and she had specifically said it wasn't ready for human testing. Naturally, the experience still hadn't killed him. So much for poetic justice.' Why Stevens wanted to die, why it would be poetic justice, and who Professor Salisbury is would still be mysteries, but since those sentences would intrigue me without confusing me, I would be okay with that.

Between the hibernator; the neural jail; the artificial-gravity apocalypse; the question of why Stevens was getting blamed for Salisbury's experiment; the question of who moved forward with Salisbury's experiment after her death since it certainly wasn't Stevens; the mysterious beam; Salisbury programming robots from beyond time and space; and Salisbury and Stevens reuniting as pure consciousness after Salisbury destroys the whole drat universe, with an implication that they're going to keep experimenting on the poor ruined cosmos, you just have too much stuff. How Salisbury is programming robots and where she is and how she created a gate to and from that plane are the elements that really bug me. You don't explain them even slightly. Never mind Stevens' promise to Salisbury or 'hoodlywinks.' (Did you mean tiddlywinks? Is hoodlywinks a thing?) You haven't captivated me enough for me to be willing to take everything on faith and pretend it makes sense. Either this story needs to be rather longer, it needs to be steamlined, or both.

The relationship between the scientists held my interest, though. There were some good lines: I'm with docbeard in liking 'FATE SAVED YOU FROM MAKING A MORAL DECISION.' Ambition is written all over the place here, ambition to tell a complex story with complex characters, and you would have done a good job with the prompt if you hadn't killed your main character when the prompt specifically said that was forbidden. I'll be honest: I didn't notice that until it was too late, or you would have been at least disqualified. As is, the quality of your entry put you out of the running, and that's sufficiently just.

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Your Sledgehammer, "Catch You on the Flipside"

Darn it, Your Sledgehammer, you had my interest for a while there. Your first half or so was well written. Ben's casual, commercial approach to time travel appealed to me, and I thought you were going somewhere good with that. Knowing now that it ends in the oldest, creakiest time-travel plot of them all removes the charm. I can't buy that Ben thought the mysterious saboteur from the future had any purpose but to make sure time travel would never come to be! I guessed that immediately, and I'm not even an inventor of time machines. You have to figure such a man would be familiar with literature on the subject, right? That the saboteur was Ben himself was another layer of cliche. And of course the scientists set right to destroying their work of... three years? Seems fast, but anyway, they destroyed the machine on the basis of a few words that said very little about what had happened. I don't really buy that either when I think about it.

Your prose also roughened in the second half. You had Present Ben and Future Ben both speaking within one paragraph, and Jon and Future Ben both spoke within the next. You used the wrong verb tense in 'He’d been after the machine, and Ben just happened to be in the way'--'Ben had just happened to be in the way' would have been correct there. Some of your word or phrasing choices shaded toward purple: 'Ben erupted,' 'A wet mewling sound crawled out of his mouth,' and definitely '“You have no idea what you’re about to unleash upon the world!”' The first two aren't inherently bad (although I'm sure many would disagree with me about the saidism), but taking a very tired premise and adding melodrama to it with the language was probably not a good idea. It contributed to the feeling of the whole thing being old and done.

Speaking of which, when was this supposed to be set? If it weren't for the mention of 9/11 I would think it was in the 80s or 90s at the earliest. Ben mentioned getting a play-by-play of the game in his notebook. He wouldn't have had a cell phone or something to record it? Normally I wouldn't criticize that; I don't have a cell myself, I'm the last person to assume everyone does, but Ben was a time-travel scientist. Would he really have been behind the times in his gadgets?

I agree with docbeard that Jon was a pointless character. He may even have hurt you since his presence drained potential intensity from Ben's struggle with himself.

In a way your solid start worked against you, because I was disappointed in the second half in a way I wouldn't have been if the entry had been poor all the way through. On the other hand, that first half saved you from a dishonorable mention. Purple tint aside, your writing wasn't bad, so the best advice I can offer for the future is to steer clear of hoary cliches until or unless you can make them sing.

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kurona_bright, "All Gone Wrong"

I don't know whether this is actually a fragment or spinoff of a longer work, but it does read that way. So many strange names are given no specific meaning: Snaci, Quatran, XIO. Too many words and too much time are burned on back story. Most damning of all, there is no story here. You've started and ended the piece in entirely the wrong places. You should have shown John's rescue effort! Insofar as I care what happens at all, I want to know whether he saved Dorian or not--and you don't tell me! You stop just as the story proper gets started! Oy to the vey. After your last sentence, I felt that my time had been wasted. I'd learned about the Quatran (sort of) and Dorian (sort of) for nothing. Most of the characters had the depth and weight of paper, so there hadn't been anything to enjoy in them, and the premise wasn't exciting enough to make a mere prelude vignette worthwhile. Not even close.

In a week without boring butts, cake Krugerrands, and corpse sex, you would probably have lost. However, you wrote an arc of sorts: John's journey from doubt to realization. John's relationship with Dorian, although more implicit than explicit, was interesting. I would like to know what happens when they meet again. I don't see a point in trying to save this story in anything like its current format, though. You might as well not bother with it unless you expand it to encompass Dorian's rescue, because I'm almost willing to bet that nobody on God's green earth would find it a satisfying read as it stands.

It's a minuscule issue by comparison, but you ought to pick one viewpoint character and stick with him, too, at least for a section. You jumped from John's head to Kurt's head and back again in the first part. John would have been the best choice, probably, even though Kurt was the PoV character for the rest of the piece. I'd personally remove the break between the first and second scenes, adjusting one sentence: 'An hour after dinner, Kurt knocked on John's door.' (Or however long it actually was; I'm guessing about the hour, of course.) Ron and Bert didn't matter a bit and could have been cut. The lines 'Performing excisions on family members may seem disturbing, but the reasons for doing so haven't changed. We bring them back to their senses and remind them of the danger of the ideas they advocate' were very, very stilted, and they didn't sound like things many real people would say.

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Shaky Premise, "Grandmother"

There might be a story out there somewhere that is best told as expository dialogue set years and years after the events took place. I admit I can't think of what it might be. You crippled your work immensely when you made that choice, because there's no tension or excitement in this recital by an old man we-the-readers don't know at all; we have no stake in his memories, no question that they end relatively well, since he's still able to recount them. "Show, don't tell" is common advice to new writers, and you've done the opposite here. All is told. Nothing is shown. Mr. McKinley and Jane are a typical nice old man and his nice enough nurse. They don't engage my emotions at all or my interest particularly.

That, however, is your secondary problem. The primary? That Mr. McKinley's tale ends with a bearded mountaineer showing up out of nowhere and grabbing the chainsaw, and... that's it! The tree is saved! Everybody can go home! Hurrah! Did you run out of time, run out of words, or hit a wall and have no idea of how to wrap things up? Whichever, that 'conclusion' is ridiculous. Maybe you know it, too. You tied a slightly neater bow on your story than Superb Owls did, but that doesn't say much.

Your writing mechanics aren't fantastic, although they aren't terrible either, and you'd probably benefit from a look at this guide to punctuating dialogue. You shift into present tense in your first paragraph with 'Jane, a new volunteer, is driving him to the park today.' Nyet! That should be in the past tense: 'Jane, a new volunteer, was driving him to the park that day.' The number of times you use 'continued,' 'went on,' or 'continued on' don't help your storytelling format at all. The sentences 'Jane was tightly clutching Mr. McKinley’s hand. She was holding back her tears. He was quiet for awhile' are grievously passive and dull. Try something like this: 'Jane clutched Mr. McKinley's hand, holding back her tears. He was quiet for a while' etc. It says the same thing in a more active way, and it doesn't repeat 'was' like a mantra.

On the whole, I got the impression that you're inexperienced at writing fiction. If so, welcome! Most of us started out at least as bad as this! With more practice in Thunderdome you'll get past many of these problems--if only because we'll keep yelling at you until you do.

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Grizzled Patriarch, "Leading Out to Sea"

This would have contended for an honorable mention if the judges had seen the prompt in it anywhere. To borrow a line from Ironic Twist, this story is set at 12:03. The eleventh hour passes while Farah is pitching that necklace. Neither she nor anything else interferes with her mother's elopement into the sea, nor does her father's arrival forestall any event; the prompt is actually conspicuous in the degree to which it isn't here. I almost think you were aiming for some kind of subversion. Unfortunately, subversion isn't what we asked for.

While your entry was one of the most pleasant to read, it had more problems than prompt failure alone: it was credible that a child like Farah would be a passive figure, but she did so little that this didn't feel like her story at all--and if that's something you were going for, telling the mother's tale through Farah's eyes, you missed. You didn't show that moment of decision that led Farah's mother into the sea. I don't know what exactly the mother thought or felt, whether she was bespelled or fully aware. If this was Farah's story, then like too many other entries this week, it stopped in the wrong place. What happened to Farah after this? Did she have to go forward on her own? Did her mother come back for her eventually?

Farah deciding to throw the necklace away was a good moment. I'm unsure of the significance of the gift, and that's not altogether bad. Did her father care about her or not? He left with only her mother. Did he sense Farah's rejection? I imagine Farah might wonder those things all her life.

Overall it was a good fragment of a story, but it needed more, and it failed to meet the round's challenge.

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crabrock, "My First Break"

Definitely my favorite of the stories that didn't make the honor roll. The first line is great, because it tells me that if the protagonist isn't joking, something is wrong with him. All blood tastes like rust. To see in something normal a symptom of something beyond abnormal is not the action of a steady mind. As the story unfolds, I learn the protagonist is a workaholic and has ignored his family in favor of his job--or believes he has. And if he's worked eighty-hour weeks for six years, I'm inclined to believe him. Either the toll of all that work, grief at his mother's death, or a combination of the two has unbalanced him, so that he literally believes he is becoming a machine of metal and gears.

This is handled well. I like it more after close scrutiny. I wasn't completely thrilled after my first read because the workaholic = neglectful robot cliche is not a personal favorite, and the protagonist's self-assessment plus his brother's condemnation seemed to point in that direction. Someday I want to read about a guy who lives for his work and loves it and has the support of his family. Still, there's something poignant in the main character's fear of his transformation and his quiet, building neurosis. He isn't a machine, and his worry is proof. If only he would believe that.

Something else it took me some thought to recognize was your use of the prompt, as you put your eleventh-hour event, the mother's death just before the protagonist could ascend to full partnership, at the beginning. When it clicked, I was pleased. You had a bit of tension going too: would the narrator crack up before the end of the story? That point wasn't really resolved. It almost doesn't matter that it wasn't.

As another judge pointed out, though, not a lot happens. A man goes to a funeral. He doesn't actually change in any way, whatever he believes. You've done a good job of portraying his character and his emotion, but if this isn't a vignette, it's close. I suspect that and the robot cliche together may be why my co-judges weren't as fond of the work as I was, just as they're why I didn't push the subject of an HM.

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Sitting Here, "The Bridge and the Thingness"

The down side of this story: Corina is a passive protagonist. Her actions include looking at a bridge, and... that's it, arguably. Did she summon the lake monster? I think so. Did she intend to? Not clear, and being its unintentional catalyst would show no more agency than doing nothing. Maddy tries to call her friend to safety, but she's not effective, so it's possible no one in this story accomplishes anything at all.

The up sides: Everything else. More or less! The prose is fine wine when too many other entries were vinegar. The imagery is powerful and rich. The premise of memories embedded and embodied in places is one I love. Corina's devotion to the Bridge calls up its guardian, I'm nearly sure, and that's enough--just--to make this her story as well as the story of the Bridge to Nowhere. She learns something about the power of the past and herself.

It's probably not your best work, but it's good. Lovely. Meaningful. Executed almost flawlessly. The prompt is clear; there's feeling in it. This could have gotten recognition in any week, although it might have struggled more for the win.

In thinking about this entry, I realized that the protagonist who watches, listens, but doesn't act--can't act, sometimes--shows up fairly often in your Thunderdome work. I could name several stories of yours in which the characters are only observers. The list would include "Like Fishermen's Wives," "Bury Me With Emeralds," "Because," "Longitude 124," and others such as this one that I quite like; you've written active characters too, so clearly you're capable, and the passive protag may only be a device you enjoy. It's not necessarily a problem, is what I'm saying here. This is just the point at which I've noticed it as a Thing.

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Phobia, "No One Expects Death until the Eleventh Hour"

Veins don't spurt! I'll confess to a lack of personal experience, but no matter how deep you dig into a vein, I doubt it's going to spray into your eye. That wasn't only pointlessly squicky, it was (as best I can tell) incorrectly squicky; it started me off on a cross foot that was never much mollified by this kissing cousin to Discworld fanfic. Your Death was so derivative that I can't quite believe you didn't lift him, but I'm not 100% sure. The likeness did you no favors; let's say that.

I don't follow his or your logic in the matter of Matilda. According to him, Matilda was supposed to die. Which... she did. By accident instead of suicide, but still. Somehow, by attempting to save herself, she earned a chance to stay alive, despite banging her brain pan on the counter. Why? Whether her death was suicide or accident would matter only in terms of the deposition of her soul according to certain religions; neither would make her less dead. It's like you substituted dead for damned and put the former in question even though that makes no sense. Even if Matilda didn't die from the blow to her head (and the vein still streaming blood--and why pouring alcohol over it was supposed to help, I have no clue), I don't get why trying to save herself would put her in any sort of limbo. It doesn't hold up.

On the plus side, the only grammar error in your first line is that you should have said 'she'd dug too deep.' You missed a closing quotation mark at one point; 'GPA' should have been capitalized. But the derivativeness is the real problem here. If we had been certain that you were copying, or if there hadn't been worse fish to fry, you might have been in trouble. It's hard to say though that you definitely borrowed from Pratchett when Death as a character in fiction so often sounds and acts something like this. You may only have gone to the same well as other writers. At any rate, it was a bit more enjoyable than the past couple of stories of yours that I judged, so take some heart from that if you will.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Nov 8, 2014 around 21:46

N. Senada
May 17, 2011


Thanks for the crit.

ALSO,

I'm going to start posting stories anonymously here. For the love of god, don't point out which one is yours.

They will be trickling in slowly until the deadline hits. I don't know about you others, but I enjoy reading other people's stories and I didn't want to take that away from you during Anonymous Week. I'm also going to include pumpkin pictures with some relevance to the story, to stay in the spirit of all of this.



I've been informed that this may not be too cool to do. I won't be posting more stories.

N. Senada fucked around with this message at Nov 2, 2014 around 21:20

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N. Senada
May 17, 2011




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N. Senada fucked around with this message at Nov 2, 2014 around 21:20

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