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No Such Thing as an Unimportant Day · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 11
· · >>MLPmatthewl419
Down streets turned ashen in the early light, he wandered, wisps of fog curling and skittering around his ankles. Around him were dimly lit windows, each with a hunched figure bent over a table, scribbling or typing furiously.

His own hands bore blank sheets of paper.

He stared about. It wasn’t so much, he thought. Only four hundred, at the most seven hundred and fifty. Why was it so hard for him, always so hard? Some could write a tale about, say, that piece of filth in the gutter and make it work somehow. They knew how to engage the crowd, and the subject wasn’t important to them.

But he needed something more, and something that hadn’t been already written and rewritten, full of scraped holes like an old palimpsest. He cast his eyes to the remote hills, untouched by sun and as gray as his heart felt. Somewhere in the remote streets, a horse whickered. None of it was of any use. He would have to give it up this time.

His shoulders fell, and he turned, and there it was. A tattered poster, somehow catching more light than its surroundings. A woman in a red dress, dashing through a field. Something might have been pursuing her. What expression was that, on her haunting face?

He recalled that one café, the scent of jonquils on the breeze, the laugh that made his heart pause… There had to be some angle there he could use. He sat on the curb, spread his papers on his knees, and the vision poured out of him, scrawled roughly across the pages. He ignored the cold, the sharp hard stones beneath him, his hunger and thirst, as he lost himself in the flow of precious words.

He breezed through the beginning, the words spilling onto the paper as if already contained in his pen, but now the work began in earnest, and all his skill was needed to shape the emerging paragraphs to contain his intent. He left one difficult phrase behind and moved on. There was too much inside him, fighting to be recorded and preserved, and the beautiful thoughts were often the most fleeting, like dream fragments reluctant to be remembered or caught.

But he was fully captured by it now, and would not be stopped. He felt the crescendo approaching and started weaving his themes back together, finding a beautiful simile that captured the expression of that woman’s face on the poster. As the sun rose over the hills and the fog rose in lazy feline curls and the buildings were outlined in orange fire, he rushed against time, and finally he felt it all closing under his hands. That one metaphor was perfect, and he could feel the punch of the final line.

He drew a sharp breath, shivered, and stood on weak legs. There was just time to post it if he hurried.

As he ran, he read the crumpled pages, then shuddered in dismay.

He’d done it. His tale deserved a medal.

But sadly, he had a picture’s worth.
#2 · 4
·
>>GroaningGreyAgony
Wow... that went places
#3 · 7
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Can't lose if you're the only story submitted.

*taps forehead*
#4 · 2
· · >>Anon Y Mous
>>Whitbane
That's such a great idea. The problem (apart from the obvious) is that single entries break the site's finals calculations and you win nothing. Check the art round results in the last She-Ra round to see what I mean. (It may also be that no one voted, so no medal got awarded.) (Retracted; it's been fixed. Thanks, Roger!)
#5 · 2
·
>>GroaningGreyAgony
Shhhhhhh. They still win... in our hearts.
#6 · 1
·
Hmmmm:

This Saturday is looking to be three-and-a-half bears for me, but I'll see if I can get something together.

Mike
#7 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
So many 'OTs' within the suggested prompts. And I don't think it has to do with Occupational Therapy.
#8 · 3
·
I'll be around tomorrow night in #mentors. I usually get 0 or 1 requests, which means I can spend quite a long time looking at a story, and even if nothing else, you get your story proofread so nobody complains about the editing.
#9 · 3
·
>>libertydude
I still hope Ot wins one of these days. For one thing, that’d justifiably put it to rest forever. But I think there’d be some delicious madness to be had from it as well.
#10 · 3
·
Huh? The prompt rings true. Maybe I'll try it.
#11 · 7
·
In between the new job I just started and the work piling up to make the Bronycon book a reality, I can't even justify taking the time off to slip in a minific this round. :( I'll be cheering y'all on from the sidelines though!
#12 · 6
·
I am in!
#13 · 6
·
Just finished editing and submitting mine. Not entirely satisfied with the end result, but hopefully I can learn from this experience.
#14 · 5
·
First in a while coming up.
#15 · 3
·
Everything is on fire! Metaphorically, that is. And I forgot this was happening. No luck this time…
#16 · 3
· on On the Night Shift · >>Oblomov >>Light_Striker
This is really cute, and I love how the first sentence instantly tells us everything we need to know about the setting. It's a very effective hook, and it saves you a lot of word count later on, so nicely done! And I also really like how instantly relatable Grubsnort is, in the beginning, with the whole "I can't even do my job!" conflict.

As for complaints, I do need to mention that I don't see how Lickspittle considers Vanessa's case a win, since she's still acting rotten to her friends even after she goes to school. Since this was the very first of the clients described, it kind of threw of my expectations for the rest of the clients, and made me think that the point of the story was that these nightmare creatures were actually trying to encourage bad behavior.

When I figure out the point, though, I thought it was pretty nice, if a little inoffensive. The strength of this story really is the voicing here, instead of the themes or message, so I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do.
#17 · 2
· on Creation Takes Too Long · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This'll probably end up being one of my favorites from this round. From a certain perspective, it's just dumb fun, but it's undeniably fun. I love how the moment the godheads start talking serves as this kind of mini-twist that instantly deflates the reverent mood of the first three paragraphs. And then, well, the rest of it is silly entertainment.

One thing I'd like to note, is that all three voices sounded basically identical to me. But to be honest, I'm not sure how much this story actually needs three distinct voices to me effective. As it is right now, I may have gotten frustrated for a second or two as I tried to figure out who was talking in one or two places, but it definitely didn't single-handedly ruin the experience for me.

Overall, very enjoyable and just light enough to go down easily.
#18 · 2
· on On the Night Shift
I generally agree with what >>Bachiavellian said. I also assumed that Vanessa's case was a failure, based on the result.

This isn't a complaint, but I found the third example amusing. Just the idea of this stock broker embezzling from his firm being on the same level as a school bully and a young 'sadist'. Worse, even: a crime worthy of nightmares and a trip to church!

All-in-all, nice and cute story.
#19 · 2
· on The Leap
The fic was thematically consistent, but at least partially due to the theme, ended up having sort of a passive feel to me.

Granted, maintaining audience engagement while portraying boredom is an inherent challenge. Unfortunately this approach ended up feeling somewhat repetitive; a list of "he did X," (often with that exact phrasing). One approach to spicing it up would be to introduce conflict, or other activities (or explore character by his thoughts when passing up other activities). It might also help to mix up the sentence structure, or show the activities he does do from different angles. For example, instead of saying 'he played civ' have an anecdote about a crushing defeat, or interesting moment.

Also watch up for wordiness; instead of 'he made the decision to take a shower', just say 'he took a shower' or tie it more closely to the cleansing hot waters, which is an engaging part of that paragraph.


For how prominently the dumbbells were placed (tripped was one of the more attention grabbing interactions in the story), they didn't end up going anywhere.

The ending picks things up, albeit with some meta, but there's nothing wrong with that, and the final line did amuse. I'd had that particular Chekhov's gun in the back of my mind from the beginning, and was pleased to see it go off.
#20 · 3
· on A Day Off?
I really like the easygoing flow of this piece. Even though there's not much in terms of plot here by design, this still does a great job of building up the pace of its mood/tone.

What I think is the biggest issue that I have with this story is that the two halves don't seem to intersect as much as they should. On the one hand, you have a "hardworking immigrant" tale, but on the other is "right place, right moment" storyline that doesn't seem to have much to do with the international aid bit that caps off the first half. I get why the second half exists, because it adds some much-needed conflict and also helps tie things to the prompt. But I really think it could have been tied into the other themes more closely.

On a smaller note, "ponytailer" kind of threw me off, on my first readthrough. I'm no stranger to the first sentence/paragraph typo myself, so I definitely feel your pain. :P

Overall, the piece has a nice low-key vibe to it, but it doesn't quite build up a coherent narrative, conflict, or theme for me. You've got some moving pieces, and they're not playing as nicely with each other as they could be.
#21 · 2
· on More Work To Do
This has:

Some nice images, but I couldn't quite find a story in it. The tense switching from past to present and then back to past again didn't help, either, especially in such a short piece.

Maybe the length is the problem. Maybe showing me the narrator doing something big first would help, something more "important" than scattering some seeds. Establish that the character has the power to do mighty deeds, and then give us this small scene to show the prompt in action and that there are no unimportant actions. The contrast might help make things feel more complete.

Mike
#22 · 1
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
The POV here:

Felt really weird to me. We're kind of in Dave's, but not really. We get a little bit of his thoughts and feelings in the first paragraph, but after that, it's like we're pushed outside. We just get surface images till the very last line, and there, we're completely removed from Dave and are floating around, seeing things that we're specifically told he doesn't see.

I made the whole thing really distancing. I mean, this is a minific, but halfway through, I couldn't remember if Dave or Nate was the law student we'd started with. I had to page up to the beginning of the story to check because without a strong POV, I'd gotten completely detached from the character.

So that's my advice: put us firmly in Dave's head. Let us see what he sees and hear what he hears, and give us the thoughts and feelings those sights and sounds stir up in him.. As it is now, I'm so far outside, I've got no connection at all.

Mike
#23 · 3
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
As always, I'm willing to take the bait of a story that seems to be directed towards me. I can't help but feel someone took my commentary about law school as somewhat informative of how they decided write the characters in this entry. That being said, that might not be the case as the story here seems to be more European.

Since the location is fictional, it's hard to tell for certain, but the fact that the law school in question appears to be a four-year LLB program rather than the American three year JD system, and the usage of the phrase "short beer" which is British gives some scant indication that the setting may not be American. But then again, the vocabulary usage seems to be primarily of an American cadence and "short beer" is also a phrase that is used regionally in New England, so this just might be an oversight of an American who doesn't know how law school works. Indeed, there's a Miller sign, an American domestic which I tend think doubles as a shout-out to Miller Minus, which to me grounds the setting in America.

So, operating under the assumption that the author is in fact an American, I will tell you this: Law schools don't use designations like freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Almost universally, we refer to each other by our year: "1L, 2L, and 3L." I don't know any other designation anywhere else.

One of the details that isn't apparently clear is how many people from the law school are at the bar. You describe it as "rest of Mulvane Law School's graduating class." The most natural read of this sentence is that the entire graduating class is at the other side of the bar, which would be impossible unless this is a tiny, tiny school, so tiny it probably couldn't even be accredited; which would make the fact that Dave doesn't know the "disheveled Brunette" fairly improbable (it's also improbable that he'd not know everyone in his graduating class by the third year unless his law school was unusually large, but whatever). But let's be generous and assume that's not what you meant. You most likely meant that the rest of the portion of the graduating class that showed up to the bar was over there.

There's a lot of small details that still are a little off. Like a group of graduating students ordering shots of Johnnie Walker. Rounds of whiskey shots aren't necessarily unheard of, but I've never seen people downing shots of Red Label or ask for Johnnie Walker by name for a round of shots. If it's a shot of whiskey, it's usually going to be something that goes down easy, like fireball. Or something cheap or with a recognizable name like, Jack Daniels, Jim Bean or Jameson. In the event someone wants something celebratory, it'll usually be a Maker's Mark.

Similarly, it's strange to hear about someone "chugging" a tequila shot. I get the impression either this draft was a tad rushed or you haven't been to a bar in a while.

Couple of other small nitpicks: the story as written seems to imply that Dave is the only student in his graduating class that's receiving latin honors. By virtue of how law school classes are graded, this would be pretty much impossible. Again, being generous to the author, it's probably meant that he's the only one present at the bar that's graduating with honors, but that's not what the most natural reading suggests. Additionally, it's strange that he says you'll see his name "next to Morgan and Morgan" within the next five years. There's two possible reads of this phrase, each one sort of confusing. Either he's implying that he's been hired at Morgan & Morgan, and expects to become a partnering attorney, and such a good partnering attorney that he gets his name on the firm name, so he's essentially saying: "In five years, it'll be Morgan, Morgan, & Nance." This is confusing because presumably if he's such a badass, he's going to be going into BigLaw where he'll make the big bucks, but there's not really a chance that at such a huge firm that he'll literally change the name of the firm, especially because BigLaw firms have pretty set in stone names even though they have a large number of partnering attorneys (e.g. Jones Day, Kirkland & Elis, Lathan & Watkins, etc.) The other possible read is that he plans to start his own firm and be on the level of this supposed BigLaw firm... which, yeah good luck with that. Not gonna happen. Furthermore, when referring to the title of a firm, the word "and" is almost universally an ampersand, not written out. You can get a little leeway because this in dialogue, but it's still a minor detail that stands out.

So after 800 or so words of me complaining about minor details, it's time to get in the story itself. There's sort of a strange dynamic between the Nate and Dave, as Nate seems to not even want to be there, even though, as he explains, he came by specifically to send off the "seniors." Consequently, his utter apprehension of having to interact with a senior seems out of place, unless David is indeed THAT smelly.

Side Note: no self respecting lawyer would have a handlebar mustache

So, what is this story about? By my estimation, it's about a dead guy. More specifically, it's about Dave dealing with the death of his friend Tom. It's pretty apparent by the way Dave speaks that he's not just merely speaking about someone who is not present, but rather someone who is more likely than not dead. The way that Dave opens up with a seeming non-sequitur about lawyers being unhappy drug addicts and immediately segues into talking about Tom makes it clear from the context that Tom may not be around anymore. If this is not the implication you were going for, then you fucked up.

That's pretty cool, but I don't think you really cinch the emotional core here. The depth of despair and how it relates to Dave's character requires a lot of inferences in order to justify his behavior and attitudes, and ideally there'd be more in the narrative to inform why he feels certain ways. There'd also need to be a couple lines perhaps about Tom's particular importance or connection to Dave that makes him different from the other people Dave treats so dismissively, and perhaps some detail that adds a bit more import to him being around for Dave's graduation party. Details that would tie the narrative together and make it more apparent as to how all these disparate details intermingle together.

The alternative possibility is that the conversation about Tom is supposed to be read literally, and Dave is just really upset that he didn't come, perhaps due to a falling out between the two, which culminates in him advising Nate to trust nobody. Like Dave, Tom also put on a front, and Dave's feelings are hurt. This is a weaker reading, both because it makes the references to Tom seem very oddly phrased and also doesn't really address why Dave is so cagey around everyone else in the class.

Even with these two potential reads in mind, it's still a bit mystifying why Dave advises Nate to go solo. Even discerning what he really means is a bit of a challenge. Why can't you trust people? Certainly Dave isn't worth trusting, considering his duplicitous nature of putting on a face. Dave's character isn't really informed enough to make a definitive conclusion of why he's such a loner and a cunt, and the narrative doesn't really give him any reason to be so bitter about his classmates outside the fact that he's did better than them in school, which to me isn't much a compelling reason. His arrogance may be a trait that's properly informed, but his contempt for those that he feels are beneath him needs more explanation.

I suppose the irony that Dave advises Nate to go solo, which prompts Nate to finally leave, is sort of interesting, but it's hard to see the through line that ties all these ideas together. This may be a case where the subtext of the story and the story proper don't really align together to create a coherent vision. The best you can say is that Dave's grief over the death of his friend has soured his graduation day, and he's acting like a dick because of that. He is hurting and doesn't want to rely on others, thus he bitterly advises Nate to go solo. Sort of a hard sell, given the sheer amount of inferences required to arrive at that conclusion.

I do otherwise like the dynamic of Nate and Dave, wherein Dave is essentially monologuing to a completely disinterested Nate. Although I think of the wordcount is squandered by giving Nate too much of nothing to do. What I mean by that is that Nate is often given actions that indicate he's not paying attention, which is fine, but you do it for almost every line of dialogue that Nate has, which is just unnecessary to inform the reader of that point. Additionally, you don't need to be so rigid about using speech tags for every line of dialogue when it's a conversation between two characters.

I think there's a rich emotional tapestry here that's not quite fleshed out enough to give the full sense of the scope and character of what's going on. I can say I liked this story, but there's definitely a lot of palpable shortcomings, a lot of niggling details I had to ignore, and a lot of inferences I had to make in order to make it a cohesive experience.
#24 · 3
· on Blue Montage
On theme and competently written. I give you credit for setting the scene visually and creating characters that had their own agendas and realistic feelings. Good message. Good work.
#25 · 3
· on The Kiss
Very intriguing. There were a few awkward constructions, but over all a very clean manuscript. I like how you kept to the theme and how the parallelism between the characters helped set up a nice ethical thought problem. It's a good idea and mostly well executed. I do have a criticism: Naming Jesus was unnecessary and lessened the story's impact dramatically. If ever there was a place for the ambiguous ending trope, this was it. I'd wager no reader had any doubt as to who the characters were once you threw in the loaded word, disciple. Leaving the identities unstated, ambiguous, strips the story of religiosity (or anti-) and allows the reader to think and ponder unrestrained. In my mind, that is what a writer aims for: getting the reader to think long after putting the story down. Try reading the story without the penultimate sentence. Regardless... good story.
#26 · 2
· on Wordsworth
I really like the idea of this story, and I'm digging how you decided to execute it with this spoken-word feel. It really gives the piece a sense of character.

Still, I have to admit that my attention did wander a bit on my first read-through. There is, in the end, very little story here. There doesn't seem to be an escalation of stakes, central conflict, or any significant twist outside of the premise itself being a little obscured at first. What I'm trying to say is, there isn't much that immediately draws my attention. So while the end message is nice, the journey to get there feels a little dulled and perfunctory, in a way.

I'd strongly suggest implanting a few more narrative bones into this piece to give it some more shape. Have the narrator talk about a specific aspect of his faith that was shaken and eventually killed, instead of talking about it vaguely. You've spent a lot of your word count (especially the first two-fifths or so) on mood-building, to the point that I think you can spare a bit of it for a more concrete anecdote or two about the priest's life.

In the end, I think the piece just lacks a bit of sense of flow. There doesn't seem to be a real beginning or middle, so the ending just can't keep up.
#27 · 1
· on A Day Off?
Atmospheric, but felt wordy at times. For example, 'Blew playfully through my hair' versus 'Played with my hair'

The protagonist has an interesting personality, though how she's seemingly fallen into a life and a career didn't see partially effortful. Not that that is necessarily unrealistic or a negative, but it doesn't build up towards the core 'day off' theme as the burden of 'organization' is more hinted at than explored.

Nevertheless, I liked the message of the story, and it felt on-point. The title also did a good job working with the theme.
#28 · 1
· on The Trip
There was an 'all' structure in the wording that was noticeably repetitive, though I'm not sure how intentional this is, as it did factor into the ending.

This has a strong perspective of a young child, which is appropriate. The descriptions and motivations were sometimes simplistic, but generally not incongruously so. There were a few notes that felt off; 'resolved' didn't quite fit, and the sort of 'decided then did' structure to some of the actions felt a little tell-y compared to just showing the actions. Still, the interactions themselves, and the slow but steady shift in attitudes was effective. Someone getting all giddy from sitting on a chair doesn't really make objective sense, but is entirely plausible for a kid. Simple but heartwarming.

A thought on tense - it starts off 'this morning' but is all past tense. Given this setup, you could have made the ending present tense for additional impact.
#29 · 1
· on On the Night Shift
>>Bachiavellian
Vanessa is arguing with “her posse”, which is presumably her usual companions in bullying, not the people she targets. I read the implication as being that, having found her dream self in the “laughed at due to appearance” clown position she's been afraid of, and enjoyed it to her surprise, she's suddenly lost the vanity that made her an insecure bully in the first place and now finds the same trait disgusting in the others who were doing the same. That said, it does seem easy to skip over; it took me a double-take too, and the clowns specifically is a bit of an awkward leap.
#30 · 2
· on Days Gone By
Very nice:

My only comment--as useless as it is since you're right at the word limit--is "more!" More details, more dialogue, more character bits--I'd like an idea of what drove our narrator away and what kept the female character here. Basically, all I got is: turn this into a short story. 'Cause it's a short story that I really, really, really wanna read!

Mike
#31 ·
· on The Leap
I partially agree with Ratlab here. The repetition scheme could've been funny if it had been accompanied by a real progression, probably a constant roll downhill. The fic tricks us into thinking it will do that, as there's very much a sense of "things going to the dogs" but then there is an abrupt switchback and we enter into a meta-fic about the WriteOffs, which is both out of place, unimaginative and, frankly, quite bland.

TBH, that unexpected swerve sank the fic for me. Sorry, author.
#32 ·
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
I agree with what Baal Bunny said. That fic left me at arm's length. It's not badly written or technically atrocious, but he fact that I can't relate in any way with what's going on there, the shifting PoV, and most of all the clear impression that I'm none the wiser at the end (What does the fic want to tell me? I have no idea.) piled up to produce that sort of distancing ("Err… Okay, but what of it?"). It's somewhat frustrating: you fancy there's a message here, a takeaway, something you missed, but even if you scrape hard enough, you have no clue as to what it is exactly. Goddamn.

I'm probably not the right audience for that fic, so rather than sentencing it to the dregs of my slate, I will simply abstain.
#33 ·
· on More Work To Do
This is another of those stories in which you (read: I) end up asking yourself if you're up to snuff to read it, because there's certainly deep inside a hidden meaning or some sort of moral message, but you're a dumbass and you missed it. Then you re-read the fic, and it's no clearer, so you end up feeling really you're a nincompoop.

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

I can't really appreciate this fic as much as I would like to. It has nice imagery, a vague sense of mystery, but there's simply not enough context for them to gel properly. It's like being faced with a jigsaw puzzle representing some masterpiece, but it turns out some pieces are missing and you're not able to finish it. Give us a bit more info, maybe who's the narrator, to begin with, that will help us unravel the tangle you put in our hands.
#34 · 1
· on Blue Montage
While I appreciate the exchange between the young and the old cop, that thing about "montage" left me with a weird feeling, like it was a concept shoehorned into the story, and not for the best. I explain: it's always nice to behold an old geezer use their wisdom to rein in the enthusiasm and sometimes overshooting energy of a young rookie, but with that added "montage" thing, it's like you deliberately want to push into the background what is precisely the heart, the pith of your story. So, on the one side, we get to know that "thinking" or "thinking with one's heart" is more important than "blindly acting by the book", but on the other side you tell us that all those lessons are just asides, by-thoughts of no useful value at the end since they can be cut out and chucked. And then we're here, like the rope in a tug of war, yanked both ways at once.

It's not a very comfy place to be left at.
#35 ·
· on The Trip
This has a low-key sweetness that deftly avoids being saccharine. Nice work with the mood building and the recollectively-styled narration!

I think my biggest issue with this one was that it never really grabbed my attention during my first read-through. The deliberately muted tones are easy to bounce off of without a good hook. I think you were trying to make the main character relatable/immediately interesting with the whole mental run-alongside/jumping game bit, but to be honest this trope does feel a bit well-worn to me—I think I've just seen it too many times in this kind of scenario. Therefore, I would suggest rethinking how you want to pull us into the piece.

A smaller issue: the two lone lines of dialogue in the middle do feel kind of odd. I almost want to tell you to nyx them and make this an entirely dialogue-less piece, but I'm sure there's a way to keep them and make them work without having them stick out so much.

Overall, these's a lot of pretty strong writing here, but I might have personally bounced off of it because of its somewhat plain-jane opening.
#36 ·
· on The Kiss
This story has basically perfect economy of word usage. We're told only exactly what we need to know, and then the story pays off on the reader's investment very strongly. The measured information reveals also do a great job of creating a sense of mystery that intrigues and makes the reader want more. Nicely done!

Now, I think my biggest issue is that it took me till my second read-through to realize that there are different narrators in both scenes. I know this probably makes me sound like an idiot, but at first I actually thought that the story's central twist was that Jesus and Judas were the same person. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the openings for both scenes are basically identical, with the exact same thought pattern/musings. So I think it was easy for me to assume that two people couldn't have thought the exact same thing about human hands. I'd suggest varying this bit, in some way, maybe in a way that conveys the second narrator's more judgemental view of humanity. This may come across as a little more heavy-handed, but I personally think the tradeoff would be worth it.

Anyways, that nitpick aside, I had a good time with this entry. Thanks for submitting!
#37 ·
· on Creation Takes Too Long · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Fun and absurd, not a whole lot to suggest for it.

One nitpicky observation - moribund, is not a corpse yet

Way to subvert the trinity with the three stooges; it took me until the second read to catch the larry/moe/curly paralellism.
#38 ·
· on On the Night Shift
The office/cave juxtaposition made for an attention grabbing intro.

Grammar/phrasing was occasionally awkward; for example the following sentence:

"Even with the sun already up, shadows filled the place, but it was otherwise empty, she was glad to see."

All the commas break the flow up; it could be rearranged as follows, which reads more smoothly to me:

"Shadows filled the place even with the sun already up, but she was glad to see that it was otherwise empty."

Plotwise it was straightforward, but enjoyable. The first two reminded me of monsters inc, which was amusingly subverted with #3

A fun take on the theme.
#39 ·
· on Creation Takes Too Long · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I always had a fondness for creation stories, especially those which take the subject lightly like this one. I would lie if I wrote the subject is new, but the way you tackled it is fun, although I vaguely remember a story where the protagonist wasn't a three-headed god, but a three-headed hydra whose heads would never agree.

I don’t have much to add, because there’s not much besides that. It’s more like an elaborate joke (maybe even a feghoot) than a true story. I think it’ll end up in the middle of my slate.
#40 ·
· on A Day Off?
As Ratlab said, not much happens here and it’s more a piece of introspective talk than anything else. It left me a bit unconcerned, because I didn't really connect with the central character. The text seems to suggest she rose from an insignificant position to one with clout (as implied by the fact that she arranges for powerful help to be sent after a catastrophe, something that requires knowing powerful folk – an assumption strengthened by the fact that people wave at her as if she was quite known), but nothing is really said about how she rose to that position. I feel there’s a big gap in the story here.

Otherwise, yeah, helping people can make you feel good, sure. But somehow, if that’s the only takeaway of the story, I find it a bit too… naive, maybe? Or boyscout-like. Or sirupy. Inevitably, there will be people you don’t want to help, so you can’t really be defined only by your altruism. Just a personal feeling, though; you’re 110% allowed to disagree with me.
#41 ·
· on Wordsworth
The idea of books being the most precious items surviving a cataclysm is not new – I'd even say it’s somewhat tired at this point – and this story hardly adds anything new to the treatment of the concept. It is, however, technically sound, so yeah, it’s going to land mid-slate. I can’t rate it high, but I can’t rate it low either, so around the midpoint seems fair to me.
#42 ·
· on On the Night Shift
This is a fun story, but I’m still wondering what was the point of shoehorning it into a fantasy background. There’s no point in having your characters be of alien races. They don’t do anything related to their race. Instead, you could’ve drawn upon the already quite rich folklore available to you in the various mythologies.

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

Otherwise, it’s a pleasant read, and even if there’s no real message to get out of it, it was a fun moment. So yeah, middle+ for me.
#43 · 2
· on Blue Montage
I like the little extended metaphor about the silence, towards the beginning. It stretches just long enough to give the impression that the pause between the officers was a long one, which is neat. The overall message is also a clean one, even if a little simple.

But if I'm really being honest, I think the dialogue-heavy nature of this piece bogs it down a bit. Not only do you have a little bit of talking heads, you also have a few big, chunky blocks of speech that really mess with the pacing. Having one of these in a minific is an expensive—but sometimes worthwhile—strain on your reader's attention. Having three of them really taxed my reading experience. In a regular story, I wouldn't bat an eye at larger paragraphs of dialogue, but in the scope of a minific these three paragraphs alone eat up almost half of your word count. And it feels like it, too.

In the end, there are two big things working against you. First is the fact that virtually nothing happens from a plot perspective outside of the dialogue. The second is that the dialogue has three huge speedbumps in it. On their own, either one of these problems isn't necessarily critical, but together they certainly are.

I can't help but wish that you had used your additional 130 words either putting in a bit of outside-the-dialogue plot, or spreading out the information presented in the big chunks of speech across a longer exchange, so that it doesn't come at the reader all in one lump. There's a good idea here, but the execution of the dialogue is really holding things back at the moment.
#44 · 2
· on The Leap
Okay, that last line is really dumb, but I'd be a liar if I said it didn't make me laugh. Overall, I think the minimalist style here works really well, so kudos to you for taking that risk.

Now I'll have to be honest and say that 90% of the time, meta is not my cup of tea. Some people like it, but I happen to be somebody who doesn't. I won't hold it against you in voting—I just wanted to give you my reading experience.

To me, the biggest issue with this piece is that it just doesn't really try to do a lot. The last line is essentially the only joke, outside of a couple of low-key quips that I found amusing but not to the point of humor. So in retrospect (and especially upon re-reads), the story does feel somewhat plain-jane and nondescript.

In the end, I definitely think this story does what it wants to do, but I do feel like it could have shot for a bit of a higher target.
#45 ·
· on The Kiss
While the idea of Jesus being either an alien sent on Earth, or someone from the future accidentally (or not) sent back through time to this time period is not new, the idea that Judas could be another alien sent to sabotage is mission is actually funny.

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

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

So yeah, all in all, quite a nice entry.
#46 ·
· on Days Gone By
I liked the use of repetitions and callbacks, here. I think it does a pretty good job of making the two halves of this story feel connected to one another.

But I do think your tone/mood could use a little bit of clean-up. As it is right now, it kind of feels like the reader is getting talked at a bit. The narrator maybe sounds a bit too detached from what they're saying, which makes it harder to sympathize with them. It's almost as though this piece were holding out its emotions at arm's length in that sense.

So I think you should probably work to make your narrator feel more distinctly personal. We learned a lot of little details about the girl, but we learned very little about the narrator. A couple of concrete traits thrown in there will really make the piece as a whole do much better, I think.
#47 ·
· on More Work To Do
I know it may seem like a small thing to complement the prose, but I really do think your sentences and paragraphs are executed well. Good writing technique really does go a long way towards keeping the reader engaged, especially when you're dealing with this kind of mood-driven, high-level narration.

Unfortunately, though, I've read this piece several times and I still don't think I understand what it's actually about. Is the narrator an alien? A post-apocalyptic mutant? A god? It really hurts a story when the reader not only misses the payoff, but also doesn't even know what the payoff is supposed to be.

I suspect that at least some elements of the open-endedness were deliberate, which was a risky choice to take. But I'm afraid at least for me, you might have veered a little too far in that direction. All of the events in this story felt kind of vague and nebulous to me, since I didn't have context.

It's very difficult to pull of this kind of speculative fiction in such a small word count, so in the end I think I personally would have preferred if this story played it safe-than-sorry with showing the reader what you wanted them to see.
#48 · 1
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
I really like the idea here, which was to nail a very specific feeling/concept/theme with a compact and targeted interaction between two characters. This entire piece feels crisp, planned, and well-thought out.

What I ended up having trouble with—and forgive my bluntness—is that I found it ultimately difficult to care about Nate or Dave. And I think a lot of it has to do with the pacing of this piece.

The primary character conflict, here, is that Dave wants Tom to be celebrating with him, but Tom is not. At its core, it's a pretty simple premise, but that's usually not a problem in minifics. What really hurt, IMHO, is the fact that this central conflict is not mentioned until we get a whopping 400 words into the story. At that point, there's really not much you can do anymore. We finally learn what's bothering Dave, and then Dave mopes at Nate for what remains of the story. The interactions just ends up feeling somewhat pointless.

Now, I get that the point of the story was to contrast Dave's hurt to Nate's indifference, but that really does require us to sympathize with Dave. And I think the best way to do that is to introduce Dave's primary conflict sooner and develop it a bit past its basic premise. Cass's interpretation that Tom is dead would be pretty interesting if it were what you intended, but unfortunately this interpretation didn't manifest in my personal readings, so if this was what you were going for, I think it needs to be more clear.

Overall, I think this story really needs to establish, develop, and pay off on its stakes in a clearer fashion. Right now, there are points were it definitely feels meandering, which I'm almost certain was not your intention.
#49 · 3
·
I’ve arted once again...
#50 · 2
· on Spoiler
Dang it! You guys gotta stop spoiling the new avengers film for me. :(
#51 ·
· on The Trip
Very nice:

The only thing I could suggest looking at would be the narrative voice. Whenever you've got a 1st person narrator, the question becomes: is the narrator contemporaneous with the action, or is the narrator looking back on a past event? Right now, it reads to me like a mix of these. The way the narrator pops into present tense in the third paragraph makes it seem like the narrator's reflecting on the situation as it's happening, but the vocabulary and sentence structure sound a little old for such a young character--words like "however" and "relented" and "hysterics" and the line "So out I went" strike my ear as more something an older person would say than a kid.

Mike
#52 · 2
·
A bit late, but here’s the proem for this round:




“Grave Misgivings. My City Was Gone!”

“Liminal. Zeroth World Problems.”

“Inconceivable! How Dare You?”

“A Taste of Monotony? No Such Thing as an Unimportant Day.”

“Whatever… the least popular prompt is Ot.”

“I Can’t Believe Ot!”

“Definition of Me: A Picture’s Worth.”

“Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night Of Mice and Men; It Could Be Heaven or It Could Be Hell.”

“Don’t Let Go. Ot Err is Human.”

“Farewell.”
#53 ·
· on The Trip
This is a very cool story, and I mean that colloquially and temperature-wise. You show people as they are and why that matters differently to them, and thus the theme. The story is also measuredly low-key (there doesn't always have to be big conflict in a story) and it flows nicely in that way from the page to the head. The POV choice was perfect. Hidden in it are little gems of philosophy like:

While we sat around the table and ate, I noticed how old people talk funny. They’re always going on about things they used to do or people they used to see or what they think about things going on right now. I don’t really know what’s going on right now. None of that bothers me.


That was not the only one, but it struck me.

In my opinion, fiction has two duties: Get across a message (the author's philosophy) and second, to make the reader think or to ponder your words long after reading the last one you wrote. I believe that's what you have here, perhaps because Mort de l'Auteur and my context as not exactly young, but there you go. If you don't understand what I've asserted, pick up the story in a month or so and read it with fresh eyes. Then study it. It will bode well for your career.

Regardless, good job.
#54 ·
· on The Trip
This is a nice vignette, as the others have sum up, it is sweet but without being maudlin or mawkish. So good job of introducing just the right quantity of syrup into it. It made me smile, is quite well written, rings reasonably true, and made me smile. It is not a very striking story in the sense that it doesn't sound profound or leave us with a takeaway to mull on, but it definitely achieves what it was set up to do.

Kudos for that.
#55 · 1
· on Days Gone By
Well played, well played indeed. The twisty little words we weave, eh?

The telegraphy in this story was palpable and thematic in exactly the way that my high school lit teacher praised Finnegans Wake, something I didn't understand then but live now. While you shoveled like beach sand your philosophy about valuing the moment, and nailing the theme incidentally, you also created a sense of angst and foreboding while illuminating character and drawing the reader, me, unrelentingly to the end. Locked in my conclusion of what would be, that ending hit me like a sledgehammer and drove your message home. It all seems perfectly planned, the loaded words, the melancholy tone... If it wasn't, study what you did here.

Good job.
#56 · 1
· on Days Gone By · >>Oblomov
This is another sweet story. If I was 100% forthright, I'd say that the idea of “I had a wonderful boyhood here, but had to leave and when I come back years later everything is spoilt and sullied” is not really new, and had been used so many times it's bordering on cliché. But there is a sort of freshness here, and I particularly appreciated the little details you added, like that nose which never tanned but burnt. This sort of little touch makes your characters less generic, and it's easier to connect with them. Also, one could argue that the end seems contrived, and, yeah, it is somewhat, but I found that easily forgiveable.

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

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

So yeah, I can't help, but be touched by this little story. Good job, author.
#57 ·
· on Wordsworth · >>Oblomov >>Posh >>No_Raisin >>QuillScratch
Herein was a good idea that was competently executed, but for one major flaw. All assertions in a story must be believable from the point of view of the reader as well as the POV character. I liked where you were going with this, but an assertion like the following must be substantiated or the entire story unravels:

Faith was the first to die...


It may have been absolutely true in the context of the story. I am not arguing that. Another writer on this website introduced me to the term lampshading (linked). Your assertion goes completely against my understanding of human nature—faith will be the first to flourish following catastrophe—so, you must, must, must, show or say why not so I can willing suspend disbelief (pun intended). You didn't do that. All verisimilitude was lost. For the lack of a couple dozen words...

Filling in the blank, as I must only do in the context of writing a critique. i.e., assuming that you had substantiated the assertion, everything else about the story felt solid. Needless to say, I can't rank your story based on what you might have written.
#58 ·
· on Days Gone By
>>Monokeras

Of course one of the first stories that Mono seems to like is this Boomer stuff
#59 ·
· on The Leap
Well, I'll give you that it was entertaining. Life is what you make of it and no day is unimportant unless you allow it, which feels inverted as to the theme but I'm not quibbling. It felt somehow autobiographical. It's fitting for the audience of ten authors that submitted this time, but I'm not sure outsiders would get it. Lots of ideas, but none that grab. Yeah. My entry resembles that comment, so I'll say naught more but practice is practice.
#60 ·
· on More Work To Do
Lots of questions. Much ambiguity. It's in-theme and pleasant enough, but in the end I'm unsure of your message or your intention. Knowing there's nothing more, I'm not sure I really want to care. However, were this page one of a larger work...? Much ambiguity. Lots of questions!
#61 ·
· on On the Night Shift
Yep.

Extra points for creativity.

I liked this. A lot, But I am a SF and fantasy writer, so maybe I'm biased, though that ought to mean I'm jaded. So...

I'm not sure if you're channeling Theodore Sturgeon or Ray Bradbury here, but damn fine work. This is something you should be able to sell. I'm thinking New Yorker or some other mainstream mag that publisbes a little fiction. It might even sell in-genre. It's short and sweet, has great instantly relatable albeit monstrous characters, and pushes a relevant but not preachy message. Oh, yeah, did I mention it's playful and fun?

It's perfect for a super short fic. Don't expand it or over edit.

Very good work.
#62 ·
· on Drinks Without Friends · >>libertydude
I have to say you wrote about a disagreeable protagonist in a pretty vivid manner, and I give you credit for making me relate to the venue and the situation of the antagonist(?) pretty viscerally. In all that, I am not sure I was made to care about the characters or the message, which I gather is "making a bad first impression is something that will follow you forever, so no day is truly unimportant." Having been accused of writing characters that are initially hard to empathize with, I could see this as the beginning of a story about "the fall" and "the redemption," but, sadly, this fragment can't be that. I make a point of not letting other's critiques color my critiques, but unfortunately my eyes fell on a few sentence fragments of the above commentators, so I am going to abstain from critiquing the characters or points of view. I see strong writing, but I think you need to consider your readers and this is an example of a story that did not win me over.
#63 ·
· on Creation Takes Too Long · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Yours is the last story I read so it gets the perspective of critiquing all the rest. Three stories with religious themes this time! Something about unimportant days? Not sure...

What I am sure is that your story did entertain me. I felt the three heads angle was somewhat refreshing, though the names were too difficult to follow and slowed it down. While the plot felt creative, and it was, it also felt vaguely hackneyed. I suppose every writer must do an Adam and Eve story, and the pun at the end did bring a smile to my face. Together with the entertainment value, it kept your story midway in my voting.

So, you've done your Adam and Eve. Good. It's out of your system. Don't do that again.
#64 · 3
· on Wordsworth · >>Posh >>scifipony
>>scifipony

It's late, and a few hours away from results, but on the off chance that you're not commenting on your own entry to throw us off:

I really do think that this is a strange issue to have with the story. I imagine you must be passionate about your conception of human nature, or else this one line wouldn't have caught your eye so much. Isn't it a common trope in post-apocalyptic fiction, video games, and so on that the resulting world is a lawless, faithless place? Historically, did movements like existentialism not flourish after great calamities like World War II, horrific events which made people question whether God could preside over such a world? In any case, the author never reveals what kind of calamity struck the world, nor do I think this entry is supposed to prompt a debate about human nature. But maybe that's part of your issue with the story. I just think this is an odd snippet to break the story over.
#65 · 6
· on Wordsworth · >>scifipony
>>scifipony I imagine >>Oblomov's comment here is a very polite way of saying "what the hell are you even talking about?" And I'm going to ask it less politely: What the hell are you even talking about?

I mean, I just got here, I'm not participating in this round, and I have no dog in this fight. Admittedly. I just pulled up this thread on a whim, and when I saw this snippet pop up in your review...

Your assertion goes completely against my understanding of human nature—faith will be the first to flourish following catastrophe—so, you must, must, must, show or say why not so I can willing suspend disbelief (pun intended).


...I couldn't not say something. Because you're saying that this story has a major narrative failing based on your own entirely subjective interpretation of human nature. I'm not going to get baited into a philosophical argument about the heart of mankind and faith and what-not; I'm only saying that arguing that's a universally established truth, and criticizing that story for not following that truth, when it is entirely based on your own point of view and your own beliefs, and basing your voting on that, is asinine.

That's like if I reviewed a story with a left-handed male protagonist, and said "yeah, this was okay, but everybody knows that left-handed men are children of the Devil, and your protagonist didn't strangle any nuns to death with his left hand while gesturing lewdly with his right, so you really just torpedoed any claim to realism your story had, sorry sweaty :/"
#66 · 2
· on On the Night Shift
Thanks, folks!

Congrats to the other medalists, and sorry I didn't get around to commenting on all the entries. I've been a couple days behind all week and thought the contest went till Monday...

As for the story, it came together pretty quickly. After seeing the prompt, rebel that I am, I decided I wanted to write about a night instead of a day. Nightmare Central come straight from there, and then the character who thought she was doing a terrible job delivering nightmares when in fact she wasn't. If I do more work on it, I'll clear up what happens with the first client, so thanks again!

Mike
#67 ·
· on Wordsworth · >>Posh
>>Posh
I do not read other's critiques before or after I write my own. My critique is and can only be taken as what one reader understood reading a story without the influences of others. It is a dialog between me and the author alone.

A critique is by definition a different, yes biased, point of view that allows a writer to know the affect his or her words have had on another's mind, to dismiss or use the insight as he or she sees fit. I endeavor never to attack and to state my plain unvarnished thoughts.

And, you misunderstood. I could have speculated on how the author might have substantiated the assertion that kicked me out of the story, but that would be my edit of the author's writing. I rated the story on what I read, not what I thought the writer was capable of doing to fix my objection should he or she have considered my thoughts on the subject even worthy of the effort. To have withheld the one thing that for me ruined a great story would have been a grave disservice. To not have stated my opinion that simple lampshading could have fixed it would have been condescending. Mine was an opinion and my language plainly states that.

I suggest you think long and hard before you next critique another's work. Would you really censor yourself and not share information as I did? Do you think the author is fragile flower incapable of considering me a fool if he or she disagrees, or of wondering "why did he say that?" Certainly you should think about this before you receive your next critique because it is not for the faint of heart.
#68 ·
· on Wordsworth · >>Posh
>>Oblomov
For me, to hold back an opinion in a critique is wrong. It is up to the author alone to assess its validity to his or her work. My point is that an assertion such as cited without explanation or lampshading to one reader's experience gravely hurt the story. It is up to the author to accept or discard my observations; better yet, to try to figure out why one in ten readers thought not substantiating it ruined the story.

For the record,I disagree that being a common trope in games and fiction makes it accepted wisdom. And the why a game designer chose to assert that is important (possibly to simplify narrative) or an author, probably to make a point about the human condition. My guess is re-examining your citations might find a finer grain meaning than the trope itself.
#69 · 4
· on Wordsworth
>>scifipony
I do not read other's critiques before or after I write my own. My critique is and can only be taken as what one reader understood reading a story without the influences of others. It is a dialog between me and the author alone.


This is not a sacred, privileged conversation between you and No Raisin about his writing. The general premise under which the writeoff operates is that, whenever you review a story, people will read that review, and if they disagree with it, then people will debate you about your review. This debate can often be beneficial to the author, because in watching other people raise and debate possible flaws in their writing, they understand points of contention.

A critique is by definition a different, yes biased, point of view that allows a writer to know the affect his or her words have had on another's mind, to dismiss or use the insight as he or she sees fit. I endeavor never to attack and to state my plain unvarnished thoughts.


Yes, of course. You're supposed to speak your mind and to refrain from attacking someone. We are all adults, and we are all capable of withstanding critique without suffering gross, psychic damage. This is another general premise under which the writeoff operates.

To have withheld the one thing that for me ruined a great story would have been a grave disservice. To not have stated my opinion that simple lampshading could have fixed it would have been condescending. Mine was an opinion and my language plainly states that.


Yes, you correctly identified your subjective philosophical point as what it was. Subjectivity and bias color everybody's readings of everything. However, in this instance, applying your subjective, philosophical point of view to this story has yielded a skewed reading.

Because as you, yourself, correctly pointed out, regardless of how you feel about it, "it may be true in the context of this story." To follow that up by saying "all verisimilitude is lost" is to contradict your own point. You're also failing to account for the possibility that, just as you have your own perspective, the narrator has their own perspective as well. You're arguing with the message of the story, and the beliefs of a fictional character, rather than reviewing how effectively it's presented said argument.

Which isn't to imply that there are no circumstances where it's okay to debate a story's philosophy; I don't think that I could get through Atlas Shrugged without wanting to hurl the book across the room with great force. I'd probably also recuse myself from rating it if it came up on my writeoff slate, however.

Because, you know, that option does exist.

I suggest you think long and hard before you next critique another's work. Would you really censor yourself and not share information as I did? Do you think the author is fragile flower incapable of considering me a fool if he or she disagrees, or of wondering "why did he say that?" Certainly you should think about this before you receive your next critique because it is not for the faint of heart.


Here's another frank, constructive comment that I hope you take to heart: Cut this patronizing attitude out. Nobody here is complaining because you deliver "unvarnished, constructive criticism." I'm taking issue with you because you're condescending and pretentious.

You approach every single comment as though you're visiting some sort of profound truth upon the writer, which you are uniquely capable of giving. And you've given a lot of good, valuable feedback in these competitions, I'll grant, but just as often, your reviews are based on some kind of... of super subjective interpretation of the subject matter, or based on fundamental misreadings of the material, or based on nitpicks and issues that literally nobody else has identified as issues. And you still think you're being profound, and you have the sheer audacity to talk down to me for calling you out on it.

In a metaphor: No Raisin is building a house. As a community, we bring materials to help him build the house. Oblomov brings nails. Horizon brings lumber. Monokeras brings French labor laws to keep us from being exploited by corporations.

You? You've brought ten wheelbarrows full of cotton candy. "For insulation," you say, smugly, as though you're doing Raisin a favor.

Except the only thing that happens, at the end of the day, is that a landfill gets just a little bit sweeter.

>>scifipony
For the record,I disagree that being a common trope in games and fiction makes it accepted wisdom.


My guess is re-examining your citations might find a finer grain meaning than the trope itself.


I am trying very, very hard to retain even a semblance of civility, but watching you patronize someone else, whom I know to be well-educated and literate and not somebody simply chucking generalities around like a frat boy at a party chucks cherry-flavored prophylactics, is making me legitimately angry. Consider rephrasing whilst I scream into my pillow.

You might also crack a book about Dada, while you're at it. You know, "reexamine your citations." (:
#70 · 3
· on Wordsworth · >>scifipony
The round's been over for like a day now, and I have to say I almost didn't even want to write a retrospective for this. That is, until I got a good whiff of the thread that's been going on here.

>>scifipony
I'm gonna go through every one of your comments, because I want you to understand where I, the author here, am coming from. I want you to know that what you've said has provoked a lot of feelings in me, from frustration to scorn. The reason why I'm doing this is because you could've easily course-corrected yourself after your opening salvo, but you chose not to. With each response to Oblomov and Posh you've chosen to dig yourself a deeper hole.

Let's get started.

I liked where you were going with this, but an assertion like the following must be substantiated or the entire story unravels:


Why must this be the case? Actually, let's rewind just a tad. Why is the following line considered an assertion? On whose part? It would have to be mine, because the priest is merely recounting what happened in his world, the fictional world of the story. The assertion you say I'm making here is that in a post-apocalypse scenario, faith would take a heavy hit pretty much right off the bat. Most people would rightfully go along with this, but let's continue before I explain why that is.

Your assertion goes completely against my understanding of human nature—faith will be the first to flourish following catastrophe—so, you must, must, must, show or say why not so I can willing suspend disbelief (pun intended).


No. That's not how it works. I am under absolutely zero obligation to cater to your worldview in my fiction, contentious as your worldview is. You say you believe that faith would flourish in the aftermath of a global catastrophe, yet you give absolutely nothing for why this must be true. I'm not saying it can't be true, but why in God's name should I be expected to change my story, in some way on a fundamental level (given what the story is about), to reinforce what you consider a personal truth?

You seem to be conflating what you believe with what will most likely be the logical outcome.

Needless to say, I can't rank your story based on what you might have written.


You imply here that you ranked my story based on a completely subjective point, a point that seems to rely more on you than the story itself. This borders on infuriating. Your first comment here is actually counterproductive, in the sense that I can't be expected to improve my story, but rather make it worse, just to appeal to your niche worldview.

But it gets worse...

A critique is by definition a different, yes biased, point of view that allows a writer to know the affect his or her words have had on another's mind, to dismiss or use the insight as he or she sees fit. I endeavor never to attack and to state my plain unvarnished thoughts.


You say this as if you deserve brownie points for your honesty. Not gonna happen.

To have withheld the one thing that for me ruined a great story would have been a grave disservice.


Again you seem to be conflating how the story diverges from your worldview with the quality of the story. What's frustrating here is that you also seem to be on the cusp of acknowledging that your criticism has been bogus so far, but you take a step back just in time to reinforce the fact that the problem you have is not with the story.

I suggest you think long and hard before you next critique another's work. Would you really censor yourself and not share information as I did? Do you think the author is fragile flower incapable of considering me a fool if he or she disagrees, or of wondering "why did he say that?" Certainly you should think about this before you receive your next critique because it is not for the faint of heart.


Once again you give yourself a pat on the back for your honesty, as if honesty in WriteOff criticism should be considered a minor achievement and not the bare minimum. Congratulations, you have reached the bare minimum of WriteOff criticism. You are right about one thing here, though: I have the right to disagree with you and consider you a fool in this situation.

It is up to the author alone to assess its validity to his or her work.


Nope. Granted, this comes down to how much authoritative power you believe the author to have, but depending on where you come from I'd be either the first or last person to judge criticism of my work. Criticism of criticism, if that makes any sense, should be left up to the people and not just the creator of the work that was originally criticized. What you're saying here sounds something like, "Only God can judge me," which to me always sounded like an empty "fuck the haters" sentiment that is only used to deflect criticism of oneself.

Seeing as how I'm here, though, according to your own beliefs I'm in the perfect position to criticize you.

For the record,I disagree that being a common trope in games and fiction makes it accepted wisdom. And the why a game designer chose to assert that is important (possibly to simplify narrative) or an author, probably to make a point about the human condition.


The reason why the "faith dies" trope is common in post-apocalypse fiction is because it makes sense. Not only does it make sense but it gives both the storytellers and consumers a lot of thematic meat to chew on. Commenting on the human condition and all that. So you disagree with that being the commonly accepted route, fine. But at the same time you pin the thing that "ruins" my story on something that, in all honesty, checks out.

What you ask of me is to make my story worse in order to accommodate what you see as the "correct" worldview, which for one I disagree heavily with, and two most readers would find what you suggest to make less sense than what we have now. Also, don't treat Oblomov like some semi-illiterate charlatan; he's a bright lad, and he deserves better than what you've given him so far.

Then again, I wouldn't wish the critique you gave of my story on even my worst enemies. If we're judging criticism by how helpful it is to the author in refining their skills and crafting a better story, your criticism has been the worst.

Just... the worst.
#71 ·
· on Spoiler
Okay. Here we have the perennial question: It’s funny, but is it art?

It’s certainly an amusing comment on its source story, so I do give it points for that. But I keep being reminded of Truman Capote’s quip on the work of Kerouac and other Beat writers: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Art demands a certain minimum of effort and care to convey an idea; graffiti becomes art when it’s more than just letters hastily scribbled on a wall. And this is only scrawled letters. If you lack drawing skill altogether, Contributor, you could still try to locate clipart and compose a scene. But this entry / joke could just have easily also been a comment left on the story, with no loss from conversion to text or gain from rendering in graphic form.

The circumstances of this round constrict the placement of your work in my slate. To put you in my voting list at all puts you at the top of it. Hence, I am abstaining. I’ll hope to see a more serious effort from you next time.
#72 · 1
· on Drinks Without Friends
Drinks Without Friends: A Retrospective


One of the great risks about writing, whether in a contest or anywhere else, is the occurrence of overcorrection. When I first started competing in the WriteOff, I found that I often had the tendency to discard story ideas very quickly without taking the time to really flesh them out. My reasoning back then was that if I couldn’t create anything solid fairly quickly, I needed to drop them and work on another idea. As time’s gone on and my writing has evolved, I’ve discarded this idea largely and kept to developing my initial ideas, many of which have turned into solid drafts on their own (“Vignettes of a Man You Knew” and “Watching the Show” to name some).

However, this story is the first time in a while that I’ve fallen victim to the opposing corollary: some ideas just don’t work and should be left alone. The inspiration for the story came from a graduation party I’d attended earlier in the week of the WriteOff, where one person’s absence caused a few other attendees (including myself) to reflect on how they actually felt about the missing party. In concept, it seemed like a solid story situation, a sort of riff on “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”. But the final product seems to indicate the story’s inadequacy at building a supporting narrative and firm characterization.

The chief problem in my mind is the story’s focus on the narrative with Dave, instead of focusing on the mood of the bar and how it contributes to his own dissatisfaction with both Tom and himself. So much time is spent trying to justify the story’s occurrence instead of depicting the events that the story takes too long to approach the central conflict (Dave’s feeling of betrayal). The constant verbalization of his feelings similarly feels off-putting, even with the excuse of inebriation, and I feel it should’ve had greater interiority. A story with the wrong kind of perspective is hard to bounce back from.

In the end, I feel like this story is a good reminder of the need to let certain ideas go. Sometimes there’s just not enough time to develop an idea, or the writing concept itself just can’t be done without prolonged reflection/research. A somewhat pessimistic idea about the artistic element of writing, but one everybody needs to learn at some point.

Now, for individual responses:

>>Baal Bunny Yeah, as I mentioned above, the perspective is one of the greatest problems I have with this draft. I personally think a first-person POV would be the strongest.

>>Cassius A lot of the anachronisms with the law school mostly come from faulty editing. The original drafts had the class as a graduating Pre-Law program, which would’ve followed undergraduate program traits, but for some reason I changed the school from a basic university to a law school. Because I didn’t account for the change in class dynamics, a lot of these details don’t match up. The alcohol inconsistencies similarly come from a lack of a thorough re-read.

As for the story’s deeper meaning, it really was just about Dave being pissed Tom didn’t show up. The idea of Tom dying of a drug addiction didn’t even occur to me during writing; I just included the drug addict line just because it seemed like a severely out-of-left-field line that’d come from an inebriated and self-doubting jerk. I mostly just wanted to create an awkward situation where a bunch of unhappy drunk people make each other miserable (hardly a unique situation in a bar). I’m happy you interpreted a deeper meaning out of it, though I’d say that’s more a testament to your reading abilities than my subtext capabilities.

>>Monokeras As I mentioned above with Cassius, the story didn’t really have a deeper message or point outside of an experiment in portraying miserable people. Similarly, the perspective definitely needs a lot of tinkering to really find its footing.

>>Bachiavellian Yeah, in hindsight, Dave’s motivation definitely needs to be clear early in the story. I think I wanted to establish his character a little more thoroughly before I got to his problem with Tom, but in its current form, the story feels more listless than engaging.

>>scifipony Writing characters that are hard to emphasize with isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think this story’s problem was it tried too hard to make Dave understandable and sympathetic. Had I focused more on his interior thought process and feelings (regardless of their nobility), I think the story would be stronger.
#73 ·
· on Creation Takes Too Long
>>Bachiavellian, >>Ratlab, >>Monokeras, >>scifipony

Creation Takes Too Long

My main point of departure with this was considering the Book of Genesis, which most scholars agree is several inconsistent creation stories mashed together. I thought of trying to reconcile the second chapter with the events of the first, and from this the Stooge Trinity developed. It helped that I have painted a certain notorious Ral Partha miniature called the Three-Headed Troll…

Thanks to all who enjoyed and reviewed it!

>>scifipony
I don’t think this counts as a stereotypical “Adam and Eve” story. I am clearly talking about the events of the Book of Genesis from the start and am not trying to spring a concealed-identity surprise at the ending, though maybe giving a different etymology for his name.
#74 · 1
· on Red Letter Night · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I think the style in this piece really shines out more in this picture than in others. It gave me nostalgia because of the monster’s form and scratchy texture, reminding me of Where the Wild Things Are.

I love all the hidden books and words and the liiiiitle tiny mouse in the corner. Giving the paper the only thing color is an excellent stylistic choice, too.

That’s all. Love it. Peace.
#75 · 1
· on Red Letter Night · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I really like the monsters' designs! They've got this old-school fantasy vibe to me, like something from early-edition D&D artwork.

I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, but one thing that I did notice was that both our monsters, the desk, the papers, and the filing bins all look somewhat distinct from one another? There might be a trick to the lining or something that's making them pop out from each other. I'm not sure how intentional this might have been, but it does give the piece a layered kind of look.

Overall, very nice! This would have deserved a medal even if it weren't one of only two.
#76 ·
· on Spoiler
No fucking way?!? :O
#77 ·
· · >>Bachiavellian
Lol, how did both pics get most controversial tho...
#78 · 2
·
>>MLPmatthewl419
Controversy is measured by standard deviation of scores. Since there are only two entries and scoring is based on relative ranking, their standard deviations can only be identical. :P
#79 ·
· on Wordsworth · >>Posh
>>No_Raisin
Critique, receiving or giving, must be an egoless pursuit. This is my opinion from decades of experience. I still feel awful when I receive unsettling critiques, but I still ask for them.

When you receive a critique it is best to look at what you are given back as one reader's response to reading your work—nothing more. The critic's words are neither right nor wrong. Further, it is up to you to decide if it is even relevant to you. If not, discard it. I like to deduce why my writing caused unexpected reactions or misconceptions. I never attack the critic as being wrong-headed.

Regardless, I've been trained to give and take critiques in the Clarion method and have run a few workshops. I've had newbies break into tears and throw-up, and I do my best to prevent that by going over certain ground rules.

Giving:
1) Never attack the author.
2) Discuss anything that doesn't work.
3) Explain what you think may have fixed it, but don't rewrite the story.
4) Don't copyedit.

Receiving:
1) When you receive a critique, the best response is to only say "Thank you."
2) Only if you don't understand something written, or the critic skipped something you wanted commented upon, ask specifics.
3) Never justify your position as the critic obviously didn't get what you meant from what you wrote.
4) Never attack the critic. You've gotten back your words processed through the critic's brain and that's valuable.
5) Never take it personally.

If you cannot divorce your ego from your writing when asking for a critique, you will lose receiving the perspective of a reader who read, processed your words, and is willing to tell you what he or she thought. Take your work to a friend or relative if you want nice, not to a colleague as you did here.

Last, I will point out that I said:

Your assertion goes completely against my understanding of human nature—faith will be the first to flourish following catastrophe—so, you must, must, must, show or say why not so I can willing suspend disbelief (pun intended).


Note I emphasized "my understanding". That's because... that's my opinion (not yours). If fact, what I shared in my critique and my replies is all my opinion, including the "must, must, must" bit. (It's an MLP reference and was meant to be humorous.) I honestly stand-by my advice about lampshading. You might ask yourself why did he feel this way? You might even ask me. Or you could discard it as irrelevant.
#80 · 2
· on Wordsworth
>>scifipony
If you cannot divorce your ego from your writing when asking for a critique, you will lose receiving the perspective of a reader who read, processed your words, and is willing to tell you what he or she thought. Take your work to a friend or relative if you want nice, not to a colleague as you did here.


I don't know if you're misunderstanding the responses you've generated in this thread on purpose, or if you are just incapable of distinguishing "stop being so pretentious, Kyle" from "why big meanie no liek my story??? :((("

If it's the former, then I applaud your commitment to windmill-tilting. If it's the latter, then I'm sorry, but I clearly lack the words to explain the difference, and I'm tired of trying.
#81 · 1
· on Wordsworth · >>scifipony
Hi >>scifipony,

If "All assertions in a story must be believable from the point of view of the reader as well as the POV character", why does suspension of disbelief as a concept exist? Surely if we aren't supposed to ever disbelieve any assertion, we'd never need to suspend that feeling?

Regards,
A concerned (& confused) reader

P.S. Please stop patronising my friends. They're smart people who disagree with you, not one of the newbies at your workshops. They've been doing this for a while, too.
#82 ·
· on Wordsworth
Forgot to address. See next reply.
#83 ·
· on Wordsworth · >>Scramblers and Shadows >>QuillScratch >>No_Raisin
>>QuillScratch
Suspension of disbelief by the reader is usually considered essential. As a writer, I want my readers to feel that the characters and events in my story are real. If I say the sky is purple, I need to explain why. If I don't say it's twilight or it's an alien planet or that I am wearing oddly tinted sunglasses, my readers are going to think something is unreal and then distrust everything I write from then on. In No_Raisin's story, the author states that there was a complete loss of faith. History and current political events around the world demonstrate that adversity makes many people turn toward faith rather than away from it, however illogical that may seem. This is my observation. As a critic, I explained that this assertion contrary to my reality threw me out of an otherwise fine story. It is up to No_Raisin alone to ponder why or to ignore me completely. Though I resist rewriting others' stories, No_Raisin could have written, "The great religions nuked themselves into oblivion and proved to the world there was no god, or at least one anyone wanted to believe in." That would have restored verisimilitude. That is lampshading. It is the secret sauce of great writers.

I am not patronizing your friends. I approach this site as a professional writer and assume everyone else does too. I follow the rules I stated in an earlier reply. I am simply giving my honest opinion of what I found wrong with a story. It is a personal communication between me and No_Raisin, and, frankly, I'm astounded that No_Raisin, considering his or her stated opinion, found it important to even write back! No_Raisin obviously doesn't think my critique is valid. Telling me I'm a fool or stuck up or wrong-thinking doesn't make me want to retract what I stated. It only makes me sad that an obviously talented potentially professional writer has an ego that is filtering out potentially important feedback from a reader.

Last, I do not understand why "friends" have piled on in order to protect their friend here from some imagined slight. Patronizing would have been for me to enter this event but to not have critiqued every other entry. I wrote nine critiques. First of all, their (what feels like) attacks on me may have colored No_Raisin's read of my critique and as a result deprived him or her of a valuable insight! Second, it is never useful to justify. If a reader doesn't get it, he just doesn't get it. Either shrug and move on, or ask yourself why didn't he get it. It's just a practice story. We are all writing tens of thousands of words or more per year. Except for the one truly great publishable story in this round—and that wasn't mine—it's just words and practice. Write it, learn from it, and throw it away.
#84 · 5
· on Wordsworth · >>Posh >>No_Raisin
>>scifipony
I know I shouldn't jump on this bandwagon at so late a stage, but ... screw it.

Patronizing would have been for me to enter this event but to not have critiqued every other entry.


No. Submitting a story and not reviewing might be selfish, but it is not patronising.

I don't generally like to lean on pedantry, but I would have thought a professional writer and alumnus of Clarion such as yourself would pay more attention to the meaning of words.

To be patronising is to give something with a presumption of superiority. You can tell it apart from generosity because the giver doesn't care about what the recipient wants; they assume the gift must be valuable, that they deserve respect, and that the recipient is a fool for not appreciating it.

So when you make a feeble attempt to win some imaginary pissing contest by bragging about being a professional writer, going to Clarion, and making people vomit, yes, you are being patronising. When you release your own vomit of vapid advicelets like "Never attack the critic.", yes, you are being patronising.

Now, on a level of basic principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with the content of your original review. I mean, I wouldn't have the same problem, but that's a matter of personal taste. In fact, I think Posh's criticism of it is mistaken.

But that's no longer the main issue here. The issue here is with your personal conduct, which we all seem to agree is piss-poor. (Most decent people wouldn't consider making others break into tears and throw up something to brag about.)

Now, to be fair, you've said a couple of times that Raisin is free to ignore your criticism, and that your point about faith was from one person's perspective only. So it seems that behind all the pomposity you are capable of humility.

See, writing is not the only area where people give feedback. Every area of social interaction gives you feedback. You're getting some right now.

What does it say? I'd summarise it as: Learn that your perspective is not the only one. Learn to interact with your fellow human beings with some basic civility.

And I think it would behoove you to listen to it.
#85 · 3
· on Wordsworth · >>No_Raisin
>>Scramblers and Shadows
In fact, I think Posh's criticism of it is mistaken.


WELL.

*vomits and bursts into tears*
#86 · 8
· on Wordsworth · >>No_Raisin >>scifipony
>>scifipony
I've got a number of points about this post, and the posts that came before it. The first is that I think you and I greatly disagree over exactly what an author ought to do to combat disbelief, because I certainly don't think that a statement like "the sky was purple" would come close to breaking mine, as a reader. I would read the line, think "huh, that's different", and recognise that statement as a fact of the imaginary world that I am reading about (as perceived by the narrator). Simple facts that contradict my perception of my own reality are what my imagination is for, after all. Worth noting the disagreement, I feel, as it’ll likely colour a lot of this discussion.

I'm also not 100% sure that you're using the term lampshading correctly. It's not a term I've come across too often before, so (ironically) the first time I really looked into it was reading the very link you posted in your review. My understanding from that is that lampshading explicitly involves not explaining something that seems far-fetched. TvTropes describes the technique as "calling attention to [an implausible plot development or reliance on a trope] and simply moving on", which is in my mind closer to what the story already does than it is to your suggested improvement. Though, naturally, since this is a term I've only recently learned about, I'm happy to be corrected on that one (would appreciate some sources to read along with any corrections!)

A pretty big point of contention here is that I don't think all of your rules are exactly applicable to the writeoff, as a workshop format. You say that it's never useful for an author to justify themselves to a critic: why? If a critic tells me that something I've written has evoked a response that clearly doesn't match what I'm attempting to convey, and I don't explain what I was attempting to do and how I was attempting to do it, how can I open a dialogue in order to get advice that is relevant to my intentions?

The writeoff is a workshop forum, designed around critical conversion—critics can reply to existing responses by design, as this allows helpful and useful discussion to develop. It also allows us to become better critics. When I started out in the writeoff, as anyone who was around at the time would likely tell you, I was a bit of an arrogant asshat whose criticism was more often asinine than it was useful. I'd like to think that I've gotten better since then, and if I have it's entirely because other people replied to what I said and told me "hey Quill, you might want to consider not lecturing people about commas when you absolutely suck at using them"*.

Put simply: dialogue is the cornerstone of forum criticism. The Clarion method is not the only good way to run a workshop, and it's not how we run this one.

I'm surprised that you're astounded to find No Raisin write a comment back to you, as I can see that you have some history in the writeoffs. While it's by no means a universal practice, people writing retrospectives in which they respond to reviews to answer and ask questions, clarify, say thank you, or just share interesting facts about the process of writing the entry is fairly normal behaviour here. No Raisin even alludes to it above.

I'm also particularly shocked that you think No Raisin's message rejected your criticism because of ego, of all things. He says (in my opinion, rightly) that he does not have to cater to your worldview in his story, because the statement being made is sufficiently simple and fundamental that it can be expected that readers will suspend their disbelief if they happen to disagree with it. That's a reasoned disagreement, clearly and thoughtfully explained, if a little angrily so. To dismiss that disagreement as mere ego is itself somewhat egotistical—you assume that your suggestion must be valid, and refuse to recognise any argument that disagrees with it as so, because it is backed by your authentic experience of the story.

So let me talk about my own real problem with your initial critique. While I might disagree that the assertion in question is a good reason to lose engagement with a story, I am more than comfortable accepting that you did find it jarring, and I have no real problem with you stating that. Hell, as a physics graduate, if I read a story with a significant physical or mathematical error in it, I would find that jarring, and I would consider mentioning it in a review. The problem comes when you insist that the author accommodates that, because that is when you step out of the bounds of describing your reaction and into the realm of suggesting improvements. One of your rules is to never rewrite a story for someone—good. That's sensible. But proposing changes, even without proposing explicit wordings for them, still steps into this dangerous world where you might not actually know what's best for the story, only what you think might be.

In that world, we have to be humble. As critics, we have to acknowledge that our advice might just run completely counter to the author's intent—indeed, that we might have so fundamentally misunderstood the author's intent as to be proposing a change that makes the story worse. What we can't do, as you have done, is hide behind the shield of "all experiences by readers are useful and valid", because we've deliberately stepped out of the world in which that shield works.

If I read a story where a writer fundamentally misunderstood some principle of quantum physics or relativity, it very well might break me out of my immersion, and I very well might mention it. But you know what? I'd recognise that I was intended to accept their misunderstanding as fact, even if it isn't, and do my best to get back in. And at the end, if it weren't a statement fundamental to the story itself, I might say "by the way, this isn't how that works" (I think Cass did something like that this round with a story's description of law school?), but I certainly wouldn't tell the author "and you absolutely must write it how it works in real life or you might break some people's immersion if they happen to care enough about the subject". That probably isn't something they care much about, and I'd come across as a bit of an asshat. If I just let the author know what’s wrong in their description of a field I am an expert in, they get to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using that.

There are two differences between that hypothetical situation and this real one. Firstly, in the hypothetical I'm not describing a disagreement with a worldview, but a disagreement with empirical fact, so one could argue that the case for making the change is stronger. And, secondly, the hypothetical change isn't fundamental to the story—I mentioned that for a reason. In this real situation, the assertion that faith died out following some apocalypse is part of the fundamental conceit of the story being told. To say that it needs explaining is no better than me criticising a work of fantasy for not mentioning the evolutionary origins of dragons, or a sci-fi story for not explaining that scientific advancements lead to the apparent limit of the speed of light being overcome. Those assumptions are inherent to the story, and to ask the author to justify them in-text is, in my opinion, refusing to engage with the story in good faith.

I'd like to end by stating my opposition to your position on writeoff entries as practice stories. People use writeoff entries for all sorts of things after the events (I've bought a short story anthology with one in!), and the way you write about them in your comment strikes me as particularly dismissive. You might use the stories you write for writeoffs as throwaway stories, and you might write plenty of other things, but some of us actually do care about (at least some of) our entries in these contests. I would ask you very kindly not to dismiss entries to any workshop as things to be thrown away. Not all of us have the luxury to treat them as such, and some of us have to treasure every little bit of writing we get to do.




* these weren't exactly the words used, but in my first ever writeoff I critiqued a story for using commas wrong (because I was young and foolish) when it actually used them right (very foolish). Horizon was kind enough to point out my error, and I've gradually moved toward trying to give more useful criticism as a result. I continue to be absolutely mortified by this story, but I share it because a) it's a useful illustration of my point and b) if I can avoid getting embarrassed by it, it's actually pretty funny.
#87 ·
· on Wordsworth
Wow. Your post sounds compelling and relevant. I need (and want) to study it and will get back within a day (life is getting in the way right now).
#88 · 1
· on Wordsworth
>>Posh
>>QuillScratch
>>scifipony
>>Scramblers and Shadows

Lemme get a, uhhhhhh

B O N E L E S S P I Z Z A

with a 2 l i t e r c o k e .
#89 ·
· on Wordsworth
>>QuillScratch
That was a very well reasoned set of arguments and I find myself in agreement more often than not.

So many topics, as you said, and it is helping me understand why I got some of the reactions I got. At the very least, I know now that in the future I need to keep my critiques strictly to what I understood from reading the story, not attempt humor, and not state how it will affect my voting. I sense community permission to briefly suggest an edit if it illustrates my point.

I can't reply to everything at once, so this reply is likely not my last. In your first paragraph you state something key:

as perceived by the narrator


Sensing that would have negated my argument as the statement being an assertion that required lampshading! I did not get this sense, however—but it may be what the author intended. Reviewing the story in this light, let's pay attention to that the story is in first person and that an intentionally separate paragraph makes this statement emphatic:

Faith was the first to die...


This to me feels like third person, especially in casual reading and thus an assertion. However, were it written,

I saw that faith was the first to die, followed in time by literacy...


Well! ...that becomes personal and firmly the opinion of the first person narrator and not a global assertion by the author that requires predicate. In my opinion you have uncovered the true fault (accidental change of POV), and I feel I've learned something. I spent decades writing third person and have in the last four years switched to first. I see how I could make this very same error. I know now to check for it. Thank you.

As for lampshading, I may not be using it strictly, but other authors have understood my intent. It is indeed not exactly explaining, but making sure the reader/viewer doesn't get stuck on something in a story by writing a plausible, or at least plausible to the character, reason to believe. In my discussion and rewrite above adding the "I saw that" prefix to the sentence makes me positive that the first person narrator believes what he said but is his opinion alone. Further pinning it in reality then is "followed in time by literacy", demonstrated in the narrative, makes the full statement powerful indeed.

Truly, I meant what I said. In my opinion the story was good, but flawed by six words—or three missing ones. I could and did imagine the story being fixed, but I could not rate based I what I imagined. In the future, I see that stating such could be inflammatory and I won't do that again. Once more, thank you.
#90 · 2
· on Red Letter Night
>>Anon Y Mous, >>Bachiavellian

[ducking the dramaz]

Red Letter Night

Thanks for the great comments!

For historical interest, this was the concept sketch. I wound up altering the character designs on the fly as I drew the next (and final) version.

Sometimes, an artist will run out of room on a piece of paper because they didn’t plan carefully. Often, you can just tape on another piece of paper and keep drawing. (R. Crumb’s rule of thumb for artists: “Anything that works!”)

This was drawn with charcoal pencil, with regular pencil used for the book titles. I scanned the drawing in sections, pieced them together in Photoshop, removed the join lines, and colored the page and ink.

The book titles make reference to the authors John Collier and Fredric Brown. It’s likely that no one notices the easter eggs I include in things, but I enjoy hiding them anyway.

See you next round!