TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

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TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby Marcuse » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:01 pm

writing_contest.php

The writing contest submissions are in! Please run off to read them and vote on things. As usual votes cannot be taken back so be careful, and the story with the most votes wins!

Feel free to respond to this post with comments or critique, but remember to keep things constructive.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:22 am

Ah, damn it. I was working on my longest submission for one of these yet (a medieval cosmic horror story), but I didn't get to finish it in time. Probably just gonna post it to The Fridge sometime later on, since I'm somewhat proud of it as it stands (unless the next contest is very soon and happens to have a suitable theme). But this isn't about me, so as for the stories that made the cut:

Scream: An Impression

I... didn't much care for this one. The concept is really clever, especially once it dawned on me what it was actually about, but that prose is purple like a bruise and feels just about as pleasant. I get why it's written that way, and it's kind of necessary for a story like this, but I just dislike the overtly flowery, synonym-abusive style whenever I see it.

The Death of Frank Henry

Holy hell, this is my undisputed favorite of the four. Just the idea is sterling enough -- everyone's terrified of teleporters destroying our consciousness, but I haven't seen many works actually tackle that -- and it's executed so horrifically well, despite the last couple of paragraphs being a little awkwardly written. "Frank" goes from pitiable to monstrous like a flipped switch, but the transition feels believable, and I like where it ends. Simply awesome work.

(Also, always nice to see an unexpected Bride of Frankenstein reference.)

The Devil Left Georgia

A very breezy story and one that's on the simple side prose-wise, but it made me chuckle heavily and I suspect that's all it was meant to do. Deflated straw hats off to you, author.

The Storm

I really liked this one, even though I'm kind of struggling to decipher what it's about -- I thought I had a pretty good idea before the halfway point, but then the protagonist's actions and the ending threw me. I'm probably just being a dummy, though. Really well-written, if a bit wall-of-text heavy, and it managed to surprise me. That gets a vote.

Damn solid batch this time around, guys 'n gals! Makes me really regret not expending more energy into getting mine done alongside these.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby Anglerphobe » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:49 pm

It's very hard to vote when the entries are so disparate in theme and style. It's good that people get to unleash their ideas but I have no idea how to judge them on it. For now, I'm abstaining E - I made up my mind in the end. - I will also shamelessly steal KK's format for reviews, and in future may act as if it had been my idea all along.

The Devil Left Georgia

I enjoyed this the most out of them. Silly, funny, just the right amount of absurdity. I'm not one for references, myself, but I can accept it here as it's quite well done. I'm not particularly familiar with that song or musician but I didn't find any problem with it. There may be more interesting stuff for the more affiliated that people like me might miss. Good reference hustle, in short.

Scream: An Impression

Flashes of brilliance stretched just too thinly in this one. I like some of the... wordplay? I guess? The use of disordered, slithery prose is actually effective in a lot of places, but it often loses its place and becomes laborious to read through. What I'd say it needs is more of a meter and rhythm to it, to become more poetic and less clustered and irregular. It never kept its flow long enough to let we warm to it completely and it's a terrible shame because I liked where it was going and how it was getting there. I have to echo KK's comments about synonym abuse too, but that is secondary to the above point. It bothers me when it's staggering the flow but doesn't when it isn't.

The Death of Frank Henry

The concept is cool, and it's well executed. It does seem shallow, though. This feels like the form of a longer and deeper story, left a little bit stunted by the short length. Having so many scenes thrown through at that pace gave me that impression. It came off disjointed at times. I also find the dialogue pretty awkward in almost every instance. It definitely tends to feel more like exposition than conversation.
I would love to see this one as a more fleshed out piece.

The Storm

I had a problem keeping up. At the first attempt, I re-read parts of it more than once after getting lost. I don't know whether this was the author's intention, of course. The uncertainty and confusion was used well for suspense, making this one the most immersive for me personally once I got to grips with it. This one also feels like it would be more at home as a longer piece, part of a larger and more developed story. That being said, I don't know whether the scarcity of exposition was deliberate.
I dig the emergency phone call transcript expository outro. I'm a shameless mark for them when they're done well and this was a peach.

E - reading this back it sounds like I'm roasting everyone. This wasn't intentional, I just didn't want to just re-hash stuff that KK said. Kudos to all the authors for their work.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby LaoWai » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:11 am

What rhymes with "clump" and counts as a euphemism for a sexual act? Yeah, I'm giving this thread that.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby cmsellers » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:33 am

I'm kind of surprised this isn't a global announcement.

I'm a little bit worried about hurting feelings if I discuss the stories honestly by name, since two of them I just didn't get. But the two I did get were good in their own way (and not just good for amateurs), and I'm far too autistic to say that just to be nice.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby IamNotCreepy » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:44 pm

1: Scream: An Impression

I think I understand what this one is about. The style is (I assume purposely) very dense, and it makes it somewhat laborious to get through. I do like some of imagery used, but I think the overall story suffers from it.

2: The Devil Left Georgia

If "Scream" suffers from overly flowery language, this one might suffer from the opposite. But although the language may be simple, I think the concept is clever, and found it quite funny.

3: The Storm

I liked the setting and feeling of danger in the first part of the story. I was really interested to see what was going to happen, and the transition to the 911 call at the end was abrupt. I guess that was the point, but it was confusing when the dialogue just started.

4: The Death of Frank Henry

I think this is a really interesting concept. While I appreciate the Bride of Frankenstein references (Shelley's Pub, all the fire imagery, referring to him as a monster, etc.) I think the ending gets bogged down trying to adhere too much to it. The dialogue at the end is kinda clunky.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby LaoWai » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:28 pm

I'm going to do reviews, starting with this one, because it's now the first where I live, and nuts to you if you live in a separate time-zone.
Spoiler: show
The Devil left Georgia: You won my vote. I assumed I only got one. The story made me chuckle, which I consider a strength, first off. Also, the story seems internally consistent. (I mean, there's a little quibble there about why the first automaton gets the situation faster than the second, but I can accept that as a matter of narrative.)

The dialogue is completely justified. "People" say what they would probably actually say, given the situation. There are maybe some places where the dialogue strikes me as off-putting, but the concept itself sort of takes care of it. There's a Data-esque quality to the level of dialogue that adds to, rather than detracts from, the whole.

The end joke is pretty cliche, really, since Futurama sort of killed the whole "Hey, baby, want to kill all humans" gag, but Johnny's last question balances that out nicely. It also feels like a pretty classy Futurama reference.

I feel like words were used very sparingly, but effectively: I would list "Johnny looked up and squinted" among my choice of most effective lines, though I'd prefer a period there. That's so much better than having Johnny say something "incredulously" or "disbelievingly." Even in what's damn near a script treatment, there are some small cues as to how a reader should imagine the scene.

I'm not sure what one line adds: "His coveralls and straw hat seemed to deflate a bit." I'm not sure I can picture either item deflating, to be honest. And I've only got a somewhat guess as to the meaning.

Any little quibbles aside, it was a fun read. I'd read it again (and probably will) when I want a giggle. Well done!
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby CarrieVS » Sun Apr 01, 2018 12:12 am

LaoWai wrote:You won my vote. I assumed I only got one.


You can vote for as many as you like.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby LaoWai » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:24 pm

Spoiler: show
The Death of Frank Henry: this was probably the one I most hoped would turn out really well. The concept is really interesting. What does happen to you when you're essentially remade from a blueprint of a person who is technically no longer alive? Paragraphs 2 and 3 are about my favorite, because they sum up that conflict very succinctly, and the fragments mimic the way people talk when they work to express ideas that they haven't quite figured out.

I really wanted to see that explored more, especially in terms of the whole synapse question. Like, when a binary machine is translating a tremendously large non-binary system, what happens to the original system? (Presumably, for example, a computer could capture where a particular neurotransmitter was at the moment of a scan, and even what it was composed of on an atomic level, but it wouldn't be able to express the "point" of a neurotransmitter.)

Obviously, the author developed the idea differently, and the sudden switch into a monster seemed a bit abrupt to me. That may be because of the only major prose issue I have with the piece, which is that not-Frank is a little too clear in his thinking and understanding.

Obviously clearly expressed prose is a good thing, but not-Frank is drunk/hung-over (after having his brain scrambled in a way he can't exactly express) for a huge part of the story, which makes it seem odd that he is picking up on social cues and interpreting other people's motivations. More of the fragmentary thinking from the (again, fantastic) 2nd and 3rd paragraph would have maybe helped me in that sudden jump.

I have one minor usage quibble: that "the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak" line. In sexual situations, it's just been used ironically so many times that it's started to mean "I can't get it up," and in the original sense it pointed directly to falling asleep instead of doing the right thing.

I enjoyed the Shelley Easter egg a good bit, especially since I love a good allusion to favorite authors. There's also a nice Stevenson feel to the overall story, whether it was intentional or not.

I feel as though this is the piece most deserving of a re-write, since it's got so much potential.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby JamishT » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:16 pm

So now that voting is over, I'll let y'all know just what The Storm was about:

Nothing.

I just started writing with the idea that I wanted a female protagonist, a really bad storm, and to kill her abruptly. Eventually, I decided I also wanted a bathroom scene because fictional characters never go to the bathroom and that's annoying. I really regret not having her attach the camper to the big truck and taking it with her to...her death. Whoops.

Also, there's not a lot of dialogue because I hate writing dialogue.

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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby cmsellers » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:32 pm

JamishT wrote:So now that voting is over, I'll let y'all know just what The Storm was about:

Nothing.

Thank you for this. Now I don't feel bad about not understanding that story anymore.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby LaoWai » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:00 am

Spoiler: show
Scream: So this is a thing I've been doing with a friend. You get a card with a word written on it, then another card with a lithograph. (This time around, I got the word" coloratura" and Munch's "The Scream.") You speak into a recording device, then cut the sound off at ten minutes in and type out the result with the "umms" and "ahhs" edited out.I didn't imagine it flying remarkably well on TCS, but I thought, "Well, whatever."
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby LaoWai » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:03 am

Spoiler: show
Ok, so I'll touch on The Storm as well. Now that we know who is behind each and every story, it makes it easier for me to be honest. (Warning: maybe dick judgments ahead.)

To start with, the "ALL CAPS" writing just doesn't make me think of shouting, but instead summons up the specter of Death from Discworld. That's mostly what killed the story for me. Also, I don't care for the whole kill-your-main-character ending.

Aside from that, it seems like there are a ton of inconsistencies. Death pronounces "YOU SHOT ME, YOU BITCH! MY GODDAMN LEG IS BLEEDING. WHO THE FU--" (in assumed leaden tones) yet is somehow found with a giant hole in his head later. Janice's emptying the gun into the roof after the moment of silence might have aided there I reread a number of times, looking just fora mention of that. Why exactly did Janice flee at the end? Why did Josh, apparently, pursue her? The whole thing left me with a lot of why's.

Having said that, the way the thing switched to a simple 911-call to handle Janice's being dead was a good move. At least we see the dead-main from someone else's viewpoint. (Having to see the truck turning, the roof crushing, etc. from her viewpoint would have been annoying.) This way, it's, like, OK, so now there's this dude who has to have seen this, and he' equally confused.

I enjoyed the mentions of the dream-catcher, and I would have liked for that to have been developed as a kind of theme more than it was.

"Things were going to be where they were going to be, and if they were on the floor, they weren't falling on her" is probably my favorite line out of the whole piece. I feel like that really gives us readers a sense of what kind of woman Janice is. It also seems like a very feminine line in an otherwise very masculine piece, somehow (in a positive sense). I don't know how to explain that,exactly, but it's a good thing.

This felt somewhat experimental (in the sense of the author trying something difficult), and I enjoyed that.
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby JamishT » Mon Apr 02, 2018 1:27 am

LaoWai wrote:...Death pronounces "YOU SHOT ME, YOU BITCH! MY GODDAMN LEG IS BLEEDING. WHO THE FU--" (in assumed leaden tones) yet is somehow found with a giant hole in his head later. Janice's emptying the gun into the roof after the moment of silence might have aided there I reread a number of times, looking just fora mention of that. Why exactly did Janice flee at the end? Why did Josh, apparently, pursue her?


I can answer these if you'd like.

Death is her husband and also a cop (I think I mentioned the boys in blue defending one of their own in her imagined trial). The way I pictured it in my head, she shot him in the leg, then by where his voice was coming from, shot him in the head. She fled because she just killed a guy, and didn't think self-defense would be believed. Josh was just a local kid who knew that back road (and thus was driving faster than most would), but in the panicked mind of Janice, he was pursuing her.


This felt somewhat experimental (in the sense of the author trying something difficult), and I enjoyed that.


That it was! Thanks for the feedback and stuff!
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Re: TCS Write-Off March 2018 - Voting!

Postby IamNotCreepy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:56 am

Thank you everyone, for the votes and all of the feedback.

So, I had the basic idea for the story years ago (man goes through teleporter and gets replaced) but never did anything with it.

I didn't really know where to go with the story or how to end it, so I just kept writing and exploring the consequences of what would happen. That's how the whole sex scene came about, and that led to my eureka moment when I realized the parallels to Frankenstein.

So naturally, Frankenstein needed a bride. I sprinkled references to fire throughout the story (burning the candle at both ends, playing with fire, etc.) and decided to end it just like Bride of Frankenstein, with him getting rejected and then destroying everything.

I think maybe I leaned too heavily into it. Some of the lines at the end are direct quotes or paraphrases, and they felt a little shoehorned in.
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