Oh boy! Time to write too many words again! ... no sarcasm, I actually love this. Thanks to everyone for writing and participating!
Votes first, for ease of counting. It'll spoil things a bit but everyone loves votes! These were pretty tough decisions, all in all. The Newbie entries are all very close in overall quality and I could vote for most of them. Vets and Smuts are each easily separated into top and bottom halves, for me, but then they're really close within those halves. Big honorable mentions to The Wages of Sin, Entry Team, Star Vamp, 20 GOTO 10, And Then They Fucked and Summer Shade, but for me the winners are...
Newbies: A Heartfelt Effort
UFOPORNOOOO: The Heat's Getting To Me
And now the longer versions, where I'll appear to savage stories and be entirely too harsh. Some general things I'm looking for, off the top: structure (a beginning, middle and end), clarity, a good opening hook to keep the reader's interest, "Show, Don't Tell,"
>>/shorts/1764 A Heartfelt Effort
Good structure, but could be better. The opening is awkward and goes on too long without letting the reader know what the story is actually about. There's no reason to conceal the fact that it's a pet show for that long, we WANT to know it's a pet show, that would establish interest a lot faster and better than building up to some mystery event. I'm not a fan of the drunk Satori frame story either - I know you were trying to be cute there, but really, there's no need, it'd be fine to just go through events as they happen. If anything the framing weakens the impact of the final punchline. Prose is fine, better than average really, but a little dry. A lot of the fluff descriptions could just be cut entirely, or turned to Showing instead of Telling. And the ending's pretty abrupt. Other than all that though, I think this really is a Heartfelt Effort, and I wavered back and forth for quite a while on voting for it over the Doom 3 audio log. It's genuinely funny and easy to follow and envision. Well done!
This is an odd duck. The prose and mechanics are excellent, better than most of the Veteran entries even, but the story, well... isn't. It isn't a story, it's more like something you'd find on a detailed RPG character sheet. There's no definite beginning, middle or end, no conflict, no action really. Just a lot of description and Orange and Kurumi rambling about... random stuff. It's true that Slice of Life is a genre, but Slice of Life stories still need to be stories, they just deal with more mundane conflicts. The only conflict going on here is the metastory playing on the reader's expectations and going "Ho HO, youkai eat humans even though they're cute and relatable! Grim darkness, what what!" That's ok and all, but since I never got into these characters in the first place I just shrugged at the end. But if this actually went somewhere, it'd be a slam dunk. Keep at it.
>>/shorts/1771 A Tsukumogami's Tale
Decent job establishing various scenarios. A little strong on the heartstring pulling, though. Like many (too many) other entrants, reader hook and interest here gets driven by the desire to find out wtf is actually going on. Relying on mystery like that is BAD mmkay folks. It's easy to be all "ooooh who could this character be, I'm not going to tell you their name, oooh what could be going on, I'm not going to tell you it's a pet show until halfway through the story" but it's also cheap and shallow. It's better to just put your story out there and interest the readers with what Actually Happens, unless you're doing a full on proper mystery story. That soapboxing aside, this is one of the better mystery-reliant entries because it DOESN'T rely solely on that and has a nice natural progression to figuring out what's going on. ...and then it just ends, question mark? Think about what you were trying to accomplish here and how you want the reader to feel and react as they move through the story.
>>/shorts/1776 (I'll let you name this one, Rabbit)
Hey! Something that isn't slice of life, wacky hijinks or meandering navel-gazing character building. This is good, anonymous writer person. You aimed high, and you mostly hit. Prose is a bit shaky, due to the weird formatting, but it's easy to follow what's going on here, you have a beginning, middle and end, vivid description and a good grasp of the genre you're aiming for. Perhaps too good of a grasp, there's the rub. The thrust of the plot is more than a little derivative and predictable, if one happens to be familiar with any sort of space horror movie, video game, or whatever. Or if one happens to actually read the Mary and Renko CD stories. Ultimately the predictability and paint-by-numbers feel prevented me from voting for this, although it was a very close second place. Flesh it out more, anonymous writer person, and I'd love to see more nuanced works from you, cause you've got the spectacle aspect down.
A more than acceptable dose of wacky hijinks, sure. I think this one went a little overboard with Ran's perspective. Bland descriptive sentences abound about what she's doing or noticing, and the narrative voice jumps around between observed action and internal thoughts in a rather disorienting fashion. Best thing I can recommend for this is to go and do a very close read of some good writing, break it down sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, and work on your mechanics and understanding of Why Put Word Here, This Sentence Good For Say That Thing. From there, move on to emotional reactions and how to engage your readers without yanking directly on their heartstrings.
>>/shorts/1780 Legend of the White Youkai
Uh. So. There's no Touhou in this one, other than the word "youkai." No real plot to speak of either. Reginald Character O'Dontsteal runs around a forest, and may be a monster, or... something? Is the farmer the youkai? Is there something chasing him? Shadowing him? I really couldn't tell what's going on. Now, it is far from the worst I've seen on these angles, but it's just not very interesting either. We need a connection with the character, something of interest, clear leads to follow, and a path of engaging action to have a story. Sad to say I came out of this confused. Go back to the drawing board, and actually write a storyboard and try to communicate more clearly. I can see there's something in the author's head here but it isn't coming through very well.
>>/shorts/1743 >>/shorts/1744 The Wages of Sin Are...
Good character-centric work here. It does the whole mystery angle at first, but eases off it and becomes endearing enough. Well written, keeps the reader interested, general good times. I am a little confused about what exactly was going on at the end, though, that's the cost of being a little too subtle. There's the oar, the scythe, the sin stick and the paddle, something's going to get carved into something else but I'm not really sure what? And other than the end, there's not a ton of action - I'd like to see a bit more flesh on the middle parts where Komachi's ferrying people and doing her job, maybe something playing on her coin motif or her personality. She doesn't seem to be a slacker in this, quite the opposite really, but without that aspect from canon she doesn't have much characterization, so I'd love to see those blanks filled in more. Still, good work!
>>/shorts/1758 >>/shorts/1759 Entry Team
Whoooo, this is a ride. Other writers take note, this is how to do some effective action writing. I love how the subscenes move and progress. There's a logical flow here that sweeps up readers and takes them for a ride, while the events appeal to a visceral sense of spectacle. Two major caveats, though. First, the opening is weak. Too much gun porn, reminiscing, and some Show Don't Tell violations while awkwardly establishing the scene. THIS is the kind of short that could very easily use a cold start at the mansion entry and be better off for it, or at least cut down the fat at the opening quite a bit. Second issue is the repeating structure of the subscenes. Each encounter in the mansion goes, in general terms, the exact same way: enemy is encountered, enemy takes the upper hand with some attacks and wounds the squad, squad manages to pull through and create a distraction or trick to land a KO on the opponent. Repeat for Sakuya, hallway fairies, Patchouli and Remilia. I know that is one of the basic and most effective structures for action scenes, but even so there's room for some more variation. Repeating the structure so closely took away from some of the tension, because instead of thinking "Ooh, how are they going to beat Patch and Remi?" I'd already guessed and was just waiting for the hammer to fall. Sneak some sort of twist in there and this is perfect. I have some suspicion as to who wrote this and look forward to seeing more from them.
>>/shorts/1760 Star Vamp
Excellent comedy hijinks in space, don't mind if I do. I wish this was slightly better arranged, though. As is, the battles and various characters and punchlines are all there together in a big mashup, and while there is a progression in the plot, that progression isn't reflected in the comedy and character focus. It feels loose and meandery, like all the individual pieces are fine but they don't flow together as well as they could. I would compare it to watching scattered Whose Line clips on Youtube instead of entire episodes at once - the comedy is the same, but you're losing out on opportunities to stitch the parts together into an even better whole. Or like the scene just keeps talking in one long incredibly unbroken sentence moving from topic to topic so that no-one has a chance to interrupt; it's really quite hypnotic. Sorry if this critique is a little nebulous! It's good, it's funny, just lacking a little bit of spark to pull together and bring the house down.
>>/shorts/1761 A Collection of Short Stories
Sad to say these did not work for me at all. The individual scenes are too short, there's not really any progression in most of them, and they don't flow into each other well. Pervert Reimu is just weird and feels out of place with the otherwise introspective tone. The last two scenes are decent starts, though. Remi's trapped mansion is a great idea, Sanae interacting with her is cool, and the Satori scene almost works as its own comedy short. In fact if this entry was just the Satori scene, I'd like it far better. There's certainly potential here, the writing is fine and enjoyable, it just would have been better to pick a single one of these and flesh it out into a real short story.
>>/shorts/1762 Of Flower and Stone
In some of the earlier reviews, I mentioned an overreliance on mystery, a poor tendency to toss the reader into a murky pit of trying to figure out who the characters are and what's going on in a story. This here is a glaring example of that, and why it is not good. This should be a heavily emotional romance story, but it falls completely flat for me because I cannot figure out what's going on, and I'm forced to devote my mental energy to that instead of getting emotionally involved. It's short enough to give it a close reread, but even now, having read it multiple times, I couldn't say for sure if the girl here is Akyu or Komachi, or if the guy is genderswapped Komachi, or why they have a romance, or maybe it's Youki Konpaku and his wife? Yeah, I'm guessing it's probably Akyu and male Komachi but I really don't know. I don't know their situation or how their relationship started, or why I should care about them, so it just leaves me cold and a little frustrated. Especially coming in the same pack as The Wages of Sin, which leverages a very similar situation and emotional beat into something much more effective. Read that and learn from it.
>>/shorts/1763 20 GOTO 10
13 lines. 13 amazing lines and this knocks it out of the park. Well played. Even in that short of an entry, we have a clear beginning/middle/end, an emotional hook and reason to care, and implied conflict that (for once) gives us enough to start filling in the blanks. I was really tempted to vote for this. It could give a liiiiiittle bit more than it does, and I wish it did. That's all I can really say. Amazing work.
Wow. Nonstandard progression, repetition, these things can be dangerous writing traps... but this entry really knocked it out of the park. It's exactly the right length, communicates everything it needs to and no more, and packs changing emotional nuances into every one of the subscenes. This just gets better every time I read it. The only negative criticism I have is for the typos. Congratulations. Everyone else, read this and learn about tonal and emotional progression. And the importance of restraint in nonstandard structures, because this wouldn't work if it was any longer. And how to do the artsy mystery thing where you don't directly say who the characters are, while still making it 100% clear who the characters are and leaving no room for confusion about what's going on.
>>/shorts/1770 Gateway Beneath the Moon
See "Of Flower and Stone;" my comments on this are largely the same. It's easier to figure out what's going on here, but the loss of emotional impact is very similar. This tries to shoot straight in and assume the reader cares about the relationship between the characters, and I really didn't, because there's no setup or connection established. I'm not sure whether the guy is from Gensokyo or the outside world, or what the daughter is about. Finally, I hate to knock on this so blatantly, but... well, I've seen this episode of Doctor Who. C'mon now. Thanks for entering, though, and props for trying and experimenting with your prose.
>>/shorts/1778 Just Another Day In Gensokyo
Uh... I have to assume this is a joke entry. It's vaguely amusing if you get the injokes? But, uh, yeah.
>>/shorts/1779 Old Soldiers DOT DOT DOT
Well, this is certainly is, er, different. It does have good action and compelling prose. Really, really overwrought, though, to the point where it goes over the top into inadvertent comedy. "And still the moon, the damned murdering moon shone on, cold and inevitable." "I knelt in the Stygian pool, the silver moonlight playing on the bloody water as I wept for the last time." I can hear Mandus from Amnesia: Machine for Pigs narrating all this, and I honestly do not know what to say. It's impossible to take seriously, yet so earnest that it's hard to take comically. So instead I guess I'll say I didn't understand the plot. What exactly are the Lunarians doing here, why is Iwakasa opposing them, and is this really... I mean... what universe are we... I don't even. What's going on? At least, if you're going to be off in mystery land, this is a lot more enjoyable to read than an attempted romance. Good... good effort, author. You do your thing.
>>/at/36000 And Then They Fucked
I loved the humor, and the cute relationship between the characters! And that's the problem as well as the strength of this piece. The writing can't seem to decide whether it's going for all out gonzo comedy, or trying to build a serious and sweet relationship, and it winds up veering between those extremes instead of picking one or finding a setting somewhere between the two. Would've liked the last third, where they get to actual sexings, to be longer as well. There's a LOT of potential in this concept that felt like it was only barely tapped into. I'm sounding a lot more negative about this one than I actually feel, though. I wouldn't mind seeing this expanded into some more posts, there seriously can't be enough cute yuri around here!
>>/at/36022 The Heat's Getting To Me
Good sir or madam, you have done it. You have written actual Satori mind reading porn that puts her powers to use. This is one of those concepts that has been forever begging to be written, and no matter how much there is, there can never be enough. On top of that, you've written it well, giving us a vibrant emotional insight into Satori, letting us feel and enjoy and understand her heat. For this, I grant you the boon of my vote, forgiving you your small sins of not characterizing the guy at all (like is he an oni or in love with Satori or what?) and stopping right when I wanted more. All hail. Write more, though.
>>/at/36024 Binding Rituals
Decently written, if a bit bland, at least for me. I get that this is going in hard on ghost/googirl fetish, but unfortunately that fetish holds no particular appeal for me. All the talk about her hot and featureless core just comes off as repetitive and disappointingly lacking in detail to me. However, for people who are into that sort of thing, I could see that being exactly what they want and totally hot. So I dunno if I can fairly judge it in that regard. I do feel confident saying that the beginning and end are abrupt, though, and could use more setup and a gentler leadout. Reimu being into it at the end was hot, I'd have loved to see some more of the relationships between the characters. Oh, and I get the feeling this is a first attempt at writing smut, so - thank you for participating! See, it's not that bad, you can do it. Write more!
>>/at/36040 >>/at/36041 Dragon Knightess
Ok, I was going to ask if this was referencing something specific, and looking at the other votes I see that it is. Alas, whatever the game or anime or whatever is, I'm not familiar with it, so it all comes off as a generic MMO and it's possible there's some injoke or big thing that I'm missing. That aside though... I'm not sure why the MMO stuff is there at all. Nothing happens that makes use of the setting being a game, other than a couple of throwaway jokes, and once the sexing starts all that stuff in the first post about combat and goats seems totally irrelevant. Could be any forest, or any setting. But let's be honest here, we're not reading this to gain levels or earn gil, we're reading this for the part where Meiling jumps the guy, and that part is fine, if a tad vanilla. In particular, the emphasis on her breasts is a standout, I'm not usually into boobs that much but I was able to get into them here quite nicely. So overall pretty good, although I'm still unconvinced on the relevance of any of the setting.
>>/at/36043 Insert Tabs A through G into Slot B
Like another voter mentioned, this is funny, and well written, but not really porn. The tentacle aspect, the bondage aspect, the S&M aspects, those were the things I was most interested in (just from natural reading, those aren't even my fetishes!) and sadly they don't get that much attention compared to Reisen and Tewi growling at each other and cracking jokes. Teasing is good, but better if the reader is in there getting aroused too. Cut the explicit factor by just a little, though and this fits right in as comedy in the non-lewd categories, and would rank pretty highly as such!
>>/at/36044 Summer Shade
Ha. I think I know exactly who wrote this, and it's about damn time. The setup and leadin are great, we have characters, we have emotion, sparks are flying, description is great, powers are used, thrills are had, everything's going wonderfully - "and then they fucked." NoooooooOOOOooooOOO! Why you got to do a thing? Why you got to skip out and gloss over all the actual banging? That is not enough. That's the climax of the story, in more than one aspect, and it deserves better than a couple of vague sentences. I know it's hard. But you gotta do it next time. Also it's funny how the ending of this is the same as Binding Rituals, which unfortunately illustrates for both stories that it's just a standard hook end. Gosh dangit though, if the last third of this was even half as good or detailed or existent as the first two thirds, that'd be great. Please keep at it.