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Mar 5, 2004

From the murk I come a'weary
at the dome of thunder's call
I have history here, in theory,
so today, I judge a brawl

Sittinghere reached out to me to do a judge on this ThirdMojo brawl as, in what I can only imagine her words would have been if she felt like explaining her motives, "ugh they're doing stories at me again." Joke's on her, or you, I guess, because I'm opinionated.

ThirdEmperor posted:

1605 words

Here's the line I like the least: There's just one thing they won't let the sea take. One thing they pry from the dissolving membrane that still looks vaguely like a human-thing, albeit broken and deflated.
The first sentence promises me a small importance is about to be revealed. The second sentence falls flat, ruining the gross description that led up to this while still not giving me an answer as to what they pulled - or even a hint, just that "yeah some poo poo came outta this human sheath sure as hell hope you, the reader, find this important, because yikes neither this nor the next scene is gunna reveal dick about that promise." I don't need wild reveals every three seconds, but if you're going to set up a tease, flirt with me a bit. Don't just tease and gently caress off. It's not clear what they're pulling from the husk, and by the time you think you've worked it out (it's a soul or something, right?) you're confused. Vague is cute, but only if you're doing it for a purpose. This did nothing for me. Hell, it confused me, and being confused kinda sucks rear end.

Here's the line I like the most: But she has not turned back to sea-foam. It is a small, angry triumph that radiates through the whole of the self.
A lot of short stories have endings that fall flat, or lovely, or both. A lot of shorts end on a pithy bullshit. This one does not, not by far, and the phrase "It is a small, angry triumph" is going into my mental word-bank to write myself in two years time and wonder why it seems so familiar. You held onto this girl's motivation and character and built it right to the climax, and ending with the word "self" punctuates a whole drat story about a character becoming fully realized in her own life. From the second scene onwards, I was growing more and more engaged by this world, and this girl, and even after you revealed she was nothing and wanted more, I still felt like you were giving her story growth. This is a massive success of an ending line, and it is strong enough to make me forgive how annoyed the opening made me feel.

We got us a story about a magical-adjacent town held together by living memories of the sea. In it, a girl hates being a sea-thing made of thought and threatens some seals, and they turn her into an outsider with no family, no nothing, but hey, she's free. Girl's chill with it too, despite being Worse Off by the end.

Did you do the prompt? Hell yeah. You chose "a character makes things worse for themselves but feels great" and gave me just that. Did you do it well? I sure bet you could! This is 1600 words, of which, about 800 feel like you wanted to paint a picture of a town and a history in France that I do not give a gently caress about. The opening and closing scenes are mostly fire, but at the same time - that opening scene genuinely ruined the story for me. Put it in something else and you've got a winner. This could have - should have - opened at "If the right light shone on the town of Montmercy, it would still look its old self from the postcards." A bit of editing, a touch of tweaks, and I'd call this one winner based on concept and imagery alone. But a winner of this brawl, here, today? Fiddle-dee-dee, won't we see!

sebmojo posted:

The Gazebo Effect
1165 words

Here's the line I like the least: “I should be in your tent,” he said.
I can't with this. The stressors don't fit the sentence, and as the first character moment I'm left wanting. This reads like Ross Geller impersonating Chandler Bing, and yo, a New Zealand marketplace ain't the set of Friends. Worse, it doesn't really make sense. The tent ain't Giordo's tent, unless Giordo owns it, in which case Henry should be complaining about the location, not the tent. If Giordo doesn't own it, I'm not getting a feel that Henry's having a fight about what he thinks is his, but more that he just wants to steal from Giordo because it's Giordo's, not because he wants the place. "I should be in this tent" "This is my tent today" "You're not supposed to be in my tent" etc. I get that there's a whole deal where Henry feels good because he hosed over Giordo, but the ownership issues in this line combined with the super weird voice drew me the gently caress out and I was all prepared to poo poo over this story from here. Luckily, you're a good enough writer to make me turn off my "poo poo on this garbage" impulse.

Here's the line I like the most: The sun was sparkling as he strolled off down the path, coffee in hand, nodding at a family of Maoris. A man with a denim vest grinned at him from under his sign that said ‘Jewerley and books’. His coffee was warm in his hands. Down the end of the row were two cage trailers, one full of macrocarpa firewood and the other with a gaggle of ducks.
The typo in the sign, the glittering path, the wood and ducks - I've been to this market. Not literally this exact market, but growing up poor in Australia, I went to plenty of local markets on Saturday mornings/Sunday mornings to sell, buy, etc. We got our veg from a Samoan dude's truck, meat from an Italian guy who smelled like a thunderstorm was about to roll in, and the sun dappling into cheap gravel overwhelmed my little ADHD mind so goddamn much that not a weekend would go by that I wouldn't get lost from my mum and wind up crying up a tree or intensely distracted by some hoarder's collection of vintage Matchbox cars. You took me to a place of extreme nostalgia with a real small pair of sentences and I felt some strong personal connections here. Sometimes, the best line in a story isn't anything special, but it hits the reader hard because of circumstance. This one did that. (Also there wasn't any other stand-out lines for me, but even if there had been, they'd have to work hard to fight Memory.)

Here we got a story about a guy who wants a tent at a market but he doesn't get it because he's a pushover. In it, my dude has a bit of a whinge because he got his market tent stolen, but in his passive aggressive attempts to have a very British tantrum, ruins the tent, and his keyboard, and most importantly, some pizzas. But hey, he hosed up into revenge at the thief!

Did you do the prompt? Hell yeah. You also chose "a character makes things worse for themselves but feels great" and gave me it far more explicitly than Third. Did you do it well? Hell yeah. I'm a sucker for a blunt story I don't need to read into to Get, and this was just fun. That said - there's some poo poo going on with your phrasing that left the voice for this unclear. Worse, you used some words I don't like to ill effect - there's a few moments you're just throwing out the word "it" instead of something more specific or personal, and some moments you jump into phrasing like "self-flagellatory" and "what Rubicon the..." that pull my eye muscles hard. It bounces the voice from Character to Author and back - nothing that can't be fixed in line edits, but definitely things that should have been fixed in line edits. Did you win this brawl?

Third's piece reached further, tried to grasp more, and needed structural editing more than line edits - but, it had the strongest line of both pieces by far. Seb's piece kept it tight, but had phrasing issues that could have should have been read by someone with an eye for authorial voice.

The winner of this brawl is sebmojo, so sayeth me, the Dude What The Original Judge Messaged And Said Hey Maybe You Should Do This For Me Ay?


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