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The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

I was delayed in getting home tonight; I was hoping to say in but I may be too late.


The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

The Tour
992 words

Road trips? I loathe them. My wife? She loves them—a family tradition for generations, apparently. For the holiday season we made plans to visit her family. While this could easily be accomplished by a flight to Rhode Island my wife insisted that we instead take the four hour drive by car. The tradition she grew up with dictates that we visit a roadside attraction for every trip we go on, never visiting the same place twice.

Our gimmicky destination was a new fad in tourist traps: ghost museums. Compared to most of the places I’ve been dragged to—bed and breakfasts, World’s Largest Catfish, gruesome murder sites—I’ve actually got some enthusiasm for this one.

The deal with these places is that cutting-edge devices can extract enough psychic energies and ectoplasmic residue to pull the deceased back into the realm of the living. Of course, the logical application of this technology is to squeeze money out of gullible sightseers.

Positive attention is not all that these establishments garner, though; the ghost rights advocates, the “White and Red,” oppose these practices on the grounds of indecent and immoral treatment of the dead. While ghosts don’t currently have any legal protection under the law these activists insist that the newly undead deserve fair treatment and perform disruptive acts of “political demonstration” to get their word out.

The entry cost was a bit pricey but decent for what we were getting. Before the guided tour started I took a survey of the other tour-goers. A strongly-accented and exceptionally rotund southern family clad with matching fanny-packs, a placid elderly black couple studiously examining the tour material, a group from Asia each with an expensive camera hanging from their necks. In fact, everybody seemed connected to another tourist except for a lone youth dressed in white shoes, pants, and hoodie. I could not put my finger on why but this youth unsettled me more than the prospect of seeing a ghost.

The host of the tour was an unassuming man with a gratingly cheerful attitude. He started by explaining the advanced and interesting ghost-summoning technology. As we moved along the tour each set of ghosts were grouped into separate containments. The tour guide manipulated a control panel on the wall. A steel door rose. Through the glass we could see our first subject: a corporeal form that, based upon his style of dress and hair, appeared to be from the American 1960’s.

“See,” my wife said, “this isn’t bullshit! They do have ghosts!” I have to say, it was pretty convincing. This “ghost” in front of us appeared with a translucent, unnatural blue tint.

The tour guide had a prepared speech regarding this subject and confirmed the ghost was an accountant from the 1960’s who had died with a gun in his mouth. This self-inflicted wound was apparent as the poor soul mulled around his display cell.

As the guide explained this history the ghost seemed aware of his current spot in the limelight. He laboriously drifted towards the glass separating the tour group from his captivity and threw himself lazily against the display.

“He just wants to get out of his cell,” the hooded youth from our tour said. I had to agree with him.

The tour guide assured us that their technology prevents ghosts from being able to penetrate the glass and that none of us were in any risk of harm. While this was comforting, Mr. Accountant did not seem to have any urge to harm us. Instead, he made a melancholy tantrum towards his audience—seemingly sad and cognizant of his captivity.

We were scurried along by the tour guide. I took this as an attempt to keep us from having a bad taste in our mouths from the experience. The next container displayed a family in a colonial-themed enclosure; the family keeping busy at chores from their era. They mulled about doing mundane tasks appropriate to their era without taking any notice of us. The tour guide’s speech for this attraction heavily reminded me of the historical reenactment park that we attended on a trip last summer.

It would have been best if we had gone to one of the ghost museums in a big city; most of these ghosts were honestly kind of boring. The best that they had to offer were a B-list starlet, who was mostly concerned with staring at herself in the mirror as she endlessly brushed her hair, and a local murderer-celebrity “Billy the Blade” who had stabbed twenty-one victims before being put to death at the electric chair.

“Where did he get the knife? Did you all give it to him?” I asked, referring to the phantasmal knife that the ghost stalked around his cell with.

As the tour guide stammered for an answer my wife replied optimistically, “It’s just part of the show.” The tour group seemed content with this response—all excepting the lone young man.

The metal door rose as the tour guide explained the next attraction, a Native American camp, and how people lived before America was settled. While the tour guide was exceptionally proud of this exhibit but the hooded youth was noticeably put off.

The youth unveiled plastic bottles of blood taped to his torso. He sprayed the tour guide with the blood-filled containers while shouting, “Respect for our ancestors! End all ghost prisons!”

Blood covered the guide, the protestor, and the exhibit control panel. Sparks shot out from the panel and a deep, lurching noise flooded the exhibit hall. Lights went out and the doors to each ghost container rose. The sharp noise of breaking glass and the sight of Billy the Blade stepping out of his cell are the last things that I remember.

Now my wife and I, along with the rest of the tour—the activist, the Asian family, the tour guide, the maniac—relive that experience for rubber-necked tourists day in and day out.

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

While I did not have expectations to win in my first Thunderdome attempt I'm very glad not to have lost. I'd love to have some feedback about why I didn't fail completely.

edit: vvvvvvvvvvvv yeah, I saw that in Kaishai's post but I wanted to express myself anyways

The Sean fucked around with this message at 12:18 on Mar 18, 2014

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

Fumblemouse posted:

Ghost Story Crits Part 1
In general though, one thing I noticed a hell of a lot in these stories was a lack of agency in the protagonists. If your story is all about someone who meets a ghost, the story shouldn’t be that the character meets a ghost, who then does something that the person sees. The person has to play a part other than observer unless you’re really good and can somehow make a non-viewpoint character the actual protagonist (with all the imparted knowledge about their state and agency that implies).

I can see that I was easily guilty of this. My viewpoint character just showed what was going on and little more. He was just lead along the current of the story without doing anything; I think the story being about a guided tour is no excuse.

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?


The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?


Lillian Hu: 27, Interior Designer. Charismatic, friendly, talented. One skill in particular keeps her in business: Feng Shui Exorcism. In a way, this means that she’s really good at arranging furniture.

Lillian has an adequate website to advertise her services. Style. Prestige. Natural balance. Lillian Hu has established herself as one of California’s premier residential and commercial Interior Designers, utilizing the ancient tradition of Feng Shui. Her taste is impeccable but her knowledge of Chi, life force, really brings in the money.

A foppish women of 42, Mrs. Davidson was clad in designer clothing and caked in expensive make-up when she answered the door. “Lillian? Oh, Lillian, it’s great to meet you! I’m so glad you’re here to help us with our problem.”

“No worries,” said Lillian warmly, “I’m glad that you were able to contact me.”

“The room is this way.” Mrs. Davidson led Lillian toward the entertainment room. “The drat thing hasn’t let us enjoy the entertainment room since we’ve lived here.”

The Davidson family recently moved into a new home. Their HD television has been powering up on its own from day one. If the family was watching T.V. the channel would suddenly change. Multiple technicians had been called in but none of them found any electrical problems.

Spanish language stations would spontaneously come on, the programming leaned towards variety shows and telenovelas.

“Can you use your ‘fang shewie’ can end this, Lillian?”

“It’s ‘fung shway’ and, yes, I’m confident in my design abilities and my ability to rid clients of,” she cleared her throat, “aesthetic abnormalities. Don’t worry, sweetheart.”

They arrived at the room. Lillian noted that the room was well-lit with natural light. The walls were tastefully painted and the walnut flooring was gorgeous. Still, Lillian disliked the furniture arrangement. A red suede couch in the east, rather than the south were it belonged. A white Grecian bust on an ornate stand in the north, rather than the west.

Lillian found exceptional objection to the collection of ugly bookcases infested with kitschy porcelain figurines. Lillian suppressed gagging at the mere sight of them.

She got to work right away. Lillian lit sandalwood incense in the north and south ends of the room, agarwood in the east and west. She pressed her weight against the suede couch and began to shove it to the southern end of the room. A strong rumble shook the legs of Lillian and Mrs. Davidson.

“You’re being too rough on the floor! Please be easy with that couch!” Mrs. Davidson said.

“That’s not the floor. Just trust me.” Lillian continued on. Mrs. Davidson gained no comfort by this response; she kept her hands clasped firmly over her mouth, shaking impatiently.

She next approached a misplaced shelving unit and began to toss the porcelain figurines into a cardboard box. The rumble of the room and vibration of the floor grew more intense. “Stop!” Mrs. Davidson said. “Be careful with those. They’re priceless!”

“They’re bringing you bad energy.” Lillian continued to pile the figurines in the box for disposal. They’re cheap and ugly, too.

“Stop!” Not Mrs. Davidson’s voice this time. A deep, masculine voice. Lillian ignored the objections from Mrs. Davidson and the disembodied voice. She had a job to do and she took it seriously.

The spirit inhabiting the Davidson family’s home used the Greek statue as a conduit. The statue began to levitate and the room grew darker. Lillian paid no mind and continued to dispose of the figurines.

Ay dios mio!” The statue hovered and circled around Lillian. “Stop what you are doing now. Por favor!” Every piece of furniture in the room began to vibrate.

“Not going to happen, Senior!” Lillian trudged on. Nearly every element of the room was in place. She hung paper lanterns at each corner of the room; southwest, southeast, and so on.

“There’re only two episodes left. Just let me see the ending!”

“You’ve bothered this family long enough. I think that a cliffhanger might be just what you deserve.”

“That’s not fair! You don’t watch Vida y Amor or else you’d understand.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. But interrupting this family’s life isn’t fair, either. You’ve had your own time in this world.”

“Interrupting? Interrupting what? Trashy reality shows and celebrity gossip?” The statue shook violently. “I’m doing this family a service.”

Mrs. Davidson said, “Oh, and your Mexican garbage is any better?” Following this remark Mrs. Davidson was violently thrown out of the room. In an instant she was gone and the doors slammed shut after her.

Lillian remained steadfast. As she heaved and pulled at a black leather chair, edging it north, she was thrown against the wall. Mrs. Davidson pounded ceaselessly at the doors to the room, unable to get back in.
“Let me down and we can work this out,” she said.

“You obviously don’t believe in love” The voice grew sad. “Juan and Claudia belong together. They’re made for each other but they just can’t see it yet.”

Lillian’s wrists and ankles were still stuck against the wall. Lillian struggled to free herself. “I sympathize with you so let’s make an arrangement.” Suddenly, she was released.
“Move one more piece of furniture and I’ll snap your neck.”

“I’ll take a seat here and we can come to some agreement. Take a seat yourself. Let’s be professional about this.” Lillian sat down. “If you use your powers to assault me one more time it will be the end of you.”
Lillian sat in the chair, her back to the north. The possessed statue floated to a chair across from her and descended to a rest.

“I don’t think you’re in a position to make demands. However,” the voice said, “I’m willing to compromise. Let me finish the season and I’ll leave for good.”

“So you don’t have to agonize over it, I’ll spoil the ending. Claudia’s controlling father strangles Juan. They’ll never be together. Ever.”

The chair she was seated in flew backwards, pushed by the apparition in a fit of rage. “Now you’ve done it,” Lillian said, “I appreciate your help.”

The atmosphere in the room grew peaceful and relief washed over Lillian Hu. The leather chair’s northern position sealed the deal. It would have been too dangerous to attempt the move on her own but the ghost seemed more than happy to help.

Mrs. Davidson burst through the doors to the room. “Is he gone!?”

“Yes. He won’t be bothering you any longer.” Lillian brushed the dust and debris off of her suit. “Be sure to recommend me to your friends and family.”

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

So, the judges were generous to consider my story even though it was posted shortly after the deadline. Still, I didn't set aside a great deal of time for formatting and I struggled to polish it quickly enough. I know that, based on the rules in the OP, editing results in DQ'ing. Now that the round is over may I go back and make it look nicer (and actually include a goddamned word count) or is this turd forever etched into the walls of the 'dome?

The Sean fucked around with this message at 02:24 on Apr 2, 2014

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

Kaishai posted:

It is etched forever into the walls of the Thunderdome, and beyond.

No harm in sticking a word count on the thing if you want to, but prettying up past submissions strikes me as a bad precedent to set. Let your entry stand in the form in which it was judged.

Thanks for the response. That's understandable and I've got no excuse on my end.

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

A Tin Of Beans posted:

<b>BIRD TALK</b> (1,085 words)

Critique here:

Short version:
Overall I feel that this concept has potential. I don't feel that you realized it, though.

I like the modern magic feel. I mean, they have "powers" but the initial support group setting makes them seem appropriately mundane. You also satisfied the prompt through this.

Here are some problem areas:

Stimulus -> Internalization -> Response
I don't see characters reacting enough to what's going on around them. I hardly know how they feel about things and everything seems delivered by dialog.

Character-Driven Story
In character driven stories, vs plot driven, characters should have some kind of internal struggle. They should be internally challenged by choices to make. For instance, it seems that you suggest that Jane using her powers for $20 is bad. However, it doesn't seem that Jane significantly considers if it's right or wrong to do so. If she thinks it's wrong, still give her a reason why she overcomes this. The reason has to be stronger than her drive to "do the right thing." If she doesn't think it's wrong, show how Jane reacts to learning it's taboo and have her decide if she regrets her actions.

To follow up with the above, poo poo happens but I feel that there's little conflict. The most conflict that I felt was in the beginning. I thought the story question was "how will Jane deal with and fit in with this new crowd? what dangers will she face?" specifically, "will she suffer psychological death?" It turned out to be "no," she'll be cool and the real story question is how can she use birds to hurt people. There's no conflict in this, though.

People are getting along too much. It's best to have each character have different motives/goals in the convo and they should be battling to achieve them. "Okay, well I've learned my lesson." in the last paragraph sucks. As a reader, I'm entertained by people not getting what they want. Just like above, there's no reflection on this so it feels arbitrary.

Please honor your offer and crit me, Beard!

Thanks for the crit yourself, Starter Wiggin.

The Sean fucked around with this message at 12:48 on Apr 4, 2014

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

I'm in this week. I started my story on Thursday this time, rather than Saturday night, so I'll have no excuse not to polish my turd of a story.

docbeard posted:

Return, and we return. Keep faith and so will we.

Thank you very much for this critique.

The Sean fucked around with this message at 00:32 on Apr 5, 2014

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

It is distracting as a reader, as well. My eyes just want to gloss over stories in quotes.

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

I want to shirk away from joining the fray this week because of Excuses, but I'm in.

Numbers: 4 & 10

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

What Is Deserved
based on The Babracote and the Camudi
997 Words

I’ll kill him, I swear to God. My oldest daughter, Sarah, went on a camping trip last weekend with her rotten boyfriend, Spencer. I’ve texted, called, emailed her and I haven’t heard anything back. Her boyfriend won’t answer me, either. The authorities are giving the Missing Persons Report their “best effort.” I can’t sit around while this creep is out enjoying himself, so I’m on my way to his place now. He’ll pay for killing my baby.

I demanded that Sarah not go camping with her newest boyfriend--five years older than her seventeen—but Sarah didn’t listen, of course. She was too enamored with him. Most of the girls throughout Carson County considered him a bad boy and a heartthrob. Surely every girl that went out with him had to have heard the rumors about Spencer getting rough with his girlfriends.

Presently, I’m walking up Spencer’s driveway. His Corvette’s not here but I rap on the door, just in case. Nothing. Good. My hand gently tests the doorknob and soon I’m in his home. Briefly, I wonder if I was lucky today or if he just never locks up. I take a survey of his home. Calm, sunlit, and surprisingly clean.

That day, last week, Sarah had run down the driveway to Spencer’s car. “Sarah! If you leave now, don’t plan on ever coming back!” No kiss goodbye. No “Bye, Mom.” No “I’ll call you when I get there, Mom.” Just down the driveway, in the Corvette, and gone.

I’d turned to my youngest for support. “Don’t look at me, Mom.” She wore an expression that implied I was an idiot. “I’d be out the door and in his pants in an instant if that was me.”

“Alana! Will you please support me for once?”

“You always have to control us. Just give her a break!”

I called after Alana but she had already made her way up the stairs to gloat in her room. Strong as I am, times like these are when I most long for the girls’ father. Since he passed, the girls seem to give me no respect at all.

Goddamned Spencer. In the past week that I haven’t seen my daughter, I’ve seen him around town with at least three different girls. The rifle makes a strong thump as I rest it against the wall of his foyer.

They’re rebellious now, but I remember when my girls were both so innocent. Their father and I would have so much fun with the girls as we made Rube Goldberg machines throughout the house. Every Saturday morning they would wake us both up early and beg to make a “Rude Gold Bird machine.” Their father would set up all sorts of complicated chain-reactions of everyday objects and the girls’ favorite toys. Sarah’s favorite way to set the machines in motion was a phone call to her dad’s phone. The phone would vibrate and knock a plastic doll off of the coffee table, the doll would land on one end of a ruler, which in turn would lurch a toy car into motion along a plastic track, the car would trigger a set of intricately placed dominoes, and so on until the TV remote was hit by a well-placed marble just in time to start the girls’ favorite Saturday morning cartoon show.

Now I take out the metal bracings, grab a handful of screws, and ready my electric drill. Carefully planning things out. Measure twice, cut once, I hear my husband say as I erect the supports for the loaded rifle.

Two weeks ago, I saw bruises on Sarah’s arms as she came out of the bathroom after a shower. When I confronted her she refused to talk about them and her eyes filled with tears faster than she could shut the bedroom door on me. Her boyfriend had the reputation around town of being too rough on his girlfriends. Sarah swore to me that the bruises weren’t from him. It was only a matter of time, I told her, until he took it too far. Now I’m wishing she took my advice.

Standing in Spencer’s foyer, I secure a rope around the doorknob of the front door and loop it around the trigger of the rifle. I leave out the sliding-glass door, through the porch, and exit out the wooden fence, leaving the house behind me. I see no witnesses in this quiet neighborhood.


Sitting in my car, I’m getting anxious. I’m parked down the street from Spencer’s house, waiting for him to come home, walk in, and get what he deserves for abusing my girl and leaving her out in the woods to rot.

Finally, I hear the muffler from miles away. In a few moments Spencer’s red Corvette rolls past me and lurches to a stop in front of his home. I’m high on anticipation as I wait for Spencer to get out, walk up to his house, and take a shot to the stomach. A painful, slow death, and fully deserved death.

He doesn’t immediately get out and I start to worry. Just before I work up the nerve to take a cautious drive around the block to see what Spencer’s up to, I see motion from the car. The passenger door opens and Alana, my youngest daughter, is walking up to Spencer’s house.

I get out of my car as quickly as I can and run up to Alana, but I’m not fast enough. I call after her but she doesn’t hear me. Alana opens the door and I hear the terrible, unmistakable noise and my heart breaks. I resist the urge to crumble to the asphalt. As I reach her she’s bleeding on his doorstep. I kneel and then scoop Alana up into my arms. She looks up at me, glossy-eyed, “Mommy?”

“I’m here for you baby.” As I’m rocking her, Spencer’s corvette speeds down the road and around the corner, out of sight.

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

crabrock posted:

assign me a fear please.

it will be hard to write, because i'm a man, and i'm not afraid of anything (except girls, and sittinghere)

Phobophobia: fear of not being afraid.

edit: i'm not assigning this to you

The Sean fucked around with this message at 22:11 on Sep 23, 2014

The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

sebmojo posted:

are you a judge

have you even entered

I was just making a humorous suggestion to the poster. I know I don't have authority to assign poo poo.

The Sean fucked around with this message at 22:28 on Sep 23, 2014


The Sean
Apr 16, 2005

Am I handsome now?

Cache Cab posted:

drat, i was going to enter with this, guess i'll sit out this week

Awesome post/custom title combo.

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