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To Those at the End · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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I had plans. I guess we all do. It’s kinda funny to think about, really. It’s like those silly childhood dreams we’ve all had. You know, the ones where we want to be astronauts or soldiers or movie stars or something. Or… maybe you don’t know.

Yeah. Well, life never works out like that, does it? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. How we don’t really stop to wonder what’s really stopping us from going there, getting that dream. I mean, sometimes it’s really closer than we think, but we just… let it slip away. Like everything else.

Well, I’ve just been doing some thinking lately. Not like there’s much else I can do. I just want to know that I’ve lived a good life, you know?. But… I’m not feeling it. I’ve been trying, though, looking back at all my memories. But there’s nothing there. Looking back it’s just so…

Yeah! Disenchanting. That’s the word. It’s like, fuck, I could have done so much more with my life. I could have done so much differently. Like, instead of going to that stupid party, maybe I would have remembered to study for that god damned midterm. And maybe I wouldn’t have gotten kicked out of college. And… and maybe I’d die being something more than a 7/11 cashier.

It’s not that I didn’t try. Because I like to think that I did. That’s kind of why I adopted Freddy, too. Best damned friend I could ever ask for. But… you know, he died, and… and that was that. And looking back now, everything I did to try and change the world didn’t really work.

It’s frustrating. Because I really did want to make my life meaningful. But I didn’t. Maybe I wasted too much time. Maybe I wasn’t brave or strong enough, I don’t know. But I guess I just took life for granted. Figured I had a full life ahead of me to become who I want to be.

What, with this? Yeah right. Who’s going to listen to what I have to say anyways? It’s just going to be another fucking sad song, with nothing to say. I mean, if I never listened to those stories, who’s going to? I’ve given up. It’s… it’s too fucking late now.

Look, I… I spent my entire life doing what I was told. They said go to college to get a degree, so I did. They said major in business, so I did. Look how that turned out. They told me to sit down and shut up because I didn’t matter. For a while, I guess I did. But, for real. I’m one person. It’s just stupid to think that I could change the world. I’m fucking nobody.

Just… just go away. I don’t care for what you have to say. You don’t scare me anymore.

Linda? No, I never told her. Why should I? She’d just laugh. She never loved me anyways. Probably because I took her for granted like I did with everything else. So I went out, drank and partied. Look how well that turned out for me.

No. Nothing did. Not the drugs, not the beer, not the smoking. It just made me feel worse. Why do you care? You’re not my psychiatrist.


I don’t know. I mean… I wish I could have done things differently. It’s so funny to think that I could have turned my life around if I knew it was going to end like this. It’s funny, I’ve spent all twenty four years of my life living up to die in a hospital bed.

Huh. I guess I’d tell him to wake up and stop taking things for granted. To sit up and listen to what those at the end have to say.

To those at the end? I dunno. Guess I’d tell them it’s okay, because they can rest now. They don’t have to worry about who they were anymore. I still have to, though. But… not for long. Right? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?

Tell me one thing. What’s on the other side?

Heh. Oh yeah, I can believe that.

No, I guess I’d rather not know.

I… I guess it wouldn’t hurt.

“Were you talking to me?”

Oh, hey Doc. No. Just… talking to myself. Hey, could you pass me my phone? I need to make a call...
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#1 ·
· · >>TheRedParade
You fucking kidding me?

Something I liked:


Something I didn't like:

In the Discord server, which I would not recommend visiting, Cassius brought up how the ending of this entry really undoes it. When he said this I had just come out of reading all the entries in rapid succession, and had forgotten what exactly he had meant. Upon a re-read, though, it becomes painfully clear to me that "Disenchantment" is a potentially good mood piece that deflates itself faster at the end faster than a balloon with a hole poked in it. To understand why, we have to acknowledge that prior to the ending this was written under the impression that the protagonist is having a conversation with someone whose side of the conversation we're not able to read. This is what I mean, in my review of "Down to the Finish," about second-person narration being used to make the reader feel like a dialogue is happening when it really isn't. Now you might say, "But Raisin, this is clearly told in the first-person, not the second, you hack," but I'm referring more to the fact that the protagonist is clearly talking to someone who is not specifically meant to be the reader. The problem is that the ending completely ruins this impression, seemingly breaking the one rule the story had set up, and it kind of just feels like bullshit. It feels like a severe misfire on the author's part, and if I can recommend anything it's that those last few sentences ought to be changed.

Verdict: While it may be admirably unconventional, the ending kills all enthusiasm I have for it.
#2 ·
· · >>TheRedParade
Okay, so I'm definitely giving you respect for going for something that's just totally unconventional. It's something that I rarely have the courage to do myself, so I'm always intrigued to see how others pull it off.

But I think I do have to admit that this was kind of a hard sell for me. I, personally, am not really a fan of self-descriptive monologues. When I write conversations, I'm the sort of guy who gets worried that I'm boring the reader if I have more than three sentences from the same character in a row. So when it came to reading this, I have to say that it's probably just not my cup of tea.

It's really touchy territory when you have characters talk straightforwardly about their own feelings, because this rarely happens in real life. It's easy for the text to come across as existing to inform the reader rather than occurring and developing naturally, which really makes it difficult for any of the emotion to come through. I know it's a little bit of a cliche to use the phrase "show don't tell", but I'm having a hard time describing how this piece came off to me other than "telly".

I'm not getting as much of the self-deflation tones that Raisin got, I think primarily because I had a different reading of this. I was under the impression that the story meant that while on his deathbed, the narrator was able to talk to a dead person that he knew, and only he could hear him. If that was what you were going for, I'm not quite sure how well the twist comes across to me. It doesn't add much new insight to the preceding text, and it's not very foreshadowed. The goal of a good twist, after all, is to convince the audience that they've been deceived, and that they could have pieced together the truth if only they were paying more attention. When the twist doesn't seem to impact or be impacted by the context of the story very much, it feels kind of perfunctory.

So yeah, I'm afraid there are a few things that stop me from enjoying this piece as much as I hoped. I'm not exactly clear on what emotion I'm supposed to be feeling from this one, and it makes it difficult for me to come away with a concrete takeaway. I'd be interested to see if any of our other reviewers have answers to my questions.

Thank you for entering!
#3 ·
· · >>TheRedParade
In which the doctor didn't notice for a long time.

Much of the story is build-up or at least it feels like build-up. I'm conflicted with where the story is going with all the build-up. On the one hand, I could take it as a kind of moral lesson on to hear the people at the end of their lives and listen to the kind of wisdom that they can give, which is good in and of itself; however, with the attitude he has throughout much of this story, I would be somewhat averse listening to this guy for advice even if he's 100% correct.

On the other hand, I could consider this with the ending much more in focus. I like that it seems to be aiming for that insanity angle. However, it seems more like a twist for twist's sake. Little is done if at all to hint at it. Perhaps the ellipses might have given it away, but still, it feels like all the thinking I've done ever since I realized he was talking to someone and not just to the reader was wasted thanks to the ending as is.

On the bright side, props to you for going the very direct route with this story's perspective/point of view. Better to play it risky than to play it safe, I'd say. Keep that attitude up.

Overall, a story that went all in and lost all the money. However, while I won't be surprised to see this at the bottom of the pack, I still like the risk behind this. Don't let this discourage you from doing more stories like this.
#4 ·
Interesting. I think that this story tries to accomplish too much and in turn doesn't really achieve what it was hoping to do. While it definitely carries a sad and pitiful tone, I'm not really sure if there's a bigger takeaway or message that I'm missing. To pull a line from the story itself, it quite literally feels like a sad story with nothing to say.

The story is vague enough where I can draw my own interpretations from it, but in turn it's kind of confusing given that it tries to go in so many different directions at once. I think it just tries to be bigger than it really is, and that in turn leads to its downfall.
#5 ·
· · >>Comma Typer >>Bachiavellian >>No_Raisin >>Monokeras
>>Comma Typer


I don’t really have much to say on this story, other than that I’m sorry people didn’t enjoy it. I guess you could say that you hated the ending yourself, but it started with an alright scene?

Heh. I guess I can see where I went wrong with it. I put too much of myself into it. Because I guess this work is really something I needed to get off of my chest more than it is a fictional piece about a no-named character. And of course nobody cares about what some random guy you don’t know is whining about. That’s why I think this is just another sad story with nothing to say.

So… I dunno. I guess that’s it for me. I don’t think I’ll participate in these anymore. And it has nothing to do with the ratings or the scoring, I don’t really care for those. It’s more that I'm not enjoying what I write for these stories. I mean, yeah, I’ve only written two and one was anonymous, but I’m still not having fun while doing it. After thinking about it, I guess it really isn’t worth my time to do this, because I’d just be writing something I wasn’t satisfied with and that wouldn’t be presentable, or something I was even proud of.

I dunno. I just feel like I’m wasting my time as a writer, but worst of all I’m wasting your time as a reader, and I’m not enjoying what I write and you guys clearly aren’t enjoying it either. So it’s kind of a win-win for everyone if I just stop.

Yeah. I’m probably not coming back. Again, not that it’s anyone’s fault. You guys are clearly better writers and can give better criticism then I could ever dream of giving. I hope I don’t sound arrogant and prickish. If I’m blaming anyone it’s mostly myself. Yeah, you guys probably don’t even know who I am, and that’s fine. I’m irrelevant anyways.

Fuck, I’m realizing now this sounds like I’m an attention whore but that isn’t my intention at all. I’m not looking for justification or rationalizations as to why I should or shouldn’t do anything. I just want to get some stuff out of my head and onto… paper? The internet? Something like that.

So… so long, I guess. I wish I could say it’s been fun, but it really hasn’t been. Best of luck to everyone else in their writing and congratulations to the winners.
#6 · 1

If the piece is a disguised call for help, then do not hesitate to PM one of us or, if it's more than just writing, better yet a close friend of yours.

Do note that, as far as I know, the Writeoff these days is now mostly conducted by older, more experienced writers so the informal barrier of entry, so to speak, might've been higher than expected.

Even with that, though, the point about the Writeoff is that it's mostly about getting honest and straightforward feedback in order to improve one's writing. Since it is done in a contest format, that automatically bars off or disadvantages authors who might do better when thinking about their stories over longer periods of time: I certainly got time pressured a lot for this contest and ended up not up to snuff for my entry.

Ultimately, I get that it is not easy, especially with how blunt criticism and feedback can get in the Writeoff. It can be discouraging to read the medalists and to compare them to your entry and to see how the commenters praise them while they look down on yours.

With that said, maybe you can try taking things a notch lower and try to see improvements not by comparing yourself to other writers but by comparing yourself to yourself. Comparing yourself to the likes of, say, Miller Minus or Bachiavellian may be very discouraging to you since they're very well-seasoned and have tons of experience here, but it's easier to ask yourself, "How is my writing now compared to my writing half a year ago?" At least with that, it's easier to see improvement there: it's at a manageable and much more personal rate, and it's ultimately your own style that you are analyzing and critiquing.

Also, I would suggest reading this blog post about being discouraged or otherwise feeling lonesome or negative with writing.

All in all, I wish you well in your future endeavors and, if you are feeling super down, I hope and pray you get back up. Stay safe wherever you may be.
#7 ·
Hey, man!

I know it really sucks when it doesn't feel like you're going anywhere with something that you're trying. I'm sorry that you felt like that, and I'm sorry if I came off as brusque in my review.

One thing that you really should keep in mind, is that this community is really, really small. So we get the same opinions thrown around a lot, and everyone is pretty familiar with what kind of stories everyone else likes. So it's not just a matter of writing well, it's also a matter of appealing to this specific corner of the internet, which is a tall order for your first two tries.

Writing is really, really complex and really, really difficult to do well. It's one of the things where the more you learn about it, the more it seems you realize how out of your depth you are. Everybody absolutely sucks when they first start writing, and a good deal of them never even realize it and they never stop sucking. To be honest, you've kinda jumped into the deep end a bit, if this is where you've submitted your first attempts at fiction. Most of us still hanging around here have kinda become assholes, and we're really no longer as good as we were about giving feedback to anyone else but ourselves, let alone new writers.

Another thing worth noting is that even good writers write bad stories. Writing bad stories is how you get better. Nobody learns from success, and nobody starts off being great. Look at the scoreboard for any of our top-scoring participants, and you'll notice they all have at least a handful of really poorly ranked entries. There's a quote from animator Lauren Faust, which goes something like you have to make a few hundred bad drawings for every good drawing you happen to produce. Doing poorly in these contests says nothing about your potential. Doing badly is quite frankly, an essential part of learning to write. The worst, most pointless authors are the ones who think that their writing is perfect. Especially the ones that start writing, believing that they produced masterpieces.

What I'm trying to say is, thinking that you're bad is a bad reason to stop writing. If you honestly decide that you are no longer interested in writing, then you definitely should not devote your energy to something that doesn't interest you. But if you still wish you could write well, but you're discouraged at what your writing looks like right now, then I strongly recommend you not to give up.

Honestly, you might have to find somewhere else to post your writing. As much as I hate to admit it, this website has become less newbie-friendly than when I first started participating as a newbie myself. And fuck yes, I used to really suck, if that means anything coming from the 2nd place author this round. Just look at how bad I used to be.

As for giving feedback, this is also nothing but a practiced skill. Giving feedback specifically to anonymous entries is such a fucking over-specialized skillset that I had no idea how to handle giving reviews to non-anonymous stories for a contest I judged just this week. All of us here have devoted literally years to reviewing for this specific site. Just look at how much my own reviewing style has changed and improved since I started.

So what I'm saying is, (1) YOU REALLY SHOULDN'T TAKE THIS GROUP'S WORD AS GOSPEL, considering how much of an echo-chamber we are, and (2) if you think you're bad, then you're already more self-critical than a whole truckload of truly bad authors, and you're much better than you think you are.

If the idea of becoming a good fiction writer still appeals to you, I strongly encourage you to keep writing. Yeah, you won't be satisfied by a lot of what you make. If you look at my retros for my entries over the years, especially at first, I really pull my own hair out at how bad I think I am. But the only way to improve is to write bad stories and to ask other people what made them bad. For that, you need readers that you can trust, and honestly, that might not be here.

I hope that makes sense to you! Please feel free to email me if there's anything I can help with, or if you just want to bounce ideas off me. bachiavellian@gmail.com
#8 ·
Only write if you feel that you must. If you don't, then don't. Putting something of yourself out there is often a painful and draining experience, and that's not even getting into the reception. A lot of people who start out training in a skill will quit because they feel it's too much to take and not rewarding enough. It's a lot like the first year of college, or at least that's how I think of it. You can either be patient with it or get out early. There is no wrong choice. What you should keep in mind is that when trying to write fiction, especially early on, failure is inevitable. It's gonna happen, and you can learn from it, or not.
#9 ·
I’m not really surprised by your reaction, and I can relate to it. I had the same, multiple times, back then, when I was a newbie writer and wrote my first WO entries. It’s really been a painful way up – doubly so, since as a non-native writer, I had to improve both my writing style AND my English (countless time have I been walloped with the famous “this was written by a non-native guy”, and this was really discouraging). And I’m still not completely out of it, since people continue to look after "Monoisms" in my stories to peg them on me. I don’t pay much attention to it nowadays, but I’m still proud to be more and more able to fly under the radar of even the best analytical minds of this society.

Contrarily to what Bachi states, the WO has always been harsh, and entering this community you must prepare to meet nice and welcoming people who can, when the competition starts, turn into your worst literary foes. However, he is right in saying we are all "seasoned" writers, some more than others, and that we all now more or less expect everyone here to be on par with us (don’t get me wrong: that doesn’t mean we are master writers; we just share a small amount of skill learnt the hard way). This makes the access step quite high, as well as sort of hazing the newcomer. This might especially been true for original fiction rounds, where you can’t hide behind an already built up world, and use pre-baked characters.

Bachi is also bang on when he says that only honesty will pay off. You can’t progress if no one points out your mistakes or bad habits. It certainly needs you to be able to handle a lot of criticism with a grain of salt and a lot of distanciation, which isn't easy. Gnash your teeth. Stick through it. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by dismay. If you persevere, you’ll find the challenge less and less gruelling as you progress. Good writing calls for a lot of technical skills, and technical skills are only acquired by experience. So don’t get too crestfallen. Channel your frustration into something positive, such as wanting to beat us all next time. I don’t guarantee you will, but in the "middle" run, this is a perfectly achievable goal: we’re not geniuses. Take heart. And see you next round.