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Winner of the WriteOff Worst Writer aWard
#21504 · 1
· on Days Gone By · >>Oblomov
This is another sweet story. If I was 100% forthright, I'd say that the idea of “I had a wonderful boyhood here, but had to leave and when I come back years later everything is spoilt and sullied” is not really new, and had been used so many times it's bordering on cliché. But there is a sort of freshness here, and I particularly appreciated the little details you added, like that nose which never tanned but burnt. This sort of little touch makes your characters less generic, and it's easier to connect with them. Also, one could argue that the end seems contrived, and, yeah, it is somewhat, but I found that easily forgiveable.

I don't know. Maybe that story speaks to me at some inner level, because I, also, have witnessed many things I knew in my youth change. I have kept seeing the same dentist along the years, and he still has his office in the small suburban town when I grew up. Last time I visited him, three weeks ago, I was there a bit early so rather than twiddle my thumbs in the waiting room, I took a walk in the quarter where my parents lived at that time: most of the shops have disappeared, some houses too, and it looked a bit alien to me. It is the same town, but it is not the same, too. Colder, emptier, distant.

Unfortunately, I didn't bump into the first girl I puppy-loved so many years ago.

So yeah, I can't help, but be touched by this little story. Good job, author.
#21502 ·
· on The Trip
This is a nice vignette, as the others have sum up, it is sweet but without being maudlin or mawkish. So good job of introducing just the right quantity of syrup into it. It made me smile, is quite well written, rings reasonably true, and made me smile. It is not a very striking story in the sense that it doesn't sound profound or leave us with a takeaway to mull on, but it definitely achieves what it was set up to do.

Kudos for that.
#21493 ·
· on The Kiss
While the idea of Jesus being either an alien sent on Earth, or someone from the future accidentally (or not) sent back through time to this time period is not new, the idea that Judas could be another alien sent to sabotage is mission is actually funny.

The way the text tries to parallel the destiny of both characters is another nice touch here, and, as Bachi said, you succeed in packing a lot of material in a small space without being either too terse or too verbose, so kudos for that.

Naming Jesus at the end of the story wasn't probably the smartest of moves, even though at this point it is all but clear whom we are dealing with.

So yeah, all in all, quite a nice entry.
#21488 ·
· on On the Night Shift
This is a fun story, but I’m still wondering what was the point of shoehorning it into a fantasy background. There’s no point in having your characters be of alien races. They don’t do anything related to their race. Instead, you could’ve drawn upon the already quite rich folklore available to you in the various mythologies.

The last line fell a bit flat to me. It’s very generic, and sounds like a piece of pub philosophy. Doesn't add much to the story, I'd even venture it detracts slightly from it.

Otherwise, it’s a pleasant read, and even if there’s no real message to get out of it, it was a fun moment. So yeah, middle+ for me.
#21487 ·
· on Wordsworth
The idea of books being the most precious items surviving a cataclysm is not new – I'd even say it’s somewhat tired at this point – and this story hardly adds anything new to the treatment of the concept. It is, however, technically sound, so yeah, it’s going to land mid-slate. I can’t rate it high, but I can’t rate it low either, so around the midpoint seems fair to me.
#21486 ·
· on A Day Off?
As Ratlab said, not much happens here and it’s more a piece of introspective talk than anything else. It left me a bit unconcerned, because I didn't really connect with the central character. The text seems to suggest she rose from an insignificant position to one with clout (as implied by the fact that she arranges for powerful help to be sent after a catastrophe, something that requires knowing powerful folk – an assumption strengthened by the fact that people wave at her as if she was quite known), but nothing is really said about how she rose to that position. I feel there’s a big gap in the story here.

Otherwise, yeah, helping people can make you feel good, sure. But somehow, if that’s the only takeaway of the story, I find it a bit too… naive, maybe? Or boyscout-like. Or sirupy. Inevitably, there will be people you don’t want to help, so you can’t really be defined only by your altruism. Just a personal feeling, though; you’re 110% allowed to disagree with me.
#21485 ·
· on Creation Takes Too Long · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I always had a fondness for creation stories, especially those which take the subject lightly like this one. I would lie if I wrote the subject is new, but the way you tackled it is fun, although I vaguely remember a story where the protagonist wasn't a three-headed god, but a three-headed hydra whose heads would never agree.

I don’t have much to add, because there’s not much besides that. It’s more like an elaborate joke (maybe even a feghoot) than a true story. I think it’ll end up in the middle of my slate.
#21480 · 1
· on Blue Montage
While I appreciate the exchange between the young and the old cop, that thing about "montage" left me with a weird feeling, like it was a concept shoehorned into the story, and not for the best. I explain: it's always nice to behold an old geezer use their wisdom to rein in the enthusiasm and sometimes overshooting energy of a young rookie, but with that added "montage" thing, it's like you deliberately want to push into the background what is precisely the heart, the pith of your story. So, on the one side, we get to know that "thinking" or "thinking with one's heart" is more important than "blindly acting by the book", but on the other side you tell us that all those lessons are just asides, by-thoughts of no useful value at the end since they can be cut out and chucked. And then we're here, like the rope in a tug of war, yanked both ways at once.

It's not a very comfy place to be left at.
#21479 ·
· on More Work To Do
This is another of those stories in which you (read: I) end up asking yourself if you're up to snuff to read it, because there's certainly deep inside a hidden meaning or some sort of moral message, but you're a dumbass and you missed it. Then you re-read the fic, and it's no clearer, so you end up feeling really you're a nincompoop.

That's frustrating, and not good for self-esteem.

I can't really appreciate this fic as much as I would like to. It has nice imagery, a vague sense of mystery, but there's simply not enough context for them to gel properly. It's like being faced with a jigsaw puzzle representing some masterpiece, but it turns out some pieces are missing and you're not able to finish it. Give us a bit more info, maybe who's the narrator, to begin with, that will help us unravel the tangle you put in our hands.
#21478 ·
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
I agree with what Baal Bunny said. That fic left me at arm's length. It's not badly written or technically atrocious, but he fact that I can't relate in any way with what's going on there, the shifting PoV, and most of all the clear impression that I'm none the wiser at the end (What does the fic want to tell me? I have no idea.) piled up to produce that sort of distancing ("Err… Okay, but what of it?"). It's somewhat frustrating: you fancy there's a message here, a takeaway, something you missed, but even if you scrape hard enough, you have no clue as to what it is exactly. Goddamn.

I'm probably not the right audience for that fic, so rather than sentencing it to the dregs of my slate, I will simply abstain.
#21477 ·
· on The Leap
I partially agree with Ratlab here. The repetition scheme could've been funny if it had been accompanied by a real progression, probably a constant roll downhill. The fic tricks us into thinking it will do that, as there's very much a sense of "things going to the dogs" but then there is an abrupt switchback and we enter into a meta-fic about the WriteOffs, which is both out of place, unimaginative and, frankly, quite bland.

TBH, that unexpected swerve sank the fic for me. Sorry, author.
#21069 · 3
Can’t believe it’s pony time again.
Time to write another game loser :p :p
#21021 · 2
Grats to Andrew, Dubs and WritingSpirit. Well done guys!

>>Anon Y Mous
>>Miller Minus

The Hangman

I’m going here to mainly respond to Horizon, because in a way answering to him answers to everyone else.

First off, thanks all for your comments 🖤!

No, the story is not about the kid trying to commit cop suicide. The boy Dave doesn’t want to die, and I thought that was pretty clear from his last line. Also, if the teacher is embarrassed, it’s not because she’s facing something unusual and has to find a way to explain it to Dave’s parents. It’s because she genuinely expected Dave to beat the game. Because he’s, in her eyes, a smart enough kiddo to do so. What she doesn’t know is…

What does she not know?

Well, the story is about Dave having…

A hang-up, right?

Indeed such a bad one that he’s incapable of uttering that word, because the shame is too difficult to bear. And so he chooses to die. But not because he wants it, just because he’s unable to overcome that psychological roadblock.

Now, someone figured that out but dismissed it as unrealistic. I can tell you it is not, out of my own experience. When I was a young kid, I was very shy. When I say shy, I mean it. I was, for example, unable to push the door of a bakery to ask for a baguette or sweets. I’d find whatever excuse not to do it, and even make up barefaced lies about the shop being closed, if necessary. Many times I thought of what would’ve happened if I was staring down a barrel (in a literal sense) and given the choice either to enter and ask or die. I really can tell you I’m not sure I would’ve chosen the first.

Because sometimes dying is the easiest way out, when the hurdle is too high to climb. It’s not cop suicide. It’s just… giving in? Or giving up? Or just thinking it’s something you’re utterly incapable of doing, however simple it may seem to others.

So yeah, Dave has a hang-up (in both senses) with uttering certain words tied to sexuality. His teacher doesn’t know about it, probably because she never had an opportunity to discover it. Although she thinks he’ll breeze through this, because he’s smart — and probably has already ridden the game out multiple times in the past — this time Dave is depressed, thus already in a weak position, and the onus of the game falls on Betty, who has noticed something was wrong with him, and just takes pleasure at rubbing salt in the wound.

The world of children is often ruthless.

Also I would add that whatever “bashing” comments this piece received, I’m very proud that it stood out as technically solid to Raisin — which to me means a lot. All the more that it was written within a couple of minutes Sunday morning between two chores, and received only minimal edition. So… Raisin thanks so much, I love you! :) ❤️

>>Miller Minus

By any Other Name

Of course here, the starting point was the Shakespearian quote. Including the Latin sentence out of The Name of the Rose wasn’t very smart, and I debated whether pulling it out, but at the end I thought it was a nice addition, so I left it — thinking very much it would give me away.

The background was inspired by P. K. Dick’s story The Penultimate Truth in which humanity has to take shelter underground because Earth’s surface has become inhabitable after a nuclear war. Probably they had to flee all of sudden, and only a minimal amount of vital things could be saved, so no books or databanks. Thus here we are, maybe one or two generations after, with memories of the former world slowly dying away as the elders pass, and a new generation which had only experienced that artificially lit subterranean dwelling presumably supplied with closed-circuit recycled air.

Under those conditions, you can infer the survivors would have prioritised saving seeds of crops and veggies (and maybe trees for fruit) over ornemental plants.

Thomas is both annoyed to be the teacher’s pet, because being so is probably enough to be bullied by the other pupils, but he resent very much when someone who is supposedly knowledgeable disagrees with his father, who for him is the ultimate source of wisdom. Also, of course, he doesn’t possess the necessary assets to argue against the guide on an even-steven footing, so all he can do when forcibly confronted is hush and sulk. But the guide knows this was a very much uneven tug of war, so she tries to make up for being unfair and feisty.

The story was pretty much unfocused because I had no real plot for it besides the basic idea. I somehow winged it (as I’m used to doing each time), letting the plot unfold as I wrote it. I wasn’t even sure how it should end.

I’m sorry to have left so many typos slip through, all the more since the story was edited (but not by Pasco) — it was certainly way worse at first. I must’ve failed to implement all the remarks my editor made, because Sunday morning I was already more focussed on The Hangman than on this story.

In any case, thanks to everyone for your appreciation and suggestions. Thanks for commenting, too! Love you all.
#20985 ·
· on Male-Order Magic
In a way, the comments written about this story are more interesting and funny than the story itself. :p I especially commend >>No_Raisin, but >>Cassius has several points in his wallet.

I mean, this sounds pretty much contrived, from the pentagram thing to the way the guy reacts (way to calmly) to the end when the witch guesses the right name (surprisingly?).

Also, I wanted to add that if the point of the story was only showing us the guy doesn’t want to fuck with the witch, you could have depicted her as an old crone with a lot of warts, missing teeth and so on—the usual way children tales depict witches. No need to go for a plump (but rather attractive?—it’s not said anywhere she’s ugly) character, unless what you want us to take away is that “those usual upper-crust pricks cannot stand to sleep with anything else than blond, anorectic supermodels”, which is kinda true (maybe?), but that’s a long-winded—and a bit awkward and risqué (in both senses)–way to tell us that. Is that frustration you’re expressing here? Please, lie down comfortably on this sofa, and let's talk.

In any case, I don’t share your passion for willowy, scrawny girls. I'd rather go for plump than bony, but that’s normal, I always refused to be an uppity go-getter, unlike Cassius.
#20984 ·
· on Patrimony · >>Baal Bunny
Ah. The usual trick. I say that because I've read several (children) stories where an evil being (warlock, witch or w/e) is dared to transform themselves into a harmless form, which they usually do because of their bloated ego and stupidity, just to be then safely disposed of by the hero. Granted, that hero seldom is the villain's son.

But, I’m with Dubs here to say that the first lines were highly redolent of Shrek, while the last ones turn the hand more towards Puss in Boots.

In any case, it’s a… story there’s little to say about—it’s a sort of moral fable in prose, but you lack the moral takeaway, such as “Never trust a talking cat” or “every flatterer preys on those who listen to him”. Besides, I think you could have your protagonist be turned into a fox rather than a cat. Cat are catty, whereas fox are foxy. That would've stuck better to the usual bestiary we all know about.
#20972 ·
· on Watching the Show · >>libertydude
It’s a baseball story, so of course I don’t care.


I mean your first paragraph is 99% nonsensical to me. It’s a clutter of meaningless words apparently organised in a grammatically correct way, but that’s all it is. I don’t have an inning of what’s going on.

As a consequence, I don’t even want to read the rest.

But since I decently can’t penalise you for writing a story I’m not in the audience thereof, I will simply abstain.

For this once.

Don’t tell me I don’t go to bat for you.

Please avoid American football too.

And cricket.
#20969 ·
· on It's Not the Leaving that Grieves Me
First amendment: no right to harm whales.
#20956 ·
· on It's Not the Leaving that Grieves Me · >>Cassius
Well, this is Moby Dick like, of course, but don’t expect it to reach the same heights.

Frankly, I despise whales hunter. Really, I hate them. So don’t expect me to relate to your protagonist in anyway. Kill defenceless animals to make money? That’s base.

Besides my reflex disliking of your hero, I share most of what Pasco said, so I won’t repeat it. There’s little except a too intense love story between the guy and his wife, the way you depict it is very much stereotyped.

Even the end is, somehow—sappy.

Finally, Oceano Nox.
#20952 ·
· on In the Melted Eye of the Beholder
I acknowledge your know-how at melting dolls in oven, Pasco! Any experience you'd like to relate to us? :)
#20951 ·
· on Saint's Day
I think the idea is a nice once, being able to skip a holiday—Valentine or Christmas or w/e—just because you don’t adhere to the philosophy that underpins it. Well, the comparison with Christmas is not fair, because at Christmas you get one, or two, day(s) off, that you can enjoy regardless of what you think of it, whereas for Valentine's you get nothing but being bullied if you can’t celebrate it properly.

That being said, the story really does not venture much beyond that argument ("I'd like to skip that day if I was given the possibility to"). There’s no twist, nor further idea/concept thrown in. You could’ve had, say, a girl knocking or phoning at 8 AM to ask if Gary was available for an evening date, and Eddie trying to vamp some excuse for him to not be. Or whatever other twist. Instead, you turn it into a stone statue, which is fair, but not really something we didn't expected. It maybe a salt statue, but it doesn’t add much salt to the story.

And without any substantial to add into the mix, we’re pretty left with talking heads debating why Valentine's is obnoxious to single people, pros, cons, which, frankly, which is, in all truth, a tired argument.

Once again, not bad, but could’ve benefitted from a better ending with a dash of fantasy.
#20949 ·
· on In the Melted Eye of the Beholder · >>Pascoite >>horizon
This is a fair entry.

There’s quite matter to rant about the physics, though. I suppose your oven temperature is 500 °F, because at 500 °C all you would get out of your oven would be specks of dust. I’m not aware of any household oven that can reach that high, so I suppose you’re talking Fahrenheit here. But even at 500 °F, which is 260 °C, the plastic used to make the dolls would burn and carbonise, giving you just a plain black dollop and certainly emitting obnoxious acrid odours all the way through its decomposition. What you describe instead sounds pretty unrealistic to me.

I mean, this could be nitpicking, but you seem to devote quite a substantial part of your story describing what happens to the dolls. If you do, then better check your physics.

So, what is the message here? That’s beauty is to be found inside, beyond the (absence of) flesh? Or beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Surely, there’s some truth in that, even though this message is pretty old. I think the story would’ve been better if you had extended to scope to “what is identity” itself by, say, bringing forth a character with but all his limbs, and why not also internal organs, grafted from different sources. What is the identity of such patched up individual? What are you when your heart, your kidneys, your liver, your limbs all come from different, deceased people? Are you still you, or are you something else?

So, overall, as I said, a fair entry, but I wish you'd been more ambitious in your endeavour.
#20931 ·
· on Son the Father · >>Cassius >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>No_Raisin >>No_Raisin
I'm not sure why Cassius like that story so much.

This is pretty boring. You start from a fairly common premise, a boy with telekinetic powers, but you don't do much with it. You could have got inspired by this episode of Star Trek TOS.

Instead of exploring what possessing a superpower could do on the psyche of a boy, you tone it down, until you get a pretty tasteless result. First of all, you ruin about all suspense by explicitly telling us straight up the boy won't be normal and his parents are blockheads. We get that confirmed, and then… nothing happens. The boy is dull. His parents are dull. Their life is drab. Then it turns out the boy is a serial killer, but we’re not even certain, and we don’t even know why he gets like this.

It seems to me you were also pretty dejected when you wrote this, and you let that seep into your protagonists. This is not bad, but it’s pretty much a squandering of resources.
#20921 ·
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards · >>Anon Y Mous
>>Anon Y Mous
No, because she doesn’t state she can’t fight it. Alright, she says some weapons won’t work, but she says also some others will, albeit with a reduced efficiency. That’s enough for a hero, no?

I mean look at the last Star Wars when they make contact with that bar tender – she cares to explain things in the middle of a fight. Now that’s what a true hero should be like.
#20909 · 1
· on Ingénue, c. 2003 · >>WritingSpirit
Odd word choices here and there to begin with. “like a revelation from God or something far beyond her consternation.” I’m not sure consternation actually means what you think it means (did you mean “comprehension”?); also “and eyes shimmering asynchronously with the embers…” asynchronously? That makes me think of a camera or some electronic device. Its presence here is quite jarring to me. Also I’m with Horizon when he says that Catherine and Christine (Kristen) are really too close one to the other.

Interesting use of "grey" where "gray" would be expected, since you use American spelling (realiZed, snuck…)

Conceptually, I suppose Kristen was the model, and maybe the painter was her abuser. That would explain why she insists so much at destroying the picture: as Dubs says, because it reminds her of her lost beauty, but also of the guy who defiled her.

Otherwise, I don’t have much to say. Barring what I pointed out, the prose is good. A nice bittersweet piece, although more a scene than a story. I agree with Raisin that the phoenix metaphor was a bit on the nose. I think readers are clever enough to figure that out on their own.

But clearly atop my slate right now.
#20890 ·
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards · >>Anon Y Mous >>Miller Minus
Ahem. This one is about calling a spade a spade, right?

Or is it?

Well, it’s a scene. To be honest, I found the girl pretty (s)callous here: a monster is destroying the town, and she just sits here, taking her time to make her assistant realise he was wrong, while the wyvern keeps rampagning around. Not really what you’d expect from a full-fledged, good natured hero.

Other than that, it’s difficult to care for both protagonists, as we get so few things about them. Make the girl actually fight the whatever it is she has to fight, and let her assistant discover he made an error. Here, what you do is pretty much all telling and no showing, which detracts a lot from the story.
Paging WIP