Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Locked thread
Jan 27, 2006
In :toxx:


Jan 27, 2006
Destiny Through Sickness and Ash (907 words)

My sister tries to hide her suffering. Noya must think me a fool or else she wouldn’t persist in concealing the limp, the glistening eyes, or the wincing. Even the ash can sense her pain, for wise plants are no less wise for having burned.

Would that the plants had warned us. Warned of demons who would spread their heresy, whip us for our nakedness, and tell us our very bodies were evil. Warned of the sickness wrought by those who torch whole villages and surrounding woods when we resist. Is it because it is our destiny to die, that the plants remained silent?

It cannot be so. Though I wretch with nausea and roast with rash and fever, Noya shines healthy. In that, there is hope for us both. We can rely on each other. She sings the song of a medicine woman, and I walk the path of a forest guide. We will traverse the burned forest together, but our time grows short.

We are nearing the next village. If there are survivors, we will lead them to the empire. Noya limps next to me and allows a tear to find its way to her jaw. “I can go no further,” she says. “There’s a blockage. Here.” She places a hand on her back. “It sends pain down my leg.” She reaches for my forehead. “With your fever, I cannot hope for you to carry me. If ever I am to walk again, you will have to perform the healing.”

Just then I hear an imitation of a tinamou call. After I return the call two Yagua men, their faces painted red, slip toward us through the ruined foliage. Noya knows no tongue but that of our people’s, but I understand the Yagua well. “If you seek the Yagua village, turn back,” said the first man. “We are the only survivors. They who refused the demons’ enslavement died by sickness or fire.”

“I would lead you to the empire. They will safeguard us if I treat with them. I am fluent in Quechua as well as Yagua.”

“No,” said the second man. “We must bury the bones of our tribesmen. Even now we hunt for food to give us the strength to dig a mass grave. Then we ourselves will lie in it, for no one remains who might bury us.”

As Noya and I leave the Yagua, I feel my face flush. Soon, the rash covering my skin will raise in bunches. The pain will be immense. The nausea and fever will worsen. My body will leak life-giving energy from every pore. My organs will betray me. We must find the empire before I succumb, else Noya will be unable to treat with them. And if she dies—

Noya bellows and eases herself to the ground. She asks that I make a fire and draws two items from her sack, a clay vial and flat stone. When I have started the fire, she pulls the plug from the vial and says “You will do the healing.” Then, she hands the vial to me. It contains a black liquid. “Drink. The medicine will show you the way.”

She begins to sing. I’ve heard the medicinal chant often, but hearing my sister’s gut wrenching rendition is enough to make her pain my own. I drink the bitter liquid, suppressing the urge to vomit. Noya’s chant enthralls me; I am deep under now. I place the flat stone in the fire and my hand on Noya’s back. A vision of a cyst bursts into my mind. I will need to remove the blockage. With my free hand, I caress the earth and grasp at an unburnt stick. Noya’s chanting wavers as I dig into her back. When I have cut out the cyst, I use the stick to flip the hot stone from the flame and on to the wound. Noya passes out but the bleeding stops.

That evening, Noya awakes. I give her my ration of food and drink; given the sickness I soon will have no need. We camp for three days until Noya can walk again. By now I am covered in painful skin lesions. My breathing is labored. I tell myself that all will be right if I can get Noya to safety. Someday she will bear children and teach them to hate. When they are grown they will vanquish the invading demons.

The forest thins as we approach the empire. We walk for half a day before chancing on an outlying temple. The gold-bedecked priest greets us in Quechua when we enter. “You have the sickness, my poor child. I must speak with candor, there is little we can do when it has progressed this far. It is in the hands of the Sun God now.”

“I don’t care what happens to me,” I tell him. “I ask that you give her sanctuary here. She is a powerful healer, much in tune with the plants and their spirits. In addition, I offer my knowledge of tongues as well as news of the demons’ movements. Already they have defeated the Yagua.”

The priest gazes as a gold mosaic of the sun. “Yes, child. We will take her.”

In that moment my pain seems but a distant memory. No demons can hope to stand against the empire. Noya will be safe here among the Inca. Safe for all time.

Jan 27, 2006
In. Flashrule me.

Jan 27, 2006
Flash rule: Nor your ingenious recreance to think We cherish, in the life that is to come, The scattered features of dead friends again. ** Never until our souls are strong enough To plunge into the crater of the Scheme -- Triumphant in the flash there to redeem Love's handsel and forevermore to slough, Like cerements at a played-out masque, the rough And reptile skins of us whereon we set The stigma of scared years -- are we to get

2,344 words

Armack fucked around with this message at 23:22 on May 9, 2016

Jan 27, 2006

docbeard posted:

Also I feel like doing some crits this week. Three for the asking, doesn't have to be this week though I'd prefer something recent. Just link me to the story you want critted.

If you wouldn't mind, I'd like your thoughts and general comments on my piece from last week. I'm thinking about doing some revision and then expanding it.

Jan 27, 2006
Good to know. Thanks docbeard!

Jan 27, 2006

One's a suburban white teenager who thinks he's DUMB LITTTT for appropriating gangsta rap culture. The other's a talking head of cauliflower.

Jan 27, 2006


Can I change my wunza to be more in line with what you are looking for (not stupid)?

Please don't, I'm already using it.

Jan 27, 2006
Gunning for a challenging duel if anyone wants to take me on.

Jan 27, 2006

sparksbloom posted:

I'll wipe the floor with you, why not.

Well I did ask for a challenging duel, but sure, I'll settle for beating you instead.

Jan 27, 2006

Jan 27, 2006


One's a garbage man with a troubled past. The other's an eight year old truant just looking for a ride.

Cherry Grindon Park
(1,046 words)

Wallace was a loving father. Sad for him, he’d gotten to be plenty of other things too. Welding Boss turned Sanitation Worker; casual drinker turned alcoholic; tithe paying church goer turned registered sex offender—all the result of a too crowded bar bathroom and the not-quite-inconspicuous public urination that followed.

Hauling rot-stenched bags of waste by truck was less than satisfying. But for Wallace, the real disappointment came from the court order not to see his little Tamika. He’d pass the baseball field on his way home from Sanitation HQ and remember his daughter standing on the mound. At eight, she was one of the younger little leaguers, not to mention the only girl, but god drat could she throw a pitch. Wallace used to get so worked up watching his daughter strike out the boys that the pride would well up in his head, drowning the brain and leaking out the eyes.

One day, Wallace bumped into one of those little boy teammates of Tamika’s. It was around noontime, and Wallace was driving home from work in his beat up teal Malibu. He was feeling the shakes set in, thought he’d steady himself sipping the flask from the glove compartment. That’s when Wallace saw the kid. He was in the middle of the road, palm forward, yelling “Help!”

Wallace swerved around him, shifted to park, and rolled down a window. “What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Need a ride to Cherry Grindon Park,” the kid said.

Wallace looked around. “I ain’t even supposed to be talking to kids, let alone giving ‘em rides.” He reached for the gear shift.

“Ain’t you Tamika’s dad?”

Wallace sighed.

“I’m Nikeel, I play ball with Tamika. She pitch real dirty, I bet I could talk your ear off ’bout her.”

Wallace grabbed his chin and paused for a moment. Then he shook his head. “Much as I’d like to hear it, that’d be like biting into an onion ring and finding they just fried the skin.” He reached again for the gear shift.

“I’ll call 911,” said Nikeel. He flashed a wide grin. “Find a pay phone, tell them I’m lost and I live near the park. Then they’ll have to take me there. And I’ll be sure an’ tell them I talked to you ‘bout it first.”

This kid don’t look one day over eight. How’s he gonna hit me with extortion? And all for a ride. Wallace grunted and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Get in, kid.”

Nikeel opened the front passenger door and set himself down.

“Where’s Cherry Grindon Park? I pick up trash ‘cross most this city, and I never heard of it.”

“It’s out the way, behind the DrillMart on the North Side.” Nikeel waited for Wallace to start driving, then turned to him. “Girl named Cherry Grindon got raped out that way in 1989. Got cut up in pieces and stuffed into her father’s rosebushes. You ever meet Old Man Grindon, that’s why he goofy.”

Is this kid for real? “That’ll be enough talk for right now,” said Wallace.

“Oh but I ain’t even tell you ‘bout Tamika yet. She say she real proud of you.” Screech. Wallace made an abrupt swerve to the side of the road. Nikeel kept talking. “She talk about her dad driving around, cleaning up the city, taking care of errybody trash. She real happy to have a dad like you.” Nikeel stared at Wallace a moment. “Something wrong, Mister?”

With his head turned away from Nikeel, Wallace wiped his eyes and said, “Nah. Everything’s alright.” He took a breath, turned to face the road again, and let his foot off the brake. After a few minutes, Wallace asked, “She happy?”

Nikeel looked at the floor of the car. “Can’t rightly say. I know her stepdad, the sheriff, stay drinking. Shows to the games redfaced and tells her she’s poo poo if she make a mistake.”

Wallace found he was too tight in the neck to swallow.

“Heard the sheriff beats on her, but I don’t know ‘bout all that. Nobody like police ‘round here anyway.”

They sat in silence until Wallace pulled in behind the DrillMart.

“Thanks, Mister!” Nikeel hopped out of the car before it came to a complete stop. Then he ran to join a bunch of kids, dapped them, and started talking. Wallace began to coast off when the kids shouted to him. They were jumping and waving their hands in the air. Wallace sighed, got out of the car and walked over.

“Tamika dead,” one kid said. “This morning,” said another. “Ma Dukes told me the sheriff beat her real bad. Claimed self-defense.”

Self-defense against an eight year old! Wallace took a knee, unable to catch his breath. Nikeel put an arm on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he said. “She was our friend, all of us.” He gestured to the others.

Wallace gasped for air, but caught too much phlegm and had a coughing fit.

Nikeel leaned in close. “We could bring justice to him if you want. The sheriff, that is. D’you know you can grind up peach pits and run them through a centrifuge to make cyanide?”

Wallace looked Nikeel straight in the eyes and saw nothing but genuine concern.

“It’s a machine that spins stuff ‘round to separate it out.”

Wallace blinked.

“We could team up. Make it a mission. Like, you ever seen that movie with Chris Tucker and the Asian guy?” Nikeel thumped his chest. “I’ll be Chris Tucker.”

And maybe it makes no sense—nothing in the midst of grief does—but Wallace wanted more than anything to say, “Yeah kid, let’s loving get this guy. Buddy up. We gonna set things right.” Nevertheless, he managed a shaking, shallow breath. And on the exhale he thought of Tamika and how proud she was of her old dad, despite himself.

Wallace shook his head no, and watched Nikeel nod before starting back for his car. On the way, he turned back to the kids. “How y’all getting back?”

One of them shrugged. “Probly just call 911.”

Wallace sat down in his car and reached for his flask. He took a long look, rolled down a window, and emptied it on the ground for Cherry Grindon’s dad.

Jan 27, 2006
Free Crits, Week 198 – Buddy Week. Part I: Crits 1-8.

1. Chernabog – Corporate fiction


Two loathsome fellows execute a data heist…psyche!


The first thing that strikes me about this story is the poor formatting. Please space out your paragraphs, especially if your story is going to be saturated with this much dialogue. It just makes it easier to follow who’s talking.

-The prompt (your own) called for the fiction writer to be “disgraceful,” but odd as it may sound, disgraceful doesn’t have to be unlikeable. Disgraceful could have meant an otherwise interesting person who made some mistake in the past, thereby being disgraced. Instead you give us a boring fop, arm him with social awkwardness and a cringe-worthy joke (“Travisty”) and yet you expect the reader to want to keep reading about him? Give the reader somebody to root for!

-I recommend hooking the reader earlier. After the first section of your story, I know there’s going to be some spying, but I don’t know what the stakes of this spying are or why I should care. I also don’t know anything interesting about your characters. What at this point is compelling me to keep reading other than to satisfy my sense of completeness for this crit I’m now writing?

-The prose is kind of stiff. It’s got an unnatural sort of feel to it. Maybe consider narrating in a more conversational style? It might get you used to composing sharper prose.

-Sure, Claude is a pushover, but I’m not really buying him getting dragged against his will toward the short woman’s office. Seemed like even a character this passive could’ve done more to prevent that. And if this place of business really is in on all of this just being a prank (like the ending suggests) then wouldn’t the short woman know that Claude isn’t IT?

-“It’s just a flesh wound” is cliché.

-drat, the ending is not just bad, it’s insultingly bad. The implausibility of the guy’s workplace allowing him to pull a prank like this is awful. You literally explain it away with a shrug. Also, since we weren’t given a sense of the scope of Travis and Claude’s relationship prior to the prank, the fact that Travis set it up for Claude’s benefit lacks punch. Why does Travis care about Claude that much anyway? This ending is a twist just for the sake of a twist. It doesn’t add to the story in any meaningful way.

-One positive thing about the story is that the pacing of the heist itself is fine. Travis soaked in blood plus the chase scene did add some decent suspense, although you negated it with the ending. Also it’s nice that you gave weed a shout out for being a useful pain reliever.

2. Hammer Bro - Equites


Two intruders burst in on a couple and muse about whether or not the couple should get married or potentially procreate before it’s too late.


The story is vignettish. You had a fairly big overall word count to work with and plenty of time left to submit, so I’m not sure why you decided to go with such a non-story. There is minimal plot, characterization, or conflict. Your story is basically two randoms with different points of view intrude on two other randoms and start talking about marriage versus other priorities the couple might have. Somehow in this society people die young and give charity to strangers who burst in. Your language here is intentionally archaic, suggesting a medieval or fantasy setting, and that’s okay. But really the reader knows next to nothing about this world, the context in which the vignette takes place, the characters involved, or why anyone should care save for the abrupt hint at the end that the species is in dire need of procreation.

3. a friendly penguin – You have to get in to get out


A Russian spy gets bonked on the head, meets a god, they quickly learn to help each other and everything is a-okay.


-This is just a pet peeve of mine, so maybe take it with a grain of salt, but I really don’t like the ‘bonk on the head’ book/movie method of knocking a character out. It’s an overused device oftentimes deployed in stories that seem otherwise realistic. But if you think about it for more than a few moments, the knock out bonk doesn’t seem realistic at all. How does the attacker know the bonk won’t kill the person or lead to significant brain damage? Is there a particular severity of bonk that will reliably knock somebody out but not kill or vegetate them?

-The partial language barrier is a nice touch. The ambiguity of who Kata is and what his words mean introduces some mystery into the story. Well, that is if the reader hasn’t already seen the wunza.

-The Amazon setting fits your story well, and not just because of your wunza.

-The prose is a little unpolished, detached, and passive.

-I think the story itself isn’t half bad. One thing I like about it is that it matters that Vassily is a spy (i.e., his background intel on the area/language are important). I feel like too many writers would just leave the spy aspect as part of the character’s backstory rather than making it really matter.

-Even though the story is okay, it would be better if there were more conflict. There isn’t much tension throughout the story, and what tension there is certainly doesn’t develop in an upward trajectory over time. The beginning is somewhat mysterious and a little tense, but then the buddy stuff starts to happen and the characters are relatively safe. In addition, the characters’ motivations are at times vague. Why does Kata tell Vassily there’s a jaguar behind him? Does the god already know that this will cause Vassily to shoot a monkey, the body parts of which will be useful later?

4. Mr Gentleman – Escape from the Mudfront

A pig convinces a wolf to try to scare a farmer into offering better living accommodations. The farmer has a gun.


-I have a number of disjointed comments about your piece. The story is a bit dialogue heavy and doesn’t capture the reader’s attention well. You succeeded at giving your characters personality, but not at making them especially likeable or interesting. I’m not sure why Johnsteinbeck wants to help Bluebell or really spend any time with him at all.

-On the positive side, the running gag about Bluebell not caring enough about Johnsteinbeck to listen to him talk about his journey is amusing. And it’s nice that Bluebell shows some personal growth over the course of the story. Overall, I’d say the plot and characterization are kind of “meh” but this week was pretty weak, and I’d put you solidly in the middle of the pack. Had I been judging, I would’ve voted “no mention.”

5. Marshmallow Blue – They’ve Taken Mr. Chips


Vietnam vet gets his bird stolen, the bird tips off the vet about his kidnapper’s license plate. Then… the good guys find the bad guys and murder them.


-I’ve criticized some of the previous entries for being too dialogue heavy, and yours has a similar amount of dialogue but somehow it’s not that bad. Must be because that dialogue tends to come from or refer to your most interesting character (Mr. Chips), and it proceeds at a lively enough pace that there’s no chance for the reader to lose interest.

-The license plate gimmick was a nice touch, I like that you set it up so it didn’t come out of the blue during the phone conversation (the bird tried to read out the plate before getting stuffed into the SUV), and it was delightfully intelligent of Mr. Chips to use creative phrasing to fit the license plate into four words.

-You’ve got a several proof reading errors. I noticed inappropriate capitalization and some punctuation problems including missing commas, missing periods, and periods where there should be commas. I recommend reviewing the rules for where to put commas when transitioning from narration to quotation. Proofreading errors will cost you in the ‘dome, pay better attention to them. I didn’t judge this week, but I’m sure these errors contributed to your loss.

-The ending was problematic. I get that this a fun ‘buddies get the bad guys’ story, but murdering Jim and Sarah seemed way over the top. Granted, they were going to kill Brady, but Brady isn’t much better than them for resorting to straight murder. Between the egregious proof reading and the bizarre murder fantasy ending, I can see why you got the loss.

6. CANNIBAL GIRLS – Wednesday Morning


Truant kid knocks over cans, garbage man picks him up and lets him work the claw. He also tries to trick him into going to school.


-Your narrator has kind of a warm, almost folksy voice for an ex-con.

-Meh, it seems like preventing Orville from knocking over cans isn’t a good enough reason for the narrator to give him a ride.

-Seems like too much of a liability for the narrator to let him work the claw.

-Trex suggested a Dennis the Menace thing to anyone who used this wunza, so I can see why you put that aspect into the story. But there’s really not much conflict here, and the narrator doesn’t seem properly motivated to take the risk of picking up this truant and letting him work the claw. I think you would’ve needed to make things more pressing or urgent to make this work.

7. Jick Magger – Drats


Two dogs get loose and do dog things. One eats a rat and gets deathly ill.


-There are a couple typos, like “Yeah, I smell it to.”

-My main crit for this story is that nothing much happens. Your story doesn’t have much more to it than my above summary, yet you spent 1148 words on it. You show that the characters are dogs early on, and then you spend almost the entirety of your text driving that point home. Yes they are dogs, and yes they are doing dog things…but wouldn’t it have been kinder give your readers something to compel their continued reading? Like most of the stories this week, there isn’t a whole lot of conflict. Dog eats a rat, dog’s dyin’. 1148 words. In terms of characterization, you give the dogs a hint of personality, but not enough to make readers feel strongly about them. Had I been judging, I would’ve voted DM.

8. QuoProQuid – Veins and Arteries


An overachiever running for class president recruits a ghost in the hopes of getting her opponent disqualified.


-Hmm. There is either a lack of clarity or some logic problems in your story. So Lindsey must have been in communication with the ghost of Margaret prior to their meeting in the bio dept. Otherwise, they couldn’t have had set up the quid pro quo. So why did the bio department meeting need to happen at all, and why did Margaret have to possess a corpse? It seems like Lindsey could have used her previous means of communicating with Margaret (whatever those means were) to show her the husband/secretary sextape, and at the same time ask about intel against Claudia. It couldn’t be the case that only through possessing a corpse could Margaret see the sextape, because apparently Margaret’s ghost could see just fine if she was expected to be able to have seen incriminating things that Claudia might have done. And if Margaret suspected her husband was cheating, and was already a recent ghost while he was loving his secretary, why didn’t the ghost of Margaret go there and see for herself, instead of relying on Lindsey to sneak in and film evidence?

-Do university bio departments really keep semi-fresh corpses around? I’ve seen human skeleton displays in such departments and that’s about it.

-It’s not clear to me what Margaret means by telling Lindsey “You owe me.” Sure, Margaret did Lindsey a favor by destroying Claudia’s phone, but now that Margaret has the proof of her husband cheating, how can Lindsey really repay Margaret now? What could Lindsey do for Margaret that Margaret cant’ just do for herself?

-The ending really isn’t satisfying. If there had been one likeable character in the story, and if that character had prevailed, things would be different. But as it stands, Lindsey, a despicable person, gets one over on Claudia (an allegedly shallow person, but maybe not). The reader is not invested in these characters, and really none of them seem to deserve to get what they want. Had I been judging, I would’ve considered this a potential DM candidate.

Jan 27, 2006

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: kind of important post? :siren:

I support this idea. :cool:

Jan 27, 2006
Free Crits, Week 198 – Buddy Week. Part II, stories 9-15.

9. sparksbloom – Hold the Bees


Two prospective mothers seek an audience with The Stork, so that he can bring them babies in accordance with prior agreement.


-I’d recommend tighter pacing. The plot is kind of meandering.

-So after the prospective mothers’ multiple attempts to meet The Stork were thwarted by the bouncers, the they get so lucky as to chance upon an audience with him right when it counts (i.e., after they’ve developed their plan). It’s kind of a lame coincidence.

-The ending feels like you pretty much threw up your hands and quit.

-All in all this seems like a low-effort story. Had I been judging, I would’ve voted DM.

10. Thranguy – Comrade Rusty and the God


A spy-turned-kid partners with a two-faced Amazonian god in order to help find the latter’s dick.


-The modern, bro-like voice you give your Amazonian god hampers your readers’ suspension of disbelief. I get that you tried to be funny with this, but the humor falls flat.

-“King David's tuning fork, the last firebird egg, the map of the inhabited worlds of the Milky Way, all safe in Vault Three miles below Moscow, all thanks to me.” Ehh, this spy is pretty loose with information here.

-“And besides, using one of these would give 'em splinters.” It’s odd that the spy concludes that Sinner’s stick is actually his penis based on this line and very little other information about it.

-The biggest problem is that very little actually develops in the story. Nothing really gets resolved either. After a bunch of joking banter, the spy is still a kid and he’s still being sought by foreign intelligence. Likewise, the god is still looking for his dick and is still traveling with the spy to find it. There really isn’t any development in the story other than the spy finds out stick = dick. Humor is tough to write, so it was a valiant effort, but I’m sorry to say that none of it in this story really packs a comedic punch.

11. Mistaya & Echo Cian – Rattus Nobiles


A vampire and a “Supernatural” style hunter test the limits of their friendship while thwarting evil cultists.


This story had more of a buddy cop feel than most of the others. I’m surprised Trex wasn’t thrilled with it; it seems to fit the prompt. The banter was appropriate, the setting worked well, the action was great, the buddies developed as buddies in the sense that their partnership survived their almost killing each other. The characterization was minimal yet distinct. The protagonists work in a kind of Winchester Brothers way, even though they aren’t related to each other. I could imagine someone critting you for relying on too many “buddy story” tropes, but IMO if you hadn’t, the story would’ve lost its endearing feel. Another plus is that your ending was satisfying, and unlike many entries this week, didn’t negate the developments of your story. Good job. I look forward to the judges’ crits of this story, because maybe they noticed problems that I didn’t. But if I were voting, I would’ve pushed for an HM/win.

12. fuschia tude – French Leave


A WWII era man and woman flee their town in order to meet with a professor and retrieve important documents.


-My biggest complaint is with the ending. So after a dangerous journey, the document retrieval was all for naught. It doesn’t make for a very satisfying ending; was my decision to read your story equally null?

-On the positive side, bits of your setting descriptions were good. I like the image of the farm house with the broken furniture and sink full of dishes.

-I wonder if you were shooting for Rosario to show character growth insofar as she might have learned something from her optimism not bearing out? If so, it’s too subtle. I don’t detect much plot or character development in your story. It’s two people sneaking from one setting to another, and ultimately all for nothing. Still, in a rough week of stories yours was in the middle of the pack.

13. Carl Killer Miller – The Last Case of Detective Ford and Tumor McCoy


Some dumb offensive poo poo happens that I don’t even care to repeat. Then it turns out to be a demented delusion anyway (which is almost just as bad).


-There’s a problematic tone shift at the beginning. A demented, armed, octogenarian on the loose is serious business. Immediately afterward you take something else normally serious, a tumor, and make it cute on some kindergarten poo poo. It’s got spunky nickname, “Tumey,” and a squeaky voice to match.

-“Officer McCoy.” At this point in the story, either the police force put Ford on the beat despite his malignant lung and brain tumors, and the tumor is the deputy, OR (more likely) Ford himself is the demented fellow. I see that you were trying to make the story funny, but it just fell way flat. Offensively so. What kind of humor is this?

-Yep, there’s the predictable ending which makes the story make more sense, but nevertheless doesn’t help the story to become much better. Seriously, what were your readers supposed to like about this story? Its grating glib style? The mere fact that it had a twist ending, albeit one that could be seen a mile away? Had I been judging, I would’ve voted Loss.

14. dmboogie – Teach’s Spirit


Kid running for student government convinces his ghost teacher friend to quit being so goddamn cynical; the ghost teacher friend crosses over.


-This story had good prose and a touching ending.

-The ghost’s personal growth was refreshing compared to the lack of anything comparable in a majority of the stories this week.

-Not much else to say about it. Good effort. Had I been judging I would’ve voted HM.

15. Entenzahn - Aftershow


Strongman and clown burst into a gentleman’s club to get intel on who killed their ringmaster.


This story is well written and it shows off your usual humor nicely. I particularly like the Bodo shameless plugs. Even the punnery worked well enough “…they drew their guns, and then mine were faster,” and was in keeping with the strongman’s personality. I feel like across many of your stories, you write characters that give no fucks; maybe that’s part of how you make them interesting? It made for an enjoyable read.

Jan 27, 2006
In for Week 199.

Jan 27, 2006
Depressive Realism
(850 words)

Atlanta Gazette

By Sandra Padesky

“I hesitate to use the word ‘cure,’” says Dr. Grayson Briggs. Though cautious, the Emory professor has ushered in a psychotheraputic paradigm shift. “[Briggs’s] research into depression’s neurobiological underpinnings might one day stymie this mental illness altogether,” says Emory President Raquel Doringolo. Now equipped with cutting-edge “neuroshaping” techniques, not to mention a 1.2 Billion dollar grant, Emory’s Negative Mood Institute labors to help patients young enough to benefit from the new treatment. “Due to their greater degree of brain plasticity,” explains Briggs, “persons under twenty-five respond best to neuroshaping.”

Briggs hopes his technique will become preventative medicine—better to block mood disorders from taking hold of young persons than to clean up emotional damage after the fact. With neuroshaping, such prevention holds promise, as the technique nullifies risk factors for depression. These risks include youths’ attentional bias for negative stimuli, and propensity to “co-ruminate” with others about problems in their lives.

Depression, a debilitating and sometimes deadly illness, costs the US an annual 260 billion dollars. The cost stems chiefly from
Continued on Page A7


Atlanta Gazette

FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020
By Sandra Padesky

English teachers across Atlanta face sharp criticism from parents and administrators. At issue is students’ drastic decline in standardized test scores. Georgia Language Arts Exam results, on average, have gone down thirty-five percent in a single term. If sustained over the next few years, such declines could threaten districts’ federal funding. What’s worse, the problem may pervade several disciplines. “We’re seeing indicators of poor performance throughout the humanities,” says Deborah Briggs-Kohl, principal of downtown Carter High School. “Art and music have suffered as much as literature. Teens at my school simply are not in touch with their emotions.”

Principal Briggs-Kohl ought to know something about teenage emotion; she is married to famed depression researcher, Grayson Briggs. The psychological community widely credits Dr. Briggs with curing depression in adolescents and young adults. In contrast to her husband, Briggs-Kohl fears there may be harmful side effects of the cure. These side effects, she maintains, could dwarf the benefits of eradicating depression. “Plath, Dickinson, Hemmingway, Poe. All suffered from depression. Negative emotion, even in the extreme, gives rise to creative expression, social critique, and insight into what it means to be human.”

Briggs-Kohl is a proponent of Depressive Realism, a school of thought that considers depressed persons to be more accurate than others at making inferences about the real world. The Atlanta principal posits a corresponding impediment to reality testing among students who have undergone neuroshaping.

Dr. Briggs disagrees. Noting that Atlanta students’ math and science scores increased over the past year, he states, “Perhaps a decline in the humanities simply reflects our changing needs as a technological society. In any case, there is no direct evidence linking treatment for depression and poor English performance.”

In what has become a rather public spat
Continued on Page A14


Atlanta Gazette-Examiner


-Do bees cause cancer? How to eliminate the threat.

-Briggs Trouble – Nobel Prize winner’s divorce gets messy. Who’s depressed now?

-Trump: Dictator or Greatest Dictator Ever?

-Household accidents skyrocket: How to keep personal injury from reducing your productivity at work.

-Firefighter severs own hand: “I don’t see why this has to be awful. Thousands of people live fully productive lives without the use of an appendage. There are worse problems to have, I’m certain.”


Executive Press Atlanta, The Authorized Truth

By Sandra Padesky

Deborah Kohl, conspiracy theorist, opposition leader, and rumored terrorist, was arrested outside City Hall this morning. The arrest follows a blatant disregard for the law on Kohl’s part, as the educator-turned-provocateur refused to relocate her protest to a designated free speech zone. In the moments prior to Kohl's removal, she had wrapped up a speech critical of our nation. Entitled “The desirability of the negative mood state—preconditions for dissent,” Kohl's harebrained screed maintained that civic engagement and meaningful debate depend on the “freedom to be depressed.” Perhaps Kohl had not considered the millions of families devastated by suicide prior to neuroshaping, but the haggard frump has long been prone to such insensitivity.

In contrast to Kohl’s latest rant, our society enjoys an abundance of freedom. For the near-totality of human history, the average person had no right to civic engagement at all. Furthermore, even when such engagement was allowed, the body politic too often suffered from debilitating mental illness, the likes of which could hamper their participation in government. That Kohl fails to apprehend these truths suggests a grievous break with reality.

In a show of profuse generosity, officials are unlikely to jail Kohl. Rather, Georgia Mental Health Czar, Dr. Grayson Briggs has specified an open-ended protocol for the misguided activist at the State Psychiatric Residence. Citing her “disconnect from reality,” Briggs states that long term inpatient treatment could provide Kohl with the care she needs.


Jan 27, 2006

Armack fucked around with this message at 22:54 on May 30, 2016

Jan 27, 2006
Brawl with sparksbloom:

Retrieving The Graph
(1,265 Words)

“Let’s skip the bullshit and just admit we’re gonna betray each other.”

This was one messed up Buddhist. I asked him, “Ain’t you people s’pposed to have morals?”

“Better to get it out in the open, Pat. The moment we stop needing each other, we’ll try to take The Graph for ourselves. More money in it that way. I am under no illusions.”

My name ain’t Pat. It’s Patriot Jefferson Davis McCloud, but Mauricio called me whatever he felt like. I done met my share a’ freaks drifting around doin’ jobs, but never one like him. Guy was some kinda Mexican, but said he didn’t speak no Spanish. Came from someplace called “Rio Degenerato,” or some poo poo, but he’d studied in Bangkok. Real pill that guy, but one thing I’ll say for him, the man could bust out Muay Thai something fierce.

“Well poo poo, Mauricio, you might could be onta sumpthin’. Maybe I oughtta start tryn’a sit cross legged and pretend to fall asleep like you do. See what illusions I can dispel.” I sassed the guy, but at least he done me the courtesy of bein’ honest. Still, I was stewin’. Orders were return The Graph to the boss, not swipe it for our own selves.

Anyhow, we passed ‘bout thirty or so Harleys parked in the lot. That I expected. Rest of it was filled with station wagons an’ poo poo, and I couldn’t figure why ‘till I saw the sign. “Daughters of the American Revolution Bingo Night – Hosted by Hell’s Angels.” We was gonna have more’n bikers to deal with, but I wasn’t about to hit no old ladies.

Got to the entrance, saw six Angels smoking outside. Mauricio turns to me and says, “You deal with them. I need to meditate.” Had a good laugh at the sarcasm ‘til I saw his face. It wasn’t sarcasm. Zen boy set himself on the ground while I walked up to the bikers.

One turned to his buddies and said, “Get a load of this.” Another whistled. “Members only,” said a third. When I walked past the first two, one of the others stiff-armed me in the chest. So I lifted my right heel and dug into an Angel behind me. Caught him hard in the back of the knee. Then a swift repeat on the left. Only four bikers left standing, but they came swinging. I sidestepped the first haymaker, then crouched low. Thing about bikers, most of them are old and fat. That means weak knees, and a more’n likely reluctance to bend the lower back. I propped myself up, my hands planted on the ground behind me. Then raised my legs and starting cuttin’ them at the knees. One, two of them dropped. Couple more circled ‘round me, like they was gonna boot me from behind. So I swept my leg around, tripped one, then the other.

Only after they was all down did Mauricio stand up, scoop my wig off the ground, and hand it back. I didn’t even know it had slipped. A natural brunette, I didn’t choose blonde to match my five-o’clock shadow. Just feel prettier that way.

Well, these bikers weren’t goin’ anywheres with busted knees. Problem was I should’a busted their mouths too. Mauricio and I walked into the bingo hall, and before the door shut behind us, one of them outside bikers shouted, “FIGHT! Don’t let ‘em near The Graph!”

The room erupted. Old ladies clutched their pearls and wailed. I half expected the old birds to soil their Depends. The bikers, maybe twenty of them, stomped over from the bingo board, fists clenched. None of them fuckers was cute, which made it easier to smash them up. I decked the first one head on, then again for the next. The third was too fast. Caught me by the neck and slammed me against the wall, squeezing tighter all the while.

Mauricio let out a call so loud, the room’s attention turned to him. He charged at the bikers. But instead of running straight through them, he pivoted and ran up the wall. Then he sprung himself off it, with his knee outstretched. That took out another three Angels or so.

While my strangler was distracted, I grabbed his pinky finger and snapped it back, full force. He let off, and I pummeled the bastard ‘til he didn’t look human. Most the old ladies had run out the door by now, but a few of them went after Mauricio, swinging purses. He had his hands full with the Angels, but Zen boy knew how to maneuver. He kept spinnin’ round, smashing bikers with his elbows and knees. At one point this burly looking Angel caught his arm, so Mauricio knocked heads with him, put the guy right out.

A couple more dirtbags charged me, so I grabbed a bingo table, held it against me and broadsided them. By that time, Mauricio had grappled the last biker to the ground. He pressed on the side of the guy’s neck ‘til he passed out. The couple old ladies that hadn’t fled were hitting Mauricio with their purses, but I could tell it wasn’t hurting him none. We brushed them off and made our way down a stairwell to the bar. The one old bartender there surrendered right off. That’s when I gazed upon it. Framed on the wall behind the bar, hung The Graph.

“Hank Williams,” I read out loud. “Hooey, that’s one ‘spensive autograph. The boss is gonna be glad to get this one back.” I checked a mirror on a wall. “Hmm. All that fightin’ and I still look good.” Then I saw Mauricio’s reflection looming behind me. The guy was looking all bug eyed; he had this menacing kinda aspect. “Well, we gonna get this over with?”

I shot an elbow back at Mauricio, but he dodged it. When I spun around to throw a punch, he backflipped away onto a pool table. I rushed the table, but quick as can be, the Mexican done picked up billiard balls and started lobbing them at my face. The third one crashed into my mouth, shattering a bunch of teeth on the way in. I spit, then reached up to the pool table, hoping to grab one of Mauricio’s feet. He raised his forearm up, elbow bent, and brought it straight down to clock me with a sharp one. Then he jumped to ground level, and spun around to knee me in the gut.

I brought both arms around to guard my torso, then dropped to my knees in a daze. Mauricio turned, walked to the bar, hopped over it, and grabbed The Graph. Looked like I would have only one shot at this, so I removed a heel, focused real hard, and wound up. When Mauricio jumped back over the bar and started for the stairwell, I rocketed the heel smack dab into his groin. As he bent over, The Graph slid out his hand. The glass framing shattered, but the paper was intact. I slipped out of the other heel, then ran up to Mauricio. More’n likely broke the man’s jaw with the uppercut I landed. He was down for the count.

I walked back to the mirror, Graph in hand. Felt sorry for myself over my face being so banged up. But when I reached into my bra and brought out my lipstick to paint myself real nice, I started to feel better. The boss was about to pay me one hell of a bonus. Figured I might could buy myself some ‘spensive new heels.

Jan 27, 2006
Spectre's crit inspired me to do a line crit of "The Rain Beneath," because I really like the story too. Maugrim, if ever you want to submit it someplace, let me know and I'll redact this line crit from the forums.

Maugrim posted:

The Rain Beneath
936 words

When the stars came out we panicked, because we had never seen stars.

The fragile glow of the overlight collapsed before the glare of pinprick holes in the sky, one then two then three then dozens., and Then the dust of the firmament rained gently, inexorably on the slime-farms and desiccated the crops and the farmers, who lay twitching in the fields as their depleted nerves sputtered and misfired. <- The original sentence you had here is beautiful, but it's too run-on. It's too clause heavy and it introduces too many new ideas for just one sentence (e.g.: overlight, firmament, slime-farms, dust-poisoned farmers).

Some we saved, those we could get to reach fast enough, rigging up mobile canopies to traverse between the shelter of the megacaps and hose them with cleansing slime, but the dust clung. They died later <--contradicts your opening with "some we saved." Sure, some were reached, some were slimed, but nobody here was saved. - days later - as their grit sacs clogged and failed, skin shrivelled, fronds sloughed off. <--So this is where you reveal the people to be nonhuman. See my note below. At this point, I'm thinking these are slug people, maybe with plant parts?

Then the oil rain began.

I was lucky: the hospital had a roof, and sat at the top of a hill. As I tended the basalt-poisoned, I heard the unfamiliar, irregular pattering and the cries of disgust from medics outside. At that time it was merely an annoyance, easily slimed away and sheltered from. But it was a new thing, a frightening thing. The firmament was failing. <--maybe "falling" would work better than "failing" here? Also, I get that the oil rain was new, but the structure of this paragraph implies that the firmament failing (or falling, take your pick) was also new, which by this time it wasn't.


“Everything is dying,” he said to me, uselessly, shivering with grief. The gondola was halfway built. IMO it's too jarring just to say "he". When I first read the story, I stopped here and combed the previous section to find the missing antecedent to this pronoun. That kind of wrecks the story's flow. Please consider naming the mate, or just writing something like <<Uselessly, shivering with grief, my mate said to me, "Everything is dying.">> Grats on your judicious adverb use btw.

I strung another rope through the hooks of the gas-bag. “Hold this a moment.” He wasn’t built for physical work, but it was better to keep him occupied.

He held it. “Why aren’t the mothers organising an exodus? They’re just building shelters on the hills. What if the rain never stops?”

“They’re in denial,” I told him, but I didn’t understand it either. This section is great! In few words you detail the construction of the airships, and you give the characters a goal and direction. Great economy of language here!


We launched amidst the oil rain, surrounded by gawpers. Others had had the same idea, but we were the first to escape. <--I don't think you need to use the past-perfect here, since others having the same idea is concurrent; indeed they are building airships as well. Slime-burners ignited, blew hot gas into the canopy. Black oil sluiced off the slime coating as the gas-bag inflated, trickled away to join the lakes in the valleys.

Your language does not have enough words for slime. See my notes below.

We rose steadily, straight up, controlling the pulsing rush of flame like the philosophers who’d first investigated the firmament a hundred years ago. They found rock, dry and coarse and abrasive; took samples, confirmed its sameness to the deep bedrock below the topslime. <--Personally I think it's more interesting if the protagonist and mate are the first people to enter the firmament. We found rock too, oily and slick; and we found light. Those pinprick stars grew large, beautiful, then dazzling, then unbearable. We tied scarves around our eyes and could see nothing but the light. We were pioneers. We were terrified.

We entered the light.


“We haven’t hit anything,” he said to me, pointlessly. I love my mate, but a woman would be a better adventuring companion.

“Holes in the firmament,” I said. “Perhaps we are journeying to God.”

I unfurled an arm out of the gondola. Warm air rushed past. Oil soaked the tips of my digits. I felt vibrant, on edge.


The light had borne us many minutes when the tearing began. The gondola shuddered and yawed, the rush of air slowed, my mate shrieked and clung. The awful brightness dimmed as the canopy draped gently over us and I braced myself for falling, falling.

We were still.

In the dark and quiet I removed my scarf. Oh, the light was still caustic, it painted the rips in the canopy with fire, but I could see. We were settled in an oily pool on a wide jut of grainy rock. I removed my mate’s scarf too, shushed his panicked questions and squatted down to think.

“What’s that noise?” he said after a while. I hadn’t been listening, but now, unfurling my fronds, I could hear it: a pulsing rumble from above. And from below, a distant shout, wordless amidst the echoes.

Up, up they came. Another balloon: another group of refugees fleeing the end of the world. We called to them as they passed, warning them of the tearing rocks, and they called back, fearful, regretful; nothing to be done for us, nothing for themselves save to ride the light into the blinding unknown.


I took scrapings from the rock of the ledge. It crumbled easily, releasing dust into the air before the oil seeped in to hold it. Toxic, then. I emptied the slime from the useless burner over it; that would sting, but it wouldn’t kill us. I stepped gingerly out of the broken gondola.

“Parell!” he cried. He shivered all over, fronds erect, as a scream resounded down to us. Thin scream, hysteria, breath snatched away. Starting again, closer. Blinding light, a rip yawning open, a mass tumbling through, tearing.

The gondola groaned and slid away. I lunged unseeing. Caught someone. Not my someone.

Parell!” he shrieked, tangled and tumbling, falling, falling.

”Help.” whispered the one in my arms. “My eyes...”

I dropped her to the ledge. Couldn’t think. I bound my eyes again and that was better. Bound her eyes too so she’d stop moaning, but I didn’t really care. She’d killed my mate. What did she deserve?

“There was so much light,” she whispered. Her breath was weak. I confirmed by touch: perforations in the air sacs. Dying for sure.

“Light and noise and... the angels that live in the dry dust. They hate us. They... killed us. <--This would be way cooler if it were real biblical angels and the mortals were human. Shredded us from afar. We were never meant for heaven."<--Powerful line here, good job.


She died some hours ago. The terrible light has faded since then. I can see the walls of the firmament around me and I wait and write because I have nothing else to do. Above me, the angels of dust sing to one another with eerie voices and command their fearful machines.<--Coolest line in the story, IMO. The fact that the angels sing an eerie celestial song is not only stylistically awesome, but functions to give them some needed characterization in a story that is (appropriately) light on characterizing the antagonists. Soon I think they will come for me.

This might sound crazy but I strongly recommend making the characters in this story human. What are stars to a non-human seeing them for the first time? What are angels to a non-human? What is "the firmament" to a people whose world is not the world of Genesis? What is the heaven they weren't meant for? The coolest thing about your story is how it subverts classical/religious myth concerning human relationships to the universe. Once you take the humanness out of it, your story loses punch. I mean, your use of a classically static and substantive firmament is brilliant. Likewise, there is beauty in the antagonists being angels who sing and who have a righteous hatred of flawed mortals; but again, the context washes out if those mortals aren't human. Are the characters plant-people? Slug-people? I think I can see why you made them non-human (under what circumstances would humans never see stars?), but I think it's worth making them "humans in an overlight setting" rather than aliens .

Overall, the story is excellent and with revision could well be worthy of publication.

Jan 27, 2006
Thanks for the linecrit and judgement, Entenzahn.

Jan 27, 2006

The Cut of Your Jib posted:

Less than twelve hours until sign ups close. I still need a third judge, it's just me and crabrock so far.

If you haven't found anyone else by the time you see this posting, I'd be happy to judge.

Jan 27, 2006
In for Book Club #3

Jan 27, 2006
Week 207 crits – Bottle Episode week

It was bit of a rough week, but not the worst I’ve ever judged. I both read and critted all of these in judgemode. Then later I went back to match names with story titles. When I write “where you lost me,” that doesn’t mean I stopped reading there, it means that’s where I began to dislike the story.

1. Parlour Delivery – terre packet

-Opening sentence captured my attention. Good job with that.

-The glib humor of your opening paragraph sets an appropriately amusing tone.

-“gave Devin a frustrated look” – It would be even better if you showed me specifically how his face contorted to express frustration, rather than just told me it was a frustrated look.

-Who is Erin, why does Marie resemble her, and what relevance does any of this have to your story? It really detracts from your piece that you drop this relationship loose end, but never tie it up or integrate it with the rest of the story.

-“It heaved clerks, filing cabinets, crests of paper toward Mr. Wisely and Devin” – Uhhh, who is Mr. Wisely? It’s the end of your story and yet this name appears for the first time.

-I get that your story is a comedy and we readers are supposed to suspend our disbelief, but that suspension has its limits. Your story crosses those limits. The idea of an office that gets repeatedly impacted by incoming offices is more funny-strange than funny-haha, though I think with more carefully planned outlining, you might’ve pulled it off.

-The biggest problem with your story is the randomness. Things just happen for no apparent reason, like the Erin/Marie connection, the boss being a spider, and the boss cocoon-transporting Devin rather than letting him use a more conventional route. It helps when readers have a clearer sense of an author’s reasons behind adding flourishes like this to a story. The arbitrary nature of the story reads to me like you were kinda just winging it.

Where you lost me: The second crash.

Vote: Loss

2. Presence – sparksbloom

-The idea of a bottle episode seems to imply a full story rather than a vignette.

-This story has a rather pretentious air to it, and neither character is especially likable.

-It’s really tough to crit this, because it’s so-so as a vignette. If you’re going to stick to just describing one quick scene, it’s nice for that one scene to be remarkable in some way. Maybe we get a glimpse of some compelling characters, maybe there is an extraordinary premise, or maybe the prose is especially illustrative in depicting a setting. At first, I questioned whether this would take a sci-fi turn because of the “stasis” metaphor at the beginning. But your vignette is a rather mundane trip to the MOMA. There’s not much glaringly wrong with it. Just that this is a contest and if you wanted to compete, you needed to have something stand out.

Where you lost me: Nowhere in particular.

3. Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven – dmboogie

-Great opening paragraph. You establishing the narrator’s voice well. You also make me care about Molly by pointing out how the trucking industry exploits its drivers, especially older ones.

-My interpretation is that Molly is never actually sleeping here, but is plagued by hallucinations due to sleep-deprivation.

-You do a good job of mood-setting here. I can feel the crushing weight of Molly’s circumstances and insecurities, as expressed through her hallucinations.

-The ending seems appropriate. Molly can only drive right through her hardships, and if the road is her only friend then maybe the problems of the road can stifle her personal problems. It’s a sad outcome, a lovely life on the road eclipsing a lovely life off the road, but it fits well with the tone of the piece. Good job.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Voted: HM

4. Predator and prey – Screaming Idiot

-The issue with this story is that I must have read it a thousand times by now. That is, the “what if the vampire is the real victim” angle has been done so much it is now cliché. Here you have all the tropes: the smug and overzealous vampire hunter, a vampire who can’t help his own nature and who warns the hunter of what’s to come. The reader does somewhat feel for Howard, and Richard seems to have had it coming, but sadly the story is too worn really to have punch. On the plus side, you hit the prompt on the head, so pat yourself on the back for that.

Where you lost me: The premise, sorry to say.

5. His Same Story – Carl Killer Miller

-A couple proofreading errors, missing quotes, etc.

-There are six loops, but other than Cardenas getting progressively more tired, I’m not sure what each individual loop accomplishes above and beyond the previous ones.

-This story works okay I guess. It keeps the reader going through a little bit of mystery. I found myself compelled to continue on in order to find out whether Gold committed the murders, as well as to learn about looping. The twist is predictable, but it does flesh out the concept of looping in an appropriate way. Grading on a curve this week, I thought you did a middling job. But the other judges have very legitimate gripes with the story, with which I cannot disagree.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

6. When you Know The Price – Thranguy

-“ ‘Interesting,’ said Anton. ‘Back in high school I always thought that she was, of the two of you, the more whoreish.’ ” – Lol, real charmer that Anton.

-The writing feels rather adolescent.

-Anton was so rich he could have potentially gotten away with secreting away a Russian roulette victim’s body away from a hotel room?

-“He looked wrong.” – Ehh…real descriptive, pal.

-“Anton leaped up, springing off the bed with rage in his eyes. He charged at Mitch, arms flailing.” – Odd that Anton has decided to attack Mitch just for showing up unexpectedly. How would Anton know at this point that Mitch was aiming to rob him? And since Anton has decided to attack Mitch, why isn’t he using the gun, at least as a threat if not for real?

-If the story is modern enough to have hotel key cards, wouldn’t the hotel also have surveillance video? Seems like Mitch and Terry would have to do more than make it look like a suicide in order to try to get away with murdering Anton. They would probably have been seen entering and leaving the building, and maybe even in the corridor outside Anton’s room, wouldn’t they?

-Vonnegut had this informal rule of writing: give the reader someone to root for. He himself used to violate it on occasion, but I found myself wishing that one of your characters was likeable or at least relatable in some way.

-So the creepy rich pervert and the high school thug end up the victims, and the duplicitous “whore” (your word) gets away. Frankly, this story rubs me the wrong way. It’s outlandish, puerile, has hints of misogyny, and is poorly thought out.

-Still don’t know who you are at the time of this writing, but I’m going to assume you’re newish to TD. Please stick around and develop your craft. I’ve been harsh with this crit, but to be fair I’ve written stories way worse than yours. Keep at it!

Voted: DM or Loss

Where you lost me: At Russian roulette.

7. ICU – SurreptitiousMuffin

-Some proofreading errors. “she [was] covered in bruises, with some sorta life-support jammed down her throat…”; “The words weren’t received, of course the[y] weren’t.”

-The prose is beautifully written, descriptive, and poetic.

-Great job. The story is sweet, but not cloying. You succeeded at making me care about these characters. I find an example of this kind of friendship to be comforting. My OCD won’t let me ignore those proofreading errors, but apart from that the story is well done.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Voted: Win

8. Think and Wish – Chili

-Not bad. I like how you demonstrate that Ramona is feeling guilty because of two opposing values, being an ideal scientist vs being a good person. I empathize with Ramona’s guilt, which tells me that you succeeded in communicating her internal conflict. The ending works for me as well; I’m glad you gave it a clear resolution.

-My only criticism is how “easy” the conflict is. Ramona has to make a decision. So she does. End of story. As such, there isn’t much to make for an appreciable climax or to make the story memorable. Still, it was in the top half of stories this week, IMO.

Where you lost me: You didn’t.

Jan 27, 2006


Jan 27, 2006

Ironic Twist posted:

Player Piano.


Jan 27, 2006


Armack fucked around with this message at 13:35 on Aug 20, 2016

Jan 27, 2006

Week #210 – Crit Ketchup Week

Guys, guys, you left the throne unsupervised. So I decided to smear ketchup all over it. Now I’m low on ketchup. BRING ME MORE.

This week is a rarity in that the signup instructions are more complex than the submission instructions. Concurrent with your signup post, you must render 10% of the crits that you owe (ROUND ALL DECIMALS UP). I have every confidence in the accuracy of the archive’s missing crits tally. But if it happens to be wrong, just post ten percent of what you actually owe. If you owe no crits, then you must instead crit one story that has never been critted. *If and only if you are new to TD this week, you are exempt from critting as part of your signup; you need only to post “in”.*

*Important*: The crits have to be a sincere attempt at critting. Half-assed comments won’t do. I want real ketchup NOT WATERED DOWN BARGAIN BASEMENT TOMATO SWILL.

Update: Technically you do not really owe crits for 'redemption' stories, but such crits might still show up as missing. So if you feel like subtracting those stories from your overall missing crit count, then you may.

To reiterate, if you owe 22 crits, you will be posting three crits along with your signup post. If you owe zero crits, just crit anything that’s never been critted (if you’re in the process of critting a piece like this and someone sneaks it in a few hours before you, I won’t count that against you). If you’re new to TD, don’t crit anything, just write “in”. This will all be done before Friday's deadline. Then before the Sunday deadline, you will post an original story or vignette of yours that meets the criteria below. May the best goon win.

Signup deadline: 11:59:00 PM EST on Friday, August 12th

Submission rules

Wordcount: Anywhere between 500-1000 words. Yes, vignettes are allowed. Yes, there is a word MINIMUM.

Genre/content: Anything goes, except there is to be NO Trump, erotica, poetry, or fanfic. No Googledocs submissions either.

Submission deadline: 11:59:00 PM EST on Sunday, August 14th

Oh and no whining, bellyaching, pissing or moaning. If you owe a lot of crits, then thank you for your service to TD. Now bring me more ketchup. :burger:



Condiment Crew:

Vinny Possum
a friendly penguin
my cat is norris
Ironic Twist
The Cut of Your Jib
Lazy Beggar
Carl Killer Miller
Schneider Heim
Anomalous Amalgam

Armack fucked around with this message at 04:07 on Aug 13, 2016

Jan 27, 2006

sebmojo posted:


Looks like you'll have to pony up 36 missing crits of yours first there, sheriff. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO TD.

Armack fucked around with this message at 15:09 on Aug 9, 2016

Jan 27, 2006

J.A.B.C. posted:

Surprisingly, I owe no Crits. Then again, I'm not fit to judge others, so there's that.

So I'll be IN for three stories never reviewed. Probably around Friday-Saturday.

Be warned, fools.

Be warned that you have misunderstood the prompt. The crits are not what's getting judged this week. There is still a writing competition, for which crits by Friday's signup deadline are the price of admission. If you want to write a story this week and get it judged, then crit at least one never critted story before one-minute-to-midnight on Friday.

Jan 27, 2006
Still could use a third judge if anyone's interested.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren:Just under 12 hours left to sign up and get your crits in.

Jan 27, 2006

One TD submission that didn't DQ, and you judged once a year ago with no recorded crits. Green ketchup never really caught on. I'm afraid you're too green for the sandwich this week.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren: Mmmmm, that's some good ketchup. Signups closed!

Jan 27, 2006
Entenzahn's right. But since the archives listed those crits as missing yesterday, I can see why he thought he owed them. Given extenuating circumstances, I grant dispensation. You're still in, Trex.

Jan 27, 2006
A couple random crits:

1. Week 8: Jimson – Blue and Pink

-This entry lost. Let’s figure out why.

-“…Darcy stood idly by as a child watching the alcohol rip it's way through her parents lives…” This metaphor isn’t horrible, but it could be much better. Alcohol doesn’t rip. Something like “watching the alcohol corrode her parents’ lives” would’ve been a nicer touch. Your grammar, however, is horrible (it’s-->its/parents-->parents’).

-Just after the first paragraph I can already see why you lost. Lazy grammar and punctuation errors. Proofread god drat it!

-You have a weird way of putting things. “As a child she remembers living close to the Tenderloin.” It’s never explained what the tenderloin is or why it’s capitalized; “He was handsome, if not obviously so.” Oh really, what do I need to do to see this latent handsomeness, squint real hard?

-The prompt asks you to fill in the details of two dead reclusive twins’ lives. Far from recluses, the twins in your story are barflies (although one hates that), and one is married. Your story describes their hosed up past and present, but I was hoping for even more of a sense of how and why they disconnected from society.

-Okay, some positive things. I like Darcy’s initiative in applying tough love to Lucy. I like that Darcy wants something (Lucy’s sobriety) and that conflict is created by the presence of obstacles (Lucy, and to some extent “Mr. Wolf”).

-Sudden violence at the end doesn’t often make for good writing. I guess since things go badly, the lesson is that Darcy shouldn’t have interfered with Lucy’s addiction or her marriage. One can certainly make a moral case for noninvolvement, but Darcy’s agency was the most exciting aspect of your story and the ending negates that.

-Maybe the loss scared you away? Do come back, Jimson, we hardly knew ye.

2. Week 18: Tender Child Loins – Round 1: The Old Ship of Zion

-Great username btw

-Good job with the dialect. It establishes a strong and distinctive voice without overdoing it.

-Good job with setting. The dialect, swampy terrain, and intermittent French clearly establish this to be Louisiana.

-“The landing place is just three hail marys' worth a walk away from our house…” Lol, I love this. Fits the character well and establishes proximity, all in a way that feels fresh to the reader.

-It’s an interesting little story. Delightfully dystopic, mildly tense, and more-or-less smooth to read. While I wish I had just a touch more context to understand the aliens, I’m also glad you didn’t fall into a world building trap.

Jan 27, 2006
Just under six hours yet remain for submissions.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren: I hope that's ketchup on your t-shirt and not what I think it is. Submissions closed. Judgement in due time.

Jan 27, 2006
:siren:Judgement – Week #210: Crit Ketchup Week:siren:

First off, 144 new crits this week, a tip of the hat and a dollop of Heinz for everyone who critted! Special thanks to archivists Crabrock and Kaishai for deftly handling the crit load this week.

Stories this week were middling, which I’m comfortable with considering the (non)prompt. The good news is that even the “bad” stories this week were far better than god awful; there were minor frustrations but nothing made us rage too much. The bad news is that few stories really wowed us, though the HM and win were nonetheless well earned.

Our first judgment is a disqualification for my cat is norris for knowingly exceeding the word count with a story that easily could’ve been trimmed. But don’t fret, TD newcomer. You’re more than welcome to stick around the dome and keep fighting for that throne. Also a disqualification for Squidtentacle for violating the permanent TD prohibition against editing the story post (let alone two hours after the fact!).

We single out Thranguy for dishonorable mention, as he missed the clear opportunity to better develop his two-dimensional characters. And as much as it pains me to award the loss to a newcomer, with Judgemode I had no way of knowing. We judges took issue with Vinny Possum because no amount of cool action can make up for cardboard characters and a :wtc: ending. Please stick around TD and hone your skills further.

The win was *unbelievably close* and hotly debated. Honorable mention goes to runner-up Kaishai, for building atmosphere (pun intended). But there was another story whose innovative horror seems more likely to stick with us. That leaves Ironic Twist the winner of a now-ketchup-stained throne.


Jan 27, 2006
Week #210 Crits:

I critted these while still in Judgemode, then went back to add author’s name and extra comments after judgment and after I learned who the author was.

1. From Capes to Cameras - Schneider Heim

-Prose could be a bit tighter throughout. For example: “Several heroes started to sweat, the smell picked up by Ahmed's hyper-senses.” No good reason to use the passive voice here. What’s wrong with “ Several heroes started to sweat, Ahmed's hyper-senses picked up the smell.”?

-“I have an important announcement to make." Telly. Better just to show the announcement than to tell that one is imminent and then show it.

-Well you certainly know your audience. Some of us readers *ahem* might sympathize with not being innately good at some art form.

-You’ve got several supporting characters in your story but none of them seem to matter as individuals. That is, they all exist to reflect where Ahmed currently is in relation to his photography versus being a superhero, but there’s not much distinctive about them as people in and of themselves. They’re all generic one-offs except Ahmed.

-You know, this story’s half-way decent. You’ve got a guy who’s good at being a superhero, bad at photography, and he learns the best way to pursue the latter is to play to his strengths and marry the two.

Condiment Analogue: A sweet salsa that complements salty chips well enough.

2. The Sixth Sun - Vinny Possum

-Nice opening! Some action, some ship boarding. You got my attention.

-Please use fewer adverbs in your prose. Too many of them tend to signal weak verbs or an underutilization of adjectives.

-Your imagery is good when painting a picture of objects in motion.

-Your characters are active, but they have little style or personality. It’s important to do more characterization than this, even when a vignette format is allowed.

- The jump from realistic to fantastic at the end jarred me.

-Fantastic is perfectly fine, but I’m afraid even within a magical framework, I don’t quite understand what’s happening at the end of your story. Like I get that there’s a purge of humanity, but I don’t understand the “hummingbird father” and becoming a star aspects.

-Perhaps I don’t fully grasp your story, but how would things have been different if the explosive had gone off prematurely? Would it not have been close enough to the sky to work? If height matters why not set it off from a hill or a mountain? I’m not clear on why the ship battle was even necessary.

-The main reasons you got the loss was insufficient characterization and an ending too vague and too confusing to be appreciated fully.

Condiment Analogue: A spicy barbeque sauce with a highly suspect aftertaste.

3. Come Live With Me - Carl Killer Miller

-Still active “when the country was about Vietnam,” died at 35. It occurs to me how young Jack Sparks must’ve been when he put out that 1953 album.

-Your prose is pretty good, at times poetic: “a voice hewn from bones in Memphis soil.”

-Your piece is a refreshing exploration into the nature of loneliness, companionship, and the desperate mind. Not much to crit here; it was a pleasure to read.

Condiment Analogue: Yellow mustard that does the job just fine but could perhaps have been a bit richer.

4. Equilibrium - a friendly penguin

-I like the idea of a shut-in venturing outside only during disasters (when she won’t encounter the “characters in her window play”). It illustrates well the idea that a shut-in isn’t intimidated by the outside per se, just the people there.

-The key line is your piece seems to be “Now she was the actress prancing across the stage.” For Sheree, the outside world is a play and all of the roles are already cast. Within her mental framework, she only gets to enjoy the outside when the actors leave—when she can play understudy.

-This was an enjoyable vignette that was rather efficient in characterizing a shut-in’s experience.

Condiment Analogue: A dollop of mayonnaise, good while it’s in small amounts.

5. The Tortoise and the Tiger - Squidtentacle

-“The forest every now and then, the force and volume of each tremor growing by the minute.” I think you intended a verb here. Shook?

-Great use of imagery. I have a vivid mental picture of the setting and of these interesting and unique characters.

- Xuan Wu speaks from his tail? Lol.

- “What’s the matter? You know what’s the matter! I told you over and over to stay out of my forest, and today there’s a clearing where my house was! This is the third time, Xuan Wu!” This rather mundane and even banal style of banter really detracts from the otherwise mythical tone of your piece.

-Nice action. This made for an exciting story.

-“Bai Hu fought for her life.” A bit of a cliché, best to find a different way to express it.

-“It is always a pleasure, Bai Hu.” Another cliché. Nevertheless, your story’s ending is good. All that aggression for naught; Xuan Wu mollifies Bai Hu with magnanimity. Fun to read. Good job.

Condiment Analogue: A1.

6. Decaf – Ironic Twist

-Solid, crisp, punchy prose.

-This loss of individual identity concept is great! Regular people slowly becoming uniform, first in appearance and behavior, then in terms of the substance of their bodies itself. With the added sense of being confined, you’ve set just the right terrifying mood.

-Cripes, this was horrifying and in such an innovative way. Brilliant!

Condiment Analogue: Ground kalamata olive spread mixed with a touch of pesto for that unusual yet savory addition to your meal.

7. Special Sauce - Thranguy

-The humor is a touch glib.

-Hmm, the dialogue at the beginning feels a bit too much like a world building infodump.

-Showing the reader an odd-colored honey with a cryptic label makes for some mystery, but the eventual payoff lacks punch.

-See, the part where their brains receive the story about injustice is good. Showing how the honey works is preferable to the infodump.

-The concept of the honey is interesting but you don’t do much with it. It becomes a potential vehicle for future profit or future revolution but within the confines of your story the concept is frustratingly underutilized.

-Jake is unlikable and that’s okay but unlikability in a story has to go somewhere. It needs to grow into a new learning or awareness, or at least be so unique in its loathsomeness that it makes for an interesting character.

- I’m disappointed in your ending. While I do love a good revolution, I’m disappointed that Jake showed no growth or development throughout your story. With a thousand words you had the space to do it. In fact, all of the characters in this story are two-dimensional. They’ve all got just one appreciable aspect to their personalities and none of them develop as characters.

Condiment Analogue: When a tube of mustard has been lying in the back of your fridge for three years.

8. Puppy Love - Anomalous Amalgam

-The action is done reasonably well. The biker bar setting feels a bit tired for a story of this type, but at least you freshen it up by making it a quest to retrieve a dog.

-So…who was the Mohawk guy? The one who took the dog in the first place? Dive’s lead to the tattooed woman?

-Unfortunately the werewolf thing came out of nowhere. It wasn’t set up at all. Would’ve been better to allude to it earlier in the story rather than hit your readers with *BAM* random werewolf.

Condiment Analogue: Standard ketchup but it gives you heartburn after the fact.

9. The Salamander – my cat is norris

-It’s good that you establish the dragonkin thing in broad strokes. I feel like other writers would be tempted to delve into their history here, but that’s exogenous to the story.

-Your description of the salamander is cool; there’s some pretty nice imagery in this piece.

-There are some pacing issues with your story. It would have been better to be more economical in detailing the pre-reveal section, so that the reader gets to the reveal more quickly. Had you trimmed down the story like this, you also would’ve gotten it under the word limit.

-Okay, the ending works alright. The salamander is less menacing than once thought. It’s kind of a dick move for her to act in such a way that puts others at potential harm, but then again she is a teenager and she did show she’s capable of surviving on her own, at least temporarily.

Condiment Analogue: Spicy brown mustard but the lid is too difficult to open.

10. Single Celled - The Cut of Your Jib

-The humor’s a touch sophomoric but damned if it’s not still funny, imo.

-The various prisoners’ distinctive voices and the situation they’re in are entertaining.

-Laughed out loud. It’s a fun vignette. I wish the various stories within the story were less disjointed, more cohesive. That’s my only complaint.

Condiment Analogue: Zany purple ketchup, the kids will love it.

11. Going Down the River With You - flerp

-The contrast between the wholesome innocence of two character’s relationship versus the eerie mysterious threat posed by the crevasse is a nice touch.

-You did a good job making the mystery of the crevasse compelling. The reader can understand why Jeremiah would forgo college and a romantic relationship in order to answer the call of his dreams.

-Good story, in the top half this week for me.

Condiment Analogue: A hearty barbeque sauce.

12. they name storms after people for a reason - Tyrannosaurus

-The joke aspect woven though the story felt tired rather quickly.

-The irony works.

-Good job taking the old “dead father” motif and making it in-your-face literal with the actual floating casket and corpse.

-In the top half of stories this week for me.

Condiment Analogue: A sharp, horseradishy cocktail sauce served next to the shrimp at a wake.

13. Stormborne - Kaishai

-The style of prose is a touch florid for my tastes, but not by much.

-You created an atmosphere that was mythical yet easily comprehended. You developed a clear protagonist who develops over the course of the story.

-This was a good story. The only reason it narrowly lost the win was because although a delightful read, there isn’t much that sticks out here as being particularly memorable. Nor do I expect to be mulling over the thematic or philosophical implications of the piece quite to the extent that I might with Twist’s. That doesn’t take away from a job well done and an HM well earned.

Condiment Analogue: Grey Poupon

Armack fucked around with this message at 19:42 on Aug 15, 2016

  • Locked thread