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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



Yeah I'm in.



Also some scrub wanted to brawl me. You know who you are. Bring it.

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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



Life in Stop Motion
932 words


Read it in the archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:21 on Dec 30, 2019

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



Thunderdome Week CCCXXXVI: Best of the Bestiary



Judges: Staggy, sebmojo, Djeser

So we all know that goat's blood is hot enough to melt diamonds, right? And that a wild rear end will predict the equinox? Good - just wanted to make sure we're all on the same page here. There are a lot of fantastical creatures out there and, as usual, our true understanding of them peaked around the 10th century. So let's write about them!

Here's how this is going to work:
  1. You make a good life choice and sign up.
  2. I assign you a creature from the Medieval Bestiary to write about.
  3. You write a story involving the creature and its attributes in 800 words or less.

But for a bonus twist I'll tell you another astounding fact about your chosen animal that science has so far not discovered! Drop that in your story for an extra 200 words to play with.

What to Write: Good Words. I'm going to relax things a bit and say you don't have to feature the literal animal in your story but if you don't, then you need to make the thematic link to the animal crystal clear. Please make sure to include what makes your beast fantastical.

What Not to Write: Just to nip anything in the bud - don't just anthropomorphise your beast and call it a day. I'm not going to call a complete ban on it but please put in more effort than just making a fursona. In addition, the usual rules apply - No erotica, fanfiction, nonfiction, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, quote tags, or dick pics.

Sign-up deadline: Friday, January 11, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Submission deadline: Sunday, January 13, 11:59pm USA Eastern

Scribes:
  • Yoruichi - Your beast is the Weasel.
  • Thranguy - Your beast is the Duck.
    The presence of a duck is said to prevent night terrors.
  • Chairchucker - Your beast is the Pelican.
  • RandomPaul - Your beast is the Bonnacon.
  • apophenium - Your beast is the Alerion.
  • M. Propogandalf - Your beast is the Leucrota.
  • QuoProQuid - Your beast is the Yale.
    The call of a yale reminds all who hear it of a lost love - usually their own.
  • Bad Seafood - Your beast is the Stag.
  • theblunderbuss - Your beast is the Caladrius.
    Wise men know that the caladrius cannot stand the light of the moon.
  • Pham Nuwen - Your beast is the Bear.
    A hibernating bear's dreams of the future always come true.
  • Benny Profane - Your beast is the Onocentaur.
    Your protagonist can only communicate with platonic solids.
  • Lippincott - Your beast is the Dog.
  • Mekchu - Your beast is the Kingfisher.
  • Bolt Crank - Your beast is the Hedgehog.
  • Curlingiron - Your beast is the Crocodile. :toxx:
    Everyone alive is, finally, absolutely equal.
  • Mercedes - Your beast is the Wolf.
  • BabyRyoga - Your beast is the Nightingale.
    The heart of a nightingale beats on after death and many believe that it confers the gift of prophecy if eaten quickly enough.
  • Hawklad - Your beast is the He-Goat.
  • Tyrannosaurus - Your beast is the Bee.
    The smoke of a burning human skull will drive bees to murder.
    In your story the world is bounded within a teardrop.
  • crabrock - Your beast is the Lynx. :toxx:
    A lynx has no organs; inside it is as of the earth.
    Your protagonist is convinced they do not exist.
  • Beezus - Your beast is the Hydrus.
  • Anomalous Blowout - Your beast is the Barnacle Goose.
    The flesh of a barnacle goose will blister and burn at the touch of a Papist.
  • flerp - Your beast is the Amphisbaena .
  • Sham bam bamina! - Your beast is the Sea-Pig.
    On summer nights the bodies of sea-pigs will wash up on shore, split as if cocoons. None know what emerges.
  • Antivehicular - Your beast is the Hercinia.
    A meal of cloves may tempt a hercinia to lead men to hidden glory.
  • Dolash - Your beast is the Ant-Lion.
    The ant-lion is the enemy of the horse and poisonous unto it.
  • CapFalcon - Your beast is the Ostrich.
  • Fuschia tude - Your beast is the Parandus.
    The sound of a church bell will reveal the true form of a parandus.
  • HopperUK - Your beast is the Salamander.
    It is said that the scales of a salamander will, if properly cared for, grow into live young.
  • Devorum - Your beast is the Onager.
    The onager will bow to those of noble lineage, no matter how diluted.
  • DJ Dublell - Your beast is the Jaculus.
  • CascadeBeta - Your beast is the Torpedo.
    The torpedo swims in unusual currents; those that follow it may end up in strange waters.
  • Flesnolk - Your beast is the Griffin.
    The griffin is said to know the secret of true fire; it guards this jealously.
    You can only use . for punctuation, and your story is a comedy.
  • SlipUp - Your beast is the Echeneis.
  • sandnavyguy - Your beast is the Hyena.
    A hyena that lives 100 years becomes something far greater.
  • McSlaughter - Your beast is the Cerastes.
    The breath of a cerastes induces false prophecy; visions of a future that cannot come true.
  • Entenzahn - Your beast is the Badger. :toxx:
    Badgers may be bribed with strong liquor. Their work is rough but functional.
  • Auraboks - Your beast is the Manticore.
  • onsetOutsider - Your beast is the Ape.
  • Simply Simon - Your beast is the Mouse.
  • Kaishai - Your beast is the Lizard.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 10:24 on Jan 12, 2019

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




Your beast is the Weasel.

Thranguy posted:

in and bonus fact me.

Your beast is the Duck.
The presence of a duck is said to prevent night terrors.

Chairchucker posted:

Yes OK give me

Your beast is the Pelican.


Your beast is the Bonnacon.

apophenium posted:

In.

And thanks for the crits, y'all.

Your beast is the Alerion.


Your beast is the Leucrota.


Your beast is the Yale.


Your beast is the Stag.

theblunderbuss posted:

In. Hit me with some awful bonus fact.

Your beast is the Caladrius.
Wise men know that the caladrius cannot stand the light of the moon.


Your beast is the Bear.


Your beast is the Onocentaur.


Your beast is the Dog.


Your beast is the Kingfisher.

Bolt Crank posted:

The Siren's call makes me in, y'all.

Your beast is the Hedgehog.


Your beast is the Crocodile.


Your beast is the Wolf.

BabyRyoga posted:

In with bonus fact!

Your beast is the Nightingale.
The heart of a nightingale beats on after death and many believe that it confers the gift of prophecy if eaten quickly enough.


Your beast is the He-Goat.

Some minor clarification going up in the prompt post in a minute or two so make sure to check that.

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




Your beast is the Bee.

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



crabrock posted:

in :toxx: bonus fact plz

Your beast is the Lynx.
A lynx has no organs; inside it is as of the earth.


Your beast is the Hydrus.

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



Anomalous Blowout posted:

In and please do flash me.

Your beast is the Barnacle Goose.
The flesh of a barnacle goose will blister and burn at the touch of a Papist.


Your beast is the Amphisbaena .

Tyrannosaurus posted:

I'm sorry. I wasn't clear with my intentions. I would also like a bonus please.

The smoke of a burning human skull will drive bees to murder.

Sham bam bamina! posted:

In, bonus 200.

Your beast is the Sea-Pig.
On summer nights the bodies of sea-pigs will wash up on shore, split as if cocoons. None know what emerges.

Antivehicular posted:

In, with an exciting bonus fact

Your beast is the Hercinia.
A meal of cloves may tempt a hercinia to lead men to hidden glory.

I'll get to the rest of you when it's not making me late for work. Again. I will, however, say thank you now to our two brave co-judges.

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



sebmojo posted:

Im judge

Thank you.

Dolash posted:

I've seen the banner ads and the avatars, and this is the year I get in. Hit me with a bonus fact while you're at it.

Your beast is the Ant-Lion.
The ant-lion is the enemy of the horse and poisonous unto it.

QuoProQuid posted:

Can I please also get a bonus fact?

e: and thanks for the thoughtful crit, blowout

The call of a yale reminds all who hear it of a lost love - usually their own.


Your beast is the Ostrich.

Djeser posted:

I am judging

Thank you.

Fuschia tude posted:

in, bonus me daddy

Your beast is the Parandus.
The sound of a church bell will reveal the true form of a parandus.

Also, thank you everyone who has submitted crits.

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



HopperUK posted:

I'll play! Gimme a bonus fact please.

Your beast is the Salamander.
It is said that the scales of a salamander will, if properly cared for, grow into live young.

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



Devorum posted:

In with a Bonus Twist.

Your beast is the Onager.
The onager will bow to those of noble lineage, no matter how diluted.


DJ Dublell posted:

What better way to start writing than trial by fire? I'm in.

Your beast is the Jaculus.

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



CascadeBeta posted:

In, gimme a factoid.

Your beast is the Torpedo.
The torpedo swims in unusual currents; those that follow it may end up in strange waters.

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




Your beast is the Griffin.
The griffin is said to know the secret of true fire; it guards this jealously.


Your beast is the Echeneis.

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



sandnavyguy posted:

In, hit me with a fact!

Your beast is the Hyena.
A hyena that lives 100 years becomes something far greater.

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



McSlaughter posted:

I'm in, let me get a factoid.

Your beast is the Cerastes.
The breath of a cerastes induces false prophecy; visions of a future that cannot come true.

Entenzahn posted:

:toxx: in with a bonus fact

Your beast is the Badger.
Badgers may be bribed with strong liquor. Their work is rough but functional.

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




Your beast is the Manticore.

onsetOutsider posted:

Hi I'm in also for the bestiary challenge.

(this is my first sign up btw)

Your beast is the Ape.

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



I was going to post something to this effect ahead of the sign-up deadline. I am a filthy Brit and as such those deadlines are at 5am for me. I won't be closing sign-up or submissions any earlier than 7am GMT, so you've got a couple of extra hours there. In all likelihood I would wait until I got to work (~9am, so 4 extra hours) before closing things on Monday.

The judge decrees: two extra hours. Anything after that and you're risking failure.

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



Simply Simon posted:

Super duper, thank you! Then I won't come late to work on Monday (unless the internet situation fixes itself - it's out of my hands - then I'll be late as gently caress!).

Your beast is the Mouse.

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




Your beast is the Lizard.

And with that, submissions are closed. Get writing!

Except you, Dolash. Goddamn, take a rest.

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



CLOSED

That's all folks - relax, have a drink and wait for the judgement to roll 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



Week 336 - Best of the Bestiary - Results

What a week.

We've had tales of bad roommates and revenge, goats in space and banditos, sacrifice and duty. We've had a lot of stories ending with the protagonist just straight-up dying. We've had some questionable titles and truly suspect dialogue. You've taken the prompts you were given and run with them in some creative ways and a lot of my notes consist of variations on "oh, that's clever". Given the sheer number of entries we had, the quality of stories ran the whole range from excellent to crummy. You made a hell of a lot of work for the Judges and before I go any further I want to thank sebmojo and Djeser again for all their help. We could have deliberated for days but in the end we had to come to a decision.

Now for what you've all been waiting for. I'll keep it short and sweet - full crits will be forthcoming over the course of the next week.

First of all, the failures. QuoProQuid, Mekchu, BabyRyoga, Tyrannosaurus, CapFalcon, CascadeBeta and Sandnavyguy - for shame. RandomPaul - at least you withdrew early and for a good reason.

Mercedes, the deadline was extended and you still submitted late. You're disqualified but you'll get a full crit for at least not failing.

The loss goes to SlipUp. This was a close one but the judges were united in not knowing what on earth was happening. Enjoy your new losertar and try again next week.

The dishonorable mentions go to Simply Simon, Bolt Crank, McSlaughter and Chairchucker.

The honorable mentions go to Pham Nuwen, Anomalous Blowout, Entenzahn and Benny Profane. Good work!

The winner this week is none other than Antivehicular for a great non-literal use of the prompt and a story that was, in the words of one judge, "cool and weird". Things were close at this end of the results too. Crisp, clear dialogue and efficient worldbuilding helped you pull ahead just enough to win. Congratulations!

Please take you seat on the blood throne.

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



In, I'll take an opener please.

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



Week 336 Crits Part 1

Dolash: The Lion’s Den

Well done on submitting early and not submitting a rushed mess. Your language is clear and clean throughout and does a pretty good job of setting the scene. You had a complete, if simple, story structure - scene, peril, struggle, triumph, reward. This isn’t a bad story.

On the other hand, it’s not particularly great. It is a very, very simple story and pretty cliché too. At the end of the day that was always going to limit your chances of placing anywhere higher than medium. There were three flaws that I could see:
  • The setting was generically fantasy and throwing in things like rifles and gas lamps pulled me out of reading it. Would a bow have been more cliché? Perhaps but it wouldn’t also have helped things flow. If you’re going to mix fantasy with newer technologies you really need to lean into it - which is admittedly hard to do with such a short word count.
  • Sometimes your language is too clear and precise. The fight scene felt very clinical and methodical - take the line “the plate protecting the antlion’s neck”. That makes it sound like the protagonist has experience fighting them or is calmly analysing the situation. Have the revelation come after the death, when he has time to breathe and analyse the situation.
  • The reward of the horse being healed felt unearned. Yes, the protagonist killed the antlion - but there’s nothing to link that struggle to the reward. Did the deer spirit help because he didn’t take the shot earlier on? Because he removed the antlion, which was eating the deer? Who knows?

All in all, a competent short story.

Bolt Crank: What’s Spine is Yours

I like that you really leaned into the voices you gave your characters, I really do. And I didn’t notice the choice of tense as much as the other judges. You had a simple but complete story and you worked the prompt in well.

The thing is, it really felt like you were going for a fable/morality tale/creation myth for naked mole rats but without ever fully committing to that tone. The inclusion of the paragraph about the first naked mole rats ended up feeling a little jarring and then everything after it ended up feeling unnecessary. You had half a fable and half a fun little woodland tale but together they ended up detracting from each other - they whole was less than the sum of the parts.

Again, I’d really like to see this focused fully on an oral tradition-style “how the naked mole rat got its teeth” or similar.

Yoruichi: Necessary Evil

I’ll admit, I’m really glad you submitted because I wanted to see how you were going to work in freaky mouth-sex ear-birth weasels. I think you made excellent use of the prompt - the nonsensical and monstrous births helped drive home this sense of the weasels being almost HR Giger-esque monsters to both the birds and the protagonist. Your language was clear and descriptive and fun to read.

There were a couple of points that I had to go back and re-read a couple of times - figuring out that he was at his grandfather’s house, for example. I think the biggest negative was a lack of any deeper meaning to the story. I kept thinking that it was leading up to some sort of parallel between the weasels attacking and the protagonist/grandfather relationship but it never really did. Not every story needs some deep symbolic link but I think a bit more depth would have rushed this firmly into HM/win territory.

I’ll definitely remember this one for a while.

HopperUK: Salamander

Maybe I’ve been listening to too many episodes of the Dollop dealing with early American colonies and the like but the scene you established and the desperate paranoia and accusations of the townspeople you described felt very real and grounded. Your writing was clear and easy to follow and I think you stuck the ending. I appreciated your use of the well-poisoning fact from your prompt.

Having said that, it was a bit of a missed opportunity when you passed over the fact that salamanders are incredibly cold per medieval lore, not hot. I thought that was where you were going with this: remaining cool, albeit cold and distant, under pressure (and fire). Maybe it’s a petty quibble, I don’t know.

Also, please, please, please vary your sentence lengths a bit. Too many of your sentences ran on and on and could have been two or maybe even three sentences instead and this gave everything a very rushed and breathless tone and you see how this sentence sounds now? You also have a tendency to repeat words in close succession: “easy”, “hid”, “thereafter”, etc. Unless you’re going for a specific effect, don’t do either of these.

Good work.

Simply Simon: A Nugget of Truth in Every Mouse

Ok, I’ll be honest: you very nearly lost this week. It all came down to an old question: is it better to have a good idea poorly executed or a bad idea competently executed. You definitely had a good idea and I really liked the twist at the end, that the father wasn’t stealing or hoarding gold. It was also a great way to work in two weird facts from your prompt. If you had really driven home early on that the accusations were all in the protagonist’s head - and that they weren’t a particularly reliable narrator - this would have been a really touching father-son relationship moment.

But my god, the prose. The dialogue. You’ve kindly ruled out ESL issues here so this was just a bad choice of style. The language buried a good story and made this very frustrating to read. We could go over things like varying your sentence length and proofreading (I do it out loud - it really helps) but before any of that you need to get a story down in plain language that doesn’t read like I’m having a stroke.

It really is a pity. Again, you had a rock-solid story idea and ending twist here. I’m looking forward to seeing what you submit next.

Auraboks: Peaceful Cohabitation

That’s a great opening paragraph. Fantasy monster odd-couple sitcom? I very much want to read that. You set up a great premise in very few words. I don’t really have much to say about your language after that - it’s all clear and competent and, while not fancy, doesn’t get in the way of the story.

The story, though … It can be summed up as “My roommate’s a jerk and kills me. The end. No moral!” I liked that it was quick and fast-paced but nothing really happened. Maybe if you’d set up something earlier about the manticore struggling against it’s split nature, the ending wouldn’t have felt like it popped out of nowhere. Hell, bounce the conflicted nature of the roommates as a couple off of the conflicted nature of the manticore itself - do something.

Benny Profane: The Onocentaur’s Revenge

You goddamn nerd. Good job using the hellrule. I enjoyed reading this - it was fun and creative and sympathetic. More than anything else, well done on managing “woah, imagine if you were actually inside a game of D&D” without the usual obnoxious wankery that usual brings along. There’s a clear story progression and you set things up with very little wasted wordcount. I also liked that the onocentaur came across as downbeat and sympathetic without being whiny.

I’d caution that with a concept like this you risk writing something too niche and just confusing the hell out of your readers. Relying on SA readers being huge nerds is a fairly safe bet though.

I’ll admit that you got a HM because this was sweet and dealt with the aforementioned technical challenges very well. Having said that, the ending fell flat (a common theme) and the protagonist doesn’t really do much. In a week with a few more words to spare I’d hope to see a bit more action fleshed out, especially in the ending comeuppance.

Pham Nuwen: El Oso

I really liked this story. Full disclosure, you were very close to a win. I liked the non-literal use of the prompt (although I’d have liked to see more bear qualities than just body shape) and there was good use of the flash rule. I thought the twist ending was very well done and very satisfying. I did initially read the prophetic dream as saying which mailbag the gold was in, so when El Oso goes rooting through them all it worked for me as subtle foreshadowing that the prophecy was junk. Then I re-read it, that wasn’t actually specified, and I was a bit disappointed.

It wouldn’t be a TD crit without picky spelling errors: “You will fall of your horse”.

There’s not much else to say. The ending was a bit abrupt but worked. Nice one.

flerp: The World is a Rat

This is a weird little piece and it does a good job of capturing that emotion of “god I wish I could just be a cat/dog/snake/etc.”. You fit quite a lot of backstory into a short word count.

I want to like this story more - it’s definitely not bad - but it didn’t really do much for me. Apart from that one note of emotion there’s not really any depth to it. Girl is sad. Girl turns into snake. It’s just someone running away from their emotions and not really learning or doing anything.

Theblunderbuss: One Last Job

Good use of the prompt. The caladrius takes illness upon itself and burns it out in the sun - Sand sacrifices themselves to let Bari get away, burning out in the process. That’s how you weave in the prompt - and the flash rule was deftly used as well.

Your ending felt more earned than some other stories this week but that’s not saying a huge amount. The last few lines didn’t really work - it’s just the protagonist being annoyed without tying back into any earlier part of the story. You also had a few clumsy sentences, like “Not long now since the gang was more than the two of them, but, well. poo poo happened.” It’s nothing that another pass, preferably reading out-loud, wouldn’t catch.

Entenzahn: A series of natural deaths

I’ll be honest: when i set the flash rule I was expecting “work” to be something like excavating or building. Assassination was not at all what I had in mind but you know what? You made it work. Murderous badgers shouldn’t work but this time they did.

I got what you were going for with the different scenes all connecting together but it took a re-read to really cement everything. You could have stood to get rid of the scene with the sheriff altogether - it didn’t really add anything. The line scoffing at witchcraft/etc. As opposed to killer badgers felt clumsy and unnecessary in particular. Other than that, all I can really criticise is the odd line here or there - “it crept up his body”, for example, seems far too slow and steady when a man is being mauled by badgers.

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



Week 336 Crits Part 2

Hawklads: Goats in the Shell

I like a good pun as much as the next person but the title didn’t really fit the story. Having said that, this was a fun read. You managed to capture a tone I really enjoy reading - not wacky, not goofy, just slightly skewed. Writing a jokey concept like this without being obnoxious can be tricky and you pulled it off.

There’s a tone of resigned exasperation to this story that suits it well. There’s not much tension - I think it works, although a little excitement wouldn’t go amiss. I don’t really have much to say about this one and I think that’s its shortcoming - despite the unique concept I don’t think I’ll remember this a month from now.

Lippincott: Harnessed Loyalty

What I liked most about this story was how you characterised the dog - daft and energetic but not sappy. It felt like a very realistic experience with a dog that has too much energy. You did well with one of the more mundane animals and no flash rule or hell rule.

Having said that, I feel like this story needed to be either 200 words shorter (chopping out some of the backstory) or 200 words longer (developing the action). Reading this felt very relaxed and steady until BAM the action has come and gone. In a sense that’s good - it reflects the idea of gliding along on a sled until you’re rudely interrupted. On the other hand, the actual story feels a bit too rushed, buried under the setup.

SlipUp: Man’s Law, God’s Law and Fishy Law

I like that you went for one of the more subtle aspects of your prompt, delaying litigation. I like that you tried to not just go “This happened and then this happened” - you broke up the story and moved the chunks around a little in the flashbacks and dialogue. It’s ambitious and that’s good.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work. Skipping back and forth between explanations of what happened just leaves the story feeling confused and opaque. The lack of dialogue attribution really doesn’t help. Besides which, the plot doesn’t really make sense. Your protagonist (wholly unlikeable and not in an interesting way) doses a guy’s communion wine and pretends to be a priest to hear his confession. Why? Why did he need to dose him - if you can get in the booth why do you need the other guy to be tripping balls to not know who you are? There’s no real motivation, the characters all feel very flimsy and the attachment to the prompt is very strained. The ending makes no sense and just feels artsy for the sake of artsy.

And for the love of god you only need one line between paragraphs what the hell.

Antivehicular: Hungry Birds in Dying Forests

What stands out to me most is the good job you do of drip-feeding worldbuilding in a very efficient manner over the course of the story. The sense of urban darkness and abandonment, coupled with the few points of light that shine through, give a vivid impression of a dark forest despite there not being a tree in sight. You keep weaving things back into the prompt and the world becomes more coherent for it.

I particularly like the dialogue at the end. You really capture that desperate, rushed pleading. It read like something out of a horror movie or a particularly bad dream - the effect was unsettling and set up the ending very well.

I mean, you won. I don’t really have much criticism.

Devorum: A Princely Reward

Going into this knowing the flash rule, it’s fairly obvious where everything is headed. That’s not to say this is a bad thing - I was interested to see how you made the whole sword-in-the-stone thing stand out. Turns out you did that by just having the protagonist die at the end, which is a running theme this week and not particularly interesting. Throw in some jumbled politics and factions - not bad but far too ambitious for 1000 words.

I like the idea at the heart of the story and I’m a sucker for Robin Hobb-esque low fantasy political shenanigans. It’s all just a bit too much for flash fiction. “The protagonist dies at the end! No moral!” may be possible to do well but it’s very hard and this isn’t it. I feel like you had a solid base to build on - I’d be interested to see you tackle this in, say, 2000 words.

Anomalous Blowout: The Heretic’s Fork

This is another story where, knowing the flash rule, you can see where things are heading from very early on. In this case that’s no bad thing - it really helps drive home the rising tension. The prose gets a little purple at times - execrable, for example - but it just about works, given the rich, gluttonous setting.

This got a HM for a reason and that reason is that it’s a clever use of the prompt/flash rule and there’s not a whole lot to criticise. If I had to find something, it would be that the pace feels fairly steady throughout - a little upping of the tempo towards the end might give more of a rising panic.

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



Week 336 Crits Part 3

Apophenium: Red, Blue and Green

You’ve got some good, strong themes running through your story and they tie into the prompt animal in a very satisfying manner: duty, sacrifice, the cycle of violence and fighting destiny. I liked that you hinted at a much larger story and world without beating the reader around the head with specifics.

The thing is, a few more specifics might have helped. The entire time I was reading this I had the sense that I was missing something vital about the backstory/lore. You didn’t really touch on why the alerions had to die for their young to live - it doesn’t specify in the prompt and I would have liked to see something here to strengthen the themes you were working with. I also completely missed the significance of the gem that the male was wearing, as well as the title. Another pass to tighten things up would have helped.

Flesnolk: Audience

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for mythical creatures in the modern world. I like the idea of having to integrate species like griffins into structures like the UN.

The problem is, the story doesn’t really do anything with that idea. Everything is buried under clunky dialogue. Forget attribution - you don’t even use quote marks! It’s bad and it kills any sort of rhythm you might otherwise have developed. It’s hard to crit any deeper because it’s hard to get any deeper into the story. I will say that your ending makes no sense - the griffin talks about true fire as though it’s a chemical formula and the human starts going on about an app. Is … is this just a “lol apps” joke? Come on.

Crabrock: Elephant Style

This reads a bit like a fever dream, which is great. Everything moves nicely along and I got a real sense of frustration from the protagonist.

The presence of the lynx in the story felt a bit superfluous. As the protagonist’s dream? Sure, great, it works. But the addition of something actually coming in and dragging away other members of the party during the night? It doesn’t go anywhere and it doesn’t add anything to the rest of the story. The paranoia/jealousy in the final paragraph seems to spring out of nowhere - it doesn’t really add anything and it doesn’t really cap the story. You could have gotten rid of it without losing anything.

McSlaughter: Bonehouse

You do a good job of setting the scene and describing the intricate details of the house and walls. I liked the central concept of the ossuary constructed from the snakes’ skeletons and the old “family home constructed around dark secrets” idea never goes out of style.

There’s just a bit of explanation missing. There’s a spooky house, there’s a (ghost? vision?) snake in a hidden bone room. There’s just nothing to really tie it all together. It ends up feeling like a set for a story, rather than a story itself. The prompt doesn’t really come into play all that much and the whole thing reads as though it’s missing another few paragraphs where an ending actually happens.

curlingiron: Gestalt

Okay, weird gestalt space civilisations? Cool. Generous capitalisation of otherwise generic nouns can come across as a bit much but you make it work. The whole fruit/worm concept is very cool and I’d like to see this expanded on beyond flash fiction level.

I think the main problem is inherent to the style you’ve chosen. Where you’re recounting a history like this it can feel a bit dry and pensive, with not much actually happening. Which is crazy, because you’re dealing with a space-faring civilisation collapsing in on itself in cosmic horror! You can counter this by really pushing the language and lurid detail. I don’t think you pushed quite far enough.

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



The Tale of Horick the Elf
991 words

Read it in the archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:23 on Dec 30, 2019

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



Week 336 Crits Part 4

Kaishai: The Sun in Chains

I know I keep saying this but I like the direction you took the prompt in. I liked the idea of having elders act as proxy suns underground, at least on the face of it. It’s just, it had a bit of an unsatisfying aftertaste. Do they not have a huge surplus of elders? Elders must escape a lot if there’s loads of them living underground for the p.o.v. lizard to find. I think it’s fair to say that that’s too much to cover completely in flash fiction but a nod at it would have helped.

Your words are good, which doesn’t make for a very interesting crit. The story is good, if a little plain. There were just no real twists/surprises, you know? And yeah, ending on “now the real adventure begins” just is kinda frustrating to read. Kinda real frustrating.

Beezus: Insidious

It’s good to try and hint at established history/backstory early on without devoting too much of your limited wordcount to the task. It should spark the reader’s imagination and hint at just enough for the reader to fill in the blanks themselves. Your opening paragraph doesn’t quite make it, largely due to quite clichéd phrases: “years of planning down the drain”, for example. It makes “showing” feel more like “telling”.

When you first mention the clip and the gun it makes it sound like there’s something special about the clip. That sparked my interest - only it was never capitalised on and then the gun just gets fired anyway with no real consequence or followup. The latter half of your story is some real nice body horror but it feels very disjointed from the first half - and I have to confess, if there’s some meaning to the final line it escapes me.

M. Propagandalf: The Misanthrope of Bhopal

The use of “we” in the final sentence of the first paragraph feels odd and pulled me out of the story. The p.o.v. protagonist isn’t one of those geneticists or lords. In a similar way, the steampunk/biopunk elements feel a little slap-dash. If you’re going to use them, really lean into them, you know? Right now it just feels like slapping “autogyro” or whatever in when you need transport from A to B.

Also don’t use 10-dollar words just for the sake of it. “Convalesced” adds nothing and takes away clarity.

Also the ending line feels out of place and - given the kid is, you know, a 13 year-old kid - a little weird.

Still, I enjoyed this story. It’s pretty simple but you captured a little of that “gentleman adventurer on safari” magic. Again, though, it’s something you could really have leaned into a lot more.

DJ Dublell: Part of the Forest

If you’re going to start in the middle of a scene it has to be for a reason. You want to be grounding the reader in the immediate and often very urgent plot. Using this to jump into backstory just reads as though you accidentally deleted the actual first sentence. Here the backstory is so vague and generic that you forget it by the time you reach the next paragraph.

Same for swearing: have a reason. Make the reason obvious. “Swears a lot” as a character feature is pretty 2D and unappealing. gently caress. gently caress. loving. gently caress. Just doesn’t really do much.

I like that you varied your sentence structure and length a lot. It worked to really up the tension and slow things right down. I agree with Sebmojo that the paragraph starting “I take a moment to ground myself” is a really good paragraph. Imagine if you’d started there as they suggested - you would be grounding the reader in the world as the character does the same. That would have worked very well.

The ending just falls apart. It’s another one where everyone just ups and dies and nothing is accomplished or learned or even really attempted.

OnsetOutsider: Ape

It’s hypocritical because I do this all the time but: watch your tenses. “The way up is the lonely part … The weather was rough … It is not a difficult walk ...”, etc.

Having said that, there is a very pretty (and almost cozy) atmosphere to this story that I very much enjoyed. The premise is lovely and so is the execution. I just think there’s not much to prop up the emotional stakes - the protagonist loves Huxley but never really explains why. It holds everything back a little - figure out that and you’d massively improve the story.

Chairchucker: Back from the officially dead

There’s an air of disinterested politeness that runs through the dialogue of your characters and for the most part that’s great and fine - it really drives home the Brazil-esque bureaucracy-defined reality thing you’ve got going on. The problem is that this infects the protagonist as well, to the point where they don’t really feel that upset at the whole situation. It makes everything feel grey and muted which, again, is fine up to a point - but without a protagonist being contrasted against that world, with colour and emotion and drive, there’s no real interest there. It feels less like a Real Person trapped and beset by an uncaring society and more like a Vulcan sitcom.

And that ending jesus christ dude have some dignity.

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



Week 336 Crits Part 5

Fuschia Tude: You Can Taste It

Your description of the island is some of my favourite scene-setting of the week. It’s rich and sumptuous and just detailed enough for the reader to fill in the gaps without being overbearing. I liked the subtlety with which you used your prompt and hinted at the backstory.

Your ending was swift and slick but sprung out of nowhere a little. The final three sentences just feel out of place with the rest of the story. I would have liked to see a more subdued ending - or at least one that had been foreshadowed a bit more than this was.

Thranguy: Duck

You do a very good job of setting up a coherent dream logic: bizarre and fluid but hinting at an underlying structure. And frankly, a talking duck with a sword-cane and a top hat could easily come off as wacky and ~~random~~. You avoided that. And the repressed memories were portrayed effectively and with that subtle nightmarish style, rather than gore/tragedy for gore/tragedy’s sake.

But your ending paragraph is a rude awakening (hah hah). “It was all a dream … OR WAS IT?” is one of those endings that retroactively poisoned my feelings of goodwill towards this story. Just … just don’t do it. Drop the ending paragraph, slap a couple of new sentences in there, done. They can be corny or twee and still be miles better than this.

Sham Bam Bamina!: At Least It’s an Entry

Your story is short even for a week with an 800 word limit but it doesn’t suffer for it - it’s as long as it needs to be. It’s a very, very good non-literal use of your prompt and flash rule and very effectively captures a strong sense of … well, I’m not sure what emotion it is. Probably one of those ones that only has a name in German and translates literally to “little death of another’s soul” or something.

I’m going to break slightly from what sebmojo said here: I think the imagery of overcoming inertia and emerging from a garbage job (a bottom-feeding job, if we’re feeling unkind) meets the prompt just fine, even if it could have been explored slightly more.

There’s just a lack of any real progress through the story - it’s an effective character piece but there’s no drive to it. The title is a major eye-roller too - it sounds like you ran out of time and weren’t satisfied with what you had to submit? If that’s the case, you probably needn’t have worried. A little polish was all it needed (well, that plus a less angsty title).

Bad Seafood: The Hunt

I enjoyed your story. The imagery is great and the characterisation - primarily of the grandfather - felt very real and sombre without being clichéd. The story moved quickly and clearly and effectively. It wasn’t a particularly complex story but you hit each beat at the right time and told it very well.

The one bit of confusion, for me, was what actually happened to the young men of the town. I was expecting them to die - to not return at all, as they promised. And yes, that’s what appears to happen. But then you talk about nobody sleeping for two days, which sounds less like grief and more like a celebration - or madness, brought back from war. It’s only a small point but it tripped me up right as the story was moving into the climax and diluted things as a result. Another pass here would have really helped stick the landing.

Mercedes: Voice Thief

Late submission is better than no submission.

So: this was a fun, fast-paced read. You suggested just enough world-building to hold everything together and wrote believable, if uncomplicated, characters. Some of the elements of the wolf-weirdness (the banging rocks together, the loss of voice) come out of nowhere and only really make sense if you know the prompt. It’s not a bad thing for TD - just something to be aware of if showing it to someone who isn’t familiar with Medieval wolf stuff.

The story could have down with a bit of a trim and polish. There’s no real pay-off to Brad being 500lbs so it feels like wasted real estate in such a short story. Plus there are a few typos - just the usual stuff that happens when you’re in a rush to post. I’m not sure you would have made HM if you had submitted on time but I would have put it at mid-to-high middle of the road.

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



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





A Cold Reception
1,166 words

Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:25 on Dec 30, 2019

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



In, flash.

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



Hot Pursuit
1,145 words
Flash Rule: Post-Cyberpunk

Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:26 on Dec 30, 2019

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



Food Week Crits

Easy Diff - Fear Eatself

I’ll admit I don’t know much about dust devils but aren't they all impotent? Either way, it’s not a particularly evocative simile - just "swirling thing A is swirling just like swirling thing B”. I do very much like the line about the car honk, although ”horn” might have worked better here. Maybe it’s a regional thing but to me a ”honk” is, by definition, a short, singular sound.

I’m not sure xenozoologic is the right word here but it’s drat evocative imagery nevertheless I'm getting Predator crossed with a ringworm. That line about popping the top of a rat is great.

"Chinamen"? Buddy, you’d best have something to drive home the time period of this piece by the end of it. Yes, a vampire could still be ”alive” from a time when that sort of phrase was more widespread but if that’s what you're going for you can't just drop it in by itself - you need more hints at their age, more ways in which they drag the past along with them.

”The hunting equivalent of drinking from the neck". Maybe I’m missing something, maybe this is a turn of phrase I’ve just never heard of before, but this makes no sense. Zero. ls is there some other fancy vampire way of getting blood out of people? Will I find out if I read on? Even if I do, you need to establish this other way earlier because as it is this line is just confusing. It‘s a line that seems to exist because it sounds good in the abstract, like another line that comes soon after, “those of course that fancy themselves the ultimate connoisseurs”. In what way? What does this mean?

Ok, so you’ve established that you can also drink from the wrist but there’s nothing to suggest why this is a more skilful method than going for the neck.

Bubbles in the blood? I guess it could work as a metaphor but all I could think was oh poo poo he's so scared he gave himself a gas embolism.

This isn't a bad piece. It’s written well and some of the descriptions are flat-out wonderful. It has a few flaws that another pass would probably pick up on but nothing too offensive. You just didn’t really do enough with the story. You used 765 words out of 2020 and while that in itself isn’t a problem it does leave me wondering why? Look at everything I’ve said so far, all the things you could have expanded on, detailed more, and think about why you didn't. It wasn’t for lack of words - you had nearly 1300 to spare - and it wasn’t for an imminently approaching deadline. it’s a scene that could be expanded on into an actual story. Tie in the fact that your protagonist is at dinner with a vampire hobo - have this be a conversation between the two or at the very least anchor your protagonist into that scene. As it is, the disconnect between the two halves feels jarring.

Score: 4/10


Baneling Butts - Love & Sausage

Your first paragraph feels a bit too ”tell” and not enough ”show”. At this point all I know is you've used your entire word count but I think you could have spared a few more words here to better set the scene. I can picture a sullen teen in a butcher‘s shop and a frail old woman but you need a little something to spark the reader's imagination. I do like the use of "wobbled" here though.

Ok, I've now read through the first scene with Mrs Smith. Does she appear again? Is she an important character? Because if not, I think you spent too long on this scene for not enough impact. Don't get me wrong, it’s clear, believable dialogue but it adds nothing so far. You spent 145 words on the scene and could probably have achieved the same effect in a few dozen. Scrap it, use the words to paint a clearer setting, talk about customers in the abstract.

Just like you do in the next paragraph! Excellent! In jobs like this the customers - even the regulars - tend to blur together. It is, like you say, all about the rhythm.

"Slowed to a crawl" is a bit generic but it gets the job done.

The introduction of Martha feels a bit clumsy and rushed. Clumsy is fine - lovestruck teens are clumsy - but there could stand to be a bit more interaction before she hands over her number. So far this feels very twee and pleasant - think old-school Archie comics. Given the vague, undefined time period, it feels appropriate.

The next few scenes are very pleasant and flow nicely into one another - the fight with the parents, the dinner with Martha’s parents, the "betrayal" scene, etc. It feels a little by-the-numbers, though, and there’s never really much of an emotional high. Short stories, especially flash fiction, are about getting that swift emotional punch in the gut. That means sacrificing things like lots of characters and scenes.

There is a clear arc here and good personal motivations. I just think you tried to fit too much in and didn’t really leave yourself room to develop things as much as you otherwise could have. The final lines are a good example - yes, wanting to get more involved in the business and connect with his father is a realistic reaction but it doesn't really tie into anything from earlier in the story. All we knew was that he found the work boring, not that he didn't want to take over the business. Hell, even when he was briefly vegetarian he talks about it being a good job. I think if you stripped out a few of the scenes, condensed down the relationship with Martha up until the point she reveals that she’s vegetarian and add in a hook early on that the ending scene can relate back to, you’d have a more satisfying story.

Score: 5/10


Crimea - The Butcher Is Your Friend

Strong start, let’s see where this goes.

“The raw knife wound in your spine gurgled like an infant.” - I love this line. I hate this line.

Are they literally picking the lock? That seems a little too delicate a task for the scene this is conjuring up.

”kiss-me apron crow" - just worth noting, using a word that can be read both as a verb and a noun here is a little bit confusing. Why yes I did picture a crow wearing an apron, thanks for asking.

“Wells of sleep”. Walls of sleep? I mean, given the tone and language you've established so far it doesn't matter either way, this one just stood out to me.

”your wound still exploding behind you" - I’m not sure "exploding" is the right word here. It suggests a sudden, or at the very least time-limited event, rather than a continuous pulsing.

Backing up, I think you started this story at just the right time. I know some people get a bit annoyed by in media res but here, thematically, it works. If your protagonist was raised in darkness, lived in darkness, was destined to die on the butcher's table, then their story doesn’t really start until after that's disrupted. On the stairs. With the wound.

I’m a bit conflicted about the ending, though. The switch from fear to reverence - I mean, it’s not a bad switch. It's not a bad contrast. It's an interesting one. I just think it could have been hinted at ever-so slightly before now. And the pig vomit-birthing a person and the time-loop (I think?) and the more, shall we say, supernatural elements - they were just a bit of a swerve from everything up until the protagonist descends back down into the basement. As was the introduction of R, which although not exactly late as such, could have stood to have been brought in earlier.

I really did like this story, though, and I’ll remember it for a good long while.

Score: 8/10


Sparksbloom - Chicken (Flash Rule: boiled chicken and greens)

This gets off to a good, snappy start. The repetition of "door" is a little jarring but, given the context, works. If you’re inserting a subordinate clause using dashes you really need to close them out; here they’d go between “here?” and “and said”. I’d maybe put a time limit in that first line - you say the protagonist has ”hosed up beyond saving” but from that first line it’s not clear if they‘re having dinner in an hour, a day, a week, etc.

I like stories like this that deal with small, intimate conflicts. Not everything needs to be world-ending.

“picked up food that people cook” - I get what you're going for but this doesn't work. It's too clunky.

”with these I know all about you looks" - this needs to be either ”with this I know all about you look or ”with one of those I know all about you looks". Or I suppose you could do "with these I know all about you eyes".

I like your dialogue. It‘s clear and snappy and doesn't fall into the usual trap of imitating how people speak in real life - you go for the highlights and it helps things move along.

“I looked at despair” should be “in”, right?

“I left the tomato on the counter, like a memory” not sure this simile lands right.

I like your ending. I think maybe there’s a penultimate sentence missing - the final sentence is great and ends just where it needs to but comes just a little early. It’s a minor point, though.

Overall, I think this was a really good story. You took an ordinary, everyday struggle and just piled on the pressure and it was fun to read. It was relatable and sincere and you hinted at just enough backstory to tie everything together.

Score: 7/10


Saucy_Rodent - Norwegian Hot Sauce

You‘ve got to know that when you start your story with a web address like that the first thing I’m going to do is try to access the site. Turns out it's blocked by my work's IT Policy, which is a shame. Still, it’s a fun framing device

Okay, I'm liking this premise. It’s fun and interesting and - “Christ Rippers”? Jeez. If you’re going to drop a name like that you're going to have to work quickly to make the tone of the remainder match. Ideally you’d do it immediately after or immediately before.

“Tribal ritual”? I thought this was a sect, not a tribe. Tribe implies long-standing blood and family and community ties, rather than a religious order.

I really dig the idea of peppers growing at the top of a volcano. My limited googling tells me this is roughly twice as hot as the hottest habanero, so pretty hot!

"a fig, but on fire" - this is a great example of how an effective description doesn’t need to be overwrought and flowery.

Now you’re calling it a religious ritual. Good. And thank you for meeting my expectations. As soon as you started talking about psychotropics, all I could think of was that it would be more interesting to have hallucinations due to ingesting stupid amounts of capsaicin instead. One sentence later and the story agrees!

But then the next paragraph … I love the idea of a monastery full of old Norwegian guys getting hosed up on hot sauce, it’s a great tone for the story, but "Christ Rippers” and "Christ Becoming” and ritual sex don’t match that tone. They take themselves just ever-so-slightly too seriously as they are presented here.

Watch your repetition of ”since” and ”since”.

The paragraph after that has similar tonal shifts. DlYing an ancient and dangerous ritual, presumably with WikiHow style instructions and pictures? That’s exactly what I’d expect to find in a bad internet recipe's obligatory accompanying story. The bit about installing a ”discreet crematorium to deal with such weak-minded people” and exposing your guests to this in the first place? Not so much. Again, adding ejaculate to the recipe. It crosses the line from bizarre and funny to trying-too-hard.

Overall, you had a good concept. It reads, for the most part, like a lot of internet writings where the writer is revealing just a little bit too much about themselves without realising it. The tone was wildly inconsistent, though, and that really held lt back.

Score: 5/10


Antivehicular - The First Minnesotan Funeral on Callisto

As a filthy Brit, my only vague knowledge of Minnesota is hot dish. Is this going to feature hot dish? That’s a rock solid opening sentence, followed by a rock solid opening paragraph.

And a solid second paragraph. That's the sort of conversation you have when you're avoiding other. more painful conversations. That’s how you acknowledge a death in the family for the first time, by skirting the silhouette rather than face it directly.

THERE’S THE HOT DISH

You’re doing a very good job of capturing a small, intimate part of the grieving process, namely the anger and resentment and lashing out at surviving family members.

Congratulations, you’ve made me hungry for a meal shot and moss puffs.

In my mind this is similar to sparksbloom’s story in that it tells a personal, relatable story that really struck a chord with me. The scifi setting is a nice little twist, a bit of window dressing that pretties things up without overpowering them. At its heart, though, this is a solid - albeit not particularly complicated - story, well told.

Score: 7/10


Hawklad - The Community

Another story with a strong opening line.

“If you dd” - missing an “i” there.

That’s some good description of the room there.

I just got to the end of the paragraph mentioning the escape pod and I’m getting a bit worried that you’re spending a lot of time on this rebuilding process - either it’s going to be the arc of the story (which it doesn’t feel like at this point) or the story proper isn’t going to have much room to work with.

See. this is what I mean. We're 721 words into what you’ve said is ~1,500 before we get to the crux of the story - last survivor of humanity, rebuilt from scraps, etc. That’s 721 words of good, interesting, descriptive scenes that don't really move the story along. And so far it’s all things happening to the protagonist with very little reaction. Even a brain in a jar has an inner life, can have thoughts and emotions. You took the rebuilding of a person, an opportunity for some great body horror, and didn’t really do anything with it.

l'i be honest, I feel like this is all leading up to a switcheroo where it turns out the protagonist is being farmed for food.

Oh look.

I want to like this more than I actually do. It’s just, nothing really happens for the first half. Then there are a few fairly bland scenes of the protagonist exercising, learning, etc., then they get ripped apart by aliens. But at no point does any of this have any real impact - I don’t care that the protagonist gets eaten because I don't care about the protagonist because they barely feature in this story. It feels like you started with the final line and worked your way backwards.

Score: 5/10


NotGordian - Fresh Flowers from an Early Spring

I like that you're opening with some description of what the scene around the protagonist looks like. It helps anchor the scene in the cabin and avoids things happening in a void. I don’t like hypothetical descriptions so the “if the gas lantern had been on, he could have seen” line rubs me the wrong way. Don’t tell me what the protagonist can’t see unless the fact that they can’t see it is important. Tell me what they can see.

A few of your sentences get a bit long and unwieldy. Don’t be afraid to chop them up.

Okay. Lorelei just got back and this is getting unnerving in a very subdued, organic way. I like it.

Wait, why is he sitting in darkness again?

You avoided the ”dead animal” / ”human organs” reveal that I was expecting I'm glad you did.

A little backstory about Mark and why he's so fixated on death - and specifically on death by poison plants - would really help here. All we know so far is that he’s a mine worker/fixer-upper. Because goddamn he is REALLY freaking out over this. Just tossing a beer bottle over one shoulder, etc.

And now there’s a very sudden twist to ”oh hey maybe my partner is right and forest magic means I should drink hemlock to become immortal” out of nowhere.

I think your ending is about as satisfying as it could be. Ambiguous endings are always a bit of a gamble but coming down either side of ”oh hey now I'm magic" or ”wait poo poo my partner was crazy and now I’m dying” would have felt wrong.

I could see what you were going for and i liked it but you didn’t quite stick the landing. So much of the second half revolved around Mark as a person - his personality, his history, etc. - and there just wasn't the groundwork there for it to have any meaning.

I read this without realising you had the flash rule but to be honest it doesn't change how I feel about it on a second reading.

Score: 6/10


SlipUp - Kuidaore (Flash Rule: Kuidaore - to eat yourself into bankruptcy

The first two paragraphs make for an interesting setup. It should be “he would”/”he’d” rather than “he’ll”/”he will”. I like the variety of the sentence lengths. “The water began to boil” works as a closing sentence, dragging you into the scene from the brief backstory of Franklin losing his job.

There’s something almost hypnotic about the slow, step-by-step description of the cooking process you have here. It’s by no means a bad thing but I think you could have elevated it further by linking it just a little more to the protagonist distracting himself from the loss of their job/job hunt. That’s what I read it as, anyway. The dialogue is a little corny throughout but I can live with it. And there, you link the cooking to the job hunt/Franklin’s mental state. Nice!

Maybe it’s a dialect thing but I’d say “by the next weekend” or “by the weekend” and specify that it’s calls regarding job applications he’s not getting. On my first reading I read it as people not RSVPing to the party.

Ah, so this is where the story is going. I like it.

If you’re talking about value judgements - like Franklin acting strangely - you need to say who is making the judgement. Is Karen the one getting concerned, for example? Having it just be the omniscient narrator saying it doesn’t work.

Your different scenes are blending together a bit - maybe add in some dingbats or make the scene transitions more explicit in the text.

Bird song? Brandy? Oh poo poo, I know where this is going.

Ok, the paragraph starting ”a dozen eyeless birds” is great. I like the unmitigated horror of what you‘re describing. I think maybe you span too much time with it, though - it‘s hard to imagine Karen and Roman watching in silence while Franklin is doing all of these things one after the other. Pick one thing for him to be doing, such as drowning a bird, and have the other things happening concurrently - maybe the oven is closed and on and giving off the scent and oh poo poo, now your brain is putting two and two together.

The ending after that felt a bit rushed but I liked that you tied it back to the tomato sauce from the beginning. I think if you’d focused a bit more on Karen and Franklin interacting in those last few paragraphs and really tied it into something he had taught her, the ending would have been that much stronger. Overall, though, I liked the slow, consistent descent of Franklin and his desperate need to prove that this was something he could do.

Score: 6/10


Viscardus - What is Love but a kind of Hunger

This is a fun little opener. i like the contrast of the flowery language used to describe the people who built the machine versus the abrupt, blunt language the machine itself uses.

I’m getting a strong sense of character from the machine very quickly. ”A Most Sublime Act of Regicide" - very Culture. I like it.

As with the character of the machine, you do a good job of drip-feeding just enough details of the scene and setting to establish a strong sense of place.

”The land itself retreats into twilight, but I gain ground on the day nonetheless." - you have a lot of good sentences here but this is one I particularly like.

I like everything up to the ending and then I'm not so sure any more. Things move quickly once the pod reaches the surface and then it’s just over. Just like that. You follow through on things that you establish earlier in the story - the ducks, the problem of boredom in the face of eternity, etc. - but it never really feels coherent. It’s 90% setup - good setup, don’t get me wrong - to 5% payoff and 5% epilogue. It’s an action scene that just ends. It’s a mystery that's solved immediately. Obviously that's always a risk with flash fiction but it doesn’t make it any less satisfying. There are no stakes and therefore no tension and therefore no real excitement.

Also Peking duck is not the same as Pekin ducks and I’m not sure whether the latter was a typo or a deliberate choice.

Score: 6/10


Thranguy - The Tasting Menu

Interesting opener - I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

“Selectivity” - typo. Petty, I know, but there’s not much else to crit so far.

“She was a month after the wedding.” Was this supposed to be “she went”?

“Will the muscle”. With the muscle?

The paragraph about her eating habits is a fun one. I like the idea of her dashing around town and I really like the idea of a bunch of mob guys huddled in a warehouse eating fancy food on paper plates.

“She made to the move” - I’m guessing the “to” shouldn’t be there? Look, I know I keep needling at the typos but there are way too many of them and it’s jarring.

And that’s a nice twist that I didn’t see coming. For a minute I thought the violet eyes thing came out of nowhere but I went back and re-read the start.

This is a fun little read but the typos just keep jolting me out of any flow that might otherwise develop. Not a ton happens but there’s a story nevertheless - not a particularly complex or tense one but a good read nevertheless.

Score: 6/10


BirdOfPlay - 86 Cassie, 68 Cassandra

Ok, there’s a little mystery here. Not particularly clear if we’re talking a literal sandwich here or a place called The Sandwich but either works.

You’re leaning heavily into the regional dialect and I can’t yet tell if it’s jarring or not.

This is a strange little story so far but it’s told in a compelling manner.

“It would clearly be cleaning.” Huh?

“Her on out” - here on out?

… and we’re done. Huh. That’s an odd one. Typos aside, this is a very clearly written story and I found myself constantly dragged along to see what happened next. That said, the content of the story isn’t as clear and might be relying pretty heavily on local knowledge/in-jokes? If so, great, but you’re taking a gamble with any reader that isn’t from Pittsburgh. I’m still not sure exactly what happened except that the protagonist’s alter-ego (that the protagonist seemed aware of given their active avoidance of the sandwich but also seemed surprised by) took over once the protagonist ate said sandwich.

I’m struggling to find major faults with this one but I’m also struggling to rate it very highly.

Score: 6/10


Kurona_Bright - Peperonata

Okay, a nice opening paragraph or two.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be getting from Miller’s response but that’s fine. The opening lines of dialogue are a little tricky to attribute straight away, so that’s something you might want to revisit, but it makes sense in the end.

“With his coworkers was hurt” - I think you meant to strip out the “was”.

Okay, there are a lot of lines, like the protagonist realising that it’s ages since he last spoke to his sister in person, that seem to hint at some greater backstory - but never enough to actually tie anything together. It doesn’t help that you’re throwing a lot of names and relationships around for a short story.

The protagonist’s reaction to the fairly harmless childhood story seems a little over the top, even having read ahead and knowing that he’s attracted to Miller (and presumably more prone to embarrassment as a result). Exasperation, sure, I could understand.

That’s a big ol’ exposition dump right there. That entire paragraph starting “Of course” is clunky and breaks the flow of the story. It would have been less out of place earlier on - or you could have had it here but woven in more deftly, such as through character dialogue.

And then it all gets pulled together in a sweet, sappy ending. I want to dislike this but I really can’t - it’s a bit clumsy but it’s got heart and, more importantly, it adds new context to the rest of the story. The whole thing is a bit of a slow burner but I didn’t mind it.

Score: 5/10


Bad Seafood - Pit Stop (Flash Rule: Daikon Curry)

Whenever you have awkward or forced speech patterns, like you do with the aliens here, it’s tricky to tell if something is a typo or not. I think “Ah, no! I misunderstanding” should be “Ah, no! A misunderstanding” but I can’t be sure.

Look, you’re a TD regular and we both know that this is a well-written story. So I’m going to get slightly unfair here. There’s a story I read a long time ago about a bunch of aliens who show up on Earth and are huge jerks BUT have the technology to just wipe us all out and they love Earth food. Also they look like giant ducks. So they act like the worst house guests ever while everyone has to grin and put up with them and forego fancy food themselves. Until one day a group of the aliens die in a fire and the smell of crispy duck drives the hungry humans mad and they devour the alien corpses and the rest of the aliens flee because holy poo poo look at these mad cannibals.

My point is you’re serving a group of aliens with radishes for heads a curry in a carved out radish and this fact is never, ever commented on. Can you imagine humans visiting another planet for the first time and sitting down to a meal and oh poo poo the food is being served in what are, to the naked eye, human skulls? I thought this was where you were going for a good 90% of the story. When you didn’t, fine. When you didn’t but it was never mentioned at all? I don’t want to be that guy sneering about how “logically the (fictional) aliens would react completely differently” but come on.

Other than that this was a nice little scene and the effect of reading it was a bit like watching Slow TV footage of someone baking. The ending fell a bit flat though.

Score: 7/10


The Sean - Coffee Maker Man

First of all, shame on you for submitting late. Second, congratulations on submitting - better late than never!

You've crammed a lot of backstory into your opening paragraph but you've done it in a way that feels rather bland. There's no character to it, just a recital of facts.

I think you mean “amicable” not “amitable”. Typos are low hanging fruit but when you submit 12 hours late you've got time for another quick read-through.

I like the concept you're working with so far.

“Hank was lucky to piece together a meal that wouldn't get him sick.” What are you trying to do with this sentence? Because read as-is, it sounds like he's getting sick the vast majority of the time. Bit read with the preceding/following sentences, it sounds like you're suggesting that he's lucky because he rarely gets sick.

“plungin deep”

Something about the omniscient narrator isn't working for me here. Take the paragraph where you talk about Algae wanting the devices to mine for data - what does this add? So Hank doesn't know. So?

And a few paragraphs later I've realised why this isn't working for me. All you're doing is telling me, directly, that Algae isn't trustworthy. So when Hank walks into the bank of course it's a setup. There's just no tension and no real payoff. Hank has to stay at the shelter for a few days and the food isn't great? So what?

Everything just boils down to “a homeless guy gets dicked over but nothing too bad happens in the end”. If you were going for an ironic “be careful what you wish for” ending, contrasting shelter & bad food with no shelter & good food it didn't work because there's no moral arc, no bad action (or any action, really) on the part of Hank.

I wanted to like this story a lot more than I ended up liking it.

Score: 5/10

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



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



The Sound of Rain
Words: 1,606/1,970



Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:30 on Dec 30, 2019

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



Misunderstanding
96 words

"What am I supposed to do with that?"

The genie wrings it's hands sheepishly.

"Look, I'm sorry," it says, "I've got two centuries' worth of sand in my ears. I misheard you."

I glance over at the cetacean writhing on the floor.

"Ok," I say, wondering how I'm going to feed it, "fine, I get it. You misheard. But that's clearly a dolphin! You couldn't even get that right!"

The genie shrugs.

"I didn't really see many fish in the desert."

"Mammal."

"Whatever. It's pretty great though, right?"

No argument there. Best drat dolphin I ever saw.

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



In, flash

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



TULIP
Your protag is a Calvinist but is unaware of the proper term for Calvinism or that it even exists as a thing.
1,338 / 1,350 words

Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:32 on Dec 30, 2019

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



Thunderdome Week CCCXLV: 24/7



So, just to forestall the usual rabble baying for the prompt, I'm writing this in the early hours of the morning not that you ungrateful peasants care. That's got me thinking about time.

This week I want you to write me a story about a particular time of day.

Now just to head off the obvious question - no, it's not enough to just say when your story is set. I want to see that time of day inform the content and the character of your story. Don't feel obliged to stick to a rigid 24-hour clock and make use of the days of the week too. Tell me about the five minutes before last order on a Tuesday night, or the quality of light by the sea at dawn. What about the monsters that only come out to hunt during the rush hour commute or the ritual magic of the elevenses coffee break? Are you hunting a killer that only strikes when the space station's security shift rotates? Great! Tell me why!

If you're stuck for inspiration or just want an extra 250 words to play with just let one of the judges know - we'll happily give you a flash rule with a time and a hint.

Word Limit: 1,250 words

Judges: Staggy, Third Emperor, apophenium

What Not to Write: The usual rules apply - No erotica, fanfiction, nonfiction, poetry, political satire, political screeds, GoogleDocs, quote tags, or dick pics. And seriously, if your only adherence to the prompt is "hey chief, guess the victim was shot around noon" then don't expect favourable judging.

Sign-up deadline: Friday, March 15, 11:59pm USA Eastern
Submission deadline: Sunday, March 17, 11:59pm USA Eastern
(In both cases I probably won't close things until ~8AM GMT the next morning - but the times above are your only guaranteed safe submission deadlines. Gamble with timezones and my sleeping patterns at your own peril.)

Writers:
  • Djeser
  • Thranguy
  • Solitair - You do your best work in the five minutes before you fall asleep each night.
  • Joda - The thing that you seek can only be found at noon. Don't be late.
  • Captain_Person :toxx:
  • kurona_bright :toxx:
  • Antivehicular - It's 3AM. You can't afford to sleep now.
  • onsetOutsider :toxx:
  • Saucy_Rodent
  • flerp - The witching hour is more powerful than most people know. It's also not when most people think it is.
  • scuz - You must act during the meteor shower's peak, beginning at 1AM.
  • Doctor Zero
  • animist :toxx: - You thrive in the first moments of dawn, while others still sleep.
  • Baneling Butts
  • Yoruichi
  • Flesnolk - The first day of your next life.
  • SlipUp

Staggy fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Mar 15, 2019

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



Solitair posted:

IN, flash please

You do your best work in the five minutes before you fall asleep each night.

Joda posted:

In + flash

The thing that you seek can only be found at noon. Don't be late.

Antivehicular posted:

In and flash, plz

It's 3AM. You can't afford to sleep now.

flerp posted:

in flash

The witching hour is more powerful than most people know. It's also not when most people think it is.

apophenium posted:

Staggy, I would like to judge, if you do not object.

Welcome aboard!

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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



Ok folks, signups are now closed. You have roughly 48 hours to submit.

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