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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


:siren: WEEK 494 RESULTS :siren:



I felt old when I started this and now I feel positively ancient, older but no wiser, I am an oak bent over a river where the water runs black with ink, I read the water with my roots, stir it, conjure forms and shadows and all that bullshit.

Mixed bag of a week. Lots of entries either in the soggy middle or fighting over HMs. We must choose a loser, and unfortunately the clear loser is now – as I understand it – on a bit of a streak. But they keep coming back, and we love that, because that's how you learn. There's a pretty good song about it and everything. Welcome back to the loss-chair, The Man Called M.

A DM goes to organburner for a piece that was hard to follow and often felt a bit weightless but had enough whacked-out energy to keep it from the very bottom.

Unanimous HMs to QuoProQuid and Tyrannosaurus, who both wrote pieces which were competent, charming and fun, though QPQ's felt like it had a little more snarl. A disputed HM for Noah, but ultimately we decided that a kilogram of steel was heavier than a kilogram of feathers and it was good enough to squeak in.

We haggled over the winner for around half an hour, it was a tough one: one story was the sort of thing that would unquestionably win in other weeks, highly competent and strangely beautiful, and the other was janky as gently caress but had good characters.
No, like, really good characters. Characters I want to read more about so badly that if the author doesn't put them in a novel one day I will come to their house and insult their pets and fill their shoes with mayonnaise and generally make a real dang ruckus. Ultimately we realised: one story is clearly the best, but we liked the other one better. Such is life in the 'dome. Sittinghere, take possibly the narrowest and most fraught second-place HM in my history as a TD judge; Chernobyl Princess, take the win.

Recap: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-Svc9vR-JGGnGBl6WDPwb61BzByepgef/view

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sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Organburner

Wow this is really bad, especially for the first story posted. You have 0 excuse for typos like ‘thirthy’ when you post ages before the deadline. Add on to the clunkers like ‘and things suddenly got strange as if he could feel what objects around him could feel’ and this is og terrible. 1


Something else


Also quite bad. Guy has teeth, hallucinates ineffectually for a bit. If there was a sense of why he wanted the teeth back at the end it might have had some more, uh, bite to it. 2

Albatrossy rodent

Lol at swarm of maggots writhing ceaselessly out of nowhere (it’s a great line, just jarringly interesting after hundreds of words of dullness). Chooses the weirdest thing to describe, like noting that the strangers are as strangely unfamiliar as the previous strangers, i mean… yes? Try and describe things we didn’t know or guess already, e.g. maggot dress. I do like your definitions of love tho they are p funny. However this is still kind of clunky and contrived, and wtf those maggots, man, talk about leaving me hanging. 4

Bad seafood

Hi doof, it’s been a long time old buddy, apparently long enough to forget that IT’S IS ONLY SHORT FOR IT IS. otherwise this is basically a story one of the extremely ponderous characters in a steven erikson book might tell another one of the extremely ponderous characters in a steven erikson book. Who is this horse, why does it seek immortality, why (one might reasonably enquire) does it fuckin talk? We do not know. Thus bedizened, it is difficult in the extreme to care. 4

Flerp

This is a comprehensible story with things that happen and thus makes me smile, it’s a little maybe dull but i still read to the end? 6

Ceighk

Comprehensible and competent but sort of bland, we don’t know about his past life, we don’t know about the current life, and the transition between then is opaque. 5

Staggy

Aw, this is fairly delightful! Thank god. I like the snappy warmth of old lady and her sword, it’s pleasantly dumb in that fantasy way and it’s got a (dumb, but fine) resolution. Gj. 7

Nae

Solid competence is in short supply so far this week so it’s good to see it in this story. I might call it a little generic, but it’s a decent counterpoint with the tree yayers and the tree nayers, and you can feel how heartwarming the story wants to be, though at this length it’s always gonna risk triteness - sensible to end it on a small unclenching rather than any big victory or defeat. 7

Quoproquid

Yeah this is the sort of charming you were aiming for, hit the mark - i wonder if the (unwitnessed) shift from good to bad is where the actual drama happened, not that you should have shown it necessarily, but a reference or two would have made this complete - as is it’s a little unfelt how wizard dude just murdered a bunch of people, i mean how nice a wizard was he, really? 7

Chernobyl Princess

Aw, this is great up until the kinda wet farty ending - it’s also close to a ‘AND THEN THE REAL ADVENTURES BEGAN!’ way to close it out, which always makes me a little grumpy. Against that, I like the setup, relationship is good, the baba yaga knockoff is good if not tearingly original. 6.5

My shark waifu

Hngg being old really is sort of a sadsack thing to be in these stories isn’t it now, this was, idk, blah? 6

Grandmaparty


Lol ok this is moderately bonkers, i def wanted it to go for really bonkers, shoot for the moon? I don’t know what the moon would be in this scenario but I’m a little sad you didn’t show it to me 7

Caligulakangaroo

This has a certain amount of spice, and i kind of like your wonky language - ‘dusted bleed’ is good, ‘pinsers’ and ‘conjour’ rather less so. Basically it works because the sassy magician trying to find a loophole is a solid archetype and this is a decent example of it. 6

Idle amalgam

Ayyy, a first line squamous, that’s what i like to see. Overall this does justice to a fairly neat prompt, and i like mad scientist guy with his rugose (!) coat and his assistant fella, but I think the ending doesn’t quite land - he’s not going to be an assistant, so they end up twins? Hm, eh. I think a tweak or two would improve this markedly because it’s got some charm. 6

Tharnguy

This has some real twisted fairy tale juice, tangling the strands of e.g. rapunzel and bluebeard and i’m sure a good few others - just needs the soul kept in a box kept in a sack kept in a room for the whole set. Still not sure what it all adds up to, but it’s the only one so far that doesn’t have some element of blandness or predictability. 8

Noah

Ooh yes i rather like this, sort of gnarly as it is - though the advent of the fire god fella is a litttle confusing, it’s clear enough in retrospect. I like the yeatsian meditations on the flux of choice and chance at the end , and overall this lands nicely. 8

Trex

Charming as hell, as you know, and your folklore infused bird guy is an interesting dude to hang out with as he resolves a minor mystery, though one with (we can guess) Signficant Consequences. Probably room to make the evil whites more interesting and still keep the story vibe, but it lays out its goods and bows out with a flourish, decent piece. 7.5

Man called m

There is a risk with regular people names in this sort of fantasy nonsense that it seems silly and indeed SEAN DALTON is a little lightly lolworthy. Also, tenses my dude. Also, paragraph breaks. Details matter. Similarly, don’t have a character think ‘wow it’s been ages’ then ask ‘how long has it been’ and if you do (unwise) absolutely don’t have their interlocutor say ‘a long time’. It’s all drivel, don’t make your characters speak drivel. On the other hand, ‘Sean wrote a note to his students and then he and rebecca flew giant ravents to alar’ is quite funny, though not in the good way that you generally want. … and, moving forward, i kind of want to quote each successive para and point at it in mute derision so i shall stop here. 1

Antivehicular

Ah, a sleek and imaginative piece that rings some nasty changes on the generic bard yarn, like it. 7

Siting here

Ooh yes this is slick and delicious, good rich tension that you put in the title, goals, doesn’t resolve but it kind of does. Good work. 8

Yeah ok yeah

Tolerable fantasy yarn within a yarn, i was waiting for the narrator to be revealed as THAT VERY LONGHUNTER but he wasn’t! That would have been cliche and yet i still desired it: (Morpheus) hm 6

Chairchucker

Charming but slight, i kind of lost track of who was who. 5

Rohan

Excellent control of the cosy fantasy register, didn’t feel like it amounted to that much, chafing a little at the tiny word count, solid stuff though, would adventure with Lone Grandad and Cub again don’t tell Youth Services (ssh) 6

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:



WEEK 495

I love relationships. The ones that break, the ones that heal, the ones that shouldn't work but manage to hold on, the ones that are perfect on paper but fall apart with the slightest stress... they're just great. This week I want to read stories about people working on relationships in distress. This means your story must have:

1. At least two characters who are
2. Extremely emotionally invested in one another in some way
3. Experiencing a serious test to that emotional investment.

While romantic relationships are my personal cup of tea, this can be deep friendship, parents and children, obsessive enemies, a person and their dog, a wookie and their human, whatever (no fanfic rule applies, unless it's really good). What I want to see is intensity of feeling.

Word limit: 1500 words

No fanfic, political screeds, or erotica.

Declare entry by Saturday the 29th, 3am PST
Signups closed Monday the 31st, 3am PST

Judges:
Chernobyl Princess
afriendlypenguin
Chili

Entrants:
Chairchucker
Staggy
Ceighk
Idle Amalgam
Zurtilik
Thranguy
Nae
ChickenOfTomorrow
kurona_bright
Albatrossy_Rodent
t a s t e :toxx:
The man called M
flerp
Noah
steeltoedsneakers :toxx:
sparksbloom
Yoruichi
crabrock
Bird Tyrant

Chernobyl Princess fucked around with this message at 19:51 on Jan 29, 2022

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.






in

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes



in

Ceighk
May 27, 2013

No Hospital Gang, boy
You know that shit a case close
Want him dead, bust his head
All I do is say, "Go"
Drop a opp, drop a thot
Eeny-meeny-miny-mo


in

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven


In

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


In.

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


Also, was I supposed to self snitch on toxes? Because I'm sure I've broken one or possibly two at this point and while I enjoy saving the $10 I also feel like it's poor sportsmanship. So I'm gonna let you all decide if my lovely tox break is still grounds for a one way ticket to :10bux:

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Zurtilik posted:

Also, was I supposed to self snitch on toxes? Because I'm sure I've broken one or possibly two at this point and while I enjoy saving the $10 I also feel like it's poor sportsmanship. So I'm gonna let you all decide if my lovely tox break is still grounds for a one way ticket to :10bux:

Good on you for coming clean. You can pay :10bux: or you can write crits for all of this week's entries, due with 72 hours of judgement.

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


UHHH

Sure I'll do some crits.


To be sure do you mean as a judge for the coming week or just a separate set of crits for the week that just happened? I assume the former, but Idk.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




in

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.



In

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Zurtilik posted:

UHHH

Sure I'll do some crits.


To be sure do you mean as a judge for the coming week or just a separate set of crits for the week that just happened? I assume the former, but Idk.

I mean extra crits for the week that is happening right now for stories due Monday the 31st at 3am PST. To be courteous, wait until after official judgement has passed to post them.

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


Tyrannosaurus posted:

I mean extra crits for the week that is happening right now for stories due Monday the 31st at 3am PST. To be courteous, wait until after official judgement has passed to post them.

Got it! Extra homework, not even a real judge. :11tea:

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


Line crit for OrganBurner

Prompt was:
golden oldie who was once the most famous musician in all the land but they are being HUNTED, oh no!

The unmaking of the song
1 198 words

There was a lot of commotion around Gustavo as his senses returned to him.
This sentence isn’t relevant, and you haven’t told me anything. Cut it.

A crossbow bolt was sticking out of his shoulder
This is the start of your story. Change this to an active sentence. Gustavo had been shot in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt. Right now, the bolt ‘sticking’ is doing the action. Boring.

and it looked like a poisoned tip.
The crossbow bolt cannot look like it has a poison tip. The crossbow bolt is inside him, he cannot see it. Gustavo can FEEL like it has a poison tip, but if that is the case, show me what Gustavo feels, how would he know that?


He had been performing the one hit he had "My last love" and though he knew some didn't like it a crossbow bolt was uncalled for.


In the commotion and fights breaking out, no one had come to check on him, so he escaped out the back to his horse and just started riding home.
Trim this, and adjust the focus. ‘No one had come to check on him, so he escaped’ why would he need to escape from someone checking on him? That’s a positive thing. ‘In the commotion, no one pursued him, and he escaped out the back.’ justifies escaping.

"My last love" felt like the only song he ever performed anymore and he had done it for over thirthy
thirthy

years at this point. Nothing else of his material had stuck, but this was an ear worm many loved and many hated, most of all Gustavo himself.
Does it feel? How does it feel? You can state facts. “My Last Love” was the only song requested anymore. Nothing else of his material had stuck, love or hate. Gustavo hated it the most.

Some would say it was the song that had made him, but he would say it destroyed him.
Some would say, but why not have someone say it? Can you instead show this? This also lets Gustavo get some characterization/mannerism in dialogue.

After riding non stop for three days, Gustavos body was numb from the poison. He hadn't dared remove the bolt fearing it would further spread the poison. He had finally reached the house his father had built.
Horses cannot ride 3 days nonstop. Why three? What’s happening here that is important? Only keep that.

Carefully he slid of the horse, led it to the stable and saw it was fed and watered. He removed the saddlebags and stumbled inside. He took a slab of fire wood and with only one good hand tried to shave off some of it with an axe for tinder. It felt like it took an eternity before he finally had the start of a fire built.
Same as above. Does it matter the audience knew he put his horse away? Here’s another thing, you cannot simultaneously tell me stakes are high (due to a poisoned bolt) and also explain he takes his time putting away his horse, removed the saddlebags, and shaved firewood. ‘felt like it took an eternity’ is too cliché of a sentence, either tell me how long it did take, or show me struggle.

He checked that the flue was closed and lit the fire.

"I TOLD YOU SONSOFBITCHES IF YOU DON'T OPEN THE FLUE WE'RE ALL GOING TO CHOKE TO DEATH IN OUR SLEEP!"
no caps. And give an attribution. You reveal who said it in the very next sentence, so this isn’t a cliffhanger.

"Hey dad." Gustavo muttered. Abel, his father, had been the first to light the fireplace in the house and after his passing became the house spirit. The easiest way to summon him was to do something that would anger him.

okay, now we’re off. This needs substantial more set up, or at least you need to rearrange the way facts are presented. Your emphasis is that Abel was the first to light the fireplace. That’s not the important part, that’s a detail. The important part is that Abel is a spirit, and was summoned.

"You being the old village healer, can you tell me how to cure this poison?"
Unnecessary exposition. Why is Gustavo announcing that his father was the old village healer? Abel knows that. Gustavo knows that. If you need to communicate this to the reader (do you?) just state it. Don’t inject it into dialogue.

The spirit tasted the poison and thought for a bit, "Vhoacka frog from down south. Slow way to die, but not the worst. Diluted Vhoacka poison is a very good pain killer and muscle relaxant.

How does a spirit taste the poison? Is the bolt still in his shoulder?

You would know this if you hadn't become some stupid... Bard." That was his fathers way of talking, even when trying to help there had to be an insult or complaint thrown in.
You are using dialogue to explain again. That’s now how people talk. ‘You’ve forgotten your lessons again.” We already know Gustavo is a bard. Additionally, if you characterize the father well enough in the dialogue, you then don’t need the following explanation.

"Just shame it out, you do remember how to shame poison?"
This need an attribution, because otherwise it implies that Gustavo is saying it.

Gustavo considered the origin of frogs. The frog spawns in water, the domain of the sea serpent. He started to conjure up a song:
Unnecessary. Trim this to ‘Gustavo considered frogs.’

"Oh poison that courses through my veins,

to you I do proclaim,

made for survival, now used for hate,

leave or the serpent will decide your fate."

Shamed, the poison sprayed out of the wound. The spirit looked down at Gustavo disapprovingly.

"Clumsy, I would have thought a bard could do better."

Without the numbing effect of the poison the pain of the bolt and the long ride slowly seeped into the bones. Gustavo keeled over on his good shoulder and gasped.
Drop the dialogue to after the action. It lets Abel see the entire sequence.

"How do I deal with the bolt?" he managed to bleat out.

He bleats or he does not. And does he really? If he is only able to manage to do something, a gasp qualifies that. Find places to use the right word.

"Well son, what's the bolt made of?"

"The tip is steel."

"And it being steel made for killing it can't be shamed, but only the shaft is in you now."

"Which comes from the mother of all roots who promised protection and warmth."

Gustavo was starting to recall some of the lessons from before he left and drew in a deep breath and started to sing:
Again, let dialogue inform the reader he’s recalling the lesson. ‘Which comes from then mother of all roots, who promised protection and warmth, I know, I know’. Also, ‘before he left’, left what? Home? School? Lessons? For the show that night? You don’t even need to state this, or that he drew in a deep breath. Just start singing, let the reader figure that out.[/i]

"Oh wood so hatefully lodged in my shoulder,

promise me you'll soon smolder,

burn my flesh, seal my wound,

or I betray you to the mother of wood."

The shaft of the bolt was incinerated in a white hot flame. Abel was frowning in disappointment at the rhymes.
Frowning already indicates disappointment. All you have to say is “Abel was frowning.”

Gustavo spent the night eating dried meat and bread while drinking an unwise amount of wine to dull the pain. Waking up the next day he felt like his hangover was worse than the bolt through the shoulder ever was. Walking out to the main room he found a woman in her thirties sitting and chatting with Abel.
what’s relevant here? Do we need to know he spent the night eating dried meat, bread, wine, or that he is hungover? Trim. “Gustavo succumbed to exhaustion, and woke the next day to find he was not alone.” 60 words down to 15.

There was a crossbow and a sword on the table. The woman noticed Gustavo.

"So this is the Great Gustavo Abelsson? I was hoping the poison would slow you down more than it did." For a killer she seemed remarkably calm.

The dialogue already implies the woman notices Gustavo. Cut it. Also, is she a killer? So far, she hasn’t killed anyone. Is there any reason why she shouldn’t be calm? What importance does it have to the story? Also, if she’s his would be assassin, she already knows who he is. The dialogue implies she has never seen him before.

"What do you want with me?" Gustavo asked, trying to think of an escape route.
Show, or don’t do anything more than ‘said’.

"I was cursed to hear your 'Song' until you died. I can't take it anymore. It's so saccharine, repetitive, juvenile it's just garbage and I can't stop hearing it!"

"Dad, do you have any input on this? You used to be a healer."
Is Gustavo asking if his dad put the assassin up to it? I’m unsure of what this implies. Why is he also explaining, again, to his father (and us) that he used to be a healer?

"And you should have followed in my footsteps boy! I've discussed the issue with Agatha here and the curse can only be lifted by the death of the song or the singer."
Why are they repeating themselves? We already know the father thinks about his profession.

"How do you kill a song?" Gustavo asked while eyeing the sword.

"It's not easy, you need to shame yourself into forgetting the song. I convinced Agatha to give it a try rather than kill you."
don’t understand this part at all. Why would Agatha do that? She already has the resolve to kill him, she poisoned him, that she expected would have been more effective. Why is Gustavo alive?

Gustavo lunged for the sword on the table. He didn't get far before Agatha had slashed him with a dagger she'd kept hidden.

"Too slow, old man. How did you think this would play out?" The wound wasn't deep but it was painful, "Death or shame, make your choice" she continued while Gustavo was gripping the wound.

"I suppose we can try the shaming."
Why wouldn’t Gustavo attempt this? He hates the song. Is there something else? Is it because its his only hit song, in X number of years being a bard? Because if that’s the case, you have shown nothing in the text that warrants the song being important. The only thing you have shown is that he hates the song.

Abel threw him a wineskin. "Drink up, boy."

Gustavo began drinking but the taste was horrible, "Great Mother what is this?"

"Just drink it up son."

He finished the drink and things suddenly got strange as if he could feel what objects around him could feel. The world was dissolving around him. Suddenly Abel and Agatha came running at him from nowhere.
Cut this. What is it adding?

"Put him in the oven!" Abel shouted.

"In the oven!" Agatha agreed. Gustavo tried to fight back but was too weak. They dragged him for what felt like miles until they shoved him in the oven. Something compelled him to crawl deeper.

"Sing the song!" Abels voice called from outside.

"Yeah the sing the song!" Agatha shouted.

Gustavo took a deep breath of the hot air, feeling it singe his lungs but he had to sing.
"My love runs deep, but it can not keep,

on the table no meat, buy honey so sweet... Wait how did it go?"

The fire was burning him badly.

"Keep singing!" Abel called out.

"I have to leave, find bread and mead..." But the words were gone.

"SING!" Agatha commanded.

"I can't! I don't know the words!" Gustavo could feel himself succumbing to the flames.

"SING OR YOU DIE!" Abel shouted. But Gustavo couldn't sing anymore. He lost consciousness.


Waking up was a surprise to Gustavo as he was convinced he had died. Agatha had left, curse lifted. With the song dead, Gustavo had to find a new career and so he started to train healers with his fathers help.
This entire sequence is baffling. Why an oven? Where is the oven? I don’t understand what’s happening here at all. You kind of show how shaming works, but this song doesn’t conform to that same convention. Do YOU know how shaming works? Do we even know if the curse was broken? We know he isn’t dead, and she left, but why would we know the curse is gone? You do not explain why Gustavo has to find a new career, nor why he would become a healer? His song is gone, sure, but he’s been doing this for many years already, why can’t he still be a bard? Why would he be a healer? Why are you even explaining what he does next, proper characterization would have implied what his possibilities were next, and leave it at that.

The end of this feels very rushed. What am I supposed to feel now that this is over? Are we sad his song is gone? Because the story implies that healer is a nobler profession. Are we glad he finally gave up his barding? How does Gustavo feel?

This is better than your previous entry but still leaves unresolved issues, and unnecessary explanations. Keep refining, and keep writing.

Albatrossy_Rodent
Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!


Hey I crit a bunch of these stories I'll do the rest later.

Organburner--a good step up from last week, particularly in terms of competence, ie looking and feeling like a real story with real input put in. You obviously listened to your crits and wrote a better story. You have some neat ideas here, too. "Shaming magic," ghost dad, and the abilities of a bard were all clever.

Your weakest point is the ending. I feel like this might be a case of listening to your crits from last week too hard and missing that different endings work better or worse in different contexts. Gustavo dying feels like the natural conclusion of the story, but explaining that he lived in one paragraph of summary feels like cheating. Just cutting that paragraph would have done wonders.

Something Else Hmmm...dont know what to think of this one. I dont understand it fully, and I can't tell whether that's your fault as a writer or mine as a reader. Is the black-toothed woman a hallucination? Why are two major characters introduced so close to the end?

Ambiguity is good, incomprehensibility isn't.

Bad Seafood

This is confidently creepy, but seems to have too few actual things happening to justify even its short word count

Flerp

This rocks, you know it rocks, not a whole lot else to say. If there's one critique I have, it's that the extended family backstory doesn't feel super necessary and maaaaybe could've been better if it were woven into the main story so we could get to the action faster. Maybe, who knows, maybe that version would've sucked.

Ceighk

This is nice, and I appreciate the way in which information is drip-fed throughout the story. There's a tangible sense of place with little information, and the protagonists choice feels earned. Well done.

Staggy

This feels the most on-prompt story of the week, a meditation on loss and aging in a fantasy setting. "Meditation" definitely feels like the right word here, as cliche as it is. The stakes are pretty low, and not a lot really *happens.* The characters are very, very strong.

That being said, I do wish there was more going on here, even if it came in the form of conversational conflict between Moya and Sunder. Still, it's strong.

Nae

I precritted this, so I'll keep it short. The changes you made from draft to story (particularly fleshing out the culture of the tree people) are unilaterally good. TD stories are usually 100% leftist/environmentalist/anti-capitalist, so I really appreciate that the more modern tree people are deeply human.

QPQ

Also precritted this, what can I say, I love crittin.

Anyways you mentioned you were worried about the worldbuilding not being strong enough, but who cares, you wrote a cartoon, and I don't need a Silmarillion to explain the backstory of a cartoon. Your stock characters work well here, and humor is just light enough to make the darkness palatable.

Chernobyl Princess

This fucks. I think *some* of the action gets lost in the choreography, but that's to be expected in a story with so much action choreography. I appreciate how badass this ends up being.

My Shark Waifu

Wasnt big on this one. The opening is too slow, and I strongly believe the flash format needs to be on its feet right away. It also feels a little over-explained, particularly in the description of Sahar's device. Ned being so central to the proceedings right at the end feels unearned.

GrandmaParty

I dont want to make any judgements, but this feels a tad...racist? I don't think that's the right word, but like, okay, a cop whos a member of the Normal Race goes to a bar thats run by a member of the Normal Race but is frequented by members of the Weird Other Race. One of the Weird Other Race has died, and Normal Race Cop's solution isnt to get to the bottom of the death and help the people of the Weird Other Race but to scare off the Weird Other Race with violence, and also the Weird Other Race doesn't tip? Your party grandma is fun in a way thats super believable and fun, just, am I wrong here that something feels off?

CaligulaKangaroo

I'm *really* not into this, to the point where if I were judging, i'd pick this as the loss. It's dense, both in lore and verbiage, and while I guess this is a worldbuilding week, the worldbuilding seems to take precedence over telling an actual story. There are formatting errors: misplaced semicolons, missed hyphens, and overuse of artfully incomplete sentences. There are way too many things to keep track of in a story this short, and the characters revolve around the conflict, rather than the conflict around the characters. When you're given 1200 words, give your story a scope that fits into 1200 words.

Idle Amalgam

This is another story that feels subservient to its own Lore. It's just two characters explaining the Lore to each other, and its Lore is so heady and strange that it's just too easy to get lost in.

The characters are distinct, and the ending is strong, but overall I thought this was a weaker entry. More action, less dialogue please.

Thranguy

There's a *lot* here and it doesnt seem to fit together? The protagonist is a witch that steals youth, her ex-abusive-husband can is a dragon, her house can rearrange itself at whim...and all of those things end up feeling like they're from different universes. What's the central idea, and how does *that* lend itself to the themes?

I can't pinpoint the focus of the story, which robs the final scene of its impact. There's a hat on a hat on a hat on a hat. This seems like the sort of story where the smart reader should be able to work out the twist and the dumb one should realize the twist was obvious in hindsight.

I'm being too mean, it's still written well and everything. Just, this is a mystery with a thousand red herrings and fewer actual clues.

Noah

Huh. Hmmm… yay? Nah.

This is a dense story with a lot of ideas, and the ideas are mostly good. It's a bit, I dunno, obvious? at times, its philosophizing getting in the way of the story at times.

It also aims toward a somber tone that it never quite attains. The ambition of this story is *so close* to being justified by the prose itself, but ultimately it feels weighty for the sake of weightiness. As though it's imitating a lofty style without understanding it quite well enough to pull it off itself.

"Retinue" is too SAT of a word to be used twice in two sentences.

Tyrannosaurus

Oh gently caress, I love this! Action right from the start; it isnt trying to unload a bunch of lore on us, but we get a bunch of cool lore anyways. The jokes land, I especially like "I thought you were a male looking to gently caress." The visual of this guy begrudgingly and annoyed, smashing all these dudes' heads with rocks is transcendant. A loving plus, best story of the week.

Antivehicular

Wasnt super sure about this at the beginning, the monologue nature of it seemed a little forced. But then you went on, and I was hooked.

I liked the empathy formed for the character getting talked to. An instinctual killer, essentially a monster, but we're still cheering for him to live by the end. And the theme of whether it is better to be born great or claw one's way to greatness is suburb and nuanced. This is going to have me thinking for a while.

The Man Called M

Your best stories have the air of the ugliest dude in the bar acting so suave and smooth that he becomes hot through charisma alone. Less polished than the crowd but with such big dick energy that you have to love it. This isn't one of those stories.

There's so much plot here that it reads more like a Wikipedia summary of a story than a story. Focus on one event so there's enough room for characters and emotions and themes to breathe.

Gramattical/tense errors abound, and just learning to clean these up will go a long way.

If you go into a cheese shop the password to gain entry into the secret assassins' lair should be, "can I have three wheels of the smoked [made up country]ian gouda, please" not "slightly reworded name of the assassin's guild." That's like going into a hat store and saying, "I'm told your business is a drug front, please take me to the cocaine, I would like to purchase some in order to get illegally high, ya know, like a crime."

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Tyrannosaurus posted:

Good on you for coming clean. You can pay :10bux: or you can write crits for all of this week's entries, due with 72 hours of judgement.

I'll honor this because I've been admittedly slack about keeping up on toxxes, HOWEVER if you :toxx: please do not necessarily expect this sort of clemency. More crits, however, are good crits.


MUFFIN. SEBMOJO. YORUICHI.

Thank you so much for taking the time to record your critical feedback :) It was nice to hear the reasoning behind your judgment. Because your reasoning sucked. While the winning story absolutely deserved its spot at the top, it's tiresome to have to wade through yet another discussion on whether "sitting here" sitting here'd too sitting herely. Therefor I challenge ALL of you to an anonymous brawl.

We'll need two people: a judge and someone who will post the stories on our behalf. All of us will agree to send our stories to this liaison. Whoever steps up to judge (assuming my venerable colleagues accept), please don't create a prompt until you've got a liaison to help you out.

:toxx:

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


But since this never got directly addressed. On future toxxes should I be doing something to sort of tell on myself or should I just be expecting the admins to do it and if they don't I just shrug and move on like I did last time?

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Zurtilik posted:

But since this never got directly addressed. On future toxxes should I be doing something to sort of tell on myself or should I just be expecting the admins to do it and if they don't I just shrug and move on like I did last time?

It helps me if you tell on yourself and others! But it's something I should be keeping track of better than I have been :) To that end, I'm going to go back and make sure all recent toxxes have been fulfilled or enforced.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

Sitting Here posted:

I'll honor this because I've been admittedly slack about keeping up on toxxes, HOWEVER if you :toxx: please do not necessarily expect this sort of clemency. More crits, however, are good crits.

MUFFIN. SEBMOJO. YORUICHI.

Thank you so much for taking the time to record your critical feedback :) It was nice to hear the reasoning behind your judgment. Because your reasoning sucked. While the winning story absolutely deserved its spot at the top, it's tiresome to have to wade through yet another discussion on whether "sitting here" sitting here'd too sitting herely. Therefor I challenge ALL of you to an anonymous brawl.

We'll need two people: a judge and someone who will post the stories on our behalf. All of us will agree to send our stories to this liaison. Whoever steps up to judge (assuming my venerable colleagues accept), please don't create a prompt until you've got a liaison to help you out.

:toxx:

I'll be your post mule.

ChickenOfTomorrow
Nov 11, 2012

god damn it, you've got to be kind




I am in like a very... in.... thing.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Crits for Week 494


organburner - The unmaking of the song:

Three days without stopping is such a long time. It is too long. Think about it. You’d probably fall asleep without noticing and fall off your horse. And speaking of the horse, that is a long-rear end time for a horse to keep going, even considering that they have extremely good stamina. Why do people do this? Why not stop to think about whether the details you’re putting in your story make sense? You could have had the protagonist ride hard for six hours and arrive exhausted, which would have served the narrative of the story just as well and been much more plausible.

As for the rest of the story, what the gently caress? He sings ditties so bad that poison leaps from his body, and then he gets his one hit song burned out of him by an assassin and lives happily ever after?

This is all very nonsensical, but, you may be surprised to learn that this is not the main problem with the story. Your primary problem is that your protagonist is boring. All we know is that he’s a bard with one annoying ear-worm of a song. Why would we care what happens to him?

4/10


Something Else - Tender Teeth:

Ew. That is gross and a bit hosed up and also kind of sweet? I think it needs an edit - in places the language is unnecessarily flowery - and the protagonist needs to be fleshed out beyond extremely poor old dude with rotten teeth. And cut the opening sentence - it is bad and adds nothing to the story. But overall this isn’t terrible.

What does he need his teeth for though??

5/10


Albatrossy_Rodent - Trivia:

Ok the bad news is that this story isn’t very good. The good news is, the problems with it are easily fixed:

Delete the first three paragraphs. Go on, start reading at, "We are delighted to introduce our first contestant…” and try tell me I’m wrong.

Swap out any generic descriptions (strange robes / intricate hats) for an actual description of one of the objects in question.

Have your characters do / say things that reveal their emotional state. For example, whenever you have a sentence like, “Doug looks over at his opponents,” this is a perfect opportunity to add, “and began to sweat / felt like screaming / popped a boner / yawned / thought about his cat,” etc.

Focus the story on the thing that matters most for the protagonist. In this case, I don’t think it’s winning this random contest, but finding his people. What Doug really wants is to be with people who understand and accept him; a story about someone finding that would be emotionally engaging and interesting to read. A story about someone winning a gameshow is boring.

5/10


Bad Seafood - The Prisoner:

Well that was weird and somewhat horrifying. The imagery and the stand off between these two strange characters are both well done, but I wanted a bit more explanation of who these two were, to make me care more about their encounter. The inevitability of bug-man’s victory isn’t good - I think the story would have been more interesting if he had had to struggle to subdue the horse monster character.

5/10


flerp - Making It Make Sense:

Oh dear this is really long. It’s pretty good - I like the ponderous tone and the characterisation of the poison grower - but I don’t think it needed to be this long. You could have cut the stuff about his childhood and removed some of the repetitious bits about how things do/don’t make sense to tighten it up and focus on the poison maker’s conflicted feelings about his actions.

6/10


Ceighk - The Sacrifice:

This story has a problem with generic descriptions. Instead of saying things like “dangerous, scarred men,” pick one and describe him in detail. The details that your protagonist notices also provide a lot of characterisation.

The key decision that the protagonist makes in this story is whether to kill or free the goat. Whether to do self-serving evil or sacrifice himself. I don’t think the waking-up-in-a-stranger’s-body framing device works for this at all. The two things are barely connected. What the heck happened to this guy? Why is he in a wizard body now? What the gently caress is going on? These are all questions that are not addressed by his decision to spare a goat.

4/10


Staggy - When all you have is a sword:

This is quite sweet. Old warrior lady uses magic sword to cut off the top of a volcano so her house is more welcoming for her granddaughter after her attempt to make scones fails. I think it needs an edit for clarity - I’m a little hazy, for example, on who Caleb is - but overall not bad.

6/10


Nae - A Place to Rest:

A Walker, someone who pursues a nomadic life in service of an earth-worshipping tradition, meets a group of people who have abandoned the faith in favour of settled life. He is initially angry, but when he learns that they are mourning a recent death, his view towards them softens, and he agrees to rest with them a while. So, that’s nice. I think this needed some more character meat to make it really engaging. For example, if the death of a child was particularly meaningful to the protagonist (rather than just generically tragic) that might have tied it together better.

6/10


QuoProQuid - A Villain’s Guide to Necromancy:

Lol. I enjoyed this. It’s not particularly profound but the dark wizard and his skeletal offsider are both great characters. I think this story is a good example of how a little bit of good characterisation goes a long way, turning what could have been a generic evil wizard character into an amusing curmudgeon (evil wizard) character.

7/10


Chernobyl Princess - Heron House:

This was going great right up to the end, where it suddenly became clear that what you’ve written here is the prologue to a novel. I definitely want to read the rest of the novel though, so I hope you’re working on it. Apart from the ending just, erm, stopping, this was my favourite of the week. The portrayal of the couple and their feelings about their lost friends was really well done.

7.5/10


My Shark Waifuu - The House of Everything:

I think the protagonist’s decisions are made too hastily. You paint a picture of someone who has a serious problem with not being able to move on, yet he decides to part with the ring and then to burn his wife’s notes just like that. Beatrice felt like she was going to be an important character, but nope, she just came to get the ring and then she’s gone. Having him decide to accept his neighbour’s help is a good ending, but I think you needed to focus more on his isolation to really make this pay off.

5/10


GrandmaParty - Meeps:

Hmmm, weird. For a story about a party grandma, this doesn’t have a lot of energy. The meeps don’t do much except stare and hiss, our protag has a bit of meaningless banter with a bartender, fires her gun, and then that’s it. You needed to make it clear what Gertrude wanted right at the start (to get high?) and then build towards that.

5/10


CaligulaKangaroo - The Gods Haven't Killed Me Yet:

I found this quite hard to follow. I think it boils down to: man seeking immortality avoids death by tricking Death into a fight with a sea god. I don’t really know what the bit with the Oracle was about.

Unfortunately, we don’t learn much about this man, apart from he’s old, has to see an Oracle about something, and is kind of a dick.

4/10


Idle Amalgam - Bury Me in a Borrowed Suit:

So the Master and the Assistant are dead(?) and manage to find a way to get reincarnated? I found this story had to follow, and didn’t really care about the ending. It’s not really clear what the Master and the Assistant are, or why they’ve decided that they need to be reincarnated, so there was nothing to pull me into this story.

4/10


Thranguy - The Tower, Reversed:

I don’t get it. Why does she have seven years? Why is her ex a dragon? What’s going on with the sleeping child? But, more importantly, who is this woman and why do I care if she escapes her tower?

4/10


Noah - Ashen Lives:

So, there’s a guy who has seen that his fate is to die in a fire, but then he changes fate somehow, but then he burns to death anyway? This was too flowery and unclear for me to follow.

4/10


Tyrannosaurus - the kapua-man; or, don't gently caress with them birds:

I enjoyed this, though I’m not entirely sure I understand the point. But the characterisation is good, and the banter with the birds is fun.

7/10


The man called M - Never Grow Old:

This reads like a movie synopsis. There’s not much characterisation, no tension, and the action is all glossed over.

4/10


Antivehicular - A Campfire Tale:

In which a nameless person gets lectured by an old lady.

I think this has good story bones, but nothing really happens, and we don’t get much sense of who either of these two people are. I think the second person hurt it - this would have been more interesting as a conversation.

5/10


Sitting Here - Updown:

I’m not sure I totally get this. There is some nice imagery, but the protagonist seem so resigned to their situation, I’m not really sure what their motivation was for going searching for the way up/down. The ending, with a rusted shut metal door, hints at a much larger world, which makes me wish we’d gotten more of a sense of what was actually going on.

6/10


yeah ok ok yeah - The Longhunters:

Oh christ this one has urchins in it.

Now, answer me this: who is the protagonist in this story? Is it a longhunter, bravely fighting a giant? No. It’s old Collum, who is telling a story in a pub. Who is Collum? What does he want? Why do we care about what happens to him? We don’t, of course, and nor do we care about the longhunters, about whom we also know nothing. You have managed to wrap one boring story inside the framing device of another boring story.

4/10


Chairchucker - Fire and Leaves:

That was pretty sweet. I enjoyed it, though there’s not much to it than nice banter. The second person(?) though was unnecessary, and got a bit confusing.

6/10


rohan - A First And A Final Adventure:

I’m with Tod, should have left the baby with the other grandparents.

The baby monitor joke at the end was a bit dumb. Some good characterisation of bad grandpa though. The baby has zero personality. I’m pretty sure they cry, at least sometimes?

5/10

Zurtilik
Oct 23, 2015

:parrot::parrot::parrot::parrot:

Biggest Idiot in Birdom


Sitting Here posted:

It helps me if you tell on yourself and others! But it's something I should be keeping track of better than I have been :) To that end, I'm going to go back and make sure all recent toxxes have been fulfilled or enforced.

Glad I could be the kid telling the teacher they forgot to assign the homework.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Sitting Here posted:

Oh no I spent years cultivating a beautiful and distinctive style that gets consistently high praise oh no oh woe what shall I doooo

I will fight you with my bland and unremarkable wordage :toxx:

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.



Chili posted:

I'll be your post mule.

If you still need a judge for this, I can take a crack at it.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Sitting Here posted:

I'll honor this because I've been admittedly slack about keeping up on toxxes, HOWEVER if you :toxx: please do not necessarily expect this sort of clemency. More crits, however, are good crits.

MUFFIN. SEBMOJO. YORUICHI.

Thank you so much for taking the time to record your critical feedback :) It was nice to hear the reasoning behind your judgment. Because your reasoning sucked. While the winning story absolutely deserved its spot at the top, it's tiresome to have to wade through yet another discussion on whether "sitting here" sitting here'd too sitting herely. Therefor I challenge ALL of you to an anonymous brawl.

We'll need two people: a judge and someone who will post the stories on our behalf. All of us will agree to send our stories to this liaison. Whoever steps up to judge (assuming my venerable colleagues accept), please don't create a prompt until you've got a liaison to help you out.

:toxx:



sure, why not :toxx:

Nae
Sep 3, 2020

what.



MUFFIN. SEBMOJO. YORUICHI. SITTING HERE.

You’re all such talented writers, aren’t you? You’re so clever with your pretty words and your big ideas, yes you are. You can wring the emotion out of a dry sponge with your fancy prose and your poignant plots, which is why I’ve got a very special challenge for you four.

Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, ‘cause what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man—but I’m not talking about the Dude. I am talking about a 90’s man, though. A very special type of 90’s man, one who oozes pure cool fuel.

You may not know him by his face, but you know him by his clothes. He’s got the slickest sunglasses you’ve ever seen, an all-around love for black, and that oh-so-special long coat that sets him apart from the lesser men who worship at his feet.

This is…



Your mission, should you choose to accept it (jk you already did) is to write a story with a bona-fide 90’s duster guy, the kind of badass motherfucker who can make a room fifty times cooler just by waltzing through the door. But that’s not all you have to do! You also—and here’s the sticking point—you also have to make me like this dude. And I don’t mean just by having him do cool poo poo, either, although he should be extremely cool. No, I want you four literary powerhouses to give this slick slate of a protagonist some honest-to-god emotion. Give him wants and needs that extend beyond kicking rear end; give him doubts and flaws that make said rear end-kickings harder. And do it all in 1800 words.

You have until February 13th at 11:59 PM PST to submit your stories to Chili, who will be posting them anonymously so I can read them all on Valentine’s Day. That’s right: this is my Valentine’s Day present to me, so you’d better warm my cold heart with a hot duster dude.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


oh yeah i forgot to post these lol

Crits for Week #487


My Shark Waifuu - Rosewood:

Ripping out your own heart is pretty metal, i would have liked a bit more description of that. This plot is cool. “suddenly rejected the oxygen within them, craving carbon dioxide instead.” there’d be both in there since that’s how the CO2 gets out. What does “summon” mean? She can grow them or they will come to her? Why figs? I’m not sure if there is some symbolic thing, but if so maybe help me out a bit. If not, you should do something symbolic and then help me lol. What exactly is the motivation for banging Ash? “Rose, we need to talk,” is such a boring pointless sentence. You could say literally ANYTHING here as his opening remark and instead it’s this snoozer. This is where you can really do some characterization and what not, in these “free” sentences. Also, don’t mix his dialog with her actions (stinging nettle springing up at her feet). ““I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sorrel said, wide-eyed.” well that seems like an under-reaction (and again, is a wet fart of a sentence. We already know he’s freaking out, say SOMETHING interesting! “But Rose had an idea of what had happened.” show don’t tell. Not sure this line is even needed. You spend so much time at the camp and whatnot that now all this other stuff seems rushed.

This story starts off strong but ultimately grows too large for itself. You could have literally skipped her going back to the camp and impressing/loving people and just said something like “she’d tried to return to the camp to stop them from hurting the forest but found she couldn’t, and she fled.”

Dunno why the king of the forest and the corpse flower / pod plant thingy couldn’t just be the same character? Why the goose chase in a short story? Just combine them.

Omni-seed is a dorky name. Make it sound more poetic or whatever. Even just THE SEED or something would have been better. Trees are bad at naming things i guess.

You need to cut this up and figure out WHAT you want to spend your time focusing on. Either her relationship with her old compatriots (that ends with her accidentally murdering them or whatever) or her interactions with the plant king. Both of these don’t fit into one flash fiction story imo.

derp - That night I called you:

Lol it turned into butt orb. “then those other lips between our legs” they’re called labia. If you’re gonna write something weird and sexy, just own it. “There was only the orb.” yeah that’s how every story should be.

So she gets summoned by the boob orb but it was all a dream i guess? That sucks! I get that this story is some like, metaphor for her realizing she’s in love with this sapphire chick, and she can’t stop thinking about her and what not, but without knowing more about why the gently caress this orb summoned her and made her see all these weird things and the time dilation and why she was in bed naked and couldn’t remember… this story is just a little flat without those answers. Right now it just feels like there’s some sort of mysterious lesbian orb going around converting women… the GOP’s greatest fears.

I’m not sold on this weird format either. The time jumps, the narrative, i don’t feel like it adds anything and makes it harder to follow what’s going on. You said during flerp’s week that you hate rules and whatnot so maybe that’s all it is. I think rules should be broken for reasons. I don’t get the reason you told it in this format.

a friendly penguin - Personal Contact:

“and staff polishing” :gonk: “ “It’s a PopSocket. I can do all my pondering one-handed.” lol “ Eugene tried to sand down a rough spot on the stone parapet with his thumbnail.” this is a good show that others could take note of and emulate.

Lol this story is a good allegory IMO. but drat thunderdome is HORNY this week.

I got into a fight with SH about this story’s allegorical nature. SH feels like there needs to be more disconnect. I feel like you didn’t straight up say they were gonna bone down, so it’s still there for me, but you could definitely abstract away a lot of that stuff and have a much more powerful story. I already talked to you in discord about a way you could avoid being so explicit but i already forgot what i said so uh, hope you remember.

Captain_Indigo - The God in the Trees in the Orb in the House on the Hill:

“You don’t have friends. And your family don’t talk to you.” I feel attacked. Lol so i like this story a lot. I wish you’d done something a little more at the end with the god trapped in the orb. It feels necessary and funny to mention him, but ultimately pointless. It’d be better if you could figure out some reason you had to tell me. Work that into the ending somehow. Anyway, this is cute and funny and a bit “grumpy old men: the wizard years.”

Early win candidate and overall super enjoyable. I would definitely read more in this corny rear end world.

Albatrossy_Rodent - Orb of Chaos 2: Revenge of Zorax:

The first paragraph is pretty confusing. I’m not 100% sure how old these kids are other than “older than 7th grade.” which, sweet, me too! Language gets a little too purpley and describey for its own good a few times, you’re tripping over imagery when don’t need to be. I didn’t really take in much of the first paragraph scene setting cause it didn’t fuckin matter. The story could have been in the summer or spring or any other time, it could have been in a forest or a swamp or anywhere outside. So all the time spent describing the weather and whatnot in detail is a poor way to set up your story. You can sprinkle that stuff in later for effect, but starting off with it was meh. After you get going tho and i know this is a bunch of horny teens playing Brigsby Bear, it is much better. I like the self-realizations that Evan has and how this chaos orb is corrupting his thoughts. Or is it? There’s that nice ambiguity of how much of this is Evan lashing out, and how much of it is THE CHAOS ORB. i like that. It could be made better by establishing in the beginning that evan is super level headed and would never do this stuff. You have him agreeing to switch roles which is close, but more of a pushover than an even-keeled rational move. Anyway i liked this, but it wasn’t enough to elevate it past the better stories this week.

Uranium Phoenix - A Time of Storms:

Lol did you miss the part about this being a fun week? drat. good writing tho. I fuckin HATE songs in fiction. I always skip over them. I read through yours because i have to since i’m judge and i don’t really get why they’re there and don’t care. My wife is cooking and it smells really good, but you don’t get any credit for that, sorry.

Overall I like this kind of tale. It’s beautifully written, and it doesn’t really have a moral or lesson or even a for-sure ending. Did he fail because he gave up? Or would he have always failed even if he’d try? Such is the fickleness of time travel. Shouldn’t have done it. Anyway, i dig it EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T VERY FUN.

The problem with this story is that ultimately I can’t remember really any of the details, even a week later. I remember there was a wizard walking around, and he could do one time travel, and then did, but i remember there was something to do with a tower and birds and can’t remember why. That means your details didn’t do enough to strengthen and compliment your story, and while pretty to read at the time, were not well used.

Also no birds got trapped in the orb :(

rohan - A Gift From Orbitron:

This dude forgets his gf’s bday, flies to a tourist a attraction, gets high, then fucks up the meme wizard and gives it to his gf for her birthday.

Uh. i’m not sure what to do with this story. Technically it’s competent and hits its beats, but it’s difficult to judge a literal story about a literal meme. The story doesn’t really stand on its own, and that’s a huge detriment to me. I think that no matter your source inspiration, it should stand on its own well enough that somebody reading it in a collection of short stories would get it and like it. Without knowing about the ponder meme, what legs does this story have to stand on?


Gorka - Kill it with fire:

So this story has a lot of problems which some of the other judges already brought up. It is not good. But the reason it didn’t DM is that we never considered it for the loss. The two losing stories were so loving awful and didn’t even try that it elevated this story by contrast. So that’s a good lesson to at least try when you’re writing because by virtue of caring about what you’re doing you’re going to appear leaps and bounds better than people who are just phoning it in.

You went for a kind of silly/funny/gross out story here, but you didn’t really lean in to any of those three elements enough to make them shine. You kind of start off with this weird mystery that there’s disappearances and what not. Then it’s like “haha he’s a messy klutz.” um ok. Then you get into this weird kind of sociopolitical stuff about not paying, stealing, etc. Then boring details about cleaning. This line is awful: “Then his gaze spots something” if you need me to tell you why in detail hit me up. Then they spend a bunch of time talking about the creature thing which is honestly not that bad it just kinda progresses to “well whatever i’m gonna light this thing on fire.” so he leaves to do so and then SHOCK his fire doesn’t work because… reasons…. That the other character forgot to mention until just now. Anyway, then the things eat him because he stole the ring or something.

From my summary you should kind of see “oh wow I was all over the loving place” wrt theme / focus. If you’re going to write a story about mysterious disappearances, then everything kinda needs to focus on that. Don’t put weird morals about stealing in there. Likewise with everything else. Just focus on one overall theme for a flash piece and write to that. You can hint at a larger world, but don’t really get too into the weeds. Focus on what idea you’re trying to convey (stealing is wrong and deserves murder?).

Chernobyl Princess - The Honorable Guild Of Barber Surgeons:

This is a perfectly serviceable story that ultimately feels like it belongs in a larger world. The story itself is pretty tame and straightforward, and it never really delves too deep into ideas or ramifications. Just orc kill bad guys, orc get hurt. There is magic and what not which is all good and cool, but this just plays out like an action scene in a larger work to showcase her cool fighting skills. At the end of it i’m just like “um, ok?” since the conflict of the story is essentially “can she make her bones stop hurting” the long drawn out fight scene doesn’t do much to advance that. At the end the person’s like “ok you can take the orb i guess” but that’s not your character having agency or anything, it’s just random luck. Would have been better if she was like “I’ll defend your store if you give me the orb for free” or something, cause at least that’s the character’s decision, but overall a pretty banal ending to a story that sets up such an interesting (albeit standard) world.


flerp - Nowhere Else:

Other judges (esp SH) like this a lot more than i did. I have a lot of daddy issues so just “my dad left” is a bit pedestrian for me. In the end the orb calls to the kid and the kid listens and is like guess i’ll hit it with a hammer cause i feel things. Your ability to write a story where people feel things but are also not sure what they are feeling is top notch. You create the sense of confusion and hesitation and “well, gently caress it i guess” really well. But that does rob your character of a bit of agency, just feeling compelled to break up the orb and take it places isn’t super satisfying. Yes you try to relate it to how he feels about his dad and what not, but the connection to me is tenuous. I think for that to really land you’d have to have some scenes with interactions with the boy and his father and the orb. There’d need to be more of that link than this word count allows for it to be super satisfying in a way that i believe is inside of you, but not currently on the page. Anyway overall i let them HM it cause i was feeling charitable, but it was a bit of a miss for me.


Carl Killer Miller - The Lesson:

You are a good writer and can blast out some scene-chewing dialog and setups really well. However, at the end of the day this story just sort of fizzles out all weird and I’m not sure wtf the lesson is? This story could do with less back and forth in the middle and a tiny bit more grounding to really help anchor the reader to the truths of this world, this orb, and the conundrum. I feel like maybe his car was going to explode or something since the orb was able to control the car? But i’m not sure. Was there any plans for the orb to reach out to the son later? What is this orb’s goal? That’s stuff i was like “um, i don’t know wtf is going on anymore” that happened all at the end. shame.

ChickenOfTomorrow - Dear Diary:

So i hate a diary format especially because it’s all just stuff that’s relevant to the current story. There’s not much else (and can’t be in flash fiction) that provides better characterization of all the relevant characters (mom, dad, bullies, etc.) there is some ok stuff, but it proceeds along a little too “by the numbers” and predictable. When she first used the sickness orb to make herself sick, i thought “oh, gently caress yeah, this is subverting my expectations!” because i expected her to use it to make her enemy sick. That turn to “actually using it to make myself sick” was awesome. But then you swerved back to “oh nm just using it on girl made her so sick she has rear end cancer now and her butthole fell out” (i assume) which was a big zzzz for me and SH. welt was about it but i was like “nope.” don’t just tell a story that you can think of the full straight forward plot the second you sit down at the keyboard. Subvert expectations. Swerve weirdly. Do something shocking (but rational given your setup) and your stories will improve by ONE BILLION PERCENT (actual math not shown).

QuoProQuid - Children and the Corn:

I love corn. I love corn world. I love all the silly stupid corn references and weird corn tidbits. I love that there is only corn, and the rest of the world that is not corn DOESN’T EXIST because there is only corn. It feels like a weird loving twilight zone where some 1950s ad came to life and took over reality. That i’m all down for. The actual plot was pretty ho hum. Some boys are like “we can totally take down the corn” and then they gather supplies and the little corn holder thingies are its downfall and then the boys sneak off to their abonened bunker. The plot felt trivial and banal compared to the world setting. You need to come up with some real weird poo poo here to justify all this weird poo poo.

Idle Amalgam - Till Death Do Us Part:

I just really struggled to care about anybody in this story. Girl gets used and dude goes back to his fiance, she decides to murder everybody. Not a story i’m interested in reading, sorry. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything you can do to change that because it’s just not something i care about. I don’t watch lifetime movies for a reason, i’m just not interested in this kind of drama. I’m sure out there somebody would dig this story, but I am not that person. There are a lot of successful writers out there that i would never read or enjoy. Nothing about this story made me want to scream at you, but tbh my heart wasn’t into reading it.

sparksbloom - Tuesday Night:

Ok i’m lolling at the pro-tier “hell yeah we stole that poo poo and i’m not even gonna tell you how.” which was a nice subversion of my dread “oh no i don’t want to read a loving burglarly scene. I started to get a bit into the story when it was about the power that it imbued on the stander, and the other person getting a bit jealous, but then it just kinda fizzles out like a wet fart. I get the feeling you were not 100% about this story and just submitted something and wouldn’t try to defend this. You know what you did.

Chairchucker - Maybe Third and a Half?:

Touched on this a bit in discord, but this story contains way too much Things Actual Racists Say for unnecessary reasons. It makes me feel uncomfortable, and not in a way that’s challenging some of my biases or anything, just in a way of “oh no i hope we don’t have to have a talk with CC.” because we know you and who you are and your actual beliefs it’s easy to chalk this one up to a misfire. You tried. If this was an anonymous entry we would have been concerned, which is how we ultimately decided to judge this story. On it’s own merits, it’s awful lol. Touching on such sensitive matters with such a blase attitude is really what kills it. You’re not making fun of the nazi, you’re giving them a platform to say exactly what they want to say. The fact that they get kilt in the end isn’t enough to justify it. I wouldn’t read a story called “here’s a direct transcript of a ben shapiro speech but don’t worry cause at the end his blimp crashes lol.” i believe you’ll do better next time :)

The man called M - Wizards, they're just like you!:

Why do you keep doing this? My hypothesis is you’re scared to put your heart and soul into a story and still be told it’s bad. So you write these purposely bad stories so that you can remain defiant and defensive. Stop it. Write something you care about. Expose yourself. Be vulnerable. Work some poo poo out you’ve been thinking about. Be scared and nervous. When you push that post button, worry that you’ll feel loving gutted if somebody tells you it’s a pile of horseshit. Don’t post something you KNOW is horseshit and then say “well yah cause i didn’t try!” TRY, or just go away.

Beezus - Help:

I couldn’t remember what this story was about until i skimmed it again (that’s bad). That usually means you don’t have a real strong story that resonates with me. Skimming it again i still don’t really remember the first part about her friend and i still don’t really know why it’s there or remember what the outcome was. It gets better once she gets to the “i want to buy an orb but i’m loving poor and can’t afford something nice so i get a god drat stinky cheese orb and it’s weird but whatever i’m gonna try to do magic anyway and ugh it is not cooperating.” then you get the orb talking and it swerves hard into “monkeycheese” territory with just being loving weird out of the blue and not really in line with the rest of the story. Not gonna lie tho this part made me lol:

GIVE HER A PRESENT.

‘Like… like what?’

MEAT. GIVE HER MEAT.

‘She’s a vegetarian.’

MY CONDOLENCES.

But i was like “um ok…” the story isn’t really a comedy but then you throw in this delightful weird bit and i was like “ugh why couldn’t the story just be about a fuckin unhelpful bro orb that gives bad suggestions cause it’s a lovely walmart brand orb and i hate feeling like there are stories i don’t get to read because you decided to go on about Farron’s boring life.

curlingiron - The Blue and the Deep:

I think a math teacher wrote this one. This story is pretty awesome and is a good example of using your prompt but the story stands on its own. At no point did i need to know that it’s a magic 8 ball toy to understand that there are orbs with blue goo that RIP YOUR loving CONSCIOUNESS OUT OF YOUR BODY AND TAKE YOU TO THE LAND OF AUNTS. So yeah i was totes into this story the whole way through, but the very ending is a bit dues ex machina, the dude melts into nothing to go find the answers or whatever and it’s a bit underwhelming to just have that be the final answer without exploring other things first. Otherwise super strong story and was my #2 of the week.

Thranguy - Things I Learned During My Apprenticeship:

Thank you for your submission to horny orb mag. We regret to inform you that while horny, your story is more of a weird story outline and lacks that certain narrative that makes reading fun. It’s a lot of work to read a list of things and understand how they all have to work together, but not really getting why the organization system matters. Otherwise we enjoyed the hint at the story and think it’s kinda funny, but we do not like it in its current form. We suggest fixing this and resubmitting it. Yours truly, the horny orb editors


Antivehicular - The Eater of Filth:

This is well written and manages to really keep my attention the whole time. I’m like hell yeah this fossil orb eatin poisons and filth and leaving the food pristine. I got “pushing daisies” vibes (remove all the death and rot to have exquisite food) but there are also chemical processes that matter, like oxidation and moisture, which this orb doesn’t necessarily do anything about? Having her be a cook that is working on ancient grains made sense in the story, but didn’t really elicit strong feelings from me. I think maybe picking one or the other would have been better. Mashing them together made it a bit of a reach (i had to remember she wasn’t just a cook, but trying to like, pass a class or something). Then the ending is a little too neat and packaged that she’s gonna pass her class or open her restaurant or whatever. Everything just hummed along and that was that. I think i’d need to see the ancient orb actually get sick from something it ate to feel like there was some consequence to their arrangement. Right now it’s “well duh why WOULDN’T all this stuff happen? It’s a win win win win win for everybody!” which is a nice thought, but ultimately a little stale to read (see what i did there!)

Yoruichi - Overall, Deon’s day turned out pretty good:

This story is just a “hold onto your seats, cause shits gonna get wacky.” stuff just kinda flows without any real rhyme or reason, just “this thing happened which lead to this thing.” there doesn’t seem to be a lot of coherence or planning. I don’t know why this kid insists on using the spider orb. Anyway a bunch of stuff happens and then the end is basically just charlotte’s web. This piece seemed to lack any sort of real direction, but you’re a good enough writer that that didn’t really make it bad just kind of “so what?”

Taletel - Get your head out of your orb:
You just kinda jump straight into world building by telling me a bunch of poo poo and then transition to “somehow…” which is the most boring word a writer can ever write. Then there is some just kind of boilerplate “stuff is happening” and then this minion is like NICE rear end THO. a bit of back and forth and then the townspeople curb stomp her. You take the coward’s way out at the end to say “ha ha i don’t really have an ending to this story but that’s the point all along! Lol!” but was it? Cause a shaggy dog story is usually entertaining and compels the reader to keep reading. I only kept reading because i had to.

t a s t e - The Other Side of Things:
This story suffered from judge reading fatigue, in that by the time i got to it i just wanted to be done judging and this story failed to capture my interest.

On a reread, it still fails to evoke a sense of urgency or wonder. It’s a slow-paced, methodical examination of some hunter’s place in her society, and everybody speaks in a very wooden matter-of-fact “i’m telling you the story” way. Part of my lack of interest comes from your decision to obscure what “to hunt” means, and so the whole first section of the story is just talking about this nondescript “hunt” and “tolling bells” that you simply can’t get away with in flash fiction unless the whole point of the story is to make the reader wonder what we’re hunting. I’ve tried rereading this story like 4 times now and I just can’t get into it (that’s why these crits are so late, lol)

sebmojo - Orblems:

“should that not lie within your powers” this seems like some sort of legalese he’d end every single sentence with. Could maybe shorten it to an abbreviation or find some sort of short latin phrase to signify it. Just trying to help him out here.

Anyway this story is silly but it feels all over the place. I’m not 100% sure what the point is. There’s not much about loving the orb or hating the orb or anything to do with his relationship. In the end this is just another “sebmojo wrote a story 30 minutes before the deadline” story isn’t it?

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Sitting Here posted:

I'll honor this because I've been admittedly slack about keeping up on toxxes, HOWEVER if you :toxx: please do not necessarily expect this sort of clemency. More crits, however, are good crits.

MUFFIN. SEBMOJO. YORUICHI.

Thank you so much for taking the time to record your critical feedback :) It was nice to hear the reasoning behind your judgment. Because your reasoning sucked. While the winning story absolutely deserved its spot at the top, it's tiresome to have to wade through yet another discussion on whether "sitting here" sitting here'd too sitting herely. Therefor I challenge ALL of you to an anonymous brawl.

We'll need two people: a judge and someone who will post the stories on our behalf. All of us will agree to send our stories to this liaison. Whoever steps up to judge (assuming my venerable colleagues accept), please don't create a prompt until you've got a liaison to help you out.

:toxx:

yeah sure

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


In
:toxx:

Albatrossy_Rodent
Oct 5, 2021

Obliteratin' everything,
incineratin' and renegade 'em
I'm here to make anybody who
want it with the pen afraid
But don't nobody want it but
they're gonna get it anyway!


In.

I know theyre not specified in the prompt, but any chance I can get a flash, just to get these gears turning?

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit




Fun Shoe

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

In.

I know theyre not specified in the prompt, but any chance I can get a flash, just to get these gears turning?

There is some kind of physical barrier between your characters.

t a s t e
Sep 6, 2010


In :toxx:

The man called M
Dec 25, 2009

THUNDERDOME ULTRALOSER
2022





…You know what, screw it. In.

Could you please give me a certain relationship (like lovers, for example?)

Also, :toxx: to send a draft to Sitting Here by Saturday.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







in

Chernobyl Princess
Jul 31, 2009

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

:siren:thunderdome winner:siren:



The man called M posted:

…You know what, screw it. In.

Could you please give me a certain relationship (like lovers, for example?)

Also, :toxx: to send a draft to Sitting Here by Saturday.

The members of your relationship are college students in rival fraternities/sororities who have to plan a holiday party together for the entire greek community

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









The man called M posted:

…You know what, screw it. In.

Could you please give me a certain relationship (like lovers, for example?)

Also, :toxx: to send a draft to Sitting Here by Saturday.

Send it to me too

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

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steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







in & a :toxx:

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