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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in with "Yo, cut it"

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


E: locked

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 22:34 on Jan 4, 2021

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


a friendly penguin posted:

One small typo of too instead of to and I only point that out because you might want to do more with this.

gently caress. poo poo. rear end.

thank you for the crit(s)!

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


The Sloth Who Saw His Hands
1234 words

We hang together, young one, you and me.

Stay, listen, and I will tell you what I have to tell you.

There was one of us, back before the counting of time, named Vai. And one day, after eating leaves and dozing in the sun, clinging to the underside of a tree branch, he noticed his hands for the first time in his life.

There was nothing wrong with them--they were ordinary sloth hands, sharp claws, pink palms surrounded by tight fronds of grey hair.

And yet, Vai felt his heart lurch, because he no longer saw the hands of his ancestors in his. He no longer felt the Chain.

In the ancient times, the Chain was what held us all together. The spirits were with us then. All sloths could look down at their two hands and see them. In their left hand, the hands of their father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, great-and-greater, claws dulled and smoothed, palms wizened and dirty. In their right hand, the hands of their sons, daughters, and their sons and daughters, palms exposed and soft, fur bright and wavy. They were held aloft and held in place by their past and future.

I sense the way you stir, young one. Be patient, and listen to the story I have to tell.

When Vai discovered this, he nearly went mad. How could his family abandon him? He felt like his head, hands, and feet were all floating in space, without anything for him to latch onto.

And the other sloths around him were no help. Rest in the sun more, one said. Vai let the sun bake him to his core, until the strands of fur on his chest were dry as wisps, and it didn’t help. Swim in the river more, another said. Vai dove into the river, cutting swathes through the water with his claws, shaking droplets off of him and into the air, and it didn’t help. Eat more leaves, yet another said. Vai stuffed vegetation into his face, green juice dripping down his chin--it didn’t help.

None of them could help--they only knew what they knew, and they didn’t know life apart from the Chain.

Then Vai went to the edges of where he and the other sloths lived, and came to a sloth he had not met before, hanging from a tree branch by his claws. Vai scurried up the tree, happy to see an unfamiliar face, someone who might know something he didn’t know. He shimmied over to the other sloth, clinging to the underside of the branch, and started talking. Asking questions, questions that flowed out of him like rain from above. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What should I do? Every now and then, in the middle of his breathless talking, he turned to the sky, the eye blind and blue, ignoring the sloth beside him for a moment, as if he thought someone greater than the two of them would answer.

The other sloth did not interrupt him once, only remained silent.

When Vai stopped, he turned toward the other sloth and told him that he was a good listener, humble, full of patience, held in place by the Chain. Vai felt a pang in his heart, and reached forward, picked a grub from the other sloth’s fur and ate it.

Vai stopped, looked down at his hand.

His claws were red.

He looked back at the other sloth. Noticed several more grubs on his fur, feeding on the blood around the dark red rim of the hole in his chest, the hole that Vai could look straight through.

The other sloth’s claws clung tight to the tree branch, and his feet swayed in the wind, side to side.

Vai’s fur bristled up, and he shrunk back.

The leaves were rustling with a creature’s sudden approach.

Vai could feel it. There was no time for him to escape.

Death was here. Death was coming.

He tried to call for help, but couldn’t speak, couldn’t think, could only offer up a silent shouting prayer: Help me. Ancestors. Descendants. Please.

He felt a sharp pain in his hands.

The air exploded.

Vai was falling, falling, falling, and then the ground struck him in the chest. He scrambled up to the top of the nearest tree before he realized he was still alive.

He peeked out through the leaves and saw pale creatures, standing tall on the forest floor, carrying thin metal sticks. They spoke in low voices, mocking imitations of the high-pitched chattering of the jungle. One of them picked up a rock and threw it up at the dead sloth, still hanging from the branch. It struck him in the legs, swung him back and forth like he was alive and playing. Vai felt a burning fire in his chest.

Once the creatures were gone, Vai looked to the left, and saw the marks on the bark of the other tree, impacted by small metal pellets, splintered and torn, behind where he had just been hanging moments ago.

How? Vai thought. Why--

He remembered the pain in his hands right before he fell, forcing them open, forcing them to let go.

He looked down at his hands again, and for a second they were there again, all his parents, all his children.

They disappeared once he looked away, but he hung in the tree until dark, looking at his hands, feeling them grip the branch tight.

Yes, that’s the story, young one. You can tell more of it if you want. Make up your own. You have time, you realize that. You have time.

My fur is matted and weatherbeaten, these days, but it still makes for a good home, green with life. The flies and the lice and the moths all find shelter with me, as they will with you one day. My limbs are weak, but my hands are strong, and my claws are sharp, and I will use them to latch onto what time I have left, but in the end I will go, as all of us must. Carried up into the center of the world, the blind blue eye that watches us all.

Until then, we are what we hold onto, and what holds on to us. The leaves hold onto the twigs, and the twigs hold onto the branches, and the branches hold onto the trunk, and the trunk holds onto the roots, and the roots grow out of the right hand of Creation, the maker of everything.

Up is the life beyond, below is the life before, and in our left and right hands are our past and future. My eyes barely work anymore, but I can see them, the Chain, every so often, but only when I dream at night. Long ago, our ancestors stopped resting behind our eyes and started resting in our hearts. I see the hands of my father and mother, and their fathers and mothers, all of us hanging onto each other, a long and beautiful chain, extending down into the earth like tree roots, all the way to the first of us, maker of everything, extending their hand caked with dust and dirt and crawling life.

And then I see your hand in mine, young one, and I see the sky, clear and bright.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Week 389: BRRRRR-omancer



your prompt for this week: winter-influenced sci-fi. that's it. don't get cute with me or I will club you with my Posting Arm

No erotica, fanfiction, C-SPAM content, poetry, Google Docs, you know the deal

Word Count: 1500
Signups Close: Friday, January 17th, 11:59 PM Pacific
Submissions Close: Sunday, January 19th, 11:59 PM Pacific

Judges:
me
flerp
Antivehicular

Special Snowflakes:
Anomalous Amalgam :toxx: flash rule: TOBACCO--Eruption (Gonna Get My Hair Cut At The End Of The Summer)
Thranguy
Saucy_Rodent
Carl Killer Miller
SlipUp
crimea
arbitraryfairy
AstronautCharlie
Maigius
Doctor Eckhart
Azza Bamboo
Pththya-lyi
Simply Simon
cptn_dr
a friendly penguin
Tyrannosaurus

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 20:10 on Jan 18, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

In :toxx: flash or hell rule please

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3E4xtbV9AM

here's your flash rule

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Doctor Eckhart posted:

I’d like to volunteer to co-judge this week.

the second judge spot is full and I've already promised a third.

you should join this week, though

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


signups closed.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Subs closed.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 389 RESULTS

it would behoove some of you to read through this week's entire field and notice how many goddamn Ice Planet stories there were and how they all blended together.

Loss goes to Pththya-lyi for giving us a shaggy dog story that was a pointless kick in the dick,

DMs go to Azza Bamboo, Anomalous Amalgam and Saucy_Rodent for giving us two somewhat original stories executed astoundingly poorly and the most generic of the generic sci-fi Ice Planet stories (which was a damned achievement this week), respectively,

the one HM goes to arbitraryfairy for giving us a charming, competently executed story in a week where there was very little of either to go around, AND:

a friendly penguin Wins this week by giving us the story that satisfied the prompt the best and left the judges satisfied as well.

:toxx: to have crits for this week done by January 31st, 11:59 PST.

take it away, afp

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 08:34 on Jan 21, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 389 CRITSCH PART 1

Deadstar-1

Yeah, so this is the story this week that suffered the most from being a prisoner of its own clichés. I think I called this a mixture of The Thing and Aliens in judgechat, one that really didn’t measure up to either, and that definitely becomes apparent when you look at the dialogue and narration. That whole “Real space adventure poo poo” section makes me think that these are characters with words being shoved in their mouth, rather than real people dealing with a real situation. I genuinely don’t believe that people trying to stay alive on an abandoned outpost for this long would go out “slaying a loving dragon” like that, or if they would, they would at least have time to think about it longer than a couple sentences of doubt. My guess is that you sort of defaulted to what you knew about the genre, rather than what new ideas you could bring to it, and that’s never a good idea when you’re in a writing competition like this.

Chromatic Nights

Just like the last story, there was some heavy reliance on established sci-fi tropes--the “exploring humanoid visits a desolate planet, falls in love with it, and goes native” story is one I’ve seen before--but you skirt around it a bit by having some charm to your character and your descriptions. Even if the main character was a bit too angelic and uncomplicated for my tastes (he gets sentenced for stealing food to feed his family, for chrissakes). The ending is where it falls apart for me--I can believe that the planet would fight back against invading forces, but again, it’s something I’ve seen before, and more importantly it prevents the protagonist from having to make a choice of his own to decide how the story’s going to end. I liked this on a sentence level, but there were some decisions you made that kept it from reaching greatness as a story.

Force of Nurture

In judgechat, I divided this week into “unoriginal stories executed competently” and “original stories executed incompetently”, and this is our first example of the latter. I genuinely like the concept of this main character raising children that are carbon-copies of himself but not knowing how to do it, but I spent the whole story asking why any of this was happening, or why I should care as a reader. I wanted more investment in the characters early-on, instead of just a plain description of the action, and when we get to the section with the Mariner, it feels like he’s just spelling out to the audience what we should already know by that point. And then the story ends without us feeling like we saw anything of consequence other than a visit from the protag’s Fairy Godfather. Maybe the story ended where it should’ve began. Anyway, next time I would just do more work setting things up from the very beginning rather than expositioning it all in the middle.

The First Science

I honestly didn’t hate this, but like flerp said in his crit, it felt like you overthought what was interesting about the story and what wasn’t. It’s not set on Earth, and these creatures are advanced enough to make cloaks filled with whale blubber to keep them insulated against the cold, so it reads like there were Sciences before the one in the story, but then you have an alien land just because, I don’t know, you didn’t think the story was sci-fi enough without it? I would have just as soon had the main character find his way through the story without a deus ex alien to siphon away all the tension and stakes. Additionally, the story feels confused in terms of how it views the main character--I feel like he’s meant to be seen as sympathetic at the beginning with how he reacts to violence, but then he does a complete one-eighty at the end when he helps burn a whole bunch of children to death. There’s just a lot in here that makes me think that this story would have really benefited from, if not an outside perspective, then simply more attention paid to how certain things looked to an outside perspective.

A Godawful Small Affair

I can’t prove it, but this really reads like you had your own pre-determined idea for a sci-fi world and wanted to shoehorn it into this week. And if that’s not the case, then it just reads like you completely forgot about the prompt, because I can’t see the influence of winter here at all. Beyond that, this narrowly avoided a negative mention solely because...I did like it, on a sentence level. It’s top-heavy as gently caress, it doesn’t work as a standalone story, and I kept wishing that there was more at stake, but the prose itself isn’t bad and I can’t say I wouldn’t read a longer version of this. It was a nice change of pace to read about two kind-of-sympathetic dirtbags, as well. Next time, just get to the point faster instead of dumping a whole bunch of exposition at the front that we don’t care about because we haven’t seen the protagonist do anything yet.

Winter Forecast

There was exactly one thing I liked and understood about this story, and that was the ending, where they arranged these synthetic snowflakes into a sky-ramp to help slow the plane’s descent. It would have made for a satisfying ending, if the rest of the story wasn’t a loving mess. It reads like you want to impress us with the level of technical detail and minutia you put into this story rather than making it accessible to the reader, because I spent most of it wondering what was going on and why I should care about these two characters, and then, why I should care about them...merging? Mind-melding? For no discernable reason. Both Kerry and Jasper feel completely removed from anything I could’ve connected with or cared about, and if you had the space to do it, I would’ve liked any sort of detail about their personality. Something on the dashboard. Anything.

Universal Story

This won mainly because it achieved what it set out to do, it set up expectations, and then delivered upon them. Even so, it’s not without its flaws, mainly the lack of a stronger character voice. It did feel a bit monotone in that regard, and I sort of wished there was a bit more color to the narration. Also, despite the ending working out, the story was set in motion by a fuckup on the character’s part, which made it a little less satisfying for me as a reader. The protag wasn’t fighting against anything but their own incompetence. Nevertheless, the judges enjoyed this, and I think this deserved the win for succeeding where so many others failed.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 389 CRITSCH PART 2

In the Bleak Midwinter

There was a decent amount to like about this story. The dialogue seemed natural, the world was fleshed-out without the audience having to swallow a cinder block of exposition, and on a sentence level, there were a lot of lines that made me take note of how pretty they were. What kept this story from having a lasting impact on me was that...not a whole lot of consequence happens. Her family is hungry, she steals from her boss, and they’re able to eat Christmas dinner. Everything works out perfectly without the reader ever having to wonder if it will or not. I mean, you can get by writing a story this short without having a plot with a beginning, middle, and end, but then there needs to be something else that captivates the reader, like the prose, or the characters, and this had okay versions of both but no more than that.

Peace on Earth?

Yeah, this pissed me off royally, and I’m sorry if that wasn’t what you were intending, but that was what we got. This is a story that’s only really here to set up the punchline at the end, and it’s not a very good punchline, or even one that makes any particular sense--why wouldn’t this child be mortally afraid of this goat-creature tonguing her American Girl doll, who then advances on her with murderous intent? Why does she know how to dismember an alien body because she watches Dexter? Why is Gretchen able to take this alien out at all, for that matter? These aliens suck at putting up a fight. But I digress. This is the reason why, if you’re attempting to write a humorous story, you want to have the humor spread throughout the story, not have the whole thing live and die on one joke at the end. Because even if that one joke succeeds, it still feels cheap and manipulative. And this joke didn’t.

Equality is Here Today

Case in point, this is a story that’s going for very little else other than having a laugh, and sometimes the jokes miss, but they ended up hitting enough times that I wasn’t mad at the story after I was done with it. It’s simple, it’s dumb, but it’s not really aiming to be more than that, even though I was kind of hoping for that by the end. It feels very cartoonish in the way it progresses from this two-person vaudeville attempt at communication to the main character getting Looney Tunes crushed by a giant drill in the last paragraph. Really, I don’t have much to say about it, other than that the writing is competent enough and it seems like you ultimately achieved what you were going for.

Winter’s Love and Summer’s Hope

This is like one of my early entries where I just wrote everything in order without thinking about how the story should progress or what the reader would care about, and then just posted it without revising it and without asking someone to look at it first. Because this is weirdly imbalanced and the pacing is off by miles. Flerp already talked about how the opening just kills the drive of the story, but once we get to the action of the story, it seems completely inconsequential. He’s left his people, so what motivation does he still have? If it’s survival, then why should I care about this character who’s spent the first half of the story doing nothing but whining about how he can’t get laid? None of it hangs together or makes any sense, and by the time I get to the ending, I’m completely lost. I don’t know what him moulting means in the context of the story, and yet again I don’t know why I should care about or sympathize with this character. At the very least, the next TD story you write, you should try to figure out what the reader will give a poo poo about and put it closer to the beginning rather than have us sit through a bunch of exposition that doesn’t matter.

Europa

This had a lot that I didn’t hate. It was yet another Ice Planet story, yeah, but there was not a whole lot that took me out of the narrative or made me question it. It did feel a bit disjointed at the end, where I got the impression that you didn’t know whether to end the story with the planet growing arms and saving the protagonist OR the protagonist coming across the charred half-eaten corpse of his father...so you just decided to stick both in at the end. Personally I would’ve stuck to the latter and discarded the former, because it doesn’t really add anything to the story at all. This probably would have had an outside shot at HMing (at least in this judge’s opinion) if it had been fine-tuned a bit more and there was a bit more depth to the main character, because he came across a bit stiff and bland. You did an alright job, though.

The Hobo Way

I stuck up for this story in judgechat simply because, while it missed the mark in certain ways, it was delightfully and entertainingly bizarre, and I gravitated towards that bizarreness over a lot of the other stories this week that just melted together. I agree completely with flerp that you missed out by not having the mustache-twirling passive-aggressive robot scientist be the main character of your story--he had a way stronger motivation than the protag and it was way too easy for the protag to just say “naw, gently caress this” and leave with chicken wings in his pocket. Like AA’s story, it felt like I was watching you discover what was interesting about the story as I read it, and then right when you got to the most interesting part, you butted up against the word limit, and then hit post. I’m probably wrong, but it read like that, and I think you would have been better served with another revision. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this and I’m glad it was a part of this week.

Message Delivered by Tightbeam

The events being recounted in this story are interesting, but the way in which they’re conveyed to the reader sucks out a lot of the tension and intrigue. It reads like you purposefully made things harder for yourself by not only telling the story in the past-past tense, but also cramming these events into a tight space. You had 600 more words, and this was the last message the main character could send to the outside world, and they weren’t in a hurry. I would’ve appreciated you giving the events of the story way more room to breathe and expand, rather than freeze-drying it to the point of “this happened, and then this worse thing happened, and then this even worse thing happened, and we’re all hosed”. Even if you had focused on one of the unfortunate events and just expounded upon it, like the infidelity for instance, I think it would have made for a more satisfying story. As it is, it just reads like an interesting and depressing voicemail.

Fuel for the Fire

I think of all the stories this week, this was the one I was the most charmed by, and I obviously wasn’t alone. A decent amount of people took the prompt and immediately defaulted to “it’s very cold in space”, so it was interesting to see someone not only flip that on its head but succeed--relatively--at making it into a satisfying story. Despite the typo, the first line drew me right into the world, and I stayed there for the rest of the story. At first I wanted the stakes to be a little bit higher, but I think what I really wanted was for the story to pay off in some way at the end. The janitor character showing up was a nice, pleasant way to end it, but I still wished they had made the fire on their own in some unconventional way. Also, if you had started at the rooftop, and then integrated the character details from the first half into the second half, there would have been more room to continue the story until you reached a satisfying ending. Let me know if you ever do anything with this.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


In.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


:toxx: redemption by 2/23 11:59 PST :toxx:

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



Artbleed Week Redemption

After All
617 words

Hell is a very hard place to get out of. I don’t know if you knew that.

First of all, to actually leave hell, you can’t blink, not even once, while tearing your way through the barriers that separate you from the outside world. It’s not like in that one Greek myth, where you can’t turn around. It’s harder than that. We’ve passed through twelve of the thirteen barriers, the last one a mixture of chinchilla fur, writhing sardines, and disembodied moth wings. It’s the kind of disgusting that emboldens you once you’ve made it through it, like drinking a poison until it immunizes you to it.

Solovey’s had her hand in mine this whole time, and the outsides of our hands have been covered with salt and lye and animal poo poo, but the insides are still clean and unimpacted by the environment. Solovey is stronger than me, but I can’t let her know that.
One last bristle, wriggle, and twitch, and we’re through.

I blink seven times in a row and wipe my face with my free hand. Solovey is coughing up blood. This is poo poo.

“I almost wish we were back in our cells,” Solovey says, her hand going limp.

I give it a squeeze. “I like actually seeing your face, for real,” I say, "even if it’s covered in cigarette butts and cow spit.”

Solovey grins, then looks past me. “Is that it?” she says. I turn back towards the way out, and my face drains of blood.

“Yeah,” I breathe. There’s a translucent barrier in front of us, our wavy reflections dancing in silver light, warmth radiating from its surface.

This is it. The Wonderwall.

We lunge forward, headlong, and throw ourselves into it without a second thought.

Everything is calm. Everything is whiteness.

I don’t feel the urge to blink. I look over at Solovey. She looks over at me.

“Leiya,” she breathes. “Is this still hell?”

“It has to be,” I say. “This is a trick. This is a way to get us to let our guard down. We can’t fall for it.”

“I don’t know,” she says. “Purgatory? Is this purgatory? Did we make it there?”

“Come on,” I say. “Come on. You know about this place. This is how they get you. Don’t blink. Don’t you dare blink.”

But my words are being swallowed up by the white light all around us. It’s muffling our words.

“It’s better,” Solovey says, and her voice sounds like a handkerchief in a hurricane. “It’s better here. Everything is better here. I don’t want to go home again. I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to go forward. I want to stay right here where everything is nice and warm. It’s better this way--”

“drat it!” I shout. “Don’t do this, Solovey. I don’t want to leave without you. You’re the reason I’m here. You’re my Wonderwall.”

I grip her hand as tight as I can and I start dragging her forward. Only I can’t quite tell where forward is anymore.

I start running.

Solovey screams and the sound is cut off a half-second in.

My lungs are burning and so are my eyes.

I scream and my mouth fills with white light--



--and the light shatters around us--



There’s rocks, there’s a stream, there’s grass waving in the wind, there are things that are so calm that I haven’t seen in so long I can’t even tell if there’s a word for them still in my brain.

I’m breathing, heaving, my chest on fire.

Solovey is gone.

I curse, and tear at the ground, and the grass bleeds under my fingers, and I know I’m still in hell.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


:toxx: to complete Week 399 crits by 4/7/20, 11:59 PST

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Week 399 Crits

Chairman of the Council

So this was the way we started off the week, and it was kind of...unmemorable, to be honest. Yes, you have Bowser and Mario in there, but it feels like you made sure to fulfill that part of the prompt and sort of just stopped there. I’m never a fan of TD stories that just resolve themselves by the end without any sort of effort on the part of the protagonist, and this was no exception. I do like Clayton as a well defined character, but I think you could have been more economic with your character description and saved some of those words for setting up a resolution that made sense. Also, I don’t know what “popular” trees are. Are they trees that branch out to others? Ha ha. Let’s move on.

Lucky’s Pizzarino

I liked this story a tad more than Neth, but I wasn’t willing to defend it from a DM. It’s a bit of a mess, and it feels like a caricature of the Italian Mafia from someone who’s watched either too many or not enough Martin Scorcese movies. Judging by the fact that you think Pachinko is an Italian thing, maybe it’s the latter. As a story, it’s really concerned with blustering forward into action without really setting any of that action up in a meaningful way. You would have been better served by cutting the number of characters in half and giving us more of a reason to care about each of them, even if it was only one or two sentences of motivation. All that said...I liked how goofy it was, especially this week, where the other stories in the low-mention range were more grim than they needed to be. This was violent, but at least it had a sense of fun. Write more, and you’ll be able to tighten up the weaknesses in your writing.

Pastel Resolve

This had...something, but it would have benefitted from another pass. Personally, I think your two prompt characters should’ve been partners from the beginning, rather than finding themselves teamed up halfway through. They have an interesting dynamic by the time they’re teamed up, but you fell into the trap of making the story grim and gritty for no real reason and in a way that ultimately didn’t add anything compelling to the story. The sci-fi premise felt a bit trite, and the story didn’t resolve it in a satisfying way either. In my opinion, you made the prompt characters bit players in this world you’d created rather than starting with them and building a story around them, and that’s where the story suffered.

Got to get, even

This was pleasant. It wasn’t trying to do more than it was intending to do, and it had a real sense of fun. I’m not very familiar with the Snagglepuss cartoon, but from what I’m familiar with, I think you aced the prompt, and even if you got some things wrong, it was an enjoyable read. The stakes were low, but it wasn’t going for high drama. The character writing was very clear and present as well, and I immediately got what you were going for. There was a part of me that wanted this to win, just because it was the closest to feeling like a legit cartoon in TD story form, but ultimately, there were stories that were going for more depth and succeeded at it. But I’m glad we were able to commend it, all the same. It did its job.

Mystery Machine

Yeah, this was the worst offender in terms of “take a fun and lighthearted prompt and make it as grim and as edgy as you possibly can, for no apparent reason”. I mean, I know why the impulse is there, because you have to put a spin on it somehow, but it’s the easiest route you can possibly take. It’s a Pissing Calvin bumper sticker. Which isn’t to say that that impulse couldn’t have worked if it was well-executed, but this wasn’t. I couldn’t make any sense of this story at all, and that middle section where you outline the steps of the plan exemplifies how hard you had to try to shoehorn the whole Scooby-Doo formula into a dark crime procedural to even attempt to make it a real-world thing. And as a story, like many other stories this week, it just sort of went nowhere and ended nowhere. It was unsatisfying. The lone saving grace that it had, for me, was that it was at least trying to do something, anything at all, with the prompt. It just didn't pay off.

The Airport Food Court Caper

Yeah, if you have a spare moment, I would take the time to read Staggy’s Snagglepuss story, because in my opinion that was a better-executed example of what you were trying to go for here. That story had all the beats of a cartoon, but it had the charisma and character that made it an enjoyable read. This...I don’t know, man. You went waaaaaaaay too literal. I described it to my co-judge as “having a friend describe a Looney Tunes cartoon to you over the phone, in full detail, completely deadpan.” It was missing any sense of fun or spontaneity and just became a cold action script. And beyond that--cartoon characters, especially Looney Tunes characters, are assholes by nature, but we accept those characteristics because it’s a cartoon and it’s rooted in the unreal. When you transcribe those characteristics one-for-one to two adult men looking after a little girl at the airport, it isn’t funny anymore, it’s just sad, and if it goes on and on for paragraphs, it just becomes immensely frustrating. And then you end the story with the alcoholic mom out of nowhere. You just got clotheslined by this prompt in the worst way possible.

The Little Magician

This felt very literary to me, but not necessarily in a good way, in more of a forgettable way. In a “oh, here are the beats of a prestige literary story” way, but without the language and the intrigue needed to execute it properly. It felt like it was having the premise do all the work without any sort of storytelling inertia pushing it forward. “I’m a magician, this is my day-to-day life.” It could have used an extra wrinkle, like “I’m a magician, and this is my day-to-day life, but TODAY…” and so on. In terms of the actual prompt, I felt like it was lacking, possibly. I get that the character lends himself to sadness and immobility, but I think you could’ve done a bit more to make that interesting. As it was, it begins, it ends, it’s not too good, it’s not too bad, and it no-mentioned.

Carrot Cake

This was a well-done story, for the most part. I saw the prompt characters in the story, I liked the way the plot paid off at the end...where I was left wanting more was in terms of the emotional depth. Maybe that was a consequence of the characters you were assigned? There was a shrewdness to the conversation that the main character and Oni had within the story, but it just didn’t quite resonate with me emotionally. Maybe that was a character choice in itself, because the two cartoon characters are both deal-with-the-devil type characters, but I read it and felt like it made me feel how clever they both were more than it made me want to root for either of them to succeed. The line “But I have unprotected sex” made me laugh, unintentionally so, because of how stilted it felt. And even though the trick at the end was kind of satisfying, the more I thought about it, the more it felt like there’s no way Oni wouldn’t know about that sort of relationship, being around since the dawn of time, and after realizing that it just felt like a cop-out. Regardless, it was competent enough and had enough layers to it that I enjoyed it overall.

Little Human, Big Tiger

This came really close to getting the loss, and it should be evident why when you read it over. It reads like the book report you finished the hour before class started. There’s no real sustenance or depth to this story beyond “Little human and big tiger meet, they’re enemies, now they’re friends, and then they leave to go on an adventure.” This was the preface to the story that would’ve actually been good, had you written it. Beyond that, Neth tells me that this didn’t hit the prompt at all, and I’ll take her word for it because I’m not familiar with the character you were assigned, but even if it had hit the prompt I don’t believe it would’ve made much of a difference. You were lucky.

Nobody’s Boo

This wasn’t a front-runner, but I thought it was charming all the same. Maybe it was the trashiness of the characters, or maybe it was one of the few stories this week about criminal activity that actually seemed fun and didn’t leave me wishing I had spent time somewhere else. The ending is a bit of a casualty of the word count, but I suspect you know that already. I think you could have done just a little bit more with it, maybe if you had started with them lugging the ATM machine away and fleshed out the latter half of the story more it would’ve felt like more of a cohesive unit. It left me wanting more, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Robbo’s Covid Life

I remember reading the title and the first line of the story and just groaning out loud. I understand that you can’t not reflect the times you live in as a writer, but it was a hell of a hurdle for me to get past. Once I did, though, it was an alright story. I think you hit the prompt reasonably well, there was a lot of decent character writing, and the ending did a better job wrapping up the story than some of the positive mentions this week. The scene with the baseball bat felt a bit unnecessarily violent for the tone the story had up until that point, so much so that it took me out of it. If I were revising it that would be the main thing I would change, to make Arty’s character in the first half match up with Arty’s character in the second half. Overall, you did a decent job nailing the prompt for this week, and in another scenario this might have HMed.

Snacks on a Plane

Like a lot of these other stories, it was more focused on trying to be fun rather than traditionally good (which I welcomed, considering how unnecessarily dark some of the other ones got), but this succeeded at being a really fun story, regardless. I was way more familiar with one of these characters than the other one, but you made me care about both of them in spite of that. I think the greatest weakness of this story was that there wasn’t enough of it, which I mean in sort of a good way, but also in a way where I want to remind you that you had almost a thousand extra words to play with and you didn’t use any of them. Nevertheless, you did a good job with what was there and this was the second-best character interaction for me this week. Bravo.

Co-Pilots

This story gave me the most to sit with after it was done, which is why I had no problem giving it the win. It wasn’t just that it had a lot of heart, which it did--it was that it was earned and it wasn’t cheaply portrayed. This was a complex and unique relationship between the two characters, one that I wasn’t expecting, and you used the extra words to take your time and pace things out evenly so that the little details had more of an impact. It was fascinating to see how the two prompt characters really did keep each other aloft, in ways that maybe they weren’t prepared to notice. If I had to give a criticism, besides “Golden brow, perfection”, it would be that “A freefall” paragraph at the beginning, and the paragraph after it. They weren’t needed. We didn’t need to know about Dartmouth until later in the story, and we didn’t need Raquel to tell us there’s no such thing as perfect at all. Nonetheless, this was a wonderful story.

A Date With Destiny

This had potential, it just felt like you had no idea how to end it. Ruben’s character just showing up to spoil Silas’s plan for no apparent reason, then doing a 180 and reconciling with Silas at the end--it seemed like you had a premise, followed where it took you, then decided not to bother with a second draft that might have worked out all the kinks in the plot structure. I think you satisfied the actual prompt fairly well, I like the two characters and for the most part I like how they interact. I just think that you missed the mark in terms of providing a satisfying story. Next time, just zero in on what the main character wants and build the story around that without any distractions or tangents, and do it as early in the story as you possibly can.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 19:20 on Apr 6, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in, assign me a deep cut, please

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Glass Eyes
1103 words
Prompt: Original Sin

Vier set Katy’s green glass pipe down and exhaled sweet smoke into the October air. “Marvelous,” he breathed. Water ran off his bare shoulders, down his back and over the length of his silvery tail, half on the stern of the old houseboat and half stirring up the sea.

“Good poo poo, fishlips,” said Katy, dipping a fishstick into a puddle of ketchup mixed with mayonnaise. “Easier to get it nowadays. You could probably snag an afghan and a wheelchair and roll in there yourself.”

Vier coughed. “Why would I ever do such a thing?” he said, running his fingers over the pink pearls and conch shells woven into his beard. “I already have such a wonderful delivery system in place.”

“Oh, piss off,” said Katy. It was fully autumn and all the electricity in the boat was out and she couldn’t get a guy to come fix it until Monday, which was why she had to go to the 7-11 to microwave seven fish fingers and why her hair looked like a nest abandoned by junkie sparrows. “I should hook an anchor to a barrel of THC oil and bomb your parliament with it. Start a merman drug war.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time you dumped your refuse into the ocean. Also, I wish you wouldn’t eat that in my presence,” said Vier, making a face.

Katy held up another fishstick, waving it around. “Huh? Got a problem, Moby?”

“Yes,” said Vier. “You know I detest mayonnaise.”

Katy snorted. “Goes well with the salt.”

Vier giggled, his eyes flashing green in the dying light of the day. “I remember. You dumped an entire container of table salt into the ocean. Onto me.”

“Yes.”

“Because you wanted to dry up all the water.”

“Correct.”

Vier twirled the pipe around. “Were you using this at nine years old?”

“Gimme that,” said Katy, snatching it from his hand. “You’ve had enough. And anyway, I paid for it that day. You yanked me in and ruined my flip-phone.”

“Yes,” said Vier. He rested his chin on his hand. “But you met a mer-boy that day. I think we could call it even.”

Katy rolled her eyes and cashed the rest of the weed in the pipe. “And I got to kiss a mer-boy a week later.”

“That you did.”

The sunset stretched across the sky, purple and red, sprawled and magnificent. Katy’s head buzzing. “You taught me to keep my head underwater without freaking out.”

“Yes,” said Vier, looking up at her. “It took forever. You wouldn’t open your eyes.”

“I didn’t want to get salt in them. You just kept telling me to listen to my own heart beating--”

“Correct.”

“And then I finally calmed down, and opened my eyes, and the light was shining through the green water, and the floor was miles under my feet, and your face was right in front of my face, and then we…” Katy looked down at her shoes. “..kissed. And that’s when I knew.”

“Oh?” said Vier, leaning forward, anticipating. “What did you know?”

“That I was born a lesbian.”

Vier flicked his tail out of the ocean, splashing water at Katy.

“Hey!” Katy spat salt water out of her mouth, cackling. She shook the drowned embers from the pipe bowl onto the deck. “You’re lucky this was all burnt up. I’d’ve made you pay for it.”

“With what?” said Vier, sliding his tail back into the water. “You’re broke.”

Katy fell silent. She took a deep breath, then looked off towards the horizon.

Vier looked up at her again. “What’s wrong?”

“Deanna wants to move to Harrisburg.” Katy looked away. “I’m selling the boat.”

She listened to the waves rippling, stared at the pockmarked plastic table, at her two untouched fishsticks.

“You’re selling the boat,” said Vier.

“It’s--it was a piece of poo poo when I got it, and it’s a piece of poo poo with a bunch of money duct-taped to it now,” said Katy, her voice hard. “If I can get anything for it, it’ll help us buy an actual house.”

“An actual house,” said Vier.

“Correct,” said Katy. She still couldn’t look at him.

There was more silence, then she heard him slink back into the water.



Katy sat there for another hour, until the last of the light had trailed off into the night sky. She tapped the table with her fingernails, picked up the pipe, then set it back down.

There were no stars out.

She thought: this is what the ocean looks like when you’re staring up at it, like you’re cloudwatching. On a clear day, you see an elephant, a maple leaf, you see two kids up near the surface who don’t know anything about anything locked in a kiss, because they think it means something.

When it’s overcast, though--


There was a splashing sound.

Katy tensed.

“Vier?” she called out.

There was silence, and then, a booming baritone: “The ocean has spoken.”

Katy jumped about a foot in the air, fingers scrambling into her pocket for her phone. She found it, hitting the flashlight button.

Vier leaned over the open platform at the stern, eyes wild. “The windswept tides have been rewarded for their vigilance, and they now deliver swift justice onto the head of one Katy DeMarco, denizen of the land known as Delaware.”

“Vier--” Katy said, then stopped as he held up a hand.

“All the voices of the depths rise up in unison, and the trembling finger of the gods draws forth--your forever burden.” He pointed at her, and she shrank back. “Behold!” he yelled, reaching behind him and revealing--

--a shell.

A pale purple conch bigger than her hand, encrusted with salt and sand.

Katy stared at it for a moment. “Uh.”

“Behold--” Vier coughed, then started again. “A gift from the Nautilus Royalty--Enclave--Grotto? Kingdom. I present to you.” He toyed with his beard, looking off to the side. “Take this with you as a token of our friendship.”

“Oh,” said Katy.

“But, uh--beware! Beware, that thy must return it to the sea once every year, or every few months, specifically this stretch of sea, and dock, in order to--in order to replenish it with the energies of the ocean, and present it to its former bearer, along with a tribute--a tribute of--” Vier paused. “Of the most potent land vegetation. Greenery specifically.”

A smile crept onto Katy’s face. “How potent are we talking?”

“The most potent. The potentest--”

And then the wind rushed out of his lungs as Katy threw her arms around him, smiling through her tears.

“You smell like salt,” said Vier, smiling back.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in, with a Fog of War

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Pianissimo
1234 words

Troy walked onstage, grabbed the mic away from the lead singer, and shouted into it as everyone in the room covered their ears: “Hey, I’d like to dedicate this next one to my friend Jai, who’s not going to leave this place alive.”

He pointed right into her face, sitting alone at a table with her drink. Everyone was already running out of the room, panicking and screaming and then slapping their hands over their mouths, but Troy kept going. “This is now an Accelerant production, so I’d suggest that anyone who doesn’t want to go deaf or mute for the next month should get the hell out.”

He waved goodbye to the crowd shoving themselves through the exit doors, then held his hand out to Jai. “Feel free to sing along to this one--”

Ding.

The air in front of Troy rippled, and he fell backwards, knocking the mic to the floor, where it let out a high pitched squeal. The unmanipulated sound energy streamed out through the speakers in thick currents. Jai dropped her tuning fork on the table and shot both hands out in opposite directions, trying to catch the sound waves. She needed to finish this quickly, or this would get ugly.

She stuck her hands out in front of the streams of sound, then brought them together and flexed her muscles. The sound energy surged from her palms, making the air distort as it shot towards the stage, blasting a hole through the grey curtain hanging over the back wall. Particle board signs stating NOISE MUST NOT EXCEED 70 dBs fell to the floor, ragged edges fluttering.

Troy stood up from behind the drum kit.

poo poo.

“Take that peashooter they gave you and stick it up your rear end,” said Troy, twirling a drumstick in his fingers. He held the stick over his head, paused, then brought it down. “Then listen to this.”

Jai lunged back to the table, reaching out for her tuning fork, and then the breath rushed out of her lungs. The ratatat of the snare drum knocked her back, sent her skidding across the wood floor, through the sawdust and cigarette butts. She convulsed, then rolled over to the side, just dodging a flying metal chair propelled by the noise of the kick drum. Troy was whaling now, sticking his tongue out, performing the world’s worst drum solo with one hand and hurling the noise in her direction with the other. She huddled behind a knocked-over wooden table, watching raw sound cut swathes through the air. The sight almost hurt worse. Like watching someone take a flamethrower to a library.

About as subtle as bare-knuckle heart surgery, thought Jai. She held a hand to her chest, struggling to breathe. The air felt thick and deadly.

Then the sound stopped.

She peeked over the edge of the downed table and saw Troy take another couple whacks at a cymbal. It vibrated and shook, but made no noise. He tossed the drumstick in Jai’s direction, and it hit the floor without clattering.

Jai ducked down, crawling towards the bar at the back of the room.

“We can do this all night, J-Bird,” said Troy, picking up a lime green guitar and hanging the strap over his neck. “I’ve got a whole backup band on my side, and I’m tired of slow dancing. You came here to take me out, so either die mad about it or take me out.” He grinned. “I know you won’t.”

He raked a clawed hand over the fretboard, grabbed the screeching sound out of the air and shotputted it in Jai’s direction. She scampered behind the bar just before it hit, wood splintering off the bar’s corner, stools and half empty glasses flying. Jai sat with her back against the rack of well liquors, breathing heavy. She didn’t want to do it this way. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

“Don’t make this harder than it has to be, Jai,” said Troy. He clawed at the guitar strings again, and the air convulsed. Tables and chairs scattered away from the stage. He pointed the neck of the guitar at her like it was the barrel of a rifle. “We’re growing stronger every single day. The Preservationists are going to lose, and you can’t change that. Come out and die with some dignity.”

Jai shut her eyes, anger building inside her.

She thought back to them walking through the forest, shoulder to shoulder, right after the rain had fallen, nature throwing a heavy coat over every noise, every snapped twig, every leaf trembling in the wind, every bird calling through the overhanging tree branches. Troy knew every birdsong there was to know, the robins, the cardinals, the bluejays.

Jai pictured the tree limbs breaking, splinters of mossy wood slicing through the sky, leaves and flowers crumbling in an invisible hand, birds taking flight away from danger, their throats slit with knives made of air, songs fallen silent.

Okay, thought Jai. Okay.

She stopped herself from screaming.

She stood up, a bottle of Triple Sec in her hand.

“What--” said Troy.

Jai smashed the bottle against the bar’s edge, the noise of broken glass ringing in her ears.

She grabbed a fistful of sound and threw it behind her, then ducked down.

“Hey, wait--” said Troy, striking down with his right hand against the guitar’s fretboard. The guitar strings rang muted, flat.

Bottles shattered one after the other, the mirrored back wall spider-webbing, wooden shelves breaking, a cascade of sound upon sound upon sound, a match thrown into a field of grass. Bits of glass rained down into her hair, blood ran down her forehead, and raw, deadly sound piled up behind her.

Jai--” shouted Troy.

She reached her hands behind her, held on tight, and threw them forward.

There was a sound like the world’s largest lightbulb exploding. She slammed against the bar ribs-first, and the edges of her vision turned black.

The barroom lights went out, and everything was silent.



Troy was crumpled up at the edge of the stage, the neck of the guitar twisted and bent underneath him, his right leg bent in a similar way. He was crawling towards the front of the stage, trying to find the tuning fork she’d left behind. She glided towards him over the fragments of glass and wood, making no sound.

He looked up at her as she approached. “Jai,” he said. “Join us. The Accelerants--we need people like you. We’re winners. We--rrrrgh--we--I don’t know where you learned how to do that--” He arched his back, pain spasming through him.

“Troy.”

“Sound is made to destroy, weapons all around us, weapons for the taking, and you need to be on our side, please, Jai, we need--” He stopped as she took the words right out of his mouth.

“Troy, I’m sorry,” said Jai. Her hand pulsed with his dying protests, and she flung them towards the ceiling, towards the emergency sprinklers.

Water sprayed down, a gentle hissing descending on them both, collecting on her upturned palms.

Jai held them over his face, watching the sound fill his throat.

She saw him struggle, convulse, fight to breathe, then lay still.

The water kept coming down.

She could scream, sob, break things, or she could simply stand in the dark and listen to the beating of her heart.

No one would hear them, either way.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


in with a philosophy

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Ultraviolets
1310 words
Philosophy: Just War



Sylph tasted hummingbird blood for the first time while fighting inside the stomach of a dying elephant.

The elephant was stuck inside a burning boxcar at the time, but Sylph and the Dusky Coronet could not smell the smoke, and it was already suffocatingly hot inside the stomach, dodging bubbling juices and half-digested grass as they circled and darted and fenced with their beaks. The Coronet was erratic and jittery and new, and stumbled in front of Sylph’s beak as a wave of stomach acid drenched them both. Right as the pain sizzled through him, the blood coated his tongue, purple-black and thick with sweetness.

He stopped, startled, tasting scorched velvet. Blackberries ablaze.

The walls crumpled, swallowing them both up.



The Cerulean Sylph meant to go down with a fight, every time, and that kept the universe aloft, like a baby bird batting a dandelion seed into the air. The smell of digestion was still on his feathers, but he was in the in-between now. Hummingbird heaven.

All around were glittering stars made of nectar, surrounded by swirls of crackling turquoise light, accenting the black void. Sylph flitted over to one of the stars, stuck his beak in, and drank deeply, the sugar like a surge to his nervous system, sunrays of mania shooting through him.

He pirouetted and danced, parrying and thrusting at the ghost of his next opponent in the shadows, glistening blue wings beating at the speed of joy. Dodge, stutter-step, jab, feint with the neck, arc gracefully then dive-bomb and knock the legs out from under them--

He stopped, cocked his head.

Sylph saw it in the darkness.

A bird’s long dark beak, protruding in front of eyes like absences. Eyes the size of planets. Watching him.

The light from the stars flickered and dimmed.

Sylph felt like he’d swallowed a frozen raindrop.

The bird didn’t move, didn’t speak, only watched.

Sylph bit down and beat his wings, slowly at first, then faster, the cold spreading throughout his body as the bird moved closer and closer, no matter how hard Sylph tried to flee, could only flutter and flutter in place until the energy left his body and then he just floated there, with the dark bird watching him, watching, beak open to swallow him whole, still there even when Sylph shut his eyes.



Sylph dodged the blows and pecks of a Green-breasted Mountaingem, both of them inside of the left leg of a burning Presidential effigy, and this time he could smell the smoke.

He bobbed and weaved and could not shake off the chill in his chest. When he looked across the papier-mache tunnel at the Gem, the face of the void bird stared out at him, beak long and curved like a scythe. Eyes black and cold. Feathers sharp like polished swords, all in a row.

The Gem buzzed and shook its wings, bobbing its head from side to side among the dark smoke. He spun and twirled towards Sylph, the growing firelight twinkling in his eyes, and Sylph lunged forward and pierced his needle beak through the Gem’s throat.

The Gem gasped, shuddered, tried to fly, but could only flap its wings in place until its life drained away.

Blackberry ash coated Sylph’s tongue, and black smoke filled the air until it became space.



Sylph drank from another star, then spat the light out.

He tried to dance, tried to cavort from side to side, fill his heart with the enthusiasm of beautiful combat.

After a while, he stood still, watching the turquoise galaxies shimmer across the blackness.

The void bird was still there. Always there, looming out of the shadows, moving ever closer.

The frozen raindrop had become a marble-sized hailstone.

Sylph couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think.

His wings were flimsy and ineffectual, talons as dull as dead pine needles. He wanted to scream into the bird’s face with a rage that his hummingbird throat would not provide him. He was weak, weak like unsweetened water.

He stood in place and flailed his wings, tried to flap everything away, the bird, the darkness, his own weakness, and it all moved closer, always closer, no matter what, coming to devour him.



The crack in the ocean floor exhaled heat, forming a bubble that slowly rose through the deepest water.

Inside the bubble, Sylph and a Red-Tailed Comet materialized.

The Comet flew forward, en garde-ing with an outstretched wing, just before Sylph sprang towards him and tore his beak off, spraying blood and featherstumps against the side of the bubble, melting into the saltwater.

The beakless hummingbird only had time to cry out once before Sylph sliced his throat open with his right talon. Sharper than he thought.

He took the Comet’s beak and stuck it on his chest, then plucked out the bird’s eyes and swallowed them, tasting the purple-black again, denying how delectable it was.

The stolen beak creaked open and closed on his chest, and the two new eyes burst out from the sides of his neck, blinking with new curiosity at the sides of the bubble just before it split in half.



The eyes would collect on Sylph, two by two, first a ring around the neck, then spreading down to the chest, bulging out amidst a cluster of chirping beaks, sharp and thirsty. Sylph’s wings grew, spanning wider and wider, spangled with feathers from slit throats, pierced breasts, ripped-out tails, emerald and opal and topaz and ruby, the spoils of war, glistening with purple-black blood.

He couldn’t see what he looked like, but he could tell, every time he materialized in a collapsing and dying world, another futile battle, staring at the bird across from him, a thornbill, a trainbearer, a helmet-crest, a racket-tail, and they turned to look at him--that’s how he knew. The moment when they saw him and terror spread across their visage. And he would lick the burnt blackberry juice off the edges of his beak and wonder which was sweeter.

And then he would show no weakness.



It was time.

Sylph had bent the universe to his will. The turquoise galaxies scattered in the windswept wake of his wings, and the chorus of beaks on his chest chattered and sang and crunched the nectar stars into spun sugar shards.

There was no world big enough to hold him anymore.

The void bird crept out of the darkness, gliding across the shattered starlight, and Sylph laid in wait, feeling the ice spread out from the middle of his chest, down to the tips of his talons, to the last pillaged feathers on his wings--

--and the void bird opened its beak--

--and Sylph leapt across the void, roaring like no living bird ever had, and sank his long beak right between the eyes of his foe.

The purple-blackness poured down his throat, the nectar of victory, of eternity, and Sylph drank and drank and drowned in it, the lights of hummingbird heaven slowly swallowed up by the haze that crept over the edges of his vision, and the void was filled with burning blackberry blood.



Until Sylph awoke.

He couldn’t move. His beak, his talons, his massive wings, all failed to register the signals that his brain was sending them.

As his vision cleared, he could see a light in the distance, growing brighter.

White light.

Turquoise streaks.

And two small black beads, trembling in the emptiness.

It was another hummingbird, a Blue Throated-Hillstar.

As Sylph moved closer, he smiled. This was going to be fun.

He could see the fear in the bird’s eyes, could see his little wings quiver.

He opened his beak wide, until the bird was between his giant mandibles, almost ready to die of fright, then snapped it shut--

--on space.

The bird was gone.

Sylph was confused for a moment, then he laughed.

Yet again, he had won.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


sure, in

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


E: gone

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 19:53 on Dec 28, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Thunderdome CDVI: Golem & Gaultier Week



So because I won and it’s my show for the week, we’re going to mash two things together and see if they work.

THE PROMPT:

If you sign up, I will google “avant-garde fashion” and assign you a picture. Your story must be inspired by that picture.

Your story must also include a humanoid fantasy creature. The further you veer away from the cliché, the better chance you have of me not wanting to die.

That’s it. That’s the prompt.

No erotica, fanfic, political satire, poetry, or GoogleDocs.

Wordcount is 1200 words.

Signups close Friday, May 15, 2359 PST.
Subs close Sunday, May 17, 2359 PST.

Judges:
me
Chili


Model Monstrosities:
Saucy_Rodent
SlipUp :toxx:
Thranguy
Antivehicular
flerp
Tyrannosaurus
NAGA LIU KANG :toxx:
Uranium Phoenix
Yoruichi
Something Else
SurreptitiousMuffin :toxx:
sebmojo :toxx:

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 18:51 on May 12, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
























Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


E: quote is not edit

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Yeah sure, in with a :toxx:




Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


~signups are closed~

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


aaaaaaaaaaaaand subs are closed.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 406 RESULTS

Hey, remember in the prompt post where I told you all that the further you veer away from the clichés, the less I’d want to die?

I lusted for death more than a few times, reading these stories. This was not a good week, and it’s mostly because people played it safe and delivered boring, basic stories.

Yoruichi, Something Else and NAGA LIU KANG all receive a Dishonorable Mention for delivering a shallow story, a scattered story, and a sloppy story, respectively.

Thranguy lands the loss this week for being the beige-est of the bunch, and giving me a story that was thoroughly forgettable.

HMs go to a couple of bright spots this week, namely Antivehicular for taking their prompt and blossoming it into a very vibrant and memorable story, and sebmojo for writing a story that was charming and made me laugh--something in short supply this week--despite the commonplace use of the prompt.

The winner this week was the story we were both in agreement on, the one that captivated us with its language, the one that left us with the most to think about while we were reading it and after it was over.

Muffin, take the throne.

:toxx:ing for this week’s crits to be finished by the time Week 407 closes subs. Bleh.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Yoruichi posted:

In and I would like THREE flashrules

https://youtu.be/wn5YFnrD1u8

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Simply Simon posted:


In flash myself


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuEmG0Oxa2M

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Week 406 Crits

Together, Lorn

Use of the prompt: Way more creativity than most of the other stories this week. I appreciate it when someone takes a swing on a concept.

Pros: The language is polished and evocative, and it carries this story forward more than any other part of it. The story itself feels a little sparse, but it held me through the power of its poetic description. The ending also tied up the story in a reasonable way, which was satisfying.

Cons: I don’t think you needed the beginning paragraph, even though I kind of liked reading it. Not knowing if the snail is mystical or not would make the ending have more of an impact. Really, in general, the biggest problem this story has is its capacity to overshare. I got a large feeling of “and then, and then, and then” reading the middle, where we as the reader were dragged forward through the plot without seeing much of anything advance because of the character’s decisions.

Overall: We both agreed on this story as the win pick because it did the best job at being a satisfying and polished story. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s a good story that leaves a mark.

Heavy Losses for a Paparazzo on the Make

Use of the prompt: I didn’t understand exactly what was humanoid about it, but it wasn’t a straight up robot or cyborg, so there was an effort made here.

Pros: Once I get past the rapid-fire nature of the technical description, there does seem to be a fairly solid and enticing world present in this story. Unfortunately, it feels like you didn’t know what to do with it.

Cons: This is an intriguing concept for a story that’s really let down by the poor execution. I wasn’t lost or confused by the description so much as I was confused by why I was reading any of it. Rick is sort of a blank slate as a character, so I never really wanted to root for him. There weren’t any visible stakes beyond “get the photo before the competition,” and the relationship Rick has with Dany is too muddled for me to really draw anything from it. And the ending...man. Another addition to the long, long line of “I don’t know how to end this story so let’s end it with fire or blood or violence” endings. The kind of ending that leaves you with all the wrong questions because it was thoroughly and completely unearned. Do better.

Overall: Had promise, but that’s almost all it had.

White Lies

Use of the prompt: I liked it on a conceptual level, but I was disappointed once I actually read the story.

Pros: The language is polished, and there were no points where I was confused as to what was happening. It sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, but I’ve been judging in TD for almost 6 years now, and I fully appreciate when someone writes a clear and concise sentence.

Cons: The concept of dating a humanoid creature who’s able to read your mind on a whim--sometimes without consent--seems to me like it could be the jumping-off point for an interesting society. Why would anyone bother with lying at all? Would there be ways for humans to mask their thoughts? Would there be informational wars and espionage with mind-bell agents on both sides? Would someone see a mind-bell creature and automatically distrust them and move to the other side of the street to avoid them? Would people with mind-bells only be able to date other people with mind-bells?
This story doesn’t delve into anything nearly that interesting, just a series of “Oh, is she cheating? Is he cheating? Oh, he found out she was cheating! Oh, she was the one who was cheating all along!” Which is not automatically a bad premise for a story, but because it was so short and so cluttered, it didn’t give me any opportunity to care about anyone I was reading about. It felt like I was watching a chess game with only pawns.

Overall: This could’ve been way better, and not because the writing was poor--because the choices made here didn’t lead to a satisfying or interesting read.

For Your Thoughts

Use of the prompt: Cyborg, replicant, supersoldier, it’s about the most tired direction anyone could go this week. This reads like a character I’ve seen dozens of times throughout different media.

Pros: I...didn’t hate the technicality of the description sometimes? I didn’t really love it either, but the parts that I could comprehend were well written. It sets up an okay atmosphere, if not a terribly creative one.

Cons: The story you essentially told me here was “a woman android/cyborg/replicant tries to assassinate a man at the bar, but before she can even make an attempt on his life, the man waves a hand in front of her face, then disappears, and now she has free will.” That’s it. The only thing of importance that happens in this story is that the main character now realizes that she can do things to move the plot forward, something that did not happen in the majority of the 780 words I had to judge. And beyond that, it was just straight-up bland and forgettable. Even though the atmosphere was ok, the backstory felt really unclear, and it felt like the story had no peaks and valleys. Everything was the same level of importance and interest, and it all blended together into beige bathwater.

Overall: I had no problems giving this the loss, simply because it wasted my time more than anything else I had to read this week. Also, “hand casually draped across her breast” gave me an unintentional laugh.

Contentment

Use of the prompt: Could’ve done a lot more with it, to be honest. The djinn had the eye makeup in the prompt picture, but it’s still just a standard variety djinn.

Pros: Some of the descriptions of the scenery--when they didn’t have grammar errors or typos--were nicely written and picturesque.

Cons: At its heart, this is a story about a guy choosing to stay the same and not make a wish for anything, which is understandable, given that it’s a djinn and djinns gently caress you over with their wishes. But it makes for a very boring story. If you’re basically choosing to have your character not make a choice and not advance the story forward, then something else besides the plot has to be exciting or compelling. And that isn’t happening here. The dialogue isn’t compelling, the character feels a bit pale, and the setting--even though it was nice at points--was still less advanced than it could have been. Also, the first line didn’t need to be there. Also also, proofread your writing, for real. This could’ve had a shot at avoiding a DM if it wasn’t so messy.

Overall: A lot of your problems could be solved by reading more and writing more and learning from your mistakes. Contentment is what you want to avoid.

Over the Moon

Use of the prompt: Meh. It was a smidge more creative than others this week, but it felt like it did less work than it should have. It felt more like a cameo.

Pros: Stupid in a slightly charming way. Felt a lot like a children’s book, and I didn’t entirely hate the vibe.

Cons: This felt...rushed. Like there was no room for anything to take hold or have impact. I didn’t really care about the main character because there was no space for me to care about the main character or Nancy. It might have been more fruitful to tell the story from Nancy’s perspective, where she gets to see the cow leave for the moon and then come back with the cow space invaders. Or just start the story on the moon. On a sentence level, it feels like the words are flat and emotionless. Just because you’re telling the story from a non-human perspective doesn’t mean that the words have to be simple. And there’s a lot of wasted space in the middle of the story as well.

Overall: You were going for something this week, but what you could conceive exceeded what you were able to execute. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either.

Blood Phantoms

Use of the prompt: In love with this. This is what I was hoping for when I came up with this prompt.

Pros: The story was satisfying in a way that I didn’t expect, and the language was sharp and on-point. It was a well-structured plot arc, but I think you could’ve pushed it even further, to be honest--I liked it because I knew how it was going to end but I almost wanted it to surprise me more.

Cons: Lots of little technical things--the italics tags, Ijalazi and Ijazali, Loosening the bindings--you’re aware of these already. It was also a bit hard to follow at points because of the details that weren’t fully explained, but not so hard to follow that I didn’t want to keep reading.

Overall: This was my favorite story this week. I just wanted it to be a little bit more polished.

An Age-Old Philosophical Conundrum, Solved

Use of the prompt: Felt a bit shoehorned in, to be honest. Not bad, but not great.

Pros: Lighthearted and funny, which I can appreciate to some degree. On a sentence level, it wasn’t difficult to read and it engaged me.

Cons: The second line of dialogue from Thessa was where I deflated and went “oh, so we’re doing this, huh.” It felt like you broke character and just made them talk like people from our current era. That was symbolic of the feeling I had about this story, which was that you didn’t really know what you wanted to do with it. It made it feel like a first draft, even though there were no parts that looked unfinished. And it ends where it should start! I would’ve had much more fun reading a story where a sphinx teaches someone how to tell riddles! That’s a much stronger concept!

Overall: Thoroughly inoffensive. Maybe if this had been a stronger week, you’d be in trouble, but I thought it earned its no-mention.

Lance and the yeti

Use of the prompt: So many people this week trotted out something I’ve already seen. If I saw a yeti in real life, I’d be surprised. If I saw a yeti in a week where I specifically asked people to be creative with their prompts, I’d be bored. And I was. At first.

Pros: I mean, you still do corny and lighthearted and bumbling really well, and this reminded me of that. It’s the strongest thing this story has going for it.

Cons: It’s hard for me to talk about cons for this story without feeling like I’m taking away what made it work in the first place, but it takes way too long to get to the interesting part, and like UP’s story, I felt like it ended where it should have begun. I was unimpressed with Lance as a protagonist, and he doesn’t really do a whole lot in this story, except switch places with the yeti at the end.

Overall: About the same as Phoenix’s story on a lot of levels, but this one actually made me laugh, which was why I was fine with it getting the HM.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 10:09 on May 24, 2020

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5lOs21nGQ0

in

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:57 on May 27, 2020

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


yeah sure in, give me something good

e: oh ok :toxx:

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:01 on Jul 10, 2020

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