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The Devil's in the Details · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 8
Time to embark on an extended journey over the sea of original writing.
Don't forget your buoys and tank suits! Celluloid ducks accepted!

We'll visit marvellous islands where words nest and quills soar.

Come and hear the fairy tales that the grammar mermaids sing!
Come and seek the hidden treasure chest filled with medals and goodies.
Good luck!
#2 · 4
Five days for writing?

Maybe I'll actually be able to submit a 2nd draft this time!

#3 · 5
I'm in.
#4 · 6
· · >>Flashgen >>Monokeras
If I can figure out a way to make horses sound vaguely like not-horses, I can make this work.

Search: anypony
Replace: anyhuman(?)

...yeah, I'll need all five days for this.
#5 ·
Maybe anyape?
#6 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
Wow! Trick is back! That’s a day to remember :)
#7 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
You just don't pay attention to pony rounds.

But yeah mostly
#8 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
Yeah that’s right, I don’t glance much on to pony rounds these days.
But I can’t wait to read your entry!
#9 ·
· · >>Monokeras
It's not a done deal yet, to be fair. Nonpony rounds don't inspire me much, so it's quite likely I'll skip. But, you never know.
#10 ·
And once again I'm a day late for prompt submissions and only barely in time to vote...

Let's see what promt wins, I have some vague ideas for a lot of these this time.
#11 ·
I'm sure that if everyone here decided to go down on their knees and beseech you to partake, you would cave in :p
#12 · 5
· · >>georg
Be Prepared On a Guided Tour of the Pit. Week After Week, It Stirs the Forest Darkness…

“Come Along With Me. It’s Not What It Looks Like.”

“You Wouldn’t Say That. It’s Exactly What It Looks Like.”

“Trigger Snappy? Fire, Once Upon a Burning Sky. The Missile Knows Where It Is. Ex Astris Scientia!”

“Were It So Easy. Contraindication…”

“Break It Down, Electrical Heart. The Devil’s in the Details.”

“More Precious than Silver and Gold… The Metaphor Turned Literal.”

“Omen? Crime of Passion?”

“Bitter Winds. Winter… isn’t coming.”

“Well, Stack my Pancakes.”
#13 · 4
Electrical Heart Fire - The story of a select group of physicians and their struggle with a flamable patient.

Crime of Passion Bitter Winds - Two electrical engineers carry out an illicit midnight rendezvous in a wind turbine space, unaware of the oncoming tornado that will turn their world upside-down. Literally.

On a Guided Tour of the Pit, Week After Week - A Disney Jungle Cruise Guide dies, and find his job in the afterlife is not really that different than before.

Be Prepared, Winter Isn't Coming - Global Warming comes to Siberia. It isn't all bad.
#14 · 1
I'm definitely going to try doing something for this. Might help with a few ideas for my thesis.
#15 · 2
I have just the story for this!
#16 · 1
I feel the inkling of an idea forming.
#17 ·
· · >>Miller Minus >>Cassius
Out of curiosity, the voting results show a 3-way tie at 10 votes. So did the system pick a winner at random?
#18 ·
· · >>Cassius
#19 · 3
>>Miller Minus

Miller picked the winner out of hat.
#20 · 4
Despite all his restless attempts, he was never able to get it right. The clocks of the world worked tirelessly against him. The hours came and went without even a greeting. Stuck in a forgotten cubicle in some long-lost corner of the universe, he was trapped in a changeless cage, equipped with only his grease-stained mouse, his dusty keyboard and a buzzing monitor— the only window he had left to the outside world.

Each new day brought a new scenery beyond the digital blinds; the temptation was barely out of his reach. He stared on in jealousy, and in what few moments interspersed amid the lackadaisical dullness of his life, he felt the urge to smash his keyboard against the monitor. Of course, like with most men, he never had the courage, all of it lost to trends masquerading as human nature.

Voyeurism aside, he also found time to look into himself. To vivisect his amorphous principles and precious philosophies as he went by his day-to-day. Sometimes, the depths of his operation warranted a stern warning from life's many managers, but he paid no heed to them. He only asked for a minute of selfishness every day, a minute to align his sullen world with the vivacity on his screen. Was that really too much to ask?

In time, those worlds collided, a slow-motion car crash, and change finally took place as the world outside began to merge with the world within him. The plaster of the cubicle crumbled away, only to swoop back and constrict him from the waist down. The mouse and keyboard sunk into him, the wires and keys intertwining with his tendons and bones. The monitor stood by his side and showed the world within him pulsating, reverberating, resonating, and when the time came where it would pulse no more, he could only confide in his doctor — a mere stranger — with his last words.

"Look at the first letter of each paragraph."
#21 · 2
A largely facetious:

Site improvement suggestion for Roger--a "down thumb" for prompt suggestions. 'Cause I'm currently on my third attempt at writing something for this one...

#22 · 4
· · >>Monokeras >>Anon Y Mous
In my restless dreams,

I see that place.


You promised you'd take me there again someday.

And you totally did. So... uh... great job honey?
#23 · 2
Ok done.
Well, I’m not really proud of it. But it’s in.
Also >>AndrewRogue : Welcome back, dearie!
#24 · 1
Great job on that rhyming there.

If only there were a place or perhaps, a group where you could put your poetry.
#25 · 2
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
I’m sat in the lush grass while the others have drifted away looking for those smashing butterflies.


So, I’m going to start this off by saying that I am not a fan of the prose here. Its not clunky for me in its presentation, but in its poshness. The wording weighs it down in some parts, but not all, I have to admit. In the parts where it describes the tower/castle it flourishes, but when the speaker is speaking, he sounds like the queen of England. Yes, I know you’re in northern England, but I think it could flow better with different wording. I don’t know if everyone else thinks this too, its just my observation.

Next, to me there’s a glaring hole in the plot. It would have made sense if he was being trialed for the death of them when he didn’t have four alive witnesses, but he does, and I would think that they would testify in for him that he didn’t do it, so he shouldn’t be that worried. Also, wouldn’t it be the people who take care of the tower’s fault? It shouldn’t be able to collapse entirely just by one tailor accidentally losing his grip.

I do appreciate that Spencer keeps coming back to the tailor, even when he keeps raising his prices to mock him. I mean, I don’t like him, but it adds a certain maliciousness. Also, I don’t understand why spencer is just that bad of a person and stupid that he would testify against the main character and could easily be caught in his lie by the other three. I probably just don’t get it, and that’s my fault.
#26 · 4
· on The Yadean Game · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This just has a lot of interesting stuff in it. I actually kind of appreciated the cold start into an info-dump; it did a great job of establishing the setting and the main character's tone. And of course, basically all of the Yadean bits were fascinating and creative stuff. You really do a great job of creating a sense of alien-ness without alienating the reader from ZZijka.

I think my only significant-ish complaint is that the transition from the first scene to the second is a bit rough. We completely lose the distinct voicing from the first scene, and its difficult to orient ourselves again. I know that this is partly by design, but on my first read I spent as much time on the first few hundred words of the second scene as I did with the rest of the story put together. I honestly thought that we were dealing with entirely new characters, and it was a bit frustrating to my sense of investment.

Personally, I would have liked some kind of clue or hint that we haven't actually completely changed our perspective character. Maybe a recurring phrase or word can carry over to the second scene, just so we get the sense of some kind of continuity. I realize that the break in perspective is kinda crucial to this story, but at the same time I just kinda wish the landing was a little softer.

Don't get me wrong; in the end I really, really liked this piece. It's got cool ideas, and it maintained my interest throughout. Thank you for submitting!
#27 · 1
· on Marriage Can Be Hell
You know your audience well. You know we like cute fantasy settings. You know we like cute fantasy lesbians. You're playing me like a fiddle, and I'm enjoying every bit of it.

This piece is a lotta fun. To my untrained eye, the legalese was very entertaining to read without being distractingly difficult to parse. In fact, I kind of wanted to see a bit more of Cerodwin's citations and monologues every time her dialogue trailed off. Which, of course, is a perfect sign that you're giving us just enough of it. And of course, I had a great time with the cute little touches like "two heads to one" and "City of Lost Angels" that were sprinkled throughout.

If I had to lodge a complaint, I think the conflict resolution might have felt a little weak to me. If all it took to win the case was a demonstration of Furfur's continued evilness, it kind of makes the previous posturing about what exactly constitutes as evil feel a little pointless. I mean, it gets the job done, but it wasn't quite the Ace Attorney slam dunk that I was hoping for, when I was excitedly pouring over the minutia of what the lawyers were saying.

My nitpicks with the climax aside, this was still a very entertaining piece for me, and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for writing it!
#28 · 1
· on Ripping Up the Pieces
I really like how this one handles how it builds up its suspense. You do a great job of progressively adding new layers to the situation throughout the story, and what begins with a pretty straightforward premise genuinely feels like a tangled mess by the time the climax comes around. Nicely done!

Now, I will have to note that not all of these layers/elements feel as resolved as the others in the end. Things like the bird or the schizophrenia reveal don't quite feel like they completely pay off. Their inclusion doesn't feel very impactful to the plot or to our understanding of the characters, at least to me. So while they do a great job from a mood perspective of adding to the feeling of convolution and confusion during the climax, on second and third read-throughs, they're elements I tend to gloss over.

I know that this piece isn't really trying to wrap things up with a tidy little bow by the end of things, so I think it's really up to you if and how you want to address my qualms with the payoff. Thank you for writing this!
#29 · 2
· on Lost and Found · >>_Moonshot
This story has a really strong sense of theme and message, which really does make re-reads all the more pleasant. I mentioned in the chat how I liked the use of the cat as a way to let our two main characters express themselves, outside of conversation with one another. It's a well-thought out way of giving us more opportunities to become invested in how the characters handle the theme of interpreting one's own circumstances.

In terms of critiques, I will have to mention that the perspective-hopping really threw me off initially. I got all the way down to halfway through the third scene before I realized what was happening. Up until that point, I was thinking that this was a story about a person working his way through college while not having a place to stay. I think the misunderstanding might stem from the tight first-person perspectives and the fact that both the 1st scene's ending and the 2nd scene beginning talk about hunger and food. It was natural for me to assume that both "I"s were the same person.

On a thematic level, I'm also not exactly sure what the homeless person being so young really adds to the narrative, other than cashing in sympathy points. I mentioned in the chat how this might be to contrast how longer people and older people view their lot in life, but it's still kinda unclear to me. On a fridge logic note, it's also a little tough for me to imagine how an unaccompanied 15 year old could drop so completely off the grid like this, but I don't know much about CPS or homelessness, so maybe I'm missing something.

So overall, I like the message of this story and I like how it handles its character interactions. But things like the perspective jumping and the slight out-of-the-blueness of the age reveal (I mean, he calls the college student "kid" at one point) really do impact my first reading. But the fact that this story feels that much stronger on my subsequent read-throughs really goes to show the great job you did with your high-level planning.

Thank you for submitting!
#30 · 2
· on Undertones · >>Bachiavellian
I really appreciate the work that you must have put into crafting the prose, here. Even though we're pretty heavy on description, nothing felt purply or overly flowery, and this really helped maintain the momentum this story builds up. And the way you've set this story up, the momentum is crucial. You do a good job of constantly winding up for a punch, leaving the reader in suspense.

Now, for me, I will have to admit that as steady and consistent the aforementioned wind-up was, it might have been a little too long. Most of the other stories this round felt pretty similar in terms of length to me during my reading, despite the differing wordcounts. But this one just felt long to me. Part of this is all the time we spend in descriptions. I know that it's important to how you're trying to present your mood, but I think you can afford to dial it back a bit. A lot of these descriptions don't really seem like they relate directly with the plot or give us new insights to the mystery, so it becomes tempting to skim, especially on subsequent readings.

As for the ending, I mentioned in the chat how to me it feels a bit too... uh... tidy, I guess? I know this might sound harsh, but I was not all that invested in personally caring about Antonio's well-being, so the fact that he dies and his shop goes up in flames doesn't really hit me. In fact, it's actually a bit tension-relieving, because both the madness-inducing paintings and the madness-inducted person are taken care of. I think it might have a bigger impact if someone else had to take the fall for Antonio, like Zach (who's feeling a little under-utilized to me right now).

So in the end, while there's no doubt that this one takes great care in lining up its dominoes, I do feel like for what we get in the end, the story might be spending just a little too much time smelling the roses along the way. I think my primary suggestion would be to trim some of the fat, or to find some other way to make all of the descriptions and re-descriptions feel relevant and important. I still had fun with this piece, no doubt, but it just doesn't feel as efficient about what it does than I think it could be.

Thank you for writing this!
#31 · 1
· on Undertones
I just had a thought this morning that I wanted to add real quick. It occurs to me that maybe a first-person perspective might have helped with the engagement problems that I was having with this. I mean, we're already pretty deep in Antonio's head, so having him directly speak his thoughts to us might be a good way to build immediacy and intimacy.

Just a random thought I wanted to share!
#32 · 1
· on Ripping Up the Pieces
To be blunt:

All the grammar and usage issues made this extremely difficult for me to read. I'm not even sure what happens at the end because I simply couldn't get the words on the screen to resolve themselves into sensible sentences.

The problems start right at the beginning. The first paragraph is all in the past tense, but paragraphs 2 through about 10 are in the present tense. The story then pops back and forth between the two for a while before finally settling into the past tense. We're told that the man across from Jade has "a typical face and typical body and typical clothing," but then we're told that he has on a leather jacket and has "a myriad of rings on all of his fingers." That doesn't sound typical to me.

I also had POV problems. We're in Jade's point of view, but when she leaves the scene between paragraph 7 and 8, we don't go with her. This would be the perfect opportunity. author, to let us in on her thought processes so we can get to know her and what's going on with her.

So I'm sorry, but I couldn't get past the language barrier to read the story itself.

#33 · 1
· on Phage
This one's definitely one of the more ambitious stories this round, both in length and scope. Now, while history has shown that I'm probably not the best judge of sci-fi techno-talk (I tend to like it more than most, it seems), I do have to say I appreciate how the story comes across as having technical depth. It's not always the easiest to follow (especially in the beginning), but towards the middle and the end, I personally liked how you paid off on the investment of teaching the readers so much about the Dulcinea and the setting.

In terms of critique, I think I'll have to say that the story definitely feels more and more pressed for word count. While the first several scenes steadily build up tension at a pretty leisurely stroll, the last two scenes have to run or at least break into a jog to try to wrap things up. It's definitely not quite a satisfying as it could have been, IMO.

From a prose perspective, I think you could use a little cleaning up in the places where you switch between high-level and up-close narration. Not all of the transitions felt smooth to me, and as a result I had a little difficulty getting a sense of how much time was passing from scene to scene.

So overall, I think this story has a lot of neat ideas and plays with them in ways that are definitely fun. I think your limiting factors here are the pacing and flow. Once you have the room to expand the back end of this, I think it'll feel like a more balanced piece.

Thank you for writing this!
#34 ·
· on Overnight in a Haunted House · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, so I really, really like this story's message and how it's presented. For me, when I was done with my first reading, this basically hit that absolute sweet spot of the themes being just clear enough for me to feel satisfied, but not so obviously overt that I could easily sum it up when I was done. I had to think about what I just absorbed, and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. So, huge kudos to the way you managed your message.

Now in terms of critique, I think there is a bit of unevenness when it comes to the narration. When our main character doesn't have anyone or anything to bounce off of and she's kind of talking directly at the reader, it has a tendency to start feeling a little meandering. A lot of these kinds of passages reveal also information that's very important to the themes you're trying to convey, so the fact that they feel a bit skimmable is an issue.

Honestly though, I think that's pretty much the only qualm I had with this. I'll just endcap by saying that this is one of my favorites from this round, so thank you very much for submitting it!
#35 · 2
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
I really like your narration, and how it gives the whole story a kind of dark fairy tale vibe. Combining first-person perspective with a pretty distant-level narration voice is a really interesting choice, and it immediately lends this piece a lot of unique character.

Now, I'll have to admit, the overall conflict and payoff of the story didn't quite land for me because of a fridge logic issue. I'm just having a hard time being convinced that the main character is at fault for the building's collapse. I mean, if all it took for the whole thing to come down was the weight of one person hanging off of some grating, then that building was going to come down no matter what. And I really can't see how anyone can be at fault other than those who failed to maintain or condemn the building.

My personal disbelief at the set-up aside, I really like what you're doing with the climax, with intermingling guilt and suspense. It kind of reminds me of Tell-tale Heart, where the character's simultaneous desire to know the outcome and fear of the consequences come into conflict with one another.

So I guess I wish this story did a better job of selling me the idea that the main character is truly guilty. I mentioned in the chat how I'd be happier with this entry if the main character had instead done something overtly negligent, like crashing his car into the building, or something. The fact that my disbelief wasn't suspended is a significant issue, but I really do still like the idea that you're aiming for, here.

Thank you for submitting!
#36 · 1
· on Lost and Found · >>_Moonshot
At first, when it hard cut to him saying that he was hungry, I 100% believed that he was going to eat the cat.


I didn’t mind the pov shift, but then again I usually don’t, or at least I didn’t mind until the last shift in perspective. In my opinion, if you didn’t go with the plot twist of him being fifteen, it would have made this story ten times better. For now it just confuses the reader and makes them feel less for the boy bc we feel like you want Miller points for including how sad it is.

I do love the importance of the cat and how it’s only circumstantial, like how cancer isn’t something with higher meaning, it’s just cancer.

A well put together fic with good pacing. Adios.
#37 · 2
· on Overnight in a Haunted House · >>Baal Bunny
A cute and energetic character driven story that I don't think quite manages to end successfully. I had an extended discussion with Bachi on this in chat, and, having slept on it... I still feel the same way. I think the ending idea is fine, but I think the actual application here feels a bit lacking in terms of Chloe's self realization. I can sort of see his argument about serendipity vs surprise, but I feel that is undercut a bit by her still using Kladdadle, since that is literally one of the things her grandpa calls her out on!

I guess what it is at a level is the question of what she was going to do with the money was never really hovering in the air in such a way that ending on that particular beat doesn't really feel like it closes out the story. Like, strictly speaking, the "I'm pretty predictable that way" line is the better out since it is the one that really solidifies her acceptance who she is, whereas the "Surprise" instead comes off as a bit smug and self-congratulatory - basically who she was throughout the rest of the story.

Speaking of, her voice is pretty well realized and plays well to her character, but do be careful about this particular kind of narrative voice as constantly being clever/punchy can get a little tiresome/feel a little tryhard. Give a little more space to breathe between clever turns of phrase!

Still, this was a really fun and enjoyable read.
#38 · 2
· on Undertones
A nice little creepypasta with some suitably eerie images, but I think it is mostly let down by its length. This is just waaaaay too long, which results in it being fairly unfocused. What you've got here, I think, is a nice, tight little 3k piece. At 7+K though? You are just losing the focus and meandering too much.

The first scene is a really great example. All that really needs to happen is we meet Antonio, we learn the painting is weird, he buys it. That doesn't need to be... 2.5K? And I think the big culprit is really just that you do a lot of description, some of it doubly unnecessary because contextual clues would suffice (Zacariah's full name being used, for example). But like, in the first scene, really all the other description you do kinda detracts from the idea of the painting being this uncanny, eye-catching thing... because everything gets lavished in detail.

Heck, as structured, you could entirely cut Zach with no real difference to the story!

The other core issue is that the end doesn't really tie back to the beginning well. I think you would better served by establishing that Antonio was maybe a bit obsessive about his restorations, maybe judgmental of people who didn't take good care of their stuff (for example, maybe the frame on this painting is damaged and that annoys him), which then allows you to build the painting in as an amplifier to that behavior. Maybe have him escalate to a notable (but still lesser) level, like lashing out at Zach. Then you can go with the ending, at which point the slide into that is easier to accept.

Descriptions are solid though, especially the stuff with the paintings. Really good and eerie. I do wish the portrait had been the painting of choice (woman slowly gets mad at him) but still, your presented ones are really good.
#39 ·
· on The Yadean Game · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Very nice set up:

But not a lot of pay off. I mean, these two get together, and then... Fight crime? Explore the world? Begin the Yadean aerospace industry? With this round's prompt, I expected our ne'er-do-well to do something at the end like ask if the Yadeans understand the concept of money, or if they possess the concept of private property. Maybe give a bit more of a sense that, even though he's accepted the limitations he's been given, he's still looking for a way around the rules, still looking for a hustle to start. I like that Zzijka seems able to handle him, but I'd like things to end on a more uncertain note, I guess.

Still, like I said, very nice.

#40 · 2
· on Lost and Found · >>_Moonshot
A short little slice of life with a good amount of pathos and heart. I will agree wholeheartedly with Bachi that I think the perspective swaps could be smoothed out a bit. The character voices are a little indistinct (especially given the revealed age difference) which makes it a little hard to tell for sure that you've bounced without a better flag at the start of a new section.

I also agree with Anon that I feel the reveal cheapens the story a bit? Aside from very much feeling like a manufactured revealed for added pathos, as someone who lives in in the Bay in California, I see a lot of homeless people on a day to day basis, and very few of the ones I see are kids. And, of course, making it a sadder reveal for it to be a kid... kinda takes away from all the other people suffering on the street, if that makes sense? Like this fairly tragic implication that if this were some 30 year old vet or something that it is inherently less sad (and thus his tragedy is worth less). I don't think that's your intention, of course, but it is kinda what happens when you structure this way.

The cat is a nice little weavethrough detail and the heart is definitely there. Maybe spend a little more time on their interaction so we can see the friendship grow?
#41 ·
· on Marriage Can Be Hell
I just have to say that I appreciate this take, and although it was one of the most obvious responses to the prompt, it still brought a lot to the table.

I have to admit that I got very confused with the four main characters. We’re immediately put into the middle of an intense court room scene with no opening scene for us to get familiar with at least two of them, giving them personalities and warmth, making us want to root for them the whole time.

I don’t know if it’s my bias against ‘bury your gays’, but I did in fact root for them and cared, which is very impressive for a fic where I couldn’t tell who was who.

I also got very bored on some of the legal jargon or talk or whatever. I know I’m not the sharpest lightbulb in the shed, but I didn’t like the back and forth monotony. It felt like they were getting nowhere (which they kind of were intentionally?) but.... I don’t know. I might abstain if nobody else brings up the issue that I’m (attempting) to portray in words. I think courthouse scenes, even if done well, are just not my cup of tea, that’s all.

On the gayness level I’d give this a 10/10 succubi.

Might come back to this review later... who knows. I think I still have a lot left to say.
#42 · 2
· on Phage · >>Bachiavellian
Very cinematic:

I always enjoy stories that can trigger that "movie in my head" reflex, balancing detail and pacing by giving me just enough of the background so I can fill in the rest myself as the story goes along. The only thing I can think of that I would've liked here is more indication of whether the virus is sapient or not. We get a few suggestions when Barry talks about what it "wants," but a little more of that would've made me happier.

Still, quite nice.

#43 ·
· on Undertones
I'm having:

"Night Gallery" flashbacks!

All the elements are here, author, but I agree with folks above that they don't quite mesh together. I'd like, for instance, to get some feeling for how Filch's father died: if the paintings are generically cursed, they would've affected him, I'd've thought. And maybe there'd be a scene at the end where Zach's being told that only three items survived the burning of the shop or something like that.

But if they're only cursed for Antonio, then, yeah, I'd like to know more about him so I can see that he's responding to the paintings in a way no one else would. Still, good stuff here.

#44 ·
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
This one's also got:

Language and usage problems throughout. "The professor Spencer" should be "Professor Spencer" without the article and with a capital P, for instance, "Along the years" should be "Over the years," and "I'm sat" should either be the perfect present "I sit" or the imperfect "I'm sitting."

Our narrator also says at the beginning, "I have no more tears to shed." But we don't see him showing any real remorse during the course of the story. No sleepless nights, no arguing with himself about whether he should go to the police, no haunted visions of the young girl's face when he looks at passers-by outside his shop. The passage of time also threw me in the middle where in one paragraph we seem to go from a week after the event to several months after it.

I was kind of expecting the story to go full-on Poe and end with our narrator in the dark outside Spencer's house with a knife in his hands or something, debating how to best kill the man. And I found myself wondering who the authorities are putting on trial. I would think that detail would interest our narrator quite a bit, thinking about who's sitting in the courtroom rather than him.

So it's a good start, but it needs a fair bit of tidying up.

#45 ·
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
A tightly wound little tragedy that does, admittedly, have me questioning the nature of said tragedy.

Opening paragraph is a little weird as it set me up for like, a fantasy or historical romp when, in fact, this story is very modern. Worth noting that you might want to contextualize that a bit more to better get your reader prepared for the story up ahead. Its mostly the tone of the language, which feels distinctly archaic.

I do agree with struggling a bit with the main conflict because the actions don't quite line up in a way. The narrator is definitely at fault for running away and guilt is natural (though really, all of them - including the professor) are kinda assholes for bailing. But yeah, the amount of negligance displayed our narrator seems to be pretty minor. Whoever made the entire building dependent on that one support is the one who needs to be strung. And while emotions are not always logical, there is a definite bit of painting that the narrator is the one at fault here, rather than the narrator JUST feels guilty for what they've done.

Which brings us the professor, whose smugness is... honestly pretty off-putting. Like, asshole, you were there. You had the ability to clear this up. You had the ability to help! So your kinda smarmy conversation there at the end feels super unwarranted. Just talk to the narrator. Or, I mean, be cheeky and give him a reason to consider you.

Honestly, if you wanted to aim at the personal failing level, that might be a bit tighter of a path. Have the narrator kill the professor to protect himself and realize that he really bore no fault for what happened. Then his feelings of guilt and cowardice have ACTUALLY compounded into something truly monstrous that has moved the narrator from rather guiltless to truly guilty. Or something like that.

Or just spend more time with the nature of his guilt in general. Still, all told, this was a nicely tight little tale (with a few tense mistakes).
#46 ·
· on Welcoming Committee
I love the detail in this picture. The sly medal kitty in the frame of the portrait and the tiny kitty underneath the chair.

I love the odd and transfixing look of the grandfather like he is expecting the viewer to do something very predictable...

Overall, I love the welcoming committee. They are definitely allowed to welcome me anytime. <3
#47 ·
· on The Judge, the Jury, and the Executioner
I love most of the lighting on this picture, although I think it could be a bit lighter in the foreground.

The main problem I see is with the reference circle, but that’s about it.

#48 ·
· on Welcoming Committee
That's a heck of a lotta kitties. I do find it interesting how paw-like the base of the chair legs are, or the face in the back of the chair. Any particular reason for using what looks like an Egyptian hairless cat on the left there?

Anyway, pretty neat piece here.
#49 ·
· on Overnight in a Haunted House
This sort of piece:

Really rises and falls on the narrative voice. Everything we get comes through her, and she demonstrates several times that she's more than happy to lie to us, so that works nicely. I'd recommend making her even more unreliable, though. Maybe she lies to us about her current situation, and it's the grandfather who lets us know that she's working a menial job and still living with her parents. I was also a little unsure about the triangle going on here with "predictable," "surprise," and "serendipity" at its corners. If "surprise" is the bad one, why does Chloe come down squarely on it the end?

Still, a lot of fun.

#50 · 1
· on Marriage Can Be Hell
I also:

Got a little confused with the various species and characters right at the start--especially the way a character with three heads is "he" while a character with one head is "they"--but once the courtroom proceedings kicked in, the good ol' adversarial justice system pointed me at straight at the good guys and the bad guys, and I was along for the ride. Just thed tiniest bit more set-up, and this one'll be firing on all cylinders as it were.

#51 ·
· on Welcoming Committee
From the baleful expression of the old man to the sinuous Siamese, this piece delights on many levels. Nicely done, Artist!
#52 ·
· on Welcoming Committee
Cool choice to do this as white-on-black! I also like how you do a nice job of differentiating the two main cats with their silhouettes—Baubles has that boneless super-curvy slender look, while Bangles has more angularity defined joints and a more consolidated profile. And of course, it's a cute touch that you've got Beans hiding in the background. Thanks for submitting!
#53 ·
· on The Judge, the Jury, and the Executioner
Okay, the fact that all three heads are coming out of one shirt's neck-hole makes the perfect kind of absurd sense. I also like what you're doing to differentiate the three heads in color and form. It's also neat how the background kind of evokes the idea of smoke and fire, although I think I might want to see it pop out a little more, considering the main head has a very similar coloration scheme. And before I forget, I especially love the toothy laugh from the gentle-demon on the left.

Thanks for arting!
#54 · 2
Okay, so since I still don't have any clue what to write for Coffee's SSSS contest, I'm just gonna go ahead and hit you guys with some Mashups.

Torre Vieja Can Be Hell: When a man is put on trial for destroying a old questionably-inhabited tower, lesbian lawyers come to his aid and successfully argue that the resulting influx of souls into hell actually boosted the economy.

The Yadean Phage: The Yadean Repositors assign Young Zzijka to assimilate the remains of a human astronaut's brain, unaware that it was infected with a bone-devouring mind-virus. Zzijka, who has no bones, doesn't particularly mind.

Ripping Up a Haunted House: After paying a hitman to kill her wealthy grandfather, a young woman finds it very hard to move into his large mansion because of a vengeful little kitten named Beans that keeps meowing weird shit like "No vacancy!" and "Liar!".

Lost and Undertones: An Italian art dealer becomes more and more concerned when his recently-acquired painting of a homeless man slowly transforms into a painting of a fifteen year old with cancer.
#55 · 1
· on The Judge, the Jury, and the Executioner
A befitting portrait of a duke of hell. The construction lines yank the viewer back from full immersion, but perhaps they are demonic sigils a la Barlowe’s Inferno.. A top tier piece; thank you for creating it, Artist!
#56 ·
· on Undertones
I enjoy some of the creepy imagery here, but the story does meander a bit with the descriptions, and the ending feels like it comes out of nowhere. Trimming it down and removing some things that don't payoff, and maybe even cutting the paintings down in number, would go a long way.
#57 · 1
· on Phage · >>Bachiavellian
I really, really enjoyed this story. It slowly revealed the bits of worldbuilding in a very natural manner, and did a great job of grabbing my interest and keeping it throughout. I've always enjoyed sci-fi stories, and I think this one has all of the good elements there, as well as being a great horror work with the slow reveal of the nature of the mystery, and its ramifications. I do think that the ending shows signs of running up on the word count, but it still delivered, to me, a satisfying ending that is way more of a downer than I expected.
#58 ·
· on Marriage Can Be Hell
A very enjoyable and comedic story. I did have some trouble reading through the first time, just because of a few points where the speakers weren't quite clear, but it was never from the legalese. Given that I'm a layperson when it comes to legal matters, that's a good bit of praise. Also, the ending does make me think a bit: was the entire court case just a lead-up to Furfur's defense, or was it a spur of the moment kind of thing? Not to say that it's bad in any way, but it does make me think, and I think that's a good plus.
#59 ·
· on Lost and Found · >>_Moonshot
I think this story has a good bit of heart to it, and the pacing is decent, but it does have a handful of issues. Others have pointed it out, but the character voices could use with a bit of work to make them more distinct, which would improve the perspective hoping; while I didn't have issues with the perspective jumping, it would strengthen it. I do also think the cat could use a little bit of extra work, and a few more scenes with both of them before the illness reveal would help too.
#60 ·
· on Overnight in a Haunted House · >>Baal Bunny
The character voice in this piece is phenomenal, and makes for an entertaining read throughout. I do think that her grandfather's will creates a decent something for her to bounce off of and maintain some of the good comedy that's first created with Kladdadle, but for mentioning that we "make our own ghosts," there isn't really much of that in the story. It might be just my reading, but it does feel like she starts to see that she misses him in a way, so some bits when she's alone of her imagining that some spirit is in the house, and might be him, could work. It could possibly play up to the reveal of if Beans is real or not, too.
#61 ·
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
I think this piece does a good job of building up personal guilt for our viewpoint character, even if there's the possibility that the full burden of blame is not with him. The sense of paranoia pointed at Professor Spencer, who may or may not really be out to get him, adds a lot to this, but I do think the guilt may need a bit more time to stew to give it some more impact.
#62 ·
· on The Yadean Game · >>GroaningGreyAgony
While I think the transition was a bit difficult to grasp at first, I quickly fell into understanding. I like what the piece is doing, for sure, and it's an interesting look into an alien mind, and the potential outlook they'd have. While it lacks a bit of payoff, there's a decent comedic moment near the end, and it works as an examination of this alien life form.
#63 ·
· on Ripping Up the Pieces
I think there's a good bit of suspense built up through this piece, but it could definitely be improved. There are a few parts, like Baal said, where you have the opportunity to explore Jade's thought process a bit more and provide some background earlier in the piece that could do a better job to hook the reader. Still, I enjoyed the build-up to the ending and the reveal, even if it was a little muddled.
#64 ·
· on Lost and Found · >>_Moonshot
I'll echo:

Pretty much everything everybody else said. The 2nd paragraph gave me an image of our first character as someone who could pass as a university student, so finding out later that he was so young kciked me out of the story a little. But the character voices are distinct enough that I never had trouble telling who was being 1st person each time. It would've made a nice moment in their developing relationship, though, to see them actually tell each other their names. Good stuff, though!

#65 ·
· on The Yadean Game · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I rather enjoyed this piece despite not having much experience with sci-fi. I was immersed and could feel everything happening in the story as it went, despite the second part of the story not containing much setting.

In the first part of the story, it was probably your intent to make the character unlikable, and it kind of worked on me. It did, however, make me lose a little investment in the character -- I found myself slightly not really wanting to care about what happened to him.

Agree with the other commenters that the transition could be improved a little bit, as I first thought the first dude survived and just had his brain scrambled or something. Once I got it though, I was captivated. Rather experimental, but I enjoyed it lots, although it did lose me at parts. Finally, I think that the "dialogue" between Zzijka and the main character was a little awkward to read through, and I concur with above comments that the conclusion could have been improved.

Overall though, really fun read. Thanks for the entry, and may you place fifty spots above me ;)
#66 ·
· on Ripping Up the Pieces
First off, agree with Baal Bunny that the grammar and usage was distracting, especially near the beginning. Making sure to fix that would go a long way towards improving the immersion within your story.

I will disagree with Baal, though, in that I was able to get past the barrier because I enjoyed where the story ended up, which is an achievement. While the beginning couple of scenes are a little confusing to grasp, the story becomes more cohesive as it progresses. Would definitely have to agree with Bachi on this one.

I think the crow was a really nice touch. Out of the very limited horror that I've read, I immediately thought of Poe, and this showed even further as Jade's mental stability slowly degraded a la Tell-tale Heart.

Agree with other commenters that is more description needed. The final couple of reveals needed a little bit of rereading in order for me to draw a full picture, and I think some parts of the story were also extraneous (for example, some of the detective's questions). Overall though, I really enjoyed the story, so thanks for writing it!
#67 ·
· on Overnight in a Haunted House · >>Baal Bunny
I think this was a story that needed a bit of rereading for me to fully appreciate. Maybe that was the fault of many of the other stories having big impact moments. I don't know. I did come to appreciate this though, and I also appreciate that this is one of the stories most grounded in reality.

First off, the writing style is really nice. The character personalities were built very well, and I found parts of both the grandfather and Chloe that I really liked (for ex: the creative swearing and the randomly flailing around). As a cat person, I also really enjoyed her interaction with the cats, and I think it added to the coziness of the whole thing. Finally, I enjoyed the transition from the beginning to the middle of the story. I went into the story expecting another horror entry (I read Ripping Up and Phage right before this) and came out with something much more pleasant.

With that being said, my only slight issue with the story is that I'm still a little bit confused at the conclusion. The story slightly meanders, and I was surprised at how quickly it died down. After the author reveal, I would appreciate a little bit of insight as to what the moral of the story is.

All in all, a top tier contender. Thanks for entering, anon; this is good stuff!
#68 ·
· on Marriage Can Be Hell
Ooh, shipping. I am gonna preface this by saying that I am a stone cold emotionless monster (AKA asexual), and out of personal taste romance is a tricky subject for me to read.

First, I found myself pretty immersed in the story, and it was relatively easy for me to picture where it was and what was going on. I will agree with others though in that the voice change is a little confusing at times. I also found getting accustomed to Hell's court a tiny bit difficult, given obviously there's a couple important differences between it and an actual one. Overall though, as Bachi and Flashgen mentioned I don't know much legalese but this was quite easy to understand, so good job with that.

I also agree with Bachi that the conflict resolution was a little weak. I was kind of left with "Wait, it was that easy?" Arianna's reaction after their court victory I think could also have used a little more expansion, but it's not a major detail.

Thanks for the entry anon :)
#69 · 1
· on Phage · >>Bachiavellian
Wow, so this was really good, and I think it's probably gonna win the event. Echoing what everyone else has said, pretty much. I am incredibly inexperienced in the ways of technobabble, so for a lot of the story I was just kind of "I'll assume this person is smarter than me and just trust what they're saying", which I guess has its goods and bads. Also thought this was rather cinematic. And finally enjoyed the worldbuilding and horror, probably the most so out of any story submitted.

And my own thoughts. I enjoyed the characters as well, and each one had a distinct voice and personality that I could easily pick out. I also enjoyed the text communications, which is rare for me, and they had great effect here. Before the horror kicked in, I was expecting something much different, and I enjoyed what little of the scifi I could grasp, for example references to the Voyager Golden Record.

Then the horror did kick in, and the ramp up and climax was wonderful, as was the final reveal.

If I had one thing to criticize, it would probably be the ending. And that only partly because I want more, more!

Really enjoyed this one, thanks anon for entering!
#70 ·
· on Torre Vieja · >>Monokeras
Echoing what other commenters have said already. The whole going to court case problem didn't work for me, and it was a little difficult trying to remain invested in the narrator. I also think the interactions between the professor and the narrator were interesting, but could use a lot of improvement, because as it stands I really don't like reading the professor.

I think the character's inner thoughts could have used a little more expansion, and I think the setup for the conflict could have been presented a little better. Other than that, I think everyone else has already said pretty much what I've thought.

Regardless though, I enjoyed it better than I enjoyed my own :P Thanks for the entry anon!
#71 ·
· on Undertones
So I really liked this one. Hoping it does well in the contest!

Most everyone has already said what I'd agree with, in that the beginning is a little slow and that there's a lot of extraneous information. I really enjoy the character of Antonio, though, and I think after reading this fic my mind has gone to his "interesting" comment a lot in various parts of life. Also agree with what some have said in that the ending is a little confusing, and could probably be changed to much better effect.

Thanks for the entry anon!
#72 · 1
· on Torre Vieja
Grats to all people!

>>Anon Y Mous
>>Baal Bunny
The idea is not mine. I really had no idea for this prompt so I decided to go ahead and rewrite a short story from one of my favourite authors. I changed several things on the way, but it was mainly an exercise in prose writing, more than anything else. The story is… maybe an allegory on how a small thing, an uncontrollable factor opens up Pandora's box, and the consequences resound far and wide, out of proportion to the initial act. The Butterfly effect, and how one can react about it.

So the take-away is essentially stylistic and prosaic :p – Thanks Baal for pointing out "over the years" and "Professor X" instead of "The Professor X", which is carried over from French. On "I’m sat", I'd like to post reservations, though, because "I’m sat" is frequent in dialectal British English, the precise setup I'd wished to locate the story in.

Andrew if you could elaborate on the tense problems you found, I'd your forever beholden.

Once again, congratulation to all, even more to the winners. I feel bad about not having time and motivation to read any story this round. I apologise for that, and I promise I’ll do better for next Minific round!
#73 · 1
Grats to everyone and sorry for being dead this round. I thought I was over this bug and instead came back with a vengeance. If anyone who did not get a review from me would like one, ask and I will do so once I feel better.
#74 · 1
· on Lost and Found · >>Bachiavellian
>>Anon Y Mous
>>Baal Bunny
Wow, totally didn't expect this much response to my story. Thanks to everyone for the criticism and the compliments (of which I was rather surprised to get, haha)

First off: Bachi's Lost and Undertones is the single greatest roast I have received in my life, and I am eternally grateful for it.

Ok, now on to how I came up with this story. This was not organized in any way, sadly; I started writing about 5 hours before the deadline and submitted 5 minutes before the deadline (sorry, no high-level planning here). I just happened to be doing some things just before writing it that seemed like an idea starter, so I ran with it, despite my infinite doubts. So yes, there was a Korean place near my university, and yes, there are a lot of homeless people near it. More on that soon. But first, probably the single most mentioned thing about the story: why is the homeless guy eventually revealed to be fifteen?

So, perhaps embarassingly, I wrote the two main characters as snapshots of myself from different timelines. Yes, now I realize that it probably counts as self-insert, so it probably wasn't a good idea.

What I mean by that is I wrote picturing myself if I had taken two different routes in my life, one more aligned with where I am today, and one a little less, and just sprinkled in some additional details. Upon retrospection, I think this had some benefits and drawbacks. One obvious benefit is that it isn't too much of a stretch to write myself in a different light, and it isn't difficult coming up with dialogue. Obviously, the drawbacks were much larger. For one, it caused the confusion in narrative change, because the characters ended up being so similar to each other. My initial goal when causing both characters to house similar thoughts was giving a feeble attempt at how people in different circumstances can be connected by the same thoughts. Obviously that's not how it panned out, and I acknowledge my mistake. Something I think some of the medalists of the contest did very well was giving each character an individual voice that was easily recognizable, and that's something I'll strive to do in my future entries.

So there were two reasons I made the homeless guy fifteen. One was my hesitation in how the "devil in the details" prompt worked. Given it was my first time participating, I didn't want to get disqualified for writing something not easily relatable to the prompt, so I threw in two very shaky details to accomodate for that. One was the cancer ("It was a small detail, but one that pushed its way to the surface eventually") that led to Andrew's "Proooooompt droooooooop" comment. The other was the age reveal, being the ultimate big detail reveal to the audience. I pushed that too hard, because I was afraid the readers wouldn't see it as a big reveal (let's forget about it just being a bad reveal for now), which led to me purposely attempting to misdirect the audience as to his true age. That's where Bachi's comment about him calling the college student "kid" came from. That was probably a mistake as well, and I could have executed it much, much better. The second reason why I made the homeless guy fifteen was because I'm kind of young, and I don't know how to visualize life as an older version of me. So as a surprise to no one except for me, a character who is homeless should probably cause the story to address homelessness as an issue even more. I'm dumb like that sometimes.

Now onto the main brunt of the issue: people didn't like the reveal, and I totally understand that in retrospect. (I also learned what Miller Points meant, too!) Funny story, Andrew, I actually live in and go to school in the Bay Area as well, so I'm familiar with a lot of what you're familiar with. Cheapening the character and plot was not my intent, and I totally missed the memo on this one, so I apologize to anyone who might have been offended by any misimplied theme. I have one defense, though (kind of), and it's that the characters were written to be flawed. So I'm not sure if college bro would initiate conversation with a random homeless guy on the street if he weren't a child. Perhaps that's something I could have touched on more in the story, but I don't know for sure. Final thoughts on this matter for Baal: I did consider giving names to the characters, but I chickened out because I wasn't sure if the names would add or detract to the story, especially if they were revealed later (and therefore would have to be more sigificant in meaning).

Maybe some of you are curious how the cat came in (but probably not, haha). There is a simple and stupid answer. I like cats, and I like anything about cats. So I wrote my own personal spin on a cat you might find in Japanese folklore, or something. Bachi and anon put it better than I when they said that the cat is just circumstance. My one elaboration I guess is that it wasn't meant to be understood.

Ok, reserving a quick paragraph for Bachi's thoughts on here and the Discord. As I mentioned earlier, the 15-year old was initially just envisioned to be myself if I'd made a few different life decisions, and nothing more, which turned out to be a mistake. I would agree and disagree with your "Younger people accept their circumstances more easily" guess at the theme, though. Agree in that technically it's correct, but as more of an elaboration, I tried to make it so that I would more accurately depict the emotions of a teen who is still maturing and who might not fully understand the scenario, but who still might offer valuable insight that a more mature person would not come upon ("kids say the darndest things"). It probably sounds unsatisfying (and also probably is), but I didn't really have an overarching message that the kid would project, and I left it open to the reader for interpretation.

Ok, onto my own thoughts. I appreciate the people who said this had a good amount of heart put into it, because I certainly didn't feel that way after writing the story. About an hour after I submitted, I kind of came to the realization that my story was just a shitty Fault in our Stars. There's much more character interaction that could have taken place in order to cement a better relationship, but I just didn't have time to properly flesh it out. Even if I did, one criticism I would have for myself is that I failed to make the story as interesting as I would have hoped, and I can't immediately come up with something that wouldn't drag the story out and make it less enjoyable. Even though I was writing alternate versions of myself, I found it incredibly hard to connect with the characters at times, and I was very worried that it would turn out the same way with the audience, too. I'm still not sure where you guys stand on this one. Finally, the ending was very rushed. The scenes got shorter and shorter, and I had less time than I liked to create a serious relationship between the pair. I absolutely despised the cancer reveal, to be honest, but I had nothing better that I could think of. That was the first out-of-the-blue thing for me, and I understand if anyone else was suddenly caught off guard by the change in tone.

I have a couple questions, if anyone is willing to answer. So if I fixed the 15-year old thing and made the characters a little more distinct, is there anything else y'all would have liked to see to make this a top contender? I'm new to writing, so I have very little confidence in my own writing style as well. I would sincerely appreciate if I was made aware of elements in the writing itself that didn't work, or perhaps more importantly, worked alright, but not enough to create impact.

Sorry this response dragged on for so long; I just had a lot to get out of my mind, I guess. If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I really appreciate it! :)
#75 · 2
· on Lost and Found
So if I fixed the 15-year old thing and made the characters a little more distinct, is there anything else y'all would have liked to see to make this a top contender?

Okay, so this is just going to be me running my mouth about my own personal ideas about what makes sad stories sad. Because really, about 80% of what I write are sadfics of varying quality, so I've inevitably developed my own half-baked theories on what makes the good ones work.

Sadness, in my opinion, comes from character motivations. Specifically, it happens when the audience realizes that a character that they care about will not get what they want. For this to work, though, the audience needs to be (1) invested in some degree in the character's well-being, (2) understanding and sympathetic to what the character wants, and (3) successfully convinced that the character cannot have what they want.

Good examples of how this model works in storytelling would probably be every Pixar movie ever made. Taking Toy Story 3 for an example, what Woody and the toys want is for Andy to play with them again. The audience cares about the toys because they have memorable and charming personalities, and the audience is sympathetic to their motivation because everyone knows how important it is to feel useful and valued. And the audience is successfully convinced that the toys can't get what they want because they understand that Andy has outgrown them.

I think one of the issues I personally had with this story was that it struggled to define its motivations for the two main characters. What does the homeless boy want to do, both in the immediate sense and in the long-term? In the immediate sense, he wants to get something to eat, and he does get something to eat. But in the long-term, he actually seems strangely content with his place in life. He doesn't really want anything. Similarly, the college student also doesn't really have well-defined wants and desires.

So when the cancer reveal comes around, there are two things working against it. One, is that the audience doesn't quite particularly care that homeless-boy may not live to a ripe old age, because we don't really know what he'd do with his life if he didn't get cancer. The second is that suddenly revealing "cancer" does not do a great job at (3) convincing us that it is a good and inevitable reason to deny the character of what they want to do.

To bring things back to Pixar movies, they all add a great twist to the formula, which is that while they deny the characters what the characters wanted at the start of the movie, they always give the characters something different and new by the end. In the case of Toy Story 3, the toys get to go live with Molly.

So, to summarize, the foundation of making a sad story work is to make the characters feel relatable and motivated by clear goals.

I'm new to writing, so I have very little confidence in my own writing style as well.

Really, don't sweat defining a "style". Just read a lot, and imitate what you like. Pay attention to how your favorite authors and stories write sequences that immerse you or make you feel strong emotions. Doing something as simple as asking yourself at the end of every page why you feel the way you do is a great exercise.

I would sincerely appreciate if I was made aware of elements in the writing itself that didn't work, or perhaps more importantly, worked alright, but not enough to create impact.

Personally, I thought the cat was the best part of the story. I think one of the main reasons why it felt so strong was because of its vagueness that the cat introduces to our two main characters. Let me explain.

What some bad writers tend to do is that they choke their characters by trying to define each and every emotion the characters are feeling and explaining the thought process behind each and every word they say. Doing this doesn't make your characters feel complex; it makes them feel like robots. When each output has a very well-defined input, why should we even bother reading the rest of the story?

The best stories don't explain their characters, but instead leave enough information to allow the reader to come to their own conclusions about why the characters do what they do. This is what we do in real life after all—we create mental impressions of the people we know by filling in the gaps of what we don't know. No matter how close you are to your best friend or spouse, you don't know everything that goes on in their head, so you're left judging their character from your impression of what they say and do.

To bring things back to your cat, I think your cat did a great job of introducing uncertainty to what our characters did. A lot of conversation was generated in the Discord chat about why the characters seemed to treat the cat differently at different times, and I thought that it was a perfect indication that the cat was making the characters seem complex. When characters behave in ways we don't entirely expect, readers are intrigued and they ask themselves, "why?". Though of course, you don't want to overdo it and risk making your characters feel out of character.

Blugh, I hope all that rambling was vaguely useful. Let me know if I'm being indecipherable, or just completely wrong.
#76 · 2
· on Phage
Okay, so this was my first OF gold and my first SS Gold. Go, me, I guess!

Thanks to the tolks who liked it, and congrats to Baal and Andrew as well! (EDIT: NOBODY saw that. I make no mistakes.)

Retrospective: Phage

So I've always kind of been fascinated with the concept of viruses, transposons, prions, and the like. Too me, it's really cool how a little bit of protein and/or DNA can perfectly arranged in a precise way that it tricks living cells into making identically perfectly arranged copies of itself. It's like the biological version of a software exploit. And basically, I had this idea of a virus that works on the organism level instead of the cellular level.

For those of you who aren't biology majors, the word, "phage", is a common shortening of the term "bacteriophage" which are strains of viruses that attack bacterial cells.

So, as basically everyone could tell, I ran out of both time and word count hard on this one. I actually didn't think I was going to be able to submit until Sunday night, when I wrote up a sketchy outline, a cast of characters, and about a thousand words of the first scene. On Monday, I didn't have work, so I fucking powered through the rest of the story all day, with stops for food and an occasional break to watch old episodes of Critical Role. I started when I woke up at about 10, and I didn't finish until around 11 PM at night. It was fucking wild, folks.

[Removed some notes on universe and characters. 9-26-2019]

Okay, on wards to responses!

>>Baal Bunny
"Movie in my head" was exactly what I was going for, if the little casting call in the above didn't make it clear enough. Glad you liked it!

To be honest, basically everything that Barry spews out right before he dies, I was originally planning to gradually reveal to the reader. But like I mentioned, I ran out of word count so hard on this one, it wasn't even funny. When I got to the second to last scene, I looked at the word count and I actually said out loud to myself, "Well, it's ALL gonna have to go down, right now." So yeah, I originally didn't think of the virus as sapient at all, but I needed a easy way to get an explanation ASAP. The result is less than ideal, I know.

Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts!

Happy you liked it! Yeah, I wanted to really focus on pacing out the information in this one, and I was pretty happy with myself until the last two or three scenes. But I'm definitely glad that you still enjoyed it. Appreciate the review!

Technobabble is my weakness. I really do like it too much, and I can't help but to throw it in there. Just look at my other sci-fi OF entries. And really, it's mostly me just spouting out cool things I saw in other sci-fi things I've consumed.

I'm really glad that the characters felt good to you! I spent a stupid amount of time trying to decide how large my cast had to be and trying to give unique personalities to each crew member, so I'm glad that my brainstorming paid off!

And yes, the ending is definitely the weakest part of the story. It's been a long time since I desperately wanted another 2 or 3 thousand words on top of the SS word limit, and I think it really shows.

Thank you for leaving your thoughts!!

Okie dokie! I'll see ya'll in the FIM SS round, hopefully!
#77 · 2
· on Overnight in a Haunted House

Thanks, folks:

And congrats to our other medalists!

This round nearly did me in. My immediate idea Thursday morning upon seeing the prompt was to do a romance story between two people with obsessive-compulsive disorder--they'd be so caught up in the little details of their lives, they'd nearly miss the biggest thing ever to happen to them.

By Friday night, though, I had over 4,000 words, and the two characters hadn't even met yet. I was alternating 3rd person POV sections between the two, and since they were both so detail-oriented, I was writing the whole thing in a very detailed fashion. It just wasn't gonna come together, I became convinced, so I saved it into my scraps folder and started something else.

This time, it was gonna be a fantasy about two characters out on a quest to break the curse that's been cast on one of them, but as they go along, they would discover that the curse was something completely different than what they thought. But this one also kept expanding as I wrote, and by Saturday night, I realized there was no way to make it work in under 8,000 word, either.

So this story here came gushing out over Sunday and Monday. I still need to sit down with it and think about the ending with Chloe realizing that she wants to be predictably unpredictable and embrace serendipity instead of surprise like her grandfather, but unfortunately, since the story's not SF or fantasy, I wouldn't know where to submit it once I got it finished...

#78 ·
· on The Yadean Game
>>Bachiavellian, >>Baal Bunny, >>Flashgen, >>_Moonshot

The Yadean Game

Congrats to the winners, and thanks for the great comments!

I wound up composing the bulk of this on an airplane and ran out of time to put a proper ending on it. I do have a lot more to say about ZZijka, Yade, and the curious personality who came from afar to die and be reborn on a world of ice; I’ll have to see what comes of it.
#79 · 2
· on Phage
Hey guys, so I've de-listed and redacted Phage, just in case I ever want to try to submit it to get legit published. I've also sanitized some of my more specific writing notes from my retro.

If anybody wants to see a copy of the original story that was submitted here, hit me up in Discord, and I'd be happy to shoot it your way.