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#21020 · 1
· on Ingénue, c. 2003 · >>WritingSpirit
I think the story structure needs to be reversed a little bit. By keeping the reveal secret, you remove all the drama form the actual climax of the story (the burning of the painting) because we don't really understand the stakes. And once we learn the stakes, it kinda makes some of Catherine's questions seem a bit... stupid? Insensitive? "Why did you" is a really patently obvious answer.

Also consider making it clear the first paragraph is describing the painting. That is hella ambiguous.

Prompt relevance... I guess she is not really an ingenue? Sure.
#21019 ·
· on Watching the Show · >>libertydude
It legit took a second read after noticing comments to really click. The Jeremy was still dead line is just too well integrated into the sentence and I thought it was possibly terminology (stuck in a bad spot, etc). It is nice at how smooth it is, but you probably need to call at least a little more attention to it.

Prompt Relevance... I have no idea and I am too sleepy to think about.
#21018 ·
· on The Sparrow
Fine mood piece. Probably one of the more complete of that type since it actually focuses on an idea. Nice prose. Scene break is probably unnecessary and breaks up the flow too much.

Prompt relevance... Robo sparrow? Yup.
#21017 ·
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards
Funny last line, but takes too long to get there. Cut some of the chaff. This would be better served at the minimum word count (or as close as you can to get there).

Prompt relevance... dragon/wyvern joke. Yup.
#21016 ·
· on In the Melted Eye of the Beholder
Fine mood piece. I kinda feel this would have been better told in reverse though, with her starting at the down point and then recounting a story that gets her to a positive point so we actually have a bit of arcing and build up.

Prompt relevance... self-identity, etc. I feel it is a bit of a stretch but I can see it.
#21015 ·
· on The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood · >>Cassius
If your magic system accounts for the soul and it seems to work like the real soul, I kinda feel like that version of the wife wins by default.

Ironically I had more of a problem with this story than Male-Order Bride, since I feel the Problematic stuff is a bit more on display here what with some fairly literal objectification and the fairly comedy normalized two women play along with it and even fight over the man who clearly just needs a goddamn smack sorta thing. Outside that it is fine. I don't have a lot to add.

Prompt relevance... wrong because the homunculus being in possession of her soul should be the real one.
#21014 ·
· on My Beloved Husband · >>No_Raisin
Mostly an emotive piece focused around a single idea. The main problem from an "enjoyment" (to be used loosely here) standpoint is that he story just sort of ends. I'm pretty sure I get the hollow, empty emotion its going for there what with that being the feeling of a decayed and now loveless marriage to someone you hate, but it ends up just really thudding into place in a dissatisfying manner. Should it be satisfying? Art does not always have to be pleasurable. This certainly isn't. But it also isn't mean to be.


Prompt relevance... right there in the title. Yep.
#21013 ·
· on Male-Order Magic
Despite setting up the pronunciation thing, that is still super goddamn cheaty by True Name magic standards.

*arm cross*

So. I mean. Reading the impressions I certainly get why they exist, but certain elements of this story kinda don't mesh up to that for me? Like, the charms were... impressive line. I get why people are reading that as the whole fat chick thing but honestly I tend to see that sort of phrasing for something like having large breasts/ass. And that is kinda further compounded by the willowy thing. Like, the visual impression I got was she was a busty, curvy woman but he was into super model types.

Which brings us to the sex thing. Which... we're in dubious territory here and there are mountains of discussions to be had re: rape in media and unhealthy non-consent and such. But I kinda ultimately came away from the story... not really feeling like the guy was being particularly violated? Like, do not get me wrong here. There is not actual consent, that is a problem, magical slavery, etc, but the story plays it so soft it legit feels like he's more or less *shrug* about it? Like she isn't his first choice and he's more interested in going home, but he isn't -actually- against it?

I dunno.

Prompt Relevance... see my snark about true name magic up above >:|
#21012 ·
· on Son the Father · >>No_Raisin
The atomic bomb line really oversells things, I think, so far as mood setters go. And similarly I think the italics at the end is out of place. Actually, I guess that is kind of the problem in general is that I feel a lot of it is a bit overplayed. I thought what you were going for was just that his dad understood what a monster Charlie was and refused to act out of fear... but the frame at the beginning and end seems to indicate it might be ACTUAL ignorance as opposed to willful ignorance, which I think is less impactful. But I might be wrong there.

I think you really want to tighten up Daniel's story and make it clearly about the nature of his ignorance.

Prompt relevance... father in name only. That's pretty good. Hits the story theme quite cleanly. Thumbs up.
#21011 ·
· on Saint's Day
I'd have figured giving up your day gets someone else laid.

Neat framework concept and the story told with it works okay enough. It's fine.Not really sure how I feel about it otherwise. Sorry. I want to give a more cognizent bit of feedback, but that's just of the feeling I was left. This is fine. I don't really have ideas to make it better, but there's nothing to super call out as a problem.

Also, this story made me self-conscious because I cook 2-3 eggs for myself sometimes. =(

Prompt Relevance... less sure here. There might be something if I puzzled at it, but it isn't immediately jumping out at me as strong guided.
#21010 ·
· on Patrimony · >>Baal Bunny
I'm old and I've never actually read Puss in Boots.

Honestly, the twist mostly feels kind of underwhelming. I mean, it re-contextualizes the relationship a little bit but it ultimately doesn't really change enough to land solidly. The lampshade hang makes a lot more sense with the knowledge that this is Puss in Boots, but I'm also not really sure it helps or is necessary? Magic has its own rules, etc, but given what we know about the setting I think going for a "ha, ha, talking cats are dumb he should have known I was a shapeshifting ogre!" just doesn't really land as effectively?

Ultimately this one is a bit hard for me because it feels like it is really leaning on the knowledge of Puss in Boots which I lacked so a lot of it just didn't land, aside from the way he dispatched the ogre which was a pretty obvious thing.

I think a lot like the whaling story the primary problem is that there isn't much of an emotional arc here for the reader? I think the punchline is supposed to be the real ramp up given the anticlimax delivery of the fairytale's climax, but like I said above, I don't actually feel it makes that much of a difference (at least with the information here). He hates the ogre. It being his dad I guess makes it a bit darker, but it doesn't really change anything, as it were. Might work better in context of the actual story though.

Prompt Relevance... sure. Applies to the father thing. Applies to the cat thing. Works.
#20983 · 1
· on It's Not the Leaving that Grieves Me
I think the core problem here is that this story is very flat. Not to say you don't have emotion or or imagery or anything, but more that the intensity starts kinda middling, continues kinda middling, and ends middling. It is very much a lateral line to a fairly inevitable conclusion (my guess was she cheated on him or he died).

Arcing is hard in minis since you have very little space to do it. Obvioiusly people should not expect like a short story level thing, but I do think some change is important. Some manner of building tension or a change in the emotion. And that just isn't really here.

Prompt relevance... you've actually kinda got me here. I can't draw any sort of connection.
#20982 · 2
· on The Hangman · >>Monokeras
This story is mean.

Generally a story has a... well. Point. Something it wants to say or communicate and this... unless you really want to go on the metaphor train doesn't really feel like it has one. It is just snarky, shockingly cruel, then snarky again.

Tonally it is really jarring because you go from kinda jokey to MURDER to kinda jokey again. And that ends up not really aligning because the MURDER is portrayed so deadly straight and ugly that it is impossible to go smoothly from one mood to the other. And the other inconsistencies do kind of add up. Like, being embarrassed about saying copulation is one thing. Being so embarrassed you get yourself killed over it is another.

I'm also not really sure of the significance of the final line. It sounds like it is supposed to be delivered as a real zinger, but I'm not seeing what the connection to anything to make it a zinger actually is.

Now, all that said, there is a read here that I think works better which is that this is supposed to be more a metaphorical story about public performance in school and the cruelty of other kids, but... eh? I dunno, it doesn't feel like it gels well there because in that case it feels like it should be centered more on Jack as the actual protagonist rather than this sort of omniscent view of what's going down around since, as we are, we are kinda disconnected from Dave's plight. I dunno. I think it's a reasonable read on what was attempted, but I have a hard time articulating why I don't think it really works in that function. *shrug emoji*

Prompt relevance... this is kind of literally the opposite of the prompt. Normal Hangman is in name only. This is pretty literal. :p Not sure how I count prompt inversion!
#20981 · 1
· on By Any Other Name · >>Monokeras
I think the arc and the message here is really muddled. At least that's the impression I get from the ending. Given the title I kinda feel like the ultimate conclusion of the story should be more that the name given to the rose doesn't really matter, but it in fact seems to matter a -lot-. And I think that is kind of a loss to the story.

That said, I'm honestly really not sure what you are actually for with the ending. I mean, it is clear that it is supposed to be a reconciliation moment of sorts, but I'm not really sure what the emotional backing behind it is. At some level it honestly feels like the guide is patronizing him.

Speaking of the guide though, that part kinda bugs me. I mean, if his dad is the one doing the genetic engineering to bring these flowers back, I kinda feel like he's in a better position to actually know the identity of the flower than the guide? That just really jumped out at me.

The way you lean into the unknown nature of the flowers is a bit... inconsistent? You use mysterious terminology to describe them, but the problem is that our protagonist actually knows what they are. So continuing to lean into it is... weird because we the audience know what they are. The protagonist knows what they are. I'm not really sure why the narrator muddles it. I sort of agree with >>horizon Horizon in that I think you should go with nobody being right about what it is, but I don't think it is to double down on the tragedy of hte loss, but to reveal that the loss of that information doesn't change the beauty of a rose, which feeds back into the title.

Prompt relevance... I see how you get there. Its a fine take on it.
#20980 · 1
· on Born Killers
I am disappointed this isn't actually a Guilty Gear fic.

The problem here is that the build to the punchline is... kinda non-existent? The thing is that you establish from the get go that they aren't actually going to hunt Lygia, so that expectation subversion is more that they are doing something fun with her rather than doing business with her, which isn't really much of a subversion so much as a slight jog to the side. Which ultimately results in it landing really flat since the entire build up is about her.

You need some sort of tension in the story. Like even just running the fake up (pretending they are showing up to hunt, then just sit down in the bar to do trivia night with her) would work because you hit the classic arc.

Prompt relevance is... okay. I can see how you got there from here, and you lean on the goofy name thing which I imagine is part of your prompt relation. Basically, not feeling it strongly, but I also don't have to squint to see it.
#20626 ·
· on Three-Card Shuffle · >>horizon
A'ight author. I love you but this story annoyed me intensely. So let's just lead with quality of prose is fine, I think the idea is workable, and such.

First of all, we can add this to the list of stories this round that I really question our viewpoint character. Stories where the protagonist is ancillary to major events occurring in the world and those intrude on their life. But the story still needs to be -about- them. Fundamentally, this is a story about Mary to which the main character is merely narrating. Which typing that sentence, in and of itself, made me even more conscious about because I honestly could not recall the lead's name. I had to look at Baal's comment to remember it. And it turns out that is for a good reason, because it actually only shows up at the end!

Regina, at least as observed for the majority of the story, does not really do a lot. It is of course revealed at the end that she is more involved, but the problem with that is not only is it a fairly tail end reveal, but it is also one that raises a lot of questions that are kind of hand-waved. Why is she so interested in helping? Why does she inherently side with Mary? How does she have contact with the other super group (and enough pull to arrange what she did). There are implications, of course, but those implications do not necessarily imply the conclusions that need to be drawn.

Speaking of supers, while you use that word early, it is actually kind of unclear that you are talking about a superhero world. The bit about watching a video to learn vague psychokinesis kinda makes it unclear, especially since that actually puts me more in the mind of espers. The cape line attempts to supplement it, but it is just working against a lot of expectations since we're talking about a world where learning psychokinesis via youtube video is a thing. So I end up picturing somehting more My Hero Academia style which ends up not quite being right either. I get that you are trying to build organically, but I feel it just doesn't really end up actually providing enough detail.

This also ends up confusing because it really muddies the concept of what a "super" is, as does Regina's weasel wording about being a super. She has a demonstrable power. What does this mean in the context of the world since apparently it is enough that she can actively use it and pretend not to be a super.

Which, in fact, is sort of my broadest, largest problem with the story. The landscape feels like it is constantly shifting, with new information arriving that requires a reimagining rather frequently. A lot of details, I think, arrive a bit too late to be useful (both world and plot) leading to a very frustrating feelings of always being one-step behind the story, but less because the author is outwitting you and more because you just lack the requisite information to actually realize what's going on. Like, small example, the mask tan is supposed to be a hint about things, but that presupposes a TON of information. Starting with "Roulette - who we never actually learn anything about in this story - wears THAT kind of mask."

There is a certain smugness to the story (mostly as filtered through Regina obviously), and that is made insufferable by that feeling of being underinformed. And don't get me wrong here. Tonally you're right on for the type of story you are telling (noir/heist style elements where the lead is the smartest character in the room) but it ends up being surprisingly irritating when I as a reader am constantly having to rebuild my understanding because of newly introduced information.

And even then, we still end up missing a bit of stuff. For example, is tarot real in this world? It definitely seems to be, but I don't actually know. Is that her actual power?

Speaking of tarot, that opening line. It is a great hook, but by the end I'm really confused by it because you seem to go back and forth a lot on whether you can cheat at tarot. I mean, you state there at the opening line. Then you have her undermine that stacking the deck matters. But then you have her get super mad about stacking the deck (Which, to sidebar, I have problems with both those scenes in that the shuffling the major arcana to the bottom thing still really doesn't make any actual sense to me - do only supers get major arcana or something) and we end up... never really addressing the opening line. Near as I can tell she didn't cheat at Tarot. All the predictions were, as far as I can recall, accurate. So what even was that bit?

I'm rambling, so I'm going to round out with the the physical structure. The way this story reads is frustrating, because it basically amounts to "relevant scene from the past" "interruption to detective to explain a thing or have him be stupid" "relevant scene from the past" over and over and over. And the scenes are short enough that they really, really, really feel like interruptions. By the end I really wanted to slap him and just say "shut up and let her tell the goddamn story."

I dunno. I think you get the gist of it. If you really want I can ramble more at you about my issues but I honestly assume you just want to punch me in the mouth. So, like I said above, the actual quality of the writing is fairly on point, the idea is perfectly servicable, etc. But this rendition really, really rubbed me the wrong way.
#20624 ·
· on A Story of Water and Blood
This was fine. It was fine. Fine, fine, fine. That's just kind of how I walked away from it feeling. I was not amazingly blown away,.. and this review is starting to sound rather familiar.

Ultimately I definitely find myself in a very similar spot as when I read Antoine's Armory here. This is fine. It trades being a bit more in my wheelhouse for struggling a bit more to be as clean. The double opening is a really weird choice and honestly kind of a bad one. Both the first scene and the second scene more or less serve the same purpose, so there's not really much reason to have both. There's even less reason to have one be a random italicized flashback that makes the timeline of the following scene more confusing.

The ending also doesn't end up working out too well for me either. You are more or less done with the conflict in the queen scene, so it'd probably be better to focus on making the last scene a quick denouement with the two brothers having a moment centered around Teague doing this for Uilliam rather than fake dangling the result that everyone knows is going to be the case.

Sorry I don't have a lot to say on this one either.
#20622 ·
· on A Christmas Carl · >>Baal Bunny
Okay. I'm back. I stand by my opinion that >>horizon is wrong. The burrito line fundamentally conveys the same message that the final paragraph does: that Carl is a carpet that doesn't want to raise a fuss and is just going to roll with it.

Anyhow. The big issue here, in my opinion, is that very nearly 50% of this story is "wasted" space. It is interestingly written and evocative wasted space, but, by and large, the first 1553 words really don't serve a purpose besides faking you out for the actual story. And yes, I do realize there are technically things in there that matter, but there's really no reason for it to be 1553 words long.

The problem with a long fake is that you are really pleasing nobody. Anyone who was engaged in the first half is having the rug pulled out from under them and the people who are game for the second half... probably didn't want to read the first half and quit already. In general, these sort of swerves are better served by happening earlier. Like, take Zombie Land Saga (yes I'm using anime, fite me). Your main character goes from cute girl doing cute things to a head-on encounter with Truck-kun in 1 minute, 14 seconds. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfLkkUahRIE ). And realistically you've seen the show's title and maybe a description, so even that 1:14 isn't really a swerve.

But wait Andrew, you like Doki Doki Literature Club and doesn't that take forever to swerve? And you'd be right! If you weren't so wrong. DDLC swerves immediately with the content warning and associated marketing. It isn't really trying to hide what it is. The interest curve there stems from "how is this going to get to where it promised me at the beginning." And it still runs that too long anyway. And, functionally, the swerve STILL isn't as hard as what you do here, because the story is still, in a lot of ways, about the same thing it started as. Just the nature of the relationship to that thing has changed.

Anyhow, that really is the problem. You have two very different ideas bolted onto each other here. If you are interested in telling the second story, you really need to condense the front half of this. Especially since because the way you end up pacing the second half and jamming it all together into one brief ball of action and exposition it ends up as just a punchline with no real setup besides "Hey, so that thing you were reading... is not actually what you were reading!"

This sounds more critical then I really want it to, I think. I mean, fundamentally the idea can work. Plenty of stuff does it. But I just think in practice the way you've set it up here is going to just bounce off most people because you spend so long establishing another story entirely.

I do think the first half stuff is pretty solidly written. I think the second half, even as a joke, just comes too hard and too fast. It's just a relatively madcap sequence of events. They are amusing (though the lampshade hanging with The Santa Claus initially had me rolling my eyes really hard --- Actually, I guess that's another point. This story doesn't actually swerve once. It swerves twice. Which just kinda amplifies the problem in that there really isn't ever anything to grab onto and no real arc. It is just two extended gotchas in which Carl just kinda floats on through and ends up... basically where he started.

I'm really unsure how the fake Santa death worked on that note. Like, it seems like a shelf fell on him, but I'm not sure how that event keys to Carl opening the door, which really kinda impacts the punchline there. This should definitely be a joke you really lean into and it should be very clear how Carl is responsible (or otherwise very clear that Carl is in no way responsible).

I think that's all I've really got here. The writing quality is definitely solid but you can also count me in the people who bounced off it category.
#20602 · 2
· on A Christmas Carl · >>horizon
So I don’t forget later: this story is actually definitively two paragraphs too long. The burrito line was a significantly better ending with the flow you had.
#20599 · 1
· on Antoine's Armory · >>horizon >>Miller Minus
This was fine. It was fine. Fine, fine, fine. That's just kind of how I walked away from it feeling. I was not amazingly blown away, but the story unquestionable walked in, did what it set it to do, and left. It's a good thing. I'm a little less on action set-pieces like this for literature (I want my awesome action to be animated) so it kinda washed off me, but there is no question that it was solid.

The bits that stood out negatively were the staircase (that just seemed a little too "fantasy" for a "grounded" thing like you were doing - those words being used loosely obviously) and the unclear ending on what happened with the smoking man. Like, I assume it involved the second grenade, but I read that scene a couple times and have no idea what actually happens there.

Sorry I don't actually have a lot to say on this one. It accomplishes what it set out to do effectively. I guess it is worth noting that due to the story being rather brisk, Dorothy goes from somewhat simpering to very snarky in a very fast space. It is not wholly unreasonable, but you might want to tone down the earlier "Oh save me Antoine!" if you want to end at that snarkier spot.
#20597 · 2
· on Into the Skies Again
A big question to ask is "why are we with the viewpoint character?" This is especially important in first person narrations because you are so deep with them that the entire story ends up filtered through them. The problem here is I find myself asking "why are we with Nicky?"

He doesn't really change or learn anything. He isn't involved emotionally more than "Joren is my friend." He is very much an observer to everything going on and a very passive observer at that. The fact that you are confined to his view actually kind of hurts things since I legitimately forgot characters besides Leisha, Joren, and Nicky existed because their view is so filtered through him. Which I think is to the detriment of the story since the point, broadly speaking, seems to be about friends coming together to do this.

I dunno. I had trouble with this one. There is definitely some very good writing here (though I think you could stand to cut a fair amount - you just have a lot of what I would consider extraneous sentences or descriptive elements that go just a couple words too far, etc), but I ended up in kind of the opposite place of Horizon with my mind wandering as I read. There just... aren't really appreciable stakes (I get HOW these could be appreciable stakes but again, we are in the view of a character who I think is fine if this fails), there isn't really any dramatic tension (challenges are basically presented and resolved in the same space), etc.

Like, don't get me wrong. There is some good writing here and the ideas are all solid. I just think the positioning of the story is off and that's a problem.

The Liesha/Joren thing is (time for everybody's favorite word) problematic. At a general level because if you manage to skim over the one sentence, you totally miss that thing. At the other level because there are just kinda generally a lot of problems with the way you went about that insofar as the wide range of human sexual experience goes. Basically, either of them being what they are does not really indicate they will be fine with the other. There's nothing with that being the case, but the fact that you kinda create a sort of parallelism with something that definitely is not parallel is no good, if that makes sense.
#20591 · 3
· on Unreported Clairvoyant Events · >>Cassius
Oh, right before I forget again. In a story like this where you know people are going to be looking for connections, you should be really careful to strongly differentiate names. I had to do a doublecheck a time or two with Troy and Tracy, and Molly and Mica aren't particularly great either.
#20589 · 1
· on Unreported Clairvoyant Events · >>Cassius >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Very solid little vignettes that remind me I should actually work on developing prose that is not garbage tier. The metanarrative left me a little cold though primarily because I don't really have any investment in it. Initially I thought the nature of the visions was one of those "this is how things are going to turn out in the end" sort of things, happy days ending in tragedy, grim begetting grim, etc.

I dunno. Especially with Molly's proper story only appearing at the end, there just isn't a lot to grip onto there. Especially given most of the premonitions don't actually seem to have to do with, but rather Paul, which kinda further disconnects us from her section. Ultimately I guess I'm just not really sure what the metanarrative is attempting to do outside of exist. It is of course possible I am interpreting elements incorrectly, but I definitely ended up with a similar interpretation to >>horizon (though I don't think it is an alternate reality - I'm pretty sure Molly goes on to die here).

I will say, the positioning of time is also a bit problematic? Like, given the apparent timeframe and location, I'm a little... weirded out by her dying to a back-alley abortion? I mean, not to say it isn't impossible, but it just seems like an odd choice given fairly modern + California.

I dunno. There's definitely good stuff here, but I think, taken as a whole, the story just doesn't manage to narratively or thematically hang.
#20580 ·
· on Temporal Entanglement · >>horizon
Quick thoughts. I might revisit this when I am more awake.

The narrative arc here is kind of unclear. There is a definite series of events, but they don't actually add up to a cohesive story. Consider our viewpoint character, for example. What is he actually doing here? What does he want? What purpose does he serve in the story? He is very much a passive observer (yes, he intervenes in Sakura's fight, but that is more a moment of circumstance) to the whole series of events.

The character who actually does things, have drive, has a conflict, etc is Sakura. Everything in the story happens because of her. So why isn't the story from her perspective?

Introducing the idea that history is immutable puts the story in a weird place, because it kinda demolishes the only tension you had in the story. Was Sakura going to change history? Was the weird guy (whose story we never actually get) going to do it? If the reality of the matter is that history is indeed immutable then the answer is no and you have no narrative tension unless you really want to lean on the idea that history can sorta self-correct around the actually involved people dying (ala the Bell Riots episode of DS9). In which case, unless your story is explicitly about how that works out, it becomes a bit of a pointless distinction.

Ultimately, what this feels like is the first half of the first episode of a new show. We've got the hook setup for the big commercial break, then we're going to come back and really have the plot kick in.
#20571 · 3
>>Miller Minus Fuck you, I'm not fighting anyone.
Paging WIP