The Vantage Point (749 words)
The old man kept a couch out back in the shade of the tree overlooking the town. You could see for miles in every direction. It was like looking down from the Kingdom of God.
Felix emerged from the house to find his father sitting there alone. Felix was a long, thin man, almost spider-like, but his eyes betrayed a closeted warmth. He wore a priest's cassock and carried a bottle.
His father never turned around. "What'd you bring?"
Felix walked toward the couch, toward the edge of the hill. The bottle he carried was a dim dark green. He gave it a shake without reading the label. Still his father faced away. He had to come round to take his seat.
The couch was old and worn and intimately familiar. His father was old and worn and quiet. He was shorter, stouter, and stronger, though not for much longer. The tips of his fingers were stained charcoal black. Felix sat down. He placed the bottle on a cinder block. There were always a few cinder blocks. His father had three stacked on top of each other to prop his feet up. Another cinder block held a pair of scotch glasses. There were always a few glasses.
Felix sat with his hands together. He watched the birds on the power lines below.
"You still peddling that stuff?" his father asked.
"To those who need it."
"I don't need it."
"That's not," Felix said, but didn't bother to finish. He picked up the bottle and popped the cap. He measured out two glasses and held one out. His father took it. "Mom told me," he said at last.
"So you know."
His father took a drink. "Then there's nothing else to say."
"I think there's a lot more to say."
"You think too much. Talk too much. Always did."
"Not for much longer. Not with you."
His father took a drink. "Everything's in order."
"drat near. I don't truck with no deathbed conversions."
"I know," said Felix, "I know, I know."
His father took a drink. Felix took a sip. A flock of birds took off for the sky. Felix watched the power lines sway.
"Emile's having a baby," he said.
His father said nothing.
"It's a girl. A daughter. Your new granddaughter."
His father took a drink.
"I just want to know what we should tell her." Felix held his glass in both hands. "About you."
"What's wrong with the truth?"
"Mark's parents are already gone."
"What's wrong with the truth?"
"I don't know the truth."
His father took a drink. "I thought that was your job."
"I know a lot of things, but not about you."
"I did what I could," his father said, "what I had to." He set down his glass. "You and your sister should know that better than anyone. I don't know what else she'd need to know."
Felix looked at his father, his sphinx-like face. Ever since he was young he'd never known his father to look any other way. All that had changed was his own his elevation. His father looked out on the town below, its tiny buildings and tiny people, those labyrinthine streets filled with cars and laundry lines, and in the distance the factory billowing smoke.
"I've come a long way to see you for this dad. You don't answer the phone. You don't respond to letters." Felix gazed down into his glass. He took a drink. A real drink. "You've been a shadow all my life dad. Ever-present but...undefined. I don't know anything about you dad. I'm grateful but you're just this hazy shape. I want to know you, at least a little bit." He set his glass down on the cinder block.
"You want to remember me?"
"We both do."
His father held his glass for a long time.
"I lived my life for you. If that's not enough, I don't know what is."
"I see." Felix waited a moment, then stood. "I'll be going then."
"You do that."
"Take care dad."
"I love you."
Felix turned and walked toward the house. His father remained. The old man heard his wife and his son, the car door, the ignition, then distance, then nothing.
|# ? Mar 5, 2018 06:31|
|# ? Sep 19, 2018 17:09|
Flash rule: Beirut – The Riptide
In his dream the world still breathed. Calm sapphire ocean stretched perhaps forever and his feet sunk ankle deep into glowing sand warmer than anything he had ever felt. To his side a featureless child tall enough to be his but wreathed in crimson light took his hand with inhuman strength. The child led him off the beach sullen and tentative while gulls circled above their heads. Their path wound on ever south even as beach gave way to mountain trail thin enough they had to walk single file. No words and no sounds although he tried to speak. The child walked each step weighing a thousand tonnes until they reached a summit once a car park. Asphalt bubbled underneath him with the breath of a thousand screaming dead but ahead of them lay a city. Its buildings shone as new and its streets bustled and on the wind it spoke to him.
Find us. We wait. Come and all will be well.
He woke alone amid piles of stinking furs and blankets to the sounds of the tide outside. It battered rock and ate at sand and howled like the wind that no longer blew. Sweat congealed all over him and matted his beard thick to his face while he looked out the window of what had once been a mansion. A private island expensively kept off all maps yet he had found it. The water was heavy with silt and ash and dead fish coughed up like phlegm from the lungs of ailing Earth and it lashed against the product of his past weeks’ labour. The kayak stood tied to the sturdiest boulder in evidence and already had what food he had been able to find inside. The island stood barren from years of lumber and scavenging and effort and as he watched his boat fire fell from the sky off in the distance. The light it cast was the first and perhaps only of the day and in its glow he swore he saw the crimson child. They stared at each other and the same hand from his dream clenched his heart in its fist. When he blinked it was gone but he remembered the city and the immortal silence of his exile.
There was life in the south. He knew the city existed as well as he knew he had nine fingers left. As well as he knew if he stayed here he would starve or walk deliberately into the sea.
He waited until the tide calmed then gathered his last things and headed to shore.
In the first three days he saw nothing. Not sun nor ship nor beast nor storm. Occasionally firefalls off in the distance marked his way and the broken compass on his wrist insisted he still headed south. He drank conservatively in case he held the last clean water in the world. Often he considered heading back but when he did the crimson child appeared in his mind.
On the fifth day his sleep ended when an almighty force rose under his boat and nearly capsized it. Silent and monolithic it rose from the waves and the kayak rolled off the rampart where it took all his strength not to go into the drink. When fear left him enough to think he regarded the stationary hundred foot mass ahead of him until he met an eye. It stared through him into eternity and he thought about how long he could feast on it if he had a way to bring it ashore. It was already cooked with flesh bubbling and blackened from firefall.
His stomach mewled and complained and he wondered if the dead whale had headed south too. Finally he urged weary arms back to rowing.
On the seventh day he saw the beach and the mountain.
There was no child. The towers rose but did not shine and his rowing slowed then stopped when he saw. They stood skeletal and jagged and empty with fatal wounds torn in their sides such that he could see the details of some rooms from out on the water. Old fires had long burnt out and the abandoned husks of automobiles littered the boardwalk. He rowed closer and closer and made out skeletons on a battered dock laid out like they awaited something better.
He felt the warmth and the vibration in the air that heralded firefall. He considered waiting for the strike to give him rest. Instead he rowed to the dock.
|# ? Mar 5, 2018 07:49|
If you failed the toxx clause, you have 24 hours to submit
|# ? Mar 5, 2018 08:18|
If bad words were a crime, then we'd all be criminals. (Thanks, Bulgaria!) Bad Seafood rejoins Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and myself for the illicit thrills of Week 286: Picturesque Picaresque, and you're invited to ride shotgun! Attend a nontraditional traditional wedding! Marvel at password overrides taped to consoles! Be reminded of your last blind date! And wonder at the tyranny of maybe-Spanish Colonel Sanders as we act our way through RandomPauI's "Don Mendoza and his Sly Compatriots Strike their first Corpulent Target - 756."
Which sounds like a not fun experience overall but the pirate warlord is nice about it and even takes the bag off to look me in the eye to tell me I'm going to get a neural implant and become somebodies sex slave.
It's time then to leave rapscallions behind and turn our thoughts to love. Once, when all the world and Thunderdome were young, Echo Cian asked the thread for romance. Instead it gave her the Geriatric Dome of Sadness. The recap regulars turn back time to Week 28: Show me the love! to see where it all went wrong, and only after saying farewell to the past are we ready to open our hearts to Week 287: Bad Romance. Discover with us that while death may come and text messages may go, a dramatic ride in Horrible Butts' "RV" is forever.
I am a duck, my wife is a bear and you are our hostage. Forgive us but this is the only way.
Episodes past can be found here!
Kaishai fucked around with this message at Mar 6, 2018 around 02:05
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 02:02|
Week 290 (Fiasco Week II) Crits
First up, general thoughts on the week:
Most of the stories were very dense in terms of plot and seemed focused on rushing through that plot, with a lot of flat declarative phrasing and exposition, often at expense of letting the characters and situation breathe at all. Frankly, I blame the prompt for this; I think I gave you all too many elements to try and integrate into 1500 words, and most of you tried your best to get as many as possible in there, which I can't fault you for. Most of these stories would be strengthened by cutting out some of this business, but I can't blame you for trying to cram it all in.
The plots were almost invariably twisty. Often this meant that clarity was lost and things started happening a little arbitrarily -- once again, an effort to get as much in as possible. The stronger stories maintained a relatively clear line of action, even if it did mean trimming down the scope.
Chainmail Onesie, "A Dust Mote in Sunlight"
Overall: I enjoyed this and am sorry about the DQ. (I went back and forth on the DQ for a while, found myself thinking that I wouldn't DQ but wouldn't consider for mentions, and decided that if I wasn't comfortable considering it I probably just needed to take the formal route.) Good character work, very nice use of setting, somewhat murky plot progression, but overall enjoyable.
* The use of flashbacks was effective overall, but I'd be slightly careful with this in future, especially in a busy story like this one. To steal/paraphrase a line from a previous judge (Obliterati in Cohen week, I think?): always assume your reader is drunk and liable to be confused.
* The plot isn't 100% clear, although I get the broad shape of it (a religious artifact and a retrieval mission that goes pear-shaped). My biggest question with the plot: why did Petra kill Rynn? Is it intended to be left ambiguous? That's a reasonable enough choice, but it does sort of hang in the air, especially when it comes to figuring out Voight as a character and to what degree we should be viewing him with sympathy.
* Good work establishing the character relationships here. I get a feeling for how Argia relates to Petra and Voight, and who they both are, in a way that makes their actions make sense. Rynn, not so much, but Rynn is way more a plot device than a character.
Lazy Beggar, "The Second City o' a Deid Empire"
Overall: Messy, confusing, and largely unpleasant to read. way too much focus on characters telling each other things, especially given that there's waaaaay too much dialect in the dialogue. Characters never quite have meaningful motivations. Lots of stuff happens for no reason -- the making GBS threads and the blood-covered stranger come to mind -- and prompt elements are integrated poorly into the whole. This needed a few tightening passes and some darling-killing desperately.
* Your dialect writing is definitely skillful and authentic-feeling, but it makes the story impenetrable to read, especially when so much of it is characters telling each other what's going on and how they relate to one another. (Frankly, I lost track of that all at a certain point -- this story honestly needed more of the straightforward exposition/declarative prose that other stories had a little too much of.) Keep the slang if you want, but I'd consider going to standard English spellings instead of doing accents phonetically, since phonetic accents are hell to read.
* The story is so tied up in these characters' bizarre relationship web that we never meaningfully learn who they are, what they care about, or why we care about them. Hell, we never even know what Elaine wants revenge for, even when we're in her POV. These characters feel like chess pieces being moved through the expectations of plot and not a lot more.
* Look, I get that you were trying to make a cute playset reference with the turd thing, but the making GBS threads aside is completely pointless. (We don't even get a turd on the mantelpiece, just a turd in an unflushed toilet, which is not remotely interesting or funny enough to make up for Random poo poo Inclusion.) When you have this much going on already, I'm not sure you should be going off on little joke tangents like this, especially when they involve rogue pooping, the Great Bane of Thunderdome.
* The blood-covered stranger needed to be foreshadowed somehow. Really, any way at all. As it stands, it feels like a "they got hit by a truck"-style non-ending. Also, I have sincere doubts you could kill someone with a thrown screwdriver, but that's neither here nor there.
Deltasquid, "Three hours in Riyadh"
Overall: Very droll, but overly removed from its story, almost abstracted. Interesting plot elements are sketched instead of shown, and nothing feels visceral here, even as things descend into an apparent bloodbath. The distance doesn't help clarity, either. A lot of wit, but very little meat on the bones.
* I get that what you're going for here is a classic chaotic heist mess, where signs and countersigns are getting skewed and multiple factions are working at cross purposes from one another in the same party, but I really think this was just too broad a scope for this word count. I feel like you could have cut it to maybe two factions, with Aslan taking a wrong turn to the other guys, without having loose ends like Gunther in the mix.
(Maybe there already are two factions, the gunrunners and the art thieves? Possibly? The point is, I'm lost.)
* Seriously, a lot of this prose is trying too hard to be droll and ends up fatally removed from the action. We have a bloodbath entirely off-camera, and I'm still not sure why or how. Take this bit:
“I never knew human bodies had so much blood,” Youssef said to himself afterwards.
Funny, yes, but we really needed to see some of this in action. The judging panel wasn't even in agreement about whether Katarina got killed or did all the killing.
Overall: A touch lowbrow, but in a good way -- a pretty fun, sleazy read overall. Good interweaving of weird character relationships into a plausible(ish) web. Solid, smooth execution, as I've come to expect from a Thranguy story. Generally enjoyable; was on my personal potential-HM list.
* Thanks for writing this from the perspective that you did. I feel like this could have been pretty tacky (and the title exceptionally tacky) if we'd been seeing this from a dude's perspective, and I feel like a lot of the content is redeemed by the POV and knowing what our main character is thinking.
* I appreciate the irony of earnest reporting getting the character nowhere and ridiculous scandal giving her professional opportunities.
apophenium, "As the Storm Groaned Low"
Overall: Good premise, some good moments, but feels kind of rushed/with an overly broad scope. I'd prefer to see this story focused in on Bobbi and Monte in the storm shelter, with Gregory in a supporting role; I'm not sure the zoom-out is really necessary.
* I feel like the description of the murder Mercedes would be better off if it were a bit less... clinical? Right now, the horror is sort of lost. I suspect this might be another victim of the rush-through/exposit problems of the week.
* Seriously -- the meat of this story is the confrontation in the storm shelter, and the ending with the broader fate of the characters isn't really necessary. I respect your attempt to cover everything further, but focus on a single scene would have helped to develop the characters. I still don't know that I have a great feel for Monte after this piece, which is a shame, because "dude who's convinced that a union job will win him his ex back to the point that he murders her current husband and doesn't see that as a dealbreaker" has a lot of potential for a really messed-up character portrait.
* Gregory feels a little vestigial to the plot at play. I'd probably either move him to the background on the rewrite or give him something compelling to do in the storm-shelter scene.
Crain, "How to Dispose of a Body at the Bottom of the World."
Overall: Good integration of plot elements from the prompt and one of the stronger plot progressions of the week, but a really breathless/expository pacing to get through all of it, to the story's detriment. Trimming would have helped. Good use of setting. The characters are serviceable, although I'd cut Merrill; he doesn't add much besides ticking off a prompt-fulfillment box.
* The "things Silas has killed in Antarctica" refrain is really good! This was a standout bit for me in a piece that didn't have much time for style otherwise.
* The seal eating a hard drive is pretty contrived, but I can understand how this needed to get the plot going. I'd probably try to make this a little more plausible on a rewrite, but, y'know, Thunderdome isn't really a venue for having a lot of time to mull over ideas.
* You may want to work on precision in blocking. I got the action in the helicopter sequence eventually, but it took a couple of reads. Complicated physical action like this is difficult to convey in prose; more precise detail helps.
cptn_dr, "Call-Con 40"
Overall: A solid story that goes the extra mile with devotion to its premise, which I appreciate. Nice straightforward plot (dude has impossible goal, tries to social engineer it, all hell breaks loose) executed decently. The characters aren't innovative but are reasonably fun. No huge glaring issues; overall, enjoyable.
* This is another case of "it gets the plot going, so let it go, and yet I wonder:" of all the people to try and extort the pen out of, why an obscure calligrapher who has no chance at winning the competition? Why not go for the leader? This didn't break my suspension of disbelief, but I did think about it. (I also vaguely wonder why Jonathan brought his dog to a con, but living in the city of "everyone brings their goddamn dog everywhere," I can buy it.)
* Seriously, I appreciate the attention to detail here. I realize Pen Show is an esoteric setup, and I'm not a massive pen wonk so I can't nitpick, but this passes the smell test readily. Good work.
sparksbloom, "Tip Line"
Overall: A little messy and kind of arbitrary-feeling. The setup is good, but the chain of action once we get into the store gets a little convoluted and contrived for me -- the protagonist very conveniently ending up in the locker with the "heroin," in particular, strains belief a touch. I know you were working under a harsh wordcount limit, but you had several hundred words spare and could have fleshed out the investigation so it wasn't just "protagonist magically stumbles onto plot." Still not sure how the pieces fit together for the ending.
* I recognize that this week had a ton of moving parts and confusion is inevitable, but I'm really not sure I can piece together what's going on towards the end of this story. Is the fake heroin the sign that the real heroin has been stolen (my suspicion, based on your prompt), or that this was all a hoax? Did Annie set the other two up, or is she just an opportunist? If there were machinations here, it'd be nice if they were brought a little more into the light. If it's just an unfortunate chain of events for the protagonist, well, that probably needs to be tightened up.
* I do appreciate your characterization moments. I feel like we get more out of the protagonist than we do from a lot of stories this week, which in a way makes it more unfortunate that their fate seems so arbitrary and disconnected from their actual actions.
Overall: Busy but decent. Fun ideas executed adequately; the gag with the costumes is pretty enjoyable, as is the "Eye of the Osprey"/actual osprey bit. This never quite shines but it never quite falls flat either, with the possible exception of the ending one-liner, about which more in a moment. This feels more cohesive than most of your stories to date, so good work there.
* Why do we get a crack about Monkeyland when we haven't seen a single monkey the entire story? It's apes all the way down. I feel like this was a missed opportunity to have Marino get mobbed by baboons and give the opportunity for a quick simian taxonomy lesson.
Tyrannosaurus, "The Covenant"
Overall: Very strong atmosphere and deft characterization. Much less overt plot than most of the rest of the week, but there's still plenty going on here, and it's executed well. I appreciate the ambiguity of the protagonist's situation, whether she's faithful or witchy or somewhere in between, and the open question of whether that actually matters.
* One of my few quibbles with the story is that the dialogue feels a little over-modern at times (also, I don't like "alright" even as an element of dialogue, I'll admit it), but I think erring on the side of speech that reads naturally to a modern reader was the correct call here. The narrative voices definitely feels period-appropriate.
* I especially like your use of the loft and the dead boy; it's good plot establishment, but it's also wistful and sweet in a story that doesn't have a ton of room for sweetness. It's a nice touch.
CascadeBeta, "Boat Trouble"
Overall: Pretty decent, with relatively low stakes that I assume are intentional given the general theme of cheap shoddiness. Characters are functional but broad; I would have liked to see more personality out of Luca, especially since his choices are driving the narrative. You've got some touches here -- his getting philosophical and "gold gilds the eyes of men" in contrast with the implication that he lives a pretty low-rent life -- but I could use more. Prose is pretty simple but serviceable, with a lot of short sentences.
* Rich is not really very exciting, but he's the fall guy, and I don't know if I can complain about a Texan buffoon as the foil of an Alaska story.
* I've never been to Sitka; is it really this scrubby? I almost wonder if you could have downgraded even farther in terms of panhandle crap towns, but that's extremely nitpicky.
* In general, I'd like to see you do more character work, although I recognize that this wasn't the week for it. You can do brisk plots; let's see the people in those plots start to get more interesting.
QuoProQuid, "Boomtown, or the Resurrection of Sheriff Dunn"
Overall: I'll admit, I'm a sucker for really clever plot developments, and above all else, this piece is clever. The ending got a good "oh, poo poo" out of me, which is about what I was looking for in Fiasco week, so good job. The story overall is solid: nice character work with our leads, and even the thugs are reasonable for what they are.
* Making the saloon girl one of the main protagonists instead of an object of desire was a good call, I think. Tabitha is an excellent foil to Williams, and even if her plan doesn't exactly work out, it's still impressive of her to try. I do appreciate stories where a character can have a flawed plan and not be a total buffoon.
* Thank you for not flinching away from the goriness. This story has a nasty edge, but it needed it.
Overall: A bit sweet and sentimental, but the action and any sense of moral ambiguity gets largely sidelined, which I think is a shame. Lockheed is pretty flat and cartoonish (the bit with the cat is pretty heavy-handed), and he plays his hand way too early; this prevents a really effective tension build. I appreciate your character work but I would have preferred this be a little more subtle.
* I still can't figure out if Jaimie and Alfie are supposed to have a romantic thing going on. That isn't a problem, it's just a thing I'm noting; the ambiguity is fine, too.
* Seriously, this story probably would have been a contender if Lockheed and the showdown had been a little more interesting. I feel like you're making strides in your characterization, though.
Hawklad, "There's No Place Like Home"
Overall: Pretty fun, probably in my top half of the week; might have HM'd if I'd decided to do a decent HM pool this week. The major issue is that the middle is a touch exposit-y and flabby (one single example of Duane's life going to poo poo would have been superior to a litany of Bad Family Things being told about) and so it doesn't feel like the story gets to the meat soon enough, but once the big reveal comes, it's nicely done.
* "Daddles" are a thing someone actually tried to sell, aren't they? They're kind of a brilliant concept for suburban dad money-laundering, if a touch obvious in a "nobody would really buy this" kind of way. Still, Duane is clearly not the world's most subtle money launderer.
* I really liked this paragraph:
"Not married. It's just me and the dogs." Richard's slate eyes locked on him, unwavering. Duane hadn't seen any evidence of dogs.
"Hadn't seen any evidence of dogs" is a little tell-y, but it's still a sleek, unnerving bit of weirdness about Richard.
Fuschia tude, "Scrag"
Overall: This piece was a huge tonal shift from most of the week, but not in a bad way; I wasn't expecting something kind of sweet and low-key, but I think it mostly worked. My major issue with it is that the final scene with Theo and Brother Jonathan feels very exposity and sort of ruins the mood, even if the ending manages to pull things back a bit. If this had been a little more natural throughout, it might have been in the running.
* Where is this set? I don't mind you not actually using Florence, but I'm kind of geographically unmoored here, although I'm also not sure on the timeframe. Were there medieval monks with names like "Brother Jonathan?" The name "Finn" makes me think this is more Anglo/Nordic, I suppose?
Chairchucker, "Not a Musical Bone in Their Body"
Overall: Kind of a frustrating piece. There are fun setpieces here -- the falling lighting trailer is quite good -- but the entire story feels cartoony, and in the bad "flat and flavorless" way, not the "goofy and bouncy" one. There's no sense of danger or stakes, which means that the skeletons are totally pointless, and the characters are bland. Just kind of falls flat.
* Seriously, why skeletons? There's nothing wrong with a swerve, and you did use a fair number of elements of your prompt, but it really felt like you didn't really want to write your prompt and just sort of wrote what you wanted. Next time, if you're not into taking a risk on the prompt, don't ask for a judge to make a pick for you.
* The first-person aside about the falling effects trailer is kind of jarring and over-wacky, even in a framework where everything is wacky. I didn't have a ton of immersion, but this still broke it.
* I will admit, I chuckled at "the skeletons did not seem overly impressed by them."
Bad Seafood, "Moonshine"
Overall: I like this piece on the whole, but it feels a touch scattered and rushed, with plot that doesn't quite gel. The best part is the character dynamics with Sean and Erika; these are characters I'd love to see more of, and they're plausible for reactions to their totally ridiculous situation. The major issue I had is with Bones's plot. This is clearly where the meat of the stakes are, such as they are -- Bones trying to murder Sean while he's confused and defenseless -- but it's not clear what exactly the motivation is, and it all kind of sputters out before Sean even knows he's threatened. That said, the rest of the story is good fun, and the character work is some of the best of the week.
* The dialogue is nicely handled. This feels at least adequately Scottish without going full typed-out dialect, so it stays very breezy and readable.
* Was the Bones stuff mostly to set up the punchline? That could probably have been more elegant. That said, it's a good punchline.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 03:43|
Week 291 Results: You Are Such a Loser
Overall, the judges were satisfied with this week. No one fell completely on their face and almost everyone made a successful stab at the prompt. I do wish that you would all proofread your stories before you enter, but I guess that is something you can work on in the future.
A Dishonorable Mention goes this week to Unfunny Poster for Undisputed, a story about one guy punching another guy super-hard amid awkward sentences and zero characterization.
The Loss goes to Lazy Beggar's Alone in the Dark, which none of the judges could make any sense of beyond the protagonist's suicidal guilt. It was an odd piece that probably didn't fulfill the prompt and also contained weird tense changes. (Please proofread your stories)
An Honorable Mention goes to Jay W. Friks's Everything At Once. Judges disagreed on what specifically they liked about this story, but we all found something really compelling about this mad science experiment gone wrong.
The Win goes to Thranguy for Sub Luna Saltamus. It was a fun story that mixed middle-school drama with magic and eldritch horror in a way that all the judges really appreciated. Nicely done, despite the many, many typos.
Throne is your's Thranguy.
QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at Mar 6, 2018 around 06:41
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 06:03|
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 06:06|
You Are Such A Loser Crits, Part I
The most striking thing about this story is the stilted, detached prose. Excerpts like, “The walk to the cage served as his final few moments to mentally prepare himself for this final test” read more like the bad translation of an old Japanese movie than it does a work of serious fiction. I would trim down and sharpen your sentences. Cut out unnecessary words and avoid passive voice. I’d also recommend taking a look at “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White.
Narratively, there’s not much that happens in this story. Gordon seems to spend a lot of time walking up to stage (like five paragraphs of this guy walking or reminiscing, jesus christ), followed by him punching really good, followed by him getting his lights knocked out. He is apparently devoted to fighting, but the reader doesn’t get any implied or explicit motivation beyond “i wanna be the best in the world.” Meanwhile, Carlucci might as well be a mechanized punching glove for all the development he receives. It all ends up being a bunch of very boring descriptions of punches.
The ending is abrupt, perhaps intentionally, and seems to make the entire fight pointless. He fails, thus fulfilling the prompt, but it fails to do anything interesting with that failure.
Everything at Once
This is a cool, little story that reminds me of an old radio drama. Person goes to extreme lengths to counteract their own mortality. Person is punished for their hubris. It’s a Frankenstein story, except the protagonist is the monster as well as the doctor.
The relationship between Lois and Henry is pretty typical for this kind of story. I could nitpick about a few things, like how easily Henry is convinced to conduct unsanctioned, experimental brain surgery on his wife and how capable Lois seems. You do a poor job of showing her deterioration in the first two sections and, besides her musings on death, she seems pretty functional. Alzheimer’s disease seems to have little if any effect on her. I could have done without most of the techno-babble.
The final part of this story stands head and shoulders above the rest of it. I’m admittedly a bit of a sucker for surrealist descriptions and descents into madness, but I admire how you’ve described the confluence of Lois’s past and present into a singular moment. I could, again, make some nitpicky comments (mainly related to grammatical errors and typos), but I find this section strong overall. Not a hugely ambitious ending, but one that makes sense given the events that preceded it.
Alone in the Dark
I read this story twice to try and understand it and I’m still not entirely sure what happens in it, which… is generally not a good sign. A man tries to jump into a black hole because he misses his brother? He does so with a lot of tense changes? Not sure if intentional?
The problem with this story is that I cannot see into your head to understand the too-clever poeticisms scattered throughout. I do not understand what your opening paragraph means. Nor do I understand what you mean with sentences like:
“In one report there was a loaded gun waiting for me. It wasn’t even my brother’s name. It wasn’t even close, but it had always felt similar to me.”
I have no idea what you are trying to say. I don’t know if your nameless protagonist has found files on his missing brother, or if he’s found files that cover-up his brother’s death, or if he’s found his own files and they remind him of his brother, or if he’s just having some weird hallucination. Does the protagonist even have an actual brother? I can’t rely on context clues because there are few if any details about any particular element. I get the sense that you cut out a lot to fit the word limit.
I don’t hate this piece. I can see the outlines of some interesting ideas and some well-written sentences, even if they are hidden behind indecipherable imagery. But, taken as a whole, this submission would need some major additions to be coherent. I know nothing about the protagonist except that he misses his brother. I know nothing about the Empire. I know nothing about the crime problems that this black hole causes. I have no context.
Also, I’m not sure if the protagonist really fails at anything? Like, he attempts to steer his ship into a black hole and that’s going to take a super-long time, but it seems like he’ll reach it eventually.
Sub Luna Saltamus
This is another story that plays to my tastes. Fun, playful use of the prompt and flash rule. The mixture of the sacred and the profane. Memento Mori in Middle School.
Putting aside my personal interests, there’s a lot to like here. The setting feels real and fun. I really enjoy the dialogue and think that it sells the characters. The conflict manages to be both entertaining and genuinely engrossing. I find the idea of some dumb kids summoning an eldritch queen instead of Queen Elizabeth II and being forced into a danse macabre to be very amusing. Story is mostly well-written and I don’t have any serious objections to the prose. Ending works well.
If I was going to find some fault with this story, I would probably point to the typos that interrupt the flow at key moments of action (e.g. “I danced to the center of the room, to Her, and three the salt and mostly sodium cheese powder in her face”). I also really enjoy the opening conversation with Darren and Paolo and was a little disappointed to see them fade into the background once the action starts. Charlotte is amusing in how straight-faced she is to the carnage, but she doesn’t drop any particularly memorable lines. The middle part of the story probably goes on for too long and could be condensed downward.
So, all in all, strong entry. Possible winner. Wouldn’t mind reading a longer version of this at some point.
To Shoot for the Moon and Miss
Two stories about someone stranded on a spaceship this week. Luckily, this one handles the scenario better.
I’m in two minds about this piece. On one hand, it’s an easy read. The sentence-level prose is well-done. The imagery is evocative. The internal narration gives me a good sense of the protagonist’s hopes, fears, and anxieties. On the other hand, the piece feels very… insubstantial. Part of that is a result of the short length (and you really should be commended on how much you convey in a short time), but I can’t help but feel that some elements are under-explained or insufficiently justified. I can sympathize but not really understand the unnamed protagonist’s mapping mission because I know nothing about it. Nor do I feel like she ruminates enough on her end decision.
Ultimately, I think my issue with this story is that it feels like a lost opportunity. Maybe you have no interest in continuing this story, but the imagery you conjure up makes me want more. Possible HM.
An Unlikely Uprising
jesus christ, another story with a typo and in the opening line too
The typos, all-caps, and unnecessary vulgarity make this piece look amateurish. It’s not horrible, but the piece is unpolished and suggests that the writer is relatively new to writing. I like the obsessive nature of the protagonist, but the sentence-level writing isn’t polished enough for me to become really invested in him. Other than being a wacky homeless guy with mental illness (which is kind of sad but is treated as funny by the piece), there’s nothing that really keeps my interest.
The ending section with the exchange between the two men seems a little too on the nose for my taste. Their dialogue is very clunky and artificial. It doesn’t read like a conversation that two people would have. I’m also not sure the change in perspective is really beneficial to your story and think it might have been better to remain focused on the narrator.
Mine is the Blood of Wolf and Deer
Hm. Interesting piece.
This is not a story that would work if the writer weren’t capable of writing compelling dialogue and characters. Yet, you manage to do just that. Though our perspective of the (nameless?) protagonist is limited to his therapy sessions and his dreams, the reader gets a very good sense of his unhappiness and frustrations, even as he struggles to articulate it. I really enjoy the repetition of the title throughout the piece and how it serves as an increasingly important mantra.
Dr. Shao and Genghis Khan, meanwhile, are both interesting characters. Both have compelling reasons to help the protagonist and justifications for the advice that they provide. The translation is a cool element that I might not have considered and I enjoy the difficulties it provides on both sides of the equation. It’s simultaneously amusing and investing. The other judges found the dialogue to be a bit stitled, but I had no such problems.
I’m generally a little hesitant about using molestation as a story element, even if implied. While I think you handle the matter with grace and decency, it doesn’t seem as well-integrated into the piece as the other elements. There’s nothing particularly about the protagonist’s conversations that suggests or foreshadows that particular problem until the final section. Were I to rework this, I would give some thought to how I could better tie the ending to what precedes it.
Otherwise, well done. Possible HM.
QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at Mar 6, 2018 around 06:42
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 06:08|
week 291 crits
week 291 crits
Best -> worst
Antivehicular - Win
Thranguy - HM
Jay W Friks - HM
Apophenium - DQ/DM
Lazy Beggar - Lose
This story is a lot of telling. You tell me that he’s a good fighter and is prepared, but never once show me. By the time the fight starts I have no idea who this guy is other than somebody that thinks they’re going to win because they trained so hard. Isn’t that literally every single athlete?
The fight goes the way fights in writing often do: pretty stale series of events that do little to help me really care about what is happening. What is “round blood?”
Overall I’d classify this as “boring and pointless.” What story were you trying to tell here? What was the purpose you wrote this for?
Jay W Friks
You wouldn’t need to inject a CSF replacement directly into the hippocampus, you would inject it into the spine, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinal_anaesthesia. also when you’re injecting into the brain you have a device that holds the head and allows precise needle placement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotactic_surgery. The average reader may not care.
This has a good setup with some really good characterization in the beginning/middle. The end is underwhelming as it just kinda states the way things are now and there’s no feedback/reaction to it. I didn’t get the veiny head woman thing (i think it’s just her but you have to be careful with metaphors sounding literal). Adding a tiny bit more to the end would really improve this story, but overall it’s pretty good and definitely the best thing i’ve seen you write in the dome.
You have some tense problems in this, definitely work on fixing those before submitting next time. This sentence is a good example: “I checked today's reports.”
Uh. I’m not clear on what the hell he read in his report, and what the hell happened to his ship. So his main motivation and main climatic consequence are obscured and left dangling in front of my face as vague “reasons.”
You have two spaces between “are crap.” DQ
Yeah i like this one. The 2nd person isn’t jarring, but maybe because i’m a nerd who would totally love to be stranded alone on a spaceship with a shitload of food. This was a good way to approach the prompt, i think. The dude failed, but he learns to revel in his failure and convince himself that this is actually even better. He’s failing up. You start right with the failure and then talk about the ramifications of that failure, where most stories this week build up to the failure then end on it, leaving the reader to guess what it means.
Omg shut up about numbers i don’t care. Ok so i kinda see what you were going for, and in theory, i approve. However, I think you muddled it up a bit in places. This piece could have used a few more editing passes. I think maybe he was trying to poison the birds, but was actually just making more of them come? The police paragraph at the end is a little too long and too on the nose. You should shorten that and then end with one final paragraph of the crazy guy crazying.
I started getting bored with this when you started repeating yourself. I guess you were showing time passing by or something but i said “how long is this loving thing?” and scrolled down to see how much more I’d have to read, which is never a good sign.
There is an uncanny valley aspect to some of this dialog, especially with the therapist. I was afraid for a second you were going to go into some softcore porn or something. Anyway, in a change from some of your other pieces, I actually like the end the best out of the whole thing. Not the “i was molested” part, which felt a bit trite, but the “no, don’t kill him… DESTROY HIM” bit. Is the thing he tried and failed was to be happy? That sucks.
I stopped reading after your second section. I just couldn’t get into the thing. This guy is in the afterlife on a sand planet named lucifer and he really misses his dogs or something? I dunno, but I just didn’t really care. I wasn’t sure where he was or why he was there, and why it really mattered that he return to his dogs just because he said he likes them a lot. You can’t just tell the reader that stuff matters, you have to earn that by showing me that he loves his dogs. Overall it’s a bit too purple and drags on a bit too long to catch my attention.
A nicely written trope that’s common in all the familiar ways, but isn’t terribly exciting. I feel like i’ve seen this a billion times, and while written competently, there’s not much going for it. I liked the part where he’s sitting on the couch, but don’t really care that his son was a priest or that the sister was gregnant. If this was in the middle of something more exciting and I knew these characters, it would fit perfectly and i’d say “that was lovely,” but on its own i just think “this is boring.”
I’m not quite sure when this dude is on the island and when he’s on a boat. Overall I’m confused at what this story is about. I think it’s some guy dreamed about somebody telling him there’d be a paradise so he sets out to find it, finds the island but it sucks, and then he’s like “i should leave” but then “nah, don’t want that kid to yell at me.”
What you did good here was provide a sense that this story is taking place in a larger world where a bunch of poo poo is happening off screen that our char knows about but we don’t. I like that, but it needs to have a bit more meat and clarity on this guys purpose and outcome.
No, but serious typos hurt your story. I had to go back to figure out what “and three the salt and mostly sodium cheese powder in her face” was supposed to say. Not good for literally like the huge action of your story to that point. “that out the one.” these typos are super jarring and honestly if push comes to shove will probably keep you from the top spot this week.
Anyway I like this story on its own, but I don’t feel like they tried to do something hard and failed, necessarily. They failed in their original revenge, but he succeeded in defeating her and making her break up with her boyfriend, which seemed like the harder aspect of the story, and in the end they got their revenge, like some sort of rube goldberg revenge machine. So i really felt like you cheated the prompt with this one, and argued against the win for that reason, but the other judges liked it better than the other high mark story this week so YOU GOT LUCKY.
Overall this has a bunch of Thranguyesque details that I really like, such as a kid running python scripts in his head and dancing magic.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 06:33|
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." - L. P. Harley
This week, I'm inviting the dome to delve into the realm of the historical, the period piece, and tell a story set far back in the misty reaches of time, to an era so impossibly ancient that the customs of the time nearly defy comprehension. That's right: this week I want stories set in that distant reach of time: the eighties.
You can tell straight historical fiction, or mix in some genre elements. The only restriction is that your entire story must be set somewhere between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989. Also, no fanfic(!), erotica, screeds, google docs, poetry, etc. And, again, nothing set after 1989 in any way: no time travelers from the future, no framing sequences in the modern day. (Flashbacks to before the eighties are acceptable, if you must.)
1989 words max
You may ask any judge or combination of judges for a flash rule (hopefully I'll nail down cojudges who are up to doing this quickly), which will be in the form of a piece of eighties history, music, or other pop cultural ephemera..
Signups close Friday 11:59 AM Pacific time.
Submissions close Monday 1:00 Pacific time, just so the east coasters don't lose an hour
Jay W. Friks
A Classy Ghost
Thranguy fucked around with this message at Mar 10, 2018 around 08:59
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 07:10|
Sand’s Crit Battle Royale
Thunderdome Week 291:
Alright, Gladiators: I’m here, I’m ready, I’m guzzling some questionably good wine. Judge-Emperor Sand’s on the hunt for narrative blood, so swing them word counts and fire some prose, ‘cause no one’s story is walking outta this arena unscathed. Release the Crits of War.
Warrior #1: Unfunny Poster
The Battle: Ah an MMA fighter on his way to a championship bout against an opponent he’s sure to defeat? Well I can see where this is going, but hopefully you surprise me/capture my attention. Well, one paragraph in and we have some comma issues and a sentence that reads awkwardly:
Mixed Martial Arts is a challenging sport in that regard and Gordon was at the top of his game, making the walk towards a title fight being watched by several million people around the world.
Let’s try rewriting the sentence to read:
Mixed Martial Arts is a challenging sport in that regard, and Gordon was at the top of his game. This title fight walk was being watched by several million people around the world.
Breaking this down into two separate sentences prevents it from being run-on, which it was before, as well as preserves the sort-of snapshot sentence structure you’ve been using to reveal Pierce’s thoughts throughout. Well let’s move on to the battle! Well he got some good licks in, and the way you write the fight is pretty good, so I hope you carry this to the ending.
Annnnd… Nope. You run out of steam in the last couple of paragraphs as you wrap it up. I would have either dedicated a few more paragraphs to the resolution, or at least stuck with the snapshot quality of your first paragraphs.
The Good: I like Pierce’s characterization; he’s eager, but overconfident, and that showed in your word choice and his lack of focus when it counted. The description of the fight itself was well choreographed and was easy to follow along with as well. You also delivered a good, if fairly straight forward, take on this weeks prompt.
The Bad: Your sentence structure, especially in the final paragraphs, are too choppy. With several comma issues, some missing and some where they aren’t supposed to be, the reader is forced to pull themselves out of the action and guess at the pacing instead of drifting along naturally. Dramatic flow, the way the audience follows the action with the same sense of tension as the POV character, is vital in a short story in order to maintain engagement and raise the stakes. By being stingy with the length and detail of the various emotions Pierce is feeling as he processes what happens in the story, you lose the deep emotional impact you would have gleaned from an enraptured audience. Additionally, I felt the ending was too abrupt and left me with questions that the story didn’t address enough to be a satisfactory pay off.
The Ugly Truth: Overall, the story was sort of a predictable competition storyline that lived and died on its presentation of the action and the reader’s investment in the characters. But well written action and a good setup couldn’t withstand poor grammatical choices and a cutoff ending.
⅖: Mauled by Lion in MMA Gear
Warrior #2: JayWFriks
Weapon: Everything at Once
The Battle: Ah, this is gonna be sad/creepy, isn’t it? I’m a sucker for psychological horror, and the look into the existential crisis of an Alzheimer's victim definitely fits the bill, so you have an advantage right of the bat. I like how you heavily hint at the themes without giving away exactly what’s going on, it allows the reader to sort of fill in the blanks. Oh, so we’re TP Omnipresent. Bit of a let down, I’d have liked to stay in our victim protag’s head for the duration but dealers choice, i guess. Aww, you spelled out the alzheimer’s issue. Hmmm, a bit too explanatory, and your pacing here around the accident reveal is odd, but it’s not a mortal wound. I like this, very good use of sentence structure to show her mind unraveling. Wait a sec, how did she get back home from the hospital, and why would Henry take her back if she’s obviously in the throws of chemical induced dementia? I dunno if it’s a plothole or just a spiraling ending, but it’s kinda vague.
The Good: There’s a lot to like here. As I said, I enjoy this style of story, and I think the way you translate alzheimer's and psychosis is excellently creepy. I also like that you addressed the prompt with both vantage point characters, in that they both sealed Lois’ fate in equal measure.
The Bad: I still think sticking with Lois’ perspective would have been the way to go; the Henry delivering the procedure scene was unnecessary and bogged down the drama in Act Two. Better that it was just Lois’ thoughts as she went under the anesthesia or something. The disappointing factor here is that I think you hedged your bets and tipped your hand too far. You were maintaining good tension and suspense, but you didn’t seem to give your reader much credit in making their own conclusions, and the over explanation of the procedure itself and some repetition near the end muddled the story a bit.
The Ugly Truth: I really liked this story, and despite some odd perspective and narrative choices at times, the majority of the prose flowed nicely to a twisted end. Poor Lois.
⅘: Poisoned into spiraling madness by a Hydra whose last head you missed
Warrior #3: Lazy Beggar
Weapon: Alone in the Dark
The Battle: Hmmm, i sense existential crisis. IN SPACE!!!!! I don’t really care for scifi, but we’ll see how it goes. There’s quite a bit of exposition dump in the beginning, which I’d prefer be spread out a bit, and WOW this guy seems dangerously depressed. Like, why is he allowed to captain a ship in this obvious state of grief/suicidal thoughts? The mirror cliche is also present in full force, but at least he’s not describing his haggard visage or anything, so I can’t it that much. Yep, just as I thought, suicidal urges to get sucked in a black hole, drat this is stark. The unauthorized flight path bit and the engines going out seems kinda tacked on, he was obviously going to force himself into the breach anyway. So. This ends with lots of questions, but the one I’m most curious about is the use of the prompt. Where’s the mistake? I suppose it could have been the brother’s death, somehow? I dunno it seems like he definitely tries and succeeds at dooming himself and his ship to getting crushed by the blackhole and ‘seeing the other side’.
The Good: I liked your setting, and felt that you had excellent details in both the description of the ship itself and the mental state of the POV character.
The Bad: That being said, the protagonist is sort of one dimensional in his suicidal depressive guilt, and I think a nice contrast even just to outline how dark his countenance really has become would have been welcome. Additionally, some of the later parts are clunky, especially the file-ex-machina and the bumper course on the way to the black hole, and I think it may have been better to clean the end up a bit.
The Ugly Truth: Unfortunately I just couldn’t see through what the protagonist’s main trial was. Unless it was how quickly he could destroy himself, which he didn’t seem to fail, in which case the prompt isn’t really there. This issue along with the poor pacing kinda leaves me confused and depressed, and not in a good way.
⅖: Eaten by a sand worm and warped into a black hole
Weapon: Sub Luna Saltamus
The Battle: Hey I like this song. Let’s see what we’ve got. Hmmm, this veered from buddycomedy into creepypasta territory methinks. I like. Ah, couple comma issues in the middle, nothing egregious so far, but this is coming up enough in this week I may do a rant to stem the tide. I see another witch is in their midst. Teach those boys a lesson, eh? I’m a bit confused as to what exactly is going on in the background, the characters obviously aren’t in a vaccum and it seems odd that this would be treated so casually in public, but whatever, I’ll suspend disbelief. Horror ensues! And… Retcon. I like the ending though, very satisfactory feeling of fullness on a short story.
The Good: This was well written, with a good balance of horror/surreal imagery and campy humor that screamed 1970s/80s B movie in a cool way. Also, way to go on nailing the disaster for the prompt with a happy ending to boot.
The Bad: There were few grammatical errors, which made them a bit jarring when they appeared, and the action was a little complicated for its length.
The Ugly Truth: I really liked this one, I felt it struck a nostalgic cord while still being a nic compact short story, and the use of the prompt was spot on.
5/5:Battered and bloody from the Lamprey fight, but still ready for round 2
Weapon: To Shoot for the Moon and Miss
The Battle: This one’s pretty short, let’s see if it packs a punch. Oh no, second person. My bane for good immersion. But hey, I’ll see how it goes maybe it’ll grow on me. Hmmm, accidentally sending myself into a mortal hell of isolation? Sounds like something I’d do, checks out. Well, I was hooked but the story begins losing speed in the 5th and 6th paragraphs where I just can’t agree with the POV character. It’s petty, but one of the reasons I dislike second person is that when it hits it hits well, and when it misses is far more than overshoots the moon. Personally, I can see a character making the choice to go on, but my cowardly rear end would nope right the gently caress back into a coma. Other than that it’s well told for the short time it’s there, and it’s a nice creepy space interlude [the second one so far. Will there be another?]
The Good: I liked the presentation, and the writing itself was well done. I definitely enjoyed this take on a scifi horror that doesn’t immediately jump into ALIENS!!!!
The Bad: Man, I really wish this was in Third Person. I’m of the mind that
Second Person is a dangerously volatile chemical. When it burns right it’s a shining piece of fiction that sticks with you in a personal part of your mind. But when it blows up, which it often does, it takes the immersion with it.
The Ugly Truth: This is a supremely claustrophobic and unnerving premise and I would have loved the character study if it wasn’t using me and my stupid brain in the driver’s seat.
⅗: Launched into the frozen abyss of space.
Warrior #6: BabyRyoga
Weapon: An Unlikely Uprising
The Battle: Is that a typo in sentence one? Hmmm. Luckily it seems to have been rectified later on, and the use of sentence structure to convey the fractured thoughts is a nice touch. Oh my, the King is quite mad. My god, AHAHAHA that got me. Nice transition , didn’t see the man in the park coming. Now this is some good exposition dialogue, and the tonal/structure shift is pronounced and welcome. I also didn’t catch how he was hoping to kill the ducks but instead made them healthier.
The Good: This made me laugh and I loved the way it continued to subvert my expectations. The prose was a bit janky in the beginning, but found it’s way very quickly and I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t intentional, so kudos on that. Excellent use of the prompt, and overall a nice command of tone and structure.
The Bad: A bit vague and choppy in the beginning before I’m quite ready to let you take me on a ride. Clean up the first part and buy the reader dinner first so they can settle in for the fun.
The Ugly Truth: A fun, subversive take on the prompt that I greatly enjoyed with few flaws that I can’t really nail down as mistakes.
5/5: Flew straight out of the Arena on the back of some particularly rebellious waterfowl
Weapon: Mine is the Blood of Wolf and Deer
The Battle: Oh boy, the psychologist’s chair. And schizophrenic? Let’s find out if we’re going accurate and sensitive or Hollywood crazy, shall we? Hmmm, seems kinda janky with the lines, can’t put my finger on it but the dialogue seems stilted. This is a bit confusing, and not in a dreamy way, but more muddled I guess? I’m not sensing any real agency here. I get that he’s talking through this dream, but the therapist sounds like a cardboard cutout with a voice box of preloaded therapy questions. I had to double check and make sure you didn’t accidentally copy paste, it seems very repetitive in the third quarter. Well, that was an abrupt ending. Gotta say I was a bit relieved to finish, there wasn’t much of a hook and it was hard to follow.
The Good: It was well written, there weren’t any major typos or grammatical blunders which is good for the odd structure choices.
The Bad: Yeah, gotta say I’m confused by this one. Did he kill his therapist? Did he fire her? Is he vanishing into his delusion? Overall the prose was stilted and the plot was too difficult to follow to ensnare my attention.
The Ugly Truth: A well written jumble of plotlines I can’t be bothered with trying to untangle.
⅖: Dosed with snake poison and forced to live in delusion on the battlefield
Weapon: Lucifer Burning Bright
The Battle: Wait a second. Who’s this contender? He’s not on the docket… Ah well, we’ll DQ him and throw his body in the pit later, for now let’s see him battle! Hmmm. So a march in purgatory wanting only for… his dogs? Okay. I’m confused. So has he been in hell for eons? If so, I’m afraid his animals are quite, quite dead. This is a bit flowery, but I get the vibe your striving for. “Stuck in hell? Shop here at deus ex machina car emporium, we’ve got cooled leather seats for all your ritualistic needs!” So it wasn’t millenia, only in his mind? And now he’s a ghost. But no one can see him so he becomes a dustcloud and… goes back to hell? Wow that’s depressing. Still, I like the writing style here, and despite my ambivalence to the plot it was well executed. Just like you will be for entering without entering. Off with his head!
The Good: Well written and easy to follow structure once the reader wraps their head around it, and a likeable POV Character.
The Bad: The story is a bit boring, too listless and depressing to inspire much more than apathy in the absence of a more clear setup or build-up to the reveal that he is intangible to everyone.
The Ugly: Overall, a functional if lifeless story that meets the basics of this week. Much like Dalton.
⅗ *DQ: dragged off to the pit after round 1
Warrior #9: BadSeaFood
Weapon: The Vantage Point
The Battle: I see we’re starting with some symbolism. The son is a priest, so I’m guessing we’re gonna delve into some death stuff. I like the parallels in the descriptions of the father and the couch, this and a couple other things so far are good examples of exposition without forcing it down our throats. No! So close! I really liked the back and forth between the two, not so repetitive but giving little pieces to the puzzle. But then you go and spoil it by having Felix straight up tell the audience the answer “Dad was alcoholic, and not there, and let us down, etc.” When you were trusting the reader to make the connections, even if they were the wrong ones, your story had much more presence and scope. That said, the simple and understated ending redeemed it for me a bit.
The Good: The dialogue and premise are great. Just enough cliche with a peppering in of realism. A satisfying, if curt, ending that really lands the tone well.
The Bad: Breaking the immersion with an unnecessary exposition dump was jarring in an otherwise solid piece.
The Ugly Truth: Cliche, but that’s not always a bad thing, a little more trust and this would have flowed beatifully.
⅗: Forced to watch the Lion drive away, leaving them with only bitter scotch and bitter memories of what could have been.
Warrior #10: Flesnolk
The Battle: Well that’s colorful prose. The writing is a bit stilted even for this style, wait… Where’s the commas? Ah I get it. This is supposed to be sort of a slideshow effect? Well it kind of works if that’s the case, but I still have to ding you on the sentence structure, as some of these sentences NEED commas in order to read correctly even in this format. I would reword the sentences so that we get the same impact without having to mentally add our own commas, since it kind of defeats your point. At least I hope that’s what it is, because otherwise we need a comma intervention. Anyway, the subject matter is pretty vibrant and evocative, but with some of these other typo/grammatical errors it becomes muddled and muted. Dark and depressing contrasts well here, so goodjob making me feel miserable. I like it.
The Good: Brave take on narrative structure, and good use of imagery and senses in order to convey your rotting version of the apocalypse.
The Bad: Your restrictive use of punctuation tends a bit too tight and cuts off the circulation to your story, especially in the beginning set up.
The Ugly Truth: An interesting story with a risky gamble I must commend you on attempting, but that I’m afraid flounders a bit in the execution.
3/5: Trampled by a cavalcade of commas carrying on creepily
Alright, the blood has been spilled, the wine has been drunk, and the commas restored to their rightful place. Good Job everyone who didn’t fail, and see ya next time.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 07:18|
I am judging for Winabi.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 07:22|
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 08:28|
In, lets get tubular, dudes.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 09:04|
In like the bobbing frosted tips of jon bon jovi
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 09:30|
I'm bad, I'm bad, really really bad.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 10:06|
Also thanks for the crits. Will post/ask questions in the IRC when I can for some clarifications on them.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 10:09|
flash me chucker
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 11:14|
I’m not a judge this week but here are some extra crits I wrote anyway. Instead of thanking me for writing them, read someone else’s story and give them a crit of your own. Especially if they are fresh blood.
Something I disliked: It is important to determine when to withhold information from your reader and when not to. “On the fifth day his sleep ended when an almighty force rose under his boat and nearly capsized it.” This whole paragraph is a descriptor for an unknown entity. Why not reveal that it is a whale from the from the very beginning? “Silent and monolithic it” to “Silent and monolithic the dead whale.” I guess what I’m trying to say is… work on your timing? Be more intentional? Yes, that’s it. Be more intentional. Of course, this is the last submitted story so there’s a possibility you were just racing the clock idk
Something I liked: When you do time things right, your descriptions are subtle. Haunting. They hint of something more with very few words. That’s hard to do. “A featureless child tall enough to be his.” “... as well he knew he had nine fingers left.” “It was already cooked with flesh bubbling and blackened from firefall.”
Something I disliked: ho boy alright so there is the possibility that you’re going to win with this and then my critique is going to look kinda dumb but here we go: the quality is all over the place. When you relax and let your words go to work then it’s really, really nice. “He placed the bottle on a cinder block. There were always a few cinder blocks.” “I lived my life for you. If that's not enough, I don't know what is.” These are good. But then you get in your own way a lot too: “Felix was a long, thin man, almost spider-like, but his eyes betrayed a closeted warmth. He wore a priest's cassock and carried a bottle.” “You've been a shadow all my life dad. Ever-present but...undefined. I don't know anything about you dad. I'm grateful but you're just this hazy shape.” These feel so clumsy it’s almost disorienting. Overly wordy. Rushed.
Something I liked: Like I said above, when you’re on… you’re on.
Something I disliked: This is difficult subject matter regardless of how it’s approached.
Something I liked: Everything. All of it. A well written, multi-layered piece that I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience. Thank you.
Something I disliked: ALL CAPS SCREAMING I DONT LIKE ALL CAPS SCREAMING. Personal preference.
Something I liked: There's a good chance you'll eat a dm on this. And I can see why. There are definitely problems. You switch character perspectives which is very difficult to pull off well. And you do it in a 1000 word story. And you switch from first person to third person when you do it. You also write from the perspective of a damaged mind which is likewise difficult to nail. And you take a long time to let your reader know exactly what's going on. With all that being said, though, I like your story here. I think you tackle a complex concept. I appreciate that you approach a damaged character with grace. And, when I reread it, I think your voice for Jasper is well-done. Well-written. Your weakness comes from the slight unbelievability in the reaction of the two other men. If Vince is homeless and harassing other guests, he's probably going to be escorted off. That's just the way the world works. I like that the men are kind and see him as harmless. Take away Vince's aggression towards other patrons. Maybe make him the senile old former caretaker or something. Give him a relationship to your other characters. I wouldn't dm this. That last mental image of him setting with “deep existential dread” is rad.
Something I disliked: idk maybe the title is a little too on the nose?
Something I liked: Short and sweet and second-person
Something I disliked: The ending feels weird. I think you had to force your story to end the “right” way so it would fit the prompt.
Something I liked: Great hook and never lets go
Something I disliked: You couldn't do what you wanted here with the word count you had. There is too much background information to crunch through and not enough space to let it breathe. Too much stuff that needed to be described but not enough words to do it well. Everything gets shrunk. You should have toxxed for the extra 750.
Something I liked: Weird space sci-fi stuff? Always a fan.
Jay W. Friks
Something I disliked: Pacing is weird in the beginning where you searched for your footing. Post surgery everything picked up. The dialogue isn't particularly great. “I trust you” should be apart of the paragraph above it.
Something I liked: Just a loving dope concept. I love the madness. I love this story.
Something I disliked: You choreographed a fight. That's kind of boring. There needs to be something more to a character's motivation than "I've trained so hard for this!" Something personal. Relatable. Think about professional wrestling. There is always something more to a given fight than just two grown rear end men playing grab rear end, right? You gotta give your reader something more. Give us a story.
Something I liked: No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn is a good intro song.
Plus one more for the disqualified
Something I disliked: This should have been your opening: "Some literature pointed to a total resurrection à la Lazarus, awakened in a tomb back to his own flesh, as if from a slumber. Yet others whispered of returning as a ghost, to witness actions left interrupted by death. Dalton was resigned to either, though the former would be more fulfilling. What good being back with your dogs if you couldn’t pet them or feel their clumsy kisses?" That's funny and engaging. All the poo poo before it is unnecessary. Always always always go back and cut your unnecessary openings.
Something I liked: The dog names made me laugh. I liked when we got to the actually planning part. I liked how Lucifer's sands gently caress with what you want.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 11:30|
flash me chucker
This is my favourite 80s NZ hit
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 11:40|
In with a fffffffff-flash!
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 13:13|
Thanks for the Week 291 crits, folks. They're much appreciated.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 13:17|
Thanks for the Week 291 crits, folks. They're much appreciated.
I'll get mine in.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 13:50|
Before my failure toxx from last week kicks in, this week I am In with a perma-. Flash rule me.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 16:29|
Before my failure toxx from last week kicks in, this week I am In with a perma-. Flash rule me.
Just toxx each week.
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 19:26|
In, flash please
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 19:57|
In, can I get flash rules from both the current judges?
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 19:59|
In with a fffffffff-flash!
Hands Across America
Before my failure toxx from last week kicks in, this week I am In with a perma-. Flash rule me.
In, flash please
In, can I get flash rules from both the current judges?
The 1980 Eruption of Mount St. Helens
|# ? Mar 6, 2018 22:32|
Thanks for the Week 291 crits, folks. They're much appreciated.
Thanks for the week 290 crit!
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 06:24|
In, can I get flash rules from both the current judges?
You sure may.
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 07:00|
Eeee I'm a judge now. I want to flash people
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 07:39|
Also, I owed Exmond a crit. Week 288: Story of a Muse
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 17:50|
Also, I owed Exmond a crit. Week 288: Story of a Muse
Hah story of my life! Thank you for the crit!
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 20:19|
You Are Such A Loser Crits, Part II
The Vantage Point
I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed when I saw who wrote this. While the prose is largely competent and occasionally hits on interesting imagery (“He placed the bottle on the cinder block. There were always a few cinder blocks”), there’s a lot that strikes me as schmaltzy and overwrought. Lines like, “his eyes betrayed a closeted warmth” and “his sphinx-like face” are neither original nor evocative.
The narrative is fine. It does the same things that these kind of stories always do: The alcohol; the staring off into the sunset; the implied but not outright cancer. The son as a priest is an original but underdeveloped addition to this kind of well-worn story and I wish you would have given it more thought. The dialogue, at parts, feels clumsy to me, which is a shame for a story that relies so heavily on it. There’s nothing that is bad outright, but the exchanges feel clunky.
This feels very much like a first draft to me. I’m not sure if you were rushing for time, but I know you can do better.
I’m not a huge fan of vague, undefined apocalypses unless they are written by Cormac McCarthy. Unfortunately, there’s not much to this story beyond that. The protagonist (also nameless??) has a weird dream, wanders around an empty, ruined world, and dies (?). Again, this story is so small and barebones that it becomes boring and predictable. Though you were clearly limited by the word count, some additional elements might have helped make this a stronger piece. Maybe the protagonist discovers some people. Maybe he has to ensure a Castaway-esque struggle against nature. Maybe he has to deal with the echoes of his life before this annoyingly vague calamity. Something, anything would have been nice.
The prose is okay, but the (intentional?) exclusion of commas makes some sections difficult to read. I can tell that you are trying to be poetic, but much of the style comes off as overwrought and stitled with its irrelevant details and vagueness. When you are trying to conjure images, make sure that your descriptions do not clash with one another. Also make sure that your reader has a realistic chance of deciphering your meaning.
Lucifer Burning Bright
Most of your first section could be cut without significant losses. I absolutely do not need this extremely boring exposition about something that is made painfully obvious by less obtrusive elements of your story (“resurrection”). I think you are trying to conjure a voice through the narration but the style comes off as unnecessarily purple. I have difficulty focusing on this story for more than a few paragraphs.
The concept itself is actually rather interesting, if told in an odd way. I think your piece would work better as an explicit comedy. The detail of him trying to open mail is genuinely amusing, as is the idea of someone trying to game the spiritual world order with his dogs. The ending feels a bit tacked on, as if you realized you were approaching the word count and didn’t have time to give the main character any resolution.
I could see this being reworked into a stronger entry.
|# ? Mar 7, 2018 21:50|
in, i want the dumbest judge to flash me
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 02:10|
Flash me with some 80's garbage.
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 02:16|
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 02:42|
in, i want the dumbest judge to flash me
I'm pretty sure we're all equally dumb.
(The back page of the instructions for Lego 6386, Police Command Base
(Choplifter, 1982 Broderbund Games)
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 03:12|
Yo exmond, Kaishai pointed out to me that all of my comments on your crit were invisible. Sorry, I didn't shaft you with just one thing at the bottom. You can probably go back and check it now for more detail.
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 03:32|
|# ? Sep 19, 2018 17:09|
|# ? Mar 8, 2018 03:52|