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In Name Only · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
#101 ·
· on Born Killers · >>Cassius >>Pascoite
Alternate Title: What We Don't Do in the Shadows

Surely there's a title that could've fit this story better. When I first looked at this entry, with the title "Born Killers," I was expecting it to go into some dark territory. I was also expecting something to happen.

But nothing happened.

First of all, who the hell names themselves Slayer? I don't care if you're a vampire hunter, you better be in a grindcore band to have such a goofy name as Slayer. Fucking Slayer? Come on now. I'm kind of glad the narrator doesn't get a name; his stage name might be something like Bonecrusher, or Necromancer.

Fucking Slayer.

Okay, so this is a comedy of sorts. I think? It's hard to tell, because there's no real punchline that I could find. This entry is like the setup to a punchline that never happens, and this wouldn't be so glaring if not for the fact that this is the second shortest entry of the lot, at just over 500 words. You could easily add a scene at the end where the vampire hunters actually do some vampire hunting, or if you wanna be goofier you can do a subversion of that and have them totally fail at doing their jobs.

But at least they would be doing something, then.

Fucking Slayer...
#102 · 1
· on Born Killers · >>Pascoite

First of all, who the hell names themselves Slayer?

Obviously you haven't played many fighters. But this guy is a vampire.
#103 · 1
· on By Any Other Name · >>horizon >>Monokeras
Stop taking rubbish

Why is Thomas stealing trash?


There's a good concept here, but it gets buried under a lot of nonessential things. Like Thomas being given the flower at the end. It's a nice gesture, but as your parting shot, that's what should bring home the story's message, so it sure sounds like the point of the story is to say he is a teacher's pet. I mean, it's a nice gesture, and it does say something about tolerance, but that's not aligned with the message the story seemed to be leading to.

The bit about flowers being so rare, and how people don't really know what they're called anymore is this story's strength, but it got swept under the rug by all these other things that don't really matter. How Thomas is perceived by his classmates in general can be dealt with in a single sentence, not the lengthy treatment it gets here, but insofar as it applies to his knowledge of plants, by all means, this could use more. Then when challenged on what a rose is, he gives in too easily. He must have some idea of why his father thinks that's a rose, but he backs off before ever saying. Then the guide backs off as well, conceding she doesn't really know either, after she had been rather insistent.

Everyone keeps waffling, and as a result, the story does, too. Do you want this to be a lament of a world that no longer knows what flowers are? Or a story about Thomas gaining acceptance? The conclusion you come to is a logical follow-on to this universe, but it's not what has the emotional attachment. It's not Thomas's father and this guide fighting a precarious battle against the loss of knowledge, since we don't see either of them with their passion in action. As to Thomas himself, he's upset, but more because he isn't believed, not because he's grieving a world from the past or his father's expertise or his own lot in life. He gets the flower and has no reaction to it. That's a pretty bland way to end things.

Nice idea, but needs some focus.
#104 · 1
· on Saint's Day
This has great characterization. I just don't know what I'm supposed to get out of it. It's just a kind of day in the life of two desperate men, desperate for different reasons.

I have no idea how to interpret the ending. Because Gary gave up his day, he's now inanimate or something? That's kind of creepy, but there's no conclusion made about it. It's not painted as if he made a good or bad choice, whether he's better off than Eddie, or... whatever.

And if it's the case that he's inanimate, I guess the implication at least is that he'll be fine tomorrow? That he just gets put in stasis for a day or some such? That seems like a strange thing for the church to be involved in, and it starts diving into the "anime has no idea how Catholicism works" trope pool. Plus I don't see what the church, or anyone else, gets from the people giving up this day. Gary rationalizes it as a mercy to folk who don't want to participate, but the postcard makes no claims about it at all, so I don't know what the recipients are supposed to read into it.

As a character portrait, I like this, but as a story, I don't have the first clue what it's trying to say. I guess just that Gary was right: he's effectively comatose while Eddie is miserable? Okay. That'd be true for some people and not for others, so it's not like it's getting at a larger truth. It starts off a little on the creepy side and then just stops.
#105 ·
· on Born Killers
I would have been on board with "Slayer" as a name choice if the girl had turned out to be named Lina Inverse.
#106 · 1
· on Ingénue, c. 2003 · >>WritingSpirit
I like the tone of this. The language use is nice, and the characters feel real enough. But it kind of passed me by.

For one thing, the abused woman isn't a new thing, so you have to add some kind of new take on it. And you kind of did. Her current flame falling in love with how she looked in the painting isn't something I've seen as much, and as the device for her rescue, it's pretty fresh.

The "I know you loved this painting as much as I do" doesn't quite ring true, though. First off, it took me a minute to figure out who says this, and that ended up muddling how Kristen was the abused one.

As an aside, it's a good idea to pick names that are nothing alike. Here, both start with a "k" sound and have an "r" soon after and end with "n", so it's harder to keep them distinct in my head.

But back to loving the painting. It's pretty clear Kristen doesn't, so I don't know why Catherine is asserting she does. She's asked Catherine to get rid of it before. And I don't have the first clue what else they're burning or why.

The emotional hook here is that I'll 1) despise whoever abused Kristen and 2) totally buy into the love interest. And apart from a default level on each, I don't really have either of those. There's only a perfunctory description of what Kristen endured, so it's hard to get that outraged about it. And on the love side, we only see them acting generically lovey-dovey (under the circumstances) without any more authentic demonstration that they genuinely love each other. Heck, for all I can tell from the story, Catherine has only a physical attraction, and Kristen is just a victim of a reverse Florence Nightingale effect. It's not easy to get that kind of buy-in from such a short story, but there are ways of putting just the right sentence here and there to make it all work.

I suspect there may just be too complex a relationship here to portray in 750 words. And I'll agree with >>Cassius that getting past the watershed moment before understanding the significance of it probably isn't a good move.
#107 ·
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards · >>Miller Minus
So the first time you use her name, you misspell it? Not the best foot to put forward.

There's a lot of earnestness here, drawing the reader along for the joke, and it is a bit infectious. I had fun reading it. But like I said for "Patrimony," this one's structured rather like a feghoot with a long build-up to a punchline. How well that punchline lands will of course depend on the reader. I liked it, but I was a little uncertain whether Rohan was saying she just needed to be equipped to fight a wyvern or whether they're outside her bailiwick. Even a little hint that she was going to have to return home to swap out her weapon set would clear that up. The fact that she alludes ot even having such equipment tends to lean that way, but she never sounds like she intends to go get it.

You've set this up to be an adventure story only to have it turn out not to be, so I can see some readers suffering from genre bait and switch. Plus you're betting everything on the one joke landing, whereas comedy typically works better by escalating.

I don't really have much to say. It's a straightforward entry, and I found it funny, but its success rides entirely on the reader liking a single joke.
#108 · 4
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards · >>Pascoite
The fact that she alludes ot even having such equipment

Pasco why you do this
#109 ·
· on It's Not the Leaving that Grieves Me
First amendment: no right to harm whales.
#110 ·
· on The Hangman · >>Monokeras
That last line doesn't really land. In fact, a lot of the ending doesn't. You could have ended it significantly earlier and had it be punchier as a result.

It's just kind of ridiculous, and that disarms (or is disarmed by) the fact that you telegraph the ending so early on. The fact that the kids are willing to go to these lengths is no longer a surprise then, and you've lost the story's purpose.

It also can't quite decide what perspective it's in. At first, it seems to be from Dave's, with lines like:
Blond, blue-eyed Betty was by far the class’s most despicable girl.

But by the end, it's feeling more omniscient. It can't be in Dave's head anymore, since it continues on past his death.

I think the teacher's reaction is really fighting the story, though. First, it's not really tonally consistent with how she teased Dave's potential fate upon leaving the room. Then at the end, she seems less flippant about it. Not with the gravity a normal person would show, of course, but she at least recognizes it's problematic.

In fact, this raises lots of world-building questions, but ones I'm not sure it would be a good idea for the story to answer. Like how this obviously isn't the first time this has happened, so it must be acceptable in the world at large? Otherwise why would the parents let their kids attend here?

All that adds up to something tonally inconsistent, but >>horizon has already covered in depth what the dichotomies are between this being horror or comedy, and between this being an egregious application of punishment or the norm.

As it is, I'll just say that it appears to exist for no more reason than shock value, and when the source of shock is easy to figure out from the beginning, it's lost even that.
#111 · 5
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards · >>GroaningGreyAgony
>>Miller Minus
We are nothing if not creatures of tradition, doomed ot repeat the past.
#112 ·
· 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.
#113 · 2
Kind of a weird round, overall. I looked at my top 3, and maybe one of them actually feels like a medal-winning story. But then Miller didn't enter, so that explains it.
#114 · 2
· on The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood · >>Cassius
Alternate Title: There's Vomit on His Sweater Already, Mom's Spaghetti

Q: Here we are again.

A: Raisin's back, tell a friend.

Q: Great to be back on the show?

A: Yeah, it's great to be back so soon.

Q: And with the final entry in the lineup, correct?

A: Yeah, and thank goodness, because I'm getting sick of all these stories now. Especially this one.

Q: You weren't a fan of "The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood"?

A: Nah, bro.

Q: A lot of other people seem to like it.

A: Well, they're wrong. Scientifically, objectively wrong. In fact I've been typing up an Excel spreadsheet for the past hour, explaining how objectively wrong these people are.

Q: That sounded sarcastic.

A: You're welcome.

Q: Before we get too deep into this, because I can tell by looking at your resting bitch face that you have a lot on your mind right now, how about we get a quick recap and opening thesis on the entry in question?

A: Sure thing. Okay, so... this is basically the premise for an unwanted harem comedy. If you watch a good deal of anime, you're guaranteed to run into a few of these. Hapless dude accumulates a collection of girls who want to boink him. It's a sub-genre that, for the most part, caters to males who desperately want female attention, yet are too insecure to actually get any. It's a power fantasy disguised as oh-woe-is-me comedy, and in fairness to "Deborah Wood," the story seems to subvert that premise.

Q: How so?

A: Nobody wants to be in the protagonist's position, do they? It's not like your typical harem comedy where you've got a bunch of beautiful women with lovely personalities and diverse sets of knockers; the girlfriend iterations here are bitchier than a drag queen trying to herd a hundred cats. Frankly I don't understand why you would want to bring that specific girl back from the dead; she would give Satan a hard time in the pits of Hell, let me tell ya.

Q: Sounds pretty funny to me.

A: I mean, it might be? Some people think it's funny, and good for them. I can see the appeal, at least in theory. Before I even read this entry, the title gave me a spark of optimism; it's eye-catching, it's high-concept, and it makes you curious about what you're getting into. I like it.

Q: What else do you like about this story?

A: Um... the setup? What little of it there is. Guy wants to bring dead girlfriend back. Guy creates clone of dead girlfriend. Guy then creates homunculus of dead girlfriend. It escalates and breeds ripe material for comedy.

Q: Is that it?

A: Pretty much. Technically speaking it's a fine piece. Some people have mentioned switching between "homunculus" and "homunculi," but personally I didn't notice or mind.

Q: And everything else is trash?

A: Well...

Q: Choose your words wisely, Mr. Raisin.

A: I think there are two massive problems I have with this entry, as opposed to a lot of entries I don't like where it's more death-by-a-thousand-cuts and all that. Firstly, the setup; there's next to none of it. We get a few sentences about how you shouldn't make a homunculus and a clone of the same person, but that's about it. We don't even know why the protagonist did this, who, I might add, is a three-ton bag of shit.

Q: Is the protagonist the second problem?

A: No, he's an extension of the first. You see, we never get to understand what the fuck is going through this guy's head, or why he does what he does. In previous entries there are some very questionable characters, morally speaking, but at least we as readers are given good ideas of cause-and-effect with them, what makes them tick.

Q: But this is a comedy, and cause-and-effect shouldn't matter so much, right?

A: On the contrary, cause-and-effect is crucial to telling a good joke. In my opinion. But like I've said, this is totally not my opinion; it's actually a mathematical conclusion I came to that is completely objectively true, swear on me mum.

Q: You're being pretty snappy about having to explain yourself.

A: That's because it's easier to justify finding something funny than it is to justify not finding something funny. For example, I think Freddy Got Fingered is a really funny movie, and I don't fear being taken to task on that, but say, not finding Amy Schumer's stand-up routines funny requires a lot more of a "Well it's just my opinion" pretense. Not to mention that if you don't find something funny, it's kind of a dilemma, because it's kind of like not finding a horror movie scary. "Why didn't I laugh? Why wasn't I scared?" You could just say it's purely irrational and not worth explaining, but I have my doubts.

Q: So what rubs you the wrong way about this entry? Or rather, why didn't it make you laugh?

A: As I said before, part of it has to do with how this is basically one long payoff to a setup that's barely there. It feels unearned, because we get maybe fifty words of setup and then, bam, we're thrown into a long and agonizing conversation that bites off more than it can chew. There's also the protagonist, who seems both amoral and completely idiotic, to the point of alienating those who actually suffer from low intelligence. Let's think about this. Why does he make a clone, then a homunculus, and then apparently is going to make an android? The closest to an explanation that we get is that this guy, this bro, is an amoral scientist type who will do anything in the name of exploration. But his personality is so poorly defined through the prose, which is his narration, that we don't get that impression.

Q: Hmm. That's a mood. But you said there was something else that didn't work for you.

A: Oh yeah, the other thing. The dialogue. Mainly the dialogue between the Deborah iterations, which some people seem to find really funny, and hey, I get it. The dialogue is fast-paced, high-octane, obscene, absurd... but it tries way too damn hard for me. Just having two bitchy girls verbally spar is not in itself funny, and throwing in a few fucks won't necessarily make it funnier either. Again, totally scientific assessment, nobody can challenge me on this. But with that said, for real, I found the dialogue particularly aggravating on a second reading, because for some reason I was expecting more from it, now that I was reading with foreknowledge and a clearer mindset. It's like, okay, they're being bitchy, but what else? What is actually the joke? Because that can't be just it, can it?

Q: You sound bitter about the fact that this comedy has been well-received, more so than a certain comedy you might've written, which is only getting a mild amount of praise, a lot of which comes from you, the possible author.

A: What is this, psychoanalysis? A lot of the execution here didn't click with me. I could've just left it at that, but I felt the need to explain my position, because it's almost one of those instances where you have to wonder if you and the people around you experienced the same thing or not. You have to ask yourself, "Am I reading this wrong?" Maybe I am; maybe I'm just being a sourpuss about a story that, as a comedy, succeeds on some objective level, whatever that may be. I don't have a bachelor's degree in deconstructing comedy, ya know.

Q: Good to know.

A: With that said, I don't really have anything else to add. I can see this entry doing pretty well when the final countdown comes around; it has elements that resonate with several people on a comedic level, so hell, maybe it does deserve a high spot. I've been wrong plenty of times before.

Q: Before we end this discussion, I need to ask something. Call it random, but... are you still bitter about "The Burning" only getting 6th place in a prior round?

A: ...maybe a little bit.
#115 · 3
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards
…doomed ot repeat the past.

We’ll never see the end of that prompt, either.
#116 · 1
· on By Any Other Name · >>AndrewRogue >>Monokeras
I was going to talk about the central battle over what the flower is, but >>Pascoite beat me to it. +1 to that whole comment.

I'd add just one more thing: as currently presented, the tragedy seems to be that Thomas knows the truth, but isn't believed. I think you could make that work — if you removed Thomas' waffling and grounded the question of why he knows about roses and why he isn't believed — but if your goal is to draw tragedy from the truth being lost, I think that instead you should double down.

I think Thomas should be wrong, too.

I think Professor Johns should be not a botanist, but a linguist. He believes that roses must have been the most important flower in Earth history because of all of the sayings about it: "every rose has its thorns", "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", etc. So when he finds a time capsule with a seed and plants it and cultivates it, he claims he's rediscovered the long-lost rose. It's got thorny things in the center and it smells pretty good. Thomas instantly recognizes this flower as the same type his dad grew.

No, the botanist argues. This is clearly a daisy. We've got fragments from an ancient book which identify a daisy as a flower round like the sun, with pointy petals, just like this one. We respect your dad's scholarship but he's wrong here.

Then she hands a bunch of sunflowers out to the class.

“Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomen nudum tenemus”.

“Sir?” Thomas asked the teacher. “What does the sentence on the stone mean?”

I guess that postapocalyptic Earth didn't end up with a copy of The Name of the Rose, then. :-p

Seriously, I'd drop that. It feels a little too on-the-nose, and a little too googleable. You never actually have Thomas ask the guide what it means. Which is good, because explaining it would be sledgehammering the point of the story in way too hard. But at the same time, bad, because if you never explain it, the reader won't get anything out of it unless (A) they've read TNOTR, in which case your twist is spoiled; or (B) they google it to the same effect.

Thanks for writing!
#117 · 2
· on In the Melted Eye of the Beholder
Another budding serial killer here. However, the story takes that and runs with it, giving the childish cruelty greater context. That alone is going to edge it toward the top of my slate: we've got a coherent narrative with a clear point and solid arc.

That said, I don't think everything is quite pulling in the same direction, so this feels merely strong rather than excellent. The biggest thing that knocked me out of my reading would be more of a nitpick if it weren't the central core of the story:

she quickly melts into a shiny puddle of pink-black goop. A chemical mess that not even Ken could learn to love …

You seem to describe the dolls melting into unrecognizable piles of protoplasm. (>>Monokeras does have a point with the oven temperature here: that high of a setting reinforces the idea that the dolls are being wholly melted.) And yet the narrator seems to still treat them as Barbies. I think that, for once, this story might have doubled down a little too hard. Your greater theme really requires that these dolls be deformed but still essentially whole — still able to be interacted with as Barbies — and that's not at all the sense I'm getting from your prose.

Agreed with >>Pascoite about the odd dangling thread of David's redemption. (Agreed with most of his comment, again, actually. But the David thing specifically is another way the story feels lopsided. Except for the first sentence foreshadowing the crash, the entire first half is about David's sociopathic streak, and then the story seems to drop him and focus on the narrator instead.)

Overall, though — good job, author! I think this comes closer to its potential than a lot of stories I've read this round.
#118 · 1
· on The Sparrow
… I may have to abstain from voting here. I just can't read it without mentally comparing it to my own The Red Forest, which is a little unfair, because they're not always attempting the same thing.

Trying to look at this on its own merits — I'm with earlier commenters on this struggling due to its vagueness about whether the sparrow is sentient or not, and the ways that changes its motivations. Part of that, I think, is its daily routine. The backstory apocalypse is introduced at the end, as a twist, but I'm not sure it works for me as a twist — that requires offering us a recontextualization of what we've already read, and based on the current text, that recontextualization just sort of makes the sparrow's other routines pointless.

This might be a way in which The Red Forest is a useful compare-and-contrast: that story's shifting viewpoint takes us past landmarks and locations which tell the underlying story. Here, we see some silent forest (which implies nothing else is alive, which is something you already explicitly confirm at the end); some sort of pyramid monument (which tells me … basically nothing, sorry); and a barren, desolate wasteland (which is apocalyptic, but non-specific). This feels like a missed chance to show us more of the landscape, in more detail, and use that to paint a picture of the land which was, and exactly what happened to leave the sparrow alone.

For what it's trying to sell — the haunting image of the lonely robotic sparrow — it does a good enough job. I just don't think that that image alone is ambitious enough to carry the story.

Thanks for writing, regardless!
#119 · 1
· on My Beloved Husband · >>No_Raisin
There's a writing truism that "It was all a dream!" is bad. While this is not 100% true — like "show, don't tell" or any other writing advice — there is logic behind it, and understanding that logic helps you figure out how to break "the rules" effectively.

The logic there is that it cheapens the story. Whatever bad things happened in the dream never actually occurred. So the impact is lessened because the consequences of what we've read have been reversed.

What I'm getting at here is that, if you want to make this a dream, that's the hurdle you need to overcome. I think you have the framework to do so. I also think you stopped too soon, because right now it feels to me like it falls short of that hurdle.

What a dream effectively can do is serve as a warning, or set up a compare-and-contrast. But neither of those work without the context of the waking-world situation. We do get a little bit of that from the narration in the dream itself — but we don't see the narrator's reaction to the dream, or the narrator's reaction to the waking-world husband. That's why this feels hollow to me right now; I don't know whether to take the dream seriously or not, or what it means to any of the characters, or whether it even feeds us useful information to understand the story's world with.

I wish I could find some more positive things to say about the story. Without having that greater context, most of what I'm left with was solid prose and an uncomfortable reading experience. Perhaps — I hope — that was the point. But, as has been noted on some other stories this round, shock value without context isn't particularly effective.

So I'll repeat what I said in an earlier review: a story not coming together is still a valuable experience. The way we learn is by pushing at boundaries and seeing what works and what doesn't. Thanks for writing!
#120 · 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.
#121 · 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.
#122 · 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!
#123 · 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.
#124 ·
· 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.
#125 ·
· 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.
#126 ·
· on Watching the Show · >>libertydude
Author, instead of giving you the lecture you deserve on the reprehensible evil of baseball, I'm going to do a little nitpicking on your opening, because first impressions in stories are extremely important and little minor issues which wouldn't throw me out of the story later on can keep me from engaging up front:

The Stoneville Tigers were doing their best to lose their season opener. Ahead two runs to the visiting Ridgefield Coyotes’ one, Davis had thrown a knuckleball, hoping the pitch would lurch just out of bat’s reach. But instead of veering off, the ball went right in the middle of the strike zone and then over the centerfield fence. Now it was the bottom of the ninth, all tied up and with two outs. Matthews was at bat with one ball and two strikes, Whitehouse and Donovan were on-base, and Jeremy was still dead.

1) I like what you're trying to do with the starting hook — but if the Tigers are ahead, they're really not doing their best to lose. Doing their best to squander their lead, perhaps (especially since they end the paragraph merely tied).

2) The four names you mention are Matthews, Whitehouse, Donovan, and Jeremy. Three lasts and a first, and that threw me hard.

3) It took me until my second read to question whether Jeremy was even on the team, as I'd initially assumed. It's taken me until my third read to answer that question 'no', and I'm still not sure. The whole paragraph is laser-focused on how circumstances are threatening a Tiger loss. If Jeremy has nothing to do with that, you're breaking expectations you built up in a throw-readers-out-of-the-story kind of way.

Moving on: this has got a quite literary-fiction vibe to it, and I think for the most part the effect is pulled off well. After the roughness of the first paragraph, the segue to the personal recollections is pretty smooth and I like how this interweaves its two halves.

Jeremy shrugged. “They got plenty of ball in Chicago. Not as cheap, but still fun for us devotees.”

Max shook his head. “I’m not. ...

Not what?

... okay, after some rereading that's probably an implied "devotee", but there's actually a bigger problem with that line. You already led the story with Jeremy not being there because he's dead. Now you're introducing a second departure element, of Jeremy not being there because he went to Chicago, which seems to me like it's just muddying the issue. Especially since we never get any hint of what killed Jeremy, or why he left.

And that sort of drags down the ending, too. It feels like a statement about Max coming to terms with his brother's absence, but that absence doesn't feel grounded enough for the emotional impact of resolving it to fully hit me. I mean, I guess it's good that Max is finding some happiness after his brother's death, but he only ever mentions it once, back at the beginning, and seems to have been more emotionally impacted by his departure for Chicago (at least by words used to examine the issue). I should be feeling things along with him, not wondering what the situation was and why.

Regardless, this still mostly accomplishes its goals, and is still going to kick around the top half of my slate. Thanks for writing!
#127 · 1
· on Patrimony · >>Baal Bunny
Man, I feel old. All y'all saying this felt like Shrek. The protagonist and the shapeshifting ogre (and the method of triumph) are 100% stone-cold from the plot of the original Puss in Boots fairy tale. There's no Shrek in this.

As such, when I recognized the fable up front and saw this following it beat for beat, there wasn't a whole lot here for me to appreciate ... right up until the ending. You got me, I'll admit. (I'd advise changing the title if you edit this; you really don't want to give away the twist that's the core of the story.) I'm going to have to weigh that against the predictable path it follows for most of its length, but leaving me with a smile counts for a lot.

Thanks for writing!
#128 ·
· on On the Classification of Giant Winged Lizards
Not a whole lot I can add here beyond piling on with previous commenters' "whole story depends on the single joke" analysis. For me, by the time you reach it, you've long since beat the horse wyvernequus to death. Agreed with >>Cassius that this would be vastly improved by layering in other jokes along the way. To me, the monkey comment is good but too little, too late.

Obviously, YMMV. Thanks for writing!
#129 · 3
· on Male-Order Magic
If nothing else, this story is a sterling example that context matters. How would we all have reacted if the genders of the characters had been reversed?

... that having been said, while this would have been awfully uncomfortable that way, for me personally it still feels uncomfortable as-is. And I think it's a consequence of the "wiggle room" >>Pascoite mentions. Namely, it goes to an awful lot of effort to land the story in this weird middle ground where the sexual summoning is neither obviously consensual nor obviously rapey, and for me, that feels even dirtier than the obvious-rape case. Because these borderline-consent cases are the sorts of scenarios in the real world where so much damage is done to victims as people argue over the merits of "is it rape or not?" and make jokes about it (as this story kind of, borderline, does) and I just can't not see that.

And so I just don't want to engage with it at the level that would be required to try to evaluate it objectively. Sorry, author. Abstaining and shutting up now.
#130 ·
· on It's Not the Leaving that Grieves Me
You know that war-movie trope where the dude shows up with two weeks left to go on his tour of duty, and stares at the pendant of his wife he keeps in a locket around his neck, and you know that he's a dead man walking?

... yeah. Unfortunately, having thought of that, I now cannot unsee it. Because that is literally the entirety of this story (except with whales and storms instead of Eastern Fronts and karma-guided mortars), and I think that might be behind the flatness that some of the other commenters mention. We see a dude head off into His Last Dangerous Thing with something sweet to retire for, it would be more of a surprise if he made it.

As TVTropes notes, Tropes Are Not Bad. Telling a well-worn story does not invalidate your story. But you need to be aware of when you're doing something which comes with built-in audience expectations, because if you tell a story that the audience can write in their heads beat by beat, you'd better find some other way to make it compelling. Mixing in other tropes, or subverting the one you've got, are excellent tools in that case: shake the audience's expectation just enough that they are engaged with what you're actually writing rather than the cliche in their head. If it were me, I'd probably steer in the direction >>Pascoite suggests, of really deepening the romance here to further humanize both Helen and $Protagonist. (... giving him a name might be a start.)

Aside from that ... well, there's nothing to critique, really. The story has a reasonable plot progression, there are no prose problems catching my eye, it's got some nice details. "This isn't catching me" is a super frustrating problem because it doesn't always mean you're doing anything wrong. But this is a case where the story probably could have taken some more chances.

Thanks for writing!
#131 ·
· on Male-Order Magic
Call me a dope, but a lot of the jokes in this entry took me far too much mental strength to work out. I spent a lot of time stopping and starting, going back to understand why certain sentences were written like they were meant to be funny, or just freezing for a second to think about whether or not they were funny by their own merit. A summary of some of my thoughts:

Less real than an agent's promises? Are agents like that? I don't know, I've never had one.

Loved I not honor more? Is that a saying? Even if it is, would she understand it? This is supposed to be a different world.

Sauce for the goose? Is that a saying? Or is it just something in her world that's supposed to sound silly to us?

Bill C. Bob? Oh, okay it sounds like Beelzebub... and... William Charles Roberts was what he said his name was, okay. Wait, I thought she attempting to summon a man. Why does she think she's summoned Beelzebub?

I wish the jokes in this story had smacked me in the face, one after the other, like a procession of rubber animals. Instead it felt like several blasts of funny-smelling vapours, and I had to figure out what exactly each smell was before I knew how to react. Shock factor is good, but immediate comprehension is not to be overlooked**. Your best example of a quick-hitting joke was the pun at the end, but by that point I'm unfortunately a lost cause, and you even went and italicized the pun which has always really irked me.

Me! The italics guy!

But let me put the jokes with punchlines aside and just look at voicing. Our narrator-protagonist is a great character. True, he's an arrogant prick who seems to rank all the women in his life on a 0-10 number line of fuckability. But that presents several opportunities for comedy down a lot of different paths. You could drag him by his teeth through a world he's unfamiliar with; you could have him make his own situation worse with every word he says, contrary to what he's used to; or you could even rough him up with a little slapstick. I would have liked to see these things happen to him. I did not want to see the man raped.

Also, for posterity's sake: I disagree with all of the above commentary that you've written this woman to be an ugly fat chick. By my reading, she's simply 'not skinny enough' to meet his 'standards' (seriously fuck this guy), but at the same time, he seems to be finding what's beneath her robe to be 'interesting' so she's clearly not meant to be repulsive.

But that's all from me. Thanks for writing and best of luck with your whole thing!

**Aside: I seem to be implying here that all jokes must be understood immediately, and fuck me for speaking in absolutes. There are those jokes that wait a moment for you to connect the dots. These are tough to do, but they usually involve carefully predicting the train of thought the reader is going to have, so that they can hit themselves with the rubber animal (that is to say, they don't know they've come across a joke until they put two and two together).
#132 ·
· on My Beloved Husband · >>No_Raisin
I am a little unsurprised that this story is one of the ones with fewer comments; I wonder how many people, like me, are struggling to say something that hasn't been said yet. So this is just an echo, but yes, the story leaves us proper squeamish throughout due to some really punchy writing and good use of vocab, but then we aren't asked to feel anything beyond that because it is, like you stated at the beginning, all a dream.

My only guess is that she has suppressed memories of being raped on her honeymoon, and that this dream was the memory of her trauma screaming back into her conscious mind, giving her a horrible reminder that her beloved husband was, that one time, anything but beloved. Hmm, you know what? I really like that interpretation. IT'S TIME TO RANK YOU FIRST.

Only kidding. It's such a nebulous, vague interpretation that I have nothing to back it up, except that, without it, I've got nothing.

But that's all from me. Thanks for writing!
#133 · 1
· on The Sparrow
My review of Male Order Magic included calling myself a dope, which means I get one free pass to call everyone else dopes. That's right. That's just how it works.


You're all dopes.

The bird is implied to be robotic several times throughout the story. Okay, maybe it could have been a little clearer, but come on. Dreamless sleeps. It's routine is 'almost autonomous' (okay yeah the 'almost' shouldn't have been there). Grey with speckles of silver. Metallic sheen. Glass eyes.

Also, the "slivers" of light comes up twice because it's the "first" and "last" slivers of light. Here (and a few other times) it's implied that this bird just spent an entire day looking at itself in a sheet of glass. It didn't even eat.

That aside, everyone has still made excellent points that this story lacks meat. I'm not going to cover the trodden ground. But since I do think this entry is meant to be an exercise in prose, I want to talk about that, because I love prose like this.

The word 'like' is an important modifier there because without it the sentence doesn't make sense because while I appreciate what you're going for, there were a few places that tripped me up. To list a few:

>…of widths that ranged from tens of thousands its size to even smaller than itself. The word "times" should be in here somewhere.

>The past tense of "lead" is "led". The past tense of "cast" is "cast".

>Sprang and sang, not sprung and sung (in your case). Also not sure why you italicized these words.

>If you do a Ctrl+F on this text for the word "and", and select "highlight all", your story lights up like a Christmas tree. Don't get me wrong, it's a common, handy word—but if anything, you don't need to be starting so many sentences with it.

>Not only could you take out 'and' from your final sentence, but you could even lose 'then'. There's a few words like this (just, only, etc.) that can sometimes be taken out to make things faster and punchier.

>I think there are some comma mistakes too, but fuck man, commas are hard. I'll leave that to the experts.

That's all I've got. I want to give props to you for attempting a more "quality of form" style of writing in the writeoff because I think it gets discouraged too often. So thanks for writing, and best of luck!
#134 ·
· on By Any Other Name · >>Monokeras
I don't think we can assume Thomas is in the right here. But that's kind of the problem, Author, because since there doesn't appear to be a message so much as an interesting premise to this story, it's tough for me to take sides. But take this sentence:

“...almost everything we knew has been lost during the war, and every seed mangled by radioactivity. Our knowledge is just… assumptions,”

I think you need to be more careful when you start expositing like this, because it raises a lot of questions**. EVERY seed was wiped out? Then how are they growing anything at all? What's happened to all of our pictures and textbooks? Surely those would tell us what's a rose and what's a tulip. How much of our information is lost exactly?

There's a suspension of disbelief required that while some can clear I clatter right into it. Take that for what it's worth.

Apart from his, I also want to point out that Thomas is being dragged through the scene a little bit, and it's not clear what exactly he wants from the situation. I guess others have said that, but it's important that this gets hammered home because I think it's step one to improving this story. Give Thomas a goal and give us a clear picture of what he knows going in.

Before I leave:

“And from what evidence does your father derive his taxonomy?” the guide snapped.

I really like how you had the guide dial up the science-speak in order to win the argument. Well done.

Thanks for writing!

**Aside: Yes, there are certainly answers to these questions that the reader can take a stab at, but I don't think your premise should be where we're taking guesses, especially not in a story like this.
#135 · 1
· on In the Melted Eye of the Beholder
Literally nothing to add. Sorry if that red bell was a bit of a letdown. I liked it though, as others did. I liked it a lot. But one thing I think we could all unpack a little more is the temperature setting on the oven.


It's funny that one little missing F has caused such debate. And it sucks that the debate even happened when the temperature setting is followed by an excellent description of melting dolls written by someone who as clearly done their research. I think you should just take out the temperature entirely. We know what ovens do.

Thanks for writing!
#136 ·
· on Male-Order Magic
So I just googled "Sauce for the goose" (is sauce for the gander)

It's used to say, "If you can do it, then I can too." But it can also be negated to mean "what I can't do, you can't do either." In other words... a double standard.

I have to know, Author. Was the irony intentional?
#137 · 1
I am in, and not entirely sure why.
#138 · 1
· on Liar!
[citation needed]
#139 ·
· on Engrieving
What's Fabio doing here?

Anyway, this is definitely striking due to being in a different medium that we'd normally see. The attention to detail on the boat's planks is nice, though quite possibly necessary to be able to identify it as such readily. The pleating on the skirt, the sleeve cuffs, the collar, the pockets, the contouring of the whale's tail. This is very nicely done. In that medium, it's of course going to be very tough to make the lady look attractive, so we just have to mentally add that as well. But if you'd done a drawing, where it's easier to convey that, I don't know that I'd have as much of an appreciation of its workmanship. Hard to say. Depends on how good the drawing was, I guess.

I don't know much about art, so this is just my reaction to it.
#140 ·
· on m_ss_ng
I guess I'm surprised to see a feminine figure being hanged, when it was a boy in the story. I also don't understand why so many of the words have to do with seeing. Oh, now I guess I get it? The underlines obscured one word for me. I though it was "blood," which would fit with the story's dark themes, but it's "blind." So all the words have to do with seeing, and all the missing letters are "i." As a thematic thing, I could see that meaning something like "I am gone," but I don't really understand what that would mean. Dave's thought as he dies, maybe?

That said, this is supposed to be inspired by the story, not necessarily taken directly from it, and it's an interesting thing to unpack and digest.
#141 · 1
· on Liar! · >>horizon
We need a "pedant" award.

Seriously, this is taken in good fun, though in the story, Nohar's point is that a wyvern is something she doesn't have the specific equipment with her to face.
#142 ·
· on Invisible Touch
I'm curious what this style is. It looks like one of those pieces where you color in a page with black crayon, then scratch lines in it. Because of the foggy way the faces are rendered, it's hard to get a read on character emotions from it. Even if it did, I don't know that it'd be conveying its own message beyond just being a scene from the story. And wasn't Daniel already outside when Charlie started abusing the spider?

I see the skill here. Just not sure I see the message.
#143 · 1
· on Patrimony · >>Baal Bunny
Yeah, I can't believe Horizon was the only other person to recognize actual, straight-up, no-Shrek-involved, Puss in Boots.

I have a soft spot for retellings of fairy tales. Even if they're played almost entirely straight, the fact that we get a different perspective counts for a lot with me. I was enjoying Puss' sarcastic commentary on the ogre without much expectation for something different, and then boom, that last line. Puts the entire fairy tale into a different light (after all, why is the cat so loyal to a human who was seriously contemplating killing him and selling his fur right before discovering he could talk?)
#144 ·
· on Born Killers
My first take was that this kind of had the same problem for me as the wyvern story, except without trying to center around a joke: you've got a scene where two monster hunters banter against the backdrop of a far more gripping fight, and the story is just about the banter. A little slice-of-life moment within a larger adventure-style narrative.

But on second consideration I think that's not quite fair. Because the problem here feels a little more subtle and broad: it's that it's going specifically for that character interaction within the larger context. While the wyvern story was designed to be self-contained with its core joke, this ... kind of isn't. I could easily see it as a solid part of a larger work, as the two banter in the low-energy moments between the high-octane plot fights.

And falling afoul of that lack of larger context is a problem, when I stop and frame it that way, that's all over the place with minifics -- especially OF minifics, where we can't just throw Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle in a room and have the audience know exactly who the protagonists are and why to root for them. (It's one of the major reasons I've advocated repeatedly for minifics to have an upper limit of 1000 words.) Here, I feel like the characters are well established -- it's what you spend the story doing, after all! -- but so much effort is put into that that we don't get to see the stakes, nor outcome, of the decision they make.

I don't know whether going to trivia night is going to get them into trouble or not. Slayer and $Protagonist spend a fair amount of time debating that issue, but all I've got to go on is their arguments; we never see enough of the world to ground those into being able to make a reader judgment. Similarly, I'm not sure whether "trivia night" is even supposed to be the core subversion here (although my guess is yes, based on the character name and the round's prompt) or whether that's just part of the background flavor, the same way as the brown hills which don't quite pin this down geographically.

(Is $Protagonist a werewolf, by the way? That's a wild guess. Slayer works with him, and they talk about never having encountered "good" vampires before, so $Protagonist presumably isn't a vampire (or their inner narration would be pretty different during that exchange). But $Protagonist also talked about being able to sense Lygia, so there's an implied supernatural angle there.)

Overall: Another case where the text as written is perfectly cromulent, but the story as a stand-alone story feels lacking. How to make a minific satisfyingly stand alone is a hard problem, author! It's probably our #1 stumbling block in the short rounds. There's no shame in it, but it's still gotta affect my scoring.

Thanks for writing!
#145 ·
· on The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood · >>Cassius
“Fuck you, bitch! I have Deborah’s soul!"

... and I'm just left wondering why the protagonist wants this woman back in the first place.

Actually, let's just quote >>Pascoite for truth:
It's obvious why those two wouldn't want any more copies of her, but as put-upon as our protagonist is, I don't understand why he'd want any more of them.

Now. This guy comes across as incredibly despicable and self-serving, so I'm left to wonder why these Deborahs show such devotion to him. I don't understand it from their viewpoint. Unless they were designed to be that way, in which case this just became much more creepy.

This may just be a personal thing, author. I mean, it's not like I get butthurt when I read a story about (say) Twilight Sparkle getting excited when Rainbow Dash dies because it gives her an excuse for necromancy. The idea of "a character doing dumb or ridiculous things because it's funny" is a stock trope in comedy and there's nothing wrong with it in the abstract. But when all of the characters are so unrelentingly unlikeable and full of red flags, it sure makes it hard for me to focus on the comedy of it.

Clearly it works with some of your other readers. YMMV.

Thanks for writing! And that's all my fic reviews done.
#146 · 1
· on Engrieving
This is breathtaking work by the standards of Writeoff art. 3-d media! The texturing is gorgeous, the story of the piece is visible at a glance (the boat hull is an especially nice touch), and while some of the detail work is rough (I have no idea what resolution this was made at), other parts like the collar come out very well. It's far beyond my art skill and I'm just impressed. I wish I had more pieces to rank beneath it.

I'm glad you entered this, artist. Thank you for raising the bar so high.
#147 ·
· on m_ss_ng
The "missing i's" took me a minute, but immediately upon clicking, raised my estimation of the piece considerably. As simple as the piece is artistically, a lot of thought clearly went into this, and it's cool to see that brought out.
#148 · 1
· on Liar!
I can just see Ewan hauling out the magical-world equivalent of a projector and giving a presentation after he and Rowan escape the village. This would be the first slide.

My reaction is pretty much what >>Pascoite said, though. Thanks for contributing, artist!
#149 ·
· on Invisible Touch
Geez, you would not believe how hard it was to google that this style of line drawing (where you have a black canvas and scrape the ink away to get your white areas) is called "scratchboard art". I remember doing it during art class in high school. Of course, given that I went to a high school with art classes, I'm probably dating myself.

It's a tough medium. You have to think about your art in reverse. You're not adding shadows, you're adding highlights. And once a line goes down, you pretty much are stuck with it unless you repaint your board and let it dry again.

That said, the overall effect is a little uneven. I can't quite shake the odd sensation of the foreground Charlie's crossed eyes. If it's meant to represent him he's staring at the spider, the perspective lines would put that close enough to his face that the thing's larger-than-tarantula sized. The shading on Daniel's face also feels off (unless it's meant to be a horseshoe/trucker moustache). Scratchboard is unforgiving. :(

But what's going on in the photo is immediately recognizable, which is the first goal of representational art. So points for success!

Thanks for contributing, artist! And that's art reviews done.
#150 ·
· 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.
#151 ·
· 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.
#152 ·
· 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.
#153 ·
· 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 >:|
#154 ·
· 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.
#155 ·
· 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.
#156 ·
· 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.
#157 ·
· 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.
#158 ·
· 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.
#159 ·
· 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.
#160 · 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.
#161 · 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.
#162 · 2
Time to do a retrospective, yeeeeeeeah.

Time to channel my inner Noel Gallagher and shit on myself, fuck yeeeeeeeeeah!

Since I'm the other author with two entries, I'll be following old man Mono's example and get both my entries taken care of in one messy bam-bam-thank-you-ma'am response.

Let's go, bois:

>>Miller Minus

Son the Father

First of all, thanks to Cassius for believing in me when no one else did. That sounds like something sappy you would say when accepting an award at a ceremony, but actually it's like, "Fuck, who has the right opinion here?"

What a disappointment this turned out to be. I'm referring to the story, not so much the comments. On paper (well, in concept) I believed I was on quite the roll, because I had this horror premise that was also being lathered with subtext and a few moving parts that would incentivize re-reading and analsis analysis. Nothing in this story is made too explicit, by design; there are several things it hints at but never outright tells us.

However, this resulted in a paradoxical situation where some readers thought it was being too subtle while others thought it was being too heavy-handed. I don't know who to fucking believe here. I would rather be too subtle than heavy-handed, because at least I was aiming for more of the former with this entry. At the same time, I think the "heavy-handed" assessment was largely because how unpolished and tell-y the prose was; I think this is where Miller came out being the most right, and even before he commented I found myself unsatisfied with how little I had revised this story.

A quote of note:

I think this does at least nod in that direction with the first scene's foreshadowing about the atomic bomb. But that foreshadowing explicitly sets up a theme that's then left dangling. I'm kind of getting subtext of the famous Oppenheimer quote, but if the story or the title ever meant to explicltly invoke that, I'm not seeing it. That's probably the core problem if you intended this as a standalone: your subtext is buried too deep for me.

The best way I can think of to resolve this is to structure the plot in such a way where the A-bomb comes back somehow, towards the end, so that it reverberates. The Oppenheimer connection was deliberate, though; the synchronicity of Charlie's birth with the dropping of the first A-bomb was supposed to signal Charlie as a harbinger of death. I didn't feel the need to make this explicit in an in-your-face way, and I still don't. This story is not supposed to hold your hand, which is why I found Miller's assessment more piercing, because, considering my intentions, it had far more validity behind it.

Another quote of note:

This story is mad tell-y. The two italicized sentences are the biggest offenders here, but it's kind of happening everywhere. The relationship between the father and son is described in plain English and I don't get to see anything change between these two. There's an inciting incident (the spider) that should create change, but instead of seeing the change we just get the timeskip, and the narrator tells us that the son is now the father. Cool.

The two italicized sentences are indeed the biggest offenders, and I should've deleted them in a heartbeat. Words are precious in a minific round, and writing whole sentences just to add some emphasis is a poor move.

I think the solution to the prose, though, would've been to commit more to a pseudo-documentary POV, like what Pasco said,where the writing is more stripped back and the POV more pragmatic. Also would add a good dose of realism to the mix, since, aside from Charlie's power, this story is on the grounded sound.

Okay, one more quote:

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.

Thaaaaaaaat's the idea! The power itself doesn't actually matter, so much as how it illustrates something that happens in the real world, that being children growing up to become violent sociopaths partly because of poor parenting. There wasn't meant to be "suspense" so much as an enveloping sense of dread.

It was supposed to be a subversion of stereotypical 1950s good-guy parenting, where the white picket fence image of a happy family acts as a front for a child with a supernatural power and a disturbing lack of empathy, and whose parents are terribly under-equipped to deal with either. There are tones of stories about how abusive, obsessive parenting leads to the children being fucked up, but here it's the exact opposite: the ineptitude of the parents and so on.

I guess the mixed reception would inevitably lead to a Most Controversial badge, which I will wear with pride, thank you very much. I just wish I had spent more time and effort on this entry.


>>Miller Minus

My Beloved Husband

Okay, so.

I got a story to tell y'all, and this is gonna explain how this entry ended up the way it did. It is a tragic tale, filled with sex, death, betrayals, revelations, and so on, and it'll be sure to knock your cocks socks off.

It's not surprising that many, if not most, WO entries are conceptualized long before the round even started. You have a lot of story ideas floating around, orphaned, in your head, and a prompt comes along that inspires you to give one of those ideas a home. Well, this happened with me. Except the execution was originally quite different.

Originally I wanted to write a story about a woman talking about her sexual assault experience, in a very plain-worded, uncomfortable way. The twist would at first seem to be that this woman was actually talking about a dream she kept having; the real twist would be that when she woke up, the man who rape/assaulted her was her husband/boyfriend. This would explain that dangling final sentence; in the original context, it made a lot more sense, and had a great deal of power to it.

However, something happened. I couldn't come up with a good title for this piece. I was also unsure as to how explicit I could be in the sexual descriptions without getting DQ'd, so I did a naughty thing: I chickened out and compromised.

At least, it seemed like a compromise at the time. Sure, the premise was watered down, and the power of the last line was greatly diluted, but I thought I had reached something of a decent middle ground. And I had a good title for it! At the time that was really all I needed; I couldn't figure out how to make it more solidly structured, but that didn't bother me.

What does bother me now is that I could've both made this the compelling story I wanted and pushed the envelope even further with the descriptions. Maybe not much further, I was testing the limits already, but I wanted to make something truly erotic one moment and unnerving the next, in one seamless motion, like a good magic trick. I wish I had stuck to my guns at this; my chances of getting DQ'd would've increased, but I think the story would've been far stronger as a whole because of those chances taken.

How unfortunate. Unlike with "Son the Father" I'm actually inclined to agree with pretty much all the criticisms leveled at this entry. It's muddy in structure, it's too ambiguous, it has no clear message, the last line is awkward, and so on.

...so why the fuck did this place slightly higher than my other entry?
#163 · 3
· on The Many Iterations of Deborah Wood
So, I just barely managed to squeak in this story right before submissions closed, and as a result, the final product was exactly as concrete as I had hoped it to be. Not. You know that feeling you get when you have an idea that feels like a surefire winner, but you don't exactly know what you're going to do with it or how it's going to play out, and you're just hoping you execute it right? That was essentially the feeling I had with this entry.

The initial product was intended to be more philosophical about what makes a person's identity (although according to >>AndrewRogue, the question has an easy answer), but as I was writing it, I decided that I wouldn't be able to fit a lot of the more visceral questions into the final product itself, and reformatted it to be more in the line of a sitcom-ish style about a hapless mad-scientist-esque guy besieged by two nagging wives (who actually have a very good reason to be upset with him). I wouldn't characterize this as a "straight" comedy, and I think a piece with more room to breathe would end up looking more like an absurd drama with comedic moments. Perhaps I was trying to do too much at once here.

There's a certain subtext, however, that I endeavored to preserve, and an undercurrent of black comedy that is intentionally put into the product itself and which several readers identified (namely, >>AndrewRogue, >>horizon, >>Pascoite, and probably >>Miller Minus) wherein the protagonist is an absolute sack of shit and basically a creepy sociopath who is strongly implied to be doing this so he can have more Deborahs to add to his sampling platter. The humor (for me) is derived from the main character suffering as a result of his actions. If there is any character designed to be sympathetic, it is Clone Deborah, and absolutely not the protagonist. What's odd to me is that you all FIGURED THIS OUT yet acted as if it was something I was doing unintentionally. If I had more time and a little more space, I may have made this dynamic for transparently visible in the narrative, but again, I was under a bit of a time crunch and couldn't fine tune it more to get that tone just right. Nonetheless, I do bristle a bit when being labelled with the big P (for "Problematic" by >>AndrewRogue).

“Deborah, I’ve told you this before. When you love something, you naturally want more of it. It’s not because you’re any less Deborah than the other Deborah.”

While I don't really highlight this line that specifically by anything in the narrative, this is meant to be analogous to the same sort of logic that cheaters use to justify their cheating to their spouse. It's really a hideous thing to say, and I'm happy that almost all of you at least picked up on it, even if the story perhaps didn't enough to indicate why he was saying it. The protagonist is a manipulative, bad person.

I hear some grumblings about the portrayal of the women as sort of stereo-typically basing their existence around a man, again by that cad >>AndrewRogue. I'm aware that that what I'm about to say requires a little leap from the reader to understand what I was going for, but I think there's sufficient enough implication: being literally "created" by someone drastically alters the power dynamic between people, especially when it's in an effort to "replace" someone else. I mean, it would be pretty fucked up if your dad said that he made you specifically for the purpose of replacing your dead brother, and it would definitely affect how you perceived the world around you as well as your priorities.

Both Deborah's deal with this differently, but subtle ways: Homuculus Deborah puts on a boastful and showy display of superiority and tries to earn the protagonist's favoritism through denigrating Clone Deborah, and Clone Deborah tries to get reassurance that she's acting sufficiently "Deborah" from the protagonist.


There is too much to individually respond to, but it is amusing that you pretty much consistently draw the right inference from what I was going for, yet nonetheless say, "It's never said in the narrative!"


We don't even know why the protagonist did this, who, I might add, is a three-ton bag of shit.

This is actually directly explained.

Also it's very shameful and embarrassing that you enjoyed Freddy Got Fingered, and you should probably keep such scandalous details to yourself in the future.



Anyways, thank you all for reading. Special thanks to Miller for being a fan, and (seemingly) appreciating a lot of the finer points I was trying to make within the story itself. I didn't expect this story to be anyone's favorite, so it was a nice surprise to see that I actually not one but two top slates this round.

Now if only I could find that voodoo doll...
#164 · 5
· on Patrimony

Thanks for the comments, folks:

And I'm sorry I was pretty much absent this time around. Originally, I wasn't going to enter at all because I learned just before the prompt voting started that Timeless Tales magazine was opening from Feb. 17th through the 22nd for poems inspired by Puss in Boots, and I wanted to write one.

But I couldn't think of anything to say about Puss in Boots, couldn't come up with a story or a fresh take or anything...until I saw the prompt here last Saturday morning. I didn't think I could reach the minimum 400 words on a poem about the cat being the ogre's son, though, so I did the prose version here to get the story and images worked out, then spent all this week boiling it down into a four strophe terza rima ode in iambic pentameter that I submitted to the editor yesterday.

So we'll see what happens!

#165 · 2
· on Ingénue, c. 2003
>>No_Raisin, >>horizon, >>Dubs_Rewatcher, >>Monokeras, >>Cassius, >>Pascoite, >>AndrewRogue

Before I start rambling, grats to both >>AndrewRogue and >>Dubs_Rewatcher. I never left a comment on both of your stories as you guys did on mine (*´=∀=) but I enjoyed them both, bar the general criticisms that the others have already pointed out. Well-deserved win, guys!

I'm happy that this won bronze (and I get to wear that hat now) but I'm happier that there's a lot of buzz in this story, both on the site and in the Discord channel, so thanks a lot for the comments and feedback!

Also, just wanna say thanks and congrats to everyone who participated. However flawed all our stories may be, they are generally strong and memorable in this round overall, so kudos to everyone!

Without further ado, here's:

Ingénue: The Retrospective

Writing this was honestly a rather strange experience. I enjoyed it, but it's strange nevertheless.

I'll be honest, I had the basic idea for this story for about a week or so before the prompt was announced. It wasn't anything concrete: just two people and a painting. The title came second— it kinda just popped up in my head while I was writing something else and I Googled it to figure out what it means. It was only when I started typing away after the prompt was announced that everything else was worked in.

Most of the issues seem to stem from me wanting to coat this story with a sheen of vagueness throughout. I wanted to blur the lines a little and give away just enough for you guys to interpret what's happening. It's hard to get into the nitty-gritty without sounding like an ass that needs his mouth sewn shut, but I'll try my best.

That first paragraph was intentionally written to be ambiguous. In my head, I thought outright mentioning that it was describing the painting would be another obstacle that gets into the way of really sinking into Catherine's headspace.

On the story's emotional weight, I agree that there should be something more defined to really let it sink in. I think the dialogue (particularly towards the end) could've been utilised for that purpose so that way, I could kill two phoenixes with one stone, so to speak. However, since I structured and wrote out that final scene in the last few hours before the deadline, there goes that.

As for choosing the names Catherine and Kristen, I wanted to show that they're pretty much both sides of the same coin. It's also another reason why I repeated the phrase 'phoenix from ash' apart from what >>horizon had mentioned. It also extends to something else that no one was actually aware about that I wanted to mention.

I wanted to imply that both Catherine and Kristen can both be interpreted the former ingenue in this story. It's something that came up midway writing this that I think would be fun to work in. I think most of you guys managed to interpret the Kristen side of things, whereas for the more sinister Catherine route, >>Pascoite seemed to be the only one who came close. Kudos to you, Pasco!

Now to the individual responses:

Last I checked, I'm not a nudist or French. Just thick-skinned. I snickered at your light-hearted jab.

I personally find that it's hard for me to straddle the line between eroticism and intimacy at times, so I get where the whole tonal inconsistency bit comes from. Then again, it might just be the lesbians, though.

There will be nothing left worth living for in this life if that wasn't the case.

I think having multiple paintings being burned was broadening the emphasis on Catherine's love for that particular painting. A painting that, to Kristen, was just one reminder of her abuser out of many others. I do agree that the dialogue in general needs work.

Pretty much on the nose.

On the word choices: consternation is something I use in that context often to imply that the character is God-fearing, so to have something beyond that to look forward to instead, I imagine, would be terrifying.

As for asynchronously, you kinda got the mechanical part. I wanted it to be something above 'a distant look in her eyes as she stared into the fire' so I thought it'd be nice to slip that in instead. Helps that it sounds nice too when you say it out loud. Also helps with the wordcount too.

I see I'm still mixing up my American English and British English whenever I get the chance to. Sorry 'bout that!

Generally in agreement with most of everything you said here and with what you said in the Discord too. Story would be better off with those things on the table.

Yep, apart from everything I addressed, am pretty much in agreement generally as well.

Dialogue needs work in general, can't argue with that. Definitely have done better with dialogue in past entries. They're usually the thing I spend the most time brooding over in the editing stage, so it's only inevitable that it ends up being rather sloppy when I don't have the time to run them through my head.
#166 ·
· on m_ss_ng
Simple but effective. Good job at making the lines look like chalk. Thumbs up, Artist.
#167 ·
· on Liar!
This is touching on one issue I had with the story - yeah, so it’s technically a wyvern and you don’t have your anti-wyvern tools. Still, you could be doing something, rather than hiding in an inn and lecturing your apprentice while the town gets dismantled around you. You are presumably experienced in dispatching large fiery scaly monsters.

Anyway, que sera. Congrats on your medal, Artist.
#168 · 2
· on Watching the Show · >>Pascoite
Watching the Show: A Retrospective

A near year of absence, with an end result of fourth place? Pretty neat. Managing to sneak a baseball pun into the title that nobody commented on? Priceless.

The genesis of this story is deceptively simple. The day before I wrote this, I'd gone to my university's opening game at our stadium, where the ending inning had roughly the same events as described in this story. After that, I went home and watched the movie "Moneyball", which is also about baseball and about the melancholic nature of the sport. From that, I concocted a story involving baseball that aimed to imitate the lonely feeling one has when sitting in the high bleachers with nobody else (much as I did that night). The prompt itself assisted this, given "In Name Only" is how both the Tigers' are described (only by their last names, not their positions) and played into Jeremy's fate (Max only really has Jeremy's name left to him).

If there's any innate regrets I have to this piece, it's the rough/unedited nature of some of the writing and the fact I didn't clarify certain details. I pictured Max and Jeremy being in their late teens/early twenties, but that doesn't really come through in the final draft. I also pictured the piece being more Max's memories than any supernatural element a la Jeremy's ghost coming back, but the writing does seem to blur that line a little too much. And of course, the general location of the stadium was supposed to be somewhere in the deep Midwest (hence the Chicago line), but this version could be literally anywhere in America. Normally this'd be fine, but the Midwest provides a certain sadness, desolateness, and boredom that I thought fit the story like a glove.

With all of that in mind, there is one element I will defend: Jeremy's death. Some of you said that you thought it was cheap/needlessly excessive, or wanted more information about it. However, in my mind, him being dead is stronger than him simply leaving the town, because not only does Max not get to see him, Jeremy doesn't get to experience the sport he loves ever again. That makes the experience more innately sad, as its two people denied pleasure instead of just one, something Jeremy simply leaving the town wouldn't really provide. And as for the death itself, I wrote a few different explanations for his death, but cut all of them when I realized they distracted more than added to the story. Having lost some loved ones myself, I find that after a certain amount of time passes (as in the story), the sensation of their absence tends to weigh more heavily than the actual cause of their departure. And I thought leaving out the cause of death illustrated that in this story; the fact Jeremy isn't there anymore was more important than why he couldn't be there anymore.

Regardless, thanks to >>No_Raisin, >>Baal Bunny, >>WritingSpirit, >>Pascoite, >>Dubs_Rewatcher, >>Monokeras, >>horizon, and >>AndrewRogue for all of the comments and suggestions. Whether you like baseball, hate it, or were just plain confused, I hope you all enjoyed the show.
#169 ·
· on Watching the Show · >>libertydude
However, in my mind, him being dead is stronger than him simply leaving the town

This is a common fallacy that many writers fall into. I have no idea that it's stronger in your mind, but the relevant point is whether it's stronger in the reader's mind, and here... it really isn't. More tragedy doesn't automatically mean more reader engagement. Often quite the opposite: if the tragedy isn't justified, or if it feel unnecessary to the plot, it'll kick me out of the story as a too-easy grab for emotions. That's really how I felt about it here. I didn't have enough information about why it matters to the story, so it never became a detail I cared about.

Not sure why you were expecting people to comment on the title either. It's a pretty transparent reference to people who know the terminology, and I wouldn't call it a pun.
#170 ·
· on Watching the Show
I certainly agree that an unnecessarily high degree of tragedy can hurt a story; I've read many a story where the events seem a bit too extreme for the story material. I also understand why you think Jeremy's death doesn't quite fit, and that goes along with my retrospective's admission that a lot of details I wanted to include didn't make it into the final draft. Things like the causes of Jeremy's death and the setting of the story were some of these, and they were meant to tie into the Midwest's cultural attitude towards baseball and death. With these elements, I think Jeremy's death would've fit better and underlined the story's central message: even if a player leaves the field forever, the game still goes on.

I also wasn't really bragging over the title; I was merely surprised that nobody pointed it out. It'd be like if the story was about college football and nobody commented about it being called "Off the Port Bowden". And maybe it's not quite a pun, but it is at least a little bit of wordplay.