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Pleasant Nonsense · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 4
#2 ·
I actually kinda hope a prompt not my own wins now that I've seen it and it has given me a terrible, horrible, wonderful idea...
#3 ·
· · >>vladspellbinder
How long has the prompt voting been this way?
#4 ·
At least since the one that become "Moving Targets", as that was the one that made me notice the change.
#5 · 2
Guess this is a good chance to stick to that New Year's resolution. Tally Ho everyone!
#6 · 2
· · >>Miller Minus
I’m out. College. Send help.
#7 · 1
I've something in I'm pleased to call my own. Good night, folks, and good luck to all!
#8 · 1
>>Anon Y Mous
College is gonna be so sweet.
#9 ·
· on The Bearbox · >>Monokeras
A lot of mechanical problems:

“Mind if I take the box away for analysis,” I asked should have a question mark after analysis and a period after asked. Both I tested it, and was rewarded with another sweet. and I went back home, and told Fowler of what we had found. shouldn't have commas in them, and “It’s beyond my wits either”, he replied, shrugging. should have the comma inside the close-quote and some word other than either--too, I'm thinking. Also, even after staggering through the Wikipedia article, I'm still not quite sure what the Casimir effect is...

I found myself wondering what Brian did for a living, and the narrator's debilitating fear at the end took me by surprise. Maybe establish earlier that he's a naturally timid person? But mostly, this struck me as too big an idea for a minific. I could see it working if played for laughs, but taken seriously like this, it needs more room.

#10 ·
· on Raazgujal · >>Monokeras

I've got comments, of course. "she had kept a straight face all along the dinner" is an odd thing to say when they'd both been laughing uproariously just a couple paragraphs before. Also, I'm not sure about using of the word "along" in this context--"during", maybe?

Of course, it might be a dialect thing. I'm completely unfamiliar with the verb "bagsy", for instance, when it comes to grabbing the bill at dinner.

And it seems to me that, in order to comply with the linguistic strictures laid out herein, the title should be in quotes, shouldn't it? :)

#11 · 1
· on Ohayo
I'm not quite sure:

What this story's about, author. A man looks back on a time in his childhood when he had a crush on the guy next door until one day when he apparently decided that he didn't? It's just not coming through to me at all.

I'd also like there to be some reason the guy's looking back this way and some lesson that he's drawing for his present life based on this episode from his past. The whole middle section seems contradictory, too, the way he says he doesn't know how or why he felt this way but then telling us that he wrote out a letter to explain it all to his friend. I'd like to have some idea of what was in that letter even if our narrator in the present dismisses everything that he remembers writing. I'm not seeing any link to the prompt either...unless the narrator is declaring that the feelings he had for this other kid were nonsense? I just don't know what I'm supposed to be seeing here...

#12 ·
· on Performance Evaluation
Alright, I know I'm a little behind the ball when it comes to reviews this round, but I hope everyone else hasn't already gotten their two cents in and robbed me of anything new to... wait, what? It's just BB so far, and he's only hit up a few fics? Hallelujah, I'm not too late!

Okay, so, this fic: the ending was cute, and the fact that the whole story is aggressively whimsical is a great way to set the tone here; David isn't supposed to be whimsical, we're told, but he very definitely is, and the narrative style supports that. This is a cute little thing, and one I enjoyed reading. My only real criticism is that the writing style, especially in the first three or four paragraphs where you're clearly trying to set that tone, sometimes overshoots. I'm getting more twee than whimsy from the amount of detail you're putting into that first narrative sentence, for example.

But this is really a nitpick; what I'm saying is that I like the shade of blue you painted your sky, but that I wish it was maybe a bit less bright. And the overall tone of the piece is one I really like, wrapped around a cute little piece of PG forbidden romance. This is the first story on my ballot, but I expect I'll end up rating it highly.
#13 · 2
· on The Bearbox · >>Monokeras
Okay, second review, and this time BB's already jumped in and said what I was gonna say :( Listen to him about editing, size constraints, and lack of buildup to the fear at the end; I entirely echo his comments.

Unlike him, I was able to breeze past the limited techno-babble, but I found myself hung up on the character assumptions; why does the narrator immediately assume that the gummy bears aren't coming out of the box because there's gummy bears in there? Why is there "no question of telling the press" or of publishing, when that's what any normal scientist would do? It's not that either of these things can't be explained, mind; it's just that they're contrary to my expectations, and they are glossed over as if they should be taken for granted. When you edit this into what I assume will be a significantly longer form, think about how to show the ways in which our viewpoint character is more than just an everyman scientist, and to justify some of his less obvious assumptions. I think this is a plot that will grow nicely with a few more words and a bit of elbow grease.
#14 ·
· on Ohayo
I thought this was a really nice first two-thirds of a story. There's some nice descriptive touches ("even after he had survived his bout with puberty" really tells us a lot, doesn't it?), and I get a good sense of the narrator's attitude from the way he dismisses cliche even as he indulges in the cliche that "words can't describe what I'm feeling."

But then... well, BB beat me to it again: I'm not sure what this story's about, either. Or rather, I'm not sure what you want me to take away from that last line. Because obviously Tetsuo isn't "just another boy" to the narrator after that; that's not how feelings work, even if your excellent work in the first part of the story sets up that the narrator might try to convince himself of that. But if we're supposed to understand that the narrator is lying to themself at the end... then to what purpose? To what narrative purpose, I mean. You set this up in a clear puppy-love way, so it's too low-stakes to feel tragic. It also doesn't feel like a rejection of self, because it's not really presented as a fear of coming out so much as a more generic fear of wrecking a friendship. I'm lacking a message, and not in a deliberate sort of "this story doesn't have any meaning on purpose" way, but in a "I stopped at the turning point of the fic, but before we actually got to see the turn" way.

I think there are two ways to address this. First, you could develop how to give the narrator's decision is a rejection of self/rejection of childhood's aggression in favor of adulthood's hesitance/whatever you want it to be, and focus on adding that to the earlier part of the story so that the ending means something. Second, you could build out the back end; show us what this decision means to the narrator, and what becomes of him and/or Tetsuo. Let that last line be the conflict that sets up the climax, rather than being the climax itself. Either way, you've got a great setup--now it's just a matter of helping me and BB understand what you're trying to tell us!
#15 ·
· on A Shaggy GEN3RIC_V1AGRA# Story · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, I giggled at the last two e-mails. This is an awfully insubstantial "story," which I suppose I should have expected from the title, but I do wish that you'd done more with the middle section; if @ukr could drag @gmail along for a few more messages, slowly drawing out this whole tragic story, before springing the twist, that'd make said twist even more of a groaner. As long as I'm on the subject, this feels realistic enough that I wonder if it's not far-fetched enough; I could almost see this exchange actually happening, which is simultaneously great for your sense of verisimilitude, but also leaves the comedy feeling a little lighter than it's probably meant to be.

But again, the end made me laugh, and that's clearly what you were going for. More broadly, this may be a story of rather simple goals, but I think it's fair to say it accomplishes them. So in that vein: mission accomplished!
#16 ·
· on A Fairy's Travail · >>GroaningGreyAgony
What's the phrase:

Folks used to use around here when we still had reviewers? "Keep developing," I think it was?

'Cause this is fun, but it needs smoothing. As far as the meter goes, I'll specifically point to:

Apologized to Implings groaning,
But left them in the midst of moaning,
Then spurred my bee-mount on.

and say that, when you end an iambic line with an unaccented syllable like the two "ing"s here, it helps to start the next line on the beat, as it were, with an accented syllable so you don't have two unaccented syllables in a row snarling up the rhythm. Just going:

Apologized to Implings groaning,
Left them in the midst of moaning,
Spurred my bee-mount on.

keeps the "ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM ta TUM" regular, and in metered poetry, that's the bottom line. You do this in the stanza that rhymes "sis's" with "abysses"--a great rhyme, by the way--but don't do it again in the stanza that rhymes "cruelly" and "truly."

As for the story, I'd like to see that our unnamed narrator is unhappy at the beginning of things. That way, when Our Narrator and Jaine meet, they're each bringing something that the other lacks: Our Narrator has the cure for whatever's ailing Jaine, and Jaine has the cure for whatever's ailing Our Narrator. Maybe Our Narrator even suspects that Titania set the two of them up for this very reason? That would also explain why Titania doesn't come looking for them at the end: as long as the two are united, Titania doesn't care that they're united in their dislike of her. :)

#17 ·
· on Day In, Day Out
Very nice:

The only thing I'd like just a bit more of is the mom. The one image we get of her doesn't quite coalesce into a picture for me--her shirt is hanging from the arm of the couch with the text on the front of it partially covered by her hair? How does that work physically? Has she taken her shirt off and wadded it up as a pillow? Maybe give me a half-empty vodka bottle on the floor, too, something to complete the picture, and I wouldn't mind another smell or two to really evoke the scene.

#18 ·
· on Flock of Birds
I've seen this kind of idea explored before in short stories, and I think it's an idea that can be got across well enough in a minific. Plus, the Area 51 grounding let's me quickly and completely picture the larger scene without you having to describe much of anything. So, concept-wise, I think this is great.

Where I'm tripping up a little is in how you get to the impasse itself. Like, why is the scientist so hung up on the alien's home planet? It seems to me that a normal response, whether from a trained interrogator or just from a basically curious person, to "I'll kill myself if you push at that question" would be to say "Okay, then can you tell me about this other thing instead?" and to try to find some safer ground to build a rapport and satisfy scientific curiosity. You know, tell me about your species' biology, are there other intelligent alien races... at least try to find something important that the alien might be willing to share, and to get a dialogue going (whether the alien would share is another matter, of course; I'm just hung up on the scientist's latching on to "where are you from?" to the exclusion of all else). And then at the end we go straight into the whole Dark Forest theory without ever explaining why it can't be solved for this particular contact. Because, you know, contact has already happened, so the dark forest doesn't really apply anymore; this is two species side-eyeing one another in the shadows, each (well, at least one) trying to decide if the other is an apex predator. Which isn't to say that the larger circumstance can't tie into the theory, but that it's more tangential to the question (especially considering, again, the arbitrariness of focusing on "where are you from?" in the first place) than you're presenting this as.

Anyway, that was a whole lot of words to say "if you tie the conversation to the dilemma a little more cleanly, I think it'd land even better." This is still an enjoyable little bit of back-and-forth, and one I enjoyed reading!
#19 ·
· on A Fairy's Travail · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Fair Queen Titania’s cousin’s sis’s
Daughter’s friend, who from abysses

Oh, you're getting cute here. Well, it's a wonderfully whimsical poem, and one I enjoyed reading immensely. I agree with BB entirely (again) that getting a little more sense of the narrator's life--or at least, his feelings about his life--pre-adventure would set up a nice dovetail with Jaine's reveal that she left because of T's... boring-ness.

Beyond that, this was simply fun to read, and I appreciate that greatly. A great use of vocabulary to set tone throughout, and even if the poetic style is, as BB points out, not quite perfect in every location, it's certainly entirely respectable for a 24 hour minific entry. Nice work.
#20 ·
· on Raazgujal · >>Monokeras
I have a rule of thumb which, like all rules of thumb, can sometimes be wrong, but which I think is right often enough to make it worth having around. That rule is: the reward your reader gets for figuring out your obtuseness should be proportional to how in-your-face the obtuseness is. So for example, as a reader I don't expect (or at least, don't need) a great revelation or brilliant easter egg to accompany my figuring out some tangential writing on an ancient wall you're describing. But when I'm parsing the main dialogue of a story, and when you've deliberately rendered it like this, I expect... well, to be rewarded.

And here, I don't feel like I am. I could be mistaken, or I could just be being a sourpuss, but this feels like it's opaque for the sake of opaquicity. I don't feel like the time I spent parsing any of this was rewarded, you get me? And that's not a great feeling for a reader to have.

Anyway, I'll repeat that this might be a personal reaction, and I encourage you to get more feedback before taking it entirely to heart. But for what it's worth, I was a little disappointed that you put me through some mental juggling, and it didn't seem to earn me anything.
#21 ·
· on Day In, Day Out
The moral of the story is that kids are terrible and the last line is the Stockholm Syndrome speaking, right?

I kid, I kid. I work with elementary students for a living (though, in my defence, I get paid to do it).

Anyway, I agree with BB that I'm getting a really solid image of two-thirds of this household, and it'd help me if I knew a little better how part three fit in. Specifically, I can't tell right now if dad is sort of annoyed with her but also sympathetic, recognizing that they're both working full-time and all, or if he's fully disillusioned with her (and of course, I have no idea at all how accurate either set of feelings would be, from the text as presented). It's a big difference between the two, and the text doesn't resolve onto one or the other.

But that image of a little tyke charging up, zeroing in on the only dirty thing in the house, stealing food and immediately spoiling it... this all has the ring of truth to it, so to speak. You did a great job of making this scene feel real, and joking aside, I loved the last line. Kudos!
#22 ·
· on A Shaggy GEN3RIC_V1AGRA# Story
I'll agree with >>Chris:

And how nice it is to see you around these semi-deserted parts, sir!--that this is pretty silly but pretty weightless, too. I kept hoping for more twists, like some whole Joel WIllie/Ben Taylor story, but, well, it's just a minific, after all, I suppose...

Still, I'll second the idea of @ukr playing @gmail more, dropping hints about the Ukrainian stuff more slowly and grudgingly to get @gmail more emotionally involved. But yeah, it's fun.

#23 ·
· on Performance Evaluation
As with a couple other:

Stories this round, I'd like more about the non-POV character. The whole thing'd be much stronger for me if I can see that Ms. Bracegirdle needs something at the beginning of the story and that she gets that something during this little vacation from whatever passes for reality here. Maybe Corporate is breathing down her neck--so to speak--about getting the next bit of nonsense out, and she needs to get away from the pixie dust of the daily grind for awhile? :)

#24 ·
· on Flock of Birds
As the kids say:

That escalated quickly. Again, though, that's pretty much intrinsic to the minific format...

I found myself wondering about the present tech level of Earth in this story, though. Does humanity have some form of star-to-star transportation? If not, it seems silly to fixate on the location of the alien planet when there's so much else--like how to travel from star to star--that could be of interest...

#25 ·
· on Girded and Braced · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Thanks so much, GGA:

I mean, Mysterious Artist Whose Identity WIll Remain Unknown For Several More Days. My only comment would involve her middle set of appendages. I describe them in the story as a second set of arms as opposed to a second set of legs, so I was picturing them as branching out just above her waist when she's all anthropomorphized like this. But either way, this is really nice!

#26 ·
· on Performance Evaluation
Thanks to my four fellow voters for the gold:

To Chris especially for the comment, and congrats to my fellow medalists. The prompt brought my mind immediately to old Betty Boop cartoons, and the rest flowed pretty naturally from there. Let me also put up this link to Jiminy Cricket a.k.a. Ukelele Ike a.k.a. Cliff Edwards singing the song featured here. It just went into public domain at the first of the year, so no copyright issues anymore!

#27 ·
· on The Bearbox
Hey guys!

Greets to all and especially to the winner, runner up and runner up of the runner up! ;)

First off, I feel especially bad not to have taken part in the comments round. I was really swamped, snowed under a ton of work. This round was scheduled at the worst possible moment of this month, but I still wanted to contribute somehow.

>>Baal Bunny

This little piece was just an experiment at recreating in written form what you can feel when you watch a foreign movie without having the subtitles on. Since the prompt was about “pleasant”, of course I had to choose what I thought would be an endearing scene. I was a bit at wits' end so I plumped for a simple scenario. Nor did I have much time and space to elaborate, but there was little need to. Expanding this into a full-fledged story would have been unbearable.

Also it was inspired by this famous funny as hell video.

I apologise for the use of “along”. I seem to have problems at hammering into my mind that “along” fits only for space, not for time, except in “all along”. That idiom interferes with the way I construe the word, plus probably some influence from French, and I end up adding extra temporal indication after “all along” which makes it sound off.

Also, I wanted the whole scene to feel Aussie, so I chose British vocabulary in hope it would be in use in Oz, but I hadn't time enough to have an Aussie read it, so it was like a shot in the dark. “bagsy” is a fun word which means “secure for oneself” in BrE. I thought it more colourful and spicy than the usual “grasp, grab, clutch…”

>>Baal Bunny

I totally agree with you on that one. It was written on the back of an envelope in like one hour that Sunday morning. TBH, I hesitated until the last minute whether to pull it back or not, because I was aware the regulatory framework was cramped and the outfit I had given to the story was more a straitjacket than a tailored suit. I finally decided to let it leave, and it’s a bit of a shame in hindsight because that means I won’t be able to expand it and submit it for a short story round. On the other hand, I suspect the idea of such a deception by an alien hostile civilisation is not new, so I’m not really keen at spending too much time and effort to build on that skeleton. Might switch my mind if you tell me there’s potential, but currently I really doubt it.

Also, Chris, welcome back. You come back to us in times of need? :)

Cheers to all! Happy new year again!
#28 ·
· on Girded and Braced
Girded and Braced

I accept this gold unironically; I earned it.

>>Baal Bunny
I'm glad you liked it! This is based on a real butterfly, and a 1930's dress from a fashion ad; the rest was drawn freehand in Illustrator.
I'm sorry I missed that detail about the arms. I had considered giving her extra arms anyway, but I was under time pressure and it was just easier to give her another pair of feet. In such manner does the world lurch along.
#29 ·
· on A Fairy's Travail
>>Baal Bunny, >>Chris

A Fairy's Travail

At the start of this round, I told a friend, "This is my prompt; it's made for me." (Not literally, I submitted "Their Faces Were the Same".) But I was right, in spirit. Thanks for the silver and the iambic advice! I can add more as advised about the narrator now that I have more than 750 words to finish things off.