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Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Fresh has been very adamant about challenging Darius for some reason, and since she DESTROYED Peng a couple of weeks ago and will be easily winning the upcoming Haunted contest, we let her have this.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Story A: I am forever burdened with the knowledge that I entered into this nightmare of my own free will. If Thalia hadn’t agreed to accompany me, I may have made a different, better, possibly even sane decision. However, with my wife by my side, I stepped through that cursed portal- hold on. Maybe I should start a bit further back in the story… Thalia and I stood at the doorway of our new home, beaming at the weather-beaten walls and broken windows as though we were beholding a mansion. Both of us had grown up poor, and gathering the money to purchase this house had proved to be a treacherous task. In the end, we had succeeded. We always conquered any challenge we faced as long as we faced it together. Thalia inspired me. Her gentle smile, framed by auburn locks of shining hair and creasing the skin around her stunning emerald eyes, always encouraged me to take the next step and keep my focus on the road ahead. Only one thing seemed impossible- having a child. We were blessed with each other’s company and a love that stuck with us even as our shiny eyes and childish hopes abandoned us, but our joy was tainted by an unmistakable longing. Ten long years came and passed. We yearned for children to fill our house with laughter and vitality and replace our waning youthfulness. Time kept passing, though, and with it slipped away our final chances at contentment. Desperation took root in our minds, crowding out common sense as it grew greater and more dominant with each passing day. In our fevered search for a solution, we sought out a witch. Anyone we talked to cautioned us that no witch was to be trusted, but we paid no mind to their well-meant warnings and trudged ever onward in our quest. Our path led to Dalan, an unknown, quaint town in the middle of the countryside. A glow came from the houses, the well-kept streets made for easy traveling, and the many shops added to the easy-going, safe atmosphere. My wife and I instantly felt at home; we even considered selling our own house and moving to Dalan. But first, we had business to attend to. We needed to find our witch. We asked shopkeepers and were promptly turned away from many a fine establishment. We asked homeowners and watched as they turned pale and slammed their doors with conviction. We asked children playing in the street and were met with wide-eyed stares and frightened whimpering. Looking back, these should’ve been signs to turn around and go home. I should’ve known our quest was futile, yet I refused to see. Blinded by our desire and desperate for any semblance of progress toward our goal, Thalia and I continued our hunt. Finally, we found an old shop lady willing to give us information. She said that if we threw a penny in the wishing well at the center of the town and wished to see Idris, the witch would find us before the day was out. We followed the woman’s instructions. Sure enough, just as my wife and I settled into our room at a dingy, inexpensive inn, a cloud of smoke shrouded the wooden door frame; evil cackling filled the stagnant air. As the smoke cleared, we saw a decidedly ugly and cunning old hag standing before us. Idris had arrived. We told her of our wish and assured her that we would pay any price, any at all, for the ability to raise a child of our own. With a wave of her hand, Idris summoned a dark, swirling vortex. “This is a portal,” she informed us. “Stepping through it will bring you into the dream world. Find me an object you recognize within a fortnight, and then I will give you what you crave.” I looked at Thalia; she looked back at me. Together, we stepped forward and abandoned the world we knew. Beautiful- that’s the only word I could think of to describe the sight before my eyes. The sky radiated a lavender light onto lush fields full of flowers unlike any I’d ever seen. I felt for and found Thalia’s hand, intertwining my fingers with hers. The two of us slowly began progressing farther into the land of dreams. Days of walking across the endless plain stood before us. We left no trail through the flowers behind us, and the sky never dimmed. After what seemed to be an eternity, we began to despair, which quickly gave way to insanity. Wasn’t the sky azure before? No, it’s always been cerulean. Well, it’s orange now. Are you sure? We argued over every insignificant detail or imagined change. The bickering between us turned into bickering with ourselves, a constant stream of self-deprecating chatter only interrupted by the occasional “Shut up!” from either Thalia or me. What had once seemed beautiful, lovely, and bright now felt disconcerting, dark, and hopeless. Any ounce of reality within us was eradicated by the ever-evolving sky that we never saw change color but always swore had done so. Any sense of sanity in our minds was vanquished by our confusion and fear. I fell onto my knees and began tearing at the strange flowers. I failed to make even a scratch or dent in their fantastical forms. My ravenous clawing turned towards my darling wife, whom I had once adored so dearly. My hands needed to feel something tangible rip underneath them; they needed something solid to destroy. Only when she lay bleeding and still in front of me did my ears begin to hear the screams. Terrible, horrific wailing surrounded me on every side. I looked around and saw hundreds, no, millions of people fighting each other under a darkening sky. The sky! Night had finally fallen! I turned to Thalia to celebrate and was quickly reminded of my horrible deed. I gathered her battered corpse into my arms and wept as innumerable ears raged around me. “Thalia,” I whispered. “Thalia!” I wept bitterly as I rocked back and forth on my knees. Sobs racked through my body and overtook my thoughts. “My darling, my darling, what have I done?” It was then that Idris appeared again. “Foolish mortals,” she tittered. “So close-minded. All you had to do was bring me something you recognized. Did you not recognize your own spouse? Can you not see anything beyond the tip of your own nose?” She shook her head in disgust and disbelief, then gestured to the brawling individuals surrounding me. “These are the fools who have suffered your same fate. I will never understand your kind; the answer is so obvious. It is there from the moment you step into this God-forsaken place! Yet none of you see it. None of you succeed! Fools, the lot of you! Damned fools! Those were her final words to me before she vanished again, leaving me win the company of only my guilt and the depraved half-human beings that covered the darkling plain.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Story B: Where poppies grow "How many times do I have to tell you? It's win or lose, lose or win. In war only victory matters!" With her foot on his back, Louise forced her enemy down on his knees. How could he be such a fool to have chosen this place as their battlefield? In a dense forest, he might have escaped from her clutches, but in a field where only poppies grew, he could no longer hide, snivel, and snicker behind her back. She promptly ignored his craven whimpers and smacked him again with her sword. Bursts of flower petals flew up in the sky with every lunge she made. A sea of red surrounded them. "Get that stick away from me!" The boy yelped. Her sword prodded his sides as she watched him grovel beneath her. Tears and snot were smeared all over his bruised face. Just hours before, he was acting all high and mighty with his cronies, taunting her, promising with a patronizing smile that he would go easy on a poor little orphan girl like her. Louise pushed the tip of her sword deeper into his ribs. She took her time, relishing in every ear-piercing scream. They were so far from the village that no one could hear his cries. Only inhuman faces, only the poppies that dotted the fields could see and judge them. "Have you learned your lesson?" She said. "Y-yes." A pause. Hesitation. Louise tilted her head, waiting. Only when she raised her sword once again, did words tumble out of his foul mouth. "I'm s-sorry, I shouldn't have said that your mum left your dad because he was drunk all the time. I shouldn't have laughed at you that you still haven't gotten any letters from him. I shouldn't have called you an orphan, please can you let me go-" "You forgot one thing." That dumb boy had forgotten the most important thing. "W-what?" "My dad is a hero, the best soldier of France, the one that will slay all the Germans and kick the Kaiser and he will win and win and win and win." She made him repeat these words at least three times. One for him, one for herself, and one for the flowers. The following evening her grandparents made her apologize to the cobbler for beating his son till he bled and for making him cry. She counted how many times they scolded her that night. Four times. Four. Whenever she picked flowers with her dad, she made sure to only choose poppies that held four petals. He said that they were the loveliest. After all, four was their lucky number. When he left to fight in the war along with the other men in the village, he promised her that he would come back in four days with at least four medals. When the fourth day turned into the fifth, Louise told herself that he meant weeks instead of days. Four weeks turned into four months, four months into four seasons. It was her first summer without her father. Sometimes it was hard to even remember his face. Little details she thought that would be forever etched in her heart weathered under the forces of time. Did he lean more on his right leg when he watched over her or was it his left leg? How many times did he twirl her around when he picked her up? Which eye twinkled more when he smiled and ruffled her hair? However, there was still a measure of certainty within the growing sea of doubts. Whenever she looked at her dad's old wedding picture, the face of a hero stared back at her. What she saw was a knight who could blow away armies like a mighty storm, who could turn the black cold world into a brilliant white, who could make any wrong a right again. Therefore she had faith that he would come back one day even though he wouldn’t answer any letters she'd written. Over the course of the following weeks, the men came back home, sometimes in pairs, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the form of a mailman, a letter, and a chained necklace. It always began with a simple knock on the door, a sound that Louise yearned for more and more with each passing day. The night July died and August began, weeks after most of the village men had returned, Louise received a knock. She was the only one who was still up around this hour; her grandparents always slept in early to rise in the early morning to tend the fields. In her nightgown, she sneaked to the door. Her heart thumbed with every step. No one would visit their house at this late of an hour except….except… With one click she opened the door. Screws, bolts, stitches, and metal peaked through the ill-fitting soldier's uniform that seemed to have almost entirely swallowed the figure standing at the entrance. Its body looked as if a mad professor had cut up several bodies and hurriedly sewn them back up together. The stench of alcohol, sweat, and grease that wafted off its disfigured body only confirmed her theory. It hobbled on one leg with two rods of steel acting as its second limb. Its body swayed by the slightest breeze. Air was sucked in and out through a giant tubelike hole on its face. When this machine of flesh lifted the corners of his mangled mouth, all Louise could see was its hanging eyelid that barely covered its empty eye socket. There should have been an eye, but only a hole remained. "It's been a long time, hasn't it?" It bore the same voice as her father. "Louise." There was a light lilt in the last syllable with a gravelly undertone that she could only hear in her dreams. Louise's stomach lurched when he said her name again. It was a near-perfect match, a sickening imitation of something she treasured so dearly. She tore her gaze away, grabbed her sword near the entrance, and hit the monster as hard as she could. It wailed and roared. She ran without wasting a single breath. Her cheeks burnt under the cool evening wind. It called out for her. The creaks of bolts and metal scraping against each other made her shudder more than the coldest winter night ever did. This thing, this monster who was more machine than man, dared to pretend to be her father. What deal with the devil had it made in exchange for her father's voice? What cruel acts had this monster inflicted upon her hero? Her legs carried her to the field where the last poppies bloomed. There she collapsed on the ground. Her hands dug into the soil while her sword stomped any flower that caught her sight. She screamed out of the top of her lungs with no one except her own voice to keep her company. Then as her throat went sore, her sole companion left her as well, like everyone in her life. Her father had promised Louise that he would come back, that he wouldn't leave her all by herself. Her mother made the same kind of promises the night she'd left and she broke it without remorse. Louise buried her face between her knees, making herself as small as possible. No person would look for her anyway, not at this time of day. The only living beings who heard her cries were the poppies, but she knew that these forces of nature would never answer her pleas. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder. It was warm and solid. She looked up to see the monster sitting right next to her, leaning on one of its crutches while catching its breath. Its other hand held onto a four-leafed poppy. "Louise, next time please be a little more gentle with your strikes. I was worried that you would run off to someplace where I couldn't find you, but I guess four is indeed our lucky number. Ever since your moth- Ever since you were little, you really liked this place, didn't you?" "Papa?" She whispered. She really couldn't believe it, but it was him. Everything felt so surreal. It was as if she had been dragged into the line where dreams and nightmares entered and merged with the waking world. She tried telling herself that it was part of the monster's plan and not to trust its familiar words. Yet, the warmth of his hand was undeniably real. She pinched herself in her cheek. That light sting, that was also real. Her father chuckled in response. His trembling hand reached out to ruffle her hair just like he always did after she got scolded by her grandmother. Not wanting to cry in front of him, she blinked and hurriedly wiped away any tears that lingered. "You've grown so much that I barely recognized you," he said. His one eye then twisted into a deep grimace as his fingers trailed over the raised scars on his cheek. "I should've written at least one letter." "You should've written lots of letters." "I know, I know. I must’ve made you worry a lot. It's just that my head becomes so scrambled with all the words I want and don't want to say that my letter always ended up to be a blank page. Then when I became injured and saw myself in the mirror, I didn't know how to face you afterward." "It isn't as if you have any face left." "That's a bald-faced lie." His remaining eye twinkled. "I still have more than a quarter left, more than enough to keep one eye on you." "How did you even end up with that face?" Louise huffed. Her eyes widened the moment she saw the flickering light in her father wither and die. His mouth drew a thin line. She'd never seen him like that before; these furrowed brows, the harsh look in his eye, and the strain in his voice as if every word he pushed out of his throat pained him. "Shrapnel. It was a surprise attack. I was one of the lucky ones." His eye softened as he turned his gaze back to the sea of scarlet. Although he sat right next to her, for a moment Louise felt as if he had traveled to somewhere else, somewhere far away where she could never reach him. A soft breeze carried his sigh over the fields. "Coming back home, it still feels like I'm walking in the land of dreams. Did you know how many times I've seen these fields dyed in red? Each night when the land was razed to the ground, millions of scarlet poppies will sprout the following day in the place where soldiers lie. Isn't it funny, that only these flowers were allowed to live between the lines where so many have died? When men beg and scream at night, they only witness and watch. Black and white, wrong or right, what does that even mean if everyone bleeds the same?" Louise clutched her sword tighter and tighter till her knuckles turned white. She had to ask. She had to. If she didn't, it might never be answered. "Did you win, Papa?" A pregnant pause. He squeezed her shoulder. "Does it matter?" Does. It. Matter. She looked at her sword and then at him. Her words in the past, which were so full of conviction at the time, were ripped open and laid bare for the poppies to see. Beyond its iron shell, they were empty, hollow, devoid of any true meaning. They were as bound to reality as her sword, a small tree branch she found in the woods. With both her hands she snapped the stick in two and threw it away. She hugged her father. He hugged her back. It didn't matter, nothing mattered anymore as long as she could feel his warmth.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Respond here for voting.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
I don't care about this one

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago

Story B

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Commended by Gryphon on 11/1/2023 8:10:07 PM

A happy ending? In my short story!? While I never! That said, I do vote for B.


Story A plays a few things as one would expect, the lovebirds that want to but can't have a kid, the witch that does some 'evil cackling', etc., but I don't consider this a problem. It can serve as a shorthand so you can focus more on what matters, and the way these elements were setup reads clearly.

The opening did get me paying attention, so I'd say it done what it needed to. The in media res could probably be tightened up to be stronger tho (just take on Gryphon's feedback, should be enough to help push the story towards even being great).

I will comment on two things Gryphon mentions:

  • Overly Dramatic Writing Style - I don't mind it, and maybe I even like it, but I'll say that because the narrator is the character, the style doesn't quite work perfectly. Giving the narrator (and Thalia) stronger personalities/characterisation could fix this. I wonder if this has something to do with voice.
  • Eldritch Location Thing - I think the sky changing colour causing them to go mad worked. Sure, it isn't exactly making me worry about succumbing to a similar fate, but I don't need my eldritch locations to make sense. Granted, having the descriptions at least unsettle me would probably be more impactful, but I don't consider how it is handled here bad.

Story B felt more emotional. I think Louise was handled pretty great, the story ends up feeling personal which got me more invested. Only fair if I continue being reductionist by pointing out the wounded soldier returning from war isn't the most original idea, but again, I don't consider it a problem. Being later in the text also stopped me from predicting it. The way it is presented through Louise view also made for a strong scene.

Regarding Gryphon asking about who looks after Louise if her parents are missing, you did mention 'her grandparents' when the knock came. I will say, when I got to the part about the mother also having left, it did come across as painting Louise as being alone (despite the grandparents being mentioned earlier). Maybe reworking it slightly to show that Louise considers herself alone without her parents (despite not being literally alone) or something of the kind could make this tighter. Maybe just mentioning that she lives only with her grandparents earlier could also work (as there was still room for the mother then, but come to think of it, if she was there she likely would've been mentioned in that excerpt). Or maybe showing that the grandparents don't have much time for her (which tending the fields in the morning already alludes to).


Overall, good work to both contestants, but gooder work to whoever wrote B (this is a duel after all)!

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/23/2023 9:59:42 AM
Not going to go as all in on a review as these tryhards, but B.

A I liked less because the writing was too disengaged from what it was describing, also the turn of madness was done in just a single paragraph that came out of nowhere. Lastly, I liked the grounded/ realistic interpretation more than the more literal and yet fantastical one.

B could improve in pacing from the start, yet managed to hreatly gain in stride in the second half. Great work there.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/23/2023 9:59:54 AM

Story A:  Decently written but didn't really like the "twist" or whatever at the end.  That the arguing turned to madness and death just felt a bit rushed. 

Story B:  Enjoyed the setup and the interplay of the children.  The dialogue was well done and I thought it seemed paced pretty well also.  

Vote is for STORY B

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Story A was well written, but the ending was a bit abrupt given all the buildup to the witch and the world.

Story B was quite wholesome and emotional, a beautifully written short story in my opinion. B gets my vote.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/23/2023 10:00:06 AM

Story A: Overall, the prose is pretty good, and the premise is decent, albeit slightly generic. The narrator says "let's start a little further back" and then follows it up with a summary of their entire lives, including a 10 year time skip. Doesn't seem little to me, but maybe the MC's sense of scale is a little different. All of this is just exposition for the conflict of "couple wants children but can't have them", not providing them with any real characterization along the way. Also, why does an "unknown" town in the middle of the countryside have "well-kept streets made for easy travelling" and many shops. That seems a little contradictory.

These were my main gripes with the story--up until the couple goes insane. If a sky changing colors is enough to drive them insane to the point that the MC kills his wife with his bare hands, then their relationship must really not have been that rock solid, or this limbo dimension has a lot more sway over mortal minds than it seems. In either case, these things aren't established very well at all. The transition from a welcoming realm to a horrifying one seems very stark, and doesn't convey the length of their tribulations properly. At no point did I feel worried or concerned. This alternate dimension just didn't provoke any feeling in me that would coincide with what the characters were feeling.

Story B: First of all, the child POV is so spot on here, that I feel like it was written by one... The overactive imagination was a great touch. The only thing that felt a little incongruous were the details that Louise was forgetting about her father. What child thinks about the twinkling of their parent's eyes, or how many times they were twirled. It would make more sense if she tried to remember his intonations, since his voice is brought up later on. Another thing that confused me a little was the descriptions of the father's prosthetics. I figured that they look very alien from a child's POV, but their descriptions made me think bioshock/steampunk rather than WWI. I also feel like the father probably wouldn't survive with such gruesome injuries, but that's neither here nor there.

Other than that, I saw few flaws here. It had a very grounded, wholesome conclusion, and some excellent dialogue. The prose was descriptive and evocative, without jeopardizing Louise's childish nature.

Random side note! These thunderdome stories have actually gotten me to value dialogue a lot more, because I feel like most dialogue-driven submissions end up being more interesting and impactful (duel with Dark is a good example, funnily enough)

This is another good example, because Story A doesn't have much dialogue (in fact, Thalia doesn't even speak once), while Story B has plenty. It progresses the plot, and gives characterization, whereas Story A almost feels like a summary.

My vote goes to Story B!

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
a

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago

B

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/23/2023 10:00:19 AM
Neither story was bad, but Story A feels like it's a victim of its own length- the tonal shift near the end especially could have had a better execution I feel. I think the descriptions in Story A were definitely its strong point.

Overall, voting for Story B, as it is the more complete and competent entry to me, with solid writing and great dialogue- and it's wholesome!

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/23/2023 10:07:33 AM

This got long, so I'm just going to post my review of Story A. I'll review Story B later, and vote separately.

 

STORY A:

LANGUAGE:
= I like the opening line.
= I wouldn’t bother with the line about the cursed portal yet. The current hook is fine, and it just confuses the reader about the timeline.
= “As though we were beholding a mansion.” Something about this seems weird to me. I’m not sure you used ‘behold’ correctly.
= Treacherous? Maybe just “difficult”?
= The beginning of the story is confusing in terms of timing. You mess up on tense a few times, which made me think some events happened in the wrong order at first. It’s also not clear why the story starts at them buying their house, since it doesn’t seem relevant to the events that follow. If it becomes important later, you can probably just describe it then.
= Another problem I’m noticing: show don’t tell. Right now, the narrator is basically just describing their past history with & feelings towards Thalia. I like the attempt to weave this into the present narrative by using the house description to prompt memories. That’s a great technique for delivering backstory. Unfortunately, I don’t think you quite pulled it off—there’s not a clear reason why arriving at the house is prompting this reminiscence, so it’s not tied to the present in the way it would need to be.
= I think the main problem is that the narrator seems to detached for these thoughts to be natural. If you go deeper into their head, it will seem more natural for them to be just randomly thinking about their wife.
= Another option is dialogue. Instead of just telling us Thalia always inspires them to do more, the narrator could verbally thank Thalia for everything she did to inspire them into being able to achieve this (getting their own house.)
= The narrator describes themself as being inspired by Thalia’s looks. That’s not inherently bad, but it’s a little weird. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Thalia’s personality to have this effect? Right now it makes the narrator come across as kind of shallow, and Thalia as a one-dimensional generic wife character.
= I don’t think I like the overly dramatic writing style. “Trecherous task.” “Auburn locks of shining hair.” “Stunning emerald eyes.” “Blessed with each other’s company.” “Tainted by unmistakeable longing.” “Fevered search.” This isn’t inherently bad, but it’s just rubbing me the wrong way. It’s coming across as really over dramatic, and making the narrator seem very distant and inscruitable. It might just be personal taste, so I’d encourage you to get feedback from others.
= The hag is described as “cunning” before the narrator has spoken to her. Since cunning isn’t a visual description, it shouldn’t be treated like one.
= Having gotten this far down, I’d suggest restructuring the story so that instead of a narrated reminiscence, you start with a short scene featuring the narrator and Thalia as they search for and locate the witch. You can cover through their dialogue & the narrator’s thoughts all the history you just gave in a way that’s much more integrated into the present story. This also has the advantage of giving you a chance to show Thalia & the narrator’s personalities—right now they’re both pretty flat.
= I still like the opening line, but I honestly don’t think the first-person-retrospective approach is doing you any favors. This story might be better if you just told it in order.

STORY:
Eh. Didn’t do it for me. I get there’s supposed to be the lesson about not taking people for granted, but the witch clearly said “object”, and even if she hadn’t, the implication was clear that they were supposed to find something in the world.
I don’t think you pulled off the eldritch location thing. It’s supposed to be a weird place that makes you go crazy and kill the people you’re with. The description just doesn’t pull it off. Again, you just inform us that the narrator and their wife have gone nuts and are arguing, but the description isn’t enough to make it believeable. I think this is mainly a limitation of the wordcount. If you want to show a pair of people slowly going insane, you need space and time. It’s not a concept you can cover in only a couple hundred words.
The biggest problem is I didn’t care at all about the characters. They had pretty much no personality beyond loving each other and wanting a child. This story sinks or swims on their relationship, so I strongly recommend giving each of them a distinct personality—and then working that personality into their dialogue and actions rather than just telling us about it.


Ask yourself what the point of this story is. I’m going to hazard a guess and say the point is what the witch says at the end about taking people for granted. That’s good, because I think you actually have the groundwork for that in the story already. Here’s some things you could change to hone in on that theme:
!) Thalia and the narrator’s personalities. For this theme to work, they need to have clear personalities, while simultaneously taking each other for granted. You already have some good groundwork here, with the narrator only ever focusing on her physical appearance and the impact she has on them. Thalia’s personality should come through her dialogue and actions, but it’s fine and great if the narrator fixates on other things about her that are less defining. Thalia may be doing the same thing with the narrator.
!) Wanting a child at the expense of what they have. Thalia and the narrator have an apparently loving relationship, but find that they can’t be happy without a child. There’s a sense of absence in their lives that they believe only a child can fill. You can lean into that to show how they’re actually taking what they have now for granted. They’re incapable of being happy with only each other, and seeking to fix it externally. Maybe they’re really neglecting each other and the relationship, and really want a child out of the desperate hope that it will save their marriage.
!) If the narrator is the one to kill Thalia, maybe emphasize this for them especially. Maybe Thalia wants to try and be happy with the life they have, but the narrator is too focused on the idea of a better life to appreciate what they actually have. Maybe he resents her, and blames her for their fertility problems. Maybe she tries to persuade him to give up and go back, or to not seek out the witch at all, but the narrator drives them forwards.
Still not sure how you can fix the ending. Some of that might be length. I’d recommend leaning into the idea of marital problem the couple already have than just saying ‘uhh evil flowers made me do it’. Have the location be an amplifier for what already exists. Then, when the narrator snaps and kills Thalia, it’s a character moment rather than something random.

This is just one direction you could take the story to make it more narratively cohesive. If some other part of the story was more important to you than that moral lesson, my feedback would be different.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

4 months ago

STORY B:

LANGUAGE:
= After only a sentence and a half, I already feel strongly that this story is written from the perspective of a child, and it turns out I’m right. Great job nailing the voice.
= I like the way she calls the stick a sword, and I like the way you introduced that through the boy’s dialogue.
= Good imagery with the poppies.
= The description of prior events is paired well with the action, making it feel relevant and not just an infodump.
= This phrasing might be better: That dumb boy. “You forgot the most important thing.” <= This avoids repetition.
= “…and one for the flowers.” Nice.
= The transition into the flashback bit is smooth, and doesn’t feel forced. You do a good job using concrete examples to show the narrator’s feelings rather than just telling them to us. Her thought patterns help us get a sense of her personality too.
= If her father and mother are both gone, who’s looking after her? She doesn’t strike me as old enough to look after herself. You might want to clarify that. EDIT: I missed this, oops.
= Using ‘it’ to refer to her father is a nice touch.
= I think this story strikes a good balance of hitting the emotional moments without dwelling on them too much.
= Good use of the four-leaved poppy.
= Yeah, him not writing letters is pretty inexcusable. You might want to take that out on a re-write. He’s much more sympathetic if he has been keeping erratically in touch, and did warn Louise about his injuries & return, but not in such a way that she understood.
= The conversation about his injuries & such seems a little overly casual given the heaviness of the situation. I’d expect it would take more time for them to get here, but then, you do have a word count limit.
= I like the way you focus on recurring themes in your description. I also like the way you focus on actions as a way of communicating emotions.

STORY:
Good, a simple concept that could be executed pretty well given the word length. The backstory is weaved fairly well into the action. I don’t have any major complaints or restructuring advice, this is pretty good considering the length, time frame, and prompt.
Characterization is fine. Louise’s narration clearly communicates her personality. Her father is less developed, but that’s only because we’re seeing him through Louise’s distorted lens. Even the boy in the first scene has a fairly solid character. You do a good job portraying children.
It does seem like the confrontation and resolution happen unrealistically fast and casually. With such an extreme reaction, it doesn’t seem logical that Louise would calm down so fast about the situation. Again, that’s a limit of the word count. I might have resolved the story on a more ambiguous note, but what you did is fine.
I’d also recommend leaving out the bit about him not sending letters. It makes him much less sympathetic, and it’s not really important.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
b

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Okay, well after three weeks of being open for comments and repeated requests for people to vote, I'd like to thank the nine of you who ultimately did, with an honorable mention to Ford for bumping the the thread a few times with his usual inscrutable performance art. And an extra thanks to Wizzy, Gryphon, and Zake for leaving some nice meaty comments for the authors. The feedback is the real purpose of these events. Anyway, big congrats to @Darius_Conwright, who finally defeated a preteen girl! And happy Thanksgiving, may you not be purged for gayness by your wacky politicians or get car bombed in the crossfire when they shut down the mosques. My vote would've been for story B as well, although unlike Gryphon, I am glad that Story B had the dad mention that he should've sent letters. Because the first thought through my mind when he arrived was, "why the fuck did he just show up to traumatize his family without any warning, come oonnnn." Even though all the stories we got for this theme were really good. Story B just felt more skillfully and dynamically written with dialogue and things actively happening, while A despite having a good concept and twist fell into that "leisurely summary of a thing that already happened" trap where a lot of impact and immediacy is lost.

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
yw

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/26/2023 1:52:43 PM

Thanks for the write up and announcement and thank you Gryphon, Zake an Wizzy for being so thorough! Haha the reason why I had the dad not write any letters was to trick the reader into thinking he was dead and also to make Louise's smackdown more sympathetic and understandable, but I see now that it would make the dad a bit of a dick. I did like people theorizing that story B was written by a child lol due to it having a child pov lolol.

Fresh, I still don't why you wanted to duel me, but you did well! Was almost afraid I would lose to a teen girl.

 

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago

And I finally won after three defeats! 

Thunderdome 10: Fresh vs Darius

3 months ago
Commended by mizal on 11/26/2023 1:52:50 PM

congrats