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Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Nah, look. This is a real thing.

As someone who punches at about the same weight as rodent on a week-to-week basis I'll definitely say that no-mentioning over and over again can be disheartening. And yeah, sure, it's good to keep writing, and improving is wonderful in its own right and blah blah blah. This still is a contest and we are competing in that contest. I like winning and I don't like not winning after trying hard to win. Not enough to keep me away for long, certainly, and as rodent mentioned: it's not really a solvable problem.

But, it is a thing. After all, you like winning too and you win often!


Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy
i agree with chili, after many nms in a row, especially for stories i felt really good about, i have now and then started to wonder what is the point of entering this contest anyway and then stopped entering for months at a time. a positive crit by someone who is not a judge helps a lot with that, though.

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy
its generally not a lack of winning or hming or whatever that is the problem for me, though, which i realize is what my last post sounds like, but if i get the impression that no one is even somewhat enjoying what I'm writing, then I lose track of the point of entering. my MAIN point of entering though, which never changes, is to trick myself into actually finishing something. that is the real and endless usefulness of this contest

Dec 15, 2006

b l o o p

I definitely understand that impulse, and totally feel myself doing the same thing sometimes; I often won't bother entering unless I have an idea I feel good about. But I think that only wanting to enter if you're guaranteed praise is what leads to the "hugboxing" problem that TD has always rallied against. I love being praised, but I also think that the most valuable thing to me about TD has been having outside accountability to write again, and it's gotten me to write way more words (and thereby improve more) than I ever would have without it.

I don't mean to diminish anyone's feelings saying this, as I have personally shed actual tears over crits, and have had my heart broken by no-mentioning (or DMing!) on something I was really excited about. But winning isn't the point of the contest, writing is. Winning is just the dopamine bait that keeps people coming back.

That being said, I don't blame anyone who doesn't feel emotionally up to taking potentially negative feedback, and if you don't want to enter because of that I think it's okay. I have had a personally devastating year, and it has been a big part of why I haven't entered. I still love the community, and I've done a lot of personal writing, but I am absolutely not in a place to put much out where other people can see it. However, that's not a problem with Thunderdome, it's just where I'm at right now.

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

Yeah, I think it's an emotionally tricky scenario. I think the nature of it being a competition is essential to the feeling of TD, but it also means it's easy to feel like you "lost" just for submitting a no-mention; I've absolutely been wrecked by NMs and "this was okay I guess" crits, much more than I was by actually losing. I think it's especially bad since a lot of us, and I think the world in general, have depleted emotional reservoirs from the last few lovely years. I have no idea what to do about it, but I want to recognize that the feelings are valid.

Oct 6, 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!

Look, we can make all the Bad Words jokes we want, but the fact is that if there are ten entrants in a week we can expect two great stories, six good ones, one mediocre one, and a bad one. You can look at any reddit writing community and realize the writing in this one is just better. We have to realize that the thing that makes this community great is the thing that makes it difficult, too..

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
In, :toxx: hellrule.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Thranguy posted:

In, :toxx: hellrule.

your characters all live in the same place. Exactly, precisely the same place.

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


derp posted:

i agree with chili, after many nms in a row, especially for stories i felt really good about, i have now and then started to wonder what is the point of entering this contest anyway and then stopped entering for months at a time.

curlingiron posted:

I don't mean to diminish anyone's feelings saying this, as I have personally shed actual tears over crits, and have had my heart broken by no-mentioning (or DMing!) on something I was really excited about.

Chili posted:

Nah, look. This is a real thing.
As someone who punches at about the same weight as rodent on a week-to-week basis I'll definitely say that no-mentioning over and over again can be disheartening. And yeah, sure, it's good to keep writing, and improving is wonderful in its own right and blah blah blah. This still is a contest and we are competing in that contest. I like winning and I don't like not winning after trying hard to win. Not enough to keep me away for long, certainly, and as rodent mentioned: it's not really a solvable problem.

Antivehicular posted:

Yeah, I think it's an emotionally tricky scenario.

I can pick up what everyone is putting down. I don't see wanting to be praised or cheerleading as being a bad thing. I understand that ThunderDome thread isn't that way.

Can we specifically request crits when we submit? Is there a place where we can say "I need support, and am willing to trade hugbox crits"

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
I don't really feel the need for kind crits. I am totally fine with the way crits happen.

I am talking specifically about how loving difficult it is to win this contest. At least for me.

I want to win, and I mostly don't. That's enough to make it difficult to keep entering.

hard counter
Jan 2, 2015

while there can be no replacement for the dopamine hit of a win, i can see now see why we should all try to be a little more generous in giving every story an honest crit in the coming year, even if we're shy about giving crits in general, because crits at least give everyone a small record of their own minor successes and misses with their stories, and that's not nothing, and that sort of feedback'll help its authors create a roadmap towards an honest win in the future for that genuine dopa hit anyway

the only solution i can think of to manage the sting of a scathing crit for authors feeling especially down IRL is if, when you sign up or post your story, you add either:
1. i want you to hit me as hard as you can to welcome only the most cruel, intentionally brutal of crits that just ache to trash even something beautiful
2. [nothing] for normal, honest, everyday crits
3. not in the face for crits that focus far more on explaining what the story succeeded at then what it failed at

the third option will spare authors of certain harsh feelings, if the entry wasn't as hot as they thought, if they're in a bad place IRL where even honest constructive criticism isn't likely help anyway, but it of course also potentially robs of them of useful feedback for the future

obviously, an option to exercise only sparingly for regulars, but it might also help out a newbie who only wants to dip their toes into the dome instead of jumping in

Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again

Lipstick Apathy
I don't want "kind crits" either. Honesty is the most valuable thing you can ever have in a writing critique, and is why it's so valuable to have strangers or people outside your inner circle to give honest thoughts on your writing.

In fact, if people do start giving "kind crits" it will cast into doubt anything nice anyone ever says about anything I write. I'll wonder... Are they just being nice?

My posts were mainly offered as a sort of commiseration. I feel it, but I don't think there's any solution that doesn't compromise the dome itself.

I'd much rather keep being frustrated and keep trying to improve than to have everyone pat me on the back undeservedly

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

derp posted:

My posts were mainly offered as a sort of commiseration. I feel it, but I don't think there's any solution that doesn't compromise the dome itself.

I'd much rather keep being frustrated and keep trying to improve than to have everyone pat me on the back undeservedly

Yeah that's pretty much exactly where I'm at and echoes my sentiments. As one of the perennial no mentioners there's nothing I want done about it.

I do feel like I've grown substantially as a writer since I've started. So has everyone who was already stronger than me when I started.

Basically thunderdome is an MMORPG.

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Flyerant posted:

Is there a place where we can say "I need support, and am willing to trade hugbox crits"

You could ask people in the discord if you just want encouragement, or start a different thread. Sometimes it's important to get encouragement to write something. And losing is always better than failing!

But friendly encouragement is not a crit. If I'm going to critique your poo poo I'm going to tell you my opinions on whether and why it's bad. The best thing about the Thunderdome thread is people don't lie to each other.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Antivehicular posted:

Yeah, I think it's an emotionally tricky scenario.

I can see the intimidation problem. Maybe there's space for a second non-TD weekly prompt writing thread? And it wouldn't be tier-based to keep newcomers out of TD, but exactly the opposite; you can only write in the starter thread if you don't have more than a couple wins, in either thread. TD itself still remains all comers served.

That way TD itself doesn't need to change, just an onboarding thing is added to the side. The new thread would have the same requirement to post crits, the same general judging rules, aside from the fact that obviously nobody would be chief judge more than a couple times. No losertar, to continue with the lower barriers to entry, less punishing idea; maybe each week's winner can get a free av, or gift cert, or something similar.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Fuschia tude posted:

I can see the intimidation problem. Maybe there's space for a second non-TD weekly prompt writing thread? And it wouldn't be tier-based to keep newcomers out of TD, but exactly the opposite; you can only write in the starter thread if you don't have more than a couple wins, in either thread. TD itself still remains all comers served.

That way TD itself doesn't need to change, just an onboarding thing is added to the side. The new thread would have the same requirement to post crits, the same general judging rules, aside from the fact that obviously nobody would be chief judge more than a couple times. No losertar, to continue with the lower barriers to entry, less punishing idea; maybe each week's winner can get a free av, or gift cert, or something similar.

honestly, just start a thread. use discord to scare up some participants, and dropping a link in td to let people know its there is fine too within reason.

sephiRoth IRA
Jun 13, 2007

"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality."

-Carl Sagan

derp posted:

I don't want "kind crits" either. Honesty is the most valuable thing you can ever have in a writing critique, and is why it's so valuable to have strangers or people outside your inner circle to give honest thoughts on your writing.

In fact, if people do start giving "kind crits" it will cast into doubt anything nice anyone ever says about anything I write. I'll wonder... Are they just being nice?

My posts were mainly offered as a sort of commiseration. I feel it, but I don't think there's any solution that doesn't compromise the dome itself.

I'd much rather keep being frustrated and keep trying to improve than to have everyone pat me on the back undeservedly

This is how I feel too despite how sensitive I am about crits. I haven't entered this contest much for many of the reasons already stated, and I've been sad when I thought I wrote something amazing and it got ripped up, but all the criticism I've received has been useful and valid. I've never felt like it was mean spirited, even with "kayfaybe".

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Speaking as someone who writes for Thunderdome in between writing a novel and revising stories for submission, Thunderdome is a great illustration of what the world of trying to get published can be like, except with way more feedback and direct support. Obviously not everyone is in TD to try to get published, but being in it to win, and getting week after week of no mention/middling to poor reception of work you're really proud of, is exactly what you get when you try to submit your stories to professional magazines. You're trying to "win" by getting your story published and yeah, your story might be very good. It might be great. But magazines only publish less than 1% of submissions and if you're competing against 1000 other stories that are those authors' best works, you're only going to have a chance to "win" less than 1% of the time, all else being equal, which the game of publication and subjective reading most certainly is not.

So while I will never be as good as some of the power hitters here in TD, I keep submitting because it's still the best way to get fast and honest feedback and continue to improve as much as I possibly can until maybe, someday, I might get good enough to win TD or get published. Because what is my other choice if I have this desire to get my work in traditional type places for people to see?

For those of you who don't have that same goal, having a starter thread is something that has come up in past years for those who want gentler crits or a more relaxed timeline or a more freeform discussion in between posting stories. I even wrote an OP but couldn't get anyone excited. So you may find that it doesn't quite take off. But if anyone wants to go for it and would like the OP I wrote as a jumping off point, I am happy to share it.

I too have feared the losertar, but I want it to stay. I too have cried because of crits, but I don't want them to change. I have way too much attachment to my writing for someone who is trying to achieve enlightenment, but you know, it's good practice. I hope you all stick around and keep getting better with me. Discord message me, PM me, I am always here to read work and support others. Because if I ever make it to the top of the writing heap, dammit, I want you all there too trying to shove me off.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


sebmojo posted:

honestly, just start a thread. use discord to scare up some participants, and dropping a link in td to let people know its there is fine too within reason.

Yeah that's what I was leaning to do.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
I want more brawls. Maybe it's the last day of my year talking, but I think you're highly opinionated nerds and I want duel you on the field of battle.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Wanted to squeeze this in under the line before kayfabe resumes in the new year (a Happy New Year for any who are already there) -- I wanted to drop a quick thanks for the more-detailed-than-usual crits for my first-time TD entry last week, with a special shout-out to Flyerant for their line edits.

Admiralty Flag
Jun 7, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Toward a Brighter Dawn
words: 1478

Chester played the piano, and the music tinkled off the rich, dark woods cladding the shadowy bar. My datacomm, tridscreen full of text, rested on the table next to the untouched Negroni. My Scotch in hand, I savored its peaty notes as I tried to recall the song’s lyrics, ignoring the low conversations around me. I had the melody, something grandpa used to listen to, but not the words. Another small sip, and some unexpected oak crossed my tongue. Hmm. I knew what she’d say when she found out what I had to drink, how much money it had cost, and how much that would compound to; however, I was about to do without Scotch for a very long time, and The Macallan 70 was appropriate for such an occasion.

Annabeth strode in, a red whirlwind in some designer who rarely showed up in hoi polloi trid-shows. She sat across from me, leaning forward and eying the Negroni. I heard her softly sing, “Come, as you are, as you were.” She picked up her drink and sang to it. “As I want you to be.” Nirvana, right. She’s always been better at the Golden Oldies than I have.

I looked around; not much privacy in the bar. I turned the datacomm to face her. “Things’re all set for tomorrow.” She looked at me, frowned, and drained her drink in a single go.

I said, “Take it easy. You don’t want to be hung over tomorrow.” I savored another small sip; nothing new this time to add to its rich tapestry of flavors.

She pushed the datacomm back toward me, not looking at what I had written. “We need to talk. Time for a stroll.” In my hand was the most expensive drink I’d ever had; I nodded and slugged it back like it was rail Scotch.

She took my arm, her wedding ring flashing on her left hand as it snaked through my elbow. We left the bar and set out toward the river. The bite of autumn’s chill stabbed through my light jacket. The path was nice in the evening, and it wasn’t late enough the gangs should be out; too many police were still in the district. As we turned the corner, I asked, “Should we go home to talk? Subvocalize? Or just some peace and quiet?” She nodded at the last choice, and I verbally cued my implant. “Athena, public privacy measures.”

It spoke in my ear with its female English accent. “Initiating amplitude cancellation.” A low buzzing filled the air around us.

I patted her hand. “What’s on your mind?”

She looked at me. “I don’t want to go.”

“What do you mean, don’t want to go? It’s too long in stasis? Want to skip being in the first round?”

“No, it’s that I don’t want to go.”

I sighed. “If this is about safety…”

She looked down. “No, I’m not worried about more IMLA attacks. Security’ll be increased, and there’ll be a lot of commercial sites rather than a couple of experimental ones. Besides, we’re probably in more danger just walking down this street.” She stopped and faced me. “James, it feels like we’re running away.”

I couldn’t help it. “Whatdyamean, ‘running away’?” I took a breath and cursed my haste. “We’ve talked about this. We’re looking at a brighter future: less pollution, more peace, less suffering, new technology – not to mention we’ll be far richer than now.”

“Richer – if the investment strategies actually work, if nothing fails with the systems, if the assumptions are all correct. That’s a lot of ifs.”

“Albert Einstein himself once said the most powerful force in the universe was compound interest. Look, it’s just nerves. I don’t want to wait here. I want what the future has waiting for me. I’m going.”

“Even without me?”

I shook my head. “What’s behind this? You passed me the first BrighterDawn trideo, remember? The whole thing—”

She was near tears. “Who’s to say the future won’t be worse than the present? There could be a war, hyperinflation, collapse of the government, a revolution, any number of—”

I took her arms. “All those things could happen tomorrow. Why not go into the future, where it’ll all even out, plus we’ll have an even higher standard of living?”

She shook herself loose and began walking again. I fell in next to her, trying to match her stride. Her voice was getting louder. “What sort of jobs are we going to be able to hold? You’re assuming there’ll still be a call for manual laborers, because that’s all we’ll be qualified for.”

“Our investments will be enough to live off of. C’mon, Betts.”

“I really don’t know if I want to risk this.”

“Think about how much better life is than it was three hundred years ago. The steam engine was the dominant technology. There were no antibiotics, no transplants, no cancer omni-suppressors. They communicated through something they called the telegraph. Imagine how advanced—”

“Exactly! How are we going to fit into such a world? Those of us from stasis will be a permanent underclass. No knowledge, no training, nothing! And it won’t just be a couple of us. There’ll be tens of thousands flooding the job market or the dole – probably even more as the technology becomes cheaper and readily available.”

I nodded. “Precisely. The future will have to adapt to us. They’ll know we’re coming. And BrighterDawn will be preparing society and the government for our reintegration.”

“Who’s going to be left to move society forward, James? Who’s going to remain to make all these preparations and advancements while the rest of us are gone?” She stalked off toward a taxi. I watched her go.


I had turned off the white noise field and continued walking to clear my head. I wasn’t paying attention to time, or even where I was going – I was thinking about what Annabeth had said. That’s when the shove caught me from behind and sent me face-first into the wall.

“Athena, call police!”

The voice in my ear said, “Sorry, local bands are jammed.”

I turned around. There were three of them. One of them must’ve gotten their hands on a black market jammer. The leader looked me up and down. “We’ve got a rich one here. Let’s see what he’s got. You going to give it up easy or rough, downtown boy?”

I subvocalized, “Athena, use all datacomm power to squirt a concentrated emergency pulse on police bands.” I put my hands up. “I’ve got a Rolex WristSync, a couple of pieces of jewelry, nothing else.”

“Looks like we’re going to have to cut you up to check.” The other two laughed.

“OK, OK, I’ve got my bank account. I’ll go to a machine with you, if you want cash.”

“Cold thumbprint works fine.”

“Not with platinum accounts. Full biometric security.”

The leader stared at me, looking deep in thought, probably thinking about what terminal to take me to. Then he smiled. “Too dangerous. Looks like we’re just going to have some fun right here, boys.” They closed in.

The warbling of sirens and the rushing of a hover shifting from patrol to sprint rang out from the river. The thugs scattered, but there were cycle cops on their way too, and, within a few minutes, the police had rounded them up and were asking me questions. I told the sergeant what had happened, admitted my use of restricted bands, and asked him if there’d be any trouble. He stared at me, but an eager beaver patrolman ran up with the discarded jammer; after looking at it, the sergeant said, “No, sir, I think you’re just about done here.”

I looked, really looked, at the thugs for the first time since the whole thing started. They were skinny, greasy, and scabrous. All three were missing teeth, and I don’t think that was all due to the cops. I could smell them from meters away. They were only the grimy shadows of humans.


The eager beaver dropped me off at home. I nimbly made my way through the dark house to our bedroom. She was in bed, but I could see from the glimmer of moonlight slashing through the window she was still awake, looking at me.

I sat on the bed and put my hand on her leg. “You’re right, Betts.”

She sat up and reached for the light. I waved. “Leave it off.” I didn’t want her to see the bruise.

“What changed your mind, James?”

“Nothing else will matter if we’re the underclass.”

“But I’ve been thinking too. What will the world be like without the others?”

I said, “It doesn’t matter. We can’t abandon the world. We have to stay. We have to build the future. Not everyone can run away and hope for a brighter dawn.”

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving And something has got to give

Crits for Week 542! Sorry if these are rushed; I wanted to get them out before the 2023 thread.

Admiralty Flag, "The Gift that Will Keep on Giving"

This is a pretty impressive first effort, truth be told -- it's ambitious and trying to tell a story with some meat and meaning -- but it DMed because I think there are a lot of problems with the execution. The big one is that the style ends up telling us a lot more than showing anything. It has the very common TD problem of being a larger story than the word count can really support, so you end up rushing through and more or less just telling us what's happening, instead of having any room for the characters to breathe. I kind of wonder if having this cover only one scene (say, the flowers arriving and Daniél talking to Margarita about who might have sent them, maybe trying to reassure his daughter about the chaos of her life? Or Luisa actually arriving, with the flowers having happened prior off-camera, and the resulting exchange?) in greater depth might have made a more satisfying scene overall. Sometimes it can be useful in the TD format to cut how many actual events happen on camera and focus more closely on the ones that are at the core of the story.

Another problem with this piece is that I'm not actually sure what we're seeing is Daniél's story. It feels like the central figure is Margarita, with Daniél at this point much more on the periphery -- someone who has actually weathered this storm, which Margarita is clearly still personally navigating. I think I would have rather seen Margarita and Luisa interact directly, instead of making this a story of a dude having feelings about women.

And then... then there's the ending. I don't think the ending is really inappropriate in theory, but in practice, there's a very dismissive feeling to Luisa's mental illness struggles, especially with the title of the piece implying that Luisa's death is "the gift that keeps on giving" (because she's out of our hair!). This is sensitive stuff, and I don't even think having the characters feel some relief would be unrealistic, but it feels kind of unpleasant that this feels like a story about how a suicidally mentally ill person is kind of just an unpleasant inconvenience for a nice family Christmas. This is material you have to be sensitive about, and I think this story ends up being unfortunately callous.

Chernobyl Princess, "Aschenputtel"

This was pretty high on all the judges' list, and I think might have been in contention had there not been a couple of other strong candidates. The base premise is quite strong -- I love the idea of Cinderella's dead mother as a witch ensuring her daughter is watched over from the grave, which is a classic fairy-tale motif I'm not sure I've ever seen applied to this one before -- and what we actually see on camera is very charming. I really just kind of wanted more, I guess? It's hard to say, because I think with fairy-tale riffs you have a little more leeway to cut off before the story's done (we know where it's going), but I think I would have at least liked to see her find the dress on her mother's grave and maybe react, even if you don't want to go through the ball and the rest of the story. It just felt kind of truncated.

Something Else, "The Santa Suit"

Penguin is right that this isn't the loss based on any sort of technical weakness of the prose, but it's the loss because I found it the most unpleasant thing to read this week. I can see that this is intending to be a parable about the corporatization of Christmas, but there's just a lot here that makes it muddled and kind of nasty. For starters, we have Santa's treatment of the costumer, which I think is supposed to be heartwarming by the end, but "sending back the costume you should have taken off in the first place, and which she'll be lucky to get her docked pay back for" isn't really a gift, you know? (I think I said something in the judge chat about how there'd better be a hefty check in that box alongside the suit.) And then... well, there's Turkea.

What the entire Turkea section comes down to, for me, is that introducing a sexual element into this story is both deeply offputting and fundamentally muddling to the metaphors at play. Why is the mascot for Thanksgiving sexy? (A sexy Halloween mascot, while cliche, would have actually made some sense here, and would certainly have worked as a "let's solidify a three-month panholiday bacchanal" figure just fine.) Having this framed as a seduction and not as a corporate merger makes it all feel grimy, and it casts the arc of "Santa feels confident and attractive in his new suit" to "Santa rejects it" as a case of someone getting sexually harassed and giving up on something "sexy" that previously made them happy, which is kind of depressing and gross! Unintentional, I assume, but I should never be thinking that a story implies that Santa shouldn't have been dressed like that if he didn't want Thanksgiving to come onto him in the parking lot. I'm also not completely sure pajamas-and-cookies Santa is all that much less corporate than advertising-magnate Santa? I was waiting for a Saint Nick throwback and everyone in the world getting an orange for Christmas, or something.)

I don't know how much more I should say about this one, honestly, or how much of my disquiet is personal, but I just really, really didn't like reading this, and I don't think it works for what it's trying to say. I just really hated it, and it made me nitpick very heavily.

derp, "yesterday's snow"

I see where you're going with this one, but I think it has some major problems. The big one is that you're trying to mix a serious theme (the concept of someone facing their probably-last Christmas being over and not being able to deal) with the comedy elements (bad goon Christmas music, the snowman picture), and the whole doesn't gel; I also feel like "character is having serious heavy emotions and this resolves in their having an over-the-top psychotic break" is something I've seen in TD before, and it just never works. I honestly think this would have worked better as a quieter piece that was trying to develop this narrator and be sincere about his emotions, because the core here -- which is, I'm guessing, some kind of terminal illness? -- has the potential to be quietly heartbreaking. You could even show us the character clinging onto Christmas too long! Just, well, not like this. This needed to either be a serious reflection on character or a fully goofy piece about Speedo Frosty, and it's neither.

Ceighk, "Chasing Cars"

This is one that definitely had way too much story going on for its length. I understand what you're trying to do with the introduction, establishing that JP is an outsider to an isolated community who's clung hard to his cousin Bart for belonging in this time, but it takes up way too much space and then doesn't even really pay off, since there isn't enough room for any real reaction to what Bart's been doing. The structure of "narrator is helped in rough times by Loved One, learns that Loved One has dragged them into doing dangerous/immoral poo poo, has to find a way out" is a good one, but there just isn't room for it in 1500 words, without extremely judicious choices of scene. (I don't even know what I'd focus on here; there's just kind of too much going on.)

The action isn't horrible, but it's abbreviated and kind of clunky, especially since none of the decisions really have a chance to land. We definitely needed more about JP choosing to trust the hitchhiker, which isn't completely implausible but needs to be a stronger character beat than it is, because there's just no chance to understand JP here. None of the character stuff has any time to breathe, because we're rushing through the action segments to the practically-inevitable death ending. I think this just needed to be bigger, big enough to contain anything but the exposition and skeletal sequence of events we see.

Yoruichi, "The First Christmas After"

This one definitely gets hamstrung by having so many flash rules, but I think there's a really good emotional core here, which is what took it to the HM. This is a story where everyone is basically just doing their best -- Hannah to cope with an overwhelming in-law gathering in the face of loss, Aaron to take care of her once he realizes she's not doing well, Aaron's family to include her even if they don't really know how, Grace to find a way to let Hannah know she's not forgotten -- and the happy ending feels pretty earned even in the chaos of the situation. I think it just really needs some paring down and redefining to let those emotional beats show through more, which I know is tricky because the situation is clearly intentionally chaotic. Maybe expanding it so there's more room to breathe? There's just a lot going on, but I do think it's a satisfying piece on the whole nonetheless.

sebmojo, "This far South, this time of the year"

This one got the nod over Yoruichi's for the win because it's so clean. We talked a lot in judge chat about what the meaning is here, and if there's a central metaphor, but I feel like the point is that there isn't -- it's just a weird thing that happened to ordinary people, who stayed ordinary despite it all, and sometimes that's enough to make a story really resonate for me. I think this kind of dry wit is just really up my alley (I'm still thinking about the heifers joke), so it really landed for me. Just nice, precise, clean writing that felt like the appropriate length for what it tried to do.

kaom, "Shookum Shots Seasonal Special: Human Rituals in Review"

The premise of this one is pretty cute, but I think the execution just gets extremely confused. A lot of the action isn't conveyed very clearly towards the end; I think you were going for a frantic feeling, but sometimes the best thing to do there is to slow down and make sure things are still described lucidly to the reader, even as the characters flail around, especially since you had more than enough words to spare. I also think choosing to end this piece in violence/probable character death is absolutely the wrong tone for the story, if possibly a logical escalation -- I think I would have liked some kind of comedy revelation? Like, I dunno, the bees can't even hurt these carapaced aliens, or aren't inclined to? Maybe we get a conclusion from our alien anthropologists about the human tradition of festive communinion with the Christmas Bees? I just think this would be more fun if it were, well, fun all the way through.

Thranguy, "The Department of You"

This is extremely okay. It's a good sketch of what it is, a decent exploration of this concept, and I like the base concept that every human life echoes so much that no individual department will close before they all do, but... it really doesn't go much of anywhere. It definitely has the feeling of a riff more than a story, and I sympathize, having definitely written riffs for TD in the past, but this needs to build and go somewhere. Keep it in the drawer and revisit it, maybe, if you figure out somewhere to take it?

Idle Amalgam, "Jingle of Duty: Merry Warfare"

I don't know that I disliked this one as much as the other judges did, but it perplexes me. The premise is kinda grody in and of itself (it has that, uh, Internet-fetish-fiction sheen about it, which I guess is inevitable with the flash image, but still), but also it's just... confusing. I guess the idea is that the US military has a deal where they send some strike team in as, functionally, sacrifices for Santa, by telling them they're going to be playing war games up there, and then the North Pole subdues them by having a fully functional military response? And then they get used to haul the sleigh, for... some reason? Do they get released at the end? (I think I would almost rather read the aftermath story for this, although I think that would be very grim.) I honestly don't know what would fix this, because it's so out there, and the execution feels so rushed, presumably because you were writing quickly? Thank you for submitting, but I think this would really need a reconsideration from the ground up to be successful. ("The modern world makes unwitting human sacrifices to Santa, for bizarre purposes" is not a terrible premise, but it should probably be openly horror, you know?)

Oct 6, 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!

Just For Me
944 words


Albatrossy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Jan 8, 2023

Feb 25, 2014
it’s not a joke


flerp fucked around with this message at 22:10 on Jan 3, 2023

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
Ex Nihilo
1,075 words
Hellrule: Story does not contain the word "the"

Lana had never been one to consider what an apocalypse might entail. She had lived her life 24 hours at a time. 9-5 was occupied by a variety of doldrums from a career in customer support which she didn’t hate but definitely had no love for. When she got her termination notice due to some outsourced, semi-automated, bullshit of one sort or another, she let loose an exhalation that felt as if it had been held in for years. An unseen weight had been lifted from her shoulders, only to be replaced by a more crushing burden: debt.

Out of a job and soon to be out of a home, Lana didn’t have too many ideas about how to move forward that didn’t involve calling her mother who would undoubtedly say, “I told you so,” no matter what reasons Lana could offer for why her life had suddenly fallen apart. Her days had always carried on as if she were part of some half-formed dream where her prospects and milestones were always approaching without any real effort on her part. More than once she had felt that she was a background character in someone else’s story. Like grazed on grass or worn-out asphalt, present, but only for use by someone else.

Her roommate, Tom, let loose a thick plume of weed smoke that billowed across her take-out-encrusted coffee table towards her face as she sank further into her dilapidated hand-me-down recliner.

“What was that?” Tom said between coughs.

“I said, I’m hosed… What am I going to do? Rent was due like 10 days ago and I haven’t got a single dollar to my loving name. So I’m screwed. I’m totally screwed and about to be homeless.”

Lana watched as Tom appeared to weigh this revelation, considering how it might ultimately lead to his own homelessness. “gently caress…,” he finally said and offered Lana his bong like a life raft, one she considered taking. She politely declined since she was out of a job and knew she’d need a new one in short order. Tom took another rip in her stead and Lana turned away from him annoyed. She tried to put something on her T.V., but when Roku failed to load, she assumed that her overdrawn accounts had caught up with her and her internet had been canceled. She flipped through channels in search of anything that might distract her from her implosion, but only found static and color bars that she had up to that point in her life, assumed were just props for movies and T.V. shows.

“Okay… That’s odd.”

“Oh, poo poo. That’s right. That experiment is happening today.”

“What do you mean ‘that experiment’?”

“Some physicists from UT built some type of small-scale quantum entangled particle collider. It’s supposed to be able to basically simulate our universe’s beginning conditions or something like that. Real sci-fi poo poo that I’m probably explaining really poorly.”

“You definitely are.”

“Yeah, yeah, gently caress you too, but like, seriously, it’s this machine that’s supposed to be able to replicate how our universe was when it was first created or made or set in motion or whatever and every type of wack job navel gazer from here to Japan has been posting about how it’s a huge mistake.”

“How does that correspond to our tv not working?”

“Someone had posted online about it. About how nothing could come from nothing and that its energy would come from somewhere, most likely our ‘where’. That it could disrupt wavelengths and have other unforeseeable consequences.”

“How did I not hear about this? I feel like, this type of thing would be huge.”

“Maybe you not remembering, or hearing is one of those unforeseen consequences.”

Thick ominous clouds crackling with odd-colored lightning swirled overhead. A giant hand covered in black scales trailed red as it tore through sky and earth. Lana knew that whatever this was superseded any trouble she had. A giant hand of fate had literally shown up at her doorstep, and once again, without pushing her in any tangible direction, left her a background participant in someone else’s big thing, whatever that thing was. Flaming, multi-winged creatures with coalescing crowns of piercing eyes appeared in brilliant flashes of light, trembling earth, and soul. “BE NOT AFRAID,” was shouted into every corner of Lana’s mind and reverberated through her flesh which prickled with an odd energy.

When Tom became translucent, Lana nearly started from her seat and made for her front door but found that she couldn’t. That her body had become a disconnected mass of components, that seemed more machine than flesh. She didn’t recognize herself and wondered if this might be what a stroke felt like. Her limbs moved with delay, but she retained a small degree of control that she used to try and reorient herself in a world that appeared near its end. Tom’s face contorted in an array of expressions as he appeared to be making attempts at speech, but Lana only heard gibberish. She listened closely and found that she could feel and see his jumbled words behind closed eyes in strange flashes of color but was nowhere closer to understanding him. Tom gave up and made his way outside only to promptly be incinerated or disintegrated or maybe just relocated in a beam of light that Lana felt was more eradicating than lifesaving.

“gently caress this,” Lana said as she willed herself to pick up Tom’s bong and take a huge rip from it. She had coasted through life much to her mother’s chagrin. She was always being compared to her sister Karina who though younger than her had a good job, and a good husband, and was about to give her a second grandchild, but Lana knew all of that wasn’t for her. Not that she couldn’t have those things. She just didn’t want her life patterned out in some way that was already decided for her. She didn’t want to be a housewife like her mom with a man who cherished her only at night behind closed doors. She didn’t want any of this, but since she had to deal with it, at least it would be on her own terms.

“BE NOT AFRAID,” boomed through her mind again as a creature, too brilliant to behold, melted her apartment's walls into its base quarks and gluons.

Lana, through no small effort, raised a middle finger at it, before being enveloped in its light.

Idle Amalgam
Mar 7, 2008

said I'm never lackin'
always pistol packin'
with them automatics
we gon' send 'em to Heaven
:toxx: to do at least 3 crits by January 7th.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
This, Here, Now

Hellrule:your characters all live in the same place. Exactly, precisely the same place.

818 words

The number of alternate universes that exist is not infinite. It is, however, absurdly large, of a magnitude that is in many ways harder to comprehend than infinity. What's the largest number you can think of? A googolplex? Graham's Number? Tree(3)? Bigger than that. Much bigger.

The number of universes that contain this moment is much smaller, though still huge. In the multiverse, the metaverse, the inflationary bubble, they happen, one after another, well-ordered in something analogous to time. This moment has happened before, uncountably many times. You, standing on the balcony, looking at her, in the yard, the sun about to rise, stray light just creeping over the horizon, trying to think of the right thing to do, the right thing to say.

In most universes, a staggeringly large number of them, you say nothing and she turns away. In another multitude of timelines you shout a single word, usually her name, sometimes "Wait" or "Please" or "I". These are never more persuasive than silence.

Action, then? Before we get to longer utterances, to things that have happened enough times that you could conceive the number. Action. You leap off the balcony onto the dew-covered yard. Intending to chase after her, intending self harm, intending to show off acrobatic prowess. You climb down, you dive, you leap. You break something: a bone or two, a skull or a spine, little more than your pride. Or you make a perfect landing. It's only one story up. Such things are possible. But it doesn't work, not in the sense you think.

It's actually amazing. There are few enough invariants in the multiverse. But here we are. At this moment, this morning, this balcony. In all of the universes where there is an Earth, where there is a human race, an America, a Tennessee, a you, and a her, an Elaine Flora, recognizable as the same people, you essentially never really make it as a couple. There are a few where you are, briefly, together. The closest you ever come to a grand romance are those where one of you kills the other. Nothing nearly so dramatic for this you, though. None of those life paths go through this moment, none of them include the balcony.

The things you might say. Grand promises. Clever lies. Your mind, trying to find the right words, the ones that will somehow change who she is into someone else, someone who would, as you think, 'give you a chance'. Across the multiverse your mind types away like a nigh infinite number of monkeys at a nigh infinite number of typewriters. More efficiently, though. You don't often speak pure gibberish, and when you do, well, we know the result. So let's only talk about the English, the grammatical, the interesting choices.

Shakespeare, of course. You have a few choice sonnets buried deep in your memory to pluck out at need. Some other poetry as well.

There are a handful of timelines where you recite, word for word, a pornographic sonnet Emily Dickenson wrote and burned without sharing with anyone. Far more than random chance would imply. There are words that want to be said. But they do not persuade, never her, never now.

Then, of course, there is magic. Only some universes even have magic, but it is often difficult to tell much of the time. Sometimes you open your mouth and start to float, or shoot sparks out of your fingers, or see through walls. You are closer to her in those universes- well, those among them where you don't float into the upper atmosphere and suffocate, don't burn down your house and neighborhood. But only as friends.

We need not discuss those where you spontaneously chant a spell of lust, infatuation, seduction. It never ends well, and is not what you're after anyway.


Ask a mathematician how many numbers are integers, and they will likely answer that none of them are. The real numbers are so much more numerous that the probability of a truly random number chosen would be one is literally zero. 

The numbers here aren't infinite. But they're large enough that a number like seventeen might as well be zero next to them.

Seventeen. Seventeen universes in all that can possibly be where you find the right words and they work. Twelve where you are together for decades and part amicably. Three where you live long lives and die within a year of each other. One where your romance goes on and off through your long lives. One where you have a brief romance, then separate for decades only to reunite by chance in middle age and stay together thenceforth. Seventeen.

The words aren't enough, of course. The exact right thoughts and decisions have to be happening in her mind, and those conditions are very rare indeed. But the words are necessary.


What are you going to say?

Mar 19, 2008

Look, if you had one shot
or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
in one moment
Would you capture it...
or just let it slip?


1470 words

Everyone tells me it’s such an honour and I should feel special or some bullshit, but I think it’s really unfair I’m looking after Tourmalina just because I’m the eldest, y’know? Like, my cousin Kasey found some magical world in grandpa’s Kelvinator, and nobody’s asking her to look after its inhabitants. Last I heard there was some war going on, something about a ten-thousand year-old grudge between the brownies and the tree nymphs, but Kasey still goes out to as many parties as she likes while I’m stuck home cleaning Tourmalina’s wings.

I guess I could have it worse. Claire had to cancel her gap year because a family of pixies moved into her luggage; Laura got fired from Macca’s because her sprite kept swimming in the Coke syrup. The worst Tourmalina’s done is just erode any chance I’ve got of meeting a boy before I leave home, always hanging around like some glittery chaperone.

I try making mum let Charlotte look after her—Charlotte’s fourteen going on nine, she loves all that fairy bullshit and still claps during Peter Pan—but mum just shakes her head. ‘The accord was pretty unequivocal,’ she says, next to me in the car—that’s the only time I can get away from Tourmalina, who gets surprisingly car-sick for someone who’s whirling around my head all day. ‘The Eldest Daughter in the House of Each Mortal Name Must Support The Court or Live in Shame.’

‘I’m already living in shame!’ I cry out, throwing my hands up. ‘Seventeen and I haven’t had a single date yet.’

‘Is that what this is about?’ mum asks, turning into the shopping centre and cruising for an empty spot. ‘Boys?’

‘Or girls,’ I say, shrugging. ‘It’s not like I’m going to find out with her around all the time.’

Mum rolls her eyes. ‘You’ll have time to find out,’ she murmurs, cutting the engine. ‘When you’re at uni next year. Would’ve thought you’d be more interested in your grades, right now, to be honest. But they do seem to be improving after all this happened, don’t they?’

I look out the window and don’t say anything. “All this”. Hell of a way to sum up the past two years, since someone halfway across the world managed to open a gateway to the fae realm during some hippy palm-reading session. But that’s one of the conditions we all agreed upon, not referring to it explicitly, so we dance around it as much we can.

‘Look,’ mum says, reaching out to grab my knee, squeezing it like she used to when I was younger and upset about not getting a role in the school play or something, when it was just the two of us, an eternity ago. ‘Exams are in a month. And you’re a smart girl, you’ll get into your first pick, I’m sure of it. You’ll be all the way over in Melbourne, and Charlotte will be looking after Tourmalina—and, ah, you’ll probably be busy enough with classes that you won’t come up on weekends anyway, so you won’t have to—’

‘That’s supposed to make me feel better?’ I cry out, shaking her hand off me. ‘All the more reason I should be enjoying my time now! Without—’

On cue, there’s a tapping at the window, and I squeeze my eyes shut against the sudden fluroescence spilling in, an entire tacky Eurovision stage squeezed into three inches of flickering nausea.

‘You should let her in,’ mum says, checking her lipstick in the mirror. ‘We’re still early, and it’s hot out.’

Good,’ I say, but I roll down the window anyway. Tourmalina flutters in, lands on the console, folds her hands on her lap and smiles brightly at mum. ‘Hello, Mrs Feain,’ she smiles, all sugar-sweet and cloying, and my teeth already hurt. ‘I hope you have a pleasant time at work today.’

‘Thank you, dear,’ mum beams. ‘I hope you girls have a pleasant day together.’

‘Oh, of course!’ Tourmalina trills, turning to face me. ‘Whyever shouldn’t we?’

‘Why indeed,’ I murmur, sotto voce.

Tourmalina just smiles up at me, eyes sparkling bright as the treacherous uncharted ocean.


I tried getting an exemption for work, but the accord was, as mum keeps saying, unequivocal, and even if my manager held any sway over the fae, she wouldn’t pledge for my case because Tourmalina was doing absolute gangbusters for her bottom line. It turns out the Venn diagram of girls who like jewelry sold three for ten dollars, and girls who find Tourmalina irresistible, is a circle perfect enough to do witchcraft in. Not that Tourmalina does any magic, or seems to know any spells; but I know that when the goth chicks show up with their own fae hanging out in their elaborate get-ups, all moody and sullen and perfectly matched, they’ve had more help than just YouTube.

It’s not like I’d meet any boys at work anyway; the few who come in are buying earrings they think their girlfriends might like, and even then it’s not like they talk to me at all when Tourmalina’s all up in their face asking about their girlfriends’ star sign and favourite singer and always, always, finding the perfect piece of jewelry. I’m just there blithely smiling while Tourmalina does whatever mental arithmetic transforms a vaguely-remembered reference to this k-pop singer and that Netflix series into whatever dangling plastic isn’t selling well this month.

It’s almost worse when she does ask my thoughts, holding up earrings that are almost as big as she is, one to each side, and I have to stammer out some convincing-sounding rationale when I think all three glittering tchotchkes before me are equally hideous. Sometimes a boy will say, trying to be charming, ‘wow, I really like the middle one, that’s cute,’ and I’ll have to bite my tongue to avoid trying to sell Tourmalina off, which would probably get me in trouble with the Court or at least fired.


I’m lying in bed, trying to sleep, when Tourmalina tells me she overheard mum and I talking about uni, about how I’ll be moving out to Melbourne soon. I get up onto my elbows, look at her dangling her feet off my desk, uni brochures open beside her.

‘That’s right,’ I tell her, and fall back onto my pillow. ‘You’ll be rid of me soon enough, don’t worry.’

‘I think,’ she continues, ‘we should find a sharehouse with your cousin Kasey.’

I pause. ‘We?’

‘Sure. What’s with that tone?’

‘You’re joking,’ I say. ‘You think I want to show up at uni with a fairy on my shoulder?’

She bristles at that, and the glow surrounding her wings turns amber for a moment. ‘You know,’ she starts, ‘I didn’t sign on to deal with a nerd, myself.’

‘Ha!’ I scoff. ‘Perhaps I wouldn’t be such a nerd if I didn’t have an Aldi Tinkerbell hanging around all the time.’

She shrugs, flittering her wings in the moonlight. ‘That’s no excuse. You were a nerd well before I arrived. Not my fault you can’t handle a literal wingwoman by your side.’

‘Wingwoman?’ I ask, raising an eyebrow. ‘Since when have you been a wingwoman?’

‘Uh,’ she chuckles. ‘I’m doing what I can. You know that boy was totally flirting with you today, right?’

‘What?’ I start.

‘Yeah, I thought you would’ve picked up when the girl he was buying earrings for was so clearly you, and then when he said I looked cute, all you needed to say was—’

‘Okay,’ I say. ‘Okay. Fuckin’—little more help next time, okay?’

‘Count on it.’

I’m quiet for a few moments, before she says: ‘Anyway. You don’t think a frozen fantasy-land full of beers is going to be popular at uni?’

‘But—’ I start. ‘The wood elves—’

She smirks. ‘Now who’s cramping whose style? See if Laura can come, too. Her sprite sounds fun and us fairies have needs.’

‘Oh, vom,’ I say, but I’m smiling. ‘Sure. I’ll ask.’

‘You’re alright, Grace,’ she says. ‘I’ll stay incognito if it makes you more comfortable, okay? But you’re old enough to believe in whatever magic you want, now.’

I don’t say anything; just look up at the ceiling, trying to remember the glow-in-the-dark stickers my dad stuck up there once, when I was younger and still believed in magic. They’ve run out of whatever keeps them going now—I know it’s not magic—but Tourmalina’s gossamer wings spread constellations of their own in the moonlight, uncharted galaxies still to discover. I smile, and turn to face her, and she floats down to land on my knee. ‘Even your own,’ she murmurs, as I find myself drifting off to sleep.

Also, apparently her glitter is hallucinogenic, which has to make me a few friends, right?

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

The Courage of Nearly Flightless Birds
532 words

I dreamed of birds that could not touch the sky,
No matter how hard they try,
I dreamed of chickens, and all I could do was cry.

I woke up on the fiftieth day after the first death in my family. Again, I dreamed of chickens last night. A brief shower, a quick breakfast, then I arrived at work and told myself everything was alright.

Because why wouldn’t it be? The receptionist smiled warmly, full of fake glee. The office was full of understanding sympathy. I play the part I have prepared for: I nodded when prompted, calmly focused on my tasks, and never, ever cried. Everything was still alright.

Every meeting I go to, everyone tiptoes around. They give sympathetic speeches, only wanting to hear their own sound. The work day ends and everyone lets out a sigh. I made it through another day. Everything was still alright.

At home, nothing is different. As we were washing the dishes, my husband told a joke and stared up at me, his anxiety apparent. I weakly laughed: not too forced, and not too hard. Seeing me smile, for him, things were going back to normal. He desperately needed everything to be alright.

It is in the middle of the night that I dream of truths. Once again in my dreams, the chickens come to roost. The chickens that will never reach the sky, no matter how hard they try. They live with that simple fact, so why can’t I?

The birds beckoned me to watch as they laid to roost. A gigantic mother hen squawked, offered me her largest egg. I held it close to my chest to protect it from hunters. I could not help but wonder if the hens missed their eggs when they were plundered.

I curled myself around the egg and felt a heartbeat thumping against the shell. So much potential. So much of what could have been. It was here, wrapped around an egg, that I felt whole. Felt right. Then my abdomen throbbed, the pain ached. The egg crumbled, then I waked.

My eyes opened to see a room I had tried to avoid. A room filled with small toys, clothes and baby bibs. The truth stood in front of me: an empty crib. Acknowledging the truth would mean realising that even as I stewed in my grief, the world kept turning. Everything has to be alright, otherwise I need the world to be burning.

I’m tired. Tired of pretending everything was alright. Tired of pretending that I was not mourning. Like the chickens who look upon the sky, I knew this crib would be forever empty. Somehow, the chickens kept on breathing. They wake and lay their eggs, despite their knowing.

My grief has opened a wound that has become infected. Every day fake sympathy, fake feelings, fake pretending to be normal. Every day I was dying. Like the chickens, I would never fly, but that doesn’t mean I should die. It was time to start living. It was time for a new beginning.

I wake up on the fifty-first day after the first death in my family, and can finally admit: everything is not alright.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren: Important reminder :siren:

This thread will remain open until roughly January 15 so that folks have the opportunity to remove any stories from the thread that they might want to try and publish later. Why remove your stories? Because some markets consider SA as a "previous publication". The likelihood of your story being found by a prospective publisher is low, but it is possible and it would be a bummer to get a rejection on that basis! THAT SAID: if you don't plan on publishing a story, consider leaving it in the thread for others to read!

Regarding the new thread: It will go up sometime after judgment is rendered for the current week, and the new prompt will go in that thread. There will also be a TD off-topic thread up by the end of the week! There are lots of exciting ideas regarding what sorts of things we could use that thread for and I look forward to seeing how the TDdom at large makes use of it.

Feel free to PM me with any questions, or if you're on Discord you can reach out there.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

hellrule: Your story is told solely in gestures

A Quiet Life
1550 words

The early spring sunshine cuts through a smattering of wispy clouds and the last gasp of winter air, both the final holdouts in the turning of the season. The sun glitters across the ocean’s surface everywhere, but seems to concentrate its loveliness on one particular stretch of coastline: a mile-long crescent hook of short red-brown cliffs topped by evergreens. At the north end of this half-bay, the coast curves out into the current and the wind, breaking the stride of the ocean’s might and turning the turbulent northerly into a gentle breeze. And in the center, two little half-wooded islands sit like forgotten flower mounds in an abandoned garden, whose flowers have long since taken charge of their own blooming. The waters of the bay cut these islands off from the mainland, and a channel cuts between them. And on the shores of the channel, two little cottages sit facing each other, one brick, one rough stone, each shrouded in the edge of the dwarf forest that tops their little oceanic knuckle.

Allen kneels by the half-wall out in front of his home, trenching short rows in the soft loam for his new tomato seedlings. They’d been growing inside for the last few weeks, and with the turning of the season, it was time to bring them outside. Allen lifts his nose and sniffs the air. The early morning air stings his nostrils, but no salt. Good, he thought. He was worried about the salt spray leeching the moisture from his carefully curated soil mixture, but he was pretty sure he’d chosen the spot well: plenty of sun and rain, but cover from the wind and spray.

There isn’t much work to do at the moment, aside from fussing over the delicate tomatoes, thankfully. The beets and cabbages and spinach were all situated and on their way; Catherine and Heathcliff—his two goats—were happily grazing on the fresh springtime grass, and he’d stocked away enough salted fish to keep him fed if the fish chose not to bite on any particular day. With the tomato trenches ready and waiting, Allen grabs a book from his shelf and heads down toward the shoreline.

Settling in to the rough-cut wooden lounger he’d cut for himself only semi-successfully—woodworking’s mysteries were still opaque to him—Allen scans the coastline across the channel, looking for Jonathan. That wasn’t his real name, of course; Allen didn’t know his real name. He wasn’t out here yet, so Allen reluctantly turns his attention to the tome in his hand, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment—another opaque mystery Allen was determined to solve.

Allen reads for a while, and then he simply basks in the gently warming sun. It had been a cold, wet winter, and, not for the first time but more acutely than before, he began to doubt his decision. Two years ago he had purchased an old outboard motorboat and piled its hull full of tools, books, survival gear, and his desires for a quiet life, and puttered out to this empty island. (Jonathan had arrived not two months after him, apparently in search of the same peace that had eluded Allen in his previous life.) The clerk at the county land management office had been more than willing to take his money and give him the deed to the tiny plot of undeveloped land, because as far as he could tell, no one had ever even asked about the island. Slowly, over the course of the next year, he’d turn his cargo into a squat stone home, a tidy garden, and a short fishing dock: everything he’d need to live here for the rest of his life. Or, at least, for as long as he could imagine. (And, despite his fears, not even an unexpected companion in his search for solitude could dampen his spirits.)

The sharp crack of an axe through wood jerks Allen from his late-morning reverie. Across the channel, Jonathan is splitting firewood. The task had a unique physical rhythm, one that turned the body into a piece of industrial machinery: set the piece, raise the axe, load from foot to crown, explode. Allen watches for a while as Jonathan establishes his own patterns. His foot pops ever so slightly with each stroke, as he finds the right timing. He pauses at the top of each stroke, turning the muscles of his back into a spiderweb of tension. Allen knew these rhythms well, from his own weekly woodchopping endeavors.

Jonathan stops to wipe the sweat from his brow, and looks across the channel as he does so. He smiled and touched his hand to his forehead and then to the sky, their silent greeting. Allen did the same.


The moon is full tonight, and the wind is down, which means he’ll be going fishing. On nights like these, he could gaze down into the clear dark water and look the fish in the eye. He carries his nets and his bait and his pole down to the shoreline. Jonathan had the same idea, and was already set up with his nets at the northern end of their parallel coastline, but they were far enough apart that Allen couldn’t presume his fish would be at the same end. A few minutes of searching later, though, and Allen too was set up mirroring his unspoken partner.

Jonathan sits on a log, strumming a guitar, paying little attention to his nets. The unsuspecting fish would catch themselves tonight, in these untraveled waters. Most nights, there would be at least a breeze or the gentle tumbling of whitecaps to wash out any cross-channel chatter, but tonight is silent and beautiful. On this most rare of nights, Allen can hear the chords of Jonathan’s song drifting over the water, a gentle melody that erases the doubts he’d been harboring through the winter.

The silvery moon lends its shine to all its light touches: the currents of the ocean, the needles of the coastal redwoods, the faces of two men wrapped in contentment.


It’s the goats that wake him.

Heathcliff panics, often, so one ringing bell is not an unusual nightly occurrence. Tonight, though, two bells ring in chaotic concert, which tells his subconscious: something is seriously wrong. Allen’s hand shoots out to the pillow next to him—but finds only empty air. A reflex from a past life. His subconscious continues its secret work and gets him on his feet and moving.

Allen’s feet carry him out of his stone cottage and up the short rise outside his front door, from which he can see most of what there is to see. His awareness is still working to catch up to his feet, so he stands there dumbly for seconds that feel like minutes to see what has spooked the goats: fire.

On the end of Jonathan’s island that faces the coast, a boat has beached and erupted in flames. Allen tries to cry out, but his voice isn’t yet with his feet and his brain. Again, unbidden, his feet start to carry him toward the shore, and soon he is diving in to still frigid ocean water.

His mind has put his body in action before his brain can fully process what is happening, but the pieces come to him one by one with each step he takes. He doesn’t cry out: the wind is up, and nobody will hear him. He has to cross: the flaming boat has beached near Jonathan’s new woodpile and the edge of the forest that runs to his cottage. And: the boat is neither his nor Jonathan’s.

The water is cold but the swim is short. Adrenaline courses through his veins as he courses through the current, and soon he is sprinting up foreign soil. It doesn’t take him long to reach Jonathan’s door, and he bangs violently on the
redwood door. He doesn’t think to use his voice, because he hasn’t in so long.

Without waiting for a response, Allen sprints back to the shoreline. The boat must have a pilot, he thinks, and is correct: as he sprints down the slope, he sees a figure slumped across the boat’s wheel. The flames lick up the rear of the boat and across the wooden decking of the boat’s rear. Without pause, Allen leaps onto the front and drags the unconscious figure forward toward the front edge of the boat and the shore.

Wordlessly, two hands reach up from the beach below, and Allen locks eyes with Jonathan. For a moment, he just stares at the man whom he’d only ever waved at across the narrow sea, now here mere feet from him, flames dancing in his eyes. Then the lightning of adrenaline returns him to real time, and he passes the comatose captain down to Jonathan, standing on the shore with arms raised. Jonathan carries the man up the shore and lays him down on the gently sloping grass.

Allen hops down, and starts slinging the cord of firewood up the hill. Jonathan joins him. But soon, the work is done, and Allen’s panic passes: a fire is bad for a boat, but of no concern to water and sand.

A hand finds his shoulder, and squeezes. Allen turns, and nods, and smiles.

Jonathan smiles back.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

submissions are closed, judgment approaches like a fearful new years day hangover under the pitiless gaze of the unlidded eye of the sun

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

:siren:Week 542 Annus Novus Judgment:siren:

This was a small but relatively well-formed week, as befits our modest yet glimmering hopes for 2023.

The loser, with a story that was structurally sound and basically competent but fatally dull, was Admiralty Flag with Towards a Brighter Dawn.

A DM goes to Idle Amalgam for his mumblecore apocalypse yarn Ex Nihilo - this had potential, but brought in its earth shattering left turn into wtf a little late to really hang together.

Flerp may have an HM for it's not a joke and its beautifully restrained evocation of how much the sun loving sucks

and finally, a win for Albatrossy Rodent and the precisely controlled surreality of their sad-boy-at-school yarn Just for Me!

enjoy the blood throne, it's still warm (blood)!

crits to come, but here is the judgechat

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Week 543 crits

Toward a Brighter Dawn by Admiralty Flag

Terrible opening paragraph. Why should I keep reading this story? All I know about the protagonist is they like whiskey and they own a datacomm, whatever that is. Who is Chester? I’m already bored.

“Scotch” doesn’t need to be capitalised.

Alright, I’m one line into paragraph 2 and we need to talk about your descriptions. They’re all very generic. “Dark, rich wood,” a tinkling piano, a woman in a red… something. Instead of tossing around these bland adjectives, you should pick a particular, representative detail from the scene, and describe that.

Oh, and the song the pianist is playing is Come As You Are? That doesn’t exactly tinkle, does it.

Compounding your generic descriptions issue is a bunch of pointless details in the opening section. The protagonist’s grandad, the way the whiskey tastes, Nirvana… Now that I’ve read to the end it is apparent that these details serve no purpose other than to tell us that the protagonist is rich and the story is set in the future. But that information is imparted in a number of other ways, so these were literally wasted words. Worse, because you’ve got them right at the start, I assumed they were important, so was confused when we never heard about granddad again. And who the bloody heck is Chester?

Anyway, onto the rest… So bland rich man goes for a walk with generic wife, who is having second thoughts about going into cryo storage or whatever. Then he gets mugged, and the experience of seeing the “underclass” up close makes him realise he has a responsibility to help make the world he lives in a better place. Wow, how manly and noble. This would have been more interesting if he had related to the muggers, instead of being repulsed by them like an aristocratic caricature.

Overall, this story is boring and pointless. But! On the upside, you have some perfectly serviceable story bones here. You have a protagonist and his wife, a source of conflict in their relationship, a stressful event, and a change of heart. You just need to take all the details and make them your own, instead of using the off-the-shelf version. Give the protagonist some personality. Make his relationship with his wife interesting. Up the stakes - show us how afraid he is of losing her, for example. Give us some insight into how his brush with crime and poverty affects him emotionally. Then I think you could turn this into something neat.


Just For Me by Albatrossy_Rodent

Oh no, I am sad for your protagonist! Which is to say, this story is good. From the child-like way it’s written I initially thought it was going to be a joke story, but this turned out to be a very effective way of invoking the horror of not fitting in at school, from the perspective of someone who is at the age when they’re only just realising how bad things have the potential to get. The detail of the books falling up was a great metaphor for the irrational unfairness of it all. Nice work.


it’s not a joke by flerp

I like this. It’s a very sweet and effective tale about the super awkward lengths people will go to be nice to each other, despite their internal monologue trying to sabotage them. I like that nothing about the protagonist is sugar-coated - I don’t get the sense that this relationship is going to last, or that he’s going to ever mend his relationship with his dad - but it is sweet and hopeful nonetheless.


Ex Nihilo by Idle Amalgam

Cut the first two paragraphs. In fact, cut everything before the words, “That’s right. That experiment is happening today.”

Oh, wait. Actually, all the dialogue that comes after that is boring too. Looks like the story actually starts at the line, “Thick ominous clouds crackling with odd-colored lightning swirled overhead.”

And then nothing really happens. I mean, I guess I’m glad that Lana gave the finger to the apocalypse before she died? Mostly I’m glad I’ve finished reading this.

Brutal hellrule though, good job working with that.


This, Here, Now by Thranguy

I enjoyed this. The parallel universes idea is neat, and the pacing of the story works well to build up the tension to the moment where the protagonist must act.

It gets weaker at the end though. I think it would have helped if the story described the woman starting to walk away or something, to increase the tension that the protagonist was running out of time to decide what to say/do. I think that would have made the ending land with more punch.


Tourmalina by rohan

This is sweet, but there isn’t much that happens in the story to justify the turnaround in the relationship between the protag and her fairy. Why haven’t they had this conversation before? I also didn’t really buy that after being driven nuts by a constant glittery companion that the protag would suddenly change her mind just because the fairy offered to do some party tricks for her at uni.


The Courage of Nearly Flightless Birds by Flyerant

What’s up with the rhyming?

This story has a strong emotional core, but nothing really happens. Apart from losing a child being generically (extremely) sad, there’s nothing to make this a worthwhile reading experience.

I would have liked to see you build on the line, “...otherwise I need the world to be burning.” I thought we were going to see some of the protagonist’s anger here, at having to pretend she’s ok, see her wrestle with these emotions and other people’s expectations and the fact that she doesn’t know how to behave or what to do with herself. But instead in the next paragraph she’s just tired, which of course is part of grief as well, but just made the end of the story less interesting that it could have been.


A Quiet Life by BeefSurpreme

This is lovely. The prose is very evocative, and the time you spent describing the setting at the start worked well to set up the characters and their desire for solitude.

To make it a more interesting read, this story needed a bit more meat on the bones of the relationship between the protagonist and Jonathan. The fact that they are already content with each other’s presence - waving at each other and whatnot - means that the protagonist’s decision to go save Jonathan is automatic, which is less interesting than if he had had to wrestle with conflicting emotions.

Also who is the guy driving the boat, and why is no one worried that he might die?


Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Crits for week 508 lol

Bad Seafood - The Longing

My judgechat comments that I dredged up just now are as follows:

OK I read the first story. It's pleasant enough but there's not much to it. Like, the protagonist just kinda gets in the train, sits down and reminisces with our little ghosty pal, the end

Yeah OK I read it again and... same I guess. Nothing wrong with the prose but nothing happens.

flerp - Our YouTube Channel Still Isn’t Getting Much Views Though

Going to the judgechat again.

I liked ghost diner

Not sure why since I guess objectively there's not much more going on than in the first story, it just worked a lot better for me

OK here I go actually rereading it.

OK I think I see why this one worked better for me now. Having the extra character made it possible for the living ones to bounce off each other in a fun way, with regards to their response to the ghost. And it felt like there was more relationshippy stuff and more potential for 'more' to happen.

Ceighk - Carl and the Swamp Creature

OK here again are my judgechat comments.

Is it bad that so far the one thing that's bothered me is the pizza guy going 'yeah we didn't have a vegetarian so here's a non vegetarian'?
OK and now I'm finished. I kinda dig the weirdness I dunno
But it's also kinda a nothing

I think that also bothered me because, how do you just not have vegetables?
How do you not have 'a lack of meat'?

OK time to reread it. Ah, a play, with directions and all. I would say 'let's see how that goes' but I can already see it got the loss, so much for suspense.

Yeah I dunno I actually kinda dug this but at the same time nothing happens at all. I doubt I would've had it as my loser, but if you go with experimental weirdness you take your risks I guess.

Tyrannosaurus - a mall, a spirit, a friend

Apparently this one won the week, let's see what judgechat and a reread says.

Mall spirit is cute, I dig that one

OK that's all I said in judgechat, I'll have another read and see if anything in particular jumps out at me.

Yeah OK this was kinda cute and also the first story so far in which it felt like something happened, even if that thing is a ghost meets a girl and becomes friends and also the girl teaches the ghost not to be sad anymore, ok when I say it like that it's not a small thing about which I should say 'even if that thing is', anyway it was cute and good which is why it won I guess.

The man called M - The Ice Sword and the Waterfall of fire

This got a dm so not great but apparently my cojudges disliked it less than the swamp monster weirdness, let's see what judgechatchucker said.

Oh no. M. Tense changes.
OK well. M's story is, as usual, Not Good.

I think I actually like the play more than this one TBH, but I might be alone there

Initially I wondered if M was ESL, because there was a lot of repeated grammar issues
Of the kind that make it read badly

Non judgechat aside, is it rude that I idly speculate about the reason for a seeming lack of improvement on certain grammatical issues in the judgechat? Well, we're there to judge so cest la vie or however that one goes. Does that even apply? Probs not, but I don't speak French so maybe I should stop trying to use French phrases.

Anyway, time for a reread.

OK so: “Time to pay the taxes!” One of the guards replied. What is this guard replying to? This is the first bit of dialogue.

“Lord Raken wishes to have another wife, so he demands payment now.” I know this probs isn't the intent but it reads like he's gonna go out and purchase a wife or something. 'Guards, fetch me more taxes, I can almost afford the luxury model!' Or however they'd differentiate between different versions of purchasable wives, which while problematic is a semi amusing concept for a story. Anyway, proceeding.

“You don’t have another week! Time to take a bath!”

Arturia’s father was taken away, kicking and screaming. One week later, her mother received a letter with only these four words:

“He is now clean.”
OK so a lot of this seemed unnecessary. To we really need a one week wait and a letter for them to be told that the thing they said they were going to do when they took him away, got done?

Arturia has trained under the leadership of the neighboring country of Or’dah. Ah, there's the tense change foretold by prophecy. Does Or'dah have a neighbouring state called Lo're? Soz, just messing around here.

While her party traveled to Silverbrook, she stumbled upon a cave. Curious, she, along with a few other soldiers, went inside. Hmm minor nitpick here but I'd probs rewrite this slightly, feels a bit clunky and has some tense weirdness. I'd change it to While her party was travelling to Silverbrook, they stumbled upon a cave. Curious, they went inside. 'Was travelling' feels more correct, tensewise, and this way the second sentence is a little cleaner. Plus if she's travelling with a party, it makes sense that multiple people would stumble upon the cave together.

Not taking any risks, they left the cave for now. I'd go with something like 'for the time being', I think. 'For now' is maybe better conversationally, but the tense doesn't really lend itself to the phrasing.

How appropriate that she would kill Raken at a similar event that her father died? This is legitimately one of the few times that an exclamation mark would probs be the appropriate punctuation.

They dueled a certain distance before Raken was standing at a certain spot. Feels kinda clunky and you don't really need to be coy about it when the very next line tells us what she's gonna do. Tell us she chased him until he was under the bucket or whatever.

True to the rumors, the water was hot enough that it burned Raken’s flesh. Hmmm, dunno about 'rumours', seems like he's doing these executions kinds publicly? Anyway, so she kinda wins, and then there's a victory lap where she also goes back and gets the sword and throws them at some falls, which IDK, seems kinda anticlimactic after the final showdown. Anyway the other judges liked this more than the eventual loser, but I didn't, but at least this one had an actual story instead of just some guys moping around I guess.

hard counter - A Tricky Request

ok so judgechat comments

Hmm started the one about makers, tinkers, etc
So far feel like it could go either way
Almost feels like too much exposition but initially feels like the kind of story that might lend itself to that
OK I finished it, it's fine I guess, but a bit too grandiose without must substance

So here goes a reread

OK so three paragraphs of expositiony world building. Bold move in a short story competition, especially one with me as a judge since I hate that stuff.

Yeah ok so if you'd cut those three paragraphs I don't reckon much of value would've been lost tbh. There'd still be not a lot going on, just a series of riddles almost, but at least we wouldn't have three paragraphs of exposition not really doing much for you.

Thranguy - Telegraphs

my judgechat comments are as follows:

I don't really get what's happening in the drumming one. Doesn't really work for me.

Let's see if it works better for me on reread!

"I have raised an insubordination child... Oh dear, Thrangles, I believe you mean an insubordinate child. Tsk tsk tsk.

Hmmm. On reread I kinda like it, but also the ending feels a little unsatisfying. Partially because I have no idea what is implied to have happened.

rohan - The Turbulence Waiting Beneath

OK my judgechat comment was:

River one probs best so far
Reading further into judgechat that opinion persisted, so I guess I wanted it for winner. Let's see what a reread does.

Hmmm OK on reread I still like it a lot but I'm not sure if I'd necessarily pick it over the one that won. The prose was really good though. There were some ambiguous things that maybe I would've preferred not be ambiguous.

BabyRyoga - Leathal Enforcers
Hmmm can't remember if there was a reason for the spelling of lethal. Let's see if it ends up making sense, but first let's see my judgechat comments.

The police one seems not great so far
Yeah I'd DM that one too
(Leathal Enforcers)
Are we thinking probs only one DM? IMO Leathal Enforcers did a lot wrong (this is me apparently fighting for a dm)
I honestly preferred swamp thing over it
Just a lot of annoying errors and the story didn't seem to do anything or make sense
Dialogue attribution was very weird too

Apparently I did not care for it, although I was unable to convince my fellow judges to give it a dm. Let's see if it improves on reread!

Hmmm. Reads like someone told you you should be using as many adverbs as possible. IMO: you should not. 'Quizzingly'? What the heck is that?

eyes budging with a look of intense panic I think you probs meant bulging, also IDK if I believe a corpse is capable of looking panicked but I guess I'm not a corpse expert.

say the door was a jar From the context I think you mean 'saw', not 'say'. And it's 'ajar'.

remain a float for a few hours Similarly, it's 'afloat'.

he said, addressing the forensics officer whom replied with an affirmative "Captain," Hate how that section reads. I don't think 'whom' is correct here, either.

"Zankyou, I want you to get a written statement from that neighbor," He ordered I don't see any reason for the 'h' in He to be capitalised here.

then couched and dug it out. Crouched. Yeah I'm starting to realise why this one bothered me, it's part 'reads awkwardly', and part 'riddled with simple errors'.

The autopsy always seemed in indicate the deceased has drowned, Always seemed to indicate the deceased had drowned.

OK and then the ending came and tied together nothing as far as I can tell, I have no idea what's supposed to have happened. They mentioned a previous suspect that I don't remember and don't care enough to scroll back up and check.

sebmojo - Two Part Invention

I'm flying blind from here on in because I don't have any judgechat comments for these remaining stories but apparently I didn't feel strongly enough about them either way to advocate for positive or negative mention. Let's reread and see what happens!

OK I read it and I guess Penelop likes harmony and the guy likes discord and both of them feel actual physical pain when the opposite is played on the piano, which only happens like once a year, and that's the whole story. It's mostly competently enough written but idk there's just not that much to it.

The Cut of Your Jib - Collapsing Metaphors, Missing Deadlines, Clock Confusion, Panic Buying Ironic NFTs, (Regret)

This was submitted after submissions were closed, which is disgraceful he said while writing 8 month late crits. I might not have read it the first time but will now.
OK I read it and it was competently enough written but it felt like kind of a nothing with too many 'it was only a dream' bits and then after the dream ends the protagonist dies and I feel like a rube for spending my time reading this thing.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

towards a brighter dawn admiralty flag L 5
tolerable cyberpunk figurings around a baseline idea that doesn't stretch as far as it should. brick falls on head story, even though the main character does change his mind it feels clunky and unearned. also what sort of cyberpunk dystopia has brighteyed adam 12 style 1950s cops, tsk.

just for me albatrossy rodent w 8
I like your first para - this kind of deliberate repetition is what you call a nice trick to have in the bag,though best not overused. you carry on with considerable stylistic pizazz and deliver a fairly pristine little nugget of oddness, shuffling the contents of its box of concepts then bowing out at exactly the right moment.

it's not a joke flerp hm 6.5
very good as far as it goes, i kind of want more but what is there is small and perfect.

ex nihilo idle amalgam dm 4
nothing wrong with these individual bits (girl loses job/wants money, world obliterated by out of control physics experiment) but they don't really cohere despite a vague effort to make them do so. i think introducing the experiment earlier would have been a good idea, it's kind of a hard left 1/3 of the way in lol

this, here, now thranguy 8
a robust well worn conceit, delivered with considerable panache and left hanging on a satisfactory note

tourmalina rohan 6
elaborate setup for a rather bland conclusion - i wanted the fairy to be more interesting tho 'lol nerd' is quite funny

the courage of nearly flightless birds flyerant dm 6
nicely turned piece of work, but i want some kind of action that leads to the change, not just a dream. good words, though

a quiet life beefsupreme 6
a lot of well deployed detail but not really in service of very much, there's an implicit emotional payload with the missing partner but it doesn't really land because it's only gestured at

Jun 4, 2021

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Crits for a few people!

Towards a Brighter Dawn by Admiralty Flag

Overall this didn’t intrigue me as much as your first piece. I wasn’t invested in either character, nor did I understand their stakes.
However this piece does something majorly different from your first piece: It tries to say something. It tries to instil hope in the reader.

For me, the “Story” starts where Annabette’s says “I don’t want to go.” As soon as Annabette says those words, everything you have previously wrote is going to support any future drama, stakes or interest.

I think my opinion would be different had the start been better. The start starts off with this weird cyber-noir feel, with a character ruminating on their choices, and unfortunately for you, my dumbass immediately made jumps in logic that did not pan out. As well we have no sympathy for either character, so we don’t even know who to root for. Finally, we have no idea what this world is like, so we don’t even know who’s side is the “right” one. What we are left with is watching a scene unfold, as the reader is sinking in quick sand, having no solid foundation to stand on.

The question you put forth—do we as individuals have a obligation to contribute to modern-day society—is an interesting one worth of exploring. I like how the story ends on an upbeat note, the answer is yes. I don’t like how this very complicated question is resolved by an easily stopped mugging.

Regardless, this is a neat and different take when I compare it to your first story. This one is tackling a very complicated question, and even tried to aim for an uplifting ending! With revision and tweaking, I know this story will be one I will enjoy!

For closing comments: I think if I was invested in either a character, or the outcome of the question, I’d enjoy this piece more. Or if I was invested in the world (Which really means if I’m invested in the outcome of the question), this could work.

Tourmalina by Rohan

Hah, I love the expectations of Tourmalina, versus the reveal that she is a party rocker. It’s very funny, and Its setup well.
I have a few issues with the piece though. First off, I think you could cut off a good third, maybe 2/3rds of this story. The start is all setup and backstory, splayed against a conflict that isn’t resolved and doesn’t seem to matter (How is our protagonist going to meet boys now? It’s never resolved and doesn’t come up)

I also found that the world building didn’t hold up against close inspection. We are lead to believe by the protagonist’s mother that Tourmalina won’t be coming to university, but that seems to be defied in your last scene. If the story is about your protagonist and Tourmalina deciding to stay together, then the rules you laid down in the world directly contrast that (The accords HAVE to be followed, so it sounds like Tourmalina HAS to stop following Protag)

The good news is though, I wanted to see more of Tourmalina. When the protag was explaining things, and even when Tourmalina was explaining things, I wanted to read those scenes! See Tourmalina in action, and see your protagonist out in the world doing things!

It's not a joke by Flerp

This is a super cute story and I feel endeared to our protagonist. I want him to succeed at life, or to realise something and have a character arc.

And that’s probably gonna be the biggest criticism I have about this story. I don’t get to cheer on our protagonist because they don’t change. It’s a good piece that focuses on a single character and explains their situation and gives them a happy ending. I don’t come away from learning anything, or feeling like your character accomplished something.

Maybe it's too vague for me to understand. You can see above where I totally mess up what “Allows for” means :P. Maybe the fact that he found someone is the character arc.

I really like when it’s Christian and the character, and we get her internals. I was entertained and there is a bit of tension in the conversation. I didn’t understand how he lied to Christian thought because he seemed to tell the truth about the sun.

Regardless, this made me feel fuzzy inside. Kind of a giggle-squee feeling. Well done!

Flyerant fucked around with this message at 17:00 on Jan 3, 2023


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren: The new thread is live! :siren:

This thread will remain open until the 15th if you feel you want to remove any stories for publication.

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