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Metamorphosis · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 3
So, original minific time, like
The last man on earth sat in a room.
There was a knock at the door.

Only longer. Hmmm. Might be able to pry loose time for this.
#2 ·
· · >>Crafty
I was just thinking last night while laying in bed trying to go to sleep if this one was this weekend or next, so I'm once again one day short of submitting a prompt.
#3 ·
· · >>vladspellbinder
What would you have submitted?
#4 ·
· · >>Crafty
"Up Time"
#5 ·
· · >>vladspellbinder
A story about AIs competing on who can "hold their breath" the longest :D
#6 ·
If it had gone through I was going to do either one about an A.I. going through their learning loops and becoming self aware or a hang gliding competition.
#7 · 1
I missed the prompt round, but I am in. See you in a few hours!
#8 · 1
Ah.... I have... ideas about this one, but... Not sure if appropriate for me to write such a story. We'll see.
#9 · 2
Hooray for minifics fitting into my schedule! Looking forward to writing with you all.
#10 · 3
I'm in. Going to bed, good luck to everyone else!
#11 · 3
Okay. Am in. Time to whip up lunch now! :)
#12 · 2
I made it!

Good luck to all participants!
#13 ·
· on Butterfly · >>Monokeras
A few typos, but nothing major. Interesting choice of a butterfly, since they're a classic example of metamorphosis, but you have one that's already an adult taking on a new function. I'm caught up in what the context for this might be. Is it a genetically engineered butterfly that still has a little too much instinct in it to follow orders absolutely? Is it an AI designed to mimic butterflies so well that it's losing itself in its identity? The story doesn't have to answer those, of course, unless the author actually wanted to take that on as what the story's message would be.

What I would like is a little more tension. It's obvious right from the beginning that this butterfly has a conflicting nature to it, so after a couple paragraphs, I already get that. Nothing new ever happens with it, at least until it starts disregarding orders, but it leaves the middle of the story feeling stagnant. It's potentially going to be subject to harm from itself, but that doesn't come up until the end, and without feeling like the targets might also pose an immediate threat, there's also no escalating tension through the middle part. This might have benefitted from being even shorter.
#14 ·
· on Apollonian · >>Monokeras
I like the language flow and rhythm to this, and there are a few snags that could easily be edited to make this subtly better. Just for a few examples: look for places where you jam a bunch of hard breaks (as em dashes) close together, note how you have to get to the end of the second paragraph before you vary how you start your sentences, there's some repetitiveness (in a story this short, it's really easy to note the "already-oppressive" and "already-sweat," for instance).

This is another one that might actually work better if a little shorter. You spend nearly half the story going through the motions of him starting up his machinery, and it's not that important. A little of it is. The contrast of the air conditioning versus the hot weather, science, versus nature. But all the details of him starting the engine, putting it in gear, how fast the engine is going, checking the GPS... just one or two of those would be enough to convey him settling into a routine. Too much, and it starts to feel like padding, and it takes too much focus away from the important parts.

This does a great job of setting mood. I always like atmosphere pieces, and this accomplishes it well.
#15 · 1
· on V · >>Monokeras >>Monokeras
Ehh, not bad, though it broadcasts the ending pretty early on. (I watched "V" as it originally aired, and as I understand it, it's hard to find recordings of it now.)

Yet another one that could be shorter without losing anything. This one's caught in the middle. The kinds of idle things thy talk about could work in a longer story, but when you have to keep it all so succinct to fit within the word limit, it exposes how much of it isn't very on point and could be cut, primarily because the clipped dialogue pretty much everyone has to resort to in minifics always sounds a bit unnatural.

It might help to give these two some more characterization. I know virtually nothing about either one of them, and some of that unnecessary dialogue could be exchanged for some context about who the characters are and what past they share.
#16 ·
· on Wood Walker's Cape · >>Monokeras
This one does a nice job of preserving a moment. There's not really a plot, as the narrator hasn't had enough of this experience to know what he's going to do with it. It's just the start of a journey, and one that he doesn't know where it will lead, but it's definitely a watershed moment for him, and it captures the imagery and discovery of it very well.

If anything, I'd say it might undersell it a bit. The turns of phrase at all the details he notices, and how he notices them from a different perspective, are wonderfully descriptive, but it's not really linked to a sense of heightened emotion. As I think about it, there are two parts to that. One, that there's not much context of how much his aunt meant to him. That he was maybe the only family member who related to her well, yes, but not to any special bond they shared, beyond just the fact that she's trusting him with her cape. And two, that the experience of being a fox is worded in ways that don't have emotional cues to them. That can work at times, where the newness of it can make the person feel distant, almost in a state of shock, and I'm not sure why that works in some cases but not others. I think here it's that a detached style would potentially work for the nature aspect alone, but since you've coupled that with the emotional attachment to the aunt, it makes everything feel almost too stoic.

Lovely piece, though, and to the top of the ballot with you.
#17 ·
· on Wood Walker's Cape
Alternate title: Fox in the Box

I agree with >>Pascoite here. This is more a single moment rather than a story. I'd still comment on two things:

First, the opening dialogue, and especially the words of the dying aunt struck me as a bit unrealistic. I don’t expect someone at death's door to hold such a neat, complex, elaborate speech. I would rather expect snatches of sentences, that the narrator would have to patch together. Now, my expectation is probably a bit clichéd and coloured by books or movies, I can’t tell—I've never been at anyone's bedside during their passing, so this might be a gross misrepresentation. Still, this sounded a bit off to me.

Next, while the picture you paint is charming, it is, somehow to me, very much predictable. There’s nothing really captivating or original. I remember reading other stories of people transforming into animals, and, yeah, that was pretty much what you write. Not that it is bad, or boring or w/e, but I think it falls short of giving us a fresh view on how being a wild animal can alter one's perception of nature, or of the world around us.

However, as Pasco noticed, the prose is strong with this one! :) Good job!
#18 ·
· on Butterfly
Once again with >>Pascoite on the few typos. Maybe you should work on punctuation too, as there were a few misplaced commas. Also, the description of the party having the picnic is a bit muddled, because the use of the word ‘men’ can refer to almost everyone, so I’d a hard time figuring out who the butterfly was meant to spy on.

I agree we’re left on the fence here, because the butterfly you describe seems to be two things at once: a normal butterfly, subject to normal butterfly impulses and reflexes, and a sort of robot programmed to spoof on conversations. We don’t really know what to choose. Alternatively, we might be dealing with an AI ‘piggybacked’ over a vanilla butterfly, and taking control of it by whatever electronic means it is equipped with, such as a neural simulator.

This reminds me of a short story (which one?) I read long ago about a robotised fly used as a ‘bug’, as they say in secret services (which is also very much the case here).

You hang us out to dry here, because we don’t get know what the butterfly was supposed to spy on, nor who sent it. So we are confined to the role of spectators unable to discover the whos or whys, which makes the whole story more frustrating than anything else.
#19 ·
· on Apollonian
I've probably more a hard time enjoying this than >>Pascoite. Since my mother lives in France's main breadbasket, west of Paris, I know quite a lot of farmers, and that piece, poetic though it is, doesn’t seem to properly capture their mood when they go working in the fields. They’re somewhat indifferent to nature, cool and efficient. What matters is how many gallons of corn they’ll crop in July, how much the pesticides cost and what equipment they shall upgrade to help improve the yields. That actually transpires somewhat in the final part of this piece, but don’t forget that those people hardly feel any attachement to either mechanic devices or plants. They are, quintessentially, means to make money.

I wish you chose to describe what an organic farmer thinks or does. I expect those people to have a more ‘touchy-feely’ approach to their cultures, show more respect toward nature, the plants, the various creatures that populate the fields, in other words more commitment to growing their crops without using what you justly describe as a chemical shield against pests. Maybe you could’ve contrasted the two approaches, the classical, profit-centric one with the ‘organic’, more respectful one.

Lastly, ‘film of mud’ struck me as an odd way to put it. I see where you’re coming from, but I'd still use ‘thin layer’ or just ‘covering’. But that’s mainly stylistic issues, so whatever floats your boat.
#20 ·
· on V
Welp, I'd say that’s the only one of the stories which has an arc, and goes beyond a simple descriptive vignette.

I agree pretty much with >>Pascoite in that the story is ‘boxed’ almost from the start, though I must confess that the prompt acts as an additional giveaway. Without knowing what the prompt is, the story would probably not be as ‘in-your-face’ as it is right now.

That being said, even if the final twist is somewhat predictable, I thought the execution was quite nicely done. I agree it could be squeezed into a yet smaller format, but I think it would then lose a bit of its ‘natural’ flow, though, as Pasco notes, dialogues in minifics can hardly serve any other purpose than conveying extra information you can’t disclose using descriptions, and so feel always a bit contrived. Then, what Pasco says about characterisation maybe, although I agree it’s not that vital to the plot itself.

Finally, kudos for setting this in the UK with British English, lol :)
#21 ·
· on Feed
This does lend the creepiness that the story was lacking. That it's a straight screenshot from the game Limbo makes me subtract points. While I support collages, creative combinations of clipart and found objects, this just smacks too much of borrowing someone else's vision with no effort involved. Still, thanks for contributing, participant.
#22 ·
· on Technifly
A collage! This must be a week of kindness.
Good eye on picking out that odd shaped mechanism and blessing it with symmetry. The background is a bit bland, but perhaps it's best to let the foreground forms do the visual communication. Neatly done, Artist.
#23 ·
· on Under the Hood
I see the hints of a drawing here, and what I see is good. On the whole, the lines, particularly in the face area, aren't connected enough to do more than suggest. The total feeling I get is more confused than enigmatic. Still, I appreciate the effort, Artist!
#24 ·
· on So Above, As Below
Ah, and here we have the "Let's try to get all the fics into one image!" strategy that works maybe one time out of a hundred. It admittedly has a better shot when there are few fics, as in current rounds. I can identify the story elements and I see the parallels the artist is drawing, though I am not sure on all the connections. Still, thanks for creating it, Artist!
#25 ·
· on V
Grats to the medalists! :p

>>Pascoite Thanks for your review, Pasco! Yeah, I know it was pretty much in-your-face. Didn't have much time to think about a better plot, and, to be honest, my primary goal here was to pull off 100% genuine British dialogues. I could’ve made it shorter, but I think it would have removed some of its tang. I tried to convey a bit of background in the dialogues, but I suppose it sounded off.

Oh well. Never mind, it was fun.

And yes, ‘V’, especially the mini-series, is nowhere to be found. I'd like to put my hand on it but so far no dice. Maybe it’ll surface later, or I’ll stumble on to it in a jumble sale.

Thanks again for your time! See you next round. Meanwhile, I’ll try to write an expanded version of my very first minific and post it on FIM!!
#26 ·
· on V · >>Monokeras
From the stories in the Writeoff, this one the most straight-forward, I think to its detriment.

It was immediately obvious where it was going, which meant there wasn't much to hold the attention throughout. The dialog was well crafted and especially in the first half flowed effortlessly. In the second half, there were a tad too many red flags for James to not figure out something was up; him realizing partway through that something bad was about to happen might have made the encounter more personal and intensive.

The writing was technically very competent, I don't think I can give any pointers there.

Than you for writing!
#27 ·
· on Technifly
I absolutely adore this pic!

The elements are chosen perfectly and the overall composition and feel are super strong. I would be proud to have this as a cover for the story (and would feel a little guilty too, as the picture is much better than the story itself).

Might be my bias, but this is absolutely my slate topper.

Edit: Would love to learn about how you found the right clip art and how you created this.
#28 ·
· on Wood Walker's Cape
I found this story a bit lacking in its ability to engage me emotionally.

The initial setup has several leads that seem to indicate a deeper backstory, but with no time to explore them they feel a little vestigial.

The transformation also feels a bit... distant. It didn't feel like I as the reader was going on this journey. This might sound harsh, but I felt as if I was peeking on the make-believe diary of an otherkin, rather than feel myself engage and identify with the events. This leaves the story feeling kind of weird for me - it's almost as if it wasn't meant for me to read, but instead I'm intruding on someone else's personal fantasy. I'm not saying that this is the actual case, just what I felt like when reading.

The writing itself flowed well, easily the best in the Writeoff. I think this is one of the main strengths of this story - the prose itself just reads very naturally.

Thank you for writing!
#29 ·
· on Apollonian
This one was the first story I picked up, and it was a great intro to this Writeoff.

There are certain moments in fiction that instill a sense of reality. Reading this, it felt like the genuine experience of working on the fields, even though in reality it's not quite that. Being able to instill that in a reader unfamiliar with a given profession is a great achievement, and I commend the writer for it.

That said, the actual contents of the story just didn't pique my interest. It's a solemn little vignette, but it lacks a strong emotional arc.

Prose was good, I don't have any particular comments.

Thank you for writing!
#30 ·
· on V

Thanks for commenting and for your appreciation of the prose. Yeah, the plot was not as good as I wanted it to be. That happens, sometimes. To be honest, I was tempted to write a story a la GGA but I was told long ago that stories without dialogues are not very engaging, so I decided to take another path…

Anyhow, being congratulated on the dialogues and the writing in general more than makes up for the wobbly plot! Thanks a bunch! :)