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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

BeefSupreme posted:

no let's not


make them fight

You sound like someone who wants to get brawled by me

e: for the brawl below

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at Feb 20, 2018 around 04:38

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Sitting Here posted:

You sound like someone who wants to get brawled by me

Yeah I'll judge that, let's say 'the terminator' as a prompt (but with no violence) and 850 words. Due 24 feb, 2359pst. Toxx up.

Oh and doof and exmond probably need a fight, someone else can judge.

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

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

Although reminder, if you think brawls are dumb just say no thanks, don't let these dumb tools pressure you into something you don't actually want to do, like has definitely happened in the past

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Chairchucker posted:

Although reminder, if you think brawls are dumb just say no thanks, don't let these dumb tools pressure you into something you don't actually want to do, like has definitely happened in the past

We're here to make stories, chucker.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

There's a middle way. If you're up for the challenge but unwilling to stake your account on a fight you didn't choose, accept the brawl but refuse to toxx. Probably someone will still step up to judge. The requirement exists for good reason, but if it's stopping you from writing more stories, screw it.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


I'll fight Exmond. Anime must be banished from the Thunderdome.

up if you dare Exmond

Exmond
May 31, 2007


im doin it ma im writing

THUNDERDOME


apophenium posted:

I'll fight Exmond. Anime must be banished from the Thunderdome.

up if you dare Exmond

Anime must stand strong!



Errr, can we make deadline the 24th? My weekend is a bit busy.

Exmond fucked around with this message at Feb 16, 2018 around 16:00

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

Sitting Here posted:

You sound like someone who wants to get brawled by me

you are absolutely correct

sebmojo posted:

Yeah I'll judge that, let's say 'the terminator' as a prompt (but with no violence) and 850 words. Due 24 feb, 2359pst. Toxx up.

Oh and doof and exmond probably need a fight, someone else can judge.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

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

apophenium posted:

I'll fight Exmond. Anime must be banished from the Thunderdome.

up if you dare Exmond

Exmond posted:

Anime must stand strong!



Errr, can we make deadline the 24th? My weekend is a bit busy.


Poor Madison died and has become a ghost. She'll never find true love now. Or will she?

Feb 24th at high noon est. 900 words.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week CCLXXVI: You Did What You Did to Me; Now It's History I See

Things will happen while they can! Or else they won't because you've forgotten to put anything but talking in your story. Quite a few entries this week had that problem, but conclusions were the general bugbear. A lot of the entries appeared to use up their steam early on so that they had nothing left for the finish. Others were paced better but didn't have much to say. Though the word limit was generous by Thunderdome standards, I suspect historical fiction is a tough genre at flash length, and we should count our blessings that the worst offerings were only tedious.


Antivehicular, "Marianismo"

Any prominent names should play a supporting role at most, the prompt said. Eva Perón has only a faint physical presence in this story, but her name, her role, and the suffering that so hurts Elena are its heart. I don't know much about Soledad away from Evita. I couldn't guess what else Elena might care about in her life. This is less the story of either woman than it is a brief study of Perón with a side dish of historical women had it rough: a truth that you don't show me, instead using Soledad's thoughts to tell me, and I don't find Soledad convincing as a character of her time rather than the mouthpiece of someone living in ours.

On the up side, the writing is polished and smooth. Soledad thinks, unbidden in the last section should be Soledad thought, and I'd avoid repeating the phrase this strange work, but there's little else mechanical about which to complain. Although I have issues with your approach to the prompt, I appreciate that while both Soledad and Elena admire Perón to some degree (Soledad's cynicism is outbalanced by that comparison to the Virgin Mary), they see her from different angles, resulting in something more complex than a gushing paean.

*************** ***** ********

Nethilia, "A Head Full of Numbers"

The father's exposition rant trips up the otherwise-excellent beginning, but this is still a nice story, turning the economic crisis born of Musa's pilgrimage into a tale of a girl finding a place beside her father--just the sort of thing for which the prompt asked. The number theme is overplayed: I get tired of the repeated mentions of bouncing digits, and conceit wears very thin around the time of Whatever number she heard would group and ungroup in her head in different sets unless a number couldn’t be ungrouped any more, like thirty-seven and five and six-hundred-nineteen. However, the pacing and the conclusion are more significant weaknesses.

You spend so many, many words on numbers in the rich introduction (and throughout!) that you have few left for the climax. Insofar as there is a climax. No one opposes Amira's presence at the bank. She worries briefly that her father won't need her help after the inflation crisis passes, but he reassures her immediately, and everyone's happy without any challenges having been faced. It's a rushed and flat conclusion. The final line is particularly weak, failing to nail the heartwarming glow that the piece so wants to generate. I come away from the story with a favorable impression but a slight sense of disappointment too.

My initial notes ranked this high but said "Something with a better finish could beat it," and that's exactly what happened.

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Fumblemouse, "Two Birthdays"

Ooof, the dialect. I see what you're going for, but the slurring commas are a distraction. On the other hand, as the story rolls on, the rhythm gets more varied and the voice does its business of sketching a setting and point of view. I end up liking it fine and enjoying the story just in time for the end to come and knock all the wind out of its sails. There's a conflict, there's a mission; two distinctive characters pursue an unwise goal--and then one is dead just as the action begins.

Did you run out of words? There isn't much fat on these bones. The fault may lie in a story too big for the limit. Possibly you intend for the abrupt finish to evoke the shock of Da's death, but without more of an aftermath--not to mention some gesture to how Amy got from that field to telling this story--the early stretches feel too much like wasted time.

I pick up on the message that war isn't a game for the drunk or ignorant to play. It's fine and well conveyed. But I can't forgive the ending that leaves me asking the wrong questions.

*************** ***** ********

Thranguy, "Ω"

Flavia and even Michael are terribly calm about what's likely to befall them. Flavia especially: Michael knows the score, even if he sees it as a good excuse to practice his sleaze skills, but Flavia "has never given much thought" to the surprise sex marathon ahead of her and blows off the concept when confronted with it directly. She sleeps the peaceful sleep of the idiot. There's a difference between knowing you can't stop what's coming for you and feeling no fear of it; Flavia comes off as blasé, and her weird righteous moment about what happens to Roman slaves is just... what?

Well, but let's think about what you may be trying to imply with her attitude. Maybe her husband abused her in a manner similar to what the invaders have planned. It's old hat to her, so she takes it in stride. Could that be it? I doubt it, because things "worked out" with her dead husband; abuse is no one's definition of things working out. Is she so numbed to the world that nothing matters to her? That wouldn't explain her refusal of Caius's second offer. I fear I don't see anything below the surface: Flavia doesn't care about her surprise sex, her gardens' ruin, Michael's death, or anything else either because she's a bland sociopath, because she's a bland ostrich sticking her head in the sand, or because you wrote her poorly.

The story itself has a bit more life in it than does Flavia. Caius and Michael are more interesting figures (at least when the latter stops leering for a second)--Michael doesn't accept Caius's offers, but he has reasons that tell me something about him. He's too cynical to have even the most remote hope in escape; he's too faithful to commit suicide, however terrible the alternative. I'd rather be reading about this guy. He's taken the time to think about how things stand.

Alas, though the exchanges between these characters range from unobjectionable to rather okay really, conversation is all the story offers. No one acts--which brings me back to a familiar song. Like your entry for Ice Cream Week, this is a study of futility and the attitudes one may take to it. The passivity is probably intentional. But in terms of enjoyable reading, don't bother to care manages to be a worse answer to oncoming disaster than don't bother to try. It's easier to sympathize with the person who feels powerless to stop what she dreads than the person ignoring it all as long as she has cabbage.

*************** ***** ********

sparksbloom, "Rip Tide"

There's this thing called "the prompt" that I could wish you'd paid more attention to, and if your DM stings at all, you should wish that also. I'm not crazy about this piece however you slice it, but it took dishonors for barely touching your assigned event or, indeed, the historical fiction genre. The way you do incorporate Harold Holt doesn't make much sense in the world of the story: the disappearance of a male prime minister at sea is somehow related to the ocean mesmerizing women into returning to the water-womb? How? Unless Holt's "incident" isn't meant to be related. I don't know which would be worse. Nothing feels tied to a particular place or time; it could be set today on Virginia Beach, or ten years from now on the Gulf of Mexico.

Despite setting up Rachel as Molly's goal and/or conflict (her desire for the water vs. her love for her child), you don't bring Rachel on camera or resolve the question of her fate. She's a hollow McGuffin, a daughter-object for Molly to pursue. It's not much wonder I'm not touched by the agonies of Molly's... well, I was going to say choice, but she never chooses. A jellyfish comes along and saves her from having to make a decision. Wow, is that pathetic on Molly's part. She drags herself out of the ocean out of petulance at its betrayal and not love for her kid. Am I supposed to like this lady?

A parent's--no. A mother's emotions about her life with children are the subtext under the text. Why it's only mothers the ocean cares about, I don't know, and why it's only women you care about in this piece, I don't know, because a wish to leave adult responsibility behind and return to a world in which someone else takes care of you isn't limited to the female gender. It sticks out the more because if you had your ocean call to men and women alike, Harold Holt's disappearance would fit into the pattern. The conflicting longings you explore (sort of) are worth your effort, but you've made too many missteps, and the message is scrambled.

*************** ***** ********

Tyrannosaurus, "Of Saint Peter and Onesto"

Onesto's voice, if maybe a touch anachronistic, is amusing enough to raise a smile. His simple I am not a rich man as he pries his hook out of the corpse builds a lot of sympathy in a small space. The other stabs at humor fail; the good news is that they're light to begin with and so this barely matters, but the bad news is that the silly bits don't harmonize with the grim bits or the would-be uplifting(?) ending. Formosus talks like a Terry Pratchett character. He probably shouldn't. (I do like "One thing at a time, my son.")

As for that conclusion, it's not much less abrupt than Fumblemouse's or sparksbloom's. Onesto just decides he was wrong and goes home, and oops, he tells us that was the wrong choice and now he's sorry! Not very satisfying--even somewhat galling when I look at the words spent on the two "Which Pope?" exchanges. You didn't pace this one well. What drags it down to the watery middle, though, is that it doesn't know what kind of story it wants to be.

*************** ***** ********

Djeser, "Couldn't Be Further From Djahy"

Not too bad, but iron is better than bronze isn't such an interesting fact that it rates a whole story. The action sequences aren't good enough to carry the piece either, and it doesn't have much else to it. Nesbanebdjed's character is vague, though not completely so, and I don't see any change in him before the last word. He got a new sword. Hurrah! I'd care more about that if I cared about Nesbanebdjed, probably.

The Egyptian setting has more love and attention lavished on it than do the main character, the antagonist, or the plot (such as it is). I'd say your fascination with this place and time has worked to your detriment here--it's sort of like when an SF or fantasy writer gets so caught up in his wonderful world that he neglects his storytelling. The wealth of historical detail would be a plus if it were woven into a more interesting tale. On the up side, being generally inoffensive put your work firmly in the week's upper half.

*************** ***** ********

crabrock, "The Winter Palace"

If you'd asked me at judging time what made this the best entry, I would have pointed to Oskar's climactic action. It's a fantastic, character-driven, complex cap on the story. Fumblemouse's piece disappoints in that regard, and with only those two works in serious contention, the choice wasn't difficult. It's funny to find myself appreciating yours more now than then. Nikolsky is my favorite character for trying to walk the line that would save him from doom right up until his only choices, if indeed he has any, are to betray his beliefs or be true to them. Oskar shines though as the only man with any power to change what's been inevitable from the start. He acts on his conscience and covers it up. No one else will ever know. Thus he will survive, and he may do it with his soul intact.

I'm not sold on him as "a captain without a ship," though--thinking for himself doesn't make him a leader--and good lord, crabrock, could you try not to do dumb things like spelling a major character's name two ways? I promise the Revolution won't put you up against a wall and shoot you for that. Well. Probably not; I don't think you're sufficiently bourgeois. Crisp-white is also not a thing! The rule is that if you could separate the adjectives with and, you use a comma--so brick-red sweater but crisp, white hat.

Take your historical crown and wear it with pride, because you caught the conflicting emotions of your event in a bottle and wove them into a strong narrative. Everyone else should read your work to see how it's done.

*************** ***** ********

GenJoe, "Inferno"

Good pieces of characterization and decent ideas lie unassembled on a metaphorical table. You start strong with the brothers and their shared nostalgia. The byplay between them suggests long familiarity. I completely believe them as family members who are at odds, one an optimist, one a pessimist, both wanting to understand and be understood by one another. The first two sections are nice stuff for all that they're all talk--but I don't think you knew what to do after that, because the latter half is comparatively weak, weak, weak. Yours is the most abrupt, anticlimactic, and befuddling conclusion in a week full of those, and that sealed your fate.

If you chopped the last section off, you'd do the story a favor: though the visual of the brothers gazing out over the goldenrod is a touch cliché, it's the natural end point. The election is over; the brothers are who they've always been, their outlooks still different, but they stand together. I don't know whether I'd expand this part, but I would modify it. "Until one does, my friend" is a nonsense answer to the question "What do you think stops a wildfire from taking the whole country down?" Have the brother say "I'll worry about that when it happens" if that's what he means, and if it isn't, welp! Guess I'm even more confused than I thought.

*************** ***** ********

Uranium Phoenix, "The Pastry War"

Hmm. When Antonio feeds Henri's pastries to the dog, it's a foolish action. Free food is free food. But it's a believable sort of folly, born of pride and the desire to send a message. When Henri burns through his stock in a day, my eyebrows go up, because it's one thing to realize he should do as the Romans do and barter but quite another to use up a limited food supply. What, are the people going to thank him for that? Why would it gain him respect? I'm side-eyeing the logic here, and the story hinges on it.

Poor, uncomprehending Henri is more than a little slow if he's lived in the village long enough to fall in love with it but has never realized no one has any money. I can only wonder how he's gotten by when he can't possibly have gotten much coin and has no idea how to function without it. The conflict, while original and sympathetic, is far-fetched, is what I'm getting at here--the problem holds together no better than does its solution. I'd like to see this story work, so I hope you revise it to give Henri the sense of a marginally competent businessman.

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Fuubi, "Of Honor"

It's dull, it's raddled by cliches, and you can't keep the name of the sword straight, but this is a serviceable if not particularly interesting bit of samurai fiction, and that's such a leap forward for you that I want to throw you a parade. Look at it! Not one mangled desu in sight! There's a katana, but its existence is justified! I can follow your fight sequence, understand the entire story--its major sin other than going over the word count is that it's indistinguishable from too many other samurai tales. To be forgettable is no great thing, but I count it an improvement on being memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Things I like: that you hint with some delicacy that the smiling man is up to something ("The man lifted his own cup for the first time"). That Arashi sees through his actions. That Dengen is smart enough to have a contingency plan, though I'm not sure he should take much credit for Arashi's choice of the southern road; it sounds like the more sensible option anyway if ronin are known to be around.

Things I dislike: That Arashi's answer to the ronin looking for him is to take a slightly longer but still-obvious route to Tokyo. That you repeat the word samurai so often. The focus on honor. The shifting point of view in the final section. The poor proofing evident in "throuhgh." However, your sentence-level mechanics are much improved on the whole.

Congrats on walking comfortably in the middle of the road (except, you know, for the whole "over the word count" thing). You have a decent skeleton here, a sound structure and characters who are inoffensive at worst, so now it may be time to work on bringing some of your creativity back to the table without losing clarity or logic.

*************** ***** ********

Natty Ninefingers, "The Departure"

The formatting is very bad for on-screen reading, of course. Did you copy it straight from a file that allowed indentations? The Preview Post button is invaluable in Thunderdome, where C&P is a harsh mistress. Proofreading your work is priceless everywhere. Maybe you did, but the advent of "GIlberto" gives me doubts.

Nitpicks aside, your sentences are serviceable, some of them nice: leaking from her cap like treacle is unusual and evocative. The verb choice in Her mouth flopped a few times before she spoke suggests a helpless thrashing of Adelina's mind. Good work. Fair sentences and fair images are most of what the piece has going for it, unfortunately. There's no plot of which to speak, no resolution to the conflict between Joseo and Gilberto, no interesting character besides Joseo, and not enough of him; I wonder if the emperor's departure as seen through the eyes of a proud butler might have made for a better story. Gilberto lacks agency and only reacts, never acts. He's a bland figure on which to hang a vignette.

You could still have done far worse for a debut, and I hope you keep writing.

*************** ***** ********

TheGreekOwl, "-- 23 F --"

There are two levels on which to address your work. The first is technical, unavoidable, and beyond my power to mend: your English has improved only slightly since your last entry in 2015. Your work in this language remains incredibly awkward and difficult to parse. Punctuation and syntax errors are everywhere. About a floor above of which the spanish parliament was having its meeting is one example--that clause is honestly unpleasant to pick apart. I think you mean Camilo is on the floor below the meeting, but the way you've tried to say it instead is technically incorrect and borders on nonsense. Then there's this: “Remember Galaxia” the commander Antonio said near him, addressing them, “Counter-attack if you need to. Just don’ smell any saboteurs” he continued. Ouch. You're missing a comma after Galaxia, you have a comma after them when you want a period, I have no damned idea what Just don' smell any saboteurs means (though I'm fairly sure you're missing a letter in don't), there's no punctuation mark to close the dialogue, and the final dialogue tag is unnecessary. Pointing to and explaining all the mistakes in this piece would take forever. It would probably be of limited use to you, too, because evidence suggests you need a teacher more than a proofreader.

You're apt to keep racking up losses and DMs until your English is several steps above where it is now. Thunderdome can give you helpful feedback on the plotting, characterization, etc. in your pieces, but it won't fix your language issues. You have to either work hard on that yourself or give up on being publishable in this language, because right now? No. You've gotten better in two years, but not much. Not enough.

Okay, so I've said my piece about the sentences in this entry. What about the story they're trying to tell? Your flash rule gave you a a failed, bloodless coup ending in capitulation to work with, a rough draw as they go. I see an attempt to add conflict and change to the event in Camilo's relationship to and interactions with Andre. These two old friends now stand on opposite sides of a political showdown. Camilo has to consider the forces that have moved them apart before he can take the final step that severs their connection. It's an approach that's heavy on exposition and (dull) introspection, light on anything actually happening, but I blame your event for that last part as much as you. The final paragraph is both needless and bizarre--what's with the Caps Lock? The outcome of the coup is irrelevant to the story of Andre and Camilo; maybe you thought you had to include it, but the second-to-last paragraph would be a much better ending. Overall, I'm bored, but your characters' actions mostly make sense. There's a climactic moment. It's a step above "One Last Breath" in all ways--weak praise, but that's still better than the alternative.

*************** ***** ********

apophenium, "Heroic Verse"

Mậu blames himself when Đức is imprisoned (and it isn't clear until later that he's been captured, not killed) for buying contraband, but I don't know why. He could have gone back to Saigon, he thinks. Didn't soldiers send him away? Why would imprisonment for both brothers have been the better option? He did nothing to bring about Đức's fate; he couldn't have stopped it; the focus of his distress makes too little sense to serve as the story's emotional low point. You haven't told me much about Đức, but I know he has his own bone to pick with the Communists and has made himself persona non grata without any help from Mậu. He may have wanted those books for reasons of his own. If anything, Mậu appears self-centered in his assumption that the theft had anything to do with him. This is probably intentional to some extent since navel gazing and passivity go hand in hand--Mậu has to be forced to look at the world outside himself before he's ready to act. But it makes Mậu a harder character to like when he assumes everything Đức does is about him.

Now, maybe Mậu is right and Đức really did have him in mind when he tried to get those books. That idea could stand more textual support. I can read between the lines and imagine that Đức cares about his head-in-the-clouds poet brother based on his showing up at Mậu's house to suggest they both attend that rally. However, that's the only hint at affection, and it's not enough to get me on board the Mậu-as-motive train without a leap of faith on my part. You haven't quite earned the trust. Đức's characterization and the characterization of the brothers' relationship is just too thin. Invest more time and words on that, fewer on the Worm, who never comes into his own and is too obviously in the story only to prod Mậu into motion.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Mar 14, 2018 around 14:58

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Week CCLXXXI: Have a Flashy, Splashy Christmas

Here we are at last, and I've still tied a bow on my Yuletide season before some of my neighbors! I wonder if they leave those lights strung up all year or what. I don't know how so many of you managed to write something worthwhile on Christmas Day, but I thank you. Most of the entries were a pleasure to read even months after the holiday spirit had faded.

Of course, it's not like my goodwill toward mermen ever dies. Shall we dive right in?


Yoruichi, "The Merman's Sparkles"

Here you are with a beautiful, inspirational story of a merman who becomes the Rhinestone Cowboy, and you have to spoil the pudding by ripping off Disney left, right, and sideways. Oh, sure, I laugh at the grumbling sea witch. I laugh at the merman sacrificing his sparkle, too. What is a voice to that?? The three-day time limit with a sunset deadline is a derivation too many, and at that point the tale, appropriately enough, loses its luster. Charm returns when that glittering belt buckle rides in, but it's a little too late. You've lost too much momentum to nail the bubbly humor I figure you're going for. The story's frothy, mildly fun, and mostly forgettable. Of course, it's not too likely you were aiming much higher than that considering we're talking about "The Little Mermaid, except with ponies" here.

Shock of shocks: I like your work anyway, and I was delighted with it as the tone-setter for the week for all that I didn't expect it to place. Thanks for having silly fun with this very silly concept.

************ ************************* *****************

Morning Bell, "Weapons and Vices"

I'm amused by the subtle Christmas touches of December and Angels. The Angels are otherwise the story's Achilles heel, though. (And not just because of phrases like the angels watches, but stop that anyway.) The tension between Enrico, Cooper, Privoryev, and the erstwhile Captain December is as delicious and lingering as a peppercorn steak, and you dole out the details of "the incident" with a skillful hand. I'm never bored enough to get impatient with what you aren't telling me. But then the story winds to its close with the Angels still unexplained and unexplored, and noisy winged humanoids isn't enough to satisfy; the source of horror in a horror story can't remain in the shadows forever. You leave them obscure. The Angels are using December, but I don't know why. The Tarot has a role to play, but I don't know what. Privoryev turns around for reasons unclear, possibly springing from his wish to self-destruct but maybe not since the pills should accomplish that anyway--I love the imagery of the ending, the pills in the blood, but I don't care at all for the final line or how I come away from the story feeling that you dropped the ball. Do you know what's up with the Angels any more than I do? Eldritch horrors need motivations too.

The tangled ties between the human characters are dealt with very well, in contrast. One senses from the start that these people are doomed to destruction. It comes as no surprise when they die at each other's hands. That feels inevitable once it happens, whether it always was or no.

I don't object to the unknown, outside peril as a catalyst for the disasters that might have happened anyway given enough time in isolation; I just want the Angel to be more than a random screaming being with mystical trappings that don't hold together. (The Tarot thing is likely a weakness. Do weapons and vices open the door for an Angel? It's probably something like that. But... really, no, why does a deck of cards in a certain spread somehow call to an alien creature? Error. Error. This does not compute.) You're close to having a publishable story if you aren't already there, so consider the Angels and whether there's any further depth or resonance you could give them.

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Uranium Phoenix, "Remembrance"

Entenzahn once showed us the impact of polluted waters on the life of a merman in his winning story "An Empty Shell." The critical difference between his treatment of the idea and yours is that in his piece the environment mattered. In yours, Atlantis's environmental crisis is an excuse for conflict between Marinus and Neptius. The question of whether to abandon the city is resolved not through the actions of any character but by a shipwreck ex machina. Somehow all the debate on the topic feels a tad like wasted time, you know? Surely the adventurous-turned-conservative Neptius and cautious-turned-pragmatic Marinus could have been made to reconcile in some other way. What if some Atlantean structure fell on them not because of a random ship but due to erosion by the acidic sea? Maybe the building's architecture could be responsible for the pocket that saved them from instant death, so that Marinus would be right--the city can't continue--and Neptius would be right too: Atlantis may still be the best protection mermen have, as long as it lasts. One way or another, you would have done better to make the pollution relevant to the story's climax.

It's a pity that falling ship murders your entry in its sleep, because the role reversal of Neptius and Marinus is rather neat. Each of them took a different lesson away from their childhood tragedy, and it shaped who they are now. I get why Neptius is determined to cling to the familiar no matter how doomed that path may seem. Marinus's change of heart isn't as relevant to the issue at hand, but I wonder if one of the reasons they struggle so much against each other is that each hates the other's viewpoint more for having held it and then rejected it.

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Thranguy, "The Skull Beneath"

Beautiful world-building concepts are the strength of this piece. I love the deathworkers who turn fatality roulette into something more precise. You could make whole novels out of them and their personal ideas of justice, and along with those you give us elemental deaths with strange forms, who can talk and bargain and want. The talking whale is almost a throwaway detail, but I like him. It helps the setting for not everything rich and strange to be tied to Laura's profession. The skulls that aren't made of bone are another excellent touch.

The sudden sexuality of the piece comes too late, though. You do a great job of hooking me into the question of whether Laura will successfully bargain with the water death. The stakes feel real, especially when Laura dives into the water herself. And while I find the trade of sex for innocent lives to be a dark demand, magic isn't always clean or fair. That she and Death are sometimes lovers is a fine detail. The final two paragraphs dwell on the sexual relationship as though it's the heart of the story, however, when it hasn't been a factor for much of the text.

This is what I think: the story is about Laura's relationship with death in a broader sense. How she deals with it. The things her job makes her do... or doesn't make her do, but which she does anyway. What killing means to her. Whether she enjoys it. All of these things are touched on, and it's good. But the stakes may be too high or the conflict too interesting in the facade that is Laura's quest to protect people in Half Moon Bay, because I don't cotton on to the fact that it is a facade covering the real tale in time for your chosen conclusion to make sense. The first time I read the story, I wondered why I would care about the deathwife appellation and why you would end the piece on that note. I may understand now what you were aiming to do; it still doesn't quite work.

The two points--wait, three. The octopus sex is off. Maybe just misplaced; I wonder if I'd like it better if you put it before the flashback instead so that it's not so close to being the final beat. Anyway, the two major points where I would suggest a change are the first and closing paragraphs. The first is a mess of commas that doesn't actually tell me much about Laura (nice foreshadowing with her marital status, though). This would be an excellent place to guide the reader's expectations. You may be trying to do that as it stands, but no dice. The last paragraph might be fine if the rest of the piece were tweaked to make the real story shine through--and maybe a stronger introduction would be change enough--but I'd personally like a little more between the flashback and the end.

Seriously, whatever else, you could get a book out of these ideas. A good one. Don't confine them to just this one work.

************ ************************* *****************

Antivehicular, "How to Die in the Arms of a Merman"

The good, very good: So many things that could blow up in your story's face don't because you've handled them with skill. The whole friggin' premise doesn't make the least sense in this world of ours. Your matter-of-fact handling of it, throwing this fish-apotheosis business out there as a thing that just is and that no one in your fictional universe would question, pulls it off. Dying giant fish sometimes absorb human souls and turn into mermen? Okay! The step-by-step-instruction-guide portion of our program would possibly be tedious if what it were describing weren't so weird that I appreciate some straightforward pointers. And that works both ways, since while the weirdness livens up the dry format, the format guides the reader through concepts sufficiently divorced from real-world logic that some infodumping is welcome.

The diary sections are a little weaker. The sections after Miguel is resurrected as a mantarayman--oh, the phrases Thunderdome allows me to type--read rather more like fiction than like journal entries. Going the diary route lets you jump around in time and keep the reader posted on exactly how much time has passed, so it's still a good choice, if imperfectly convincing. Paul's voice comes through in these longer passages. There's some complexity to his characterization and his dilemma. He loves Miguel, but perhaps not as much as he believes. He wants to die, or thinks he does, but what he wants more is to stop loving up every thing he tries. He's a selfish man made so by his losses and self-blame. More sinner than saint, maybe, when you boil him down, but he loves his son, and opening up to his family may do wonders for him.

The whole apotheosis idea is creative as heck and just plain neat.

The bad, not so very bad: You didn't quite know what to do with Miguel, did you? Not all of Paul's callousness was necessarily intended. He doesn't pay much thought to whether it will hurt Miguel to die again, doesn't show pain when he thinks of his boyfriend's departure, doesn't show interest in Miguel's second life in that tank (surely more people come to see him than Paul!), but is that because he's kind of an rear end who isn't great at thinking about other people or because you saw Miguel as a prop to move the story along? It would surprise me if you thought much about what would happen to Miguel once he'd brightened Paul's life as the story demanded. Miguel's a nice guy. He rates some consideration!

Though it didn't wreck the tale for me, Miguel's disappearance into the cabinet where NPCs go when they're done being useful weakens the piece, especially the ending. All three judges agreed that the conclusion is a low point. If you decide to revise, start there.

************ ************************* *****************

The Saddest Rhino, "Tank!"

So much magic does the Christmas season hold that interrupting your bomb-rear end, superfine story of merbros being all brolicious and, like, drat, yo in order to insert yourself like it's a seven-book fantasy epic and you're Stephen King almost seems like a reasonable thing to do. Almost! The first italicized section is funny in that "IdiotHellFucker69" way, and the last section makes everything kind of cute because one realizes then that this is swole merbro fishtank fanfic. Honestly, though? I love all the boom-tushes just as they are. I'd kinda-sorta rather just read about Chad and his hella nice dude pack learning a lesson about treating hotties like people. This may be a lapse in good taste on my part.

The whole thing's a joy in the same vein that Yoruichi tapped, not a contender for the win but drat sweet nonetheless.

************ ************************* *****************

sparksbloom, "Plans"

Selfie merman is self-absorbed is more a premise than a story, but you'd have done better to leave things there than to make Seth a baffling douche. Not only does he crave the disappointment of others, not only does he lie, not only does he hound Kelsey about sailing, not only have you forgotten what quotation marks are (okay, I shouldn't blame that on Seth--and yes, it's obviously a style choice, but that doesn't make it good), not only is he kind of a stalker, but there's no reason for any of this. You know what else I'm having trouble understanding? This dude's popularity, although in these troubled times of social rewards for the dumbest crap imaginable I suppose I should let that go.

Nothing he does makes sense. It could be you've tried to capture the weird, tacky spirit of chiseled merman Christmas ornaments holding onto smart phones, albeit unsuccessfully. A few lines could maybe be trying for humor? Maybe?? I would also believe it if you told me there's some sort of commentary on celebrity buried in here. Unfortunately, what a piece has to say doesn't matter a ton when it's confusing, boring, and vaguely repellent. Your sentences are so smooth and precise that I never have the least doubt you can write, but I'm starting to think you're prone to bad choices in storytelling. Prove me wrong at the next opportunity, hey?

************ ************************* *****************

flerp, "It Won't Hurt Him At All"

What I saw when I first read this was a vignette about a girl and her demanding, frightening, but loyal dog, which she loved despite his faults. He meant more to her than a boyfriend or finals. She returned loyalty for loyalty, and she was there with him when he died despite the pain it brought her.

What another judge saw was a vignette about a girl's relationship with her father, personified in the dog. A dad might make messes, embarrass his child, drive off her boyfriends, and be a pain in her teenage butt, but it's out of love, and the daughter of a dad like that is likely to love him back. I like this interpretation. It adds depth to something I thought was nice enough but insubstantial, enough depth that I understand why that judge liked your piece best of the bunch.

I'm not convinced that reading of the piece is to your credit rather than his, however. It may be his lens and not your effort that adds the extra layer. If I were to gamble I'd cautiously wager on my first impression being correct: it's a melancholy story about a dog that makes a halfhearted grab for the heartstrings, no more, no less.

************ ************************* *****************

GenJoe, "For Guys and Girl"

Comparing this entry to your submission in Week 276 is interesting, not to mention easy since I'm critiquing them in tandem. In both pieces you have people talking to each other. Aside from a lap dance, not much happens--and as I type that I think of your "Casino," a story I like but that is likewise devoid of plot or action; that could be a Thing with you. The last section of "Inferno" is a head-scratcher, but everything else in it is easy to follow, whereas this never coheres into much of anything. Its ending is far less rushed, though. There's probably some sort of thematic resonance. Stress probably. I sense more depth in this entry, but that may be an illusion born of obfuscation.

Alex is a stripper. His club is changing, filling up with smoke-machine smoke and fuchsia lights that he sees when he sleeps, thanks to a new manager who prioritizes profit. Alex's friend Jason is into the art of performance, but stripping is a mundane job for Alex himself. There's no passion evident when he makes small talk with a regular while giving him a lap dance. Not on either part, interestingly: what the client gets out of the experience is more complex than sex, or so one hopes when the phrase like he was caressing a son is invoked. The best thing, perhaps, about working at Totito's is Lisa, a different sort of regular--a heavy drinker who isn't there to ogle anyone. She is Alex's lifeline to an existence outside the club. When they talk, he isn't alone. They connect in a way he and his customers, he and his coworkers do not. But she hasn't been by the club lately, and all Alex can see is fuchsia.

Now, there's something there, a sort of neon melancholy that's too tired for desperation. Somehow Alex feels doomed, his hope of escape from a weird level of urban Purgatory lost. Why, I cannot fathom. Surely he could leave? Surely he could find another friend? His social chemistry with Lisa isn't that convincing, and while I'm on the subject, that section in which she goes on a minor tear about men vs. women in relationships doesn't do much for the story as a whole. It burns words and paints Lisa as someone who lectures her friends about her personal beefs. Other than the mystifying "Tostitos" exchange it's the only chance she gets to shine, and she doesn't.

About that: is the implication meant to be that Totito's is a front for drugs? That this is the source of Lisa's objections and the reason for her absence? Is that why Alex's dreams of fuchsia are so ominous, and is it what keeps him chained to that stripper pole? If so, talk about too little, too late; if not, I haven't an inkling what you're going for with that conversation. Full marks though for the portrayal of strippers as people doing a job, complete with mundane workplace drama.

I'd have to call "Inferno" the better piece of the two. It does more to earn its ending, rushed and confusing or not, than does this, and with "Inferno" I don't find myself wondering how much you're crossing your fingers that I'll force some meaning into your hazy, atmospheric-but-not-much-else scenelets. Even so, we wouldn't have gone the mercy route if this weren't compelling despite itself.

************ ************************* *****************

BeefSupreme, "Out of the Raines"

One can't doubt your bravery in bringing back two characters who weren't successful the first time and sending them on another would-be high-octane adventure in which one of them doesn't accomplish anything, stapling on the Chad Derringer name to boot. Your wisdom, on the other hand, I'll question until the sweet chariot comes forth to carry me home. You might have figured Merman Christmas is the best time for goofball shenanigans, and you weren't wrong there! Possibly you thought we'd laugh at Chad Derringer fanfic--and we probably would have, even if I'm obliged to tell you to get the original writer's permission for such things. This isn't Chad Derringer fanfic, though, since the guy wearing his name doesn't resemble everyone's favorite Coolkid of the Damned. It's strange to be disappointed that you didn't rip Jay W. Friks off, but here we are. However, if you had, Chad definitely would have outshone both Lucas and Iselle. Especially Iselle.

Going by the two Raines stories to date, you want me to see Iselle Raines as this amazing bad-rear end whirlwind of destruction and charisma. Nope. She did nothing on camera in her first outing. I think you're out to fix that in this one, rendering Lucas useless so Iselle can swoop in to save the day, but that doesn't make her less insufferable. Rather, I wonder at the point of the story. "To showcase the awesomeness of Iselle" is both the most obvious answer and the least appealing. My hunch is that you love this character too much to see her as smug, obnoxious, or boring, whereas to me she's all of those things.

Lucas, though? You've gone and neutered him, but I remember the dude who shot his way into the crazy 80s drug orgy--there was something to be said for his energy! It's actually hard to believe this Lucas is the same guy. I guess/think/hope this is set a few years before his fight with a man who headbutts his cocaine. As prequels go, it's pretty feeble. It damages the original--which DMed for good reason.

It's a good thing you pulled this out during a lighthearted, forgiving week, although I imagine you factored that into your plan. I'm sort of fond of your sheer chutzpah. But seriously, ditch Iselle and punchlines both forever.

************ ************************* *****************

Bad Seafood, "Cookery"

You may get salty about this, Seafood, but any way you slice it, your homage to Cooking Mama is half baked. You've barely finished reciting the menu when you bustle away from my table with the food still in your hands, and I can only speculate on what the meal would have tasted like if I'd gotten a chance to eat it. Maybe you shouldn't have spent so long on the appetizer that you had no time to finish the entree. Food for thought?

The notion of a wizard-chef who wants to succeed on her own merits and comes to resent her magic is good. You take it down the most predictable route as a little bit of encouragement bucks up her spirits--probably; more on that in a tick--so she can keep chasing the dream, but for once, predictability is an asset. I'm sure I know the whole shape of Patricia's story despite the hasty strokes in which you've sketched it. My imagination and/or familiarity with tropes fills in the blanks, and I'm less unsatisfied than I by rights ought to be.

You've still left Patricia's reaction too nebulous, possibly because you know darn well that her father's words of wisdom aren't a panacea. She's going to get magic in the food she makes for her family, and there's no knowing what that will do to how they perceive it, no matter how well-intentioned her father may be. This problem runs too deep for a brief chat with Dad to solve. I enjoy the characters and their interactions more than anything else, so I'm loath to tell you to cut most of them; I think Patricia's dilemma just needs more space than the word limit allowed. Murray's thoroughly expendable, though.

Next Merman Christmas, I hope you make your protagonist a wizard-chef-lumberjack or something and just keep daisy-chaining those mermen until you reach the true heart of sparkle.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Mar 18, 2018 around 07:41

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Last minute sign In.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Critiques for Weeks XXXI, XXXVIII, CXLII, CCLVI, and CCLVII: Wizards of Speed and Time

More vintage crits. Both the Wizard Weeks get their due in this post, and I pray to the blood god that I never need to write words about child-shaped sex tulpas again.


Week 31: Russian Nesting Dolls


systran, "Last Night at the Club": Good on you for persevering through illness. Now let's consider whether one should repeat the word pants eight times in five short paragraphs. Allow me then to suggest that while leaving the larger story vague, hinting at a looming apocalypse (maybe?) without spelling out the details, is an intriguing approach, the lack of clarity in the smaller story is too frustrating to work. After reading the ending twice and going back to review everything else, I understand what's happened--and I like it. There's a cool story about doom and grief under the beige prose and pants banter. You didn't have the skill yet or were too sick to do it justice. It could be worth going back to Mike's story now that you have the chops to tell it right.


********************


Week 38: Mandatory Thunderbrawls


monkeyboydc, "The Beach Bum and the Sea": Oh, jeeze. So Saul has seen a mermaid, though that's not why he's drinking himself to death--for all I can tell he's just an alcoholic for no special reason, which is fine. The interpretation of poison is an interesting one. Saul regularly passes out on the beach, dead drunk and surrounded by strangers. Once he went on beach trips with his friends, but he doesn't have any of those anymore. On one particular evening the mermaid pulls him out of the ocean before he can drown in the tide, and he and she start to meet up on the regular for chitchat (if this sounds like bland and colorless interaction, that's because it is), until his liver-destroying ways catch up with him and he begs the mermaid to take him down to see her city before he dies. I think he dies, at least. You aren't too clear about that. Many things here are muddled by your roundabout method of delivering exposition. I can see a possible purpose in avoiding the straightforward route wherever possible: you could be trying to mimic Saul's increasingly unstable grip on space and time as he drinks himself into his grave. It's clumsily executed, though. There's something worth revising here even after all this time, but if you decide to attempt it, you should build on Saul and probably Ariel as characters. Explore why the one doesn't try to escape the death he sees coming and why the other bothers with this doomed human at all.

*****

Black Griffon, "Birdseed": This will take some parsing. First section: Menacha, a star sailor, has commanded her science-fantasy fleet to the planet Uhara in hopes of discovering otherwise-lost holy fire there. Second section: a portion of the fleet is destroyed by the locals. The native people do not seem amiable to Menacha's invasion. Third section: Menacha & Co. wipe out an innocent village. Its people are offered as a sort of human sacrifice; Menacha sees her holy fire as they die. She must spot it over the heart of the world since that's where she and hers go next (why they wouldn't look there first, I do not know), and only Menacha retains her sanity during the trip. Until! She telepathically restores all her crew members and defeats the entire planetary defense force with a wave of her hand, making one wonder a tad why she needed to get all these men broken and killed in her service. She claims the fire in the form of a bird and takes it away. The planet dies, and the god-figure she serves flies off to feast on her homeland, which sounds like a bad thing but was apparently her goal. All of this leaves me searching for the point of the story. It's a pulpish adventure without much deeper meaning as far as I can tell, which would be fine if the prose weren't so purple and/or Menacha were a fun person about whom to read. She's ridiculously overpowered. Nobody but her needed to come on this trip, because nobody but her is even the slightest bit effective, whereas she can overcome any and all conflict with a thought. No surprise, then, that her tale is anticlimactic and dull even if I don't stop to wonder why I should care more for Lyria's Reach than for the hapless Uhara. Some reason to give a drat about Menacha's quest or to root for Uhara's destruction would go a long way here: even pulp--maybe especially pulp--needs stakes.


********************


Week 142: BUT MOM, A WIZARD DID IT

I wrote a few other crits for this one back in the day; they're here.


AgentCooper, "Tulpas for the One Percent": Ah, the fascinating story of a man who draws children into life so they can have their minds sculpted by rich perverts who want brainwashed sex slaves. He'd make one for himself, but who has time for all that indoctrinating? Time is money. Ugh. Your irredeemable protagonist doing irredeemable things with a bare hint of remorse makes for a story that's gross and dull at once. The Internet jokes don't help--yes, yes, I see what you did there with "wizard." Mechanical competence and the protagonist's fondness for Hamyuts-of-the-awful-name are the saving graces; she doesn't sound attractive in looks or personality, but he wants her around. She's a woman he can talk to. Of course, his interest in drawing her negates what charm exists in that.

*****

CancerCakes, "Corruption and Power": Right, yes, disproportionate retribution and rear end in a top hat behavior and all that, but wizards are famously terrible at right and wrong. There's a danger in submitting a long joke, natch. Even though I smile at it, it's never outright funny; it also goes too far down Tragic Consequence Lane when Roger drops his son. The first paragraph is a whole lot clearer in hindsight than at first blush. It still doesn't involve the sex trafficking of children, so it could be worse! I wouldn't have voted for this to lose, as I prefer it to all the low-end stories except maybe Chairchucker's.

*****

Dr. Kloctopussy, "The Bone Loom": I remember wondering at the hype around this one when I first started to read it. The opening paragraph is mediocre, and the capitalization of Little Charms still strikes me as twee. The story gains its considerable strength when it takes its turn for the dark. The midsection has the most power, though it could be tighter: only Tissai's first charm of dead and living flesh has the power to cure, which I don't understand, and I've wondered whether condensing things a bit so her first experiment with the dead twins would fail and force her to craft the bone loom would be an improvement. I expect the conclusion works for many readers, but it falters for me because Tissai seems poised to take revenge on the children she helped to save. I don't care for this. The parents are at fault, and Tissai should know it. Maybe it's a clarity issue? These things explain why I like this story but don't love it as many do, but I can't overstate the excellence of the looms as a concept or of the terrible prices Tissai pays both in her own suffering and in actions she knows are unclean.

*****

skwidmonster, "When He Sleeps": The first section sets a tone of tragedy, painting the wizard--I assume--as a traumatized or repentant man. Then you shift gears into the child voice, onomatopoeia and all. He sounds so excited that I didn't pick up at first that his mother is afraid he's been molested. Maybe. Maybe not? I want to believe, but you've got multiple mentions of a sticky residue on a child's thighs here, and Laura's clearly worried about something, and ughhhh. With or without the implications of abuse, the second half doesn't match the first. The anticlimactic end with its out-of-nowhere emphasis on truth and lies is the cherry on the slug-slime sundae.


********************


Week 256: Myths of the Near Stone Age


Noah, "Where Are You Now": The dog lives in the dusk of civilization and dreams of a better time, but not of the dawn. You stretched the prompt further than I like. It's interesting, though, how the end of the bond between Dog and Men can be taken as the sign that civilization has finally fallen. Man's best friend has betrayed him and will likely die in turn. There's nothing good left but the dreaming. It's a bleak piece, and the dog sitting by and whining for the corpse of the man he killed makes it more so: in such an end, we too could only wail for what we ourselves destroyed.

*****

Chili, "Come My Way": First off, the spelling is rasberry crazy ants if Wikipedia is telling it true. Second, this is less a story than a script for a documentary voiceover. I would stake a penny or two that you're experimenting with alien perspective here, an ambitious exercise that does you credit, but you should take it back to the drawing board: the actions of the ants aren't easy to follow. Bent has no personality whatsoever--part of the point, surely, but it doesn't bring much to the reading experience. Nor would I call this a dream, though I almost understand how you could spin "dreams" into a glimpse of something outside human ken. It's good that you tried something unusual. With luck, the results will be better next time.

*****

Benny Profane, "The Secret World": The ominous beauty of Aran's night wakings and the firefly web comes to nothing. I thought, as maybe you meant me to, that the spider would try to catch Aran, but I can't see even a metaphorical entrapment in their interaction. I can imagine one. The fireflies might represent false light such as incandescent bulbs, seducing Aran's people into a sinister future of hunching over computers in the yuppy places of this world (tm Wrageowrapper). One, though, why would the spider do this; and two, how does showing Aran her death and the things that happen afterward influence events? Does anything change or happen here? Let's say that it does and the vision itself is enough to poison Aran's race or raise it up. The spider's motivation remains unknown. You paint a lovely, static picture and then take it nowhere.

*****

Sitting Here, "The Origin Voracious": For me--but presumably not for the judges--only faith in you as a writer, built through familiarity with your previous work, makes this palatable. On the surface it's a bitter rant shaking its fists at humanity and millennials!! Pure humans-suck nihilism. People exist who would write this sort of thing in dead earnest, but because it's you, I assume there must be some extra dimension and I consider the idea that the narrator is unreliable. That would make this somewhat more interesting, albeit only somewhat since bitter ranting isn't a great read no matter what lies behind it. The granddaughter comes off as self-absorbed regardless and is at best an incidental figure, so there's no one with whom to sympathize or about whom to care. It's not your finest hour despite the lovely individual sentences and mythic cast.

*****

sebmojo, "Bird Dreams": That first sentence is brilliant because it tells you right away what level of authenticity you're in for, i.e. none, so to quibble about cavemen named Nathan and Amanda just seems churlish. I'll go ahead and quibble with the comma splices, though. I know you're fond of them, and you often use them passing well, but I hate the one in the fifth paragraph. How about you take that comma and put it into the clause everyone was up there even Grandma Jones? Oh, well. It's a charming piece about love, grief, friendship, Heaven, and dreams, all in just over six hundred words, and a heartwarming example of what you can do with your characteristic light tone when you try.


********************


Week 257: No failures week.


Sokoban, "The Apprentice": There's no magical child porn, so right off the bat you have an advantage over your wizard predecessor. Peer's tale isn't skeevy and is comparatively lighthearted. It's standard fantasy fare: a young boy runs off from his village and finds his destiny. You've put a tiny dab of humor in with the wizard who brings drawings to life but completely sucks as as an artist. The result is lackluster, though. Imago and Peer don't have much characterization beyond "sucks at art" and "doesn't suck at art" respectively. The situation is exactly what I called it, standard, and you don't spin the old formula into anything interesting. Your prose is rough on the technical level. It's a shame you've wandered away from TD, because you could use the help and have the potential to make time spent on your writing worthwhile.

*****

Phobia, "The Alter on the Mount": A typo in the title. In the title. Dammit, Phobia. "There is an sharp drop a few paces from where The Master stood." DAMMIT, PHOBIA. Will you ever learn to proofread? Like, at all? That's not what's done you in, though, not when your story is 50% exposition and 40% obfuscation in service of a twist I don't care about because I care about neither character. You've done better; I say that to you a lot, but it's true. Come back and submit stories you've taken time to edit!

****

Dr. Kloctopussy, "Luck Be A Lady": Your cool premise fizzles out, smothered early by introspection and exposition. I want to like Sam but have to sit through redundant maundering on his magic before things start to move. The third and fourth paragraphs restate ideas you've already established. My interest level goes up as Sam and Las Vegas dance on the monorail, and I wish Vegas were more of a character, that this were her story and Sam's without the black-haired girl stepping in--the girl probably stands for something, but I don't know what and am not much intrigued by the question. Another question: what did Sam draw? What did it mean? The vagueness on this one irritates me a little. In short, you have a potentially compelling main character, a potentially compelling antagonist/love interest/lady-of-many-parts in the city, a potentially wonderful magic, but the girl is a dull distraction who spoils it all. I could imagine elements from this being turned into something greater than "The Bone Loom," but in its current state it's inferior.


2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 38, 39, 42, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 114, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 275, 277, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2018 around 20:54

BeefSupreme
Sep 14, 2007

DOUBLE BEEF ACTION

Kaishai posted:

It's a good thing you pulled this out during a lighthearted, forgiving week, although I imagine you factored that into your plan. I'm sort of fond of your sheer chutzpah. But seriously, ditch Iselle and punchlines both forever.

thank you for the tremendously accurate critique but rest assured that I remain undeterred in my quest to bring the Raines

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

DRAFT FLORPBRAWL

The Midnight Zone
750 words

I was halfway through my fifth beer when I met her, under the sea.  

I’d just taken a sip of the over-hopped IPA, steeling my belly against the heartburn. Then the guitarist slashed his hand across the strings and a walloping slam of noise careened out of the speakers, swirled around in the fug of the Bathhouse, and coalesced into a diamond javelin that transfixed me.

And, just like that, the swaying Friday crowd of munters hipsters and lallygaggers were seaweed in the water.  The lights through the smoke were rays of light from the sun, refracted through ripples.  And a hoary crackjawed shark lunged for me, rows of backhoe fangs yawning for my head.

I stumbled back, keeping the beer level through some kind of drunken magic, collapsing into outstretched arms.  Then my boot slipped on wet floor, my feet went out from under me and I went down.

The drums were kicking off hard at this point in the song, so it felt like percussion when my head on the boards made a light flash in my eyes.  Then, a fringe of hair swirling like an anemone.  It was a woman, tanktop, feet planted in the sea bed.

“You’re down too low,” she said.  

I grabbed her hand and she pulled me up.  The currents were warm and the sea was like a mirror ball made of smoke.

“We’re floating,” I shouted.  

Her eyes were dark like the ocean at night. She didn’t say anything just grasped me tight as a wave rolled over and around us and the people swayed as one.  We held each other and swayed with them and I looked into her eyes and it was like falling from a sunlit room and into the sea, through mesopelagic twilight and bathypelagic midnight, down to the perfect cool embrace of the abyss.

And, just like that, I was back in the real world, the heavy world, the world of choice and consequences.

We were still holding each other.  We kissed, swaying. The music was a storm, slashing rains of guitar and drums with lightning strokes of wailing lashing at us as we swayed.

Three months later we were having brunch on Oriental Parade, at a table on the pavement.  The sun was bright through my sunglasses and the ocean was sparkling like it knew the punchline to a joke it hadn’t told you.

“Over-priced eggs for post-coital couples,” she said, then ground out six careful turns of pepper on her plate of Eggs Benedict.  Then she looked at me with her dark eyes and I smiled back. Then I frowned.

“I can’t do this any more,” I said.

She didn’t say anything, just raised an eyebrow.  

“We’re floating, but we should swim or sink. Like, I dunno, a shark.”  I sipped my coffee.

She considered, sliced off a sliver of muffin and ate it. “How low do you want to go?”

I shrugged.  The air was thick and moist, like in a bathroom after a shower.  

She stared at me, eyes dark like the shadow under a table, then she nodded.

“Follow me,” she said.

She stood up, pushed out her chair, and walked out across the road. I scrabbled out some money and threw it on the table, and stumbled after her, catching my leg on the chair.

“The car, wait,” I called.  The Toyota Caldina that was about to hit her screeched a brief note of complaint as it stopped just short of her thigh, and she patted it like a dog.  Then she was over the sea wall and out of view, with a single hop.

I caught her at the foreshore.  Her bare feet were sinking in the wet sand.  I didn’t know where her shoes had gone.

“There’s nothing out there,” I said.  “We’re people not fish.”  The absurdity of where I was and what I’d just said caught up with me and I hiccuped a brief laugh.  “You know that, right?”

She looked at me, hadalpelagic eyes dark like a trench below the bottom of the ocean, and smiled, slow like an ocean swell.  She touched my face and kissed me one last time.

Then she walked into the waves and I did not go with her.  I sat on the sand, butt wet with salty water, feet askew, and my head and my heart sank down low, down deep in the midnight zone - low, but not low enough.


FINAL FLURPBRAWL

The Midnight Zone
736 words

I was halfway through my fifth beer when I met her, under the sea.

I’d just taken another sip of the over-hopped IPA, steeling my belly against the heartburn, when the guitarist slashed his hand across the strings and a walloping slam of noise careened out of the speakers, swirled around in the fug of the Bathhouse, and coalesced into a diamond javelin that transfixed me.

And, just like that, the swaying Friday crowd of munters, hipsters and lallygaggers were seaweed in the water.  The lights through the smoke were rays of light from the sun, refracted through ripples.  And a hoary crackjawed shark lunged for me, rows of backhoe fangs yawning for my head.

I stumbled back, keeping the beer level through some kind of drunken magic, collapsing into outstretched arms.  Then my boot slipped on wet floor, my feet went out from under me and I went down.

The drums were kicking off hard at this point in the song, so it felt like percussion when my head on the boards made a light flash in my eyes.   I saw a fringe of hair swirling like an anemone.  It was a woman, tanktop, feet planted in the sea bed.

“You’re down too low,” she said.  

I grabbed her hand and she pulled me up.  The currents were warm and the sea was like a mirror ball made of smoke.

“We’re floating,” I shouted.  

Her eyes were dark like the ocean at night. She didn’t say anything just grasped me tight as a wave rolled over and around us and the people swayed as one.  We held each other and swayed with them and I looked into her eyes and it was like falling from a sunlit room and into the sea, through mesopelagic twilight and bathypelagic midnight, down to the perfect cool embrace of the abyss.

Then I was back in the real world, the heavy world, the world of choice and consequences. I had a girlfriend, home sick that night.  We talked but didn't listen much any more.  I looked at her eyes and opened my mouth, circular, then closed it. We were still holding each other.  

We kissed, swaying.

The music was a storm, slashing rains of guitar and drums with lightning strokes of wailing lashing at us as we swayed.

***

Three months later we were having brunch on Oriental Parade, at a table on the pavement.  The sun was bright through my sunglasses and the ocean was sparkling like it knew the punchline to a joke it hadn’t told you.

“What would you say if I said I was pregnant?” she said.   She looked at me with her black deep-sea eyes and I looked back.

“...” I said.

She didn’t say anything, just raised an eyebrow.  Then she shook her head, long hair swaying.

“We’re floating, but we should swim or sink.”

The air was thick and moist, like in a bathroom after a shower.  

She looked at me, eyes dark like the shadow under a table, then she nodded.

“Follow me,” she said.

She stood up, pushed out her chair, and walked out across the road. I scrabbled out some money and threw it on the table, and stumbled after her, catching my leg on the chair.

“The car, wait,” I called.  The Toyota Caldina that was about to hit her screeched a brief note of complaint as it stopped just short of her thigh, and she patted it like a dog.  Then she was over the sea wall and out of view, with a single hop.

I caught her at the foreshore.  Her bare feet were sinking in the wet sand.  I didn’t know where her shoes had gone.

“There’s nothing out there,” I said.  “We’re people not fish.”  The absurdity of where I was and what I’d just said caught up with me and I hiccuped a brief laugh.  “You know that, right?”

She looked at me, hadalpelagic eyes dark like a trench below the bottom of the ocean, and smiled, slow like an ocean swell.  She touched my face and kissed me one last time.

Then she walked into the waves and I did not go with her.  I sat on the sand, butt wet with salty water, feet askew, and my head and my heart sank down low, down deep in the midnight zone - low, but not low enough.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


sebmojo (more like suckmojo lol) brawl

DRAFT VERSION

archives

flerp fucked around with this message at Sep 13, 2018 around 23:07

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


Fun Shoe

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

flerp posted:

It’s black eyes

gently caress youuuuuuu

flerp
Feb 25, 2014


sebmojo posted:

gently caress youuuuuuu

wow its almost like drafts have mistakes in them

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

flerp posted:

wow its almost like drafts have mistakes in them

It's almost like u have a mistake in you

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

So things are getting fighty which is good especially when you are dumb and come from seattle -- oh wait I stuttered.

Wellington crew is calling out you seattle buttlords, fight us.

I mean lol space needle it is not even in space. It's on the ground. It is a ground needle.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


sebmojo posted:

Wellington crew is calling out you seattle buttlords, fight us.

Someone said wordfights. I'm back.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

WELLINGTOOOOOON

Fuubi
Jan 18, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Kaishai posted:

Critiques for Week CCLXXVI: You Did What You Did to Me; Now It's History I See

Fuubi, "Of Honor"

Words.


Thx for the crit!

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

THIS INITIAL BRAWL POST IS CANCELLED! WE ARE PUTTING TOGETHER AN INTERNATIONAL MEGABRAWL INSTEAD.

PLEASE REFER TO AN UPCOMING POST BY KAISHAI FOR FURTHER DETAILS!

Chili fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2018 around 22:26

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

Week: How to Write a Story-crits part two

Next batch of crits are for Entenzahn's "The Sorrow Song", Siddhartha Glutamate's "The Rut", QuoProQuid's "They Said I Could Become Anything So I Became A Horse", and Crabrock's "Weird Yoga Pose"

Part 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mT...iew?usp=sharing

Part 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vk...iew?usp=sharing

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Seattle graciously accepts your challenge

but i'm not doing any of the other stuff until i know exactly who's brawling by my side

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016




Whoever is paired off with me can write about Wolpertingers.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

with the Akkorokamui

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome



Gimme a story about the Tikbalang, the werehorse.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Fyi we are in a training montage to this tune at the moment, writing more and more elaborate sentences and sitting under waterfalls with keyboards etc seattle crew going down hard, when they bother to show lol

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

I live in Issaquah WA not Seattle. Am I allowed to join in?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk

Jay W. Friks posted:

I live in Issaquah WA not Seattle. Am I allowed to join in?

YES

FIGHT

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010

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


Awww yeah nerdfight. I got something special for you, Seattle: the Flatwoods Monster.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Yams Fan

As a newly-minted Wellingtonian I will destroy Seattle extra hard. Sleepless in Seattle is not only a film it is an accurate description of your new life in Seattle after this brawl, if you live in Seattle and you brawl me.

edit:

Morning Bell fucked around with this message at Feb 18, 2018 around 02:27

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


sebmojo posted:

So things are getting fighty which is good especially when you are dumb and come from seattle -- oh wait I stuttered.

Wellington crew is calling out you seattle buttlords, fight us.

I mean lol space needle it is not even in space. It's on the ground. It is a ground needle.

ugh, fine, I'll kick your rear end if it needs kickin' that bad

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

YES

FIGHT


I fight for the honor of Seattle against the ronoh of the wellington. (I didn't capitalize wellington because who cares smh)

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition




Seattle Squad's gonna rain on your entire whack rear end, upside down, summer in loving January parade.

ETA: Alterna-Toxx. Should I gently caress up, gently caress my avatar up.

Nethilia fucked around with this message at Feb 18, 2018 around 05:51

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003


sebmojo posted:

I mean lol space needle it is not even in space. It's on the ground. It is a ground needle.

lol look at this idiot who doesn't even know about saucer separation

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at Feb 18, 2018 around 01:15

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Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

You know what's less than optimal? Posting a prompt at the bottom of a page, that's what. The post that was here is now somewhere else.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Feb 18, 2018 around 01:29

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