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Who the hell is Sekibanki of the Willows? She's the gal in the left picture, obviously.

Not only is she the protagonist of this dumb story; she's a generic youkai like you and I. What, you're not a youkai? Wow, your life must suck!

Sekibanki is a traditional creature: she thinks she's better than everyone else, and if someone tries to tell her otherwise, she'll retaliate with swift violence. Just like everyone else in Gensokyo. Her cynicism and short temper earned her a bad reputation amongst her peers, and many await the day when karma catches up to her and exact rightful retribution... in time.

This story begins in an ordinary day like any other...

"Boy, I sure do want me some noodles!" Shouted the dullahan all of a sudden. "I don't know why I am still hungry, because I ate breakfast just an hour ago, but I guess I'd better go to that sparrow's stand, even though it's at the other end of the Forest, and I could simply go home and prepare some instant noodles myself!"

Sekibanki, craving for some quality nourishment, decided to take a shortcut through the Forest of Magic to reach the Human Village before noon. At that moment, a flock of cute little dolls came flying at mach speed from nowhere, holding many big and heavy bags that had to be carried between six or seven dolls each one. Because of this, the dolls were practically out of control, and when they saw Sekibanki and Sekibanki saw them, it was already too late to change directions for either of them.

"Look out! Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

"Oh shi- Gah!"

The impact was so strong, Sekibanki's head snapped from her neck and was sent flying. At the same time, the dolls accidentally let go of the bag and spilled its contents, burying the dullahan under a mountain of watermelons on sale.

"Good heavens, I think we beheaded her!" Said one of the dolls.

"Oh no, is she alright?"

"I don't know, why don't you ask her, Shanghai?"

"Ehhhh!? Why me!?" Shanghai whined.

"Because you're the most popular!"

"But I don't wanna! She's scary!"

"Then what do we do now?"

"I vote for leaving her here!" Hourai said. "Master is waiting for us and we're running late."

"What if somebody finds her and starts asking questions?"

"Then... We say it was a boar or something?"

"Good idea, Hourai!" Exclaimed Shanghai. "Come on, let's pick the watermelons up!"

Meanwhile, Sekibanki was recovering from the heavy blow. Normally she would have shrugged it off and kept on with her business, but after hearing what the dolls said, she deemed necessary to teach those treacherous puppets a lesson. The dullahan bid her time until they lifted most of the weight on top of her, and when the timing was right, she dramatically rose up in the air and screamed bloody murder with her best booming deep voice:


The poor dolls' immediate reaction was to let out an unified screech of terror. Clearly, the sight of a headless woman floating in the air and threatening them was too much for them, and they soon fell into disarray.

"Oh my god, she's alive!"
"Zooombie! Zoooombie!"
"Master, save uuuuuuus!"
"Avast! Hold tight your buns, if buns you do hold dear-!"
"She has no head! NO HEAD!"
"We're so dead!"
"-for time has come to wake and run, AND NOT GIVE WAY TO FEAAAR!"


All the dolls went silent when Sekibanki's shout roared above all the doll's whining, crying and screaming. When she was sure she got their attention, the dullahan growled the lines she had rehearsed:

"When I find my head, I'm going to tear you limb by limb, and I'll carve my pain into your souls with my own two hands... DO YOU HEAR ME!?" The dolls jolted at her sudden roar. "I'm gonna kill you all, I'm gonna kill your friends and your family, I'm gonna track down your master and turn her inside-out! Nobody can stop my bloody steel that will turn your loved ones into a red splatter across the field of willows!"

Sekibanki watched with sadistic pleasure how the puppets went pale - figuratively, because the dolls weren't made of flesh, but wood and porcelain. It wasn't as satisfying as scaring humans, but it was a nice substitute, she thought. If she met their creator, she'd congratulate her for making them so human-like. Whether she'd do it before or after turning her inside-out, she would see. Anyway, it was a delight seeing the little dolls cower in pure terror, helpless in front of the Dullahan of the Willows.

Until their leader, Shanghai, stood up and shouted an order:


At the magic word, the army of dolls snapped out of their collective stupor and moved out, too quick and coordinated for Sekibanki to react. Before she even knew what happened, a dozen puppets had formed a defensive barrier with their little shields, while the rest picked all the remaining watermelons in record time, and then they all skedaddled out of danger through the forest. They sure were fast and organized for a bunch of panicked dolls, thought the dullahan, who did not make any attempt to run after the fleeing puppets. She was content with the big scare she gave them.

"Whew, that was fun!" Said Sekibanki to herself. "But I better get going now. Where's my head?"

The dullahan patted the ground around herself, and after a while, her hands bumped into something round. Relieved, Sekibanki immediately proceeded to put it back where it belonged... However, the feeling of light-headiness she usually felt when she detached her head didn't disappear. Sekibanki also noted how unusually smooth and hard her head was, and the distinct last of hair covering it. Besides:

"Do I smell watermelon?"

Finally, it dawned on her: she had picked, in fact, a watermelon. Worse, she couldn't find her head anywhere. The dolls, in their hurry, had accidentally left one watermelon behind, and picked her head along with the rest.

"Fffffffestering bucket of horsedung balls! Those little fucks stole my favorite head!" The dullahan shouted in anger.

Actually, there was no real reason for Sekibanki to go after them; she could always conjure another head if she needed. But the one they took just happened to be the original, the one she had before she turned into a rokurokubi-nukebuki hybrid, so she was a bit more attached to it than the rest of her collection. It was mostly a matter of pride.

"Welp, I guess I'll have to pay a visit to the puppeteer and carry out the threat for real. But where was her house again?" Sekibanki scratched her watermelon head dud in deep thought, but it was hard to think when she lacked a brain. "Bah, I'll just go after the dolls and they'll lead me to their lair."

And so began Sekibanki's voyage in search for her head, a quest that would test the dullahan's mettle and patience to the limit, and forever change the lives of many... And some more stuff. The Forest of Magic was a treacherous place for any traveler, and the girl was sure to encounter many obstacles, tough enemies, and difficult crossroads on her way to the puppeteer's mansion.

But Sekibanki was not in the mood to deal with any of that shit, for she was missing her favorite head, and she was hungry. Woe to the poor soul who dared to get on her nerves! It just so happened that the first of those obstacles was...

"Golly gee whiz, a fucking crossroad! That's just great!"

A literal crossroad, at that. Unfortunately, Sekibanki didn't have a clue of which path the dolls took. She had to take one of the three roads leading to directly opposite directions, and pray it didn't lead to a dead end - or worse, an infinite loop.

[]Go North, following the road.
[]Go West, towards the clearing.
[]Go East, further through the forest.
[]Snap your own neck and die.


I so wanted to title this "Don't Lose Your Head", but sadly it was already taken. Though I think there was also someone else doing a "X's Quest" series. Fuck me I guess.

This story is mostly experimental stuff to practice before I foray into the CYOA world for serious, so any advice and criticism is welcome. I don't plan to overextend the plot, in fact, I will be surprised if I don't finish it before the 200 posts mark. Also, expect lots of absurd humor and cussing, so if you don't like it, you can fuck the fuck off.

And if someone has a good nickname for me, please by all means tell me. I am so bad at choosing names...
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Advice? Well my first piece of advice would be the usual: Read the Writing Advice threads in /Blue/. Then the advice of getting a proofer; some of those guys are willing to do more than just find grammatical errors, and honestly, I wouldn’t continue to be a writer if it wasn’t for my proofer.

So with the usual out of the way.
The first post of a story is just about the most important one as it’ll be the one to draw in readers. Yours seem to fail doing so, for me at least, I can’t talk on behalf of others. The first thing that throws me off is the narration; the first 4 lines to be precise. I’m not sure how to phrase it, but it doesn’t really give the urge to keep reading, nor does the rest of the post. But again, that may just be my taste in stories.

The narration is also seemingly plain. While you can’t add vivid colors to every little sentence without it losing its effect, there is room for a little more color. And this many lines without a single description added, that’s just a no no. The way I, as the reader, imagine that is simply them standing there, completely still, talking. Body language is a large part of everyday conversation; use that in your writing as well.

Then there’s the layout. As mentioned above, you want more description tied to each paragraph; just remember to tie the relevant description to the conversation. You’ll get the hang of it as you get more experience, and I recommend reading lots of the latest stories and take note of what they’re doing.

I’d also like to notify you that /Short/ is better suited for experimental writing.

Looking over this once more, I may seem a bit harsh, so I’ll throw in a bit more advice to your person, rather than your writing. Don’t take advice to heart. Listen to it, learn from it, but don’t take it to heart; take it to mind instead. That’s how I personally deal with harsh critique.

Though I will compliment you. Comparing this to the first post of my first story, I’d say you’re better. So long as you’re willing to improve, I believe you should be able to.
Oh, and remember to plan your story thoroughly before starting it. It’s tedious work, but it makes it more enjoyable to for reader, and for the writer (imo).

All in all: 3.5/10 – There’s room for improvement. Keep at it and it'll come.
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At first I didn't believe my pal when he told me you had quite the high standards, but now I see he was completely right...

Normally I'd tell you that I will keep your advice in mind and do better on the next updates, but seeing as nobody gave a vote, I guess the OP really didn't interest anyone. Or maybe I had very bad luck and posted it on a time when nobody's around and it went by unnoticed by almost everyone.

Seeing that, I'll start over from zero and post the redux version in /shorts/, making sure to add more descriptions and to embellish the narrative. That's actually the part I'm worst at, but I'll try my best on improving.

And yes, I made sure to plan the whole story ahead. My friend warned me about all the stories that were dropped due to this, and because of that I took my time to think about all the possible routes. Though that's not saying much considering this story is supposed to be short...
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I honestly didn't see this till just now, because I manually check all the boards every once in a while, and this happened to get buried beneath the other two top stories.
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>At first I didn't believe my pal when he told me you had quite the high standards, but now I see he was completely right...
Know what? I can’t blame you for doubting him. I mean after all, we are a fanfiction site. And fanfiction isn’t really known for being quality work. But it’s good to see you’re not letting these standards drag you down.

>I guess the OP really didn't interest anyone. Or maybe I had very bad luck and posted it on a time when nobody's around
And about this; let me just be honest with you for a moment.
I saw the post about 1 hour after it was posted, when I scanned through the boards for updates. Being that I’m always curious about new writers, I decided to give it a try. I won’t lie; I couldn’t make it past the 10th line, so I clicked away and ignore it. It was first when it was brought up in the discussion I had with a friend half a day later that I decided to give it a second go.
As I said, when I first started, I’d say I was on a lower level than you right now, nevertheless I was given a chance by my readers, and I wanted you to have that same chance. After all, it was because of that I was able to improve like I did.

I’ll say it again. Keep at it, you can do it.

Also, you’re acquainted with IRC already, right? I’ll recommend you to join #Eientei. It’s a sub channel to #THP but less crowded. It’d be easier to get in contact with people there (unless you’re looking for someone specific).
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Okay, a few problems stand out here.

This is a weird, discordant mix of light-hearted comedy and apparently sincere gruesome death threats. I can't tell whether our protagonist is actually a murderer or just an edgy teenager.

The characters are pretty...out-of-character. Not unusual for Touhou, of course, but generally you want to ease the audience into it. We have Alice's dolls showing up in the first post as a group of autonomous sentient beings who are capable of arguing with each other over decisions. Also, they have little to no personality (even as a group) and most of their dialogue is boring chatter or cliches.

>"Ehhhh!? Why me!?" Shanghai whined.
>"Because you're the most popular!"
>"But I don't wanna! She's scary!"
>"Then what do we do now?"
Establishing the role of the most popular doll character as "whiny and useless". Already feels like we're in a bad anime.

>"Avast! Hold tight your buns, if buns you do hold dear-!"
The most interesting line out of a dozen should not be a reference to something with better writing. All it does is highlight how lazy and uncreative your writing is.

What the fuck? Maybe you meant "I almost peed myself" or some other thing a sane person would say when scared? Also, they're dolls.

>"Fffffffestering bucket of horsedung balls!
>"Golly gee whiz, a fucking crossroad! That's just great!"
Is this supposed to be a "rough" or "cool" personality? Because it's more "dickhead". Oh wait, I guess I'm supposed to "fuck the fuck off" now.

Really, this whole scenario SHOULD be funny: somebody runs into Sekibanki, both of them drop stuff, they run off with her [important thing] leaving her with [comically useless replacement]. Classic slapstick scenario with the added twist of a detatchable head being part of the mix-up. But all the lengthy description and exposition during the scene dulls the impact, like the entire "sadistic pleasure" paragraph. Exposition like that should come before or after a scene depicting fast-paced physical confrontation, not during, and the description of events should either be shorter or more interesting.

I wish I could give you more advice on how to fix all this. Read better fiction, I guess. I get the impression you read a lot of mediocre fanfiction and decided to write your own mediocre fanfic. Don't settle for that, or at least don't do it here.
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