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a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Brawltimore with Chernobyl Princess and Chili

Living with the Dead
Word count: 1401

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 15:23 on Jul 31, 2022


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crits for week 495 Ė Relationships in distress

Staggy Ė Thick as Thieves

A smart juxtaposition of action versus dialogue. Canít say that thereís much behind this though. Thereís little tension in the action as they have complete control over the situation. And even their argument doesnít seem that tense. Both the heist and the conversation seem to be foregone conclusions. Itís all very well written. The dialogue reads well though theyíre not particularly well distinguished and for a story that is mostly dialogue with a little action here and there and almost no introspection, I would have liked to see more distinguishing voices.

Some of the physical bits were a little difficult to imagine the way they were described. I like the bits with the yoga as Anna limbers up for the difficult bit. Reads very smooth.

Ceighk Ė 600 Demons

The beginning drags. The first line is meant to grasp attention and hold it through a few sentences of backstory, but the backstory lasts for a few paragraphs with lots of telling and little emotion. I realize that this is just a flash piece of writing, but the world isnít very well thought out here. I just have so many questions about how things are being run.

The characters are pretty flat. Their dialogue is standard and uninteresting. Their fight could be further explored in an interesting way because there is a lot to be said about how in a relationship everyone has a mythical version of the other person that lives in peopleís heads. When theyíre away from that person, that mythical version makes up a bigger portion than when theyíre together. And so this story could be the clashing of the mythical person with the actual person for both of these characters especially when one of them has literally become a type of mythic hero, crashing in all badass like.

Instead too many words are used to setup the world that isnít actually that important to the story. And actually makes the MC sound kind of like a jerk who didnít really love Kathy. Demons invade, army walls off the part of the city they live in, doesnít let people in/out. Thatís basically all we need to know and devote the rest to the relationship conflict.

ChickenofTomorrow Ė Inspirational Action

Is the relationship here between a creative and their muse? Yeah, Iím on board to see where this goes especially if itís somewhere meta.

"The sunlight flowed down the mountain slopes like a raw egg cracked over a bowl of rice."
Jesus Christ.

Lol, writing is hard.

Oh poo poo, the muses are just freaking real and itís not like ďmy girlfriend is my muse.Ē Theyíre actually classical. Yes, I like it. OMG, and thereís a union?! This keeps getting better.

And then the end kinda fizzles out. Obviously the MC doesnít have any inspiration for florid apologies. But I dunno, I was hoping he would actually say that in a kind of ďIím nothing without youĒ sort of way but in a similar way to the bit I quoted above. Just absolute trash apology and she takes him back out of pity. For the most part this was a fun ride for 500 words. I think if there had been time, the ending could have used some more thought.

Nae Ė Comfort Food

Nice volleyball-related violence.

HmmÖ technically well-written. I like the personal touch of Nonnyís recipe. I appreciate the friendship-centered story. I just wish it all came together a little better. All of the pieces seem separate. I want them to interrelate a little more. Tony is defined by his problem in this story, even though the recipe is technically his familyís. And even Clara is more straightforward than I want her to be. After decades long friendship I expect a little more back and forth or inside knowledge of each other.

I can see it kind of but only on the edges like at the beginning and end. Itís not really much a part of their actual interactions together. Iím not sure I really see the particular significance in the dilemma Tony is facing at work. For as much as I can see it relating to the story, he could just as easily be not making his quarterly sales figures or canít figure out how to use the new software and itís causing disruptions amongst his colleagues. Yeah, it just feels separate from anything else going on. I guess I expected grief might be a part of it.

I might be missing something and invite more info in case there was something more that ties all of it together. Disjointed I guess is what Iíd say.

The Man Called M Ė Of Babes and Brahs

A lot of tense shifts in the opening lines. Two paragraphs, two POVs, interested to see how this proceeds. Very brisk and in my face so far.

What the hell, indeed. Thereís a lot of stereotype coming out here. And so far itís not doing much with it.

Okay, Iím going to take a step back from this story and talk about process for a little bit. Because while there are a lot of issues with this story on a specific execution level, it also lacks awareness of how to tell a story. There are a lot of ways to tell a story with different points of view, different tenses, different levels of intimacy or omniscience of the narrator, but this story seems to have them all. When first starting out it is generally a good idea to stick with one choice in these areas and use that throughout the piece.

Of the other stories Iíve read of yours, Iíve noticed a tendency to write from a very high level narrator who knows what everyone is thinking and feeling and doing and all of that information is given to the reader. While thatís really nice to have as the author, it doesnít allow the reader to really feel close to the characters. If, for instance, in this story we only heard how Maddie felt about having to plan the party with Jake and how she slowly came around to finding what Jake and the fraternity wanted to do as fun, we, as the readers, could share her opinion change.

But these things happen slowly with greater detail. As it is, this story comes across more like the 15-minute version of a 2-hour long movie. Just the major scenes. And while those scenes may be a lot of fun, without all of the connecting pieces, the viewer doesnít have any investment. Itís like reading the notes of a book before class so you can fake that you read it.

For future work, Iíd advise focusing on one character. What does that character want, what obstacles are in their way to getting it, what actions do they take to overcome those obstacles, what are the results? And explore every piece of this in as much detail as you can within the word count.

Yoruichi Ė Jelly

Like Staggyís entry this week, a well-written story with a juxtaposition of the set-up next to the dialogue/conflict is trying to make things interesting, but in the end feels like itís being different for differentís sake. And ends up feeling generic despite the tentacle monsters and solar surfing.

I think that a lot of the general feelings I have for this could have been helped by getting a little more info about how Kelly actually feels about anything. We get the sense from the story that Kelly cares about surfing and Jesse and Gemma because all are shown well enough throughout, but never just how much. Throughout I could tell whether she was using Jesse to get better at surfing or using surfing to get closer to Jesse. Or if they were equally important to her.

The characterizations also rely a lot of stereotypical personality tropes: The supportive and eco-conscious best friend, the super popular and oblivious jock, the hard-working and love-sick protagonist. Thereís a lot of imagination and detail put into the setting, wish it had carried to the characters and conflict.

t a s t e Ė Cut Outs

I want to like this. And in places, I really love it. But in other places I am so confused as to detract from the really good parts. The two early scenes in the barbershop are just beautiful. I get such a perfect picture of whatís happening in just the barest of details and I loved it. I wanted more.

But then, I still have no idea whatís going on with the other portions of the story. Even when they come together at the end and we further the barbershop portion itís still good, but not quite as good because itís now trailing whatever happened with the carnations and the unnamed person (I think Andrewís mom, though I donít know why he wouldnít want her to come to dinner) and the 20?

What was the 20? Were all the relationships in distress? Why was it presented like this? I mean, I actually think the section breaks work for creating that built in time lapse, but the ďpresent dayĒ portion takes a few read-throughs to make as much sense as the barbershop portions. And not in a good way. Like, I want to get to the last section and have those former bits come together. And they donít quite do that.

It seems Andrew has a better relationship with his barber than his own mother. And thatís weird. If this had been more about bringing all of these people together to make a larger family, that might have been a more coherent way to go with it. Just a thought.

Chairchucker Ė Shark vs Platypus

Hello fellow sportsball fan. I cannot believe you do not like the same team as I do. This is an outrage.

This story is all wooden dialogue and predictable/boring action. Thereís no conflict (not even enough in the sport which is wacky you see!) and there really, really could have been. This could have been on the surface a repairing of father-daughter relationship but actually, the subtext is a rocky husband-wife relationship manifested through their competing choices in entertainment. But they can coexist happily through agreements/arrangements.

Instead we get more of a father daughter bonding that happens off screen, why it needs to happen left unsaid, why wizard loops are engaging at all/engaging in opposition to sports. Like, there were places to explore that might have had a less surface level amount of interest.

I appreciate your tendency to go for straightforward, simple, easy to follow and often amusing stories. But I donít know this oneís lacking any sort of spark behind it.

Noah Ė The Gnawed

This story had my attention the whole way through. Vulac is an engrossing character. The dilapidated temple, the disembodied voice filled sermons, the fact that he has congregants who too have experience suffering and are picking up what heís putting down. This is a setup that has places to go. It could have a lot of places to go. I can see this being a much longer piece to explore the disparate parts of the suffering of the haves and the suffering of the have nots.

I like the twisted messaging at the end that gives Vulac his volition, but it definitely feels too simple, too perfect. Only 1500 words, so it would be hard to give it more space.

This piece isnít perfect. It needs a little bit closer attention paid to Tailor and his role in bringing outside conflict to Vulac. It was a bit too direct. And a little more playing with the details to get them just right of Vulacís existence to make it even more unsettling. But overall, I like the character sketch, the world sketch, the idea behind it. And this actually does a fairly decent job of exploring a very one-sided relationship that is immediately intense and definitely in distress. And it even finds a way to bring ease to that tension.

steeltoedsneakers Ė Sin bin

I really hope this is about hockey. Alas, it seems not, but good starter descriptors.

This had potential. There is definitely tension and relationship intricacies to be explored in the evolution of male friendships as they age and go through all of the changes that are even mentioned in this story. Itís competently written and follows a comprehensible trajectory, itís just too plain. Kelvin is too aware and straightforward. Though that might very well be in character, but I kinda want that to be said in text too. Because thereís something that happens when you become a parent and you start talking to adults like you do kids. Really straight forward and explaining this is how the world works.

Instead everything is just too perfectly scripted and predictable and telegraphed ahead of it happening. Predictable.

Thranguy Ė Half

Powerful. This whole story is told and while I think there might be an even more powerful tale to tell in the minutiae of showing this story, 1500 words wouldnít be enough. I think it merits exploring. But that would probably also involve explaining what happened more which Iím not sure would improve it. Hmm, but thatís not for me to decide.

I really like the examples included for illustrating what this sudden separation means for everyone. They really help show the pain and problems while most of the story is told in summary. If I let myself, I can come up with many more questions I have about this world, but I donít find those questions distracting from the core of what this story was saying.

The addition of the filter, apart from setting up an expectation that then gets smashed before the paragraph is even over, also shows how people will find ways to be blind to the pain rather than face their problematic relationships. Ooh, this concept just gets better the more I think about it.

I wouldnít necessarily call this a complete story, but itís drat good at satisfying the prompt and me as a reader.

flerp Ė the right things

A story with more than the main relationship. Relationships that might look the same father-son, can be painfully different. Relations that have the same people can be painfully different in times of stress. How not knowing what to do is sometimes more painful than doing the wrong thing.

This is a story about a moment. The moment when a relationship could go in one direction or another. A moment when weíre at our lowest but not for reasons you might think as the story begins. A lot to pack in the word count and successful at capturing that moment.

But Iím not sure what kind of emotions this is meant to evoke. I donít feel like I spend enough time with the characters to really be affected by the grief for the father. And Iím not quite pulled into the dilemma of the narrator. I commiserate with the narrator. I just donít feel the emotion of the problem as deeply. Good story, I connected with the protagonist, but mostly on a surface level.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 19:43 on Jan 31, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Sitting Here posted:

WEEK 500DRED Prologue
500 words

A Touch of Death
Word Count: 338

(Wo)man and Wo(man) frolicked among the iridescent irises until collapsing in blissful beatitude in the orchard of fruit trees. The fruits dangled above them in their petrichor perfection, spaced in pleasing patterns to the humans' eyes. It was in this state that a rustling in the foliage disturbed their daydreams. Down the trunk of the apple tree spiraled Snake, its tongue twisting somnolent syllables meant to relax and reassure.

And they did, just as they had always done and as far as all present knew, would always do. But that day the snake grew fangs. As its scales descended to the ground, it spotted Mouse with whom it was known to rollick. But today, as Mouse jumped up, Snake swallowed it down.

(Wo)man and Wo(man) sat up, stared with mouths agape and shifted until they reached the trunk of a tree. Into their laps fell two apples which had never fallen before. They were of a piece with the tree, like the petals of the flowers and the clouds of the sky. When they looked up, the clouds had moved from their stationary positions.

They ran to chase the clouds. As their legs swished through the grasses the insects bounded up to chomp their flesh. The grasses themselves did not spring back straight, remaining trampled and down trodden. But the Humans were in too much of a hurry to notice these diminutive degradations of the garden. The clouds continued to escape.

Just as they should have been reaching the bounds of their biosphere, they found that here too, the uncoupling had commenced. The woven fabric of vines and creepers loosened and allowed them to push through to a beyond they had not known was yonder. The clouds kept on.

As they stood staring out into the landscape of new lushness, they brought the apples to their mouths and consumed the flavorful flesh, revealing the cyanidic seeds and secrets within.

They stepped outside their origin and, like the cloud, forged into the frontier with a faith and a fear.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crits for week 504 GEMS!

Bad Seafood Ė Eyes in the Dark

As far as the character, setting and plot go, this is very clear. I can easily picture everything that is happening and I like what is happening. I mean, I donít like what those rude travelers are doing to her.

And when I went back to get the name of the main character I realized that she isnít given one which gives this story another dimension. Sheís so insignificant in this society that sheís not even named in her own story. I want to more about that, by the way, the circumstances surrounding why she is loathed but yet necessary and what sheís going to do when she gets to the city.

And thatís a reason I didnít like this more was that although all of the elements were there, exactly what the main character wanted, why, and why she has her motherís skull were things I needed to know more about. Just left feeling a little unsatisfied.

Tyrannosaurus Ė Great Guy

Thereís not much story here. There are two characters, well-developed and clearly vibing with each other, who need more room to find the story theyíre meant to tell. And this story is more about Rocky than it is about the narrator. But itís not really about anything because what are any of them really searching for? This falls more on the slice of life side of flash fiction in terms of what sort of action we get to see. We get to see Rocky being a great guy. And that makes me feel better about the world.

derp Ė note to self

Opaque. Not sure whatís happening. Drug trip? Drug diamond trip? This is clearly meant to be horrific but I donít have anywhere to stand, no baseline in which to feel horror for. Upon reread I follow a little more but the ending still doesnít help. But Iím a reader who wants to know the reasons behind things. So this unknown horror in the desk drawer is one thing. But the unknown character, the unknown experience, the unknown reason why they forget. Too many suppositions to make for one short story.

Antivehicular Ė Sunrise

I like this piece in the end. The beginning felt very crammed full of jargon and concept words and I glossed over it, getting the meaning without needing all of the specifics. But where it goes is much more interesting because I can see it as a parallel for so many parts of our existence as humans in the society weíve created.

We take something, perhaps a talent, that is interesting and sometimes unpredictable and we monetize it, making it labor rather than being able to enjoy the process and the beauty we can find there. Once we strip that away and allow it to return to something we donít need to understand or depend on for survival, itís allowed to return to us as a joy or at least not as a cause for anxiety.

The second person POV didnít bother me as soon as I got past the beginning. It was probably only noticeable to me because of how much I was wading through the vocabulary for meaning. I think with reading this out loud, that might smooth out any awkwardness.

flerp Ė Family Heirloom

As always a short, impactful piece. The connection of the two colored stone and the two identities works. Simple and meaningful. Missed the top spot for me because the prose was too sparse for me to really connect with either character very deeply. Thereís enough in the piece to understand both the mother and the son. No problems there. A reader can see how theyíre both struggling. I think I was just looking for more introspection from the main character to feel an even greater connection.

Tars Tarkas Ė The Octahedron

Chekhovís dog. This is trying to be fun and lighthearted, but itís also trying too many things for the word count and instead of people feeling as if they have characteristics and goals I care about, theyíre all just punchlines. This also suffers for having no single central goal. All of the goals that we see in scene are achieved with no in-scene difficulties.

Descriptions of action and set dressing are short and sweet. Just enough to get an idea of where they are and whatís going on which is perfect for a flash piece. But characters and direction are lacking.

The man called M - The ďGreatĒ Jewel Heist: A Jake Malone mystery

The voice of this piece isnít bad. It leans on tropes but the short sentences help to lay the mood quickly that this is from the perspective of a detective. This has the plot points and setup elements of a mystery. Itís also bloated with a lot of unnecessary details and too simple action.

Iím not one who needs every aspect of a writing piece to be original and interesting. So a museum collector who steals a gem because heís the great great great etc. grandson of the original finder is perfectly serviceable for me as a motivation. But thereís no development or involvement of any of the characters. This story shows us only surface level interaction between all of the characters in service of not even a gem heist (because the guy has already stolen the gem) or a mystery, because thereís no time to wonder who did it. Nikos could have already gotten away with the crime.

Also, Jane commits murder. And while I think itís intriguing that she does it to dip the gem in fresh blood, thatís where I wanted to see this go places. The initial description of Jane as this special figure and then her shooting a dude. That is interesting. Instead everything returns to status quo but Jane doesnít go to jail.

JetSetGo Ė Cut Jehms

Well, it didnít go where I was thinking. This story did a good job of building up the suspense for what was going to happen when this Ohio rube met his ďprincessĒ and all of it was filmed and it was going to be such a letdown. And I was expecting all of this lead up was going to end in a one-liner punchline that didnít deliver on all of that suspense. Iím not sure what could have delivered actually, but it definitely wasnít the complete disappearance of Big Jim. But not in a cool way either. More in like a ďthis unnamed protagonist just spent hundreds of thousands of studio dollars to film a subject and then let him walk into a house unfilmedĒ way. Which is just baffling. And then nothing happens after that. He gets a postcard. Did he not follow Jim into the house? Knock on the door? Ask around?

Goes a little overboard in the name dropping of specific things like menu items at Applebees. Paints a good picture of Jim but an eyebrow raising one of the narrator who is the actual subject of this piece since heís the guy who seems pretty hapless and that juxtaposition could have been played up. You see a guy you think is a rube but it is you yourself who is the rube. But in the end, the narrator didnít even understand that he got got. Probably because thatís not what the story was about, but itís something to think about.

Thranguy Ė All the Jewels in the Crown

Youíre just writing chapter scenes to books that I never get to read. Stop teasing. Whereís the novel?! Anyway, this is well done, a few awkward sentences here and there that I had to read a couple times to follow completely, but otherwise, good character building for Tiva and the Bishop. Good scene setting for what we needed in a flash piece.

And while Iím very intrigued by all of it, itís really just the first half of the first chapter of a much longer piece. I want to follow Tivaís adventures and learn more about the Bishop and his motivations and what further protections this king has and the obstacles Tiva will face. Awesome stuff, doesnít satisfy, only entices.

AllNewJonasSalk Ė Letís Call the Whole Thing Off

What is this? Itís not a story. Iím sure there is a story underneath all of the torture but itís not even hinted at here. The narration of this appears to be omniscient so we could have gotten the whole story without even needing one perspective. There are no characters, there is only pain. For Felix and the reader.

Rohan Ė Going Home

A lovely piece that has strong characters, setting, dialogue, use of gems in the story but doesnít have enough space (lol) to really explore the character growth that it wants. As is, the accusations and setting straight come a little too soon. Also want more about Lissandraís life and why sheís coming to visit and why sheís staying and and andÖ youíre going to have to expand this one.

chairchucker Ė Miss Fairy Tale

This was a bit of fun at the end of reading but utterly fluff. I love the idea of a Miss Fairy Tale. I kinda want to see this done with known media characters just to see someone really play it up. The gems were a side note, actually, so was the main character. Since I feel like she could have raised an undead army regardless of if she won this contest or not. But then again, couldnít Miss Sugarplum Wonderland also get a mind control army without winning the contest. I would absolutely eat cookies without thinking about it and get turned into a zombie slave. Unless she specifically needs these people and they werenít going to eat her cookies until afterward.

I donít know, this doesnít need to make more sense than it does because itís a fun story. Also, youíve totally stolen a plot element of a book Iím writing and now you must pay me royalties. :colbert:

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 23:52 on Apr 4, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Always Bring a Cardigan
793 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 17:27 on Jul 25, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Chernobyl Princess posted:


I am hopped up on lack of sleep and postpartum hormones and I challenge you to a SLEEPLESS MOM BRAWL.

Fite me with words!

A friendly penguin will judge us, as a mom who may get slightly more sleep than we do.

Beezus posted:

My own postpartum delirium compels me to accept your challenge, CP. You may be a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination, but I will fight you regardless.

Prepare for whatever the hell is about to happen here.


Beezus and Chernobyl Princess, you have donated enough blood to the world by birthing children so let's make this brawl more like suffering the sharpest infant nails, ready to claw your own skin just as soon as your opponent's. And while the wounds aren't life threatening, they appear as red and angry as...well a newborn who's been expelled from the womb.

Since neither of you have gotten enough sleep lately, that means you owe your bodies a lot of dreams. And we all know the best story ideas come from dreams (THE BEST). So let's work the opposite magic. You must write the best story to bless yourself with future dreams. Each of you must write a story that transforms an aspect of your daily life into something related but unrecognizable. Your character then spends the story trying to deal with that or process it in whatever way makes a good story.

For example, maybe your pet has started misbehaving since the little one came home just wrecking your house. Then your story could have a kaiju monster wrecking the city of Louisville and only your character can save the day. To be clear, I do want a coherent story, not dream logic. You can't just unzip the kaiju costume to reveal a harmless slug. You'll have to actually come to understand the monster. Your character does not have to be a self insert. Can be but not necessary.

You're both under enough strain right now, so take 2000 words for your stories and you get until 3am Pacific on June 12 to work on them. Extensions also available if needed. Apologies for any typos. There's a sleeping toddler on my lap and my arms are pinned.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Sleepless Mom Brawl Results

My own child woke me at 5am asking me for a snack. The sleeplessness continues. Apologies to have stolen sleeping time from both of you for writing words, but this was y'all's exhaustion born idea.

Great job! You both got these stories in by deadline and they've both got some trippy dreaminess to them that was much appreciated. Both of them incorporated metaphors that I could easily grab onto and had me nodding my head going yes, I see what's happening here and I get it. Both of them also needed some editing, but lol, who's got time for editing with a baby in the house?

This was a hard one because Chernobyl Princess's metaphor and imagery were tighter and more evocative whereas I really enjoyed the physical journey that Beezus took me on albeit with winding prose but it never pulled back from that journey either.

The winner is Chernobyl Princess by a millimeter.


Chernobyl Princess - Thorns and Stillness

I very much dig (PUN!) the metaphor here. The gardens and the plants and the lashing and the being tied down. And how sometimes you can reach things and accomplish tasks, but sometimes you just can't. And you did it in under 1000 words which is also impressive. It did not take me long to understand that it was a metaphor for having a child but it also didn't beat me over the head with it, until the end of course, when you revealed that the plants were a child and I kinda didn't like that. I would have preferred for this to stick with the plants theme to the very end, as the protagonist learns all the tricks of tending a garden to avoid the constant care but just when she understands how to tend the roses, oh no a begonia pops up and changes the whole routine! Or the friend hands the garden back and is like, yeah, still don't want one, but call me more. It's better to have a community garden. Etc. And that way, bit by bit the protagonist becomes more comfortable and confident.

There were some great word choices in this and I was sucked in immediately by the almost otherworldliness of it. So maybe lack of sleep can do some interesting things to vocabulary. But probably not. Probably getting sleep would help more.

Beezus - Long Night

If this story had had the time for an edit, it could be a beautiful piece. It takes two or three sentences to make a point when it had already made it in the first. There are several typos and double phrases. And I know there probably wasn't time for it and while it doesn't hurt the story concept itself, it did affect my reading which was slow. The central concept is intriguing and I would love to have more bits of it literally fall into Sarah's house when she wakes up. That should have been the opening image. Though I did enjoy "Dawn's arrival was an act of violence." That's pretty strong too, just eventually it became not as important to the main conflict which was the distance that has grown between Sarah and her husband because of her strange sleep dreams. And when I finally got to that point (Heíd poured her coffee already; it sat in front of her, steaming and oh-so-inviting looking. Much unlike her husband Thomas, who didnít look up from his paper when she sat down. - Such a good sentence.) I knew that this was where the story was going, but until then, I wasn't sure where it was going and it was a bit long.

I like that the beginning of the answer to their journey is so simple. Because that's often true of any relationship in life. It's just a matter of both parties allowing themselves to take that small step. Thank you for keeping within the conceit of the metaphor the whole way through. It made the piece stronger and allowed Thomas to finally understand a little bit of what Sarah was going through. Maybe there was a way to make his experience slightly different since he wasn't the one dreaming and therefore it might not be as disorienting for him as it is for Sarah, but that coming together and moment of understanding is the perfect ending.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


East coast, beast coast. Brawl me and my superior monsters. Small word count, short deadline.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Bad Seafood posted:

A Friendly Penguins vs. Nae

The supervillain dating scene sure is rough.

Deadline: Wednesday, 11:59 PM GMT+9 (so as of this post you have 48-and-a-half hours)
Wordcount: 500 words
Nae v. Penguin brawl

Old Relationships
494 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 01:12 on Jul 28, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

A Simple Magic
1289 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:02 on Dec 20, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

In, Omega, fill in the blanks, #spinthewheel

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega Prompt #1 Ė Agonizing

Two Spies Walk into a Bakery
877 words
Flash: A [spies] agonizes over [love]
Wheel spin: -100 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:13 on Dec 20, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega prompt #2 - autobiography

The Color of Laughter
1041 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:13 on Dec 20, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega prompt #3 Ė Wonder

248 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:10 on Dec 20, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

In for prompt #4. Wizard please and #spinthewheel!!!!!

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Omega prompt #4 Ė Wizards

Words of Power
1140 words
Wizard: You're the wizard of rhetoric, arguments, and deft turns of phrase. Your magic lets you see and manipulate the ebb and flow of any conversation, though people tend to react poorly when you use your power too drastically or obviously.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:05 on Dec 20, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

A few 10th Birthday Crits :toot:

The Cut of Your Jib Ė Apocrypha: The Book of Revelations First Draft

This is amusing and I appreciate how you worked both your agony rule and that hell rule. I chuckled a couple of times with the juxtaposition of language gravitas. But after that reveal, the story needs to make use of it, instead itís a one note joke. And the story isnít entirely consistent with the language choices for characters either.

There could have been a bit more to this story too, because even though the revelation is a bit lost in time, it still kinda works as an analogy to human-caused climate change/environmental damage that would still be relevant to Chris 2000 AD. And with just a few extra details/responses from Chris, that could have landed easily enough. But instead he just wants a sweet truck. I guess another reading is that like many in biblical times, he does not heed the warning.

Without this extra meaning, the reveal at the end is expected, if not the modern day context, then at least mistaken identity. Another option would have been for this to actually have been John and for him to try to puzzle it out and hear whatever his interpretation is.

The words are all readable and the archaic language doesnít feel odd or stilted. There are places where it could have been cut back since there are whole sentences I had to go back and read a couple times because I couldnít figure out what they added. A story that could have used some more marinating time. But this is TD and there is no time!

Chernobyl Princess - Just Like Tesco! (what the gently caress is wrong with me)

A cute little slice of life, at least as cute as anything can be with someone confronting their past racism. It all works out neatly for them. They make progress, really make it sound like theyíre trying. And none of it feels like itís cheating or short-cutted. The guyís in therapy and heís learning to like new food. And heís confronting little bits of his preconceptions as he goes through the store. And maybe heíll come to even more realizations with the cardamom in his bedroom. And I almost wish weíd gotten to see that part too. I think if we had, this would have felt like a complete story rather than the slice of life.

Especially since thereís a hinted at, but not yet explored bit of coming to terms about his outmoded way of thinking of his purpose as the bread winner that could be explored more if we got to see more of the home life or the lives of his kids and their partners. No complaints, just wanted to tell you that this has more possibility.

Kuiperdolin Ė The least dangerous most dangerous game

Welcome to the dome! You picked a heluva week to start. And a typo in the first sentence, youíre officially part of the blood cult now. And what is Kevin raising above the stump? His head, the sweat? The antecedent to ďitĒ is unclear. Also the stump of what? That doesnít become clear within the paragraph either. Good getting to the point though. Database administrator being hunted by the Russians. Cool. For what? It says for sportÖ but why him? Hmm, maybe weíll find out.

And then the world gets very foggy. Because as a reader I am thrown into Kevinís thoughts about whatís around him. But is the forest around him? Is the trap around him? By the end it sounds as if the trap is around him because heís in the middle as bait. But he doesnít seem to be trying to get out. And then heís stabbed and maybe the hunter is also trapped. Itís all a little muddled. This might be one of those instances where something makes sense in the writerís head but in keeping back certain details it loses that sense to the reader.

Thereís also not much story here. Sure, a database administrator is agonizing over what we infer to be a trap though never really conclude, but I donít even know what Kevin wants in this situation. So I donít know if any progress is made. Itís a short story, but itís not clear. And clarity is especially important in short pieces.

Simply Simon Ė Dinosaurís Fangs

Thoughts while reading: Sonicís gotta go fast. The hyphenates are long and distracting. ďHeís even worse at reading rooms than what he will end up beingÖĒ Awkward and Iím not sure what it actually means. Usually weíre worse at stuff when weíre younger? Thatís not brutal honestly. gently caress hip hop is brutal. Time dilutes? What an interesting way to phrase that. I think I usually see dilate, but you know, I think dilute works too. Whoís Youth?

Okay, despite the confusion early on, this story does a good job of building suspense. I can tell itís going somewhere and with every small section it ratchets things up a bit. Then Dino is introduced and Simon manages to avoid his friends until he canít and thenÖ it just ends! Simon! Did you die? Did they initiate you into the techno cult? Are you writing this from prison?

As itís written now weíve got a guy who doesnít want to make a bad impression in front of the wrong people but who also does not want to go to the techno concert. He has to go to the techno concert and is still being bullied by the hulking dudes. And without more, Iím left with no answers, no satisfying conclusion, and no interesting thoughts to chew on. Part 2 when???

Kaom Ė Lurking in the Depths

I like many pieces of this story. I like the juxtaposition of the shallow ocean vs the deep ocean. I like the wondering whatís in the deepest part of the ocean. I like the musing on plastic and comparing it to the use of every resource in times/places of hardship. I like the beginning that starts with a posthumous bucket list mention which brings up the idea of death and that it ends with a line about lifeís salvation. All of these have great possibility.

But the problem is that theyíre such small pieces in a small piece. Theyíre not well explored and they canít be in a story thatís limited to 250 words and that uses only 189. Iíd like to see this dig a little deeper into one or two of these thoughts and really paint an interesting picture of the wonders of the undersea. Even if theyíre mostly fantastical. The difference or enmeshing of life and death. Or how we think something is dead (the deep ocean) but it too has life and life in ways that we wouldnít imagine. Or we think are imagined and are actually real. Yeah, thereís some real possibility here.

Thranguy Ė Swords and Time

Soooo, where can I buy your novels? There are so many details implied here that donít get their due because this is a flash fiction competition. But itís interesting how well they do work considering the scope thatís been set up. But with the amount of worldbuilding thatís done, the characters and plot suffer.

Caboth is blank. We get glimpses of his past and the choices he has possibly made based on his sword, his longevity and where he has chosen to be at this moment. But how much of that was choice? And how much was it the sword acting through him? Yress is also missing some important pieces since I donít know why sheís battling this dragon to the ends of a world.

Iím also confused as to what the dragonís deal is. Did they resurrect it? Did they do that so it would lay waste to the world? Did they want that?

I like that this ends with the idea that there is time despite all of these indications of endings is a good place. It helps the piece feel as if it has at least a thematic ending if not a character one.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

MOAR Birthday Crits :toot:

Yoruichi Ė Giant Varantula

What even is this story? I chuckled several times but mostly because I love absurdity and this story has plenty of it for its small word-count. And if it were just an absurd romp, Iíd leave feeling amused. And I almost do except for the crucial detail of the divorce. These tarantulas have lasers, alchemy sets, web connected (PUN! Because theyíre spiders.) phones, but somehow manage to misunderstand divorce, with wacky vampires? Eh. I think this story could have gotten away with them understanding exactly what divorce is and their main concern still being what their own fate would be and the procurement of crickets. Then allow the antics to ensue.

If this gigantic mess of an exploding house and dead owners and sister had all revolved around what Dorothy was going to eat, it would all feel a little more tied together. And I guess it is since the spiders are trying to eat everyone else in the story, I just wish there were a line at the end saying Dorothy didnít need crickets anymore now that sheís discovered something new about herself. That would at least bring the action to a satisfying conclusion though not necessarily a character conclusion since honestly I couldnít tell you the difference between Shelob and Dorothy as characters.

Funny for a quick write and read. Thoughts on how to take it in new directions.

Simply Simon Ė Dominoís March

Because what kind of librarian would I be if I didnít read and critique a story about the Dewey Decimal System?

Okay, so this story is about a character that is ďprogressĒ made manifest and in the first sentence declares that it is not linear but then has to explain and perform its actions fairly linearly in this story. So an interesting choice. But also, what is progress? Some might consider a lot of what happened between 1876 and 2016 to be progress even if from another lens it looks like regressive thinking.

I donít know. I needed to read this a second time in order to follow some of the arguments/logic of this. But I donít know that it does enough in character work, in presenting ideas/concepts for consideration, or in compelling stakes. It does elicit questions from me, but mostly on a purely structural basis, like what certain pronouns refer to and how a push can possibly come from outside when itís coming from within the same society that is producing the stagnation?

Anyway, this story feels like all of the problems I have discussing philosophy, namely that everyone appears to be talking about the same the thing, but instead they have failed to adequately define all of their concepts and even when they do, I disagree with the definition and therefore think the whole process of arguing philosophy is ridiculous and so I think what this comes down to isÖ

This story just isnít for me.

PhantomMuzzles Ė Happy Happy Happy

Haha, I cackled when the sparkly glitter, streamers and balloons came out of the ceiling. It was just such a contrast to that absolutely chaotic scene you open with. Oh man, and the fact that they knew that this could possibly happen and are horrified at the possibility of what will happen. Holy crap, this is turning into a horror story real fast and Iím here for it.

But then it cuts to Carol on the deserted island and that feeling could easily be carried through here, but it gets a bit ridiculous with the squishing of the brains and explanation of the cowboys. You could get away with describing them a lot less and focusing more on the weirdness of whatís happened to her sense of hearing to achieve the quiet. Because people often go mad when theyíre in just absolute quiet. And I think thatís more in line with the tone set up in the first part of the story.

The ending also feels expected. I expect her to feel sad and miss her kids. I expect her to want to go back. But it doesnít tell me anything more about Carol or what her mindset is now that sheís in this new environment. Thereís nothing wrong with saying these things, but Iíd like to see something else explored here or some sense of progression. She goes from a beleaguered mom to a sad mom.

Good imagery. Liked the strong opinion Carol had in the first paragraph with her expletive about Jacobís meeting but then that voice is kind of lost. More of that and your character will really pop.

QuoProQuid Ė Repair Job

I have so many questions, which is good. Itís a 250-word piece so any introduction of something like a repair man who can see more than just mechanical issues, but also existential ones, is going to elicit more questions than the story can answer. But Iím on board for it.

The problem is that since itís a 250-word piece, I think the first couple paragraphs are not as tight as they could be. Theyíre introductory where we donít need much or else, the introduction that weíre given is wasted because the comparison between Margaret Heller and the person with the fancy vegetables isnít really explored. Since the story is more about this one particular type of person. Iíd like to see more about the connection between Margaret and her need to tidy but not go out and explore. Or get some sort of interaction between her and the repair man. Or a little more reaction to his diagnosis of her refrigerator and of her actually. Because it is a judgment on her. And I think this story could have that if it cut a bit at the top.

Itís fun. Overall it works. Iím being nitpicky because thatís what these short ones call for.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Archivist reminder to please post your flash/prompt inspiration with your story. If not in the same post, then a post following the story.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Antivehicular posted:

Oh, also signups are closed. One judge slot remains. Roster and prompts/flash will be taken care of when I'm not falling asleep!!

I will be judge 3!

Yoruichi posted:

You are all a bunch of whiney babies, this is a made up competition on the internet with no stakes, if you find this intimidating or can't read the long-rear end how-to-participate post at the start of the thread then I don't know how you function in society.

Also THE NUMBER OF JUDGES SHOULD BE THREE and all of them should write their goddammed crits.

Also also I am IN but I have no ideas so I DEMAND that all the judges give me a flashrule and they better be good ones, by golly.


Here's your flash from me: If it doesn't work in your regular browser, try incognito. Also, have fun! You can use it as literally or metaphorically as you would like.

Idle Amalgam posted:

One thing personally that holds me back is I don't know if my criticisms are valid, or often I feel like they aren't, but also that I might not be able to articulate what I want to say in a way that is actually helpful. From a technical standpoint I feel underqualified to speak on how anyone is writing. That said I feel like the reading of other stories and trying to make beneficial comments is in itself a process to make one's own writing better. (Even if I seldom adhere to that)

I am not a big kayfabe sort of person but if there is ever a time for it, it is when you are giving crits. You must hype yourself as the right and true opinion-haver. You don't have to write the critiques that way, but as long as you give yourself that confidence, it'll get you over the hump.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 14:08 on Dec 24, 2022

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Oh, also, since this is a flash/prompt/inspiration heavy week, archivist reminder to include the prompt you chose with your story. Or if you forget when you post or don't want to fiddle with including images in a post you can't edit for fear of DQ, you can post it after the story in a separate post. Thanks!

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crits for Week #542

Overall, this week had a lot of slice of life work in it. A small moment, a piece of a story, a concept for something greater which makes sense given that people might have had other things going on this week. I just wish there'd been a little bit more to celebrate about it all.

Admiralty Flag - The Gift that Will Keep on Giving:

This first paragraph is really good. I like the detail, it really sets up a character and a scene. I know where I am, when I am and what kind of details the protagonist notices. But after that first paragraph, the details become less about a precise character and more about telling me whatís happening so that there are no ambiguities in what any of this can possibly mean.

The concept of a gift as a mystery that needs to be solved with a list of suspects all with motivations and shady past dealings with the protagonistís daughter is a good place to start from. And I like the immediate character connection that gives us between Daniťl and his daughter. But the way in which itís done, with bland, unrealistic dialogue, big blocks of descriptions that are nothing like the first paragraph and donít integrate with story in a way that moves it forward, and quick glossing over serious trauma and deep issues such as mental health (both with mother and daughter) puts me right off.

Then I have to read an encounter between the mother and ex-husband, which should be fraught with emotion from both sides but somehow the protagonist has perfect composure. And it ends in death with no discernible growth from any of the characters involved. No deeper meaning with regard to getting help for mental illness. No real payoff at all. It reads almost like a newspaper report of the whole situation.

Chernobyl Princess - Aschenputtel:

Well this stops where everythingís just getting started. I like this interpretation of the prompt and this could really go places, especially if the animals do get into the palace. Like, what do they do after she marries the prince? Or what do they do after she doesnít marry the prince and now she has to flee from her step-family some other way, maybe becoming a forest-person. Then the animals can really come into their own as mentors and guardians.

This is another piece mostly told to the reader, but it works in general because itís a fairy tale style story and the teller is a collective. Some of the individual sentences are nice. And it especially works when the animals have their little disagreement about what they would like to do to the step-sisters because it gives the narrative personality that a simply told tale would not have. And when theyíre delirious with excitement about the ball. The collective personality that is sometimes in opposition to itself is something that could be explored more.

As is, itís not even half a story. And Iíd like to see more of the young girl through their eyes to really deepen the narrative beyond the fairy tale surface.

Something Else - The Santa Suit:

This is so well written. I didnít stop reading it once. The balance between forward momentum of the story and details that explain the bare minimum (almost, more on this later) of how we got to this point is perfect. Santa with a business manager, intriguing. Posing for an ad, yes, do tell. All the crew on the naughty list, yes, perfect. I am on board!

Santa comes off as a perfectly befuddled and joyous sort of character despite how much he knows about everything. And then Turkeah appears and sheÖ serves a very uncomfortable purpose. But at least thatís conveyed in her actions and words. Her motivations are clear and she makes good points that might very well sway SantaÖ if we knew what Santa wanted.

So Santa has a business manager. Heís making an ad. But for what? Iím thinking that Santaís a little worried about the importance of Christmas lessening (or something along those lines) and thatís why heís got the fancy new suit and is taking a little trip down south before the big day. But that motivation isnít quite on the page enough. It just needs like one more line, if, in fact, this is what Santaís reasons for doing all of this is. Maybe Iím missing it entirely because itís not quite spelled out enough for me.

But if this is the case, then Turkeahís advances might very well work on Santa. The reader will have that moment of doubt, questioning whether or not Santa will give into this plot. Before, of course, denying Turkeahís advances and running away back to the North Pole, where Mrs. Claus reminds him that heís still the man she married and is nothing less, despite the lessening of the holiday. And then the returning of the suit means more to the reader, because we see it as Santa no longer needing that life he originally set up at the beginning. And his ultimate rejection of Turkeah. And with just that little bit more info this story follows a perfect arc.

But without that motivation in there, we have instead a long talk in judge discussion about the sexual harassment of Santa and the creepiness of the whole thing and then it all falls apart. So uh, watch out for that when youíre leaving out motivations.

The prose is already pretty dang perfect. At least for me. Never got ejected from the narrative.

derp - yesterday's snow:

There are 8 instances in the first paragraph of the verb to be (was, were, had been). And while Iím not one of those people who believes writers should eliminate all forms of repeating a word, repetition of the same sentence construction or verb usage does have an effect on the writing. If that effect is intentional, great! But if itís not, see the difference:

ĒderpĒ posted:

The snow was melting, I heard it dripping off the roof and trickling down the gutters, and outside the snowman that the children built was tilting and slumping toward the patchy pavement. Christmas was over.

Transforms into:


The snow melted. It dripped off the roof and trickled down the gutters, and outside, the snowman that the children had built tilted and slumped toward the patchy pavement. Christmas was over.

That last sentence keeping the ďwasĒ becomes more powerful because of the evocative, more active constructions that come before it. And then the reader feels that initial scene building. Because the starter image is a good one. The motivation of a character to keep the feelings of joy and camaraderie and community that they have around holidays is a legitimate one and can spur them to do almost anything.

And while the lol, random, absurdity of this protagonistsí actions werenít the best written, I think they could have been saved, at least narratively, if there had been one final scene at the end where we see what happens when the police arrive. Does he get locked up with the townís rowdy drunks and petty criminals? Does this help him feel like heís part of a communal gathering again, albeit one slightly different? Or is he in a cell alone again and he realizes that the Christmas spirit canít save you? There are possibilities for exploration here.

Ceighk - Chasing Cars:

This story has two moods. The first half is contemplative, questioning, wondering about a new place and the protagonistís place within it (three long paragraphs of exposition that Iíd like to see woven into the narrative a little more to keep me interested as a reader). And then BAM he hits someone with a truck and then it turns into an action sequence with helicopters and automatic rifles and hard decisions about killing your cousin.

And while I wouldnít say that these two are different stories entirely, I will say that for them to fit together, the first part needs to set up JPís character in a way that the reader understands why he makes the choices that he does in the second half. Because I can definitely jump on the suspension of disbelief train for whatever weirdness is happening with the pharmaceuticals industry having weird experiments going on with a whole mercenary team to protect their assets, I just need to have that telegraphed, even in a subtle way like JP questioning what exactly Bart might be doing to him now. Because after a year of pranks and subterfuges, even a teenager is going to question whether he should always trust his cousin. Put that question at the beginning and then when it happens to be some incredibly action movie type poo poo, itís at least not completely unexpected. And JPís choice in the end to stop being hosed with means more.

The dialogue is good. I believe these are teens. The descriptions of the scenes are good. Action is clear, setting/environment is clear. The why of it all is missing because we never really get to the end. Our last image is with the woman taking out Bart which doesnít let us see what sort of conclusion JP comes to about the situation, his life, what heís going to do now that heís got some pharmacy people on his tail.

Yoruichi - The First Christmas After:

I love this use of the levitation prompt. Itís not just there to be interesting or even (as Sebmojo did) as the crux of the plot that sets everything into motion. Itís merely a thing in this world that becomes meaningful to the character when it is achieved. This makes it poignant and got a smile out of me, even as I realized that Hannah would soon be floating too. It also prompts me to wonder what is keeping other people in the house grounded.

It also helps provide an easy comparison to Hannahís past Christmases. And because you have that easy dichotomy, I think some of the detail about how Aaronís family celebrates could be cut in favor or more build-up of the Hannah-Grace relationship. Or strengthen the Aaron-Hannah one. Or explore Hannahís internality just a little bit more. Because right now, all of those details are fairly straight forward which works, but could be elevated.

I like that the hippo which was definitely of no use to Hannah at the beginning of the story, finds some great, very Hippo-like use at the end. There are many lovely moments in this story that I could go around saying I like, I like, I like.

Elevating my readership to love would take a little stronger connection between Hannah and Aaron/Aaronís family to see that evolution take place. Strong work.

sebmojo - This far South, this time of year:

Despite occurring over a 9-month period, I would call this a slice of life story as well, and also the most successful. Perfectly well-written. Fascinating idea and kind of exploration of it. The characters feel real, very salt of the earth, used to not understanding the complexities of the natural world, but pushing on regardless, because, hey, you gotta live.

And as happens when I read most of your stories, I assume Iím missing something. Some deeper meaning about our relationship with the natural world, YOLO, or just being there for your very weird friends. But even without knowing what that is, it was enjoyable to read all the same.

kaom - Skookum Shots Seasonal Special: Human Rituals in Review:

Another story that captures a moment. And quite literally with the camera. Itís a madcap moment with a lot of potential comedy. But it needed a little more thought, an editing pass and several hundred more words. As is, there are a lot of things that are unclear that would contribute to it being a more fleshed out story. Weíve got characters and a scene and an inciting incident, but none of it has the precision it needs to keep me interested. Despite the eyestalks.

Iím unsure of the motivations of both Xeenaph and Kchuulu. Sure I understand why theyíre doing things initially (because itís their job, because they need content for their quarterly publication), but why do they continue to try despite the danger? How do they feel about each other? What does this tree mean for their future? Now that there are bees, do any of these things change?

The action is also confusing. Not sure when the fire started to spread before they set the garland on fire? And everything happens fast except when it doesnít. I realize that all of this has to take place in the like 10 seconds from when the timer is set to when it clicks, but thereís a whole escape attempt, a researching of bees and then a ďsolutionĒ to the problem. But itís just so unclear as to be confusing.

And I am absolutely befuddled by the first part of the title.

Thranguy - The Department of You:

Cool concept. Well thought out. Incredible analogy. Iíd like to see a story set within the bureaucracy of existence. Thereís a bit of one here, but in the end Iíd like to see this transform into a story that needs to use this concept of an all knowing consciousness and they navigate it like a large departmental bureaucracy or else personifying the bureaucracy and making the story within it.

But I could go on about what this story could possibly be. As is, it was cool to read about and would be cool to ideate about, would make an awesome prompt for a TD week, but itís not really a story.

Idle Amalgam - Jingle of Duty: Merry Warfare:

I honestly donít know what to say about this one. The prose is fine. Not great, but not anything special. But the story that those words tell is disturbing and odd and makes me uncomfortable. Whereas other stories this week I could see the kernel of a good idea that wasnít executed well, I really donít think this idea of Santa using special forces personnel as his reindeer really has any value. Itís really more of a war crime.

And Iíll just leave it at that.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 01:07 on Dec 28, 2022


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.

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