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Last Call · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
#1 · 8
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder: one of the blurry faces saying: "Come and see." And I saw. And behold, a white page.


There are some men goin' 'round takin' fics.
And they decide which to throw and which to pick.
Everybody will be treated all the same.
Some of these names will be reaching down.
When the Writeoff comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror with each post starting to pileup.
Will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear and never claim the crown
When the Writeoff comes around?

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million ringtones singin'.
Multitudes are logging in the small museum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are torn and some are hidin’.
It's Alpha and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The authors are all sharpening their quills.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It's hard for thee to grind against the mills.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound
When the Writeoff comes around.



And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, and I looked and behold: a blank page. And her name, that sat on it, was Calliope. And Eloquence followed with her.
#2 · 2
· · >>devas >>Rao
What are the chances everyone is too busy polishing their entries for Jaxie's contest and I can score an easy top 10 again?
#3 · 1
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
It does feel a bit empty right now, yes
#4 · 1
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Probably pretty good, but since it's mini-fic I will make a concentrated effort to enter to make sure you have to put in all your best effort, too. Not that you didn't deserve top-10 last round, of course. Your story was very nice.
#5 · 3
·
>>Fenton
This is so Cash. Thank you for it.
#6 · 7
·
Secret Knowledge, Unsaid Apologies, Indecision–Mid or Feed.

And Then, Things Got Worse. Fire(d)! Now is the time to talk about gun control.

“I Wish I’d Thought of That Sooner.”

“You’ve Got to Be Kidding! I Don’t…”

*music plays*

Freeze Frame. Insert Thing Here.

Last Ride of the Day, The End of a Cycle. Last Call!

That Which Eternal Lies In a land far, far, far, far, far, far away, Fly Away Home. Live for the Eon. Many Is Better Than One.
#7 · 1
·
Good luck to all involved!
#8 ·
·
I'm out, lots of social obligations this weekend. Might be able to read? Here's hoping!
#9 · 3
·
I'm usually not much for the original rounds, but for some reason I'm feeling it this time. We'll have to see how crazy St. Patrick's Day night gets. (Where "crazy" is defined more by the difficulty of getting kids to bed than ought else...)
#10 · 4
·
I finished so early. Don't know if that's a good sign or a bad one.
#11 · 3
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I have something in.
#12 · 2
·
>>GroaningGreyAgony
Get a doctor to check it out.
#13 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
Alas, the spirit is willing and I'm 450 words deep into something but the kids keep waking up and I'm losing the battle with fatigue & concentration.

-_-
#14 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>CoffeeMinion
Mine has not slept an hour last night because of otitis. We’re expecting a doctor.

Hopefully my entry was ready before we went to bed :)
#15 · 3
·
Someday - some glorious day - I will finish a story before 3am.

But it is not this day.
#16 ·
·
So how many entries this round?
I bet less than 10.
#17 · 2
·
Made it with a whole seven minutes to spare.
#18 · 3
·
Submitted with one minute and forty seconds left.
#19 ·
· · >>Miller Minus
No prelim this round, I suppose. My slate has all the stories.

Not many entries, but prestigious authors!
#20 ·
· · >>Monokeras
Yay! More entries than expected.

>>Monokeras

I think there's still prelims and finals. But everyone gets all stories in their slates because it's only 9000 words in total. A cinch to read in 6 days.
#21 ·
· · >>Miller Minus
>>Miller Minus
If anyone gets to rate all the other stories in the first round, there’s no need for a follow-up!
#22 ·
· · >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
Your logic is sound! But the timeline at the top is on my side, no?
#23 ·
·
>>Miller Minus
Only because Roger had no time to mind this yet.
#24 · 2
· on Le Roi en Jaune · >>Icenrose
First review! :)

First of all, despite the French title, this has not been written by me, and I bet Fenton didn’t write it either.

So this is plain red herring.

Thanks for acquainting me with The King in Yellow, a book I never heard about and that I’ll try locate as soon as possible.

That being said, the story has not much substance to it. The main character lacks a bit of characterisation. The story reads fine and the execution is quite acceptable, but:

1. The mention of FiM here sounds terribly gratuitous and is completely counterproductive. It definitely detracts from the story.

2. The girl beating that name is so unrealistic that it breaks immersion instantly. It’s really on the nose.

So yeah, at the end of the day, not much to take away.
#25 · 3
· · >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
Otitis? Ear infection? Ah, that's not great. I hope you can get some rest, and that the little one gets better. Our oldest eventually had to get ear tubes because of recurring ear infections. I remember it well, even after years. :-(

Anyway, I'll toss my partial entry out here in all its fabulously incomplete (non-)glory. Right now it ends at a terrible moment but I think I could've fit a conclusion into the word count. I might actually repurpose it for Equestria Girls of all things.

"Breaking the Law"


Grey mist washed over Trey’s face, making him squint his eyes and hunch a little deeper into his ragged blue hoodie. He stamped his feet against the narrow strip of concrete separating northbound and southbound traffic, and his craggy fingers clenched tighter onto his cardboard sign. It was a rotten day to be out, but the grumbling of his stomach reminded him that it’d be worse not to.

Cars passed by in a multicolored blur. Some honked, some splashed water from the road onto his already-stained jeans (he thought it couldn’t be on purpose, with as wet as it was out). Most days, he could count on a handful to slow down so the driver could stretch their hand out with a green bill that he might catch if he didn’t shake hard enough. But with the day’s iron-grey rain, fewer windows had rolled down than usual.

So it came as a surprise when Trey heard someone say next to him, “Looking for work, buddy?”

Trey jerked up from his reverie and stared into the green eyes of a thin-faced white man in a glossy black sports car with a window rolled down. Loud honks made Trey hop again, as the line of cars behind the man made their displeasure known.

“Well?”

“Yeah,” Trey said in a rumbling baritone.

“Then this is your lucky day.” The man grinned, then reached across his passenger seat and popped the door. “I’ve got a quick job that’ll pay great.”

Trey frowned. “I can’t just…”

“Why not? Might as well get out of the rain for a while.”

The chill of the rainy day, and the cacophony of the drivers behind the man’s car, spurred Trey to step off the divider and shuffle toward the door. He touched it, then opened it fully.

Inside, beyond the dark leather passenger seat and center console, he could see the suited man holding the steering wheel in one hand, and a pistol in the other.

Trey stepped back, but the man pointed a few times at Trey and the seat. Eventually he relented, climbed in, and closed the door. He felt an urge to hold the cardboard sign up as protection, though he knew it wouldn’t stop a bullet.

The man barked a laugh and hit the gas. Trey was pressed back into his seat by the sudden acceleration. The car dodged around others, moving back and forth at ever-growing speed, leaving countless rain-washed storefronts behind. Trey wanted to speak, but was too overwhelmed.

“You’re gonna need this,” the man said, turning the gun in his hand and offering it to Trey.

“F… for what?!

“For when you shoot me!”
#26 · 1
·
>>CoffeeMinion

Nah, no infection. Just a cold which caused, as usual, the swelling of the eustachian tubes. This mechanically closes the middle ear and causes otitis. So mainly nothing to do, except acetaminophen to bring pain down and antibiotics to avoid a superinfection.

Ear tubes. One of my colleagues’s son had them too (we call them “yo-yos” here). They amounted to nothing. As soon as they fell, the boy got otitises again. So now they’re going to a spa next summer in hope waters can fix this.
#27 · 1
· on The Stars In Silent Witness · >>Miller Minus
Okay, this is the mandatory SciFi entry, and in the SciFi the lost in space sub-genre.

It’s a bit lackadaisical TBH. Not much happens. We don’t really get enough information to root for the heroine. It’s more of the kind “time drags slowly on, until…” the problem being that nothing is said in the story about what the … stands for: we don’t have enough information to figure out what the final twist is about: it could be an alien wanting to devour the astronaut or it could simply be a small meteor bumping off. So, it fells pretty flat. Ooch.

Fairly generic stuff. Too generic to be really memorable.
#28 · 1
· on The Last Call With Dad · >>Fenton
There are some nice lines there, and there’s more than ample evidence of the author’s competence.

The main point of the story, namely the absence of communication (or incomprehension? hypocrisy?) between father and son (daughter?), is an interesting choice, but as Cassius whispered to me, this format might be a little too cramped for the story to fully address what it was set out to do. In fact, although we get a fairly good grip on the father’s personality, we fail to learn anything about the son/daughter and the reason why that situation arose in the first place. This lack of context makes it difficult for me to relate to the narrator, and so I’m pretty much let at arm’s length, though I know there’s a lot of emotion in subtext.

The idea of presenting three hypothetical branches to illustrate the inner state of the narrator is a nifty trope, though.

I think this story would need a little more space to breathe. Currently, it feels a bit crippled.
#29 · 3
· on Le Roi en Jaune · >>Baal Bunny >>Icenrose
I was all set to love this story. Not only have I read the works the author lists in the introduction, but I have written one of the crossovers mentioned.

Sadly, Author, with the space constraints, you have very little room for evoking and building horror, and you use most of that space just to establish the background. Your big reveal consists of having a woman named Cassilda, after which the King sort of “attacks.” Someone familiar with the Mythos can fill in the blanks a bit, but even with such knowledge you’ve built no real tension, and so your climax falls flat.

With more room to establish a plot and atmosphere, and explain things to readers who lack Mythos knowledge, you may have a viable story. As it stands, I must place this in the mid to lower tiers, where the vile, clinging, phlegm-colored rags of the King shall cover it in nameless horror beyond the end of days...
#30 · 4
· on 911 · >>Miller Minus >>Baal Bunny >>Monokeras
I assume you left the "/" out of the title to make it less obvious. If that was the case, then I would have moved the mention of the Hudson river to later in the story, perhaps make a mention of how Autumn is about to start in a few weeks to get the reader's mind into the timeframe of the event.

Anyway, I get what you were going for here, and though I think you succeeded to some degree, I think this story could have used a tighter focus. Once the story is over, and we realise what will happen to Brian, the contents of his conversation are meant to hit us like a brick, because we know all of that will be lost.

Here's the thing, though. The conversation Brian has with his mom lets us know she's a bit overbearing and even though Brian loves her, there's some distance between them, and that distance comes across to the reader as well. You've not sold us on that relationship the way you could have.

Jessy, though. Now there's potential.

I think I'd rather have the story center around Jessy and Brian having a phonecall and make a few mentions to how much Brian's mom loves him. That way I'd be fully invested in the relationship shown, and once the ending comes, then we are hit with that sense of loss.

But hey, I still think it's better executed than Remember Me
#31 · 2
· on Answering Machine · >>TheRiverSings
I have to say this right off the bat. That ending line felt quite tacky and robbed me of the emotional investment I had in the story. I don't know why, but it feels so flat to me. It really feels like "this is the emotional payoff of the story".

I think it would've been much better if you had conveyed Eva's pain through her actions and body language, because right now it just feels unearned. Speaking of which, the reveal about Eva losing her partner came out of left field for me because up until that point there was nothing which hinted she was grieving. As I read I just thought "hermit writer, cool". I didn't think she was acting like that because of a loss.

If we had gotten to see how Eve felt beyond her just shutting herself from the rest of the world, then we could've gone "ah, so that's why" and that realisation would have brought her arc to a close. Right now, though, there's nothing to close, and the ending represents a blip in a radar followed by silence.

Nevertheless, even though the "character keeps voicemails from deceased significant other" is something I've seen a few times before, it was decently executed here, and it would have worked much better had the surrounding story showed us more about Eva.
#32 · 3
· on The Last Stand · >>Miller Minus
There were a couple of things which bothered me here, only one of which is a serious detriment to the story as a whole.

Let me start with the small issues. The story starts with the expedition leader crying out a prompt drop, even though the rest of the tale is the main character's journal. It really feels odd for her to include this as a line of formatted dialogue instead of just talking about how the leader is calling for them.

Another thing which I found odd was the "I am also a woman" line. Not that you can't assert a character's gender in the story, but the way it's done here is quite superfluous. Aisling's description works, because you're using her gender to establish her personality: woman in an enviroment of men who is just as capable as them. Good. Linden, on the other hand is literally stopping her introspection to say she's a woman, since being a woman is irrelevant to the backstory she presents.

Those are minor gripes, however, and wouldn't have bothered me had it not been for my biggest problem in the story. The Fear itself.

Simply put, I don't feel any threat from it, and aside from general descriptions of what the beast is, and how Linden's uncle is now a pale shadow of the man he once was, but there's nothing more for me to get scared. These characters have obviously been affected by the beast, probably lost something or someone to it, but we're not shown that. Instead we're given a short bio for each person.

Wait, no. Not a bio, a one-line voiceover as the camera zooms on them and they pose while brandishing their weapons.

It would've gone a long way to sell me on the threat if, instead of telling us what class they are and what's their preferred weapon, you had told us how The Fear has affected them. Has Bran lost his family to an attack of the beast? Did Harold's dad lose his mind after being subjected to the beast and now he's looking for revenge? Does Aisling try to outdo Siegstolz's drinking because she's trying to ease the nightmares she still has after she saw the beast rampage through a town? I mean, these characters are facing an unspeakable abomination, and I don't care if they'll make it or not because you've not given me any reason to care about them.

The "last journal entry before someone faces death" can be a powerful type of story, but I think you've still got a way to go to reach that point.
#33 · 3
· on I Am Alive Now · >>Fenton >>Fenton
I find this a bit too descriptive on the now and not enough backstory for me to get invested in that now, and honestly that limits my enjoynment of the story as a whole.

I like the dying throes of a computer with a degree of self-awareness as told by the user, but I don't know enough about this computer to get invested in its death. I can infer there is some bad stuff related to it, judging by the starter's reaction to "what it could do if it connected to the internet".

It's a shame we don't see, or are at least told what those things are. Right now I don't know if this computer is a threat to humanity, to a banking conglomerate, to a political group. These things it could do are too vague, and as a result I don't really care about the computer's fate.

We don't get much on the starter's side either. Even a few descriptions of his body language would go to great lengths to show me why this computer must be shut down. Is he scared? Tense? Does he show some sympathy? He's worried about what the computer could do, yeah, but I don't know what that threat means for him personally, and as a result, I don't feel any threat, and I'm not interested in how that computer will spend its last hour of life.

...

I'm sorry, I feel this was a bit mean. I honestly liked the core concept of your story, but as a whole there wasn't enough for me to latch onto and care until the end.
#34 ·
· on · >>Fenton
I’ll have to abstain on this one. I don’t know anything about baseball, nor am I motivated to learn. It’s just a game that I couldn’t care less about. As a result, this story simply left me totally unconcerned.
#35 · 1
· on The Last Stand
I wanted to write a review yesterday, procrastinated and now Zaid has outstripped me. :P

I simply agree on about all items he pointed out. This is not a “story”. We don’t even know if we can infer that they failed at the end (as evidence by the fact that the manuscript still exists). It’s simply a crunched, squeezed world building, but that’s all it does.
#36 · 1
· on I Am Alive Now · >>Fenton
I always have a hard time connecting with sentient computers. It’s a trope I feel has been battered through repeated use, and not always for the best. Here, I feel, there’s a double mistake:

1. We get to know what the computer feels. I wish the story was written from the starter’s PoV, and (s)he discovers the reactions of the computer as he punches commands ;

2. We know nothing about this computer: what has it done? Why is it important? Did it deflect a bomb on itself to spare human lives? Sacrificed itself in some other way? Without any sense of context, as Zaid mentions, it’s difficult to root for it. We lack any reason to get invested in this story.

So at the end, this is not outrageously bad, just a bit meh. “What of it?” is the way I felt after reading the last line.
#37 ·
· on Metaphysical Therapy
This is nicely written and told. The story is endearing, although I don’t really get the fantasy background. What exactly is this therapy meant for? We get something about the cure being able to morph for a short while into an animal, but we don’t really get what’s the point, nor how fairies happen to live in this word, not what the “Great Reconvergence” is.

I think you could write a perfectly acceptable story just letting all those things out. It feels sort of extraneous or gratuitous.

Also, why all these references to Shakespeare?

Over all, a very pleasant read, even though it conjures up some questions we never find the answers to.
#38 ·
· on The Last Stand
Just to follow up on >>Zaid Val'Roa's comments, I would say that the current set up of having tough warriors about to head into battle without much fear of the Beast they will confront would be a very good set up for a much longer story, to which this is just a prologue. The Uncle works as great foreshadowing to what's about to happen to them, as they seem to be where he was before he became the husk of himself. And that could be a very thrilling read.

But as a minific the fact that they are as yet unaffected is what I think will cause this story to sit a touch low on the standings: the other stories are simply more complete.

But again, as a prologue I think this is strong.
#39 · 1
· on Closer
Just wanted to drop by and say this is one of my favourites of the bunch. A nice little tale of juvenile mischief, similar to and possibly directly inspired from Spaceman Spiff.

That comparison makes me think, though, of a missed opportunity. Perhaps Daniel's imagined form of the nurse could be a whole lot more defined? It would have been neat to have a very visceral description of the monster as it's coming for him, instead of just a shapeless mass. Perhaps he could peek at it through a crack in the closet door. That way, after the reveal you could describe her again much more normally, and show what parts of her (like her clothes, for example) that he used to come up with her monster-form.

Similar to what you did with the door.

Also I feel I should mention the shifting tense between past and present. A little more editing probably should have been done, perhaps involving saying the sentences out loud to see where the tenses conflict. For what it's worth, I think sticking with past tense is stronger. Don't know why! Just how I feel.

Thanks for writing!
#40 ·
· on Metaphysical Therapy · >>Icenrose
This story made me want to read it twice, which is kind of a plus but also kind of a minus.

I love the idea. It's simple, fantastical, yet it's so easy to believe for a world where fairies exist.

But I felt I had to read again to get a better idea of the scene, and of Daisy. I would have liked more description of what she looked like, given that she's the most exotic part of the story. If nothing else, a reference to her size would have been nice somewhere earlier than the last paragraph.

Further to this, the opening is a bit of a struggle. You describe some plants, drop names of two things we don't know anything about (the reconvergence and King Oberon) that never come up again, tell us something that Daisy is not, and then describe the neighborhood... I get what you're going for, to set a meandering, almost real-life tone to the story, but it's just not very hooking, for me. I think there's a punchier way to establish our main character, her job, and then the casual, could-be-anywhere setting could come in later.

But still, a touching story. Thanks for the read!
#41 · 2
· on One for the Road · >>Baal Bunny
I'm afraid I don't understand the message. I can tell there is one, but it's lost on me.

My best guess is that you're saying that although the young kids are wasting their time with improved technology, it's not like the other generations didn't have their own ways to waste time. But then, I agree with the protagonist about getting out of the house and meeting people, though I wouldn't say that going to a futuristic bar and getting a quarter-chub from a robot waitress counts.

Hang on hang on... There are drinks involved right? He didn't order the robot itself? All the drinking colloquialisms are used without adjustment (one for the road, I've had enough, etc.), and a Smoky Widow sure sounds like a drink to me. Did he actually order a sex doll? Why would you do something like that with a buddy????

Your story has befuddled me, author. I'm curious if you or other readers can clear things up for me.

And by the way, the bit where the protagonist lists all of the things off that the young people are doing at home with the electrodes and the iv and everything else, came off contrived. I can tell he's talking to me. I feel there are more immersive ways to get this information out.

But it was still a well written story, if a little hard to follow. Good luck in the contest!
#42 · 2
· on The Warmth · >>Miller Minus
Huh...

Okay, it took me two reads to get a better grasp on what's going on here. Early on, I got that the MC is dying, that much was clear, and the Warmth and most of what he sees are products of his mind shutting down as the rest of his body does the same. I wish some of the symbolism had been clearer, though. Same with the backstory.

Nevertheless, I think this is a very solid entry, and does an interesting job at depicting the last moments of a man as his life draws to a close.
#43 · 3
· on Closer
I agree with Miller this sounds like a Calvin and Hobbes strip, which is cute.

However, the I-hide-everywhere-in-the-house-to-escape-an-imaginery-monster trope has been used repeatedly over the rounds and feels really threadbare right now. It’s not really a problem, but here this weakness is also underlined by an awkward style. The execution is okay, but the text is ridden with clunkiness and mistakes, typos and especially tense shifts which make the reading a mite jarring.

Combine this less-than-ideal style with a sort of unoriginal premise and you get something which is cute, but otherwise needs a lot of work to shine.
#44 ·
· on The Only Letter You Need is Bet
Isn't magic considered wicked by most religions? That sounds like the kind of thing you'd look into before turning into a chaos mage and expect clemency from God.

I like the world you paint here of a world where magic is normal to the point where it's been bureaucraticised (and yet manages to let someone go through that system who ends up killing half the country). I wish we got more of that, instead both issues are left to simmer in the background.

I mean, I don't think I've really got a good grasp on Sarah's motivations here. What led her to become a chaos mage, how did she mess everything up? Why did nobody take actions sooner? Overall, while I like the framing, I don't find myself all too invested in the story as a whole.
#45 · 3
· · >>Miller Minus
And now all stories have at least one review.
Hooray!
#46 ·
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
I would argue that (backwards K) is still one short. But, like Mono, I don't know enough about baseball to really put my thoughts into words.

Might hit it up later and give it a swing though.
#47 · 3
· on 911 · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Baal Bunny >>Monokeras
I'm with >>Zaid Val'Roa on this one, except that I would go one step further and say you play your hand even earlier than that.

Here's my thought process: Okay, so it's called 911. Which means either it's about emergency calls (I got really excited about that prospect; it would fit the prompt and everything!) or it's about 9/11. Or maybe something completely different.

And when it's immediately clear that it's not option 1, I'm already thinking incoming before you've even mentioned the Hudson River. And when you did, I didn't know where that was, so I googled it, already pretty confident it would be in New York.

The problem is that you're basing the impact of the story on the reveal of the attacks. So when it comes across so early, the rest of the story feels like an exercise in waiting for it to happen.

However, I can't fault the writing style at all, and the only real point I would make is that there were better options for the phone call as Zaid mentioned (like Jessy). If the title were less obvious and the Hudson River was moved allllllll the way to the last line of the story along with the approaching mote of dust, the impact would have hit me like a...

No, I won't say it.

Thanks for writing!
#48 · 3
· on 911
>>Miller Minus
the impact would have hit me like a...

Like a drone attack? :D
#49 ·
· on The Stars In Silent Witness · >>Miller Minus
Yeah, pretty much +1 to everything Mono said.

What I want to add is that we're sorely missing some backstory on the battle itself, because that could be an efficient way of fleshing out both the setting and the character.

What prompted this battle? Who's fighting? What's at stake for the MC? Were they gunned down in an heroic battle? Were they deserters? Were they being chased by the enemy? These kind of details can go a long way to make things feel real. Which is really my main issue. This story exists within the confines of its wordcount and does little to take me into its universe.
#50 · 1
· on The Only Letter You Need is Bet
I appreciated this one for ending on a whimsical note. Funny, but also a little sad for her too.

and thankfully it's not a grand pompous twist full of deep emotion and vague meaning and everyone should discuss that hidden meaning in the comments right now ok I'm being a jerk.

It feels kind of poetic, and I don't see that enough in the writeoff. And to me, that almost redeems this story's many flaws. Sarah's character feels bland and ordinary, and I always cringe at "characters sitting in bar, spilling worldbuilding exposition." And despite all the exposition, I still don't really understand what the big decision is about. Though I guess this actually made the ending funnier because I wasn't expecting that.

and the point I'm trying to make here is, despite not really being gripped by the story while I was reading it (sorry), I still get it. I understand the meaning here, and it wasn't diminished by the ugly story construction. And constructing a story is a skill you get better at over time, but it's so rare to find that spark to begin with - a story that actually has something to say.
#51 · 3
· on One for the Road
I'll give you a longer review tomorrow, but right now I wanted to share this before calling it a night.

Guy walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under arm. Says to the bartender: "I'll take a beer, and one for the road."
#52 · 4
· on 911 · >>Anon Y Mous >>Fenton >>Monokeras
I sometimes wonder:

How I manage to put my shoes on every morning without getting the laces looped around my throat.

'Cause I got to the end here and still had no idea what was going on. It wasn't till I read the comments that the light dawned. The title wasn't enough for me. The clues in the story itself weren't enough for me So I guess the lesson is that, for every clever reader like >>Zaid Val'Roa and >>Miller Minus out there, there are also dolts like me stumbling around with their shoelaces tied together.

This one'll go at or near the top of my ballot. Why should I punish the author for my idiocy? :)

Mike
#53 ·
· on · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Monokeras
Another that'll go:

At or near the top of my ballot. But could someone tell me what the title's supposed to be? All I see is a rectangle with a couple litle marks inside it...

Mike
#54 ·
· on · >>Monokeras >>Haze
>>Baal Bunny
It's a reverse K, I'm told. No idea what it means.
#55 ·
· on · >>Haze
>>Baal Bunny
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Cassius told me it’s supposed to mean something in baseball, like strikeout or whatever. It’s a symbol reminiscent of the lines drawn on the pitch.
#56 · 1
· on The Warmth · >>Miller Minus
Once again, there’s a lot of talent on show here. I can’t tell – fortunately – if it’s an accurate rendition of a death by hypothermia, but the intent is certainly this. At least the sensation of warmth is part of what the survivors tell; now the confusion of idea might be another, but I’m not sure about this.

Confusion is also a bit why the story is hard to follow in places. There are a lot of elements thrown in and stirred together, and it’s hard to reconstitute a coherent broth out of the mix.

Sherpa might be a bit on the nose as a name in this context.

But other than that, I can’t really think of anything to blame here. Good job, author.
#57 · 5
· on
>>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Monokeras
It's a strikeout, marked backwards only when the batter didn't swing at the 3rd strike.
#58 ·
· on 911
There is not much to add that the others have not already said. The execution is fine, and contrarily to what Zaid says, I agree that emphasising the relationship between Brian and Jessy would’ve been like writing Titanic 2 – made the whole story very sappy at best. I like the image of the mother hen.

I have a hard time pointing out any specific weakness here. With that sort of story, there’s a delicate balance to strike between being too terse or too loquacious, too obvious or too obscure. It’s not an easy task, and I think you succeeded pretty well, even though the title could’ve been changed for something less on the nose.

Anyway, quite a nice entry.
#59 ·
· on One for the Road
I agree the message is pretty much confused here. Okay, there’s a good subversion involving booze and robotic dolls, if I get you correctly. So I what I think is going on here is two old-timers who are regulars of this bar (including the robot girls which seem to be “served” in that place) are complaining because the new generation prefers using VR sets and various devices (sounds like Matrix-like to me) and stays at home rather than socialising.

So it’s a re-take on the common discourse upbraiding the youth for spending too much time in front of screen and living a virtual life rather than a normal one. Nods.

It doesn’t shoot for the starts but it’s rather frisky and well written, easy and pleasing to read. Good job for that.
#60 · 1
· on 911 · >>Monokeras
>>Baal Bunny
same with me. I was about to comment "a meteor? like the dinosaurs?" When it dawned on me why the title was that way (thanks to the actual smart people out there haha ^^).
Very clever story. Probably one of the best. Good job!
#61 ·
· on The Only Letter You Need is Bet
It’s a strange one. Where is she? What bar is it that angels tend? Is she already dead and she’s waiting in a sort of purgatory to know exactly what will happen to her soul?

She’s trying more or less to weasel her way out of damnation for destroying half of America?

Names for God are strange, but maybe they’re translations from Hebrew?

The whole story is not really grasping, as Haze correctly said, because having a character soliloquy present all the world building as well as that character’s emotions is really stodgy.

The end was a nice touch, tough. Is that the third option the angel mentioned?
#62 ·
· on Answering Machine · >>Miller Minus >>TheRiverSings
There are several cosmetic mistakes, typos and missing blank lines. Nothing really ugly, but it points to a possibly un-proofread story.

So, she feels so guilty not to have answered the phone when her (presumably) late husband (presumably) died in an accident, so she shut herself completely from the world – or just refuses to pick up the phone? It is unclear. It is also unclear why you give us so many details: the book she writes, the fireplace, the shambolic sitting room, the thunderstorm outside… which at the end do not really matter to the story.

At the end, this leaves too many questions unanswered: why is she writing a book? Why is the sitting room in chaos? Why isn't she answering the phone and especially why does she decide at the end of the story to listen to the saved messages? What triggers that action? We don’t have the answers to those, and that makes difficult to connect with the character.

Also, last review. I’ve reviewed all stories, yay me! :)
#63 · 2
· on The Last Call With Dad
Another top contender:

My only question concerns the term "nursing agency" at the beginning. If the father's so sick that they're hiring a home-care nurse, why is he there at the agency for the mother to answer his phone? Or is it a hospice and they're checking the father in to stay? And then once Christian Science comes into things, I found myself wondering even more. Would hiring a nurse from an agency be acceptable while going into a hospice wouldn't? I don't know what Christian Science teaches in that regard.

Yes, it's a minor quibble. But in minifics, every word counts, and those two words--"nursing agency"--just generated a lot of questions for me.

Mike
#64 · 1
· on Answering Machine · >>TheRiverSings
>>Monokeras
Mono, I love ya, but I just gotta stand up for the author a sec here.

So, she feels so guilty not to have answered the phone when her (presumably) late husband (presumably) died in an accident, so she shut herself completely from the world – or just refuses to pick up the phone? Can't it be both? It seems she's shut out her family and focuses only on work (as ineffective as she may be at it right now). Lots of people overwork themselves when they are grieving It is unclear. It is also unclear why you give us so many details: the book she writes She is a writer, the fireplace I see where you're coming from, but it's also part of the setting, and you might even infer she's successful since a fireplace is a luxury., the shambolic sitting room She's miserable and spending all her time in this room trying to work, the thunderstorm outside Setting… which at the end do not really matter to the story I'm picturing the story without these things and it now it takes place in a vacuum with a person and an answering machine and nothing else..


At the end, this leaves too many questions unanswered: why is she writing a book? she is a writer. Why is the sitting room in chaos? again, miserable writer who doesn't know what else to do Why isn't she answering the phone and especially why does she decide at the end of the story to listen to the saved messages? She is in terrible grief, and just wants to hear his voice again What triggers that action? I agree with that one. We don’t have the answers to those, and that makes difficult to connect with the character I can't argue with this—it's how you felt..


Aaaaand, just one other critique to add to the above: Why would she keep the police officer's message? That seemed left in for our sakes' only. Perhaps if his last message cut off in a more visceral way, we could infer it ourselves.

AAAAAAAND if it were up to me the story would have ended on: *End of saved messages.*

Thanks for writing and good luck!
#65 · 2
· on The Stars In Silent Witness · >>Miller Minus
Despite how much I respect Mono and Zaid, I will have to disagree here.

For what this is, it did a great job. Yes, it could have used backstory, but that would have completely wrecked the tone. No, we don't get the most amount of information on the protagonist or the final twist, but in a way, I like it better without. You talk about the scale of the battle, how unlikely it is to even see a ship, let alone be found by one. And by not giving us info, you further hammer the small, insignificant, hopelessness that the protagonist is feeling.

I will, however, have to agree with Mono on one aspect: not really memorable. Memory of stories, for me, comes from the dramatic. From the intense. And, honestly, this type of story with this tone does not have that.

I also think that, your last line there, well, it should never have been put in. While I love a good, optimistic ending, I feel this story would have benefited more from not having something touch her, from removing the last line. However, I like the 18 hours. The 18 hours is good. Just make the second to last line 18 hours.
#66 · 6
·
Mashups: Insensitive Edition!





Le Roi en Septembre - Our Main Character tries to grasp the intricacies of The King in Yellow, but his efforts are cut short when his friend invites him to a coworker's after-work party in their office on 200 Greenwhich Street.

The Only Letter You Need is Tee - When Sarah became a chaos mage, she didn't imagine she'd end up destroying half of America. Especially Lower Manhattan.

Warmth Can't Melt Steel Beams - A man reminisces on the events which led up to him dying under the rubble of the World Trade Center.

The Last Stop - Journal entry of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 prior to the September 11 atacks.

One for the Air - Two gentlemen of arab descent have a nice chat in the airport bar about the good old days before boarding their plane.

911 - A cop answers to a routine call for domestic violence on a hotel. The Marriot World Trade Center.

Debris In Silent Witness - After getting to a safe spot in WTC-1, Stephenie Greenhaven calls to emergency services for help. Sadly, a piece of debris hits her on the shoulder and she falls off.

Closer, and Closer, and Closer, and Closer... - A boy imagines a fantastical tale to cope with the horrors of being trapped in the daycare of the World Trade Center on a September morning.

I Am Alive for Now - A computer gains sentience and ponders about the fragility of life. Sadly, it's the on-board computer of United 93.

Metaphysical Grief Counseling - A fairy runs a special therapy session with survivors of the 9/11 attack.

A Close Call With Dad - "I want to say I thank you for not telling me you were a 9/11 truther."
#67 · 2
· · >>Monokeras
You know, just as I posted, I realised the oddly poetic coincidence of making 9/11 jokes considering the, uh, ethnic qualities of my username.
#68 ·
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Because of “Zaid”?
#69 ·
· · >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
I've been told you get put on watchlists for less than that.
#70 ·
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Well, then I should worry because my name comes from Lebanon…
#71 · 1
· on The Stars In Silent Witness
>>Monokeras
>>Zaid Val'Roa
>>MLPmatthewl419

And I'm with Matthew over here, so we can officially play doubles ping pong now.

What I like to do with a story that I feel is missing something, is imagine what it would be like if it was there. Even if this story had its word count quadrupled, and we got a perfect idea of the battle, what the hell would it matter to the core of the story? The fact that she's lost in space,trying to contact anyone just to save her from a monotonous demise, the gradual march of time uncaring of her plight. None of this needs a spacefight. Hell, I might even say that the battle raging on doesn't need to be there at all.

Actually, no, I take that back. I'm applying my rule but in reverse now. And without the battle, there's nobody she can call, and her frantic pleas into the ether added too much tension of the story to remove it. So I think the level we're told is actually right on the money!

Overall, this is one of my tops. Good job, Author!
#72 · 2
· on Le Roi en Jaune · >>Icenrose
I'll agree with:

>>GroaningGreyAgony though I only know "The King in Yellow" from Lovecraft's references. I'll add that I also can't quite tell which category this is aiming to be: horror or comedy. I'm leaning toward the second--"The Matchmaker in Yellow" sort of a thing--so I'd recommend amping that aspect up a bit. Have our narrator hear the Weddning March being wheezed on flutes made of human femurs or something at the end. Take it even further over the top in whichever direction you're wanting to go.

Mike
#73 · 1
· on Le Roi en Jaune · >>Icenrose
Late reviews are late, time to get it done.

This one... I didn't get it. I'm completely unfamiliar with The King in Yellow, so I don't understand the real meaning of that last sentence. The only thing that remains as a conclusion is the revelation of the girl's real name, which is quite anticlimatic

"Hello John!"
"My name's not John, it's Mike"
*Dum Dum Dum*


Aside from that, why mentionnoning MLP? Which purpose does it serve in your story? Maybe it serves one since I don't get the whole story. So as you can guess, I'll abstain on this one.
#74 · 1
· on The Warmth · >>Miller Minus
I'll be the nagger here and say that, even though the theme and what's happening to the MC is clear, that wasn't enough for me to enjoy the story.

I think it's mainly due because I, along with the character, am wondering how he died. Unfortunately, there are a lot of "perhaps" and "maybe" but not really a clear enough answer.
Another thing is that he is going from one place to another with any clear indication he has moved. FIrst, he is in a cave, then he is on a cliff, then on top of a mountain I guess?
The moment he started falling was somehow clearer, and the image you tried to convey more precise.

All in all, pretty much what my colleagues said, but not enough engaged by the story.
#75 ·
· on Answering Machine · >>TheRiverSings
Already three people have commented, and there isn't much left to say for me, except for my personnal reading.

I see some decent writing skills and a nice execution, but, I'm afraid to say that the ending, which I suppose was meant to be a big revelation, bringing light on the woman's behavior, unfortunately made me roll my eyes.
I have not only seen this coming from miles away, but it's also something very cliché, that I've seen too many times in fictions. Moreover, instead of using the proper tools of writing, I feel like you wrote it like a movie scene, which made it work even less for me.

As a character piece, this works quite well to start defining who the woman is, but as a story, and built like that, it feels too forced.
#76 · 1
· on 911 · >>Monokeras >>Monokeras
Jet fuel can't melt steel beams and using a real and tragic event doesn't make me care more (probably because I'm not from the US. Or because I'm a dick, it's one of them. Probably the latter)

However, and like >>Baal Bunny, I'm an idiot and I didn't understand what it was about before a second reading of both the story and the title. As a result, the whole interaction between the mother and the son is quite engaging and interesting. I started to care about them, before everything abruptly stopped. And I get it, that's the point but it felt likes this:
backstory backstory backstory... end of backstory
So I'm left with a question, where is the story? I mean, like the mention of MLP in another entry, I don't see how this guy is related to the event. Aside from just being a casulty, it could have been anyone else (like the cleaner, or the delivery man), it doesn't seem like it would have changed anything.

I'm exaggerating things here but I don't know how else I could have explained them, and there is still some skills on display here. Unfortunately, there aren't really aimed in the right direction for me.
#77 ·
· on
Count me with >>Monokeras here, I don't care at all about baseball, so I'll abstain.
#78 · 1
· on 911
>>Fenton
You’re back? Nice!
#79 ·
· on I Am Alive Now
I usually fault stories for trying too hard with a lot of emotions, but this one doesn't seem to try at all. Except at some points, like at the end, which makes the whole thing more cringy than anything else.

>>Zaid Val'Roa has the right call, before emotions, this story lacks backstory. We can't be invested by a someone or something, even if it's a computer, if we don't know the how, the when and the why. You may only had less than one hundred words to accomplish that, but that's the challenge in Minifics.

So an okay premice that lacks context and emotions.
#80 · 3
· · >>Miller Minus
So the number and size of entries is small enough that my slate contains everything? Hm. That means it'll be obvious what I wrote if I review my slate, and I hate writing fake reviews, so I'll compile my thoughts, but I won't post any of them yet. I'll post my reviews of the non-finalists once they're revealed, and if my story is among them (which is very likely, as I rushed an entry and didn't do any revisions--mostly, I'm hoping to add a big, beautiful "best new entrant" award because it's highly coveted and it's ridiculous I'm even eligible for it), I'll post all the reviews, though pretty late in the day tomorrow, as I'll be out of town until late afternoon.
#81 · 5
· on 911 · >>Monokeras
I know where the Hudson River is (from watching Gargoyles), so I figured out the twist as soon as that was mentioned. Other readers still couldn't recognize it was 9/11 at the end, until reading comments. So this is simultaneously too obvious of an idea, with too subtle execution. See, I'm not even hiding the surprise in spoiler tags, since it hits everyone either too soon or too late.

I've seen this story a thousand times already. Especially with 9/11, and sometimes other events loaded with historical significance, but it could just as easily involve any unexpected cause of death like a common car crash. Even with the cliches taken out, it's a story type that rarely ever seems to be saying anything. People die to random chance. A fictional character's life got cut short. He was gonna go home, buy a nice little farm, and settle down. i cri evrytiem.

He doesn't see the attack coming (except literally), he has no power to affect it, nor any time to react to it. Unlike say, the characters of Titanic running around trying to survive. It doesn't even feel like Brian's story here. It's like the opposite of fluff. Feel-bad porn.
#82 ·
· · >>Pascoite
>>Pascoite

mostly, I'm hoping to add a big, beautiful "best new entrant" award


And here I thought I was the only one doing that...
#83 ·
· · >>Miller Minus
>>Miller Minus
Oh crap, you're a new entrant, too? I'm boned. My entry was whatever I could crap out in 30 minutes, so it's not going to beat anything you've put actual thought into.
#84 ·
· · >>Pascoite >>Pascoite
>>Pascoite
I wouldnt be so sure. I think that several entries could top mine. But I did really like it so... TBD
#85 ·
·
>>Miller Minus
I'll be surprised if mine passes the first round, but I thought that would be enough to get the trophy. Oh well. I can still shoot for it in an OF short story round, I guess. But that's probably more time than I'm willing to sink into writing OF.
#86 · 2
· on One for the Road
Again:

I didn't get what was happening till reading >>Miller Minus's comment, and then I found myself wondering what the folks in this noisy room had been doing before the "last call" that opens the story. If it's been a human/robot orgy, I'd like some description of the scents that must be lingering in the air--or conversely, what aromas the management pumps into the room to counteract said scents--some mention of the various aches and pains Joe's starting to feel that he didn't used to, things like that. It's a fun idea, author, and I think with more details--more clues, if you will--it could become something with a nice little wallop.

Mike
#87 ·
· on Closer
If there was an occasion where purple prose would have suited a story, it's this one. Unfortunately, Daniel's emotions are normally described, which creates a clash with the ending.
I mean, we learn that he is frightened, but in fact, no, he wasn't. If you had used the first person, it would have worked better for me. Here, I feel the narrator is cheating me (I don't have any problem with a character cheating me)
Calvin and Hobbes has been mentionned, which is inevitable, but like I said, it works for Calvin and Hobbes mainly because Calvin's monologues are oversaturated with purple prose. If we had any doubts, this should clear them.

So a cute and nice story that missed a step for me.
#88 · 1
· on The Last Call With Dad
There isn't much to say here. I liked this one, even though I didn't feel very engaged with the protagonists. And I can't really point why or where.
Maybe it's because, as >>Monokeras said, because you have so little space to tell that kind of story. But you still managed to tell something that 's more than decent, that is enjoyable and, most of all, not over-the-top/trying-too-hard.
#89 · 2
· on I Am Alive Now
>>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Monokeras

Not much to say for the retrospective, I discovered the prompt around two hours before the deadline. So the result could only be precarious.
I had more or less figured out all the details but didn't manage to fit them. So backstory:
Like in a lot of sci fi settings, there was a war between humans and IAs. Humans won and shut down every IAs. This IA is a remainder of that period. It was only built to order and take care of a library, so it was not concerned by the war. In fact, it became sentient around the end of the war.
Also, the challenge was trying to write a dialog with only one half of lines. As you see, I didn't manage to keep this for the whole entry.

Anyway, no need to dwell on this. Thank you for the feedback, even though I feel like there are less and less people reviewing, which is sad. Take care.
#90 · 3
·
By all that is holy, who voted mine into the finals? That was unexpected. Well, my reviews of the other finalists will have to wait until after everything's done, but as promised, I will commence posting my reviews of the ones that should have ranked above mine but were somehow cut.
#91 · 1
· on Le Roi en Jaune · >>Icenrose
I know Bierce, but none of the other authors ring a bell. I wonder if this "king in yellow" thing is real, then? Not that it matters to the story, but it's a point of interest. I'm quickly getting lost, though. The more author names I see that I don't recognize... well, they're kind of outlandish names as well, for the most part. On the one hand, that does lend an air of realism, as not everyone is named Smith, but it also makes me wonder if I'm missing some sort of code. Interesting that you mention Bierce, then, because the many sources cited in The Devil's Dictionary are also made up and sometimes contain little jokes. Perhaps you're doing that and it's just sailing over my head? Minor issue, but as it's apparently a book title, underline or italicize The King in Yellow. I see a few other small editing things, like the capitalization of "instead."

Bit of metafiction going on here, but if the point is "everything's been done before," that's nothing new, and this doesn't make a point of it. I get that our narrator is supposed to be literary, but there's a limit to how much that would creep into casual speech. He's sounding more like he's reading some prepared remarks than having an off-the-cuff discussion.

Now, I can identify with this protagonist, at least. I saw a webcomic once that explained the difference: extroverts thrive on social interaction and activity, so being in a situation like this adds to their energy, whereas introverts get drained by the same thing and have to choose their moments to expend their energy. This can be an exhausting situation. So to see him sitting quietly by himself, probably because he's getting drained by the whole thing, rings true, and it's not necessarily due to shyness.

It's hard to get into Rachelle's accent when we have nothing to go on. If he can't place what kind, fair enough, but describe it a bit, since getting me in Tom's mindset is the whole point of the story.

Pressing her on a name she's admitted to not liking is probably not a good move. I don't understand his motive.

Ultimately, this story leaves me feeling like I'm missing out on a ton. I get the impression I'm supposed to already know what The King in Yellow is and what the significance of Cassilda is coming into the story. Now, there are stories where readers won't know things coming in, and that's fine, depending on how they're played. If a classical musician rattles off a bit of jargon, but understanding that jargon isn't necessary to getting the story's conflict, then fine. But here, it's central. There's obvious significance to the title and the name, yet I don't know what that is. As such, the meaning is lost on me.

And a bit of my usual rant. Why did you title the story in French? I know it's a nice edgy thing to use foreign-language titles, but unless that means something, what's the point? You're just making it harder to understand. What does French have to do with any of this? I can only guess the information I'm apparently supposed to know prior to the story might answer that. And I agree with Monokeras that the tangential MLP nod accomplishes nothing. Baal Bunny mentions that the king appears in some Lovecraft work? I've read a fair amount of him, yet this doesn't ring a bell for me.

The writing's fine, though. Seems like a lower-middle slate entry, but it's the first one I've read.

I guessed horizon for this, just because I could see him knowing all those literary references, and I don't know anyone else well enough to decide they would. But it also doesn't seem like horizon to hinge his story's success on having viewers familiar with a somewhat obscure reference going in. But I gambled and lost.
#92 ·
· on The Only Letter You Need is Bet
Conflict right from sentence one. I like it, and it takes me a minute to realize the angel likely isn't real. At first I had a cognitive dissonance between both angels and magic existing. I don't get the "barely inches from the bottom" line. Bottom of what? The counter? The glass? Either way, that's not as unusual as the "barely" makes it sound.

Now I'm hitting a few editing misses.

Wait, the angel's real? And he condones magic use? I'm guessing he's an artificial construct now. I love the description of his wings.

I feel like this was a great world-building story without the world-building. I get just a glimpse at how things work, enough to understand the basics of her predicament, but just the skeleton of it. However, it's a pretty compelling situation. To me, the ending is vague, but I'm not sure it's the wrong kind of vague. I could think that since she described herself as an agent of chaos, it's just some random thing happening. Or I could think that the angel or God has given her that third option.

I mean, really the only things I can say against this is that it's suggesting far more world building than it can deliver, and it's OOC of God to have a world where this sort of magic exists, but the former, like I said, gives me just enough to whet my appetite, and the latter is a conceit I'm willing to accept for the sake of the story. Plus it's so vague what Sarah's actually done that it's hard to get that invested in her plight. What it takes to get to her position, how important it is to her, what she was actually trying to achieve when shit went down, that sort of thing.

Yeah, the bartender is cliched, but as an angel? You have me wondering whether that's his normal spot, or if he's taken the place of someone today, or if the bar is something he conjured up for her benefit. I don't feel like the whole thing is expository so much. Yeah, her relating past events, but the more philosophical discussion of how magic works helps to break it up. Not that such information couldn't also be effectively shown in practice rather than theory, but the fact that she's kind of still learning it at this moment does bring it over the threshold of being story action, in my opinion.

So I rather liked this one. Early in my slate still, but it's going up top for now.
#93 ·
· on The Last Stand
How can this not be a JoJo story?

Anyway...

You have an immediate credibility issue. The narrator is writing this, but he's recording dialogue? And he's writing in this much detail and in such a literary method while he's geared up and about to start his mission? That doesn't ring true.

This is also one of those stories that would like to tell us everything from a distance as exposition instead of actually seeing any of it happen. That's hard to do while keeping it engaging, and I think a journal-type format is a poor fit for an action story. It's trying to tell about exciting events while the narrator is sitting there calmly writing in a book, which creates a dissonance.

No one knows what it looks like except the survivors? And they haven't told anyone? Seems like that would be common knowledge. I get that they have a hard time describing it, but the way you've worded that is extremely suspect.

You're taking an awful lot of word count to introduce characters who are unimportant. In a longer story, you could do this so we get to know them, but we never will here, so don't waste word count on them. One pretty solid rule of writing flash fiction is that you can't support a cast of more than two or three. You just can't develop them to the point the reader will care about them.

Some tense switches... eh, that last line. You really undercut the sense of honor and duty, which ends things on a sour note. Plus we don't know what happened. Did this journal survive because she returned? If someone else found it, then at least the Fear hasn't wiped out the world's population... yet. Or is this just sitting there on a lifeless planet? You set up this question, and it's not really the kind you can leave unanswered effectively.

I bet you'd be good at writing a D&D campaign, but this is hard to get into as flash fiction. Too many characters to juggle, a vague enough conflict, and a format that doesn't make logical or tonal sense. There's writing talent under here, but I suspect you're just not used to what kind of story you can tell within this kind of word limit.
#94 ·
· on Answering Machine · >>TheRiverSings
There's some narrative oddity right off the bat, where it simultaneously sounds like the narrator is and isn't aware of the audience. A few editing issues, too.

I'm getting a real mixed bag of characterization that's hard to reconcile. She's shutting out people who consider her important in their lives, so she comes across as an asshole or depressed, but then she acts very casually amused about the mess in her house and isn't explicitly angry at anyone, so I can't read her mood.

The narrator's also waffling between perspectives. It seems to be Eva's at first, but then it's very decidedly one external to her.

Well, that ending was fairly cliched. It was telegraphed by the insurance agent's call. But I don't even understand Eva's sentiment. Did she actually not answer the phone? I just took it as she wasn't there or was asleep when the call came in, but that's not what she's blaming herself for. Yet most answering machines play out loud, so if you hear it's someone you want to talk to, you can pick up the phone. I can't believe she wouldn't do that upon hearing the sheriff. Plus it doesn't fit with her earlier smirk if she's still this upset about things and feeling compelled to rehear the message.

I just think it doesn't strike a consistent tone, it's a rather common story concept without taking a new angle, and I don't fully understand how things transpired to know exactly what she's blaming herself for. Plus the ending paragraph was way too explain-y. We already got it.
#95 ·
· on Closer
I'm immediately confused, because we have a door opening and closing at the same time, and it's not until the end of the sentence that we get a clue they're not the same door. Then he's able to slow his breath in only a few seconds, which doesn't seem possible, and he's looking out the keyhole for the monster, and he sees it on the edge of his vision. Maybe that's not what you meant, but that sounds like he's seeing the monster out the corner of his eye. More likely he can only see a bit of it due to the keyhole obscuring it, but my point is he's going to try looking directly at the monster, right? Yet this sounds like he's deliberately keeping it in his peripheral vision.

Next, it starts waffling between past and present tense, and not in a way that makes me think it's on purpose. You don't need to tell me it was his name. A name was clearly spoken, and without any reason to believe otherwise, the default will be to assume it's his.

This monster's really bad at finding him. It's overlooking all the obvious places.

Yeah, that's about where I figured this was going. A few editing issues, and as I said, it kind of loses me on the realism front in a few places. Take some of the descriptions, like "skin boots." This is Daniel's impression, and while he's probably literally correct (I assume they're leather), I can't tell whether he's convinced this is a real monster (which is hard to buy), he's deliberately imagining she is, or he's way too convenient in characterizing it as such.

Let me back up to the second of those. It doesn't carry the kind of tone that a child's imagining has. He'd see this as a game with a goal, yet the way he's just aimlessly running speaks more toward actually being frightened for his life. And while that helps disguise the twist, it hurts the realism after the twist is revealed. He can still sound scared--a child playing such a game would probably play along as if he were--but when you have a story that gets recontextualized like this, you have to be able to read it again after learning the true context and have it still work perfectly. It would help a lot if you had some touches that lent it more of a make-believe air but that still create a sense of genuine fright before the reader knows that. It's a tricky balancing act, but one that makes for a very memorable story and an impressive thing to pull off.

It got a little chuckle out of me, but it didn't surprise me that much.
#96 ·
· on I Am Alive Now · >>Fenton
I wonder if you couldn't have done something better than those ellipses. All they connote to me is bad video game dialogue and the authors who have decided they somehow make a valid paragraph. A number of editing problems, some of which made me have to go back and reread parts.

Now I'm really confused. It's implied this is the last human, yet there's still a web running? If there are no more humans, why does he care if the computer can connect to it and do what it likes? And why is he emotionally attached to the computer? They haven't had any meaningful interactions, so I have no way of knowing. That makes it hard for me to get invested. I'm lacking the context to make sense of all this. I get that the computer doesn't have all the context either, but I think it has more than it's giving us, and since you're letting us see things it doesn't necessarily remember from power cycle to power cycle, why not let us see it from a time that it did know that context, then we see it forget.

The delivery method isn't bad, but it needs a lot more breathing room than you're giving it.

Those were the notes I took as I read, anyway, but now that I see your retrospective, I completely misinterpreted the human agreeing that he was the last starter.
#97 ·
· on 911 · >>Monokeras
I find that so many stories and other creative works have been based on 9/11 that a new one pretty much has to reach off the page or out of the screen and slap my face to get my attention. No matter how well it may be constructed, I can’t get engaged with this one. I should probably abstain.
#98 · 1
· on The Warmth · >>Miller Minus
This is a nice prose/poem of a mountaineer freezing to death. I like the creative imagery. We don’t know which of his actions are part of his chill dream and which are reflections of what his body is doing, but he likely wouldn’t be too clear on that either. This one stands out from the pack, to me, and is in the top ranks.
#99 ·
· on I Am Alive Now
>>Pascoite
I completely misinterpreted the human agreeing that he was the last starter


You're definitely not to blame here since there are a lot of informations missing. And that's without counting the lack of emotions.

Still, thank you for the feedback. The fact that you thought he was the last human (which was not my intention) makes me reconsider what I wrote. I've already reread it a couple of times and I plan to keep on doing that in order to figure out how I could have done it differently so that you don't have that interpretation.
#100 · 2
· on Metaphysical Therapy
This is a nice little peek at an alternate reality that I would like to see expanded, with more examples of human interaction with the Fae at various practical and friendly levels, and rather more of that uncanny feeling that comes with true fairy tales. I can’t expect you to pack all that into this small space. A decent job, author.