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Um... hm.
Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:23am

Okay, so here's my thoughts:

-I recognise you, you've participated here, all good on that front.

-Your spelling is generally okay, though your punctuation is a bit erratic: '“So?” Replied the lizard-man.' should take a lowercase R. Also: Daniel Pinkwater's book is entitled Borgel, not Borgle. Creating a mini for a new canon in your Permission post is a bit of a red flag.

-I'm... iffy on your understanding of the PPC canon. Prompt 2 pretty much ignores the PPC, except in that it has a General Store and consoles (which should be pretty easy to spot, actually). As an example: the mention of 'liquor taxes' doesn't really fit with PPC HQ, and the whole concept of nasty homebrewed alcohol goes out of the window when Rudi's sells every drink in the multiverse... but if we just assume Bradbury doesn't know that, it still sort of works.

Prompt 1 also mostly ignores the PPC, but where it does touch it, I'm still iffy. Bradbury's recruitment kind of works, though I'm not at all convinced by Nirvana's switch from 'that's classified' to 'want a job?' (and I don't know why you think PPC Intelligence is interested in acquiring a single broken dimension-hopping van). Gibbs, on the other hand, is conscripted to the PPC, which doesn't sit terribly well with me.

Okay, moving on:

-Your characters. They have rather opposing problems.

--Bradbury is actually quite good, as a 19th Century British explorer. Except... you claim he's Argentine, despite his name and attitude. It's like you smashed two characters together: one a Victorian colonel who would talk unironically about 'pygmies', and one a time-traveller who has spent enough time in the 2050s to be cybernetically enhanced. Those two halves simply don't fit for me.

--Gibbs... well, take a look at Prompt 2: Delete the words 'reptilian' and 'lizard', and you can't tell that he's anything other than human. You've set up a rather interesting backstory for him, but you've not made the slightest use of it. He's a seven feet tall highly-trained gunslinger who is (I assume) part of a cabal that secretly controls the world! So why write him as if you could replace him with Agent Joe Bloggs?

(Also on a character note: you inserted two random, single-use PPC agents, and made both of them male. The only instance of a female pronoun in either of your prompts is the story about the Russian woman. Given that PPC HQ is probably still majority female, that's a habit you should break yourself of.)

-Moving onto the stories... Prompt 1 is really disjointed. What you've written is one story, and then a couple of lines on the end to meet the prompt. I don't like that approach; a story should be a unified whole. I've already mentioned the problems I have with the representation of the PPC, so I won't belabour that point.

Prompt 2 does hang together as a single story, though there's nothing to really embed it in the PPC, as I said before. And... I feel like in both stories, you missed multiple chances to write humour. A striking example is the bottle of whiskey at the end of 2: was that meant to be a punchline? If so, it needs more development, because it falls utterly flat. If not... why not? Because it absolutely should be.

You have some lines that ought to be funny ('co-dependent parrots'), but there's just nothing to carry the joke. Take a look at this exchange:

“Bear fruit? Isn’t that the one that mauls people?” asked Gibbs.

“Yes, but you can drive it off by throwing zucchinis at it,” replied Bradbury.

What are we reading here? Is Gibbs an unintentional straight-man who actually does think 'Bear fruit' is a thing, with Bradbury winding him up? Was he trying to make a joke to get to know Bradbury? Are they both joking and laughing together, mugging like loons?

We don't know. 'Asked'. 'Replied'. That's all we get.

As an example, assuming the first scenario is correct, here's a rough alternate take on those two lines:

"Bear... fruit?" Gibbs rolled the words around his mouth as if tasting them. "Does it maul people, perhaps?"

"Absolutely." Bradbury put on his most serious expression. "But you can drive it off by throwing zucchinis at it."

Do you see the difference? This version gives the characters personality, rather than just assigning them lines. It provides something for the readers to latch onto, rather than just being a vehicle for getting to the end of the story.

Overall, it's not looking too good, but... I think you can do better. So here's what I'm going to ask for:

Please write another short story, under 1000 words, responding to the following prompt:

While carrying their first batch of homebrew to the cafeteria, Bradbury and Gibbs encounter someone in the corridor.

I don't mind who they meet: feel free to create your own character, use a free-use NPC (which includes the Flowers), or (for the purposes of this non-canonical scene only) borrow any of my characters. My wording shouldn't be construed to indicate only one person can encounter them, either.

I will be looking to see if this piece addresses my concerns listed above, including but not limited to: showing your understanding of the PPC, writing your agents with their backstories in mind, and writing with at least some humour and engagement. Making sure your punctuation around dialogue is correct would also be good.

(And, probably not relatedly, but please decide whether Bradbury is Argentine or Victorian English, and adjust his description accordingly.)


  • Part 361516, Mon Aug 13 9:32am
    This is based on the control prompt "One agent tries to convince another to help with some kind of business venture." As bases of operations went, Response Center 9-unreadable-smudge wasn’t among the ... more
    • Um... hm. — Huinesoron, Mon Aug 13 10:23am
      • Ok, I'll be back in under 1000 words. (nm)61516, Mon Aug 13 11:36am
        • Well here we are...61516, Sun Sep 9 9:50pm
          Rasputin Gibbs would have felt a lot better about life if he had known where he was, but the featureless corridors of the PPC headquarters seemed intent on getting him lost. On the plus side, Colonel ... more
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