In. Vamp me, daddy.
|# ¿ Aug 2, 2018 05:10|
|# ¿ Nov 30, 2023 18:11|
Brawl vs. mockingquantum entry:
Brawls don’t often get full crits and I appreciate the fact that you put 3000 words of effort into this.
Link to Google Doc of the full crit so I am not reposting a 3000-word story twice.
|# ¿ Aug 4, 2018 08:24|
We Will Either Sink or Rise
Can be found in the archive.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 02:32 on Jan 1, 2019
|# ¿ Aug 6, 2018 00:35|
Arg god drat it. I’m so busy this week but the cards are too good to ignore. In.
|# ¿ Aug 8, 2018 00:58|
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.
|# ¿ Aug 9, 2018 01:34|
Cleared by Sebmojo:
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.
|# ¿ Aug 9, 2018 03:51|
On his sixty-first birthday, Mac Leonard sat on a grassy hillock that overlooked the surf. Steel-grey waves rolled in. A pack of kids played footy on the wet sand. The sky was that peculiar grey-gold color, like every molten metal all mixed together at once.
Celebrating his own birthday felt meaningless–offensive even–when Luke wasn’t ever going to have a fourteenth. And even though they were his best friends, his whanau, his family in all but blood, the last thing he wanted to do was spend the evening mingling with the Mangawhai Heads Surf Lifesaving Club. Not now.
Mac was famously level-headed, but he felt his grip was slipping. The club would go on, even though they’d lost one of their own, but how could he?
How could he ever face them again? Why were they even celebrating?
Hunger finally forced him into the lions’ den of the clubhouse. Sixty-one. That was maybe the age a man oughta start cutting down on the pizza. He held himself to a single slice of pepperoni and cheese.
“Mac, it’s good to see you.” He knew that too-smooth, too-sympathetic voice anywhere.
“Willis, hey.” He toasted the man with his slice in lieu of a beer.
“I hope you’ve been well, all things considered?” Willis Belkin was, as always, immaculate. Today he wore a salmon dress shirt and slacks that probably cost more than Mac made in a week.
All things considered, you Ponsonby gently caress, Mac wanted to say. All things considered we’re throwing a birthday party two weeks after a teenager drowned on our watch. Doesn’t that seem screwball to you?
“Holding up all right,” he lied, licking cheese off his thumb.
“That’s the way,” said Willis.
“That’s the way,” Mac agreed.
Everyone wanted to know how he’d been keeping. Everyone was concerned. But behind that concern, Mac knew what they really wanted to know: when are you going to step down and give this club to someone who can do the job right, you broken old man?
A small blond clone of Willis appeared.. This one’s shirt was deep indigo rather than salmon.
“Hey Mac.” He smiled gently, like Mac was a child. “Happy birthday.”
The smaller Belkin was Archie, one of Mac’s senior surfers. He was still about half Mac’s age, but older than the kids. Were he up to dealing with the fallout it would cause, Mac might have asked them both why they were even present. His personal birthday shindig didn’t give them any opportunity to show off how much they donated. Nobody from the newsletter was snapping photos.
gently caress it, Mac grabbed another slice of pizza and crammed in his mouth before he said anything stupid.
“Hey, Mac, you got a second?” Archie hovered at his side, an awkward tagalong.
“Maybe in a minute,” said Mac. “I gotta go take a leak.”
“All… right.” Archie’s eyebrows furrowed some, but he kept quiet.
Mac munched his pizza and strolled off in the opposite direction of the bathrooms.
Bobbing like a cork, Mac floated on his back. He hung out in the soup, foam all around his shoulders, watching as some kids belly-boarded around in the ankle busters close to shore.
To be that young again. Mac barely surfed these days. His center of gravity was all off. Too much pizza.
Sighing, he unfurled his arms and backstroked into the gentle swell. It felt good to smell the sea, to let the sun bake his skin. The sea was strange like that–the thing that killed Luke, the thing that broke his club’s spine and spirit and heart all in one go–it was still somehow a source of calm.
Someone hollered over the sound of crashing surf and the obnoxious caw of gulls. It sounded like they were calling his name. But a lot of things sounded like Mac when yelled from far off, and he was in the mood to ignore anyone who needed him. Luke had needed him. He’d hosed that up. Someone else could deal with whatever it was.
It occurred to Mac that he couldn’t hear the people on the beach anymore.
Lifting his head, he peeked up over the rolling water. The shore was further away than he anticipated.
A lot further.
Rolling onto his stomach, Mac transitioned into breaststroke. He swam hard, thick legs scissoring through the water, yet he could feel the current dragging at him. He huffed hard and dug his head down, swimming parallel to the shore. If he cut east along the shoreline, he’d make it into calmer water sooner or later.
Something in his shoulder twinged. He grit his teeth. A few more strokes and the twinge transformed into a dull, deep pain that seemed to eat at him from as deep as his bones.
The same bum shoulder that gave out when he was bent over Luke, forcing air into his mouth, palms hard and rhythmic on his chest.
He’d torn his rotator cuff playing golf of all things. Golf. A foolish old man’s game. He thought the surgery went well, but it failed him when he needed it most.
Luke had needed it more than he needed it now.
Mac powered through. He swam til everything burned, til each breath was a harsh salty gust. He switched out strokes, adjusting his front crawl into an Ocean Walker, then finally he rolled onto his back and frog-legged haphazardly in the direction of land.
Minute by minute, movement came harder. His limbs felt heavy. He was tiring and he knew it.
As his kicking feet faltered and his body sagged with exhaustion, a thought danced across the surface of his mind:
Had he done this on purpose? Or at least halfway on purpose?
Something sloshed in the water beside him. He barely heard it over the slow thrum of his own pulse in his ears.
“Hold up there, Mac. I got you.”
A skinny but strong arm heaved him up by the chest. He was pressed against another body, a strangely warm presence in the cool seawater.
“Archie? The gently caress are you doing here…”
He wanted to be angry. He wanted to be irritated. But he just didn't have the energy.
Back on shore, Mac sat his rear end in the hot, gritty sand and tried to come up with an excuse.
Archie Belkin stood over him, wiping damp bangs out of his eyes. He looked concerned. Could Mac detect what might have been a hint of disappointment lurking behind that concern?
“Just take it easy,” Archie said.
It was easy to take it easy back on dry land. His shoulder throbbed, but the sun was baking all that salt water away, and despite how sore and short of breath he was, Mac felt fresh. He felt clean.
“Happens to all of us at least once,” Archie said, absolving Mac of the need to explain himself.
The kid was smarter than Mac had given him credit for. Smarter than his vapid father. Mac held his eyes and an unspoken understanding passed between them.
He never meant for any of it to happen. Never meant to lose Luke, never meant to spiral into such an unhealthy place, never meant to let himself drift out that far.
Or maybe he just wanted to feel like he had no control. Like everything was beyond his reach. Because then he wouldn't have to grab a hold of himself and find the balls to do what had to be done.
Mac turned his head and spat into the sand.
“Thanks, kid,” he grumbled. Apparently Archie paid more attention in training than he'd thought.
After thirty-four years, Mac Leonard resigned as president of the Mangawhai Heads Surf Lifesaving Club.
He only ever lost one surfer on his watch.
A record worth admiring, no matter what he thinks.
|# ¿ Aug 13, 2018 01:58|
Sweet prompt. In.
|# ¿ Sep 26, 2018 06:21|
Follow Thou Me
The dust finds its way into everything here. Piled up on doorways, caked onto tires, carried on the dry wind that hisses through the canyon. Little drifts of it form like tiny dunes along the hot steel of the compound wall.
I flutter weakly, baking on the pavement, a perfect bootprint of orange dust stamped across my back.
You dropped me here. I know you didn’t want to.
If you had your way you would have carried me in your pocket forever. A memento. A token. Someday when you walked between skyscrapers or dipped your toes in the ocean, you’d reach into your jacket and touch my worn edges and think back on the day you tore the flap off a tithing envelope and created me.
Not many people walk the sidewalks within the walls. It’s days before someone finds me. By the time a girl who isn’t you peels me off the ground, word is already out. The compound simmers with talk of runaways and sin.
She wipes the bootprint off me and reads: 2 Nephi 31:10.
I don’t know if she knows it by heart. A lot of us do.
And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
A good Mormon scripture for a good Mormon girl. A reminder of the covenant we must not break. A reminder to obey.
She’ll never know what was scribbled in your Book of Mormon back home, the circles and curlicues and underlines. Verse 8. Verse 10. Chapter 31. Verse 14. Verse 22. The 2 from Second Nephi. Ten digits smuggled in scripture by a Sister who had reached the outside. And with them the pre-paid Nokia stitched carefully away inside a teddy bear.
The scribble on me reads 2 Nephi, but you knew the secret code. You heard it in her voice: there’s a place for girls like us out there. And people who are trying to help.
She couldn’t stay, couldn’t hold your hand through this. But you had me. I was with you those long nights spent awake and wondering. With you the morning you slid the phone from its hiding place and sent a simple text: Tonight. With you that final evening when you held your breath and crept out your bedroom window.
I know you didn’t want it to end like this. You were supposed to take me to California. Maybe all the way to Mexico.
I felt it the same as you did that moment you reached into your pocket and realised I’d fallen out. I felt the same reluctance. The same longing. But we both knew deep down you didn’t need me anymore.
I was still with you, in spirit if not in body, when you hesitated at the wall and looked back on all you would leave behind. You were saying goodbye to more than just me. You were saying goodbye to your mother. Your brothers. The Elder you were meant to marry. To God.
I only existed to deceive the brethren. And by the time the sun crawled up over the red rock, you were gone. No more deception needed.
I wonder if you made it. I wonder if you’re okay. I hope the ocean smells just like you imagined it.
Object: a note left on a sidewalk.
|# ¿ Sep 30, 2018 09:27|
In. Objectify me.
|# ¿ Oct 2, 2018 21:14|
Bethany's wedding is perfect. It sprawls across the manicured vineyard like a couple acres of floral psoriasis. The photographs will be timeless.
The decor is classic but fresh: white lilies, garlands of silk, just the right amount of accent in desirable pastels. Except for the goldfish. Whose idea were the goldfish? Hideous little buggers.
They swim in brainless circles in their centerpiece vases, bloated things with bulging eyes and fat jowls that could put even our most obese uncles to shame. Vacuous, smoosh-faced water pugs.
At least the fish are a better distraction than Preston. He's a walking pocket square with a Hitler Youth haircut. He pushes champagne into my hand, asks how I've been. I sip and mumble noncommittal answers while tells me all about his new car and blatantly ogles my chest.
I turn my scarred left side away from the lens of an approaching photographer. Under proper lighting, with my chin up and my hair swept over my décolletage, the craters and burns are almost unnoticeable. Preston throws an arm around me for the photos, fingers threateningly low on my back.
When Bethany arrives, she out-dazzles us all.
I’ve spent every day of my life in her shadow. At least at a wedding, it’s expected for the bride to eclipse you. We embrace, her hands on me fleeting, as if she can’t wait to be through with me. Click. Flash. Smile.
“Doesn’t she clean up nice?” Preston's schmoozing with my auntie now.
They’re talking about me, of course. No one would ever accuse Bethany of needing to clean up.
She keeps her arm around my back. We face the cameras arm in arm. I turn my cheek, refuse to show them my scars.
Bridesmaids flutter in, pigeons in dove-grey chiffon. My gown–modest, navy, a kalasiri with one sleeve to hide the damage–is a conspicuous dark blotch in the crowd.
“I’m so glad you could make it,” coos a bridesmaid who doesn’t grasp the significance of a sister left out of the wedding party. Or maybe she's being a bitch.
I excuse myself to the bar and let them circle in Bethany's orbit.
Seating chart be damned, I sink down with fresh champagne and a centerpiece full of goldfish. We brood into one another’s faces. Glub, glub. My scars are starting to itch.
The happy couple first-dances to Truly Madly Deeply. Preston drops into an empty seat beside me and sighs about how he always loved this song.
“I want to bathe with you in the sea,” I tell the fish, though I haven’t been able to stomach the sight of myself in a bathing suit in a decade. Boy, I'm drunk. The itch intensifies. I feel like I'm burning all over again.
“Glub, glub,” says the fish.
It probably doesn’t even have enough brain cells to feel trapped. Then a thought hits me like a slap across the face: I am not this goldfish. I don't have to stay.
“Heeey,” I make gently caress-me eyes at Preston and bounce my knee close enough to his that they touch. “Can I drop my purse and jacket in your car?”
He's whip-snap quick to catch the implication of that and throws me the keys like it's an emergency.
I grab the vase off the table as I rise. Preston's too blinded by the prospect of getting some to ask questions. I slip behind him and collect a goldfish off every table I pass, emptying their vases into mine. The party has reached the Cotton-Eye Joe stage; nobody even notices I'm gone.
Bloop, bloop, bloop. I pour fish after fish into the vase, until I've accrued a small blobular army. They're crowded, but I promise them it won't be long.
Preston's BMW is just as flash as he said it was. I hike up my dress, kick off my heels, and climb inside. I buckle the goldfish into the passenger's seat.
We can't bathe in the sea--they're freshwater fish. But maybe there's a lake somewhere out here in wine country.
Protagonist embodies THE EARTH'S MOON.
|# ¿ Oct 8, 2018 01:55|
Spooky scary sekeletin.
|# ¿ Oct 16, 2018 21:56|
The noises outside stopped too early tonight; you grabbed your flashlight
Can be found in the archive.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 02:33 on Jan 1, 2019
|# ¿ Oct 22, 2018 06:35|
when, when, surreptitious muffin
|# ¿ Oct 23, 2018 23:27|
burning my cascadia flag to hoist the laser kiwi
e noho rā, suckas
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2018 02:20|
Good prompt. In.
|# ¿ Oct 24, 2018 22:48|
What Sam Colt Made
tech: mold casting
Can be found in the archive.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 02:33 on Jan 1, 2019
|# ¿ Oct 29, 2018 04:16|
THUNDERDOME WEEK CCCXXVI - LET’S MAKE A PLAYLIST!
The weekend, when most of us celebrate Halloween, has come and gone. A determined few will keep the party going on a school night, god bless them. Me? I’m more a discount candy and low-key spooky movies on a Wednesday night kind of gal.
This is our last week of SPOOKTOBER, but this week stories don’t have to necessarily be genre horror.
I am looking for eerie and beautiful. Or maybe creepy and whimsical. The way the Twin Peaks soundtrack makes you feel. That sensation of frisson you get when you look at a gorgeous painting that’s just a little spooky.
And that’s where you come in.
When you post that you’re in, post a link to a song. The most eerie, melodic creepybeautiful song that you can think of.
Your prompt will be a line from somebody else’s song. If their song has no lyrics, you will be assigned a random line from a song of my choosing.
I will then compile the songs into a playlist we can listen to, enjoying some beautiful music while dismaying at some poo poo writing.
Word count is 1222
Sign-ups close at 11:59pm Friday PST
Submissions close at 11:59pm Sunday PST
A. Nomalous Blowout
solitair - And I spun on my wheel like a laboratory rat
derp - Bless my homeland forever
bolt crank - Stars are burning in the west
apophenium - Leads you here despite your destination
autism ZX spectrum - No woman’s arms could carry out your word
antivehicular - And the engine’s failed again
quidproquid - It tastes like being poor and small and popsicles in summer
sparksbloom - And then flashlights and explosions
crabrock - And now the sugar’s run out
allnewjonassalk - While you’re there with your good shoes on
surreptitiousmuffin - A basilica of stone waiting for skin
thranguy - Destroy everything you touch today
cptn_dr - My fur is hot, my tongue is cold
captain_person - My hands, unfaithful, did not protect me
lead out in cuffs - From the train, trailing sparks of gold behind.
fleta mcgurn - We’re down to the dead houseplants.
saucy_rodent - Well I’m as puzzled as the newborn child. [FLASH RULE - MUST CONTAIN RABBIT.]
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 09:49 on Nov 4, 2018
|# ¿ Oct 30, 2018 22:02|
this CONCERNS me, as a person who usually takes a few days to think up what to write, and then writes it on friday... will i not be getting a prompt until friday evening when signups close?
Nah I'll be doing them in batches a couple times a day.
First batch coming up in a couple hours.
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2018 04:15|
And I spun on my wheel like a laboratory rat.
Bless my homeland forever.
Stars are burning in the west.
Leads you here despite your destination.
No woman's arms could carry out your word.
And the engine's failed again.
It tastes like being poor and small and popsicles in summer.
And then flashlights and explosions.
And now the sugar's run out.
A basilica of stone waiting for skin.
That's no excuse for my irreedemable failure though so I'm and IN.
While you're there with your good shoes on.
Destroy everything you touch today.
My fur is hot, my tongue is cold.
Toxxes noted, lists updated, post in thread if you wanna judge because I'm traveling a little atm and infrequent with checking Discord and IRC.
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2018 08:14|
In and because I’m sure I probably need to and it’s been forever anyway
My hands, unfaithful, did not protect me.
From the train, trailing sparks of gold behind.
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2018 08:34|
You got about a day to get your rear end signed up.
|# ¿ Nov 2, 2018 06:04|
Your line is We’re down to the dead houseplants.
You didn’t post a song, buddy. Your inability to follow the rules earns you a flash rule: your story must contain a rabbit.
Your line is Well I’m as puzzled as the newborn child.
Sign-ups are now closed.
|# ¿ Nov 3, 2018 06:59|
Anyone who isn’t in, isn’t doing NaNo, and hasn’t offered to judge is a COWARD. Face these terrible stories. Scared of a little dogshit writing, are we?
|# ¿ Nov 3, 2018 23:25|
Oh, this is lovely! Thanks for the work, I hadn’t had a chance to compile it.
The songs I chose for folks whose songs had no lyrics were “Thompson Girl” by The Tragically Hip, “Drummer” by Late Night Alumni, and “Keep the Streets Empty For Me” by Fever Ray, if you wanted to chuck ‘em on. I didn’t see a way for me to do that, but I admittedly am an Old who does not YouTube often.
As always, those who show too much competence are rewarded with more work.
JUDGES ADDED TO THE PROMPT POST, I HOPE YOU ARE ALL FURIOUSLY WRITING.
|# ¿ Nov 4, 2018 09:53|
I left the door open for an extra half-hour because we had a straggler, but sign-ups are now closed.
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2018 08:31|
What's all this about LBJ?
This week felt like a big heap of average, much like your Halloween candy after you've already picked the good bits out. But buried in the boxes of Dots and the Tootsie Pops was a full-size Peanut Butter Cup in Antivehicular's Good and Faithful Servant. This tale of grief and the beyond moved me far more than a story about a haunted tractor has any right to and was the unanimous choice for winner. It is one of the finest complete stories I've ever judged on TD and I'd encourage anyone who has not to give it a read.
A lot of stories delivered the creepy but forgot to touch on the beautiful. However, cptn_dr and autism ZX spectrum both struck the right notes, earning honorable mentions.
A loser was tougher to pick this round as individual judges all found individual stories impressed them the least. Loser by algorithmic aggregate was therefore Solitair. Is that better or worse than a unanimous loss? You be the judge.
Picking up a DM was Lead out in cuffs for writing many sentences that bore no resemblance to a story, however technically competent they may have been.
Congratulations, Antivehicular. Hoist the blood crown with pride.
|# ¿ Nov 6, 2018 00:20|
I vanished again as autoimmune bullshit once again rears its ugly head but I wanted to say special and very sincere thanks to Mojo for dragging me back and for all of you for being a part of my writing life again. I think of you all often even when I'm too sick to participate!
As for participation ideas, I'd be happy to lend a few bucks for a prize of some sort.
We could also do what Mojo did for me and reach out to some oldbies who haven't been active recently. That definitely worked on my end.
|# ¿ Dec 25, 2018 07:46|
What about keeping this thread for posting stories and crits and prompts but starting another thread that's like the Thunderdome Lounge where stories can be discussed and conversations can happen on-site? It'd have to have some rules so it doesn't turn into "YOUR CRIT WAS WRONG AND HERE IS WHY" but I've been in a lot of forums or megathreads on here that have had an associated discussion thread.
|# ¿ Dec 25, 2018 19:43|
I discovered I still have some licenses for SmartEdit standalone. I’m happy to donate one as a prize to whatever publicity-type contest we end up running. It’s extremely good writing software and might be a cool prize for someone who already has Scrivener.
|# ¿ Dec 27, 2018 09:56|
As someone who is deeply Afeared of submitting anything and could probably just use a kick in the rear end, I'm seconding this one.
I missed this post but yaaaay I am so glad it got to you safely. I hope your feets are toasty and the chocolate is delicious and the pins add a little goth mystique to your everyday.
I was so happy to get you as a Santee!
|# ¿ Dec 28, 2018 07:54|
Just a bit more than three hours to get in for the week, everyone.
If you still need a judge I’ll jump on it.
|# ¿ Dec 29, 2018 06:28|
Oh hey! I’m down in zqn on the 6th, want to catch up?
Do you like beeeer? I have some buddies who just opened a brewery in town and it is
|# ¿ Dec 29, 2018 06:35|
Love the new losertar.
I’m changing up my crit format slightly so that now I’ll 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 I’ve ever read. It’s 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. I’d read more in this world in a heartbeat. You convey a sense of motion and exploration very well.
Thing to work on: The main character’s 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, I’d 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 cheatin’ hoor, which is pretty impressive as that’s 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 “she showed up and dude wasn’t there” 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 weren’t going for a comeuppance tale I can also see why you wouldn’t do that.
M. Propagandalf - I enjoyed this. It’s a little thin and I wish the main character had a bit more personality, he’s a bit of an archetype, but it’s solid and made me laugh and had a good structure. Reminds me of a campfire tale or shaggy dog story. I haven’t read the thing that everyone says it reminded them of so maybe that’s why I didn’t mind it so much.
Thing to work on: The protagonist didn’t have much going on apart from “he was an explorer who got caught” and “he was crafty.” I wasn’t 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 aren’t 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 was–it didn’t 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, it’s a little emotionally flat. Either give us good explanations as to why he didn’t 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 didn’t 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 protag’s theft might not go off without a hitch. It felt like someone telling a story about a crime that had already happened. There wasn’t much immediacy to the conflict/plot.
Flesnolk - Not quite a whole story, feels more like a lot of setup. It’s 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 I’d read more. It’s probs my fave thing from you I’ve seen in the Dome, so congrats dude.
Thing to work on: As stated above, this doesn’t quite feel like an entire story. There isn’t 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 it’s only resistance from within.
Yoruichi - Absurd but funny. It’s a story with a beginning middle and end but wasn’t 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. It’s 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 doesn’t 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, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I got no real character from either of the characters. Felt very “a thing happened, then another thing happened.” The Captain proved more interesting than your protag, and the ending felt extremely half-assed. That sort of ending works if you’ve written the entire story in that type of narrative voice, but you haven’t 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 they’re really hampered by the abrupt shift in narration style.
|# ¿ Jan 1, 2019 00:47|
I don’t have stats since I’ve borked my archive password (keep meaning to PM Kaishai about that…) but my thrice-a-week postal service finally coincided with a day that wasn’t a public holiday, so I got a box of American joy!
The incredible curlingiron actually KNIT/CROCHETED (sorry I can’t 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 haven’t had since I emigrated from the US, and some incredibly tasty handmade caramels.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.
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. I’ll post some screencaps from it when I get a second, but it’s.......... 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 can’t thank you enough, curlingiron. This is one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received full stop. You are amazing.
|# ¿ Jan 4, 2019 01:22|
|# ¿ Nov 30, 2023 18:11|
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. It’s a semi-interesting concept but you don’t quite tie it together by the end. I think the biggest problem for me is that while the events happening on ‘screen’ were interesting, I didn’t 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 ‘huh this is interesting’ 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 wasn’t bad. But it also wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 aren’t about ghosts, they’re about the effect ghosts have on the living.
The Word by autism ZX spectrum
You’ve 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 forward–i.e. I have to do this thing because My Brother or My Wife needs it, and that’s it! It’s a very common lazy storytelling tactic. Not that you’ve 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 “huh this reminds me of that story Thranguy wrote” 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 “welp it’s over gonna ask that girl out I guess” 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 can’t 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 “because this needs to happen for the plot to progress.” I got the sense you were maybe angling for a “caretaker wants to be freed of their burden” angle which is pretty heavy, and I love heavy subject matter with morally grey actions, but it felt like the actions of the characters didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 you’ve described in my mind’s 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 ‘story.’ As-is, it’s 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 can’t 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 wouldn’t 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: It’s tough to write good sci-fi and fantasy where you have to explain whole new bits of whole new worlds. It’s 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. I’d 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 isn’t poorly written, but it’s not a story. Also, I have to admit my personal judge bias here–I 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 she’s 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. ‘girl jumps off train’ but didn’t put a whole lot of work into justifying why it happens.
Thing to work on: As I’ve said regarding a few stories this week, this isn’t a story. It’s 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. It’s one of the toughest parts of storytelling to learn but it’s a vital one.
The Throbbing of Hell’s Heart by apophenium
I love the idea of a soul defying death as it’s being sent into hell. It’s one of my fave mythology tropes. However, doing such a story justice is a big ask, and this convoluted tale falls short. Like I’ve 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 protag’s brothers than their own fate. “The likes we had back in our earthly lives” 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 you’ve 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 “the story is about this dude.”
Yarning for the Lost by Bolt Crank
I really liked this story when it was just about your protag knitting prosthetics. That’s 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 didn’t know the ‘rules’ 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 didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
Thing to work on: This was a very tidy tale! I don’t have many complaints here. If you wanted to flesh it out and shop it to magazines or whatnot I’d be happy to do a full line-by-line of it. You’re 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 you’ve 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 wasn’t 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 it’s 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 just… 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 that’s tough to pin down. Which isn’t 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 don’t 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 ‘Jason has shut down over his grief’ but it wasn’t 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.
|# ¿ Jan 4, 2019 22:10|