Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition "SOMETHING PUNCHY" Results!  (Read 1269 times)

Baron

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Well, as promised I've come up with something punchy for this fortnight's theme.  But it's not official until it's in a big, bold font, right?  So our next theme is....

Something Punchy!



Allow me to digress into English semantics for a moment.  Something punchy usually refers to a short, impactful piece of writing.  While this can be as short as a headline, I'd prefer to get more bang for my buck by having even punchier submissions of up to 600 words.  Remember, punchy writing often uses short, direct sentences, but I'm not against you beating up a bit of purple language for literary effect.  But wait, there's more!   Something punchy can literally refer to something with lots of punches, so feel free to knock yourself out in that regard.  In fact, there's no reason that it couldn't refer to actual fruit punch, in which case some sort of soirée or juice factory might be à propo.  Indeed, punchy can refer to someone who has imbibed too much alcohol and is therefore punch drunk in the sense that they are completely inebriated.  Of course there are mean drunks and happy drunks, but it is possible to be pleased as punch about something, so I leave you to draw your own conclusions on that one.  Confusingly, punchy in cowboy slang can refer to a perfectly sober tough guy, so you could always take the broody loner approach over the Pecos and up the dusty trail.  And finally, I'm not altogether against something pun-chy, in that your work makes perfectly horrible use of intra-word puns for comedic effect.  ;-D

So, in a nutshell, write a short punchy piece that somehow includes a figurative or literal interpretation of something punchy.

The deadline for this contest is set at midnight Hawaiian time on Sunday November 14, with voting to commence the following day.

Good luck to all participants!
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2021, 13:37 by Baron »

Mandle

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How I Beat Your Mother

Spoiler: ShowHide

Sit down and shut the fuck up.

Bradley!

If you fucking do that to your sister again I will rip your fucking head off!

Stop crying!

If I hear any more crying then someone gets a time-out.

You know what I mean, right? RIGHT?!

Yeah, that's right... a time-out!

One like Harry almost got last night... outside in the dark where the monsters can get you!

Okay...

This is the story of how I beat my wife... your mother.

I need all of you, especially the boys... Lookin' at YOU Harry... to take in this lesson, learn it, and live by it.

Understood?

Okay, wipe the snot off from under your fucking noses and stop sniffling and listen up.

My first punch was a quick jab to the face to stun her and push her back into the corner.

You gotta stun 'em first or they might make some clever come-back.

Shut their mouths first and foremost!

Next, I tried for a quick kick to her knee to take her down, but, even in her bloodied state, you mother... Fuck...

Damn her, she was quicker and stepped aside.

I pulled my kick just in time to avoid landing it on the wall.

Your mother was keening in a shrill voice I couldn't bear any longer.

I picked up the silver serving-tray from the sideboard and swung it with both hands at her head.

At the last second, just before I landed the hit, I thought...

I thought I saw her eyes plead with me...

BRADLEY! I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL...

Okay, eyes on me!

Boys! If you see something like that... Like your wife's eyes pleading with you...

Don't hold back like I did.

I pulled my swing.

She ducked under the tray and bit deep on my arm... Here...

Look!

See it?!

I fought through the pain.

I looked down on the top of her intact head for the last time and then... then I...

I smashed the tray down on her head, leading its edge, and ended her, but...

WHAT IS SO INTERESTING OVER THERE, KRISTY?!

You can go the fuck over there and not hear this if you want!

Is that what you want?

Yeah... I didn't think so.

Dry those fucking tears and listen hard.

I don't have much time left.

I'm telling you all, my... little ones, this whole thing because...

Ah! It's so unfair, but I can't stay with you and you have to know.

I killed your mother because she had turned like I'm gonna turn.

I'm gonna turn into... one of those monsters like there are outside.

NO! SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

I loved your mother and I... I... I fucking love all of you.

You are all little but you are many and you just have to know that it's okay to kill when you have to.

Even if it's one of you. You have to gang up and kill it.

Now go, I have to take care of myself before I turn.

No time for hugs. GO!

Close the door behind yourselves and never come back into this room.

Goodbye, my sweeties...

Yes, goodbye Harry. Goodbye Lisa and Kristy. Goodbye Joseph and...

HA! Well done, my beauties. You shut the door behind you like I would never have been able to.

Survive, please.

I'm pleased as punch with you all and I'm sorry.

And I'm sorry to you most of all, Christie, my beautiful wife.

I doubt I'll be seeing you soon... but I hope I do.

BLAM!
« Last Edit: 03 Nov 2021, 14:08 by Mandle »

Mandle

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Special thanks to Stupot for providing the perfect title to my story back before he knew the whole tale. His title also gave me a whole new angle on how to tell the story, much better than the way I had in mind.
« Last Edit: 02 Nov 2021, 16:36 by Mandle »

Baron

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Did Stupot happen to mention any good titles for my next submission?  :)

Did Stupot happen to mention any good titles for my next submission?  :)
The Big Whollop Theory.

Mandle

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Did Stupot happen to mention any good titles for my next submission?  :)
The Big Whollop Theory.

Hahaha! Took me a moment to see the running of the joke.

How about even a bit more oldschool like:

The Brady Punch

or

B*A*S*H

Sinitrena

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I feel like I might need some title help here as well...

Why is this topic giving me such difficulties? I come up with an idea, think a bit further about it, work out the kinks and plot holes - and suddenly it doesn't fit the topic anymore because adding more details and structure just removed the "punchy"-element. Gah!  :-\

Still thinking, still figuering it out. I will come up with something.

This has happened to me too. I’ve come up with an idea, wrote a 300 word outline, but the more I try to flesh it out the less punchy it seems. But the outline on its own isn’t really enough to submit. Still working on it though.

Baron

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Aw man, good ideas that don't pan out are always a shot to the gut!   :=

Mandle

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Aw man, good ideas that don't pan out are always a shot to the gut!   :=

I dunno, they can be reworked without completely throwing in the towel.

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Touché.  Hit us with another one, why don't ya?   :=

Mandle

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Touché.  Hit us with another one, why don't ya?   :=

You fight like a cow.

Baron

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That smacks of hubris.   :P

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Christmas Tree

A hit to the stomach. A kick to the nose. He stumbles back. Falls. The enemy. Broken. Screaming. Felled. Like a tree. Like his axe had cut him. Bled him.

Blood gushes. From the nose. From the cut on his brow. From the split lip.

He looks up. An eye turns purple. No comprehension there. No acknowledgment. Just… confusion. Anger.

The other one: The attacker. Her breaths heavy. Every one a thought. Short. Choppy. A staccato of words. Of ideas. Of fears. Of memories.

The axe is in her hands. The shaft is bloody. Shaking. In her hands. Her hands shake. Always shake. Her whole body. Tremors. Tremors, always tremors. They never go away.

A hand. On her arm. A body in front of her. Pressing against her. Holding her. With force. Holding her arm. Prying the axe from her hands.

“Mary.” A word. Faint. At the outskirts of her thoughts. “Mary!” Too silent. Too far away. Too strange. “MARY!” There. It hits her. Punches her in the face. Calls her away. Calls her back. Calls her here.

Memories leave. Stay. Leave.

“Mary!” Slowly, slowly fade. Of the attackers. Of the dark alley. Late at night. The knife in the man’s hand. The knife at her throat. How it glinted – like the axe. The moment she could not fight. The moment she did not remember her training.

Now it kicked in. Now it told her what to do. Now she acted. A soldier, eliminating a threat. A soldier fighting an enemy. Wrong enemy.

The threat gone?

Must be. Must! Be! Joseph holds her. Holds her tight. Would not be here. Would not be in the war. Wasn’t there that night. Wasn’t there! Joseph, her husband.

She slumps. Into his arms. Her breaths get faster. Faster still. Ragged. Short. Her lungs cry. Cry when she can’t. Won’t. Scream when she can’t. Won’t.

Her fists pound his chest. Her eyes fill with tears.

A voice. White noise. “He wanted to cut the tree. Just the tree. Not you, honey, not you. Just the tree.” Meaningless words. The truth; still meaningless. White noise.

“The Christmas tree? A real fir for our new apartment? We wanted to decorate it tomorrow? Put it up tonight, let it acclimate over night, put the lights and baubles and tinsel on tomorrow morning?” Soothing words.

Soothing words. Take the tension from her body. Let her fall. Onto the frozen ground, into the snow.

Hands brush gently over the scar on her neck. Cold fingers tickle her back into reality.

“What the fuck, lady!?!” the vendor screams. Screamed the whole time. Stands close to her know. Over her. Screams into her face.

The words whip her. Whip her back into panic, into fear, into fight or… No or. Fight.

Fight! Against the arms holding her. Against the man pushing her down. Against the stranger. The strangers. The knife! The axe! The enemy!

She tumbles backwards into the snow. The cold water seeps through her jacket. Joseph kneels on her chest, holding her down. She struggles and kicks and screams and he holds her down. What choice does he have? The axe is too close. The vendor too. What choice does he have but hold her and press her down and let her scream her heart out until she is hoarse and her clothes are wet in equal parts from the melting snow and her tears?

He does not know what comes first, her utter exhaustion or the police.

--------------------------------------

What do you know - complain to the forums about your lack of ideas and swoosh - there's one just like that. It's not fun like the other ones I had that didn't pan out, but it fits the topic.

Baron

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Bam!  Inspiration strikes!   ;-D

Three days left for the rest of you to take a shot at this contest.   ;)

Well, I managed to bash this one out just before the deadline. It clocks in at under 500 words.

A Fistful of Punch

Two men wait. No lights, no engine, Barrow’s auction house behind them, car key damp between the forefinger and thumb of the man holding it.

“What’s taking them so long?” says Mint, adjusting the rear-view mirror for a better view of the entrance.

“They’ll be out.”

“I don’t like this, Sage. What’s he need it for, anyway?”

“Stop asking questions. You’re paid to drive.”

“And you?”

“To make sure you don’t fuck up again.”

That stung. The last time wasn't all Mint’s fault. He swerved to avoid a cat and ended up in a ditch. They had to leg it and Basil dropped the diamonds in the scramble. They got away... but Boss-man, Thyme? He wasn’t happy. He had a gun to Basil’s head. Was about to “prune” the guy for dropping the bag, but Mint begged him not to. He was the one who crashed.

“I’m just saying. They should be out by now. The plan was they-“

“I know the fucking plan. I was there.”

“Then, why-“

“It’s a priceless punch bowl. Diamond encrusted. In a guarded safe. Pars and Rose are the best in the country. They'll be out. Trust them.”

"I do, I do. It's just--" Mint sighs. "Well all right, asshole, tell me a joke."

"I don't do jokes, dickhead."

"What do you mean you don't do jokes? Who the fuck doesn't do jokes?"

"I don't do fucking jokes." Sage was starting to lose his cool. Mint was starting to forget what Thyme was paying him for.

"All right, well at least let me tell you one."

"Well fucking hurry up then."

"All right, so I'm at the skate park, right? And I meet a guy who sells half pipes. I says to him, 'Hey, how much is it per vert?'... then he punched me."

A pause. "That wasn't funny."

"That was funny, Sage. You just didn't get the punch--"

A piercing screech shatters the air behind them, a high-pitched wail shrieking inconsolably.

“They’ve tripped. We’re fucked,” Mint fights every urge to step on the gas and save himself.

"Wait for them. They'll be here." Sage swipes Mint's arm away from the ignition. He's sweating as well now, though.

A car pulls up beside them. A VW. And Sage is already out of the door.

“Where are you… what?”

“You wanna know why Thyme wants that bowl?" says Sage. "I’ll tell you why... he doesn’t.”

“What?”

Parsley's driving the VW and Rosemary and his shit-eating grin are in the back seat. Mint is slow to cotton on. Rose bungs the priceless bowl to Sage, who swings it into the Escort, shutting it in with Mint.

Sage clambers into the back of the VW with Rose. And in a blink they're gone. Mint twists the key but the car doesn't even give him the courtesy of spluttering. He’s alone, and he's fucked. He sees the blue and red flashing down the street and smashes his fist into the punch bowl.
« Last Edit: 13 Nov 2021, 15:38 by Stupot »

Mandle

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Baron, everything okay? Are you on strike?

Baron, everything okay? Are you on strike?
Maybe he suddenly got bashful.

Mandle

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Baron, everything okay? Are you on strike?
Maybe he suddenly got bashful.

You are the GOAT at this kinda stuff!!!

Mandle

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I am seriously getting worried about Baron... He hasn't been online in AGS since Saturday, the day before this round was to close.

Sinitrena

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I am seriously getting worried about Baron...

So am I. That's not like him at all.
Baron, please tell us you're okay!

(As for the competition, I guess we wait a bit longer for Baron and then, if he doesn't show, do an open voting, because we don't have a neutral person to adjudicate?)

Mandle

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I am just gonna post my votes and feedback here, although hidden:

Spoiler: ShowHide


Sinitrena: 6
I must admit that I did think you took the "punchy" writing just a bit to the extreme, and that it took me two readings of your story to really understand what had happened. But, the image of a confused old lady going ballistic on a Christmas Tree salesman is one that will stay in my mind. A great story!

Stupot: 4
I also had to read your story twice through to really understand what was happening. I still wish that the gang boss' name had just been simply "Herb" to distinguish him from the others as their names kept me confused as to who was who at points. I did love the finale that explains the bombastic title. I wish I could have voted 5.3 vs. 4.7 but, sorry, Sinitrena's tale won out just slightly for me.

Baron

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Thanks for looking out for me, folks!   ;-D   I assure you that any reports of my premature demise are shamelessly exaggerated.  The sad truth is I've been spending most of my spare moments after work at various hockey arenas and shuttling kids between them.   :P

So, on to the voting phase of this comp.  Votes can be sent to me via PM, or hidden in hide tags in this thread, or punched out in Morse code using the hanging chad voting machine out in the AGS lobby (no, it's not a slot machine  (wrong) ), or handwritten in reverse alphabet code and attached to the leg of a homing pigeon (or perhaps an arena pigeon, since I seem to be rarely at home....  (roll) ).   As I'm a bit late I'm sure everyone has already read the stories, so voting will end firmly on Saturday November 20. 

Voting procedure is that you have 10 votes to distribute in whole integers between the participants as you see fit based on how meritorious you believe each submission to be.  As always, feedback in the thread is appreciated by the authors as it help us hone our craft.

Good luck to all entrants!  I'm looking forward to some good reads!   :)

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Glad everything is okay, mate. I never lost my belief in the Baron as an unstoppable force but was still a bit worried.

Sinitrena

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I guess having to read twice comes with the style of the writing this time around. I also had to read your stories twice to fully get them.

Mandle:
Spoiler: ShowHide
Some kind of zombie apocalipse, I presume? This husband has a confusing number of children that all don't really matter. If it's ten or two children doesn't really impact the story. I can't say that I like your main character. He seems abusive, though I admit that he's probably in a very stressful situation, so slightly extenuating circumstances. But I probably would like him slightly more if what he tells the children is actually important, but it doesn't feel like it is. His point might be: Kill, even if it is a loved-one. But the way he goes about it? No. And there's nothing more important to tell the children in the last moments of his life, like where the shotgun amunition is, where the food is stashed, how to start the car... I don't know, there's about a million things people need to know to survive, especially children, but the exact circumstances of how one zombie was killed is not one of them. Additionally, he goes about it in the worst way possible, adding to the trauma by being an asshole. Again, stressful situation, so he's probably not rational, but threatening his kids is not going to help, especially threatening them with throwing them out to the monsters. Yeah, I really don't like your main character. As for how the story unfolds - due to the way the character tells his story and how he reacts to the children, I'm missing the element of urgency that should be there. It actually comes across as if he has all the time in the world, making for a rather slow pace of the plot. The writing's good, though, so kudos for that. Actually, overall, I liked the story, in a way, I just hated the husband. (Maybe I was supposed to? I think I was supposed to.)


Stupot:
Spoiler: ShowHide
I like the theme naming you have going on here and the idea of the gang framing their (now) former member is pretty well executed. It's also incredibly stupid from the point of view of the characters. What's stopping Mint from ratting them all out now? (Fear, probably, but the boss didn't kill Mint before, so...) The beginning of the story is good, the ending is good, but the middle gets a bit meandering, especially when they do or do not tell each other jokes. Yeah, I get it, they are waiting, it's boring, but you don't need to bore the reader with bad jokes. That sounds harsher than it is meant to be. But it does feel like you were running out of ideas and depereatly trying to built a stronger connection to the topic. But I think the one with the punch bowl is enough, even though it's not particularly strong.



I'll send my votes in a minute.
Spoiler: ShowHide
For me, it's a small lead for Stupot this time around.



I am just gonna post my votes and feedback here, although hidden:

Spoiler: ShowHide


Sinitrena: 6
I must admit that I did think you took the "punchy" writing just a bit to the extreme, and that it took me two readings of your story to really understand what had happened. But, the image of a confused old lady going ballistic on a Christmas Tree salesman is one that will stay in my mind. A great story!


Spoiler: ShowHide
I think it's interesting you seemed to imagine an old woman. I had a fairly young war veteran in mind, but I guess the text doesn't say either way. And thinking about it, I do like the image of the old lady going ballistic, so I think I'll just change my menatl picture.

I have voted and here’s my feedback:

Mandle
Spoiler: ShowHide
I also didn’t like the husband for most of the story, but I actually enjoyed the twist. I knew there would be some twist as you wouldn’t have just written a gratuitously violent story about a wife-beater without some kind of heel-turn. The When it dawned on me what was actually going on, it didn’t make him much more likable but I did enjoy going back through the story and seeing the clues and double entendres that you had laid out.

Some of Sinitrena’s criticisms are valid, like the amount of detail he goes into in such an urgent situation, but I can understand his desire to drill home the point to his kids. And the story certainly fits the criteria in terms of punching.


Sinitrena
Spoiler: ShowHide
The short, sharp sentences certainly fitted the definition of ‘punchy’ writing but it was a bit too much for me, to the point where it was distracting me from the story.
I couldn’t really get a sense of place, or who was doing what, and where, so I didn’t fully understand it. Perhaps this is the purpose, to reflect the woman’s frame of mind. In which case, that is something to be admired, but on the whole I would prefer to read a more dialed down version.


Thanks both for your feedback on my attempt. It was not my finest work and Sinitrena was spot-on that I just added the joke as a way to pad out the word count. I didn’t think it would be so obvious though, haha.

I take umbridge at that being called a “bad joke” though. Haha.

I’m also aware that it’s unrealistic that they would have gone to so much effort to frame Mint in the way they did, rather than simply bump him off. I thought it was a neat twist, nevertheless.
« Last Edit: 19 Nov 2021, 12:11 by Stupot »

Baron

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Well, it just hit me that I didn't even name our participants in my voting post.  I know, I know, it's a bit of a slap in the face....  Allow me to strike a note of contrition by listing our authors and their works now:

Mandle has written How I Beat You Mother
Sinitrena composed Christmas Tree
Stupot wrote and presumably scored A Fistful of Punch

I thought all of our participants did an excellent job of cleaving to the theme this time around.  Nobody held their punches, so to speak.  In fact, more than once I was thinking "Fewer punches!  We need fewer punches here!"  Which is a good thing, in reverse logic, since it means that your works were punchier than I expected.  ;-D   It's just, you know, the stories hit me hard in my soft pudgy underbelly of humanity.  Next time I think I will set a Somewhat Punchy theme and see if that restores the universe to balance.   ;)

But, we all work with what we are given, so here's my feedback.  No hide tags, since the competition is over:

@ Mandle  Ah, the exasperated dad that never developed parenting skills because, hey, the game is on and someone else can deal with the little monsters.  Basically he's everyone's favourite punching bag, but, y'know, in his own way he's trying to do right by his kids in the few moments left to him.  I think relaying a few more critical survival tips might have been a good idea (like letting the kids know exactly how the condition is spread and how long they have once bitten?), but as previously critiqued I get that he's not in his best frame of mind.  The writing was superb and disturbingly realistic: keeping kids' attention is like herding ants.  Oh, and there was all that punchy gory stuff too.   :)  Great job!

@ Sinitrena  Ooh, flashback trauma!  I felt like this wasn't an uncommon occurrence for Mary and Joseph, which makes me wonder why they weren't a bit more proactive, but maybe I misread the degree of Mary's instability.  I liked Mandle's idea of her being a little old lady, but I didn't get that impression myself (did I miss a clue?).  Yours was definitely the punchiest in terms of writing.  Thoughts were.  Very.  Abrupt.  It took rereading to put together exactly what was happening, but this was part of the challenge so kudos to you for slugging away at it.  Nice story!

@ Stupot  Well, I thought it was a funny joke.  (roll)  Honestly, they are bored in the car and you want to show the simmering antagonism beneath the surface and the story would be too short if you just had the set up and the ending so... yeah, they have to talk about something.  Maybe the joke wasn't the best option, but at least it revealed a discord between characters.  Maybe discussing the last job would be more rewarding as it would slowly reveal how each character felt about it?  But then we run into the danger of bogging down what was meant to be a short, punchy story.  I thought the bowl gag was great, although true criminals could surely find a less expensive way to set poor Mint up (I mean, they already went through all the work of stealing the thing....).  I critique the loose ends because I liked the garment - good work!

And now to the results.  A punchy drum roll would be appropriate at this point:

In third place we have Mandle with 10 points.
Also in third place we have Sinitrena with 10 points.
Finally, we have Stupot in third place with 10 points.

I don't think we've ever all shown up to write, and all we got was a draw.   :=

So it falls to me as contest administrator to choose a winner.  All the works are very meritorious, each with their own slight flaws, and thus they appear to measure up almost... equally.  Oh dear.  Well, I, hrmmm.....   OK, I vote Stupot by the thinnest of margins, mostly because he has not won the competition lately, but also ever so slightly due to his story being a punch above the others.  Congratulations Stupot!  We all look forward to the next writing theme and the new administrative regime which should prove more timely and effective than the last.   ;) 

Sinitrena

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I take umbridge at that being called a “bad joke” though. Haha.

I just agreed with Sage, that's all.  ;)

No, to be honest, I was tired when I read and re-read your story and I simply didn't get the joke - at all. Now I do, and it's better than I thought.

@ Sinitrena[...]I liked Mandle's idea of her being a little old lady, but I didn't get that impression myself (did I miss a clue?).[...]

As I already pointed out above, I had her in mind as a youngish war veteran. There's one teeny tiny hint as to their age: They have a new apartment and Joseph treats decorating the tree as something they haven't done before (if you squint), implying that they have more room now or are just moving in together - which would hint at them being younger (older people usually (very generally speaking) don't change their traditions too much and don't move into larger apartments). But again, this is the smallest of hints to their age.


Congratulations on the win, Stupot. Looking forward to the next round.
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2021, 20:29 by Sinitrena »

Well, thanks for the win. I’ll take them however they come.

I’ve got an idea for a new theme so I’ll post the thread shortly.