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  • Locked thread
Mar 21, 2010

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


Okay you losers, I am sleep deprived and high on painkillers and everybody on IRC is going MUFFIN WHERE ARE THE CRITS. I have a bottle of cheapass 15% “whiskey flavoured liquor” in front of me and every time you make me mad, I take a shot. You fucks want crits, you got crits.


Congratulations you’re first so I’m totally sober, but you’re also going to be the first one to drive me to loving drink.

I mean it’s a dumb/funny patch note but you don’t really do anything with it. Your story is just the tweet but dragged out to 1200 words with nothing new or funny to say.

When I drank: I GUESS THEY’RE DEAD NOW YEAH THAT MAKES SENSE. “eachother”. What the gently caress why is this kid suddenly brain damaged nothing in this story makes any loving sense. Seriously what the gently caress happened in this story. Shot count: 4.


This has a really good setup and then it gets to the joke halfway through and sits there going “HUH, HUH, HUH, WADDAYA THINK IT’S PRETTY FUNNY ISN’T IT” for the rest of the story.

When I drank: this man literally commands life and death why is he still hanging out with his loser bandmates and not making trillions of dollars. SUDDEN VIOLENCE ENDING. Shot count: 6.


I REMEMBER THIS ONE. I ACTUALLY LIKED THIS ONE. It’s basically Shadow Over Innsmouth written from the perspective of the fishpeople but it’s well-written and has a lot of emotional torque in it.



Prettily written but not really suprising. I’ve seen a lot of the best sentences here in better books, but I don’t begrudge you for knowing what to steal. This is one of the stories that took the prompt and did something interesting with it, rather than just playing it out as a lolwacky joke. The fact that it feels a little stale and by-the-numbers is ultimately what pushes it down, but I still enjoyed it.

When I drank: I DIDN’T. At this rate I might start sobering up. SHOT COUNT: 6.


OH GOD I REMEMBER THIS ONE HOLD ON I GOTTA POUR ANOTHER SHOT. imma be doing that a lot for the next ten minutes

this is just a bunch of old dudes talking about boring poo poo and of my god can’t you just loving kill me. this is why I didn’t visit my grandad when he was in the retirement home because it’s just this poo poo endlessly and the smell of antiseptic ane i barely even knew the man anway im not a bad person i swear




I am going to present myu critd in the style of your story. G’day chappo me matey innit this just fuckeen annoying an duch give us a monkeyshine for a bobbler dibby dabby dooby boo ive been to london once in my entire life and i know this is a load of horseshit from somebody who has never met a real english person in their life whattoo me flibber flab

WHEN I DRANK: its probably cheating but i just kinda turned the bottle upsidedown and sculled for about eight seconds i think. currnet shot count: gently caress i dunno. I think the alcohol has reached by bloodsteam by now


people do not talk like this. i hate stilted dialogue where somebody is trying to sound fancy so they just throw in lots of big words and remove all thwe contratctions and they’re like “yup tyhat’s works’ and then they go home for dinner

““I will choose to ignore this impropriety as well as your previous refusal to treat this matter seriously. You will find me someone who will be willing to take responsibility for this incident! We are talking about a development on an intergalactic scale!””


i have no idea what is going on in this story. There’s a man and he has a radio and then there’s Jerry Falwell and a ratpror and popopop watching fmotherfuckers drop

jam rating: this is not my jam but it could be worse

alcohol: good


oh no Bluseman is writing about Adele i dont wanna think about my ex and how much my sex life sucks you can go right to hell with your SHOOP BOOP A DOOP A BOOP. NO. NONE OF THAT.

this is everything wrong wit hthe fdialogue in the last story except its the wjhole loving story is like that. you dont write beautifully by throwingh $20 words at the screen and seeing what syicks goddam man read some hemingway or som,e salinger or some poo poo whwere the oldf dead white man words goofd

drunk\; yes! happyL: no! D:

sssh guys quiet i think there’s a mouse in my room


Mar 22, 2013

Labyrinth week:

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

flerp posted:

Interprompt: WikiHow Did This Happen?

300 words

Delmar stares at the filth in his hands.

“No,” he says. “You were so good once. Now you’re lost forever.”

He can wash the decay off. Cleanse himself, watch the sin spiral down the sink. But what he can never wash off is the stain now on his soul. Every time he bakes a pie, he will look at his palms, and he will remember.

Delmar remembers.

Shiring Farms. He had given five dollars, money he’d earned painstakingly designing new emoji, to the farmer’s daughter by the till. She was a true child of the soil, but there was something beautiful about her all the same. After sweating profusely he had finally made it into the fields. They were mostly picked clean, but he had stayed long into the day, collecting every berry he could find. He traced footsteps to figure out where exactly other berry hunters had been standing, then stood in slightly different places. He pulled away leaves that shaded the berries from the sun’s harsh heat. He even scrabbled around in the dirt, feeling like he was taking berries straight from the bosom of mother earth herself.

He had left the farm, basket full of berries, flashing a triumphant smile at the side of the head of the farmer’s daughter, who was talking to another would-be picker.

But he hadn’t eaten them. There was never any space and time not already being filled by drinking through his hoard of Mountain Dew. In the end he had just let them go.

He watches the berries drain down to the place all empty dreams end up. Tears in rain.

This, he thinks, will never happen again. To anyone. Not if I can help it. He boots up his computer, navigates to wikihow dot com, and begins to type.

Jul 25, 2012

flerp posted:

Interprompt: WikiHow Did This Happen?

The Professor's Legacy

“It’s linear thinking!” Professor Edmund screams at his teaching assistant, Carolyn.

The scared graduate student backs away. Watching the chair of her university’s mathematics department clutch his temples like a madman. He falls behind his desk, staring at the dry-erase board at the back of the room. He’s spent the last hour writing pi to the 150th digit, looking for any sort of pattern. Carolyn notices the fast food corn dogs on his desk. His eating habits have gotten poor lately.

“I’m sorry, professor,” Carolyn replies, her voice cracking. “But I don’t understand what you’re looking for.”

“My Nobel,” the professor snaps back. “You saw the tests, didn’t you?”

She mutters “Yes,” with a nod. Out of the 32 students attending MATH 171, only 12 passed the last exam.

“35 years in academia, and I’ve barely taught legal adults two plus two.” Edmund pulls himself up and walks towards his board. “I went to Brown for god’s sake. I can’t let that be my legacy.”

“I still don’t know what you want me to look at.” Carolyn feels her heart pound. She’s never seen a psychotic break before, so she can only hope she isn’t watching one now. “I told you, it’s pi.”

“It’s marble!” Edmund shouts at he turns around, wildly flailing his arms with every syllable. “And inside that marble is my David. If I can’t find it, I simply have no business--”

Edmund stops mid-sentence as he knocks a corn dog to the floor. Carolyn watches the disappointment on his face turn inquisitive. Edmund glances at the board before looking back at his fallen lunch. He crouches down, seeing how it aligns with the floor tiles.

“Carolyn,” he says. “Get my tape measure.”

Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, spin up the goddam chaingun.' -Robot Santa Claus

Week 184 Results

So, that was a week of stories characterized by proofreading failure as much as anything else. The good thing is that the vast majority of you made good use of all of those recycled prompts. Some of you even wrote good stories with them. More of you wrote bad ones, alas. Technical issues and proofreading failures were rampant this week, as well as more structural ones.

Dishonorable Mentions go to:
Titus82's The Gates of Mercy
Lazy Beggar's Neglected Survival
QuoProQuid's Thus Always to Tyrants
God Over Djinn's How the Devil Got His Claws into Jack O'Kent
After The War's They Want What They're Not

And the loss goes to Skwidmonster's Come Back

Not everything was bad, though. There were some good stories as well, thankfully.

Honorable Mentions for:

Bleusman's Monster Movies
Sittinghere's The Show
Crabrock's The Train to Charlotte

And the winner is

Ironic Twist's Where The Devil Says Goodnight


Feb 25, 2014

some drive-by crits since i read a few

Sitting Here

I thought this was super bad. I had like no clue what was going on whatsoever. You have a bunch of characters whose interactions make almost no sense, nothing to ground me into this world besides "guy looks into the mirror." There's some poo poo about likes and comments but they add to... I'm not really sure? I don't get the ending. gently caress, I don't get anything in this story. Your prose feels like, how do I describe it, like you had this big grand idea but your brain was struggling for a way to describe it so you threw it on the page and shrugged and said good enough. I don't see why I should care though, is the biggest problem. Everyone either felt petty, or nebulous, or like an rear end in a top hat. Combined with the prose that left me confused, I both don't get, nor do I want to look back further through your story to gleen some meaning from it, if it has any to begin with.


I liked this for what it was, but I had the same kind of issue of why should I care? This guy hates his brother, or at least has a strained relationship with his brother, but the impact of the ending doesn't land because we don't ever feel the relationship. Now, I'm a brother, I have an older brother, and these feelings are something that I have personally, as well, but they still don't add up to anything because I don't get to understand them as people. Why is it so important that this guy comes to terms with his relationship and feelings about his brother? I'm not sure.

Still, plot-wise, this was thin, but that wasn't the point. I think this would've worked better as a poem. I'm not quite sure I'd qualify it as a prose poem but tbh i dont even know what the criteria for a prose poem is sooooooooooo w/e. You got some cool stuff, and some of your manipulation of the language was alright, but things like "twooooo-enty-two" makes me imagine your character is about to break into a happy go lucky song, which doesn't quite fit the tone of despair and sadness. I think you over used tut-woo just a little too much that it became too repetitive without making it feel impactful. The "turnabout, fairplay etc." feels very weak to have it stand as a line alone, especially with the etc. making me think like, who the gently caress cares?

Still, though, a lot of your descriptions and setting were fantastic and I think this would've worked better as either a poem or a prose poem. It just lacks the story edge, and doesn't quite make up for it in the description department. Still, it was a quick and easy read that showed finesse and skill on the technical level.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


Week CLXXXV: Music of The Night, Vol. II

Kaishai posted:

Songs can chill the human spine. To this day, I can't hear Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor without imagining a rotting Gothic castle. This week you're going to explore the power of music to haunt, to creep, to terrify: your prompt is to write a horror story inspired by a song the judges will assign to you.

There's a catch, however! These won't be dark songs. You won't be asked to conjure fright from "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" or "Smooth Criminal"; that would be too easy. Distilling dread from "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"? Now that will be a challenge.

It’s a prompt from a year and a half ago, but it led to some of my favorite stories from TD, so let’s see if we can get that lightning back in the bottle.

One thing, besides the no nonfic/erotica/fanfic rule—the song prompts from the original week were mostly 80s hits. The prompts for this week will be updated—00s and on.

Have fun~

WC: 1400
Sign-ups Deadline: Friday, February 19, 2359 EST
Subs Deadline: Sunday, February 21, 2359 EST

Ironic Twist

spectres of autism—The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face”
skwidmonster—Elle King, “Ex’s and Oh’s”
Tyrannosaurus—Jay-Z, “99 Problems”
curlingiron—Outkast, “Ms. Jackson” M83, "Midnight City", +200 words
Guiness13—ILOVEMAKONNEN feat. Drake, “Tuesday”
CANNIBAL GIRLS—Kendrick Lamar, “Swimming Pools (Drank)” Tay Zonday, "Chocolate Rain", +200 words
QuoProQuid—Lady Gaga, “Poker Face”
Lake Jucas—50 Cent, “Candy Shop”
Grizzled Patriarch—The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army”
flerp—The Darkness, “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
Thranguy—M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
jon joe—Chairlift, “Bruises”
Bad Seafood—Feist, “1234”
newtestleper—Robyn, “Dancing On My Own”
crabrock—Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx, “Gold Digger”
docbeard—Daft Punk, “Digital Love”
SurreptitiousMuffin—Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off”
kurona_bright—Rihanna, “Diamonds”
Bird Tyrant—Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi, “Tightrope”
ghost crow—Bastille, “Pompeii”
Djeser—Florence + The Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”
JuniperCake—Amy Winehouse, “Rehab”
BlueWher—Owl City, “Fireflies”
hotsoupdinner—Lorde, “Royals”
Benny Profane—Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc.", +200 words

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at Feb 19, 2016 around 01:37

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

spectres easily enters first, building up a combo from last week


Mar 31, 2015



Apr 12, 2006

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

Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!

Fun Shoe

Hell yeah I'm in.

Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

Been too long. In

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

I'll take a song.

Jan 12, 2012

I'm interested in producing something that isn't awful.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010


I did my reading in judgemode, then before posting this I went back and filled in your names.

Some of these stories, I wrote notes as I read through them. Others I just read through all the way, then wrote my conclusions.

The Gates of Mercy - Titus82

I said on IRC that dead family or lovers had really better matter to the story, so this dead brother better be more than an easy excuse to make your character act sad. “Alexis” and “Willem” don’t seem like very English names.

I’d intended to write crits as I went through this but really there’s not much to say beyond the numerous grammatical errors or just plain poor word choices. I loving hate it when characters quote literature at each other. I’m also tired of war-gay stories; at this point I’d be more surprised to read about a soldier who WASN’T gay for one of his comrades. In the end, I found little reason for it to have been his brother who was dead at the start instead of literally any other soldier. The sacrifice at the end is about as cliche as you can get, too.

DM and gently caress you for starting things out like this.

The Man Who Made Noodles - Tyrannosaurus

“for he was a master of ten forms” “for he was a filial son”, this stands out right away… I know you’re going for a style but this stood out in a not-good way. Ok, so Lee pounds out the noodle dough with 10,000 punches every night--he’s gonna kick Ten-Style’s rear end at the end, right? Ooh, ok, so Ten-Style go wrecked by the bandits, I guess Lee will have to kick bandit rear end instead.

The problem here is that I could tell how it was going to end right from the start: Lee’s gonna use his Noodle-Pounding Style to win the day. You threw in Liu Zheng halfway through but it really just meant that a different rear end got kicked. I would have rather focused down into a tighter story of how Lee beat Ten-Styles; Demonface just serves to take words away from the characters because you have to explain this new guy. Also, I didn’t even realize they were brothers until another judge pointed it out. It’s not really necessary to the story, in my opinion; a real folk story would have said right off that Lee was the filial son & Ten-Styles was a bad son. You should have either kept Liu Zheng and developed the Lee / Ten-Styles fraternal relationship, or struck Liu Zheng and gone with Lee vs. town bully Ten-Styles.

I’m gonna put this in the low middle because I’m a sucker for Chinese stories, but this story needs a rewrite.

Monster Movies - Bleusman

Ok, if you start off with a house of cards falling down, I’m expecting that’s probably gonna happen later in the story, metaphorically. But did mom tell our narrator to place the final card because she knew it would fall down and she could swoop in as the hero, or did she do it because it would make the narrator happy to be able to complete the tower? Now later, Mom’s guilted the kid into watching the movie again… I guess mom’s a manipulative person, which leads me toward my first interpretation of the house of cards scene.

The other judges seemed to have liked this a lot more than I did. The characterization seems to be primarily “mom is a sociopath”, “kid likes to smoke weed” and not much else. This hits me as a mostly unremarkable story in the standard vein of “mad at parent, then something bad happens to parent, child re-evaluates relationship/life.” At least you proofread? Why did the kid have shaky hands at the beginning?


Regarding Amelia’s Hands - CANNIBAL GIRLS

Ok I’ve just read the first part and I dig it. It’s got me wondering if Amelia’s hands have a mind of their own or if she’s just so pissed off at how clumsy she is. I’m leaning to the first interpretation. Can a suture be belched back? Also what the hell kind of a doctor is this, work on your bedside manner dude. So the hands crawled off, they have a mind of their own. This doctor seems pretty matter-of-fact about two severed hands crawling off of their own; is this the sort of thing that happens in this universe?

All right, is this a nonsense week prompt or something? The hands are now in class with her? I’m still interested in where this is going. Well, that went in an interesting direction; forbidden hand-love, huh? Apparently in this world people just accept literally anything that happens as totally normal; it’s dream-logic except not in a bad way, it’s just a world where weird poo poo happens and it’s no big deal.

I liked this story. It was weird as hell but you didn’t have anyone agonizing over a dead parent, and let’s face it: a story about sentient severed hands is not going to be predictable. It’s early yet but I’m putting this on the higher end, possible HM.

Neglected Survival - Lazy Beggar

Dripping blood doesn’t really “rush”, it would probably “ooze”. I like the phrase “bursting through the calf muscle”, it feels right here. Is this a wizard prompt? A lot of your sentences feel kind of off, and the misused words don’t help. So the kid never really says anything, the narrator just keeps reading his mind and saying answers, which must be really weird to everyone around. If the narrator can see when people are trying to communicate information, why couldn’t he “see” whatever the serial killer was trying to say with the severed limbs? Doesn’t go anywhere.

I finished the story and checked out your prompts. You sort of hit the first one (it was a wizard prompt, wizard week best week), although it really came out more as mind reading than anything else. Still, nothing he “read” from anyone was much more than you could get by watching the forensic guy’s expression or (as the author) just having the kid say “my parents are dead, I’m hungry”, things a starving child would be likely to say. As for grimdark urban fantasy, well, severed child legs are grim and dark but that’s as close as you came.

Low middle, possible DM

Thus Always to Tyrants - QuoProQuid

The emperor is nuts. His servant is going to stab him… and his death was foretold to be at a particular time? Friends, Domers, countrymen, lend me your ears! I want to see where you’re going with this. Do something more interesting than suicide or a desperate doomed attempt. Ah, but the emperor wants to die? And he hosed up Rome to entice Stephanus to kill him? And then Stephanus kills him, and imagines himself as emperor, and kills himself? Welp so much for the "please no suicide"

So the thing is, when I first read this I thought it was just a weird riff on Julius Caesar, because I don’t know Roman history that well. Then I googled Domitian and realized it was mostly real. In fact, it was so close to the real events that I wondered why you bothered changing anything at all; I feel like historical fiction should at least stick really close to the actual recorded events of something as important as an assassination, although the real assassination was more of Domitian getting jumped by a bunch of guys which doesn’t play out quite as dramatically.

Here’s my problem with this: if it wasn’t about a real emperor, would you write this story? The motivations of the assassin seem pretty mundane, and the emperor’s motivations are weird but not super well-developed. It’s meant to be historical fiction, yet you don’t actually follow the historical account of how the assassination happened! So really it’s a story about an emperor getting assassinated in typical imperial fashion (I guess it’s always by knife at the time foretold by a seer) and it happens that you’ve given them the names of real historical Romans.

Blah. I didn’t care before I knew it was historical, and now that I know the real history I’m pissed you changed it for weird reasons. Low-mid, maybe DM.

The Ocean’s Sorry, He Really Is - flerp

I think this does a pretty good job in establishing the ocean as something that thinks and has feelings but not quite like humans do. But the ocean had never before listened to a shipwrecked person complain as they drifted along?

I’m pretty sure this is an ok story. I cannot explain exactly why, and some of the descriptions of how the ocean feels or swirls or shakes annoy me in ways that I can’t quite describe. I think the reason I’m having trouble with it is that this is pretty far from anything I’d read normally.

I had this down for HM but at the end of the day it annoyed me about as much as it pleased me, and after talking to other judges it seems it’s not just because I’m a philistine.

Middle, because I liked the ocean’s characterization as non-human, but other parts annoy me.

How the Devil Got His Claws into Jack o’Kent - God Over Djinn

You said “dames”, now I know it’s noir. “Bloke”? “Shabby”? Guess he’s British too, although I’ve never known them to say “dames” like that. Hey, are you mixing wizards and noir? That’s my gig! Ok by now we know it’s the devil, it’s not like you’re being coy about it with that title anyway, and Baron just signed a contract with him. Typically the detective is the one who provides the contract, I think, but maybe they do things differently across the pond. Drinking absinthe, too, the most mystical of drinks. Ah, our detective is a ghost now, huh? Jim Butcher did this and it was kind of cute so let’s see how we do. So in the end Jimmy is Jack o’Kent, and in a rather confusing scene the Devil shows up again to collect but Jimmy shoots him in the head.

How the christ did this even end? Why do they need to run if they just apparently killed the Devil? I don’t even… gently caress. So they set up a supernatural detective shop in the end? After Jimmy-aka-Jack shot Baron in the head? I mean let’s face it he straight up murdered Baron to keep from getting caught, I wouldn’t be super happy with the guy. This story gave me a headache and it had me looking for a Rosa Flores cameo. Keep your tone straight; you start off the first sentence or two noir-ish, then you make him sound pretty British, then for the majority of the story your characters have no particular “flavor” of any sort.

DM candidate. Maybe loss, for giving me a headache that lasted all afternoon.

Golden Roads - Noah

I like this so far: Couple of delinquents in LA, smashing streetlights. Ooh, drumming up business for his dad, I guess. And hating the yuppie pie shop that took over his mom’s barber shop.

It’s ok. Another judge said this feels like a children’s story from the 60s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Made me think of something you’d read in 8th grade English class, in a good way.

Another judge said this didn’t have enough character, seems like there’s enough character to me: kid is angry at the city for putting his dad out of business, but he’s also kind of angry at his drunk-rear end dad. But at core he’s a good kid, and his dad cares about him.

Middle, possible HM candidate.

They Want What They’re Not - After The War

You use too many commas.

Always a dead daughter. I mean I know we need to have dead family members for the pathos and all, but I think dads too often have dead daughters. But she’s not really his dead daughter, she’s some sort of weird spirit that takes on different forms based on what she’s near?

I don’t have a lot to say about this. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. poo poo, I hardly read it, my eyes just kind of skimmed past a lot of it automatically. It’s got a guy who’s sad about his kid and sad cause he’s dying and that’s TD Oscar-bait but in the end I don’t really care about it much. Edit more.


Where the Devil Says Goodnight - Ironic Twist

“If it was going to be the last day before those boys uptown broke his legs for not paying them that protection money, he might as well run with them” This is a really awkward sentence

Overall I like this. We get three characters, each in their own scene, each presumably taking place at the same time, and each successive scene carries us from Arlen’s well-laid plans to the hint of trouble with Aviva to the final revenge of the woman scorned. I’m pretty happy with what you did with the “Gold in every slice” prompt, I like the “gently caress you” way Cathy just led the whole theater into chaos. Maybe a little unbelievable, but hey, it’s fiction.

HM. I think this will be my win pick, too.

The Show - Sitting Here

Ok, after reading the first few paragraphs it’s pretty clear Yacob is the evolution of the Youtube personality, a “personal brand”. I hope you take this in a Black Mirror direction (excellent) instead of some heavy-handed bullshit. WHY DID THE BALL COME OUT OF HIS rear end?

You’re characterizing Dan and Gage pretty well with only a few short messages from each: Dan is an earnest admirer of Yacob, Gage is more cynical and wants to be seen by Yacob as more of a peer.

I’m leaning positive on this story. For starters, reading it didn’t make my head hurt, unlike others this week. The ending is a little anticlimactic but isn’t that sort of the point? It reminds me of James Incandenza’s film “The Joke” in Infinite Jest, in which he films the audience and displays it in real-time on the screen, until they all get annoyed and leave. (Actually I just realized your story is titled “The Show” so perhaps you’re aware of this) Stories that speculate about things like Twitter and Youtube culture etc. can be INCREDIBLY annoying but this one doesn’t do that. Congratulations.

HM candidate, unless I change my mind and decide you just ripped off DFW. I still like it enough to possibly win.

High-Intensity Circuit Training - Fuscia tude

I was glad that this didn’t turn into full-on Noah’s Ark. As it is, Noah wanders around in bewilderment as animals and children turn up. Some of those animals mess up with electrical stuff, which he fixes. In the end, a big lizard really messes with the electricity for an unknown reason, but he fixes it and the lizard leaves. Noah ends the story as he began: confused.

You didn’t drop the ball on proofreading or anything so good on you, but this story could probably have done with some explanation of the animals or some conflict beyond a big dumb lizard biting a power cable.


Nightlife - SurreptitiousMuffin

Ok, the voice in this story walks a line between working for me and annoying me. I said before this week that I wasn’t gonna go easy on stories about dead family or lovers; unfortunately this story is entirely about being sad over your dead brother. The guy’s brother is dead, and he’s sad, so he follows an owl into the woods and says he’s sorry his brother died, and then he goes home feeling not so sad.

Low middle. I wouldn’t object if it DM’d

Every Gambling Man - jon joe

The scene in the hotel room makes me think of David Lynch. I feel like this would have been stronger if you spent more time reveling in the weirdness of the egg betting and the egg bettors. I’m not even 100% sure he needs to meet “Juan” before he goes to the Egg Betting room, you could have had him go to the casino and win big in 2 paragraphs, give yourself more words for Egg Betting. I want hat man and cigar man to be doing inscrutable things while Juan and Robert talk.


Painted Eyes - Grizzled Patriarch

Becoming obsessed with a painting, imagining it’s watching you, etc. is a pretty well-worn trope at this point but if you tell it well, who cares. I like the way the “sudden appearance” of the acrylic covering makes it seem like the painting has outsmarted him in some way. I like the acid part, and I like what he does at the end.

High, maybe HM

im dying - spectres of autism

So this kitten’s owner died? And there’s a dog. And the cat climbs up the owner’s body, but it’s not really clear exactly what happens… does the kitten somehow dial 911 or something? This style of story can work, but it’s not really working for me here… I think it’s maybe a little *too* far into the cat-voice, to the point where it’s a little hard to follow sometimes and the ending is unclear. Still, I didn’t straight-up hate it, I was just kind of confused.


Come Back - skwidmonster

Wait, are we Groundhog Day-ing it, or what? Because St Peter says “come back tomorrow”, but then Mercy sees his mom putting up an urn, and he tries to find his body, but then he gets hit by the van. So is he “coming back to life” again and again on the same day, or is he a ghost stuck watching the same day, or basically what the gently caress is going on chronologically? And I thought Hal ran over Mercy, but then it was actually Hal’s cat? But the cat was actually the girl in the red sweater? Oh and can you loving proofread this thing?

DM, maybe loss because I am angry at how incoherent this is.

The Train to Charlotte - crabrock

Ok, I like the idea of a Yankee wizard going around killing Confederates just for the hell of it. When he rubs the oil on his hands and onto Henry’s head, he’s just doing that to gently caress up Henry and de-age himself at the same time, right? It’s not that he’s like sucking youth out of Henry or something? Otherwise it’s all pretty clear. However, I am not sure if your toxx flashrule really came in here; yes, he’s going from point A to point B, but point B (Charlotte) doesn’t seem super important, except as an excuse for there to be Southerners on the train.

HM candidate.

An Envelope of Bills - kurona_bright

Well, looking at the prompt, this is an interesting interpretation of a lover’s murderous jealousy… usually that involves jealousy of another man/woman, not because your fiancee got promoted over you. It’s another dead family member story (and a dead lover story too!) but, well, your story was pretty much guaranteed to involve at least a dead lover given the prompt.

I feel like there are too many pronouns in this. Did you notice when writing that there are no proper names in the whole story? It’s all a sort of whirl of he said, she said, she did this, he did that. Was this intentional? Why does she have a weekly meeting with her sister’s fiance anyway? The start of the story makes it pretty clear they met every week even before her death.

I’m gonna play stereotypical TD judge here and say the character isn’t particularly fleshed out or likable. She doesn’t care much for her sister, apparently to the point where she’ll accept hush money from the obviously guilty fiance… even though she’d moved to whatever town this is to be closer to said sister. It doesn’t seem like she sees her sister that often, but she meets the sister’s fiance every week.

Also, it’s a pretty rare situation for a child to be able to inherit debt, unless the lenders are organized crime or something, in which case you should have made that a LOT more obvious.


Lake Jucas
Feb 20, 2011

I have some free time this week and I miss the dome. IN.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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


Feb 25, 2014


Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, spin up the goddam chaingun.' -Robot Santa Claus


Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

magical teen bomb squad

Grimey Drawer


Thanks for the crits!

Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, spin up the goddam chaingun.' -Robot Santa Claus

TD 184 Crits

For me, this week, there wasn't much of a middle. With a very small number of exceptions, either I liked or disliked each story. As the other judges have mentioned, there were a lot of stories with technical/proofreading problems this week.

The Gates of Mercy

Opening has some striking imagery but is more than a bit overwritten. Comma between 'body” and “and” shouldn't be there. The ending is a tonal shift, jarring but not quite jarring enough if that's what you're going for.


It was at once a source of continued frustration and one of endearment.
: This is an amazingly awkward sentence. Almost any possible change you could imagine making would improve it. 'Breathe' rather than 'breath' in last section opening. Sort of feel like his not caring about his brother makes the inclusion of that character and death not even worth doing, and that there's more than a little unintentional creepiness in the central relationship. (He is a direct subordinate, and isn't given very much agency in relationship-related decision-making.) Possible DM .

Prompt use: strong. Maybe a little too strong: if these people are trying to impress each other, Shakespeare seems a bit weak to come up so many times.

The Man Who Made Noodles

“slide” should be “slid”, not a great sign. Otherwise, opening is interesting in spite of itself. “less farther” doesn't work. The shift in which Ten-Style stops being an elder master and morphs into Lee's brother doesn't really work. It doesn't work as a shocking twist, so it should have been established much earlier or done away with entirely. I sort of feel like you decided that they were brothers halfway through writing the story and didn't bother to go back and establish that fact any earlier. Could have used a solid proofing run. But overall, I liked the story, and had it as a Possible HM.

Prompt use: perfect.

Monster Movies

Not a big fan of “I loved when she was around.” Not incorrect, but not as sharp as it should be. Overall, the opening section works, I'm interested in seeing where this goes. And it goes fairly well, all things considered. I think the story might have been a bit better served by gendering the narrator a little earlier than you did, just because mother-son and mother-daughter relationships are very different and getting forward which one you're writing about would help. A longer version could show her denying that she said 'go ahead', which would be stronger I think, would also help with the disconnect between the version of the mother in the first scene and the rest of the story. This was my personal favorite of the week's stories.

Prompt Use: strong with two prompts.

Regarding Amelia's Hands

A very impersonal opening, sort of deprotagonizing the putative protagonist. Semicolon in an ugly sentence: “;however,” is a trainwreck that stops the thought cold. “her hands” should probably be “they”. Okay, this is a very weird, heightened-reality world. Sort of cute. The transition to the really weird romance is the weakest part. I was charmed more than others by the weirder stories this week, and had it as a possible HM.

Prompt Use: I see what you did there. Generally good. Flash rule use was a bit forced.

Neglected Survival

The opening paints a picture, a disturbing and powerful one, but in a very odd order. “disembodied” probably isn't the right word for a leg. “my cursed loudly”? The narrator's self-loathing is contageous, by which I mean I'm hating him, not myself. But that too. I feel like I was promised a resolution to the actual mystery by the way this was structured, and didn't get it. Probable DM

Prompt Use: Well, I appreciate the use of literal meathooks in a Grimdark setting. Fair overall.

Thus Always to Tyrants

The opening is overdone, and all over the place tense-wise. Not a good idea to have it focus on a character other than the protagonist and not even mention him at all. I don't think that god-emperors and religious taboos against drinking co-existed...? Yeah, this is pre-Christian. Heaven should be olympus. The idea that this guy is going to get to be emperor by assassination is somewhere between unsupported and silly. Suicide endings are almost never not awful. This was my least favorite of the week.

Prompt Use: Poor. I don't really see a revenge motive.

The Ocean's Sorry, He Really Is

Interesting opening. Another impersonalized main character, which may be a poor choice to go along with having a sentient ocean as the other character. Another self-loathing narrator as well. I think that this story could have done with a lot more whimsey, or depth. (It sort of feels like a Jonathan Coulton song without the charm.) Something major is missing. The Ocean needs to be less, uh, shallow. Its anger issues should be a part of its character, not something that it's passively watching happen to itself. Possible DM.

Prompt Use: Okay with the painting, pretty weak with the song.

How the Devil Got His Claws into Jack o'Kent

Opening is strong, making promises. Semicolons, the second one worse than the first. Detective work is contract, so it's a fee rather than a salary that this guy would be doubling. If the landlady and her terrier don't become important, I'm going to deeply question why we need that detail. Over-noiring it. After all those flourishes, the actual action sequence, this chase to the office gets almost elided? The ending doesn't really pay off the opening promise, either. Or make much sense I mean, keeping the same names makes zero sense with the devil still following. Doesn't really answer the title's promise either. A wizard who's known to be dead, and wants to keep being known to be dead probably shouldn't be publicly soliciting new business, and “I lied at the beginning because I want people to think this thing but I'm telling the truth to the exact same people at the end of the story” again makes zero sense. Possible DM.

Prompt Use: Very strong, again possibly too strong with the noir part.

Golden Roads

Interesting opening. The shift from the hypothetical 'could' to something that just happened is a bit jarring. “Martin had always been the better aim”-ugh. I'm not caring about these vandals after eight paragraphs, make me care sooner. Graph startiing “now, every street” is a mess. Ditto “he had been before” in next. The jump from arrest to trial is odd. Lots of technical, editing problems, and not enough character. Possible DM.

Prompt Use: Strong

They Want What They're Not

Not digging the impersonal opening. By the third paragraph I'm seeing that someone may be being too literal with their prompt. So there's an interesting idea here, but the impersonality keeps it from landing and the excessive promptyness seems forced and annoying. Another possible DM. I feel like the girl is right: his heart condition doesn't really seem to matter regarding his actions.

Prompt Use: Excessive.

Where The Devil Says Goodnight

Interesting opening. Those musicians sure are troopers. A little too slow to introduce conflict. Switching viewpoints halfway through, risky. Aviva had torn the closet apart paragraph needs work. Deeply flawed, sort of feels like three scenes from a larger work that makes a lot more sense. But unlike some others I get the feeling that there is a way to make sense. Getting the relationships all established earlier would help. This feels a little like the last 3 scenes from a game of the RPG Fiasco, in a good way. Probable HM.

Prompt Use: Very good, I'm feeling it on the painting, strong on the other as well.

The Show

Okay, this is a weird one. Truman showesque? Okay, so by the end of this I'm not at all sure what's just happened. I think that it's less Truman show than performance art, although I don't know why he had to do the blackout and butt ball thing to communicate directly with the audience in that case, or how he could have arranged either under the panopticon setting, or why he'd have to pre-announce to get them to follow him to Portland. My guess is that he would have had to have set all this up at the very beginning, had the sphere made before starting and arranged for the blackout on that particular day, then quickly retrieved it and inserted it during that short window of not being observed But I sort of liked it anyway, probable HM.

Prompt Use: Yeah, I can see it, more the video than the song.

High-Intensity Circuit Training

The opening is a bit flat. Story is staying that way, not giving me a reason to care about the action when Noah doesn't care about what's happening with these kids. The brids are writing notes?? So, strange things happen, related to animals, to a really boring guy, who hangs out with a mystery girl until she either is eaten by or runs off with a giant lizard. And he's still really boring. On the DM list.

Prompt Use: Good.


Inauspicious opening. Non-prompt-induced dead brother. Bad punctuation in the first paragraph. Lotta semicolons, which doesn't quite fit with the voice. I sort of like this one in spite of itself. At least the dead relative is the focus of the story rather than something gratuitous. HM list, maybe even win contender.

Prompt Use: Very Good

Every Gambling Man

Opening is a bit too introspective, general, tell-y and not enough action-y and specifics to the character. Okay, so I didn't hate this. The overly-introspective narrator persisted throughout, but at least you got a character across. Juan is a cypher, though. (Is he the Devil, maybe?). I feel like a stronger version would have revealed what was actually in the egg, possibly had a few rounds of egg bets fully played out before, even, although word count may have stopped that. One of the few on my middle list. (I think that this was the only story that had a no mention vote from all three judges.)

Prompt Use: High Degree of Difficulty here, and you mostly nailed it. Not feeling the painting as much as the rest, but the strong use of the flash and the well-handled use of the first prompt work well.

Painted Eyes

Opening is a bit weak. No characters, no conflict, maybe a weak mystery, maybe not even that. Overuse of dashes? “narcotized” is an odd word. Another overly introspective narrator, but at the same time we really don't learn a thing about why he's so, well, off. No sense of what he does for a living, why he has so much time on his hands, or even, really, what it is about this portrait that so oddly speaks to him. He's oddly incurious about it's provenance, too. You would think he would want to know where it came from, why the museum found it worth displaying, that sort of thing. With a ton of words left over this feels incomplete. Probably on the DM list

Prompt Use: Strong

im dying

Powerful opening. So the narrator is probably a cat (possibly a dog at this point, but I'll say string=cat.) You may have remembered in IRC that I'm really skeptical about the whole idea that there are mammals who can't perceive time, but I have no problem suspending disbelief for this story's conceit. Sort of losing the thread in the second section, but this is still powerful stuff. Okay, so I liked this one. I didn't quite get everything, what's exactly going on in the threshold trip, what the beast exactly is, but I get enough to see the shape of the story. On my HM list, was in fact my second favorite.

Prompt Use: Good.

Come Back

Impersonal opening, again. This time with characters who do wind up getting names. Mercy is a strongly feminine name, apparently on a male character? If not, that second paragraph is a muddle. Hal's cursing standards are very strange, being willing to take the lord's name in vain and all. The cat driving the van is very strange and tonally odd. This is one without much of a plot: our protagonist does nothing useful, just hangs around ineffectually until someone else saves them. I could see this working better as a short film than it does as a story, actually. DM.

Prompt Use: When this prompt came around the first time, back in Tyranonsaurs's genres week, I couldn't help thinking of that line from Blues Brothers, the bar that had both kinds of music, Country and Western. But you've broken these down and put them back together in a way that probably led you to some of the story's trouble but was still fairly interesting, so I'm going to say Very Good here.

The Train to Charlotte

Opening has three good lines, but horrible flow between them to the point of non-sequitur. Third graph, dirty twice in a row. 'speak it to my face' not a human utterance. 'at its leisure'? “you wouldn't be able to pull”-that's a bizarre mixed metaphor thing, even for in character. I want to like this one-the prose is entertaining enough, and the main character sort of pops. But his motivations are a muddle. He needs to get to Charlotte, wants to travel in luxury, but can't restrain himself from provoking duels, says in his narrative that he wants to kill confederates but goes out of his way to take them out nonlethally. In my small middle pile, with flaws balancing charms very closely.

Prompt Use: 3 out of 4 are excellent, but, well, at risk of reigniting past conflicts, a nearly total miss on Magical Realism. You really can't have a narrator who understands and practices magic in a rationalistic manner and still fall in that genre. “Henry didn't have the luxury of a millennium buffer” is a line that can't exist in a MR context. Apart from that area, very strong.

An Envelope of Bills

The opening is a bit generic, 'mere' is one of those removable adverbs, and I don't think the dash structure helps things. The dash splices keep on going, almost always badly. There's a time jump 'back to the present' a present that hasn't really been established, with a very confusing 'he' that it takes a lot of thought to find an antecedent for. 'his eyes narrows'-should be 'narrow'. This has some technical problems, but the story is relatively strong. Probably no mention.

Prompt use: Strong

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


spectres of autism posted:

spectres easily enters first, building up a combo from last week


curlingiron posted:

Hell yeah I'm in.

Guiness13 posted:

Been too long. In


I'll take a song.

QuoProQuid posted:

I'm interested in producing something that isn't awful.

Lake Jucas posted:

I have some free time this week and I miss the dome. IN.

jon joe posted:


Thanks for the crits!

Oct 30, 2003


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


Aug 2, 2002

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

Grimey Drawer


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


Jul 18, 2011

High marks for compassion, low marks for survival skills

Nowhere to go but up. Or laterally, I suppose. Or further down is always an option.

Nowhere to go but in a direction.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


docbeard posted:

Nowhere to go but up. Or laterally, I suppose. Or further down is always an option.

Nowhere to go but in a direction.

Mar 21, 2010

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

Shoot, I'm in.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


Mar 21, 2013

I will probably (definitely) regret this, but I crashed and burned the first time this prompt came around. Time for a second try!


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


kurona_bright posted:

I will probably (definitely) regret this, but I crashed and burned the first time this prompt came around. Time for a second try!


Bird Tyrant
Apr 21, 2003



Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


ghost crow
Jul 9, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo

I'm in

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008


Apr 12, 2006

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

We're still supposed to write horror, yeah?


Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

magical teen bomb squad

Grimey Drawer

Tyrannosaurus posted:

We're still supposed to write horror, yeah?


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