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a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

In. Give me both the things. If I can't get lost in real trees right now, I might as well do it with words.


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Sensory Overload
1347 words
Gift: An owl's protection
Tax: Energy. The environment is exhausting your character(s) in some way.

As Jonah approached The Forest, he clicked on his sensory log. Sight input: 70%. Aural: only 62%? The screeching kids should’ve set every nerve firing. Touch, taste and smell all less than 30%. His shoulders slumped. He was going to win the bet. “Ari, you said this place was gonna chart.”

Ari whipped her head around, her twisted dreads flopping. “You’re here to be Jonah, not Jo-nerd. Turn off your stats log and enjoy.” She gestured like a game show host at the entrance to the theme park then sprinted between the real, planted-in-the-ground trees.

Jonah ambled after, hands in pockets. He side-eyed the oversized characters greeting gleeful visitors. The turtle ineffectually hugged all comers while the snowy owl loomed, its ineffable expression assessing each entrant as a potential meal. Though Jonah had only seen these trees and animals in histor-e-lectures about the world’s last nature preserves, they failed to rouse his nervous system past his haptic suit’s baseline. Useless.

Ari zoomed back and locked his arm in hers. “What first? Blueberry-chestnut ice cream? Canopy rollercoaster? Staring at those authentic maples? I know!”

She dragged him into a one-room shack where his stats plunged. The walls grew tufts of fur, well-lit cases held rocks, shells and feathers, and clouds of wool sagged above him. Nothing moved or talked or even stunk. Jonah tensed, expecting an explosion. “What’s this?”

Ari ran her hands along the walls and rubbed oyster shells against her face. “The petting zoo,” she sang, wafting a feather at him.

He snatched it from her and pricked his fingers on the tiny barbs.

Then he ate the bland ice cream. Then he closed himself into a dangling basket that hurled him through leaves slower than traveling cross-country. After hours of trailing his best friend across acres of paved boredom with the actual forest fenced-off, he was still understimulated. He’d asked Ari for 100% input or for his brain sensors to light up with new connections and she’d brought him some place that ranked lower than Mathster Mandrill’s Division Dojo.

Jonah plopped onto a bench set between the bathrooms and the chain link fence meant to keep visitors out of the trees while Ari fetched him some confection. He dropped his head back and stared up into the fluttering leaves. Their movements, while minute and repetitive, did have a smoother refresh rate than any game. A rustling in the underbrush just behind his head registered on both his aural and touch inputs. Hmm.

As Ari approached with two caramel apples, he spied a gap between the fence and the restrooms. He hopped up. “Hurry. I know what we can try next.” He squeezed through the hole. The prick of pain as the metal bit into his ankle foretold his success.

“Hey, wait!” Ari yelled and then her footsteps stomped behind him.

Jonah wove between identical tree trunks, tripped through knee-high ferns and mostly avoided getting smacked in the face by low branches. He slowed only when he started sucking for breath. How far did these trees go? Ari barreled into him, knocking them both to the ground.

“What are you doing?” she gasped.

Jonah sat up, looked around and checked his inputs, giving his breathing time to catch up. The leaves still fluttered. The ferns still rustled. But other than the compulsion to up his reps of mandatory calisthenics, his senses remained stagnant. He flopped back down. “Ugh. Let’s go back.”

“And how are we going to do that?” Ari said through gritted teeth. “The in-park GPS doesn’t work for places we’re not supposed to go.”

Jonah scanned for the direction they’d run from. “All these trees look the same.”

“They are the same! It’s a cloned forest not a nature preserve.”

“Message your mom. She can tell the park people. They’ll come get us.”

“And lose my lifetime membership? Huh-uh. We’ll walk until we hit a fence.” She locked his arm in hers again and dragged him back through the broken ferns, mumbling as she went. “Soooo busy running towards numbers in your head to listen to me.”

Jonah shut down the numbers in his head. She was right. They didn’t help. And he was right. Nothing in reality was even close to the sights, sounds and tastes of a round of Resort Sim IX. His suit reproduced the coolness of a banana smoothie with no need to slog through crowds and lines. Though that smoothie didn’t satisfy his belly which rumbled at that moment. “You didn’t bring those apples with you, did you?”

Ari shoved his arm away. “Climb that tree.”

“What? Why?” Jonah eyed the lowest branch.

“Because. We’re. Lost.”

“You said—”

“Ahem!” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before glaring at him. “The sun’s going down.”

The darkening sky created a confusing tangle of tree branches above, crisscrossing like a net. “I don’t—”

“Climb or feel my fist in your face.”

Jonah jumped. His hands slipped off the branch. He ran at the nearest tree and kicked off its trunk, launching himself at a branch like they were coins in MoneyMaker 4D. Missed again, this time falling face down into the dirt. After three more tries, he couldn’t get high enough to touch a branch. And he was out of breath again.

They couldn’t be stuck outside. Where would they sleep? What would they eat? Could something eat him? “Ari…” he whispered.

“Feeling something now?” She tapped her toe.

Jonah did want to run back to his suit. But only to never feel this again. His stomach clenched. His legs and feet throbbed. When the back of his neck prickled, he recoiled against a tree, certain that teeth hovered inches from his skin. “What are we going to do?”

Ari dropped next to him, her back against the same trunk. “I’ll call my mom.”

“Ari, no. You love this place.”

“They probably won’t ban me. Probably.”

“I’m sorry. This was dumb.”

“Does remorse count as a new feeling?”

Jonah opened his mouth to tell her she couldn’t win his Ultra-Cashmere Gauntlet that easily, but a snap from behind them cut him off. They clung to each other as a white shape took form in the darkness, growing larger than the tree trunk. Glowing eyes opened and then fell off the creature’s body.

“What the…?” Jonah said. Then a beam of light blinded him.

“You two want a hit of this?” The voice came from the white blob that Jonah now saw was the snowy owl from the park entrance. Inside was a girl about two years older than him with one braid down her back. Next to her sat the turtle and a beaver, both boys around the same age. They exhaled smoke into the canopy.

“Do we need to turn them in?” the beaver asked, sitting on his tail like a chair.

The girl in the owl suit gave Ari and Jonah the same ineffable look she had at the gate. “Nah, they’ve had it rough enough.”

Jonah looked down at himself, his cheeks reddening at his dirt caked clothes.

“Thanks,” Ari said, accepting the joint. She took a quick puff then offered it to Jonah who didn’t move. She handed it back to the turtle instead. “What’s it like to work here?”

Ari nodded along to every answer, while Jonah only heard the owl’s soft voice explain her appreciation of the joy the park brought. Then there was her crooked smile and the smell of her berry body spray. Too soon, the joint was gone and they led Jonah and Ari out of their wooded seclusion.

Before they closed the door of the employee building on them, Jonah’s stomach clenched again and he blurted, “What, uh, time do you get off?” Noticing he was face to face with the beaver and not the owl, he stammered “I meant…” His face heated up again.

The owl said, “Ten. See you at the side gate.” The door clicked closed.

Jonah turned toward Ari with a goofy grin.

Ari returned the smile. “You owe me one Ultra-Cashmere Gauntlet.”

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Thunderdome Week 547: Domers say the Darndest Things

Have you ever noticed that children can ask a question and it sends your mind down some interesting paths? "What would the world be like if we didn't have to make turns?" The kid is just stringing words together, but as an adult you can't help but wonder what sort of society we could build if we asked more questions like those that come to you when you're high. But it seems like valuable wisdom because it came from the innocent mind of a child. Or it's the lack of sleep that makes them sound profound. Who knows?

As a parent, I am duty-bound to believe that my child says the most [adorable/intelligent/batshit] things. And just to prove it to everyone here in Thunderdome, you will write for me a 1000-word story based on his wisdom. Below this prompt post I will provide a selection of quotes from my child that you can pick from to inspire your story. Take them in any direction you like. They don't have to be kids stories or child friendly or whatever. They're just to get you thinking. Please claim the quote when you sign up. Multiple people can choose the same quote because these could go anywhere.

Have a small person in your life? You're free to use their wisdom. Just quote their inspirational speech when you sign up. Or make up something yourself. If it sounds like something a 3-year-old would say, who am I to call your bluff? Also, feel free to share any other ridiculous musings that the kids in your life have said (whether you sign up or not) because I love hearing them. Other writers can sign up using these quotes as well. Or, if you have a lot of child stories to share, become a judge! Both slots are open.

For an extra 200 words, I will ask my child what story you, specifically, should write. And I honestly have no idea what he'll say. So good luck with that option!

Word count: 1000
Unless you choose to ask the prophet: 1200

The usual nos: fanfic, erotica, political screeds, etc.

Sign ups close: 3am Pacific time, Saturday, January 28
Submissions close: 3am Pacific time, Monday, January 30

a friendly penguin
My Shark Waifuu

-Staggy - "I want them to write a monster with hands that turn into fire."
-Chairchucker - "They should write about digging underground, and when he digs underground he has to make a special thing that pops right out again."
-Chernobyl Princess - "It's a story called the silly, silly, silly kindred. I can't remember how it goes because it's a very old story." and “My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains.”
-WindwardAway -“He was a boy who grew up to be a grown up, then he became a scientist who studied a Kraken on the beach.” and "Get ready for a hug attack!"
-Admiralty Flag - "I'm going to live on the road forever."
Thranguy - “I am death. It took me like 20 days” and the words of the prophet." and "I want him to write about the Russian death bears."
-Benagain - "we haven't collected this buddha yet"
-BeefSupreme - “It’s about wizards who turn people into Egyptian cats and it’s going to take 141 years to write.” and "This guy put a sword on a selfie-stick!"
- Albatrossy_Rodent - "why is English a language when we're just talking normal?"
-Idle Amalgam - "falls off the toilet “I can’t believe I died.” and "It's like a dance party with genetics."
-Yoruichi - "I would give her the story of horses get swept away by a tornado in a big, big day."
-Sebmojo - "Cryptids, the Hellhound because I'm scared of hellhounds."
-Antivehicular - "My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains."
-CaligulaKangaroo - "He should write the story of koala going surfing on a hot day at the house."
-Dicere - "I eat. I poop. This is life." and "A story about Indian soup."
-Rohan - “Hurry, tell me the secrets of evergreens before it’s too late!”

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 15:01 on Jan 26, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Child quotes to inspire a story

-The name of the hero in your story: Electrical PJ Tiger. The name of the villain in your story: Cosmo Dick
-falls off the toilet “I can’t believe I died.”
-as we’re driving in a car “Why do we have to make turns?”
-“I am death. It took me like 20 days”
-Are you going to take a nap today? “No, I am going to become death.”
-“Coconuts in spaaaaace” – a reference to Pigs in Space
-“He was a boy who grew up to be a grown up, then he became a scientist who studied a Kraken on the beach.”
-How many is a hillion?
-“I’m going to live on the road forever.”
-“It’s about wizards who turn people into Egyptian cats and it’s going to take 141 years to write.”
-“Soon we’ll have to delete some of my pictures and give them to someone else who wants them.”
-“Hurry, tell me the secrets of evergreens before it’s too late!”
-“This thing is going to be so scary it’ll throw a party.”
-“I eat. I poop. This is life.”
-“Ooh, we haven’t collected this Buddha yet.”
-What do we do if we find a Bigfoot? “Fight it”
-“My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains.”
-"Will you just please turn off the sun and put it somewhere else?"
-“What are the options? What are the options?”
-"Why are bloodbears always upside down not on the ground?"
-"Ooh, what's this giant orb?" Me: The sun.
-"You mean this whole time in this whole exist, I've been eating fried things?"

***This list may update depending on how adorable my child is being this week.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 00:58 on Jan 27, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Staggy posted:

In. I seek the wisdom of the prophet.

"I want them to write a monster with hands that turn into fire."

Chairchucker posted:

Hello I am in with, "Hello. We're not going to buy anything." Please have the prophet tell us what the story will be.

"They should write about digging underground, and when he digs underground he has to make a special thing that pops right out again."

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Chernobyl Princess posted:

In with “My dad goes to work to help people be dead. He has tools on his ambulance to fix people’s brains.”

I'd love him to tell me what this story should be about

"It's a story called the silly, silly, silly kindred. I can't remember how it goes because it's a very old story."

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

WindwardAway posted:

If your kid has any other wise words to add for this one, go for it!

"Get ready for a hug attack!"

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

BeefSupreme, I have supreme beef with you and your behavior this past week! Your story was good and it should have won, but instead you submitted late and avoided the dastardly punishment of having to judge, instead laying that burden at my feet.

And now you must restore the sanctity of the dome by brawling me. I issue this challenge to you!

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Thranguy posted:

In with -“I am death. It took me like 20 days” and the words of the prophet.

"I want him to write about the Russian death bears."

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

BeefSupreme posted:

:toxx: for the brawl

in with: “It’s about wizards who turn people into Egyptian cats and it’s going to take 141 years to write.”

I seek the words of the prophet.

"This guy put a sword on a selfie-stick!"

And here's my :toxx: for the brawl.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Idle Amalgam posted:

In with falls off the toilet “I can’t believe I died.” I'll also take the boon of the prophet.

"It's like a dance party with genetics."

Yoruichi posted:

In, please ask the prophet what the plot of my story is

"I would give her the story of horses get swept away by a tornado in a big, big day." [He very much likes your horse avatar.]

sebmojo posted:

In, prophet me

"Cryptids, the Hellhound because I'm scared of hellhounds."

Also, now I want to write about the security fairies.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

CaligulaKangaroo posted:

In! Seeking words of the prophet and :toxx: for my previous failures.

"He should write the story of koala going surfing on a hot day at the house."

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Dicere posted:

Can't say no to this one. I'm in with “I eat. I poop. This is life.”

Pressing Prophet Luck.

"A story about Indian soup." [For clarity, this is soup from the country of India or made by people with that heritage.]

My Shark Waifuu posted:

Someone's gotta help judge all these childish stories, and that someone is me!

Welcome to the club!

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 15:00 on Jan 26, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Sign ups are closed.

One judge slot is open.

A note that you should not take this week too seriously. I am willing to follow some wild, whimsical logic just to enjoy a good story

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Submissions are closed.

I hope these stories make more sense than the narrative my child keeps when playing with bath toys.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

:siren: Week 547 Judgment :siren:

As my child has said, “It’s exhausting standing on the sun.” So I am pleased to yield the solar throne. Overall I was happy with the stories this week because they really embraced their inspiration as well as the exuberance of childhood storytelling. So the below decisions were mostly based on execution of the story rather than the ideas themselves, which all have the possibility to grow up to be successful, edited, well-adjusted stories. I believe in you!

Winner: rohan – Promise of Bare Branches – judges agreed that this was packed with worldbuilding and character development

HMs: - Yoruichi - --a tornado is a violently rotating column of air – for its imagery and smart use of structure
- Chairchucker – The Goblin’s Jape - this story gets special mention for how well it depicts an adult/child relationship. It made me laugh.

DM: - Admiralty Flag – Negotiate the Dark, Curving Ribbon – this story had pacing issues, didn’t start in the right place and could have done more with where it ended.

Loss: - Caligula Kangaroo – Big Koalhuna – Welcome back to the Dome! You do need to edit your work. The typos, tense issues and gaping hole of setting a whole koala preserve on fire while not saving the rest of the koalas had the judges very concerned.

Take it away, rohan!

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crits for Week #547 – Domers say the Darndest Things

I hope you all had as much fun writing this week as I had reading. I came to all of these ready to enjoy and I was not disappointed. Mostly.

Staggy – Bob’s Monster Hands:

Well that ending was unexpected. But just the right tinge of horror for a traditional folktale. But it doesn’t quite match the tone at the beginning which seems to telegraph a much more modern children’s story that will end with Bob coming out on top but in a much less gruesome way.

I enjoyed the alliteration and detailing. Good prose and the plot follows a logical progression. But now it needs that next layer to level it up from simple story to attention getter. Because there’s already a good emotional connection to Bob. Whether that’s mapping the events in this to be analogous to something in our current times or giving nuance to Bob, the other monsters, and the hands so that we recognize them as attachments that we have in our own lives.

Admiralty Flag - Negotiate the Dark, Curving Ribbon:

Started in the wrong place. Ended in the wrong place. Wasted a lot of time with unnecessary scenes. Although, I’m not sure what the story was, so maybe I’m the one who’s wrong.

Brian is a great start to a character with a really good motivation. But the story doesn’t really explore that. I want this story to start with the diagnosis or at least the implication of it to reveal more slowly as those details become more relevant to the decisions that Brian is making. I want this story to explore his relationship with Julia. I want this to explore Brian’s relationship to the road and the sights that he sees. What does all of this mean to him?

But these aren’t the things that I see. What is here are small interactions between people. The first scene is not great dialogue. It’s trying to show the reader Brian’s decision making process and entice the reader to figure out the mystery but instead it reads like keeping information from the reader with no progression. And the next scene is only a filler scene that gets us to the last scene, again with bland dialogue and not much connection between the two.

I think the strongest bit is when Julia is freaking out about Brian paying attention to the road and worrying about her own mortality because I want to see that juxtaposed to Brian’s feelings on life and fear of dying. Which is why I think the story should start here. It would be a great start to an exploration of how and when we accept death.

rohan - The Promise of Bare Branches:

Gaaaaah, so you know when I tell you that you need to write a book based on basically every short story of yours I ever read? I take them all back. This is the one I want! Rain witches? Tree wizards? Existential dread??? Sign me up.

As a worldbuilding exercise, this is inviting and cozy and slice of life-y in the best way. As a story, it’s almost there, but missing some key connective pieces. Namely getting way more specific about the history between these two and a little less vague about what their future could be together. Giving it anything more would take it out of the cozy/SOL realm, which wouldn’t be a bad decision because I want to see how these characters cope with if not the situation you’ve alluded to already, then a smaller problem that affects them both so that I can see them work together.

But if you wanted to keep the coziness of it, give them a chance to walk outside among the trees and rain and emphasize their connection to nature as well as each other and people would eat that up!

Dicere - Visitation or Returning:

This wastes so much time at the beginning setting everything up. Get to the trippy part way faster, imo because that’s where this leans into the absurd and gets my attention.

There are several things not great with this story on a prose level: typos, narrator interjections at the beginning that don’t really serve a narrative purpose, calling Phyllis elder constantly despite her having a name. Other than the typos, these other two could serve a narrative purpose, except the voice and the tone aren’t consistent enough to make me think they’re used intentionally.

But then again, I’m not actually sure what sort of story is being told here. Is the idea that “I eat. I poop,” is some sort of enlightening wisdom that caused Phyllis to achieve a rainbow body and peace out from the restaurant? That Phyllis is the lama teaching (more like cursing) Tiffany to seek her own epicurean wisdom at some other obscure restaurant?

This could definitely have something to say if we knew what sort of lessons everyone took from it in the end. But in the beginning we learn that only the cooks remember either of these people which is actually one of the parts I would lop off just to get to this all a little faster. I’m not convinced there was a cohesive narrative to this from beginning to end with that disconnect from the beginning. Needed another editing pass to make the start feed into the rest. But perhaps this whole crit is just my attachment to a coherent story structure and I shouldn’t grasp at such things.

Chernobyl Princess - The Silly, Silly, Silly Kindred:

Aww, a black plague Christmas Carol with vampires as the spirits. Now there’s an adaptation that hasn’t been done. The first half of this wasn’t silly enough, but the second half sure was. The first half was trying at the silly but it was falling mostly on the side of serious. But that second half sure made me smirk.

So it’s a tale of two tones. (Apparently this is making me think of Dickens with these references.) And there are ways to make it one or the other. Despite the plague setup, this can be and has been made absurd. The obvious comparison is “Bring out your dead!” from Monty Python. But right now there’s just too much care in Jon’s heart for Patrick to let that land. I do love the line that Jon doesn’t want to turn Patrick because then he’ll be his problem again. But he might do the same for Patrick as he did in life by bringing him back to the vampire home and threatening him with turning if he doesn’t straighten up and fly right. And the menacing of the rest of the vampires would be enough to bring a bit of seriousness back the other way.

Not a bad start. Just more care for the overall tone is needed.

Antivehicular - Dignity for Mr. Hudson:

This started so well. That image of tasers and riot-proof morgues/cemeteries is really attention grabbing and leads into the action so well. The prose is good, the characterization works quick and efficient at every step. I just want this to have a more cohesive driving force. It almost has one and I’m convinced that if this story got a focused editing, that this could be added and it could get published. It could be a commentary on the aftermath of school shootings or the absolute exhaustion of medical professionals and how they’re not allowed to feel a personal connection anymore, even when they really need to.

Instead the events after the capturing and deacting are just sort of there. They don’t carry the tension that they’re supposed to. And the story really needs something since the dezombifying portion of this story isn’t meant to be the source of conflict. (I love that in-story it’s a “z-word.” That shows me so much about this world. And I’d love to see that world expanded in other small ways throughout.)

So more significance placed around how personal this deact process is for Daniel (the case thrashed at the music stand and Daniel couldn’t help but see Mr. Hudson’s jerky orchestration in the movement, etc.) The palpable relief when it goes according to plan, the dread of facing the family later, and then everyone else’s processing of their grief compared to Daniel’s inability. Turning him into some form of zombie himself. Yeah, this could be a powerful one.

WindwardAway - The Scientist and the Kraken:

I can’t hate this. Every time I frowned at how the meter just doesn’t work, I ended up smiling at the turn of events. And then the meter would work and I would get into the lilting song of it and then it would fail again. Did you read this aloud? I don’t expect expert rhyming, consistent meter or jam-packed, meaningful word choice from poetry submitted to a weekly short-story contest, but my ears pleaded for extra syllables in some of these lines.

On a story level, it’s just the right amount of conflict and growth for a kids’ story told in verse. It’s got the sad, lonely childhood, the perseverance and love of family, the loveable animal characters, the happy ending. Sure there are places to cut that I didn’t find useful to the place I could see this going especially when there wasn’t any more conflict to be had in, say the college days, but in the end it didn’t bother me. If you did want to rework this, I’d be happy to talk about it more, but otherwise just know that it could work with enough attention.

Thranguy - Messing with Folklore:

I enjoyed this. It’s charming and has all the right references/in-jokes for someone who does enjoy folklore. Is it a story? Not really. There’s no real tension or stakes and barely a motivation for what’s happening. It’s winding and at times nonsensical, but that’s why I think I liked it. I like the way the ideas were all put together and somehow flowed nicely into one another. You always have a way with ideas.

The twist with the death bears I did not see coming. But it’s amazing and I’d love to read a story telling me what sorts of antics they get up to.

In fact, any one of the ideas brought up here could have made for a great story. But it needs to zoom in a lot. Keep the voice and the asides, I don’t need to know exactly how one becomes Death, but I’d like to see a little bit more in terms of character since that’s the star of this little story. Sure, you could throw in a bit more of the stakes and the specific absurdities of plot, but mostly I want to see the beleaguered Josif the Gold make magic happen and interact with this world without running afoul of folklore. This could be really fun.

Yoruichi - --A tornado is a violently rotating column of air.:

Talk about a slice of life that just keeps slicing. I like the pairing of action with the “facts about tornado” headings. Each of these is a story in miniature with a character and a tension. Sometimes that tension is more obvious and lands well. Other times, I think it could use maybe a word or two more. Very specific words that could send the right gut punch to the reader.

Because the setting of this creates all the drama and stakes that such a short piece needs, so then it’s about character. And we get a sense of what that is in very few words. But with just a few more carefully chosen ones, the reader can get a sense of history about their farm and life together.

I like the horse riding inside the tornado and all of the other stuff that happens to Ewan inside because it creates a juxtaposition and the extra POV to contrast with Ellen, but I can’t decide whether or not the unreality of it works. Mostly for tonal reasons. It’s a little absurdity in a piece that’s heavy with the damage of the lives we live together and the shortness of when it all comes to a point. I don’t know. I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

BeefSupreme - The Education of Eileen:

I got taken out of your story because you say they’re driving a 4-wheeler, which to me is this:
But the descriptions you use surrounding that vehicle indicate that this isn’t what you’re imagining and it just kept tripping me up.

And yes, that’s what I chose to open this crit with and not, what? I am all for having an eccentric author living in the middle of nowhere and some poor, underpaid assistant having to suffer his mania. And that bit works very well. The zanier that author becomes, the more I smiled. But that poor assistant needs to go on a journey here. She is carrying the narrative since the author cannot. I need her to start one place and end in another. What those places are is up for grabs. If it wanted to stick with the theme of the week, it could be like an adult trying to control a situation where a child just absolutely won’t come around to “reason” and then that adult finally releasing their attachment to needing a game of pretend to make sense and just going with it. But there could be any number of things in this character’s past that might inform their reaction to this situation. Pick one and see what it does for this.

Otherwise, the other details are down to taste. And speaking of taste, having the author fake a disability (however short-lived) and then played for laughs isn’t a great idea.

Chairchucker - The Goblin’s Jape:

Success! This impressed me with how much it mirrored the relationship an adult can have with a child. The feeling of superiority, the need to show the kid exactly how the world can trip you up, but then the kid is just so genuine and convinced of what they want, that it eventually wins over the adult and then in the end everyone wins because they’ve met at some middle ground however silly that seemed at the beginning. And then the adult gets thrown out of a pub.

The ending I wanted to have a more precise button on it, but the journey to getting there was a joy of pairing a straight “man” with the comic. It’s very efficient. We don’t get anything we don’t need. Horace sounds very realistic in a convinced-of-his-own-logic sort of person. The goblin has just the right level of exasperation but is also reined in for the most part. It’s just a successful little piece that works as your style of humorous vignette. But not much more.

CaligulaKangaroo - Big Koalhuna:

This should be a cute little story about a koala who saves the koala preserve after going through some Curious George level antics. But unfortunately I had a hard time getting into the fun because of some very basic level issues: typos, tense switching, sometimes in the same sentence, inconsistency with POV. And while normally I wouldn’t have an issue with a story like this ascribing understanding of concepts like fiberglass to a koala, the koala also has to understand everything else. But there are times when the koala explicitly doesn’t understand what’s going on. And that’s a rather large hole in story logic that takes me out of the experience of the story.

Beyond that there are also questions about what happened to the other animals and people in the fire, which at the end is made to sound like it was quite devastating to the preserve. And that overshadows the adorable stardom of little Tajji. This story just needed time for a rethink and at the very least an editing pass. Reading it out loud might help with that if there’s not much time to let it sit or get a crit swap.

sebmojo - We must imagine Sisyphus happy:

First of all, we must not imagine him happy. The whole point is that Sisyphus is being eternally punished. The moment he begins to enjoy his lot is the moment that he is liberated from Hell and therefore enlightened. Take that, Camus.

Second, I enjoyed this story. Though I might like to know a little bit more about why he’s dead or why he wants to live more than literally all of the other dead people. Not in any detail, just only as it informs the current journey he is on. But perhaps he is not the only one speedrunning hell to get to this last level. We just don’t get to see those other people. In that case, what makes this guy so special?

I also get questions about what exactly the physics of Hell are. Well, they can be anything, which is why I don’t necessarily need an explanation of what they are, but what they were expected to be by this character. I get that a little with his being surprised that the Hellhound can talk. Maybe he didn’t expect any more pain in the afterlife. Or maybe by this point he already knows what to expect, having dodged the other issues of Hell. But I don’t get much sense of that either. Or that he changes his thinking when he realizes that the hound can talk and reason. Because he still throws the hand anyway, despite how clear it is the dog can tell that it’s going to be a ruse. I’m writing way more words than I need to for a story I generally liked.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 14:55 on Jan 31, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Friendly Beef Brawl

I’d Go Through Hell For You; I Just Wish It Were Cheaper
Word Count: 1449

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 17:02 on Jan 2, 2024

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Crit for BeefSupreme brawl story

The first section of this is the perfect setup for a romantic comedy. Two people about to be put into a situation that is bound to be awkward and full of goofy misunderstandings. If the other person is oblivious to what would make the first person act like a goof, that’s got potential for hilarious happenings. And if both of them are aware of each other but haven’t really spent time together, then they’ll both be coming to the situation with predetermined thoughts on how the situation will go. And that clash between expectations can also lead to amusing circumstances. Perfect.

But then we spend a lot of words on unnecessary backstory in a car on the way to the house and then a lot more time at the house without the romantic aspect showing up until the last third of the story. And then nothing really happens between them. They clear up any misunderstanding immediately and agree to just go dancing. Which is actually the perfect ending to this, but only after they’ve made fools of themselves dancing around each other either trying to avoid the awkwardness or falling face first into it. And either both of them can be making the mistakes or one of them with the other person being the “straight man” in the relationship.

That relationship is the crux of a romantic comedy. Yes, there can be comedy unrelated to the romantic partners, but most of it revolves around how they interact and come together either as a romantic pair or settle on being friends. But they’ve worked through that initial awkwardness. But this is no easy task since romance can be pretty easy, but comedy is one of the hardest things in writing to do. I think Dex was a good character for it though. Basically this story was a good beginning and with a little more time dedicated to it, it could have been slimmed down to focus on the interpersonal relationships.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Since we have a few new participants writing this week...

Hello! I'm one of the friendly neighborhood TD archivists and it's super helpful to us when you post your flash rules at the top of your story. It might look something like this:

This is the Title of my Awesome Story
6969 words
Flash: Man Agonizes Over Potatoes (Week 1)

Here is my awesome story that's so good and perfectly edited it. No typos here, etc.

It can vary. You may find it useful to post your prompt at the end of the story. That's fine too! If you forget it, no worries. Don't edit your post! Add another post listing the flash and saying which story it goes along with.

Thanks much! Love your work.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Mar 18, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Admiralty Flag posted:

I just checked my story from week before last and <<double angle brackets>> seem to work fine in the archive.

Search for "By my strength" in

I'll wait for official word though.

The symbol you used in your story is a "double angle quotation mark" (at least in Microsoft Word) which is different from two angle brackets.

This: «
this: <<

The first is archive acceptable because it's one discrete symbol. The second is not and they will disappear upon archiving.

That said, just write; just post and us archivists will figure it out.

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 13:38 on Apr 6, 2023

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Cephas posted:

Sorry, I didn't realize the word count was a hard limit. Hope you don't mind me reposting to get under the limit.

Archivist chiming in here:

You technically didn't go over word limit. As a first time entrant, you are entitled to 200 extra words according to the prompt, making your limit 700. So I have archived your original story for judging. You did edit that post though (probably just to add in your word count) which judges usually don't want you to do. They might DQ you from winning/mentioning for it, they might ignore it completely. You will definitely still get your story read and critiqued.

Just some things to know for your next awesome story!

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Notes from a Librarian
84 words

Fifty Shades of Grey
Dark stains pgs. 72-73 and 199-204
11/11 A.M.

Julie and Julia
Red stains pgs. 284-285
01/09 A.M.

Where the Wild Things Are
Pgs 1-20 torn
04/89 A.M.

Atlas Shrugged
Pencil markings thru-out
08/16 A.M.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Page 157 replaced with black hole
09/96 A.M.

The Call of Cthulhu
Entire book covered in ???
Sticky in nature. Appears to attract black flies.
Marked for withdrawal.
06/34 A.M.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


The two above posters have wonderfully included both their chosen week and their assigned flash rule with their story. Everyone should emulate the posters above. The archivists would greatly appreciate it.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Bespoke Bodies
100 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 17:07 on Jan 2, 2024

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Chili posted:

Fuuuuck, I was trying to quote my submission and I accidentally edited it. FUUUUCK

Can confirm that I archived this entry prior to the edit stamp. If any one cares to compare.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

The Power Imbalance of Anglerfish
1650 words

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 17:06 on Jan 2, 2024


a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

This is the part of the week where I remind participants to please post their chosen photo with their story for judge and archival purposes. If you forget to post it with your story, don't edit the post. You can put it in a new post of its own and refer to the story it belongs to. Thanks!!

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