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SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


Broenheim posted:

Hey nerds, you all kind of sucked this week, but here's my basic notes. I'll have more comments coming up where I get more in depth but for now, here's what I thought of your stories initially.

Additionally I flash ruled myself and have no cursing in my crits! Trust me though, I would've if I could.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing
Thanks Bro - I appreciate it. No excuses just improvement.

docbeard posted:

In unrelated news, crits for the last of the (non-DQ) entries for Week #149 are here. Featuring critiques for SlipUp, Lazy Beggar, SkaAndScreenplays, Entenzahn, and newtestleper.

The folks who submitted late will still get critiques. You will just get them late. (As opposed to the timeliness of these crits, you understand.)

Also, because apparently I can't get enough of this, I'll offer up three line-crits for this week's stories, first come, first served. If you get a crit from me, give a crit to someone else. (This someone else need not be me, but I certainly wouldn't complain!)
And Thanks Docbeard. Wish all my stories were at least this quality. I'll get there eventually.

EDIT: I'm out this week but I'm planning on doing some crits based on titles that I either like or are awful.

If you want to dibs a crit let me know. I don't have a specific number in mind.

SkaAndScreenplays fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2015 around 05:39

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Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


In.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

To clarify, the grandparents' attic bit in the prompt post is an example, NOT a requirement. Feel free to use it, if you want, but it isn't necessary.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Thank you Merc, Broenheim and Djeser for critiques

Crit for Djezzah

The kayak goblins struck John's canoe halfway down the Dorado River. Zeke, their shaman, had been leaning over the side, trying to keep down his lunch when he spotted them. He was a Cheyenne who'd never been outside Cago City before joining up with them. The outdoors always found a way to disagree with him.

I think there's good information in this first paragraph, but I think it's kind of out of order? "The kayak goblins struck John's canoe halfway down the Dorado River" is a kind of strong opening, but they haven't actually struck yet. Then you go on to say "Zeke, their shaman..." which is mildly confusing since "their" kind of makes it sound like he's the goblins' shaman. The rest of the sentence makes it clear enough, but it's a slight hitch in what should be a smooth, exciting intro. I do like "The outdoors always found a way to disagree with him"

"Bec!" he shouted. "Bec, what're those?"

Their cowgirl Bec, who was actually a bison, had her head down. She was rowing deliberately, making a point of looking somewhere other than at John, their revolver-less gunslinger.

When heZeke called her name, Bec whirled around in her seat, ready to snap in displaced anger at Zeke. Her bovine nostrils flared, and she lifted the oar as if ready to brandish it at their whining Indian. But then she glanced at the river behind them, a wide path cut through the sandy stone. It looked almost still, except for shapes like black needles darting from bend to bend about five hundred feet back.

"...except for shapes like black needles darting from bend to bend about five hundred feet back." Made me think you were describing fish at first, kinda. "Shapes like black needles" doesn't really evoke boats in my mind.

"Goblins," the cowgirl said, both in answer to Zeke and warning to John.

"John, goblins," she said again, dropping her oar in the water to hold her side of the canoe steady. Too redundant IMO

John's eyes peeked from beneath the brim of his hat. He made what he thought was a grizzled grimace. With only a sixteen-year-old's stubble on his chin, it was more of a sneer. "We'll pull up on the shore," he said. He tried to push the canoe toward the banks.

"They're comin' on us too fast. There's rapids up ahead but they're our only shot. Maybe "The rapids up ahead are our only shot"? Stop here and they'll run us through while we're tyin' up the canoe," Bec said, with as much authority as John had spoken with.

"I'm the man here, I'm the leader, I say we stop!" John said. This veers a bit too much into making John kind of an unlikeable cutout

"You're sixteen!" Bec said. But you kind of subvert it here so idk maybe it's fine

"You're seventeen," John said, "And a cow. I'm not listening to you."

"Buffalo," Bec said, shoving a hoof-finger into John's chest.

"I don't care. You're all just minotaurs to me."

"John, Bec, guys!" Zeke shouted from the back of the canoe. They both turned toward him, then followed his pointed finger to the kayak goblins, now were only two hundred feet away, and approaching fast.

John groaned in frustration and dug his oar into the water. Bec leaned her back into the oar and took deep breaths, exhaling with each stroke. Zeke dipped his hands into the water and concentrated hard.

The steady rush of rapids grew closer in front of their canoe. Behind them, their wake rippled in the water as if held by an invisible hand I don't understand the image you're going for there . Zeke poured all his desire into making the water behind them as still as possible, thicker than hot tar behind them. But he wasn't familiar with using his magic on rivers, and the goblins were beating the water viciously in their attempts to move. He slumped back onto the bottom of the boat with a throbbing head and an emptiness in his heart.

Ahead, the rapids, fifty feet left Kind of a weird way to say "the rapids were fifty feet ahead" or whatever . Behind them, the goblins, a hundred fifty away. I think you're doing these short, clipped sentences to make things feel fast paced? But I don't really care exactly how many feet away stuff is from other stuff A black arrow plunked into the water two arm's lengths I would go to great lengths to not read about so many lengths from the boat. Another hit Bec's oar. As the biggest target, she hunkered down with one last, hard push.

John watched the water like a dome of glass spilling away beneath them. Huh???? The canoe tipped, then slid forward. The river ahead rocked from side to side, bunching up against stones and flowing in tight, fast knots. A sudden fury overtook the water here, and it struck out against the rock that held it in its riverbed. I kinda like that last image there

They had only a chance, but it was more of a chance than the open waters gave.

"Bec, steer!" John snapped. Bec grunted. Smart-mouth. lol

While Bec shifted her weight and paddled quickly, John slipped his sling from its holster. He pulled one of his good lead slugs from his belt. He pressed it into the pouch and waited. Behind them, a tandem kayak crested one of the swells. First, all he could see was the dark underside. Then, a pair of snaggle-toothed, green-brown faces popped into view.

The rubber stretched smooth and strong. The handle pushed against his thumb like a tight embrace. His knuckles curled as he pulled back. Hmmm who's POV is this from? Omniscient, I guess? The draw and snap took less than a second. The crack of lead on teeth was lost in the rapids, but he saw one goblin's head snap back and slam into the other's face. A black arrow flew in an impotent arc into the water.

Now the goblins knew their canoe was dangerous.

"Now they'll try to kill us! What were they trying to do before? We're tryin' to get away, not get 'em riled up!" Bec roared over the rush of water. She slammed a rock with the flat of their oar. They bounced away from a sharp outcropping. John tumbled into the side of the canoe and fell to the floor.

He wasn't going to give Bec the satisfaction of being hurt. "Zeke," he snapped, "smooth out the drat river!"

Zeke was splayed on the floor, staring at the sky. What did it matter anyway? They could just crash and he wouldn't care. That was the danger with his magic; powered by desire, too much magic at once left him nihilistic.

One of the kayaks rode a swell that would have dashed their canoe to bits. Just as it was about to hit the stones, the goblin jammed his paddle into the rock, and flipped into the air. John, Bec and Zeke watched the dark shape sail over them. An arrow whipped through the air. It passed by John's shoulder, not an inch from his skin. It thunked right through the bottom of the canoe.

Water spurted out of the hole. Bec spun her oar up into the air. It crashed through the goblin's kayak. The splintered wood and skin flew in all directions, and the flailing little monster crashed into the water.

"ZEKE!" she bellowed, a terrifying silhouette against bright white spray.

Will sprung back into Zeke's body and he pressed his palms into the water filling the bottom of the canoe. As long as it connected with the river, it would work. John whipped his lead shot at any green face that sprung up around a fall or behind a rock. Oh so he's in an arcade shooter Bec beat a path with oar and hoof away from the rocks.

Two kayaks surged forward on either side of their canoe. Bec spun to the left and smashed the oar into the water like chopping wood. The kayak burst open. I thought she smashed it into the water, though? Her oar splintered. John spun to the right and snapped his sling at the goblin pilot. The slug clipped its cheek and make it hiss. Another slug snapped across its eyes "snapped across" is such an odd way to describe this. Did it glance off his face? Or hit him in the eye? . In rage, it swung its sharpened paddles at John. A third slug knocked it out. The kayak spun over as it trailed off behind them.

John stood triumphant until a pair of arrows hit him in the shoulder and calf. The canoe caught him as he dropped to the floor.

Zeke blinked through an urge to just let himself fall into the rapids. "There's a fork!" He gestured toward where a tributary split off, rushing into a tunnel in the rock. "The stone's weak—you could collapse the mouth." He could feel every inch of the landscape with each beat of his heart. Huh ok so how is this gonna work

"Sling!" Bec shouted down at John. He squirmed, holding onto the sling's fork with a vice grip. She reached down for his hand and brushed the shaft of the arrow in his shoulder. John yowled and twisted away.

Bec looked him square in the eye. Her big, dark, inhuman eyes fixed on his tearing, painful squint. She ripped the sling from his hand, then stuck the handle in his good fist. "Hold it."

With a handful of slugs shoved into the pouch, she leaned back toward Zeke. "Aim," she said.

Zeke tossed a pointed finger "tossed a pointed finger"???? over her shoulder, one eye squinted shut. She closed one eye, too. Through the pain, John could feel the rubber straining in his sling, pulled far too tight. The handle dug into his palm angrily. How could he let this happen to it? Okay so as far as I can tell, they are all sort of working together to operate this slingshot in order to collapse some rocks to block the river. But the blocking here is kind of disjointed and confusing.

The sling snapped. Bec grabbed John's oar and paddled with all her might. They shot into the tunnel just ahead of the tumbling rocks that sealed it off. They caused a cave in with a slingshot??? IDK djizzah, IDK

Their hearts were still racing by the time they flopped ashore miles downstream. John stayed in the canoe until Zeke felt right enough to pull the arrows free and blow some healing wind onto the wounds. By that time, Bec had already set up a fire so her fringed jacket and boots could dry.

"I didn't think we was gonna make it, but hell," Bec said. It was the sort of sentence that didn't need to be finished.

"Good work," John said, slumping down in front of the fire.

A long, happy silence passed.

"Still don't take orders from cows."

"You're still sixteen."

Zeke took a breath, then rose. He patched up the canoe while John and Bec unwound.

So, this was a fun little adventure yarn. Your characters were all distinct from each other, but fell a little flat when you look beyond their immediate roles in the story. Bec is the strong, competent one who gets underestimated and judged for being a cow. John is the over-confident young man out to prove himself as a cool and tough leader. Zeke is the Allen Ginsberg of the group I guess. I think he was the weakest. "shaman who gets nihilistic when he uses his powers" is less characterization and more a mechanic in a magic system. Otherwise, for juggling three characters and a lot of action in a relatively small word count, I thought this was ok. The goblins were generic bad guy fodder, but that's the kind of story it is. It's about these kids proving themselves, not some well-developed world or whatever.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007



Fun Shoe

OK you limp dicked baby retards I'm back to bring some stomping on your idiot faces until they fit neatly into a jar and all your stupid baby words are leaking out your idiot broken skulls

I guess I still gotta say in because reading between the lines would be too much for you poor pissbabies

Jopoho
Feb 17, 2012


Thanks for crits judges.

In again.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


SMELLS LIKE DOME SPIRIT CRITS: PART 1

Fast critting is good critting? Too bad.

Going backwards in submission time.

Claven 666 - The Black Forest
Initial Thoughts: Okay, okay, kinda rushed through the trials, but kinda okay. NOT ENOUGH FORESHADOWING FOR THE ENDING.

Much Later Thoughts: Ha, this starts like a romance novel, but in a really good way. Man, you totally ran out of words. It’s hard to give you any other critique, when that is so clearly the problem.

I can’t say how you would have fared if you had more words to tell this story, but you didn’t have more words, and thus the story failed. It’s no excuse--less words is the entire point of Thunderdome. You should have condensed the whole concept, and you could have.Three tasks is classic, why go for thirteen? You could have cut at least half of the beginning. Most of all, you desperately needed to plant the seed for the ending at the beginning.

As is, making John blind felt like an excuse to put other sensory details in. I wish I had included “no blindness” in the prompt, though I think you were the only person to do it. This story was, quite frankly, disappointing. It’s practically classical fairytale run through what could be a good wringer, but ended up being weak and borderline cliche. This story had the elements of something interesting, and wasted them.

Sitting Here - Wild Flowers
Initial Notes: not totally clear what happens at the end. How are the blueberries going to be a snack after the hike if they are going to go back to Abby’s house by magic?

Much Later Thoughts: Okay, this was so good in so many ways. I read this in judgemode, but I knew “it had to be you” in the best way. Like when you pick up a magazine and start reading something and it enchants you and you think like “this reminds me of…” so you flip back to the beginning page and it’s like “by Sitting Here” and you’re like “of course it is.”

Gorgeous.

BUT. You did a thing I hate--telling a story from a perspective of someone who knows the truth and hiding that truth from us. You ruined the lovely, trying-to-keep-up character of Abby, and that ruined the lovely fae truth for me. ARGH. I’m really irritated because everything else is so enchanting. I don’t remember if Muffin wrote crits for this week, but just in case he didn’t: he said this whole story was painfully, beautifully enchanting (paraphrasing, it’s been a few months), and I agree.

And the characters were so perfectly real (Lisa Frank!!), until they were unreal -- but sadly in a way that betrayed their original reality for me instead of enhancing it.

Noah - Inheritence
Initial Thoughts: This was actually pretty okay and did not make me want to die. I guess that other dude makes his food good by cumming in it? that is weird. Or do they both? is that why he is unaccustomed to wearing underwear? Anyway, decent premise, concludes pretty well.

Much Later Thoughts: Less than half-way through, before it’s importance is totally clear, and the bodily fluids references are ~weird~ and ~gross~.... Well done?
“A thin, pink strand of saliva and blood stretched as far as it could, and then sagged under its own weight, dribbling slightly down Deida’s chin.”
EW IT’S SO GROSS. Well done. A very good use of flashbacks and childhood insecurity. Thank god it wasn’t actually cum for the protagonist. Ewwwww. A good use of grossness. Really good use of the sensory prompt--I should have been prepared for one good disgusting use. Sorry, but your story really was gross in the best way, so I can’t quite get over the gross part -- that’s a compliment. Weakness is the emotional component. I wish you’d given us a better reason to care about the dude winning in the first place -- not like some kind of “kid has cancer” kind of crap, but like… if you could have given us that kid-desperate-to-please atmosphere at the very beginning somehow. Once we got that in the middle, it was a good story. If I had a reason to care and really root for the guy from the beginning, would have been great.

A Classy Ghost - Digging Up the Past
Initial Thoughts: Real problems with motivation in this one. Need to do something different after getting evicted clear enough, but rest of it is strained. Really confused by what gristle is in his mouth and why he is relishing the musty taste? So I guess he got intentionally arrested so he could perform in prison? And this was somehow inspired by a pirate? Why not just rob something other than his own father’s grave? Also...you made it sound like he was trying NOT to get arrested, but the end suggested it was part of his plan, so that’s some obvious intentional “lying to the audience” poo poo that I hate. It reminds me of that other dumb story about a clown where he was crying on the sidewalk, but at the end it was tears of joy because his son was being born…

Much Later Thoughts: not much different from my initial thoughts. The “plan” to get arrested (I think?) and therefore be more successful in prison that at birthday parties (I think?) is just..weird and unrealistic and also poorly conveyed. I don’t “get” this story, and it’s your fault.

Kaishai - Ghost
Initial thoughts: How do lanterns cast dust? oh, nevermind, explained. Good, like the world. Unique but fairly clear. Ectoplasm objects not perfectly clear, not clear why she needs to make them to get last words out. Not clear how she knew Aster murders were related to this one, either. Still probably my favorite so far… not surprising since it stars a 16-year old girl and magic, but WHATEVER. ALWAYS PANDER.

Much Later Thoughts:
It’s really selling this story short to say that it pandered to me, and I regret saying that. But I won’t edit any of my first impression reviews, so there it is. I really want to read more of this story, and that’s close to the best thing I can say about a story. The downside of that statement is inherent: this story didn’t quite give enough to be completely satisfying on its own. I want it to be the first chapter or so of a longer work. On a re-reading, the sensory details are very well done. While reading them, they did not stand out -- exactly as it should be. They built the world and the characters, did not claim unnatural attention. The entire story was immersive, exactly what I hoped to get from that part of the prompt.

The first paragraphs hooked me: a girl selling herself, but with limitations, but also for life. The dust business was a distraction and IMO should have been deleted in such a short piece. It’s lovely, but didn’t add enough in the short piece to justify spending the time on it. The development of her skills and relationship with Dr. Montmorrecy flowed cleanly and held my interest throughout. You really capitalized on the benevolent master situation set up at the beginning, and didn’t resort to the “muwahahaha you were wrong” plot line that is so easy to do in short fiction. Her powers were fascinating and used well.

The end could have been stronger -- it feels like you ended up limited by the word count -- not an excuse, you know. The biggest flaw was that the ending didn’t quite tie clearly to the middle where it was supposed to. The Aster connection was too vague and therefore unsatisfying. It left too many unanswered questions.

This critique focuses more on the few negatives than the many positives. While this could have been wrangled into a more satisfying flash fiction piece, at the end of the day, I would have liked this story more if it were, say, 80k words instead of 1k.


Killer-of-Lawers - Decay
Initial notes: Is this some Ender’s Game Jane fanfic? Other than that, it’s going pretty well in the beginning. Clear enough what’s going on, and as a depressed person with too many worries that won’t shut up, I am interested by a computer suffering from the same. I really like this one, too. Not totally clear on what is chasing John or why, but the ship’s computer is one of the better established characters this week, and her relationship with John is pretty well sketched out, IMO.

Much Later Crit: I enjoyed this one so much that I basically made it an HM by myself. Telling a sensory story purely from the perspective of a computer was daring, not because it was novel, but because it could have been done sooooooo terribly. Your use of sensory details blends seamlessly into the plot and characterization. I still really love the anxious, loyal, irritated computer. Probably my favorite part is this:

quote:

Sarah quickly popped open her inner airlock and called out with every internal speaker she had. "Down!"
It’s a brilliant example of “poo poo doesn’t work, so I worked around it!” which is one of my favorite things. It’s also great imagery that isn’t flowery at all, just what happens is so immediate. Like, I can immediately picture all the doors flying open and a tinny voice from inside crying “down!”

Tyrannosaurus - Tour
Initial Notes: ANOTHER CLOWN STORY. I like this clown story, actually. So much pathos. There are a lot of problems with it, but overall, a good story about jokes and how we use them to deal with pain in our lives.

Much Later Crit: The main point of this story -- how we use jokes and stories to understand and deal with real life events -- remains excellent. The biggest problem is that everything besides the point is too shallow to lend the point the appropriate gravity. It’s a sketch at best. A very good sketch, but still a sketch. Your sensory details give a decent impression of the train car, but it remains a generic train car. The clowns are not real characters. The main character doesn’t even quite become a real person, and is instead just a vessel for the message. It relies too much on the conceit of the story, and fails to create anything really convincing. Also lacks conflict. Basically 100% on the message, needs a lot of work for a brilliant execution.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


SCENT WEEK PART 2: I SMELL LIKE poo poo AND I DON'T CARE

Okay, here is everyone else. Apologies to middle people who only get my rambling immediate responses. If you really deeply care about my response to your story, PM me or hit me up in IRC, I'll give you a proper crit.

Mrenda - A Funeral for a Dog, A Young Murderer, and The Aged Bad Boy of Directing

Initial notes: Terrible. Hard to tell what’s going on. No sense of character. Can’t tell who is saying anything. Wtf is “organic” when she steps on the carpet. DM potential

Much later crit: I am basically unwilling to re-read this to give you a critique. That may sound like a dick move but 1) welcome to thunderdome? and 2) I don’t need to re-read it to remember what my original problems were. Mostly, as noted above, it is nearly impossible to tell what is going on. And before you go off on some bullshit “you just didn’t get it” kind of thing: a kid accidentally (?) killed the dog of a famous old director, who then “accidentally” ran over him with a car, and the story happens when a reporter goes and witnesses the director’s stupid terrible funeral for his dog, and then gets arrested by the cops for running over a toddler. Yeah. I had to explain that whole thing to a co-judge because it is seriously unclear what is happening. The title helps, but still. gently caress You.

The confusion overwhelms any other problems with the story (of which there are still many, trust me). If you weren’t trying to write a stupid hide-the-ball story, then work on making everything really clear. Use dialogue tags. Dialogue tags for the love of god. Put things in chronological order instead of randomly trying to make things clear with police busting in on the scene. Please don’t write vegetarians wanting to eat raw burgers. If you were trying to make things vague on purpose: DON’T loving DO THAT.


Wangless wonder - stopwatch
Initial notes: Okay, not terrible. Lots of sweat. Unbelievable that the fast running dude would ask to run with someone who was just walking. No one does that. Other than that, pretty good. I mean, he wouldn’t even assume she was going to run if she wasn’t already running.

Much later crit: You loving nailed my own personal exercising-as-a-fat-person hell. I love seeing these painful details written by someone else. My problem with this story is that it was made up of exclusively those details. It reads like a motivational poster. The mother is a caricature, and you didn’t make the relationship with her daughter more than the most shallow “don’t be like my fat mom” forums post on a diet site. I still don’t buy the fit-guy “let’s run together” pep message. Just...no way. And while you nailed her lying excuse, you didn’t nail the humiliation, somehow.

Like I said, it reads like a pity piece wrapped in inspirational poster. Keep running!
Bring those uncomfortable details into a real story, and you’ve got something.

Later: This has nothing to do with your story, really. I also wrote a piece about a morbidly obese woman, and in retrospect, could not find a realistic satisfying end to it (she literally turned into a tree). I would love to see a story about a morbidly obese woman that didn’t have to do with her obesity. Like, existing as an overweight woman in the United States, I don’t think that one could write a realistic story about me without dealing with that aspect of myself, but at the same time, so few of my personal stories have to do directly with being a certain size or losing weight, and I feel like most stories about overweight women make that the center of the story.

dmboogie - Rouge’s Eyes
Initial notes: Interesting idea, though seems impractical. Wouldn’t you want assassins to be able to use all their skills? It makes the sensory details feel forced, too, instead of naturally integrated. Jumps between time are not clear enough. What she’s going to do at the end is clear, but the motivations are all...blunt? I dunno. No characters, puppets in the play.

Much later crit: The whole set up is boring and cliche in a way that it doesn’t have to be. Like, a student being sent after her teacher has been done before, but it doesn’t have to be cliche. You rub the cliche in our faces. Muwahahaha says the commander, immediately removing any question of the morality of the situation. Then you go back and forth trying to establish the relationship of the student to the master, but it’s already been ruined.

Most importantly, you don’t sell us on Vi’s final decision. Why, after all that time, does she chose to follow the choices of her political master instead of her teacher? You put a scene in the middle where the teacher questions the master, but it never blossomed for Vi. It had no emotional weight for the characters, only the too-heavy message for the reader.


BigPerm - Final Luxury
Initial notes: Motivations are weird. You’re hiding the wrong things -- hiding why he came does nothing. You waste time on a slave girl saying he could sleep with her instead of telling us why we should care about this guy dying, then try to cram it into the last paragraph, but it means nothing. It’s all to vague. What does it mean “the farmers” wife and children are as generic as king and queen.

Spectres of autism - Lilium
Initial Notes: Confusing. Tense shifts that aren’t quite right.

BlueWher - The Deadly Curse of American Revolutionary Oliver Hammond
Initial thoughts: Bad. Motivations are non-existent. Conflicts are…??? Probably not even a DM though.

TheGreekOwl - Poison for the Mid Light
Initial Thoughts: “The streets lights around tire me as I walk beneath them, they strain my eyes.” First sentence WTF. “Small groans I hear as I reach my front door” Is this story narrated by Yoda?! He just described people as sheep while in a basement so I expect this to be a genius serial killer story, also I hate it. I hope GreekOwl is ESL. I skimmed to the end because it’s so terrible and wtf is this weird nerd poo poo and then a 9/11 conspiracy?!?! LOSER OR DM FOR SURE.

Much Later Thoughts: I really don’t want to re-read this one to give a further crit. It’s still painful to read. It’s still a far-too-detailed account of some dude going into a basement and posting a 9/11 conspiracy joke. I’m sorry TheGreekOwl, we have talked in IRC, and you are a fine person, but I really can’t reread this.

Mercedes - Valley of Death
Initial Thoughts: WTF is this, a Martello story? SHOULD HAVE WAITED FOR NETH TO CHECK YOUR TENSES, BUDDY. IS THIS JANE GREY FAN FICTION? Why is she a valley girl? Because it’s called Valley of Death? Wait, Janice is a man? Oh, I get it, she got dumb instead of smart but also got all the powers. Also though, would have been better, IMO, if Janice was a woman and that’s why Antoinette thought they could be BFFs

Much Later Thoughts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0359hSerDeE

Broenheim - Everyone Has Their Demons
Initial Thoughts: I SPECIFICALLY SAID DO NOT PUT YOUR SCENT IN YOUR ENTRY. Also, no clue why any of this happened, sorry. Maybe it was in there to tease out, but not good enough to get me to do it. Blah dialogue, repetitive, boring action, “mystery” that is dumb and unexplained. Boo.

Bompacho - Baxter’s Second Hand Books
Initial Thoughts: Predictable, boring. Why is the son such a dick? That’s such a cliched, contrived plot, there’s really no interest in it. Terrible son. Might be interesting if the son had some conceivable motive other than screwing his own dad to get a stupid yuppie coffee-shop or something. Also, didn’t set up enough for the dad wanting to burn down his own shop. Like… to spite his son? that seems dumb.

Ravenkult
Initial Thoughts: Okay but ending is dumb and boring. “Okay, he killed it, too.” Doesn’t hit the intriguing/creepy vibe. Grandmother is a caricature. MC is a cipher.

Megazver - O
Initial Thoughts: Everyone in chat was like WTF Mega, so great, now i expect something. LOLOL well, delivers on WTF. Not sure if it falls into an Erotica DQ, but I’m inclined to say no. Not a winner, not a loser or even a DM, probably.

Much Later Thoughts: lol i'm glad i was reminded of this one.

Something Else - Freshly Split
Initial Thoughts: 1st Paragraph, I’m pretty into this. Like the metaphor of his beard on the plastic hammer. GOD drat IT IS THIS GOING TO BE A CHAINSAW MASSACRE STORY? Oh no, that was a metaphor for the zipper unzipping, good. Now it’s just a domestic violence/stalker story. pretty okay, maybe best so far, IMO.

Jonked - Bathsheba
Initial Thoughts: A+ Billionaire romance. Miscarriage was weird and random sinner guilt was weird, and the homosexual thing was kind of weird, too, honestly. burning coffee and smell of sandalwood and vanilla not adding much for me.

Pete Zah - Maggie’s Tale
Initial Thoughts: Not terrible at all. Pretty okay actually. Some of the sentences are clumsy, but at least the story goes and is kinda interesting. Has some problems, but...yeah, not bad.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Work and such keeping me busy this week, but I'll try to crit some stories picked at random like the last time I did this.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Thanks for that helpful line crit, Profane. I'll pay it forward. Two line crits, any TD story. Any takers?

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

Jitzu_the_Monk posted:

Thanks for that helpful line crit, Profane. I'll pay it forward. Two line crits, any TD story. Any takers?

I'll take you up on it and pay forward upon delivery. Or when I have a break today, whichever comes first... Please take a look at my entry for last week.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011



A gentleman and a scholar. Thanks.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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



Pfft. You'd think I'd ever forget SerDeE? Gonna have to do better than that.

Armack
Jan 27, 2006

Corde pulsum tangite


Line crit for Redtonic.

RedTonic posted:

Speak to Us of Teaching
WC: 1389

Asher and Najib argued even while Ziyad’s cousin was throwing them all out that night. -Cool character names His wife and daughters tossed their meager baggage into the street -Whose wife and daughter's? The as-of-yet nameless cousin's? It isn't clear. Najib heard the laughter of onlookers as they witnessed the spectacle and imagined their sly jests -Strange syntax. Who imagined jests? Contexts suggests it's Najib, but the way the sentence is written makes it seem like the onlookers were imagining jests. The sting drove venom into his words.

^There are a number of issues with the above paragraph. For one thing, it's a beginning to the story that does little to hook the reader. It hints at a conflict, but is otherwise mundane. It dryly describes people getting kicked out of someplace, but doesn't establish much mystery, excitement, uniqueness, interesting characters, etc. There isn't much to motivate the reader to continue on at the point. Additionally, the prose is a bit weak. The sentences have a clunky, start-stop rhythm.

Najib bared his teeth in a grimace. “Why don’t you even practice your name? A man should be able to read, to write! I offer you the world--”

“Of what? Your scrolls? A pale country as nearsighted as you!” Asher’s barking laugh set Najib’s teeth on edge.

He tried again anyway. “Knowledge, and with it, freedom--”

“Of ink-stained fingers? Arms with all the strength of khubz?” Asher was unrelenting. He pointed to the girls. “If it’s in your power to grant freedom, give it to them. As for me, I was born free; I am still free; I will die free--I need no blessings from a merchant tribe.”

For their part, the girls fled into the safety of their home without sparing a word for a single member of the company.

“Why won’t you put forth a little effort? I don’t know why I even w--” This time it was Najib who interrupted himself, snapping his teeth shut before he finished the last word. He flogged the air between them with the tasseled end of the Holy Word.

“Waste your time?” Asher finished in a low voice. “I don’t, either.”

Najib grabbed his pack from the rutted mud and jammed spilled scrolls back inside. No one had taken care to ensure that the prophets’ words were protected. Darkness hid his angry flush from anyone who might have mocked him for it. Asher stalked off after the rest of their company, leaving Najib to straggle behind.

They camped well outside the city limits. Ziyad’s cousin had been their only connection in the whole city; no one else would welcome strangers in their homes during wartime -At this point in the story I'm wishing you would show instead of tell. Much of the story is telly, and yet I still don't have a good grasp of what the story is about or where it is going. So far, my best evidence that "the company" is a group of adventurers comes from the prompt, not from the story itself.. Najib lay awake under the thousands of lantern-blooms. They were beautiful, but their light kept him from sleeping. He hadn’t mustered the strength to set up a tent.

Soft crunching caused Najib to roll over so he could see who approached, even though he knew by the clatter and clink of tools that it was Ziyad.

“Hey,” Ziyad said. He sat in the circle of grass Najib had flattened for himself. “Not tired?”

“Sorry about…” Najib trailed off. “I’m really sorry. I’ve embarrassed you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Zayid dismissed the apology with a wave. “Cousin Amir isn’t exactly legendary for his hospitality. But,” he lowered his voice, “I think this is getting out of hand.”

“It’s important.”

“I can see it’s important to you. But have you ever told him why?”

Najib closed his eyes. “Isn’t it clear? Every man should know his letters. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is freedom. It cannot be stolen. The patriarchs of old valued it above almost every other virtue.”

“Our ways aren’t those of Asher’s tribe. The Bedu don’t all--” -At this point in the story, the reader is hoping for the plot to move along. So far there isn't much plot, just worldbuilding and character introduction (as opposed to character development). Readers typically don't have the patience to stick with a story if it hasn't hooked them by this point. If I were not doing a line crit, I would have stopped reading here.

“As he likes to remind us--”

“You need to tell him why it’s important to you. I don’t even know why.” Even Ziyad’s patience had its limit.

Even with his eyes closed, The lantern-blossoms were too bright to allow Najib easy sleep. He had never been able to adopt the pragmatic catch it when you can attitude the warriors and sorcerers of the company had about rest. He had blamed it on the need to pray, the need to petition spirits and prophets for the powers he used to keep his companions whole and safe, but he knew the problem was within him. Only a guilty heart struggled with sleep. Asher always slept soundly; he was probably asleep now.

“I’m afraid,” Najib admitted. “Even blessed Miriam will not let me look past the veil despite my prayers. I don’t know what will happen after we reach the ziggurat. All I see is Angra Mainyu.”

Ziyad touched his sleeve for just a moment, just as long as it took for a breeze to wind through the camp.

“We won’t fail,” Ziyad said. “And if we die, we will be welcomed as heroes.”

“I don't fear death any more than you do -- what I fear is that our souls won't all go to the same place.” The words spilled from Najib’s lips in a rush. “It took us this long to find each other and I fear that this is my test -- that I must save his soul before we mount those steps, or when the time comes, we’ll be parted. Forever. I'm afraid that I don’t have enough time.”

The grasses rustled with the breeze’s return. They listened to the singing insects relishing the last of the warm summer nights. Najib’s body thrummed with tension, a barely repressed quiver which rose and fell in time to those songs. Any other night he might have been beside Asher, dreaming, content; but now there was no time. Dawn would come soon and so would another day’s progress towards Angra Mainyu’s temple. Less than a handful of days were left.

“You should tell him,” Ziyad said again. “As you love him, be honest with him.” He left silently this time, with all the artful stealth that Najib would never master.

Najib opened his eyes. Tonight might be the last time he saw the night in its full glory. -The story is almost over and yet all that has happened so far is these guys got kicked out of the city and made camp. You've got to pace your plot so that exciting events happen in the early and mid parts of your story.

He still could not bring himself to speak with Asher the next day. He could feel the warrior’s eyes on him whenever Asher thought he was paying attention. The reality was that Najib could never be anything but aware of Asher at all times. He relived all the awkwardness of his first love without its soothing sweetness. Instead, he anticipated an ending. Their ending.

Asher chose to end their little dance two evenings later as they pitched tents at the edge of the arid lands. -Two evenings later and STILL all that they company is doing is making camp again? ARRG. No one wants to read about people just camping in various places, unrequited love notwithstanding. Najib was stumble-footed with weariness and struggled with his own pup tent. He had not set one up alone in months and had lost the knack for doing it at dusk. Asher took the guy-lines, leaving Najib to hold the central pole, and soon the tent was fully pitched in the midst of their encampment.

“Tonight is the last night we’ll have a fire,” Asher said. “We’ll be in the evil one’s lands tomorrow.”

“I know.” Najib sighed and scrubbed at his eyes. He believed in the company’s goals. He knew the plan was their only hope of success. But he could not put his heart at ease.

“So will you join us?” Asher sounded impatient.

Impulse moved Najib to grab Asher’s hands. They were calloused from the three war disciplines of the Bedu, the triple paths Asher loved so well. -This seems more like world-building than character development.

“Forgive me,” Najib said. “I am a fool.” Asher waited, still as a deer in the twilight, as Najib poured out his fear and longing. They flowed from the only words he had, dim glints compared to the pure and straight words of the prophets, whose tales and holy laws lay coiled in the tent, scrolls now stained with mud and sweat.

Ziyad had been correct, as Ziyad was always correct: a thief who saw right to the heart of matters, who cut through ignorance and who had always led them on the best path.

“But I never needed to be saved,” Asher said after silence had pooled around them. Najib had exhausted all his words and felt liquid; if not at ease, then at least empty. The sun had set and the last sliver of the moon was high.

Asher freed his hands and pulled something from his kibr -His what?. He pressed it into Najib’s waiting palms. Stone, still warm from Asher’s body. Najib could barely see so far from the fire but he felt the outline of a horse.

“If victory requires our lives, if all else fails… Would it be so bad to come with me?” Asher asked. Najib felt the ghost of Asher’s hand hovering, not quite touching his cheek, and leaned into the touch. “We would ride forever, dawn to dawn. If I cannot meet you, will you not meet me instead?”

Najib knotted the leather thong at his nape.

“If you cannot come to the gods’ gardens, then I will walk to your desert,” he answered.

The story suffers from some structural problems related to the plot. The company is headed to a ziggurat to fight some kind of evil, but do we get the fight, the suspense, any rising action or increase in tension? Not really. The story is all prologue. It suffers from being the least interesting part of their quest.

In terms of characters, I don't think you satisfied the prompt's directive that the characters be interesting yet so distinctive that a reader could know who was saying what without attribution. That's not to say that the story was void of characterization at all, but the characters were a bit two-dimensional and they didn't really develop. Additionally, the story didn't give readers much of an incentive to care about the characters, which is a problem because the only real conflict in the story is a character-driven disagreement, between Najib and Asher.

My recommendations for your next story: 1) Study up on conventional plot structure and pacing. Your stories should have a brief exposition, the introduction of interesting characters and conflicts, a rising action of tension where the characters want something but the conflict steadily makes these wants less likely to bear out. 2) Think about what makes characters interesting. Are your characters unique in some way? Good at something? Can readers relate to them? More importantly, think about how you want your characters to change over the course of the story. Significant events change people; your stories should be full of significant events.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

Dear Claven: your story could have kicked rear end but your effort was medicore, therefore you suck.

Agreed. Agreed so hard. Thanks for the crit.

Can't believe I missed fantasy fight week. My story would have owned faces.

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


So far I haven't gotten any crits from anyone aside from about four sentences in IRC from BadSeafood. At this point I'll literally blow someone for some feedback on my story.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


epoch. posted:

So far I haven't gotten any crits from anyone aside from about four sentences in IRC from BadSeafood. At this point I'll literally blow someone for some feedback on my story.

No favors required. I'll try and knock something out for you Friday night

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills





epoch. posted:

So far I haven't gotten any crits from anyone aside from about four sentences in IRC from BadSeafood. At this point I'll literally blow someone for some feedback on my story.

A number of people have offered up critiques free for the asking, including myself. And it looks like Broenheim did, in fact, critique your story.

As it is, I had a little time this morning: https://docs.google.com/document/d/...dit?usp=sharing

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


Oh, I'm sorry! Apologies to Bronheim, I actually did previously read his critique and forgotten about it. Thank you for yours, as well.

edit: "I feel like I've watched the 'making of' special feature for a movie, but only the last ten minutes of the actual movie." That sums it up so, so well. Thanks again.

epoch. fucked around with this message at Jul 16, 2015 around 16:47

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


curlingiron: Please count me in for this week.

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


docbeard posted:

In unrelated news, crits for the last of the (non-DQ) entries for Week #149 are here. Featuring critiques for SlipUp, Lazy Beggar, SkaAndScreenplays, Entenzahn, and newtestleper.

Thanks for the crit.

I'm planning on doing a couple for this week. Any takers?

flerp
Feb 25, 2014



Comments for Week 153 for People I Think My Judgenotes Weren’t Enough For (specifically Barbed Tongues, HopperUK, spectres of autism, Pham Nuwen, Lazy Beggar, Entenzahn, LOU BEGAS MOUSTACHE, Jagermonster, Screaming Idiot, Jonked, Curlingiron, Killer-of-Lawyers, Grizzled Patriarch, and SkaAndScreenplays)

Certain stories this week I had more to say then what my judgenotes said, so here’s some of them. If you’re story isn’t here, it’s not because I don’t like you. I probably don’t like you, but that’s not why you're getting more in-depth crits, it’s just that I felt some of these stories needed to have more to be said then just my rough notes. If you are mad about this, please email at Broenheimdoesntcare@gmail.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Also there were two problems this week. 1) not having a complete story and 2) having boring characters. Normally, 1 would be bad enough, but vignettes were ok this well, but, if you have 2 as well, well, your vignette is going to suck and be bad. Characters are the lifeblood of your story. If you have bad or boring characters I will assure that there will be very little you can do to make me think it was good, especially me who is incredibly picky about characters. Write good ones and you might even impress me with a vignette!

How Slug Got His Shell

I tried to read this twice. Each time, I got bored and confused. Your plot makes no sense, your prose gets in the way (specifically, calling one of your character a crow confuses me because idk if he’s a literal crow or from the crow tribe). However, the plot of this is incredibly weak. Party gets stuff stolen, they walk around for awhile, talk to an old dude, then go on a spirit journey. The part I loved about this story was that little snippet of a fable. That was pretty well written and has a good Aesop’s feeling while feeling unique and interesting. That was a good microcosm of a story in a really boring story with uninteresting characters. Make things clear, and make things I care about.

Welcome to Thunderdome btw. Don’t give up. I got a DM the first time I showed up, and then eventually massed 6 DMs (at the time, the largest number of DMs, I'm still on the leaderboard to). Now look at me, I haven’t DMed in about 10 submissions, and even got a win! Thunderdome’s here for you to improve. I did get a loss, but whatever, it happens. Don’t give up ‘cause you got a DM, or two, or six. Keep going and I know you’ll improve as long as you keep in the mind the crits and put effort in fixing the mistakes you make in other stories. I think I’m a good testament to that. Same thing goes for you epoch. if you’re reading this, and all newbies in general. Do not give up! You can and will improve as long as you try!

Sword and Sorcery - Everyone who wrote a dungeon crawling story read this please

I’m mostly saying these things to make it clear that this was a great story and I want everyone who wrote a dungeon crawling story to read this to realize that a DnD campaign story CAN work! Look, it’s right there. It’s even got an HM. Look at this and read it and think to yourself, what did they do? Well, they had characters that were interesting and fun that did things with believable motivations. That’s the biggest differences. I can look at certain characters and be like “yeah, I know who that it and what they want.” Only problem, and the thing that probably snubbed you from the win was the sudden betrayal of the paladin. Otherwise, great work. This is what everyone else’s stories should have been.

The Coven Told Me It Would Be Like This on the Outside

You do a character shift like HopperUK’s, and it was just as jarring and unnecessary as theirs. The paladin suddenly becoming interested in fight. Unfortunately, the rest of your story was nowhere close to his. This was just a stupid story, really. It’s just a boring quest where someone dies, and in DnD, that’s nothing big and happens all the time. So it’s like, what’s the point?????? Really, most of every story this week had the same problem. What’s the point? What does this change for the characters? Answer that question and you will have much more interesting and engaging stories.

The Swamp Mage

The cream of the crop when it comes to what’s the point? stories. What is the point? Guys do a quest, then guess what, wizard is evil and they just up and leave without any changes whatsoever. Nobody seems to care in this story, nor do I. There’s no investment in this story since I have no reason to want these guys to succeed. Then they don’t, and they don’t seem particularly disappointed in their failure, nor care that an evil wizard just got a bunch of power and is probably going to start terrorizing the nearby villages. What jerks.

Lord Drever’s Cat

This is an odd story because on the surface, I don’t see much problem with, but once we get into it, I think the problem is that you make the resolution too easy and then realized that so instead of expanding your main conflict, you instead made trolls. As it stands, both conflicts are weak and dumb. Also this happens after the cat is killed.

quote:

Angheor saw her father dying.

I thought that Angheor’s father was the cat because I completely forgot about the dying father backstory. Besides the underdeveloped conflicts, the characters were boring and I had no interest in watching them succeed. WRITE INTERESTING CHARACTERS PEOPLE!

Teamkiller

I really liked this one because I think you did your humor pretty well, although there were a few instances where it was overdone. If I was the lone judge, I think I would’ve HMed this for the laughs it gave me, but my other judges weren’t feeling it, and it was still an extremely tentative, personal HM rather than a HM for quality. I think the issue for me was that you should’ve followed through with the murder mystery, or gone further with the bard and focus on a party where everyone hates each trying to solve puzzles that need teamwork. That would’ve been pretty funny. Right now, you’re kind of inbetween two ideas that don’t get fully fleshed out. Still, it was funny and I liked it.

Undiplomatic Immunity

This was the strangest story this week for me. There’s a lot of mistakes and a lot of problems in this story, but it works both in spite of itself, and also works because of the mistakes. The characters are all incredibly unlikable, but the world they’re in works with them in their unlikableness and it’s kind of interesting. I like the plot a lot actually, since it’s kind of like those stories where everyone has a set role or skill, and then everyone’s skills are used differently in order for them to succeed. You kind of subvert that plot by making all the character’s skills incredibly goofy and bad, but it helps make it interesting. I especially liked Tib’s “usefulness” where he just murders people and it worked out in helping the goal. This story would never HM and it has all the problems of a DM story and yet it was still compelling and interesting. The humor kept it from becoming too boring, and all the characters, while caricatures, were kind of fun to watch. Having all unlikable characters generally doesn’t work, but it kind of did here, especially with the ending where the protag dying really didn’t phase me and the irony of his death and becoming a hero was cool as well a pretty common, but still good, subversion of the martyr death thing. It had a lot of bad things in that I would yell at a lot of people for (unlikable protagonist, twist ending where protag dies, etc.) and yet, it worked with all those things to make an interesting and kind of fun story that I enjoyed. It’s weird, and I don’t recommend doing it again because it could easily backfire, but here, it oddly worked despite everything. I don’t even want to say it has a “it’s so bad, it’s good quality” because that’s not quite right. It just kind of works in its own very strange way. Well… done? I don’t know.

The Greatest Day

The big problem was that this was just a vignette where people fought dudes for whatever reason. Write me a story where things matter more than just they might die. What’s the consequences of the battle. If they lose what happens? What is their goal? I don’t know anything, they just get attacked for some reason and then w/e who cares. No interesting character, no quest really, just a fight scene with no context or reason for me to care.

Temple of Glass

Who cares? That’s pretty much my entire crit of this story. No interesting characters, no interesting plot, no reason to care whatsoever. I don’t know the stakes, why they matter, and who to even root for. Write something with characters with motivations I can relate to (or just a motivation in general), and I’ll enjoy your story much more. The big problem is that I don’t understand why all these people are together since it seems like only one person has any personal investment in this quest. Everyone else is just kind of there.

Waiting for Gu’dul

Nothing happens for like the first 1300 words besides “people are trapped and they are trying to get out” and then the last 200 words “they get out!!!!!!!” the end. What a waste of time. Make things happen in your story. There's no need for your plot to be this boring. I actually kinda liked the characters until the end, and the opening, while not fantastic, was enough to get me interested to see where you were going. But then, nope, let's repeat that scene a couple times where nobody does anything and then cut to Gu'dul, then cut back without anything happening because of Gu'dul?????? That's the biggest part I don't understand, but your nothing happening plot killed you here and your characters were ok, but nothing enough to elevate this beyond being a story that felt like it wasted my time.

Heavy Lies the CROWN OF BLOOD

I just want to say this to pretty much everyone, but you have to be really careful with tone. This story probably would’ve been my favorite if not for the tonal shift of BloodCrown being an evil demon who can melt people into skeletons. Look at your story for a second, and think about your tone. It’s nice, very personable, and very cute about something called the BloodCrown that is incredibly polite and nice to these adventurers. It’s nice, and makes me smile. And sure, the BloodCrown being a big demon is cool in that the big demon becomes nice because he has friends which is a sweet resolution. But when he starts melting people’s skins and murdering these bandits, it shifts the tone incredibly dark and I’m like AHHHHHH why is BloodCrown so evil. You could make him a demon, but I think it went way too dark in a story that was otherwise lighthearted and cute. Even a sort of “BloodCrown plz don’t kill these people” comment would be great, and BloodCrown doesnt kill people, and that would’ve kept the tone lighter. Just watch for sudden tonal shifts since they can really be jarring and mar an otherwise excellent and enjoyable story.

A Deer, Dear

Another one of those who cares stories. Nothing happens, nobody to like, and no reason to keep reading. There's nothing in this story to like. All the characters do are bicker and argue the entire time and they don't have much of a personality, the plot is incredibly basic and boring. The plot is pretty much "they find a deer, then shot it, then chase after it." Do you wonder why that's boring? It shows very little development besides the characters saying "maybe we should be less stupid," but that's terrible and not interesting to me. This just felt like a filler scene in a fantasy movie or something, and writing filler as your entire flash fiction entry will probably get you no accolade.

Skinness

This kind of starts as a first-person peripheral story where Finn becomes the main character. I think I see what you were trying to do with the main skeleton, in that he tries to lift Finn’s spirit, and there’s where the jester thing comes from. However, it’s very subtle in your story and I didn’t catch it on my first read, nor do I think you do enough with it for me to say that it was done effectively. You do it very little, and thus, it is underbaked and is merely an idea in the story rather than an actual element of the story. I like Finn, but the protag just feels so… lifeless (ironically). He just accepts his fate, and I would’ve liked to see him more actively try to resist. But he doesn’t until the end. The protag just kind of sits there most of the story and the only thing he does is kill the master after a really long time. The passivity of the protag really hurts this story.

Total Party Kill

I hated this story so much. I read this and was just annoyed the entire way through. The dialogue felt boring and unnecessary, and nothing happens in your story really. People just talk and talk and talk and talk and it’s the most mundane uninteresting conversation. Nobody is interesting nor has any personality to speak of. Of course, there’s dick jokes, but those aren’t funny and will probably never be funny. But more specifically, dude, in-jokes are rarely ever funny in stories, I’m sorry. Throwing in Voidmart for no reason is just really stupid. It adds no enjoyment for the average reader and gets a groan out of me because you don’t realize why Voidmart was funny and interesting. A lot of people don’t seem to understand jokes in this world, and the reason jokes are funny and interesting are because they’re novel. If you keep doing the same joke or world, the novelty wears out and the interest dies. This has the danger of retroactively causing something cool like Voidmart to become an annoying in-joke that, in time, everyone will groan at when it gets brought up. I want Voidmart to be one of those things that when we bring up, we say “yeah, that was a really cool week!” rather than “God, what a terrible in-joke that is.” So please, avoid in-jokes. They don’t add anything to stories, so don’t force them in.

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012



Thanks for the crits/judgment. Going to try again this week.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

by R. Guyovich


bye

anime was right fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2015 around 05:56

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Broenheim posted:

Comments for Week 153 for People I Think My Judgenotes Weren’t Enough For .

Thanks again. I appreciate the feedback.

HopperUK
Apr 29, 2007

Clear off, fatso, this is a respectable establishment





Fallen Rib

Thanks Broenheim!

Bompacho
Nov 28, 2005


In and I'm ed due to horrible failure. Might actually get it in on time for once.

Mad Wack
Mar 27, 2008



S I C K O S




Pillbug

I'm in and

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

hello friend

Would you like to listen to a bunch of nerds awkwardly pretending to be fancy podcast people? What if those nerds were talking about Thunderdome? Maybe you just want some background noise while you're washing dishes?

Have I got the audio file for you!

Myself and several other goons have spent the past few weeks recording ourselves, trying to make extended audio line crits interesting. There's this crazy idea about maybe having a website and a blog and a bunch of other neat stuff, but for now we're mostly just looking to entertain and inform the fine people here in TD. Much like Thunderdome, we're a bunch of amateurs floundering through something new and scary, so please let me know what works (if any) and doesn't work about this.

This recording features Mr. War Criminal by Skwidmonster, which we take a detailed look at. Before that, Doctor Kloctopussy and Djeser let us pick apart a small sample of their own writing. Oh, and the idiot who's pretending to be a host and forgets to introduce herself is me, Sitting Here. Also featured: Ironic Twist, Dr. K, Djeser, Grizzled Patriarch, and Newt (AKA newtestleper). Thanks, guys!

CLICK HERE FOR PODCAST (temporarily hosted on Soundcloud, will have a new home soon)

Recommended reading:

Paper Crown by Doctor Kloctopussy

Roadside Trash Heap by Djeser

And the main event: Mr. War Criminal by Skwimonster. Thanks Skwidmonster!

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Jul 17, 2015 around 19:11

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Six hours left to enter!

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002

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

Grimey Drawer

curlingiron posted:

Six hours left to enter!

yep.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by FactsAreUseless


Broenheim posted:

Total Party Kill

I hated this story so much. I read this and was just annoyed the entire way through. The dialogue felt boring and unnecessary, and nothing happens in your story really. People just talk and talk and talk and talk and it’s the most mundane uninteresting conversation. Nobody is interesting nor has any personality to speak of. Of course, there’s dick jokes, but those aren’t funny and will probably never be funny. But more specifically, dude, in-jokes are rarely ever funny in stories, I’m sorry. Throwing in Voidmart for no reason is just really stupid. It adds no enjoyment for the average reader and gets a groan out of me because you don’t realize why Voidmart was funny and interesting. A lot of people don’t seem to understand jokes in this world, and the reason jokes are funny and interesting are because they’re novel. If you keep doing the same joke or world, the novelty wears out and the interest dies. This has the danger of retroactively causing something cool like Voidmart to become an annoying in-joke that, in time, everyone will groan at when it gets brought up. I want Voidmart to be one of those things that when we bring up, we say “yeah, that was a really cool week!” rather than “God, what a terrible in-joke that is.” So please, avoid in-jokes. They don’t add anything to stories, so don’t force them in.

Agree on every level. Sorry about you all having to read that.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



lol remember voidmart ahaha

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

I'm in.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Sitting Here posted:

hello friend

Would you like to listen to a bunch of nerds awkwardly pretending to be fancy podcast people? What if those nerds were talking about Thunderdome? Maybe you just want some background noise while you're washing dishes?

Have I got the audio file for you!

Myself and several other goons have spent the past few weeks recording ourselves, trying to make extended audio line crits interesting. There's this crazy idea about maybe having a website and a blog and a bunch of other neat stuff, but for now we're mostly just looking to entertain and inform the fine people here in TD. Much like Thunderdome, we're a bunch of amateurs floundering through something new and scary, so please let me know what works (if any) and doesn't work about this.

This recording features Mr. War Criminal by Skwidmonster, which we take a detailed look at. Before that, Doctor Kloctopussy and Djeser let us pick apart a small sample of their own writing. Oh, and the idiot who's pretending to be a host and forgets to introduce herself is me, Sitting Here. Also featured: Ironic Twist, Dr. K, Djeser, Grizzled Patriarch, and Newt (AKA newtestleper). Thanks, guys!

CLICK HERE FOR PODCAST (temporarily hosted on Soundcloud, will have a new home soon)

Recommended reading:

Paper Crown by Doctor Kloctopussy

Roadside Trash Heap by Djeser

And the main event: Mr. War Criminal by Skwimonster. Thanks Skwidmonster!

Oh, and BTW, we would really love to read some stuff from last week (week 153, DnD party week). If anyone would like us to do so, please PM me or quote this post or hop on IRC or whatever. If your story did poorly, we're more likely to read it since there's usually more constructive stuff to say about a badly-received story.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

Oh yeah, signups are closed. See you in slightly under 48 hours!

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Sitting Here posted:

Oh, and BTW, we would really love to read some stuff from last week (week 153, DnD party week). If anyone would like us to do so, please PM me or quote this post or hop on IRC or whatever. If your story did poorly, we're more likely to read it since there's usually more constructive stuff to say about a badly-received story.

Could you possibly look at my story? I'm pretty sure it's brown and stinky but I'd like some feedback on it since the judges haven't gotten around yet to putting up their crits for it.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011



submitting this early because reasons

The Shaping Brush
841 words

He stared into the Eye of Zorthaz, was pulled away.

“It should not be here!” Tarou. “It comes from the land beyond dreams and to see it is to dream ceaselessly and never awake. Master Genta warned us of this.”

His eyes had shut quickly, knowing just by the quick glimpse that he should not have looked, and was still haunted. The eye had opened the spaces between things and now the artificers were escaping his id. His conscious psyche would be their canvas now. Even with his eyes shut, he could still see them staring.

Genta had said that the artificers needed to see what they were painting. There are no blind painters.

He felt the impact and was falling. Arms pulling him down. His head was being ground into the dirt. He tasted it on his tongue.

“I see by your reaction this is important to you. I’ve seen it all in my travels, but I never would have thought I’d see people throwing themselves to the ground over a rock.”

But it’s not a rock, Mune thought. Can’t he see that…

And Tarou’s voice, just above him. “Cover it! Now!”

“Sure,” the nomad was saying. “But how are you going to buy it if you can’t even look at it?”

Then the pressure, relaxing. Tarou still talking. “We do not want it. Bring it back to where it came from.”

Mune lifted his head. He could see just black now and none else. “We do want it,” he said, spitting out grit. “We can carry it in our pack.”

Tarou, the voice coming from his side as he got to his feet. “Have you lost yourself, Mune? We, so late to the fold, will be consumed by that thing if we carry it. Not even Master Genta could carry it. Let it go and maybe our souls will escape this.”

Mune opened his eyes gingerly.

“If we let it go,” Mune said. “He’ll sell it to someone else. He’s a merchant, it’s what he does.”

And that person, he thought, may not be as weak as us. Dark lords in different worlds. Maybe they patronize this nomad.

“Mune,” Tarou said. “We are not ready for this.”

“It’s just stone,” the nomad said, sounding uncomfortable. “Just an ornament I snatched three trips ago. A culture that had come no further than carving images everywhere they went. You couldn’t walk three steps without tripping over a spiral or pyramid.”

“Master Genta told me,” Tarou said, as if to himself, “that the Eye of Zorthaz may not be able to breathe in the perceptions of those who are not attuned. To the greedy or foolish, it would appear to be unmoving stone.”

Mune ignored him. “We’ll take it,” he said.

The nomad, who’d flashed with irritation at Tarou’s statement, now laughed harshly. “You two are beggars from the driftwoods of the ‘scape. What could you possibly have on you that would be worth even my time? Let alone this stone, which you seem to prize so highly.”

“I offer,” Mune said, “myself.”

Tarou stared at him in shock.

“Interesting,” the nomad said. “A lifetime of service, is it? You know how time may twist and stretch in the ‘scape’s facets. You may be serving me as your star dies.”

“Then,” Mune said, “it’s a good bargain.”

“Mune,” Tarou said. “I can no longer watch this blasphemy. Master Genta would cast you out for this. Cast me out for the association. I order you, by our differential, to turn away now from this path.”

“Nonsense!” the nomad said. “Give him the freedom to give away his freedom!” He laughed.

Mune moved before he himself realized what was happening.

He was snatching away the covering, some patchwork blanket made up of skins and furs, as the nomad gaped at the sudden action.

Tarou, reflexively, had turned away, horrified. Now Mune was clutching at him, at his hands which were covering his eyes. Tarou fought back. The time differential in their two joinings permitted Tarou more food and as such he was usually stronger. But now there was something in Mune, something that was not himself, and he was pulling at Tarou’s hands, peeling them away, finger by finger. Then he was forcing Tarou’s head towards the stone. Ripping at Tarou’s eyelids to keep them open. The artificers, he realized, have unveiled their art. I am totally theirs.

A listlessness had come over Tarou. He had stood there, wavering, totally transfixed. Now he faced Mune. We were cursed, Mune thought, by the moment I left my eyes open. Now it is too late. He watched himself take the Eye from the nomad, give it to Tarou, who accepted it blankly. Tarou will bring it to the fold, he thought. I’ve doomed them.

He turned to the wide-eyed nomad. “I’m ready now,” he heard himself say. “Shall we go?”

The nomad paused, then shrugged. “Just a stupid rock,” he said. Then, fighting desperately every second of the way, Mune stepped with him into the warp.

Barbed Tongues
Mar 16, 2012



Book Return, 1000 Words

I despised Chris that day. This whole semester I’d been coming to the White Horse. I’d been ordering cheap beer, terrible food - being a good customer - not pushing boundaries. Then Chris walks in, and without missing a beat, hits on the waitress I wanted to date.

Mark shut the leather-bound book, his eyes going to the words embossed on the cover: “A Journal, by Mark Montgomery.” He reopened it randomly, fixing his gaze on the handwriting, his handwriting.

I argued with Rachel on the phone for two hours. Of course she couldn’t go home for dad’s surgery. Her car wouldn’t make the trip. Her cat was sick. The usual slew of excuses I’ve come to expect whenever someone needed my sister’s help. As always, I had to be the adult while she just played around.

He shut the book hard, stirring up the dust in the garage attic. He’d never described these moments to anyone. He’d certainly never written them down. Who wrote this and why was it here? He needed Gran.

---

“Mark, want a margarita?” Rachel called out to him as he moved past. She was reading under the umbrella of the glass patio table. She reached for a pitcher with pink liquid and fresh strawberries huddled amongst plastic cups. “You looked stressed out.”

Mark stopped in his tracks, his confusion and frustration unleashing on his sister. “Do you have any idea how much work we have to do? The entire garage needs to be cleared out. The front tree needs to come down. The basement is a wreck. And you’re drinking now?” He almost kept going, but the patio door slid open and Jacob walked out. Mark reigned it in. “We have a lot to do before Gran moves to assisted living.”

Rachel blew him off. “You need to relax, Mark. It’s a vacation.”

“It’s not a real vac-” He didn’t finish. There wasn’t a point. Instead of taking the week off to help him do the prep work, she had turned the trip into a dating excursion with this Jacob guy. “Is Gran inside?”

---

“Let me see that.” His grandmother reached for the journal, settling her rounded bifocals onto her nose to better see the text. “Oh yes,” She tapped at the embossment, “This used to have my name on it. I guess I really wasn’t going to use it anymore.”

“I don’t understand. Did you write this?”

“Oh, no, dear. I don’t know who made it, or how it works. I found it when I was a young woman.” She held it out to him, taking off her glasses. “I know how to use it, though.”

Mark held the leather, it felt warm. “This doesn’t make sense.”

Gran pointed at the book. “What does the last page say?”

He read over words describing their ongoing interaction. “It’s about now, us talking.”

“It will do that for your whole life. It’ll note down everything you do or experience, even what you think. It’s your story.”

Mark shook his head, “Why-“

Gran clucked her tongue, “I don’t know why it works, or who made it, or even all the rules. I just know what happens when you rip out pages.”

For some reason that scared him. He quickly shut the book again. “What happens?”

“You go back to that spot in your story. Everything you did after that, what you ripped out - you make it a dream.”

He looked at her quietly, “Gran.”

“I know your mother thinks I’m all out of marbles. Maybe you do too. Do your senile old grandmother a favor, dear, and rip out that last page.”

---

“Hey Mark, want a margarita? You’re looking stressed out.” Rachel called to him from the glass patio table.

He stood there a moment, faintly remembering yelling at his sister, Gran asking her favor. “N-No thanks.” He opened the patio door just as Jacob got there.

---

“I asked you to rip it out? Good.” Gran looked pleased with herself. “Smart. Was anything different this time?”

“I don’t think so, no.” He sat down heavily, his knuckles white from holding onto the book so tightly.

She nodded. “Well, things can be. Sometimes a lot. People don’t understand how much chance there is in the world. I tried to win the lottery once, but the numbers changed every time I went back.”

“How many times have you used this?” His voice was quiet.

“Many times, but not in a long while. Not since your mother was born.”

“Why not?”

She grew a little distant. “When Roger died,” Mark looked up. Roger was the man Gran had been talking about more often. A man none of the family remembered. It’s what convinced everyone to move her someplace she could be looked after more thoroughly. “I ripped out everything back to when I was a girl. I wanted to start over with him.” She paused. “But Roger never moved to Springfield. We never went to high school together. We never fell in love.” She reached out and took Mark's free hand. “I met your grandfather this time around, had your mother. She had you and your sister. Nothing could make me undo that.”

---

Alone in his hotel, Mark flipped through the journal, sticky notes jutting out as tabs at important spots.

When his father died.
When he broke off his engagement.
When he enrolled at the University of Illinois.
One year before Rachel was born.

He pulled the bookmarks free, one by one, settling on his choice.

Rachel was in my room again. I can’t stand her. She cries all the time. Mom and dad never get mad at her. I’m sick of it. I’m not being nice to her anymore. She can make her own friends, get her own toys. I’d be happy if I never saw her again. I. Don’t. Need. A. Sister.

---

Mark stared at his small hands, remembering another life. He apologized to the little girl with him. “Sorry about yelling, Rachel. Wanna play Nintendo?”

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Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

The Mirror 973 words

Kenneth spent Sunday alone in Julia’s apartment, watching her television and smoking her cigarettes. She’d sent him a photo of a sunset over Montmarte, the sky bathed in gold and her smiling with a guitar slung over one shoulder - and he looked out the window and saw the grey Birmingham skyline flip him the finger. Tour’s going great, honey! Band says hi! Miss you!, she wrote. He’d watered the ferns on her window-still, and now that his only duty was completed, he could unwind. The tiny apartment was a storm of clothes and cigarette butts, and Kenneth was wrist-deep in her bedroom drawers searching for weed when the doorbell rang.

“Delivery for Kenneth Webb”, the FedEx employee said. He was old and reeked of antiseptic.

“That’s me, but I don’t live here,” Kenneth said. “Taking care of my girlfriend’s place while she’s out of town.”

“You’re Kenneth Webb. This is 264A Brighton Ave. Will you sign?”

He did just that and shut the door. Plain cardboard box, no return address. He tore it open.

Inside was a hand-mirror, straight out of an 18th-century novel - long handle, intricate carvings of angels perched around the rim, black metal and cold to the touch. As Kenneth regarded his reflection it swam and changed.

And then he saw Julia walking down a cobblestone alley, cigarette in hand, the rest of her band trailing behind. She walked next to a man Kenneth didn’t recognise, who was very pale and wore a black suit. The man was smiling in a way Kenneth didn’t like at all.

“What the gently caress,” he said out loud.

The picture blurred again and Kenneth was left staring at his own face. There was a fresh cold sore on his lip.

#

He tried calling Julia, but her phone was off. He paced her apartment staring at the mirror. It was reflecting as mirrors do, and doing nothing untoward. He cooked dinner with it propped up on the bench, and when it fogged up from steam, he’d wipe it clean so he wouldn’t miss anything. It sprang into action right as he was cutting up Julia’s last onion.

Kenneth saw Julia at a sullen cafe, stirring a cup of coffee, her bandmates beside her with hunched shoulders. The pale man sat one table behind and stared at her. His mouth warped into a grin, and the image vanished.

Kenneth abandoned dinner and lay on the couch, staring at his own reflection until he fell asleep.

#

He called in sick for work the next morning. It was worth it, too - at noon, the mirror showed the band disembarking a train at Brussels Central, squeezing through the crowd, instruments in hand. The pale man was walking a step behind Julia.

Sorry babe can't Skype, she texted back. Laptop’s dead. And I told you - no-one else on tour with us. Call you later tonight!

The rest of the day was agony, pacing back-and-forth, an entire pack of Chesterfields stuffed into his lungs. Unable to bear the wait, he rang her first.

“Who is he, Julia?”

“Hello! What are you talking about?” Julia said, voice struggling through static.

“Tall, pale, black suit. I know he came to Brussels with you.”

“Kenneth,” she said. “There is nobody else with us. It’s just the band and I.”

As she talked, the mirror swam into another vision: Julia reclined on a single bed in a decrepit hotel room, phone pressed to her ear. The pale man stood at her side, staring directly at Kenneth.

“I loving know, Julia!” Kenneth screamed. “He’s with you now!”

“I’m alone,” she said. “What’s wrong with you?”

He watched as Julia’s gaze swept the room. She looked right past the pale man, and Kenneth realised: she couldn’t see him.

“You’re in danger,” he said. “There’s someone there with you. Get out! ”

“Darling, you’re scaring me,” she said quietly.

The pale man took two strides forward and leaned in, his face filling the mirror - smile crooked, eyes sullen, the pupils completely black. The line went dead. Kenneth rang again but it went straight to voicemail.

#

He blew the sorry remains of his bank account on a last-minute flight, and the next morning he boarded a plane to Amsterdam, where Julia’s next gig was scheduled. He brought the mirror along and held it the entire way, but it showed nothing. The couple in the next seat sniggered at him the whole time.

He landed and cut in line at the cab rank. It was raining when he pulled up outside the venue, a ramshackle bar with bars on the windows and a mountain of cigarette butts on the kerb. The sign on the marquee announced “Julia Moreland and The Sorrows” and in red letters underneath: “Cancelled.”

He pounded at the front door until a bearded man, clearly irritated, emerged. Yes, he was the manager. Someone from the label had called to say the band wouldn’t make it. No, he didn’t know where they were.

Stunned, Kenneth sank to the pavement, head cradled in his hands. He dug into his bag for the mirror, felt his heart tighten and shrink.

It wasn’t there.

His phone rang. Julia.

“Darling!” he shouted. “Are you OK?”

“I’m fine, baby” her voice came weak down the line. “We had an accident. I rolled the van. We’re alright, but in hospital. Why did you send the mirror?”

“What?”

“FedEx just delivered a package from you. It’s this strange mirror, a Wuthering Heights-type thing. It’s… Kenneth, oh my god, I can see you! Who are you with?”

Kenneth froze.

“You’re here in Amsterdam? Who’s that with you?”

There wasn’t a soul around.

“Pale guy, all in black? Like, he’s got a hand on your shoulder? Kenneth?”

Kenneth suddenly felt very, very cold.

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