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That Winter Feeling
Original Short Story
Winter Weather Advisory
#7400 · 5
"Okay, managed to bang a story out just in time to give this writeoff thing a shot, pretty sure everything is formatted correctly, should be no problems, let's go ahead and submit so I can get some sleep-"



#7579 · 4
· on Winter Weather Advisory
Good bits first. Most of what the reviewers had issue with are things I realized were problems when I submitted (more on this later). But what I was really worried about was whether the romance between Sara and the narrator was enjoyable. I don't have much experience writing romantic comedy and I wasn't confident at all that would go over well, so it's great to see that it worked for the reviewers. I thought I'd be able to fix the other problems after submission, but that was the one thing I was really worried about.

Speaking of those other problems. I think the winter coat thing is representative of a lot of them. I was not expecting that to come up in the reviews at all, and when it did I'd thought it was a reaction to the idea of putting on a coat under bedsheets. Then I re-read the relevant passage and realized that I'd never actually stated that the narrator was doing that.

Not stating or being vague about necessary facts comes up several times in the story, and in much more important places like why characters are doing the things they do. I left a lot on the cutting room floor writing this. I think it's a net positive since there was a lot of chaff there, but I definitely ended up removing some parts that needed to be there. When I revisit this I definitely need to make more clear the Narrator's view on the supernatural and how that relates to Sara (for the record, I was going for "There's obviously something weird going on with Sara. But she doesn't want to talk about it, no one would believe me if I told them, and even if I tried she'd probably bail. So even though I'm curious I'll wait for her to feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it").

The missing context issue is even more confusing since I did a poor job of disguising that characters acted certain ways solely because I wanted certain things to happen. Sara realizes that Narrator is going to freak out and does nothing to prepare them. Narrator is accepting and calm about their girlfriend being a monster girl, then completely freaks out when the story calls for it, then goes right back to calm. I didn't think about it in Idiot Ball / Lampshading terms as I was writing it, but that description is spot on. Reviewers called me on all of this, and they were right to.

A lot of these issues came down to the time crunch, which I was completely unprepared for. That being said this beats my usual process of having an idea, mulling it over for months, maybe getting down a thousand or so words before getting stuck on a piece of awkward dialogue or description and never touching it again. Unneeded scenes that I would have tried to make work were much easier to cut, and the clock really helps in getting something ready despite lingering issues.

Thanks to all of the reviewers for the helpful feedback, and specific thanks to horizon for posting about the writeoff on fimfiction. I've been meaning to give this a try once a free weekend lined up with an event and I wouldn't have known about it otherwise.

Some stray thoughts:

I went with the title Winter Weather Advisory because I didn't want to spoil that this is a meet the parents story (though maybe I should?) or abominations aspect, so I wanted something that would bring to mind weather reports about snowy weather. I've lived my whole life in Southern California though, so I have no idea if that title actually works. I have very little attachment to it if someone has a better suggestion.

Ferd Threstle called out the summoning ritual scene being a bit of a let down after the buildup. I'd like to say I didn't realize that but I literally described it as disappointing in the text. That should have been a red flag that I should be doing something there and I completely missed it. Another thing to work on.

Most of the scene ideas I abandoned were for the better, but I really would have liked to work in a "If you hurt my daughter- *cocks shotgun*- I'm not afraid of going back to jail" sort of scene. I think there's space for it.
#7523 · 3
· on The Collision of Seasons
I liked the introduction, but the examples in the second paragraph may go on for a bit too much. It didn't bother me personally, but for some readers some of those examples may hit a little too close to home and distract from the story.

An unlikely bond between two enemies because of video games rang true to me, I could definitely see these guys being friends despite the aggressiveness and differences between them.

"Uncomfortable sense of escalation" is a pretty good description of how I was feeling there, yeah.

I had similar issues keeping track of the perspective. I caught some of the clues that the story was being told from Sol's perspective (steam messages, tax accessor), but I didn't put it together to get to that conclusion and in the moment just made things a bit confusing.
#7449 · 2
· on Competing Against Immortals
I like the main idea of this, being conditioned to get away from anything negative by AI crafted entertainment is definitely unsettling. The future of automation in general is an interesting topic, and some of the things that Weber took for granted (the transportation system, and naming "Translators, accountants, lawyers, doctors" as victims of automation instead of the usual suspects) helped to establish where exactly we are in that timeline and what means to people like him.

But it was a bit odd to me that the one thing Weber really expressed concern over was whether or not AI could be good at story telling and human interaction. He doesn't seem to mind all that much that AI are better than he is at his own job. I think he's that way because of the conditioning, but if that's the case than why does he care about his books being written by AI at all? It might have helped to get into more detail about how the books made him feel, and why he valued those feelings. Finding out that an AI caused you to feel that way would be more upsetting than finding out an AI is responsible for extreme technical skill.

I also didn't really buy just how little Weber knew about his own world. It's not as if there's a global conspiracy to keep what they're talking about hidden, everything they talked about seemed like it would be common knowledge. Weber mentions that he was focused on his business, but even then it seems like he knows less about the state of AI than he should (did he not handle any cases relating to AI?).
#7494 · 2
· on On the day before · >>horizon
This felt a bit meandering, the food prep and routine lasted a bit too long for me, especially during the beginning. But that might be the point, it's being told from a perspective that values that routine and that's reflected throughout.

The exchange with the driver was good. Grumbling about stifling regulations immediately after that disturbing milking scene felt... honest might be the word? The focus stays on how those regulations effect the people who have to follow them while not neglecting why they're also a good idea in the first place.

This story wasn't necessarily for me. Despite that I can still see where Peter's coming from, and his feelings about getting squeezed out as times change definitely get through. The story managed to get that perspective across, even to the sort of person who's a bit foreign to it.
#7444 · 1
· on You Can't Take It With You · >>georg
I had similar issues with figuring out the ending also. I eventually came to more or less what Ferd Threstle described, but it took me a decent amount of time to realize that the list had been completely polished off of the original slab (I actually wasn't entirely sure if it was even feasible for that to happen, I was going to do some quick google checks to make sure that was viable before Ferd raised the possibility).

If that is the intended reading, I think it needs to be explicitly stated in the text. Not catching on to that makes it difficult to parse what I'm supposed to be realizing. When I initially read this, I'd thought that Ezekiel had purposefully left the slab blank and that the setup about him being bitter and obsessed with enemies was a misdirect. Then, the repeated mentions of Christin's reflection had me thinking that another possibility was that the only real enemy to look out for was yourself, or something like that.

The last few lines didn't work for me either... no one says that "You can't take it with you" is false, do they? This is another one that tripped me up, I'm not sure if it's just a typo or that I'm missing something again.

The other thing that really jumped out at me is Christin's muted reaction to finding out why he's being sent to military school (I'm assuming that he's too young to know that the rest of the siblings did the same thing). Finding out that it's another hoop he has to jump through instead of something his mother chose to punish him with for unknown reasons seems like it should have more of a response. Even if he is a sullen teenager, I'd expect at least some kind of internal thoughts about it, especially since it was brought up as something that was bothering him earlier.
#7468 · 1
· on The Saxophonist
I'm always up for shenanigans, and this story more or less delivered.

Alan's story line worked well for me, especially the bedroom scene. The ringtone was perfect, unexpected callbacks like that are great.

Alan's punchline being that good made more disappointed in Sam's than I normally would have been. The moment he lies about playing sax you know how it's going to end, and even though the execution is good it still felt like a bit of a let down when compared to Alan's preceding scene.
#7501 · 1
· on Cold · >>Ratlab
I was immediately invested in the idea of a bunch of kids about to experience something familiar to us and rare to them. Going to second libertydude here, I was reminded of All Summer in a Day reading this, definitely in a good way,

The world building was delivered well, we got a lot of tidbits about the new society in a natural way. It demanded active attention, but was almost never difficult to follow or hard to understand. There were a couple of small exceptions, like the explanation of the snow as "rain that falls from the sky" (Do the children have a conception of rain, but not as something that falls from the sky?). The other one being Mary's "I'm glad they fixed it" response. I think she's talking about climate change preventing snow here? It's a little jarring because she's being positive a situation the reader sees as a negative, but thinking about it the new climate is just another Tuesday for her. So that one may be a feature and not a bug, but both were minor stumbles for me as I was reading the story.

The two conversations at the end felt similar, to the point where I'm not sure why it was split up that way in the first place. Both characters the narrator is talking with seem to feel more or less the same way about the history lesson, even if Bob is actively helping. Merge everything into one conversation with Bob and some of the same ground doesn't have to be retreated in both of the originals.
#7469 ·
· on Hiemsurb
That first paragraph is very hard to get through. Even after reading it a few times, whenever I try again I still stumble as I go. It gets easier to follow after that but I was initially put off because of it.

This definitely feels like more of a Chapter One than a short story. I probably would have kept reading if there were more here, but as a standalone piece all of the loose threads don't work. Not that I think resolution is necessarily a requirement, but as it is we've only got a bunch of introductions into something larger we don't get to see.

We're getting several different races along with mentions of both weapons and magic. A lot of that had to fall under "just go with it" so I could keep up with the story. But I had a problem figuring out exactly how significant Carcosans are. At first the word is only used to describe the highly desired weapon, so I got the impression that it was some kind of long gone, highly advanced race. And then it's revealed that Barr is a Carcosan and thought that maybe a few are still around, and that's why he's able to stay in power even though he's insane. And then the two assassins are Carcosans as well, so it's just another race.

A lot of the focus is put on the new weapon. I'd thought it was a setup to suggest that the weapon could disrupt the fragile balance of the city, and then Maltese considers the ramifications and dismisses them. He's more concerned about the new police tech, but that felt much less important. The priorities seem switched, the thing we focused on for most of the story isn't that important to the setting and the thing that comes in close to the end is. Unless Maltese is completely mistaken of course, but the reader has to trust his perspective on things until we learn more about the world.