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[Writing Game] Word of the Week! 1 prompt, 1 week, 1,000 words [UPDATED 1/27/16]

VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red!Registered User regular
edited January 2016 in The Writer's Block
Come on down and welcome to the Word of the Week thread! When I write, you write, we write.

The Word of the Week is a game thread open to anyone and everyone on the forums, whether you're a veteran writer or just dipping your toes in these waters. The point of the game is to get some experience writing a story every week, get some experience critiquing other people's stories, and to have fun. That's the long and short of it.

How it's played:
Every WEDNESDAY, I'm going to post a random word from's Word of the Day selection, along with its definition. You'll have until TUESDAY to write a short story based on that word! It can be based as loosely or as rigidly around the word as you like, but the word has to be involved somehow.

Your stories should be around 800 to 1,200 words. That's not a hard and fast rule of any kind, but it should be a good guideline to go by.

If you're playing the game and writing stories, you'll be expected to offer at least one critique for the week as well! You can start leaving feedback for people any time during the submission window and/or after it. Just please be courteous and do critique for others, as it's how we all improve! If you're a little nervous about critiquing, I'd suggest taking a peek at the thread @Quoth has set up all about it.

Above all:
Have fun! these kinds of exercises are a great way to improve your writing and try out new things (new genres! new POVs!) while still having fun, so shake it up, dust it off, and see what comes out.

Now, onto the very first...


JULY 2015
7/13/15 (OVER)
The word for the week of TUESDAY, JULY 13th, 2015, is:
Definitions for foison
Archaic. abundance; plenty.
Archaic. abundant harvest.

7/21/15! (OVER)
adjective [sahy-deer-ee-uh l]

Determined by or from the stars.
  1. Astronomy. determined by or from the stars: sidereal time.
  2. Astronomy. of or pertaining to the stars.

7/28/15! (OVER)
noun [uh-koo-ter-muh nt]

Personal clothing, accessories, etc.
  1. personal clothing, accessories, etc.
  2. the equipment, excluding weapons and clothing, of a soldier.

08/04/15! (OVER)
noun [ahr-guh-nawt, -not]

A person in quest for something dangerous but rewarding; adventurer.
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a person in quest of something dangerous but rewarding; adventurer.
  2. (initial capital letter) Classical Mythology. A member of the band of men who sailed to Colchis with Jason in the ship Argo in search of the Golden Fleece.

08/11/15! (OVER)
noun [mon-di-green]

A misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard, especially a song lyric.

08/18/15! (OVER)
noun [hee-lee-ol-uh-tree]

Worship of the sun.

8/25/15! (OVER)
adjective [lak-ruh-mos]
  1. Given to shedding tears readily; tearful.
  2. Suggestive of or tending to cause tears; mournful.

9/15/15! (OVER)

Nonsense; utter foolishness

noun [uh-noh-mee-uh]

1. Medicine/Medical. the inability to name objects or to recognize the written or spoken names of objects.

verb [flum-uh ks]

1. Informal. to bewilder; confound; confuse.

10/13/15 (OVER!)
noun [kon-yuh-shen-tee, kog-nuh]

1. persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion.

10/20/15 (OVER!)
noun [dith-uh-ram, -ramb]

1. any wildly enthusiastic speech or writing
2. a Greek choral song or chant of vehement or wild character and of usually irregular form, originally in honor of Dionysus or Bacchus.

10/27/15 (OVER!)

noun [tah-fuh-foh-bee-uh]

1. Psychiatry. an abnormal fear of being buried alive.

1/6/16 (OVER!)
noun | SHIB-uh-luth


1 : catchword, slogan
2 : a widely held belief or truism
3 : a custom or usage regarded as distinctive of a particular group

1/13/16 (OVER!)
noun [bel-weth-er]

Definitions for bellwether
a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.
a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry: Paris is a bellwether of the fashion industry.

1/20/16 (OVER!)
verb | ek-SPAY-shee-ayt

1 : to move about freely or at will : wander
2 : to speak or write at length or in detail

noun | ZOOG-muh

The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words in such a way that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one (as in "opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy")

There you have it! Now get to work.

VanityPants on


  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    Let's hope the word can be used for the thread as well as stories in the thread. I shall write a thing and ask you all to tear it to pieces.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    Brevity is not my friend. BREVITY IS NOT MY FRIEND!!!
    And ohhhh the irony to have the first word be about abundance but then you SLAP US IN THE FACE with that LOOOOOWWWWWW word count!!!

    Ohhhhhh the pain....

  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    Haha! Well, definitely do FEEL FREE to write more than 1,200 words if you've got it in you!

    The only thing I'd say, and the thing I said in the other thread, is that if you go way over and post a huge story, you MIGHT get less critiques just because of time things--but absolutely don't let that stop you, if you've got a long story to tell one week/all the weeks!

    Glad to see people poppin' in already. I'm starting to brainstorm what I'm going to write for this, now...

  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    Hey, are there rules on, keep it PG13? Or do you not care?

    Not that I would go out and out naughty but... something about abundance got me thinkin' 'bout things and such...

  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    Per the rules specific to TWB:
    - Do not post erotica. Our forum is for people age 13 and up, and we don't want to deal with the legal issue of posting pornographic material where the kiddies can see. This doesn't mean your work can't have any sex or violence, but we know erotica when we see it. You may also want to throw in a NSFW tag if you think your work warrants it.

    Pretty much use your discretion and common sense, and it will be removed if it's considered too "erotica".
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    Thank you, @bigrickcook! I am not good at the functional reading! (or the remembering of rules!)

  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    Only reason I knew that one is cause the first Wendig prompt I ever did was erotica and I had to see if it was allowed to post here.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • AmaliaAmalia AuthorFace Registered User regular
    When we first did WotD, I wrote a whole string of Eve and Thor bits that all fit together. Some of it even made it into Fate Forgotten.

    Sometimes I blog. Other times I tweet. But I'm always writing. (and so is that other Amalia)

    Give the Gift of Thor! Or maybe you'd be interested in that Orc Book I wrote.
  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    Looking the word up, I also got

    chiefly Scottish : physical energy or strength

    from Merriam-Webster

  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    Ugh, I think I'm just plain bad at coming up with a story from a single word.

  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    Ugh, I think I'm just plain bad at coming up with a story from a single word.

    Maybe consider the definition as theme rather than integrating the literal word? That is what I am doing.

  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    I've got a thing I wrote last night for this! I'll post it up tonight after a once-over and then the game can truly begin.

    Unless someone beats me to first blood. That's cool, too.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    And away we go with a horribly pretentious internal diatribe:

    My Foison is Strong but Worthless - 778 words
    I am possessed of more words than I’ll ever use. In fact, some of the selections in my word-hoard seek only to separate me from my fellow man. I cannot utter the language I know so well without fear of isolation and alienation from those who don’t also know them.

    I stand in a circle of so-called friends after leaving the theater. I had convinced them to experience a spectacle of wit and drama rather than the flashy robotic monstrosities punching each other they wanted to watch, and I have their attentions captured as I break the film down, beat for beat, explaining the nuance of acting and editing it took to ensorcel their emotions.

    I see I’ve lost them somewhere along the way by the longsuffering glances they pass between themselves when my eye is turned to another, but they do not realize my vision is not so narrow as their minds and I mark every sigh, every roll of eye. If I could fit that rhyme into conversation I would, but they would just laugh politely and begin rattling off sports statistics again. As if any physical competition is as interesting, as enlightening and enriching, as the exquisite art I have shown them.

    To waylay that possibility I alter my tactics, instead talking of the actors that acquitted themselves so well in this arthouse masterpiece. The lead actor, having cut his teeth on Broadway, so consumed of ardor for this film’s script that he begged for the role. The actress, at once frightened and strangely compelled to play the role offered her, that was written specifically for her. I say to them, the writer/director auteur was said to have plumbed the depths of the actress’s sanity and sensuality, to raise the passion of the film to even greater heights. I explain that the script was so intricately crafted that no deviation exists between it and the final product. I laugh and apologize. No film of this stature should be called a product.

    I am losing them again, I can see it. I know this part and engage them. I ask them what their favorite part of the film is, and am both shocked and repelled when they reply with the fellatio scene or the fight in the opening credits. One of them cannot even muster up the brainpower to remember the names of the characters, calling them “the main lady” and “her best friend” when he reported as his favorite the scene where he thought they might kiss. As if their names were not used throughout the film, were not an inherent, iconic choice, deliberate and relevant to the plot, the central themes.

    I have one more chance, I can see that now. I am possessed of many words, and with those words a great understanding of human herd mentality. The psychology and sociology of my so-called friends are laid bare before my mind. If I do not elevate them soon, I will lose them. As I have lost others before. I do not wish to start anew. I do not desire that. It is so hard to begin.

    But what can I do? What words will so impress them that they are forced not only to hear them, understand them, but to react and engage on another level? How can I, an educated fellow, possessed of a myriad of words, convince them?

    I cannot, I realize. I must keep my many words inside, away from their fragile egos, their limited understanding. To retain their friendship I must rein in the internal me, the very essence of my intellect otherwise so easily displayed. My mating call is poetry, cast into a void that desires spectacle and frivolity. Desires eroticism and excitement. Big, easy emotions in place of subtle ideas and nuance.

    How to begin? I wonder. I do not have long. If we part this night, to separate vehicles and separate lives, I sense I will not be invited to the next outing. I feel it as they must feel instinctual paranoia in a suddenly dark room. A moment, that is all that I require.

    I must not be the one of which harsh words and laughter are whispered behind backs. I mustn’t alienate. I must crush the foison of words under heel, step over their frail bodies.

    I say to them, “Enough with the hoity-toity opinions. How great was her rack?” A piece of me falls away even as their smiles warm. It withers and dies like grapes on a blighted vine, to be replaced with nonsense and chicanery. To be replaced with, above all else, acceptance. And damn it feels good to let go.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • AmaliaAmalia AuthorFace Registered User regular

    Ha. Crit for Rick:
    I think the point of this, is that it begins overwritten because he is, as you put it, hoity-toity and possessed of all the words, but I feel like maybe it could be stronger if you started at an even MORE overwritten/purple place, and with each attempt, your narrator dumbs it down a little bit more, so we have a progression, and then at last it is just super common denominator with the commentary on her rack -- though I might even cut the self-aware hoity-toity sentence and go straight for "How great was her rack?" and then perhaps, as his self withers, his internal commentary language could reflect that, too.

    BUT. others may disagree, and if I am way off base then... I will accept that!

    Sometimes I blog. Other times I tweet. But I'm always writing. (and so is that other Amalia)

    Give the Gift of Thor! Or maybe you'd be interested in that Orc Book I wrote.
  • chiasaur11chiasaur11 Never doubt a raccoon. Registered User regular
    Well, going to try to have something soon, but man. Not a fan of the opening word.

    It's not the meaning. Meaning's fine, even useful. It's the word itself. Just kind of... clunks. Sometimes I see an archaic word, and I want to bring it back into wide use because it's great.

    This time, I'm kind of glad it's dead.

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    I have an idea, but was out on the patio on wings night last night, have a Netrunner gaming group tonight, birthday party for a friend tomorrow, board gaming group on Saturday. I also work weekends.

    Hopefully I'll be able to put something down during downtime at work Sunday because what the hell happened to my life of social isolation?

  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    Sounds like you have a real foison of things to do, Nova!

    That's it. That was my word of the week.

    Critique away.
    Gonna hopefully get my real story up this evening! LOOK OUT.

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    Sounds like you have a real foison of things to do, Nova!

    That's it. That was my word of the week.

    Critique away.
    Gonna hopefully get my real story up this evening! LOOK OUT.

    Your main character is super interesting and I hope you develop him further, but the climax seemed contrived.

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Here's mine, I'll try to crit tomorrow, too drunk today.
    It's a vignette, 500 words, probably a piece of a chapter for the Untitled Yemi and Nimrod Adventure:
    "Doesn't look like his kinda joint, does it."

    "No, Yemi, no, it does not," I agreed, as we walked into the Barge Inn, a somnolent entry well far off either of our beaten paths.

    "Oh, now, don't say that, boys. This ol' place got a lot to offer boys like you." The Irish wolfhound tending the bar was taller than me, or would be on his back paws. His warm sienna red eyes fixed on me and I felt the eminence of him, cold and strange. I knew I was already seeing shit, but usually Yemi at least had something to say to pull me back from the edge. He was staring at old Oberon as hard as I had, but whatever he was seeing, he was having a way worse time.

    "Got Budweiser, boys like you like that." Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound fairy king himself, offering me the blue-collar nectar as if from on high, holding out like some shining example. If this is what passes for a feast in his kingdom he's got another thing coming.

    I don't know how he does it but that goddamn guy pours a perfect mediocre beer every goddamn time. I swore I watched him the whole time but I'll be damned if I can tell you how that wily old bastard makes it work when he doesn’t even have opposable thumbs.

    Yemi looked at me, half judgment and half pity. "You're scrying again, aren't you."

    "If I am, it isn't doing bupkis here. Oberon, I'm disappointed. I was expecting a little more Spuds MacKenzie and a little less drab and depressing with a place like this. Make with the cute dog party shenanigans at least."

    "Ah, whatever," Oberon snorted. "You wanted a party, you should have asked before! You know I can always bring it up a level for you boys. For a price."

    "Yeah, no, we're not doing this fairy kingdom game again."

    "C'maaahn, it'll be fun. Girls girls girls. Like them eighties music videos. A real bountiful harvest of ladies. Boobs and brewskis. A foison of Tee and/or Aay. Whatever you want. Riiiiiight here. In this glass." He nudged it with his snout.

    I picked up the glass and contemplated the amber clarity of the nearly flavorless fluid, but resisted its pull. Admirably and with great restraint, I thought. No way we're fucking with that shit. We still had a loa to ride.

    "Nimrod, what in the hell are you doing? We are not making another trade with Oberon -- oh for crying out loud." Yemi grumbled.

    "I know, that's why I didn't drink the - -" I burped, forcefully, and set down the empty glass. Wait, when did that happen? Oh for the love of...

    Yemi glared at me, but reserved his anger for Oberon. "Of all the times you wanna jerk Nimrod around. We got work to do tonight."

    "Hey, man, I just come when I'm called," the fairy king replied, and added a high pitched whistle.

  • tapeslingertapeslinger Space Unicorn Slush Ranger Social Justice Rebel ScumRegistered User regular
    Rick: I think the biggest problem is that it's too effusive without really maximizing on the volume. I would tighten up the text first and then go back in and feather out the details to restore the pompous vibe with a little more focus. Right now I'm kinda getting lost in text like this:
    I am losing them again, I can see it. I know this part and engage them. I ask them what their favorite part of the film is, 

    Because it's just taking too long to get the point across. You could tighten up to something like:

    I see I'm losing them. I ask about their favorite parts of the film to engage them again.  

    1/3 fewer words, says more or less the same thing in approximately the same level of dryness. From tighter prose you can then better start to pepper in the jokes, imo.

    I like the insufferable nature of the narrator but I think they'll be more effective ratcheted down to a tighter place first.

  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Heyoo... Here I am!

    I am going to take a cue from Amalia and Tape and try always write in the same universe with the same set of characters. Actually, I'm hoping this will develop into a novel idea so I can submit to that Chicken House contest next year. So thanks, VP and everybody, for giving me a big idea!

    MUST write a blog post, but will be back in here to critique on the morrow.

    Used the word as theme instead of trying to integrate it literally.
    The outburst out of Monteiro Playground came so loud and uproarious that it carried at full volume up 55th street and down Triumph Avenue. People with their windows open within a five block radius heard it and poked their heads out of their rented windows, hoping to glean some meaning. Was it joy? Danger? Anguish?
    “Hey, brotha! The hell is goin’ down at Monteiro?”
    “Little homie no more than yeigh-high hit that center court shot for the half-time contest! ‘bout to get up on some wifi and upload the video, yo! It was crazy!”
    “But who was it? Which boy?”
    “Oh man… you know… one of these kids from ‘round here. I gotta go, man!”

    The boy was more than yeigh-high. Probably up to the grown man’s shoulders. He was only at the beginning of the last great boyhood transformation, sprouting longer limbs and producing deeper octaves. He was mutant looking, certainly not man, but bigger than boy, but he’d stood at that center court as a person right at home. That spot on that blacktop, cracked and repaired on and on since forever, was his spot. This shot, this impossible shot, was his shot. Countless tries, countless failures. Until tonight.

    Tonight, he bounced the ball twice, held it firmly in still growing hands, and took a deep breath. He bent his knees and then released their newly grown power, propelling it up his spinal cord, through his bulking shoulders which raised his arms and shot the energy through still-childish fingers and let fly at a most acute angle the heavy ball, a man’s ball, toward the basket at a man’s height. The ball, now propelled, flew high and then arched, spinning just so into the summer-thick air, leaving the boy who now wiggled his fingers and bounced on his toes because he’d seen it done on television and thought he’d look cool too. The breaths of the two hundred or so gathered resided in lungs and guts as the ball soared ever closer and, as it became clear that it would at least reach the basket, they came out in tentative huffs, but not words.

    The thunk of the heavy plastic hitting the back board rang for a moment, the loudest noise in all of Silverwood Heights. Then came the jiggle of the rim. This finally contact was essential, dulling the boy’s and the ball’s energy enough to bounce it down through the basket rather than up and out in one more failure.

    Eyes, hands, hearts stopped. Nothing moved but the orange sphere until it bounced onto the faded old blacktop below, the sound of it reverberating in the last of the silence.

    Then chaos cracked open, the court and the boy at the center swallowed up in a sea of elation.

    “That’s my cousin! That’s my cousin, man!”
    “Son! You’re a beast, bro!”
    “Dude’s in my math class! I know that dude!”
    “But shorty is in my English class, yo! Right? I forgot homie’s name, but I know he’s in there!”
    “Man, that’s Dar’tan! Puddin’s boy! Come on, man, act like you know somethin’!”

    Dar’tan allowed the crush, the sea of white smiles set against dark and rich tones. He gave dap, slapped palms, let his body shake as hands grabbed as his shoulders. He kept his eyes on his cousin, who was trying his best to clear a way. “Give my cousin some air, ya’ll!”

    “Ey, man, you at my table on Monday, you heard?”
    “But I got that lunch, though. You come see me, dude.”
    “You up for some ball after church on Sunday? I’mma be here!”

    There was no time to reply as he was swept away. All he could do was nod his head and be pulled along. He wasn’t fully paying attention anyway. All he could see were the threads around him, some emerging and connecting, others coiling with new strength, changing colors as they did so. It wasn’t his first time seeing them, but they’d never been so clear before. It was just as Eddie told him it would be.

    “I told you! Didn’t I tell you? Practice with me for six weeks and you could make the shot! I saw it, man! I’m good at that!” Eddie screamed in Dar’tan’s ear once they broke away from the crowd. People had begun to move back to their seats so that the game could get back to being played. When the two boys got back to their bleacher, surrounded by a still excited audience, Eddie wrapped his arms around his cousin’s shoulder and continued. “I done told you! People gonna know your name from now on, Dar’tan! You gonna be somebody now! Ain’t gonna be that invisible guy anymore!”

    Dar’tan couldn’t believe that to be true. Some of the threads would fade away into nothing by morning. Some of them had already begun to. Little shimmers, all of them, only barely noticeable to him to begin with. Those of little strength and consequence were imperceptible to his eye. Might as well not exist at all.
    “Eddie D, your cousin is the bomb!”
    “Yo, shorty! That throw is impossible!”
    “Your mama is gonna be so proud of you!”
    Dar’tan looked away from the threads and filled himself with the glory. Tonight, he wasn’t a middle boy of no power or presence. Tonight, he was known in Silverwood Heights.

    KCWise on
  • chiasaur11chiasaur11 Never doubt a raccoon. Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    And, like I promised, finished as the weekend starts. 926 words, right in the middle of the target range.


    That’s what we were promised, at the start. Five of us, searching for the treasures of old world. Cartwright, he had the map. Had the promise.

    Didn’t recognize the word, myself, but he said it was a bounty, and when you and your idiot friends are a sorry bunch of scrap diggers walking cradle to grave in rented shoes, any kind of bounty sounds good.

    So. Five of us to start. We try to divide up roles, act like we’re the professionals. Like we know this crap. Cartwright hired us, well, when I say hired I mean found and told us we’d get a cut, like we had any more idea what to do in the deep wastes than he did.

    Mac, he was the crew leader. He’d been in charge of a dig, after all. Once. For an afternoon, before the crew booted him back to freelancing for incompetence. Claire, she had a pistol, rusted out and empty as it was, and she could at least pretend like she knew how to use it. So, she was security, muscle, whatever you want to call it. That made three.

    Shen, Shen could spout technical crap, and the old world was buried in it, so I figured, hey, nothing wrong with making him the official science… something. Look. He made his own title, and it had four dollar words as opposed to my preferred four letter. I’m not saying I can’t remember it. I’m just saying I don’t give enough of a fuck to even.

    As for me?

    Hell. For me, it’s always the same, no matter the title they use to bait the hook. Grunt work. Someone has to lug the heaviest shit, take the worst knocks, and generally get the short end of a one sided stick. Admitted, in any other job, that could be any of us. But when we get together, it’s always me.

    I’d say I didn’t mind. That I’m good at it, that it don’t take thinking, that all that junk builds character. And the damndest thing is, it’s more than half true. If they asked, I’d jump, no question.

    It’s just, well, they didn’t ask. They never ask. I get the worst job, because they think I deserve it. I carried the gear, and we walked out into the wastes.

    Most of it was food. Water. Basic supplies. My idea. They were sure it would be easy, that everyone should take their own while I take the ‘mission specific’ equipment. I pointed out that enough supplies to go through the wastes is a lot of supplies, a foison of supplies even. (Used that word to sound smarter. Don’t know if it took.)

    And then? Then I was golden.

    See, they thought I was the stupid one. That I would never figure out that we were taking a five way split for a one man job. Which was really dumb of them.

    I’m pretty sure everyone had a complicated double cross plan at some point or other. I mean, I saw hints of it. People standing over each other with rusty knives out, shoving near a canyon pass, that kind of thing. Really obvious, amateur hour stuff. Sure, you only need one break and you can stay out of the wastes forever, but if people think you’re unreliable, then you might get broken anyway. Just basic stuff. I mean, I know we were all bottom tier losers with delusions of grandeur, but you’d think they’d at least try to pretend they knew what they were doing.

    It wasn’t long before Shen started getting exhausted. I told him we had to ration things, that it would be unfair if he took more. I’d divided the shares evenly, after all. No need for him to get a boost, right? (And I was too dumb to try anything. Of course.)

    He died a few days after. Real shame. But the heat, the environment, you know. These things happen. It’s not anyone’s fault. And it means dividing the take one less way, so, in a way, just thinking about it, maybe it’s for the best. And he would have wanted us to keep going.

    And then Mac would have wanted us to keep going.

    Claire would have wanted us to keep going.

    And then Cartwright turned his back to me when I had a big rock handy, and I decided the only thing that mattered was I wanted to keep going. After all, I had supplies for five, carefully rationed to make sure they only really were good enough for one. I could stay out in the wastes for a long, long time.

    I was fairly close then. The locks weren’t too hard. Not for someone with patience and the supplies to wait out another apocalypse. The Foison of the ages, just waiting for me. Whatever the bounty the old world wanted to leave us, it was going to be mine. And then I’d take it back, rich in food, and with enough supplies at the start to make it back laughing all the way.

    I opened the door....

    And I’ll break for a little language lesson. It turns out, Foisson was an old word even in the old world. Had another meaning, too. Or more of a primary meaning.

    It didn’t just mean a lot of something.

    It meant a lot of food.

    Like I was already carrying.

    I swear. The only thing I could find easier than bread in that room was irony. Some days, life just isn’t fair.

    I'll try to read and crit on everyone else's stuff before the weekend's over. Given the crowd, I'm fairly sure it'll be more than worth the effort.

    chiasaur11 on
  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    I've got something working. Hopefully I can refine it but regardless, I'll post whatever I have on Monday.

  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    Bigrickcook: I really like the idea and the character, who has all these thoughts in his head but also understands that he wants to keep friends, to keep his social connections and has to reign himself in. It's too bad he has to reduce his thinking to such a basic point and I really feel the loss as his friends engage with it. Maybe he needs new friends? He actually seems like kind of a tragic character, lonely, with friends but not ones he really wants, yet they are better than no friends at all and he doesn't want to lose them.

    Tape: I'm not sure how to critique a vignette. I want to read more! So that's good. I also don't understand what's really going on, it's not clear, but maybe that's what you were going for.

    KC: I really like your story, the details of the shot forcing the reader to wait for the finish just as the crowd did, though I wonder if it would have more punch if we didn't know it was going to go in? Maybe before that, write it so we know he's taking an important shot but we don't know how it goes until we get the shot? I don't know, I enjoyed reading it though.

    Chia: I almost thought I was reading a story set in the Torchbearer setting, if that makes any sense. I really liked your story but felt it moved too fast. We didn't get much of the journey at all, and it felt a little unbelievable that nobody in the group noticed the main character's trick. More details might have helped, like more about how the guy was tricking the others. It was a very enjoyable story, though, really liked it.

  • chiasaur11chiasaur11 Never doubt a raccoon. Registered User regular
    Right. Commenting.

    Bigrickcook: I liked it. It's a bit obnoxiously pretentious at the start, but that's clearly intentional. The mild profanity at the end might be my favorite touch. The shift in language for the narration matches up with the main character's changed mental position.

    Tape: Very, very vignette. It's interesting, and just complete enough to work on its own, but it's a scene, not a story. Which is fine. Just... felt worth noting.

    KC: It definitely has atmosphere. There's a feel to the place, which I like. That said, the structure is a bit odd, with the introduction of the protagonist after the resolution of the contest. I get the idea, I think, of showing people only recognize him through victory by only showing the reader he exists after, but it's not the standard layout for a narrative. If it's part of a longer work, it definitely feels early chapter.

    So, yeah. That's the comments. Hope they suffice.

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Okay, here's my entry for this week:
    Everything was on fire.

    Well, not everything, as here I am, writing about this in the past tense, so clearly, I was not on fire. But everything else was on fire.

    You see, I am an alchemist, one of two employed by Lord Everitt, and this year, like every other year, I am engaged in a competition with the other alchemist to put on the most dazzling pyro display at the yearly Festival of Foison. My experiments with new colours and shapes were clearly not going to plan and I really needed to get out of my tower as fast as possible.

    There was one problem, though: Remember when I said everything was on fire? That includes the hatch that leads down to the stone staircase that would allow me to get out of the tower as fast as possible. That left me with going up to the roof, which was on fire, or out the window, which, while surrounded by fire, was not on fire, but other than a six inch ledge, was a straight drop about eighty feet to the ground.

    I had managed to throw aside the burning table that blocked access to the window, but in my haste I had forgotten what was on the table. When the various potions and mixtures spilled, the rush of heat to the contents made them rapidly expand. Otherwise known as exploding. I found myself covered in various concoctions the combination thereof would have unknown effects.

    I know the effects now, but at the time it made me pause in my rapid egress towards the window just long enough to think, “This won’t be good.” And then I was out of the tower. Teleported. Just, poof, gone.

    Right into the women’s bathhouse. As I was suddenly exposed to various heaving bosoms and panicked cries of alarm I immediately teleported again to a field I didn’t recognize. It was at this time I felt my skin being pulled and stretched and I could see scales pushing their way out of the backs of my hands. I had the sudden need to vomit and bent over to do so, but when the contents of my stomach ejected themselves out onto the ground, it wasn’t actually the ground anymore. It was the lap of Lord Everitt and I had teleported again.

    Before I could even take a breath I ported one last time back to the tower, though luckily it was just outside the main door. I could hear the fire burning it’s merry way above, dropping flaming bits around me. I managed to catch my breath and move away from the now hazardous area around the tower when I saw two groups of very angry people marching their way towards me. A group of incensed women, clutching robes around themselves, and a rather grim looking march of Lord Everitt’s personal guard.

    It was at that moment that an explosion echoed over the town. It came from my opponent’s tower and I could see his flaming form tumbling through the air.

    At least my day wasn’t that bad, right?

    I will add some critiques a little later today!

    EDIT: It's 516 words. I think that's the shortest complete short story I've ever done. I'm.....a little surprised. I usually have trouble being under 1000 words for anything.

    Nova_C on
  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    I felt like the narrator looked down on his friends through most of that, and then the tonal shift at the end when he expresses relief at letting go was kind of out of left field. If he had expressed more enthusiasm for his friends, like he wishes he could communicate with them in a way they would understand, instead of wishing they understood him as he was would make that end bit fit better. I like Amalia's suggestion as well, that the language chosen at each part of the text reflects his gradual acceptance of colloquial vocabulary. I will say that I found his plight very sympathetic - I'm sure we've all experienced something like that to some extent. I've had people yell at me because they think I'm trying to make them feel stupid.

    I think the biggest criticism I have is just the fact that this is part of something else, so it feels like a cut-out of a story, even though it's a contained event. You can tell there's all this other stuff going on, but it doesn't actually exist in this context since we don't have the rest of it. I do love the flow and language of your prose, though, and you do really well with the modern folk tale feel, which is something I got from this as well. I'll add only that using the word boys twice at the beginning sounds unnatural.

    I'm not sure I understand this one - the event itself is pretty clear and you do a really good job of making everything feel natural, but the two references to the character seeing threads of various colours gave me the impression that he was seeing chance as a physical thing? You bring it up twice, but both times it feels like a throwaway reference that we're just supposed to natually understand, or that it's leading to something. But then it doesn't. Like I said, I'm not sure I'm understanding.

    I really liked this one - I only wish it was a bit longer in the telling, because it felt rushed. Like, a bit of time spent on the group dynamics. You feel like they're old compatriots, but they're compatriots of convenience. The way the main character uses his advantage of their perception of him is excellent, but their perception of him is told to us, never shown. I also like that the ending is not a bait and switch, but is exactly what happens when people spend resources on bad information.

  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular

    Really enjoyed this piece. The humorous tone from start to finish was fun and I especially liked that first paragraph. It set the reader up perfectly for the fun ride. Dude bro certainly had a bad day.

    When it comes to fast-paced pieces like this, I would suggest looking out for the word "sudden" or "suddenly" and make sure that it is not used too many times. It is one of those words that doesn't always add to the prose. Everything about the rapid succession of events makes them sudden.

    But that's a minor thing. Great job fitting so much on with so few words!

  • Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    There are words I have a powerful overtendancy to use and then gloss over them on proofreading and suddenly is the worst of them. >.>

  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    edited August 2015
    I haven't ever written a piece meant as a short story rather than a vignette or segment of some longer non-existent work, but I think that in order to become a better writer I should try to write self-contained stories, so here is one. I haven't ever posted anything on a public forum for critique either, so I am scared, and also scared that I am submitting it too late, after everyone's already read all the stories for the week. But let's be brave! (eek)
    I'll follow with critiques for the other stories tomorrow; slightly too late tonight.
    Here it is:

    credeiki on
    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Here's mine. It's pretty short and I didn't really get the chance to work more on it, though I can tell it needs it. I'd rather get it in on time though.
    “Here in Foison you have everything you need. No one goes hungry. No one goes thirsty. Everyone receives an abundance of everything the human body needs to survive.”

    The automated voice, chillingly feminine, repeated its broadcast every hour, not that anyone listened.

    They were too busy being entertained.

    I shouldered my backpack and passed through streets that nobody wandered any longer, in the shadows of giant hundred floor skyscrapers that held people in their personal Living Utopias.

    “No more hunger, thirst, loneliness, want. No more struggle. No more boredom. No more pain. We say no more.”

    A dream of a planet, Foison had millions of acres of arable land and no sentient species to defend it from humanity’s colonization. It’d been a simple planetary community, once, like a massive farming village the whole world over, if you could imagine it.

    I remembered. Before the Council decided farmers weren’t efficient or productive enough. So they sent in the Machines.

    I ducked under a pile of rubble as a drone passed overhead. My stomach grumbled, hungry.

    Not all farmers gave up peacefully. There had been rebellions, quickly cast as fanatics by the Council and as quickly put down.

    Remnants still littered the streets. Why clean it? Nobody would see.

    But what do you do with the rest? The millions of people put out of work, who don’t want to leave their home planet?

    “Experience love, friendship, happiness, laughter, family, the wonders of life, without leaving your home.”

    I looked in through one of the windows on the ground floor, right into a person’s Utopia. It was small, ten by ten with a chair in the center. A man sat, wires coming from him and reaching up to the ceiling, a headset on his face.

    I moved on. How could they get away with it? I remembered the Galactic Debates.

    “The Foisonians are happy. They’re at home, their needs are met and they enjoy life, a better life than many in the Galaxsphere. Foison is now producing 800% more than it had been, able to provide billions of people throughout the Galaxsphere with food. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

    Who could argue with that?

    I found another window and smashed it with a brick. I climbed into the tiny room, its only occupant oblivious to my entrance. I walked up to him, noting the wires coming from him, the headset he wore, the IV drip that came from the ceiling. I took the IV out of his arm and inserted it into mine.

    He didn’t notice. He was Plugged In.

    I had only a few minutes.

    The Machines would notice the change and investigate.

    I counted the time in my head and nearly nodded off in sleep. I stumbled, shaking my head. I needed sleep.

    It had been a long trip.

    How many IVs had I fed off of?

    The old man started to shake and tremble. He moaned.

    I took the IV out and stuck it back in him. I could’ve let him die. Maybe that would’ve been better.

    I climbed out the window and ran, zigzagging through alleyways, getting far from the broken window.

    I took a break, gasping for breath. I could see the Tower still, above even the skyscrapers. The Center. I opened my pack and checked the explosives. Enough to level a building.

    The Feeding would end. The Entertaining would end. Millions of people would wake up. What would happen after...I didn’t know. I wouldn’t be around to find out.

    I closed the pack and slipped it over my shoulder, rubbing my eyes.

    The Tower was still days away.

    I moved on.

    Cheeseliker on
  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    Thanks for the crits on my entry, folks!

    I will do crits starting from the last posted, sometime tonight after I get off the real job.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    @Cheeseliker : I'm always a fan of some good dystopian scifi. I think I don't like the structure of this story though:
    1. A very long string of one-to-two sentence paragraphs starts feeling less impactful over the course of a 1,000-word story. I think I'd like to see some of them merged together, with only the most dramatic sentences allotted paragraphs of their own.
    2. The first half of the story is background, and the second half of the story has the plot and character. Could there be a way to start off immediately with the plot and character, weaving in the background as you go? It might be more confusing at first, but I think the image of this guy ripping out IVs is compelling and interesting and people would keep reading to figure out what's going on.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    @BigRickCook : I think you did a great job of using language to show us who this character is. A quarter of the way through I was wishing you would show some of the others talking, but the more I read the more I realized that being trapped inside the narrators head was a perfect feeling for what was going on in the piece. I think that was very effective.

    That said, I think there still might be something you could do to make the piece feel a little more active, to draw us in more immediately. We're trapped in this guy's head, okay--I'd like some grander observations to add some level of interest to the beginning, at least. The characterization is on-point, the language feels maybe a little stilted at first but is ultimately used well, but the thoughts feel a little ordinary and don't immediately draw me into wanting to read more about the character.


    @Tapeslinger : Lots of fun dialogue here--and it's well used, too. It does a great job of showing the relationships between all of the characters in a really concise way. The world seems as interesting as the characters, too! You did a great job with that.

    So, your dialogue and characters are absolutely on point--I think what the piece needs is some space between those lines. It feels a little sparse. Your style has a good place and is nice and concise, so I don't think you need to worry about adding a ton, but you can do a lot with just like... 2-3 sentences of really powerful imagery sprinkled throughout, letting us feel more anchored to the place/people.


    @KCWise : You do a great job of building up the atmosphere of this place/time/characters. Reading the first quarter or half actually really put me in mind of, like... Sandlot, perfectly evoking some of the imagery of childhood. It was really cool to read that.

    I think you could do a little bit more with the action--what's present of it. The paragraph of him throwing the ball is a little long and really technical and while I appreciate the imagery and this kind of slow-motion effect, I think it makes that moment (an important one in the story) feel kind of distant. I think you could shorten it and really bring us into that moment a little more strongly, really make us feel it so everything following has even more weight.


    @Chiasaur11 : You established a really cool voice in a short period of time here. The way you bring the characterization into every line of the story is just great. The pacing is on point and you had my interest right from the start.

    That said, I think it either could be a little bit longer or you could trim stuff out of it. Things like the character introductions eat up a lot of space and, while I enjoyed reading them (because of the aforementioned voice), that kind of thing takes up a lot of room in a story as short as this one.


    @Nova_C : Great ideas here--I'm intrigued by the character and the world you've given us a glimpse into. The humor/tone you have running through the piece is fantastic, too.

    The tone does feel like it works against you a bit with where the story starts, though. The first two lines are great--a little jab of humor, a little laugh along with an interesting situation. Then we pull back and we're getting some worldbuilding/information, and it takes us away from the clear and present situation, so when you try to get back into the matter at hand (a fire!) which should be a big deal, it feels jarring.

    I think it's just a matter of paring things down and getting us the information you want to without drawing our attention away from the scene at hand.


    @Credeiki : Very cool story! Interesting world and characters and some neat beats throughout the story. The kind of dry wit sprinkled in does a great job of building interest--the bit about mixing Arcane elements and English Breakfast got a laugh out of me. The setting feels very lived in.

    All that said, I think you could spare some words for some more description and really build things up a bit more. There's a lot of emotion in the dialogue and I think you could reinforce that with a few lines here and there about what things look like--or smell or taste or whatever. Just something to bolster up everything else. The emotions are all there, they could just be punched up a little bit.


    @Cheeseliker : Very interesting set-up here with some good bits of world building! Ultimately, though, it's a little hampered by the fact that not much seems to be actively going on. We're taking a tour through this world, but we're missing something that would really connect us to it and make us care. As it is now, it's an interesting thought-piece, but it feels distant.


    I think I got everyone! It was fantastic to get to read all of these and see all of the distinct, wonderful voices on display on the forums. So many people are absolutely nailing it in terms of voice and characterization, two things that I find are especially hard as you can't really teach or learn it, you just have to build it up over time.

    Once again, I'm reminded by the vast amount of talent we're surrounded by here in TWB. Keep it up! I'm so glad so many people are playing the game.

  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015

    I'll do like Vanitypants and Spoiler them so they're not taking up a ton of space. Also I didn't read every single crit before giving mine, so sorry if I tread over ground someone else has already covered.
    @Cheeseliker : A familiar premise with some interesting diversions, but the entire thing is world-building. You've given us the seed of a conflict. If it's a story you continue that won't be so bad, but as it stands it's pretty incomplete. Also it was a little jarring when the narrative states no one listens to the broadcast but a moment later it's in first person and obviously the protagonist listens to it.

    What I'd like to see is a bit more focus on description and forward progress. There's a kind of hint that the perspective character has something to lose, but how they got to this point is lost in an ephemera we don't have access to, so it's hard to say. It really wants to be a story instead of a premise and I think you can manage it.


    @credeiki : I really dug this. I instantly wanted to read more in this world. The perspective character had not much going for her since the story was obviously not about her, but Veronica was a delight. In a very short time I came to know her personality and with each successive line of dialogue I could see the stress building and wanting to burst forth, and you delivered on that count quite well.

    The downsides I found while reading were that the dialogue was sometimes a little stiff and formal in comparison to other times, and there were some moments of tense confusion early on, where it jumps from past to present, or should be past perfect and is stuck in past. Easy fixes, to be sure!


    @Nova_C : This was a quick, fun ride! You drop just enough knowledge for context and then throw us right into the fire for fun and off goes the rollercoaster. If I were going to suggest anything, it would be to tone down the passivity with which the narrator is describing all these ludicrous things. Not a lot! But just a little there in the middle I was feeling annoyed at the particular way it was being described. It's Douglas Adams-esque but slightly too wordy.

    It also seems like it bounces around as far as past/present tense a bit, and not in a way that makes sense.


    @chiasaur11 : I think the character descriptions give a lot of character to people who have no real purpose in the story except to die. A couple sentences per person doesn't seem like a lot, but it adds up and stops that forward progress. It feels like it wants to be maybe twice as long or shorter than it is. It either needs more room to grow or less room to confine it. You told a good story, though, almost rhythmic in there with the pacing, and the narrator definitely had a good, identifiable voice to tell the story.


    @KCWise : Because I'm at least a little familiar with your writing preferences, I understood quickly that the magical realism aspect was a literal thing and not some kind of weird visual metaphor, but I think someone else expressed confusion at just what was happening? It could perhaps be made a little clearer, unless that is completely the point of this opening salvo. I know you said you were gonna try and keep a consistent story or at least characters/world going, so maybe it's not a concern so much for a first chapter versus an entire short story.

    The dialogue and the narrative were spot-on, though. Really drew a good picture of the location and people without having to dive into long paragraphs of description.


    @tapeslinger : I've had occasion to read a few Yemi/Nimrod snippets and vignettes over time, and you've got a definite feel for these characters, able to drop them into fun little scenarios like this and have it feel natural and like a thing that would be happening to them. There's some great bits in there like the line about perfect mediocre beer that gives the whole scene a good, complete feeling despite no real story happening.

    Whatever it is they're getting themselves into is the hook, since it's not clearly defined, and it works well. Now we just need the resulting shenanigans that follow!

    bigrickcook on
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • KCWiseKCWise Barefoot in my Husband's KitchenRegistered User regular
    So are we trying to make it a norm that everbody writes a crit for everybody's work or is this just the noble thing that some folk are doing?

  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    Rule is to just critique at least one story, but feel free to critique as many as you like!

    I know in the previous threads, usually people would just critique as they were able to, getting to around 2 or 3 rather than all of them.

  • bigrickcookbigrickcook Dord of Lance? OklahomaRegistered User regular
    It's just me and VP showing all y'all scrubs what's up.
    Panning For Clouds, a writing blog dedicated to my fiction and writing columns! Updates at least twice a week.
  • VanityPantsVanityPants Gokai Red! Registered User regular
    Just Red Ranger Things.

  • CheeselikerCheeseliker Registered User regular
    Last Crits:
    @Nova_C : I liked your story and you succeeded with the humor, though it moved almost too quickly, just big bang boom and it's over. I would've liked if it had more details and was a little longer.

    @credeiki : I really liked your story, might be my favorite of the bunch. It's simple and quick but we get lots of characterization and little details that flesh out the world throughout. I guess I would've liked more from Veronica, maybe some phone calls or something, handwritten letters even? It's just we get only a couple conversations and its over, but she's a great character.

    I mean, when someone critiques your piece, you kind of feel like you should do the same for them. Which is great, loving all the critiques going on. I think the last thread started dying because there were few crits and people just weren't as involved towards the end.

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