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  • Locked thread
Feb 25, 2014
Claven666, Schneider Heim, and Grizzled Patriarch you have all been blessed by the RNG gods and have earned crits! Also, hubris.height as the resident newbie you also get a super special line crit (that will be up in a couple of days because I have finals)!!!!!!!!!!!

e: also quoting these in case people don't notice for some reason

Sitting Here posted:

I will do 5 crits this week. First come, first served. Quote this post if you want one. I'll try to have them done by the end of the day tomorrow.

edit: I'd really really like if the people I crit give at least one crit! I was super impressed with you bastards during wizard week. Don't let me down.

(this is not a request for a crit SH btw)

Kaishai posted:

The call for crits from all corners was so successful in Wizard Week that I'm going to try it too. The real fun of Eurovision is dishing about the performances! Why not read a few stories and share a few thoughts while you wait for results?

flerp fucked around with this message at 07:45 on May 11, 2015


Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
:siren: Interprompt :siren:

Your interprompt is whatever the hell is going on in this official recruitment ad for the Austrian armed forces.

350 words max, there will be crits (eventually (maybe))

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Sitting Here posted:

I will do 5 crits this week. First come, first served. Quote this post if you want one. I'll try to have them done by the end of the day tomorrow.

edit: I'd really really like if the people I crit give at least one crit! I was super impressed with you bastards during wizard week. Don't let me down.

I'd like a crit down the line, I'm still reading through/brushing up on thread rules but definitely plan on hopping in on this interprompt/next prompt, and will be cranking that poo poo out tomorrow.

Currently popping in to say I'm in on whatever the next prompt is and get it tracking in my Control Panel.

Looking forward to cranking out wordsnot.

Jan 6, 2005

Pork Pro

Broenheim posted:

Also, hubris.height as the resident newbie you also get a super special line crit (that will be up in a couple of days because I have finals)!!!!!!!!!!!

I really appreciate it. Good luck with finals, I've got my fair share this week with finals, work, and school, too.

Mar 31, 2015


Sitting Here posted:

I will do 5 crits this week. First come, first served. Quote this post if you want one. I'll try to have them done by the end of the day tomorrow.

I'll trade you a crit! I'll try and do a few this week since I slacked on Wizard Week

Jun 26, 2013

I must eat :toxx:

Hit me with it, I planned very badly and the $10 sting may motivate me to do better in future.


Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax
Fun Shoe

Thanks brother!

Mar 31, 2015

Aaaaaand here's that barbarian story I promised. Free crit. I mean, if you want.




WC: 300

Melthrop slams a hand on the trunk of the tree beside him and pulls his leg from beneath the bloody lioness pinning him. She still paws weakly towards his shin, claws aching to tear flesh. He kicks her paw away, and puts a hand on top of her head.

"For your death, for your meat, for your bones and teeth, I thank you," he chants in the clucking tongue of his mother tribe. He removes the stone knife from his predator's side and brings it hard through her eye socket. She stops pawing.

Melthrop leaves his blade for a moment- he will need it for skinning. For now, he replaces the wicker basket on his back and looks for the kittens.

"Ha-tchi tchiiiih, ha-tchi chiiiih," he coos to them, like he is calling his own child in the camp. He hears soft mew, and tracks it on bent legs.

The lion kittens are freshly born, and he touches each on the forehead with the pad of his finger, names them, and spits gently in their eyes, like they are his own freshly born children. "Karfid. Tcheka. Poschus." He pauses on the last, a runt. He remembers the many births he has watched. He remembers his son's, and the sound of his son's weak lungs sputtering to silence after his few days of life.

His voice, low, breaks as he says, "Groth," and spits gently in the little one's eyes. Groth gives a mew of surprise, and Melthrop laughs.

He goes about skinning the lioness and collecting as much of her as he can carry. Once finished, he puts Groth on his shoulder. "The hunt was good today," Melthrop tells him. "Let's return." And with a mewling bag of kittens, and a basket full of their mother, he makes for camp.

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
I'll take SH's crit if it's free. As for me criting... well, there's a reason I have this avatar.

Dec 19, 2007

JcDent posted:

As for me criting... well, there's a reason I have this avatar.

Is it because you refuse to critically examine other written works?

You don't need a qualification to have an opinion, let alone a reaction.

Aug 2, 2002




JcDent posted:

I'll take SH's crit if it's free. As for me criting... well, there's a reason I have this avatar.

critting people worse and better than you is a good way to learn what doesn't work, and what does. Read a story, crit it, give your opinions. "This story sucks" is a valid opinion whether you're Hemingway or Sitting Here.


crabrock fucked around with this message at 19:59 on May 11, 2015

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!
In light of recent events I will be giving a crit in return for SH crit. So, you know, line up, start begging and groveling, etc.

Mar 31, 2015


JcDent posted:

In light of recent events I will be giving a crit in return for SH crit. So, you know, line up, start begging and groveling, etc.


Mar 31, 2015


Sitting Here posted:

Full Circle

Chris had a big, blocky head and a face that hadn’t quite sorted itself out, which was probably why he felt more comfortable with power tools than conversation.
Love this description. Not too specific, just a hint of humor, give me a great sense of teenage awkwardness.

Chris taught her how to use a tablesaw, and admitted he liked to watch the sparrows bathe in the school fountain.
Another nice detail, something I find tough with teen characters is how easy they are to stereotype. This is a great example of showing sensitivity without saying something like "he was the basketball all-star, but his true passion... was dance."

But drat if didn’t keep all his bits tucked in, while leaving plenty of room for his guts to do their digestive contortions.
The voice for this sentence- hell, this whole paragraph- was spot on. You let the old man voice pop out a few more times, but I really wanted to see more of it. Not like a first person view, but sometimes your lovely descriptions clashed with these great outdated phrases.

Little kids waved blinding, crackling sparklers in the air, so that every time Chris blinked, the insides of his eyelids were covered in neon-green cursive afterimages.
Chris was a blind old eel in a sea of neon fish.
Chris saw neon grey-blue afterimages instead of outstretched legs and picnic baskets.
Easy on the neon there, slick. Twice and I wouldn't have noticed it, but three times is over the top. Although I will say that second one was my favorite sentence in the whole story.

His arms were as useless as two particularly al dente noodles.
This one bugged me, but so little I almost didn't mention it. I think it's that 'particularly' in there. If they're 'particularly' al dente, does that mean they're extra crunchy? Shouldn't they be overcooked if they're useless?

But then a slow, impish smile broadened her round, welcoming features, and a twinkle that had nothing to do with fireworks sparkled in her eyes.
Really sweet, clear imagery, but you have two sets of adjective, comma, adjective right next to each other. Think about paring down the first phrase of that sentence.

I enjoyed reading this. It feels like one of those tales of lost love from the fifties, only you've taken it just slightly into the future so that it's a character I could see myself being in a few decades. Even better, you set the time with fairly concise world-building and with just a few observations from the character. There were a couple of grammar fuckups, so tiny that I didn't even bother quoting them, but I just attributed that to the fact that you posted even after my constantly late rear end. It was sweet, straightforward, and I enjoyed your main character. And you didn't contrive it to be anything more than a story of a delayed last chance. I really can't wait to see what the judges think.

edit: Just watched your video and realized I think I must have picked the lamest one in the competition. I mean seriously, that dude's outfit. And where the gently caress is he running to all the time? Like is that how he looks chasing the bus? Does he wear those ears to work? And who stuck that loving chick in an hourglass with her violin and a snake? Clearly I have made poor choices.

skwidmonster fucked around with this message at 22:05 on May 11, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Crit for skwidmonster:


Coming back for the night shift, Tiff was escorted to her usual place in the hall by the bodyguard on duty. Her employer sat in his chromed easy chair in the living room I thought they were in different rooms at first, but reading on, that doesn't seem to be the case?, feet tangled Are his feet made rope or fishing line?? on top of the ottoman, boots still on. The spotlights outside the window cast shadows from the hairs on his chest What an odd detail. Is he shirtless? and produced the illusion of thick fur. The smell of the room pressed itself into her mouth and nostrils, thick like pudding, pungent like old soil. A pipe rested in his You keep jumping back and forth between characters using only "him" and "her". Like, if you haven't talked about a character for a couple lines, it's a good idea to reintroduce them by name. It's not too bad when there's only a guy and a girl, but when you introduce more people, all the hims and hers get confusing. hand on the arm of the chair, just about to drop. Around the corner, against a wall Tiff couldn't see, the pianist was finishing his last piece for the night. For example, now there's piano guy in the mix

It was a slow song, ruinously slow, and it dragged Much like this intro so that it was almost impossible to count. His fingers lumbered over the keys, and she felt the drum inside her ear oh i'm sorry did you mean EARDRUM twitch at the dissonance. Kendra who came with a cold glass, early as always, and filled it with strawberry Strawberry what? Shortcake? Daiquiri? . She kept her eyes down as she walked back to the kitchen, and that brought Tiff's eyes down. you're bringing my eyes down man

The fingers on keys finished abruptly, with a plunk from the left hand so the pianist is actually a disembodied set of fingers on a keyboard, neat . The stool which stool?! scooted smoothly over the polished floor, and their employer released the cloud of smoke he had been holding through his nose. Shoes tapped toward her Why do you describe all action with disembodied clothing and body parts? It's good and helpful to describe WHO is doing an action , quickly but not hurrying. The pianist was dressed in a white knit shirt and pressed pants wait so whose shoes were tapping toward Tiff? . As he passed, he dropped something into Tiff's glass. He left without turning, his shift over. why is any of this happening

Tiff stared at the door, trying to pull him back through it with her gaze his shift is over, lady . The air started sizzling ?! , and her eyebrows came together Ah, yes. . She looked at the glass, where bubbles had started pouring from the center How about, "the pink liquid fizzed with bubbles"? of the surface of the pinky liquid. She looked quickly across to her counterpart with the whole the whole what? , a new woman tonight: Nora took Thursday nights off. The new woman had short hair that flared away from her face, and she had noticed nothing. Everything that I just italicized confused the gently caress out of me :( Who's Nora, who is the woman who's not Nora, what isn't she noticing?

The sizzling died off, and Tiff wondered if she should do something. If your characters are wondering this, they should've been doing something a long time ago. Right now Tiff is just a camera that's recording all the people aimlessly wandering through your story. I have no idea what anyone wants, or what this story is about, and we're a couple hundred words in and I still have no idea what's supposed to be happening here.

Her employer raised one booted foot from the ottoman, then the other Glad we've got both booted feet accounted for, I'm sure this is going to be a big plot point soon , and let both drop to the floor. He rose from the chromed chair chest-first I'm imagining he's literally hooked by his hairy chest and he's dangling above his chair with his booted feet flailing , as though someone had stuck a hook behind his ribcage, and walked directly and gracelessly toward his room who is walking toward whose room? The boss or the metaphorical person with a chest hook? . As he stuck out his left hand for the whole in the other woman's hands ???!!!! , Tiff opened her mouth to say something, and he raised a finger, anticipating her.

"Leave it," he murmured, and walked behind his door, kicking it closed.

The other girl looked perplexed i'm that girl IRL , but didn't dare breach her contract by speaking. Kendra Is Kendra the waitress or something? entered again, eyes flashing hotly at Tiff, and she refilled the whole and left. The new girl wouldn't take her eyes off the glass, and so Tiff lowered her own eyes to her own glass. I'm really not into this whole mutual eye-lowering thing you keep doing


It was three-fifteen when they cut the spotlights shining at the window. There was no commotion, no word from the ground level guards. It was probably a malfunction, the way the bulbs had flickered. They checked the dimmer. Reading this story gives me that feeling like when I've just been startled out of a deep sleep. What spotlight, what window, what happened to the boss, the pianist, not-nora, kendra, and tiff?? Where's the gang??

Segmented thumps, like a stack of boxes toppling to the carpeted ground, came from the other side of the door I have no context for any of that stuff . The door opened, and Tiff saw all three hundred pounds of bodyguard collapsed at the foot of the framed painting adorning the entrance wall what a strange way to describe a burly bodyguard collapsed against the wall beneath a painting . A pair of white patent-leather loafers FFS what's with all the shoes stepped over the guard's boots YOU'RE WRITING SHOE EROTICA AREN'T YOU . The man casually coming through the threshold came to maybe five feet. His black polyester windbreaker rustled against his white khakis as he shoved his hands into the pockets so is it a man and some white loafers or a man in some white loafers??? . He looked first at the new girl, then to Tiff. Behind him followed Nora, Tiff's fellow employee, in a black knit cap. omg it's nora :swoon:

"Extravagance. Wasteful." Tiff has never heard Nora speak. She realizes this now, because her voice commands, with a smoker's rasp, that attention be paid. random switch to present tense

"I'll get the Big Boss, shall I?" The little man scooted away in the direction of the bedroom. Nora indicated that Tiff and the other woman convene with Kendra in the kitchen. Tiff took her tainted strawberry ??? in with her. Kendra was backing away when she saw Nora, and reversed tack. "Nora, what the gently caress is going on? my thoughts exactly What are you doing here?" Nora held up a gloved hand, and something crackled and sparked in the center of her palm. For a second, the air was a razor's edge scraping across skin. Kendra backed away, eyebrows squeezing together and hands out as if she were still deciding whether to fling herself toward Nora or the door. why is anyone doing any of these things?

Mr. White Loafers you're taunting me now, aren't you :catstare: pulled their employer into the kitchen by the arm. He didn't struggle. He allowed himself to be positioned by the refrigerator, next to his employees. Nora aimed her glove, which Tiff now noticed had wires running up the shirtsleeve, in the direction of their employer. She removed a device from a zippered pocket and held it near her jaw. ah ok so she's got some kind of zappy glove, now it all makes sense*

*it still doesn't really make sense

"Thursday, Nine April, two thousand fifteen, just past three hundred hours. Target Ruslan Canavar, codename Mitzi, has been apprehended without the use of excessive force or ballistic weaponry. Agents Kilpatrick and Middeke on point. No casualties. Transferring to vehicle." Okay, so I guess Nora was under cover, trying to nab the boss? I'm clinging onto this bit of plot like a piece of flotsam on a syrupy, nonsensical ocean She clicked the device off and missed ???? putting it in her pocket. As she turned slightly and fiddled fiddling? like, deedly dee dee? , the new milk girl I don't know enough about what's happening here to figure out who you're talking about made a lunge, running for the door. The short man caught her about the waist and flung her to the ground. Unnoticed, Ruslan Canavar, codename Mitzi, quietly took the glass of strawberry from its place on the counter and poured it from Nora's knit cap down her back and onto her face "down her back and onto her face" doesn't really sound right . Smoke poured from her body, and a sound like train wheels grinding in full stop against the rusted tracks burst from her mouth Is she a robot??? . She stumbled across the room and rammed into the refrigerator. Her counterpart ran to her, pulling a metal tube from his jacket and extending it into a baton. "Cut that poo poo now, you fuckin-- lame-rear end! I'll come for you! There's a squad on the way?" He was shouting, but his voice broke upward on the last vowel. His baton drew uncertain lines in the air. my brain is breaking upward

Ruslan pulled a gun from the drawer next to the sink and tilted it casually in Tiff's direction. srsly? what did tiff even do? she's just THERE

"Do you know how much I pay these people?"

White Loafers panted through his teeth in response. I want you to know that I tried this IRL and it's really weird and i don't think anyone actually does that

"I mean, you must. I was paying Agent Kilpatrick." Nora appeared to have passed out from the pain. The air smelled like a meat packing plant. so wait, is nora a train or not

"They warm my milk with their bodies. WHAT. They stand all night so that I have something to put me to sleep when my paranoia wakes me up in fits every half hour. This one even seems to enjoy it." they say that the original "bang" that rang out when the universe exploded into existence could still be echoing across the outer cosmos. Imagine that echo is a word, and that word is a giant cosmic WTF He met Tiff's eyes with his for the very first time, and she was warmed by the crinkles mmm warm toasty crinkles at the edges, in spite of the situation. "These people are my very favorite people in the world. You threatened them. You hurt them. And you destroyed my trust in them." c'mon white loafers, dude just wants to drink milk warmed by the bodies of his most favoritest people in the world, is that a crime I THINK NOT

He leveled the gun at Agent Middeke's head. so now wait, is that white loafers or one of the milk girls?

"The two of you get out of here. Take Tiff here with you." and just when she got to warm herself on your crinkles for the first time, nooooo

Middeke didn't move at first. He made a show of eying Ruslan down, then pulling Nora or whatever her real name was over his shoulder. This proved a little difficult for him, however, and Ruslan waved Tiff over with a look that made plain his disdain for ineptitude. Tiff took the rest of Nora's weight on her shoulder, and the three of them shuffled to the door.

Halfway down the hallway, Tiff made a decision. She dropped down a little, putting most of Nora's weight on him, and pulled at his windbreaker, wresting after a few seconds the baton from the side pocket. She gave Nora a huge shove, and drove the three of them through the metal door leading to the stairs. She extended the baton into the small man's stomach, and he tumbled down the stairs stiff as a two by four. She let Nora roll down after. Tiff opened the door with her whole body lmao how would that even work , and stood mirroring her employer standing in the doorway.

Air escaped from her nose, and she looked out the window behind him at the city, her home since birth.

She asked, "Where are we running?"

So, best as I can tell, a dude is sitting around with his pianist and some ladies who warm up his milk with their bodies? but Nora is a secret agent out to nab the boss because??? As you can see from my line crit, I couldn't make a whole lot of sense out of this story. I feel like you saw the scene in your head, but couldn't hone in on the important details. You had way, way too many characters for a story this short, and most of them didn't do anything! I'm not even sure what Tiff's role in all this was. I thought maybe it would make more sense if I watched the video, but honestly, I'm not seeing the connection there.

Next time, you should focus in on two or three characters, and make sure everything you're describing has something to do with the story. Mood and ambiance can come later. Right now you need to work on getting those details to work for your plot, not against it.

Mar 31, 2015


Sitting Here posted:

Crit for skwidmonster:

Thanks for the crit, yo!

Feb 25, 2014
I feel like there is a surprising lack of crits, so I turned to my handy RNG machine, and it has declared PoshAlligator as the worthy soul of a crit!

-First line feels a bit too long-winded for me. I know what you were trying to there stylistically but I feel like it went on for a little too long

-I'm really not a fan of vague pronouns. names are really nice. I also feel like it's a mistake to do two long run-on sentences twice in the row. I know it's a stylistic choice, but I don't like it that much

-setting feels a little vague to me. she was sitting below a rusty grater, right? but she's in a forest, so what's holding it up?

-i do like the descriptions and contrast between the rusty metal and nature
-motivation is vague, i wish I knew why she was out in the forest, why she was waiting for the bell, and why she is moving. also why did the bell ring at the beginning?

-is this post-apocalyptic? there's a bunch of broken down buildings in the forest, but I'm still not clear on the setting

-"She found it where she expected, in the grey, unassuming building with the wide warehouse shutters right at the foot of the black mountain." what is it? please, just tell me. don't hide things so much from your readers because it'll start to frustrate them

-what the gently caress is this thing and why do I care?

-god drat it feels like your intentionally hiding the details, which is super loving annoying

-your object makes no sense because it feels like it operates on some rules that i don't know so i cant even guess what it really is

-oh wait, it's a power box or something of the sort. WHY THE gently caress DIDNT YOU TELL US THAT?????

-"There was a grinding sound, metal on metal, a few metres away. Something in the mist seemed to move. Metal rods sliding up and down, blowing the mist this way and that." - good use of creating tension

-im not sure what this black stone is supposed to be? is it supposed to be darkness or a literal, tangible object?

-ok i think the black rock is coal, but the way you use it some cases makes it seem like it's darkness

-the action scene is pretty decent, but hampered by the vagueness of what exactly she's fighting. i know it's a thing in horror to not give loving detail to the monster because what the reader will come up with will be 100 times scarier then anything you could ever write, but it still doesn't change the fact that I need to know what is fighting her and why. the monsters just kinda feel there for no particular reason.

-this story is just really, really vague. I'm not quite sure what exactly happened. So this character is in a forest and hears a bell, runs through a forest which also has buildings in, turns on the power, then ends in a cavern so she can ring a bell for some reason, but something invisible (i think? or did she just not see it) attacks her, but she's able to ring the bell, which shatters, but then she gets knocked out and wakes up again but the stuff before was a dream? or not a dream but she thought it was a dream? or some weird paradox cycle thing? clearly i'm not really sure at all.

-even though the plot itself is vague, the motivations, which are more important, are just as vague, or even more so. Why does this girl want to do these things. what the hell is the whole point of this. i don't understand the stakes at play. what are these monsters are why do they not want her to ring the bell. wtf is the point of the bell anyway?

-some decent descriptions, but just really, really vague in some of the details, plot, and characters.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Crit for JcDent:


Boom! Explosions! Action! That was the life of Shamus' father! Great with a gun, bad with social grace, he was the hero of his days! Boom! The smell of liquid propellant! The flying bloody shards of bone! Shamus killed, but, unlike his father, he never had to kill men. Times were different, men were different, but the beasts remained! Boom! The beast convulses! The hunter wins! But will Shamus ever be recognized the way his father was? I really am not enjoying the overabundance of exclamations points here, no sir!

He knows he won't be! Muscles bulge and dark blood seeps into heavy gloves as Shamus pushes the dead drake on the conveyor belt, and the man knows he won't get praise for his days work! come on now, these exclamation points don't even make sense here! The viscous red fluid coats another layer on the lever as Shamus sends the meat down the line, and he knows that nobody cares but he that was actually a pretty good sentence! . The reclamator whirs to life as the city would sprung to life for his father, yet nothing like that will ever happen to Shamus. Not naturally, at any rate.

“Your times will be different, boy,” said his father, a narrow smile stretching the canyons of wrinkles on his windswept face, “You will have my gun and likely my duster, but you won't hunt men and you won't be praised”. Okay that's pretty cool too! This might have not been the thing to say to younger Shamus, but his father was as frank as he was well known – and that was a great deal ,“It's the culmination of my work and the work of Fellows. Your world is different”.

That's why he left for Parts Unknown and that's why Shamus was making his way quickly down the streets. The people of this new world, Shamus' constituents, eloy given flesh I'm not entirely sure what the eloy are supposed to be! , smiled and waved at him blissfully. Father knew he who's "he?" Father or Shamus? couldn't live in this world, not with the fire that lived in his heart and consumed so many, yet the hope was that Shamus could. And he did, for most part.

It was the reason why Father's gun was kept under wraps while in the city, a rule Shamus never broke but once. It was the reason why Shamus hid the goggles and the duster. His world didn't need hand-canons that risked shattering wrists and fired with an explosion that drowned out the biggest fight. It needed someone to think, feel and take care of things from time to time. And this was eating Shamus from the inside because he thought about taking care of things and felt bad because nobody cared.

The hololith came to life in his room, a purposefully sparse and archaic place in a city of soft colors, light surfaces and rounded corners. He sat in his drake leather chair and let the computer read the details of Simulation Alpharon. It took me two reads to figure out that most of this story is a computer simulation he's running mixed with his thoughts about the utopia he's sort of been forced to live in!

“...unlikely event of three day long dispenser malfunction would make the constituents be 26% more aware of surroundings. In reaction to the hornbull break in – another unlikely event – they would remain motionless. It is extremely unlikely that this would provoke the hornbull to attack them. Again, an extremely unlikely set of circumstances...”

Unlikely, unlikely, unlikely. The computer couldn't judge intent, it was never meant to. It wouldn't dream of someone making a hornbull break a likely possibility. It wouldn't think that anyone would interfere with natural extremely shallow curve of dispenser failure. I italicized the spot where this sentence goes all wonky. I'm not entirely sure what you're saying there, so I think the gist is that the dispenser would be very easy to tamper with!

It's not like someone wanted some recognition, for someone else to see the work they do. For someone too much "someone" and "some", I'm not following who we're talking about! – even an eloy – to see him as the one man who stood against the beast. A calm source of action against the backdrop of frozen terror. A tall figure in a duster that slew the beast. A hero who strikes with lightning and kills how does one strike with a kill?! . Carve a name for himself just like his father did with his gun.

Gun. !

“You best hide it, Shamus, for they will be taught to fear it,” said the man who had a five score of spectres to his name yet never woke up screaming. Those were good words, yet sons don't always learn before it's too late. Three weeks did it take for the constituents to stop running away or worse, freezing in the street. Who knew they had such long memories? One even died trying to climb a tree to get away. And from what? From his father gun, holstered in the open while Shamus walked down the street. This was confusing before I figured out he's running a simulation of all this!

And the hololiths gentle glow, that was the truth of it: it didn't matter what if he slew a hornbull – his flock would just see him as an another monster. Even is he wore his working whites, he would still be the beast with the gun. Hell, the crash of the one shot he'd need would probably stop a heart or two. The others... the others would spread terrified rumours, talk about it for weeks and months, hide till they starve, climb trees till they fall... Shamus' wards are really conditioned against violence.

Even if they weren't, his people aren't suited for praise. One of them paints a happy mural – all bright colors, tree, rabbits – and they congratulate him. Hooray, he painted a mural, it makes us happy, and being happy is good! So they smile little wider and hug a little longer, but it all stops in two weeks. Everyone returns to he status quo of playing in the streets, lounging in the pools and being happy. Such were the short lived heroics of their world, and the mural would be eventually cleaned up when Shamus got around to sending a robot.

At least they recognized Shamus when he went about his work, they were basically programmed so are the eloy robots? AI? Or is he referring to the simulation?! to. Shamus meant that something that is wrong will be made right, and the eloys liked it when things were right. A clogged dispenser, missing paint, skipping music records – everything would be made better by Shamus' touch. It wasn't heaping praise and adoration, though he did get a rare amateurishly baked cupcake. Okay, that's kind of cute

A gentle blip woke Shamus from his thoughts: some small things was amis with flock. His father made a name killing drakes, and hornbulls, and rip-reavers, and rift-raiders. Shamus' world was different and his fights were different. For now he was to wrestle a kite from a tree.

Sighing, Shamus stood up, wrapped himself in his work whites and turned to leave. A flick of the hand turned off the hololith, and computer saved the three-hundred-fifteenth iteration of the simulation.

So, there were some good ideas here. Shamus's father fought for a world where it's not necessary to be exceptional. Contentedness is taken for granted. Heroism isn't really valued. But things are good, and happy, and easy, and Shamus DOES make a difference to the Eloy, whether he gets hero worship or not. That was cool. I felt like, aside from running the simulation and thinking a lot, Shamus didn't DO a whole lot. His situation at the end of the story is mostly the same as his situation at the beginning of the story.

The language is rough in places. You switch between present and past tense a bit, too.

I've read a few of your stories, and so far, this is the one I like the best. I think you have some good thoughts behind your work, and this is the first time I felt like I got what you were going for. Tone it down on the exclamation points, though.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
1329 words

The sun is the ugliest thing that was ever created, and yet my ex-girlfriend wanted to gently caress it.

Seriously, have you ever seen any pictures of it? Like actual, high-resolution, Hubble Telescope pictures? It looks like the loving Spaghetti Incident. Just this giant ball of curled up red and orange flames, knotting in and out of itself. It looks either infected or overcooked, probably both. That’s what turned my ex-girlfriend on: a flaming rubber-band ball from outer space.

But she wasn’t just my ex-girlfriend, she was my first girlfriend, and I had just turned 18. And I didn’t know any of the stuff my friends knew about love or girls or relationships when they turned 18. It was my first month of art school in New York City, I had just said goodbye to my Everquest addiction, and I was as pale, thin, and Catholic as a communion wafer. When I sat down on the campus square bench next to the tall blonde senior named Sharyn I recognized from mixed media class, I half expected the wrought-iron to just reject me, for that half of the bench to flip over into the library wall behind me like a Scooby-Doo cartoon.

But instead, we started talking about Paul Klee, and then the Bauhaus Movement, and how the new Freedom Tower looked like rear end, and then she invited me for Korean food in Midtown, and I felt like I’d used the edge of my communion-wafer body to scratch off a winning lottery ticket. And that was before the third date, when she asked me if I wanted to stay in her townhouse.

I never knew a human being could want another human being so much. Sharyn was my sun, and I couldn’t stop staring directly at her, blinding myself to everything but her.

When she showed me her the closed doors of her “art studio” and told me they were off-limits at all hours to anyone but her? Didn’t care, blind. When she showed me her bedroom, complete with seventeen dreamcatchers hanging over the headboard of a bed propped up by pillars of different interpretations of Pagan for Dummies, my eyes kept bouncing off them and clinging to her. When I saw the giant Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp in the corner, I asked, “Where’d you get that from?”

She said, “I borrowed it from my last roommate. I’ll send it back when it starts snowing again.”

Good enough for me.

That wasn’t the last time I saw that lamp, either—whenever we had sex, Sharyn always insisted that nothing would go down unless it was shining directly on us. It felt like we were two ants loving under a magnifying glass, and I couldn’t have cared less, because I was in love. So the year went on, and the first layer of scales over my eyes started to fall away, and I started to see some things happening around me. Sharyn started spending less time with me and more time in her downstairs studio. I suddenly realized she was the one making the larger share of conversation when we started talking less and less. One of the last things she said to me was “I’m getting bored with you.” As she was walking away.

And being the smacked rear end that I was, I called after her: “Why am I boring?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “maybe I just thought you were more romantic.”

That night, I scrawled up a list of all the reasons why I wasn’t a romantic on the back of a takeout menu:

1. I grew up in Wisconsin. No romance novel covers were set in Wisconsin.
2. I’m Irish. As far as I know, none of the Romantic poets were Irish, plus there were no love poems detailing the beauty of pale skin and freckles.
3. I’m a computer nerd. (probably the best reason) I used to show emotions with emoticons.
4. I didn’t know what “the missionary position” meant when she asked me (Kama Sutra?)

When I looked at the list, I felt doomed.

About two weeks before freshman year ended, I had just finished my fourth shot of espresso and my fifth shot of vodka, and I was lying awake in bed, feeling like both my feet were jammed down on the gas and the brake at the same time. Eventually I left the townhouse and just started walking around the block, wondering what I could say to her to prove that I was worth something, that I wasn’t just a bright spot floating in her peripheral vision.

When I came back to the townhouse, the sun was rising, and I had a plan.

I looked upstairs, in her bedroom, my bedroom, the kitchen. As I walked past the studio, I heard something. I staggered towards the thick door, still reeking and sweating, and wrenched it open.

It was like standing inside a kaleidoscope.

The sun shined into the room through a large skylight at one end of the room. Scattered across the ceiling were dozens of mobiles, with jagged shards of glass hanging down from them like candy icicles, shimmering in the sunlight as it reflected through them and down onto the hard wooden floor. The mobiles twirled around and around in the sunlight, covering the floor in bright strands of color, like someone had eviscerated a rainbow and dumped its entrails all over the ground.

And Sharyn was in the middle of it, laying on her back, writhing, chanting some Aramaic poo poo that sounded sexy as hell to my broken ears. The light covered her bare skin in glowing ribbons that swiveled and spun. I was speechless. I could only stare at her.

Her eyes rolled back towards the door, and she noticed me. She sat up with a jolt, covering herself.

Without giving it a second of thought, I gave it my best shot.

I started to sing:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy, when skies are gray…

Never mind that my throat was like thrown tire tread and I had hardly sung a note in my life—I was sure, while drunk off my rear end on vodka and schmaltz, that baring myself like this would show her how I felt about her.

I couldn’t remember the second verse, so I just leaned to the side and started the first verse over again. Then I heard her laughing.

That all happened about two years ago. Now, I’m living back on campus, finishing up my junior year, and I’m dating—maybe—this girl in my graduating class who does a lot of typography work, graphic design, that sort of thing. I say maybe because we’ve never really called it “dating”, we just sort of end up at places together—comedy clubs, bars, movie theaters. We’re just having fun together, and there’s just some part of me that’s reluctant to put a stamp on it, to drop that giant Philadelphia L.O.V.E. statue on both of our shoulders. We’re both seeing where it goes. She finally let me start paying for dinner, so that’s good.

I think back on that first relationship and laugh, the same kind of laugh that comes out when you trip over a crack on the sidewalk and just manage to catch yourself.

I did run into Sharyn a couple days ago, though. She was coming up out of the Penn Station escalator the same time I was walking by, and it just happened like that. She showed me this ugly sunburn on her shoulder, with this giant pus-filled blister that she swore was shaped like a heart.

I thought: Shaped like an upside-down heart? Shaped like the pulsing fist in my chest?

But I just nodded, and then the conversation ended, and I walked up the avenue, my face locked in something that I hoped was a smile but felt like a cringe, for so long that for a second I thought it might stay that way.

Aug 2, 2002




crit crat

Killer-of-Lawyers posted:

The Star and The Skull
Word Count: 547

The farmhouse stood on the edge of a cold, crater marked field should be crater-filled. It was dark and abandoned, with a gaping hole in the roof that left half of the second story exposed to the elements. Yegor limped along side the fence and towards the half open front door. should be half-open The slat of wood that kept him standing dug painfully into him through the arm this is awkward. at first I thought he had a splint, but then it was digging in his arm, so now I think it's a crutch? if so, just say so. this is a case of overshowing when telling would do. of his threadbare uniform, and each left step was blinding agony. cliche Still, he trudged on silently, unwilling to call attention to himself.

With any luck, the remote farm would have been overlooked by his fellow scavengers, and he would be able to scrounge enough for a meal and materials for a fire within. He looked once more over his shoulder and across the field before stepping painfully through over the threshold. His makeshift crutch made a dull literally the first word in the definition of thud is "dull." it is unnecessary. thud on the wooden floor as No, he stepped inside, made the thud, THEN closed the door. Not as. he slipped inside and closed the door. The doorway opened into the dining room, and the table was set. A bloody sheet lay across it, with bottles and empty casings set in place of silverware. A few empty helmets sat where plates might have.

Yegor held his breath. He painfully spunStop just saying "painfully" and SHOW me that he's in pain through his actions and reactions.[/b] and turned towards the sitting room. Two sheet covered should be sheet-covered. you need to learn how to hyphenate compound modifiers! figures laid in repose on a nearby couch. A field hospital? Yegor looked down at his twisted leg and smiled. Perhaps the Germans had left behind medicine? He figured that morphine would be as good as a hot meal. you should establish more clearly if these dudes are dead or alive. I was thinking dead, but "repose" threw me off because it isn't usually associated with death, in my experience.

The thought filled him with such joy that he didn't even take the time to clear the house what does "clear the house" mean? Make sure nobody else is in it? that could be handled better. before falling upon the debris near the bodies in search of field supplies this is too many ideas too quickly. . He didn't even notice the light cast from the stairs above. wait, then who did? why are you telling me that? use third person limited, it works much better for story telling. The nurse watched him, her uniform torn and as pitiful as Yegor's. you've now switched POV to a nurse who yegor doesn't see. She held a knife in her hand, a long jagged dagger adorned with a skull.

Silently she stood, till Yegor happened to completely boring happenstance. have him look up for a reason look up and meet her gaze. The two enemies wait, enemies? you need to like, say how they know they're enemies first. I know you've said stuff about germans, but you must confirm that she's a dirty nazi before you can use the word enemies. locked eyes as they drank in each other's dirty, gaunt faces. weird The nurse pointed her dagger at him, and then at an empty chair beside the corpses on the couch. Yegor stood,I thought he had fallen on some debris or something? frozen in place as he contemplated retreat, Now you're back in yegor's head. before shrugging and hobbling over this is a much better "showing" that he's in pain than saying "painfully walked" to the chair. He sat, and the nurse came down from the stairs and placed the lamp beside him.

No words were exchanged. Questions were implicit and written on their faces. The nurse tended to him, carving up a splint from splintered wood what wood? why is it splintered. is it his crutch? with her dagger. She bundled the left over leftover should be one word wood with some dirty cloth cut from the table and handed it to Yegor.

"Bite." She said in passable Russian. Yegor compiled, his eyes vulnerable and questioning.this is a bit too much tell. expand out a little exactly how he's vulnerable and what he's questiong. The nurse simply nodded in reply and kneeled down beside him. She pulled, pulled what? and he screamed in agony. She pulled again, and he cried out for God. She pulled for the third time, and he screamed out a question. The only question. this is silly Why?

The nurse looked up from his leg and shrugged. It was the only answer that could be given. this is lazy. One final time she pulled, and Yegor saw only stars. He awoke the next morning, alone. A pile of kindling lay beside him, with a can of beans and the nurse's knife. His questions were still unanswered.

This is pretty short, but you managed to pack most of a story in there. The only thing is the the main char lacks a sort of agency. Stuff happens TO him, but he doesn't do much beside what it feels like are his only options. If you want to make an actual conflict, you have to have a period where he actually tries to fight the nurse or run away. Without it, it's exactly how you described it: a shrug. It's boring, it's "what else have I got to do?" A story shouldn't feel like it's on rails. It should be offroad, tumbling through virgin earth and trailblazing. Who cares if there's a loving cliff, we'll deal with that when we go over it.

Profane Accessory
Feb 23, 2012

Here are a bunch of short crits for everyone this week. I read these in judgemode, but ended up doing a fair bit of skimming.

No More Hunting Stars
You’ve got a good eye for small details that flesh scenes out well, but your characterization needs some work. You’re fleshing out your characters mostly by way of dialogue, but your dialogue tends towards the heavily saturated and soap-opera-esque, and they switch emotions so quickly that they end up feeling cartoonish, which I don’t think is what you were going for. I had to read this twice to actually work out what was going on, but given that it ended up being a fairly standard con-man-comes-clean kind of narrative, I didn’t feel all that rewarded when I put the pieces together.

Mother’s Violin
This one’s pretty rough. Your dialogue is stilted and thoroughly unbelievable; there wasn’t one line out of the entire piece where I thought, “yeah, that sounds like something an actual person would say”. The mother’s ghost singing through the violin was not so much Eurovision-tastic-so-cheesy-it’s-awesome as much as just plain bad. There’s a lot of exposition and detail here that doesn’t actually go anywhere towards establishing your characters or your world, but just fills space.

I like the idea of a guy in a mascot suit in not-Disneyland trying to do crowd control around a botched marriage proposal while staying in character, but the story itself is a bit of a teardown. I couldn’t work out if you actually wanted the reader to care about the couple at the center of this whole thing, but either way the whole plot of [man proposes to woman, gets shot down in an embarrassing way, woman reconsiders, man gathers pride and moves on] is uninteresting.

The Black Mountain’s Bell
This is really just one long action piece, but it’s hard to feel invested in the action in the absence of any characterization. You’ve probably got a very clear idea of what this all looked like in your head, but it’s not translating well to the page. My natural inclination is to skim over descriptive passages to look for some character to latch onto, but this story doesn’t have one.

Saccharine and Gasoline
This is not good. Every piece of dialogue is weird and expository, the characters are factory standard off-the-shelf models, the story is dumb but not fun dumb, there are a lot of book-saidisms, and there’s a metric poo poo ton of exposition for a fairly bog-standard sci-fi death race kind of setup.

Shame of Shamus
Wow are there a lot of exclamation points in this one. The first half of this thing reads like a kid describing a movie he half remembers, and then we switch out to tedious fantasy-scifi land overburdened with dry infodump. It all sums to a pastiche of bad genre fiction.

One Last Breath
This is a trainwreck. There is zero evidence of even cursory proofreading, punctuation is all over the map, dialogue is completely laughable, what little plotline exists is asinine. That said, I did get a chuckle out of the sheer bugfuckery of the line “She saw me, and she came alive with a gleaming chest.” -- I tried for a solid minute to work out what the hell you were going for here before giving up.

Danes Odhajam
I read this first without having watched the video for the song, and came away completely confused. Then I watched the video, and got a solid chuckle out of it. So, the takeaway is that your story works well as a Rifftrax commentary for the music video, but doesn’t have much standalone value.

A Million Things I Wish I Had Done
For a while I was hoping that your protagonist was going to end up being the 27b/6 guy, but alas, he started out as a boring paint-by-numbers tragic warrior boxer and stayed that way.

Love You While I’m Gone
I had a pretty good time coming up with new definitions for your typos.
Rubinesque: having a giant beard and a golden touch with a mixing desk.
Boxom: cardboard box boobs.
Curvacous: when macaroni and couscous get together.
As for the story itself, there wasn’t a whole lot there; the woven timelines were cute, but my general feeling for these kinds of cute devices is that they only work well if, when you assemble all the bits in linear order, it’s still an interesting story.

The Final Siege of the Black Steel Castle!
Man, for a story full of action I sure had a hard time maintaining any interest whatsoever in what was going on. It’s a bad sign when your story opens with battle scientists and jetpacks and still manages to be boring.

It’s Not Always A Serpent That Makes You Sin
Despite being quite nicely written, and having a nice simple story structure with room to stretch out, this story didn’t resonate with me. Part of the problem is the title: it’s a pretty lazy one. But the main problem, at least from my perspective, is how straight-down-the-line archetypal your characters are: you’ve got a strong but easily deceived bull, an excitable, dumb and friendly dog, and a conniving sociopathic cat. I kept waiting for some kind of twist or reversal or slight change to the formula, but it never came.

Tiny Edible Things
This, this I liked a lot. Economical and razor sharp prose, perfect little details throughout, and wonderfully dark and weird. This is my favourite so far.

The Star and The Skull
As the story ends, Yegor’s questions are unanswered. I feel for him, for I too had many questions that were left unanswered. For example, who is Yegor? How did he get here? What’s a nurse doing with some weird sacrificial dagger? Did she fix his leg? Reading this story felt like watching a music video where nothing made any sense; possibly this was intentional?

Mr. War Criminal
You’ve got some nice details in here, but you’ve got to pick the best ones that actually move your plot forward and omit the unnecessary ones -- the story has an interesting flow at its core, but the pacing is bogged down by the language throughout. Edit harder.

A Probabilistic Route to Happiness
I may just be getting burnt out on reading these, but this story didn’t click with me despite being well written. I like the setup, and the idea of a prison romance between guard and inmate where one is a robot has some wheels, but the character of Emmelie has to shoulder the human side of the equation and she’s a pretty flat character. Also, the whole “robot learns to love and sacrifices its happiness for the happiness of the human it loves” thing is a little well-worn and saccharine for my palate.

Full Circle
The writing here is lovely, and the detailing throughout is excellent, but it’s all in service of a set of characters and a plotline that I can’t bring myself to care much about. Boy meets girl, girl moves on, boy carries a torch (in the form of prosthetic elven ears), boy gets some catharsis as girl is literally loaded onto a stretcher. This story is asking me to buy a protagonist that has been nursing a crush for forty years (and as far as the reader knows, that’s all he’s been up to as no other details are provided), and when he finally gets to present his weird little physical manifestation of said crush to the girl from high school that he’s been hiding from this whole time, her reaction isn’t complete revulsion (granted she’s suffering from a recent injury, possibly to the head, but still).

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Per IRC request, a crit for Blue Wher:


I awoke on a Saturday morning to the sound of goats bleating from the barn, begging to be fed. “Who needs alarms when you have hungry goats?” I mused Gee golly! I dont' think anyone actually exclaims this sort of thing when they wake up, especially if they live on a goat farm and are accustomed to the sound of goats as I rolled out of bed. I changed into an old shirt and jeans before I went to the barn. It was rather early; the sky was still a dark purple with merely the faintest light peeking over the mountains. The words "rather" and "merely" give the prose a purple, overwrought feeling

Today seemed no different than any other morning for me, except for one thing: I would be taking a trip to the mountains. I baby talked the goats as I fed them. “Good morning, Sylvia! Are you getting along with Sam? And hello, little Timmy. You are such an adorable kid! You're such a good momma, Cleo! Watch out, Brian! Gotta get you fed so I can go!” Shortly after this, you describe your narrator as eccentric. She feels ostracized and weird. But this is the most syrupy sweet dialog ever. This would've been a great opportunity to make her weirdness and/or her grief for her mother apparent, through crazyass dialog with some goats.

The goats' appetites sated, I hurried inside and prepared for my trip to visit the meadow that had been my mother's sanctuary. My only passenger this day Why not just "today"? would be her old Stradivarius violin.


”See how I've placed the violin on my shoulder, Jessica?” Mother asked as she prepared to play, her only audience being me and the oak tree we were nestled up against. this is better

“Yes, mother.”

She smiled softly at me, I think there should be a period here. check with one of the nerds, though “good, now, show me what I just showed you.” With that, she handed the violin over to me. I was almost too nervous to take it, as I feared breaking the precious instrument, but I swallowed my nerves and grasped the violin as mother had, placing it on my shoulder as if to play.

“Very good, now, pull your bow across the strings like this,” she explained as she pantomimed the motion of playing. I took the bow and did as instructed, and was rewarded with the sweet sound of a musical note.

“Mother! I did it!” I reveled, my happiness unfettered at can you get unfettered at something? You could probably just cut most of this sentence my success. I felt like I had just won a gold medal at the Olympics.

“Well done, Jessica!”


My hometown grew distant as my old truck struggled up the hill. I drove in silence for a half hour as I thought about the times my mother had taken me to the meadow and the violin lessons she had given me there. Psst you just showed us that with the flashback This was the first time I would be there by myself, as I had lost my mother to a car accident just two months ago surely there is a less tell-y way to convey this information? . I had felt truly alone ever since, as it felt like the goats understood me better than the townsfolk. I had always been an eccentric soul, and I was certain most of the people here looked down on me for being “weird”. Never once do we see anyone being rude to her. At the end, everyone in a diner literally tells her why she's great and should stay.

The drive felt longer than it actually was, but I eventually arrived. I pulled the truck over to the side of the road, and it sputtered with relief when I turned off the motor and got out, violin case in hand.

I walked down a path that led to a small creek. Even though my heart still ached from loss, I marveled at nature's beauty This would be a good spot for some real description. What is around her, and how is it contrasting with the grief she holds inside? . I sighed and I sat down under that oak tree and listened to the creek's peaceful babbling.

I started to play once nature had soothed some of the hurt I was feeling. My hands crafted a beautiful song, the very first one I had been able to play on my own. I sniffled and whimpered as I yearned for the past and grieved for my mother.

“Don’t cry, my daughter,” my violin seemed to sing to me. Given that this takes place in modern times, I don't think she would talk this way

I gasped at the ethereal voice. “Mother, is that you?” Are you there mom? It's me, cliche dialog

“Yes, my dear Jessica.” The violin spoke again. Affirmative, o apple of my eye

I was stunned into silence. Was this really happening, or was I just hallucinating?

When I could think to speak again, my words flowed like a turbulent river. “Oh mother, I’m so lost without you! I just don’t feel like I belong here, but I don’t want to abandon your farm! Please tell me what I’m supposed to do! I miss you so much.” read all your dialog out loud in a fake girl voice and a bad british accent and you'll kind of understand the effect it's having on me right now

The strings sighed. “I cannot say.”


“I cannot make that decision for you. You, and only you, have the power to make that decision.”

I cried, “but I don’t know if I can!”

“I know you can, my child. You have a strong mind and a stronger heart. Give it a little more time, and all will be clear. I have faith in you.”

“You do?”

“Of course I do! And don’t worry about little old me. No matter what you do, I will always be proud of you.”

I sniffed, and managed a small smile. “Mother… thank you… for believing in me.” faaaaaaaart I sighed, “I never got to say goodbye, but I guess now I can. Good bye, mother. I love you.”

“I love you too, always. Until we meet again, farewell.”

The song ended and the violin ceased to sing my mother’s voice. I sobbed from the intensity of the experience until my body ached with grief. Once I could cry no more I'm just really confused why the dialog is all so awkwardly formal, these are farm folk , I trudged back to the truck and returned home.


Throughout the day, the experience repeated itself in my mind as I struggled to figure out what it meant. I was unusually silent I don't think she would observe herself as being "unusually" silent. She'd just be lost in her thoughts as I fed the goats that evening, too distracted by my thoughts. Had I really spoken to mother, or had my mind played a trick on me? Even my dreams that night were dominated by what had transpired, and I woke the next morning with my mother's lingering voice whispering in my head. I shopped for groceries after feeding the goats, and, while I was there, I picked up a “houses for sale” magazine in the hopes I could find a new place that spoke to me.


Three days later, I went to Tina’s Cafe for breakfast, as I did every Wednesday. “Greetings, Miss Williamson!” Came the usual cheerful greeting from the server, a stout young man named Nicholas. “Feel free to sit wherever you like!” I faked a smile and quietly took a seat at the counter. “Would you like your usual, ma’am?” He asked me, and I merely nodded my head in response. I flipped through the pages of my magazine while I waited for my meal, my eyes glazed over with wanderlust as I looked at the beautiful houses inside. This kind of defeats the purpose of everything you said about her relationship with the people of the town. This guy is being excruciatingly polite

“Thinking of moving?”

Surprised, I looked up, and saw an old cattle rancher I recognized from the weekly farmer’s market eating a couple seats away from me. “Oh, hello Mr. Adkins. I didn’t see you there. I guess you could say that. I don’t think I belong here.”

The older gentleman frowned. “Oh, that’s too bad. We’d miss you.”

I gasped, surprised. “You would?”

“Of course! You don’t believe me?”

I slowly shook my head as Nicholas returned, my food in hand, and spoke to me, having overheard the conversation.

“Aww, don’t tell me you’re moving, Miss Williamson! That’d be sad,” the server pled as an older woman chimed in, “your goats make the best milk in town! I can’t imagine living without it!” By now, half of the diners were paying attention, and some of them nodded in agreement. I fell silent as I ate my meal, my mind ablaze as I recalled mother’s words. Had I really been wrong about not belonging here? re: this whole section: just reread all the stuff i've said about the dialog so far


“Would you like some more coffee?” Nicholas inquired as I finished my meal.

“No, thank you,” I responded with a polite smile. “But I would like a favor.” I held the magazine out for him to take. “I don’t think I’ll be needing this anymore, can you throw it away for me?”

Nicholas smiled widely, happy with the knowledge that I would be staying. “Certainly, Miss Williamson!”

I paid for my meal, and I could have sworn that everything looked brighter than it had in recent memory.

I returned home that morning with a renewed sense of purpose and the knowledge that I had made the right decision. Mother would be proud.

So, there's a sincerity in this that I like. But the dialog is pretty cheesy. Almost cartoonish in places. I think you need to think more about what your characters' actual feelings would be, and how they would express those feelings. I pointed out a couple spots where you could use details and description to show how your narrator feels. Right now it's almost like she's addressing the reader directly and telling us exactly what's going on.

The other problem is like, the central conflict of the story isn't really a conflict at all. Initially, she's grieving her mother and the townspeople don't like her. But at the end, it turns out everything is actually fine. She can chill with her new violin mom, and it turns out her neighbors all really like her and are confused that she would think otherwise. A good basic formula for plotting is: What does the character want? Why don't they have it? How can they get around that obstacle?

Sadly, as much as we want things to always be OK in real life, stories are much more interesting if you put your character at odds with things, let them make mistakes, and challenge their wants/desires.

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski
Thanks for the crits! I think I'm learning a lot even though this is only my second TD.

Jul 10, 2001
some obscure reference
I was really at a loss for what to write, and with the busy weekend I figured it would be better to post the only idea I had than to shamefully withdraw. Even if I lose I think this is great practice.

I think will muster up the courage to do a crit in the morning so if anyone wants one from me let me know or I will pick one at random.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Week CXLIV Results: Doming Lasha Tumbai :siren:

Pictured: Judges in fierce and fabulous debate.

Most of you gave us only teardrops, Thunderdome. I expect sitting through every last ballad in the semi-finals to be a breeze compared to judging these stories. As for my co-judges, well... let's just go ahead and assume that harsh words will be said. Have you invested in fire insurance? Maybe you should.

It still so happened that a couple of stories inspired protracted argument over the results, although one side of the spectrum was easier to agree on than the other:

THE WINNER, after much contention, is crabrock! The judges did not love this story equally. For me it was the star performance of the evening, the one that held the most heart and resonance. I loved its treatment of its themes enough to forgive flaws that didn't cripple the whole.

The sole HONORABLE MENTION goes to the man he beat by only a fraction of a point: Tyrannosaurus. Technical merit was on your side, and you were kept from the crown more by crabrock's virtues than by any fault of your own. This initially lighthearted piece pulled off its darker turns with skill.

THE LOSER is PoshAlligator. We argued about this too, which says a lot about the week, because when someone turns in an entry with an unnamed nonentity of a main character, no plot, no sense, and little connection to the prompt, the results ought to be a foregone conclusion.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: TheGreekOwl, your escape was nearly as narrow as crabrock's victory. Your grammar and syntax were too poor to ignore. I couldn't make out your ending: who would outlast the village? What would they do with the corrupted ones? Who were the corrupted ones, the villagers or outsiders who came in to raise hell? Why did you keep reminding us that woman was topless? I see a hint of a story structure under the bad prose, but if PoshAlligator's entry hadn't been... whatever it was, you'd have been toast.

JcDent, in a better world you would have gotten the loss! Your exclamation points were numerous! So were your tenses! Your prose reminded me of "Eye of Argon"! Your SF jargon did not improve matters! Nothing much happened! It was a decent use of your video, though!

hubris.height, welcome to Thunderdome. Don't take this DM or the flensing critiques as signs you should stop fighting. It's through striving that we improve! That said, this story that was 80% car race, 15% leaden exposition from Schrödinger's Wife, and maybe 5% interesting theme was rather less than divine.

skwidmonster, your weird insomniac and his weird lifestyle could have been cool, but the lack of clarity in your entry irritated us far more than it pleased.

bigperm, I laughed, but this flopped completely for the judges who didn't know Slovenia's 2014 video backward and forward. It didn't stand alone even a little bitty bit.

Contestants, as is always the case with Eurovision, I find I've enjoyed the crazy ride despite its flat notes and disappointments. I'm glad each of you took the stage. Maybe we'll all sing along with the Europop again someday, who knows?

In the meanwhile, crabrock, start the next show!

Aug 2, 2002




:siren: TD CXLV: "You gonna finish that?" :siren:

This week is a little different. Ok a lot different.

Your signup doesn’t matter this week. You may announce your intention to participate, but your real signup comes with a price of admission. You submit a 400-500 word1 opening of a story by THURSDAY, 11:59pm EST. Establish, BUT DO NOT RESOLVE, a conflict.2 Title it “Untitled Opening” and post the wordcount with it. I will then randomly assign everybody who has submitted a story beginning, and your job will be to FINISH that story by Sunday, 11:59pm EST with another 500 words. You title the piece when you post it. Post the ENTIRE story, for the sake of the judges. You may not edit the beginning of the story except to fix typos and minor grammatical errors. This means no changing sentences, words, names, descriptions, etc.

So to recap. You submit a story beginning by Thursday. You get assigned somebody else’s story, and you write the ending. Each story submitted will in effect have 2 authors. Good things happen to both authors. Bad things happen to the last author. So Win/HMs happen to both contributors to the story, and Loss/DMs only affect whoever had it last.3

The prompt:
No emotional crap. I’m just too stressed to deal with it! I want something light and fun, something that’s easy to read and after I’m done I think “that was nice.” That doesn’t mean it needs to be a big joke, a brainless action piece, or a meaningless meandering, but keep it lighthearted. No topics are off limits. Have fun, real characters.

Let the bitching/confusion begin.

Word limit: 400-500 & 500. 1000 total. (if your starting person uses only 450 words, you may write 550.)
Submit first half by: May 14, 11:59pm EST
Submit second half by: May 17, 11:59pm EST

Judges: crabrock, SexySeafood, SexyBroenheim

1 If you submit fewer than 400 words for the first part YOU WILL BE DQed THE SAME AS IF YOU WENT OVER 500.

2 A conflict involves a character wanting something, but not being able to have it. The things they want can be physical (money, cars, a lover) or less tangible (power, acceptance, love).

3 On submitting purposely lovely beginnings so somebody has to deal with it: You’re a dick. If I suspect you did this, or I catch wind of it, then you will get stuck with whatever fate you’ve dragged the second author into, i.e. you’ll lose along with them.

beginning: dmboogie, ending: RedTonic
beginning: Grizzled Patriarch, ending: spectres of autism
beginning: Chairchucker, ending: dmboogie
beginning: sebmojo, ending: Fuschia tude
beginning: spectres of autism, ending: Thranguy
beginning: Jitzu_the_Monk, ending: Something Else
beginning: Benny Profane, ending: Ironic Twist
beginning: simplefish, ending: blue squares
beginning: PoshAlligator, ending: Chairchucker
beginning: Sitting Here, ending: Grizzled Patriarch
beginning: skwidmonster, ending: PoshAlligator
beginning: Djeser, ending: Sitting Here
beginning: Fuschia tude, ending: Jitzu_the_Monk
beginning: JcDent, ending: Jonked
beginning: Ironic Twist, ending: Blue Wher
beginning: Schneider Heim, ending: sebmojo
beginning: Pham Nuwen, ending: Benny Profane
beginning: RedTonic, ending: Pham Nuwen
beginning: newtestleper, ending: Jay O
beginning: Something Else, ending: newtestleper
beginning: Blue Wher, ending: Djeser Tyrannosaurus
beginning: Jonked, ending: simplefish
beginning: Jay O, ending: Schneider Heim
beginning: blue squares, ending: skwidmonster
beginning: Thranguy, ending: JcDent
beginning: Tyrannosaurus, ending: Djeser

crabrock fucked around with this message at 04:03 on May 18, 2015

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007

Badass idea for my week back. In

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

crabrock posted:

Judges: crabrock, SexySeafood, sexything2

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

I'm in for clusterfuck what the poo poo week.

Feb 25, 2014
im willing to judge this sure to be cluster gently caress

Aug 2, 2002




Broenheim posted:

im willing to judge this sure to be cluster gently caress

it will be glorious.

Oct 30, 2003
posting to :toxx:

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Thanks for the crits! I graciously accept my failure, and as usual will enter back in immediately. Expect my untitled opening.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
I’ll have to do a bunch of bonus crits before I get to these ones. Here’s some quick thoughts.

Claven666 - no more hunting stars
It took us exactly one Eurovision story to get to the gay sex.

Blue Wher - Mother’s Violin
For a story containing violin ghosts this was kinda placid.

spectres of autism - Dragon
Hmmm yes I too have fever dreams occasionally.

Posh Alligator - The Black Mountain's Bell
“The ringing began to stop.” => *hits you on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper*

hubris.heigh - Saccharine and Gasoline
Shifting POVs harder than the gears on an Italian sports car.

JcDent - Shame of Shamus
Local emo plays Monster Hunter, vows to kill all posers, hornbulls.

ThreGreekOwl - One Last Breath
I can see why you wouldn’t bother reading through this mess often enough to do a proofreading pass.

bigperm - Danes Odhajam
Dear bigperm, noone cares.

Broenheim - A Million Things I Wish I Had Done
Not gonna lie, that was kinda sad. Especially the part where I died.

Jonked - Love You While I'm Gone.
Good: creepy twist ending. Bad: I saw it coming (heh).

Schneider Heim - The Final Siege of the Black Steel Castle!
Man that Power Rangers novel was an odd marketing decision.

Tyrannosaurus - It’s Not Always A Serpent That Makes You Sin

Benny Profane - The Saunier Mausoleum
Oh drat I completely forgot this story exists. So. Uh.. Bye.

Grizzled Patriarch - Tiny Edible Things
Turn this into a full story and Ill crit it you lazy gently caress.

Killer-of-Lawyers - The Star and The Skull
It’s like that standoff in Kill Bill only instead of a cool fight scene everyone is being friends. (Still better than your fairy story.)

skwidmonster - Mr. War Criminal
It’s good that all these people have code- and nicknames otherwise this would be confusing as poo poo.

crabrock - A Probabilistic Route to Happiness
That’s so cute… she's his 1 in 11110100001001000000 :(

Sitting Here - Full Circle
Hello Lucy.... I've been waiting for you… all these years *creepy smile* Now finally we can be together… *smile intensifies* as soon as I can get out of this chair.

P.S. This week sucked. Cya

Dec 19, 2007

I think I understand the prompt now.

Jay O
Oct 9, 2012

being a zombie's not so bad
once you get used to it
In. (the end, it doesn't even matter.)

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In like a Turkish sailor on shore leave

Mar 31, 2015


gently caress everything, I regret it already

Mar 1, 2014

Well.... atleast I didn't fail completely.

Im doing this again. In.


Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax
Fun Shoe

Benny Profane posted:

Here are a bunch of short crits for everyone this week. I read these in judgemode, but ended up doing a fair bit of skimming.

Thanks man! I appreciate it.

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