Story A drew me in quite convincingly. Smith is out of gas and on the lamb, with nothing but a suitcase to his name. The accompanying descriptions solidified a Tarantino-esque tone in my mind. My first issue came with the description of a one-legged man scuttling--you describe him as running on all threes in the next paragraph, so why not use that phrase first to give the reader an actual description. I assumed that he was scuttling by using his hands and leg to drag himself along the ground.
That's not a big deal though, unlike the rest of the story, which just doesn't make sense to me. The old man offers up gas, and gets spooked when Smith says he'll pay for it. Okay, that makes sense, I guess; although, I don't get why Smith wouldn't just take the gas and leave. If he's a smart businessman, he'll just take the opportunity! Smith finds a floating screen: that seems a little out of place. Then, he sees himself declared dead, and despite freaking the fuck out, he decides to TOUCH THE SCREEN?! He didn't seem very curious, so why would he fuck with something that is saying he's dead, especially when he's in a hurry to leave?
Then we get to the most rushed and confusing action sequence I've read in a while. Why does touching this screen result in a bunch of random explosions? After Smith "escapes", you describe the old man as whirring, with his head rotating to an unnatural degree. I assume he's a robot. That would explain the speed, but in that case, how is Smith able to escape, especially since the old man is established as faster than him? The ending is just as confusing. How does Smith end up with these injuries if he leaves the yard and the explosions die down?
Overall, this story set a good mood, but ruined it with an overly convoluted plot that leaves the reader with absolutely no answers, just questions.
Story B is a bit of a contrast. It has very little description, and a bunch of dialogue. I like the structure of this story a lot better: it's simple and self-contained, with a focus on the characters. During this short dialogue, we get a bunch of characterization, some of which is implied (good!), and just enough build up for the reveal of the story to have a dreadful impact.
The issue in this story is the lack of any real description. I figured out that they were in a junkyard pretty fast, but that doesn't paint any sort of picture in my mind. There are functional chairs, apparently, and trash. While we get some context about the setting, none of it actually discusses the location the characters are in. Why are the Scavengers coming here? What are these kids doing here? I feel like any random, shitty junkyard wouldn't be interesting for the most intimidating gang around, so what makes this one their target? It's a shame, really, because the dialogue is thoughtful and intriguing, but I can't visualize a story that has less description than the typical 1/8 noob shitgame.
In the end, Story B gets my vote for being more cohesive, but it was pretty close.
Story A wins my vote, but it was close.
Both of these stories have the same main problem: It's completely unclear what's going on and what the point is. In story A, Smith visits a weird junkyard, finds a weird guy, and a weird death-predicting screen, and then is killed before any explanation is given. In Story B, a decent amount of expository worldbuilding is given, but then it just... ends. For all I know this could be the start to a good story, but there's not much currently here. With both stories I was left wondering "okay, that happened. Why should I care?"
Story A wins for me because the writing was better. The style was reasonably engaging with a good amount of description. It did have many areas for improvement, but the writing for story B was just so barebones I couldn't keep any of the characters or location straight.
Story A established a mood well using description. It had an actual plot, with a sequence of multiple story events. It's a complete story, with a hook and ending. Good phrasing. There were many small mistakes, ranging from word choice to punctuation, too numerous to list here. The broad strokes of the plot mostly made sense, though some small details and dialogue elements didn't.
Story B had better dialogue. One major issue was that it was hard to tell who was telling the tale at the beginning of the story and who said what for long stretches of time. It didn't seem like this ambiguity added anything to the story, so it comes off as an oversight. I also felt like I just finished reading an introduction to a story rather than an actual story, as the story ends just as something interesting was about to happen for the first time.
My vote is for Story A for being a more complete story.
Hmm. This is really close. I guess Story B by a squeak, since it's a little more coherent now. But it's really close.
I'm still going with B: the additional text made it a little better, although not much.
Before the reattachment of the severed section of Story B, I had Story A winning by a large margin. After the reattachment, it's now a tossup- my vote could go either way. The appended section adds a lot more action, plot, and characterization to the solid dialogue of Story B, though it also introduced word choice mistakes, typos, and unanswered questions about why the kids are still talking or even in the junkyard at all if it is so dangerous. After deliberation, I've decided to keep my vote for Story A for 2 slight reasons:
1. I enjoyed both stories equally, so my tiebreaker goes to the shorter story, since it gave me an equal amount of enjoyment, but used up less of my time.
2. The first story had more horror elements, while the second story had more children's literature elements. I enjoy horror more than children's stories (I think).
It's very close now, and I wouldn't mind it if Story B won, but my vote is still for Story A.
I liked Story A better. I thought the prose was more varied and interesting, and the story was reasonably coherent. This was probably one of the closest battles I've ever seen here though.
What was the theme?
Story A has my vote
In short, I found both endings and wrap ups a bit confusing and hard to follow. It feels as if it ended in the middle of the climax and with the last part cut out. With story A, I barely get why these people want to kill this guy (turns out they didnt want to kill him?) and it even took a bit of rereading to discover how the main character was killed in the first place.
With story B you suddenly get that there are scavengers in the area. The reveal felt very sudden and not really in a good way. (That one mention of a distant sound didn't feel enough) It would have been a lot better if there was more focus on the monster and the build up of tension instead of the characters talking about earth before the apocalypse.
Tbf, like Gower says, both stories could be improved upon by making their narrative a bit clearer. 2000 words is very short, so you have to get to the main point very quickly, preferably in the first few paragraphs.
But why is story A still better?
I think this story A made me feel as if the characters were not talking into a white empty space. All we know in story B is that these characters are sitting or standing in some wasteland. In story A we get so much more information how this place looks like; the author uses much more of the five senses. The story shows the eerily silence of this place, the sloshing of the gas inside the container, the dilapidated feel. It establishes the scene very well and build up tension at the same time.
The word choice in story B could also be much more evocative. The main example that came up immediately was them hearing "a distant sound" or "a scattering sound" or "the sound of footsteps" These phrases are perfectly fine, but I think that they could be much more immersive if you change them into verbs of action.
A scattering sound -> empty cans fell from the pile, scattered and clattered together.
A distant sound interrupted Kaethan’s tale. -> A faint thud echoed through the wasteland, bringing Kaethan's tale to a screeching halt.
It also helps that the characters are much more distinguished and easy to tell apart in story A. We only have two people to worry about in story A, plus the old man has noticeably different speech patterns from the mc.
As for story B, I only figured out in the second more thorough read through that there were more than 2 characters. Especially the younger characters were very difficult to tell apart. I think it would have been a smarter decision to merge them into one single character.
I also bet that Story B belongs to Fresh and that Story A belongs to Peng. I have to say that you two have improved a lot since your previous stories.
Then shame on them
Oh? Would you want to try another one of these? We do have an unresolved feud
Huh I almost forgot about Petros and you, yeah should do that someday.
Man, I was struggling with descriptions. I've never, um, SEEN a junkyard, so I was guessing it was just heaps of trash, but had no reference for what kinds of trash or whatever and the internet was surprisingly unhelpful.
As for Darius, fuck you, I take pride in making my characters' personalities evident from their first appearance. Kaethan is a rough and authoritative individual, Okyo is a snotty little shit, and Baasha is a submissive, wistful soul. If you couldn't tell there were three characters from the start you must not have, idk, READ IT, because it mentions all three names right off.
As for the rest of you, those are valid complaints and I will store them in the "do better next time" bin.
ALSO, I did a heckuva lot of research on Nuclear Winters and am realizing I used just about none of it, but the cracking sound and the cloud Saga saw were supposed to denote a nuclear bomb. Sorry about that.
ALSO also, I was going to write about their whole encounter with Saga right where the story cut off, but couldn't think of how I wanted it to go so took the easy way out and left it up in the air. Apologies again- I knew I'd be busy and thought something was better than nothing, which evidently it was.
(Take the L, Peng. Beat by a Warden. But good job nonetheless)
Um... ALSO also... also... as for the spacing, it looked better in both the Google Doc and my message to mizal. I think.
Didn't get the vote in in time, but I would have voted for A. I liked the details of the setting around the junkyard more in this one, and was more intrigued with what came next that with B.