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Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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#101 · 7
· · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Title assessments once again! You all are owed a wrap up from last round probably, but eh. I want to start reviewing, and if we're reviewing titles blind, gotta do that first!

This Story is a Metaphor for the Canterbury Tales - Personal appeal here, since, broadly speaking, I was a medievalist. I wanna know how this story is going to go down, for all that I fear this is some bait and switch.

Monokeras and Fenton's Whacky French Adventures - It is straight fanservice, but it is a good way to garnerr attention in the right crowd. I hjave a pretty solid idea of what I'm getting into here, and I do want to know what it's gonna be.

Even Chewbacca Is Not Bulletproof - Some potential here, but I think the contraction would make it read better. That said, I'm less a Star Wars person, so I'm a bit less interested.

Every World We Visit Is Dead - I lost my leg like I lost my way / So no loose ends / Nothing to see me down / How are we going to work this out? // Seriously though, this is a good, solid hook right off the bat.

Blind Dating in a World Gone Mad - Less a clear hook than the above, but still presents an interesting idea that makes me want to look in.

Pickup Trucks and Comic Books - This is actually a pretty rad title, creating a bit of a dichotomy between the two items that makes me want to know what's up (not that pickups and comics are mutually exclusive, but they do rcreate images of two different people).

The Day I Met my Double - Title case error. That said, this sets up a story that could go a lot of neat places.

A Toothsome Armageddon - Right on the border of the lower tier. The idea here is good, but I think the word toothsome really lacks the punch to sell the strangeness.

You'd Better Skip This One. - No periods, please. It is barely noticable and when you do, it just looks wrong. That said, contradictory titles have punch just because of how people react to them. "This book is not for you" indeed.

Multi Universe Drifting - I think this is missing a a hyphen. That said, this works for me for getting curious about what this story is about. This is definitely selling to a specific audience.

Someone is Wrong in the Multiverse - See the above. This resonates really strongly because I love the whole "Someone is wrong on the internet!" thing. So, certainly solid in the context here because I connect it to memeing I like.

Roy's Diner, 3 A.M. - This isn't really drawing me in, but it is just distinct and different enough to catch my attention.

High School Dramady, Played Straight - Minor issue is that Dramedy is the "correct" spelling. Beyond that, while this title is similar to Canterbury Tales, the idea is less intriguing on the whole I find.

Trictrics - One word title with a more interesting word. It isn't exactly pulling me in or anything, but you got me to stop and stare which, I think, is a key to titular success. You might have convinced me to look at the synopsis to see what a trictric is.

Outsmarting Yourself - Not great, but not bad. This has some potential, particularly within the context of the prompt.

Letters from the Unknown - You evoked a bit of feeling in me. It's a decent horror/thriller sounding title. It's riiiiiiight on the verge of going a tier down, but with the prompt I'm intrigued.

Fears Are Like Dogs - Why are fears like dogs? This question doesn't dig deeply at me, but it digs well enough to at least merit a pause.

A Bureaucratic Welcome - Hm. I feel like this might be pushing towards the above tier. It certainly allows one to wonder what it's going to be about and gives you an idea of the shape of the story, but it also, in and of itself, sounds a bit boring. Comedy from that is obvious, but it is risky.

Folks You Know - Reads well to me.

A Matter of Time - Basically the perfect definition of generic.

From Curiosity to Confusion, From Confusion to Horror - Long and clunky. It just doesn't read well, especially given you start in an alliterative manner, but abandon it at the end.

But first... - Generic, doesn't hook well, and has title case issues.

Cheap Easy Portalfare - I think I get what it's going for, but it just doesn't read well or do much for me.

Optimism - One word title with a boring word.

R&D - One word title with a boring word.

Walking With A Goddess - Meh. Just not particular inspiring to me, particularly as a genre fiction reader. Goddess walks happen all the time!

Villainy - One word title with a boring word.

Selection - One word title with a boring word.

The Everett Device - Why should I, the reader, care about this device? Without that, this title means nothing to me.

First Sight - First sight? Within the context of the prompt this really doesn't evoke anything to me.

The Burden She Bore - On the border of the above category. There is some inspiration and information here, but it really just doesn't evoke something interesting to me. I'd generally bet this as general litfic or such.

The Pauper and the Princess - Puts me too much in mind of the Prince and the Pauper without a bit enough twist for me.

King Laius - Might be showing my ignorance here, but, in the absence of the name Laius meaning anything to me (sorry Greek myth nerds), I'm kinda inclined to generally assume this is actually just a made up name (I read too much fantasy) at which point I don't have a reason to care. Sorta the opposite result of the meme-y titles above for me.

Memento - One word title with a boring word.
#102 ·
· on Walking With A Goddess · >>eusocialdragon
Touching. So far the best I've read, but I've only read three.
#103 ·
· on Selection · >>Ranmilia
I...don't understand how the prompt was used here?

And yeah, I can empathize with the data collection part but...if the only results in line with the expectations are the ones where the assistant where drunk or the coolant levels were wrong, doesn't that actually suggest that the procedure is flawed (perhaps in the amount of coolant that should be used?)
#104 · 1
· on Blind Dating in a World Gone Mad · >>AndrewRogue
Actually really liked it. Gold star.


I can see your point about this not feeling self-contained, but I think that given the limitations of the minific this story did the best it could.

I....think that the only way to close the story would be to add a line from Vivienne's mind about something something optimism, but it runs the risk of feeling fake.
#105 ·
· on You’d Better Skip This One.
Man, apparently parallel universes bring out the meta conversations in all of us.
#106 ·
· on Letters from the Unknown
Heh. Pretty good.
#107 ·
· on Every World We Visit Is Dead · >>Cassius
Amusing premise, and I like the bookends. I didn't notice any grammatical issues, but the character motivation didn't quite sit right with me. The alternate him apparently knows where he's going, and presumably dropped by to help - at least that's all he does. But he does so rudely. Why go out of you way to help someone, if you don't seem to really want to?
#108 · 1
· on Walking With A Goddess · >>eusocialdragon
It's decent enough, but I'm not familiar enough with Norse mythology for this one to land with me. I did like the irony that the absolute best warriors wouldn't end up in Valhalla.

The 'damn' was a little jarring, given the rest of the tone. It took me a bit to get my bearings. For a while, I wasn't sure if it was all Norse, or just the Norse section of a multiversal afterlife.

It did seem to be well crafted, but I didn't have the background to pick up on the other layers.
#109 · 1
· on Walking With A Goddess · >>eusocialdragon
This is an interesting vignette, and it's nice to see an original choice of topic.

The main issue for me is that I'm confused about the second-pony voice. Telling me that 'your people call it leprosy' seems to suggest the reader is in the role of a modern-day (well maybe not modern, but not ancient) person, but that doesn't match up well with the details in the description of being a warrior. So who am I, then? I don't know anything about who I'm supposed to be. This makes it difficult for me to become emotionally invested.

I agree with horizon about the last line seeming like an attempt at a twist when it isn't one—she should introduce herself at the outset. If that change makes the story seem like not much of a story, the problem isn't an attempt at a twist; it's the rest of the story. I think you need something more to make this a fully-fledged story, even in a space this small.

Also, WP suggests that her name is Hel and the realm she commands is also called Hel, which is only a portion of Niflheim—unless you're referring to the Marvel comic book character named Hela.
#110 ·
· on Villainy
I was amused. Others have largely pointed out the main shortcomings of the piece; I don't have much to add there.

Enjoyed the pony reference. Going in, I wasn't sure if it was alternate versions of Sinestro, or he was just a slow learner. As it was, the framing device worked well for me.
#111 ·
· on Someone is Wrong in the Multiverse
This one didn't land with me quite as well as it did for Foehn.

Who is this guy that he has the power to seemingly alter the universe at will? The implication is that he's a dimensional traveler, but I don't see how it'd give you that power. Also, why keep repeating the same line that isn't working. So much repetition of the prompt came off as heavy-handed.

That said, I did like the ending, with the misunderstanding and then subversion.
#112 ·
· on The Everett Device
Very inventive! I like the idea enough that I'm willing to ignore how incorrect it is. :raritywink:

The largest issue I feel this story has is that the establishment of the "excited student, annoyed professor" dynamic uses up most of the story when it really doesn't need to. Even if the dynamic hadn't felt unrealistic to me (see below the quote for more on that), it's the bulk of the text, which seems like a waste of space (or padding). The number one thing I'd have done here is trim content. I'm confident that you could tell this story in 400 words instead of 700+ without losing anything, and saying things more concisely is part of the benefit of minific competitions.

I'm uncertain what the ending is trying to say. Is the professor saying that the research is unpublishable, or are they saying they won't publish because they feel that they don't have 'free will' in some misinformed interpretation of causality? Neither option makes any sense, and I don't see a third one. I think you should be more explicit, and that whatever you are trying to say, the idea should be justified in the story.

I sighed again. I hated explaining this to newbies.

You don't need to tell us this. The reader can guess his mood from the continual sighing and eye-rolling. :derpytongue2:

This isn't a major issue, but why would the professor hate explaining something if there's no way a student could possibly know the answer? If for some odd reason this obvious task did annoy them, why wouldn't they create an informational pamphlet, or teach it in class, or cover it on day one with a new RA? I don't understand the professor's annoyance, and it feels highly unrealistic from somepony who's been in the RA position and also had students work for her. A professor wouldn't feel contempt toward a student's enthusiasm, even if she knows her student is in error. That's essentially her role as advisor (and adviser, as well).
#113 · 1
· on A Toothsome Armageddon · >>Monokeras >>Monokeras
Not exactly the most sophisticated story, but amusing. It takes itself exactly as seriously as it should. The ending was the strongest part for me.
#114 · 1
· on You’d Better Skip This One.
Creative interpretation of the prompt, and I can appreciate the level of thought that went into it. But while it's a philosophical piece, I can't say that the ideas really resonated with me. I guess by the interpretation of the story, I'm safe from it, as I'm in the 'go along with my life' camp. Still, I it was successful in sparking thought and reflection, and I appreciate having read it.
#115 ·
· on You’d Better Skip This One. · >>AndrewRogue
This is very interesting. I love the ideas.

I'm not sure it's a story, and I'm not sure if that matters. Still, it could use more characterization... somehow. Maybe.

I don't think the bookending adds anything—it felt trite to me. I think it's a better story if you strike the last sentence.
#116 ·
· on Letters from the Unknown · >>Bachiavellian
While the premise isn't the most logical, it's clever, and I can't help but salute the craft on display. I'm not sure if I would've even realized it, without the red highlights.

The action and characters get the job done, but aren't particularly memorable, but for knowing the constraints it was written under. Kind of a niche piece, but cleverly executed.
#117 · 2
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>AndrewRogue >>thebandbrony
I'm calling this one for Dubs_Rewatcher just because it's the last piece without a review.

And, statistically speaking, there had to be at least one world where that girl could buy a one-way ticket to any infinite reality she wanted. One where she had the courage to come to him.

>inb4 Luke gets there and discovers the thousands upon thousands of alternate Lukes with the same idea

I like the core idea here — especially the ending, which thematically and tonally sells it, and very neatly bookends the opening. That's definitely the strongest part of your work, and strong endings are hard to do in Writeoff-land. Good job!

What's holding this back right now, unfortunately, is confusing prose. For example, take your opening:

Somewhere in all the infinite realities the advertisements had promised Luke, there had to be one out there where this beer tasted good.

A burly traveler wearing a horrifying Hawaiian shirt stumbled out of the arrivals gate and sat down in the seat next to Luke, nearly spilling his [1] beer.

The traveler motioned the bartender over and leaned over to Luke. [2] “Excuse me,” he said, “what’s the best beer in this universe?”

The bartender rolled his eyes [3] and reached for a stack of fancy plastic cups.

1) Whose beer? This clause is very ambiguous as to whether the traveler arrived with beer or whether the act of sitting somehow affected Luke's (hypothetical) cup. (The first paragraph doesn't actually establish that he's actively drinking, just implies it.)

2) Who is the traveler talking to? This sentence has him equally engaging them both. Or, wait. Is the implication of the sentence that the traveler is focusing on just one individual even though two different names are used, and Luke is the bartender?

3) I am still so disoriented from #2 that I'm not sure whether this is Luke or not. But from the fact that the bartender is reacting, it seems clear that the bartender is the target of the previous question, whether or not the bartender = Luke.

There are two opposite readings of this section — Luke is the bartender; and Luke is a third party to this conversation — both of which seem problematic but equally plausible. If the latter, I don't understand why he's being leaned in to. If the former, I don't understand why Luke's seated in a chair.

There are several sections like that, where the prose seems to contradict or repeat what you're already implying:

“Don’t be. All those conspiracy theorists are fulla garbage. It’s perfectly safe. I actually checked out their website one time, and those freaks actually believe the portal vaporizes you when you walk through.” He nodded to the bartender and grabbed his drink. “They’re the ones who are afraid.”

Well … yes? They are? You just spent a paragraph establishing that; I'm not sure what you're implying by telling us outright.

“How many realities,” the traveler corrected him. “This is my fourteenth. I wish they gave out frequent flyer miles!” He let out a big laugh. “Then again, all the portal companies are running off the airline model. What can you do?”

Um … if they're explicitly running off the airline model, why aren't they giving out frequent traveler miles?

"It’s not like you can go back.”

(two paragraphs later:)
“Where are you going?”

“Home, hopefully.”

…So is it possible to return to your point of origin or not?

The good news is that all of this disorientation will be very easy to clear up in editing. The bad news is that, as it currently stands, most of the story is a giant muddle of conflicting facts and descriptions. Get all that straightened out and your strong ending will carry this pretty far.

Tier: Almost There
#118 ·
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare
#119 ·
You never know with these contests. At least with the OF rounds.
#120 · 1
· on The Pauper and the Princess · >>Cassius
Needs a bit of editorial clean-up.

Beyond that, while I generally like this one (what can I say, I hate myself too!), I think you chose the wrong viewpoint character. Seeing things from the self-assured, already knowing what she's going to do version of our protagonist isn't that interesting. She's not the one this story is really about. She doesn't have any real stakes here. She's not the one who is trying to change. She is just a stable force.

As presented, this is really Pauper's story, and I think it'd be a much better piece written that way.
#121 ·
· on The Day I Met my Double
The idea is good, but it seems optimistic to the point of silliness.

There are some English issues, but you probably know this. A proofreader might help.
#122 ·
· on A Toothsome Armageddon · >>Monokeras >>Monokeras
Needs editorial works. Just a lot of little typos everywhere.

So, it's got a bit of the Airplane style manic humor, mad world thing going on, but none of the jokes (besides the last one, which is quite nice) really land for me. I dunno, what I'd suggest to fix it. Honest answer might just be that I'm not much for crack humor, which is really the core of this.
#123 ·
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare · >>thebandbrony
"It’s not like you can go back." Why not? I need an explanation for this to make sense given the fact you can apparently portal over and over. Like, maybe the worlds you travel to are always random. It's especially confusing because how do they actually know it takes you to another world if they can't ever go back? I guess from the travellers who start showing up once you build the first portal...?

The protagonist's logic is too ridiculous for me to take without Anderson-Cooper-level eye-rolling. He has no chance of finding what he's looking for, period. Plus, if the woman desperately wanted to see the version of him who left her, yet had the ability to go to any universe she wants... Derp. :derpytongue2:
#124 ·
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare · >>thebandbrony
See >>horizon for some good technical advice.

Beyond that, I have a broader issue with the story structure. Basically, with a minific, I kinda feel you have to get to the meat of the story fast. Here, the meat is held to the back half, where it isn't really a twist or even really a recontextualization of anything. It just sort of thuds into place with "oh, by the by, tragic background!" The idea is neat and a good one, but I just don't think, as structured, it really delivers the full punch of its potential.

It is also worth noting that this story kinda unfortunately raises awkward questions if you think about it. In much the way that you have expectations of how a time travel story should loop back into itself because of the nature of time travel, raising the specter of infinity raises the question of, well, why hasn't she shown up? Because in the nature of infinity (as commonly understood as such), there should definitely be another one and she should be there. Similarly, as pointed out by Horizon, there should be tons of him as well. I think you need to narrow things down redefine them a bit to avoid those questions.
#125 ·
· on The Day I Met my Double · >>Monokeras
is he gonna cook em to death? Chef vs the Eaters. that sounds like a silly, fun adventure. I wish I got to read that instead of the origin story.
#126 ·
· on Roy's Diner, 3 A.M. · >>Haze >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>Ranmilia >>Foehn
While that would be a decent opening line under different circumstances, here it is fairly dull, since it doesn't do anything interesting. It's expected. Well, yeah, we are gonna talk about parallel universes. It's the prompt.

Anyhow, so the big problem here is that the vast majority of the story, while solidly written, is pretty much filler. When it really comes down to it, the story is "person dumps partner." As near as I can tell, this isn't really a decision that arrives during the discussion. It is something forgone. So, again, we basically have decent punchline offset by random multiverse nonsense to get us there. I mean, it's a bad sign when our viewpoint character bails on the largest chunk of the story too! :p

I mean, functionally, if we actually -involved- the idea of parallel universes being the real reason this is happening, we'd have something even funnier and much punchier. As is? It's fine, just not particularly engaging.
#127 ·
· on Villainy
Not sure if intentional reference, or just coincidence, but the punchline here (and honestly the overall structure as well) is basically that of the Anthology of Interest I episode from Futurama.

Beyond that, I actually don't have much to add that wasn't said above. While each individual scene is amusing in their own right, they aren't really funny enough to hold my attention across all four repetitions, especially since they very much have the same structure without any really zany or wild deviation. Rules of threes is a good one!
#128 ·
· on Multi Universe Drifting · >>horizon
I'm gonna be honest here, I really don't get what this one is going for. Like, I'm still not really sure what the actual meaning of the punchline is. I get that this is a parallel vs perpendicular thing, but I don't understand why.

EDIT: That said, also made me think of Futurama. Dimensional Drifting indeed.
#129 ·
· on A Matter of Time · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>Fenton
I'm also a bit lost here. I'm pretty sure I can comfortably say this is all a metaphor for death/suicide and the cause is the loss of a loved one, but elements of the metaphor don't really hold up for me. Like, why is this a crossroads decision? It seems he already made it, based on the rope. And the nature of the woman's questioning similarly doesn't quite mesh up in any particularly way I think of death as functioning.

Basically I am left ultimately unsatisfied, particularly because I don't feel there is sufficient information to really come up with a better workable theory.
#130 ·
· on From Curiosity to Confusion, From Confusion to Horror
See the same comment I made on Roy's Diner re: opening line.

Anyhow, yeah, there isn't much of a story here, unfortunately. It's basically two guys reference stuff I know, then things get meta briefly. I think there is something to the meta elements that could make for a pretty workable piece if you wanted to expand on it, but, as presented, there really isn't anything to hook or interest me. Honestly, I kinda thought the punchline was gonna be something about confusing movies with parallel dimensions.
#131 · 1
· on This Story is a Metaphor for the Canterbury Tales · >>AndrewRogue
First of all, I don't understand how this story is a metaphor for the Canterbury Tales. It's possible I'm overthinking it; after all, this is a tale told while its participants take a pilgrimage. But that feels excessively reductionist and none of the themes line up in any satisfying way.

I like some of the details here — the belated explanation on the shapes, for example, neatly clicked into place with a cool detail that offered up some subtle characterization. The moment of transition in the middle I thought was handled well, and there's a satisfying sense of justice to the ending.

I can't work up a whole lot of emotional engagement for the rest, though and I'm not sure how much of that is a writing problem vs. a taste problem. Xian felt really excessive in his scenery-chewing petty villainy (taste?), and the exposition felt fairly forced to me (writing?). Honestly though my biggest gripe is that I have some major questions about the machine setup. This must be an alternate universe indeed if they're giving start and stop powers to the intern — but even an alternate universe feels insufficient to explain why this experimental machine with programmable coordinates that they're using to literally pull matter out of stars would ever be pointed at the operator console. I would buy that as some sort of sabotage, but your premise doesn't allow interns access to the targeting …

I disagree with >>GroaningGreyAgony that this feels like a fragment of a larger story — it sets up a conflict, resolution, and denouement, and I believe is self-contained as is. I do agree with previous commenters that the technobabble seems thick, but I think that's more of a symptom than a cause — if there were interesting things going on amid the technobabble, all the jargon wouldn't feel so weighty. We (and Rosa) are literally getting lectured to, though, which forces the t'babble front and center.

All in all, this might benefit from some significant changes about how to bring its core idea out. It's not that it's a bad story — but the editing process might involve some cuts or rewrites deeper than usual, hence the tier. Regardless, thanks for sharing!

Tier: Needs Work
#132 · 1
· on Pickup Trucks and Comic Books · >>Cassius
Cool title. Story feels like a lot of missed potential, though.

this guy has probably got twice my vocabulary and he isn’t even in middle school yet

he doesn't seem to show it. except the word "universe", which dad somehow doesn't know.

And just like that, I’m thinking about my Jessica again. Her voice, her hair, her smell. Her laugh and her cooking, and her son.

Only detail I know about her is chocolate cake. The rest is still vague. I don't know her enough to empathize.

since Jason claims the teacher didn't bring up this topic of parallel universes, it only makes sense if he got it from his superhero comics. It's half of the title, after all, therefore it's gotta be more than a throwaway detail. yet when describing the concept to his dad, he gives such a generic description. there's no hint that he's thinking about some story that influenced him.

the problem here is that the boy's idea doesn't get turned into any interesting conclusions.
Something different could have happened to them a long time ago, and that makes them change who they are.

people could turn out different, but there's no suggestion what in the past could've produced a different result (i.e. smarter dad). and since the focus here is on the mother, I was wondering if there's something implied about a mistake someone made in the past, something that could've been changed to save her in another universe. but uh, there's nothing. just, "feel bad because she's gone"

the only focus I can find is the mud caked (pun intended?) on his fingers. pretty imagery which doesn't tell me anything.
#133 · 1
· on Walking With A Goddess · >>eusocialdragon
It is why I brought you here. I would ask that you be one of my einherjar, one of my chosen, an enforcer of my will in this place. Order must be kept here, and I would have the best at my side.


Anyhow, nicely written little piece, evocative and rad, but even moreso than Pauper, this story chose the wrong protagonist. There's an awesome story behind the "you" in this story and we get absolutely no insight into it. Alternatively, there -could- still be an awesome story from the current second person perspective, but it requires Hel to have some actual stakes or investment in this particular warrior, which she doesn't seem to.

EDIT: And to clarify since it came in in the comments above, I'm not totally oblivious to the emotional undercurrent coming out of Hel, it is just that it feels so absolutely understated that it gets loss. While you get the sense of isolation and separation, you do not really get a sense that this any particular change or triumph.
#134 · 1
· on The Burden She Bore · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>Ranmilia >>Dubs_Rewatcher
this story reminded me of "Pickup Trucks and Comic Books" with the parent themes, and smart character explaining to simple character about how parallel universes work. even though the prose isn't as pretty, I think this one works better as a story.

I liked the opening section a lot, juxtaposing many instances of Mama working at parenting with her knowledge. using the tub drain to explain black holes is great. it's not just cute, but shows their relationship.

the section with Grandma is a little too on-the-nose, too direct with the lecturing, but I did like that it establishes this internal conflict by contrasting with the first section. she may indeed be smart, but not using it correctly.

this makes the whole multiverse section have some actual weight to it. "I could've been someone else" and so on. bringing it up seems unnaturally abrupt, but the conclusion was honestly kinda touching. so many of the fics this round have been about exploring alternate possibilities and destinies, but this is one of the few fics where the characters decide they're happiest right here in the universe they got (but there's still a pinch of doubt...)

the last part is too saccharine, and feels like such a weak note to end on. there's lots of wasted lines like these throughout the fic, which could've built upon the theme and made it feel more important. but I was still overall positive towards this story for having a theme and some contrast.
#135 · 2
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare · >>thebandbrony
I hate to be unhelpful, but honestly, I agree with what pretty much everyone here has already said.

I'd also like to add, however, that I'm not a fan of Luke's personality... whatever it might be. He's so static and passive here, I really don't get any idea what he's like. The only thing he does here is angst about finding a girlfriend who's desperate to love him—a wish that reads, to me, as more creepy than endearing. He doesn't care about the girl being happy. He wants her to be sad, distressed, traumatized by his death. Luke has some entitlement issues.
#136 ·
· on Folks You Know · >>libertydude
In a parallel universe, this was another story.

I kid, I kid. But it is hard to not make the comparison since the ideas are reasonably similar. That said, I also think it demonstrates a slightly stronger version of this story. Ultimately there really isn't much here, especially given we the audience know the punchline from line 1. Outside the prompt, you miiiiight get some people, but, on the whole, the reveal is really obvious and not particularly thrown off by the female speaker (who I assumed was a female Dan from the get go).

Basically, you really need to get into the strangeness of the situation and make that the core of the humor. You start approaching, but you should go hard!

They were all him. Save a different hairstyle or two and the varying clothes, they’d be mistaken for twins in the street.

And, in at least one circumstance, different genitalia and curves. :p
#137 · 1
· on Roy's Diner, 3 A.M.
While that would be a decent opening line under different circumstances, here it is fairly dull, since it doesn't do anything interesting. It's expected. Well, yeah, we are gonna talk about parallel universes. It's the prompt.

I think that's a bit unfair on this one. it's the second line that's meant to grab the reader's attention here. and it doesn't really work without dropping the prompt first.
#138 · 3
· on Outsmarting Yourself · >>Trick_Question

After finishing it, I'm not quite sure what I just read. As >>Monokeras noted, this fic's priorities seem scrambled... 75% of the story is just exposition, explaining the rules of the battle—and yet we don't see the battle. So what's the point of explaining the rules, then? As is, once we got into explaining the specific weapons our character likes to use, my eyes just glazed over, and any actually important details woven into those paragraphs were lost on me.

That leads to the ending being completely nonsensical for me. Has our narrator been the fat man the whole time? The last two lines imply to me that the narrator's wife is another version of the narrator. Yes? No? Maybe so?

I liked the narrator at the start, what with her confidence about being smarter than the gamblers. But after that, the fic just enters confusion mode. Not sure what's going on.
#139 ·
· on The Burden She Bore · >>Haze >>Dubs_Rewatcher
First off, I agree with >>AndrewRogue that the title here is hella bland. I see what you're trying to do—sort of a pseudo-subversion of "the burden we bear"—but it doesn't stand out, and isn't particularly memorable.

That said, I really liked this! It's very lit fic-esque, which is right up my alley. As >>Haze said, the scenes with Mama and Judy are real cute, and manage to express both their personalities well without seeming forced or needing to rely on exposition too much. Also, the prompt connection makes so much sense! 'Tis cool.

I'm not sure how I feel about the racial aspect in the second scene. It's obvious that part of the conflict here is cultural... an immigrant mother is too demanding of her daughter, wanting her to succeed in every way she didn't. Yet, the daughter is supposedly limiting her potential, as well as marrying some average white dude (I liked Papa's one line... shows how little he understands of Ma and Mama's relationship). And yet, as Haze noted, it feels quite on-the-nose. Ma deserves more characterization. As is, she's just here to shame Mama.

I also agree with what others have said about the ending. It emphasizes Judy's wonder about her mother, but isn't really evocative like the rest of the story has been.

Good in some ways, lacking in others. I wanna see this edited, though. I'm a sucker for these sorts of stories.

I disagree with your note about Harry Potter. I like that the book was named—perhaps it's just because that's the sort of book my own mom used to read to me, but that sort of specific detail really jumped out at me, and helped make the scene a lot more vivid.
#140 ·
· on Selection
Generally in need of an editorial pass.

That said, you have a decent framework, but as >>Fenton points out, you've got the start of a story, rather than a full narrative arc. When you've got limited space, you need to cut directly to the heart of the conflict.
#141 ·
· on A Matter of Time · >>Fenton
I'm sorry, author, this really isn't your fault but... I just can't read the first scene in this story without constantly being reminded of the scenes in The Incredibles where Mr. Incredible is inside the volcano base and flirting with Mirage. I'm not sure I can even explain why.


I'm with >>AndrewRogue and >>Foehn here. I find neither character in this story particularly interesting, nor do I find the plot engaging. As is, all the story gives me is cryptic conversations followed up by a somewhat touching, but generally unmeaningful romantic ending. Give me a reason to care about your characters, and I might find myself caring more about their possible death and resurrection.
#142 ·
· on Roy's Diner, 3 A.M. · >>Ranmilia >>Foehn
Hah! Here's another one I like. I agree with >>AndrewRogue that most of the fic is filler, yeah, but at least it's funny filler. The narrator's absolute bluntness, Boyfriend's obliviousness, and all the small asides that the prose takes are great.

That said, the ending is a bit weak... the "you incredible dick" line is definitely the strongest joke in the piece, so the story's punchline right after it just feels like a step down.

Also, I must admit, I'm a bit confused at what Boyfriend is trying to prove here. The existence of parallel/perpendicular universes, yeah, but to what ends? How does that excuse his incredible dickness? Does he believe he's traveling through the parallel universes? Having the narrator tune out is funny, but because of what you decided to cut out, his motivations become obscured.
#143 · 2
· on You’d Better Skip This One.
What's that cooking on the stove there? Why I do believe it is a big ol' pot of Creepypasta!

Thinking about it, this is actually a bit of deja vu. I've read a few stories that have a similar core idea (the discovery of the knowledge that should not be - not that this is exclusive to creepypasta), and the real trick to them is to dig in deep on that feeling that connects to the bad thing so that it transfers the horror straight to them. I suppose my biggest suggestion would just be to tighten it up a little. It feels a little too meandery in this form still and not quite getting at the heart of the horror. Really make me fear deja vu.

And I disagree with >>Trick_Question, though I think the line could be improved. It's a bit clunky as is. But reminding the person that they've read stories like this before? That's the hammerblow for the creepy!

I mean. Yeah. I've seen something like this before.

A few times.

It... kinda makes you think, doesn't it.

#144 ·
· on The Day I Met my Double · >>Ranmilia
So, I sometimes say that something is a setup for a story and not an actual story itself. So what generally defines that is having a complete narrative arc, some situation that is being struggled with and then overcome. To a degree, this actually does succeed at that by having our hero answer the call to adventure, but the problem is that that wasn't really presented as something more incidental. It's a big decision, but it only emerges part way through the story as a disruption of the status quo.

You try to set the conflict up at the beginning with him being on the up and up, but the problem is the end doesn't really address that struggle (should I have my successful life or do this) because, for one, the choice is really an illusion given he'll just die anyway and two you call in a rallying against the haters (which I had no idea existed given how hype he was at the beginning of the story), rather than calling back to the idea of him giving up all his successes to help save the multiverse.
#145 ·
· on The Burden She Bore · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Fairly sweet, though it does bother me just a bit that the "you should do something else" is not necessarily at odds with the child. You intern, you have the power to choose your life's path without forsaking your past!

I got nothing else at the moment.
#146 ·
· on Monokeras and Fenton's Whacky French Adventures · >>Ranmilia >>Cassius
Generally speaking, this is a pretty solid example of how to do crack comedy that resonates with me. Just sharp, punchy, and everything sort of connecting into everything else. I think the ending works, because time travel resolution requires body counts. That said, this story would obviously have no appeal outside the immediate group, but honestly, there is nothing wrong with writing for an audience.

That said, I do agree that you don't have Mono's voice down.
#147 ·
· on Even Chewbacca Is Not Bulletproof · >>Fenton
Hey, this story is my criticism of Portalfare.

Fine little story with a chuckle-worthy end, though it kind of skates over the issue of what the other "be in two places at the same time" solution is. Or what if the alternate universes are finite. (EDIT: Or what if they are varying sets of larger and smaller infinities!) Etc. Basically, what's holding this story back here is that thinking too hard really derails the core punchline.
#148 ·
· on Letters from the Unknown · >>Bachiavellian
a little dull at first, but a great payoff at the end.

I think expanding the ending so that the letter starts appearing outside of the dialogue tags would make it stronger. such as Merk seeing it in writing, and then perhaps even within the narration itself. it would be more clear that it's not just the sound that bothers him, but reality itself breaking him.
#149 · 1
· on The Burden She Bore · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>Dubs_Rewatcher
It's obvious that part of the conflict here is cultural... an immigrant mother is too demanding of her daughter, wanting her to succeed in every way she didn't.

by "asian tiger mom" standards, becoming a university professor is pretty darn high on the success chart... maybe less than doctor, but probably a lot better than astronaut. yet the conversation implies she's not much better than a high school teacher or something?
I'm totally not sure if this is intended, but I inferred this to mean that grandma's standards are even higher than normal -- ridiculously higher. like mama is so exceptionally genius, that even this successful career is way too paltry for her.

but grandma's characterization is still kinda fuzzy, so it's hard to be certain of this.
#150 ·
· on From Curiosity to Confusion, From Confusion to Horror · >>Fenton
the one part of the humor I liked: talking about how an alternate universe (with the ponies) has its own private alternate universe within itself. and then going on about the dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams universe. those might be good starting points to build a comedy around, the absurdities of recursion. gotta go deeper!

humor can be hit or miss, but I think the first thing this needs is story structure. without that, you can't even keep the attention of the audience. it currently feels "random", but not because of the references used or because it's all dialogue or whatever. it's simply non-sequential. it's just a list of different parody ideas with nothing connecting them, so they could go in any order. you want one topic to lead to the next, so there's a clear path the conversation is following, a specific order that can't be broken.

if you do this, maybe the audience still won't find it funny, but at least they'll pay attention. they'll remember the connections between the beats. and it just might turn out funnier anyway, because instead of 8 smaller gags, it'll appear like 1 grand joke.
#151 ·
· on The Day I Met my Double
As other noted, the conflict is solved too quickly. Guy walks in the street, sees a double of him showing up with a big gun – doesn't faint or run away or yell in terror – and is talked round to join by really glib explanations. What kind of a simulation? What special this particular incarnation of him has got that justifies his importance? These are legit questions that are raised by the story, but not answered, so we're left hanging.

And I agree with >>Haze in that a chef vs the Eaters would've been much more fun to read than what tastes like a mere appetizer.
#152 ·
· on Fears Are Like Dogs
I have little to add to what the others already have said. It's nice and evocative, even if simply cannot relate to the narrator here, experiencing none of his own fears.

A strong entry, even if unrelated to the prompt.
#153 ·
· on Someone is Wrong in the Multiverse
This sounds like very much Philip K. Dick’s What the Dead Men Say, which is the core of his later novel Ubik. Manifestations of someone invading someone else's universe.

Yeah, the end is midly funny. But I mean, the whole story is based on a single premise repeated ad libidum, and, I mean, much of the story seems like padding to me (besides the feeling of déjà vu caused by the trope being already used in something I read).
#154 ·
· on Multi Universe Drifting · >>Monokeras >>horizon
Well yeah, there are two points I want to address here. One is general, the other specific.

• General point: I'm ticked off by how many stories this round based their premise on a fully-informed, sapient dopplegänger. I mean, dopplegängers are fine, but why should they be more informed, more up to speed w/r to the parallel universes, etc. than the main protagonist? I wish we had a story where two doubles meet, and each one is equally scared of the other. That would be much more symmetric than those stories were the "foreign" double has the lead.

• Specific point: I don’t get it. Which Ingrid is disintegrated? Who or what have collided with her worldline? How was she even supposed to be aware? Why was she at a crossroad, and which crossroads exactly? Seems like a catch-22 situation.

All in all, the fic takes too long to explain a lot of concepts, just to let the reader befuddled at the end of it. Many words for no payoff.
#155 ·
· on The Pauper and the Princess
>>Monokeras generic point applies here too. However, this story has a better way of dealing with that flaw by tilting the scale the other way. Turns out the advantage is not in the team we expect it to be.

This is a thin-veiled metaphor, like: “If you’re socially inept, bust your ass to get yourself better instead of relying on the others to find a solution for you”. In a way, the “the other universe’s she” can be “this universe’s she” before “this universe’s she” decided to do something about it, leading to the current “this universe’s she”, who is the result of that process. This is to me more about time travel than parallel universes.

The slight problem I see with this is that the lesson is delivered in very curt sentences, which makes it come across as slightly sanctimonious. The “this universe she” sounds self-righteous — bordering assholish – and even if the final one mitigates that impression, it is still very strong.
#156 · 1
· on Blind Dating in a World Gone Mad · >>Ranmilia >>AndrewRogue
Ok, I certainly respect the prose here: it’s well written, it’s punchy, though it seems somewhat sanitised.

My main gripe is with the story itself. You chose to tread an easy path, that of the dating with an unknown being, while your worldbuild allows for much more than that. You played it safe, and it’s a bummer, because your story sounds hackneyed to me, while you could’ve chosen to explore a much more original facet of your world.

As a matter of fact, your worldbuilding reminds me of a white guy dating a black or metis girl the early 1900’s US. You put the scene in an alien, more advanced backdrop, but the stakes are just the same. There's nothing you specifically build on that backdrop. It's an old jalopy decked up with a veneer of Sci-Fi.

And then, of course, it’s just a beginning, and we don’t really see the guy struggling with his own convictions/feelings.

All of that, of course, doesn’t detract from the prose, but I’m probably not going to rank it as high as the other commenters did.
#157 ·
· on A Matter of Time · >>Fenton
I read it as a metaphor on the certainty of death, death being embodied by the woman. But I failed to see the meaning of the whole story? Is the guy invited to tour in the hereafter, and then he discovers he's not cut out for that? Was it a sham all the way? I can't say. It's extremely obscure. The only possible answer I see is that the guy was going to fall from the cliff turning back, and that's what he experiences on the other side.

But I agree it's really hard to give even a tentative explanation.
#158 ·
· on King Laius
Argh. This is a stupidly squandered wonderful idea. I don't pretend it's original, because I'm sure we can find it elsewhere, but it's great.

And what do you do with it? Nothing! Instead of giving us bang for our bucks, you wallow into a lecture about Oedipus that doesn't make the plot advance in the slightest, and then proceed into an introspective contemplation we don't care much about either.

At the end of the day, I still don't know why the gun appeared, which is precisely what I wanted to know, and what the nub of the conflict is about. Thanks for telling Oedipus's story, but this is a story, not a class…

So payoff = zilch.

#159 · 1
· on Multi Universe Drifting · >>Monokeras >>Ratlab >>Ranmilia >>horizon
>>Monokeras >>AndrewRogue >>Ratlab
It took me two re-reads, but I think I understand this now:


It all comes back to the street racing metaphor. By shaking up her actions, Protagonist-Ingrid is doing some sort of metaphysical drifting through possibility space (although that's not the source of the title: "drifting" is a street racing term [and also a meme]) — and consequently Protagonist-Ingrid is wandering into the middle of two other Ingrids, Racer #1 and Racer #2, actively having some multi-dimensional race. The "alternate Ingrid" that the protagonist talks to is Racer #1. We never actually see Racer #2, only the effects of her existence.

This context explains the weird punch thing at the beginning. Racer #1 had to metaphysically "swerve" to avoid some other hazard (presumably a fourth Ingrid).

This context also explains the sudden explosion at the end. Protagonist-Ingrid gets plowed into by Racer #2 and they both die in a spectacular crash. Racer #1 provides an epitaph.

That said, this needs some editing because there is some actively misleading dialogue that contradicts itself and/or the scenario above:

1) "Yaknow, it's really fucking dangerous, you shouldn't be meeting me. One of us will die. And don't assume you're so important that it's not you. You should go home right now. But I've met too many of me. We're always too damn curious to learn more. I aint surprised.

2) "See? Nothing dangerous, unless stabbing's involved."

3) "One of them might slam into your side, maybe both."

4) "... It's not the parallel ones you gotta watch out for."

#4 is the most directly problematic — because it directly contradicts #3, and wrecks the metaphor that alternate-Ingrid is setting up. If #4 is true, then alternate-Ingrid should know that she's in no danger — protag-Ingrid will collide with the other racer, not her.

#1 contradicts with #3, #4, and the twist ending in different ways. "One of us will die" implies that they are both equally in danger — but if that were the case, then a metaphysical "crash" would kill both "racer" and "bystander", which means they're both in danger, not exclusively one. Per #4, they're not both in danger. Per #3, everyone's in danger. Only one of these things can be true.

#2 may just be unfortunate wording, because you're talking about them being in danger already, but this refers to a different sort of danger (the physical contact between the two), and when alternate-Ingrid says there's no danger it sounds an awful lot like she's dismissing everything she just worked up to in #1. I would clarify and narrow this point significantly, e.g. "You don't get it, do you? There's no danger from touching."

But that 1-3-4 triad is really gonna cause problems for your premise. The story needs to decide exactly what the mechanism for multidimensional "crashing" is, who's in danger, and why. Author, I think once you make a firm decision on that, you'll realize that alternate-Ingrid's behavior isn't entirely consistent with your premise, either, since she's the one who knows the exact scope of the danger and should be reacting appropriately. If protagonist-Ingrid is a danger to them both, she should be a lot more urgent about getting her "off the track" as it were. If the crash is inevitable as of the time they're physically meeting, what's the point of warning her to back away? If it isn't, you need to decide whether she wants her competitor to die or not; I don't have a good sense of that from story-as-written.

Get your premise pinned down, however, and I think this will clean up considerably. A lot of the reader confusion is likely caused by the fact that there's no single narrative that all of the foreshadowing points toward, so when the twist occurs, there's no coherent context to make it make sense.

Tier: Almost There
#160 · 4
· on Outsmarting Yourself · >>Trick_Question
Amusingly, I think this fic outsmarted itself.

I think you have the skeleton of a good story here, but the middle just gets very confusing very fast. I disagree with Monokeras in some ways... the problem is not that you have too much exposition, and I don't know that having a big fight scene is really the point. The thing is I still don't feel like I understand the basics of what's going on in one of these fights, and that's a problem. I think that's because it's hard to coherently describe the kind of fights you talk about, but sketching some more details would help. And the abrupt death of 1st protagonist is the worst part of it, coming out of nowhere it feels inexplicable rather than shocking.

If I were to try and write this idea, I would probably try to have the fight, and then use what's happening within the fight to explain how the fights work, having the exposition partitioned throughout rather than all coming before. But I just don't know that you can fit the complexity you're working with into a 750 word framework in a way that's elegant. In about double that word limit you'd be fine.
#161 ·
· on Multi Universe Drifting
Horizon you’re a genius.
You outwit me by a long shot.
And when I write “long” I mean long. Like, lightyears.

Thanks for that
#162 ·
· on The Burden She Bore
Agreed. I got that same inference, but I think that university professor is a bit too lofty for this sort of plot. Maybe if she were just an adjunct? :P
#163 ·
I managed to snatch the Wifi password at my sister's place, thus I'll enter a bunch of reviews I've written during a 3 hour delayed flight.

If I sound rude or frustrated, send any complain to 'Aéroport de Paris' (Airport of Paris), Orly. And of course, I apologise.
#164 · 3
· on But first... · >>Ranmilia >>Cassius >>LiseEclaire
(sigh) I need to rip into this story for something that boils down to a nitpick — because it's a problem I've seen in virtually every story I've read this round. I'm not picking on you, author, you just happened to pile the straw on that broke me:

The truth was that I didn't think there would be any mind-readers present on the first day.





(*Twilight/Cadance hoof-chest salute thing*)

Look — as story faults go, this is really not a large one. It's fixable in its entirety by simply changing the word mind-readers to "guardian spirits" or something. The reason that I'm focusing on it is that it's a small visible symptom of a much deeper, invisible problem that sinks stories faster than almost anything I can name.

That problem is: Not understanding the implications of your premise and setting.

The Writeoffs tend to encourage seat-of-pants writing — which can be a good thing! That forces you to kick your creativity into high gear, and avoid dithering over ideas and procrastinating via worldbuilding. But you can't make a story work on just Rule of Cool, because your readers are trying to assemble a single coherent narrative from your text. If you frame your entire story as an old-school interrogation, but you throw in mind-readers as a little bonus detail in the second scene, the instant that someone asks why the protagonist didn't just get mind-ripped you've kicked out all of your foundations. (This is not to say that mind-readers are incompatible on their face with an interrogation scene: but you have to realize that there's a contradiction there, and lampshade a reason why the mind-readers can't be used, e.g. this is now a formal judicial proceeding and mind-rips aren't admissible as evidence.)

Mind-readers aren't the only consistency problem here, which is the big impetus behind my rant. For example:

… released a colony of inquats from our xenomorphic study rooms, and set a cafeteria fountain on fire?”

“Err, mostly?” I put on my most innocent smile. I had totally forgotten about the inquat incident, thought it wasn't like the little creatures didn't appreciate being let loose. If I had the money I would definitely buy one as a pet.

1) If inquats are foreign/exotic enough to be under "xenomorphic study", who in hell is selling them as pets (at rates affordable by new students, no less making them common enough that the narrator identifies only money as the stumbling block)?

2) Does the narrator really not realize the contradiction of acknowledging that inquats want to be free, and then in the next breath wanting to own one?

3) See >>Trick_Question's complaint about forgetting something that literally just happened.

“Scarsnatchers have always tried to find a way to break the universal embargo,” I started. The dean arched a brow. “Yes, I know about them. My grandfather was a Proxy Marshal during the war, so he’d often tell stories about it. I know what Scarsnatchers are. That's how I noticed one at the opening ceremony.”

“The blonde in the corner of the hall.” The dean nodded. “Which you were instrumental in capturing…"

Why is the dean surprised that the person instrumental in capturing a Scarsnatcher knows what they are?

For that matter, why is it treated like a twist that the Dean decides to be lenient due to the Scarsnatcher capture? You're framing your story in a way that makes the Scarsnatcher a big freaking deal; I found myself wondering halfway through why the protagonist had opened with expulsion worries when by all rights this conversation should be about her being a hero. The Dean directly gives her credit for it! Brushing off that accomplishment to challenge her on the details is a really dick move. This would have been a much less awkward read if it was framed more like:

"Miss Pangelica," the Dean said without waiting for me to sit down, "first, I must express the school's — nay, the nation's — unending gratitude that you were able to help us capture a Scarsnatcher. I have awarded House Snufflepuff three brazillion points, and I will put in a personal commendation with the Wizarding Proletariat. That said…" The smile dropped from her face. I started to sweat, remembering the singularity box in my backpack. "…We need to have a discussion as to the methods you used."

That would also have the fringe benefit of letting Pangelica twist in the wind the entire time, volunteering incriminating detail after incriminating detail, with the Dean looking more and more surprised, only to have her brush off everything at the end and focus on Pangelica's dorm room key (which she'd totally forgotten about because it wasn't related to the capture).

But back to "not understanding the implications of your premise and setting". The reason that it's such an insidious problem is that it's very easy with seat-of-pants writing to have your characters react to whatever's happening in that moment — which makes sense in the moment, and it's only when you look at it in the larger context that you realize they're acting in ways no rational human would act. If you don't have that larger context fixed in your brain as you write, you can end up with them saying something snappy and cool in the moment that makes them look like idiots in the story-as-a-whole. See, for example, my last review, where Alternate Ingrid behaves at various points like 1) either she or Protagonist Ingrid are in danger but not both; 2) they're both in danger; 3) she's not in danger but Protagonist Ingrid and a third party both are. See also any number of stories in which a character goes from snarling to sobbing to happy in the course of three lines of dialogue. Kurt Vonnegut (as usual) has a rule for this: "Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." You can't understand what your characters want unless you understand what the situation is that they're reacting to. If you haven't defined that situation, you can't write them consistently — and your characterization will suffer along with your worldbuilding.

Look, author. This is a story that is so close to being excellent. You've got a lot of cool and unique ideas, like the Scarsnatchers in the first place. You've got some clever commentary on the Harry Potter wonder-magical-student genre. The prose is snappy, and in contrast to >>Trick_Question, I felt that for the most part there was enough edge-context to explain the various techno/thaumibabble terms we run across. But it's throwing out so many cool ideas that it's tripping on the extras as it runs around the stage. Keep track of all your components — you'll have fewer stumbles.

Mmmh. I'm hitting so many stories this round without any attempt at internal consistency that the ones which get that right are gonna shoot to the top of my slate just by virtue of standing out from the pack. :\

Tier: Almost There
#165 ·
· on From Curiosity to Confusion, From Confusion to Horror · >>Ranmilia
Trying to go meta. I see what you tried to do here author. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for me, I'm afraid.

You spend too many words on making too many references. We have Stargate, Avengers, Indiana Jones, MLP and Inceptions. We get it. All these universes are fictionnal universes. Three would have been enough. Three is often perfection.

By wasting words, you don't have much left to actually play on the eta angle. We end with the joke: the characters are aware they are fictionnal characters. That's not funny. However, the fact they will be left alone if they start playing golf made me smile. But that's not enough. That should be the beginning of the joke, not its payoff.

And what does the commercial break have to do with the rest? I mean, the characters know they are in a written a story - BTW, I would have liked them to know the full details but I can guess why you didn't go that way, and I undersand - so where does it come from?
There is no such things as commercial breaks in written story. Adding one feels pointless. The characters don't really react to it, and it doesn't say anything on written story.

And that's my major point. The whole story, while taking the meta 4th wall breaking approach, doesn't say anything on its genre, its medium or anything related (maybe it was going for what >>Haze mentionned). The only comment is that golf is boring. Like I said, good beginning but bad payoff.

So I'm afraid to say this doesn't work for me at all, for the reasons I mentionned. I suggest you to work on these points for the next time, because I know this can be turned into an hilarious story.
#166 · 1
· on High School Dramady, Played Straight · >>Ranmilia
This was too short. You have a great beginning, even if cliché. I felt some empathy for the two characters, thanks to their nice interactions.
Bonus point for not having any single hint (or I missed them) of a possible love relationship between them.

Side note: careful with your puctuation.
#167 ·
· on Optimism · >>Ranmilia
Meeehh? (the only thing I wrote during the flight)

As the others mentionned, this is too short to really shine. Granted, you have a beginning, stakes, and a payoff but the three feel rather plain, and I think it's mainly due to the shortness of the story. With more words, I would have probably root for the characters more, and feel concerned by what was happening.

As it is, you have your structure. Add some meat to the bones and you'll have something great, I think.
#168 · 1
· on R&D · >>Ratlab
?????? (the only reaction I got from this)

I've probably missed some things while reading it. I wish I had the time to reread it and to try to grasp what is going on here. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury, and the story felt opaque,like >>Monokeras said.

Sorry author, I wish I had more to say.
#169 · 1
· on Optimism · >>Ranmilia

I liked this. I think the beginning is kind of florid in a way that the rest of the story isn't (and which the demon _really_ isn't) and so it feels a little tonally disjointed, but... as simple as your core plot turn is, I thought it hit home well. Which is a thing that a lot of other stories struggled to do.
#170 · 1
· on Every World We Visit Is Dead · >>Cassius
(Previous notes)
Yeah, no, maybe? Solid mid-tier.

(Expanded version)
A big deus ex machina comes to resolve the narrator's motivation. And because it's heavily related to the story, it didn't feel cheap and, moreover, the last line links the disappointment of both the reader and the protagonist. Good one.
Unfortunately, this resolution definitely closes the story, and there is much to take from it.

So I'll just confirm my previous statement. This feels like a solid mid-tier.
#171 · 1
· on Walking With A Goddess · >>eusocialdragon
A solid piece, very engaging despite the unusual narration (and yet, it seems to become more and more common in the Writeoff rounds).

I will disagree with >>horizon about the 'twist'. It didn't feel like a twist for me, but rather like a nice closure for the story.. A closure that is also an opening, Hela welcoming us in her domain. Since many mythologies lend a huge power to names, having her name revealed to early would have ruined a bit the solemnity.

Speaking of solemnity, I'm probably wrong but when the goddess says 'damn gate', it feels OoC for such a divine being. Her whole speech before gives us a pretty serious tone and the use of damn kinda broke it. That's just a little nitpick and maybe 'damn' fits her voice. I don't really know.

Anyway, a strong piece, without a doubt. Challenging yourself by writing 2nd person narration is good, and managing to handle it is great.
#172 ·
· on Fears Are Like Dogs · >>Ranmilia
An excellent piece that is not on my slate, but I feel will make it to finals, so that it may be on my slate then.

blah blah blah clearly experienced author blah blah blah engaging prose blah blah blah

At points I feel the metaphor breaks down, particularly with the second "fear" so to speak. I'm not sure if it is just poor conveyance or the specific way the author tried to pin down this fear, but from the explanation, it appears to be another emotion entirely, and I'm sort of torn on deciding what to make of it. My best summation is that the intent was to show a "fear of being left out" but I think the mannerism and emotions that manifest reflect a more domineering trait that is more associated with fear of losing control, or more towards a desire than a fear, like hunger for attention. Reflects a larger issue I have with the story which is that it has good ideas and modes to convey them, but the specifics is where it gets bogged down.

The third fear could stand to be more evocative in terms of how it is described, particularly because it is the more debilitating and personal. I think my distaste with its current description is also due to the fact that it comes directly after what I would consider one of the best solitary paragraphs in the entire competition, so it appears even more dry and lacking by comparison.

Conveyance is one of the weaker points here. I feel as if a lot of the specific thoughts and phrases are just cohesive enough to properly convey the message, but not tight enough to avoid making me balk at some of the turns of phrase and reread certain sentences to make sure I understood the message properly.

eh the ending is kind of weak, you had more words, you could have done more. Why you didn't hard press yourself against the word limit when clearly the descriptiveness of your prose is the lifeblood of this story, I don't know.
#173 ·
· on Multi Universe Drifting

I didn't catch the entire scope of the self-contradiction you did. I understood it as P-ingred racing against alt-ingred without realizing that she's doing so.

I agree that the knocking over a beer thing was a dodge by alt-Ingred - she seems to have some way of seeing hazards that P-ingred seems to lack.

Or at least that was my read.
#174 ·
· on First Sight · >>Ranmilia >>AndrewRogue
This is definitely solid. You get a lot of work done with the main character in a very short amount of time, which goes a long way to making the reader invested. One thing, though, that I think was an odd choice is how unrelated each of the scenarios are from each other. It kind of makes most of them feel like filler, and it really makes it difficult to care about the narrator's crush, since he's essentially becoming a different character every hundred or so words. If I had to make a suggestion, I'd like to see some sort of common thread between all the realities we're presented with, because when they're so detached from one another, the sum of the whole starts to feel less like a story arc and more like a thought experiment.
#175 · 1
· on Outsmarting Yourself · >>Trick_Question
Very solid prose.

That said, I come out of this story, despite you spending a large portion of it explaining these time duels to me, understanding them less than when I started. Like, I -really- don't get it. I can sort of put together that this has some of that dependence on recreating a situation, but I really don't -actually- understand how a fight breaks down, particularly given you can apparently affect things outside the arena. I also don't know what kind of time travel we're dealing with here. The paradoxy kind? The world lines kind? Etc?

Moreover, the end is similarly confusing because of this, since I have -no- idea why there are only 3 of our protag. And, with the specter of time travel assassination raised (as well as a multitude of people capable of doing it) we also have the complex question of how our "protag" succeeds given... well, honestly reality should almost constantly be destroyed by people ALL going back to stop/claim time travel.

I dunno. Maybe I'm missing something? That said, still quite well written.
#176 ·
· on Folks You Know · >>Ranmilia >>libertydude
Okay, I guess I'm the odd one out in that I didn't really find this laugh-out-loud humorous. Given the prompt, I kinda put two and two together after the first few paragraphs, and the rest was what I sorta expected. This is going to sound harsh, but I'd go as far to say as there aren't really any jokes here, apart from the main twist (which, like I mentioned, was easy for me to see coming). Dan simply reacts to his circumstances in a way that, while reasonable, feels generic to me.

Take this all with a heaping of salt, though--I never agree with other Writeoff-ers on humor pieces. I do think that this premise is ripe for humor, but I'm not convinced it's gotten there yet.
#177 ·
I must retract my claim that I believe with certainty I will pass the cut (although I should have done so sooner). :raritydespair:

I think my odds now are more like 25% to pass the cut, mostly because I haven't been wowed by any of the stories I've read so far. :applejackunsure: But yeah, probably no pass for wuffies this time.
#178 ·
· on Even Chewbacca Is Not Bulletproof · >>Fenton
Sorry to say, this one didn't really do it for me. The first part/scene felt like a bit of a slog, since it plays out in a way that's so perfectly reasonable that I knew it had to be some kind of set-up. And the twist... is simply that the perfectly reasonable assumption made in the first scene was wrong. That really doesn't feel like a joke to me--there's just not very much actual subversion, outside of what you're going to get from a "just kidding" ending.

Give us some awful consequences, or humorous implications, or just something for the reader to think about. Otherwise, I feel like there isn't enough of a payoff. I know I'm being tough, and I know writing humor isn't my forte, but that's my honest opinion.
#179 ·
· on Letters from the Unknown
I was gearing up to say how the prose doesn't really feel natural, but then I reached the twist. I have to give it to you, this is a pretty darn clever idea, and it makes use of the written medium very well. But I will have to echo >>Haze and >>Ratlab in that the story elements outside of the twist feel bland. I know you're fighting against a strict word cap and an even harsher limit on your word choice, but I think a little genuine emotional investment in the main character would add a ton of mileage to that ending.
#180 · 1
· on High School Dramady, Played Straight
Solid scene with a decent dialogue beat, but is ultimately just a scene, I feel. We are really in the same place where we start, and while you are somewhat smooth with the transition into drama, it really doesn't change or recontextualize anything (in my opinion).

Otherwise, see >>Cassius for some good advice.

But yeah, pretty decent dialogue, but I wouldn't call this Dramedy. Scrubs is dramedy. This is pretty straight teen interaction.
#181 ·
· on A Bureaucratic Welcome
Well that... ended really abruptly. Like, I was legitimately surprised there was not another line.

Anyhow, while I'm not convinced >>Monokeras right, I think that is actually a pretty fantastic tack for the story to take. If it is your plan, props, though I think you need to clean it up a little bit to get there. If not, consider using it!

Otherwise, like >>Cassius, I need to reference which I think did the concept better. Basically, your version is too understated to the point that you somewhat accurate recreate the mundanity of filling out forms. Like the little jokes and such are cute, but they aren't really worth more than a smile to me. Basically, this story really lacks anything I would consider meat. It isn't laugh out loud funny, but the actual narrative isn't super compelling either. You need to give something to latch onto and really connect with!
#182 ·
· on Memento · >>Ranmilia >>horizon >>Foehn
>>Monokeras I'm pretty sure the idea here is that HE is being temporarily preserved in the sim and they just use the comment about the wife to judge whether or not he wants to live like that, since informing him directly would be a problem. He chooses to die at the end.

Anyhow, this is fine. Solidly written and a good idea, but there isn't really anything here that super excites me, probably because we don't have much to cling to. It's a moving enough choice, but without knowing anything about the character there isn't really a particular reason to really care about him or his family.
#183 · 1
· on Multi Universe Drifting · >>Ranmilia >>Ranmilia >>Foehn
Tagging >>horizon to increase his red notification counter, because that's a mighty fine post up there. I agree almost completely.

The "almost" comes in because, to some extent, I'm not sure the details of the explanation matter. Many design processes can be broken down into two main approaches: top-down (start with an overarching idea to meet, then design or choose the pieces, concepts and media that will allow you to produce that concept) and bottom-up (start design by focusing on mechanics, media capabilities, subsystems or small concepts that are interesting by themselves, then use them together to build upward into whatever your final product is.)

I wish I had a single amazing writeup about these concepts to link, since they're so common across so many fields, but Google isn't being very helpful. I also wish I learned about them in formal education somewhere, but I didn't. The first time I heard of these concepts was in Mark Rosewater's articles about designing Magic: The Gathering, and those, I can link a couple of:
A classic from 2003
And a 2015 article discussing their application to player/consumer psychographics (scroll down a bit to the Vorthos section)

If my incessant geekery hasn't given it away, I work in/around the games industry, so I make a lot of use of these concepts, and I think they're applicable to design of written fiction just like design of any other creative media! I haven't seen much in the way of articles applying them specifically to storytelling (If anyone else knows of any, I'd love to see them!) but sometimes they're very useful frameworks to think in.

Here, specifically, this story is a clear example of top-down design. Everything is a setup for the core idea, the climax and final punchline, and the details of how and why it happened are less important to the way it was constructed. You still have to have both a good big-picture idea and coherent building blocks, and doing that is the hard part no matter which design framework an author chooses to use, but sometimes one can see that there's a clear slant in one direction.

Top-down is very accessible for minis in general, since a 750 word maximum simply doesn't allow very much room to develop good bottom-up pieces and have them mash together into something organic. So that's the overly lengthy explanation for why I don't mind the details being fudged a little here - it's clearly all in the service of delivering the payload, so if the payload is strong, much can be excused.

Unfortunately, the payload in this one doesn't land well for me. The punchline is violence: Naive Ingrid gets splattered across the solar system, the end. So then I have to look at why it happened, and the answer is: because of arbitrary cosmological rules she had no chance of understanding or avoiding (regardless of what the exact rules and forces in play were.) When viewed as a communication between the author and the reader, I have no idea what message I'm supposed to take away from this, or what tone I'm supposed to read in, or even if it's supposed to be comedic or dramatic (it IS a meme, after all...).

So overall, this is probably destined for mid to low mid for me. It's not bad, though, far from it, it's a very solid effort. The imagery is evocative, the prose reads fairly well, it's just a bit disjointed on the big picture. Again, see horizon's review for some touches on how to tie up the narrative, and everything else here is fine. Thanks for writing!
#184 ·
· on Pickup Trucks and Comic Books · >>Cassius >>horizon
So I read this one early, because I saw >>Cassius posting that it was good. And that's not incorrect, the construction's good, the details are good, it's very nice and evocative. I left it hanging for a couple of days, though, because the specifics of Cassius' commentary didn't make sense to me, and I was sneakily hoping some other people would post and clear it up. Alas I am still confused, and need to get to writing comments, so here we are.

I'm not sure I understand what's going on here. What I get from it is that Jessica, the narrator's wife and Jason's mother, died sometime in the past few years, and father and son are still having a melancholy time dealing with it and wishing she was with them again. And that's all I get from it. If there's a twist to the ending, I'm not seeing it. I looked for suggestions that there might be some unusual relationships going on, maybe Jessica is the narrator's daughter instead of his wife or something, but couldn't find anything to go on in that direction. Cassius mentioned in Discord that the end "recontextualizes" the prior content, but I don't really see that either.

In fact my primary criticism of the story is that it doesn't recontextualize anything, and stays stuck in the same groove of sadness it establishes early on without introducing anything new. Jason making his own lunch already suggests mom's out of the picture, and this line absolutely confirms it:
“Dark chocolate, like mom used to make,” he said.

And then we just stay there for another 400ish words, end scene. So... if there's more going on here, I don't get it. Maybe I'm missing something big? It's very possible, post and let me know if so!

Continuing on with my present interpretation for now... well, it's a hard call. This style of country music lyrics litfic is certainly popular in some circles, but happens to run counter to my personal tastes, so I'm quite conscious that I might not be giving it the leniency I would unconsciously extend to other styles and genres. (Perhaps this is what Cassius was referring to?)

The piece does seem to achieve its goals. They aren't goals I particularly like, but it's hard for me to say they're objectively poor, except in the sense that even for this genre I'd like to see a little more of a narrative arc. Characters facing a conflict and taking some action, y'know? I don't see any action here, and I'd like to see some, even in a litfic mini.

Good emotional evocation, meh on narrative and story, where does that go in terms of voting ranks... I'm not sure. Mid, probably around average or a little lower, since I value narrative arc very highly in mini rounds. Subject to change if I did miss something going on here though. Thanks for writing - it's certainly a piece that provokes some thought!
#185 · 1
· on Outsmarting Yourself · >>Trick_Question
As with the other commenters, I don't really understand what went on here, and of what I do understand, I think it's very difficult to construct a setting where all these concepts come together and make sense. It is a valiant effort at an extremely complex concept for minis, though. Reminds me a lot of a Hugo-winning Charles Stross story!

I think the biggest missing piece here is the personal drama. Pull back on the exposition and just let us get to know the protagonist and follow her through a time duel. Even a mundane one will work. What we have here is a pro wrestling match, and wrestling lives and dies on the back of its characters! As it stands, not only are the later twists confusing and unnecessary, I don't find myself caring about them because I could never get into the character.

Not a lot else to say. Probably lands somewhere in lower mid, votewise, but it aimed high and I did enjoy it. Time duels and programmed sequence fights are very interesting concepts and I'd certainly love to see this piece reworked. Thanks for writing!
#186 ·
· on Every World We Visit Is Dead · >>AndrewRogue >>Cassius
Hm. The whole first portion of this is more or less filler where nothing happens. It's rather redundant, given that the title line explains the basic concept by itself, and feels especially odd in a format where most authors are desperately scrimping on their descriptions to save word count.

Once the other portal appears, we get some action, but... it's not really narrative action. The protagonist himself does nothing, and there's no arc. The doppelgänger is super rude for no apparent reason and with no followup, and that's all the character building we get.

Overall this feels like one of those entries that goes "I thought of a couple of scenes and ideas, but couldn't shape them into a story in time, oh well, here's 750, hat in the ring." No particular shame in that, there are several in every mini round. This won't go high in my votes, but completion without trainwrecking is a worthy goal unto itself. Thanks for writing!
#187 · 1
· on Cheap Easy Portalfare · >>thebandbrony
Yeah... every single thing I wanted to say has been covered by the other comments, so I'll just second them all, particularly horizon on technical issues and AndrewRogue and Dubs on the protagonist and sudden backstory. The piece works all right in the swing of reading it, but isn't terribly engaging except for the emotional thrust, and the setting falls apart on examination.

Looking like another victim of time limits to me. I can see the core of what the author wanted, but it needs some more background work and a fair bit of editing to get there. Completing an entry with a decent skeleton is still pretty good work though - thanks for writing!
#188 ·
· on Folks You Know · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>libertydude
I'm with >>Bachiavellian in not seeing this as particularly humorous. It has a framework like it should be, but there aren't really any actual jokes or punchlines. The piece is just running on the "Alternates Anonymous" conceit and trying to present that concept, without telling a story (either dramatic or comedic) around it. This is not the first entry I'm reviewing this round to present a bare concept, and probably won't be the last. Tis a common issue, especially in mini rounds, and one the author probably already knows, so I won't spend a ton of time harping on it further.

Two things that stood out to me were the Bibles and noting Dan's eyes focused upwards and downwards, both in the early paragraphs. The former is a strange detail given what we later learn, and the latter stands out immediately as a kludge to hide an upcoming visual punchline.

Concentrate on either having really punchy humor, or working in a true narrative arc. The other fundamentals are there - decent prose, good use of the prompt, doesn't trainwreck. Thanks for writing!
#189 ·
· on A Toothsome Armageddon · >>Monokeras >>Monokeras
Uh... huh.

I'm afraid the humor here did not land for me. I kept waiting for an explanation of the cheese missiles, maybe a frame story where this was in some child's imagination, but then it ended and there wasn't one, so... hm.

Also, I don't see any use of the prompt... or, at least, the prompt that won.

I do see some suspicious lines and allusions that make me think this is a Writeoff in-joke of some sort? Titles or lines from previous stories? Prompt mashups?

Yeah, I got nothing. This won't be high in my votes, but thank you for writing!
#190 ·
· on R&D · >>Ratlab
Interesting comments thread for this one! I didn't have any trouble figuring out the plot, but the author should definitely keep the above feedback in mind. Even with understanding everything, though, I agree that the arc here is tenuous at best. I'd really like to know what happens next!

The biggest dealbreaker for me is that the core conflict, the manager's opposition, feels forced and weak. Why can't the protagonist talk to someone higher up? Why is the company not listening to the actual engineers they hired and paid? Why is there no security stopping Ed from replacing the coolant?

>>Ranmilia Citing myself here talking about top-down design in another entry this round. This story goes even further in that direction. It's very transparent that the manager's opposition is only happening for its own sake, so that this story can have a conflict and present its ideas. That might be a sign that this isn't the right part of the story to show?

Doom 4 is a pretty good game with a decent story! I like the concepts here, and the dynamics all seem workable - this just isn't quite the right snapshot of it. Good effort, though, and thank you for writing!
#191 ·
· on Optimism
Not much here, and not much to say beyond what the above comment train already has. What's written isn't bad, but there's so little of it that even though there's a solid narrative skeleton the story just feels incomplete.

That's not to say that stories should push the word limit. In fact, I think a lot of Writeoff mini entries would be better served trimming their concepts and aiming for 400-500 good words instead of shaving their content in the struggle to get down to 750. But this? This is not one of them.

This already has an arc going in 450 words, and has some good description in the early bits, but then abruptly drops the atmosphere right when I was getting into it, and rushes through the meat of the conflict in a scant couple of lines. The couple's apparently stressed relationship especially comes out of nowhere. Yeah, "rushed" feels like the applicable overall descriptor (and I can sympathize with that, having finished my own entry in the final couple of hours.) I liked it, but dang, I'd like twice as much of it, y'know?

Usually minis struggle with getting down to the wordcount limit and trying to have a narrative arc instead of a single vivid concept, but this entry has the opposite issues. I do value narrative arc highly, so this won't go too low in my placements, but the obvious holes probably keep it a ways out of top tier. Thanks for writing!
#192 ·
· on Letters from the Unknown
As the others, especially >>Monokeras have said: cute gimmick, definitely worthy of applause for carrying it on to that extent, but one gimmick alone does not make a story. I would've loved to see this idea implemented into a stronger narrative, give it some real cause and effect and maybe a bit more in the way of characters and action.

In its current form, this is just another mini built to show off a single concept rather than tell a story. We've got a whole pile of those over here, and while the execution of the gimmick may raise this to the top of that particular pile... it's going in the pile regardless.

Don't let that bother you too much, though, author person friend. You did a neat thing, even if it doesn't interface too well with my methodology of critique. I hope you had a lot of fun writing this (it certainly looks that way!). I definitely got the kick of "oooh wait is it doing THAT? It IS!" and I think that's mainly what you were aiming for. Thanks for writing!
#193 ·
· on A Bureaucratic Welcome
So... is this extremely understated comedy, or is there a serious story going on in the background with the wife, or what? Whatever angle it's shooting for, it's not obvious, doesn't seem to achieve a particular goal and ends very abruptly. Perhaps an experiment in form? (I'm not sorry)

(You're not sorry either, are you? I caught those numbers. You know what you did. ;) )

Sadly not a lot to say beyond that. Only 432 words, too... time pressure? Yeah, I'm going to guess time pressure cut off whatever this was really supposed to be and the author wound up just submitting what they had done. Seems to have happened to a couple of entries this round. Rough, but that's how it goes in minis sometimes. Thanks for writing, anyhow - what is here seems fine, the formatting worked well and I was interested in finding out what the story was going to be.
#194 ·
· on First Sight · >>Ranmilia
Hrrrrrrrrrm. Yes, I'm afraid I'm siding with >>Bachiavellian on this one, it didn't do much for me.

On the technical end, a series of repeated vignettes with little tying them together is a style I'm not fond of for Writeoff entries. Since there's no particular glue between them, the series could easily expand to fill an arbitrary length and number of vignettes, or conversely could cut an entire vignette or two and still remain essentially the same story. So I can't give this piece very much credit for working effectively within the minific format limitations, and that's unfortunately an area I consider quite important when voting.

On the emotional end, I found it difficult to immerse myself like I wanted to, because the narrator themselves is a total blank slate. We know they have tattoos, are looking for love, and that's it. We don't even learn their gender, which inserts a distracting layer of confusion into the team batting/gaydar section.

In fact, I'm not even certain if these vignettes share the same party setting, or even the same (parallel universe'd) characters - the ending might even imply they switched places, or were multiple incarnations of the same person all along? Is the guy in the last section somehow aware of parallel universe shenanigans? I don't know, there just isn't very much to go on.

So in the end, I came out feeling little except confusion. And that's a shame, because I'd certainly like to see some of these snips expanded to full scenes. The extraction agent bit is fairly compelling even in its short space, and the ace section, while a little hamfisted in current form, certainly holds potential.

To reiterate Bachiavellian again, I'd have liked to see this piece with a bit more focus. Some stronger thread running through the scenes, possibly one or two of them done more elaborately and bringing in the parallel universe concept in a different way, or a clearer ending - several ways could work.

In a few other entries this round I've talked about stories being written using top-down design: >>Ranmilia
This is the opposite: a bottom-up design piece that has strong prose and small scale execution, and a number of interesting concepts, but struggles with assembling them into a single coherent vision. That's rare to see in a mini, and I do think people can learn a lot from studying this piece despite its shortcomings. Thanks for writing, author!
#195 · 1
· on Roy's Diner, 3 A.M. · >>Foehn
Mainly with these. The prompt is invoked, but not really used. Exactly what the guy's talking about is irrelevant to the story, and while I thought "ooh, ring from another dimension!" on its initial reveal, that turned out not to be the case. So it's just humor, and I'm not much one for embarrassment humor. The story as a story is kinda... questionable.

What's happening here, in this story, right now, is the guy trying very hard to communicate something he's passionate about, and also give the narrator a gift. Seems sweet! But he gets completely shot down and dunked on, because of things he supposedly did that we are told happened at some point in the past. Everything that happened right now, in the piece, doesn't matter at all. It's pretty jarring. On the one hand the story is telling us to sympathize with Narrator Girl and believe Boyfriend Guy is a jerk, but the scene that's actually written makes me sympathize with Boyfriend Guy and think Narrator Girl is a jerk and generally terrible human being. And so the finale falls flat.

(Also, a pervasive aside running through several stories this round: why not name your characters? It's hard to think and talk about entities that don't have labels!)

Some of my personal dislike of embarrassment humor is definitely coming through here. I was on board for the beginning when I thought it was good-natured jawing and not seriously hating the guy, but it turned out otherwise, and for me that's a big dealbreaker in the realm of humor. It was evidently more effective on other people, though, so kudos on meeting that goal.

Humor can be hit or miss like that, though. It's a miss for me, but the prose is solid enough, and a shaky foundation is still pretty far ahead of the curve in having a foundation at all. Thanks for writing, author - I'll probably end up voting this higher than you'll think from reading this comment!
#196 ·
· on A Bureaucratic Welcome
I kinda like this one actually. even though I wrote the previous one everyone's comparing it to... in my mind it's so different in aim that they're only similar on the surface.

(Welcome to Equestria was more about the possibility space of all these potential characters created by the form, which collapses into the same stupid ending no matter what. too bad I didn't save that idea for this round)

at least I give it points for standing out from the current round with its concept. the excitement and wonder of travelling to parallel universes gets completely cancelled out by the mind-numbing paperwork and waiting. it's not a pleasant emotion, but it is one that's expressed. I can tell this story is about something.

I think I'd enjoy it more if it set up some contrast. it needs some excitement -- no not like that! just a little! a tiny ember of excitement that gets smothered by the monotony of bureaucracy. the tone of disappointment will be communicated more clearly, rather than just having the entire canvas be grey and gloomy.
#197 ·
· on Trictrics · >>Fenton >>Monokeras >>Monokeras

"Surreal light humor/action with a twist ending" is kind of a Writeoff staple. I think there was one extremely similar to this in a recent round where it turned out the characters were sperm swimming to an egg? And at least one other this round with a gimmick end, and maybe more, and more in the past that I don't explicitly remember.

So this is, unfortunately, a pretty stock format. The twist ending is just a punchline in and of itself, and doesn't contribute much to a narrative arc. The main story doesn't contain much humor, nor does it have much of an arc, just some things that happen in the battle against whatever "trictrics" are. (In story, they're rhinovirus particles, but as far as I can determine "trictric" is not an actual word.)

I don't see any use of the prompt whatsoever. I also don't know what the last sentence is referring to.

>>Fenton makes me curious if this is a riff on something in particular. A French/EU children's show, apparently? I can't find any specific references or comparisons, though.

So... the prose is okay, if a little basic (and rather profanity-laden, if this is a children's show deal). The basic action in the main body works. It's not the worst thing ever, and completing a mini is commendable by itself. Thank you for writing, author! Keep reading and challenging yourself!
#198 · 1
· on This Story is a Metaphor for the Canterbury Tales
Another entry where the previous comments covered most of what I have to say! Also another entry in the category of fics that exposition about and display one intellectually stimulating idea, but don't really tell a story about it. I'm particularly confused about how a stellar matter scooper inverts the characters' roles, and unlike horizon, I'm afraid I don't see much of an arc, conflict or climax going on.

There are definitely some jokes going on, though, and some of them may be going over readers' heads. The term QPU comes from the video that inspired the prompt (linked on page 1 of the discussion thread). The names Xian and Rosa may be references; in particular, Xian is the nickname of a well known fighting game player, and EVO, the world's biggest fighting game tournament, is this coming weekend. Maybe more I'm not seeing? Maybe I'm just wrong? I dunno.

In any case, as horizon said, this story isn't that bad, but it's in need of a stronger focus and arc and needs a fair amount of big picture editing work to get it there. Thank you for writing, though!
#199 ·
· on Someone is Wrong in the Multiverse · >>Poorly Disguised Alt
Mew Mew Kissy Cutie 2 is Neither Kissy, nor Cutie. It's crap. 0 stars.
#200 ·
· on The Burden She Bore · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
So I did a title review in parallel (universe) with AndrewRogue, but decided not to post mine because they were mostly similar to his. One comment I did have, though, is that "Bore" is one of a few words that I think should be avoided in titles at all costs. Even if I know that's not the intended usage, I don't want any implication that this story might bore me!

Title aside, this is all right. The prose flows very well, the scene structure is on point and it delivers within the length of the mini format effectively. It is very syrupy and litfic-y, which isn't much to my taste, and I'll add my voice to the pile critical of the main conflict. Grandma exists only to provide a tonguelashing and spark conflict, and shame at her daughter being a university professor is a bit hard to buy.

I think I most agree with >>Haze in viewing the ending as weak and wishing there was a stronger central theme or message built up. A sense of purpose is what I think I'm really missing from this. I can infer a message of "she's happiest in this universe" but it'd be nicer to have it more explicitly expressed and thematically backed!

Top tier for execution so far, though. It is indeed very similar to Comic Books and Pickup Trucks, but I think I'm taking this one on top in the head to head. Good stuff, thanks for writing!