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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



You have this thing you do in a lot of your stories where what you show the reader is only the tip of the iceberg that is this foreign environment, and in this story it’s a lot more palatable because you’re working with terms and tools that the average reader can still understand—there aren’t any proper nouns or story-specific verbs or things that would need a thousand more words to explain. It’s about a boy in this Brave New World-like society where he’s (I’m assuming) having his thoughts and actions monitored and altered by whatever’s been implanted in the back of his neck. The freak football tackle damages the implant enough to jar him loose from being controlled for roughly a day, where he plans to escape his situation before having his antenna fixed overnight by someone else, presumably his “mother”. This HMed on the strength of the concept and sentence-level competency alone, because it’s not really a satisfying story—there’s a glimmer of agency and then it just dies at the end with no fanfare. It was believable enough, and the narrator was likeable enough, but it could’ve used more of an actual arc, or a murkier ending.

Rocket’s Mine

This was funny enough, I guess. It just sort of meanders and rambles along, even after the joke is explained, until it ends. The dialogue is stilted and really un-childlike, but I guess that’s intentional. I had fun reading this, and it was enough of a story that it had no danger of losing, but it wasn’t anything to write home about.

The Secret of Trevor’s Hollow (An Ellen Hunt Mystery)

This was fine. I appreciated that you really tried to represent the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew style. The drawback in trying to fit one of those novels into a 2000-word confine is that the mystery has to be oversimplified, especially in regards to the ending, where the main Bad Guy reveals his plan to Ellen’s live-streaming smartphone (which is still presumably in her pocket?) (and also can tell the stream audience where she’s located?). They find one clue, and then the mystery’s solved, so it’s more like Encyclopedia Brown than anything else. The kids seemed characterized and charming enough, though. Another note, I’d have started the story with the box being opened and the “fossil carnage”—that could’ve given you more room to flesh other things out.

Family Fabric

This fit the prompt in a more lateral sense, but I liked it because it was genuinely heartwarming, and ultimately it might have been a smarter move to go with a less literal mystery. It gets a bit overly sappy and telling at some points, like in the last paragraph, and there were parts where you could have played around with the setting, made it from the perspective of Michael, like a Calvin-and-Hobbes sort of thing, or you could’ve gone the other way and added a third character, a friend of Verde’s in order to give the story some real-life contrast. I liked the way this played out, though.

Dreams High Up Above

Would this have escaped the loss in a larger week? Probably, but looking at it again, there’s still no there here. It’s a very airy and wispy story that spends all six hundred words looking for substance. There’s this conflict of Sabien wanting to be a pilot, then the distress of knowing that he’s never going to become a pilot, then the acceptance of…just wanting to be a cloud? It’s something that seems like it works better as a metaphor than as an actual story, because while I legitimately am intrigued by the main character and the way he sees the world, he never does anything more than just sit there and think. All his adversaries are in his head, and they’re easily dealt with. I wouldn’t mind seeing Sabien in a different story, though.

Mischief In The Deep Creeps

Just like Thranguy’s was the only story to attempt the Hardy Boys route, this was the only story to attempt to go full Pulp. Ultimately, it read more like the opening scene to a movie rather than a full and rounded story, but I had no problem parsing the action scenes, and the characters were interesting enough even though they were sort of interchangeable. It also does the whole fantasy setting well without making itself inscrutable or inaccessible, so that was appreciated. I would read a full book with these characters and setting, but at this length the whole enterprise suffers, which was why you finished in the middle. But it still stuck out in a good way this week, even though the characters were probably the least interesting things about it.

Two Brothers and a Tiger Named Buddha

“My brother couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to go punk or monk” is a fantastic first line, and it immediately tells you what kind of story this is going to be. It was far and away my win choice, and the only problem I had was that I wanted it to be longer—not simply because I liked but because there could’ve been a stronger conflict. The brother making a deal with Tan for his reincarnated soul was a nice little lurching moment, but other than that, the tiger’s not a huge hurdle, nor Tan, nor Maung. It’s a sleepy sort of story, like a Sunday afternoon, but I kept feeling it was missing an extra sort of grit that would make it better. Like the tiger’s owner finding them, for instance. Or the floods actually happening. As it is now, it’s closer to a character piece than a story, but it won anyway because the characters are really well-written. If you made this into a longer piece, I would read it in a heartbeat.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 21:26 on Aug 28, 2016


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


That Much He Knew

Okay, so you’ve gotten a lot of extensive and valuable feedback from many other authors in the Dome and I recommend you study all of it. I just want to add my two cents on something in your story that I took issue with: “as boring as humanly possible”.
The thing is, when you’re in an arena like this, or you’re working with a lowered word count in general, you only have so many words to grab the reader’s attention and hold it there. For the first half of your story a man’s just lying in bed, being as boring as humanly possible, and why should I, not just as a judge but as a random reader, keep reading if I have no confidence in things getting more interesting or more coherent? In a way, I almost wish that the halves of the story were swapped, and we could start with the succubus scene. It wouldn’t have made the story better, but at least I’d know that you were trying to captivate the reader.
Go look online for some stories by Amy Hempel, the shorter the better, if you want to learn a lot about hooking readers with the first line and packing a lot into a small space. Or stories by Donald Barthelme, or Etgar Keret, if you want examples of concise stories that are able to use speculative elements like gods and magic that advance the story and incorporate themselves into the plot without distracting from it. Read more. Write more. Repeat.

Last Light

My main issue with this story is that a lot of the plot elements and timeframes just blended together, partly because there were no scene breaks, but also because it came off like you were trying to do way too much with a limited space. The descriptive language is on point in a lot of places, but it feels like anytime you have to address characters, whether through description or dialogue, the writing weakens. Overall, the story feels like it’s taking place in real time, where events just come and go with the same emphasis and there’s no real rise and fall of a story. It feels like a diary, which is sort of charming, but also pleasant—in the way that connotes low stakes. Not a bad effort, nonetheless.


This was alright, the creature was well-described, and the scenes with the violence were fairly moving, but I knew where this was going as soon as we saw Dad for the first time. You write a lot of stories about kids who don’t have a lot of power and resort to magical means (or magical friends) to make up the difference, and that’s exactly how this story ended. Now I want to know what happens after, when she’s just alone in the house with a creature with sharp teeth that has already killed and eaten someone in front of her. Is flesh its favorite food now? Does she have to keep feeding it?

How Feathers Fall

This had a lot in common with Last Light—phoenixes, give-and-take of life essence, charming endings that feel sort of unearned. You were definitely more economic with your sentences, though. It felt more like a fable or a fairy tale, which definitely earned it some points, but it was missing the depth of character in the same way certain fairy tales are. Definite improvement, though.


I liked a lot of things about this story—it had the realistic literary bent that I’m partial to, the pet monster was probably the most creative of the week, the character had a fair amount of dimension and agency, and all these things made it one of the better stories this week. If it had went a little further with the ending, made it seem more real or impactful instead of closer to “it was all a dream”, then this might’ve earned a positive mention. I also wished the monster had a little more of a personal connection with the narrator, rather than just being a sentient Swiss Army Knife. It was more of a tool than a companion, even though it was certainly both. Anyway—decent concept, could’ve had better execution in the second half.

Chasing That

The creature is interesting, but it’s really the only notable thing about this piece, and what does it do, exactly? Just sort of drags him into the path of these girls who are at first disgusted, and then one of them turns on a dime and finds this flying whale creature charming again. You could’ve had Moby as a German Shepherd and not much would have changed about the story, and as it is, not a whole lot happens anyway. The character changes without any sort of real decision made on his own, and there’s no resolution or inkling that anything has changed for good. The story just needs any sort of forward motion, but instead it wanders off and gets tangled in a random plot device.

Nature Abhors A Vacuum.

I would guess that this is a personally motivated story, and I can understand that, but the prompt was intended to foster stories of a human being and their creature companion who helped them combat some other antagonist. Here, your companion is literally a demon anchoring the protagonist down until they’re finally able to shake themselves free after a day of being locked together, seemingly irrevocably. It takes a day to get rid of this monster that’s been built up to be insurmountable. Even disregarding the prompt, this is a story that starts and then grinds to a halt almost immediately due to some force of the narrator’s will that we can’t see. It just seems like you got way too enamored with this vacuum concept and you let it drive the story into a ditch. The writing is good on a sentence level, but the conflict is so impersonally threatening and I don’t get to see much of the main character at all—and the main character is the one who should be in the driver’s seat.

Color In The Blind Girl’s Eyes

The other judges were more immediately drawn to this story than I was, but after re-reading it I couldn’t deny that it had something to it. The descriptions were nice, but I also felt like they were rooted in the most basic interpretations of color, hot/cold/earth/air/etc. You could’ve really just gone full Hailstones and Halibut Bones and given us much more vivid descriptions, especially in relation to the creature, but it felt like you held back. Other than that, it’s a basically charming story without much of a conflict beyond the nebulous shutting-yourself-off-from-society, which also probably hurt it in the full term, because those aren’t high stakes at all. Solid effort, nonetheless.

A Riddle: What The Best , Gets

This was okay. I didn’t hate it, even after the last line, which I honestly felt was more charming than annoyingly clever, maybe because the name thing was set up at the beginning. It felt like a lot of the action scenes blended together and maybe that was because I was waiting for the pet punctuation to take more of an active role in helping Mark fight off his enemies. Give the apostrophe a spin dash or something. Also give Mark more of a personality, because that was lacking as well, and punctuating his name didn’t add an exclamation point to his strength of character. This story was squarely in the middle for me, but it was a good week, so feel good about it.

Ig, from Beyond

I suffer with/have suffered from a lot of the same issues that were creaturified in this story, so it’s not like it was completely lost on me. You already know my feelings about this not meeting the prompt whatsoever, but beyond that, the story just seemed…inconsequential. I didn’t buy the narrator calling her crush up as this finite resolution to the story at all—one thing I know about these issues is that they’re in no way that easy to get rid of or excise completely. Maybe it was just meant to be seen as a first step, but even then, it still felt like a limp sort of ending. spectres mentioned in his crits that you spent way too much time describing the monster when anxiety is never that glamorous, and adding to that, I think it ultimately crowded out any character depth you could have shown us from the narrator—she seemed really nondescript in comparison to this demon you created to torment her, and that could’ve been another reason why I didn’t buy that it faded out so easily. Anyway, I saw what you were going for, and you executed it the way you wanted to, but I don’t think it was the right thing to try to execute in the first place, if that makes sense.

Jane Air

Yeah, you know what went wrong here as well as I do. It’s a story without a second half, or even much of a first half. You cut out at the very beginning of the rising action, when the story was supposed to start, so, yeah, not much else to say here.

Bon Voyage

I had this as my win pick, because I liked the characters and the sentences and the way the pet was incorporated and also it felt like a real pet and there was a resolution but it wasn’t too neat of a resolution and the reflection gimmick was creative and the two scenes were tight and looked jagged but were actually good at not wasting words. Like I said, there was a humanity and a messiness and an incorporation of the pet as this device that kept these two people together but at the same time wedged them further apart. The dialogue felt real and emotionally resonant, and the ending was the right mix of effective and imperfect as a solution. They found a way to deal with the 800-pound woolly mammoth in the room, finally. If I had to change something, I’d redistribute the first paragraph throughout the story and start with “My pillow smells like her”, because as good as the first paragraph is at establishing character, it feels like the second paragraph is where the story starts.

If One of Them Is Dead

I liked this. Most of the judges liked this. It’s well-written, polished and evocative. The creature and his magical power are both creative and they moved the story along efficiently. The reason it fell just short of the win for me...if I had to put my finger on it, it was probably the shift from “personal secrets” to “the age-old secret of life and death”. It was a tonal shift that didn’t quite land, but more than that, it felt like it didn’t follow the first half of the story, when something like a mere mortal secret that the narrator wished he didn’t know might have been more apropos. A lot of your stories end with the character confronting these life-or-death questions, and I understand that it’s a theme that you’re attracted to, but here—at least in my opinion—it hurt the story and added a bunch more pathos that didn’t feel earned.
Nonetheless, it was still a really good story, and you don’t need me to tell you that your skills are top-notch.

To Make An Omelet

Why an egg? Why a sentient, floating egg that heals the narrator’s leg through the power of eggitude? And why is the egg more developed as a character than Rosa? If there’s some sort of metaphor in this story that’s hidden between the lines, it still doesn’t make the story compelling. An egg heals her leg. Not much happens, the main character doesn’t have to do a whole lot or make any hard choices, it’s all a straight and smooth road. You want your omelet without breaking any eggs, but you can’t have both.

The Hunters

Pretty standard first effort, nothing abominable here. Really the most offensive thing about this story is that it builds up to this big confrontation between Arla and her thief and when she finally reaches him, he’s in pieces, and luckily Ishtar’s there to clean up the evidence. The characters were okay, but they didn’t have to do much of anything, and that’s where the story dies. I liked the device of the diary, but again, it was something interesting that went nowhere. Think about conflict, and think about resolution. What does a character want, but just as importantly, what do they have to do in order to get it?

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

In with Chesspunk.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Ghosts in a Churchyard
826 words

Kane looked at the crumbling cathedrals surrounding him, stained glass windows featuring Jesus with his face shot in, Mother Mary with a rock thrown right through her clasped hands. He scanned the road for half-smoked cigarette butts that he could finish off, and found none. He was deep in enemy territory, and though the Ivories brute-forced all their clean-lifestyle propaganda, he’d seen more stubbed out cigarettes in the last two rows of the field than in the whole rest of it put together. Even a few drowned ones in the Blessed Sacrament, which he’d scooped out and thrown into the center of the street, signing the cross before and after.

Kane looked away from the shattered windows as he remembered. No respect. None at all. That was what war had become, now—destroying all that was sacred, beautiful, innocent, and using the rubble as armor for yourself.

These days, war zones weren’t war zones by accident. They were like picnic grounds—you and Maw and Paw and little Suzy all picked up and went over to the designated area, spread your checkered blanket out on the grass and got ready to have yourselves a nice and proper war.

After the first, un-amended decree had passed, the first universally sanctioned war zones were just flat fields with some hills and trenches thrown in for good measure. It was one of the Committee Members’ idea to fill the designated war zones with these ancient and authentic stone buildings and churches, in an effort to enhance “realism” and promote “a more civil and respectful form of combat”. They filled a battlefield with china shops, thought Kane, looking at the wreckage on display, and prayed we’d be better behaved than bulls.

He took another step forward.

A loud tick rang out, and the air turned black.

Kane stood inside of an X-rayed world, the walls of the surrounding buildings now white and translucent against an opaque black sky.

“Shouldn’t have done that,” said a voice from behind him.

Kane didn’t think, he only had time to react.

He jumped back as a white blur flashed past him. There was another tick sound, and then a screeching and a crumbling in the air, like a marble column being fed into a wood chipper.

He looked to his left and saw the remains of Wright in a pile on the asphalt, mouth twisted in a rictus of terror.

Kane took another couple of steps back, the world ticked again, and he saw the woman standing over what used to be Wright, sword in hand, silvery hair swept over her brow.

Bischoff looked over at Kane and smiled. “You’ll get your turn soon enough,” she said. “Koenig promised me I’d get you when we took care of all of your friends.”

“Keep waiting,” said Kane.

He could hear a low ticking off in the distance.

“I mean, we can finish it off right here and now, if you’re so inclined,” said Bischoff, passing her sword from hand to hand.

The ticking grew louder.

“Just another moment,” said Kane.

Bischoff frowned. “What the hell are you talking abo—“

Her last words were cut off by Quinn, who blinked into existence behind her. The bullets tore through Bischoff’s midsection and almost cut her in half, folding her up as she sank gracelessly to the road.

There was momentary silence. The birds resettled on the eaves as the noise of the gunshots faded off into the distance.

Kane smiled at Quinn. She didn’t return the gesture. “It’s just us, now,” she said, looking down at her communicator. “All the non-Phi channels are dead. Just us two and a bunch of decoy droids.”

“Maybe we can clear a path—“ said Kane, but Quinn cut him off with a wave of her hand. She knelt and examined Bischoff’s face, still frozen in a state of shock.

“When you made me your second-in-command, you said all this would be a cakewalk,” she said to Bischoff’s cold visage. Kane looked back at the road. “A Grenada. An Ethiopia. Over and done with, without having to lose anything we couldn’t get back.”

Kane could barely speak. “That was how it was supposed to be, Quinn.”

She smiled, for the first time. “Only call me Quinn from now on. That’s all I am to you,” she said, saying the words to Bischoff’s lifeless eyes. Kane felt them like a punch in the stomach.

Quinn stood up, brushed her hands off against the front of her trousers. “It’s better if we split up and try to catch him at separate angles. That’s all we’ve got left.”

Kane nodded, and Quinn ticked away, blinking in and out of sight as Kane watched.

He stepped forward, and the sky became its usual overcast white, and the buildings looked like buildings, and the bodies looked like bodies instead of ghosts, or puffs of smoke, things that could just dissipate into nothing on their own.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

if you don't have a third judge, I'd be down

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

Next THUNDERTOME meeting is Friday, September 16th.

Moving this to Monday, September 19th at 8 PM EST to accommodate different schedules. I'll be in IRC all night, probably.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

Moving this to Monday, September 19th at 8 PM EST to accommodate different schedules. I'll be in IRC all night, probably.

Thundertome is currently happening, for those not in-the-know

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Next THUNDERTOME book, to fit the season:

Friday, October 15th @ 8PM EST. join us in #thundertome on IRC

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:55 on Sep 21, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

llamaguccii posted:

*** Submission for LOSERBRAWL ***

Take What I Have, You Gluttons

Word Count: 450

There isn’t a single thing he hasn’t already written worth submitting. He stretches. His fingers pull one another taut as he extends his wrists up over his head. He knows it’s bullshit, but it’s a consistent lie. It’s a lie that he can swallow down with the whiskey. Jameson. He mulls over if the name would work for the rugged character he’s been contemplating. He decides it can’t. Or more, it could, but he simply can’t write the character. And he can’t give a bullshit character a bullshit name any more than he can write a drat story. He used to be able to write a story, but that was when he had something to say that mattered. Or at least was interesting. Or revolting. Hell, anything that deserved more than a quick skim.

He’d never had the capacity to write anything worth remembering, but people had read him at the airport, maybe, on a long flight when they’d ran out of peanuts. Or in the shitter, at least, while they waited for a sympathetic roommate to replenish the toilet paper from the hall supply closet.

He writes the date on the top of the page like this is a loving journal entry, and he’s a fourteen-year-old girl, and somehow spilling out his emotions on the page is going to amount to something.

October 3rd

Today is a lovely day. I hate life.

He laughs, takes another drink. He doesn’t hate life. But he hates the day he optimistically joined their ranks of writers. The day he decided to give more of a poo poo about the words than the people that read them. The day he split his soul between the devil of diction and the god of syntax, and only got a handful of lukewarm critiques in return. It wasn’t a lovely life. It was a lovely occupation.

He changes his entry.

Every day is lovely because I hate writing.

He lights a joint. It was more accurate, but still not completely true. He didn’t depend on writing for his livelihood, yet he couldn’t seem to survive without it. He was an addict, lusting for a fix even when he knew what the brutal end result would be. Writing was his dirty little call girl. His subconscious routinely slipped her a key when all his mind really wanted was some loving peace and quiet.

He inhales, erases the entry. The blank page and the viewers beyond mock him. A crossfaded passion of contempt and unrequited respect creeps into his fingers as he strikes the keys, annihilating the page.

gently caress the readers, and gently caress you, too.

He hits submit and doesn’t feel the need to gratify them again until Sunday.

never made it as a wise man, couldn't cut it as a poor man stealing

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

posting to say Jitzu is 100% right, loserbrawls are dumb, and also I would never pass up a free losertar

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

Next THUNDERTOME book, to fit the season:

Friday, October 15th @ 8PM EST. join us in #thundertome on IRC

lol I got the date wrong but it's still Friday on the 14th at the same time.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

NEXT THUNDERTOME BOOK okay I'll give you what you want, fuckers

8 pm, November 11th, Friday

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

I didn't know your real name was Ellis Weiner, seb

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

I'm bored, here are my Raw Impression Crits from this week so far~~~

Week 220 Crits

The Secret Edge

Opening two sentences are not bad as far as openers go

Ok I like this character, but where’s any sort of conflict, a reason for this story to keep going

Boss is a cliché, so is Martha, when do the knives start talking to our hero and asking him if they can be his friends

Ok, so there’s the conflict (not selling enough units), and then the Atomic Blade is thrown haphazardly ontop of that, and then he asks Martha to marry him out of nowhere. I think this really could’ve used more time and more focus. I like the single-mindedness of the character and I wish it could’ve turned into a better, more single-minded story.

Protocol Gamma

“If you can beat our broken AI, you get 5% of the company” is like saying “If this Roulette ball lands on triple-zero, you win a billion dollars” it’d be impossible without cheating. I’m sure our Mild-Mannered Hero won’t find a way to break the game, though

so, all we know about this guy is filtered through this game you spent 4 paragraphs describing. I don’t have enough time to care whether he wins or not before he wins.

see, impossible. expected Mr. Zynga to drive to his house and shoot him in the face

now this story seems like it’s moved on from the entire Voidball conceit.

how does the narrator know what a Void Tablet is?

haha and that’s the Twilight Zone ending. Depicted well enough, but again, I have no real connection to the character, so I don’t really care. He even seems okay with it. Why shouldn’t I be?

A Completely Standard Furnace Repair Job

Tense shift in the very first line, that doesn’t bode well

Okay, we’re halfway into the story and the descriptions are solid enough, but all we’ve seen this guy do is go down stairs and get ready to eat lunch.

(signed by the ghost of David Bowie himself!) uh, what. This is where I would’ve stopped reading if I wasn’t a judge

You’re telling me how badass this Maintenace Man is and I’ve yet to see him do anything badass, he’d have better cardio if he was badass

ok, there we go, he stabs one monster. The End. when does he face a boss? This is more of a character sketch than a story, except I don’t get much of the character beyond “has a knife and is only kind of afraid to use it”.

Aisle L-8

I don’t know if I like the first-person POV—or maybe I just don’t think the voice is that effective

quick exorcisms, ho-hum

I like the uses of detail in this story, but when does it start

How does she not notice 12 people following her? this is very important to my immersion

“demoniac” isn’t the word you’re looking for, sir

they’re perfectly coiffed, but they have nowhere to shower/poo poo?

Okay, so this reads like you fell in love with a concept and cut it off before the part where any action took place. Like, you remove this story from the frame of Voidmart and it can’t stand on its own. She’s an awesome sorcerer that gets an offer to be More Awesome, ~the end~

Yeah, the Girls

“There was an art to it.” Oh, was there? gently caress you, stoner. I don’t believe you. Convince me.

What’s with these unnecessary paragraph breaks, why are these moments being highlighted

Do we ever get to know why he’s building a tower of mannequin parts, is he on a CYOA blind date

These are some stock dialogue exchanges, the dialogue sounds alright, but where is it leading to, exactly

so…this is a superfan’s dream? that’s the story you were telling this whole time? What happened to the tower of mannequin parts? What does this have to do with Voidmart at all? And why should I care about the narrator when all I really know about her is that she enjoys cardboard cutout arranging?

Not my favorite, could see this DMing, but we have a while left to go…

Chariots of the Wage Slave

That is a clunker of an opening line. “nearer to the bottom.” “almost to the bottom, but not quite, perhaps round 4th or 5th bottomest.”

Oh goodie how many times this week am I going to see “Voidmart was big, unseemingly big, like giant, folks.” Writing is polished enough so far, though.

OK, wouldn’t the short version really necessitate a long version? “just a bunch of zombies in a crate, nbd” also you’re spoiling any intrigue for the reader.

“paled in comparison to the threat of losing his job” you’re telling us so much and showing us so little

zombies, then a T-rex, are some ninjas going to show up next

Alright, you’re describing the employee manual more than the protag, and so far I’m more interested in the manual, at least it might kill somebody at some point

“As in, right just now.” what is this narrator voice. they sound irritatingly cocky.

Story over, and the protag hasn’t done much except not die. The setting is interesting and “quirky” enough, but I’d rather listen to the employee manual describe it than this guy, and that’s not good.

Ethical Cannibalism

well, then. let’s see if the story can live up to the opening line.

oh god this is going to be a screed in support of veganism isn’t it. Piers Anthony did it already, buddy, and astonishingly enough his version was a smidge cleverer

also, this isn’t how regular butchering works. Farmers don’t cut off chunks of the cow as it’s still alive, they just kill the cow and chop it up. You can’t live a stress-free life if there are chunks being carved out of you on the regular

“without missing something valuable” is a good line and I wish it was in a longer story, maybe from the boy’s perspective. I dunno man, you had something good here and you smashed it flat and cooked all the juice out of it. oh, he kills the boy at the end, that’s interesting, I guess. so what, though. I don’t care about the protag enough.

tbf, this is a better ending than the stories I’ve read that are twice the length, so congrats for that. but “After all, that didn’t mean the meat had to go to waste” is a much better ending line. >: (


Does Boss just point his thousand-dollar gun at people when they ask him for a Danish

I’m 200 words in and I’m already completely lost, why prayer livers, why fusilli

Okay, once I’ve settled into the conceit of the story I’m starting to like this, the writing’s distinct

so far the religious aspect of the story is really out of place, it feels like you were saddled with it against your will

there are a lot of little details in this story that I like and that aren’t just shoehorned in

ahahaha asseagles

ehh, the ending is a bit of a cop out. It’s funny, but it seems anticlimactic. I feel like I’d’ve liked it all better if there wasn’t this smothering religious voice, but that obviously wasn’t an option. Best story I’ve read so far, though. Even if it’s kind of two-and-a-half stories crammed into one.

It’s Easier Without Customers

this is the most unsubtle opening I’ve seen so far. It feels like vaudeville. Vaudemart

The main characters are basically interchangeable, and this story is a snore because I don’t know what’s at stake. They hoodwink Sam out of his job and then they get transferred to his old section. I don’t know why they’re so afraid of—oh. The title. Well, then it’s a corny joke executed perfectly. It’s still a boring story, though. It’s going for charm, but none of the characters are charming or interesting.

Retail Therapy

I read the opening dialogue and I picture this person and I want to die, which is good

like Mirakill, there are plenty of clever details here

is this that sub-neural programming that Pick-Up Artists do? She’s a loving retail PUA

“Brace for TRUTH and immediate rectification” made me smile, there should be a prize for the person who does the best CEO impression

ok, then, “a wave of something?” “reality field”? I feel like there’s a lot lost in translation here

nevermind, this is amazing, I love this interpretation of an audit

wait, what? Alexandra’s a witch? this story has serious Adderall problems

done. So, this story seems torn between a lot of different focal points, and at a certain point the narrator’s just rolling around on the floor swallowing their own tongue. This feels like something you had too much fun with and forgot to edit down for clarity. The audit section was genuinely enjoyable but then we got to the man on a horse and Alexandra being a witch and now I’m just tired and my head itches.

Aisle Null

“The proper term is Maintenance Engineer.” I’m going to get Vladimir Matyushenko to come your house and throw you through a wall

“what the gently caress” is my reaction to this story so far, as well. Voidmart isn’t just a license to go hogwild with the random Miss Peregrine nonsense. none of this makes any sense even within the world that the prompt’s established. also I just love that a transgender person is a de facto stand-in for weirdness, just love love love it, also love that they’re called a “woman-man”

lots of little errors and clunky grammar in this piece.

glad we need to know how Jim’s boner is doing at all times

dude, I don’t know where to begin. the plot beats seem to have no relationship to each other, the writing’s pretty bad on a sentence level, the characters are paper thin, and there’s no real plot arc to it whatsoever. I don’t care about this dude’s attraction to an alien from another dimension, and that’s the strongest force in the story. Read more. Write more. Repeat.

Tracey and the Vintage Vegetable

one of the less appealing ways to start your story is with a giant text block of exposition. you want to get your reader to put your story down and walk off, that’s a great way to do it. also a lot of unneeded passive voice as well.

Once we get to the garden department, the story starts to pick up, took way too long to get there, though. Why do we need to know what kind of latte she orders before we get to the real conflict

Um, that came out of nowhere. So the story is over and the protag has done nothing and has had no agency. There was a fantasy NPC that was vaguely interesting but then he got attacked by a Killer Tomato. It feels more like “here’s some weird poo poo, bye” than “here’s a story with a beginning/middle/end and a character with motivation and depth”. Start in the middle of the maze, make Kevin more of a person, and make the ending less of a trick, and this story would be improved.

The Finding of Happiness

Okay, we know he likes watching TV. Why does he like watching TV shows, specifically imported ones

I kind of like this conflict, let’s see what you can do with it

This seems like one of the stories that couldn’t survive outside of the prompt and outside of Knowing What Voidmart Is

Just concuss the analytical skill out of yourself, Brian. Also you’ve managed to do what many other stories haven’t, which is establish a clear conflict early on—even if you might be overdoing it a bit

I’m noticing that there’re a lot of dense blocks of text here, with a story this short that’s not really a point in your favor

So he just loses his map for no reason in particular and then almost dies, and then gets revived by his not-dead brother in-law. why should I be reading this story and why are you telling it. it sounds like you had an idea and then decided it was too hard so you threw a bunch of stuff at the wall. The conflict’s never resolved and the story never ends and the characters don’t change in any real way.

I really don’t care

“We’re gonna tear out his soul and swallow it up” could you show me this in the character’s actions and demeanor instead of forcing it into my eyes through a voiceover, please

I know nothing about this protag beyond the fact that he hates his job, which puts him right there with most of the characters this week

Alright, now we’re getting some character detail, why couldn’t there have been some in the beginning

This has gotten better as it’s moved along, I like the stuffed animal showing up on the conveyor belt and him stabbing his watch. The story could’ve started at the second section and been much more efficient, especially since I just read the non-ending and it absolutely seems like you ran out of words, WTF

My verdict is that when you stopped having the narrator articulate his thoughts painstakingly and just had him act, it made for more emotional resonance. Shame about the way the story trails off, though.


Godfather of the Night, huh, is he a miserable pile of secrets

I could do this investigator’s job, I can tell when someone has purple skin

Quintecents, clever

lol is this turning into a comedy of errors already

He’s a Skateboard Wizard, He Sure Rides a Mean Skateboard

“It’s a year or so back” ok this shift in time completely kills the momentum and takes me out of the story, I have to stop and take a second to figure out what’s going on

Probability Manipulation through customer loyalty? That’s legitimately a neat concept, wish it had taken center stage rather than being thrown in messily at the end of an alien story

“far too much mercy and compassion” lol. This was clever, and I kinda liked it. It seems sort of unbalanced with the middle being so devoted to this pinballing action scene, but it was written with enough clarity that it wasn’t a terrible distraction. I hope this ends up landing an HM

All Paths Lead To The End

I think I already know where this found-footage poo poo is going to go, let’s see if I’m right

Why “Day 6, cont.”, wouldn’t it all just be under “Day 6”

transmission interrupted? these aren’t written notes? Wouldn’t there be more of them if they were just radio messages?

now I’m questioning why this is the format you chose to write this story. The way your protag is describing everything he’s done in exacting detail feels forced. Why not just make it a regular narrative?
great, standard creepypasta executed somewhat well. If you had more words to make it more of a slow build, that would’ve solved some things, but the story itself is still paper-thin. I don’t feel any connection to your main character at all and I don’t know that much about him, and as a result, I barely care when he’s about to die. The atmosphere is okay, but that’s about it. It feels like a SyFy original.

The Doppol

starting out with a sentence fragment as your second line, huh

“I was a bold middle aged man who could no longer afford to sky dive due to the price of my prescribed pain killers.” ← character description of the loving century

The little details like the “Lemming Division” and the “face conquered by scar tissue” make this story stand out more than I expected it to, good job

haha there’s a What Is It raffle, this is great

some of the grammar and proofreading is a bit sloppy, there should be a period after Aramaic

it’s is only ever short for it is, drat it

“There was a reason I always wore a YOLO T-shirt.” oh my god this guy is the greatest

so it’s sort of like a demon that possesses people for the experience? kind of a letdown, especially since the guy doesn’t seem to be affected all that much by it. There’s enough buildup to have something shocking happen, but the story just fizzles out. It’s charming enough, although it feels unintentionally so at times.

Aisle C-U-L8R

There we go, that’s a nice opener

I like the voice, this seems like an independently good story so far

not quite buying how time passes in this story, doesn’t quite hit for me

this reminiscing is nice but it feels a bit too writerly, like you’ve set aside all forward motion for a moment

huh, reminds me of that scene in Citizen Kane, Orson Welles reflected dozens of times in the one mirror.

so this is a sort of purgatory. I like this approach to the Voidmart concept. It feels sort of obtuse and distant in parts, though, and I don’t know if the ending lands cleanly for me.

Cut Pills, Bargain Thrills

huh, warehouse rave, this is different, couple of glaring typos though

another conflict introduced early, very good

“She lifted a carefully-manicure fingers” ffs dude, take the time to sort this poo poo out, this is entry-level maintenance

Lance Strongwood. Dirk Steeldick. Rod Hardcock.

They’re going to find that coffee girl’s dead body shoved into a low shelf four episodes later, like The Wire. So far, the characters actually seem distinct, and the motivation is clear, gj

your ideas are alright but you keep tripping yourself up with avoidable errors like “threw a tantrums” and “vegetable isle”.

this all-knowing intercom is a nice device

come on, how do they not know this is a trap and they’re going into that pit

the girl coming to save them for “customer satisfaction” was a great payoff.

This was a fun and schlocky effort, and it was very economic with its action and details. I could believe this was Bad Seafood were it not for all the typos. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this a lot.


ok the answer bingo machine made me laugh.

“Fear always brought out the cliches of his scant imagination.” what is this voice? this is insufferable.

idk man, all of this could be interesting but it’s just marinated in this pompous voice that turns me right off. does he really need Emigration for Dummies to know how to leave the country? I thought he was a ne’er-do-well, wouldn’t he know how to blow a pop stand

aaaaaand it ends with Goon Love. fantastic. it feels like this story comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. There are some parts to it that work, but they’re few and buried between a lot of unappealing voice. The story does pick up once the store associate pops in, though.

Chasing the Dragon

I enjoy this so far, the departments are well-written and charming

omg is this leading to a Wu-Tang joke, IS HE LOOKING FOR THE WU-TANG SECRET

alright, this story seems more preoccupied with charm and worldbuilding than telling a complete story, as evidenced by the shorn-off ending. There’ve been worse written stories than this so far, but it still doesn’t really conclude or offer any sort of growth for the main character. After reading this, I feel like I know a little bit more about Voidmart, but you could lump this story in with six or seven others that just act as brochures and not compelling fiction.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

What about me?




yeah okay, in

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

E: gone

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 20:57 on Nov 5, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

in, might as well

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Held Music
717 words
Prompt: Route 209

I’ve been on hold for six days, and my arm is stuck in the receiver up to the elbow.

“You are very important to us,” the voice on the line says, and I sob, sacred relief washing through me. “Please hold while we provide assistance.”

The music starts again, and I can’t hear myself suffer.

Clicking the button in the cradle makes it hurt worse. Dialing another number makes it hurt worse. Trying to pull the line out of the wall is like trying to unthread the tendons from my arm, my arm plunged into sand-colored plastic, my fingers playing a smooth concerto on a piano made entirely of metal. One jumper cable clipped to the Double Pedal Low A, the other clipped to the Eighth Octave High C, voltage rushing through my veins, the melody of my own destruction sizzling through my inner ear, twinkling notes that pierce like silver needles.

You hear a note for so long, it fades into the background, into the wallpaper. Pain, excruciating pain, works the same way.

The cord is long enough to stretch from the kitchen into the front hall—to the front door, opaque and stained with dead shouts for help—and not any farther. The only living things in this house were the funeral lilies next to the kitchen sink, and I ate them three hours ago, the rubbery petals crunching between my teeth, lips stained with pollen. I miss the lettuce.

More muted piano, muted horns, muted woodwind instruments. I’ve noticed the colors draining every time I scream, scrape my teeth against the listening part of the phone, try to yell past the whitewashed orchestra for someone, anyone. Everything is pastel now, infected with white. The sky through the kitchen window is the faintest blue of a baby’s blanket. The cherrywood cabinets have turned a milky caramel. The drawings taped to the front of our empty refrigerator look like ghosts drawn on the back of supermarket receipts.

The music stops, and my arm sinks in a millimeter further.

“You are very important to us.” says the unreachable person on the other line. “Please hold while we provide assistance.”

I remember how the cooking oil slid down my throat, the apple cider vinegar, the sriracha that tasted like marinara sauce. The cooking sherry was long gone—it had been my only option that night, before I woke up here. The whole bottle was drained in half an hour, while I sat at the kitchen desk, cradling the phone next to my ear, mouth babbling to a computerized voice. All the while that music played in the background, twinkling fairy-tale piano, a concert above an empty crib—

Burning through my hand, up my arm and into my brain.

I stand up on shaky legs and pull the cord behind me, reach over to the far corner of the kitchen, where the knife block is. White-hot pain sizzles through my arm, protesting my decision. I stretch two fingertips out towards a greyed handle, just—barely—

The block tips out the entire set of knives onto the tile floor, the sound as soft and inoffensive as rain. I step on the cleaver and drag it closer, pick it up with my free

I stare at the blade, or rather, what used to be a blade.

The piano notes twinkle and trail off.

A voice comes through the phone, through the silence, the absence of hurt.

Gurgling is all I can hear, a soft gurgling. Someone attempting to talk. Someone that sounds like me.

Then a high note, a cry, an Eighth Octave High C, my—

—and I scream but I can’t hear myself and the music starts and I slam the cleaver down on my arm over and over again and the blade crumples, crumples like aluminum foil and I lean back and howl, somewhere between Octave Nine and Octave Ten, slamming my jaw down onto my forearm, my teeth grinding and gnashing at the exposed flesh, the blood flowing out the color of strawberry milk and it’s the best taste I’ve ever tasted in my whole entire life and the grief no longer matters and the pain no longer matters and I just want more, and I already know my lips will be second-last, and my tongue will be last.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

NEXT THUNDERTOME BOOK okay I'll give you what you want, fuckers

8 pm, November 11th, Friday

moving this to Thursday, November 17th, same time of day

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

THUNDERTOME happening in one hour, just so everyone knows

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

also, in withū

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Next THUNDERTOME meeting on 12/16, 8 PM EST.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

Next THUNDERTOME meeting on 12/16, 8 PM EST.

this is still happening, btw

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Chairchucker posted:


Write a story where the protagonists are animals. Not anthropomorphic animals that wear clothes or whatever. Not animals who make pop culture references and foxes get on well with rabbits instead of eating them or whatevs.

Animals like the ones from Farthing Wood or whatever where they live in dens or wherever the heck animals live and they have every day actual animal concerns to deal with and whatevs you get the idea, and if you don't get the idea you MIGHT NOT WIN.

1500 word limit. Due Next Wednesday, 12 midday, by my own clock on my own wrist.

good prompt

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

THUNDERTOME starts in one hour, meeting is in #thundertome on IRC

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

The Unholy Ghost posted:

OK, I read "1000 words base" as 1000 words minimum. Should I just remove my 1000+ word story?


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

no kayfabe: I'm a dumb twat

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:29 on Jan 1, 2017

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

sebmojo posted:

You're actually p cool and write good words

well yes, the two aren't mutually exclusive

also thank you, you wrote good words before I did


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

my allegiance is to wordplay, so Prose and Cons

but for real I also liked You May Already Be A Loser

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