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Under New Management · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 5
First! I beat’em all :)
#2 · 3
Pretty good prompts so far. Starting to get some ideas with the ones that has been posted as of right now (just brainstorming).
#3 · 8
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
At least:

Those of us who aren't going to Bronycon will have something to do this weekend.

#4 · 3
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Baal Bunny
I’m going, but I suppose I will have time to contribute something.
(Submits photo of stained cocktail napkin.)
#5 · 2
Hey, it’s my birthday so that means you have to vote for mine. I don’t make the rules.
#6 · 2
Frame it so it looks like a Rorschach test and you can claim it's deep.
#7 · 2
Will I remember to enter this time? Who knows!
#8 · 5
When Life Gives You A New World, Long Live the New Flesh! No Greater Love Getting Better Contrast? Well, That’s a First.

Midsummer Overindulgence, For real? Big Oof. More Tylenol Please.

Monstrously Clever Fellows Lock Cher Up, Living in a Glass House Under New Management.

That Moment in Time When You Realize That You Are Actually… Old Hat.
#9 · 6
Will be at BC this weekend, so no #mentors. Good luck, everyone!
#10 · 5
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Drunking right now. Make drarwing in cocktail capsule. Good luck evrypony!
#11 · 2
· on Hostile Takeover · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Until I can give a proper review, I just have to mention how lovely that restrained little flame is on top of the skull. Frankly, it's adorable.
#12 · 2
· · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
>>Rocket Lawn Chair
I need to know what a “cocktail capsule” is. It sounds enchanting.
#13 · 4
· on Abstain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I, for one, welcome our new napkin overlords.
#14 · 2
· on Hostile Takeover · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I'm curious, where can I buy Hell stocks? EA? Also, if the value of the stocks plummet, does that count as Hell freezing over?
Anyway, good job on this. I really like it! All the little details make the drawing shine.
The new CEO's facial hair makes me think he died on the 90's and has been working his way up Hell's corporate ladder. Good for him.
#15 · 4
· on How Unfortunate
I like how this shows a glimpse of a full universe with just a few words.
Also, did the messenger shoot an arrow with the scroll because the house is too hot to get close?
#16 · 2
· on Better than what we have now
"Why did you vote for Xenaer-Batzaie? His saucer is fueled by crushed orphan puppies!"
"Listen, that may be the case, but at least violent crime has gone down by a hundred percent."
"Because he vaporises anyone who acts out line."
"Either way, I can go to the corner store in the middle of the night without worrying about getting mugged."
"The corner stone was blown up by his death squad!"
"Wow. First of all, it's inaccurate to call them that. Only two thirds of their interventions end up with deaths. Second, Jim's store was a front for a xenophobe group."
"I don't believe you."
"You saw the alien picture they stuck to the dartboard."
"That's not what I mean and you know it."
"Hey, I can understand accepting something different can be difficult, but you have to learn to take the good with the bad. Besides, Xenaer-Batzaie's term will end next September."
"I... I suppose you're right."
"And after that, it's only four more years!"
"Oh, go to hell."
#17 · 2
Oh gawrsh. With no mentors this can only go well.
#18 · 1
· on Upgrade
The year is 2078.

Almost nobody from the old world remains. Man’s pathetic rule was killed eons ago.

An old man stumbles across the street, out of the dank, hidden alleyway he was evicted from after committing some heinous crime the underworld deemed worthy enough to throw him to the dogs.

His breath hitches in his throat. There, despite his fading vision, he sees it. Their overlords. Cruel and unforgiving creatures, they extinguished every flicker of hope for mankind. His hands curled into what could almost be called a fist, hatred building in his chest, spurring him on to confront the terrible thing that killed his wife and child.

He stepped into the light.

It looked at him.

The baby.
#19 · 3
#20 · 2
· on It's a Living
Man, wait until he finds out about rain.
#21 · 1
· on Club
Edit: I’ve never seen fight club. You can ignore all that was said below. Good day.

I’m not sure what’s going on first time through. There’s too much of them tallying when I can’t even get the names sorted out.

I understand that one of the guys created the other guy, but I don’t know who. It’s because the names are so similar. I know what you were going for in the name, but sacrificing that cool addition for all the clarity would really help.

First time through I know that:
They need a psychiatrist.
One of the guys might just be a voice in his head?
Or a robot he created.
The pastor let them in for some reason unbeknownst to me.
More tallies.
Equality? (Starlight, is that you?)
#22 · 1
· on Bob's Burgeria
Big Bob is watching you...
#23 ·
· on The Seventeenth City of Hell
Paid internship? Hahahahahaha. I feel like hell is better than real life right now.
#24 ·
· on Pedagogy · >>Cassius
Filthy, filthy orcs and their racial prejudice.

That’s hilarious.

Whoever screwed this up would have hell to pay he swore.

Let’s just assume this person forgot what that word was... Poor Parsely.
#25 ·
· on Cicadas All the Way Down
I liked this one. Cicadas are freaky tho. Have u ever seen one flying?????? They don’t care if ur in its way, they will go straight through you.

“I’m not sure I want to be like my sister,” I said, watching her as she ripped grass from its roots, slowly and methodically chewing it like cud. She puked later that night.

Gross, but hilarious.
#26 ·
· on The Whole of the Law
Is everyone doing upgrade? Lmao

This... this is probably the longest sentence I have ever read, and I’ve read Dickens.

I like the edginess of the story. All I need now is for a man with a gravelly voice to read this to me, tumbleweeds passing in the wind, and I’m set.

Unfortunately, the long-winded ness of this story and one sentenceness makes this story hard to read. It’s not too hard, but our eyes get no rest and the words kind of blend together.
#27 ·
· on The More Things Change · >>Baal Bunny
Rip Sears. 😔
#28 ·
· on The Previous One Wasn't That Good Either · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Funny thing, when I saw this on my phone, the mist thingie and faces floating weren't showing, so I just saw the face at the bottom and was confused for a moment.
#29 ·
· on Upgrade
I like Kappaman's fist of impotence. You know he's bitter those damned appleheaded kids prefer to buy balloons from the robots.
#30 ·
· on Abstain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Look at this shit, it's a work of art; it's got so many layers it's like a goddamn onion, or a hack fraud undergrad's thesis on The Lego Movie; it's so deep that I can't even feel my legs right now. No doubt I will never again feel this enriched by looking at an object so simple and yet so elegant. I'll be sure to tell my future grandchildren about how fucking incredible this piece is.

Oh yeah, and I'll have that with a side of fruit, please.
#31 · 1
· on Hostile Takeover · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Not so jazzed about the guy's design, but everything else is nicely detailed. You could've gotten away without drawing the stalagmites and stalactites, but you went one step further and I thank you for it.
#32 · 1
· on How Unfortunate
I can't tell if the notice was delivered with an arrow, or if the arrow was shot into the notice after the fact. On the one hand it seems impractical to send an unfolded piece of paper with a bow and arrow, but then why would someone shoot an arrow into the notice after it's already been sent?

It's mysteries like this that cause me to wake up in a cold sweat.
#33 · 1
· on Better than what we have now
A shame that nobody submitted a fic inspired by the piece. I guess the stories it invokes are too obvious? All the same I like the clash of styles here: the subtle cartoonishness of the UFO contrasted with the realistic city.
#34 · 2
· on The Previous One Wasn't That Good Either · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Maybe too dark. I had to turn up the brightness quite a bit to see everything going on here, but I do like the subtlety of it. I can see why it inspired quote a few fics.
#35 · 1
· on Upgrade
There are three characters in this piece, and all of them look weird. I'm not sure how much of this was intentional. The kid's head resembles a fruit, the old(?) guy looks like he has balloons growing out of his head, and the robot has a heart-shaped head. Pretty nicely drawn, though, considering it's a sketch.

Boy did the writers eat this one up.
#36 ·
· on It's a Living
This is quite nice. Sweet and simple as bite-sized stories go.

I can't say this would stick with me as some of the other entries might—I have not read any of the other entries yet so I might eat my words in the near future—but the minutes I've spent reading and re-reading this was definitely pleasant, so I can't really complain much.

If there's really any nitpicky changes I would suggest making to this story, I think personally I would rather the small little twist at the end to be a little more subtle with its delivery than it just being outright told to us. Maybe show the squirt gun good ol' Jim is packing in his holster to conjure some PTSD flashbacks in 820-B's mnemonic drive or something before the water balloon salvo.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#37 · 1
All pics have at least two comments.
Yay for art!
#38 ·
· on How John Became the Ruler of Hell
So, with my first read, this story gave me a similar experience to 'It's a Living', in that bar the story's several grammatical stumbles, it was a nice read even though it didn't leave that much of a lasting impression. After subsequent rereads, however, I honestly wished I could still say the same.

I think my issues really started with the conversation John has with Satan, in that John isn't characterized here to be the conniving cobra capable of catching our goat-headed overlord off guard that the story implies after the break. If anything, it does make it seem like his whole 'common sense, mechanic knowledge, and deductive reasoning' seems to hinge more on Lady Luck instead. In a way, I kinda like that implication a lot better, though of course, that's not how it was written.

My biggest issue really is that the main driving force of the story that would've kept my attention was simmered down to the two paragraphs outlining how John became the Ruler of Hell. I had been hoping, from the title of the story, that we get to really see how it went down. Instead, it was relegated to those two paragraphs. Perhaps if more focus was placed on how that particular exchange went about, I could at least have some enjoyment from reading this. As it is now, I can't say it's doing anything for me.

From what I can tell, this story was definitely rushed, and I'm getting the inkling that the second half was written before the first. As mentioned, the story could definitely do better with expanding upon the exchange and the subsequent dethroning of Satan instead of all the chit-chat in the beginning. As neat of an idea as it might be, I can't say this would place high on my slate with how it was executed.

Also, I'm mildly peeved and disappointed that Satan here didn't even take into account the second law of thermodynamics which might play a part in the eventual heat death of our universe. You had millennia, millennia, to figure this out. You deserve to be dethroned by John the Lawyer on that basis alone, you incompetent pair of goat tits.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#39 ·
· on Pedagogy · >>Cassius
Pretty fun:

My only comments are minuscule at best. I would've thought a bureaucrat of Thyme's weaselitude would've long ago perfected an erasure spell for removing his name from documents when he discovered that he'd screwed something up rather than just scratching the name out. And unless Thyme can somehow see Parsley's door, I'd prefer we stay in Thyme's POV and not get a visual of the orc barging into Parsley's office. Just give us the sound of stomping orc feet, the door crashing open, and the mellifluous bellow.

#40 ·
· on It's a Living
Well, there are a few spelling/grammatical errors like Jim being called a manger and a rather questionable choice of words (like the robots being "the automated"), but honestly, these are minimal compared to this rollercoaster of a comedy! Just mentioning the squirt gun outright, compared to the rather robotic/professional tone much of the piece is comprised of, made me just sit there and, now, I want to shake your hand for a joke well done! Even before, I was wondering, "Is Jim so crazy he's going to shoot his robot with a gun if he fails with balloons?!"

Overall, bravo! Fun story you got here!
#41 ·
· on Lifestyle Gadgets

All I have are tiny suggestions. Putting the tag "Brad sighed in delight." in the middle of Rosie's dialogue, for instance--it really ought to be in its own paragraph to keep the attributions straight. And after telling us how Brad considers their silence while eating to be comfortable, you then say, "Conversation between them came easier as they cleaned the dishes". But if he doesn't think their lack of conversation earlier was uneasy...

Like I said, tiny stuff. It's a nice piece.

#42 ·
· on How John Became the Ruler of Hell
OK, sure, this is riddled with a ton of grammatical mistakes with things like "they was" (they were) and "a least" (at least). However, on its own, this is sort of OK because, well, 24 hours to write something.

The bigger issue here, though, is how the second half seems well thought-out compared to the first one as WritingSpirit said. The second half, beginning after the section break, is actually quite funny! Kind of like gravity finally dawning on Wile the Coyote before he falls down: this is the comedy that struck, and you just kept it coming with a deconstruction on the typical image of Hell. Applying engineering (or even just basic science to this; I'm not sure at the moment) really stole the show here.

However, the lead-up to that is where the overwhelming majority of grammatical mistakes lie which may turn off exacting readers. Moreover, while the first few paragraphs are OK as is (if you ignore the grammatical errors), they seem a bit too fast. The initial surprise of John being in Hell is pretty much non-existent because it's all written so quickly. Fleshing this one out a bit, even by just an additonal sentence or two, would heighten the surprise by building the build-up to it.

Other than that, well, the tone of the first half is quite nonchalant as is expected about a comedy like this. Nothing inherently wrong here; you've done a great job otherwise.

Overall, this is a diamond in the rough. Would take some digging and effort to get to the diamond itself, but, well, take pride in that diamond!
#43 ·
· on Abstain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Given the title, I hope that stain is from an ab, but it's hard to tell. I don't know much about photo editing software. How hard would it have been to make the printing on the napkin follow the wrinkles of it a little better?
#44 ·
· on Hostile Takeover · >>GroaningGreyAgony
He does have an evil little beard, and the skull has something resembling one of those rage-inducing man buns. I can't tell if the man is frowning or has the mustache going on too. But if he really wants to maximize profits, he needs to get off his ass and do something.
#45 · 1
· on The Previous One Wasn't That Good Either · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I like this. No idea on the movie, though, since I don't see many of them. I'm guessing it's supposed to supply a little more context?
#46 · 1
· on Club
“So… what is this?” Asked Steve “Fight Club but I’m self-aware?”

Yes, and you took the concept pretty well and quite realistically. Having both sides of Stef (and I'll call this unified human Stef just for convenience) agree to at least talk and negotiate their split-personality time slots compared to at least one side not being aware of it (as is in Fight Club) was not just fun but also enlightening to read. A more stable version of the movie, actually, that wouldn't end with the destruction of the world economy.

Your portrayal of Steve and Steph is pretty nice and consistent throughout, especially since the other is their foil. Sure, the dialogue could be spiced up by not having their names start off a lot of the sentences (because as I was beginning to wonder who was who halfway through), but your attention to detail regarding their expressions and visual reactions to each other makes them more whole.

The only thing that's dragging the story down is punctuation errors, especially with the dialogue tags. For example:

“And I gave you power, you abused it.” Stephen said as he copied his other half.

That should actually have a comma instead of a period at the end of the quoted sentence, like this:

“And I gave you power, you abused it,” Stephen said as he copied his other half.

The reason why I'm spelling it out here is because this error is consistent throughout the whole fic. It's nice that the rule doesn't apply to sentences that end with an exclamation or question mark, but those aren't as common as the ordinary replace-period-with-a-comma ones.

Overall, you've done a good twist on the Fight Club-esque split personalities! Just needs polishing up on the dialogue tags and this could be a stronger contender.
#47 ·
· on Better than what we have now
I rather like the photo, but I don't have any experience with photography, so I don't know how difficult it is to get that shot and have the conditions just right for it. As to the meaning of the title and what the alien has to do with it, it's going over my head. With the title, I guess he's going to conquer the city? If I recognized which city it was, I might realize some political statement, though this might be referring to it more generally, not just for this specific city.
#48 ·
· on How Unfortunate
I like all the world-building possibilities this sets up. Given it's citing a problem with fire-related creatures, I don't know how wise it is to do so with a flammable material. The tenant may never get the notice, and service of the notice probably wouldn't pass a "reasonable person" standard, but I bet Cassius will clarify everything within 5 minutes. If the signee's name is a joke, I don't get it.
#49 ·
· on Upgrade
There's so much that's ambiguous about this one that it's a great playground for fic inspiration. Is it significant that the balloons seem to be sprouting from the man's head? That the robot's head is heart-shaped? Is the robot smiling at the hapless man or the child? Is the robot smiling because his face is fixed that way, or is it doing so on purpose? We can see part of the man's cart, but none of his merchandise. The prompt, strictly taken, would suggest the robot was now running the man's cart, but they have separate ones. That could also mean something.
#50 ·
· on Bob's Burgeria
Skimming through this, it becomes obvious that the backstory/explanatory part of the fic takes up lots of real estate here as well as descriptions about the shelter as a whole. This is a risky move, because that means that the big surprise/reveal/payoff/whatever at the end will take the short end of the stick and should be worth all this talking about despite (or beacuse of) its shortness. So the million-dollar question is: did it succeed?

Kind of. True, fast-paced high-octane climaxes shouldn't be too wordy, but I get the feeling that the ending was more of an addition to the meaty backstory than an equal piece to the whole. Still, it fulfilled its function: gave the surprise at the end about who Hopkins really used to be right before state sec (or is it "private sec" at this point, considering the police are Bob's?) somehow gets to him. Nice try at sounding ominous with the last quote, but the concept of obstacles being owned by a company is open to tons of interpretation and I'm not sure what you're going for here.

On the bright side, you don't have any egregious spelling/grammatical errors so it looks quite polished and clean; at least you got that going for you.

Overall, despite the rough edges pace-wise and some rather dubious line decisions, this is quite a brooding and rather dystopian piece!
#51 · 1
· on Letting On and Letting Go
Huh, the first one on my ballot is the one without any comments yet, so I can't gauge my reaction to it.

I like the character voices here, but I'm a little confused as to what's happened. It helps to take it with the art, but I wonder how good an idea it is to need the art for the reader to understand the story. Given that most of us come from the MLP fandom, this could easily smack of a changeling story, but I'm feeling more of an id/ego/superego battle going on. If not that, then at least some kind of internal struggle.

Giving each a distinct personality is a nice touch, but what it also does is confuse me as to whether the person they inhabit is consciously aware of this conflict. It's like Inside Out, I guess, where I can take it as these voices influencing the person without them being aware of it.

There are two things that hold this back for me. One is the formatting. Several have been done in this style before, and after you've seen enough of these, they lose their novelty. I can take that or leave it, as it does save you some word count on dialogue tags, though in your case, you didn't need to, since you're well under the limit. But the format isn't done that well. It's not enough to just right-justify all dialogue by the third voice, because sometimes it's hard to tell it is. Take your last 3 lines. It may look quite a bit different if you're reading on a mobile device, but on my PC, it's a very subtle difference between the right-justified line and the centered line. That's not the only place in the story where it's hard to tell which one is speaking. You might have made it clearer by making more judicious use of line breaks so that, for example, the right-justified text never ends up crossing the middle of the page. It takes a lot of trial and error to get that right, it might look significantly different based on device, and it might look significantly different between your word processing program and the site. But with a couple of iterations, you can get something that's at least a lot clearer.

Second is that this is vague. Someone's being told that he can relax and not always be in charge, but the stakes are never established, so I don't have a reason to care when he gives in. What consequences could there have been? He is enjoying it, but it's kind of bland language, so I can't tell how much. So it all comes across as a pretty low-level conflict without a way to judge how well it was resolved. It's got good atmosphere and character work, but I can't find a plot to follow, or even something to anchor an emotional investment to, if you were just going for a scene.
#52 ·
· on It's a Living
Alternate Title: Signs... of WATER!

Something I liked:

Assuming this is meant to be a comedy (I have my doubts), the last few paragraphs are pretty great. There isn't much to this story, since we're basically told that our hero is a robot working as a balloon salesman, and then immediately are given the explanation for why he's in this position. Short set-up with an equally short payoff, but it works here. Something about robots losing the war with humans because of water is really funny, although it does get undermined by a certain something, especially if this was not intended to be a comedy.

Something I didn't like:

The twist is kind of... dumb. Are you meaning to tell me that despite being pretty much on par with humans (from what we're told), the robots lost the war because they're weak to water? Have they never experienced rain before? How do they deal with big bodies of water? It's like the aliens from Signs, where the one thing they're weak to makes no sense, given where they are and who they're fighting. But, as I said, this is more a negative if this wasn't meant to be a comedy.

Verdict: It's short, kind of sweet, kind of dumb, but it makes good use the art entry chosen and I can't complain too much about it.
#53 ·
· on How John Became the Ruler of Hell
Alternate Title: Cassius's Worst Nightmare

Something I liked:


Something I didn't like:

Okay, listen. Author, I'm under the impression you're new to this whole WriteOff thing, in which case hello, welcome, enjoy your stay and all that. There's also a possibility you wrote this at 4 in the morning with the deadline fast approaching, in which case I know how you feel. But you should give these things at least one look-over. Come on, man. When I first read this I wasn't particularly fond of it, but the second time through made me realize just how much this entry is held together with wet tissue paper and the tears of small children. It could use some work, to say the least.

Verdict: I'm not gonna say where exactly this will be on my slate, but it won't be a high spot.
#54 · 1
· on Club · >>TerrusStokkr
Alternate Title: I Repeat Myself When Under Stress, I Repeat Myself When Under Stress, I Repeat Myself When Under Stress, I Repeat Myself When Under Stress...

Something I liked:

Something I didn't give this entry enough credit for the first time around was how original it is, in spite of clearly taking notes from Fight Club, to the point of name-dropping in the first paragraph. The dynamic between the Stevs (Stephs?) is unique, and although it is kind of a pain to tell them apart, since their names are so similar, I get that this was likely intentional. The idea of not only having a double but being equal in every way to said double, to the point where you can't tell who's the original and who's the double, is ripe fruit for like a thriller plot, but you did something more comedic with it, and I can respect that.

Something I didn't like:

That said, though, this is rough around the edges. It's been said several times now, but you're not supposed to tag dialogue in this way; it gives the impression of someone just entering the writing game. There are also a few questions that are left up in the air, like what the pastor has to do with any of this. I'm not quite sure what the stakes are here. Would obviously benefit from expansion, not to mention revision.

Verdict: I like it. It's not great, and it's too unpolished for me to love it, but it's got a fighting chance.
#55 · 1
· on Bob's Burgeria
Alternate Title: Capitalism, Eh?

Something I liked:

Writing suspense/horror in the minific format is really hard, and author, I think you did an admirable job. On a prose level this is a very solid entry, especially in the first half where you're describing the world of our protagonist while also establishing the stakes. The second scene, which is all dialogue, feels rushed, but the suspense of the final scene makes up for that. There are only two characters here, with similar names, but I think you did this to throw us for a loop. You didn't want us to guess who Hopkins was too early, and at first we're supposed to think the founder of Bob's Burgeria is Robert. Good one.

Something I didn't like:

The message of this entry is pretty obvious, but worse yet, I don't feel particularly compelled by it. Corporations can be scary, but I think having Bob's Burgeria be this overtly evil is missing the point, or rather having Bob's Burgeria be more overtly evil than any real-life corporation undermines what the message is supposed to be. Corporations get away with some pretty scummy shit, but the cartoonish nature of Bob's Burgeria is too much to take seriously.

Verdict: As an entertaining little piece of suspense I think it works, but I don't buy it as trying to convey a serious message.
#56 · 1
· on The Seventeenth City of Hell · >>TerrusStokkr
Alternate Title: It's Mildly Warm in Hell

Something I liked:

Shit's dumb. Now before you take that as a negative, author, I do think this brand of stupidity works as a comedy, which this entry very much is. Right from the first paragraph I felt like I was being plunged into absurdity. Paid internship in Hell? Pineapple pizza? Get the fuck out of here, that shit's stupid. But in a very strange way that kind of stupid works for what this entry is going for. I wish the middle section was more absurd, but things pick up again at the end nicely.

Something I didn't like:

This version of Hell is rather interesting; it's a shame we learn so little about it. There are a lot of world-building questions that are left up in the air. What does one get paid with in Hell? How is your morality measured? At what point does someone go from Hell to purgatory? You raise a lot of questions and then fail to answer them, and even though there are practical limitations here, I still feel disappointed with how half-baked the world is.

Verdict: A candidate for the dumbest entry of the lot, sure, but it's also quite a bit of fun to read.
#57 ·
· on Pedagogy · >>Pascoite >>Cassius
Alternate Title: The Boring Side of Fantasy

Something I liked:

Author, I have a confession to make: I'm not exactly a fan of fantasy. Or rather I'm not an enthusiast about it. That said, a story set in a high fantasy world which catches my eye is especially worth my time, and this entry is one of those. I like that Thyme feels like he could exist in our world, despite dealing with fantastical creatures all day. I also like the humor itself; this is perhaps the funniest entry of the lot, at least for me, which is saying something considering there are a couple other strong contenders.

Something I didn't like:

Somewhat minor, but I want to talk about POV here. I thought the narrator was supposed to be omniscient, like a narrator who is not attached to any in-story character, but there are a few times where I get the impression that we're actually getting Thyme's POV, but told in the first person. There are also a couple typos I couldn't help but notice on a second readinb, but nothing earth-shattering.

Verdict: Fun? Sure. Clever? Yes. One of my favorite entries? You bet.
#58 · 1
· on The Whole of the Law
I put off reading this for a while for somewhat obvious reasons. Nobody wants to read a story that is one block paragraph. I remember joking about doing a gimmick a couple times, but I never expected to someone to seriously enter something that was only one sentence. Oh dear.

At first blush, I actually was quite engaged with the gimmick, especially as it applied to the husband and wife. There's a couple of lines early on that are quite good:

citizen and his wife lived in a state of financial and emotional poverty, with the wife abusing the man when he was sober and the citizen abusing his wife when he got drunk; the two fought with such a frequency that they never had time to have children, nor did they have time to contemplate the impossibility of their relationship, aside from the fact that they couldn't split apart;

This initially was what I thought the story (and the gimmick) was about: a couple that was stuck together, unable to split apart (or into separate sentences). I thought that was clever.

But that's not what the story was about.


So in return for disappointing my lofty expectations, you have now earned a lecture on the distinction between manslaughter and murder. Murder is defined under common law as a homicide with "malice aforethought" but the precise statutory definitions can vary by the state. Most states follow what is called the "Pennsylvania Method" or some variation thereof, which defines murder into two degrees:

1. First Degree Murder: the willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder of an individual.
2. Second Degree Murder: all other murder. Typically this refers to murder arising out of the intent to inflict serious bodily injury, "depraved heart" (i.e. extreme recklessness), or the felony-murder rule.

Manslaughter is divided into two halves. Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person when the person meets a two pronged legal excuse: (1)they are provoked to an such an extreme that (2) a reasonable person would be likely to lose control. The classic example of this is that a man discovering his wife having sex with another man, and killing the man. Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of an individual due to criminal negligence (or recklessness).

So, in this case, it's not exactly relevant whether or not the citizen meant to kill his wife, as it's clear that by virtue of whatever he did, he acted with either the intent to inflict serious bodily injury or with flagrant disregard for human life. What is important is the circumstances surrounding the fight. From the circumstances, this seems to have been protracted engagement of physical violence, with the citizen having a history of being abusive. Given the evidence, it is likely that he himself started this encounter. Words alone are not provocation. Previous cases that I'm aware of have held that hair-pulling, hitting, and other irritating acts of physical violence have not been held to be adequate provocation to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter (specifically in a female on male context, however).

Consequently, it is likely that the man in question could be convicted of murder.

Talking about the story proper now.

I generally enjoyed the construction of "sentences" and the vocabulary employed, but couldn't help feeling that the theme itself that the story is trying to get across is at best sort of nebulous and at worst masquerading as something more significant and insightful than it really is. I believe that the endless sentence is supposed to be a metaphor for the relentless pursuit of this thing the author terms the law or the inability of the citizen to cease moving, but the overall commentary I'm suppose to draw is not as clear.

The first issue I suppose stems from what type of law are we talking about. This is mainly a problem of establishing setting more than anything else. The initial description of the citizen and the simplicity with how the citizen escapes calls back to the simplicity of an agrarian society, but time progresses and it quickly kicks into gear to the future of autonomous robots, giving a sense of timelessness to the story. My read of this is that the citizen and overall events that take place over the course of the story are meant to be allegorical or metaphors, but I'm not exactly sure for what. The Men With Armbands and Dogs are definitely supposed to be evocative the Nazis, and the situation seems to be sort of analogous to a criticism of the unfeeling, systemic approach to law and law enforcement in sort of an homage to Kafka's The Trial. The "unchanging" nature of the law has always struck me as odd, as the law, aside from a set of bedrock rules and understandings (which are not so much part of law themselves, but just the greater social order written down), tends to fluctuate a lot. Sometimes in arbitrary ways. The other potential read is that this is somehow a commentary on religion, with themes of forgiveness, religiosity and other stuff scattered throughout the story.

So I didn't get it.
#59 · 1
· on Bob's Burgeria
The atmosphere here is fine, but I feel like you're missing the character piece. We never really find out who Hopkins is as a person, so aside from the generic concern we'd have for anyone in his situation, we're not given a reason to be invested in him specifically.

I also don't get the sense that this story knows what it wants to be. The absurdity of a burger joint taking over everything, the equal absurdity of the final line, and the way we get that click! near the beginning create a comic tone, but everything else is so serious that it seems more like a cautionary tale. They're fighting each other in my head. Plus it's hard to personalize all that back story when it's delivered as a narrative summary instead of something happening "now" to the character. I think you can get away with this kind of thing, but if you modify how you approach it. Make it his own experience: not that Bob's Burgeria was taking over countries, but how that went down locally for Hopkins. I wouldn't dwell so long on the contents of the shelter, either. Most of it didn't end up being important. I know you're trying to imply what the world's like from what's stashed there, but it's all just the standard stuff I'd expect. When your word count is severely limited, keep it to what's unexpected or necessary for the plot to work.

You did a good job of building real tension, it's just that I wasn't invested in who was subjected to it. I'm sorry I don't have a lot to say about this, but its problems, at least to me, aren't on the detail level. It's more about the broad strokes of what it's trying to accomplish.
#60 ·
· on Cicadas All the Way Down · >>Baal Bunny >>Anon Y Mous
I think it was a mistake to start the story in past tense and stay there a while before you switch over to the prevailing present. I know it's essentially a flashback that needs to be in past, but establish that your overall tense will be present before you go there.

Hm, then I was wondering why you bothered being in present at all. It's not until the end that it becomes important, and I think it'd help if you anchored it early on. You start with a flashback, nothing important happens in the present, you go to another flashback, and I start to ask myself what the present tense is doing. It's a short enough story that I'll read to the end anyway, but it did bother me, and in a longer work, it might have gotten really annoying.

This is nice as a scene, and there are certainly proponents of minifics as scenes. Personally, I'd rather have something to draw a conclusion from, and I can't suss out a point the story's making. There's a really interesting concept here, but it doesn't really go anywhere with it. Some people might not mind, and if a scene is all you're going for, you did what you were trying to.
#61 ·
· on The More Things Change · >>Baal Bunny
I don't...

I mean, I enjoyed the twist for what it was. But I don't understand what it means. There's a difference between a story that exists just to have the twist in it and a story that happens to have one.

A good twist is the kind where it changes the context of what you'd already read, but once you go back, you can see how it adds to or even changes the meaning of what you'd already been through. Here, it doesn't. So Lucy's some kind of werewolf (a rather large one, I guess, if she can eat an entire cow--wow, how much must that cost?), but that doesn't change my understanding of what happened before the reveal. It's just an "oh, okay" moment, not an "oh, now I get it" kind. I guess there might be a sort of "don't make assumptions" thing going on, but then every twist would do that, wouldn't it? Now I'm wondering what Jim is. A normal human? There's a lot of world-building implied here that's of a curious type. Like why you essentially need to show an ID to get that meal. Or why Lucy would prefer Jim doesn't drink.

Actually, I'll tackle those, because they're different. As to Jim's drinking, he says himself he doesn't like bourbon, though it's unclear whether Lucy wishes he wouldn't because she doesn't want him using it to medicate over Bronycon going away or whether he has a general drinking problem. That one might be worth clearing up.

But as to why Lucy needs to show ID? It wouldn't kill the story to explain it, but it has to be done carefully, and honestly, I don't think it needs to be explained. First, the narrator would have to have a motivation to explain it. But also, it's just normal to them. The fact that it passes by as such a mundane thing will itself tell you something about this world, and that's a cool effect.

Also, Sailor Moon is a guilty pleasure, but season 5 never aired here. :( I need to see if I can find somewhere to watch a subbed version.
#62 ·
· on The Whole of the Law
I don't understand what point this is making. A man kills his wife, tries to run away, and gets caught. Okay. That describes the bare-bones plot of a great many things, so what meaning am I supposed to derive from this? We're not given any reason to give particular credence to either side, to care about any of the characters, to want to know how all this turned out, how it happened in the first place.

To be blunt, I think this exists as nothing more than to write a long single sentence for the sake of doing so, and it's not even one that's reasonably constructed as such; you don't throw semicolons at will in place of periods and expect that they're equivalent. Most of these thoughts aren't sufficiently connected to warrant one, so it's not even something impressive from a structural standpoint if I can ignore the story. "Yep, that's a long sentence" isn't going to push it up my ballot unless it's built in a way that the construction enhances it instead of being a gimmick that exists for its own sake.
#63 ·
· on The Seventeenth City of Hell
Another one where I don't know what the point was. The touches of humor were nice. But why should I care about Kathy (can I call you 'Kathy'?)? I haven't been given any reason to treat her as sympathetic. It's entirely possible she's not an evil person--there are other reasons to go to hell, after all--but she doesn't seem like she's bothered by her lot in afterlife either.

You plainly state that going into this line of work was a mistake, but then you don't say why, really. The walk up all those stairs is tough, but she doesn't really react until she's told she may have to wait for days or more, yet I don't know why that's a problem. What consequences are there going to be for her having to wait that long?

It's an interesting world setup, but then none of the details go anywhere, and I'm asked to be sympathetic with a character I know nothing about or what she's in for.

So... it's a cool idea. I'll give you that. What can you do to make a story out of it, or at least a snappy scene? As it is, I feel like I've read a feghoot where I don't recognize the pun at the end. I liked the journey, but I don't know where I am.
#64 ·
· on How John Became the Ruler of Hell
This is, I believe, based on a rather old physics joke. It's not a bad take on the idea, but I'm never given much rooting interest in John beyond "hell is bad and of course nobody would want to be there." Incidentally, Saint Peter is traditionally the one who stands at the gates and informs you where you're going.

I'm going out on a limb and saying this is a non-native speaker. If not, I'm sorry for the assumption, but it's based on how most of the construction is fine, but there's a perplexing number of inconsistent editing errors. Like you get a lot of the more complex stuff right, but you're making some errors on the simple things.

I'm not sure where you're going with this, though. Why does John want to rule hell? What is he going to do with it? He's the one who established the stakes, so what is it he hoped to achieve? I'd think he'd want a pass up to purgatory, at least, if not better (assuming Satan can do that). Or at least another chance at life and a career change. I'd like to see an actual character arc here, not just the joke.
#65 · 1
· on Cicadas All the Way Down · >>Anon Y Mous
Alternate Title: It's About Death, Stupid!

Something I liked:

I feel like out of all the entries this round, this one makes its setting seem the most palpable. It's one thing to tell the reader your story is set in the countryside, it's another thing to make the reader feel like they're really there. Everything feels rustic, rural, kind of dirty; the passage with the kid sister encapsulates this pretty well, on top of being a moment of comic relief. The idea that cicadas are connected with death is somewhat fantastical, but also captures the paradoxical feeling of quietness and loudness as someone reaches the end of their life, the quietness of the countryside contrasted with the loudness of the cicadas.

Something I didn't like:

Unfortunately, as much as this entry goes for an emotional angle, it never quite registered with me in that way. The protagonist and his father feel abstract enough that I don't form a connection with either of them, even though there is a clear sense of melancholy peppered throughout the narrative. This seems more like a flaw born out of ambition than carelessness, since mini-fics don't have the time needed for deep connections with characters, and the author might've bit off more than they could chew.

Verdict: Certainly one of the strongest entries for me, even if it didn't hit all the right notes.
#66 ·
· on Lifestyle Gadgets
Alternate Title: Her? More Like Hurrrrrrrr!

Something I liked:

This is cute. Like legitimately. Romance is really hard to justify in a mini-fic, since we get only a few hundred words to know these people, but almost immediately I came to understand Brad's situation and why he's now living this particular lifestyle. Besides, wanting to fuck robots is a sentiment I'm sure we can all relate to.

Something I didn't like:

As cute as it is, though, I do wish there was more conflict. Brad talks about his troubles with his ex-wife and trying to outclass a robot nanny, but since we don't see this ourselves it loses impact, not helped by the fact that it barely comes up again after the introductory paragraphs. There also seems to be a hint of conflict between Brad and Rose, but again, its impact is minimal, reduced to a few lines that are easy to miss.

Verdict: Sweet, but at the same time I don't have much to think about with this entry.
#67 ·
· on The Whole of the Law
Alternate Title: That's a Big Boy!

Something I liked:

You know, it's not every day you read a story that seems to actively hate you. This entry is a sado-masochistic exercise in hurting the reader, telling the story of a hopeless fugitive in a single long sentence. Of course, you could have replaced some of those semi-colons with periods, but that would've made things easier for the reader, and clearly this entry had no intention of doing such a thing. By the end of the story the guy is exhausted, and so is the reader, and that's kind of nutty.

Something I didn't like:

Due to how abstract everything is, not to mention the construction, it's hard to tell what was a fault and what was put there deliberately, but a clear misfire came when the author tried to make a distinction between murder and manslaughter. Now, author, not only did you fuck that up, but you disrupted the timelessness of the narrative by trying to implement something rather specific to the real world. The flow of the story was pretty nice up to that point, but then you took one step too far.

Verdict: I have a good idea as to why it was constructed in this way, but I'm still unsure about the story itself.
#68 ·
· on The More Things Change · >>Baal Bunny
Alternate Title: All Bronies Are Furries Under a Different Name

Something I liked:

The first half of this entry, topical as it is (Christ, we are mostly horse-fuckers, aren't we?), is pretty endearing, almost in spite of the fact that I would normally loathe blatantly meta stuff like this. It works, mainly because I buy into the relationship between Jim and Lucy; I feel like they could be my friends. There's something emotionally true in what they're saying, about things coming to an end, the recollection of something that used to be but only currently exists in one's own subjective reality. And some other bullshit, but that doesn't matter, and here's why...

Something I didn't like:

This entry is split into two distinct halves, and unfortunately they don't mesh that well. Let's think about this for a second: Where the fuck did Lucy being a furry werewolf come from? There is a bit of foreshadowing leading up to this reveal, but the real question is: Why? What does this twist have to do with the first half of the story? What does it signify? I doubt it means nothing; I tend to assume writers add plot details like this on purpose. Now, author, it'll be your job to put that good faith to the test. I genuinely want to know what you mean by this twist.

Verdict: I still like this entry a fair bit, but it did get worse on a second reading, sadly.
#69 ·
· on Upgrade
This is a very expressive pencil sketch. I love the robot’s simultaneously cheerful and “screw you, buddy” smile. For better effect, the onlooking human and the robot’s balloon cart should not be overlapping; the elements in simple cartoon compositions should ideally have their own separate forms. I’ve ranked this as mid tier; thanks for creating it, Artist!
#70 · 1
· on The Previous One Wasn't That Good Either · >>Zaid Val'Roa
This is rather dark, but once the contrast is up it’s quite expressive. I like how the solarization in the main face gives it the look of wearing a mask. I’ve ranked this as upper tier; thanks for creating it, Artist!
#71 ·
· on Better than what we have now
“Spacecraft I41 welcomed by new alien underlings.”
This looks like a stock cityscape shot, Google says it’s Singapore. The alien doodle is detailed enough to fit the photo, at least at first glance. I’ve ranked this as lower-mid tier; thanks for creating it, Artist!
#72 ·
· on How Unfortunate
I love how you packed elegant expressiveness into a drawing of a simple scroll. This pic gets a lot of things done with deceptively simple-looking curves. I’ve ranked this as upper tier; thanks for creating it, Artist!
#73 ·
· on Abstain
Glad someone took my suggestion! I’ve ranked this as mid tier; thanks for creating it, Artist!
#74 ·
· on Pedagogy · >>Cassius
This was fun. I especially liked the way you handled contradictions. One was blatant (Thyme considering the orc racist) and one very subtle (a 'drink more coffee' mug that he doesn't use to drink from).

I can't fault much here, but there are two things I'd suggest. One, at the beginning, it's very expository. That's not unusual when you have to introduce the reader to your world, but there are often better ways of doing it. I think if you lumped all that description of what Thyme's job normally consists of into an actual customer transaction, it'll feel more topical and natural. You're using a limited narration, so the narration itself should be what Thyme is thinking about at the moment and where his attention is. It's not likely he'd have his mind on a kind of overview of his career to date. He might reasonably have his mind on a transaction he'd just facilitated that went typically poorly. That kind of specific interaction that's illustrative of the whole usually does a better job of establishing that exposition in a way that's consistent with the perspective and entertaining to the reader without resorting to an exposition dump.

And two, why does he pick on Parsley at the end? I have to assume he chose Parsley because of a personal grudge of some sort instead of it being totally random. Or maybe Parsley's the only other one in the office. Something to tell me why he chose Parsley would help add some meaning to the end and keep from making it feel like it's just plot convenience.

>>No_Raisin was confused about whether this was omniscient or limited viewpoint, and you may have to consider which one you wanted to use, but it definitely felt limited to me. I mean, lines like this wouldn't exist in omniscient:
Couldn’t be too careful with those types.

I only saw one editing error: some missing closing quotation marks. And one place you probably should have added a comma.
#75 ·
· on Lifestyle Gadgets
I liked this, but it was kind of weird for me. The point being made was a pretty obvious one, and the fact that Rosie is also a robot was telegraphed early on (plus I was prepared for that to be the case even before you hinted at it). It felt like the last half of the story wasn't really adding anything.

I do appreciate that Brad early on referred to the robot nanny as being clearly less important than a human, and of course he's saying all this to a robot too. Did you do that on purpose? Because it asks an interesting question, then goes nowhere with it. Rosie's demonstrated she can be thoughtful and introspective when she considers Brad's question of whether a robot could hurt a human, so I wonder what she thinks about that. The fact she doesn't react at all may be an answer in itself, but it's a pretty unsatisfying one.

I do like your characters, though, and it's no small feat to get a reader to care about them in such a short story.
#76 ·
· on It's a Living · >>TerrusStokkr
This has a really weird tone. Like it's all serious up front, then we find out it's all supposed to be silly, except there are still some pretty serious implications at the end. I just don't know how I'm supposed to feel.

I don't even understand the economics of it. Jim must attach some value to having this robot work for him, versus just having a coin-operated machine or some such. Yet he's perfectly fine with losing this asset and doesn't even care if the kid destroys it. It's even disturbing that the kid would outright murder something that was known to have a degree of sentience. Maybe you're making a point with that? I'm not sure.

But I don't even understand how we get to that point. Are these robots from somewhere else? Or are they ones that humans built? I can only make sense of them being aliens from a place without water, because otherwise, it doesn't jive with how humans would have built them or they would have built themselves. Nobody who built them with the intent of operating them on Earth would have left them with such an immediate and devastating vulnerability to something they'd constantly encounter. The "slaves we once were" sure makes it sound like humans built them. For that matter, Jim touches the robot. That's going to get a tiny amount of sweat on it. Won't that also damage it?

It's a nice idea, but I think it needs some more thought behind how all this works. I can accept more suspension of disbelief in a comedy, but there's a limit.
#77 · 1
· on Club · >>TerrusStokkr
I've never seen Fight Club, so if I'm supposed to get specific context from it, then I won't, but I can mostly keep up with what's going on here.

The idea's not bad, but there are a few parts of the execution that bug me. First, I never get a sense of what this guy is like. I can't root for (or against) him if I don't know him. Second, some of the dialogue sounds almost too fancy, like they wrote prepared speeches ahead of time instead of this being spontaneous dialogue. And third, nothing really happens. We get that these two are in conflict early on, and then the rest of the story just continues that without it evolving or leading anywhere. They kind of come to a decision to let each other be, but there's not a lot of gravity to it since I don't know what the stakes are. Plus, as others have said, I don't know what the church and pastor have to do with anything. In a story this short, a reader's likely to assume every detail is important.

You've got a good concept. It just needs a little more development.
#78 ·
· on The Seventeenth City of Hell
So I take it that part of the punishment is just long, agonizing waiting for the game of mini-golf to end? Eternal suffering is pretty bad, after all, so draining three-day waits would probably be her wake-up call that, calm as Hell might be to her, Hell is still doing its job of being a horrible place. And its an interesting twist that, at least in this case, it's the people in there that make it all the more terrible for her.

The only problem I see here is that that conclusion may fly over more than a few heads. Perhaps an added mention of how Hell is eternal or their souls there are immortal or something like that in the first half might've made the joke more accessible.

Other than that, this is a pretty solid comedy! The nonchalant tone is quite consistent and that sells the story for me in a lot of ways: how Hell doesn't look that bad at first, how the people are just living their day-to-day life as is, and how the horrors of Hell isn't in the big fire and brimstone but in the little annoyances multiplied by a million.

Overall, again, pretty solid comedy you got there! Woohoo for you!
#79 ·
· on Pedagogy
... OK, now I know more about the difference between eviction and condemnation. The more you know!

That aside: you've pretty much done a good job here. Not perfect, sure: the orc's speech before and after she introduces herself changes way too fast from informal to formal even in a light-hearted slice-of-life like this, and the confusion over P.O.V. and lack of any more cues or descriptions when she barges into Parsley's room made the ending sag quite a bit. However, you've done everything else in top-notch fashion with succinct exposition/backstory that's relevant to the character, snarky mental snides from the human, to name two.

Overall, this is a great slice-of-life about not really making it but still being OK with it. Fun stuff!
#80 · 1
· on Cicadas All the Way Down · >>Anon Y Mous
One glaring thing about this is that the first sentence, about cicadas being immortal, isn't brought up that much in the end. While this is a first-person story and there is the implied meaning that cicadas technically live forever by feeding off the years of dead people, there's no satisfying ending (or at least follow-up) in regards to cicadas being immortal. Maybe something like perhaps seeing no dead cicadas on the ground in the last few paragraphs or something like that would help bring some closure to that.

And while much of this story's charm is in how mysterious and ambiguous some of it is, I feel that there's still not enough literary nudges given for what kind of young life the protagonist was looking forward to. Sure, we know it's to turn back into a baby, but then it doesn't really say it's reincarnation—and then that has implications for the whole world if the cicada thing is true, that, perhaps, everyone else reincarnates like that. But maybe I'm just looking too much into that.

Other than that, you've done a really good mood piece over here, with one's acceptance of death in the form of cicadas welcoming him and taking his years, topped with the promise of youth once more. The first sentence, despite the lack of follow-up later on, is a great hook, and the memories were mentioned just enough to be, well, memory-like—not too long, not too short, and certainly giving the present-day ending enough words to fulfill itself.

Overall, this is a well-done somber piece about cicadas, death acceptance, and possible reincarnation all rolled into one! Nicely done.
#81 · 1
· on Lifestyle Gadgets
The moment this happened...

Rosie’s face disappeared, giggling. Brad loved that sound. It was perfectly charged and almost weightless, like electricity. “I’m obligated to keep you alive,” he heard her say. “C’mon. Let’s eat.”

... I kinda' knew Rosie was actually a robot or at least an android. Fits the title of the piece horrifyingly well: that, ultimately, she's just a lifestyle gadget, made to make Brad's life easier. Or brainwashed/augmented to make Brad's life easier? Not sure.

Anyway, aside from that... I don't have much else to say about the story. It's great, but not super great. The descriptions and worldbuilding is on-point, but not much else. I could say that Brad was well-done and Rosie was too because of the succinct amount of inner looks to their mentalities and so on, but the ending or theme that it all reovlves around was something I saw from a mile away, so perhaps the impact was a bit dulled for me.

Overall, despite being foreshadowed a tad too much, this was a brilliant and dystopian take on having human robots and androids just treated as lifestyle gadgets in society. Quite insightful and impactful!
#82 · 1
· on Letting On and Letting Go
Alternate Title: Three's a Crowd

Something I liked:

The attention to formatting. This is one of the more creatively written entries, in how it shows the three personas on different sides of the page (this is less apparent if you're reading this on your phone, which was my mistake the first go-around), and how they're sort of opposing each other but also have to share the same head space. I like how within 600 words we have a clear idea as to what role each persona plays, how the male seems to be the devil and the female seems to be the angel, and by the end they're all reconciled with each other.

Something I didn't like:

With that said, there is such a thing as being too vague. I have no idea as to the context behind these personas being meshed together; I don't know if it's one person with split personality disorder, or if three people are sharing a body, or what. This also means that, aside from the main persona not wanting to be submissive toward the male persona, I'm not sure as to what the stakes are here. How are we to know if anyone's in danger? Stuff like that.

Verdict: A borderline avant-garde piece that is also, dare I say it, underrated.
#83 · 2
· on Club
I was on the fence about this story for a while. Took me a couple more reads than usual to really gather my thoughts together on this, which usually ends up with me being a little bit frustrated to figure out what clicks and what doesn't. Can't say it didn't cloud my judgment, but ultimately, I think the issues I have with this story ultimately overruled any and all good I could find in it.

Straight off the first sentence, the concept of the story is nailed down. I'm actually pretty impressed that you could deliver the premise via that singular sentence, dear Author, even if it does require some prior knowledge of Fight Club to really translate. The semi-meta arguments and tallies of our two Steves here were nice, serving as a good introduction and giving the whole dual-personality concept a unique perspective.

The problem, however, is that past the ninth paragraph, there's nothing else the story had left to offer me.

Ignoring all the problems with punctuation, the dialogue between these two has been one of the most frustrating I've read in a while. There are all these conversations happening, yet I'm at a loss as to why they're taking place. We're given all these vague recollections and all these tallies as a result of them, yet we're never provided with a concrete-enough reason as to why they're doing this in the first place. And even if there was a reason that I somehow missed in the ten to fifteen times I've read this, what's the point of all these tos-and-fros when it ultimately doesn't contribute much to the greater conflict? What's the point of setting up a conflict this clear-cut, of all these tallies and reasons for doing so, only to deliver a resolution that actively undercuts the conflict in question via compromise?

Forgive me if I sound frustrated here, but as nice of a concept you might have on your hands, there needs to be more than just the concept itself being served on a plate. Personally, I don't think there's enough meat around the bone, or really any meat at all, for me to truly care about what this story set out to do. To put it really bluntly, the story as a whole lacked focus and conviction, the dialogue is ponderous to the point of masturbatory, and with how the ending was handled, the whole narrative of the story that had been built up was immediately thrown under the bus. I'm sure the other reviewers have some positives to say about this story—from the looks of it, it seems like they do—but I can't say this story really did anything for me.

Nevertheless, thanks for writing, and good luck!
#84 ·
· on Cicadas All the Way Down · >>Anon Y Mous
I think I'll hafta:

Abstain on this one since I can't for the life of me see how it has anything to do with the picture it claims to be based on. As a story, it's not bad though I agree with >>Pascoite about the weirdness of the verb tenses. But this being a "pic2fic" event, well, the fic's gotta have some connection to the pics...

#85 · 1
· on The Previous One Wasn't That Good Either · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Just like Zaid said, most of these hovering faces weren’t visible when viewed on a phone, but I can’t really knock it for that.

This is definitely in my personal running for the top drawing this round, mainly because of how well-made it is overall. The silhouetted face surrounded by the phantoms of other faces is a poignant composition that’s also really clean. The subtle facial curves help to clearly create each of the emotions at play. This collage of emotions gives a frenetic tone to the whole thing. I feel like each of these emotions are fighting for control of the central character in this piece.

...but, when I stare at it more, these characters all seem to be variations of the same thing. I see frustration, despair, anger. Then the character at the base has a subdued, almost smug expression, even though it has all the other emotions attached to it. I don’t know how you intended this to read, but I find much of this condition to be very relatable, personally.

One last thing; I can’t be the only one who thinks the face above the left forehead looks like Voldemort.
#86 ·
· on How Unfortunate
This gave me a really funny mental image right away. Imagine a landlord so lackadaisical that they don’t bother to ensure you’ve properly received your eviction notice. Imagine the tenant’s warning simply burned up without them knowing, and they returned home only to find a pile of smoldering ashes. The flavor text from Supreme Verdict came to mind.

I think this drawing could use more clarity from the outlines and shading. Especially where the scroll curls, I can’t really tell where the edge of the curl is. Maybe some brighter glowing cinders around the flames, as well as the smoldering bits, would help out this drawing.

This hits the prompt very well, though. Text is readable, and also hints at a curve to the scroll (which could have been gently shaded itself). Great job in leaving a lot of interesting information open to interpretation by the viewer, like the arrow, and the notice being actively burned.
#87 ·
· on Hostile Takeover · >>GroaningGreyAgony
We have a few rougher sketches this round, but I personally feel this one pulls ahead of the competition. The color, the detail, and the composition are all coherent, and convey your subject quite well. The color blue does a really bizarre thing to the image, being such a disparate color to the rest of the sketch. It neutralizes the aggressive red/brown of Hell, practically subdues it. I get the same feeling I got from the Pixies overtaking Fairy World in The Fairly Odd Parents from this drawing.

It lacks a bit of depth in the shading of the teeth below the throne itself, and I can’t really tell if the stalagmites are meant to be flames (but that might have been intentional. If it was, I don’t know why).

Works really well with the prompt, and has clean, clear imagery. Nice work, and good luck!
#88 ·
· on Upgrade
A very nice sketch here that has a lot of ambiguity in the story it’s telling, just as Pascoite mentioned. You can do a lot with the individual characters depicted, which I think is the greatest strength of this piece.

Overall, I think your linework conveyed what it meant to convey, but it could certainly be cleaner. Raisin and GGA already brought up this point. You’ve got to be careful that your cartoony-ness doesn’t start conveying messages they weren’t meant to convey (such as the balloons sprouting from the old man’s head. Does that mean anything? It’s catches my attention, making me think you did mean something by it, but I can’t be sure).

I also notice some rough shadows drawn underneath the robot and kid are blending into their feet. Kind of nitpicking there. You could probably get a nicer effect if you included some hatched shading on more of the elements in this drawing (the old man, the balloons, the cart, etc.)

Based on the broad, intriguing subject, I’m not too surprised it got a decent number of fics. I wish you the best of luck, artist!
#89 ·
· on Abstain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I may have submitted this without remembering. Either way, it earned a story, which is great! Was I being philosophically deep when I potentially submitted this? Or blind drunk? God, this goes much deeper than I expected.
#90 ·
· on Better than what we have now

We got a lovely skyline, we got a goofy green alien cameo, we got creative mumbo-jumbo, let’s toss these into a blender and see what we get!
Sadly, no fics came out of this, but not for lack of potential, artist. However, I’m here to comment about the quality of art stuff, so we’ll ignore the lack of fics.

The background is a gorgeous picture. I don’t know whether or not you took it. For now, I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt and say: “That’s a damn good picture!” (If you didn’t take the picture, you still have a good eye for photography).

Now we have the UFO above the skyline, which kind of clashes with the aesthetic of the background. Not entirely sure where this UFO is meant to be relative to the buildings. It might have helped to make a blurry reflection in the water, or else given the UFO some degree of ambient occlusion so that it looked further away in the background/atmosphere.

Ultimately, I think this was a good idea to bring to the prompt, but could have used some more polish to get by on its own artistic merit. Either more cartoony or more realistic, whichever you prefer. Best of luck!
#91 ·
You and I will have to share one sometime. I only wish I remembered what it entailed.
#92 ·
· on The Whole of the Law
At least now I know what 750 words look like when you clump them in one big pile, he-he!

Now I can't speak for everyone, but I'll put my two cents on the one-paragraph gimmick: it's a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, I could only comfortably read it by saying the story out loud, otherwise I would easily get lost, and I don't think I'm the only who's had difficulties reading this smoothly. The only big break the reader has is with that parenthesis with the new sentence in the middle (the "Why, he didn't mean to kill her!" part); other than that, the semi-colons are more like speed bumps than real true breaks. So having the one-paragraph thing will mean giving your readers a hard time getting through the story, at least the first time through.

On the other hand, I think I can see why you chose this route: stream-of-consciousness. You've depicted the half-organized stream of human thoughts pretty well, and surprisingly so since this is not a first-person but a third-person story (though I'd still say that a first-person perspective would've improved this a lot, since having it third-person would make it sound like a narrator trying to rush through the story because he wants to use the bathroom right away). It's also heightened by the implication that this citizen is either immortal or was probably living at the edge of the twentieth century in some rare rural part of Europe when he committed the crime. Either way, there's clearly something off underneath it all, and you depicted that in a good way.

Your theme about law being a faceless thing shows quite well and turns the title you've chosen from something innocuous or standard-ish into something ominous.

One last thing: you've seen the Upgrade picture in an unusual way. Kudos to you for that!

Overall, this is a gimmick done not excellently but done more than just right. Good job!
#93 ·
· on The More Things Change · >>Baal Bunny
The werewolf transformation came out of nowhere, and at first, perhaps it would've been a good twist. But then, the twist doesn't seem have to a strong connection to the rest of the story. Judging from most of the story to this point, the theme would be around the struggle of accepting change, what with mentions of closed-up shops and fandoms whose shows are either done or about to be done. Maybe you mean that, since Jim loves a werewolf who (I think) changes often (not to mention this probably being why he says, "Wuffums? Some changes are my favorite things in the whole wide world."), then his struggling to accept the changing restaurant and My Little Pony ending wouldn't seem to mesh well with his acceptance of a woman who changes a lot day and night.

However, that meaning didn't come out to me in the first reading, and that's going to be problematic if the theme/message you want to convey throughout the whole story (and not just one part of it) doesn't strike out to the reader. At this point, it would've been better if it ended right after the Wuffums line because at least the story would be thematically consistent.

For what it's worth, your technical writing and your prose are on excellent display here. I got to imagine it quite clearly in my head. Characterization is great, at least if we're going from Jim's standpoint: he's quite fleshed out and Lucy, well, not that much but I guess we're going with limited third-person from Jim's vantage point.

Overall, technical excellence is going to shoot this up to the middle of the pack, but it's sadly not going to break the top slate. Still, this is a good story with a timely message!
#94 ·
· on Letting On and Letting Go
For one, it's quite abstract. While describing things like the setting and what not is at least somewhat risky in a minific, you described too little for that. The only thing I'm imagining here in terms of setting is a generic grayscale city. Then again, maybe that's the point or perhaps a ploy to buy yourself more dialogue words to use.

Another downer here is Lefty (which is an endearing nickname for the left-aligned voice, in contrast to Middy and Righty). Middy and Righty are characterized well from beginning to end: Middy is somewhat paranoid and spiteful, but then they end up satisfied by not controlling so much and taking peace in that; Righty is the optimistic fun one who manages to get more control and is looking forward to all the fun stuff she has planned.

But Lefty? His last line threw me off. Throughout most of the story, he's depicted as the guy who wants control but also has some kind of problem (I'm assuming it's self-control, judging by Righty's words). Righty even says that she'll watch out for him, so it's prbobaly going to be a lengthy process of Lefty improving as a character. However, the last line makes it so that it's as if everything's just fine with him and he's fully self-controlled now, which seems like a great leap of logic. However, it can be amended easily if the line went something like, "I'll be better in controlling myself" or something like that.

Other than that, it's clear the driver of this story is the dialogue, and you've hit it out of the ballpark with it! I can easily tell who's who not just because of alignment but also because of how distinctly different the voices are, especially since you're dealing with three of them all taking at the same time. The pause at the middle with the manhole also makes for a nice break between the dialogue, giving readers some breathing room before continuing on.

Overall, while it does have some edges to rub off, this is a fine and dandy story about split-personalities (literal or metaphorical)! Nicely done!
#95 ·
· on It's a Living
I will agree will >>Pascoite about the tone shift, it is pretty jarring. However, I thought that the narrator was human at first, so if that is what you had planned to happen, well it worked. I think this has a lot of potential, but just needs to be refined a bit. Still, it was a good read and I hope to see more stories like this in the future.
#96 · 1
· on Club
First rule about Fight Club, you don't talk about Fight Club.

Now with the basics out of the way, here are my thoughts.

I thought it was pretty good, but as >>Pascoite said, the dialogue seemed too planned. I mean, if Stephen knew about Steve beforehand (before the story started) it would be fine, but he didn't so the prepared dialogue doesn't make sense here. I do like that Stephen was aware that Steve was his Alter Ego before Steve enacted any crazy plans. Steve finding out sooner changes how the story could play out, and I want to see it now.

This story needs some polish (as others have said), but I want to see where you will take this.

>>No_Raisin (Character Identities, or my opinion of them anyway)
Steve= The Alter Ego
Stephen= The Actual Main Character
#97 · 2
· on Hostile Takeover
>>Rocket Lawn Chair, >>Zaid Val'Roa, >>No_Raisin, >>Pascoite, >>Rocket Lawn Chair

Hostile Takeover

Congrats to Zaid and Nonny, and thanks for the bronze!

At BC in the Quills and Sofas room, one table had some colored pencils set out for general use. I considered the “Businessman takes over Hell” theme, thought about the resemblance of a skull’s cheekbones to the armrests on a chair, and the thing grew from there. I am not happy with his proportions and should have redrawn the piece, but considering the time constraints I let it slide.

The stalactites were added in Photoshop, using select areas of the skull and the cloning stamp. I then inverted, recolored and distorted them to make the flames at the bottom. “Anything that works!”

Thanks for all the great comments!
#98 · 2
· on Abstain
>>Zaid Val'Roa, >>No_Raisin, >>Pascoite, >>Rocket Lawn Chair


Thanks for the lovely comments, and also, thanks for ignoring that I completely telegraphed this one from before the start of the round.

I had the concept early on and was just waiting on finding a cocktail napkin. One night, right before the deadline, I was invited to a party, and I grabbed a few napkins from a bar at my hotel before heading over. >>Rocket Lawn Chair, while you didn’t make this one, you may have seen me creating part of it, as I slopped some amber liquor over the side of my glass before setting it on the napkin three times. As I left the party that night, a black marble side table in the hotel resembled a bartop enough for me to complete the picture right there. I then went back to my room, quickly edited out the hotel logo and slapped my own on, then went to sleep. I could have made it conform better to the shape of the napkin, but was too tired to do so; I was also making last minute edits to Hostile Takeover.

See you all next round!
#99 · 2
· on Bob's Burgeria
I'm gonna be completely honest here, I don't think this story does anything for me, though I can wholeheartedly say that it wasn't for lack of trying. I think there's definitely enough work put in to make it presentable on your part, dear Author, though ultimately I found the flaws in this entry outweighed the merits.

Going into it, the concept is crisp, clear, and presented well enough to not warrant any raised eyebrows from me. I will say though, perhaps it's playing a little too safe with it, with most of it being delivered via expositionary paragraphs that leaned a little heavier on the telling side instead of showing for my taste. Now, I'd usually be fine with this, as I usually prefer stories that know how to meet the boundaries it sets instead of overreaching them, but judging from the prose and structure alone, this feels like the work of someone punching underneath their weight. There are definitely more interesting ways this story could be framed. Perhaps with a little more time on your hands, dear Author, this would've been something special.

The big issue for me is definitely the tone, as most of my fellow reviewers have mentioned. The suspense of the whole situation is wholly undercut by the sheer absurdity of it all. I'm considering the possibility that you might be going for a contrast of sorts, but I believe it ultimately failed because the protagonist doesn't seem to be aware of the absurdity of the situation amid all the horror. Frankly though, I'm not sure if such a contrast would even work without the narrative shifting its gears a bit. The story's message could definitely work better if we removed the protagonist's degrees of separation from the robots. Maybe something like having Bob being the creator of these robots instead who was forced into serving his androids by feeding them grapes while they disembowel his secretary or whatever. You know, something that pushes both the horror and the absurdity to the extreme so that they both shine in tandem with one another.

The twist of Bob being the actual founder is nice, but in the grander scheme of things, it doesn't really do anything to build upon the story that's being told. In fact, the knowledge of that fact severely undermines the logic of the story. Many times I've wondered why Bob, being the founder of his business, couldn't just stop Robert from his relentless campaign to expanding Bob's Burgeria. I felt like it's such a tremendous failure on Bob's part as a businessperson that at some point, I have to say that he kinda deserved it.

Ultimately, I think this story is fine, though it's suffering from a massive identity crisis. As it is, I think the best advice I could give you is narrow down the focus a bit, zero in on a singular thread of the story and build your way up from there instead of giving us a general lattice of how things went down.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#100 ·
· on The Seventeenth City of Hell
This is another simple, straightforward comedy, not too dissimilar from 'It's a Living'. Like with that entry, it was a pleasant read, even if it didn't really do much for me in the end. Unlike that entry, however, there's one major issue that did stop me from enjoying this wholeheartedly with few complaints.

This entry here doesn't seem to be building up towards anything. With 'It's a Living', I can see a sense of progression that the story goes through, and that every witty line builds upon the last witty line. For 'The Seventeenth City', however, I felt like the progression of this scene is too nebulous for my taste. I think there's need to be a more concrete outline of what's actually happening for the jokes to really land instead of having them stand in a line and holding plaques saying 'look at how absurd this world is'.

Again, it's fine when it's around. Can't really say anything more about it, though really that's just me reviewing comedy in a nutshell.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!