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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

A crit of 3 Hours by Lippincott for no particular reason other than I happened to read and like this so I thought I'd tell you so.

I'm surprised this DM'd. I mean, yes there are punctuation errors, and yes the kids' dialogue is terrible , but overall I thought it was sweet. I enjoyed this little snapshot of a young parent's life. I particularly liked the image of the wet wipes disappearing out the window, and the fact that it is this that made her snap.

The ending made me smile. I liked how such an irrational act (blowing all your savings on a new car that you don't really need and can't really afford) seemed so perfectly logical in that moment. But then, I am partial to slice of life stories like this. Nothing has really changed - her husband has still hosed off to play golf, she's still got two sticky toddlers, and her dad's still sick - and there's not much of an arc or resolution. But I don't mind that; the story is just a little window into her life, and I'm happy that at least now she has air con.

My main criticism is that it's too long for its content. Little slice of life pieces like this I think work best when they're really tight, and this one meanders a bit.

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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

College kids ain't shit


Grimey Drawer

Steel, that was an awesome crit. Thank you!

Chili fucked around with this message at Aug 14, 2018 around 04:15

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




Anomalous Blowout posted:

Arg god drat it. I’m so busy this week but the cards are too good to ignore. In.

Invisible Clergy
Sep 25, 2015

"Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces"

Malachi 2:3


Tyrannosaurus, when we submit, do you want us to include the card with the line we chose as our bingo highlighted, or should we leave that out since it should be self-evident which cells we chose?

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

Invisible Clergy posted:

Tyrannosaurus, when we submit, do you want us to include the card with the line we chose as our bingo highlighted, or should we leave that out since it should be self-evident which cells we chose?

Great question. I definitely want to know how you made bingo. If you're feeling artistic, feel free to highlight your bingo sheet and post it in front of your story. Otherwise, you can just list your choices in italics or spoilers or whatever.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at Aug 8, 2018 around 16:25

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Results for Week CCCXIII: (Were-creatures and) Vampires are Alive



What a race we witnessed between the vampires and the werecreatures for the crown! What a series of races, actually. A few stories should have spent less time chasing their own tails and more time being stories, you know, where stuff happens beyond some dude running? Wouldn't that have been nice? Fewer dots in Obfuscation would also have been appreciated by your STs, and if you get me started on exposition, we'll be here all day. Your entries and I have at least that much in common.

On the whole, though, we had a blast at Thunderdome's birthday party. We really must do this again sometime, and we hope you'll all be able to attend.

THE WINNER: Anomalous Blowout emerges as the bloodsucker supreme after a vicious battle! Her tale of inhuman, immortal love reached satisfying depths and made its flash rules sing.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Entenzahn approached glory with his vampire who loved beauty more than life; Lippincott went places with her story of survival in unusual form; Thranguy earned honors by setting tree frogs on the path of revolution; and Yoruichi could not escape the sharp fangs of our approval. To tell the truth, I doubt she tried that hard. Congratulations to them!

THE LOSERS: You read that right. The judges went back and forth on two stories for so long that we ultimately decided to celebrate Thunderdome's nativity with extra blood. Newcomer Bacon Terrorist gave us a story we could understand but didn't particularly want to, what with all the cliches and the lack of personality in the main character and let us not forget the ninety-seven repeated words. We're still trying to work out what BabyRyoga delivered. It had something to do with twins and stakes and pictures hidden in underwear. In the end, Celeste's projectile vomiting speaks for us all.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS: Alas, the empty-chase stories escaped standing out mostly by being so numerous. That leaves Fumblemouse and his fireflies, CascadeBeta and his fragment of a larger story, Blind Sally and his or her Tinder date gone wrong, and Okua and her blatant metaphor for addiction to stand in the corner and think about what they've done.

Each judge will have plenty to say about the week in due course. For now, thank you again for bringing so much spirit to the party! Thunderdome toasts you with goblets of blood and bids you fair travels when next the moon is full.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at Aug 9, 2018 around 00:21

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Blowout, we'll either make you a custom av or I'll send you a $25 Amazon gift card to whichever email address you privately provide. Your choice!

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


Anyone wanna swap crits hit me up, my Week 313 story for whatever story you want

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Werecritters and Vampoopers: Week 313: The Sixth Anniversary of Thunderdome: Don’t Go Chasing Werepires: Part 1 because it doesn't fit in the 50k character limit

Week summary
I don’t know why there was so much running. Lawyers, hospital hideaways, ultramarathoners, werenewts, werecrocs, wereostriches, dads, and camp killers alike did a great deal of running. Perhaps not advisably; many chase scenes sacrificed almost all other parts of the story. My biggest advice is make sure a race/chase has a purpose for the story and stakes. A lot didn’t. Another strange theme this week was “be as obtuse as possible about putting the details of the prompt in the story.” Assume your reader has not read the prompt. Many stories this week are baffling events without prompt knowledge. Often times there is no way for the reader to identify a power in story, or the weakness just came out of nowhere at the end. Some stories really felt like the author remembered ‘right, the prompt!’ about 75% of the way through and just crammed it in there. Finally, though not as common, please consider whether the gratuitous murder of one or more characters actually benefits your story and serves a purpose in a character arc, the story structure, or a key part of the resolution. If it does not, please don’t. Several stories accidentally murdered their story as they murdered their characters.
===

Crit Format:
Initial Impressions: Stream of consciousness thoughts on my first readthrough
Story Success: Does the story succeed at what it’s trying to do? If it’s a comedy, is it funny? If it’s action, is the action any good? How’s the structure and characters? Setting? Theme? Often I’ll summarize a story back as a way to cut into the structure, conflict, and resolution of the piece.
Other notes: Anything else I want to barf words about
Did U Read The Prompt: I’m very sad I had to add this category, but after so many stories that hid critical information from their reader, I had to. Also some stuff about how well you used your were-creature or vamp powers/weakness.
Rating: Your story summarized as an arbitrary number. The most useless of all feedback, and clearly what you should base your entire self-worth on.

+==+==+==+==+==+

The Curse of the Werenewt
Initial Impressions: Evocative, lots of adjectives. Okay, waiting, hunting. I’m assuming the huntress is the werenewt, so a bit obtuse to hide it. Boy, hunt’s taking a bit, I expect a curse soon. Well, no curses, only hunt. Deus ex ending.
Story Success: This is a story all about predator-prey and The Hunt. The title threw me off. I was expecting a curse, but you meant that just being a werenewt is a curse. But given the supreme regeneration, doesn’t seem all that bad. At the same time, the title mentioning werenewts is a blessing and a (lol) curse. Without it, the end would be a lovely twist. With it, it sort of spoils the end. Without much plot and essentially no characterization, the nice descriptions have to carry the story entirely. They’re nice descriptions, and I can certainly visualize this hunt, but I think this story needs more than just a prolonged hunt. I like the swap of third to first person. I feel like the human portion of the dual mind needed a part in this before hand. The ending is something of a deus ex: She is saved through total inaction, merely because of an ability she possesses but does not consciously control. Presumably, the newt is hunting by instinct, so this is the Ultimate Passive Character, and I don’t think this is a good ending. You’ve got plenty of words left, and I think you needed to use at least some of them.
Other notes: I would not describe a descending, uh, owl, probably, given that it’s night, as a gunshot. There’s also a bit too much of going inside the newt mind. I don’t see any advantage to calling it a ‘young hopping-thing’ over a frog, especially given how you call it a froglet later.
Did U Read The Prompt: Well, yeah. It’s entirely about the werenewt and nothing else. Not even the person.
Rating: 4.5


Flypaper
Initial Impressions: Ohhh second person. Risky! Fortunately, I like second person. *checks what a bowerbird is* sweet birb, let’s go. drat, those parents are loud. Okay, likes to take pictures. Gonna run away. Oh, parents are abusive. Chicken’s out, then some magical realism.
Story Success: First, I don’t mind the second person, but I also don’t think it adds all that much. Okay, the story. This is entirely about the internal conflict of the protagonist. The protagonist hates living at home, because she has abusive parents who also argue a lot. Clearly, she’s been struggling with the leave/go conflict for a long time. You also have magical realism (some bits more clear than others). The father shaking the walls with his voice seems like it, and obviously the talking picture of her sister. She doesn’t want to lose them, because the pictures are… representations of the real thing? Here I’m lost. Why doesn’t she just take the pictures with her too? Is Sara dead? It seems like no. So, maybe the trauma has induced some psychosis in the protagonist. Then you’ve got the magical realism at the end, the most blatant. She wants freedom, but decides to stay anyways. It’s implied she might fly around at the end, so get some sort of partial freedom while she stays, but the ending doesn’t feel satisfying. Implicitly, she’s tried to escape before, so sooner or later the locks get back on and she probably gets a beating. I’m not sure what the best way to proceed is. This story ignores the prompt, but for this second I’ll ignore that. Maybe we need more about why she should stay. Maybe more about how a temporarily open window is an opportunity or powerful symbol to her. Mostly, I feel like we need more from the other characters, like her siblings, if they’re even real. The most important change is how you end the story. It feels most unsatisfying because the story argues for her leaving far better than her staying, and I don’t see how picture-wings help that.
Other notes: Prose is fine, I think we need some more about the pictures she values so much in terms of details. The house having a sort of omnipresent rumbling because of her parents is a nice symbolic detail.
Did U Read The Prompt: Apparently not. You have no were-creature. At best, you have some magical realism where her pictures become wings. The prompt is extremely clear that you should be writing about a were-creature, and you just straight up didn’t. You avoided a DQ because we didn’t think it was a bad faith effort, just perhaps unintentionally overthinking things.
Rating: 4.75


Xavier Lawrence, Vampire Attorney
Initial Impressions: Well, there’s a straightforward prompt interpretation. Obviously the lawyer is evil, okay both judge and the opposite of the defense (offense?) are I guess a werewolf and wererhino? This chase scene sorta sucks. Okay he ran a bunch and had a stash that wasn’t set up at all and kills all the weredudes.
Story Success: The first section is clearly to show that Xavier is a bit of a scumbag, but also to reveal that an entire town is werecritters. So, the rising action and climax of this story make this fundamentally an action piece with some comedy elements. However, your chase scene is boring. I don’t know why nothing but a squirrel attacks him, but there doesn’t feel like any danger to Xavier. The comedy quips are okay, and they do fine lightening the tone, but they’re not all that funny. In the end, nothing about his legal expertise, which the start of the story implies will be important, helps him. I feel like he doesn’t need to be in a legal dead zone to gun down werecritters, as there’s no laws about those. The action is flat. You end with a climax, and there is no resolution.
Other notes: There’s really no characters here besides Xavier, and all we know is he’s a sleazy vamp who pisses of some were-dudes. Make one of the were-creatures a primary antagonist and you spice up the story. That’s easy, because there’s two were-creatures in particular (judge and sad-guy) who are pissed at him already for specific reasons. Then, if you have him cap both of them at the end, you actually can get a resolution.
Did U Read The Prompt: Implicit to the ‘we’re not giving out werewolves’ was the idea that, uh, don’t write about werewolves. But since it’s only implicit, I can just growl at you, and you did vary up the were-critters, so whatever. Your ‘can’t break the law’ thing as a distant memory was kinda poo poo, would’ve been better to use that to spice up the chase (instead of detract from it, as a paragraph of retrospection tends to do in a chase scene).
Rating: 3.75


I apologise in advance for those who bother reading this: Home Field Advantage
Initial Impressions: Please for gently caress’s sake do not ever begin your story with an apology. Please. It has, in the entire history of all of humanity, never benefited anyone to prelude their writing with how bad it is, and there’s a reason the OP tells you not to do it. Okay, if I didn’t know he was invisible at night, the first two paragraphs would be confusing. Your story should not rely on the reader knowing your prompt. “an abandoned silver van on the ground in the truck’s wake”—what? Chase scene. So why is it bad if he escapes? Everything is trivial for Remi so I’m bored. *As Remi clings to a truck going 50 mph through the woods, smashing into branches* “It occurred to Remi that he needed to resolve this now”—this is murdering any possible tension in what is supposed to be a climax. This is a slasher film, except from the perspective of the killer who has superpowers. Not a fan of the ending.
Story Success: Imagine this story from the perspective of the truck diver. He watches his friends get instagibbed by a supervampire, then realizes it’s caught up to him. Maybe as he’s wildly swerving around, he notices a beam of moonlight reveal and burn a part of the vampire (foreshadowing your conclusion instead of springing it on us with no build up—seriously, the conclusion of a story should follow logically, not come from nowhere), so the protagonist heads for the edge of the woods, wrecks the car, then we see the vampire die from his perspective. There is absolutely no need to leave a cliff-hanger conclusion when you’ve got 200 300 words left to play with (see below). Also, swapping the perspective solves a key problem: When the main character of your story, say, the only one with a name, has superpowers and seems unstoppable, there is no tension in the story. It’s like Superman beating up a common criminal, but that’s the entire movie. That’s a key problem, because ‘action’ is your entire story, so the stakes of the action (what are the stakes? there are no stakes!) and the tension from worrying about the character (usually an underdog) is what makes the story good. This story also fails as a slasher genre for the same reason “Friday the 13th” wasn’t from the perspective of Jason. Finally, your characters have no personality. We know nothing about them as unique individuals or their history, etc. Start the story with friends catching up, make them relatable, talking over their troubles, then build tension by them figuring out they’re being stalked, and now we have sympathy for the victims and care about their fate. Also you repeat an entire paragraph. Please please proofread! That is one of many, many errors.
Other notes: If you do want to keep this from Remi’s perspective, you need to have some sort of reason he’s an underdog, or why it’s important the 3rd victim cannot escape. Maybe he’s starving, or the moon comes into play earlier, or these are actually vampire hunters, whatever.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, but none of your powers or weaknesses are explained in story. Read your story like the person doesn’t know your vamp is invisible at night. You do not mention the word ‘invisible’ once in your entire story. It is not clear at all that he’s invisible, and the moonlight weakness is dropped at the end instead of foreshadowed.
Rating: 3


Symbiont
Initial Impressions: Vamp hiding in hospital, memory bit is introduced organically, bit of a slow start. Uh, donating plasma and blood are different. Intruder comes, so maybe we’ve got conflict building. The memories seem to serve no purpose :-/ . So the fat-rear end, high as gently caress vampire steps out in front of him. Then I get confused because the dude is back to darting around looking to, uh, steal stuff? Then she remembers being outside. How is that an ending?
Story Success: I’m interpreting this as a character-study, because it’s not much of a story. Briefly, why it’s not a story: Sam has no goal beyond ‘eat snacks.’ The only thing that could be labeled ‘conflict’ or ‘resolution’ is a brief encounter with a barely described possible thief in a confrontation that seems to have at least one continuity error, and it’s so light that we don’t even get to see the thief’s reaction. Why is chilling in the night a resolution? What do the memories do? Why has the staff not noticed a shitton of missing rare blood, or a vampire living in the closet? The antagonist is so faint as to be missing, so there’s no conflict and no protagonist. So let’s read it as a character study. I don’t give a poo poo about this character. She does nothing but waddle to the freezer, get blood, and think about stuff. What this story does have going for it is a study in flaws. She’s stopped living (literally undead), and also stopped living in that she only lives vicariously through memories. She hates herself. But why? And… then what? We know too little about her, because you have this intruder taking up a ton of the story for seemingly no purpose. She doesn’t change and we learn nothing interesting about her, so this fails as a character study as well. This is a story about addiction, but addiction in the abstract is not interesting. Addiction happens to individual people with wants and histories, and for this story to tackle the topic, it needs a fully developed character. It does not have one.
Other notes: Here’s your continuity error: “She does not know what she is when she steps out in front of the intruder.” (4 sentences later) “[Her anger] directed towards the shape in the hallway that darts from one room to another, searching until he is standing by the door to her bed of gauze and empty AB-blood bags. (5 sentences later) “Everything aches as she sprints to meet the sunburned man with her fangs bared and claws out. Fifty meters down the hallway she realizes that she can’t keep up the pace.” Notice how she’s standing in front of the intruder, but then suddenly he’s back to darting around, then she sprints at him (from 50 meters back? Half a football field?). I have no idea where this dude is, and I don’t even know if he was running away because you describe nothing about him. Finally, Sam’s nature, as she describes!, is strictly parasitic so your title needs work too.
Did U Read The Prompt: You were also supposed to include the weakness, but you didn’t. This might have been an opportunity to contrast her lethargy from getting high on other people’s memories. You did introduce your power organically.
Rating: 3


Swim
Initial Impressions: Bitten by a wereturtle! Diary style exploration of that mystery. So we get weird poo poo happening until the protag figures it out. They’re disconnected from reality, or seriously socially inept. I get that he’s trying to recreate the were-turtle habitat, but man, if I didn’t know the prompt I would be seriously confused. Even the ending doesn’t clarify that at all!
Story Success: Man gets bit by were-turtle, transformed into idiot, tries to recreate turtle habitat, succeeds, uh, not really sure if he gets chucked in the ocean or what after. I don’t know what to call this genre. Self-discovery horror? It’s like a Lovecraft’s Shadows over Innsmouth, where the protagonist discovers they are transforming into a monster, but instead of a monster it’s an adorable little were-turtle. Aww. The story has a light humor built on the protagonist violating social norms. I think you might mention he got bit by a red-eyed turtle specifically, because I think this story would be a lot more confusing without knowledge of the prompt, and the story shouldn’t depend on the reader knowing that. The ending is amusing because I can imagine this turtle just dooting around an absolutely wrecked apartment. It sort of succeeds as a humor piece because I chuckled at parts. It doesn’t really have much else going for it. The events aren’t really realistic, the wereturtle has no personality, there’s not much of a plot.
Other notes: There’s also no themes or symbolism I can find.
Did U Read The Prompt: Probably. As I said, without the outside knowledge of prompt, it is totally unclear what is going on in this story. I don’t think you’re average reader is going to guess ‘were-turtle’ so it would probably be a frustrating experience.
Rating: 4.5


The Clockmaker’s Son
Initial Impressions: Guy trots into Italian town. Early modern period? They beat around the bush a bit, the clockmaker is kind but recalcitrant. I like that the youthfulness also sacrifices memory.
Story Success: An impatient man seeking youth inquires at a clockmaker, who had once done the same and gained youth, but lost his memories. The man ignores his warning and gets youth-cursed back into a baby. Solid descriptions, especially compare the town to a catacomb. The theme of this story is that we want youth and more years of life, but it’s those years of life that give us the memories that make us who we are, and without those years of life, we are without the memories too. The story revolves around this theme, and the descriptions and introduction are in service to it. I felt the story was interesting and carried me along. The protag gets comeuppance for his impatience. I wanted to know more about the town (or why does the clockmaker stay?). And what guidance does Riefler need? Riefler is a bit obtuse in his warning; what if he was explicit and Lucio ignored him anyways, or we understood better why he wanted this youth so badly? Developing the characters in more depth would strengthen this more than anything else. What else is Riefler besides a clockmaker? What searching did he do? What else is Lucio? Is he running from his mistakes? Finally, if expanded on, it might be very interesting to explore what it’s like living as a person who had a former life.
Other notes: Also how does he get milk for the infant? That’s right: I’m askin’ the real questions.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah. I will say that without the prompt, there’s nothing about vampires here. If I didn’t know this was a vampire story, I wouldn’t suspect it. All I would guess is that the curse is somehow related to clocks and the chapel, but not understand why the clocks are important.
Rating: 6.25


I Wish I Was an Otter
Initial Impressions: Having not read this yet, missed opportunity to title your story “See You On The Otter Side.” Were-guy runs from spiteful vamp. “Pulled the finger”?? I’ve heard gave the finger and flipped the bird, but not that one. I disagree on the limits of otter cognition you posit here. Okay so the story is actually about his loss of Sarah and escaping grief. I guess were and vamps are out in the open in this world. I like Darius. Good end.
Story Success: This is a story about handling grief, with some humor thrown in. It has a solid structure I want to call attention to: The narrator starts by wanting to forget his late wife Sarah because the grief is so painful. After playing with getting caught by Darius, local old vampire, he confesses to him. Darius, who turns out just to be annoyed and not all that bad, agrees to help him (resolving the conflict with the antagonist). At the last minute he realizes he values his memories of Sarah too much, resolving his inner conflict; his character has changed and he has come to terms with his grief. This arc leads to a satisfying conclusion that follows logically from the antagonist and conflict set up since the first section. You have characters that feel real, and clear themes that make this story meaningful.
The paragraph that begins with “The moon is waning gibbous tonight” didn’t seem all that necessary, and its purpose (grief is bad and hurty) is already covered in the other paragraphs. The moon being used to show the passage of time is nice. The first paragraph seems inconsistent with the rest of the story, since it seems like he’s not trying to get caught. Better if he chickens out at the sight of the claws or something.
Other notes: There’s a few time hops, such as the one about the were-newt getting perma’d, that break the chronology the rest of the story follows. I wonder if there’s a way to make that less jarring.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah good job. Definitely should retitle it “See You On The Otter Side,” mostly because it would piss off Sebmojo more than anything.
Rating: 7


There's no reason to stay in, there's nothing on the television
Initial Impressions: Wow that is some unattributed dialogue. Oh please please give them names there’s no reason not to auugh. Is his name Mist or did you forget to finish spelling Mister? I get that this is, uh, a comedy dialogue but seriously why do they not have names. Date not going well. Climb out window. Bye.
Story Success: This is a dialogue, not a full story. It’s, like, I get why it should be funny, but it’s just meh. The fact that she’s a vampire doesn’t matter to this dialogue. The minor conflict of ‘date bad, must go’ is quite sparse. Both characters are stereotypes, and I think to make the humor really land you need to give us more to the characters than ‘successful woman’ and ‘failure-oaf-dude.’ And to do a hard pass on which jokes are funny, which parts of the dialogue are just filler (lots), and just give the drat characters names, please.
Other notes: I think your stereotyping so that one character is so obviously better than her fuckup date hamstrings the humor so that it’s only coming from one direction. The fireflies could be really funny! But it’s another Mist opportunity (haha just a little joke about spelling there). Anyways, humor is really hard to do well so keep at it.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah but the fact that she’s a vampire is a single throwaway line at the end. The firefly thing has the potential to add humor, but it’s just ‘a thing,’ quite underused. Like too many entrants this week, I think you assume your reader knows the prompt. If I didn’t know, the fireflies and breaking glass would just confuse the poo poo out of me. The story should be self-contained.
Rating: 3.75


The Chase
Initial Impressions: John is superultramarathoning and he has a ghostbro. But chasing something? Man 30 hours is a long-rear end time to run. So why is he chasing the wereantelope (spoilers)? Wow this dude is littering? Not cool. This antelope sucks rear end if it’s letting a human catch up to it. Really long chase. Anything else? A reason? Anything about these characters? Wait, the quarry is a man? You called him a ‘young buck’ earlier, ‘quarry,’ and he was tracking ‘prints,’ and he even sees them but you don’t describe him as a person. And why does he have an entire ghost-family. Antelope have horns not antlers. Ugh.
Story Success: This is a sports story. People are doing those insane marathon races. Antelope man fuckin’ owns everyone because, well, he cheats. Honestly, he must have gone easy because antelope can cover insane ground in no time. Meanwhile, John’s ghostfamily watches. BUT WHY? You can’t just have a random ghost family!! The conflict is ‘how is this guy beating me, John Supermarathoner?’ and the answer is ‘weremagic!’ So… what? There’s almost nothing here, just a description of this long-rear end race. In service to what? The climax is ‘oh he’s a deer-thing’ and the resolution is ‘he won’t make eye contact.’ There are no characters because no one is characterized. Everything is about John’s race, so we learn nothing about his relation with the only other possible character, his dead ghost-bro. When you get a recurring character like that, I assume they serve some sort of purpose in the story! He does not. Are werepeople normal? John gets surprised, but doesn’t mention anything at the end? What is the point of this story? The message? I got nothing. Also, all the descriptors you use imply he is chasing prey, but I didn’t even know the guy he was chasing was a man until he transformed, so I was not surprised.
Other notes: Again, you introduce a ghost-family and they do nothing. Why. The race is hurt by the fact that the reader has no stakes in it. Why is it important to John? This is never addressed, and so it’s hard to care about it. I thought the ghost-family might tie into that, but no. The conclusion just is, it doesn’t really resolve anything or feel satisfying. I could read into that, or conjure up some themes, but I don’t really feel they’re intentional.
Did U Read The Prompt: Sure. It’s not well integrated though, just a little moment that the story doesn’t explore at all. It could be replaced by any other non-foreshadowed revelation that gives a guy a speed boost. Like rocket pants, or steroids.
Rating: 3.5 (This narrowly avoided a DM)


We Will Either Sink or Rise
Initial Impressions: I like this prompt so don’t gently caress it up!!! Off to a good start. Yup. Story’s got me. Aw, I hoped she might try and stop the apocalypse too, but this is okay.
Story Success: This is a good intro. I don’t entirely know what they’re doing, but we get that Nellie doesn’t need O2 underwater and they’re doing undersea work and get the conflict hinted. There’s how vampires are treated differently, but it’s not dwelled on overlong. We get how much Nellie cares about Tessa, then the rising action and prophesy, and action. Tessa might use a bit more characterization; she’s a bit of a blank love interest, but Nellie has wants and history and reactions that round her out. I wonder if having Tessa and Nellie talk, at least establish trust together before Nellie runs off, would improve on Tessa’s character. I also noticed that it wasn’t clear if Tessa loved Nellie back. The plot and pacing feel tight, and the resolution logically follows from the introduction with a single note of hope. The themes seem to be the powerlessness and sickening dread that comes from being unable to influence the future, and being willing to sacrifice for those we love. Solid story, fun read.
Other notes: The habitat is not described much, but I might mention something about a hydroponics unit that can grow food or whatever so there’s no implausibility about someone surviving decades in an underwater hab. I also got a bit incredulous about the implied nuclear bombardment causing fires that lasted decades.
Did U Read The Prompt: Why, yes. Very well integrated.
Rating: 8


Best Served Cold
Initial Impressions: Food vs. wine dueling vampires. I think you might want to mention the weaknesses a bit more. Both dead. Welp.
Story Success: There’s an internal conflict within the narrator, and an external conflict with Celeste. The problem is, most of those conflicts are hidden from the reader. Henry had been drinking from grief. But that’s a throwaway line. I don’t buy that without more relationship building or history. Celeste steps in and saves him (and apparently chooses the weakness to be his coping mechanism). Why? Then Henry has been passive so the solution is… murder? That is pretty silly imo! Of course, he was planning on killing her all along. So… also why? If he wanted to die, as he says, why is he clinging to unlife? He knew his weakness too! This is a story entirely about a relationship between two characters, and we need that relationship and history to be present so we can buy the action. So, I mean, that’s basically it. You’ve got 200 more words here, and you should have spent them.
Other notes: I feel like there’s some potential in Henry’s aversion to using his control power and just living a simple life of cooking. Maybe it connects to ethics developed with him mom he was grieving over. This gives you an opportunity to shape Celeste as a proper antagonist.
Did U Read The Prompt: Alright, so if the reader misses the line “with a little concentration, their mind will be mine” or isn’t sure what it means, Celeste getting instantly paralyzed by noodles/sauce makes no sense. I don’t really think there’s a reason to hide the power/weakness (like so many stories did), especially this one were it’s explicitly plot relevant. Put those cards on the table and there’s no risk of your reader missing a key plot point and getting confused.
Rating: 4.25


Grace into the Night
Initial Impressions: Conflict: Can u disco harder than any mortal ever? Oh good, you remembered to incorporate the prompt into the story rather than relying on a telepathic reader. Okay actual conflict is ‘can I resist biting folks.’ Aww, he makes a sparkly sacrifice to undo the bad stuff his bloodlust made him do.
Story Success: This story was designed to be a simple, fun story, and on those grounds it succeeded. Your character is a bit shallow, but it’s clear they love shows, love dancing, and hate their nature as a vampire. They are their own antagonist, defeated by an action of inaction they take, and redeem themselves through one last beauty. You’ve got fun quips (“because everyone could do Travolta”) and descriptions (“speed that could rival Hermes, slick oil puddle in the sun, a rainbow dragon with burning scales”). I really like his last moment of reflection, and that he remembers something he loved in life. Solid resolution too. This story doesn’t shoot for the moon—it lacks other characters and isn’t as ambitious as other stories, but it’s a fun fast story that succeeds on its own terms. Good stuff.
Other notes: Also thanks for looking up fun minerals rather than going with like ‘quartz’ or ‘diamond’ or that lame poo poo. Granite is a rock tho, generally including quartz, feldspar, biotite, muscovite, hornblende, and sometimes other stuff. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Did that granite have plagioclase feldspar or orthoclase feldspar?” But being this is Boris, sparkliest disco vampire in the world, you gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you, punk?
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, good stuff. Integrated well.
Rating: 7.75


Worth Waiting For
Initial Impressions: Girl wants to get into University to draw plants, but is too young! Alas. Hmm. Are anoles territorial? *skims some articles* maybe, but if so mostly males. Eh whatev. Okay, another chase scene. Lotta those this week. The escape! But she goes back. Th… um… the end?
Story Success: The story is about Eva accepting the virtue of patience. The conflict is Eva wants to get into the university but can’t. She learns patience and the conflict is resolved by her… running around as a lizard for a bit. I gotta say, I’m not seeing how that follows. Her pride is established, but doesn’t feel at play here. The were-anole power works with the ticking of the plot, and is blatant enough to give me pause because there is no foreshadowing for this at all, nor any in-story explanation for it. I get feeling that this story didn’t have much of a plan going in. A lot of the scenes don’t seem useful. Like, the puzzle scene establishes her as “smart” (put in quotes because puzzle solving likely doesn’t generalize), but the diagrams scene does that fine without the puzzle. I also don’t see any themes. I feel like this can come together as a stronger piece if you consider the purpose of each scene and how it contributes to the structure of the story. For example, if her time as a lizard is important, don’t focus on the brownstail/greentail divide; she needs to learn patience, so maybe she has to hide under a leaf silently as a nasty predator stalks nearby, and only patience saves her. Or something else! But she’s got literally a new perspective, so the actions as a lizard need to directly connect with her change.
Other notes: Also she never once questions her lizard transformation.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, but it felt like you put it into the story even though it didn’t fit very well.
Rating: 4.25


Terms of Our Agreement
Initial Impressions: Well, off with a bang at least. “Meanwhile, my intruder was strangling at still breath” wat. Wow that is a quick thought from “has no eyebrows” to “hair = weakness” all while being strangled. Lotta fighting. Uhh… did you forget part of your story?
Story Success: The conflict is a boss vampire gets confronted by a weird vampire. Boss vamp, like many villains, likes to monologue a lot. He wants to keep weird vampire alive, but oh no! Weird vampire fucks up all his poo poo including a… bottle named Marlene? Anyways, Donnell runs off and Boss vampire is sad because his stuff broke. Your characters are very one dimensional: Mortician is haughty, Donnell is mad. This is primarily an issue because the conflict between the two is personal and because of a shared history, but nothing about that is explored. I’m also having trouble pinpointing Donnell’s motivation. Does he just want to die? Why? There’s action, but serving what purpose? Why did Donnell run away to begin with? Why does he think the other vampire is responsible? Why does the narrator want him alive? However, your biggest sin is that there is no excuse for leaving this as a cliffhanger. You have everything you need for a resolution (hair), and leaving the end hanging weakens the story. Add on some prose errors, and this mess needs a lot of work.
Other notes: Leather bound tomes, not tombs. I gently caress up homophones too. There are some nice details that quickly establish the setting as this rich, vintage room, so it’s easy to visualize that.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah. Cool. I think you need that they’re both vampires as quickly as you can, because it takes until around paragraph 5-7 for that to become clear.
Rating: 3.5


Instincts
Initial Impressions: Good intro. Joshua suspects Cameron is going to die, but it took me a few rereads to figure out why. The reference to the party implies drinking (and the sweating), so I just assumed he passed out. Clarify that he might have a concussion, or whatever. There’s no reason to hide it with “As Jousha puts the pieces together…” just tell us. Don’t shroud the conflict like it’s a mystery.
Story Success: The conflict goes from ‘possible intruder’ to ‘foster-bro in danger of dying.’ Joshua must overcome his fear of being caught transformed, the limitations of his body, and his fear of being removed from his home in order to dial and save him, which he does (climax). The worry, ‘did Cameron see him’ is resolved with ‘Cameron suggests they get a lock for Joshua’s door.’ This ending is drawn out, and that particular resolution doesn’t feel satisfying. I think a more powerful ending would have Joshua actually talking to Cameron, and Cameron saying, yeah, I saw you, and I saw you save my life, so I don’t care if you turn into a snake sometimes. This would solidify the theme of accepting a person for who they are (a theme many can identify with). It would also resolve Joshua’s fears that make him hesitant to dial, wrapping it up with more strength than a vague talk about locks with his foster mom (who is a character introduced in the resolution section). Something like Cameron calling Joshua his brother, with no conditions and knowing about his were-condition, could be a powerful emotional moment for the protagonist. I would also work more on developing the bond between Cameron and Joshua. As it is, I only know one dimension about each. Joshua is entirely defined by his ‘difference’ (werecobra/foster status), Cameron is defined as ‘nice’ in that he gives two gifts to Joshua (phone, lock). Perhaps there’s some memory that Joshua has that gives him the bravery he needs to dial 911. Perhaps there’s an older memory of trying to help someone and being punished (as you allude to “He’s been blamed for much less…”, but we need concrete details of that event to be sold) that makes him hesitant to begin with. The core of your story is good, but strengthening the characters, clarity of events, and resolution would help this story a lot.
Other notes: As I noted above, trying to figure out what exactly was wrong with Cameron jarred me out of the story. It’s not a mystery: just tell the reader what Joshua suspects. Other details, like he feels his skull vibrating, tastes smells, are good in giving Joshua’s unique snake perspective.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, and gave details in story to make it clear what’s happening in regards to weresnakeness.
Rating: 5.5


Taste Test
Initial Impressions: Medical crisis, gonna go reconcile with vamp-sis. Haha she explodes her own sister and the protag is like “aw dang better go.” What a shithead.
Story Success: I’m going to summarize the story with notes about how each part ties into the structure in order to tell you why your ending sucks horribly. The intro quickly introduces the conflict (daughter gonna die of unknown illness). The protag, Anna, must reconcile with her sister to get the diagnosis that will save her (implied resolution). Emily lets her in with no hassle. Instead of prostrating herself though, Anna is immediately a jerk about cups and history. It is revealed Anna is the one who initially severed the relationship. Emily’s power is revealed (though that she is a vamp is not clear at all; see below), and she agrees to help Anna. There’s almost no tension in this: Emily yields almost immediately. However, Emily is unable to diagnosis the illness precisely, so Anna requests Emily turn her daughter, and it’s revealed oh, they actually severed because Emily wouldn’t turn Anna for beauty reasons (Anna’s pride is deepened here, which is her character’s primary sin). The schism is reignited. Now! Instead of reconciling with her sister, Anna straight up murders her, and doesn’t even feel a thing. This is not a resolution; Anna has not changed, there is no reconciliation, and she has a single hint that may possibly save her comatose daughter, but maybe not! Okay, so maybe this is about how some people are jerks? But we don’t see Anna get comeuppance for her murder by, say, losing her daughter or facing any consequences for her aforementioned pride, so the story fails to complete any sort of character arc for Anna and fails as a cautionary tale as well. If your idea was to make us hate Anna as a character, great, you did that. But what purpose does that serve?
Other notes: I cannot emphasize enough how much I hate your ending and Anna as a character. I get the feeling, from the word count, that maybe you felt like you ran out of words for a proper ending? There’s plenty of bloat in the story that could be cut, such as by condensing dialogue. I think the start of your story is good, which is another reason the ending is so bad—it feels like it ruins what is otherwise solid.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, though you deviate from the power a bit. The biggest problem here is it takes until the line “And I caught you feeding on her?”, 573 words into your story, before there is even a hint that Emily is a vampire. This is far too late, and anyone who doesn’t know the prompt is going to be confused as hell by that. Even then, we get that Emily drinks blood, and then a reference to “turning her,” but the word “vampire” is never mentioned in the story at all. This obtuse avoidance of refusing to tell the reader extremely important information concerning the story only undermines the comprehensibility of your work.
Rating: 3.25 (this may have been an angry overreaction, in retrospect, but I’ll leave my initial number here)


People Are Animals
Initial Impressions: Well, there’s a technically accurate title. Kid wants to see new friend’s Australia-induced were-power, and proceeds to embarrass the hell out of him. This is resolved by… shooting a video that implies he’s a dog dingo rather than a quokka?
Story Success: Alice wants to know Hing’s were-power, but Hing is embarrassed that he’s a cute quokka rather than something frightening. This is solved by video deception implying he’s a yappy dingo. That doesn’t seem like an improvement? But it reconciles the mystery, Hing’s embarrassment, and technically resolves the conflict in an uplifting way. The story is pretty light, and the stakes are low. I feel like there’s quite a bit of repetition that could be cut to streamline the story (were-rules are explained in the intro and next section). The story is fine; the setting and characters all feel real enough, but I just don’t find it all that interesting. That’s not necessarily a failing of the story, but more a comment on audience reception.
Other notes: Quokka are indeed adorable.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, well integrated and explained. Chuckled at it being inherent to Australia.
Rating: 5.5


The Hunted
Initial Impressions: Action intro! And mustard gas. I guess they have scales, and the enemies are aliens. Oh they’re were-croc toys for aliens to have fun hunting. Conflict is trying to escape? Yup.
Story Success: The call to action is the gas attack, and the implied conflict is ‘survive,’ later changed to ‘escape’ with the introduction of the fence in the last half of the story. I like the Net and the aliens’ description. Anyways, they run a bunch, and the conflict is resolved by the sister blowing open the fence and sacrificing herself. The resolution works. There’s a bit of history here; aliens enslaved the earth, genetically modified people, and these characters have lost a lot of family. We get a bit of background on this, but not lots. Most of the story is focused on the chase. I’m confused about the barracks—why stay there if they’re in an alien game-hunting enclosure? The story implies a much larger story, but doesn’t have time to address anything but a small amount. Primarily, this story seems concerned with developing this setting. There’s an opportunity cost here. Enough has to go into that that we miss out on learning more about the characters and the people they were with. We don’t have time for the characters to pause and talk and reflect. So it’s a primal escape story, and that’s really all. Your setting is interesting enough, but that comes at the cost of a lot of other pieces. I’m also not sure what sort of message or themes I should be taking from this.
Other notes: Nah.
Did U Read The Prompt: Sure.
Rating: 5


Oh the Places You’ll Go
Initial Impressions: Dr. Seuss title. Hmm, there’s an interesting take. Setting along with personal conflict, good. Cool.
Story Success: This story is about securing a future for a child in a hostile world. It plays with the fear people have over the health of their child. It also creates one of the more interesting settings, where Earth (presumably because of climate change) has become uninhabitable on the surface except for through genetic modification. It attempts the challenging task of making a scorpion baby cute. The conflict is securing a future and having a healthy baby, resolved by a successful birth. It might be useful to have a little less on the pregnancy, and a bit more on the setting and topside environment to expand on the world and emphasize the importance of this step. Otherwise, I found your story interesting and it pulled me through it easily.
Other notes: I’d be interested to see more stories in this society, or perhaps how it proceeds or where new class divisions arise.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yup, and integrated it well into the core of the story.
Rating: 7.75


playing horseshoes
Initial Impressions: Okay, setting, kid collects stuff, kids got personality and stuff. Doot doot doot. Alright, were-crabs murder Henry’s parents and abduct him. Wow.
Story Success: The conflict, I guess, is that Henry feels out of place. This is resolved by having a friend and her parents murder his parents and abduct him to go live in the sea as a crab. I will say!—I did not see that coming. The genre flips from a story about childhood to a horror story with basically no foreshadowing. This is jarring. It also feels bad because the parents are pretty absent right up until they are slaughtered by crab people for no apparent reason. You drop lines like “the water called to him” to make it seem like the conflict of feeling out of place is resolved, but he’s also grieving for his parents and presumably the want of water is because Sophie bit him so he’s a werecrab now too. One might posit the conflict is about finding the truth of Atlantis, but too little of the story is about that. I got a good sense of Henry and Sophie as kids—that part is fine! The setting is developed, and I get the sort of forlorn emotion developed in the start. The prose and dialogue—yeah, good. But the ending doesn’t follow, and it does not at all feel like Henry is doing better at the end.
Other notes: This I think is the third story to go “and then, with no foreshadowing, an innocent character is gratuitously murdered, and the character is like, whatever I guess.” We have a murdered acquaintance, sister, and now parents. None of those stories benefited from the event. Here, it seems like an ugly shortcut to just get the kid out into the ocean. Maybe it would be more interesting if the kid had a conversation with his parents about it, and they accepted his wanderlust, or didn’t, but he chose to go, or maybe he choses to stay. As it is, Henry doesn’t make any real choices in this story; the end is too coercive for it to be his choice alone, so “inactive protagonist” is another sin of the story. Also I just reread the title, the implication is that murdering parents is a game to the werecrabs. Wow.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah. The were-crabs aren’t foreshadowed though.
Rating: 4.25


The World Is a Vampire
Initial Impressions: Is the title a “Network” reference? At least we’ve got the vampire referenced early on so we know a bit about the story we’re getting. Uh, are people fireflies? …why? Still don’t get that, but she gets outplayed by plastic and so burrows and controls plants around the world to deplete oxygen and kill all humans. Well!
Story Success: I don’t know that telling this story at such macro scales of time and size benefit it. It’s got the sort of slamming on humans that is my jazz, so I’m biased for it, but… well, we’ll get to that. Thematically, humans are sucking the world dry just like the narrator sucks them dry. And then, plants suck the air “dry,” or whatever. The narrator vamp has world-encompassing powers, which trivializes solving the conflict through killing every oxygen breathing species. With that sort of power, what is a challenge for them? Even millennia beneath the earth with no food is rough, but they’re fine afterward, no problem. And while this resolves the conflict, I don’t know what this story is trying to say. The theme of ‘___ is a vampire’ is consistent. I can understand the attack on human overconsumption, but then the narrator does the same type of thing to no consequence (or maybe they get eaten by vines, I dunno). We also only get a single character, and it seems their only motivation is to persist. Is there no more depth to them? Lack of characters, an intangible message, an overpowered protagonist, too much monologuing, and the unsatisfactory ending hurt this story. The voice of the narrator is fine, and the prose serviceable, though the pretentious monologuing gets real old. Ultimately, I just can’t feel anything for this story.
Other notes: Why are people called fireflies? Why? WHY? Also, I find the idea of the games the vamp was playing with mortals far more interesting than the macro-scale conflict.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah. My intention with this power was that controlling plants was a local, not global, power; it’s up to you to limit your protagonist so that they don’t become boring. Like, if mineral-powered vampire had decided that since the entire Earth is made of minerals, their vampire can control the crust, mantle, and inner core! ahahah! Except that would be boring without an antagonist that can match them, and even then it’s going to be a hard sell.
Rating: 3.75

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED


Werecritters and Vampoopers: Week 313: The Sixth Anniversary of Thunderdome: Don’t Go Chasing Werepires: Part 2: Electric Boogaloo


Paulette Has Problems
Initial Impressions: Good hook: why is girl in fishtank, and then immediate wereshark incorporation and we have a minor mystery to solve. Ah. Alright then.
Story Success: This story is about how you should need a license to keep fish because most people are idiots and that men are jerks (true tbf). The conflict is not, as I suspected, figuring out how she got in the fishtank—she knows (though I’m sort of unsure why she didn’t transform earlier), but figuring out who shark-napped her in the first place (resolved by the dude answers ‘your ex’). The resolution is a bit weak because it mostly raises questions: How did he capture her, why was he so vengeful (did he try to murder her, or just immiserate her?) and what happens next? There’s this sort of tangent in the story were I thought it was going in a romantic direction, but it swaps to relationships as a predator/prey relation. The conclusion is also, “don’t trust people,” which feels like an internal conflict that would benefit from a character arc. I don’t know that this moment was the best place to tell this story. Actually, I don’t know that this isn’t better framed as a small part of a larger story. This feels like an introduction, and that the new conflict of bringing her ex to justice as she deals with her were-form is the rest of the story.
Other notes: I feel like you should have done a crit for those extra 200 words, because I feel like actually confronting Gary would be a better ending. Though as I note above, I don’t know that would be enough.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yes. Well introduced and obviously a core part of the story
Rating: 5.25


Three Minutes
Initial Impressions: Three minutes (three minutes) three minutes. “and get home to my guy at home” ick. Okay, finally get a description. Delivery guy must race the clock ‘cause of some needy customer. So, another story with a race. What are the stakes? He wants a challenge. Who is he? Dunno. Cartoon movement. Joke ending.
Story Success: Sadly, your story comes after a long line of chases, races, and hunts, so inevitably I’m comparing yours to there’s. Here’s the thing: You don’t have character. Their motivation is reputation, but that’s weak because this is a blank person. I had hoped for the package itself to actually be important and the reason he took so many risks, like an organ for a transplant, or lifesaving medicine, but no, it’s a pizza and I instead sighed heavily. That’s not worth property destruction and endangering people’s safety. A race is better when there are stakes. It adds tension and purpose. That’s why in a similar race scene in Snow Crash, the stake is the reputation of the Mafia even though it’s also a parody where, yeah, it’s just pizza delivery. This story is entirely a chase, 100%, all 1200 words of it. And it’s an okay chase scene technically (you might want to vary the obstacles though: I jump over a crowd, then again, then again is kinda lame), but it has a bland setting (generic city), no real characters, no theme, no message, and nothing particularly interesting. The interesting part—shapeshifters—is part of the prompt, so I’m not counting that. After popping out of judgemode, I was sad, because I know you can write way more interesting stuff than this.
Other notes: There’s just no depth to discuss. I got nothin’.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah yeah, this part’s fine.
Rating: 3.5 (This was a strong DM contender)


Every One a Prince: an Oral History
Initial Impressions: Mm, some ambition here, something different. Nice first scene. Second’s okay. Haha, werefrog revolution, I love it.
Story Success: There’s several structures going on here I like. The oral history is broken into three parts, and those parts are chronological, but also on a perspective spectrum of political stance (pro-government, neutral, anti-government). The magic system of folktales having power through age is simple but fun. There’s an interesting theme, where werefrogness represents a lie, and is another identity one assumes, whereas love—for all—represents and transforms the true self. One interpretation is that becoming revolutionary means acting in ways you otherwise would not, and changes you. As being a werefrog is important for the revolution, it also hints at the idea that such a civil war requires telling lies to ourselves. Then we have the culture of the city and people being one of acceptance and love which is what facilitates the revolution. I also love the last line, which gives a satisfying sense of closure without having to go through the entire history of the war. In terms of characters, I get a sense of each, but they could use a few sentences, maybe quirks or asides to help develop them. I’d maybe give Hector a reason he joined the fight as an aside in his recounting, Julia a bit about her apparent political neutrality and situation, or anything else, just to round them out.
Other notes: Solid story, thanks!
Did U Read The Prompt: Well integrated as a core part of the story, and introduced in a timely universe-consistent way.
Rating: 8


P is for “Proxy”
Initial Impressions: Jan smashes body double. Wow, we might actually have a vampire hunter here, which, I don’t actually think I’ve seen this week. Alright, action is a bit confusing. Jan smacked Celeste on the head, then confronts Evil Painter Vamp, stakes him, Celeste was actually staked, not Evil Boss Vamp? That took like 3 reads to get, so clarify the “oops I staked my sister” part. Actually, I’m still not sure how, given she was unconscious on the floor in the other room in the first scene. Celeste seems totally unfazed by the wood stake that impaled her shoulder. [I realize now this is not fully what happened; more on that below]
Story Success: Okay, so as I point out above, the story is super confusing. Actually, I still have no idea what the gently caress. Presumably, Jan, having uncovered vamp-lair at long last, smacks her sister in the head with a stake then stakes her shoulder (why). She moves to the next room, and is mistakenly referred to as her sister’s name by a boss-vamp double. She stakes him. Then Celeste is strangling her (how is she up), and as the real boss-vamp appears, Jan is like ‘oh no.’ But the fact that the first staked vampire is not mentioned again and Jan never acknowledges that she got tricked makes it unclear what was going on. The voice of Mr. X (I’m not typing that poo poo out) is familiar, but why, if he hasn’t interacted with anyone. Except he just consorted with her about the pictures so… *sigh*. Okay then, as Mr. X goes for the bite, Jan scars her sister, freeing her since her face no longer matches the enthralling portrait (see below for why this doesn’t work well in-story). Celeste vomits, Jan is somehow freed, takes the stake out of her sister (her sister apparently is cool with gaping wounds) then stakes Mr. X. Finally, I have no loving idea what the end line is referencing. This insanely complex action and deception is not at all clear without multiple read-throughs, and sloppy prose make reading this an even greater slog. There’s also a problem of your protagonists doing a ton of stuff while the antagonist does not act at all. By the nature of how much the story focuses on the plot, each character is at most one dimensional. Your setting is also quite blank, with only portraits, ‘the mansion’ and ‘wood floor’ as notable descriptors. This leads to problems, like where did Mr. X come from? We don’t know, because the room is never described.
Other notes: You’ve also got some typos. “But What if it doesn’t work out…”, “where Jan >had struck her”, and many more like that.
Did U Read The Prompt: Once again we have a story that is critically flawed because it does not contain critical prompt info. If your reader has not read the prompt, they don’t know about the portraits causing enthrallment, so the scarring as a way to free Celeste doesn’t make sense, and that’s in addition to a bunch of other confusing action.
Rating: 3.5


Made For This
Initial Impressions: Ahhh comma on the wrong side of quotation marks. So we got a performer and. Wow, must have timed the hell out of this performance to get a nice moon overhead. I guess a were-critter fashion show is kinda clever. Conflict is deal with usurper model. But he breaks down because he’s, uh, super vain and insecure I guess and then has a sad in the alley.
Story Success: Well, when it started as were-peacock fashion shows, I foolishly expected a light hearted tale. Instead, Hadrian quits and Charlemagne mutilates himself to try and up the glorious newcomer and fails. The resolution is not at all satisfying, as the antagonistic newbie taunts the has-been. Each character is one dimensional as hell, though that sort of seems the point. So… what’s the theme? There’s always someone prettier than you? Don’t be vain and base your entire self-worth on superficial looks? Life sucks sometimes? I can pull themes from anywhere, but I don’t get a sense of what this story intended. Is it supposed to sad? To make you angry at a lucky jerk? Whatever it is, I think this story needs to focus around the core purpose.
Other notes: I’m not entirely sure what Charlemagne did to his face to ‘ascened.’ Also, how do they see Uno-Ur’s eyes if he was wearing sunglasses? How does he flick them as a bird? These are haunting questions that torment us all.
Did U Read The Prompt: The beak-clucking at the start was jarring if you don’t know the prompt (assume your reader doesn’t). I don’t really know that a reader going into this prompt-blind would know what’s going on. Even a single sentence modification, like “This was the Moon Turn, the show of the were-peacocks, lords of fashion” would do the trick. After all, the fact that there’s were-peacocks is not supposed to be a mystery that the reader must solve by finding clues!
Rating: 4


Bah.
Initial Impressions: /r/werecel lol. Alright, some sorta meh humor, some good jokes. Quick read.
Story Success: I liked “Help! I need a man who has a dark past!” and the protag not getting all the hints being dropped. “Werechads” is chuckle-worthy. It’s a mildly amusing story. The ending deliberately has Jeff’s character abruptly lose the progress he’d been making in his arc for a last punchline. I don’t have much to say, because, obviously, this isn’t a story with deep themes or anything. Nor is it super ambitious. Uh, I think you already know that though.
Other notes: Maybe the morale is “Sometimes don’t be yourself.”
Did U Read The Prompt: Yes
Rating: 4.5


Ribbons
Initial Impressions: Ah, the “progressive” vampire. That has good comedy potential. Story moving a bit slow. No Ethical Vampirism. Steve, failvamp. Argh, so boring.
Story Success: I think this story had good potential to be a comedy. Lots of jokes to be made at the expense of a vampire who really wants to be ethical but is just awful. The actual story here is a drag. Very little actually happens. Steve sews a robe, pricks himself, drinks a victim, sews a wedding dress, then kinda messes it up I guess. Everything else is introspection or elaboration on those 4 events. The conflict is Steve wants to be an ethical vampire, as the story immediately tells us. The resolution is he makes a dress. That does not actually resolve the conflict! Steve is a one dimensional goofball. That’s fine for a comedy, but a comedy is not great inside a single person’s head. He needs someone to bounce off of, like a vampire hunter or victim, but there’s none of that. I don’t get the context of his shop—does he work for himself? Sell the robes? Trick people into wearing them? Serve someone? I got nothing. Where is this? I know it’s a workshop, but I get very little else. What’s the message? Theme? Conceptually, the comedy route of a fuckup vampire trying to be ethical is the strongest thing I see in here, but I really don’t think this story knew what it wanted to be going in and never figured it out.
Other notes: Having him think of the last time he pricked himself while also pricking himself faked me out, thinking we were going to go to the past but no we’re at the present. “Steve’s mind drifted to the last time…” change that. “Not just any night, giddy with ambition and convinced his newfound abstinence from nonconsensual exsanguination had bought him a ticket on the karmic express to success…” good line. Lines like “Steve drank, but made an effort to feel really bad about it as he did so.” are great and this conflict was what the story needed more of.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, that’s core.
Rating: 4.25


Pirouette
Initial Impressions: Hunting, some jokes. Interesting, a vampire trying to conquer their weakness. Haven’t had one of those yet. And fails. Whoops.
Story Success: The theme I’m getting from this is that it is good to conquer weakness, but some weaknesses are unconquerable. Maybe something about pride, too, or being pointlessly insecure. I wonder if the story arc would work better from the violinist’s perspective, as the narrator is more of an antagonist (with his brief and lethal character arc), and she might benefit from her own arc; then, the resolution has some meaning to her, since presumably it was her friend the vamp murdered. The story managed to keep in the middle of a dark and humorous tone, bending toward the latter in the beginning and former near the end. There was nothing in the story that really grabbed me and lifted it up. I didn’t attach to the characters, and while the prose was good, most of it didn’t stand out. The setting was generic, so not inspiring. Over all it’s a functional piece, but not grand.
Other notes: “No: I’m a cultured man, and crave the cholesterol-thick blood of an investment banker.” I laughed. Probably the best line of the story.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yup, it’s core to the story.
Rating: 5


The Far Shore
Initial Impressions: Dad and kid gonna go to America to escape from the loss of ‘the long dark night.’ There is, uh, a 70 year gap between steam boats and lightbulbs, and steam boats took off around 90 years after steam engines so I’m a bit lost on the exact timeframe here. But, right, precognitive dad, and the story’s implied these dudes live longer than most. Story continuous to imply anomalies, but not outright say it.
Story Success: I’m not quite sure what the story is trying to do. The narrator is basically invincible, so nothing’s a challenge. Why did the captain decide to… well, actually, I have no idea what he was even implied to be doing. Reads like some Hollywood poo poo were some random goon has to attack a character just to show how cool they are, then does some anime fighting moves. The conflict of the story is set up as this vampire family is trying to escape the coming of technology for… some reason. However, the confrontation is between the son and the captain, and still have no goddamn clue why they decided to 1v1 right then and there. This climatic event seems totally unrelated to the actual conflict. The conflict of “get to New World” is resolved by the kid walking across the entire ocean no problemo and then living a quiet life. And he never finds out about his dad. That’s… not very satisfying.
Other notes: Finishing up this crit post-judge chat, I think there’s an attempt at creating a protagonist who’s had this unfathomably awful experience and broke from it, but it “feels too lightly sketched,” as another judge put. When I read the story, I got a feeling of nonchalantness from the protag at the end, rather than anything else. A sort of, ‘yeah it sucked. but here I am now so whatevs.’
Did U Read The Prompt: Well, I guess the dad was the one with the memory and the weakness? Maybe. Also, in this story about vampires, just call them vampires! gently caress! Just do it! Why hide it from the reader? Is their hidden identity core to the story? No? Then just say it! Gah! Okay okay, it’s not just you but you try reading a dozen stories that all hide crucial information from their reader for no reason. Also, I don’t know if you ever reference the perfect memory of whichever vampire you chose. If it’s the kid, well, remembering literally every detail of this hell-experience in the abyss of the ocean might add to what you’re going for. But I don’t think you ever mention that.
Rating: 4.5


Vampire Dad
Initial Impressions: This better be a comedy. Okay, sort of fun so far.
Story Success: One of the few chase scenes to actually have a purpose this whole week, and be meaningfully set up before executed and resolved. This was a light, heartwarming story about a dad reconciling with son. Doesn't shoot for the moon, but good fun. There’s some chuckle-worthy humor, and prose, dialogue and setting all function fine. While higher up than a lot of stories, it starts to sort of fall apart a bit if analyzed too much. Like, why does the kid sprint for a strange helicopter?
Other notes: Also it bothered me that he just left the car there. *Someone* is going miss that car!!
Did U Read The Prompt: Thank god, it just says it straight up instead of trying to hide it for no reason (not bitter about other stories don’t worry about it).
Rating: 6.75


Summer’s End
Initial Impressions: Interesting, another story that has were-transformation a way of grounding emotions, as a meditative practice. Oh, not about anxiety and school, but her relation with Maree. Is there a conflict? Self-image, maybe?
Story Success: Alright, this is a story about the anxiety of the future, and how friends can help us through it. Friendship doesn’t have be complicated, it can be as simple as playing a silent game together. There isn’t a plot, not really, and this isn’t a character study. However, unlike most of the stories without a plot (which I’ll rage at), this sort of felt like a relaxing drive in the countryside. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it just was, on its own terms, and it did what it wanted to do. It’s like the staring at pictures-of-kittens-being-cute version of a story. It can’t really hit the high mentions, because there’s too much missing for that, but it certainly wasn’t low either.
Other notes: Cute story.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yup, core of story.
Rating: 6.5


Brothers in Wings
Initial Impressions: Funny intro, nice. Doot doot doot. Okay, here’s a good emotionally charged conflict. Not a fan of this resolution. Why leave it unsettled? Needed less aviation and more talk, I think.
Story Success: This is the beginning of a story, not the whole thing. That is to say, I enjoyed this. The setting and conflict come at us slowly, but hold interest. I want to know more. However, as we near the end of the story, this doesn’t feel like a climax. This feels like the beginning of a conflict. We learn the protagonist must reconcile with one of his mentor’s murderers, who claims to know his philosophy. Another conflict is a debate of whether it is better to escape a world gone mad, or if one has a duty to fix it. These conflicts torment our protagonist, and for now he runs away rather than face them. There’s clearly many things he doesn’t understand yet. And that’s the end—a momentary escape from this isn’t a resolution, but I would be happy to read the rest of this story. As it is though, taken as a whole story, that lack of resolution after the introduction of so many conflicts, it doesn’t hold together. To keep it the same length, you would need to cut from the flying contest and probably narrow down the story to a single question or topic discuss.
Other notes: “And now here’s this fucker, thirty inches or I’m a gall wasp, zipping around my forest like we never left the Carboniferous” good line. As a note, the intro is sort of a mini-conflict of ‘are there other shapeshifters and what do they want,’ which is resolved, but only as the new conflicts are introduced. I also like the allusion to the greater world, implying a climate-crisis/war induced mass migration. Another neat detail are the ad hoc science experiments as he tries to solve the mystery of were-science and magic. But like other things, the story only leaves us with questions because of those, not an ending.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, good integration.
Rating: 5.5


Consanguinity
Initial Impressions: Weakness kinda hamfisted in their awkwardly. Blah blah. Well, I guess the protag was a jerk. But not a successful jerk. Not much in terms of a resolution.
Story Success: Your introduction is almost entirely an awkward way of making sure you have the weakness assigned to your story. It’s not well integrated, and so the introduction is almost entirely superfluous from just after the second paragraph until “Mm. Have you decided which package…”. You also did that thing a bunch of people did where you slowly introduce Harlan as a vampire, rather than just tell us. There’s no reason not to tell us, since that’s not the core of the story. The conflict of the story (John wants to know if he’s got the inheritance nailed down yet) is, along with the resolution (no) crammed at the end. We learn enough about John to realize he’s a jerk, but that leaves him as a one-dimensional character still. We learn nothing important about Harlan; they’re a plot piece more than a character. The setting is a boring car. A lot of the words are dedicated to discussing how the future-sight power works. Given where the conflict/resolution is, the ending feels weak, and the piece ends up feeling like an unresolved piece of a larger story (the implied next conflict is ‘how will John try to acquire the inheritance now?’). I don’t pick up much in the way of obvious themes or messages. The prose is fine, the dialogue is functional, but there’s just very little else.
Other notes: I get the feeling of last-minute-ness from the story, given that you’ve still got 400 words to play with (plus more if you revise the intro, plus 200 if you did a crit). I also wonder if, given there’s this implied conflict between these two brothers, this was the best part of their relation to examine. The oracle scene could be cut to the core, which would leave you with room to have scenes in other locations or times to get at that larger conflict.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah. As I said above, the prompt is not integrated well.
Rating: 4.5

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

I crashed Thunderdome's 6th Birthday and all I got was this av!

Sitting Here posted:

Blowout, we’ll either make you a custom av or I’ll send you a $25 Amazon gift card to whichever email address you privately provide. Your choice!

Ahhhhhhh hhh hhhhhhhhh thanks a bunch! I’d love the av. Thunderdome is about the only part of SA I’ve really participated in for the last 5-6 years so maybe it’s time to ditch the decade-old squids anyhow.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

WHO LOVES BLOOD SODA?
KEL LOVES BLOOD SODA!


I do. I do. I do-oo.


Thanks for putting so much effort into the crits, Phoenix. They are really helpful.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012


Unlockable Ben

Hey Terrible Lizard, you need co-judges? Cuz I'd be willing to forego the bingo jackpot to help you turn the TD tombola if you like.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016



If We Don't Die We'll Likely Live crit
Tochtli lay still in the dirt and the prickly grass for a beetle’s age. He watched his enemy prepare for the morning, counted shadows moving to sharpen spears and string bows.I like this, but on first read the counting is [in order] to sharpen - It’s nice imagery, but structurally there might be a better way.

When the first ruddy sliver of dawn puddled at their feet the shadows sharpened into warriors feeding their mounts, kissing their lovers. They had mouths split open twice, once the normal way and once down from their nose, opening like a flower to drink all the fish from all the world’s rivers. Long charcoal hair hung lank and wet. They wore cloaks of living sedge that clung to their flesh by thorny hooks and sprouted blazing flowers of many crinkled layers in all the colors of fire.I like this paragraph a lot, you can brushstroke world-build pretty quickly when you drop in these details.

They seemed monstrous. they did - except for the fact that the first detail is feeding horses and kissing their lovers - and wearing rad flowercloaks. Maybe you want to hold that back, or bring more of the relatableness in? I dunno, I think you can employ the monstrousness and the beauty of this race more tacticallyIt would be easy to kill them in the heat of the moment. It was harder to watch them in the night, when their youngest were left to guard the fires and the light came and went on frightened faces.

That was why they sent a known liarI like the story-teller as liar/liar as story-teller thing that you do in this piece, but as this middle part goes, it reads like he’s a bard who spins tall tales, but the narrator can’t abide this and just goes “nah, he’s lying” at any chance to creep through the grass and count the enemy. Tochtli would bring back what words were needed. He slid back down the hill to tell his companions that their odds were good, that the river-people were fearsome but few, that they would wash themselves in blood and glory.



Tochtli told his companions all that and then some, and he could nearly believe it himself as he watched them laugh and grin and work to believe itfeels ungainly. I like what you’ve done, but it also feels like the sentence hung on a word too long... There were other scouts of course, but if even one carried the truth, well, it was one truth against all the pleasant liesI thought this said peasant lies. And I liked that more - official word against the people’s truth, rather than inconvenient truth against the comfortable one - the former is the same as the latter at heart I guess, but it has another layer..

He could almost believe himselfyou say this too early after “he could nearly believe it himself”. It works if you read with different stress, but um, don’t make me do your heavy lifting? It feels more important here than the first time you use it imho. Almost. His feet carried him, without thinking, towards the lonely tent pitched at the camp's edge, to find some better judgement.



"Liar." The sorcerer grinned as he said it. He was old, terribly old, and since he died his skin had frozen into ridges and wrinkles the color of dried corn. His skull was split open and there was nothing within but magiccan’t tell if literal or poetically figurative. "Don't hate yourself for it. Every man now is wrapping himself tight in his own little world, no harm in giving them some hope."

Tochtli winced. "I was hoping you could tell me what's going to happen."

"You don't want that." The sorcerer packed all manner of acrid, unholy things into his goathorn pipe, and they came billowing back out the hole in his skulloh, right. ok good to know, frightening off the flies. "It will be terrible. There's the truth, go spit in its eye."

"Fine." Tochtli tried, "I'll go and die a brave death then."

"Hah. No chance tricking the future out of me."this feels considerably less eloquent than the rest of his utterances He was still grinning. His lips were so shrivelled it was easier than stopping. "Maybe you will, maybe your own little world will come pouring out when they split you open, maybe just blood. You think you want an answer so you can stop poking your tongue into the wound of maybe not."



Afterwards, there was nothing of the battle he cared to remember. glad we didn’t have to describe that with precious words. I actually am though, good call.



A while after that i get the after that, and then after that thing, but try to find a middle ground between this sentence and previous one - if you combine them it might flow better?, Tochtli couldn't even remember what he'd chosen to forget. He lay again in the grass, his world half-green and half-brown, rotting as it livedthis again makes me feel like you, the narrator, hold Tochtli in high disregard - are you saying he’s had a rotten life by choice? Or that his, and his buddies’ lives were from muck and tragically destined for muck. He clung to the wound in his gut and tried to slow the bleeding. He hadn't even seen who killed him.

He had one leg that would still listen, and he dug the bare heel into the mud, inching along, fighting backwardsfirst read, until i got to here, I thought he was dragging himself forward - not sure that’s a useful observation, but it’s an available read. I’m not a fan of sentences changing their meaning and forcing a restart of my mind’s eye projections though for the shadow of a tree and a trunk to sit up against.

He felt ugly things squeeze up against his fingers when he pushed too hardthe pushing is from his heel, but it can read like it’s from his fingers, so he gave up halfway thereI wasn’t aware he could actually see the tree until this point, it felt like optimistic shuffling hoping there’d be something to prop up against - this implies he knew the distance needed to get to the (not a) specific tree and trunk he could see the shadow of, if that, and closed his eyes to rest a while.

When he opened them again, the sun was sinking through the tree's branches and he was propped against its barkhe shuffled incoherently, or something took him there, or this wasn’t actually when he opened his eyes again?. Not far away, the sorcerer lay in the grass, that old wound widened so that his whole body was spilled openchekov’s mortal wound, an empty coccoonsquiggly red lines under this one. A brush of fur ran against Tochtli's shoulderI want more description about how the jaguarsoul departed here - was it like sand running between fingers, or the actual jaguar running? Gimme clarity. The sorcerer's jaguar soul did not look back.

There were other men alive. There were the men who turned themselves, slowly, and turned themselves again, trying to find a comfortable way to die. There were the ones who cried.


When he opened his eyes again the hills were waking. Sloughing earth from its back a great serpent rose, wings bursting forth as grass and soil and ruin rained away. It had many, many wings, and none of them facing the same way. They flapped. They pulled. They turned the vast creature about and about, set it stumbling on graceless scorpion legs that tapered away until the ends were blades of black chitin.very insectoid serpent, maybe you don’t want to start this with “a great serpent rose”? You’re reshaping something that my imagination can recall as a full picture on the fly - maybe help me build it from the ground up instead?

The rest of it did not seem to want to move, but the wings twisted and tugged until there was no choice; forward or falling. A blade-leg lifted, and came crashing down into the back of a man crying and bleeding himself away in the grass. Slish. Its wings were blue and green and gold, shimmered like oil on the water. They never ceased to move. It stumbled again, took three more steps on three more legs. Slish. Slish. Slish. Every step silenced another whimpering voice, and every step brought it closer.despite above comment, I dig your monster descriptions

He saw, in the moonlight, its viper face. Its eyes that glowed gold. Tochtli watched it turn towards him, knew his life was unimportant to the gods. He tried to close his eyes, tried to say, this is the end.

He felt the wind as his death beared down and opened them again in stupid defiance. The tree splintered and cracked in two under the serpent's weight. It took another step, killed another man and turned back, its solemn head gliding towards him until black scales took up his world. Its rainbow wings struggled in the wind.

"Why is the little liar so quiet now? Have you let your words carry you away?" Serpents did not laugh, but they could mock, and there was endlessly cruelty in the creature's voicenice, a smooth deep voice that made him think of underground rivers. "A dangerous mistake." The wind rose, and the serpent slid forward.

"This wasn't my fault." He said, when the serpent twisted by again to take another life.

"No. If it was, it wouldn’t matter." The serpent turned away again, pulled onwards. The ghosts it pressed out of the dying rose, shedding their human shapes, and scattered to the winds as the gods called them.

When it came back, it brought Tochtli a present. A man, bald, an arrow bristling from his back. An arrow from his own side. He flopped against the dirt. "Tell me his name." The serpent demanded.

"I don't know."

"Lie."see this is the good payoff for the liar stuff, but I can’t help but feel sympathetic for Tochtli throughout - the story dislikes him, but it feels like it’s just his role and skill to create fiction from nothing? This feels more like you’ve written him being hoisted by his own petard..

"He was Necaali." Looking into the man's face, nausea finally caught Tochtli. His stomach spasmed and something squirmed against the hand cupping his wound. "He was from the city, he was poor, his sister needed a dowry." Feathers. Wet with blood. A wing unfurled from his gut, and as he released it, it flapped about with a will of its own.

"If you tell me a story I do not like, I will eat you.” It encircled him and the stump of his tree, a river of black scales, of brilliant feathers, of blood and scent of the cold earth. “If you ever try to stop, you will eat yourself. If you make it until dawn, little sorcerer, perhaps the gods will have pity and chase me away.”

this is a good story. I can see why it won. I got through a full read before I wanted to come back and pick through it. My only real complaint is that you - as writer narrator - seem to sell this as just desserts for Tochtli, when I - as reader - read an unfairness into it? Personal view, you might have seen it more from my perspective when writing it, but it doesn’t feel as much a poetic tragedy as it could?

Good job though, learn how to spell cocoon and you’re probably in a p. good place as it is.

Guiness13
Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

Great crits! I really appreciate it.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!

College Slice

Yeah those were fantastic UP, thanks!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Cleared by Sebmojo:

A GoFundMe for Jay Friks just went live. All funds raised will go toward helping the family make final arrangements and preserving Jay's art and writing, and probably some sort of memorial art show.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Blood Empress of Thunderdome

Tap to emit spores


Clapping Larry

Also, quoting the current prompt for the current page, since a lot has been going on!

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Hey yall looking to have some fun?? Well come on down to



Sign up and I'll give you a bingo board! Check off five in a row (diagonals count) and submit! Easy peasy!

1300 words.
Sign-ups close Friday at midnight.
Submissions close Sunday at midnight.
All times eastern standard.

Stuporstar
May 5, 2008

Where do fists come from?


Uranium Phoenix posted:

Werecritters and Vampoopers: Week 313: The Sixth Anniversary of Thunderdome: Don’t Go Chasing Werepires: Part 2: Electric Boogaloo


Paulette Has Problems
Initial Impressions: Good hook: why is girl in fishtank, and then immediate wereshark incorporation and we have a minor mystery to solve. Ah. Alright then.
Story Success: This story is about how you should need a license to keep fish because most people are idiots and that men are jerks (true tbf). The conflict is not, as I suspected, figuring out how she got in the fishtank—she knows (though I’m sort of unsure why she didn’t transform earlier), but figuring out who shark-napped her in the first place (resolved by the dude answers ‘your ex’). The resolution is a bit weak because it mostly raises questions: How did he capture her, why was he so vengeful (did he try to murder her, or just immiserate her?) and what happens next? There’s this sort of tangent in the story were I thought it was going in a romantic direction, but it swaps to relationships as a predator/prey relation. The conclusion is also, “don’t trust people,” which feels like an internal conflict that would benefit from a character arc. I don’t know that this moment was the best place to tell this story. Actually, I don’t know that this isn’t better framed as a small part of a larger story. This feels like an introduction, and that the new conflict of bringing her ex to justice as she deals with her were-form is the rest of the story.
Other notes: I feel like you should have done a crit for those extra 200 words, because I feel like actually confronting Gary would be a better ending. Though as I note above, I don’t know that would be enough.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yes. Well introduced and obviously a core part of the story
Rating: 5.25

Great crit! Thank you.

You're totally right. This ended up turning into a bigger story that I had to just bite off a chunk of due to the word limit and didn't have enough time to properly rework it to fit (serves me right, signing up three days before the deadline). I might turn this into a proper short story with her cofronting her ex (and maybe the dumb dude along for the ride to get his money back).

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

I crashed Thunderdome's 6th Birthday and all I got was this av!

Sitting Here posted:

Cleared by Sebmojo:

A GoFundMe for Jay Friks just went live. All funds raised will go toward helping the family make final arrangements and preserving Jay’s art and writing, and probably some sort of memorial art show.

That memorial is some seriously powerful writing. Even if you don’t have any cash to spare, I’d urge anyone reading this to read it.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

For the Memorial Interprompt

Cool

(A poem of erasure)

140 words

The light, her eyes emblazoned white,
Blurry words, the sound of water.
Quick. Dead. Blood. Scotch. Dust.
His name, from a mirror, in blood.
Drowning, she sounded like a penny.
He goes by many names,
A picture in abandoned bubblegum.
Her head leaked from vacant eyes.
You saw him on the fold,
Some water dripping on the marsh.
This malevolent flesh takes form:
Remembered rippling wounds, like brothers,
Decrepit red emotive melted faces.
He pointed at the still view, tapped the window.
Chad. Chad. Chad. Chad. Chad.
So creative in how he sacrificed.
Her damp flesh held a spirit in.
Violently, with charisma, he invites.
Soul like a skin suit.
Decades, standing on a skateboard,
Surrounded by sharks, pyramids floating.

He pointed a gun and shot her.

Chad loving Derringer. A god. Invincible.

Bacon Terrorist
May 7, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER

6th Anniversary Edition


Uranium Phoenix posted:

I apologise in advance for those who bother reading this: Home Field Advantage
Initial Impressions: Please for gently caress’s sake do not ever begin your story with an apology. Please. It has, in the entire history of all of humanity, never benefited anyone to prelude their writing with how bad it is, and there’s a reason the OP tells you not to do it. Okay, if I didn’t know he was invisible at night, the first two paragraphs would be confusing. Your story should not rely on the reader knowing your prompt. “an abandoned silver van on the ground in the truck’s wake”—what? Chase scene. So why is it bad if he escapes? Everything is trivial for Remi so I’m bored. *As Remi clings to a truck going 50 mph through the woods, smashing into branches* “It occurred to Remi that he needed to resolve this now”—this is murdering any possible tension in what is supposed to be a climax. This is a slasher film, except from the perspective of the killer who has superpowers. Not a fan of the ending.
Story Success: Imagine this story from the perspective of the truck diver. He watches his friends get instagibbed by a supervampire, then realizes it’s caught up to him. Maybe as he’s wildly swerving around, he notices a beam of moonlight reveal and burn a part of the vampire (foreshadowing your conclusion instead of springing it on us with no build up—seriously, the conclusion of a story should follow logically, not come from nowhere), so the protagonist heads for the edge of the woods, wrecks the car, then we see the vampire die from his perspective. There is absolutely no need to leave a cliff-hanger conclusion when you’ve got 200 300 words left to play with (see below). Also, swapping the perspective solves a key problem: When the main character of your story, say, the only one with a name, has superpowers and seems unstoppable, there is no tension in the story. It’s like Superman beating up a common criminal, but that’s the entire movie. That’s a key problem, because ‘action’ is your entire story, so the stakes of the action (what are the stakes? there are no stakes!) and the tension from worrying about the character (usually an underdog) is what makes the story good. This story also fails as a slasher genre for the same reason “Friday the 13th” wasn’t from the perspective of Jason. Finally, your characters have no personality. We know nothing about them as unique individuals or their history, etc. Start the story with friends catching up, make them relatable, talking over their troubles, then build tension by them figuring out they’re being stalked, and now we have sympathy for the victims and care about their fate. Also you repeat an entire paragraph. Please please proofread! That is one of many, many errors.
Other notes: If you do want to keep this from Remi’s perspective, you need to have some sort of reason he’s an underdog, or why it’s important the 3rd victim cannot escape. Maybe he’s starving, or the moon comes into play earlier, or these are actually vampire hunters, whatever.
Did U Read The Prompt: Yeah, but none of your powers or weaknesses are explained in story. Read your story like the person doesn’t know your vamp is invisible at night. You do not mention the word ‘invisible’ once in your entire story. It is not clear at all that he’s invisible, and the moonlight weakness is dropped at the end instead of foreshadowed.
Rating: 3



Thanks for the crit, the only way is up I guess!

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


thunk for crit

in

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Bacon Terrorist posted:

Thanks for the crit, the only way is up I guess!

Indeed! I for one look forward to seeing your continued contributions and improvements.

One small thing I'd add to UP's crit is to keep an eye on your paragraph length. Walls of text can be a pain to read - take a look at other stories to get a feel for what works in post format.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Ask me about being the most Magnificent Bastard in EU4 Multiplayer.

Bingo

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014


thanks for crit and not giving me a dm or loss

lofi
Apr 2, 2018



Uranium Phoenix posted:


The Curse of the Werenewt
Initial Impressions: Evocative, lots of adjectives. Okay, waiting, hunting. I’m assuming the huntress is the werenewt, so a bit obtuse to hide it. Boy, hunt’s taking a bit, I expect a curse soon. Well, no curses, only hunt. Deus ex ending.
Story Success: This is a story all about predator-prey and The Hunt. The title threw me off. I was expecting a curse, but you meant that just being a werenewt is a curse. But given the supreme regeneration, doesn’t seem all that bad. At the same time, the title mentioning werenewts is a blessing and a (lol) curse. Without it, the end would be a lovely twist. With it, it sort of spoils the end. Without much plot and essentially no characterization, the nice descriptions have to carry the story entirely. They’re nice descriptions, and I can certainly visualize this hunt, but I think this story needs more than just a prolonged hunt. I like the swap of third to first person. I feel like the human portion of the dual mind needed a part in this before hand. The ending is something of a deus ex: She is saved through total inaction, merely because of an ability she possesses but does not consciously control. Presumably, the newt is hunting by instinct, so this is the Ultimate Passive Character, and I don’t think this is a good ending. You’ve got plenty of words left, and I think you needed to use at least some of them.
Other notes: I would not describe a descending, uh, owl, probably, given that it’s night, as a gunshot. There’s also a bit too much of going inside the newt mind. I don’t see any advantage to calling it a ‘young hopping-thing’ over a frog, especially given how you call it a froglet later.
Did U Read The Prompt: Well, yeah. It’s entirely about the werenewt and nothing else. Not even the person.
Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the crit! Soon as I'm less hellish-busy, I'm well up for trying again.

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

Entenzahn posted:

thunk for crit

in




Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes


Uranium Phoenix posted:

The Chase
Initial Impressions: John is superultramarathoning and he has a ghostbro. But chasing something? Man 30 hours is a long-rear end time to run. So why is he chasing the wereantelope (spoilers)? Wow this dude is littering? Not cool. This antelope sucks rear end if it’s letting a human catch up to it. Really long chase. Anything else? A reason? Anything about these characters? Wait, the quarry is a man? You called him a ‘young buck’ earlier, ‘quarry,’ and he was tracking ‘prints,’ and he even sees them but you don’t describe him as a person. And why does he have an entire ghost-family. Antelope have horns not antlers. Ugh.
Story Success: This is a sports story. People are doing those insane marathon races. Antelope man fuckin’ owns everyone because, well, he cheats. Honestly, he must have gone easy because antelope can cover insane ground in no time. Meanwhile, John’s ghostfamily watches. BUT WHY? You can’t just have a random ghost family!! The conflict is ‘how is this guy beating me, John Supermarathoner?’ and the answer is ‘weremagic!’ So… what? There’s almost nothing here, just a description of this long-rear end race. In service to what? The climax is ‘oh he’s a deer-thing’ and the resolution is ‘he won’t make eye contact.’ There are no characters because no one is characterized. Everything is about John’s race, so we learn nothing about his relation with the only other possible character, his dead ghost-bro. When you get a recurring character like that, I assume they serve some sort of purpose in the story! He does not. Are werepeople normal? John gets surprised, but doesn’t mention anything at the end? What is the point of this story? The message? I got nothing. Also, all the descriptors you use imply he is chasing prey, but I didn’t even know the guy he was chasing was a man until he transformed, so I was not surprised.
Other notes: Again, you introduce a ghost-family and they do nothing. Why. The race is hurt by the fact that the reader has no stakes in it. Why is it important to John? This is never addressed, and so it’s hard to care about it. I thought the ghost-family might tie into that, but no. The conclusion just is, it doesn’t really resolve anything or feel satisfying. I could read into that, or conjure up some themes, but I don’t really feel they’re intentional.
Did U Read The Prompt: Sure. It’s not well integrated though, just a little moment that the story doesn’t explore at all. It could be replaced by any other non-foreshadowed revelation that gives a guy a speed boost. Like rocket pants, or steroids.
Rating: 3.5 (This narrowly avoided a DM)

Thanks for the crit. Ghost family was supposed to be fatigue-induced hallucinations with a whole thing about him doubting what he's seeing and long story short I bit off way more than I could chew in multiple ways. I'll go back to basics for the next one.

dreadmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk

The thread is less rabid about it than hitherto, but still: don't respond to crits. if there's something you could have said better then say it better next time.

e: or hit up the critter by pm, or in irc, or in Fiction Advice, or start a thread

dreadmojo fucked around with this message at Aug 10, 2018 around 02:16

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Staggy posted:

Thanks for the crit. Ghost family was supposed to be fatigue-induced hallucinations with a whole thing about him doubting what he's seeing and long story short I bit off way more than I could chew in multiple ways. I'll go back to basics for the next one.

I got what you were trying to do with this story with the fake-out of it being a hunt and then revealing it's a race, and thought it was reasonably clever, provided the reader knows that a were-antelope is involved somehow. If they don't, as UP points out, the whole thing falls flat. And clarity (on stuff that you aren't deliberately obfuscating) is definitely key in the short format. I constantly make the same mistake of being overly cryptic and assuming things like the hallucinations are more obvious than they are.

E: this is totally a crit-comment and therefore allowed

Lippincott
Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.


Yoruichi posted:

A crit of 3 Hours by Lippincott for no particular reason other than I happened to read and like this so I thought I'd tell you so.

Thank you so much, Yoruichi! I missed it in the mix and so I apologize that my gratitude is delayed.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016


Thanks UP, solid crits

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

apophenium posted:

Anyone wanna swap crits hit me up, my Week 313 story for whatever story you want

Looks like no one picked this up so I'll crit swap with you if you like. I'll take week 313 as well.

And thanks for the crit for week 312

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017

Time for tea and Thunderdome

A crit of Worth Waiting For by Apophenium

Eva stared at the foreboding dark green privacy fence what's a privacy fence? Is it just a normal fence? with a scowl. This sentence would have been better if you'd said "Eva scowled at..." An inch or so delete "or so" of wood was all that stopped her from mysterious plants, flowers, trees, and who knew what else. I'm not immediately buying that the university's garden is so exciting. A sign gleamed in the sun: “University Property. Do Not Enter.” Gleaming in the sun is inconsistent with "foreboding." Her acceptance to the university was a foregone conclusion. Why? But she was six years too young to apply.

Through a gap at the bottom of the fence she spotted a small emerald lizard. She watched as it came and went from the garden with total freedom. You could re-write this bit to say "A small emerald lizard darted through a gap under fence. She envied how it could come and go with total freedom," or something. She stamped her foot Is she a goat? and sighed.

Eva bent down and picked up a rock. She hurled it at the fence and it bounced off with a satisfying thunk. Eva smiled at the dent it left then turned and ran home. What a childish child.

-

Eva wandered out of her room, pulled away from her botany books and flower sketches by a glorious smell. Eva made her way into the kitchen, expecting to be shooed away.

“Almost done, ma?” she asked. Her mom bounced Is she also a goat? from one pot to the next, checking the flavor of each.

“Yes, dear. Can you ask the guests if they’d like wine with the meal?”

Eva felt a pang of guilt. She’d forgotten guests were coming. She poked her head into the living room. Two frail gray men sat on the couch fiddling with a wooden puzzle. This description has a real old people's home vibe. They both seemed to have a different solution. Eva giggled at their frustration and they turned in unison to look at her.

Eva stepped around the corner and towards the couch.“I’m sorry. I’ve worked that puzzle more times than I can count. Would you like a hint?”

“Yes, please,” said one.

“No, thank you,” said the other. What is wrong with these old dudes? Eva couldn’t help but laugh again. She sat down opposite of them and let them bicker. A glint of green and gold at their lapels caught her eye.

“You two are from the university?” Her outburst startled the pair.

“Yes, my dear,” one began.

“He’s Bartle, and I’m Aster. We care for the university’s garden,” the other finished. At this point I am picturing Bert and Ernie from Seasame Street.

At Eva’s stare, Bartle said, “Your mother invited us ages ago. Said you were quite a whiz at plant diagrams.” Did her mother invite two strangers, who work at the university, over for dinner specifically because her (12 year old?) daughter likes to draw plants? That is a really weird thing to do. They need to be family friends or something, there needs to be a more plausible connection between these people.

“Our schedules have been busy... But we’re here now! Redundant. Why don’t you show us some of your drawings?”

Eva thanked her mom profusely on the way to her room. Why? These guys just work in the garden, what advantage is there to her to be able to show them her pictures? She grabbed the best sketches and returned to the living room.

“I love the grace lily’s shape. Ooh, and the recurve thorns of the livid rose are so cool, right?” Eva’s heart leapt every time Bartle “hmm”ed or Aster “ah”ed.

They nodded to each other and Aster said, “The university garden always has new specimens in need of diagrams.” WHY? This set up makes no sense.

“You want me to come to the garden?” Eva asked.

“Certainly! Once you’re old enough, of course.” At this point in the story it's like she's passed some weird audition but still can't have the thing she wanted, but this doesn't make any sense. Surely her mother didn't invite the university's gardeners around for dinner thinking that they would be so amazed by this 12 year old's sketches and her mom's cooking that they'd magically circumvent the university's entrance criteria just for her?

After a long silence Eva choked out a laugh. “I’m sure dinner’s ready,” she said through a stiff smile. She slunk to the kitchen. Her mother was arranging carrots, greens, rice and baked fish on four plates. This detail is pointless, I don't care what they're eating.

“Mom, I’m not hungry. Can I go for a walk?” Rude child.

Her mom ladled sauce onto the last filet. “Did Bartle and Aster like your drawings?”

“Yes, they did. But I still have to wait.”

“I’m sorry, Eva. I’ll leave your plate out. Be safe.” Oh no mom, your plan to get your kid into university early has failed. Enjoy your extremely socially awkward meal with Bert and Ernie.

Eva left, hoping Bartle and Aster did not find her rude. Her concern about how she's perceived seems much more adult than her extremely childish behaviour.

-

Sour thoughts followed her as she meandered through the city. Before long she found herself back at the university’s garden. Limpid moonlight filtered down to her as her thoughts coalesced: It wasn’t fair. All she wanted was to look around in the garden, maybe make a few sketches. Bartle and Aster seemed to think she had talent, so what was the harm?

She sighed, shook herself Again, a goat and stared at the fence. A strange shiver trickled through her limbs and her heart started fluttering like it had back with Bartle and Aster. I'd delete from "like it had..." An intense longing filled her. There was a sound like the sky gasping and she scrunched her eyes shut at quick wave of nausea.

She opened her eyes to find herself at ground level. She tried to get to her feet, thinking she had passed out, but could only rear back. Her body felt longer and sleeker and she felt a sturdy tail trailing behind her. This transformation needs to be foreshadowed in the first part of the story. There's no hint of were-creatures or anything at the start, so if I didn't know about the prompt I'd be mystified by this.

Oh my goodness I’m a lizard, she thought. That is an incredibly boring reaction.

The monolithic fence stretched to infinity above her. Below it, an emerald lizard did push ups Lizard Chad and then passed under. She scurried towards it with an unfamiliar rapidity.

Eva came to an abrupt stop once on the other side. Her eyes flitted from one plant to the next and her mind raced at all the unfamiliar plants. Delete from "at all the..." The other lizard strutted up to her, spoiling her reverie. It blinked and winked, poked out its tongue and quirked its head at multiple different angles. To Eva’s surprise she understood the movements as language.

“Moon looks great tonight, huh? But we should get back to our turf. If the Brown Tails find us they'll hunt us down!”

Eva blinked in complete bafflement. “What?” She conveyed the question with a tilt of her head.

The other lizard looked past Eva and signed, “There they are! Let’s go!” It spun around and took off, a green blur on the garden ground.

Eva found herself energized by the moonlight and the threat of angry lizards. She hurried after her companion, occasionally turning an eye towards the towering plants of the garden. Such fantastic nocturnal blooms!

Ahead of her the other lizard raced up the thick stalk of a vegetable. Eva marveled at the plant’s strange structure. She spied the other lizard gesturing from a high leaf. It moved its forelegs in a way that said Climb, idiot! Climb! Eva glanced behind her and saw her pursuers glittering under the full moon like the amber stones in the city museum.

Eva did not think herself much of a climber but tried anyway. Her toes gripped the vegetable like glue and before long she reconvened with her companion.

“What were you doing in Brown Tail territory anyways? Did you get lost or something?”

Before Eva could formulate a response the lizard leapt off the plant. It plopped in a square plot of dirt far below. Eva felt her perch shudder. She imagined the horde of brown lizards rushing up to find her. Wide-eyed and panicked, she jumped.

In the air she gawked at the entire garden. I have to draw all of this. She thudded into the dirt.

“Hah, nice jump!” Eva’s companion bounced excitedly. “Welcome to Green Top territory.” More lizards approached, intrigued by Eva’s arrival.

“I’m… You’re… We’re all…,” lizards! But Eva could not find the right motions to say it.

Several of the lizards started doing push ups and wagging their tails. They reared back and poked red frills from their throats. To Eva, these motions seemed primal and vulgar. The posturing devolved into true sparring and Eva sped away..

This whole section is awkward. It's 50% lizard adventure and 50% call-back to why she wanted to get into the garden, i.e. she loves plants. I think you needed to pick one or the other - either make it a wondrous experience that confirms her desire to become a botanist, or have it be a scary adventure. I also think you should have leaned more into the childish tone of the story. It sounds like it's almost a kid's story, but not quite, and just ends up a bit awkward.

Taking her chances against the Brown Tails, Eva thundered out of the university garden. Her limbs shook with exertion. Not long after she passed under the fence she heard a faraway exhalation and she was back to her normal self. It took a few false starts before she remembered how to walk on two legs. Again the transformation needed some sort of foreshadowing, and she needed to react in a more interesting way.

-

Back at home Eva quietly opened the door to her mother’s room and got in the bed.

“Mom,” she said. Though her mother didn’t wake, Eva continued. “I’m just gonna be patient.”

She sighed. In her mind the six years stretched to infinity. But it was better to wait. She’d be older and things would be much less complicated.

I don't hate this ending: child has crazy adventure and learns something about the world. Great. But magically turning into a lizard and getting chased by some other lizards doesn't equal a lesson about the value of patience.

Overall this story doesn't work for me because it's various pieces don't fit together. I don't understand why mom has invited the university's gardeners around for dinner. I don't understand why or how she transformed into a lizard, or why her lizard adventure helps her understand why she needs to be patient.

I think it would have worked better if you'd made it more of a kid's tale and upped the magical elements. For example, maybe one of the gardeners rescues her, and reveals the garden's secret power to transform people. That would explain why access to the garden is so restricted. Maybe now she knows their secret she's one of them - in fact, she's not only guaranteed admission, she now has no choice! Then you could make it more of a coming of age story - now she knows the truth she realises that her days of behaving like a spoilt child are over. Or something.

There's also quite a few clunky sentences that would work better if they were more active. It felt to me like it needed another couple of edits.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013



sebmojo posted:

that's the spirit.

djeser toxx up, and you can both give me 1000 words, with a prompt of spirits, of the booze kind - alcoholism can't be a plot point. 17 August 2359 PST.

kia kaha.

sure i guess

RandomPauI
Nov 24, 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

Grimey Drawer

Eulogy submission - 217 words

We lost Andre on August 2nd. His death united his family and circles of friends in celebrating his life and mourning his death. One of these circles was an online writing community and literary botanical garden called Thunderdome.

Andre’s friend Tara helped grow the Thunderdome from a quirky seed of an idea to a forest of thousands of stories. She introduced Andre to the group in the hopes his writing talents would take root there and bloom.

The rest of Thunderdome would know Andre by his pen name, Jay W. Friks. He became a fixture here as a friendly and promising writer. He wrote entries almost every week: claiming a space for a story, developing a plot, sharing the fruits of his efforts for review and judgment.

He was also very sociable. He met with the other members who lived in the Seattle area, gave advice, hosted RPGs in person and online, participated in our party games. We almost expected him to stay with us as long as Thunderdome was around.

Thunderdome stories are preserved forever as they were submitted: flowers, weeds, and all. They were a way to chart his progress as his losses became honorable mentions became wins. Now they serve as an unchanging memorial of a brilliant man who left us years too soon.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

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

, gimme a second card.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009

I am a real boy.


Yoruichi posted:

A crit of Worth Waiting For by Apophenium

Thanks, friendo. I'll have your crit up within 24 hours.

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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

Thranguy posted:

, gimme a second card.




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