The Weekly Review - Edition 22
A What’s New Section giving the latest info on the Forums!
An Article about giving and receiving criticism by Steve 24833!
An Interview of the fantastic site member Seto!
A Review of BerkaZerka’s great Everything Else story Cows vs. Aliens!
A Short Story by the terrific writer Steve24833!
A Special Section of jokes!
- In Newbie Central newcomers Bannerlord and Weeaboo deliver late introductions of their fantastic selves to the site!
- In the Lounge Zaghero celebrated Thanksgiving by inviting us to say everything that we are thankful for!
- In News and Updates Bucky hints at a new competition starting next week!
- In the Parlour Room EndMaster decides to feature Cows vs. Aliens and my own How not to Write so thank you very much EndMaster (and everyone who said nice things)!
- In the Forum Games section Zaghero’s Cystia Lands of Fiends story remains incredibly popular!
- In the Writing Workshop Steve24833 continues his bizarre yet very enjoyable Council of Nine story!
- In the Reading Corner silence reigns!
- In the Advanced Editor Forum the silence is even louder (metaphorically)!
- In the Feature Wishing Well ISentinelPenguinI has the good idea of an article for schools so the site isn’t overrun by poorly written stories created by classrooms of beginner authors!
- In Bugs and Problems section Mathias identifies a problem of links not working when you click on them (happens to me too btw Mathias)!
Featured Article – Criticism: How to take it and how to give it
Criticism is an integral part of creation. Through it, we allow works to improve and evolve, and continue down the path from dog shit to slightly less dog shit. Eventually, we'll grow past the levels of canine shit, and eventually the shit of something like the bat, whose shit, guano, is quite valuable.
Anyhow, time to learn about criticism!
When taking criticism, steps must be taken. The first step is to divide criticism into two categories: Constructive and Destructive. Constructive Criticism is that which you can build on and use to improve your writing by identifying problems, while Destructive only serves to demoralize you. Let's see some examples:
-The characters were quite one dimensional, and could've been improved by giving them some more traits and backstories.
-The story was full of grammatical mistakes and probably should've been edited before hand.
-The motivations of many of the characters seemed to change on a whim, you probably could've explained them more.
-This was shit
See the difference? One is very helpful, one is not. Using this scheme, you can push aside all Destructive criticism, and focus on using the Constructive criticism to improve your writing.
Finally, the most important step is to remember to separate yourself from your writing. Someone criticizing something you worked hard on should not be taken personally. Nothing's perfect and everyone starts somewhere, so just remember to take it onboard and keep trying.
On the other hand, ignoring everything but compliments let's you build your ego up like a massive house of cards, and those things never fall apart, so maybe do that instead.
When giving criticism, two things are important to remember: Be detailed and be palatable. The first is essential, because a lot of criticism, positive or negative, is unhelpful. "I loved it!" or "I hated it!" doesn't really give the writer much chance to identify the parts of their work that are good or bad. "I loved the realistic and funny dialogue" or "I thought the setting was undeveloped and implausible" identify things that can be improved or were done well, and actually give the reader a chance to improve.
The second thing to consider is be palatable. You don't want to be overtly cruel or mean, otherwise they might simply ignore it, or be scared away from writing. What if Hemingway had had a mean review when he was starting? He's not a pussy, so he would've kept writing, but eh, probably could've scared off someone.
A good way to be palatable is to take the Burger Approach. You start off with a few compliments, the first "bun" to help make sure they're approaching this review with an open mind. Then, the meat, which is the actual criticism. Here, you can get to what's important. Finally, you finish up with the last "bun", which is just a general pat and the back to keep morale up and encourage them to keep writing. For example:
"This story was pretty good, it was enjoyable, had an interesting setting and an original plot."
"There were some issues, like Dildo Man's powers constantly alternating, or Dr Vibro not having a solid motive. You also could have given it a proofread because there were quite a few grammatical mistakes."
"Still, it was one of the better stories to come out recently. It was a great effort for your first story, and you show a lot of potential. I hope to read more of you in the future."
See, I addressed the problems, without being too mean, and having a generally happy attitude. That's why the burger approach can be a great way to deal with criticism.
On the other hand, yelling "Kill yourself, fag boy!" is way more satisfying, so maybe do that instead.
Featured Interview - Introducing Seto
Though a relative newcomer to the site Seto has already made a big impact, reading and reviewing all the site’s stories, enthusiastically helping the mods clean up the site and becoming a regular poster on the Forums. A keen contributor to this Review, author of the short story A Totally Normal School and possibly the most prolific player in Toggle / RPS history here is an interview with the fantastic Seto:
1: What first got you interested in joining the site and what parts have you most enjoyed or disliked since you have been here?
I joined because I wanted to try a different style of writing. I have been doing linear stories for quite a while now, and I wanted to try a chooseyourstory. I have always been interested in these, but I never had a site that made making them easy, until I found this one.
I guess the thing I’ve enjoyed about CYS was reading all the storygames here. The comments left on some of them have helped me with my own writing, and most of the storygames here are very interesting and nice to read! I especially like the hard ones, since I love solving puzzles! The things i have disliked about this site, well...I’m going to have to say it was all the site drama that happened back when I first made this account. ^^; I’m glad there haven’t been any repeats…
2: Who are your favourite people on the site and why?
My favourite people on this site would probably be...Hmm..I don’t think I have any favourites. On the other hand, there’s a lot of people I like and very few people I dislike. Endmaster for his awesome stories and his great work as a mod(he’s also a really funny guy and great to talk to :D). Shadowulf because he is fun and one of my first friends on here. Um...Raven47, 3J, you, Mizal, Ford, Mage, Sentinel...I like basically everyone for various reasons that’d take too long to type out.
3. You and Thara have both been incredibly busy recently helping the Mods clean up the site, what inspired you to do so much hard work?
The reason I decided to help...well, there were various reasons. Part of it was because I just like helping. Another reason was because of the point incentives...As everyone knows(or should by now), I like collecting points. Even if the points are pointless, I like having those titles and trophies. :) The last and final reason was due to the fact that at the time, I’d finished reading and playing all the (published) storygames on the site, and I was thinking about replaying and rereading most of them. Comment suggestions and the such gave me a reason to do so.
4. You have a real skill for getting lots of points in a short space of time, what is the secret to your success?
My secret? I don’t really have any secrets. xD Well, back when I finally managed to get 100% storygames read, that was before the “2-rating storygame purge” Endmaster did. I think at that time, only me and BerkaZerka had 100% storygames read; since most people wouldn’t play some of the bad stories. There were many people who were close, though. All those storygames might have played a part in my high point total, as well as all the daily points I got.
5. Unlike many members on this site you have played a lot of Toggle and Rock, Paper, Scissors with some success, what is the trick to winning points from these games?
It’s mostly luck, luck, and a certain pattern I noticed when playing Toggle. What is the pattern? I’m not entirely sure how to explain it, and it’s mostly still just a theory at the moment, but it’s mostly given me good results.
6. You have written one story recently showing your lively sense of humour, do you have any plans to write more in the future?
Well, I do have a few stories planned. One of which is the horror story I started for the Halloween Contest. It might take a while, but it’ll eventually be finished. The story I am working most on at the moment, is Wakening. Wakening was actually my first story on this account, if anyone remembers it. I made it in about a week, but it ended up pretty okay. I was mostly testing out items and variables at the time, and I was surprised it actually got a good rating, to be honest. I am a pretty picky person, as some may know, and I ended up taking it down for edits. Currently, I am expanding the story, and finding better pictures for the items. I also need to transfer it over so it will be in the “new game” section. I’m also semi-working on Syndicate. I have finished chapter two, and I see a lot of copying and pasting in my future XD As well as plenty of scripting, since Syndicate is going to be a script-heavy game.
Other than those three, I have about 50 something stories, most coauthor projects that I doubt I’ll finish within the next year. Most are just ideas that I hope to elaborate on some day, and some are writing exercises or tests that I will never publish.
7. You have only been on this site for a short time but have already put in a lot of effort into improving it, how do you imagine you'll continue to involved in the site in the future?
Hmm...I’ll probably continue rating storygames, participating in whatever contest catches my interest(and hopefully...actually submit something), and I’ve recently began writing comments that I hope helps someone. I’m not entirely sure of their quality, but I try to address all comments and faults I find. Besides those, I’m working on a few storygames that I’ve put a lot of work into, and I hope everyone will enjoy playing them ^-^
8. If you could change various aspects of the site what would you change?
Well, PMs need to be updated/modernized. It can’t bold or italicize letters, something I’m not used to. It’s gotten me into the habit of doing -this- as a strikeout, _this_ as italicizing, and (this) as bolding when talking to my friends over PMs. Fixing some of the other bugs would probably be nice as well, and some of the FFW ideas are stuff I would really like to see on here. The main thing I really wish for is that articles would be fixed. However, I get that AlexP is busy, and he won’t have time for most of these.
9. What has been the most funny (intentionally or unintentionally) thing to happen to you recently?
Most funny thing that has happened to me lately? Well, I ended up buying my own Christmas present in a strange course of events. It’s not really funny, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.
Let’s call the two people involved, Marcie and Tom. Marcie wanted to get me a Christmas present, but she didn’t really want to buy it herself, so she asked Tom to get it for her in exchange for something(I’m still not entirely sure what she offered Tom, but it must have been something good xD), but she phrased it as if she wanted it for herself. Anyways, Tom didn’t want to buy it/he didn’t know what the heck it was, and he ended up asking me to buy it…You can probably tell what happened after that. Now Marcie has to get me another Christmas gift for me :P
10. Finally are there any last words you would like to share, perhaps to newer site members?
What I would like to share to new members? Well, I would just like to remind them that there is no rush to show off your first storygame. Demos and “chapters” are unnecessary. If it’s not complete, I see no reason for it to be published.
I get that people are excited about showing off the first part of their amazing new storygame, but there’s really no need to do so. If it’s not finished, _don’t_ publish it. Simple as that. Besides that, if people want opinions on their storygames, the “Writing Workshop” is a great place to post a link and ask for thoughts and criticism, and you won’t have to publish it and get bad comments about not putting up demos :P
Featured Review: Cows vs. Aliens, an Everything Else Story written by BerkaZerka (Published 2016)
One story which definitely deserves a Review this week is the latest masterpiece from the King of Coding, a fun and friendly little game utilising a genuinely incredible amount of coding. A variant of poker this game is fun for all those familiar with the game (and for those who aren’t the basic rules are explained in-game), presenting a challenging, enjoyable and humorous little game that is a great way to relax and gamble, though you have to be careful not to play so conservatively you use up all your allotted time (as I did…).
The Story has a rare 7/8 rating and indeed it is one of those masterpieces that you just know deserve to be featured up there with the site’s top stories. This one is more game than story (in fact the story is only really there as an excuse for the game) but that is no bad thing as it forms a strong alternative to the site’s long-time games Rock, Paper, Scissors and Toggle. If you haven’t played it yet you should, with a 5/8 rating this one isn’t too challenging to beat, especially if you play Poker already and it’s pretty much friendly for all ages.
Personally I think it is great to see another fantastic story-game from one of the site’s best authors and this one is as enjoyable and cleverly made as you would expect from the author of Dead Man Walking and Dungeon Stompage. If you haven’t played it yet you really should!
Featured Short Story – Lost by Steve24833
As soon as I entered to Jake’s bedroom, carrying a plate of pancakes slathered in off-brand maple syrup alongside a glass of orange juice, I could feel that something was wrong.
“Hey there, buddy, are you finished with your little temper tantrum? I made pancakes…!” I announced as I opened the door.
As soon as I saw the room, I froze. The glass and plate slipped from my hands, smashing against the ground and creating. The room was empty, the window smashed open, with shards of glass lying across the bed and outside the window. It took a few seconds for my brain to process what had happened, before I realized I needed to act.
“Jake? JAKE!?!" I yelled, looking around in a desperate, panicked frenzy. "Jake, where are you? Oh God, oh God no."
I tried not to panic, and attempted as hard as I could to remain calm. My mind flooded with questions. How hadn’t I heard the window shattering? What the fuck was wrong with me, how hadn't I heard the window shattering? Think, think, think. What should I do? Where the hell was Jake?
I stopped thinking, and began acting. I turned, bounding out of the room and out towards the front door, leaping forward as I left the house. I sprinted into the driveway, looking around desperately for any sign of my little boy. The barn was still locked, the grassy fields that stretched on for miles were empty except for my few cows, the…
The woods! I turned to the left, seeing the thick woods in front of me. The trees hid any sight line for miles. That was the only place. My son was there. I sprinted forward towards the trees. I raced forward, running past the thick trees, screaming desperately for my boy.
“Jake! JAKE!” I screamed as I ran, desperately searching through the trees and leaves to see Jake.
Tears streamed for my face as my mind raced through the worst possibilities. Some beast had gotten him. Some monster, some paedophile some rapist, something was there! He had failed to keep his son safe.
Then, I saw him. He sat huddled next to a massive Oak tree, still in his now mud-stained pajamas. He looked up at me, tears streaming from his face.
“JAKE! Oh, thank merciful God!” I said, running forward and grabbing him.
I quickly embraced him, squeezing him tightly so to never let him go. He sobbed into my shoulder pitifully, as I tried to calm him down. His body shook, wracked with terror and sadness.
“It’s OK. It’s OK. Let’s go home," I whispered reassuringly in a hushed tone.
“I… I...!" Jake said, unable to find words.
"It's OK. Just take a deep breath. I'll protect you."
"I want to see my mum and dad!” Jake sobbed, as my now calmed mind realized there had been no monster or boogeyman, he had just gotten out again. He was getting braver. He'd never tried to break windows before.
"I'm your dad, buddy. It's OK. I have you. You're safe."
"I want my real dad!" Jake whined.
"Sssh, it's OK," I reassured.
"I want my mum and dad!" he wept, each word emphasized with a sob.
“Oh, buddy. You know I can’t do that.” I said, picking him up.
“I miss my mum!” the child cried.
“No means no, mister," I said, adopting a sterner tone whilst still trying to stay reassuring.
I carried Jake back towards the house as he let out another flood of tears. I held him tighter
“I want to go home.” Jake cried.
“Oh, we are going home. And this time, you’re not leaving. Let’s get your stuff moved down to the basement. We can’t have you breaking windows, huh? I don't want to have you grow up a hooligan, do I?”
Jake let out another sniffle, but I hushed him. I’d have to move his stuff down to the basement, and get bars for the windows and a lock for the door, but that would be only an hour’s work at the most. And then, it'd all be OK.
Special Section – Funny but True
Sometimes I feel like Albert Einstein and sometimes I feel like Ralph Wiggum. Here are a few of my favourite funny quotes from one of The Simpson’s most popular characters (I’ve been watching far too much of that show lately…)
The happiest day of my life was when my doctor said I won’t hear voices anymore.
Help! She’s touching my special area!
All my friends have birthdays this year!
I want to be a triangle!
Me fail English? That’s unpossible!
I glued my head to my shoulder!
This is my sandbox. Over there is the deep end, I’m not allowed to go there.
I kissed a light socket once and I woke up in a helicopter!
Normal is an illusionary state; the only constant is change (really!).
Clouds are God’s sneezes!
I flushed a potato down the toilet and now we live in a hotel.
I’m going back inside Mummy!
Bushes are nice because they don’t have prickers. Unless they do. This one did. Ouch!
The doctor told me that both my eyes were lazy and that was the best summer ever!
Grandma had hair like yours when she went to sleep in her forever box.
(Watching Maggie cry) Your eyes need diapers.
(While drowning in a pool) I’m finding Nemo!
(After being told about the Lincoln Assassination) Was President Lincoln ok?
And that ultimate question: If Mummy’s purse didn’t belong in the microwave why did it fit?
Idea by Jaystarcat, Article and Short Story by Steve24833, Interview, Review and Special Section by Will11, and Special Thanks to Seto for the interview this week.
Finally, thank you to Ford and everyone else, for taking the time to read this Review.
Still wondering what happened to that other newsletter that had half the site working on it...
Anyway, another nice issue. Steve is the master of these fucked up little stories and the interview and article were a great read as well.
Those quotes are the funniest thing ever.
Hahaha, yeah they actually are. :D I admit I skimmed past that section earlier.
I haven't watched the Simpsons in years, I need to collect some episodes from back when it was good.
I love reading these. Great job.
Thanks for all the nice feedback, especially BerkaZerka's, and there should be another good issue next Sunday :)
Thank you for all of the nice Weekly Reviews. :)
Thank you for keeping up the good work.