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Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
New Year, new Dome, new IN.


Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Redox (1176 words)

In the middle of the hunger-winter, the Soviets baited my idiot brother with bread and hydrazine, and he believed their promises. In our shared basement laboratory, hidden between casks of vinegared wine and concentrated peroxide, he showed me the contract: food, shelter, more chemicals than we could ever want, for the low price of moving the family to Kapustin Yar. It was missing one thing.

“Hermann, only you are enlisted for work,” I said. “We’re partners. I want to cook B-stoff, not borscht.”

“A lady chemist - their commissar thought I was playing a trick for better rations.” My brother crushed a paperclip in his palm. “We can argue once we’ve moved.” He peered at a flask. Red fumes billowed beneath its stopper. “Playing with sage again?” A pleasant codename for a vicious acid.

“The only herb in my kitchen.”

“Useless stuff. We’re better off with peroxide.”

I gathered my papers. “I can’t go east, Hermann. The Americans will let me work.”

Hermann shook his head. “They have von Braun. They won’t lift a finger for our family. You’ll do better with us.”

Flora, my little niece, peeked at us from the landing. I waved to her. “You are wrong, Hermann, about red acid and the Red Army, but, for her sake, I pray your politics aren’t as bad as your chemistry.” I packed, favoring notebooks over clothes.

On the way out, I gave Flora a kiss, and Hermann grabbed my shoulder. I pushed him away, hugged him and hiked thirty miles to the Western zone.


The admiral sat behind a mahogany aircraft carrier. A model V2 weighted down his papers. Beyond the bay windows, Mojave dust devils scoured paint from a plane that did not exist.

“You read this article, Miss Elba?” He slid a journal across his desk’s flight deck and ashed his cigarette on my mood. “The Russkies just tamed red-fuming. Their guy’s got the same name as you.”

“Coincidence.” It wasn’t. It couldn’t be.

“The board’s denied your request for a fluorine lab. Moreover, I’m getting complaints.”

“About my kitchen?”

“If that’s your metal shack next to the lake, then yes. That and you walking around topless.”

“The men do it all day. It’s one-twenty in the sun. And more work has come out of my kitchen in the last year than anything sanctioned.”

“And more craters.”

A month back, I’d suspected trifluoride would eat aluminum, given time. Most thought it stable, and so I buried a drum in the desert. The firefighters had never seen sand burn before.

The admiral steepled his fingers. “We brought you here because you’d worked on stable oxidizers. A missile I can stick on a shelf, come back a decade later and fire without worries - that’s my dream. You’re in my lab, with the best propellent men in the free world, and yet the only reaction I’ve seen you catalyze is anger.”

“And the only reaction I’ve seen is reduction. Of my budget.” After years in America, I’d grown hypergolic with bullshit.

A short silence, then the admiral shoved the journal into my lap and threw me out of his office. I sprinted to my apartment, locked the door and leafed through the journal.

At the end of the article was a photo of Hermann, a little gaunt but smiling, in a clean white shirt and clutching my niece to his side. She had sageflowers garlanded in her hair. In the corner, a rifleman had been half-cropped from the picture. It said my brother was chief chemist.

I read through the formulas and snorted. Hermann’s chemistry was still bad. He’d diluted red acid with iodine — an inelegant solution, like killing termites by blowing up the house. I crumpled up the magazine and threw it away.

In the middle of the night, I pulled the journal from the trash and smoothed out the photo. I hadn’t seen my niece in a decade, and she was six back then. Now she was grown and pretty in a yellow sundress. She was the fun little sister I’d wanted, not the oafish big brother I’d gotten.

Her dress was pale yellow, like the ghost of a dandelion, or liquefied fluorine. His shirt was bleached peroxide white, and he clutched only one thing - little Flora. Hydrogen and fluorine, another acid we’d tried before my brother had deemed it useless. Back then, I’d been too young to talk back.

Enlightenment propelled me straight to my laboratory shack. A touch of hydrofluoric in with the nitric: the perfect acid. I mixed until dawn.

Over the next month, we boiled it, froze it, set it ablaze with every fuel known to God and chemist. My concoction was stable in steel, liquid at temperatures Alaskan and Saharan, and reacted with kerosene like I did with the brass: fast and explosive.

Soon, I again stood before the admiral’s desk with a proposal in hand: present our (my) new chemistry at an international symposium.

“Humiliate the Soviets. In public.” He riffled the document’s pages. “Now you’re thinking like an American. Maybe we can clear that green card for you, after all.” He leaned forward, offered a hand. “Once you’re back, that is. Good flight, Miss Elba.”


I sat on a panel at a high table in Geneva, flanked by the titans of nitrogen chemistry. My brother mounted the stage for the Russians. Our eyes met. He paused for a moment, shook hands with the other men, then sat beside me.

“You look well, Hermann.” He was skeletal, dark circles in the hollows of his eyes.

He said nothing and stared straight ahead. At the far end of the room, two Russian men stood at the entrance, hands near bulges in their armpits.

We were all introduced and my brother rose and presented his iodine idiocy. I smirked through it. As he sat, the room boiled with applause and his Russian handlers slunk out into the hall.

“You’ve risen swiftly,” I said. “Chief chemist.”

“My boss thought watering our fuel was a good idea.” He tightened his tie. “The Russians are strict about failures, but merciful. He was shot quickly.”

I pointed to the hall. “Your guards?”

“Fewer than usual. The rest are with my daughter.” His eyes were inert and glowing, like neon. He glanced at the papers under my hands. “What are you presenting?”

I shuffled my notes into a pile, drank some water and ignored him. The room filled again, and the Russians stood again at the rear of the room. A man called my name. I rose and walked to the podium, enveloped in silence. I smiled to the assembled men. They stared at me as though an angel had descended from heaven, poised to hand down a new gospel. At the rear of the room, one of the Russians burped and adjusted his gun.

I thanked the crowd, glanced at Hermann, and announced the Americans had nothing to add to today’s discussion.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Edit: :siren: Self Flash-Rule :siren: - Story must be centered on the colonial tea trade.

Because gently caress you, that's why.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 13:41 on Jan 7, 2014

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

An Obvious Reference to Hamlet, or Maybe Nietzsche, Man (965 words)

“I kill God, and you’ll smuggle me off to eternal rest. Final offer.” Roy Boss sipped his mug of flesh-preserving tea. Beyond a tall hedge, the decrepit heads of the decaying masses milled in the street. Nothing halted decay like stiff black tea — or coffee, but no true Englishman would be caught dead swilling that. The Abolition Rot had leapt from undead to living, and the prices of both beverages had shot heavenward.

“On behalf of the allied morticians’, necromancers’ and ranchers’ guild, agreed.” Sir Grimston Scythe of Reapersbury offered a skeletal hand. “And as owner of Styx Steamships, I guarantee you passage myself.”

“Ranchers, too? Moving up in the world, Grimmy. Throw in a steak?”

“Have you had meat since the Abolition, Roy? ‘Still mooing’ has never been so literal.” The Abolition Statute, enacted some six months prior on command of the Lord God, outlawed all forms of expiration. There’d been some side effects. “Before you march in there and shoot him - God is more idea than man. You’ll need this.” He slid a box across the table.

Roy opened it. A metallic gray tablet, wrapped in paper.

“Slip that pill into His drink, job’s done,” said Sir Grimston. “Do be careful: while it’s quite a lot of fun - all the rage with the kids, I hear - it’s terribly addictive. Friend of mine got hooked and now he spends half his day trimming his goatee.”

Roy tucked the Iron-E tablet into his coat, hailed the queen and pushed out into the street.

Sooty stone buildings leaned over the street, casting long shadows. Old, decaying men slouched shoulder-to-shoulder in the humid midday heat. The more-vital ones claimed the shade, pushing the badly-decayed onto hot cobblestones. The Abolition had included a grandfather clause, and more undead graybeards were exhumed daily to crowd the streets and brood.

Roy plugged his nose and pressed through. The undead men parted and watched him with jealous, rheum-clouded eyes. The men on the streets rose and crowded up to Roy, snarling. Rotting shoulders closed ranks behind him and a black bag erased the world.


Zombie Saladin tore the bag off Roy’s head. “If you run, I’ll wear your face.”

They were in a small, dirty room. Undead were stacked like rotting firewood, and their oozing secretions slicked the floor. A small window admitted a fresh, free breeze. Roy was on a stool, hands tied behind his back.
Saladin held up the pill-box. “You’re a blasphemer, Roy. I should burn you. I should burn your house and everything in it. But I won’t, for one thing.” He grinned. A lump of necrotic flesh sloughed off his chin and landed in Roy’s lap. “All the tea in China.”

“I mostly trade with the Boers.”

“You’ve ten tons of Oolong in your warehouse. Let’s start there.”

Soon, Roy was back on the street, squished between two shambling mounds of maggoty muscle. Both had long black ponytails. They must’ve been Boxers, in a former life.

At Roy’s warehouse, the big dead men loaded tea onto a handcart. On the way back, Roy’s stomach rumbled. His favorite curry shop was just ahead. “Hold up.” He grabbed a vindaloo, extra spices, extra hot and wolfed it down. Curry slimed his hands and the shop was out of napkins. He groaned and wiped his fingers on his new friends’ shoulders. “Onwards, lads.”

The zombies sniffed their spicy shoulders. Their eyes rolled back in their heads and they toppled over, still. Roy knelt. They weren’t breathing. He ordered another curry, took the cart’s handles and rushed to Saladin’s, cradling the weapon beneath his jacket.

On his return, the undead general cracked open a crate, sniffed the leaves and grinned. “A good start, Roy. Keep it up, and we’ll both bathe in immortali-tea.”

Roy nodded, waved him close and cupped hand over mouth. When Saladin’s nose was beside his own, Roy smushed habanero hell on the man’s face.

Saladin collapsed. Flunkies drew knives. Roy pulled his box from the general’s pocket and galloped for the harbor.


God’s yacht was an enormous, illuminated ivory bathtub, anchored far out in the harbor. As Roy’s dinghy approached, a ladder fell overboard. Roy grabbed it and clambered onto the broad, white, empty deck.

A tall Man in flowing white robes rose from the floor and brushed back tangled hair. He had a dirty one-week beard and bloodshot eyes. “Finally, man. You got my pill, dude?”


“Whoa, man. Like, no one’s called me that in years. It’s ‘the Lord’, man. Or maybe ‘your Lordness,’ or ‘el Lorderino’ if you’re into stealing someone else’s jokes.” God wiped His nose.

Roy opened the pill-box. “It’s yours if you put the dead back in the ground.”

“Sure, no problem.”

“What?” Roy took a step back. It was too easy, and too-easy made him un-easy.

“Look, man. There was another edging on my turf. What’d everyone pray for at 6 AM, what’s the best part of waking up — salvation? My love? Nope. Folger’s crystals.

“How do you think that makes a dude feel? So I got baked and I’m all, like, What if there was no death? Boom, mind blown. Everyone'll love the Jesus again, right? So I did it.”

Roy leaned on the rail. “But you just made everyone depend even more on—“

“You ever try to do something when totally greened out, dude? Cut me some slack here.”

Roy glanced overboard. Angry zombies swam towards them. Saladin’s men. He tossed the pill to Jesus. “Hurry up and save us, or else I’m going to be living sausage.”

“Chili out, dude.” The Lord winked. From the sky came a rain of red peppers. The jalapeño tide buried them. Two men died for our capsaicins.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

petrol blue posted:

This one gets my vote for tastiest meat. We kill this one last.

e: Except for the slight anachronism in implying they weren't already covered in poo poo.

Well, that's settled then! I'm glad we know that one of the judges' votes is in-- hold on a sec. I have something in my eye:

sentientcarbon posted:

Thunderdome LXXV: He's Not Quite Dead

SurreptitiousMuffin (because his avatar reminds me of Chumlee from Pawn Stars)
The Saddest Rhino (because I find the idea of a sad rhino funny)

Oh. Well, then the quantity of fucks given about your opinions can only be discovered via electron microscopy.

TL;DR Stories, signups or crits. Otherwise, zip it.

(Tip: generally considered bad form to post crits in-thread before judgment.)

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

God Over Djinn posted:

If you start an argument about gender, I will set you on fire.

Djinn may set you ablaze, but I will subject you to goddamn arc flash.

Yes, I agreed to help judge. Be afraid. (And channel that fear into writing decently, for once in your miserable little lives.)

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Anime avatar and an anime topic. Nice try, jerk. For your courage, you live. For your insolence:

:siren: Flash Rule :siren:

Story may not involve anyone under the age of 40. Bonus points if you include a surly bartender.

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 00:15 on Jan 28, 2014

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

She was a fine cow indeed. Such a shame she was destined for the meat factory. Jim ran his hank over her flank and smiled, then dropped his pants. Fifteen seconds later, his screams alerted Farmer Brown, who sauntered over and laughed at the spectacle.

"Well waddaya know. Erogenous Beef can eat a dick".

I climb a pyramid of skulls. Blood King Sebmojo lies dead at my hand, and his Vizier Sitting Here is vanquished also. I am almost at the top, but two more stand in my way. Upjumped Princeling, your time has come.

Erogenous Beef, I'm calling you out. Brawl me, baby bitch.

Oh, it's that time of the month for you, is it? Well, I can sate your needs.

Mojo, prompt us.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Mr_Wolf posted:

Disgusting newbie here. What is toxxing?

You declare that you're toxxing using the : toxx : emote. It means you're declaring that you will do something, and you're putting your account on the line. Fail to do whatever it is you've declared you were to do, you get banned and have to rebuy your account to post again.

In the context of TD, if you fail to submit, down comes the banhammer.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Entenzahn posted:

"You can brawl me instead, bitch," <Entenzahn> said, and all color went from Mercedes's face. Would he accept?

Judge, reporting in.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Mercedes posted:

Haha! How can I say no to that face!

:siren: Mercenzahn Facepunchbrawl :siren:

Write the story of a character (or characters, if you're feeling stupid/ambitious) struggling with a Temptation. I expect a full character arc, and will be giving you the space to do so. Whether the character is destroyed or redeemed is up to you. Structurally, the story must be split into at least two distinct scenes. You may add more scenes if necessary, up to wordcount.

Further, pick two from the following list and incorporate them into your story as significant details. Do not declare which ones you picked. It should be apparent.

* Martensite, and its importance to the development of Western steelmaking
* Rollerblades
* The Velvet Revolution
* His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Norton I of these United States
* A singular marmot

Words: 2000 maximum, under 1500 preferred. No more than 700 words in a single scene.

Despite the high wordcount, I will be watching carefully for useless words and phrases. If you have fat, saggy prose, I will not be happy. Cut hard.

Deadline: Noon GMT+0, Sunday, 16th February


Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 18:58 on Feb 7, 2014

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I took a pretty broad interpretation of the prompt: looking at the quote's source, it's two men discussing semiotics and the nature of metaphor re Saussure's sign/signed dichotomy. In that vein, I tried to write a story about people who were able to flip that system on its head. Also magical realism, and the ability of metaphors to sometimes transcend words, both of which are recurring things in Calvino's work.

Oh, is this a thing we're doing now? I guess I can do one too, then:

Dear Judge,

I wrote a story.

- Beef

Beefcake v. some baked "good" (and I use that term loosely) Brawl

Idle Hands (1000 words)

I walked down a dirt lane, surrounded by Nigeria’s fiercest headhunters. They lay in the dust beneath drooping thatch eaves, eyes half-open, smiling at nothing. Flies crawled on their lips. I peered into a hut. In the squalor dozed more savages: men, women, children.

Their good White vicar, Sir Winter, led my tour of his mission. He hiked up silk trousers with gold-ringed fingers and stepped over a dung-puddle.

“On my rounds, Sir Winter, I’ve not seen a missionary so completely tame the Igbo.”

He smiled. “The Lord’s Word works miracles for a faithful servant, inspector. They’re not listless - their industry is saved for Christ.” He pointed to a tall wood house. Above its door, two long sticks had been nailed cruciform.

We went in. It was a long shack, with plank benches set in rows. Two stacked crates bore another crucifix, and atop them lay a thick Bible. I opened the Book.

It had crisp letters printed on heavy paper and was bound in burgundy leather. “Fine printing, and so far from civilization.” I rubbed the pages between my fingers. They were creamy, rich, and familiar.

“The Word, both verbal and written, is our export. Of interest to heathens and holy men, but hardly to Her Majesty’s Excise.”

The vicar’s flock gathered for afternoon prayers. He led them in hymn. I sat crammed between dark shoulders and flipped through the Bible. Truncated watermarks edged the pages. The parishioners glared. I closed the tome and daydreamed of promotion, of a safe desk job in London, away from the sweat and filth of Africa.

After the church emptied, Sir Winter approached. “So, when will you be off to Fort George?”

I thumbed the Book, rubbed the watermarks. “I’d like to see your print-works, Sir.”

Sir Winter frowned and took me to a barn. Within were a dozen cast-iron presses - rare now in London, but too fine for a Colonial capital, let alone a mud-pit. I raised my eyebrows.

“A donation.” Winter stood at attention, shoulders high and squared. “We’re fortunate to have wealthy benefactors.”

A crate of Bibles sat beside a machine. I took one, opened it. A splash of color where only monochrome type should be.

Sir Winter snatched it from me. “Permit me to handle those. The bindings crack easily.” He gave me another. “Here, an irregular copy.”

It was identical to the church’s. “May I keep this, as a souvenir?”

The vicar relaxed. “Christ is a traveler’s best companion. I’ll have your horse brought around.”

“It’s late, Sir. I’d prefer to be off in the morning.”

Sir Winter clenched a fist. “Very well. This way.”

He led us out of the village, to a manicured track trimmed through bug-besotted jungle. We emerged onto a lawn and I tripped over my own feet. A polished-stone ziggurat with gilded balustrades rose above the trees. Igbo servants swarmed it like ants on a scone.

“On loan from the governor, Sir Winter?”

“Close enough.” Winter rushed me into a large bright room on the third story, with a feather bed and pure white linens. A servant brought Devonshire tea with clotted cream, ham, and a handwritten note.

The paper wrapped a fistful of fresh twenty-pound notes and invited me to supper. I plunged the bribe into my tea. The servant collected the tray and left. The door locked behind him. Another note arrived: the evening meal was off; business called.

When a bell rang midnight, I climbed down a balustrade and snuck to the stables. My horse was inside. Between us, six liveried Igbo huddled around candles, smoking opium in long pipes.

Soon, the men lay down and snored. One remained awake. He reached for the box and tipped it over - empty. He stumbled upright and slouched past me, towards the jungle.

I bridled my horse. My saddlebags were still empty. With evidence, I’d have a desk at the home office by Christmas. I turned and shadowed the servant to the printing barn.

He crowbarred open a crate and dug through reams of paper. He took a box and staggered back to the vicar’s mansion.

Within the crate, the unwrapped reams bore the Queen’s watermarked face, and buried beneath were boxes of sticky, black pearls.

Light shone over my shoulder.

“Stealing from the Lord is a cardinal sin.” Sir Winter stood behind me. Two muscled Igbo flanked him, knives in hand. “My flock is not fond of sinners.”

“In England, Sir, opium is Sloth given flesh.”

“I’ve blunted feral warriors into servants of the Word. Is that not God’s work?” The vicar pushed the armed Igbo towards me. “Without a smoke, the ancient instinct to part a white man’s head from his body is not long suppressed, and these men are quite sober.”

I dropped the box. “Bring my horse.”

“Gladly.” The vicar slapped a servant’s arm. “Go!”

A drowsy man delivered my mount and filled my canteens. While the priest pushed the sleepy servant away, I snuck Bibles into saddlebags. Sir Winter waved me off, smirking. I kicked my horse and sprinted into the night.

Hooves beat dirt in the darkness behind me. I galloped hard, plunged into a river, and tumbled from my sweat-slick horse. It whinnied and thrashed, a leg broken. I cut its throat, tore off the saddlebags, and hid beneath reeds. A mounted Igbo warband stomped past.

Come dawn, I staggered to Fort George and spilled my tale to the Excise General.

He yawned and lit a cigar. “Opium smuggling. File it for Customs, inspector.”

“The opium is a distraction.” I yanked the Bibles from my pack, slammed them open, and fumbled past the word of God. Printed on the creamy pages were fresh counterfeit pounds. My promotion was secure.

The General took the Bibles and closed them gently. On his shelf was his own fine copy of the Book, bound in red leather. “Forging Her Majesty’s currency is high treason, inspector.” Smiling, he ordered me arrested.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Lead out in cuffs posted:

Since I'm still awake out here and have a public holiday tomorrow, I'll try my hand at some crits, at least of some of the ones I've read (so many entrants):

Hey, quick note. Critting is awesome, critting is good, we love crits. It's also kinda bad form to post crits of the current week's stories before the judgment is in, especially if you participated.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Before better judgment sets in: in.

And, before better judgment really sets in, :siren: self-flash rule :siren:, it will be entitled Sodom Has No Pause Button.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Names altered to protect the innocent guilty.

Sodom Has No Pause Button (1258w)

It’s dark, the sun burns my legs and my face is plastic-wrapped. I tear vinyl off my head. Beyond a balcony railing, a too-bright, low-rise city rolls to the horizon. Beside me, a phone buzzes on a metal table, nudging against a wallet. I’m holding a luchador’s mask with electrical tape over the eyes. My shirt is oil-soaked and I’m not wearing pants.

The phone is mine. The screen says ‘Sam’. I pick up.

“Beef, is Mike with you? The hotel kicked us out and he’s got our tickets to the Glass Cat party.”

Recall: I’m in Austin, at a game developer’s conference. I’m moonlighting as a journalist. It’s been a four-night kaleidoscope of interviews and glad-handing, bookended by blackout benders at company parties. It’s the final day, the day of the party everyone’s been whispering about all week. Every journo in town’s been buddying up to Exile Entertainment for a precious spot on The List.

I lean over the balcony. A red ‘H’ tops the building. “I’m at the Hilton.” Inside is a room with two beds. Bottles forest the tables, half-naked bodies lie on the floor, and I stink like an Italian restaurant. “Why am I covered in olive oil?”

“In what? Listen, I called everyone. You’re the first guy who picked up. If we don’t find Mike, we’re not getting in.”

“Mike’s probably off interviewing dudes. Check his schedule.” Something scratches inside my waistband. A business card: Exile Entertainment, and written on the back is an address and time. Fifteen minutes from now, three blocks away.

“Get your rear end to Sixth street, quick.” I recite the address. “And bring me some pants.”

In the bathroom, the walls are a Jackson Pollock of puke. I splash water on my face. My shirt is torn and oil-sodden. I strip it off, towel myself clean and leave.

On the street, I duck into a tourist shop and buy a shirt. ‘Keep Austin Weird’ it says. I amble up the road at high noon in that shirt, dress shoes and boxer shorts. No one stares.

The address leads to a dark saloon with the cheap-burger miasma of grease and onions. I sit down and order water. The bartender stands next to a sign: No shirt, no shoes, no service. He scowls.

I phone the rest of our group. No one answers. At least Sam’s on his way. Sam’s the responsible one. The sane one.

“Beef!” Sam stands in the doorway and tosses pants to me. His head is half-shaved, with cellophane taped over the bare part. A fresh tattoo: Mario.

I show him the card and order a beer. “Thirsty?”

He turns green. “How can you think of drinking?”

“Hair of the dog.”

A limousine stops outside and a pantsuited peroxide blonde waves at us. “You’re the blog boys, right?” She glances at the empty bar. “Where’s Mike? I hope he’s not going to be late.”

I down my beer. “He’s busy. Shall we?”

Sam raises his eyebrows. Are we doing this?

I grin. We’re totally doing this.

The limo’s upholstered in white pleather, and the blonde pours us each a tumblerful of tequila while vomiting a marketing spiel. It’s more buzzwords than English, but I murmur approval.

The car stops and the blonde hustles us into a tall adobe building. The lobby is checkerboard marble, inlaid with a golden square-and-compass the size of a Buick.

“It’s an old Masonic lodge,” she says.

We enter a thousand-man ballroom. Thick burgundy carpet covers the floor and a stage rises at the far end, its velvet curtains closed. Gods and Romans fresco the ceiling. Alone in the center is a table and four computers. A marketing dude stands beside them - company t-shirt, designer jeans, gelled hair. The blonde refills our glasses and the guy delivers a speech about revolutionizing e-sports; words flow like cheap beer down a urinal.

“That sounds rad!” I brofist him. “Hey, got any party tickets left over?”

“Let’s see what you think of the game, first.”

We play. The game’s all neon lights and explosions, an impenetrable mess with bad controls, but I need those drat tickets. I burble happy noises between mouthfuls of tequila, and high-five the marketing dude. We finish the round, thank him and fabricate compliments.

I wrap an arm around his shoulder. “So, about those tickets.”

He hustles us to the stage. “Ask my boss. You’ve got fifteen minutes.”

Behind the curtain, black cloth shrouds the walls and a cool blue spotlight illuminates a lone man sitting on a white throne. The arms, legs and back are moulded to look like women. A similar table is beside him, with a bottle of Jack and a jewelry box. Big beanbags litter the floor. He drinks from the bottle, waves at us.

The throne wriggles. I nudge Sam.

He stares straight ahead, sweating, and nods.

It’s not a throne. Girls in catsuits and masks huddle together: a living chair. I swallow hard, stare at the guy’s face and gush about the demo. Amazing graphics, genre-defining gameplay, an instant classic!

He leans back, opens the jewelry box and cuts coke on a mirror. “D’you party?” He holds out a line.

“That’s a bit heavy for me, but speaking of parties…”

He sighs, ignores me and talks bullshit until my time expires. Sam and I slouch out to the street. There’s no return car, and we’re miles from downtown.

“Back to square one.” I kick a tree.

“Check out what I scored off the blonde chick.” Sam holds up two black cards with glossy whips embossed around the edges: The Glass Cat, admit one. “This is getting out of hand, dude. Let’s just go find a Best Western and chill.”

“Naw, we fought too hard to skip it.” I flag down a cab.

The venue’s a black, logoless warehouse with an ox-sized doorman in a tuxedo and leather bow-tie. Bass beats rumble our bones. He takes our tickets, stamps our hands and shoves us inside.

Midgets with vodka-filled fire extinguishers weave between drunken men in video-game shirts. Cages hang from the ceiling and models writhe inside, nude aside from company-logo bodypaint. A woman in a nurse’s uniform squirts technicolor booze into open mouths from a giant syringe. In a corner, a fat man’s butt glows under blacklight while a tattooed dude airbrushes artwork onto pale rear end-canvas.

Mike’s in the back room, a studded-leather cave of couch-filled alcoves, seated between two chainmail-bikini’d models. He pours us each a drink from a magnum of vodka.

Sam pushes his glass away. “Let’s get outta here, Beef.”

“Don’t be such a wuss.” Mike claps his hands. “C’mon, it’s gonna be a great night!” Two ladies wearing nipple-pasties plop down, metal cans in their hands: olive oil.

I force a grin. Another morning waking up pantsless in a strange hotel? My stomach flops at the thought and I sip vodka to soothe it. The booze burns like Drano and I spit it back out.

A shriek splits the music. It’s one of our guys, Stan - a soft-spoken, ginger-haired man, married with two kids. He likes Mario games and Waffle House. Electrical tape crosses his nipples, he’s strapped to a dominatrix’s rack and a luchador’s mask covers his head. Leather cracks across his skin.

I look at my drink, the oil and Stan. “gently caress this. Let’s get a cab, man. I want a salad.”

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Great, this poo poo happens while I'm abroad on business. (No, I didn't wake up with a Mexican wrestler's mask on today, thanks for asking.) Time to name a Prompt Viceroy:

Chairchucker posted:

Also you will do those things if you ever enter a week I judge.

So it was written, so shall it be done. Free Chairchucker! Post a prompt, dude. We shall jointly tear these unweaned infants more new holes than a Bakken oilfield.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
And, pursuant to the above:

Your Judges
The Chucker of Chairs
Mercedes :whatup:

Children Shaking Packages On Christmas Morning and Listening For Little Plastic Bricks to Tinkle Against One Another
And their toy flash-rules.

Surreptitious Muffin - Story based on Robert Fortune's journeys to China, India and Japan.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi - Dreamcatchers are an important detail. No waking-up or it-was-all-a-dream copouts. Plural penalty: Wordcount is now 400.

Djeser - Story set in a Midwestern Megachurch. Caring:toxx: as judged by Sebmojo.

Paladinus - Guevaran revolutionaries. May not be set in Latin America.

Meinberg - A journey into the heart of darkness.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - The Mercury Seven. Story may not take place in space or be a recognizable ripoff of either The Right Stuff or From The Earth To the Moon.

Joda - Inciting incident involves being hit in the face with a jellyfish. Story is set in Nebraska.

Black Griffon :toxx: - A character undergoes a major change due to small change (i.e. coins). No homeless folks or begging.

Systran - Strong island iced tea. No bros.

QuoProQuid - The Tower of Babel. Genre requirement: Hard-boiled noir fiction.

Whalley - Story begins OR ends in the Queen Wilhemina Tulip Garden. This must be important.

Starter Wiggin - Ski jumping, or ski jumpers. Incorporate.

Little Mac - There is darkness in the deep. Interpret and incorporate.

Lake Jucas - In addition to your chosen Lego set, incorporate Earth Defense HQ into your story. Yes, you’re working with two sets. Your other set may not be from the Alien Conquest series.

Techno Remix - Pachelbel’s Canon in D is important to your story somehow.

Ursine Asylum - Bees. Story must include bees. No wicker man fanfiction.

Crab Destroyer - Redemption of a debt. No money involved.

Noah - Growing pains. Interpret however you like.

Anathema Device - A character is destined for/achieves/has achieved greatness, thanks to clerical error.

Jeep - Your story takes place at high speed, high altitude, or both.

Curlingiron - Marxism-Leninism. No political manifestoes. Plural penalty: Wordcount is now 400.

Baudolino - Main character is, was, or will be a lumberjack. No Monty Python references.

Sitting Here - Story begins or ends with a stampede. Somehow, rabbits are involved.

Ugly In The Morning - A roller coaster is important to your story. Alternate option: your story must be akin to a roller coaster: a ride of thrills and chills with ups and downs! Do not declare which one of these you’re using.

Benny the Snake - Story involves trains. I don’t care how.

Fanky Malloons - Equal-opportunity witchcraft.

Quidnose - Incorporate bare-knuckle boxing. No fight scenes.

Sebmojo - What would a pizza delivery service run by Maori warriors look like?

Jonked - A briefcase of mistaken identity.

Jay O - A forensic examination is important to your plot.

Entenzahn - Story hinges on a minor thing that spirals/has spiraled out of control. Think “For Want Of A Nail”.

Fumblemouse - Thor does not use credit cards.

Tyrannosaurus - Incorporate Johnny Thunder into your story. This means you get TWO lego sets - whatever you choose must be combined with the one I’ve linked. You may not choose another Dino-themed Lego set.

Eastdrom - A friendship which has long grown stale.

The Great Moo - A valiant struggle against an intractable problem.

The News at 5 - Story opens with a betrayal. No violence, no inter-character arguments.

Barracuda Bang! - Pretend that a magic dragon has been added to your Lego set. If your choice of Lego sets already contains a dragon, then there are now two dragons, and at least one must be magical.

Junipercake - Baked goods are an important detail in your story.

Steriletom - Your story takes place during the Mexican-American War, but need not be set in North America.

Elfdude- A shady business transaction either precipitates or is the inciting event in your story.

Arkane - The seizure of breakfast food plays a significant role in your story.

V for Vegas - Either your protagonist or antagonist lives in the sea. Not both.

docbeard :toxx: - Your story includes an enchanted leather sofa. Further details are up to you; no infodumps.

cache cab - Your story involves the Monaco Grand Prix.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 15:01 on Feb 22, 2014

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Also if you're gonna slam flash rules on us later, can I just get for mine now so it's out of the way? I've got a bit of spare time tonight and I want to start writing asap.

You were impatient in IRC and didn't want to wait for me to think up one carefully, so you get this:

:siren: Your story must be inspired by, or based upon, Robert Fortune's botanical journeys to China, India and Japan in the mid-19th Century :siren:

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

systran posted:

I want my flashrule now also, since I usually start writing early. Also I'm not going to call "in" until right near the deadline since I am apparently awful at submitting on time.

No flashrules for shrinking violets. Either you're in and get a rule, or you're not in and will forever wonder what gift you'd've received.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Right, I've got time before my next flight, here's round 1 of Flashrulemageddon:


Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi - Dreamcatchers are an important detail. No waking-up or it-was-all-a-dream copouts.

Djeser - Story set in a Midwestern Megachurch.

Paladinus - Guevaran revolutionaries. May not be set in Latin America.

Meinberg - A journey into the heart of darkness.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - The Mercury Seven. Story may not take place in space or be a recognizable ripoff of either The Right Stuff or From The Earth To the Moon.

Joda - Inciting incident involves being hit in the face with a jellyfish. Story is set in Nebraska.

Black Griffon - A character undergoes a major change due to small change (i.e. coins). No homeless folks or begging.

Systran - Strong island iced tea. No bros.

QuoProQuid - The Tower of Babel. Genre requirement: Hard-boiled noir fiction.

Whalley - Story begins OR ends in the Queen Wilhemina Tulip Garden. This must be important.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Paladinus posted:

Uhm, I have a (stupid) question now. I'm pretty sure there are no sets about Guevaran revolutionaries, so would it be alright if, say, the farmer from your example was actually a retired Cuban military officer?

Make sure your story is clearly inspired by and drawn from your Lego set; perhaps not as precisely restrictive as El Chuckero has described, but as close as you can hew without writing a lovely story. For example, if you pick a set that's a lego man in a jet fighter, I don't expect you to have a lone man sitting in a jet fighter floating around in space with nothing happening. However, the story better drat well be centered on a man and a jet fighter. If you picked man-in-a-jet-fighter and your story is about a farmer milking a cow, and a jet fighter flying overhead is used as a "dog barks" throwaway detail, the judges are going to be cross.

If you pick a lego set that has a lot of ninja figurines, your story should include a lot of ninjas - perhaps not a one-to-one mapping of figurines to characters, but include multiple ninjas. If your set is a firehouse, include no ninjas, but the firehouse should be a prominent part of the story/setting.

As CC said, if you picked the Bob the Builder set, you'd damned well include a construction worker, a bulldozer and a barn somehow. They should be major and prominent parts of the story.

I will amend one thing CC said: Any characters that are not represented in some way by figures in that set. - This rule should be bent if you need additional supporting characters to tell a decent story. Keep the theme consistent. If you picked a firehouse set, I wouldn't mind firefighters which aren't shown on the box, but ninjas would be right out. Your primary character should certainly be drawn from the included figurines.

The Prime Directive: Clearly inspired by and drawn from.

For the flash rules: Figure out some bizarre way to incorporate the curveball I've thrown at you. I not only expect some creative bending of rules/words, I encourage it. Find a clever way to throw the rules back in my face. This is why you're getting completely off-the-wall things.

In the specific case you've given, I'd say that's fine. Just make sure he's not still living in loving Cuba.

More flash rules will come later, when I'm not nuts-deep in work.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:siren: Oh god more flash rules :siren:

Starter Wiggin - Ski jumping, or ski jumpers. Incorporate.

Little Mac - There is darkness in the deep. Interpret and incorporate.

Lake Jucas - In addition to your chosen Lego set, incorporate Earth Defense HQ into your story. Yes, you’re working with two sets. Your other set may not be from the Alien Conquest series.

Techno Remix - Pachelbel’s Canon in D is important to your story somehow.

Ursine Asylum - Bees. Story must include bees. No wicker man fanfiction.

Crab Destroyer - Redemption of a debt. No money involved.

Noah - Growing pains. Interpret however you like.

Anathema Device - A character is destined for/achieves/has achieved greatness, thanks to clerical error.

Jeep - Your story takes place at high speed, high altitude, or both.

Curlingiron - Marxism-Leninism. No political manifestoes.

Baudolino - Main character is, was, or will be a lumberjack. No Monty Python references.

Sitting Here - Story begins or ends with a stampede. Somehow, rabbits are involved.

Ugly In The Morning - A roller coaster is important to your story. Alternate option: your story must be akin to a roller coaster: a ride of thrills and chills with ups and downs! Do not declare which one of these you’re using.

Benny the Snake - Story involves trains. I don’t care how.

Fanky Malloons - Equal-opportunity witchcraft.

Quidnose - Incorporate bare-knuckle boxing. No fight scenes.

Sebmojo - What would a pizza delivery service run by Maori warriors look like?

Jonked - A briefcase of mistaken identity.

Jay O - A forensic examination is important to your plot.

Entenzahn - Story hinges on a minor thing that spirals/has spiraled out of control. Think “For Want Of A Nail”.

Fumblemouse - Thor does not use credit cards.

Tyrannosaurus - Incorporate Johnny Thunder into your story. This means you get TWO lego sets - whatever you choose must be combined with the one I’ve linked. You may not choose another Dino-themed Lego set.

Eastdrom - A friendship which has long grown stale.

The Great Moo - A valiant struggle against an intractable problem.

The News at 5 - Story opens with a betrayal. No violence, no inter-character arguments.

Barracuda Bang! - Pretend that a magic dragon has been added to your Lego set. If your choice of Lego sets already contains a dragon, then there are now two dragons, and at least one must be magical.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Benny the Snake posted:

All aboard the Western Train set!

EDIT: Do I have to stick exactly to what's in the set, or am I just using it as a base? Because I want to write a Lego train robbery and this was the closest set I could get to a period appropriate train.

Erogenous Beef posted:

Make sure your story is clearly inspired by and drawn from your Lego set; perhaps not as precisely restrictive as El Chuckero has described, but as close as you can hew without writing a lovely story. For example, if you pick a set that's a lego man in a jet fighter, I don't expect you to have a lone man sitting in a jet fighter floating around in space with nothing happening. However, the story better drat well be centered on a man and a jet fighter. If you picked man-in-a-jet-fighter and your story is about a farmer milking a cow, and a jet fighter flying overhead is used as a "dog barks" throwaway detail, the judges are going to be cross.

If you pick a lego set that has a lot of ninja figurines, your story should include a lot of ninjas - perhaps not a one-to-one mapping of figurines to characters, but include multiple ninjas. If your set is a firehouse, include no ninjas, but the firehouse should be a prominent part of the story/setting.

Additional bold added for the illiterate.

:siren: More flash rules :siren:

Junipercake - Baked goods are an important detail in your story.

Steriletom - Your story takes place during the Mexican-American War, but need not be set in North America.

Elfdude- A shady business transaction either precipitates or is the inciting event in your story.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:siren: Entencedes Kinnhakenbrawljudgment :siren:

I went back and forth on this pretty much up until right now. Both stories were flawed in their own unique ways. I had to sit down and write full crits, and, in writing, each crit argued for the other story to win.

Ultimately, it came down to the person who had the clearer, better-organized character arc. One person introduced their arc midway through their story, the other left it buried until the final scene.

TL;DR: Winner is Mercedes, by the slimmest of margins.

Crit for Entenzahn

So, this story seems to largely hinge on the "first shot" pun. It doesn't land for me; for that sort of device, you want to lead off and end on the same note, but we don't get a whiff of the alcoholism until late in the first scene.

The bigger issue here is that the story feels disjointed, five fragments loosely tied together by alcoholism. We get the guy taking his first drink during the revolution, but being sad for some unknown reason (is he a communist at heart?). Next we drift on to martial trouble, the introduction of AA to a newly-capitalist society, and then it ties up with the guy crying his eyes out at the grave of a dead friend, whom he presumably killed via friendly fire when they were stationed at the border.

Characters appear and disappear; we don't get a sense for Anna or Karel as we really don't see them in action much. Pavel pops up literally at the last moment. Universally, you resort to telling us about these characters instead of showing us how Miroslav pushes them away, and so they feel flat: drunk friend, shrew wife, dead guy.

The biggest problem is the end - all of a sudden, the whole thing twists away from the alcoholism theme and is now about regret for a nebulous incident in the pre-Revolutionary past. I think Miroslav shot Pavel accidentally? If you want to couch your story around this, show me pieces of his life leading up to his redemption-moment, and tie those pieces to coping with regret over the loss of a friend.

Basically, we need to know WHAT Miroslav regrets and WHY he regrets it in the first scene, and then we should be SHOWN HIS STRUGGLE with that regret until his somehow OVERCOMES or IS DESTROYED by that regret.

First scene checklist: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHY.

Instead, you dance around the whole thing, and so none of the scenes feels well-developed - they don't link together in a satisfying way. Further, if you're resorting to summarizing actions and thoughts this much (i.e. telling), then you may be trying to accomplish too much in one scene. The story often reads much like an outline rather than a story unfolding before us.

There are some minor issues with grammar and stilted phrasing, but these pale in comparison to the unfocused plot and blurry characters.

Prompt Checklist: Velvet Revolution, Rollerblades. Both are mostly incidental details, but passable.

Crit for Mercedes

From a purely mechanical point of view, this is a complete mess. You infodumped on me _right in the first sentence_. Your sentences are very rough and don't flow naturally, and your exposition veers between face-crushing, flow-breaking interruptions and over-vague piddle:


"Just put your dick in her," (thought 1) Ezra, a fat marmot (interrupt! thought 2) who served as Javi’s conscience (BWUH?), (back to thought 1) said with a snicker. It’s (TENSES, HRRNG) been four years (vague - since what? since he had sex? is this a goon virgin story?) and Javi still waited to hear the voice in the other ear. (VERY vague - I have no idea what this means at this point. You haven't introduced the idea of two animals at all, and this isn't enough of a hint.)

The story is about Javi trying to let go of his feelings for Christina, which seem to have led to a self-destructive spiral of depression, and by letting go of Christina, he reclaims a shred of self-respect and breaks out of his self-entrapment. At it's core, that's a very good and solid character arc. We even see all the individual bits of it, and that's good.

What I don't like is your first scene. Reading back over it, you're trying to give the character some immediate crises, but the story takes a hard left turn with the Christina thing in scene 2, and that's where the more effective character moments are.

I want to see the Christina bits of the story earlier, and I want to see those bits linked to Javi's regret and self-loathing.

The animal-based take on angels/devils sitting on shoulders is amusing, but you play it almost too straight. I don't see the significance of the other girls having squirrels and ravens as their animals. It's simply there, imparting nothing in particular to the proceedings aside from punctuating dialogue.

Some of the exposition explaining the spirit animals is OK, some is confusing:


On her shoulder, a squirrel whispered into her ear while a second squirrel was passed out on her lap. The good familiars never handled liquor very well.

Keep your terminology consistent; in my mind, "familiar" and "conscience" aren't synonymous, so it took me a bit to connect the two. Clarity!

Prompt Checklist: Marmot (and a very singular one), Rollerblades. Your take on the marmot was good, and I like how you played with my phrasing of "singular" - this marmot is singular in both senses of the word. I appreciate prompty wordplay like that. The rollerblades were incidental, but no more incidental than EZ's.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:siren: Yet More Flashing :siren:

Arkane - The seizure of breakfast food plays a significant role in your story.

V for Vegas - Either your protagonist or antagonist lives in the sea. Not both.

docbeard - Your story includes an enchanted leather sofa. Further details are up to you; no infodumps.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Since you got in just under the wire, your :siren: flash rule :siren: is that your story involves the Monaco Grand Prix.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
TD 81 - Read This Before You Skip To Your Crits, You Miserable Cretins

Hello! I will shortly be delivering to you the fiery helljudgment which you so richly deserve (preview: I hate you, please die). However, I will also extend the opportunity for anyone who wants a longer-form, line-by-line critique to earn one.

If you would like a line-by-line critique from me, you will do the following: Pick another story from this past week (TD 81) and provide a full line-by-line critique of it. You will pick a story from the same pile as I've ranked yours, or a lower pile. (i.e. If you were in the mid pile, choose a mid- or low-pile story. High pile can choose anyone, low pile can only choose low pile.)

At the top of your crit, please include this phrase: CRIT ME BEEF. All caps. I will be searching specifically for that phrase to figure out who I need to crit, so if you omit that phrase, you will probably get skipped.

Note: Crit will be honest, which means harsh. It may also include jokes at your expense and profanity along with the advice.

:qq: But Beef, I don't know how to crit!!?!? :qq:

Learn by doing, fuckwit. If you need an example, go read some good line-by-lines. Sebmojo often offers particularly good ones.

:qq: You're mean! :qq:

You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? If you can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don't like it, leave.

:frogsiren: ACTUAL CRITS BELOW HERE (round 1 of more than 1) :frogsiren:

(I'm going to post these in two or three parts, because holy poo poo there's a lot of (angry) words.)

SurreptitiousMuffin - Never interrupt teatime, especially if you are a ninja

This is well-written and amusing, but it doesn’t completely work for me. I think the problem is that the elements feel disconnected: what’s the core of the story? A guy worries about poisoning a foreigner, tenses up a bit, and then a fight breaks out and the story becomes an action sequence about defending the bridge. Also, Money-San shoots people. It’s like you tipped out your toybox: lots of fun stuff, but it doesn’t all go together?

The end feels disconnected from the beginning; could you introduce the danger with the Evil Samurai Dude earlier? That would also help frame the poisoning. Also, there’s a few too many passive sentences in the middle of the action sequence for my taste.

High pile.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi - The Dream Battle

Okay, that’s an interesting take and action sequence. You were under some pretty serious pressure with the wordcount, and it shows. What I don’t get is a sense of why this fight matters; what’s at stake if the nightmare-god wins?

Mechanically, this needs work. Drop your similes or make them interesting. Ninjas appeared “like apparitions” is redundant, likewise “snarled like wolves”. Your action sequence has a lot of flabby, long sentences, which make it feel drawn-out. Show us the important bits, don’t describe it like you’re a TV camera. I also recommend, during action sequences, using short, choppy sentences to jolt your reader and make them feel like the action is flying past.

Mid pile.

The News At 5 - Snowblind

Bad writing, no plot, cardboard characters, exposition like a sack of bricks to the face. Were it not for the polar bear ending, this would be unsalvageable trash.

Here’s some choice bits of terribleness:


“Branniger,” he reminded the rookie, “is the gas tech back at the base. He told me fourteen times that we had plenty of fuel to get us to the Blocky Mountains and back

AS YOU KNOW BOB, HERE IS AN INFODUMP. This sentence makes me want to vomit. Don’t ever have your characters barf important exposition at us. This is a writing 101 mistake. Never, ever do this again.

Also, cut your said-bookisms and adverbs. You use too many.


Before Captain Ross could react, Scooter threw open the door and ran as fast as he could to the outpost. Captain Ross was too stunned to react.

I hope you can see why this is bad. The first clause is redundant. Reaction follows action. Don’t reuse the same uncommon word twice in two goddamn sentences.

The polar-bear ending is amusing, a fun and unexpected detail. However, you do need to foreshadow the saddle bit somehow. (Toss in a rodeo reference in the first quarter?) Cut out the “oh, Scooter is about to do something interesting! Just wait! He’ll do something fun in a little while!” padding where he’s assembling the thing, it doesn’t show us anything and just serves to occupy space. Everything before the saddle is two characters tediously barfing exposition at me, cut/rewrite.

Low pile.

Eastdrom - Untitled

Proofread your poo poo. There’s an obvious typo smack in the first sentence (“a buzz” -> “abuzz”), and that bodes poorly when I’m reading 40+ bad stories. Pay attention to your capitalization, for gently caress’s sake. Your first paragraph, other flaws aside, has so many minor spelling/capitalization mistakes that it feels like you’re not taking this seriously, and, if so, why should I seriously bother reading the rest?

(Hint: because I have to)

Your writing is awful. Seriously, you need writing 101. Go read the first few posts in Fiction Advice. Pay attention to poo poo like said-bookisms, adverbs, etc. Have you ever even read a goddamn book?

Anyway, this story is basically a load of nothing. A guy ruminates inwardly, makes some coffees for people who don’t matter, and then runs off to New Zealand. So loving what? You don’t give us a reason to care.

Where does a character make a decision, resolve a conflict? Anything? Bueller?

We need to understand the choice confronting the character, and the character’s motivations, starting straight from Paragraph One. Then develop your characters and conflict in the subsequent paragraphs, and conclude with a decision that leads to triumph or failure.

Also, your narrator is an unlikeable goony fuckhead, so I’m rooting against him the whole time. And then he goes to New Zealand, and I don’t see how that changes his unlikeable goony fuckheadedness.

In short, go kill yourself.

Low pile/Loser candidate.

Techno Remix - Mission Failure

Does any of your opening dialogue serve a purpose? This is writing, not television. Each line of dialogue needs to do serious work: develop a character, deepen the plot. Your patter is tedious and shows us nothing; it’s obviously just there to drop the Canon in D reference for the flashrule.

The rest of the story is limp and unclear. For a second, I thought you were going for the “first contact” scenario, but then it’s just the space station (or space ship? unclear) spiralling out of orbit. Why? What does this show us? What’s the god-damned point you’re trying to make?

Low pile.

Docbeard - Search and Rescue


“Doctor, have you made any progress on the nature of the alien radiation?” Something to think about other than his missing man.



Well, I guess I made it to story #5 before someone went the route of the Lego people being actual people who are also toys.

Story is badly written and pointless. All the jabber and action in the points prior to the dialogue with the kid do nothing - they set up no conflict or motivation. There’s a whiff of mystery, but you throw so many bizarre things in with the “oh god what’s happening” dialogue that it’s hard to care.

Especially when the payoff is LOLTOYS. Go see Systran's story for an example of using this framing device well. Don't confuse a framing device as an excuse for writing an actual story.

Low pile.

Entenzahn - Olaf the Oaf

Well, I don’t vehemently hate this, which is better than the last few stories. This has a good tone. You’ve made good use of short, simple sentences to reflect on Olaf’s mental simplicity.

I’d like to see this start out differently; right now it’s sort of a laundry list which introduces all the characters. You really need to make us root for Olaf, make him a loveable oaf, and show him trying to do good but gosh darnit he’s just so adorably clumsy - and do that from sentence One.

Maybe develop the bit with the small dragon more.

The action bits are slow. Dudes are fighting a dragon, but you still keep the same dogged, plodding pace of narration. Some of that it due to the narrator, but you need to mix it up a bit. GEE WHIZ A DRAGON!

The turn in the middle happens by accident; I dunno how I feel about that. It’s not very satisfying. Accidents are great for getting characters into trouble, but it's better when they clamber out of trouble with their own two hands. That's character development.

Anyway, I’ve seen worse, so this gets a pass.

Mid pile.

Paladinus - Historia de un Fracaso

Your POV shifts weirdly - at some points it’s 3rd omniscient, then it flips back and forth between 3rd focused on the man and the monkey, and then it’s back to 3rd omniscient when the monkey dies.

That said, it’s completely unclear what’s at stake, etc. Entertainers enter a village, they play lovely music, the monkey dies. Why do I care? What are you trying to say?

You’re clearly trying to be very clever, and you’re tripping over your heels each time. I recommend you try to tell a simple, straight-through story next time.

Low pile.

systran - Wingmen

Okay, this is the way to do a “two kids playing with Lego” story, because it’s not about the goddamn Lego, it’s about a big brother and a little brother.

I like the details, they catch the way little boys thing quite well. I laughed at “hundred-dan black belt” (spell it out though!) and a bunch of other funny little bits.

It feels like you got cut off at the end; the resolution isn’t wholly satisfying for me.

I see that the big brother feels bad about breaking the little brother’s ship, that’s the turn, that’s the core here. I’d like to see the interplay between them, and the emotions of the big brother, brought to the fore more. I’d also like to see the opening tightened up a bit and the siblings introduced sooner.

That said, I also really like how you ju-jitsu’d the hilarious Lego exposition in the picture into hyperbolic little-kid play. It’s really tone-perfect.

Funny and very sweet. A strong entry.

High pile.

Whalley - Strays

Man, this kid is a dick to dogs. Why does he suddenly have a raging hateboner for some dog he’s never met? You spend way too long on the opening; okay, we have an invisible ghost dog who’s an rear end in a top hat, and a kid who hates the dog for some unaccountable reason. GET TO THE POINT.

Actually, no. What the gently caress is the point of this story? A boy gets abducted by invisible furries and killed. I mean, for one, Chairchucker is going to hate this, given that it’s “not very Lego”. for two, why? What’s this story about, what’s the meaning behind it? Stuff happens, but there’s no thread of logic or theme beyond it being bizarre.

Jesus christ, do you have your lips sewn to your own rear end in a top hat? I can’t imagine someone sucking poo poo this hard otherwise.

Low pile.

Crab Destroyer - Exploring the Volcanic Caves

Ah, a pure “stuff happens” story. A guy gets a cool truck, goes to drive it into the lava caverns and then… for some reason he promotes a dude? Sure, okay, stuff happens. “A dude test drives a car” isn’t a very exciting outline for a story, so why’d you write yours that way? Where’s the character arc and conflict?

Lava caverns and trucks with sweet cannons are cool. Unfortunately, story is boring.

Low pile.

Baudolino - Leaving New York

Well, that was bizarre. The Empire State Building lifts off, flies to Canada and settles down to become a building-sized lumberjack. My brain just blew a fuse.

Your actual, mechanical writing is still rough. There’s periods missing and misspellings scattered around. Seriously, grab a free Google account and run your stuff through Google Docs’ spell/grammar checker.

As for the story itself… it’s bizarre. It’s like a weird work of modern art. I can’t tell if you meant it to be this off-the-wall nonsensical or not. In spite of the flaws, in spite of the lack of characterization, I kinda like this. It’s whimsical and strange and the flighty tone fits it.

“I don’t hate this” is pretty good so far as this week goes. I’d like it more without the mechanical mistakes; if you’d asked someone to help you proofread and correct the spelling/punctuation/grammar errors, this could’ve been an HM just on the strength of its weirdness.

Mid pile.

Anathema Device - Tavernkeeper’s Window

Well, looks like the flash rule was a trap for you. This is an origin story, the start of a bigger tale, but as a self-contained thing? Not so much.

What’s this story about? Perseverance? The protagonist is a blank, she never really makes any choices or has any struggles. It makes the story boring. I kept wandering off to watch Fus Ro Dah videos on Youtube after your intro, because they’re more interesting than the mundane action taking place in your middle scenes.

The resolution isn’t satisfying because it doesn’t mean anything to the character. There’s a sort of dazed “what the gently caress am I gonna do now” feeling. That’s the setup for another story - what is this upjumped tavernkeeper going to do to rebuild her village? But the story ends there, so you don’t develop it, and that means there’s no interesting character development.

Just a sense of dazed weariness, which is how I feel about this story.

Still, the actual mechanical writing itself is generally fair.

Middle pile.

Sitting Here - T-Wrecked

Pun in the title and badass dino set? This is starting off on the right foot.

I think the dialogue goes on a bit too long for what it is. I was pretty sour on this until the very last sentence, which redeems it. I think the problem is that you’re bouncing back and forth between a couple of pretty blurry characters and some very bizarre, small-kids-playing-with-toys action. T-rex with plasma breath, hell yeah, very 8-year-old.

The prose is fairly rough. Couple of obvious error (“in tact”), and dialogue attributions like “started to say” are just plain bad, period. This needs another cleanup pass.

This is a decent piece of fluff, it’s kinda fun and whimsical, but it doesn’t hang together as a unified package. Same problem as Muffin’s, really. I want to like this more than I actually do.

High pile.

The Great Moo - Next Stop After Albuquerque

Okay, you’ve got the basics - something happens, and the protagonist responds to it. That’s a step above a lot of people so far this week. The downside is that you spend the majority of the piece slamming exposition in my face in an effort to prop up the stakes for the train robbery.

Worse, the way the plot’s resolved has little to do with the protagonist’s character and is basically just that the antagonist isn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Try to work some characterization into your next story and avoid slapping down slabs of backstory.

Also, you really sidestepped the flashrule here - I’m not so sure you have a firm grasp of what “intractable” means.

Mid pile.

elfdude - A farm story

Tediously written and boring. Your characters need to react to an event in the story. You’ve pushed all the action out so that it occurs before the beginning of the story, and you’re not a good enough writer to pull off the slow, creepy reveal; you drop the murder on us in paragraph three. (If you want a good example of this exact scene done well, see Sebmojo’s Yard Work.)

The ending is unsatisfying for two major reasons: your character hasn’t made a choice in the story itself to precipitate/deserve the reversal of fortune, and it comes out of nowhere. The whole story up until “oh hey you’re not on the hook after all!” is extremely maudlin, so the story suddenly pivots into trying-to-be-funny and falls on its face instead.

Comedy aspect aside, for this to work, we’d’ve needed to see the solicitor trying to reach Hedge throughout the piece, and Hedge avoiding it for good reasons.

Your mechanics are still rough; too much telling, and you have a real problem with wishy-washy prose. Example:


For some reason Hedge had expected this to be more difficult.

The second half of this sentence is telling, and very clunky telling. Worse: You’re the writer. You don’t get to say “For some reason”. Either show us the reason somehow or omit the mention.

Your story has all kinds of bits like this hanging off it, and it makes the story very tedious to read. You’re putting questions in front of the reader (“ok, so why did he expect this to be more difficult? Why wasn’t it as difficult?”) and then wandering off to sate your crack habit.

Low pile.

QuoProQuid - Language Barriers

Tedious. A bunch of characters talking doesn’t make for a particularly interesting story, unfortunately. You also really need to pull the “last five humans on earth” bit up to the first para, if you’re going to go that particular route - that’s what sets up the stakes, all the fiddling around with clothing and the weather is scene-setting. Don’t be Robert Jordan, he’s a terrible writer.

Immediately show us answers to three big questions: who’s involved, what’s happening, and what’s at stake. After that, you can get into when and where, and make sure to show us why we care and how it’s resolved.


If I can’t get the truck started, I’ll just drink the fuel and be done with them.

This is pretty much how I feel about reading these stories, so kudos for capturing that, I guess.

Low pile.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - One Hot Stud

Ok, so you start with a bank robbery, but then drop the interesting detail about fire bricks. I could use less tedious back-and-forth between the characters, and I want the fire bricks/snow bits much earlier on. That’s vital framing information; first three paragraphs, at latest - preferably the first, since it’s more interesting than the bank robbery.

You almost have some good ideas here, but they’re ruined by plain old bad writing.


These outlaws must have robbed him fifty times by now, and even though The Sheriff and his deputy Zack usually burst in to save the day, Bill knew that he was alone for this one.

WHAT?! Is this guy clairvoyant? How/why does he know this? If there’s some reason he should believe it, show us why he knows he’s alone, use a detail somewhere, don’t just smack me in the face.


“They took it all,” Bill would tell them, “every hot stud.”


“What he means, Sheriff, is that he gave it to them,” Zack huffed. He kicked a frozen pea across the room and continued unpacking his haul.

Seriously, just move the scene break up one stinking line and you don’t need to commit the sin of telling us what “would” happen. I don’t care what “would” happen, I care about what happens.

Another big problem: your second scene is pretty much disconnected from the bank robbery, thematically. You start off relatively whimsical, with Lego robbers stealing flames from a bank because, for some reason, it’s eternal winter. Then you completely ignore those plot bits and turn it into a maudlin story about a guy failing to do his job.

Seriously, if you’d just developed the bank robbery or resolved the Lego-fire parts, even with the clunky writing this would’ve been mediocre instead of outright bad.

You have some decent ideas in the first scene, but learn to write a plot. Also, clean up your actual mechanical writing: go read a book more complex than “Jack & Jill”.

Low pile.

Quidnose - Siderodromophobia


would rear up on its back axels

So is this train gonna take us down to the paradise city?

Pretty words, I see where you’re trying to develop a character, but is this about someone conquering fear (and a fear of trains is pretty weak and hard to sympathize with), or about the relationship between the guy and his fiance? The conclusion is unsatifying, as he basically just boards the train after some wheedling from the girl, and the conductor doesn’t contribute much either. Your very last sentence derails your story, as it shows us the character hasn’t successfully grappled with his fear of trains.

There’s also some undeveloped elements; you mention court-mandated therapy, but that isn’t mentioned or used elsewhere, despite being an obviously-important part of this guy’s character.

Too much hair on this, really. Needs a trim and further character/plot development.

Also, a guy threatening a single punch is seriously sidestepping the “bare-knuckle boxing” flash rule, to the point of almost ignoring it. I am not amused.

Mid pile.

Jonked - Alien Disguised!

Man oh man, I hope that title’s a pun somehow. I was lining you up for plenty of punning with that flash rule.

What the hell is the ASU? Don’t introduce weird acronyms without some way for me to guess what they are.


The two teenage punk girls behind him did not. The air shimmered around them for a moment. Soon, the piercings and black clothing melted away. Instead, the two girls had been replaced by scaly green aliens. As one, the alien soldiers raised their disruptor rays.

Zzz-huh? Something’s happening? I can hardly stay awake through all this slow, passive writing. “Soon” makes it feel like it’s happening over the course of several minutes (while the other characters stand around watching?) and the passive sentences make this seem slow and dull instead of HOLY CRAP ALIENS.

The ending’s a decent little joke, but nothing really changes with this story. What do the aliens do aside from provide a convenient action-sequence boogeyman?

This is halfway to competent, but seriously needs some kind of plot development. How has the situation changed at the end compared to the beginning? What have we learned?

Mid pile.

Noah - Old Bones

Hoooooly poo poo Noah, too much exposition! The first half of your story is god damned exposition. Please, please get to the loving point. Once we finally get to it, we get some monkeycheese action.

Johnny Thunders (did you add the ‘s’ for a reason?) is amusing, I’d like to see more of him. I mean, he has a lame line here and there, but he’s funnier than a professor moping about in a dark corridor.

The ending is… jesus christ, I’m just going to quote this.


screaming like a man in heat


You spend too much time on the lead-up to the funny parts, and you don’t resolve the thing with Alistair. This feels like you got cut off in the middle of the story, which is a pity because you could’ve just started with Alistair smashing the amulet, which puts the heroes in a dangerous situation, and then resolved the conflict with Alistair after. PLOT. ARC.

Mid pile.

V for Vegas - Warspite

The slow, creeping horror this seems to be going for doesn’t come across. You spend too long on the minutiae of flying around and searching without providing any foreshadowing. It’s “ho hum, flying a plane, the boat is late, ho hum, OH poo poo MONSTERS”. It’s like two different stories pasted together.

You could stand to tighten up your prose a bit, shave some of the adjectives and adverbs off and use stronger nouns/verbs. Example:


The only sounds were the faint tick of cooling metal and slight slaps of water on the plane’s hulls.

Leaving aside “the only sounds were”, ticks are already faint and ‘slight slaps’ could be tighter. Also, planes only have one hull.

There’s lots of little niggles like this which add up and detract from your piece.

Mid pile.

Benny the Snake - The Great Train Robbery

You’re trying to go for zany and cartoonish, but it just comes off as clumsy. This kind of reads like you’re trying to transcribe a Saturday Morning cartoon, which fits the prompt, but you play your cliches straight. That makes this tedious and boring to read; twist cliches to make them interesting.


“Alright, this is a stickup!” The leader yelled and fired a shot in the air. “Nobody move and nobody gets hurt!”

Gee whiz, this is so interesting and original, and shows me so many things about the character and tone! Where-ever do you get these incredible ideas? (No, seriously, this is painful to read.)

You basically have no plot to hang this around. The characters never really seem to be in danger, they never make choices, and we don’t know why any of this matters. Your characterization is confused - are we supposed to be rooting for the train robbers? The leader’s an asshat and his sidekicks are dolts. Why do I want these people to succeed?

Also, that’s not a very subtle “nutsack” joke you’ve stuck in there, nor a particularly funny one, nor particularly appropriate given the tone of the rest of the story.

Low pile.

Fumblemouse - Isolation Base


Thor imagined what they were saying on their private channel:

“He spat at me! ”

“Typical Blacktron, refusing to recognise his privilege. Electruncheon?”

“No - he has a roguish charm that you and the incredibly smooth area between your legs are lacking.”

I like this. I normally don’t like characters sitting around ruminating, but this is a nice illustration of character. Study this terse exchange, everyone else who submitted this week.

I really like the first half. You’ve got a good tone, but then it falls apart in the second half. The bit from where Thor starts laughing (why?) onwards is muddled, it reads like a continuous strip of time, but at the same time you’re slipping in a lot of references to time passing swiftly despite a bunch of action happening off-stage. And then we get smacked with “three years later”.

I like the twist end, it works well, particularly for a TD story, but it’d feel more satisfying if there was a reason aside from just “thor laughs a lot”.

You could stand to tighten and de-passivize your prose a bit.


He was still chuckling when the electruncheon shocked him into unconsciousness.

“shocked him unconscious”


The iso-cage, all ferric alloy and preventative field generators, was empty of comfort or convenience, yet Thor felt smug.

This sentence never needed to exist. You show us the smug later, and the iso-cage details can be cut or moved later. You’ve got some useless details littering your story, cut them and it’ll be stronger.

Despite the flaws, one of the better things I’ve read this week.

High pile.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:frogsiren: TD 81 - MORE CRITS (part 2 of 2) :frogsiren:

Black Griffon - Atlantean Exile

Aw poo poo, an epigram opening. You’re on notice. This better be incredibly relevant.

Nnnnnope. Not seeing the connection. Your character doesn’t learn anything. A bunch of really weird poo poo happens - and it’s interesting poo poo, I actually like it - but it doesn’t add up. I’m just going to point out a bunch of stuff.


"It's like this bro," said Fishwize the warrior, "Poseidon thinks he's got this under control, but he don't, bro."

Good tone-setting. Right after the Confucian intro, slipping in “bro” makes me sit up and take notice that something odd is going on. However - we never find out what “this” is. You’ve dangled a plot element in front of my face and then not developed it. That makes me an Angry Beef.


Kelp said nothing, which made sense, as he was a small piece of kelp.

Good. Amusing. Tone very much established now. You might cut “which made sense”.


If kelp was sentient, and could speak, he'd probably say something like, "Listen, Jürgen, I realize you're in that age where you think you've got it all figured out, but you don't. Poseidon is an immortal god, you're just a soldier."

Introduce Jürgen’s as Fishwize’s real name earlier. You drop it here and suddenly I think there’s a fourth character involved. Also, you could stop belaboring the “kelp can’t speak” thing, it’s funny once.


"I tell him 'yo Po', if we don't get these gats to our homeboys pronto, we gonna have some overrun gates on our hands'."

Jürgen "Fishwize" Heimblyg started beat boxing, bubbles escaping from his gills in time with the mis-timed beats. His voice shook from embarassment, and eventually he just stopped.

This should be one paragraph. Also, the last sentence is undeveloped. Why is he embarassed, why does he stop? We never find out. This is a pattern in this story; develop your details or cut them.


Jürgen started rapping, and miles away, Poseidon got a sudden headache.

I expect the latter to be justified somehow. It never is. Also, the rap itself isn’t great.


"Tell you what, I'll flip a coin. Poseidonhead and I go back and show him how angry I am, Deep Sea Reagan and I'll head into the wild watery wastelands."

Beginning of the second sentence doesn’t make sense. Editing error? Also, I really want to see a cool fun character named Deep Sea Reagan. Stop giving me detail blueballs.


"Jesus Christ, Jürgen, what are you doing? I mean, seriously, what are you thinking? How hungover are you?"

"Very. I'm very hungover."

And he buried his head in his hands and cried.

How the gently caress does this resolve the story? Aaaargh. There’s so much to like in the jokes and tone, but so little to like in the plot.

Despite that problem, I didn’t want to skip your story immediately and it drew my attention, so you’re ahead of most of the pack this week.

High pile.

Lake Jucas - Keep Going

I kinda see what you’re going for here, expounding on the will to survive and push on in the face of despair and certain defeat. Kinda. It’s in the background. There’s too many characters in this, though, and you’ve split it across too many scenes with too much dialogue.

The alien attack never really ties in. I could transpose most of this directly into a band of survivors on a deserted island, waiting for a ship that’ll never come.

This is really just clumsily written. Each scene is a variant on two characters talking to one another about whether it’s over or not, followed by one of them offing themselves. Problem is, I don’t care about these characters, because they’re just talking heads.

This escapes the low pile if only because you vaguely had a plot and theme, which is more than many so far.

Mid pile.

curlingiron - Share and Share Alike

Start with the cookies. That’s the weird and interesting detail here; your hook is weak, it’s “ho-hum a prisoner interrogation sequence”. Grab my interest by the short-n-curlies and PULL, goddamnit. The scene-setting can wait until after you’ve got me interested.

This is weird. It veers wildly back and forth between a sort of very belabored satire and complete monkeycheese weirdness.

The problem is that the jokes are inconsistent. How does Health Food Isle fit in with your critique of greed and sharing? It doesn’t. It’s just a weird pustule hanging off your story’s chin.


“Come on, let’s go punch a shark to celebrate.”

This line alone is obviously aimed at my sense of humor. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the story at all. It’s completely out of tone for the character and society you’ve portrayed. That said, gently caress you, I can’t fail any story where people punch sharks in jubilation.

Mid pile.

Ursine Asylum - A Cold Day in Hell

Title alone sets off my cliche warning. You’re on notice.

You have serious problems with redundancy. Seriously, this second clause never needed to exist, ever:


Doctor Emmanuel Hasenpfeffer, "Doc" to all but the most uptight on base,

If a character’s a Doctor, I can totally connect the dots and figure out that he’s the one nicknamed “Doc”. If he were nicknamed “Shitlips,” then you might have grounds for clarifying.



Doc walked to the trunk of his vehicle. "You’ve heard, of course, about some of the artifacts that the Archaeology team has been digging up?"

AS YOU KNOW, BOB… This is the worst sort of exposition. Never do this again. Ever.

Seriously, almost the entire first two-thirds of this story do not need to exist. You’re pulling the same basic story as Docbeard and making the same basic mistake: a kid playing with Lego isn’t an exciting story. It’s merely a framing device, through which you convey a story involving character development or change. Don’t confuse the pot for the flowers.

Worse, doing the reveal that this was all a kid playing with his toys is very unsatisfying when the story’s ostensibly been about the toys all along. It’s akin to “but it was all a dream!” - you’ve pulled the rug out from under the reader and outright stated that all the stuff happening to the characters is unimportant.

See systran’s story for this sort of thing done well.

Low pile.

Little Mac - Spaceman and Robot

You have a lot of “wait, what?” moments. Stuff where the writing just doesn’t parse.


Chuck sat in the sand, his butt refusing to sink lower to the ground.

Uh, if he’s sitting in the sand, his butt’s on the ground. So…

Yeah, this is just plain bad. Two characters jabber. The situation and danger they’re in is unclear. They’re stuck out on the moon for… some reason. Something’s broken down. And then they sit here grousing about OH WOE IS ME LIFE IS PAIN I SHOULD GIVE UP AND DIE. It’s like Lake Jucas’ story, only with vaseline smeared over the lens.

Also, one of them’s a robot? If that’s important, why isn’t it mentioned earlier? If it’s not important, cut it!

Low pile.

Barracuda Bang! - Puff

Oh, good, Cops fanfiction. I don’t think anyone’s done Cops fanfiction before. Bad boys, unh. I’ll be listening to the Cops theme song while reading this. It better help.

The first scene goes on too long, even if it does have the flavor of a Cops ridealong. Too much backstory, we need to have an urgent situation going on immediately.

Cute idea, poor execution. You need to work on the ending; there’s foreshadowing, and then there’s what you’ve done. You’ve telegraphed the ending so strongly that it becomes a letdown instead of a satisfying conclusion.

Mid pile.

Cache Cab - The Grand Prize

Burn your thesaurus. Things like this never needed to be written:


I shove the stolen panties up to his philtrum.

Nose works fine. You're using the language to try to evoke an overwrought character for your narrator, but you went way too far in some places. Worse, this story is basically “a guy is a goony jerk and dies”. Why do I care?

Here’s the thing - you've made me hate your narrator, but his destruction doesn’t come about because of his own choices. It’s a chance accident, not the result of him being an unrepentant fuckhead. That's frustrating and boring.

Low pile.

sebmojo - Jim Spaceman: Moon Attack!

Title predisposes me to liking this. This better be good, Mojo.

I’m… I like this. There’s places where I could ask for the language to be clearer and tighter. I think you really should cut down a little bit on the intro and get to the weirdness sooner. The weirdness is where this piece’s strengths are.

Some examples. This is a horrific runon:


He took cover behind it, aiming his rifle through the cloud of slow-falling moon dust at the cruiser as it settled onto its landing shocks.

And this detail never becomes relevant:


There was a cold computer in his head, enumerating the variables of their current situation and coming up with a vanishingly small chance of their survival.

There’s a number of little things like that. If you want a line-by-line, you’ve earned one.

All said and done, it ends well. I chuckled.

High pile.

Jay O - Professor Millennium’s Conflicted Cadavers

The hell is this? You spend the entire time scene-setting and none on actual plot. What’s the point of all this jabber? You’re obviously trying to do something with the bones joke at the end, and the memories and so on, but it’s muddled and buried beneath the prior two-thirds of word salad.

Focus your stories on a character arc, eliminate unnecessary details and exposit backstory only as necessary. The two giant backstory dumps in the middle are boring, distracting and, ultimately, unnecessary.

Mechanically, you’re OK. You can put two words together and they make sense; now start using this to show us character arcs.

Mid pile.

Tyrannosaurus - Black History

Cut the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines. Holy gently caress, this grabs my attention. I am sitting up and taking loving notice. The Emancipation Proclamation for Dinosaurs. Yes. I’m buckled in, take me for a goddamn ride.



America didn’t want you unless you were willing to die for her.

This contradicts the previous sentence. It’s jarring. Clarify or cut.

drat it. This had huge promise, but it veers from one premise to another. I don’t get why Jamar is disappointed at getting the tattoo he wanted. I don’t get how the ending relates to your opening; you started one story where dinosaurs stand in for an oppressed minority, then drop it for something about war erasing the differences between soldiers, and then… I don’t even know how to describe how this ends.

It’s a pile of story spaghetti. Every time I reach in, I pull out a separate strand. I just wish they connected somehow.

Also, you didn’t include Johnny Danger despite me explicitly saying you must. Unhappy Beef.

Mid pile.

Fanky Malloons - Equal Opportunity Witchcraft

I want to like this more than I actually do. It’s got lots of clever bits. It also has a tendency to smack me in the face with exposition.


“Because wizards aren’t real, idiot. Look, Crayvn is a Natural Witch, and there aren’t that many men in the Witch-hood, so you need to be a good role model for him.” Nightshade levitated the milk-bottle out of the now simmering pot of water and into her hand, “Besides, if nothing else you need to advance your rank so you can figure out how to reverse whatever charm you put on the house that turned it pink.”

“Fine,” said Ned, throwing his hands up in defeat, “You’re right though. It does look awful.”

Shortly after they moved in, Ned had tried to cast a simple charm to make their garden appear to passers-by as a picture of suburban perfection. It worked, in a sense, but it was difficult to explain to the neighbours how or why their house had become candy pink overnight. Nightshade was horrified, not only by the apparently irreversible colour change, but also by the fact that the neighbours thought it was to-die-for. The whole block was filled with pastel-painted houses within a month. It gave Nightshade acid reflux every time she had to go outside.

(Third paragraph needs to be transposed with the second.)

Thing is, the rest of the story seems to be more fixed around the baby being a pain in the rear end. Charms and spells don’t feature anywhere else. Also, this makes Ned out as a bumbler, and that never comes up either.

The wizard/witch thing doesn’t land, as we have no idea what the difference is. This whole story seems like a snippet out of a primetime Sabrina The Teenage Witch type of sitcom, but doesn’t really stand on its own.

The basic writing is good, though.

High pile.

Arkane - Morning Fire in the East

Ah, you subscribe to the “horrible fantasy overwriting” school of bad writing. Do me a favor. Stop loving a thesaurus as you write. It can’t love you back, it can’t fill the horrible void in your soul left by your utter lack of skill.

So, apparently, flying bedsheets are attacking some kind of mutated dragons for their gold, which the bedsheets eat. I don’t know why. Moreover, I don’t care why.

I know what you’re thinking right now. “Oh man this guy totally missed what my story is about. He couldn’t figure out what my invented words meant.” :smug:

News flash, cuntlips. As a writer, your number one job is clarity. I could puzzle it out. Did I want to? No. Because your story is a boring pile of bullshit.

You have no character development or plot arc. You have a “struggle” only in the sense that some characters get into a fight; there’s no emotive weight, the situation does not change.

All of my advice from my prior Judge Rant applies to the pile of poo poo you’ve submitted as a story. ALL OF IT. Read.

Beyond committing every single story sin possible, and you touch on a number of things that I particularly hate about newbies who jump directly into writing (lovely) fantasy.

Don’t invent new words without a loving good reason. “I wanted to make it sound cool” is not a good reason. Your job is to convey an interesting story to me, and inventing a new word deliberately obstructs my understanding. When you invent a word, the meaning is only entrenched in that diseased hunk of meatloaf in your skull. And believe me, while I’d love to lobotomize you, you already write like someone’s beaten me to it.

Don’t spend your entire loving story worldbuilding. Unless you can make it startlingly original (hint: you can’t), I don’t care about your world until I care about your characters. A full half of this Great Word-Wall of China is you wanking yourself off about how clever and fun a fantasy world you’ve built. The only time your world matters is when you're writing a larger story that uses the fantasy world as an allegory to discuss difficult-but-relevant real-world issues; fantasy is merely a distancing device to allow us to explore difficult themes with a comforting layer of alienation separating us from the squickiness. And even then, it has to be wrapped around a story about characters.

I hate this so much that it even competes with “loser goon does nothing at an airport for 700 words” for the loss.

Before you submit again, set fire the spooge-encrusted box of Piers Anthony books you call a “library” and go read a decent book. Go read Yiddish Policeman’s Union or Independent People or something. Jesus.

Actually, you know what? Climb onto that flaming pyre of fantasy bullshit and and burn to death. The world will be a better place.

Low pile/Loser candidate.

Starter Wiggin - No Regrets

First sentence, “as you know bob”. Stop it. Don’t do this style of exposition. Just google “as you know bob” for why.


To their horror, they instead heard the telltale clicking of hyper-matured beaks

Not only is the first clause redundant/telling (show us the horror!), the latter clause is a good example of bad showing. Since I’m not familiar with how a hyper-matured beak clicks, the sentence is just word salad. Don’t do this. Also, “hyper-matured”? Really?


The clicking died off after a few minutes, and they heard the, "splort, splort, splort" that signaled they were moving down the hallway, towards the chamber their queen was holed-up in.

Okay, look, if you have to clarify what your onomatopoeia means immediately after writing it, then you’ve written something terrible. Find another way to express this. Also, eliminate wishy-washy phrases like “after a few minutes”, it weakens your writing.


"I get that, I really do. I just wanted to see it first, see things that no one else on earth had seen before, and blaze the trail. Dammit, I'm a ski jumper. And I'd be a loving liar if I pretended that the gold wasn't a good incentive."

Sorry, no, this doesn’t work as a way to dodge the flash rule. Also, three-quarters of your story is two men telling each other about the current situation and their backstories. I seriously don’t care. Show these guys doing something.

Right, ending resolves nothing, story sucks. Why do I care about the chest? What are the stakes?

The characters don’t actually do anything, there’s no development, and your method of writing is for everyone to just tell each other what’s happening/what happened, instead of showing us anything. It’s tiresome to read.

Low pile.

Jeep - Another Brick in the Wall

Title sets me up for Pink Floyd. This better be good as Floyd.


“You spent so much time tryin’ to find me, Det. Disco, well here I am, boy.”

gently caress’s sake, spell out “detective”. It doesn’t even occupy more wordcount and flows better than an abbreviation.


Tex was seated on his motorbike and he had the briefcase. A lone sun, just peaking above the city skyline, caused round little globules of sweat to form on Det. Disco’s little round face.

Oh man, you LOVE passive sentences, don’t you? This entire para is passive. Makes the situation feel languid and boring, which is quite a feat for what I believe is meant to be a high-speed chase on motorcycles.


“This is just, uh, not working,”

Meta-commentary or just boring dialogue?

Seriously, what’s the point of this story? A film crew is having trouble filming a movie. Okay. That’s a setup, a framing device around a story, but you seem to have omitted the story itself. What’s at stake, what changes? Ugh.

Low pile.

Djeser - In Limbo (DQ for lateness)


All the deities of Cygnus 3 cried for their hives as the exosolar night rippled away from Urbis Planitia, the midwestern plains.

“Cried for their hives”? I didn’t know gods got rashes.


Even as a Tellurian, follower of Tellus, as brutalist a god as you’d find

Nor did I know gods could be angular 70s libraries made of poured concrete. THIS IS SO EDUCATIONAL!


he liked the overlapping waves of poetry

Every evening the same song: “My bonnie lies over the ocean, my bonnie lies over the sea…”


There was peace in variety without commitment, the way twenty conversations muffled noise right by your ear.

This doesn’t make any sense.


Feedback came from 401.34 on the ultrawave band, screeching, words echoing into pure sine waves.

Glad you didn’t go off on a tangent here.


The Cygnan sunsets beyond the angled roof of the church spun out of view,

Narrator needs to stop hitting the whisky before each story. We’re holding an intervention next week, can you come?


The high G-forces had given Theta’s face faint lines.

It’s the future, and cosmetic face-smoothing creams STILL don't work. I'm selling my Maybelline stock.


“Let’s give those Lamurites Purgatory.” Theta heaved himself into the fighter with one arm.

Yeah don’t actually, like, kill ‘em. Just knock ‘em over the head for a while. It’ll be a larf.

(Seriously, I’m how far into your story and I have no idea what’s at stake or what’s going on aside from SPACEMEN ARE IN SPACE LISTENING TO SPACE PRAYERS. That’s bad.)


Iota couldn’t see Theta, but he could imagine his curt, cool nod.

(Don’t do this.)


Over the harmonious choir of Lamur’s voices, the steady rattle of Theta’s weapon fire rustled through the comms.

Man, even the Future can’t make a directional mic that works.


The sounds of Lamurite Revelations grew softer.

Boring. Snore.


They hesitated for a moment. That moment filled up with the rattle of hypostatic guns.

Wishy-washy. Passive. Boring. Snore.


Sometimes, Iota just wished he’d die.

Iota is a dick to wingmen.


Tellus, he hadn’t meant that!

You need a new god. Start worshiping at the altar of Showus.


The passenger seat was full Theta grinned weakly as Mu and Kappa helped him out.

… huh?


Iota couldn’t say sorry. He hadn’t done anything.

Djeser needs to say sorry. Characters haven’t done anything.

This story’s pretty bad. You’re too far up your own rear end with whiz-bang scifi religious weaponry, but at no point do I know what’s at stake. Iota’s a jealous rear end in a top hat, then he feels a little bad when Theta gets shot down, but it’s ok because Theta isn’t dead, story over.


Low pile.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
In. :ninja:

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

God Over Djinn posted:

Oh, look at that, you've read a book. Very impressive.

I accept, gleefully.

(Judge: I need a bit of extra time, since I'm going to be traveling from Feb. 28 to March 4.)

:frogsiren: Sebmodjinn Brawl :frogsiren:

Two accomplished veterans of the very short form, eh? Let's see how well your skills scale to something longer. 1000 words minimum.

In TD, it's common for our stories to open and then close immediately upon reaching a big character-development moment. We end on the twist. It's a good formula, but let's expand upon it.

I want you to extend the TD story arc. Write a good, gripping plot of at least three major beats: Include not only an inciting incident and a resolution, but a major event in the middle which substantially alters the course and direction of the story's action. Needless to say, it must still connect with the opening and concluding events.

Theme your story around this quote:


Art and mass entertainment and propaganda, they can all be plotted on the same graph, but there is a difference.

No madcap restrictions this time around. Go forth and conquer.

Deadline: March 11th, Noon, GMT+0
Wordcount: 1000+ words. No upper bound. Use as many as you need, no more.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 19:40 on Feb 25, 2014

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

elfdude posted:


You asked one question which is of general relevance to anyone who got the "boring plot/nothing happens" criticism this week:


ex: Your character doesn't make a choice, the precipitating choice was to kill the creditors

Your character makes no significant choices during the story itself.

On both a macro- and micro-level, a plot follows a “tick-tock” structure.

At the macro-level, a character encounters an obstacle or problem and grapples with it. Presenting and developing this is the “tick”. Ultimately, the character is faced with a choice of how to resolve the problem. In choosing, the character develops. This is the “resolution” phase, the “tock”.

At the micro-level, characters encounter stimuli (tick) and respond to said stimuli (tock). This is often called a motivation-reaction unit (MRU). At its simplest, the formula is to present a stimulus or motivation (e.g. a tiger jumps out of the bushes! a beautiful woman smiles from the bar!) and then present the reaction (e.g. character shoots the tiger! character approaches and buys the woman a drink!). In both cases, the reaction precipitates a further event which deepens the plot and presents a new problem for the character (e.g. the dead tiger rolls over, revealing cubs, oh no! the woman is actually his mother, how embarrassing!).

Your story consisted of a lot of “character does something, thinks about it, does something else, thinks about it.” It's a bunch of actions, but those actions are not acting against any apparent Character Problem. The struggle against a Character Problem is a plot. The interplay of stimuli (smaller Problems) and responses is how character is revealed: it's the proper definition of "showing."

A string of actions, sans problems, interspersed with the thinking with description of the surroundings gets very dull, very fast.


I've answered the rest of your questions and supplied an exhaustive inline crit here. Click on a highlighted phrase and the attached comment should appear, emphasized, on the right.

If you want to discuss this further (which I discourage - if you have to rebut/explain something, you've usually done something wrong), the Fiction Farm is the appropriate venue.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Oxxi asked me to help judge. Apparently he hates me. Or, since he's inflicting me on you, maybe he hates you more. Either way, I hate said-bookisms, I hate you, so get to the kitchen and bake up a delicious hatewich. Since you're gonna have to do this said-bookism bullshit, don't be a limp-rear end. Put some effort into it. Be clever. (Okay, knowing most of you: try to be clever.)

And now a crutch for the creatively-crippled:

:siren: Flash Rule FOR EVERYONE :siren:

Every time you use "said + adverb" or "asked + adverb", your word count drops by 25.

Exceptions may be made if I find it funny or awesome. Gambling on this isn't advised.


Also, marty, get your lazy rear end in here and write us some crackling cyberpunk saidbooks, ja?

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

crabrock posted:

Does this apply to any form, i.e.: "he said to himself questioningly?"

Does "questioningly" apply to "said"? Then yes. Make it funny, awesome, or interesting. Otherwise :commissar:

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Two belated line-by-lines from Thunderdome 81 (Lego week).

Entenzahn Here.

Sebmojo: Here.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Erogenous Beef posted:

:frogsiren: Sebmodjinn Brawl :frogsiren:

For posterity, God Over Djinn requested a Flash Rule for this brawl.

It is thus decreed: Djinn's story involves, or is very closely inspired by, the Dyatlov Pass incident, but may not be a retelling of, or direct investigation of, the incident itself.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:frogsiren: Thunderdome 83: I Hate You All :frogsiren:

Too many people this week fixated on the need to have said-bookisms and forgot, entirely, that they were also supposed to be telling a story. So, let's have...

Sit-Down Time With Unca Beef: A Word about Plots

If I ding you this week for having “no plot” or “nothing happens,” then I suggest you try this. A few weeks back, I presented one form of basic story outline. See here for that one, plus some other general writing advice.

This time, I strongly advise you try using a simplified story spine. This is a device thought up by a playwright back in the early ‘90s, and the ideas date back much further than that. Fill out the following outline as a starting point for your story.


Once upon a time, … (1)
And every day, … (2)
But, one day, … (3)
And, because of that, … (4)
Until, finally, … (5)
And, ever since then, … (6)

This is a semi-abridged version of the original version. Write down a few of these; don’t get trapped inside one idea.

For a thousand-word Thunderdome story, try to pack (1) and (2) into the first paragraph or the first 100 words, and have (3) occur, ideally, at or before the 100-150 word mark, certainly no later than 300.

Spend most of your time dealing with (4). This is the meat and body of your story. About 300 words from the ending, build up towards (5) and then pull the trigger on (5) in the final 200 words. You could omit (6) if the implications from (5) are clear, but otherwise keep it down to a few lines, a paragraph at most.

This will give you a very basic, but structured, starting point for your story. It contains all the basic elements: setup, inciting action, reaction, climax and denouement. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll write gold, but hopefully you can at least fish out the smellier turds before you gleefully present them to the judges like cats hauling in dead birds.

For more on this specific structural technique, read the article.

Nitrousoxide - Five Shots

Yeah, buddy, five shots of hard liquor is about what I want in order to start reading the ‘Dome.

Boring shite. The first two-thirds is a dude getting paraded around and being told how lucky he is to have won some game show. It’s tired by the second paragraph, at best. This goes on for a few hundred words, and then some people shoot themselves.

Your protagonist is terribly passive - he never really reacts or changes based on the stimulus. He’s literally carried around and shouted at by the crowd/announcer. The outcome of the game show seems predetermined, so there’s no tension.

Work on your plots. See my note at the top of this post.

Also, your basic writing is clumsy as gently caress. Go read a book.

Drink five shots of: Toilet Duck.

Low pile.

Baudolino - Counseling

You didn’t read the prompt. And with all the other entries to go, you’re receiving no other crit.

Also, you’re obviously not taking the advice you get every week, which is to get someone to read over your poo poo and correct the spacing, punctuation, spelling and grammar mistakes. That’s not cool.

Drink five shots of: Twelve-gauge sabot. Preferably with white phosphorus.

Loser pile.

Cache Cab - To Say Goodbye

Your first line isn’t an incentive to read this, as it tells me you’re the sort of lovely writer who loves dumping redundancies all over their prose. Worse, your entire first scene is boring as poo poo. Guy comes home from work, proposes over Skype, The Other Woman demands a divorce.

This is so boring I was comatose before scene 2 even began. Too much tedious melodrama with nothing original to hold my interest.

Ugh, a shaggy-dog ending. Burn to death, thanks.

Drink five shots of: Molten steel, straight from the crucible.

Low pile.

Nikaer Drekin - Revenue, Pixie Style: A Scribe’s First Chronicle

If you have to lead off your story with a disclaimer, you’re in hot water already.

Ugh, pixie melodrama. No serious struggle or character development, characters aren’t particularly interesting, and your protagonist is basically just there to be a camera on the Strong Independent Sassy Girl Pixie.

A pixie is picked on, so she finds some berries and splats them against her tormentors. Snore. See plot advice, above.

Tediously written, overly florid, and your saidbookisms don’t contribute much.

Drink five shots of: DDT.

Low pile.

God over Djinn - The Way I Won

I’m not warm on this. Sibling v. sibling as mediated by a checkers game, and the POV kid’s blind. Starts out slow, and the middle sags. The first and second checkers games are utterly sapped of tension because we already know what’s going to happen: it’s in your loving title.

I see there’s one line in there that’s necessary to set up the “oops I dunno which pieces are which” bit, but… I dunno, it all rings hollow. Yes, yes, crippled folks don’t like being patronized for their disabilities. Thanks for saying something new and interesting.

What’s this story trying to say about the character? Is he now damaged and unable to trust anyone? Has this changed his relationship with his sister? We don’t know, because you cut away to some pointless scene with the principal, and so the story ends up as a fart in the wind.

Paper-thin characters, too much wannabe-poetic wank without any substance.

Drink five shots of: Syphilitic earwax, blended with pixie stix.

Middle pile.

Nethilia - Fifty-Yard Dash

Seriously, no plot at all. An asthmatic has an asthma attack after she wins a race. SO WHAT?

Learn to cut. You took 450 words to do something that should take maybe 50. Ugh.

Drink five shots of: Bull semen.

Low pile.

CaligulaKangaroo - You Should Be Honored

What the gently caress is this? Is this even a story? A guy yells at his roommate after his roommate drunkenly trashes the house. Ugh.

Unclear, boring writing. Boring characters. Not even sure what the gently caress it’s all supposed to add up to, nor am I inclined to go back and read this again to figure it out because it’s all so goddamned boring.

Learn to cut. Cut HARD. You have maybe three times as many words in here as you need.

Stop the ellipses. You’re not allowed to use them any more. They’re meant to be used sparingly, not as a way to just trail off dialogue which you’re too clueless to complete. Dialogue shouldn’t sound like you’ve transcribed a real conversation, with all the UMs and AHs and pauses and trail-offs. It should convey interesting and meaningful information (plot/character development), not just take up space.

Drink five shots of: Jungle juice. Make sure it’s at least half turpentine.

Low pile.

Techno Remix - Extermination

Hey look, lovely fantasy. And both your characters are awful cliches. You know what I hate? Fantasy, and especially trite cliched fantasy.

It’s almost impossible to follow this thanks to your writing, which manages to be both bloated and unclear. Cut hard.

Man, did you just rip off the last scene in Russell Crowe’s Gladiator and try it shellack it with generic fantasy patter?

Drink five shots of: Hemlock.

Low pile.

Surreptitious Muffin - The Treasure of Sierra Hermano

(Note: I hadn’t cottoned on that this was Bennyfic until I hit the second Benny story. Ugh.)

I like your first sentence.

Is Miguel black or Latino? Blacktino? He reads like a bad pastiche of both stereotypes.

Wait, is this some kind of racist humor? A wan-yellow body? What? How do you trade a body for cheeseburgers? I mean, I guess McD’s might take the meat off your hand and, well, let’s not follow that line of thought. Maybe it’s not a body. I can’t tell.

Uh, I’m not really sure what happened here. Why is Miguel important? Is he just there to illustrate Benny’s pedantry? Why is Benny panicking about James being dead? Was there a murder? If so, and he’s hauling the body in his truck, how come Zombie James is all rotten and poo poo?

Okay, wait, the body wasn’t in the truck. What’s in the truck? The whole thing seems structured like a running-away-from-a-murder thing but… Blah. This is messy and unclear.

There’s a couple points where you seem to want to lapse into poetry instead of writing clearly. Fight that urge.

Benny pile, mid.

The News At 5 - Golden Gloves

Oh great, a “guy wakes up” opening, I’m sure this’ll be riveting.

Two guys talk vaguely about an event which happened prior to the story’s opening, and then a pseudo-flashback. Do you have a particularly boring life? I can’t even comprehend what you thought would be interesting or poignant or meaningful about this awful pile of verbose sludge.

A guy wins a UFC match and runs away because his manager is evil/greedy/something. SO WHAT?

I have good news for you; you’ll clearly get rich writing. Every hospital in the world is gonna want some of this poo poo, because even a tiny dose - 50 words or less - will reliably put anyone and everyone to sleep.

Drink five shots of: Undiluted ether.

Low pile.

Masonity - Shotgun

Oh look, melodramatic student angst. Yeah, this is a totally new take on that idea. Snoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.

Great, so you spent 650 words having some guy awkwardly ask out his childhood crush. And they gon’ get hitched. SO WHAT? Plot advice, top of this post. Go.

Also, this is creepy as gently caress. Two people who’re just longing to bone suddenly decide to get hitched. A sweaty-palms goon and a doe-eyed chick? Please. Gooniest thing I’ve read in Thunderdome for a long time.

Also, I’m pretty darned sure student visas don’t get stapled to green cards.

Also also, what the gently caress is up with the spacing in this? No carriage returns between most paragraphs, and then like five all at once. Are you trying to signal the POV changes or something? There’s too many of them for such a short story.

Drink five shots of: Your own ejaculate. God knows you’re already on familiar terms with your own right hand if you’re writing this poo poo.

Low pile, loser candidate.

Entenzahn - Just Desert

Pun title detected. This better be good.

Wait a sec, is there one of those silent Thunderdome conspiracies this week? This is basically the same situation as Muffin’s story.

And his tells the same tale in half as many words. This one starts out clever, but the talking-animal device just becomes a way for hallucinations to barf exposition at us. The guy’s just there to be a microphone for us. Ugh.

Story also should’ve ended with a tiny golden bean worth one million US dollars.

Benny pile, low.

Jagermonster - Never Sicker


Sally rolled her eyes.

Yeah, and so did I.

Too much hair on this. The ex shows up, berates the guy and disappears. She’s pointless, cut her. Really, most of the first half of this could be cut, and you could’ve worked some of the exposition in the latter half’s dialogue into actions. Plot advice, top of this post.

This is basically “frat bro gets drunk and a girl’s kindness makes him think her of vaguely as a human being instead of fuckmeat”. Well, at least there’s character development. Vaguely. VAGUELY.

Not the worst thing I’ve read, but not great either.

Drink five shots of: Bottom-shelf Everclear. Then light yourself on fire.

Mid pile.

Whalley - Capital Offense

First scene isn’t so bad. Second scene is a lead-filled sock smacking me in the head with exposition, and the receiver’s “dialogue” makes no sense. The “items say a guy’s thoughts” gimmick gets old, fast.

Yeah, okay, we get the idea - a guy robs a bank, it’s an inside job, and he feels guilty. Great. Now do something with it. Instead of developing the plot or deepening the suspense, you just repeat the same idea over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

The third and fourth scenes add absolutely nothing to your character. At the end, he gets away with the robbery and turns into a materialistic oval office. Not exactly a new message, and it kinda blows away the whole point of your story. But at least there’s something here.

Thing is, the specific way you’ve resolved it is incredibly unsatisfying. It’s basically “a guy felt bad about robbing a bank, but then he got over it.” It’s handled so briefly, with so little apparently struggle, that it’s toss-book-across-room bad.

Drink five shots of: Disperse Red 9. Inhale some tear gas while you’re at it.

Mid pile.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Follow the Lady

Jesus Christ, five fat paragraphs of backstory at the opening. I’m asleep already.

Uh, okay, so a card shark stiffs a guy and forms a sort of partnership with a hooker. SO WHAT? Plot advice, top of post. It’s the biggest issue you’ve got.

This goes on way too long despite having no plot or character development.

Drink five shots of: Prison-tat ink.

Low pile.

Martello - Black Gold

Oh. Another Benny story.

Opening is a bit backstory-heavy, but promising. The prose flows decently and doesn’t immediately make me want to vomit.

Second scene, not so much. Way too much back-and-forth “way!” “no way!” dialogue. (That said, cyberpunk adaptation of Bill & Ted? Yes please.) I really need to know what the gently caress they’re going after, and why I should care. You drop that stuff in the late-middle-third of this scene and frontload the tedium instead.


They had been vest buddies


Drink five shots of: Ice-Nine.

Benny pile, mid.

Noah - Life Support

Eh. Terry Schiavo fanfiction. And the husband has regrets, so people hallucinate-speak at him because of regrets. Just like that bank story I just read.

Worse, you don’t even resolve that - the dude has some regrets and then, uh, he has more regrets.

Drink five shots of: Rubbing alcohol, via a tube in your throat.

Low pile.

Saddest Rhino - In Its Wings He Shall Find Paradise

Starts off a bit clumsy, too much dialogue, and this is mostly just a big fight scene. Also, Benny.

Benny pile, mid.

Schneider Helm - Look Them In The Eye


she never, ever looked above someone's waist when speaking to them

She stares at dicks the whole time. Great.

Right. So some girl with vague psychic powers learns to stand up to a bully and not psychically tear him apart or something.

Way too much hair on this; it’s unfocused. Introduce what’s unique about this situation in your first scene, preferably in your first few paragraphs. Your middle two scenes do no work; cut them. Also, your kids don’t really act much like kids. Except the bully, that’s fairly spot-on. The soliloquy in the last scene made me retch.

Also the psychic powers don't seem to matter much. You'd have to bring them up in the first scene and, perhaps, hint at the potential problems during the middle scene.

Drink five shots of: Cafeteria chocolate milk which you forgot and left in your locker all summer.

Mid pile.

Joda - The Sale

Great, another story that opens with two guys talking around something. Don’t do this. When a story opens, we need to know who is involved, what’s happening, and what’s at stake. The way you open, it’s like overhearing two people in white morph suits have a phone conversation, and you’re not privy to the details, so it’s not interesting at all.

Uuuuuuugh. A salesman has to sell things. So he goes to a bar and whines tediously to a bartender, and it turns into a gradeschool argument about the social responsibilities of capitalists. And then John Galt cuts a fucker.

Go back to D&D.

Drink five shots of: John Galt’s semen. You’re already sucking on that thing, might as well swallow.

Low pile.

Lead Out In Cuffs - Atlanta’s Deathrace

You have issues with clarity, and they largely arise from overusing pronouns. By the third para, I thought your protagonist was a dude and had just had his face shredded off by a minigun. (This made me happy, because I thought the story would end soon - I was disappointed.)



This is just clumsy as poo poo. Strong woman don’t need no man, except this guy who shows up and then she beats him and rejects tradition or some poo poo I DON’T GIVE A gently caress, BURN IN HELL.

Drink five shots of: JP-4.

Low pile.

Jeza - A Knock-Out Blow

Yeah, okay, opening with a fight. The fight goes on too long. The prose is fine, it’s sweaty and tired and smelly like a boxing match, but since I barely have any idea who the characters are, or what distinguishes them, it’s got the emotive weight of two sides of beef colliding in a meat locker.

I’m going to pretend Sergei is actually IVAN DRAGO from Rocky 4, because that’s cooler.

Third scene is Lifetime boo-hoo bullshit. Boxer feels bad about beating up his opponent. No one else will forgive him - except his opponent. Well gee ain’t that all bunnies and unicorn farts. Saw it coming a mile away.

This is basically Ivan Drago Has Feels, the story. Meh. Plot advice, top of this post.

Too long, cut more.

Drink five shots of: Whatever Ivan Drago injects in the training montage for Rocky 4.

Mid pile, if only because your actual prose is competent.

Kaishai - Silver and Gold

Christ, not another sports story.

Okay, winner’s guilt, champions self-criticism. Captured nicely. You’re just this side of making your protagonist a whiny douche, and you’re just this side of me vomiting from yet another Lifetime-channel feelgood piece.

Decent prose. Lose the first scene, though. There’s a few places where you name characters who never appear again - cut the names, if not the characters.

Characters are pretty thin, and I’d prefer to see some character development instead of just nice words about a guy worrying.

Drink five shots of: Eazy Cheez.

High pile. Holy poo poo, the cheese stands alone. The only high pile person this week. Wow.

Starter Wiggin - Sink or Swim

expositionexpositionexpositionexposition expositionexpositionexpositionexpositionEXPOSITIONALDIALOGUE expositionexpositionEXPOSITIONALDIALOGUEEXPOSITIONALDIALOGUEexposition expositzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Plot advice, top of this post.


Drink five shots of: Discarded IVF menstruum.

Low pile.

Anathema Device - Fortune and Greed

Benny the Snake has survivor’s guilt. At least it’s short.

Benny pile, mid.

docbeard - He Won

Benny story. And other TD injokes.

Benny pile, don’t care.

Djeser - Alicanto

gently caress’s sake.

Benny pile, don’t care.

Sebmojo - Maintain Perfect Form

What is this? A woman goes for a run and has vague recollections about vague arguments with her dead husband (cancer)’s brother. She’s testy at him for no apparent reason.

Vague vague vague vague vague. I’m not even sure what the story’s central argument revolves around. Serious clarity issues here. You spent too long trying to make pretty prose and not enough helping your reader understand poo poo.

Drink five shots of: Mechlorethamine.

Low pile.

Tyrannosaurus - After The Sinking of the Queen Anne

Uh, is your captain a grizzled pirate or some poncy London twat in a Victorian picaresque?

So some pirates have an argument over an issue which is never described. And the captain kinda vaguely says “oh well no one else can be captain can they” and there’s some murmurings of this crew being also the crew of some enemy ship that they sank and what?

Were you drunk when you wrote this? None of it makes any sense. Plot advice, top of post.

Drink five shots of: Tequila. The kind that wears a plastic hat on top of the bottle. And make sure you drink five bottles, not just five shots.

Low pile.

QuoProQuid - Gold


Benny pile, don’t care.


Ursine Asylum - A Conversation



Someone’s been playing Bioshock recently.

Jesus, this is a giant pile of fantasy cliches. Two characters shouting fantasy cliches at one another. And one of them is a Joan of Arc stand-in. Snooooooore.

Come up with something original. Also, have your characters do something or change or make a choice that affects the story. People talking the entire time = snoozefest.

Low pile.

Phobia - Ratings High

Oh gently caress’s sake. This starts kinda promising, and then he reads her lips - this is where you have to tell us what she’s saying, because the character knows, and reacts to it, but we don’t know. This is a lovely, cheap “trick” that serves only to infuriate the reader!

Ugh. She’s talking/she’s not talking. Walker’s a blind oval office or something. This is getting tedious to read.

The gently caress. The gently caress happens? Did you just start an entirely different story midway through?

I’m not going to bother rereading this to figure it out.

Low pile.

Sitting Here - Goldrushed

oh, benny story. no fucks given.

Benny pile.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the metrics I use for the piles:

Low pile: Unredeemable garbage. Throw away and start over.

Mid pile: Deep, serious flaws. May have a decent idea or two, but needs a major word-one rewrite and possibly plot surgery to save.

High pile: Minor flaws at most, otherwise generally decent. Maybe even good. But that’s unlikely.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Erogenous Beef posted:

If you would like a line-by-line critique from me, you will do the following: Pick another story from this past week and provide a full line-by-line critique of it.

At the top of your crit, please include this phrase: CRIT ME BEEF. All caps. I will be searching specifically for that phrase to figure out who I need to crit, so if you omit that phrase, you will probably get skipped.

Note: Crit will be honest, which means harsh. It may also include jokes at your expense and profanity along with the advice.

As I'm feeling generous stupid, this offer is available to everyone who entered TD 83 (saidbookism week), with the caveat that I must see your CRIT ME entry by midnight Wednesday, GMT. Anything submitted after that may take 2-3 weeks for delivery.*

(*) Shipping & manhandling not included.

Note: Benny stories are not eligible for this offer. You know what you did. Don't make me rub your nose in it.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Ok, I'm going to close CRIT ME offers because five line-by-lines is already going to take up all the spare time I have between now and being airborne.

CRIT ME crits will start rolling in once I finish judging Mojo/Djinn's plotastic artbrawl.


If you were looking for a line-by-line and missed out, I believe Schneider Helm's offer is still valid:

Schneider Heim posted:

I'll do a line-by-line crit of two entries from the previous prompt. First come, first serve.

Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 14:53 on Mar 12, 2014


Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:frogsiren: BRAWL RESULTS: Sebmodjinn Brawl :frogsiren:

The Prompt, per Erogenous Beef posted:

Two accomplished veterans of the very short form, eh? Let's see how well your skills scale to something longer. 1000 words minimum.

In TD, it's common for our stories to open and then close immediately upon reaching a big character-development moment. We end on the twist. It's a good formula, but let's expand upon it.

I want you to extend the TD story arc. Write a good, gripping plot of at least three major beats: Include not only an inciting incident and a resolution, but a major event in the middle which substantially alters the course and direction of the story's action. Needless to say, it must still connect with the opening and concluding events.

Theme your story around this quote: Art and mass entertainment and propaganda, they can all be plotted on the same graph, but there is a difference.

No madcap restrictions this time around. Go forth and conquer.

Deadline: March 11th, Noon, GMT+0
Wordcount: 1000+ words. No upper bound. Use as many as you need, no more.

Judgment Call

The Mojo-Lisa shall be remembered as the winner. (The eyes seem to follow you.)

I’m calling this for Mojo because, while the stories are split on prompt-fulfillment, I felt Mojo told the better overall story and had the clearer overall plot. This wasn’t an easy decision, as each story was strong where the other one was weak.

Mojo’s has a clear line of action, a compelling, gripping plot, and a protagonist whom, though undeveloped, was sympathetic. Djinn’s has much clearer characters, but that clarity highlights the fact that the characters are either Perfect or Terrible. Djinn’s also has a deeper emotional journey for her characters.

More details in long-form crits.


Initial Reactions

Gut feeling goes to ‘Mojo. His story is tighter and more suspenseful; it fits the “gripping” part of the prompt better for me. When interrupted, I wanted to go back to his story; this wasn’t true when I was interrupted in the middle of Djinn’s. Mojo’s story is also much clearer (in the middle) about what’s at stake, on the surface, and I got a nice visceral reaction to the femme fatale. Twice.

What troubles me is the opening and ending - oddly enough, this is a story where the best part is the middle, the intro is nice but not necessary and the final line punches the story in the nuts.

Djinn’s was very flowery, and I’m worried it will be revealed as more style than substance when held up to a hard cold light. It seemed to drift between three different stories. There’s the guy’s writer’s block and relationship block, the girl who serves mostly as a plot element, and then the very confused mother element to the story.

The writer’s block bit could have some good juice in there. There’s a guy who’s emotionally blocked and it manifests outwardly as both a refusal to commit to a relationship (I think?) as well as writer’s block. Thing is, precisely what he’s emotionally blocked about isn’t super clear on the first read.

The mom, I’m pretty unsure about. She’s not poorly written, but I don’t know what her story purpose is. Needs more digging.

Second Read Reaction to Djinn’s

Thematically much more scatterbrained than I originally thought. Seems to be two-thirds about jealousy/redemption-thereof, and one-third completely confused. Main character is an irredeemable oval office who gets a reward richly undeserved. However, deeper analysis did show that characterization was woven very deeply into the story, and that's commendable. The real weakness is the aforementioned conflicting themes, especially in the middle scene. God, that middle scenes feels completely out of place.

Opinion is lower on read two.

Second Read Reaction to Mojo’s

Going into my second read, I had the dread that this story would entirely fall apart on deep analysis. I came up pleasantly surprised when I was complimenting multiple paragraphs instead of complaining about each one.

While enjoyable, it did reveal that this story has a much shallower level of characterization than appeared on the first read. It also reveals that the stuff under the skin isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be - there were a number of different themes tangled together. This explains why the opening and ending can feel “off” despite the middle flowing very nicely. The deeper examination also points out that not only is the last sentence “off,” but the last three paragraphs are all a bit of a mess in terms of theme and resolution.

Opinion unchanged on read two.


Let’s break this down based on criteria.

A gripping, suspenseful plot - Mojo, clearly. I was gripped. I was in suspense. Djinn’s, no, the middle scene seemed to go completely in a different direction. I was not in suspense, and the wholly-unsympathetic main character pushed me away from the plot.

A major event in the middle which alters the course of your story - Rocks fall, everyone dies. Neither person got this.

Mojo’s was largely a straight-through affair; I think the “major event” was intended to be the knock on the head, but it doesn’t substantially alter the course of the story. Same can be said of Marie making a demand. The big “twist” is, as usual, tossed in at the final sentence. :(

Djinn’s, no, there wasn’t any twisting and turning. The story was a long coping process for a damaged character. The intended turning point seems to be at the end of the second scene, but, for reasons I've noted in the long-form crit, it doesn't land and ends up being confused. The third act largely serves as a long denouement. There’s some logical inconsistencies which I’ve pointed out in the long-form that really hurt the turning points presented.

Story centered around art, propaganda and mass entertainment - Djinn’s takes this one. Hers directly engaged the idea by sneering at mass entertainment and propaganda as “not art,” and her resolution seemed to affirm this hypothesis.

Mojo’s had art as a setpiece before which we see a more-traditional story about temptation and corruption. While there’s some bits where art is mentioned and used to give a character an epiphany, it doesn’t engage with art’s relationship to propaganda or mass entertainment.

Story Autopsies

Done on Google Drive. Inline comments for minor stuff, between-paragraph vivisections.

Mojo's and Djinn's.

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