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Dubs describes me as "an intense literary analyst". I describe me as "a room of monkeys with typewriters."
Silver medal
Separate Ways
She-Ra Short Story
Every Letter I Ever Wrote You
Silver medalMortarboard
Keep Pretending
FiM Minific
A Rebuttal
Best Laid Plans
FiM Minific
A Sonnet in St. Maretinique
The End of the Line
Original Minific
Hell on Earth, or at Least the London Underground
Silver medalLightbulb
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
She-Ra Short Story
(Don't) Let Go
I Regret Nothing
FiM Minific
Cutie Mark Crusaders Diarists, YAY!
Gold medal
The Greatest Contradiction
She-Ra Minific
The Gardener
Illusion of Choice
FiM Minific
Just Another Breakfast in Canterlot Castle
All In
FiM Minific
Bronze medal
No Rest for the Weary
She-Ra Minific
Of Shadows and Fire
#7552 · 11
· on Everybody's Fool: Chapter 47 PLS NO FLAMES · >>horizon

I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure what came over me there. Or where I acquired that suspiciously photoshopped cutie mark...

Anyway, yes. >>CoffeeMinion, you need worry no more: I did this one. I submitted anonymously for two reasons: firstly, I didn't ever want this to show up on the list of stories I've entered in the past (which, given some of the stories I've entered in the past, says quite a lot about this one); and secondly, I was worried that this entry might upset people more than it entertained them. I know people in the past have been a tad upset at in-joke entries and other such silliness, and I was a bit worried about upsetting people too much.

I think it should be pretty obvious where I got the inspiration for this story from—horizon's takes on My Immortal are always excellent—and I kinda had so much fun writing that one other comment before the round that this ended up being all I could think of to enter. Out of desperation, I ran with it!

Here's a few fun facts people might have missed (because I actually did goddamn research for this monstrosity...)

1) XXXbloodyrists666XXX is the penname that Tara Gilesbie used to post the original My Immortal, and I figured I had to sneak some small reference to her in there somewhere.
2) Everybody's Fool is just another Evanescence song I picked at random. Literally the only song by them I actually know is that meme one, so forgive me if it's less appropriate to the subject matter.
3) The place I cut off at the end of the 2,000 words was deliberately planned from the start! The next word, incidentally, is "motherf*cker", in reference to a similar line from Enoby in My Immortal. I actually had to go back and add more words elsewhere (iirc, I added some more detail about Tails being a prep in one of the Author's Notes) to get back to the exact 2,000 word count when I switched from gdocs to the writeoff site.
4) Pretty much the entire plot line of this story is cobbled together from plots of the first few chapters of My Immortal, because in all honesty the important story here was the Author's Notes. However, unlike the comments horizon and I posted earlier, this was all original writing! Somehow, I think, that made it more fun.
5) >>georg: I didn't have to drink at all when writing this, but that's probably because I'm teetotal and I was having too much fun to let standards get in my way.

Thank you to everyone who commented on this story! I'm... kinda feeling a bit guilty that it attracted so many comments so early on. I was hoping this story would be buried under a far greater number of sensible entries, so I was a little shocked by the small number this round. Still, all your comments brought huge grins to my face throughout the week, and I may have doubled over with laughter at a few of them! You all helped turn this from being "some stupid thing I wrote in a few hours" to a genuinely fun time that I will probably never forget, so thank you all so much for that <3
#14533 · 9
· · >>Fenton
Poetry, however, is meant to be read aloud.

I could not disagree with this sentiment more.

I won't deny that there are plenty of poems designed to be read aloud: poets like Yeats put a great emphasis on it, as well as the whole movement of spoken-word poetry (like slam poetry) that mix writing and performance all up into one, not to mention the fact that poetry is a direct descendant of an oral tradition of storytelling. But to say that poetry as a medium is intended to be read aloud is to ignore the wealth of poetry that, to put it bluntly, isn't.

There are so many poetic devices that are built around the concept of mise en page. For example, enjambment in free verse poetry is something that works only because of how words appear on the page, a quality that is totally lost when reading the poem aloud. Many poets (myself included) use left, right, and centre alignment to create various effects, something that would be totally lost in a bog-standard reading*. And let's not forget the entire movement of concrete poetry! These are all really cool poetic devices that you can talk about without even knowing how to pronounce the words that are using them.

It's also worth noting that metre and rhyme are not, by any means, the most important aspects of poetry. I speak about metre a lot when I talk about poetry because it's something I know about, and I believe I can provide useful and detailed feedback about it in a workshop context—that by no means suggests that it is the most important part of the poem, but just the part I think I can be most useful in talking about! And yes, metre and rhyme can add to the meaning of a piece... but often, they're just constraints the poet has used to help foster creativity. Honestly, my advice to anyone struggling with getting to grips with poetry, native speaker or not, is to ignore those two things: they're absolutely not required to understand and criticise a poem, though I will admit that understanding them does, in some cases, help to explain some word choices that might otherwise not make much sense.

To insist that metre and pronunciation issues are enough to make all poetry nigh-impossible to read is to ignore the impossibly diverse nature of poetic devices, and to ignore some of poetry's most defining features. I shan't say that your struggle with those things is not a valid one (it absolutely is valid!), but I think that focusing on those things to the extent that you ignore other, more palatable features of poetry is doing the form, and yourself, a disservice.

However, because I recognise that some people really do struggle with forms of poetry that are meant to be read aloud (or at least, those that are not ill-suited to being read aloud) in these contests, I'd like to make an offer: I'll read them aloud for you. If anyone at any time wants to hear someone read a writeoff poem, I am more than happy to record myself doing so and to share it about. If people think that will help them in understanding the form, it's the least I can do to try and make a medium I adore more accessible.

*I recognise that you could replicate this effect with multiple voices positioned differently, or some other staging quirk, but then we're pushing the boundaries into dramatisation and direction, which is an entirely different art form by itself. Isn't it cool how all these forms are connected? :D
#7337 · 8
· · >>horizon

This fanfic needs more Sonic. Here, let me fix that for you:

"Bastard!" I shouted angrily. I regretted saying it when I looked up cause I was looking into the pale blue face of a gothic boy with spiky blue spines with red streaks in them. He was wearing so much eyeliner that I was going down his face and he was wearing black lipstick. He didn't have sneakers anymore and now he was wearing black boots with chains just like Knuckles' and there was a scar on his forehead now which he didn't hide under foundation because it was a pentagram. He had a manly stubble on his chin. He had a sexy West Coast accent. He looked exactly like Dean Butterworth. He was so sexy that my body went all hot when I saw him kind of like an erection only I'm not sure if horizon wrote me as a boy or a girl so I may or may not have gotten one you sicko.

"I'm so sorry." he said in a shy voice.

"That's all right. What's your name?" I questioned.

"My name's Sonic, although most people call me Vampire these days." he grumbled.

"Why?" I exclaimed.

"Because I love the taste of Mobian blood." he giggled.
#20459 · 8
Hello, and welcome to Radio Wr the inaugural She-Ra and the Princesses of Power writeoff! I'm Quill Scratch, and I'm apparently responsible for this. That's scary. I'm not a responsible person.

For new folks: writeoffs are fun, fast writing competitions. This event is a Short Story round (which is, ironically, the longer format), which means the writing time is 72 hours and the word limit is 2k-8k. We'll be writing to a prompt, which isn't announced until the start of the writing period to make sure nobody starts early: for now, you can visit the prompt submission page to suggest a prompt for the round. Once the suggestion time is up, everyone gets to vote for prompts, and the prompt with the most votes at the end of voting time wins!

Despite the name, writeoffs aren't just writing contests: we also host an art round! In this event, artists pick one or more of the submitted stories as prompts for their art, and have a number of days to make their submissions while everyone reads and votes on the stories. Sometimes we do it the other way round, and write stories about art. It's a lot of fun either way!

Voting for fic and pic rounds works in exactly the same way: each user is assigned a slate of stories/pictures to read and rank from best to worst. These orderings are used to determine scores for each entry, and this gives us our results (Roger explains how this works in more detail here). You do not have to vote for every entry on your slate, and if you do you can add more entries to your slate if you want to keep voting!

There is one very, very important rule of a writeoff: anonymity. You must not disclose publicly which entry/entries are yours, and doing so is grounds for disqualification. The goal here is to make sure that nobody is biased by authorship in their voting. Once the site tells everyone that you wrote your story, you're free to talk about it, but not a minute sooner.

One last thing: the writeoffs have traditionally been as much a writing(/art) workshop as they are a competition. Users are encouraged to leave feedback in the form of comments/reviews on entries they've read, but this is not compulsory. Leave however much or little feedback you like! (Or none!) And no, you do not have to have entered the competition to provide feedback.

(We also have a discord server: check out the link at the top of the page, and feel free to ask here or there if you have any questions. The writeoff community is all about helpfulness! If you want to ask a question in private, my discord DMs are open to anyone in the writeoff server.)

Thanks for sticking with me through that. To new folks: welcome. To old folks (who might also happen to like She-Ra I guess?): welcome back. Best of luck to everyone with their entries!

#21538 · 8
· on Wordsworth · >>No_Raisin >>scifipony
I've got a number of points about this post, and the posts that came before it. The first is that I think you and I greatly disagree over exactly what an author ought to do to combat disbelief, because I certainly don't think that a statement like "the sky was purple" would come close to breaking mine, as a reader. I would read the line, think "huh, that's different", and recognise that statement as a fact of the imaginary world that I am reading about (as perceived by the narrator). Simple facts that contradict my perception of my own reality are what my imagination is for, after all. Worth noting the disagreement, I feel, as it’ll likely colour a lot of this discussion.

I'm also not 100% sure that you're using the term lampshading correctly. It's not a term I've come across too often before, so (ironically) the first time I really looked into it was reading the very link you posted in your review. My understanding from that is that lampshading explicitly involves not explaining something that seems far-fetched. TvTropes describes the technique as "calling attention to [an implausible plot development or reliance on a trope] and simply moving on", which is in my mind closer to what the story already does than it is to your suggested improvement. Though, naturally, since this is a term I've only recently learned about, I'm happy to be corrected on that one (would appreciate some sources to read along with any corrections!)

A pretty big point of contention here is that I don't think all of your rules are exactly applicable to the writeoff, as a workshop format. You say that it's never useful for an author to justify themselves to a critic: why? If a critic tells me that something I've written has evoked a response that clearly doesn't match what I'm attempting to convey, and I don't explain what I was attempting to do and how I was attempting to do it, how can I open a dialogue in order to get advice that is relevant to my intentions?

The writeoff is a workshop forum, designed around critical conversion—critics can reply to existing responses by design, as this allows helpful and useful discussion to develop. It also allows us to become better critics. When I started out in the writeoff, as anyone who was around at the time would likely tell you, I was a bit of an arrogant asshat whose criticism was more often asinine than it was useful. I'd like to think that I've gotten better since then, and if I have it's entirely because other people replied to what I said and told me "hey Quill, you might want to consider not lecturing people about commas when you absolutely suck at using them"*.

Put simply: dialogue is the cornerstone of forum criticism. The Clarion method is not the only good way to run a workshop, and it's not how we run this one.

I'm surprised that you're astounded to find No Raisin write a comment back to you, as I can see that you have some history in the writeoffs. While it's by no means a universal practice, people writing retrospectives in which they respond to reviews to answer and ask questions, clarify, say thank you, or just share interesting facts about the process of writing the entry is fairly normal behaviour here. No Raisin even alludes to it above.

I'm also particularly shocked that you think No Raisin's message rejected your criticism because of ego, of all things. He says (in my opinion, rightly) that he does not have to cater to your worldview in his story, because the statement being made is sufficiently simple and fundamental that it can be expected that readers will suspend their disbelief if they happen to disagree with it. That's a reasoned disagreement, clearly and thoughtfully explained, if a little angrily so. To dismiss that disagreement as mere ego is itself somewhat egotistical—you assume that your suggestion must be valid, and refuse to recognise any argument that disagrees with it as so, because it is backed by your authentic experience of the story.

So let me talk about my own real problem with your initial critique. While I might disagree that the assertion in question is a good reason to lose engagement with a story, I am more than comfortable accepting that you did find it jarring, and I have no real problem with you stating that. Hell, as a physics graduate, if I read a story with a significant physical or mathematical error in it, I would find that jarring, and I would consider mentioning it in a review. The problem comes when you insist that the author accommodates that, because that is when you step out of the bounds of describing your reaction and into the realm of suggesting improvements. One of your rules is to never rewrite a story for someone—good. That's sensible. But proposing changes, even without proposing explicit wordings for them, still steps into this dangerous world where you might not actually know what's best for the story, only what you think might be.

In that world, we have to be humble. As critics, we have to acknowledge that our advice might just run completely counter to the author's intent—indeed, that we might have so fundamentally misunderstood the author's intent as to be proposing a change that makes the story worse. What we can't do, as you have done, is hide behind the shield of "all experiences by readers are useful and valid", because we've deliberately stepped out of the world in which that shield works.

If I read a story where a writer fundamentally misunderstood some principle of quantum physics or relativity, it very well might break me out of my immersion, and I very well might mention it. But you know what? I'd recognise that I was intended to accept their misunderstanding as fact, even if it isn't, and do my best to get back in. And at the end, if it weren't a statement fundamental to the story itself, I might say "by the way, this isn't how that works" (I think Cass did something like that this round with a story's description of law school?), but I certainly wouldn't tell the author "and you absolutely must write it how it works in real life or you might break some people's immersion if they happen to care enough about the subject". That probably isn't something they care much about, and I'd come across as a bit of an asshat. If I just let the author know what’s wrong in their description of a field I am an expert in, they get to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using that.

There are two differences between that hypothetical situation and this real one. Firstly, in the hypothetical I'm not describing a disagreement with a worldview, but a disagreement with empirical fact, so one could argue that the case for making the change is stronger. And, secondly, the hypothetical change isn't fundamental to the story—I mentioned that for a reason. In this real situation, the assertion that faith died out following some apocalypse is part of the fundamental conceit of the story being told. To say that it needs explaining is no better than me criticising a work of fantasy for not mentioning the evolutionary origins of dragons, or a sci-fi story for not explaining that scientific advancements lead to the apparent limit of the speed of light being overcome. Those assumptions are inherent to the story, and to ask the author to justify them in-text is, in my opinion, refusing to engage with the story in good faith.

I'd like to end by stating my opposition to your position on writeoff entries as practice stories. People use writeoff entries for all sorts of things after the events (I've bought a short story anthology with one in!), and the way you write about them in your comment strikes me as particularly dismissive. You might use the stories you write for writeoffs as throwaway stories, and you might write plenty of other things, but some of us actually do care about (at least some of) our entries in these contests. I would ask you very kindly not to dismiss entries to any workshop as things to be thrown away. Not all of us have the luxury to treat them as such, and some of us have to treasure every little bit of writing we get to do.

* these weren't exactly the words used, but in my first ever writeoff I critiqued a story for using commas wrong (because I was young and foolish) when it actually used them right (very foolish). Horizon was kind enough to point out my error, and I've gradually moved toward trying to give more useful criticism as a result. I continue to be absolutely mortified by this story, but I share it because a) it's a useful illustration of my point and b) if I can avoid getting embarrassed by it, it's actually pretty funny.
#3795 · 7
Don't compromise anonymity. Doing so is ground for disqualification and we'll send Majin to fuck you as a complimentary punishment.

Well now I'm just tempted to compromise my anonymity D:
#4639 · 7
· · >>Chryssi
Hey everyone, guess what's done?

Answer: this round's podcast! Woo!
#9716 · 7
· on Sisyphus · >>Monokeras
Agreeing with this. Also:

First, I'd like to apologise to everyone who read my story. I wished you had a better experience and I’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations.

I’m sorry to have failed you one way or the other. I’m going to nuke that story right away. Please just forget you read it.

Mono, you have not failed anyone. And nobody has expectations going into a writeoff story, so I guarantee you haven't failed to meet their expectations, either.

Writing a story that contained things that people didn't like isn't failure. It's normal.

Reading a story that isn't polished or doesn't feel fully thought-out in a writeoff does not feel like being let down. It's normal.

Having a reader read your story and interpret something in a way you weren't expecting isn't bad. It's normal.

I have read a lot of stories in my time, Mono. Some of them are very, very good. Some of them are very, very bad. Most of them are somewhere in the middle. Yet no matter how bad, boring, bland, or incompetent a story may be, I have never truly wanted to forget that a story exists*. Reading stories, even the worst stories I've ever read, has always brought something positive to my life, even if I might not have noticed it at the time.

Please, never think that you have failed your readers by writing a less-than-perfect story—especially a story written under strict time constraints, in a language that isn't your native tongue. Every time anyone enters something into the writeoffs, it is an achievement to be proud of, no matter the result. You don't have to be proud of the story itself to be proud of the fact that you wrote a thing, and it wasn't totally awful.

Lastly, Mono, I'd like you to go back and re-read every review on this. Almost every single one (ignore !Hat. He's being a grumpy-guts ❤) has something they enjoyed about this story—and several liked it very much, despite the criticism. You have not failed your readers. You've done something amazing, and I find it a shame that you think anything else.

*Okay, with the exception of some weird fetishy stuff. That doesn't really count.
#14401 · 7
· on Last Minutes · >>AndrewRogue
The reviews above me have pinpointed a number of problems with this entry, but... well, I'm the kind of person who likes to talk about why things work or not, rather than what is right or wrong. The way I see it, talking about these things in depth can help us all to be better writers... or, in this case, better poets. Worst comes to worst, hopefully we all learn something?

So, without further ado, let's talk about some of the stuff that doesn't quite work out in Last Minutes.

Take the metre, for example. Like, almost every stanza here is anapestic tetrameter, though there's a fair amount of iambic substitution (I'm not gonna count, but I think there might be more lines that open with iambs than anapests! But iambic substitution is a big part of anapestic metre anyway, so that's not a problem)... but there are a few places where the meter just doesn't add up. Iambic substitution works by dropping an unstressed syllable from the start of a line, but I've seen a few places where you've treated a line as two sets of anapestic dimeter and substituted an iamb in on the second one... and that doesn't quite work.

Here, this'll be easier to understand with examples rather than just jargon:

When all hope seems lost, then I'd intervene.

In context (because in the context of anapestic tetrameter, we all unconsciously try to read lines as close as possible to that meter!), that has the following meter: x/xx/,x/xx/ (x unstressed, / stressed). And you know, that's a pretty neat meter! But it stands out here because it breaks something that's very important to anapestic tetrameter: flow. You know how a lot of Dr Seuss' poems had that almost train-like rhythm to them, rattling forwards with momentum that couldn't quite be stopped? Substituting an iamb at the start of a line never hurt that momentum: in fact, it often helped it keep going by getting us to the next stressed syllable faster despite the pause of a line break. Here, though, substituting an iamb in in the middle of the line feels like a lurch in that train journey—it pulls us out of the rhythm and stops all that momentum you've worked so hard to build. Like I said, it's an excellent meter, but I don't think it's one that works with the context of this poem.

Here's a line that doesn't quite work for a different reason altogether:

So I'd be cursing myself, and regretting it then.

Which is: xxx/xx/xx/xx/. Now you might be tempted to assume that's a line in pentameter of some kind: a pyrrhic, an iamb, then three anapests. But the poem by this point is very firmly established in tetrameter, and it's so close to anapestic tetrameter that you're almost forced to read those first four syllables as something I learned just now is called a quartus paeon. The effect of that, of course, is to read those first three syllables really fast to fit them all in one foot, and that is rather uncomfortable. Again, this break in the metre is jarring and, in this case, trips up the momentum of the piece.

That's just a few examples of why some of the rhythms here aren't working. Remember, there's nothing wrong with varying your metre in poetry (just look at all the lines here with iambic substitution that totally get a pass!), but you should always keep in mind the effect that varying it will have, and how that fits into the flavour of the base metre you're using.

So with all that complaining about syllables out of the way, let's talk about the coolest thing in this poem: the refrain. Like most of the other stanzas, it's four lines of anapestic tetrameter... but you've taken the really interesting decision of breaking up the first and last lines into literal pairs, which gives them a totally different feeling. I actually quite like the effect of this, especially on the first line: giving the reader that space to pause and imagine before you plough onwards is a really cool little device and does a lot of good work for you. I'm less convinced on the final pair of lines, though in my defence that's probably because they don't even resemble anapestic meter, except that you might be able to argue that they have a few trisyllabic feet between them. Still, if you tidy them up, I can see how they could do just as much work as the first two!

And then there's the rhyme scheme. You know, given this entry is very much set up to be a child's bedtime poem, you'd expect to see a really strong, consistent rhyme scheme... and yet the rhymes here are all over the place. Some are half-rhymes, some feel rather forced, and in other places you abandon all semblance of a rhyme scheme and give us four lines with no rhyming endings at all! At first I'd thought this was going to be a really cool little trick ("oh, hey, let's break the rhyme scheme during the stanza where the character is taking about things being unique and different, and emphasise that by having no line-end rhymes!") but there ended up being more cases where I couldn't see a justification for the breakage than not. Ultimately, I think that weakened this piece.

Still, content-wise? This is cool. I love the idea on display here, and I think you've picked the perfect medium for it (and that's not an easy feat in and of itself!) Though I think the poem itself could do with a fair bit of tidying up, I don't think that detracts all that much from reading it—I know from experience quite how difficult strict metres can be, and I absolutely applaud the effort here. It's a really interesting take on the prompt, a really thoughtful and emotive piece, with an excellent structural frame. I really hope you work on this, author, because I'd love to see this tidied up. It's Flawed, but Fun, and I liked it a lot.

(I'm not going to give this story a HORSE score. Sorry, author—I'm not entirely sure how I'd apply the format to verse, particularly less-narrative verse like this, when it seems to have been a system primarily designed for discussing stories. So in lieu of that, I'm going to give you a quick three bullet-point list of poetry-specific things I think you should be looking towards focusing on in improving this piece:

• Rhythm and metre—which is why I spent so long talking about it in quite detailed terms above! I get the impression you've got a really strong grasp of what you want to do with metre in this poem, but either because of time constraints or simply mistakes (they happen to me all the time!) some parts that didn't quite work fell through the editing process. I know this'll probably take a lot of work to tidy up, but I also know you can do it because, despite all my complaints, most of the lines here have a really strong sense of meter.
• Forced word choices/order—there's a few places where, either to fit the rhyme scheme or the metre, you've messed with word order away from grammatical norms. That's pretty standard practice in a lot of poetry, but I'm not so sure it fits in children's lit, which this entry is ostensibly masquerading as. Maybe worth rethinking some of those?
• Punctuation—just a nitpick, really, but it's something I mentioned last round: all those repeated opening quotes are extremely weary on the eyes! I know why you've done it, but I'd really question this decision. There are a few other punctuation choices I'm not super convinced by, too. In poetry, punctuation is an incredibly important tool, and using it well can take an otherwise unexceptional poem and really make it shine!

Hope those tips and all the above come in handy, author, and I'm sorry if any of this sounds patronising. As someone who greatly enjoys writing verse, especially metred verse, I figured you might appreciate some feedback from a different angle than the comments above.)
#14432 · 7
I was reading back over old writeoff threads and realised just how long it's been since I've done any mashups...

The Sparking of the Countdown Clock
Gertrude Fremont (Ph.D.) repeatedly jumps from a plane as part of a particularly obscure experiment on mass spectroscopy in exotic spacetimes, and how repeatedly jumping out of planes makes your eyes glow.

In the last minute before a meteor impact destroys all of civilisation, the Gunslinger calmly reflects on the important things in life: tea, whiskey, and shooting kids. Someone says something in the comments about lesbians, and nobody is entirely sure why.

To Save the Goldfish
Samuel loved the TV. He loved it because he loved the people who watched it, since three months ago when they picked him up at the pet store.

But he never thought he'd have to destroy one to save the other.

A Little Story, Even Now
Fair reviuws start thinkong good. Don't tell lyttle epigrams: skow whole ecperiments. Someone exclaims sumething grandiose, except their reaction nefer re-opens suggestions.