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Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in,

Djeser fucked around with this message at 23:40 on Jan 4, 2019

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Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



I am judging

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



hey sembojo where's that new losertar i made

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in and :toxx: with

quote:

YOU, the Anagramancer, stare down the invading MANTICORE: Will you ROMANCE IT (turn to 123), give it CREMATION (turn to 213), or summon EROTIC MAN (turn to 312)?

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



archive link

Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:46 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Wow! With everyone so eager to brawl and judge brawls, this week's judge slots must be all filled up by now!

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Lead out in cuffs posted:

This is going to appear as-is inside a whole lot of blocks of digitised human genome. Don't worry too much about the genomic stuff we removed, it's only like 0.0013% of the genome, probably really low-complexity and not super important! :v:

It's the year 75,000 and i wake up from the alien cloning vat to find that a tiny percent of my genome is now Thunderdome stories.

I turn to the hyper-advanced aliens who cloned me and say to them, "Ock! Ock! Ock!"

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Pham Nuwen posted:

Stop trying to make Umaru happen.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Hey guys! I feel like now is a good time for a refresher on posting in Thunderdome.

Here are good posts you can make in Thunderdome:

quote:

I'm in.

quote:

Title of my story
wordcount

My terrible, terrible words

quote:

Here is a crit of a story.

quote:

Thank you for the crit.

Here are bad posts you can make in Thunderdome:

quote:

Let me explain my story to you before I post it. Gosh I hope it's okay. I've done something quite sneaky. But are you prepared for it? I don't know, ho ho ho~.

quote:

edited by idiothellfucker69 at 12:05 AM

quote:

Thank you for the crit. Let me respond to it by explaining what was happening in my head, which I think is more important than what I wrote in my story. You see, I have brain worms, and thus,

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in

also :toxx: to complete at least two weeks of my backlogged judgecrits by close of submissions

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Week 266 Crits Part 1

Captain_Indigo - FuckArabella
The idea you've got here is cool, I like these gnostic demiurges creating weird universes of their own, and the cyclical ending thing is fun and reminiscent of that one Borges story about the dreaming guy in the ruins. I'm sleepy, I don't feel like looking it up. There's a few things that make this harder to get a grasp on though. One of them is purely technical: use more dialogue attribution. A cheap trick is just to put the dialogue next to a sentence about a character. The other one is a bit trickier but a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: the more abstract your concepts, the more concrete your imagery needs to be. Think of it like you have to hit a clarity threshold, and if what's going on is all woobly and metaphysical, you need to make sure that the reader's picking up what you're putting down.

Exmond - Monster killers and child stealers
The wonky punctuation, especially with the dialogue, probably didn't help, but what stuck out most to me was the weird order of information, particularly in the prologue bit. Like Peter gets introduced, and from the context it's easy to tell that Peter is his partner, but then you do an aside to mention that by the way, Peter is his partner. The core idea here is perfectly fine (CPS officer with his own family trauma sympathizes with someone he's taking in; also magic) but I think pacing in general is what you could work on. The way that information only gets referenced after it comes up makes it feel like it was written on the fly. IMO the way to improve the action scene would be to get a good idea of the apartment first, then have people doing their runny around bits once you've established the blocking.

Taciturn Tactician - Fighting Words
Huh, wonder why this was DQed. :iiam: Anyway it's good, I liked the voice of the protagonist. I think the only thing was some of the dialogue, particularly in the middle, felt like stock lines--there's good bits in there, where they're saying things they don't know how to finish, but there's also a couple lines where they say what they mean a little too directly, like “Then did your promise really mean that little to you? Did you ever intend to keep it?” It's not a big issue, but it's the one thing that stuck out in an otherwise pretty emotionally resonant story.

5D AUTISM SPEX - Sema
You've definitely got Style down here, but the interface between style and meaning is where it gets tricky. I like this impressionistic sense of the world, but things are so encoded it's hard to get at just what it means when you say "What else is there for a nymph?" This feels like a story loaded with things that have personal meaning to you, but I feel like I'm kept at just enough of a distance that I have to work to get the meaning.

Thranguy - What Kind of Fool
I like this opening, got to say. It's a fun read too, and Norman feels fleshed out as a bad influence--he's not cartoon evil, but he and the protagonist kind of use each other. What's a little bit :confused: is the way the ending comes--I get that it's looping back around to the beginning, but ending it on the protag deciding that the rabbit is real is just not much of an arc. He seems real throughout, so it's not much of a turn in the end.

jon joe - The Adventures of [Protagonist]
Oops this is messy. The wild perspective shifts are bold but disorienting, since without a way to tell who's what, I've just got to guess, and there's a few too many characters with voices that don't stand out enough. A lot of the things they say are stock-ish, and it feels like the plot just bounces around before it coalesces. I'm sure you had an idea in mind while writing this, but exposed to these out-of-context snippets, it's hard to get a grasp on what's honestly a fairly complicated situation.

Hawklad - Old Breed
With a different ending, this would still be a pretty good story. There's an abruptness to the flashbacks that works well, and it contrasts with the peace of the lake well. It's the ending that makes it interesting, because it changes the nature of his triumph from one of determination to one of morality. It turns from a story about machismo into one about dealing with trauma and it does it as the character's perspective changes.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Week 266 Crits Part 2

QuoProQuid - People Vanish Every Day
I think the strength here is the voice that manages to sound juvenile in thought without getting overly cutesy or euphemistic. It sounds like a kid trying to deal with a serious situation and serious guilt. The plot might be a little bit subtle, or maybe I'm a little bit too tired to pick up on stuff without a second read--I wasn't entirely sure what his uncle's fate was at the end, but a reread made me more confident that he's snitched on his uncle and now wants to warn him before he's disappeared.

Tyrannosaurus - heart of a dog
The uncomplicated sparseness makes this a little light in the beginning, but past the first paragraph or two it hits its stride and makes it work. This feels like a quick thing put together so you have something to post, but it's good, so I'm not blaming you for doing it quick. I like the way it combines this childlike storytelling voice with the serious impact of the sacrifices they have to make with the kids talking over each other. It's a combination of tones that makes it feel realer.

steeltoedsneakers - Last call
Hmm. Another one where I can't tell if I'm too tired to be critting or if it doesn't quite fit. This is a fine picture of two different characters meeting at a bar, and I get a good sense of both of them and their personalities, but then the ending is just abrupt and I'm not sure what to make of it. Given that this is short and at the end of the week, I want to guess "rushed ending" but I don't know. The guy seems sympathetic until he...yells at his employee because he actually owns the bar and she...was closing early? I'm not sure if either of those two things happen or were meant to happen, but that's my read, and it seems to just come out of nowhere and not really tie anything up.

magnificent7 - Hammond's New Clothes
This was pretty decent, though I think knowing the flash rule is part of understanding it properly, since my read on it wasn't wizard, it was just that Hammond was getting some kind of reality-altering karmic retribution for being kind of a dick I want to say this was a bit moralistic but then this was morals week so that makes sense I guess. My other thought was that this could probably be cut down a bit, around the beginning particularly--the setup feels like it's going for something a bit different, but it's really just an excuse to force him to talk to the wizard, so you could honestly condense it down to one paragraph about Leonard ready to open the store for his first day as manager, but oh no the key doesn't work and look here comes a hobo.

Crits for week 259 to come as soon as I take a nap so the ants in my brain can stop screaming quite so loudly

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Week 259 crits

Noah - Gorda
This is an interesting scene of futility, which is difficult to write sometimes because it's inherently about people who have given up. There's a matter of factness to the prose here that puts a bit of a distance between the reader and Andy's emotions, not sure if that's intentional, but it does make everything feel a bit more arbitrary--which is probably the point, given how it's about futility. It took a bit of rereading to make it click, (I didn't quite understand the death chute at first) but once it did, I liked it.

Sokoban - No Time
I like the concept and I respect anyone who can tell a narrative in a nonlinear way because I can't even do word jumbles. I think I get it, but like Noah's, it takes a bit of reading to unpack the idea, because there's basically two: one, he's wobbling through time as he reverses dying, and two, he's unmoored in time and re-experiencing a car crash, and I think navigating between the two of those and figuring out the meaning of both was a bit tricky.

Uranium Phoenix - Another Life That Mattered
This I think a fine framework for a story, but it's lacking a bit in personality, though I know there was a tight word count restriction this week. Doing it from a different perspective might make it more meaningful, since you're kind of "telling" the point of the story here, instead of letting us infer it. I like the idea of someone who's a peaceful scientist in a time where that's not a thing you can be, and trying and failing to get by, it could just use a bit more of his identity.

Uranium Phoenix - Violation
I like this too, though it's pretty sparsely A Metaphor. It's tricky to crit 100 words since so much comes down to what you can fit in a small space. Similar to the previous though, I think this would be better suited if the perspective was more in her head, kind of mirroring her inner monologue, as opposed to more fly-on-the-wall style.

steeltoedsneakers - Strobe
The spacing of this makes it feel halfway between poetry and prose. Again, it's tough to say I want more out of one hundred words, but what I get out of this is someone looking for a woman, a fight, and then she shuns them. There's not enough hinting at what their connection is to give the final action the weight I think it was trying to have. There's some nice word choice in there, though.

big scary monsters - The Man Who Screams at the Sun
This is a nice image and a pretty good selection for 100 words, where you get about enough space to elaborate on one thing. Beyond the image and the general vibe of "gently caress you" though I'm not sure what the intended takeaway is here, or if there is one beyond an interesting image to sit in your mind for a little while.

Fuubi - Slowdown
This is mostly just a bit generic, it's sort of what you'd expect to read about a car crash scene. There's nothing super wrong with it outside of that sort of blandness (and a few minor grammar things). My advice is to focus on what makes a situation unique: what makes this scene worth telling? Tell me something I wouldn't expect, or tell me something in an unexpected way.

Fumblemouse - Cursed Spite
I'm gonna keep saying things are interesting this week, huh? Well this is interesting, and I think what makes it work is that there's not really any fluff. Things are established, then repeated in a way that adds new meaning each time. It's unclear what's happening, exactly, but I think the sense of the structure here is more important--the cyclical nature, more than figuring out the implications.

Solitair - Unformed
Oh hey it's another A Metaphor. This works well enough but like a lot of the middle ground stories this week, I think it would have been better served with a bit more personality, maybe at the expense of some of the plot. Stuff that's A Metaphor is a bit like writing comedies: you need the framework to hang the metaphor on. The glimpses of this world are interesting, so play into that. Show me the experience of a dysphoric leukhmier, show me how he walks into a xplazh-tavern or the turbans he wears to cover his antlers or something.

Fumblemouse - Unfumbling
This is pretty cute and it should maybe have HMed. My only real beef with it is there's a bit of repetitive sentence structure, which might be on purpose, but like the first three paragraphs are all like "garblegoo" spake the whingesly, frambling the barnaby Other than that though, the only other thing I could see is introducing the wormhole bit sooner, maybe cutting down on the introduction a bit, so that it can focus on the wormhole/string theory gag.

Solitair - Eternity in an Hour
This is pretty good, and beyond that I don't think I have a lot to say about it. Which isn't a bad thing, just y'know, it's pretty straightforward. I think the real interesting bit here is less the numbing and more the idea of the artificiality of this preserved moment and its lack of substance, which you could play off of all the options she starts to imagine. Maybe also oughta HMed.

sebmojo - One Last Kiss
That there's no 'end' to this is interesting, and what I think it does is it forces you to meditate on the last bit, which is sort of what Mike ends up doing too. It lingers for as long as you let it linger, then you let go of that wire and the world keeps going. The imagery it ends on has a good rhythm to it, too--I like the repeated stress of 'sun-warmed rock'.

Bad Seafood - Homecoming
I said this in another crit but these short word limits are really best when you get one idea and meditate on it. This one gets a lot of work done by implication and contrast, and there's a rhythm to the way the story gets revealed that's satisfying. The ending almost feels like a punchline, or the inverse of a punchline. A gut punch?

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



archive link

Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:46 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 346: A Fistful of Magic Missiles

Wild West fantasy. Make it as high fantasy or as grounded as you like, as long as it's recognizably Western, and somehow fantastic.

1000 words.

Enter by midnight in El Paso on Friday, submit by midnight in Denver City on Sunday. (That's 11 PM Pacific, for you Sacramento folks.)

Sheriffs
Djeser
ThirdEmperor
Bad Seafood

Buckaroos
crimea
cptn_dr
Thranguy
Saucy_Rodent
Antivehicular
kurona_bright
perpetulance
Staggy
sebmojo
Applewhite
Baneling Butts :toxx:
Barnaby Profane
Doctor Zero
CascadeBeta
Viscardus
SlipUp
apophenium
The Saddest Rhino
Nikaer Drekin
Simply Simon
anatomi
Salgal80
onsetOutsider
flerp
Tyrannosaurus
Yoruichi

Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:30 on Mar 24, 2019

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



For the new page:

Djeser posted:

Thunderdome Week 346: A Fistful of Magic Missiles

Wild West fantasy. Make it as high fantasy or as grounded as you like, as long as it's recognizably Western, and somehow fantastic.

1000 words.

Enter by midnight in El Paso on Friday, submit by midnight in Denver City on Sunday. (That's 11 PM Pacific, for you Sacramento folks.)

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Flesnolk posted:

IT;s sturday bu let me in the loving week you cowrds. I'll et all f you NS AND ALSO KILL MYSELF.

Also sittinghere brawl me

lso lso flsh rule

Djeser posted:

Enter by midnight in El Paso on Friday

Better luck next time, cowpoke.

Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Mar 24, 2019

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 346 Results - For A Few Words More

Judging this week wasn't hard. There were the good stories, there were the bad stories, and there was everyone else who thought they could throw together three cliches and a magic wand and make it a story worth telling.

The Good
Escaping with a right honorable mention this week are Squirm, Love by anatomi, Friday in Lent by Noah, To the gods it may concern by Flerp, and Famous Last Words by sebmojo.

The Bad
Facing a dishonorable end this week is The Vow by Applewhite. Lest anyone think our law to be unjust, the judges gave full consideration to this week's disqualified stories, and found that both Tugger and Lil Yatch by SlipUp and untitled western by onsetOutsider deserved to join it.

The Ugly
Unfortunately, Cactus Conundrum by Salgal80 proved to be a conundrum to the judges as well, and so takes the loss for this week.

Which leaves me to announce who the new law in town is. The Buffalo Mountains, the Pelican Swamps, by merit of being a story with things such as characters, imagery, and meaning, is the winner this week. Antivehicular, the blood throne is yours.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Week 346 Crits - Al Dente Westerns

This week had two problems that cropped up again and again. I talked about them in my crits, but I wanted to address them directly, so that some of you might consider them the next time you subject me to twenty thousand words of the driest prose possible. First, let's talk about cliche. Tropes, if you will. Most short stories are going to make some use of cliche, because they're a way to get across information quickly. If I start talking about red stone mesas and the sound of spurs, there's a whole lot of things I don't have to explain because you know, roughly, the kind of story I'm telling. The tropes become a quick-and-easy framework you can pitch a story on top of. I don't have to establish the broad-strokes ideas if I can use the ones already in my audience's heads, which means I can spend my time fleshing out the details of the story: the interesting bits that make it unique and worth reading. A common problem in stories this week was falling back on the cliche as a crutch; instead of using it to build something unique, a story would just gesture at "cowboy" and that would be it. The meat of your story is the details that make it live.

Detail brings me to the second problem: this week was bogged down with dull, explanatory prose. I don't like to be prescriptive about writing, but allow me to say this: explaining things is not the point of writing. There's two basic ways to get around this, which I'm cribbing from my half-remembered reading of Ursula Le Guin's book on writing: you can either leap, or you can bunch. Leaping is the use of sparse but evocative detail, and it works through implication. You say something small, but through that you're able to infer a great deal. It works both in prose and in dialogue. Say a little and mean a lot. Bunching is the opposite, where you pack a lot of detail in at once, but all that detail is to a purpose. You might be describing a landscape, or a room, or a city scene, or a person's outfit, or a meal, but you take the time out to drive home something, some mood or feeling that you want the reader to have a deep understanding of. You can either leap or bunch, depending on your purpose and how much time you want to spend on something, but the critical thing is that both of these work by describing one thing to say something else. That's the one big trick of writing: saying more than one thing at once. I'll put Noah on the spot because he's a big boy and can handle it, here's the one line that stuck me right in the good bits:

quote:

I knew what a fish was. Where it began, where it ended, how stiff and rigid the scales felt, but together how flexible they could be. I was not a fish. I knew what a man was, where it began, where it ended. And I was also not a man.

This is three things at once. First, it's the protagonist saying they're a mermaid. Second, it's them saying how they know they're a mermaid. Third, it's the protagonist saying what it's like to be a mermaid. Most importantly, it's doing all this in a way I haven't heard before. It's interesting. It's going to stick in my head much longer than "I was a mermaid" would have. When you're writing, say something the reader wouldn't expect, or say it in a way the reader wouldn't expect. If you're saying what they expect in the way they expect to hear it, you might as well skip ahead to where your story gets interesting again.

Barnaby Profane - Flowers for Sylvester
This is some good pulpy fun, but to me the plot feels a bit like it was written in real time. Maybe that's not the case, but at a couple of points, especially around the end, plot points pop up right as they're useful. "I've got a dagger that makes you a zombie!" "But I know zombie daggers are explosive!" If the story sprinkled some of that in earlier, like giving Rudolf a glowing dagger wound or having Sylvester nearly drop the knife and clutch it in a panic because it's so volatile, that would make the ending feel more like a logical consequence of the beginning. That's really my only criticism, aside from that I like this well enough and I appreciate that it took the premise of zombie whorehouses seriously, because taking a silly premise seriously is always going to be more fun.

apophenium - A Stand of Trees
This is a pretty talky piece, which is not necessarily bad, but I'm not super interested in either of these characters' voices. There'd be plenty of opportunity to play up a fast-talking thief or a ponderous old magical guardian, but they both kind of have the same fantasy-exposition voice, and since it's a first-person story, that extends to the prose, too. I think what I'd really want to see in a story like this is more of a sense of wonder. The story calls it "the last green oasis" and "the enchanted forest" but aside from that, I don't get the feeling that this is some magically-sustained wood. And there is a lot of talking, which could be pared down to allow more room for a sense of place, or betrayal between the thief and the partner, or whatever the story ought to be focused on.

anatomi - Squirm, Love
Cool and good. The way the world is fleshed out here reminds me of the good stuff from an anthology of New Weird fiction I was reading: a bunch of weird body horror in a weird setting but presented as if it's perfectly normal, and the story's structured such that the reader understand what things are without having to be told what Ochre or frass or dartsacs are. I'll admit, I got a bit tangled up right around the start of the third section, probably as a result of one too many words that didn't quite click at first, but I got it soon enough. (I couldn't tell what the Shell was, since in this world, that could be the name for anything. Might be something to tweak if this story's getting cleaned up.) Aside from that minor blip, this was the kind of good poo poo I wanted. Also props on good use of second person, which I always like to see.

staggy - Memory of Water
This is a pretty interesting story, and an interesting comparison to Flowers for Sylvester, since here the final twist is foreshadowed, though I'd sort of forgotten about it by the time it came to the end. For something that's this duel-y (magic duel, but close enough) I could have used a clearer idea of how a spell is cast. It's something to do with palms and moving your arms, but I couldn't say exactly what you do to cast a spell. That's the sort of thing I think a story should either commit to and make sure the reader sees in full, or just gloss over and use some simple analogy like cracking a whip. One bit I really liked was the charms 'reminding the riverbed of water long gone'. That's an evocative way of putting it, and I like the notion of magic that works via some mystical memory of how things were. (Also, I see how it's thematic, though it took me until rereading to see that.)

Thranguy - Dust and Blood
Unsurprisingly, the story about someone who's aimless is a bit aimless itself. I like the world here, which is good, because it occupies a lot of the story, though this story's smart enough to make sure that it's the world through this character's eyes. It's not quite as lively as Squirm, Love's worldbuilding, since it's flashbacks instead of action, but it's decent, and the story has a voice to it so it's engaging enough. It felt a bit like it was building to something, I suppose, and then at the end the something is the reveal that the Magic Weird Zone is Reno. Which is, sure, I just don't know why it's that instead of Zion or Salt Lake or anything else. I suppose the point is we finally know where he's going. I liked the world and the writing, but the plot left me a bit more "Oh." than anything.

Nikaer Drekin - A Silent Spell
Not bad. This one feels a little heavy on the plot compared to some of the others this week, but that might be a consequence of having so many characters around, even though some of them are really just there to be wizard fodder. My biggest thought is that the wizard guy's death is a little over the top--though I guess it's not too much more over the top than a crater and a crimson haze. More to the point though, it makes his reappearance at the end feel a bit more like a haha gotcha twist, since we saw him pretty definitively die. I think if it was less of a death and more of, like, banishing or teleportation or something, having him reappear at the end to gloat feels less like a "wizards can do anything they want" pull. I like the ambiguity that's left at the end, since it seems like Pete did what the wizard wanted in the end, but it's unclear whether or not it was mind control or prejudice. Even if it's not meant to be ambiguous, I like the idea of it being ambiguous more than if it actually was mind control.

Baneling Butts - Lucy
I like the premise here, but I think the pacing is where it could use some work. The conflict really only starts about two-thirds of the way through, so there's not a lot of time to explore it, and it's left kind of squeezed all into the end. The story would be able to build up more tension with the main character trying to urge Lucy to goof up at a distance, struggling and unsure if she can hear him, until she finally starts to act out. As is, the tension lasts about as long as one paragraph. It is also, like a couple stories this week, pretty talky in a way I think it doesn't need to be. There's room to trim out stuff that could be implied or glossed over instead so there's more time to focus on the core, which is someone wanting to buy Lucy and the two of them working together to convince her to go with another horse.

Antivehicular - The Buffalo Mountains, the Pelican Swamps
I guess this is still fantasy, though of a different sort; it's more Weird or slipstream or something. Which I'm not complaining about, it's just a shift in tone from wizards and magic mushrooms. I like it a lot though. The surreal nature of the apocalypse is interesting and compelling, and all along there's this feeling that something is more wrong than the narration is letting on, because it explains a lot about the animals, but not what's going on with the people, until the end when we see what's up. It's meaningful without trying to drive its point home with a blunt instrument, which is absolutely an accomplishment. Also, props on good use of tenses.

Salgal80 - Cactus Conundrum
Well, it's sufficiently weird, I suppose. If I was the nitpicky type I'd ask how much of a western this is, but it's not like I can't see the story's connection to the prompt. There's a lot of dream logic at work here, and dream logic tends to be good for stories where a mood is more important than the plot, but it's dream logic plus a lot of plot, which means the story spends a lot of time explaining what the premise is. Another consequence of dream logic is a character who just sort of stands in awe or does things without knowing why. A story like this could work, I think, if it explained less and leaned more into the surreality of the situation.

Applewhite - The Vow
At some point I'm just going to start writing SEE ABOVE for these crits. Anyway, this story feels as though it was written all in one go, because plot points are introduced only once they're relevant: Tanlis can choose who to serve if someone saves her life, a True Love Kiss breaks the spell and kills her, et cetera. Also, why did she kiss him if she knew it might kill her? Was she still under the lich's thrall and he just wanted to be a dick to Irwin? It would have made sense if Irwin was the one to kiss her and then she's like "oh no, my one weakness!" This story also struggles with tone; I can see a couple stabs in a lively direction, but most of it is flat and expository, especially around the beginning. A lot more words are spent telling me what happened than making me feel what happened.

Yoruichi - The Legend of One Horse Town
The premise of this reminds a little of the dream logic of Cactus Conundrum, though this story pulls off the slightly surreal nature more cleanly. The sort of reinterpreted mythologized way this story takes its western influences works well, though while I get the idea behind the horse being incongruously casual, it does feel a little out of place in this tall-tale style setting. Aside from that, I like this story, it's a fun, light jumble of a bunch of tropes. I can tell the author was enjoying writing this, and that's always nice.

Simply Simon - The Crystal's Chosen
Pro tip: Twine is thread, twain is 'two'. I wouldn't mention this except that, working on riverboats, your character would almost certainly have heard the phrase "mark twain". Aside from that, this story is all right, though I think clunky worldbuilding is a theme this week. The ideas aren't bad, diffuser crystals are basically the equivalent of Deadlands' ghost rock, but there's a bit too much explaining when the story could be demonstrating what's happening. The climax, too, gets muddled between who exactly the crystal is siding with and what its magic can do. By implication, it seems as though the guy dies in the blast, but then he's alive again when the crystal starts using its magic, but then the crystal isn't powerful enough to keep him from getting shot. If he was just unconscious and the crystal healed him and woke him up, it'd be better to have an aside like "...sprawls now, dead, or at least otherwise indisposed," so the reader doesn't discount him entirely from the plot.

SlipUp - Land in the World of Poseidon
On one hand, the prose in this could use a lot of work. It flips back and forth between present and past tense at the start before settling on past tense. There's bits of pronoun confusion, like in this paragraph:

quote:

It was swarms of sharks. Great whites, hammerheads, tigers, and species yet even undiscovered. Their dolphin steeds clicked in anger at their natural foes.
The first 'their' seems to be referring to the sharks, not to the father and son, so there's a momentary confusion that interrupts the flow of reading. There's also a couple instances where a word gets repeated in a way that feels accidental instead of intentional, like "he held his hand backwards and blasted a jet of water out, blasting his dolphin through the water at high speed." All that said, I think the plot of this is pretty good. It's a decent pulp action fight where the stakes get escalated and the climax is the result of the hero outsmarting the villain. What I'd do to punch up the plot is to tie that last bit of magic, controlling the sea turtle, to what the father and son are doing in the beginning. Maybe it's some spell that makes it so when the father dies, the son gets his power for a short time. Maybe it's something else. Either way, the point would be that it's this bit of preparation, which Poseidon doesn't know about, that gives the son the strength to steer the turtle. That way, you can tie the beginning in with the end and make it feel like the whole plot has been building to this.

Doctor Zero - Old Bones
The first two paragraphs of this story can be cut and replaced with one line at the start of the third about the framing device. It's not damning or anything, but starting a story with this conversational floppiness is a good way to get a reader worried. Once I get past that, it's pretty much fine beyond that, though I think there was an opportunity to subvert the "monster is actually a dinosaur" thing by having this narrator actually know what kind of dinosaur it was (or at least, have him amusingly mangle the name). While the ending works fine, I think it would be stronger if the story emphasized Lucky more, since it's his sacrifice that's the climax--either in the narrative itself, or by having the narrator bring up Lucky in a way that suggests he's still holding onto his memory, like "Y'know that was Lucky's chair you're sitting in" or something, just some way to further sell the idea that Lucky meant a lot to the narrator.

crimea - Fool's Journey
By the end of these crits they're going to be all footnotes and references like some bad Borges knockoff. This voice is a better execution of the voice in Old Bones, and it's written in that way that hints at a greater world like Squirm, Love, but it doesn't quite stick around long enough to leave a sense of what's happened. The sort of mythic obscurity of these tarot-card people is interesting, as is the fact that they turn to stone and apparently make babies from spitting their teeth into dead people's mouths, but those aspects come so late in the story that I was left more puzzling about them and how literal they were meant to be. It's an enjoyable story, but I wish it had more to sink my teeth into, or more staying power, or whatever you want to call it.

Viscardus - The Diary of Lieutenant Hiroaki Sakamoto
This is pretty good at achieving what it wants to do, though the downside is that, as a series of diary entries, it's limited in what it can say and how it can say it. The beats of the story basically map onto a horror plotline, but as more of a drama than a thriller: some people disrupt an old spirit, misfortune befalls them, things get worse, it's revealed the old spirit was behind it all, and then at the end everyone is claimed and all that's left is the record of what happened. It's Blair Witch with fox ladies, which is perfectly fine of course, it's just a competent supernatural yarn. I don't have a whole lot to say about it, I suppose.

SlipUp - Tugger and Lil Yatch
Huh, well that was a story. I'm not sure how Western it is, aside from the theme of oil, but I said I wouldn't bother with that sort of prompt nitpicking, so I won't. There's a lot of confusing bits and bobs here that don't really add up to a whole. What's a Model T battleship? All I can think of is a Ford Model T refitted into a battleship, but I don't think that's what this story was going for at all, since it seems to be more of a combined battleship/oil rig. I feel like you're going for a Mad Max/Waterworld style competition for gasoline thing, but why would a sailboat be a threat to oil reserves? It doesn't need oil, it's a sailboat. Was this trenchant political commentary? What's the deal with the tugboat pulling a giant iceberg? Is it more political commentary that the oil-hungry battleship is crushed by an Arctic iceberg? Regardless, the story has a bunch of proofing errors that make me think you would have been better off putting effort into cleaning your first story up a bit as opposed to firing off two stories in quick succession.

flerp - To the gods it may concern
I'm a sucker for stories that address the reader in some way, and this one got me right in the you. It's told well and it's an interesting story to tell, because it takes the usual rage at the gods and turns it into something more than screaming at the void, it's someone actually taking retribution against the gods that won't help their people. If anyone has the right to take revenge against the gods, it's your protagonist, and the fact that these are all made out to address the gods directly makes their motivations feel less like some sort of generic vengeance and more nuanced.

Noah - A Friday in Lent
Hey, it's good. That third paragraph, and the echo of it later on in the story, is probably my favorite part, because it's an excellent way to say that someone's a mermaid without saying the word mermaid. You can tell there's been a lot of explainy stories this week when I get to this story and go "I like the part where it didn't have to literally say the exact thing that was happening!" It's overall a bit of good storytelling though, and I especially appreciate the work the story does to flesh out all the sensations except for sight and to think things through the way someone who couldn't see would think them through.

Tyrannosaurus - Red Demon Black Gun
Hey, it's also good. As always, the voice in this story is pretty spot-on, though in the third section some of Kajiwara's lines come off as a bit mustache-twirling, which, he's a demon yeah, but he's a sarcastic demon more than the "Mmm, how delectable" sort of demon, at least from what I got out of his other lines. The only other nit I can pick is that his surprise at the daughter killing Koga would make a bit more sense if he didn't already know about her father's death when she came to him. Aside from that, this is pretty enjoyable and would work as a prelude to more wacky demon hijinks.

cptn_dr - The Devil Comes To Morningstar
I think this story ought to have leaned harder on the weirdness. There's hints of it there, in places, like the townspeoples' mouths deforming, but almost everything else feels a bit too straightforward. There's some standard omens, then someone dies and comes back to life, and then some more standard Satan stuff happens, but nothing really breaks the mold. The other way to take it would have been to make the weirdness mundane, to make it just the town that happens to worship the devil. As is, this story plays the Devil In A Small Town thing a bit too straight to be that memorable.

sebmojo - Famous Last Words
I think at this point it's only this and Red Demon Black Gun that went the Kurosawa route, which is a bit surprising for a bunch of goons. I was debating whether the introduction felt a bit full and I think it could be pared down a bit, along with some bits from the earlier portions where they're trying to figure out where the shot came from, but at the same time, I can see what it's doing, since the big important thing in this story is the relationship between Minamoto and Konishi more than the actual fight. The fight itself was done well, but it would be just as well with an extra paragraph or so in there, I think. It's just nitpicking though, this is a fine story anyway.

kurona_bright - Second Chance
A story with this many moving parts is tricky with only a thousand words to do it in, and I felt like I was missing a bit of context throughout. Not in a way that's intentional, but more in a way that I wasn't sure what the stakes were or the relationships between the characters until fairly late on. The story does a good job of managing the relationships between these characters in the space it has, but for a good portion of it, I had to take on faith that there were facts tying together all of this. I'm still not sure what Luther's part in this is, since he feels like someone they just picked up, but by the end he's encouraging Simone to apologize about a particular dig she made about their history together. Even without knowing that this was cut down from a longer story (and in a hurry too) I could guess that this was meant to be something about half again as long as it was.

onsetOutsider - untitled western
My advice is to ease up on the abbreviatin' those gerunds, since that can get a little tedious in prose. The word choice here is decent enough to carry the tone without having that little reminder apostrophe pop up and hit me between the eyes every sentence. Also, if you're not making it in under the deadline anyway, why not bother to write an actual end to the story? Might as well finish if you're already late.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



:toxx: in

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:47 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



A Thunderdome Parable
an off-prompt rambling by Djeser

The blood queen was going off to the blood throne. She worried about her domers, who were always up to some mischief. She sternly admonished them, "Write well. No fanfic. No erotica. No political screeds. Don't post Google Docs. Don't break the archive. Don't submit more than one story." The domers had done all of these things on previous weeks. Hoping to head off new trouble, she added, "And don't write about golden beans with a street value of one million US dollars!" This was a new idea for the domers, who promptly tried it out.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in :toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:48 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

well it certainly couldn't be because of the quality of the writing or the speed of the judging

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in for cloud-flash-sound spin-a-circle-and-cut-it-in-half

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:48 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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the only thing i love more than sci-fi and fantasy is how much flerp hates them

in :toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:49 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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in :toxx:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:49 on Jan 1, 2020

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 360: What If Thunderdome, But Too Much

This week, you're going to write about inventions gone wrong. Here's the twist: the invention in question must have come no later than the year 1980. VHS is in, the internet is out. There are no lower bounds, so feel free to write cautionary tales about mechanical timekeeping, libraries, stone architecture, pottery, agriculture, or fire. If people made it, it's fair game. Get as wild and speculative as you'd like; all genres are valid.

1200 words max. Enter by 11 PM Pacific on Friday, submit by 11 PM Pacific on Sunday.

Judges:
Djeser
Thranguy
???

Charlie Brooker Wannabes:
Black Griffin
Anomalous Amalgam (flash: No lines of dialogue longer than 10 words)
flerp :toxx:
Crain
Armack
Adam Vegas
Fleta McGurn
Adaptabullshit
derp
Antivehicular
Vinny Possum :toxx:
Siddhartha Glutamate :toxx:
Tyrannosaurus
Yoruichi

Djeser fucked around with this message at 06:02 on Jun 29, 2019

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



helpful tips
-you can set your story in whatever time period you like, it's just the Thing Gone Wrong what can't be recent
-it doesn't have to be plausible. if you want to write about an invasion of fungus people who spread through telephone lines go ahead
-it doesn't have to be a downer. write about people triumphing over the dangers of standardized coinage or w/e

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Two hours left to jump in, and a handy-dandy reminder that subs likewise close on Sunday at 11 PM :siren:not midnight,:frogsiren: Pacific

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Write em up, folks! Sign ups closed.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Right, that's that then.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 360 Judgment

John the Inventor was in my squishy middle despite being about magic steampunk gears, but displeased my fellow judges enough to earn a dishonorable mention.

No More Lighthouses, despite obvious pandering, charmed the judges enough to grant it an honorable mention

The Wolves of Wotan's Hill's biggest crime was being the most average in a week with many average stories. But there must be a loser, and so turns the dome.

Fresh, Sanitary, Convenient is this week's winner. Congrats, Antivehicular.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Thunderdome Week 360 Judgeburps
domer's note: i read all the stories this week in judgemode

the wolves of wotan's hill
remember to double space your stories (i did this before i read this story and it looked much better)
boy that's a long first sentence
three paragraphs in and this reads like a history textbook, all distant and objective
this story hits the prompt but it's impersonal. it's hard to feel for the characters when i'm seeing them from so far away.
my thoughts: choose a viewpoint character and tell this story from their perspective instead. this story would be very different if told by dragon-bear, or one of the oppressed villagers, or as vignettes from multiple characters

florence and the sword of valkur
what if fishing but too much?
the fight scene with the woman in the street was nice, the one on the beach is more confusing due to the number of characters in play
the scene on the beach works in broad strokes but the details get muddy. last i knew the mermaids were charging, and then once florence cuts the nets, they're already free? plus it seems like florence was running right up to the merwoman, stopped her swing, and then should have been caught between her and the men
don't exactly know how much of a cautionary tale this is, but it's decent
my thoughts: work on blocking. this story is mostly action scenes but i had trouble visualizing who was where and could see what

john the inventor
a bold stylistic choice! will it pan out! tune in next line to see!
oh no, steampunk
lol okay that's a good gag, let's see if it holds up in the remaining 1000 words
the style is fun but the argument in the middle drags a bit
oh no, the tongue in cheek broke through and now it's flapping out the side of this story's mouth
and then the story gets bored of its previous gags and dunks on libertarians
i was hoping for a story about gears being magical powerups but then someone has TOO MANY GEARS and instead this is more about owning the patent office with facts and logic. it's fine and it's amusing but the gags sort of run out near the end
my thoughts: don't fill up the entire word limit if you don't have to

beneath the rust
took me a second glance to realize it were implying latrelle was dead, because i'm an idiot
this apocalypse is interestingly weird, so i'll give this story that
there's a lot of conversation in the middle
not sure at the moment whether shaunte is being naive or clever, because this world feels like the sort of place where maybe you could bring people back by digging them up
what if...hole but too much? bog person but too much??
my thoughts: wild worldbuilding is cool, but sometimes makes it harder to guess things by implication. (like is shaunte in some kind of afterlife, or is this literally a space beneath the bogs where metal can exist?)

caranya's folly: an oral history
a tone like this can be a trap, because it's easy to get caught up with the tone and forget the story itself
seems fine so far though. things are a little storybook, but so is the story of joseph and that's a bronze age parable about surplus grain
this is mostly people talking to a king. not necessarily bad, but stories about people talking to each other is another potential trap
what if writing but too much. nice
ending is good, and probably the most interesting part
my thoughts: despite being an explicit oral history, the voice feels formal and reads more like a chronicle of a king's life, or something

fresh, sanitary, convenient
two paragraphs in and i'm liking it a lot
alice is sympathetic while clearly having different values, which is also good
yeah, this is overall pretty good. i like the fifties-but-more atmosphere and i liked how, even though objectively it's bad, in the context of the story it's both inevitable and good
my thoughts: black mirror plus mad men would literally print money

blood
wow, second person narrative, pandering to the head judge much???
even if i didn't know flerp was doing cathedrals this is an extremely flerp story
another one that's sparse on comments as i'm reading because it's hard to riff on good story
my thoughts: this story made me think of the tower of babel crossed with icarus, and that's a pretty Zachary Mason idea

no more lighthouses
wow, egypt, pandering to the head judge much???
did chairchucker or crabrock enter this week because these are some goofy gags (edit: lol in retrospect)
oh lol the moth is there because it's a big light (see earlier crit about me being dumb)
there's like eight lines left and i'm wondering what the payoff is going to be
ba dum tish (bat dum tish)
my thoughts: a pretty good ridiculous story with occasional lapses into drollness but overall fun and light

no true lover
interesting that two stories this week decided on "people decide books are bad"
fingers crossed that books are literally magic
maybe it was, i'm not sure
i'm not sure also what the idea was with giving everyone a page of the book
my thoughts: if the ending is supposed to be a quasi-magical transformation, it might help to establish that beforehand, even if it's in an offhand way (e.g., her memories of something similar happening when Dumont read to her)

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



in :toxx:

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Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


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Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:51 on Jan 1, 2020

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