In and please do flash me.
|# ¿ Jan 9, 2019 00:20|
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2023 06:37|
CRITS from Week 335!
This story stood out from the pack this week because it finished solid as opposed to starting off swell and falling down midway through. The transition from stop-motion to full motion is a little awkward as is the suddenness with how the father is okay with things. Like Yoruichi’s piece about the hiker, the conclusion of “in the end I’m okay with this” doesn’t quite feel earned. All that being said, it’s beautifully written and engaged me from the get-go. You reveal just enough detail about both your protag and the daugher that I care about them as people. I also really like the voice you chose to write Dad in. Nice work.
One thing to work on: It can be bloody tough to set up a conclusion that feels like it was earned. It’s a part of storytelling I struggle with a lot, too. I’ve reached the point in my own writing where I can come up with satisfying endings, but that decision point where the protagonist makes a Big Choice or learns a Big Lesson which then powers them toward making the choices that lead to the ending eludes me. Maybe what might have helped tie this one together is a scene where the daughter brings the person they are marrying by to Dad’s grave so he can get a good glimpse of what her future life will actually be like, or maybe even the daughter talking ‘to’ him about her plans–something to actually SHOW the protag that things are different and lead that horse to water, so to speak.
Oof, this one hit really close to home for me. Very true to life and beautifully written. Only real quabble is that the happy ending doesn’t quite feel earned via conflict or choice from the protag, but it’s still lovely. You captured the sense of hopelessness and dogged determination to keep on as you were that healthy people who become sick people often feel, and you’ve captured it very accurately. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more of a glimpse at the girlfriend character, she’s just kind of there.
One thing to work on: Exactly the same suggestions I gave Staggy above. The last paragraph, that sudden shift to ‘WHEN I get better’ comes out of nowhere. If it’s caused by the protag being able to successfully make the hike, explicitly spell that out. Spell out why successfully completing a hike will make him feel better rather than making him feel “okay I survived the drudgery.” This could be a lovely little story if it just had a bit more emotional conflict.
I love a good fae story and you’ve written fae well here. I also like Americana stories and you’ve captured that atmosphere nicely, too! My biggest beef is that Earl is kind of an archetype, a stand-in protag that we sympathise with solely because he’s the narrator. Some people thought this one got a little cute with its Elvish/Elvis thing but I liked it. :P I also felt, like others did, that this story ends far too soon. I really wanted to know what the effect of Earl’s blessing ended up being in his future, his life–was it like many other fae gifts in that it comes with a significant unanticipated downside?
One thing to work on: You are a skilled writer who tells a good story, but be careful you don’t fall into the trap of assuming readers will care about your main character just because they’re the main character. It’s your job to make them care by showing he’s a person worth caring about. Just a few little details about his life or personality outside of work would go a long way!
In a weaker week this would have probably been my winner. I liked it a lot–solid imagery, a good dose of whimsy. My biggest issue is that the narrative felt a little like an aimless zig-zag. There was a beginning, a middle, and an end but as a story it felt like it wasn’t really shaping up toward any particular conclusion. Which honestly is probably not that unusual for a story about a merry-go-round purgatory. But it meant that this story lost out to others that followed a more clearly defined plot path.
One thing to work on: I think this story might have felt a little more tied-together if there had been a sprinkling of the plane/war stuff at the beginning. It seemed to come rather out of nowhere and I wasn’t ever sure if he was just along for the ride or if the plane stuff was actually of sincere importance to his character. OR if you wanted to go in a completely different direction from the plane stuff, a good purgatory story often has elements of the purgatory in question springing from the subject’s consciousness or subconsciousness, ala Silent Hill 2. Is there a particular reason your protag’s purgatory was a carousel? It all felt a little “these are the elements of the story because why not” rather than things being tailored to your character’s emotional experience.
Man oh man I was so into this one until it hit the brick wall of the relationship drama. I find ‘lady bummed out about infertility, that’s the plot’ stories kind of trite and overdone and that prevents me from wanting to HM this one. Especially since that’s just kinda tacked on at the end. The ‘relationship is tense, they make up with adequate sex’ stuff could have been completely cut and the story would not have suffered for it. Your ghost fish are such a cool idea. I wanted them to matter more.
One thing to work on: Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because your characters are unhappy their conflicts will be interesting. It’s a mistake a lot of writers including myself make ALL the time.
The fabulism comes out of left field toward the end of this one and that hurts the piece overall. I couldn’t tell what genre it was supposed to be. I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be magical realism until way too late. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to be horrified about the girls diving in the sludge or just intrigued. As always your writing is tight and your characters speak believably, but I think this story needed a grounding rod into whatever world you set it in before you let the plot loose.
One thing to work on: Including world-specific terms like ‘portal mad’ is great, but be careful that there’s at least some explanation to the reader. There wasn’t quite enough context in this one to infer enough to understand.
The shifts in and out of second-person POV hurt this one, but overall it’s one of the strongest entries I’ve ever read of yours. It had a complete story arc from beginning to middle to end, and the narrator is nicely mysterious. The problem is that apart from the fact that the narrator cares about him because he’s human and their species cares about humans, there isn’t much meat on the dead guy’s bones. I was unmoved by his death. There were some nice lines in this one, but also some that got a little too cute, as Kai’s critique also mentions.
One thing to work on: It’s evident you put a lot of work into this entry and it shows! Keep editing and polishing the way you have been and you will only improve. I know this isn’t a specific “thing you can do to make things better” but really you’re on the right track here and I wanted to acknowledge that, because it’s tough work.
I really enjoy some of your unusual turns of phrase in this story and I like the decision to set so much of it in his therapy group, but the problem is that like many other stories this week, your protag transitions from apparently being nutty enough to think he needs to go to UFO therapy to just being perfectly okay without much conflict or emotional discovery to actually nudge him along that path. Everything felt kind of railroaded and convenient.
A thing to work on: If the goal of the story is to show an emotional transformation in your protag, he has to do the mahi to get the treats. Kelvin didn’t seem too different in behaviour/mindset from the beginning of the story to the end, nor did he seem to struggle much along the way.
This started out really amusing and I enjoyed your rear end in a top hat protagonist. The problem is that Audrey by comparison felt really poorly-developed and the ending with the rifle felt slapstick and contrived. It hit the ground running and fell flat on its face. I think there’s a good story here, but it needs to have the weeds cleared away. Why is Audrey with this dude if he’s such a tool and she so openly despises him?
A thing to work on: Having your MC be a dick is a bold move and I like it. The problem is that the moment during which he gets his just desserts feels like a result of random chance (whoops dropped the rifle) rather than him making a deliberate bad choice and then getting comeuppance. And given you’ve written him to be such a dick and sent him on the path of killing an endangered animal, I do feel like this is supposed to be a comeuppance story. People sympathize with or hate characters more if everything that happens to them is a result of their actions rather than a cosmic roll of the dice.
|# ¿ Jan 9, 2019 02:58|
Did you just make a Jojo's reference while blasting Twist for writing nerdy? Seriously?
well poo poo i guess you got me
Don't make me turn this car around, kids.
Write me 1200 words about a nerd on a family vacation who doesn't want to be there.
Any genre, any destination, any kind of nerd. But I want to feel your feeble, impotent geekrage.
Deadline is one week from the timestamp on this post.
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2019 02:22|
The Heretic’s Fork
Beast: The Barnacle Goose - The flesh of a barnacle goose will blister and burn at the touch of a Papist.
Story removed from thread by user for search engine anonymity reasons.
Read it in the Thunderdome archive here!
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 05:45 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ¿ Jan 14, 2019 05:27|
As Antivehicular won and has to crit almost 60 stories by the end of this week, I’m extending this brawl deadline to 11:59 PST on 31st January.
You have til the end of the month, which means if I get poo poo slop words I’ll be even more disappointed than usual.
|# ¿ Jan 17, 2019 00:48|
I noticed a few stories that had 0 crits and decided to crit them, since we are in the midst of a crit deluge and I’m a little too busy to compete this week.
Picture, If You Will - ThirdEmperor - Week 332
I’m 50/50 on the opening sentence. I see what you are trying to go for, and for a sentence as long as this opener is, it aaaalmost works. I think the problem is that some of the individual word choices feel a little hinky. A drumbeat “slithering” reads off to me, as does a pause “beading” -made me wonder if it was a typo and you meant “beat” given the amount of drum talk.
By paragraph two the prose feels overwrought. Individual phrases are very pretty–I love “the fog that streaks particulate moisture against their bare cheeks.” I am less fond of the rest.
“rain swollen sores” - hell yes. You have some great turns of phrase in this.
I love how dense and gross this is, but at the halfway point I’m unsure of the story itself. It is very literal to the prompt–you’re just describing a place, but I’m not getting a sense that this is building to a meaningful conclusion. I hope you prove me wrong!
I liked the puppet paragraph.
“Much will be made in coming days of the face on that poster but not among the dead, although plenty of the dead do not have a face to offer anymore” - GREAT line. Now we’re getting somewhere. I am eager to see where this goes.
All right, made it to the end, let’s see, final thoughts:
Once you got going, this was swell. I feel like the beginning could be half as long as it was and the story would not suffer for it. In fact, it would be better. You did well within the constraints of a the prompt and your prose had some delicious bits, but it was sometimes too rich, like a cheesecake I could only eat half of.
- Djeser - Week 152
I know this is old as gently caress, but Voidmart was one of my fave weeks to read even if I didn’t participate. So I’m critting your Voidmart story, bitch. Deal with it.
Love the use of caps in the remote control car’s name.
Wording like “made a loud, straining whine” is ineffectual when stronger verbs can do the job. Beware of ‘made’ and ‘had’ and ‘felt.’ Describe sounds and sights and sensations instead.
drat, Mark’s messed up, love that you sank your teeth right into that.
All right, I’m about 1/3 of the way in and not much has happened yet. While this is all amusing setup, I am hoping a plot happens soon.
Mark feeling bad about spooking the bird doesn’t quite jive with his earlier urge to make animals suffer. I was preparing for Mark to be a psychopath-type personality, so that came out of left field a bit. Let’s see if it ends up Story Relevant!
It’s weird that the reader knows what the text says when you mention Mark not paying attention–did he read it? This isn’t clear. Trying to figure this out pulled me out of the story.
I love the imagery of a bored dude making RC car rollerskates. It’s dumb as hell but very funny.
Use of “made” again really weakens Taylor’s reaction to finding the phone. Should just have him throw it or drop it or talk about how he suppresses the urge, otherwise it loses emotional immediacy.
Similarly, the sentence about the shoes zipping past would be stronger without “taylor watched” at the beginning. We know Taylor is watching it. He’s there. He’s the POV character.
Love that last line.
This whole thing had a real Welcome to Night Vale vibe that you mostly pull off! My biggest quibble was the texts. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense for readers to know what the texts said when you mentioned more than once that Mark was ignoring them and the POV was so close-in.
Overall it was an amusing story with a nice creepy ending worthy of its redemption tag.
I bet you write way better than this by now since it’s been three goddamn years, but hey.
Aftermath - Kaishai - Week 332
I am immediately drawn in by “and its glass sphere.” Puts the reader in an immedite sci-fi frame of mind. Noice.
Also love “as soon as it remembered.” Makes me wonder what happened to the people in the room to cause them to forget. You’re doing a great job of foreshadowing here with few words.
The ‘other presences’ and ‘absences’ lines are a little weaker after such a strong opening. I can’t quite tell if you’re saying that the absent things were in the room and are now not, or if they should be and were never. Your level of ambiguity was pitch-perfect at the start but veers toward too murky here.
For such a strong opening, the ending was kind of meh. I got that the lab synthesized a baby, which is neat, but the reveal felt a little underwhelming and purposeless. I think in order for this story to hit home, we need to know just a bit more of the why behind the experiment, even if it’s offered as tantalizing breadcrumbs rather than a purposeful reveal.
I reread this one a couple of times because I felt like I was missing something, and it left me wondering whether I was just too dumb to get what you were hinting at or if the hints didn’t quite add up to a coherent story.
Given the constraints of this week’s particular prompt, it definitely wasn’t bad, but one thing to remember in the future is that there’s such a thing as too mysterious and opaque.
|# ¿ Jan 18, 2019 03:26|
anomalous blowout more like anonymous buttface
The sheer hubris of a man who posts a callout without punctuation. Written like a true goon: too lazy to even lift your leg for that weak fart of a post. Reminds me of your writing.
Bring it, you lower case rear end bitch.
|# ¿ Jan 28, 2019 10:19|
Surreptitious Blowout Fungal Butt Brawl
I can't think of anything witty to post because I'm stealing wifi off a tourist bus outside the Dunsadel public loos. That's how dedicated I am to beating your loving rear end, Muffin.
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2019 06:47|
As Antivehicular won and has to crit almost 60 stories by the end of this week, I’m extending this brawl deadline to 11:59 PST on 31st January.
Gentle reminder that the Antisolitair Sad Trip Bus pulls into the station tomorrow. I drove for seven hours today. I'm ready to feel your road trip misery.
|# ¿ Jan 31, 2019 06:50|
ANTISOLITARY NERD VACATION BRAWL RESULTS ARE IN
My b on the delay, I have been out on the farm and my phone blew up. But that’s pretty fitting for judging this particular brawl. As penance for my own lateness I’ll do a line-by-line on both of these stories when I’m at my own computer again.
I liked the direction both of you took with this prompt, and your upbeat endings pleased me. You both developed your protagonists nicely and I felt their nerdrage deep in my angry heart. However, toward the end, both of your stories turned kind of twee. Solitair’s lost control hard enough that it approached TURN LEFT, DALE! NOO!! territory. (Side note, whatever happened to that guy?)
The win goes to Antivehicular for managing to navigate the emotional stuff with a bit more dexterity rather than plowing into the trite, unforgiving NASCAR wall of human platitudes.
|# ¿ Feb 2, 2019 22:32|
I am so busy but this prompt is too good to not be in.
|# ¿ Feb 26, 2019 21:33|
A Seeker in the Soil
Story removed from thread by user for search engine anonymity reasons.
Read it in the Thunderdome archive here!
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 05:46 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ¿ Mar 4, 2019 07:13|
THUNDERDOME WEEK CCCXLIV: OBEDIENCE IS ITS OWN REWARD
Authoritarians of many stripes have served as easy foils in all kinds of fiction since fiction became a thing. From their lack of concern for others’ wellbeing, a desire to stamp out personal freedoms, and the strict enforcement of the state’s beliefs on its populace by any means necessary, authoritarians make great villains. Your story will star one such authoritarian. Or a whole pack of ‘em if you want.
Here in the Goonhive, we tend to side-eye bootlickers. But when writing fiction, it’s important to be able to stretch your brain and see the world through a perspective you don’t share, or even loathe.
I want Another Brick in the Wall from the teacher’s perspective. I want strict rear end in a top hat dads who think they’re doing the best for their families. The authoritarian in your story must be the protagonist.
No Nazis, though. They’re too easy. And also, who wants to read about Nazis who think they’re great guys.
If you want a flash rule, I’ll assign you a belief your authoritarian holds to be gospel and you’ll get 250 bonus words.
1100 words or less
Sign-ups due: Friday 8th Mar, 11:59pm PST
Submissions due: Sunday 10th Mar, 11:59pm PST
1. Anomalous Blowout
Chokin on boots
onsetOutsider - Literacy should be reserved for a special few because the masses only water down the literary canon.
sebmojo - Children cannot be trusted because devils can find their way in through their underdeveloped brains.
Staggy - Your protag is a Calvinist but is unaware of the proper term for Calvinism or that it even exists as a thing.
Viscardus - Your authoritarian is a convert, a once-rebellious individual who now understands the error of their ways. They were wrong. The system is good.
apophenium - Your authoritarian wishes people were more like bees: organized and aware of their place.
Thranguy - Your authoritarian is suspicious of glass surfaces; they let the Devil in.
crimea - Your authoritarian makes all their decisions by reading signs and portents.
Entenzahn - wealth makes power and those with wealth have the power to do as they like.
Seadoof - Your authoritarian does not trust modern medicine.
The Fascist Rhino - Your authoritarian fondly recalls the past, when things were simpler, and sees it as a goal to strive toward.
Sitting Here - Your authoritarian lives an ascetic life and judges those who seek material pleasure rather harshly.
emgeejay - Your authoritarian is abstinent.
NotGordian - Your authoritarian exerts their will on a small scale, only caring about controlling their immediate family unit.
Benny Profane - Order and harmony are directly related to the amount of filth and dirt in one’s environment.
Doctor Zero - Your authoritarian believes they can sense when a person is lying.
BirdOfPlay - The answers to all the world’s ills can be found in mathematics.
Joda - Your authoritarian is a palm reader.
flerp - Your authoritarian believes in samsara.
Baneling Butts - Your authoritarian presents a public face of pacifism to hide their true goals.
Noah - Your authoritarian has seen the future and fears it.
Third - The sea is a place of great power and it must be protected.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 10:21 on Mar 11, 2019
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 19:04|
Your authoritarian believes that literacy should be reserved for a special few because the masses only water down the literary canon.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 19:16|
Yeah flash me up
Your authoritarian believes that children cannot be trusted because devils can find their way in through their underdeveloped brains.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 19:21|
Your protag is a Calvinist but is unaware of the proper term for Calvinism or that it even exists as a thing.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 19:22|
I’m in. Flash, please.
Your authoritarian is a convert, a once-rebellious individual who now understands the error of their ways. They were wrong. The system is good.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 19:33|
I’m in. flash me up
Your authoritarian wishes people were more like bees: organized and aware of their place.
In and flash
Your authoritarian is suspicious of glass surfaces; they let the Devil in.
In, flash me.
Your authoritarian makes all their decisions by reading signs and portents.
Your authoritarian believes that wealth makes power and those with wealth have the power to do as they like.
|# ¿ Mar 5, 2019 23:00|
Your authoritarian does not trust modern medicine.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 00:58|
In fash me flashcist
Your authoritarian fondly recalls the past, when things were simpler, and sees it as a goal to strive toward.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 02:21|
we are both going to regret this but I am IN, flash me
Your authoritarian lives an ascetic life and judges those who seek material pleasure rather harshly.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 05:03|
In with a flash
Your authoritarian is abstinent.
In with a flash, please
Your authoritarian exerts their will on a small scale, only caring about controlling their immediate family unit.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 11:46|
In and flash, please and thank you.
Your authoritarian believes that order and harmony are directly related to the amount of filth and dirt in one’s environment.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 12:04|
In. I’ve been trying to think of a hook and can’t so flash me, baby.
Your authoritarian believes they can sense when a person is lying.
In it to flash it.
Your authoritarian believes that the answers to all the world’s ills can be found in mathematics.
In with a flash
Your authoritarian is a palm reader.
Your authoritarian believes in samsara.
|# ¿ Mar 6, 2019 22:51|
In and flash, please!
Your authoritarian presents a public face of pacifism to hide their true goals.
|# ¿ Mar 7, 2019 08:32|
Speaking of judging I still need a co-pilot and a navigator. Lemme know if you’re up to the task.
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2019 04:38|
Goddamn you goons for not updating the latest prompt link. gimme ahot second.
Your authoritarian has seen the future and fears it.
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2019 08:54|
Also in with a flash
Your authoritarian believes the sea is a place of great power and it must be protected.
SIGN-UPS NOW CLOSED.
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2019 09:33|
Since it's Accursed Daylight Day in the US I'm giving you shitbirds an extra hour. Your stories may be terrible, but nobody who actually writes a story deserves to fail out because the world's governments believe we still need arbitrary clockfuckery so nonexistent peasants get an extra hour of daylight to toil in their nonexistent fields.
See you in a few hours.
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2019 03:29|
I got carried away drawing. Closing subs at the hour. You have.... some minutes.
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2019 09:47|
|# ¿ Mar 11, 2019 10:06|
Wow, I didn’t realise it was Space Opera Week v2 instead of Authoritarianism Week but I guess when you guys wanna write about assholes you wanna write about assholes in space.
There were a lot of middle-of-the-pack stories this week that had some good lines and bits that made me laugh. I found myself drawn more to the stories that had fun with the prompt rather than the ones who treated authoritarianism as a self-important vainglorious death slog.
The worst of the lot was Simply Simon who wrote a story that was technically competent but read more like a monologue than a story, a monologue that went nowhere. Close behind in DMville is Benny Profane with a story that I should have loved for all its elements, yet it was completely skimmable and tried so hard to be clever it forgot to build that cleverness on a foundation of substance.
Interestingly enough, the judges all agreed to HM the comedy stories this week. The Saddest Rhino was my pick for HM because I liked the unique formatting and the bizarre twist–I’m a fan of experimenting in the Dome and this story had more hits than misses despite some bits that were too on the nose.
My co-judges each had a different funny story fave, so Saucy_Rodent and emgeejay both get an HM too. I personally liked lines from both of your stories a lot and both made me laugh out loud at least once.
But the winner by far was someone who took the prompt and nailed it. We three judges liked your portrait of authoritarianism as banal–it’s just people doing a job, because someone told them, no matter who gets hurt. This story tells a truth about the world as well as telling a complete tale from beginning to middle to end.
Arise, Staggy, and claim the Blood Crown for another week.
|# ¿ Mar 12, 2019 00:37|
MUSHROOM BRAWL, ENTRY THE ZWEI
This story edited out of the thread for search engine anonymity reasons.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 05:47 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ¿ Mar 17, 2019 08:05|
Depression is beating my rear end into submission so to finish my remaining judge crits by the 5th.
|# ¿ Mar 31, 2019 04:56|
In with this good boy.
|# ¿ Apr 2, 2019 23:28|
Gonna be dropping some Week 344 Crits as the workday allows:
Staggy - Tulip
There isn’t a lot of crit for me to offer about this one. I mean, it won for a reason. You cram a lot of world and character into a very sparse word count and everything felt like it was sliced from a believable reality that existed beyond the boundaries of your story. Great work! I think more than anything your story nailed the prompt (and also the flash rule). A lot has been said lately about the banality of evil in a thinkpiece sense, but you capture it so well in a fictional sense. Thanks for writing this and I was happy to hand the blood crown to you.
One thing you could work on: There were times when the main character’s voice was a liiiittle wooden. It was forgivable in the context that they were a cog in a military machine and didn’t detract from the story’s believability at all. Very minor quibble, I just try to give one bit of constructive crit per crit.
Sitting Here - Bardo 59
Like most of your work, this was atmospheric and dreamlike in a way I really dug. I love the juxtaposition of modern-day yoga idiots and the relentless, unforgiving apocalyptic wasteland. You do those sorts of contrasts extremely well. The detail and imagery were top notch. I didn’t care at all that you never dwelled on the ‘why’ of the apocalypse because you made it clear from the get-go that the story was focused on the characters. This is a real strength of your writing–you know when you show and when to just let the characters speak for themselves.
One thing to work on: My biggest issue with this piece was also my only issue, really. For such a character focused story, it felt emotionaly removed from the characters. I felt like I was watching their experiences through a wide-angle lens that didn’t ever quite focus sharply enough on their feelings and emotions for me to get a sense of who they were as people. If that’s a stylistic choice that’s totally understandable, but it lent the piece a distance that kept me from wanting to win or HM it.
The Saddest Rhino - UnOfficial Baby Rhinos: The African Kingdom Appreciation Group ? Admin Pinned Post
This is probably the most unique TD entry I’ve ever judged. I love that experimental poo poo. I would have fought with my co-judges to keep this HMed if they’d argued. Part of learning and growing as a writer is taking risks and I love the risks you take here. You stick more of the jokes than you miss. Apart from a few very minor complaints this is a great piece of absurdist horror comedy. Tough to do well. Well done.
One thing to work on: Sometimes you were a liiiiittle too on the nose. This line for example: “A lot of us original watchers have been growing up with the first series and it formed most of our childhoods, and this new show is anything but respecting us fans. It panders to the new kind of audience who wants things like inclusivity and respect for alternative lifestyles.” - that reads a little bit too much like someone critiquing a person with those beliefs rather than a person who believes them, if that makes sense.
crimea - Stars Are Right
It took me a bit to get into this one. The beginning is quite overwrought and dramatic, which isn’t necessarily an issue, but unfortunately you don’t quite give us enough in the beginning to make this character matter to readers, so the epic poo poo doesn’t feel quite as epic and weighty as it could. I really liked the ending and I really liked your protag’s voice. It’s just the right amount of self-important to be believable without being over the top.
One thing to work on: The first couple paragraphs as written and the first-person POV in this particular voice don’t quite work in this story imo. The first paragraph is very passive and gives us little sense of the narrator as a person. They develop a lot more personality later on, but as far as beginnings go, it doesn’t fill me with a rabid hunger to read more. The “I didn’t have a choice” “I didn’t choose” etc make me wonder what this protagonist DID do and what they DID want, rather than why they are focusing on this emotionally-removed and distant series of events with little enthusiasm. It ties together nicely by the end but that was a big hurdle toward getting me to care about your dude.
Bad Seafood - Huòluàn
There was some truly beautiful prose in this one. I loved your interactions between the older and younger generation, the dialogue felt true to life and realistic. The protag is a well thought-out character and you handle the prompt well. Overall this story has a nice flow right up until the ending, where it just sort of… ends without any kind of resolution, leaving the reader feeling like they’ve just read a vignette instead of a story. Still, I reread it because I felt like maybe I missed something, which is a testimony to how strong your prose was.
One thing to work on: Open-ended narratives are tough. I feel like I get what you were going for here but it didn’t quite work, because there isn’t enough hint toward what resolutions may be possible for readers to even dream up their own ending. The story just kind of ends. The final line implies that the old man stays sick and doesn’t go to a healer and also doesn’t permit the boy to be healed–but I feel like there needs to be at least some whisper of an in-story consequence as to what would happen if he did that. As it stands, we may as well end on the note of Bao leaving and saying “k” and nothing more happening, which doesn’t do justice to the nuance and emotion with which you’ve written these interactions up until now.
Flerp - The Moth
This is a sparsely-written tale that I liked more the second time around. I think perhaps I judged it a little unfairly on first read because it’s nicely profound at times and it has a satisfying ending. It just didn’t feel quiiiite on prompt to me–one could argue that the man was exerting his authoritarianism on his wife, but in the end it just felt more like “a couple arguing” and it wasn’t like he was actually forbidding her from doing any of the things she talked about doing. The story really shines in the last four paragraphs, but the journey to get there was kind of flat and not super interesting.
One thing to work on: The dialogue in the middle of this story wasn’t particularly badly written, but the lack of exposition surrounding it made me imagine two people just kind of listlessly arguing with little vigor or interest, and that made it tough to maintain interest. I have a feeling that may have been the note you were going for all along, which is fair enough, but it was a very listless read and I found myself wanting to skim through the couple’s misery rather than wondering more about their inner lives and motivations.
|# ¿ Apr 5, 2019 01:01|
More Week 344 crits:
Saucy_Rodent - Talamar the Strong
This was a silly little story but silly doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I immediately love the contrast between Talamar’s dialogue and everybody else’s. It strikes a good comedic beat. Funny is hard to do well and you land more of your jokes than not, which is why we ended up HMing the comedy stories this week. You handle the absurd idea of a barbarian playing win-or-die chess that ends the world with just enough of a straight face that it’s amusing rather than stupid.
A thing to work on: Considering what a big deal the chess match was, there wasn’t a lot of tension. It’s breezed through in five lines from opening move to checkmate, and for being such an important part of the story it’s barely granted any attention. It kind of fits with the whole “feeling inconsequential about ending the world” angle but a bit more dramatic tension would have rounded this up into more of an actual story than a funny anecdote with a funny ending.
Benny Profane - The Swineherd Rebellion
I am not a fan of stories that open with big infodumps, and I know that you’re trying to evoke a sense of self-important pomposity with the way this infodump is presented, but it doesn’t quite work. It’s still very hard to slog through. The narrator feels very much like a guy going “this happened, then this happened, then this happened! but i’m telling you about them in a clever way!” and I get that your protag is supposed to be extremely unlikeable but there’s a difference between unlikeable character and character the audience doesn’t enjoy reading. Everything’s very wordy and rambling and trying a little too hard to be funny.
Please don’t ever stop trying to write loathsome characters, they’re a lot of fun. But the audience still has to enjoy reading from their POV.
One thing to work on: I think this story has merit if you told it from the POV of someone who wasn’t one of the authority figures. You could still show off that rambly, intensely self-important dialogue, but by virtue of having the characters speak that way rather than forcing your audience to read a whole piece written in that voice. I almost never say “rewrite an entire story, god drat” but I could see myself liking this tale a lot if written by someone who was in on the poo flinging joke.
Noah - Long Live the King
This is fun space pulp that I enjoyed, except it didn’t quite feel like a complete story. The beginning of the piece is funnier than the rest, to the point of where I was kind of wondering if it was supposed to be humour or not. Tonally a little inconsistent. Still, I enjoyed your overly important space man. Unlike other judges, I liked the abruptness of the ending and I liked the tropeyness of the piece overall. It felt closer to a clever critique of those tropes than a boring derivative work.
One thing to work on: If you’re going for funny, lean all the way into it so I am not at the 75% mark of your story trying to guess whether I’m supposed to be laughing or not.
Sebmojo - Wormfood
I really wanted to like this more than I ended up liking it because the premise is clever and the voices of the main characters are strong. There isn’t much to say about your prose that you don’t already know–you have a real gift for simile and I like how you can paint a picture using few words. Where this piece fell flat for me is that Yarrow figuring out his plan and then jumping the gun on him kind of comes out of nowhere. It feels like all the good tension happens off-screen, you feel me? I reached the end of the story really wanting to know how Yarrow had come to the conclusions she had and what tension had befallen the camp, all of which we never get to know.
One thing to work on: Make sure the most interesting moments happen where the readers can see them.
emgeejay - Dear Leader
This was a great effort for a first-time entrant! There were some stellar lines in this story, and even though it’s written as a press release, it still manages to tell more story than a lot of entries this week, so great job with that. Like Rhino’s piece, some of the jokes were a little too self-aware and a little too on the nose. I feel like you could have cut maybe 15% of the total jokes and the story would have been stronger for it, but the jokes that did work were great and it got genuine out-loud laughter from all the judges.
One thing to work on: Comedy is all about timing. Knowing when to quit with the jokey material and play it serious for juuust long enough will help you tighten up your comedy work a lot. This piece was good, but I think if a few paragraphs had been completely straight-laced it would have been stellar.
apophenium - The Notary
This opening SLAPS, my dude. I was so interested and hooked from the very beginning. Well done. I love John’s perfunctory way of viewing the world. You give him a really unusual personality that reminds me of Michael Douglas’ D-FENS character from Falling Down in a way that sends good work shivers up the spine. I love turns of phrase like “too late he contorted his face into a mask of compassionate sadness.” They say so much about the character. But then the end kind of devolves into this back and forth dialogue that doesn’t have the same strength as the beginning. The ending is also a little ehhh. Myself and another judge were both a little perplexed that a nanny, someone paid to mind a house, would just chuck a package into the recycling.
One thing to work on: The bits of this story that were the strongest–your evocative prose and your punchy sentences that explain so much–almost evaporate toward the end. Changing up the style so that it’s mostly dialogue with little exposition really doesn’t work after your opening spent so much time showing us John’s interactions with the world. It was jarring and kept me from wanting to HM this piece.
Doctor Zero - The Truth Shall Set You Free
A lot of stories this week had sections of back and forth dialogue with no narration around who the voices were or how they were speaking or why they mattered. Opening a story with this is a risky proposition because I’m so fresh into this piece that I have no emotional attachment to Talana yet and I don’t really care that the gods are bickering over her death. Also “a test”? Okay, kinda vague, I kept waiting for the test to be explained later in the piece but unless it was done so with such subtlety I completely missed it, it never really is.
Once Talana starts going on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge, I liked this story a lot more. It really pulled together and your protag’s interactions with Jorren and the highwayman are interesting and fun to read. I almost feel like this story wouldn’t lose a thing if you cut the beginning entirely.
One thing to work on: Think about your opening and how it’s relevant to the rest of the story. Do readers benefit from seeing the Gods’ poorly explained thought processes rather than your text spending some time showing us who Talana was before her resurrection?
|# ¿ Apr 5, 2019 02:43|
S’more Week 344 crits.
Thranguy - The Sounds of Hammers on Glass, Played in a Minor Key
I loved this story right up until the ending. The disjointed somewhat janky rhyming scheme worked with me and you cram a lot of worldbuilding very deftly into a short piece. Both your characters are different and well-defined and there’s a clear plot with structure that builds nicely toward the… complete nothingburger of an ending. What even was that, Thrang. You can do better than that. “Ah well just let her go” and a mystic hand-wave that it’ll all work itself out doesn’t really fit the driven, fanatical way you have written these characters and it’s also just so lazy. Doubly so considering you weren’t anywhere near the word limit.
One thing to work on: I mean, I’ve seen you write way better endings than this. I am assuming you just ran out of time or motivation or some poo poo. This would have been at least an HM from me if not for that sad scab of an ending.
SlipUp - Destroyer of Worlds
I liked this story more than the other judges did. Possibly just the classics reader in me. I think you’ve captured the vocabulary of Roman era translations well and I found your MC endearingly pompous. Your use of dramatic imagery is confined to a few nicely meaningful and impactful moments so I can tell you’ve got some skill with prose, but the structure of this one was a little messy. It’s a vignette more than a story really. Something does happen, but for such a big planet-shattering (literally) finale, the last three paragraphs feel pretty flat and they don’t really carry the same oomph as the rest of the piece.
One thing to work on: I think rather than starting off with a lot of exposition and monologue, what might have helped this piece and boosted it to higher echelons would have been some hints in the beginning that we’re building up to zap a planet with a big laser. Every character involved knows it’s gonna happen, so a bit of foreshadowing would have helped lend the finale some momentum. Also I would have liked to hear more about your MC’s motivations for doing this. There’s some vague hints but he’s never really explicit about it despite the whole piece being from his POV.
Viscardus - I Have Seen the Light and It Is Beautiful
This isn’t bad but it isn’t great. Your interactions between the POV character and the people holding them hostage are well-written and nicely unpredictable. There’s a real sense of tension that develops about 1/3 of the way in. But the problem is that it takes that long for me to get a sense of what’s going on.
One thing to work on: Opening a piece with the POV character being disoriented and confused is a risky proposition because it creates an immediate emotional distance. I don’t know who this person is. I don’t know what is happening to them. Therefore I don’t know how much I even care. And you don’t do a great job of explaining it further on into the piece. There’s a lot you can nicely fill in with “they took me on the road” and lines like that, but I think those lines need to come much earlier in order to build empathy for your protagonist.
Joda - Hands of Fate
First off, this really needed a proofread. The inconsistent formatting made it tough to read. Your prose on its own isn’t bad though. The beginning is solid and sets up a good conflict and characters that have opposing goals–nice. The action is concise and made me want to find out what happens next. Unfortunately I think you came up against the wordcount limit because Leila’s change of heart and the last two paragraphs feel very rushed. The ending feels unearned. When you’re writing a big change like that, it can’t just come out of nowhere and have no seeds sown beforehand. While I suppose that does happen in real life sometimes, it makes for very weak storytelling. “I read a book and decided my entire sacreligious crusade was a lie” just doesn’t work.
One thing to work on: If you wanted to improve the ending, you could spend more time dwelling on how the book changes Leila’s point of view and give some more specific examples from her life. Or you could show a scene or two that has her questioning her usual method of doing things. They are small choices but they’d really help to sell the ending, and if you’d put a bit more of her transition into the piece this would have been a great little story.
|# ¿ Apr 6, 2019 08:59|
This story edited out of the thread for search engine anonymity reasons.
You can read it on the TD archive though!
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 05:48 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ¿ Apr 8, 2019 07:56|
|# ¿ Oct 1, 2023 06:37|
THUNDERDOME CCCXLIX - A Stroll Through the Archives
Like a lot of people, I wandered away from TD for a while and then came back. Life kicks you in the dick sometimes–you get busy, you get depressed, you get uninspired. When I returned, one of the things I took the most delight in was reading back through the archive and seeing what people had been up to in my absence. There’s a massive treasure trove (or it is a travesty trove?) of stories in our archive and they’re as different as the people who wrote them.
This week, when you sign up you will be assigned a thunderdome participant and your prompt will be to write a story that contains elements from one of their stories on the archives. I’m not picky about “elements” - it can be setting, it can be characters, it can be a direct sequel, whatever. It just has to be directly informed by that work.
If you want 200 extra words then I’ll assign you a specific story from your specific person’s back catalogue.
For people who are new and don’t have accounts on the Thunderdome archive site: if this is the case for you, say so and I will be sure to assign you a person who still has stories visible in the goldmined threads, which are accessible from the Thunderdome 2019teen OP.
900 words or less (1100 if you take a flash)
Sign-ups due: Friday 12th Apr, 11:59pm PST
Submissions due: Sunday 14th Apr, 11:59pm PST
Ironic Twist - Hawklad
Antivehicular - Fumblemouse’s “Willful Indiscrection.”
Thranguy - dmboogie’s “Old Truckers Never Die, They Just Drive Their Rigs Straight Up the Stairway to Heaven.”
Fleta McGurn - Hammer Bro’s “Candybrain.”
kurona_bright - Exmond’s “Memories of You, Hovering in the Sky.”
Uranium Phoenix - Broenheim’s “You Didn’t Deserve All This Gray.”
steeltoedsneakers - God Over Djinn
onsetOutsider - Sitting Here’s “The Show.”
Saucy_Rodent - Fanky Malloons’ “Equal Opportunity Witchcraft.”
anatomi - WeLandedOnTheMoon!’s “Chute”
Lippincott - whalley
curlingiron - M. Propagandalf’s “Some Coercion Required.”
Solitair - PoshAlligator
Simply Simon - Yoruichi’s “What We Are Capable Of.”
Sitting Here - Grizzled Patriarch
QuidProQuid - Entenzahn’s “Make A Wish”
crabrock - SurreptitiousMuffin’s “Obvious Phallic Symbol.”
SurreptitiousMuffin - Nethilia’s “BFF.”
Tyrannosaurus - Morning Bell
sebmojo - Fuschia tude’s “Extrinsic Behavior.”
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 04:28 on Apr 12, 2019
|# ¿ Apr 9, 2019 22:02|