Let's All Write Short Fiction! Now with new, disastrous prompts

writing

#61

It is done, 10,093 words. That is too long. I am going to write another, shorter, story more appropriate for this thread. However, since many might be curious, I may as well inflict my original creation upon you all because I am an unstoppable writing terrorist.

But before I reveal the full extent of my depravity on the unprepared masses I want to talk about bit about the process that led up to this intensely criminal act of creation:
So @NoodlyVampireQueen and I have been friends for years now. She knew exactly what she was doing when she assigned me that prompt. She had such a treat in mind for you all. A beautiful gift from NVQ to you. I woke up from my nap and saw my assignment. I immediately stood up and walked over to my bookcase. Without a thought I drew out my Manual of the Planes and my 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons Planescape Campaign Setting book. Now, this is a nerd forum full of nerds so many probably already know what’s up and have gotten insanely hype. Continue being hype. For those that are ignorant of the extent of my madness I have helpfully provided links throughout this post and laced within the Google Document itself in an effort to facilitate a true understanding of limits to my madness.

To continue to story before the story, after a few hours of research with these books and some intense Googling I decided on my path forward. There is so much more I want to do, I could talk for paragraphs. I develop the protagonist far too fast and don’t really gaze into them as deeply as I want to. I also meander a lot, but I hope it properly progresses forward and world builds because that is the intent. I’ll be glad to talk about this story more at any time. I dedicate this crime of literature to @NoodlyVampireQueen who tweeted that she wanted cis women to write trans things. I hope non-binary counts. This Bud’s for you.

That preamble out of the way, I present the story of a flesh golem shopkeeper discovering capitalism and what they do about it, I call it Thrive.

You are under no obligation to read it and I strongly encourage you to not read it because it is complete and utter garbage. But if you do choose to read it you can comment here or on the document itself. In a few hours to a few days I will have a saner and much more reasonable submission.


#62

Alright, I finally got done with the final draft. I’m not gonna say it’s perfect because it isn’t. I do this as a hobby, I’m not exactly a professional. 'course that doesn’t mean I can’t improve myself. Anyway, without further ado, I present to you…

The Tale of the Salamander King
Word Count: 8,364
Writing Prompt: “You wake up in a land ruled by a salamander. A witch appears and hands you a book.”

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1urRRdHFgUfvgqncOk95XHOw_fG4DXT4U5rbYmkdH8w0/edit?usp=sharing

EDIT: I was really tired and went to bed pretty much immediately after posting this but :tw: for a couple instances of graphic death. The jungle scene actually made me cry, something I didn’t really notice until I was done with it. Oh and there’s another moment during the final battle. Just wanted to put a warning there.


#63

It’s late here right now, but i look forward to reading both of those tomorrow. If nothing else I know I’m going to have fun doing so! That’s kind of the whole point of this endeavour, really :slight_smile:


#64

Time for some feedback. As a disclaimer, I’m just a dumb jerk who writes more than he should and what I’m saying isn’t objective truth or anything. Critiques are just opinions you share!


The idea behind this is neat, but it felt like it ended just as things were getting interesting. The ending happens really fast–I knew there were only four pages, and I still wanted more when I reached the end. I think you spent about as much time talking about public transit in LA as you did about the princess the main character married. (I know that’s something that happens to me sometimes; I’ll spend forever on the start of a story and pick up the pace as I get closer to the end.)

I liked the detail about wearing a shirt with a logo that doesn’t mean anything to you on it, but I still wanted to know more about her. She’s a bit blank, beyond being awkward, not going out a lot, and owning one tank top. Like, I want to know what band it is that she pretends to like! Those little details add a lot to a character.


I know this was up to the whims of the prompt, but I kept wondering how there’s a desert in Ohio. Ah well, I just figured [mumble mumble dust bowl]. The love interest angle is a good idea, though you don’t have a lot of time to explore it since it “happens” near the end, and it’s so quick I barely know anything about her so I’ve got to just take your word that they had great chemistry.

There was one point too where I got tangled up in your metaphors, where the photo-op is a Disney World ride but he’s a talk show host. (You could probably make that bit about his friends more poignant if you took out the talk show bit and just said that they felt like guests in his life–that’s a good image that might have come out a bit cheesier than it should have.) Also, something that trips me up too: watch out for comma splices. I noticed a couple of times there was a comma between two clauses that should have been their own sentences. (I always write my sentences too long and have to chop them up in editing.)


This is neat–flash fiction is really tricky to write, especially once you get under 500 words. And you did manage to hint at some conflict which is important for, y’know, stories and fiction and stuff. Aside from a few things that gave me pause (loudly typing on a tablet?) I think it’s pretty successful, though if you want to think about fine-tuning it, I’d like to see what the main character thinks about this. I know what his hacker friend thinks, but is he on board, does he have regrets, is his mind on something else?

Anyway, I’d like to read through Jenner’s and Tanky’s soon, though that might take a bit longer, cause wow that’s a lot of words. Hopefully that wasn’t too rough.


#65

It is far too many words. Started a bit of the reasonable story today.


#66

Here’s my silly thing.

Mea Culpa (working title)

Word Count: 2,028

Prompt: “A medieval Italian peasant appears in a drugstore in Texas. He has a message to deliver.”

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aeoRnXH9RwhcPMzFj-UmfQi8m8dJOdiodbrOLGl–Rw/edit?usp=sharing

General themes of death, Hell and damnation might be a :tw: for some. It’s not nearly as gloomy as I’m making it sound but just to be safe!

Give it a read and comments if you’d like!


#67

I always wanted to do this sort of thing. Lay that prompt on me sir


#68

Thanks for being honest and having constructive criticism! I think I tried to convey how the main character felt through how I narrated it, and I tried to make them seem generally detatched from everything that was going on. Then again, yeah, it probably wasn’t concrete, and aside from a single line I don’t think I really explained how they felt.
The ‘loudly typing on a tablet thing’ was, uh…I don’t know, honestly. I think I was trying to convey haptic feedback or pressing your fingers hard against the screen, but, yeah, it doesn’t really work.


#69

Just for the record, the jungle and volcanic areas are shorter than the other parts since I wanted to get the story in under 10k words. I mean the jungle part is still reasonably long? The volcanic area is pretty much like the final stage of a video game where it’s just a short stage and then the final boss though.


#70

Do i look like a sir to you? I’m not even a knight!

Here you go:

incidentally, if other people find good tweets they want to suggest as prompts while I’m not around, please go for it!


#71

thanks for posting! Not sure how I feel about the protagonists. They seem a bit shallow to me, the whole shrill wife and bored husband thing. That’s my only criticism, really. The story itself is good and fun, consistent in tone. The twist is good, but i feel like it could have ended a little earlier than it did- i dont know if a detailed explanation is really necessary. It might be better to just end shoftly after the revelation has been dropped. I really enjoy what you’ve made out of the prompt though, you took it in a direction I wasn’t expecting, and I enjoy that :smiley:

I’ll read the two longer stories later today. Just thought I’d tackle a shorter one first!

Oh, @Jenner, do you want me to link your story in the second post or would you rather I waited until your “official” submission instead? It’s up to you.


#72

Oh yeah, I read this one too! I was out and forgot to reply, but I really enjoyed this one a lot! A good story, well told.


#73

Make my 10k word story unlockable DLC content.
(Just link to my real submission which I think will be done tomorrow.)


#74

prompt me ima write the worst words uve ever seen


#75

You can’t, I already wrote them. But I’ll share. There’s plenty of room on my garbage throne.


#76

Hi! I wanna get in on this!! Pick a prompt for me please! <3


#77

Did some more reading last night and today, so here’s some more thoughts.

Boy, that’s a lot to read.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple thoughts on this. First, the tone changes a lot, both between sections of the story, and also sometimes from sentence to sentence. For the first three sections or so, it’s told in a more epistolary format with the single voice of the protagonist and no dialogue, then it abruptly shifts to a more regular narrative style with dialogue. There’s points where they’ll be talking in a educated tone like they’re making a report, and then drop in a turn of phrase that’s very much like modern slang, or swear in a really casual way. There’s also a lot of comma splices too, so that’s something to be watchful for.

As for the characters, they roughly sound interesting, but I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between Jesse and Kira outside of their pronouns, and for the other two, one was a paladin(?) and the other was some slave race. Having an ensemble cast makes it tricky to establish every character, and when they were in groups, it always kind of felt like you were running down a list: here’s how slave guy responded, here’s how paladin responded, et cetera. That might also be an artifact of the style of the early chapters, since it’s harder to convey a large number of characters when they’re all getting presented through one character’s words.

And while I can’t disagree with the sentiment in the story, the trouble with making a political allegory is that, well, it’s an allegory, so I can’t help but look at the implications. A bunch of evil rats causing capitalism is really cartoony, which is fine because D&D is a saturday morning cartoon anyway, but, I dunno, it gets weird when you put Earth into it and say that actual real life people are being (mildly) mind-controlled by evil rats from the fifth dimension (It also turns an ideological problem into a martial problem but ANYWAY) The other danger with allegories is stuff like with the Devas, where they show up just long enough to state a political fact and then walk off like they got bored.

Not sure if you were looking for feedback on this, but I read through it anyway. The biggest thing I thought it could use work on was the pacing, because in a lot of places you were ripping through things so fast that the character would be somewhere else with no transition between things. The tone was also really strange to me, because the whole thing is super-sugary, but then there’s an offhand line about the main character just killing fifty seven people. And in the next paragraph, she’s sad about killing a single person.

There’s also a lot of dangerous situations, but the main character is so powerful that she’s never really in peril. There’s a brief reference to running out of ink, but other than that I never got the sense that she was in trouble. It’d actually be cool and interesting to see, like, what happens when she runs out? Or if someone actually gets the upper hand, how would she get out of it?

It read to me like you’ve got all these energetic ideas that you’re excited about, but I think it would have been a lot neater to pin down one idea and really explore it as opposed to this rush of ideas where you don’t have enough time to them make as meaningful as they deserve to be.

(Also, a tip for formatting: When two people are talking, there should be a paragraph break between the dialogue from each person. It makes it a lot clearer when the dialogue is switching from one person to another, and helps keep your paragraphs from becoming big solid blobs.)[quote=“spaceyroach, post:66, topic:1544”]
Mea Culpa (working title)

Word Count: 2,028

Prompt: "A medieval Italian peasant appears in a drugstore in Texas. He has a message to deliver."


[/quote]

This is pretty neat, though past the reveal I was kind of wondering why that monk thought their store would be a place to offer money to god? It doesn’t make as much sense once I know he’s in hell. The idea of not even knowing that you’re in hell is a good one, though I think you could either make the ending more abrupt, more of a Twilight Zone sort of thing, or you could sort of fade out on them ending up in another banal argument, suggesting that, like, their punishment is each other. As is, it lingers after the reveal without much of a punch. Also, were they just not eating, or were they eating the stocks, or how were they dealing with food?

Anyway, those are my nitpicks but I thought that it was a neat story. If you want to build on it, I’d suggest trimming some of the dialogue and working on the beginning a bit so it’s clear that something wrong is going on, but it hasn’t reached their notice yet.


#78

Ah, heh, yeah I got a little excited. I’m usually pretty good about stuff like that but I pretty much wrote the entire thing just in a late night. I was gonna fit in a reference to the fact that their necks being snapped wasn’t fatal because of a weird skeleton structure thing where they can snap them back into place but I couldn’t really find a decent spot to throw that in. It’s always a little flustering to see criticism since it seems so obvious in hindsight but yeah. Thanks for that! You can maybe tell that I’m used to writing things either shorter than that or longer than that.


#79

Thanks for the honest feedback!

My intention was that he is running into their drug store to hide from the demons. He shows them the gold only to explain that he’s trying to get to the shores of hell to give it to God (whether or not that would even work, I don’t know, but he’s desperate). He’s hoping they’ll shelter him so he can fulfill his journey. Looking it over, I should probably show more to convey that!
As far as food, I’m sure they keep themselves well stocked since they don’t go out much. But since it’s hell, it probably just turns to ash in their mouths (which they, of course, wouldn’t notice).


#80

I told you not to read it! You brought this on yourself!

But seriously, I’m gonna respond bottom to top. If I ever go back to the story (not sure I will) I might just take all the Earth references out and look up who the actual Sigil faction leaders are and any other form of self governance the folks in Sigil have (I only know about the factions) and just say they are rats. I started throwing in Earth references and just going off the deep end after roughly two days without sleep. I was not thinking, I thought it was hilarious, I left it in so I could be ashamed of myself. The Devas are some serious lazy writing and Deus Ex Machina just to show up and drop some historical precedent then waltz off and yuck. I just didn’t know how to get my characters to come to the solution I wanted on their own. They were just talking in circles. Have I mentioned I’m a terrible writer? I’m working on improving, trying to get into a workshop, and this exercise will help, but yeah.

Now, my characters. Again, I’m not sure I’ll come back to this story but I’ve always struggled to really convey solid and distinct characters. I try to establish personality and opinions but I’m just trash. Jesse and Kira should be more distinct and I need to learn how to do that. If you’ve got suggestions or resources, PM me. I’ll probably look up some writing resources as soon as I’m done with my second story. Because, yeah, the only real difference between Kira and Jesse is their fantasy alignments (Kira is chaotic-good and Jesse is lawful-neutral) and Jesse being non-binary. Regarding Dain (who you mistook as a paladin) Thrive identifies him as a cleric in the story but the mistake of identification is not your fault because 1. I’m lazily telling the reader he’s a cleric instead of showing the reader he was a cleric and 2. I obviously did not make him clericy enough. The slave race character, is no longer a slave and the githzerai haven’t been slaves to the illithids for a long time. But neither Dain or Ulayn (especially Ulayn) have any extensive characterization to define them. Adding it would make the story longer and nobody wants that. Your assumption about how the characters were portrayed is 100% correct. The reason I so jarringly shifted narrative styles is because I could not convey the other characters in the format I was using (or at least I couldn’t think of a way to do so.) And ha ha ha, I still failed to portray distinct characters. A+ writing, gimme that Hugo. In order to fix it I think I’d have to set the entire tone one way or the other and stay consistent throughout.

Finally, those tonal shifts are definitely an ugly flaw. I’m absolutely struggling to stay consistent and focused. I don’t really stick to Thrive’s character as much as I should because, while I’m sure they will eventually delight in slang and casual profanity and be charmed by the novelty to the point that they overdo it in their enthusiasm until Jesse or Kira makes them stop, they haven’t developed to that point yet. I was kind of trying to go for a very intellectual outsider POV with Thrive. Their unfamiliarity with emotions and facial expressions and their confusion over certain things was supposed to represent a certain non-neurotypical protagonist. (I guess kind of autistic? I’m not familiar enough with autism to claim that with any confidence though.) Thrive throws in slang and casual swears and such because I do those things and I slip into Jenner voice instead of maintining Thrive voice because I am undisciplined and I need to work on that. Additionally, it’s likely that a lot of the jarring shifts are an echo of my ADHD as well. :confused:

But with all that said I am by no means trying to defend or excuse myself. This story is bad. I’m not ever going to claim this story is good and worthwhile to read for the love of yourself don’t read it. Dejeser is being VERY gentle and very forgiving. Their critiques are so tentative and respectful and I am genuinely touched by their gentle hand. I cannot overstate how much this story is garbage and Dejeser should never have inflicted this on themselves. Thank you so much for taking the time to read that horrible torturous mess @Djeser and for being so kind in your critique of what is truly a crime of literature.

If anyone else wants to read it I’ll welcome any further critique but seriously, it’s terrible. I’m almost done writing my new story (it also sucks but at least it has the decency of being short) and once I’m done I’m gonna be reading everyone else’s story and giving critique which you should all ignore because I don’t know shit about writing.