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Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Map week crits

Benny Profane, In Sesembra

Some overwrought sentences early on. Paragraph 2 sentence 2 in particular has a nasty participle pileup garden path trainwreck going on. Also, I don't see what the brief trip into Pete's point of view does for the story. Still, decent character work here.

Yoruichi, Existential Crises

Interesting high concept going on here. Doesn't do much with it, though, bouncing around too fast for any moment to really land, and not really working as slapstick either. (A difficult thing to manage in prose, to be sure.)

apophenium, When There's No One Around

There's a danger with a one character story like this, where, without other people to interact with, the character can't really live. When they don't get any real opposition to their plans, things get worse. So this guy, he's paranoid, but right, and a (rodeo) clown, and that's it. I think that adding clowning doesn't stop this from being a too literal/unimaginative approach to the prompt.

Kaishai,The Way

Nice description of the ritual to start. And the whole piece lives up to it, subverting expectations by avoiding the obvious directions. It's a bit cramped by the word count, could use a few more incidents to bridge the major plot beats in revision where the word count isn't so low, but a likely contender here.

Armack, What Follows the Dark Rapture

I really don't like the ending here. Way too rushed, and breaks the point of view. I'm not that wild about the rest, either. The characters don't really work here, not as people. There's a way a story like this could overcome that, making them hyper-iconic, like the actors in some alien passion play, but that doesn't happen here.

M. Propagandalf Humane, But Unusual

So, the thing that makes Jonathan Swift work is that the satire has a target and strikes home. And also that he's telling a solid adventure story at the same time. This feels like an attempt at something Swiftian, but it neither has any barb or point to it nor does the story go beyond the level of talking heads.

Antivehicular Under the Sage's Towers

I was worried that this would be all monologue, and I'd say the opening drags on a bit too much, but things pick up. I think I'd rather have seen a lot of those early words saved to give a little bit of resistance to the narrator's successful robbery, though. Still, pretty good

Flesnolk Birdcage

This is quite good. Does a lot of character work with strong images in place of incident or plot. A bit more 'let me show you my research’, both in the birdfacts and the geography than I would want, but still good


Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

this was a strong week, and even the loser wrote some good story words. regrettably their similiarity to the story words of Stanislaw Lem's 'The Thirteenth Voyage' probably pushed them over the edge into the loss.

benny profane
extremely nice miniature of a piece, a moment really, but with dynamic tensions reaching back into the pasts of the two well described (for all they're cliche) characters. I really like the suspension of the end, it's clear what the silver thing is a metaphor for but it doesn't push the point. hm/w

hmmmm, a searing exploration of the half gorilla, half dinosaur condition. or rather a decent jolt of tdome wacky that pumps up the craziness of the ideas (insane chimeric protag beating a babbling monkeycheese archangel skeleton to death before angsting it up batman style is not something I envisaged reading about this morning) while basically managing the sort of slick breezy prose that is vital for this sort of silly endeavour. maybe dm for being so dumb and fluffy, we shall see


this is what you might call high concept wacky, the literal clown building a fallout shelter is intrinsically ridiculous and the story recognises that. I think you could have placed that the protag was a clown a little more clearly early on, but that's a nitpick - I think this one hits its small/large targets very well, and though the A CLOWN... WITH NOONE LEFT TO LAUGH... is on the list of facepalmy metaphorical tropes, I think you handle it lightly enough for the story to work well on its own terms.


i can almost smell this story, and i love the richness and matter of fact horror of your cool-eyed haruspex but I'm not sure it lands the passion that leads her to gut a nearly-entire boat of sailors - she's in love with the unmappable, the unknown, and joins with it and I think i wanted something more to convey that - as it is there is a chilly distance that is at odds with the grimy, bloody, subject matter.

this is some extremely strange and strong brain juice. it is an interesting cf. with kaishais, which has a similar visceral approach to charting courses in an environment of prevalent body horror, but i think i care more about your disaffected captain. I raised an eyebrow when you cliffs noted the ending, but you know what it sort of works as a precisely delineated stroke of story telling. could maybe see an hm but I think I'll knock it back for the ending a little, since its a strong week.

m. propagandalf
this is almost a direct rip of one of ijon tichy's voyages in the Star Diaries, and the style is not dissimilar to my man Stanislaw. Lucky for you that I love Lem to bits, and this is tolerably written and made me smile faintly (though mainly, it must be admitted, because it reminded me of that weirdass story with the fish who refused to accept the existence of water. Thing is that was a really quite savage satire of communism, whereas this is a competent if wordy pastiche of Lem. dm, maybe?

this is a strong week, and this is unfortunately sort of dreary. there's a character, they look at some things and steal a few knicknacks, the end. the words are decent enough as I'd expect, there's some sort of vague political thing maybe with the downtrodden workers half-inching the means of production, but it's the sort of thing that a better story might have disposed of in a line then gone on to tell us something interesting. dm

this is some good work, you're sort of visibly straining to Write Good and can now afford to notch it back like 10% but I like the broad brushes of metaphor and humanity you achieve. the portentous mythic stuff works better when it's carried on the back of the human interactions which you do pretty well - I do think you could have made barnes more interesting with another line or two, as is he's just a strawman to fall beneath the iron-thewed gaze of MMA pigeon lady. I could also ping you for the static nature of the protag, all she does is look at things and nod at the end, but it still works overall so you may pass. maybe even hm?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

sebmojo posted:


Thinking of this as the new losertar:


hard yes

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006


It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

Love the new losertar.

Iím changing up my crit format slightly so that now Iíll single out one thing in each story that could be worked on in general for your next attempt. I think Thunderdome, like flash fiction in general, is a game of incremental progress. By focusing on one thing week to week I think it might be easier for a person to really consider the feedback when they make their next attempt. It can be a little overwhelming to keep all your feedback in mind sometimes when you get a really meaty crit. Not that meaty crits are bad, and not that I am saying my method is THE BE-ALL END-ALL, but this is my new strategy moving forward!


Kaishai - Holy poo poo. This is one of the best TD stories Iíve ever read. Itís succinct and gives away just enough detail to hint at a larger world than the story itself shows, which is tough in flash fiction. This was a well deserved winner. Iíd read more in this world in a heartbeat. You convey a sense of motion and exploration very well.

Thing to work on: The main characterís motivations for why she wanted to explore the Aurora were a little thin, although I think this was a casualty of the word count more than anything. But since she was so obsessed with it that she was willing to die to see inside it, Iíd have loved to hear more about how she got to be that way.

Benny Profane - Really lovely description and atmosphere, kind of slow but strikes a nice bittersweet note. Very glad to see this HM. Your protagonist has a lot of personality for such a short piece, and I felt a lot of empathy for her despite her being a cheatiní hoor, which is pretty impressive as thatís a tool usually used to evoke disdain.

Thing to work on: I would have liked to see a little more conflict. It was a great little bittersweet vignette but apart from ďshe showed up and dude wasnít thereĒ not much actually happened. Carlos not being there might have had more impact if she actually had to deceive her husband in some way to get there, or sacrifice something to get there. But if you werenít going for a comeuppance tale I can also see why you wouldnít do that.

M. Propagandalf - I enjoyed this. Itís a little thin and I wish the main character had a bit more personality, heís a bit of an archetype, but itís solid and made me laugh and had a good structure. Reminds me of a campfire tale or shaggy dog story. I havenít read the thing that everyone says it reminded them of so maybe thatís why I didnít mind it so much.

Thing to work on: The protagonist didnít have much going on apart from ďhe was an explorer who got caughtĒ and ďhe was crafty.Ē I wasnít really on his side because of anything about him, but more because you made the bad guys sufficiently pain in the assy. Be careful that your villains arenít more interesting than your heroes.

Apophenium - A compact and tragicomic little tale. Feels a little hollow for a story about a nuclear holocaust but not too bad. I liked your main character and I liked how concise it wasĖit didnít need more. The fact that he was a clown was a pretty hilarious and absurd detail that worked in favor of rather than against your story. Love the last line.

Thing to work on: For a story about this dude losing literally everything and everyone, itís a little emotionally flat. Either give us good explanations as to why he didnít really care that much, or show him caring a bit more. It reads like you glossed over this stuff a little on purpose to keep things succinct, and while I like the succinct nature of the story, it didnít feel like it carried appropriate emotional weight considering the gravity of what happened.

Antivehicular - A tidily written tale full of lots of pretty words but not much conflict and I never worried the protag would get caught. Great last line though. As always your prose is splendid. You establish a lot of world in few words. If this had a touch more conflict it would have been a contender for winner to me at least.

Thing to work on: This story felt pretty railroaded. There was no tension, no worry that the protagís theft might not go off without a hitch. It felt like someone telling a story about a crime that had already happened. There wasnít much immediacy to the conflict/plot.

Flesnolk - Not quite a whole story, feels more like a lot of setup. Itís intriguing setup though and I do like the characters. Has a certain warmth and charm to it. I really like the degree of personality that you give to the birds. Also, your knowledge of the setting feels real enough that it gave me a little whiff of nostalgia, which I appreciated. This feels like the beginning of a larger piece and Iíd read more. Itís probs my fave thing from you Iíve seen in the Dome, so congrats dude.

Thing to work on: As stated above, this doesnít quite feel like an entire story. There isnít really any conflict or decision-making that the characters need to do. They just interact a few times, then decide to interact more. It feels like the setup to a romance or something, which I totally dig, but romances thrive on conflict! Your protag feels pretty static and reactive, and I think the story would have more meat if they encountered more resistance to the decisions they make, even if itís only resistance from within.

Yoruichi - Absurd but funny. Itís a story with a beginning middle and end but wasnít especially cohesive. These oddball entries are always very hit or miss, and this one feels like it hits just a titch more than it misses, at least. I think my main complaint is that it just sort of zings from Thing to Thing without much breathing room. Itís very fast-paced but in order for an extremely fast-paced story to work well, it has to be tight and cohesive and it has to strap the reader in to avoid bucking them off. This doesnít quite succeed there.

Thing to work on: Slow it down a little. A moment or two to breathe between wacky scenes is essential in this kind of comedy.

Armack - Convoluted, doesnít make a whole lot of sense, I got no real character from either of the characters. Felt very ďa thing happened, then another thing happened.Ē The Captain proved more interesting than your protag, and the ending felt extremely half-assed. That sort of ending works if youíve written the entire story in that type of narrative voice, but you havenít here so the shift is jarring.

Thing to work on: Commit to one voice and stick to it throughout the piece. Your ending sounds like an elder reciting a fable around a campfire. Your beginning sounds like a standard third-person-present short story. There are flashes of good writing here but theyíre really hampered by the abrupt shift in narration style.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

A loss that was somewhat enjoyable? I couldn't ask for more. I had planned to proportion the structure where the actual trial would have had more teeth, but an underestimation on word count scuttled that commitment.

Much obliged on the crits.

Apr 13, 2009

it's... sting...
Fantastic crittin'. Thanks folks.

Apr 12, 2006
:siren: :siren: :siren:

If you plan on publishing any of things you wrote here, you should edit them out of the thread

:siren: :siren: :siren:

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Yes, let's repeat this for the new page:

Kaishai posted:

:siren: :siren: :siren: AN IMPORTANT ANNUAL REMINDER! :siren: :siren: :siren:

Now is the time to edit entries out of the thread that you may want to revise and sell in the future!

Shortly after I lock this thread and turn out the lights, it will go to the Goldmine, there to be preserved for so long as SA shall live. Neither sebmojo nor anyone else can alter its contents once that happens. So if you don't want a story to be available for all the world to see--remember the Goldmine is never behind the paywall--edit it out before it's too late!

You'll do future readers a solid if you take the optional step of putting up a link to the Archive version. The Archive is always password-protected, and whether your story can be seen there is under your control so long as you have an account. (Ping crabrock or me if you ever want a story hidden but are opposed to accounts for whatever :wtc: reason.)

Thank you much, judges--the new prompt will be up tomorrow, in this thread or a new thread or both. Happy New Year!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
The new thread will be posted once the stars align; in the meanwhile, have a prompt post!

Thunderdome Week CCCXXXV: Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Judges: Kaishai, Anomalous Blowout, and another to be announced. Watch this space.

Happy New Year! We're going to celebrate the dawn of 2019 by sharing glimpses of our worlds with one another. To wit, your task is to take a photograph somewhere outside your home and write a story inspired by that picture. You'll ideally photograph a place, not an object, if only to prevent any lovingly zoomed-in images of dog feces. Your settings are not limited to these images. You don't need to write about the exact real, location unless you so choose. I want to see the influence of the picture in your entry, though, and I'll drub you with the Tripod of Disqualification if I can't.

Don't worry too much about the quality of your photos; I'm not holding you to National Geographic standards here. That said, you'd better believe all images must be safe for work. If you somehow cannot take a picture of your own, I'll take one for you at the cost of a 300-word penalty. Going this route rather defeats the point, so it should be a choice of last resort. You can enter in advance of posting your snapshot, but your photo must be in a Thunderdome thread before the sign-up deadline passes--editing it into your sign-up post is fine.

As for twists... hmm. How about this? Entries should have a theme of resolution. The word has several meanings, and which to apply is up to you.

No erotica, fanfiction, nonfiction, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, quote tags, or dick pics. Flash rules will be given exclusively as punishments. For anyone in need of an image host, Imgur should do the trick.

Sign-up deadline: Friday, January 4, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Submission deadline: Sunday, January 6, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Maximum word count: 1,000

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 04:13 on Jan 5, 2019

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Prompt clarification: Do we need to post the picture on signup, or just with our actual entry?

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Djeser posted:

Prompt clarification: Do we need to post the picture on signup, or just with our actual entry?

On sign-up would be best in case there's any problem with the photo (i.e. "Maybe fornicating llamas are work safe where you live, but... no"), but let's say you can enter now, edit your picture into your post later. Your picture must be in a Thunderdome thread before the sign-up deadline passes, though. I'll adjust the prompt post to say so.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 06:24 on Jan 2, 2019

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
in (will take pic later since it's near midnight here)

cool prompt!

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
We have a new thread, which you can find here! This one will remain open for a few days to give you all plenty of time to edit out stories you'd like to publish and save any crits you want to keep handy. Particularly line crits: remember, you can't quote Goldmined posts! This is also the better thread in which to post your stats, if you want to, and if nothing else I encourage giving a nod to the stories you've enjoyed most this year. We can all use reading material that hasn't been blarped out of Hades' tar pits.

You can enter the current week in either thread. Keeping track of your questionable choices is kind of my schtick, after all.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Put it all together.
Solve the world.
One conversation at a time.


submissions: twice
wins: thrice (66.67% win rate!)
judgecritfailures: dismal

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010


Entries: 6
HMs: 2
DMs: 1
Wins: 0
Losses: 0
Failures: 0

Brawl Victories: 1
Brawl Losses: 0

Off-prompt bullshit: 1 (fast judging, good judging)

Sperg rating: 485.22

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006


It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

I donít have stats since Iíve borked my archive password (keep meaning to PM Kaishai about thatÖ) but my thrice-a-week postal service finally coincided with a day that wasnít a public holiday, so I got a box of American joy!

The incredible curlingiron actually KNIT/CROCHETED (sorry I canít tell the difference) A COPY OF MY OLD AVATAR! LOOK AT THEM! CUTTLE BUDDIES!

Also included was a rather chonky boi on a lovely card, some huckleberry preserves which I havenít had since I emigrated from the US, and some incredibly tasty handmade caramels.


In addition to the plush squids, there is a very squidly book and some incredible pins. I am huge into marine life and Moby-Dick is possibly my favourite book, although this new book might tie it up. Iíll post some screencaps from it when I get a second, but itís.......... not a traditional marine science book.

The pins have already found a spot on my jacket (beside a giant moth, for the record) and the treats are delicious. I canít thank you enough, curlingiron. This is one of the coolest gifts Iíve ever received full stop. :toot: You are amazing.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

merman crits


aww this is spot on, the ridiculous premise is given the double flick flack by first having a plausible underwater fire, then having the endless pointless preparation of the protag be useless, but then! boyf to the rescue! slick, silly and even a little heartwarming.

sitting here

this is a gorgeous piece, dripping with well-crafted words and a sinewy control - it is essentially a single movement from up high to down low, but by tying that dichotomy to the old mythic standbys of sun and moon, it gives a simple premise some nice metaphorical resonance.

killer of lawyers

leaving aside how you smell clove cigarettes underwater (I'll put it in the same category as underwater tesla fires and deep sea lava flows) this is just a bit too skimpy to cut it in a week this strong. while your protag, like the one in the last story, is undertaking a simple voyage, there's no real metaphorical heft or impact to it, he's just flapping round some bars. in general if you want to make the core of your story a morsel of psychobabble, at least put some effort into making it interesting. 'validation' is bland and dull.


this sort of thin 'gor bless it's christmas innit guv' yarn can work fine, but you need at least a little incident - as is he hops in the pool already basically infused with yuletide spirit so though you tell us about the shabbiness of the whole affair I don't really feel it. the point of this story is that of the christmas carol - xmas changes people, for the better, for a little while. if they're already all topped up with hail fellow well met ectect there's nothing for xmas to do and it has to sit round and get smashed on eggnog.


you do like your glowing jewels, is a thing I've noticed about you, and this may be the apotheosis of that tendency, where basically everything is sparkling. This is ok, it does the job of piloting some slightly cardboardy merdudes into a happy festive reckoning, but I think the pretty imagery rings a little hollow when paired with the thin charicaturs (a word of my own devising). it's fine, and sits well in the middle of the pack.


this is probably the most complicated story so far, which isn't an automatically good idea - I like a nice simple yarn with good clear lines. However it's a deserved victor because it makes a more satisfying dance of ideas than its word buddies, with the lightly scattered superhero world and finely drawn meet-cute yarn of two crazy kids gosh darn it. I think the key element is probably the nagging uncertainty of not knowing the future, which gives our invulnerable super protag an appealing vulnerability. And very strong start and finish - don't mess around with them, your readers are goldfish and have the memory of people with extremely bad memories.


oh ffs, again? I know, i failed this week so am objectively worse than you in this respect, but for gods sake don't do this again it's pathetic.


hmmrmmrm, as you probably know at this point in our mutual acquaintance I'm fond of your stuff for all it ploughs a relatively narrow furrow of either 'pleasingly chucker', 'not quite chucker enough' and 'possibly a little bit too chucker'. this falls into the second category - you've got your premise, which is fine if a little bland, you've got a couple of things that happen and then the story ends. What's lacking is a few stabs of genuine weirdness, and while some might welcome that as a sign of growing maturity i just look at my plate and bang my knife and fork on the table like master chief in that gif you've probably seen. While I agree with the other judgments I would have taken your hm off you and given it to chillock, sorry man i hope that doesn't retrospectively spoil ur xmas or anything

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Jan 4, 2019

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

Yay! I'm so glad you got them! :3: I will cop to the fact that I did not crochet those myself, so please don't be too impressed with me, but I'm so glad you liked them! I was a little worried sending you so much themed stuff, but it seems to have worked out well. :neckbeard: Let me know if you want more of those preserves; I almost bought you a bigger jar but wasn't sure if you'd like them or not.

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sebmojo posted:

merman crits


oh ffs, again? I know, i failed this week so am objectively worse than you in this respect, but for gods sake don't do this again it's pathetic.

I mean, they are probably gonna publish that piece, it did well.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

:siren: :siren: :siren:

If you plan on publishing any of things you wrote here, you should edit them out of the thread

:siren: :siren: :siren:

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

It was edited out of the archive.

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006


It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

Here are some extremely late crits for week 326. I promised I would dig myself out of the sickness hole and not fail out of critting anymore, trying to stick by my words.

The Rabbit Room by Saucy Rodent

This was competently written and I found the body horror to be nice and disgusting. Itís a semi-interesting concept but you donít quite tie it together by the end. I think the biggest problem for me is that while the events happening on Ďscreení were interesting, I didnít really care whether your protagonist survived or not because we knew nothing about them.

Thing to work on: If you want the stakes of a story to matter, you have to endear the protag to the audience even a little. Your protag was built up so thinly that readers knew next to nothing about them, which made it tough to care about what was being done to them in more than a Ďhuh this is interestingí kind of way.

To My Daughter, Janet, I Leave by Fleta Mcgurn

I was really excited to read an entry from you, since I enjoy seeing your posts around the forums! This really wasnít bad. But it also wasnít quite a cohesive story. It felt more like a series of vignettes. I really appreciated the imagery and the sort of allegorical comparison of like mold vs ghosts, but there wasnít much meat on the bones to make me care about the characters.

Thing to work on: Much like I mentioned to the dude in the crit above yours, if you want readers to care about your characters, you have to tell them enough to care. Show us who the couple were before the house, before the haunting. Show us how the haunting upends their usual state of affairs. Good ghost stories arenít about ghosts, theyíre about the effect ghosts have on the living.

The Word by autism ZX spectrum

Youíve presented a lushly-written world with a lot of details and a surprisingly big-picture POV for such a short story. That I like! I also like your main character, and I like the ending. This feels like if you fleshed it out into a 2-3000 word piece, it would probably have a lot of potential.

Thing to work on: The relationship between your protag and the sick person they were taking care of felt a little flat, but I suspect that was a casualty of the word count limit more than anything. Be careful not to take relationships in fiction as a gimme to drive the plot forwardĖi.e. I have to do this thing because My Brother or My Wife needs it, and thatís it! Itís a very common lazy storytelling tactic. Not that youíve necessarily done that here, just that the relationship between those two characters could have used a bit more spotlight.

Between by Thranguy

I really enjoyed this one. It conveys a sense of dreamy confusion yet also tension which is a difficult balance to strike. It came to mind a couple times after I read it, like ďhuh this reminds me of that story Thranguy wroteĒ which imo is a hallmark of good storytelling!

Thing to work on: The ending felt pretty rushed. This may have been a wordcount issue, but having such a lovely and lush story veer toward ďwelp itís over gonna ask that girl out I guessĒ felt a little trite and like you were taking the easy way out. You are good. You can do better.

Moving Out by derp

This was really confusing to read and even after reading it twice I canít summon particularly strong thoughts about it. There are characters. There is a plot in that a sequence of events happens. But none of it feels especially connected. It feels like the characters are following a script.

Thing to work on: One of the best bits of advice I ever got from a very good writer is that every action in a story should happen as a consequence of something a character does, rather than ďbecause this needs to happen for the plot to progress.Ē I got the sense you were maybe angling for a ďcaretaker wants to be freed of their burdenĒ angle which is pretty heavy, and I love heavy subject matter with morally grey actions, but it felt like the actions of the characters didnít have any real bearing on how the story turned out.

The Temple Walks by SurreptitiousMuffin

This reminded me of a fable or something, and I love that. I wasnít quite sure how to judge it, if I have to admit. Your prose and imagery are top notch and I could see a lot of the images youíve described in my mindís eye. I would love to read a whole book in this style where more stuff actually happens.

Thing to work on: The stuff that happened was cool and neato but it needed a bit more structure to actually be a Ďstory.í As-is, itís just a nifty vignette.

Good and Faithful Servant by Antivehicular

I praised this a lot in my results post and in my card to you but lol I canít resist the opportunity to say it was good again. What a sweet, simple story that tugs tight chords on the heartstrings regarding nostalgia, loss, and letting go. I sincerely think you could get this published and am happy to line-by-line it for you if you ever try.

Thing to work on: I honestly wouldnít change much, although if I had to come up with something, I suppose a little more light shone on the actual relationship between the deceased uncle and the protag might have been nice. It worked just fine without, though.

The Blackest Day by Solitair

There were some bits of neat wording and some cool turns of phrase in this, but it was very difficult to discern exactly what was happening. In theory I really liked the setup of tense spy poo poo happening in what appears to be an alien zoo, but you have to give the reader a bit more information and background if you want them to care.

Thing to work on: Itís tough to write good sci-fi and fantasy where you have to explain whole new bits of whole new worlds. Itís tough to avoid infodumps and boring exposition. But some degree of exposition is necessary for readers to be able to make sense of your world. Iíd suggest reading some Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, or some of the other genre greats to see how they sprinkle details into their narratives.

Remembrance by Lead out in cuffs

This isnít poorly written, but itís not a story. Also, I have to admit my personal judge bias hereĖI am not a fan of stories that are centered around suicides where the suicides seem nonsensical or pointless or plot devicey, and this one does very much so. If sheís worried the memories in her brain will be lost forever, how will this one guy remembering her help that? This whole story reads like you just got a cool image in mind i.e. Ďgirl jumps off trainí but didnít put a whole lot of work into justifying why it happens.

Thing to work on: As Iíve said regarding a few stories this week, this isnít a story. Itís just a series of images. Your protagonist is a passive observer. Try writing a story where the entire plot hinges on your protagonist causing a huge change in their own life, either on purpose or on accident. Then make them resolve the change or learn to live with it. Itís one of the toughest parts of storytelling to learn but itís a vital one.

The Throbbing of Hellís Heart by apophenium

I love the idea of a soul defying death as itís being sent into hell. Itís one of my fave mythology tropes. However, doing such a story justice is a big ask, and this convoluted tale falls short. Like Iíve said about a few stories this week, you need to make us care about your protagonist existing at all before we care about the fact that they are dead. I cared more about your protagís brothers than their own fate. ďThe likes we had back in our earthly livesĒ confirms the souls DO remember some of that stuff, so it would be smart to share some of it with readers.

Thing to work on: Think about a thing youíve read recently that had characters you really liked. What made you like them? Write down a list if you want to, or just consider it in your mind. It takes more to make a reader like a character than just announcing ďthe story is about this dude.Ē

Yarning for the Lost by Bolt Crank

I really liked this story when it was just about your protag knitting prosthetics. Thatís a cool imagery, and you show it off well with few words. However, the longer the story progressed, the more disjointed it felt. It started off neat and whimsical and started to feel like a Coraline ripoff. Also, a minor nitpick, I would have liked to find out whether the magic was coming from the girl or the yarn, because I feel like that knowledge would have affected her actions, and not knowing that made me feel like I didnít know the Ďrulesí of this universe.

It is a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end and even though I found the ending kind of trite, I think you wrapped it up nicely by the standards you set at the beginning.

Thing to work on: I think what this story could have benefited from more than anything is being beta read by another person. I think getting a second set of eyes on it pre-judging might have helped you smooth the wrinkles and the janky parts and might have turned it into an HM-worthy tale.

Getreidewolf by cptn_dr

I really loved this one. In a weaker week, it would have been my winner. You are sparse with your words but I never felt like your prose was wanting for description or mood. It struck a nice creepy-beautiful chord and reminded me a lot of folktales I heard as a kid (German grandmother and Swedish grandfather, lots of very bleak stories about dipshit kids getting eaten by things). The ending was a little predictable imo but that didnít stop me from enjoying it.

Thing to work on: This was a very tidy tale! I donít have many complaints here. If you wanted to flesh it out and shop it to magazines or whatnot Iíd be happy to do a full line-by-line of it. Youíre someone who came to TD after my hiatus so I had no idea what to expect from you, and what a pleasant surprise! I think youíve definitely got more wins in you if you keep up this level of prose.

The Civilians by sparksbloom

This was beautiful and melancholy and really well-written, but it wasnít quite a story. I get exactly what you were going for, and it reminded me a lot of a story that I think you could learn some good poo poo from.

Thing to work on: If you want to see/hear a beautiful example of a story of this type done well, check out A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World by AC Wise. This story is similar to yours in many ways, but it features a few important things: more emotional conflicts and more choices the protagonist has to make that ensure itís still a complete story rather than just a heartstring-tugging vignette.

Vanheil by AllNewJonasSalk

I will say that I liked this one a lot more upon rereading it, but it is justÖ very average. You appear to have sketched an outline of what would happen, then followed it, but something about it is lacking in a way thatís tough to pin down. Which isnít a super helpful crit, I know. I liked to see dwarves, and you sprinkled the fantasy details through the narrative really well. I think upon rereading my biggest issue is with Jason. He feels like an archetype, like we donít really get a sense of exactly what his emotions are. He reacts blandly and uncaringly to everything, even maggots in his food, and that makes him difficult to relate to.

Things to work on: Writing grief is tough. I think you were going for ĎJason has shut down over his griefí but it wasnít quite portrayed correctly and he just came off as a slightly boring dude. Giving him an outburst or a bad dream or some worries or paranoia or SOMETHING to show what he was feeling or what had driven him to shutting down would have felt like more realistic and relatable trauma.


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Good night, sweet thread; you've served us well, and now you may rest and dream.

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