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Verbing weirds language.
#21662 · 1
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
>>Pascoite Pretty sure you're right; I think I just recognized part of the machine. After taking a second look, I'm fairly certain those dark ridged bits looping it together are zip-ties.

My guess on the method is clay modeling for the sun and planet, a hand-made miniature machine, a hand-painted background (including the 'paper moon' in the alt text), a bit of photography, and some digital editing to bring the pieces together. Looking at the edges on the sun - especially the upper edge - I'm pretty sure I can see jagged bits from quick masking. The planet wouldn't have this because it would likely be shrunk, effectively anti-aliasing it.

i can't decide if the machine is 'shopped onto the sun, or if the models are physically joined... my instincts are telling me the shadow that the machine casts on itself doesn't quite match the shadow it casts on the sun, but... honestly, that's probably wrong. The only thing I can actually point to would be the shadow of the top-most pipe seeming to not fall on the projection sticking out of the sun below it. That could well be a natural lighting artifact, though.

I'm super curious now if that inner glow is an actual light source or if that's digital. The glow looks really real, but the mesh-looking stuff inside doesn't seem to be casting shadows... maybe it's a combination?

This piece has definitely benefited from a second look. I'd love to see a retrospective on how it was made.
#21600 · 1
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Yeah, this is a great use of a conceit. The only thing I think would make it better for me, would be if the moon/sun were actually integrated into Celestia/Luna somehow. That would probably be more effort than it's worth, though. Nice clean lines, clever concept, good execution.

Very nice work.
#21599 ·
· on , or even half of it
I'm pretty curious if you photo-shopped this, or actually programmed it. Interesting piece either way.
#21598 ·
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>Pascoite >>GroaningGreyAgony
I've been staring at that thing for five minutes, trying to figure out where it's from, but I just can't place it.

I like the picture, though.
#21597 ·
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Yeah, this is just really nice. Great style, nice concept, clean execution. Maybe a few more ripples in the water, especially across the reflection boundary, would help tie things together a bit more? Or maybe they'd just be extra visual noise.

Suffice to say, I like it a lot.
#21596 · 1
· on I'm Not Asleep · >>Pascoite
For some reason, my brain is telling me that her closed eye goes inwards instead of outwards. Maybe fuzzing the shadow more on the left side, to show the gradual slope, would help with that?
#21595 · 1
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
Eyyy, it's short and cute. I liked the incremental asides, that sort of thing is a quick way to break up stuff and add some impact.

I smiled. Thanks for writing!
#21594 · 3
· on The Butterfly Effect · >>Caliaponia
...is this about Discord?

Well. This works fairly well as a 'robot learns to love' kinda thing, although I had to read it twice to feel like I had a good handle on it.

I think a stronger orientation at the beginning would help. Maybe starting with the bit about re-designing junk into a datacenter, then doing the whole 'D15 was flawed' bit, would start the readers off with a better understanding of what D15 is. I mean, even if we know it's flawed, we have no context to put that in at first. Better orientation at the beginning would help keep people interested, I think. A good hook (I do tend to value this more than some, but still) wouldn't go awry, either.

Anyways, it's a fun story. I wish it were, overall, clearer, but the structure and meaning is definitely there, if you look closely enough.
#21592 · 1
· on In Your Quietest Voice · >>Meridian_Prime
The emotions are conveyed fairly well here.

I have a bit of trouble with the idea of a dedicated, strong-willed athlete like Rainbow smoking, but... eh. It fits in fairly well with the scene you're painting.

The justification stuff felt gimmicky to me. I think this would be perfectly understandable and more readable without it; I didn't see any bits where it seemed more useful than just sticking to normal convention. Sure, there's always something to be said for making stuff weirder, but I'm not sure it's worth it here. Well, if people stop experimenting in writeoff minific rounds, I'll be sad, but yeah. Part of that might be because it doesn't seem consistent; in the first scene, I think that's Fluttershy with the right-justify, while in the fourth, it's Rainbow?

I'm not sure the first two scenes are doing much for me. They feel sort of... floaty and loose, which helps set the mood, but other than that, they just kinda exist. I feel like the 'smile' kickers are supposed to be conveying something, but I'm not picking up on anything really concrete. As-is, I think I could read this from the beginning of the fourth scene, and get nearly the same impact. It might be because it took me several reads to figure out who's doing what where, and I'm still not sure I've got it. Rainbow is walking, while Fluttershy is on the riverbank? I originally scanned it as being the other way around, since I assumed the walking mare was the one speaking in the first scene... tightening up your action tags would help, and I don't think keeping names out at first is very useful... although I guess I'm not really sure what you're going for here.

Anyways, I'm a fan of the 'multiple small scenes' thing in minifics. It can be difficult to do, but it can also give a lot of weight to a very short story.

On the whole, I enjoyed this. Thanks for writing!
#21591 ·
· on The Shadow Cast By Truth
This is interesting.

The first poem, being (as far as I can tell) free verse, felt weakest to me. Well, I'm not much of a poetry critic, but I feel like free verse needs to invest a lot more meaning into what words it picks and where it puts linebreaks and things, and... I'm not really sure I'm seeing that in the first poem.

Your word choice seems a bit loose, with things like 'supple sphere' not really doing much for me. How is Equus a supple sphere? I don't get it. Sure, the alliteration is nice, but it would take some pretty strange circumstances for me to describe a planet as 'supple'. Moreover, you have those poetic contractions, like 'upon't', which have always struck me as a crutch even in places where they actually help with meter and rhyme. Since you're writing free verse here, I think you'd have been better of eschewing them. Sure, they make your work look kinda 'poetical', but that's like randomly throwing 'thees' and 'thous' into modern english to get Ye Olde. It's going to look off no matter what.

Anyways, I think the second poem is my favorite. Did you know, though, that dark mode apparently inverts that nice purple text into a fairly bright green? I'm not sure if that's something Roger should be appraised of, but I was like 'Is this supposed to be Twilight because of the 'search for knowledge' thing? If so, why is the text green?' The 'run/to ground' split line confused me a bit, since 'there I run' actually makes sense by itself in a pursuit of knowledge meaning, so continuing on with 'to ground' forced me to re-read it.

The third poem is probably the easiest to understand, and I liked the 'arise arise' ending, although 'awaken with surmise' just feels... forced. Like, I know rhyming is hard, but I think that line kinda clunks.

The fourth poem does a particularly nice job of tying the first three together. The 'subtle things' of the first poem, the 'arise' of the second poem, and the search for knowledge in the third poem, all inform this one. I think I'd be more personally satisfied if there was a stronger indication of what Twilight's epiphany is; what the deeper ties/passions felt actually are. As-is, I buy in, but if I felt that realization along with her, I think it would be an even stronger ending. Well, maybe that's a bit much to ask, or not the direction you wanted to go. Anyways, the last poem is pretty satisfying.

I think, if I were doing this, I'd have swapped the positions of the first and third poems; tying what's presumably Luna's section to dreaming Twilight more clearly. Although this way it does kinda bookend stuff, so I can see why you'd do it the way you did.

Anyways, this was pretty good. Poetry is harder to do than prose (at least for me) so I applaud your ambition. The gimmick is used really quite well, so props for that too.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Nice work, thanks for writing!
#19826 · 3
Radio Writeoff

Will happen this Saturday, at 1:00pm mountain time, 8:00pm London time.

Here is a poll.
#19799 · 1
· on The Crystal Palace
I'm not really sure what to make of this one. There are kinda three parts to this story; the beginning, where Björn is set up, the center, where Björn has his downfall, and the end, which... I have no idea what the end is doing.

Honestly, while I like each piece individually, I'm not sure they tie together in any way I find satisfying. The opening is intriguing, with how it builds up the character, and the bits and pieces of worldbuilding thrown in; the desert city, the scrolls written in blood, demons/djinns, scrying, etc; I liked all of that.

The middle piece is an interesting adventure, although the bit I'm most interested in is heavily obfuscated. I can't really enjoy it, because it only feels like the beginning and ending of the tale, with the middle bits (literally) cut out.

The ending... yeah, no idea. a 'real world' frame seems to cut away the fantasy world that came before, and the idea that the Crystal Palace somehow has intruded into our world is interesting, but such a weak inference that I probably just read too much into it.

Tonally, I think you have a bit of a clash here. Words like 'spake' are archaic, whereas words like 'rumbustiousness' are tinged with ridiculousness. The tone of Björn's journal has a similar thing going on, where he'll be brief and lax one minute, then descriptive and meticulous the next. Also, while the 'written in blood' thing adds a nice touch of mystery, he doesn't seem to be hard-pressed at the opening. Not to mention the scrolls from later on being more decayed doesn't seem to make sense to me, either; honestly, the scrolls he wrote first would be older, right?

Anyways, I liked the ideas on display here; a larger-than-life man invading a demon-guarded palace to steal treasure? Good stuff! I just feel like it doesn't ever really come together for me in a meaningful way.

Oh, and one typo that really thew me: forth -> fourth. One's a number, the other's an adverb. I read that line three or four times before I understood it.

On the other hand, the 'eye of the beholder' line was very nicely done. Pairing the old adage against the crystal palace and the coming tragedy felt extremely right.

I'm pretty mixed on this one. It's clever, but not cohesive; judged as a whole, I find it lacking, but each individual element works well. Either way, thanks for writing!
#19797 ·
· on 'Twas Brillig · >>Baal Bunny
On the title; I'd like to note that the structure of this story actually mirrors the Jabberwoky poem. In the poem, the son disregards the advice of his father and sets out to slay the Jabberwok, a mysterious evil; upon his unlikely return, his father welcomes him back with joy.

I haven't many of the Oz books, or if I have, it's been long enough I've forgotten most of them. However, I'm pretty certain that all the characters here (even the bit-pieces) are from the original works. I can't be bothered to wiki them, but I'm pretty certain. I can't comment on how closely the characters are portrayed for Baum's, but for Carrol's... the Cheshire Cat's smug nonsense feels spot-on, and the Jabberwok's design even seems to mirror that in Tenniel's illustration.

Honestly, I don't really have any criticism to level at this; I enjoyed it through and through. Sure, it's fan-fiction-y, but the 'public domain' thing added enough interest that I didn't care, and the characters were crisp enough I didn't feel lost.

Jack's comment about supper feels like it should be deeper than I'm reading it as; it's positioned almost like a stinger, but I'm not feeling enough weight to really understand what justifies that placement. Maybe that's me missing some connotation from Oz, but still.

Oh, and the line "And you're too much a cat to believe me if I tried." is absolutely beautiful.

This was great! Thanks for writing.
#19795 ·
· on Two on a Raft · >>Miller Minus >>Rocket Lawn Chair
So... this story didn't thrill me, but it did kinda horrify me.

Er, before that, though, a bit of critique; there were a few spots here where you were changing tense. Not sure if that was intentional, but bits like 'then the current grabs me and drags me' jarred me a few times.

Structurally, this feels like a twist-ending story, without much else. I'd normally say that's a problem, because undercutting all your buddy-talk by re-casting it as the ravings of a madman is doing yourself a disservice, but... alright, on to the horror bit.

First off, let me say that I'm not really certain this is what you intended, Author. I don't really like to read too much into stories; mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I think a strong story is, well, narratively powerful. If I have to guess or squint at the meaning, I consider it the author doing a poor job of conveying their meaning. This does mean I'm not in the audience for a fair slice of fiction, but still.

Anyways, it's really a matter of proximity. First off, the comment about dressing Ken's ass up as 'Madison' just seems like a crass joke. However, when the 'I'm going insane' moment comes back (as has been foreshadowed) right after a discussion about Madison, paired with how the MC is probably jealous and definitely 'starving for sex', and then the twist is dropped where Ken has been dead the whole time from head trauma, well... I'm not saying that 'he killed Ken, sunk the boat, and spent two weeks in a life-raft buggering the corpse because he's just that crazy' is my strongest read for this story, but it's a close second. And the sheer fridge-horror of it kinda leaves me with a dread fascination; I can't get it out of my head now.

So yeah. I'm pretty curious about what you intended here. Either this is a story with a horrifying subtext that's presented a bit weakly, or a story with otherwise good presentation that undercuts itself at the end and has a proximity problem. It could be either, and I think I'd rank them about the same. One of them says more about me than the other, though. Still, thanks for writing... even if I need some brain-bleach now.
#19794 ·
· on The 100% Accurate Legend of the Once and Future Hero of Light · >>Baal Bunny
I think your structure here is a bit flawed. You've essentially got two stories jammed end-to-end, and although it mostly works, it did feel somewhat stilted to me. By the time we're through Tiff's half, jumping back to Magpie's half feels a bit jarring. I'm not sure how well telling them consecutively would change what you're going for here, but synchronizing the crunch point for both stories would, I think, make this a lot stronger. Consider the latest Star Wars movie; as much as I might have problems with any specific plot (or how stupid Holdo's suicide gambit was in terms of lore or what have you) the fact that the writer climaxed and concluded three arcs in that single moment of Crowning Awesome was an incredible bit of structure. Maybe if you told the two tales simultaneously, but made it seem like Magpie really was dead until the 'You too?' moment, at which point the necromancy was revealed? I dunno.

Ah, however, if you do something like that, it might be worth re-evaluating Tiff's story a bit. While Magpie's story has a real sense of progression, Tiff's feels a lot weaker to me; it's mostly just found sword -> sent on quest. Magpie had dialogue, character growth, all that sort of stuff. I see you're running up against the word limit here, but if you end up re-writing this at some point, I'd suggest giving Tiff a bit more depth to her Hero's Journey, especially since she seems mostly feckless at the beginning, but is willing to go up against a necromancer later.

Maybe you could free a bit by cutting out the priest? His motives seem conflicted. At first, he seems to be blocking the hero from going up against the necromancer, and then he's trying to kill Magpie? I'm really not sure what you're getting at with him, but he kinda gives off a 'corrupt priest' vibe, except... I'm not sure what his corruption is supposed to be, or how he's trying to benefit from this situation. Well, all that aside, I'm not sure he even does anything useful for the story. Sure, Tiff saves Magpie from him, but you could achieve basically the same effect, I think, by just having Tiff not immediately kill Magpie, which she does a few moments later anyways.

I'll admit to being a little disappointed to discover that Magpie wasn't just pretending to be female as well, mostly because of the symmetry to having a girl portraying a male hero. Maybe, with a bit more space, you could go the extra mile and have Tiff mirror her a bit more in the gender-change thing? After all, she might still have that finger-bone.

As for the ending... I'm not sure that, if I was a peasant, I'd be convinced that Tiff wasn't bewitched. Considering the connotations of that word, kissing the necromancer seems like the exact wrong way to prove you're not under a spell. That being said, it didn't grate super hard or anything, it just felt a bit weak.

Now, I've leveled a lot of criticism here, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this. It was easy to read, with some fun subversion, and interesting characters. It'll probably do fairly well by me, even if it didn't knock my socks off. Thanks for writing!
#19793 ·
· on #silicon
>>No_Raisin Relevant XKCD

Anyways, review; This story starts with a clearly engaging joke (ccccc) and gives a concise explanation of what's going on. It didn't feel particularly compelling to me, mostly because I didn't really grasp the stakes; there are points, alright, but what's the, pardon, point of them? Besides the satisfaction of winning, I mean.

I was intrigued by the mystery, but I also agree with Haze; as soon as 'zero humans' was a possibility, I figured that was the most likely outcome. Still, I didn't stop hoping for another human, though I wasn't sure if it would be fern or Shiva; either of them were a good possibility.

Oh, the chalk thing legit confused me. When I was homeschooled as a child, we had lap-sized chalkboards we used for simple math and such. Maybe it's because we were in the tropics (and the chalkboards were home-made, not that smooth) but I actually feel like I've had the same experience as Shiva described; if your chalk is a little damp, and has been used until it's the size of a fingernail or so, it's just as likely to roll out of your fingertips from sticking to the chalkboard than to make a line. The friction against the board is greater than your fingertips. Admittedly, this isn't something that people who could just grab a new stick would have to worry about, but still. Didn't seem that conclusive to me, especially since humans are probably just as - if not more - likely to agree with something presented in a believable manner than a bot is. I once almost convinced someone my grandpa was blue-brown colorblind. (To be fair, her eyes were kinda hazel!)

I think I liked the beginning and ending the most. Getting into the flow of things was intriguing, and seeing Shiva get served was quite satisfying. The middle felt kinda weak, probably because it seemed like more of the same, without any big new twists or mysteries or failures. Maybe there being an actual human who got voted out would add a bit more mystery? It would have definitely made me doubt my 'they're all A.I.' suspicion a bit more. Maybe introduce another bot-detection technique? I 'unno.

Oh, one thing that bothered me a little was the 'as you know bob' announcer right before the showdown. It's not egregious, because it kinda does seem like something an announcer would say, but still.

Overall, I liked this. I didn't love it, but I definitely liked it. Fits the prompt to a t, too. Thanks for writing!
#19576 ·
· on The Gang Sells Hard Flower Arrangements
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed fifth.
#19575 · 1
· on 3, 2, 1...
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed fourth.
#19574 ·
· on · >>axxuy
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed third.
#19573 ·
· on Her Eyes Contained Heaven
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed second.
#19571 · 1
· on Daring Do and the Ibis · >>Miller Minus
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here.

Your story was discussed first!
#19569 · 5
Radio Writeoff

If you'd like to listen to the recording, find it here. I'll be linking to the stories we discussed below.

Google Drive Link
#19529 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
If anyone still wants to vote on the

Radio Writeoff

story discussion, please do it soon.

I plan to close the poll in about four hours, and podcasting should happen in about 24-25 hours, slightly dependent on when I get back from work.
#19377 · 4
Radio Writeoff

Is currently planned for Friday afternoon, when I get home from work, which should be a bit after five, Mountain Time. Approximately three days and seventeen EDIT: NINETEEN hours from the time of this post. - I apparently can't math.

Quill and I and possibly Dubs will discuss Writeoff stories from this round, so please vote for the ones you're most interested in hearing us talk about.

#19294 · 1
· on On the Proper Care of Trees · >>CoffeeMinion >>Zaid Val'Roa
...I now have additional questions.

So this story is fairly clean; I was never confused about what was happening, and the little details - like pruning in autumn, which is the correct season for pruning, where nice. However, I feel like it's entirely trying to ride the stinger, and I'm not sure that's strong enough to really make as much of an impact as I'd like.

The thing is, people being gone isn't tragic just because they're gone; it's tragic because of how they die, or who they leave behind; there's some bite there, because we are attached to these characters, but I think if there was a little more information about how/why Dash's grave-marker is a tree, that stinger might land with a bit more force. As it is, I'm mostly left wondering why a tree, not feeling sad or nostalgic or bittersweet or what.

It's a pretty good story, but a bit light on emotional connection, I guess. At least for me.
Paging WIP