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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Week 205: the book of forbidden names



Did you know that you have a skeleton inside you RIGHT NOW? Whoa man, mind blown. That is my poo poo, man. Sometimes your episteme just gets ripped out from underneath you and you're left wondering whether your entire perception of existence is built on a lie. The prompt this week is cosmic horror, but this is loving Thunderdome, and that's too easy. When you sign up, you will be assigned an adjective. You must use this adjective at least three times in your story, or you will be disqualified. Furthermore, NOBODY ELSE may use that adjective at all. A master list of adjectives may be found here.

Cult Leaders: Muffin, Sebmojo, SaddestRhino

Victims:
Chili: stigmatic
Curlingiron: antediluvian
Thranguy: Walpurgian
dmboogie: blasphemous
flerp: cyclopean
Black Griffon: hideous
A friendly penguin: nameless
Flea Wars: accursed
Archer666: eldritch
Tyrannosaurus: ululating
Entenzahn: squamous
Noah: amorphous
Chairchucker: charnel
Bad Seafood: immemorial
Ceighk: loathsome
Djinn: noisome
areyoucontagious: non-euclidean
J.A.B.C.: animistic
Titus82: corpulent
Pippin: tremulous
CarlKillerMiller: sclerotic
Star: redolent
Quoproquid: effluvium
spectres of autism: singular, nacreous
Screaming idiot: crepuscular
Djeser: terrible
Jonked: labrynthine
Kaishai: mordant
SH: indescribable

Word Count: 1200
Sign-up Deadline: 1am July 9th EST
Submission Deadline: 1am July 11th EST. CLICK FOR COUNTDOWN.

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Jul 10, 2016 around 20:26

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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

In.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

gently caress yeah, in.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

'Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.' -Samuel Johnson

In

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



Exceedingly in.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning


will Cosmic Horror be the new Magic Realism?

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


well uh yeah i guess im in?

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


spectres crit

this feels like less like you imitating me and more... idk, you just using some of my motifs and sticking it to your usual style, know what i mean? i mean, dogs, yeah, of course. but like, i dont ever write sci-fi. like, i've literally wrote sci-fi twice, my first entry, and this one (which was because you usually/more commonly wrote sci-fi). idk why you had your linebreaks like that, it was v tough for me to read on SA when i wanted to see how u interpreted me. ok but the mermaid stuff, im there w/ u. i write way too much mermaid poo poo (i blame kai). lol even zaftig. huh i feel like this is more like... bits of my stories that are put into your story which is like kinda fun for me since i see things like drowning im like ohhh and that makes me smile. so im like the not the best judge for this poo poo because people would probably be like "why the gently caress are there dogs and mermaids in space" but for me its like well yeah. even the "i like cycle" could be like a loose reference to me because ive gotten a bunch of crits where they feel like my stories are circular. its kinda like, for me, one of those like dumb movies where youre trying to catch all the references but way more self-indulgent. theres probably a bunch of other references in them if i looked a bit closer.

so yeah really you know what i dont quite know what the gently caress was going on in this story but i had a lot of fun reading this and im probably like the only person who's going to have like this same experience but you know what idgaf. like i said, im totally not the person to ask if you want to improve it, but if you were going for like some wink wink nudge nudge joke stuff with me, well, im ok with that personally.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005

Now, in the quantum moment before the closure, when all become one. One moment left. One point of space and time. I know who you are.

You are destiny.


yeah i'm in

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

In

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


"WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THESE FROM, MUFFIN?" From a word cloud of Lovecraft's top 50 adjectives, with the occasional China Mieville one thrown in for flavour.
stigmatic

curlingiron posted:

gently caress yeah, in.
antediluvian
Walpurgian

dmboogie posted:

Exceedingly in.
blasphemous

flerp posted:

well uh yeah i guess im in?
cyclopean
hideous
nameless

ALSO NB: for the sake of not being a total jerk, the minimum number of mandatory adjective uses has been reduced from five to three. I am a merciful god.

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Jul 4, 2016 around 12:05

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

AAA


Pillbug

Yeah, in.

Archer666
Dec 27, 2008


I've been meaning to give this whole thing a try and the subject matter interests me. In

Tyrannosaurus
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

If someone was trying to be you, crit them.

Also, I'm in.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Tyrannosaurus posted:

If someone was trying to be you, crit them.

Also, I'm in.

Carl Killer Miller, at least your story wasn't bad.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Next entrant gets squamous as their word.

Not gonna lie, love me some squamous.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

flerp posted:

i write way too much mermaid poo poo (i blame kai).

When I quit this mortal coil, I will do so knowing my life has been worthwhile.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


WEEK 201 CRITIQUES, PART II

Fuubi // Legends of War

Thoughts: When I said that your piece read like a PowerPoint presentation on the Silmarillion, I wasnít kidding. The historian-style narration does not work because itís cold and detached from the action. The narrator has no investment in the conflict and the back-and-forth with the record artificially lengthens short sequences. It feels like padding to get closer to the word limit. The worst example of this habit would be:

quote:

I will next present a few excerpts, translated from the Old Language, that details this dark event. The first excerpt is believed to have been written by one of the Queen's bannermen, who is said to have taken his own life shortly afterwards.

Worse yet, your prose is on the lower end of awful. Lots of passive voice. Lots of awkward description. Lots of comic book dialogue. I havenít read enough of your writing to really make any judgements about your abilities, but many of your problems here seem like editing issues. I doubt that you read through this story before submitting it and I doubt that you thought critically about your audience. You have a plot in mind but your prose and framing device makes reading this submission a slog. If you hadnít waited until just before the deadline and had done some editing, this story might have been mediocre instead of aggressively offensive.
Reading Recommendation: On Writing by Stephen King; The Lions of al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

A New Friend // skwidmonster

Thoughts: Some weird descriptions and grammatical errors aside (ďthereís a sunflower glow in his eyes,Ē and ďI saw we get on it,Ē stick out most to me), I liked your entry a great deal more than some of the other judges. The central conceit is both whimsical and morbid, combining two elements of this prompt in an interesting way. I also enjoy Snerbís character and the focus on Manyaís lack of sensation.

Like many stories this week, the storyís latter half is not very good. I like the idea of the other heads but their introduction sparks a sharp decline in quality. Some of the dialogue is really bad and expository (ďI feelÖ as though I know you. All of you. But I donít recognize your facesĒ). At other times, I get the sense that you really donít know what to do with them. They ultimately donít add much to the plot and seem more like window-dressing. You probably could have gotten away with focusing the entire story on Manya and Snerbís relationship without ever having the other heads talk.

My other issue with the story is the story is your protagonistís complete lack of agency. Thereís really no plot here. The narrator gets carried from one destination to the next. I understand that itís hard to create conflict when your main character is just a head, but talking heads can only keep my interest for so long. Manya needs some want or desire that forces him to work with/ struggle against Snerb. Otherwise, the ending, which aims for awe and wonder, comes off as abrupt and undeserving.
Reading Recommendation: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Eden // Tyrannosaurus

Thoughts: I had your piece picked as a winner early on. Itís the most competently told story for this week. It also has characters with well-defined personalities and prose that doesnít make me suicidal. The dialogue in the fourth section, in particular, is sweet and tragic. It might be playing on well-known tropes but I donít mind too much. The story isnít the most original submission but it is within the top tier for this week.

Thereís a few reasons why your entry ultimately didnít get any recognition. First, the robotic quality of your characters ends up being tangential to the plot. I forgot that Walter was supposed to be unfinished until rereading again today and Maxineís low battery could have just as easily been sickness. With a few cuts and snips, this story could have just as easily been about two humans trekking across a post-apocalyptic landscape instead of two robots. Second, I take strong issue with the ending. I agree with sparksbloom about liking the bittersweet ending more than your epilogue. The last 200 words seem stapled on to fulfill the required happy ending. It is extremely abrupt and schlocky. As much as I like your characters, the last segment leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Reading Recommendation: Hm. This is a tough one because thereís nothing outstandingly bad that would be remedied by more reading. Iím sure youíve read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Stand by Stephen King but rereading might be helpful.

1905 // Benny Profane

Thoughts: I can only reiterate what my co-judges have said previously: This is a very well-written piece. Your prose is excellent and helps characterize Nadya despite the almost complete absence of dialogue. Thereís a nice contrast between the Nadyaís interpretation of the superficially nice ornamentations and the background talk of agitators. It suggests that the dead, represented by Nadya, are siding with the people against the nobility, who have become as superficial and decadent as their furniture. Good use of dramatic irony and nice tone.

Nevertheless, your story suffers from many of the same issues as other stories this week. There really isnít much of a plot. Thereís no arc or compelling conflict to drive the characters forward. Itís the literary equivalent of a ďwalking simulatorĒ in that I enjoy what Iím reading but nothing is actually happening. Iím not given much of a reason to care about Nadyaís descendant and Iím not really sure what impact the bedtime story is supposed to have on her. If I could see some consequences from Nadyaís post-mortem stroll, I would be happier. If Nadyaís descendant had any character traits beyond ďlittle girl,Ē I would be happier still.

Oh, and before I forget: Your picture is a play on Cinderella. The clock strikes midnight and the handsome nobleman transforms into a corpse. Itís intended to be a joke about the reforms of 1905 which would (in theory) limit the nobilitiesí power. Guess how that went?
Reading Recommendation: Did I recommend Rachel Kushnerís The Flamethrowers yet? I probably did, but I donít care. The descriptions in there are absolutely phenomenal.

The Monster in the Lake and in My Stomach // flerp

Thoughts: Jesus Christ, flerp, I asked you to write a happy ending and instead I get a story about sexual assault, body dysmorphia, emotional abuse, guilt, and a suggestion that your main character is in a hopeless situation. Your prose is competent enough (blocking is bad though) but the story flies completely in the face of the prompt. The ending suggests that your main character and her father have an unstable relationship and that she is avoid her problems with her boyfriend. ďI donít want to talk to you right nowĒ doesnít suggest that your characterís underlying problems have been solved. It suggests that sheís delaying an inevitable confrontation. The final line only makes sense if your character is haunted by her appearance and unable to come to terms with herself.

Cripes, this is grim. Letís back up and address some of the smaller elements.

As I said, the prose is competent. I agree with sparksbloom that you seem to be going for intentionally small and simple sentences, which makes the piece seem punchier than it might ordinarily be. This works well for your descriptions of the reflection but it also makes every other action seem harsher. Dadís outburst comes off as really excessive and makes him seem like an abusive father, which I donít think you wanted or intended. Derek comes off as a horny rear end in a top hat whose extended sex (possibly also sexual assault?) scene makes me feel nauseous. These two examples lead me to another fact: None of your characters, except the protagonist, are sympathetic. The main character seems ensnared in a terrible home situation that I want her to escape from.

Thereís some interesting elements scattered throughout. I like the reflection being used as a vehicle for the main characterís own self-image problems. I also like guilt and shame as a central conflict, which is unusually abstract for Thunderdome and not something I see often. Unfortunately, the piece is also unbearably grim and I agree with sparksbloom that, ďbring Dad into things, and making him a hero makes me queasy.Ē
Reading Recommendation: Segments of your story reminded by of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Might be some similarities between Libby Day and your main characterís narration. Might also be the crummy father in both pieces.

QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at Jul 4, 2016 around 16:54

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER



GoD vs. Dog Brawl Judgment

This was a lot closer than I expected it to be.

djinn, the imagery and emotional resonance was on point and hit the personal-as-universal in a more effective way than flerpís did. Sky shattering like a fiestaware bowl, the colorless Friends Forever necklace, there are a lot of images that make me stop and appreciate them. I thought your interpretation of the prompt was clever, but what I was missing was the actual counting, the rhythm and syncopation that comes with the numbers in a row. And that speaks to the largest weakness of your piece, which is that it feels like a flash-fiction piece masquerading as a poem. The line-breaks donít really make a whole lot of difference, thereís not much of a pattern to the pauses for breath, and I donít get any sense of rhythm or attention to how the words sound, even though the language is vivid.

flerp, this was vaguer than djinnís and a bit cliche afterschool-special near parts (5) and (6), but the opening of your poem crackled in a way that I appreciated. Thereís a lot of attention paid to rhythm and sound here, and while these are familiar images theyíre implemented in an effective way all the same. ďpaste-taste-freezing-razor,Ē dried brown-rubbing-breath,Ē ďscars-harsh-wants-startĒ. You fall into the old habit of relying on primary and secondary colors for your description, but they work as well as they need to to augment the main thread of the poem.

Both of you really succeeded where the other failed, and vice versa, which makes this a difficult decision.


The verdict:

djinn, if this was a regular brawl, youíd have won, but itís a poetry brawl, and flerp wrote the better poem.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


sebmojo posted:

Next entrant gets squamous as their word.

Not gonna lie, love me some squamous.

Entenzahn easily claims squamous

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


WEEK 201 CRITIQUES, PART III

Alika and Marcius // Black Griffon

Thoughts: I am a sucker for poetry and flowery, abstract descriptions but thereís something to be said for clarity as well. You start off strong in the first few paragraphs and I absolutely love your opening sentence, but there are moments when your lyricisms clearly gets away from themselves and the reader. Take for example:

quote:

Two straight lines from his wheels now, and a cloud from hooves, my mare a virgin in battle consecrating the ground again. Waking to life all that blood of old. We both know that I have nothing to say, we both know that this must end.

The rumbling of wheels so loud in my head screaming coward along with the years.
These sentences sound very nice, but I have to read and reread several times to understand that you mean, ďAlikaís chariot rode off and I followed it.Ē Your story would be better served if it were intersped with some clear, precise descriptions of action. At times, I get the sense that you are using poetic descriptions to pad out scenes, as though you are afraid of your entry being too short. Boiled down to its central components, the conflict is actually very simple.

That said, the protagonistís voice is well-developed and there is a clear conflict. Unfortunately, you donít really stick the landing and fail to achieve a happy ending. While Marcius succeeds in vanquishing Alika, the last few lines suggest that Marcius was left psychologically damaged by the encounter. At best, you leave us with a pyrrhic victory. Marcius won on the battlefield but now he has to cope with ďthe screaming years now left in the blood of Alika.Ē
Reading Recommendation: Tough one. Nothing directly relevant springs to mind but Two Men Arrive in a Village by Zadie Smith touches on some of the same themes as your submission.


Bystander Effect // Entenzahn

Thoughts: This story is okay. When the other co-judges and myself discussed it, we agreed that ďBystander EffectĒ was a basically competent story. Not the most thrilling tale in the world but it keeps the readerís attention. Unlike many other submissions this week, it has a clear conflict as well as a well-done happy ending. For that alone, you should be happy.

Though it avoids some of the pitfalls of other submissions this week, it doesnít achieve many highs either. I would have liked to see a more extended confrontation with the doped-out teenagers or a larger sacrifice than the protagonist being late for work. Your character accomplishes a small act of courage but I canít imagine many people not acting as he did. Thereís very little to lose in return for saving the dog. I also noticed a few grammatical and phrasing errors which should have been resolved in editing. I really wish you would have held this back for a bit and tightened up some sentences.
Reading Recommendation: Mastiff by Joyce Carol Oates


gently caress this world. // magnificent7

Thoughts: Yeah, gently caress you too, buddy. I spent half-an-hour trying to think of a real substantive critique that you can carry with you but thereís really nothing to critique here. You ran up against the deadline and pumped out garbage to avoid a failure. While I can understand the impulse, you wasted my time by submitting. Thereís nothing I can do for you.
Reading Recommendation: I donít even know, man. Black Box by Jennifer Egan, I guess? Maybe Every Interaction Between Two Strangers Walking Dogs Ever.

Mince // Thranguy

Thoughts: For all its warts, I really enjoyed reading Mince. Your narrator has a strong voice and the reader can sympathize with his situation. The setting, with its scheming councillors and noble generals, also has some interesting elements to it. Like Game of Thrones for kids. I like a few of your asides and the general awkwardness of the protagonist. As I said before, I would love to see you edit and expand upon this. I love children's literature and this certainly gets the tone right.

The reason your story didn't do better has largely to do with the prose. The parentheticals are overused and, at times, obnoxious. There's a few scattered issues with your grammar and phrasing that undermine my good will towards your story. And while I enjoyed the "solution" to your conflict for its fairy tale-esque nature, the way the protagonist reflects on it leaves me worried. The (NO NO NO)s suggests that the main character is on the verge of a mental breakdown and I'fm worried for his overall sanity. Once again, this seems like a pyrrhic victory. The main character saves his cat but he's only delaying his inevitable slip into madness. I don't think you intended the main character to come off as quite so unhinged.
Reading Recommendation: This is a completely different genre, but I thought Stephen King's Gramma did a good job of portraying a young, nervous protagonist. King does a good job capturing a kid's anxiety and fear without seeming over-the-top.


Funding Cuts // Paladinus

Thoughts: I didnít hate this story. In fact, it is probably the only story that made me chortle. The twist is dumb enough to make me laugh but short enough that it doesnít overstay its welcome. Less of a story than an extended joke. Also one of the few stories this week with a genuinely happy ending. Glad that the alien-bats got their tools. :-)

That said, your entry still has substantial issues. The prose, with its ďenergetic gesticulationsĒ and sci-fi clichťs, borders on self-parody. You also seem to have issues with proper punctuation, which makes the story difficult to read, and there are scattered grammatical mistakes throughout. The perspective shift is extremely jarring and is something that should have been resolved before submitting. You really ought to edit your entries before you submit them. I donít take as much offense to the lack of real characters or plot as sparksbloom but thatís only because I, again, see this entry as more of a joke than anything.
Reading Recommendation: Strunk and White's The Elements of Style

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


accursed

Archer666 posted:

I've been meaning to give this whole thing a try and the subject matter interests me. In
eldritch

Tyrannosaurus posted:

If someone was trying to be you, crit them.

Also, I'm in.
ululating

Entenzahn posted:

Entenzahn easily claims squamous

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

Hmmm OK yes in.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


A prompt like this is simply too intoxicating to ignore.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Adjective me, I'm in!

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


amorphous

Chairchucker posted:

Hmmm OK yes in.
charnel

Bad Seafood posted:

A prompt like this is simply too intoxicating to ignore.
immemorial

Ceighk posted:

Adjective me, I'm in!
loathsome

just as a note for all entrants, the real challenge here isn't supposed to be using your word -- it's NOT using the other words, which are all stereotypical overused Cosmic Horror vocabulary. Integration of your power word will of course be relevant in judging, but the larger objective is to get people to mix up their prose a bit, and not rely on the usual linguistic crutches of the genre. Following on from that, THIS AIN'T MAGICAL REALISM WEEK XXX: pushing the borders of the genre is highly encouraged - don't be afraid to be experimental and try something that's maybe not normally seen in the genre, so long as the cosmic horror elements are still recogniseable. One of the best pieces of short Cosmic Horror (Stephen King's "Gramma") is from the perspective of a preteen boy whose elderly grandmother is slowly becoming possessed by Hastur - it uses very simple language, and there's no cults, chanting or graven images: it's just a kid at home during a big storm, and he wants his mum, and poo poo is going down that he can see but has no way of understanding. Season 1 of True Detective is another great example of something that really pushes the boundary of the genre while still sitting recognisably in it.

tl;dr: be as free and liberal with your interpretation of the prompt as you like. You won't get shut down for THIS ISN'T COSMIC HORROR unless it's totally egregious.

SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at Jul 4, 2016 around 22:08

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


in

areyoucontagious
Jun 13, 2007

Hell is other people.


It's been a long time since I've done one of these, but I think is like to stretch my creative muscles. In, please.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


noisome

areyoucontagious posted:

It's been a long time since I've done one of these, but I think is like to stretch my creative muscles. In, please.
non-euclidean

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.


I cast my luckless bones upon the table. May the gods devour me quickly.

Siddhartha Glutamate
Oct 3, 2005


Count me in, Muffin--man.

Pippin
May 25, 2016


My knowledge of cosmic horror is... limited.

So I'm in, obviously.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why didn't you invest in
Thunderdome?


(week 186 crits) IíM MAD AS HELL AND IíM NOT GOING TO READ THIS ANYMORE (you thought you were safe you were wrong)

Think I forget this shithole of a week? Nada. I tried. I tried real hard. I drank so much rum. It didnít work.

So this was a week where nobody wrote flash fiction (a thing thatís usually about 1000-2000 words and thereís a character who deals with a personal or at least interesting dilemma) but at least we had dumb poo poo about spaceships and Manchurian Candidate fanfic. Seventeen imbeciles conspiring to undo three years of Thunderdome in one fell swoop, a gigantic gaseous blow to the shaky pillars of our little writing community that pierced my rotten little heart to its core. I am now ready to endorse Donald Trump.

What follows is a list of terrible human beings.


Tyrannosaurus Ė What Knights Do
In the biggest disappointment of this week, prized star writer Tyrannosaurus submits a rambling piece that goes nowhere for one thousand words and then insists that, ďuh, yeah, actually, the anti-vac thing, that was my point. Totally what I was trying to say.Ē

I get it. In hindsight the plot is a touching story about dealing with anti-vac crazies in your family, and thatís a fine idea for a conflict, but hereís the problem with plots that only work in hindsight: they donít work while Iím reading the story. Iím not sure why I have to tell you this. I obviously do, because you hosed it up, but I shouldnít have to, and you should know better. You submitted first too, so itís like you looked at this story and went, ďAyup, thatís done alright.Ē I donít loving know.

Plot problems aside everything else about this is shockingly mediocre. None of the characters are particularly interesting or unique. The most exciting event is the leech draining. Let me stress this: the most exciting thing that happens in your entire story is when a woman takes out a bunch of leeches and puts them on someoneís arm. The setting is an indiscriminate spot in the woods and thatís about as far as anything else goes.

I donít know man, you wrote something. Okay?


Guiness13 Ė The Interview
You know those episodic movies, where youíve got a bunch of small short stories that bond together into one big, coherent piece? Your thing is the same, but for lovely vignettes.

It takes too long before I even understand what youíre getting at. Granted, itís getting obvious after the third part, but that is too long. LISTEN UP BITCHES At this point, since itís also relevant to most other stories this week, allow me to reiterate a piece of advice Erogenous Beef, my long-time mentor (may his bile-filled carcass rest in piece), has unsuccessfully tried to hammer into all of you shitbrains for years.

The first-scene checklist:

[ ] WHO
[ ] WHAT
[ ] WHEN
[ ] WHY

Letís look at yours: A dude goes to a job interview. So then I assume the story is going to be about the job interview. Have you ever been to a job interview? They are not very exciting to watch. But it doesnít matter, because your story isnít about the job interview anyway. So you do a 180 and go somewhere else, confusing and boring me at the same time. If a good opening is a plate of delicious appetizers, yours is thirty minutes of trying to get the waiterís attention.

Eventually, somewhere in the second or third scene, I get what youíre going for, but then Iím already right in the middle of it, except Iím not, Iím never in the middle of it. Iím in the middle of the aftermath. Every single time, itís like ďuh oh something happened here I am again.Ē Then you run out of words, so you canít put up any noticeable resistance for your protagonist to overcome.

Not that I really care. Heís just some guy going to some interview and then being dragged into some nebulous political conspiracy. I know nothing about him, or his intentions. He could be a murderous criminal for all I know. Would you care about this guy?


Meis Ė Armadillo
Thereís a reason people generally donít bother developing an intricate spaceship setting full of diplomatic dependencies for their 1000 words flash fiction pieces, and that reason is that you need intriguing characters to get someone interested in your world first, and you need words to do that, many words, and plot, and then thereís not much space left, so if you use all your words on the worldbuilding you will have less for the stuff people care about. Nobody cares about Valhornian customs. Youíre new, so I need to really stress this: Nobody. Cares. About. Valhornian. Customs. Nobody. Nobody cares. Itís cute that you came up with your own setting and all but nobody cares. Youíre here to entertain people, not pitch your webcomic setting.

And maybe itís a shame because as much as I have to stress that I didnít care at all about your setting, that isnít necessary the problem of the setting. It might be a really good setting, but the problem is that you need to tell a story within the framework of the setting, and you didnít do that. So donít take it personal. Itís not necessarily your worldbuilding that sucked, but your story.

Which brings me to why I had this as my loss candidate. The cereal rant? That was a non-story. This? This is the anti-story. Like if you took a good, well-structured story and turned it inside out like a failed-writer hobo going through his piss-stained coat to see if thereís enough spare change left for another bottle of Bud (which, ironically, is also piss). Thereís no rhyme or reason, no plot, nothing. You donít pick a character and show us what they do and why it matters. Instead you handwave all your worldbuilding through a drawn-out reception scene and then a bunch of plot-points happen all at once, off-screen, and one is dumber than the other, until it ends with the protagonist accepting the loss of her son as a means of securing the most important diplomatic achievement of her peopleís recent history, which sounds like a pretty strong moment, but you make it feel dumb and lame, because nothing leading up to it makes sense, and thatís not what the story has been about anyway.


sparksbloom Ė Chomper
Man I remember gently caress all about this story except for going ďWhat the gently caress is going on and whyĒ at everything. Like, I have no idea what this story is about, or how Sethís buddyís backstory or the fact that thereís for some reason a talking snake or whatever factors into it through more than sheer coincidence. Maybe I could find out if I really dug into it, but this is not my loving job and if you canít communicate your ideas clearly then try harder.

There are many very important questions that either get answered too late (whatís even vaguely the problem) or not at all (whatís the protagonist going to loving DO ABOUT IT). Itís like you decided to write some mindfuck story about a guy whoís trippin balls and then you came up with a bunch of stock poo poo that stopped just shy of ďmidget with a top hatĒ. Everything just kinda happens, but at the same time nothing happens, we never make any real progress, neither in the plot nor in our understanding of the dilemma, like a snake eating its own tail, simultaneously poisoning its raw rear end and making GBS threads poison down its mouth in a circular motion, forever.

Excitement happens when Iím not sure if a character I like is going to succeed at something. Itís not a bunch of pseudo-intellectual look at me Im so mysterious bullshit.

I just donít see any reason for any of the individual lines in this story to exist, on their own, or in the context they are provided in. Itís a constant back-and-forth, things change but then they donít, the snake says itís going to bite him, but then it doesnít, but then it does, you just wanted to show the protagonist play Scrabble first or whatever. Then it ends with him agreeing to electrocute himself. Finally I can relate.

Had this down for a DM or loss but didnít bank on the fact that my cojudges are okay with incoherent world-garble sliding across their screens so long as the individual words themselves are recognizable as such and I guess also they like anything that reminds them of Dr Doolittle (because they are literal children).


anime was right Ė I Really Gotta Pee!
This was easily the best story so far because other than the fucktards above you you wrote something that isnít just relatable but also complete. I mean wow, you had an ending. That alone was worth considering you for an HM this week, and the fact that I would have appreciated the poetic justice of giving it to the piss and poo poo stories.

But then if you really think about it, what is this story? Itís a story about a guy who really has to pee. And the guy himself? Heís just some guy. Who really has to pee. I liked this because it was one of two pieces I could read without my eyes slowly trailing off the screen but if weíre being honest itís not necessarily pushing the boundaries of writerly excellence. Thereís justÖ the peeing thing. And thatís it. I guess thatís not enough for some people.

For what itís worth you wrote a very solid story about a guy having to pee and you can quote me on that on your resume if that makes you feel any better.


CANNIBAL GIRLS Ė Thou Shalt Not
That first scene is probably the most useless thing in existence next to to maybe the treadmill cycle, or that weird box that only turns itself off when you flick the switch. I get why you didnít want to start with ďIt was 5:27Ē but your first three lines are too vague to have any effect other than confusing me. You could have expanded that first scene, you know, elaborate a bit on the specific nature of the dilemma, and while youíre at it why not just go ahead and tell the story from there because by what I can tell everything that happens in your second scene is a bunch of beating around the bush until youíve caught up with the cold start anyway.

You go back in time so you can unravel the situation from the beginning, but you donít do that, no, you jump around between a bunch of different statements and actions, none of which seem to be in any way related to one another until I just want to know why weíre here or what the problem is. I get that thereís a domestic disturbance in the background, but stuff like him saying ďIím paid to perform a jobĒ, what does that mean? Is this his job? Is he supposed to be at a job somewhere else and laments his indecision? What is it? Why is he thinking these things?

On like my third read-through of the story I assume that he is being paid to do Godís work, but itís just so weird because heís already got the clock to measure him, so itís like, my initial assumption is that the God clock is a private thing where you try to tally up points for the afterlife and heís standing there debating going to his day job vs doing stuff for his God score. But apparently the God clock IS his day job and heís both being paid for this and he runs up his score? Itís weird and a little bit dumb and maybe youíre aware of that and thatís why your intro doesnít just come out and say it, but being obtuse about it doesn't make it better.

This could still be a neat story. The scene where the boyfriend uses the watch to abuse the girl is pretty intense and gives me a glimpse of what this could have been. But everything else is so lazy. Just take the way said boyfriend suddenly completely ignores the protagonist in the very same scene. Lazy. The dialogue exposition. Lazy. Thereís problems in this story, and some of them stare me in the face, and some of them hide under a bunch of cutesy narrational bullshit, but they will never stop detracting from your piece until you actually stop and think of a fix for them. If you donít think thatís worth your time, why do you think itís okay to make me read this?

Also lol @ God condoning murder.

Also lol @ your protagonist debating whether he should help with a domestic violence incident but he still wants to go to heaven, cool guy


Thranguy Ė No poo poo
Man at this point all the bullshit intros with zero informational value really tilt me, itís like all your stories are in the loving omerta or something. SPEAK UP

All in all this isnít terrible though. There is a problem, and the story is about the problem, and the idea is even a bit original. Itís stupid as hell, and now Iím thinking you were just trying to write a dumb joke entry and inadvertently ended up making GBS threads your way to an HM in a terrible week, but it was memorable. If you had written the exact same story but not made it an obvious poop joke it might even have won.

Okay, so compared to the other stories this was decent. But compared to a decent story, this was semi-garbage. You sport a cast of like half a dozen and itís hard to make out any discernible protagonists, or human beings for that matter. Theyíre soldiers, and thatís all they are, walking uniforms with nothing much going on in their heads, and the whole story leans exclusively on the weirdness surrounding the Captainís poop curse as opposed to any real interpersonal conflict. People die because of this curse. Brothers. Itís got potential for lots of bad blood, but youíre never taking it there, or anywhere else interesting. You just keep pointing at your premise, like Iím supposed to pat you on the back and give you a cookie or something. So this is another one of those cases where someone had a weird and cool idea and then ended up half-assing it in almost every way other than literally just submitting the basic premise along with a note for the judges to go gently caress themselves.

The way you reveal the Captainís betrayal is also kinda dumb, like, didnít they realize that the lethal fire was coming from right next to them? The whole way the story is told and paced makes it kinda seem like itís stuck somewhere inbetween mystery and slapstick, which isnít a terrible place for a story to be stuck in, but the more I think about it the more Iím convinced that itís a result of writerly indifference more than anything.


Benny Profane Ė Moisture-Driven Loss of Brittleness and the Inhibition of Failure Propagation
I didnít hate this as much as the others because it didnít offend me. To be honest it barely even registered. Itís a dumb rant, it deserved to lose (everyone did that week) but it didnít check enough writing mistake boxes for me to really flare up on my radar as the absolute worst.

That said, you were doomed to fail from the start. I donít think thereís any kind of execution that makes ďgrandpaís inane rant about the unfairness of lifeĒ work better than just writing a decent story. Your other crime was the fact that you made it so trite. I could have come up with this poo poo myself. Itís soggy and bland, like a bowl of forgotten cereal, or a low-effort simile.

Having stories where a guy just rambles and explains at you are always a bit dicey to begin with. Iíve written them, and I barely ever come away liking them. Because itís narration inside of narration. Nothing actually happens. The reason John Galtís speech became a meme wasnít that it was so goddamn exciting to read. But then at least John Galt had ideas to communicate. You talked about loving cereal as an analogy to how life sucks when youíre getting old. Youíre a decent writer but thereís no prose in the world that lets you write your way out of this cardboard box.

At the end Iím having the same reaction to this story that everyone has when heís being told this stuff IRL: ďSo what,Ē and I go play videogames.


QuoProQuid Ė The Third Rule
I really didnít want to write this crit because Iím not sure what to say about this story. Truth is, I was a bit confused on the first read-through. You came up with this really complex thing and you have such a roundabout way of conveying the relevant information. For example, you start by having the protagonist describe himself as an unpleasant guy. Then, somewhere in the middle of the same paragraph, you casually mention that heís just pretending to be like that. It doesnít stick. What Iím taking away is ďthis guy is an rear end in a top hat.Ē Like the fact that heís just posing for the Resistance is pretty big but you hide it inbetween two statements that conflict with that idea.

And then I wonder: whose side am I supposed to be on? Whose side is the protagonist supposed to be on? He talks about being a rebel but at the same time he says that despots like to keep him around, and he mentions some kind of protection like heís actually a government shill, but then heís also important enough for the rebels to nuke the loving restaurant. The information is there, but the presentation is flawed, like I carefully have to step through each single paragraph to make sure Iím not tripping over the presentation.

I donít get the recorder thing either. So itís ďfull of his movementsĒ whatever that means, so the Resistance wants to recover it (instead of just having it destroyed), but then they also want to kill the guy who was being recorded even though theyíve already acquired the proof incriminating himÖ ? All of this probably makes a lot of sense to you because you know the background to the story, or maybe it doesnít and you just wanted to write spy fiction, so you googled ďspy fiction tropesĒ and then slapped a bunch of ďyadda yadda tape recorder BAM BAM BAMĒ on a page. I donít know.

This has some good bits, like the moments after the bomb went off are really okay for instance, but as a whole the story is too nebulous and slick, and thatís saying something for spy fiction.


Noah Ė Autoerotic
I guess this is the story that broke me because for some reason I came away liking it even though I canít for the life of me tell whatís going on. Itís got this really hosed-up vibe, and the Entenzahn connoisseurs amongst you know that I dig the darkly bizarre, but after a strong start you kinda get lost in your own ideas, and then thereís the baseball stuff and thereís his childhood memories and his penis and his tick with the multiples of hundred and I always feel like thereís supposed to be some kind of connective element that makes sense of it all, but itís just out of reach, like you keep pointing at the dots without ever connecting them.

It succumbs to a ramble, a paranoid series of close-up snapshots. Youíre so excited about your own story that you get ahead of yourself as youíre telling it. Weíre chased from scene to scene, only getting hints about the why and what of the moment, and by the time I think Iíve figured out whatís going on youíve already moved to the next plot beat. There are no scene breaks, and some of the scenes themselves are only three lines long so it becomes hard to tell everything apart. Sure, it fits with the schizo vibe youíre trying to get across. It speeds up the reading experience. Many stories dragged on this week. But you went too fast. You left me behind with a dick-obsessed maniac. Not cool bro.

Alright, so thereís not much in the way of character agency here and the plot is muddled. So you wanted to write a character study. Thatís cool. But did you actually study the character? I feel like I learn nothing about the guy except for maybe what happens in the intro, for all thatís worth. Heís just confusing. He never seems to have much of a reaction to or opinion on anything, except for his weird outburst at the end. Nothing changes, and thatís cool, but if youíre going to write a character piece I think you should illuminate the character from various angles. So maybe thereís some poignant truth about the human condition lying at the bottom of the multiple layers of this guyís psychoses but all that gets through to me is ďguy really likes touching his dick and also baseball facts.Ē Whatís the point?


Killer-of-Lawyers Ė The Gourmand
I donít know what this is. Thereís words here, but why? None of them seem to say anything except ďHehehehe flower cumĒ

Seriously, thatís the story. People like the flower cum. And your protagonist doesnít get it.

Neither do I.


Schneider Heim Ė The Miracle and the Sleeper
Every week has that one entry that you just kinda forget about. Do you remember what this story was? Be honest. Alright, let me remind you: a boy is being a dork at school. A thousand words later he finds a friend. Presto

I guess the saving grace of this piece is supposed to be how Marty and Judy totally turn out to be just friends instead of a couple, wow mind blown I thought they were gonna smooch and poo poo. Everything else about this is so bland and uninspired I swear I just read through it and I already forgot half the plot again. I guess the protagonist gets attacked by bullies and Judy scares them off with her fearsome yelling or some poo poo.

This suffers from the same problem as many other teenie drama stories in the Ďdome in that thereís not much to it other than ďteenager has slight emotional problems (and also I, the writer, am bored).Ē Itís nothing new, and nothing worth remembering. You tried to spice it up with Judyís narcolepsy, but thatís just flavor and it doesnít make up for a lack of substance. You know, like you just served me a naked bouillon cube on a plate.

This could have been salvaged if the writing wasnít such low-effort crap on top of it. Thereís smug smiles, and winks and all this played-out bullshit without much of any attitude in the narration and absolutely no playfulness in the way you use the language. It reads like you were forced to write this. If thatís the case you have my sympathy. I was forced to read it and it wasnít pleasant.


Grizzled Patriarch Ė Home Economics
Hi my name is Grizzled Patriarch and Iím notorious for only writing half a story. To make up for that Iíve written two halves a story. Two halves make a whole, right? Right?

This really hurts because as always I liked your writing. The characters are human and relatable and the plot is a ground fertile with the potential for conflict. But you started writing five minutes before the deadline so you got the idea for the love story in the middle of your first draft and then you realized that you not only ran out of time before you could resolve it, you also forgot about the loving egg, oh boy, Entenzahnís gonna have my rear end for this letís just loop back to that other plot and maybe nobodyís gonna notice what mess I made *swipes the love story under the rug*

It would have only taken you three lines to at least somewhat reasonably tie this together, like just have everyone be mad at Caleb and roll the credits, at least pretend you had a plan going into this, but noooooooooooooooo


newtestleper Ė Otara Millionhairs Club
Look, I get it. Your thesaurus is full of all these cool words, it would be a shame not to use them. So you pick the best ones, one by one, and you string them up, like putting candy on a necklace, sweet, delicate words dangling in front of you until you tie the knot and put it around your neck and suffocate on a chain that weighs about as heavy as a novel full of old Victorian prose experiments.

I have no idea whatís happening in half this story and I think you POV switch a bunch but it doesnít really matter because neither of your characters nor your omniscient narrator are human or interesting or relevant to me in any other way than giving me something to be disappointed by until the next story. Thereís not much else I can say about this except whatís there needs to cut by half and then maybe you could use those freed up words to actually finish your loving story.


Pete Zah Ė City Service
I wanted to like this. The setup is at the same time bizarre and hilarious. The humor works more often than it does not (the part where he lies on the floor wheezing cracked me up). The characters were cool, quirky, varied enough to make a memorable cast. I could even see some subtle truth about the militarization of American suburbia hide underneath all the silliness, you know, a chance to subtly enrich that comedy with a deeply hidden social issue statement to give it some of that delicious substance that most 'dome comedies lack.

This had all the potential in the world. But then it just ends. So thatís why youíre getting a short crit, because I have not much to say about this. It was funny, but you ran out of steam and story and then it was just over. Could have gone really far in this horrible week but I guess you didnít want to win.


After The War Ė Further Upstream
I donít think this was that much worse than all the other milquetoast poo poo we had this week but you did write about a scientist making your assigned discovery, which is more or less 100% exactly what you were not supposed to do and now youíre paying the idiot tax.

Everything about this is bleh. An agent and a doctor walk into the woodsÖ sounds like the setup to a great punchline, results in a thousand words of puke as two people bumble around the forest looking for a fish. Seriously, what the gently caress.

Much like the other guy who wrote spy fiction this week youíre giving me a protagonist that has all the wit and humanity of an Ikea shelf. From reading the story I could swear heís actually Agency Bot 3000, designed to display hilarious incompetence in the field. Alright, so you wanna write spy fiction. It doesnít have to be a character study, but then at least give me something interesting. Give me a cool protagonist, not this clean shaven Johnny who sounds like heís on his first day on the job trying hard to come off as ominous. Give me action, give me gadgets, give me intrigue, give me a reason to waste time on this.

What do I get instead? A wikipedia entry on salmon and two people walking through the forest. Oh but the professor is so wacky the people are gonna love this one eh eh eh.

Seriously, you wrote about a secret agent looking for a fish. You did that.


Titus82 Ė Splat
Alright. I didnít like this. I didnít hate it either, but this won somehow and I assume the other judges blew a lot of smoke up your rear end so let me bring you back down to reality: this was aggressively mediocre, by Thunderdome standards.

You introduce some real problems in the beginning, but then you never get around to doing anything about them. So the daughter hates her fatherís hectic lifestyle. How did that change by the end? What happened? She only stopped crying for the moment, and even thatís just through pure chance as opposed to the protagonistís actions. The whole story is smokes and mirrors, a series of unconnected cute images wanked onto an empty canvas trying to distract me from the lack of substance by shoving a crying baby in my face, pretending thereís actually something deep and moving about what really amounts to Thunderdome clickbait. This dad found one weird trick to stop his daughter from crying. Mothers hate him!

The other judges can go gently caress themselves. This is not a story. This is eyewash. Thereís something very tragic about the core dilemma of your piece and you had a chance to move me, but then your character has the agency of a loaf of bread and you could cut the middle 80% if the story and it would still make just as much sense. Itís a vignette, and a really bare-bones one at that.

Thereís a lot of unnecessary words in this story, so now that I think about it you should have been disqualified for going over the wordcount, not because two additional words is that big of a deal, but because you didnít need these words and gently caress you and your lazy editing.

but then nobody deserved to win this week so who cares

Entenzahn fucked around with this message at Jul 5, 2016 around 23:59

Tyrannosaurus
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

Good crits

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007




I'm in. Lemme try and sub a thing this week and not continue collapsing into myself. Send me your worst pronoun, masterjudge.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


Entenzahn posted:

anime was right Ė I Really Gotta Pee!
For what itís worth you wrote a very solid story about a guy having to pee and you can quote me on that on your resume if that makes you feel any better.

considering my prompt, this is really all i could ask for in a crit, thanks for the crit.

starr
May 5, 2014

by FactsAreUseless


I'm in.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


J.A.B.C. posted:

I cast my luckless bones upon the table. May the gods devour me quickly.
animistic

Titus82 posted:

Count me in, Muffin--man.
corpulent

Pippin posted:

My knowledge of cosmic horror is... limited.

So I'm in, obviously.
tremulous

Carl Killer Miller posted:

I'm in. Lemme try and sub a thing this week and not continue collapsing into myself. Send me your worst pronoun, masterjudge.
sclerotic
redolent

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Next entrant gets 'effluvium'.

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