Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

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Chatty Wheeler
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Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:19 am

Chatty Wheeler's One-Off Collection

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The Learned Fool

Release Date: January 11th, 2021

Genre: Slice Of Life, Humor

Word Count: ~5500 Words

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Cats and Dogs, Snowflakes and Stars

Release Date: Very soon, I'm sure.

Genre: Drama

Word Count: ~11,500 Words

Notes: Submission For ProfAllister's eleventh annual Secret Santa writing event.

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Last edited by Chatty Wheeler on Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Chatty Wheeler
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:56 pm
Location: Pacific Time Zone

The Learned Fool (Part 1)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am

“The Learned Fool”

Writing: Chatty Wheeler
Additional Writing: BristerXD
Proofreading: Xeraeo

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[Wait a second, Shicchan~! ‘No noise’ means that I can’t speak or sign?]

[Yes. No noise means no signing.]

[Oh~… I guess that means I’ve already lost by having to ask, huh?]

“Wahaha~!”

Shicchan grimaces.

[No noise also means no laughing.]

I can’t help but pout at Shicchan’s bluntness, but she carries on anyway.

[I wouldn’t say you’ve lost yet though—we haven’t even started, after all.]

Shicchan pauses, carefully timing the silence to punctuate her inevitable follow-up.

[But once we do start, S-I-L-E-N-C-E.]

She engraves each individual letter into the space in front of her with the rapid pace, perfect spacing, and slightly old-fashioned Japanese script of a typewriter. The clicking sound of a typewriter even somewhat resembles the noises that Shicchan’s hands make as they slam and crash into each other while she signs.

[Ooooh~! Well then, when are we starting?] I implore, carefully avoiding the latter half of Shicchan’s warning.

Shicchan’s glances directly above me, hopefully toward the wall clock and not anything wrong with my hair, and forces a dry laugh out of her nose.

[We were going to start when he arrives, but in forty seconds, he’s going to be late.] Shicchan clicks her tongue louder than she probably thinks she did. [Typical.]

As if our new student could have somehow registered our entire conversation in that click of Shicchan’s tongue, he abruptly appears in the doorway of the student council room, an apologetic expression on his face, before slowly starting to move his hands.

[Hello.]

He abruptly cocks his head up toward the clock, wincing slightly at the sight of it.

[Sorry.]

Without so much as glancing around the room—which probably annoys Shicchan, given that we just spent the last twenty minutes cleaning it up—he snakes his way around the ring of desks until he’s at the center. On his way there, he takes off his oversized coat and places it on one of the desks, revealing his… jarring, but routine, style of clothing. Even without his coat, he’s still probably too warm—if there’s one thing Shicchan abuses more than her power, it’s the heater in the student council room.

I instinctively think to shout a greeting at our student, but the rasping sound of Shicchan sliding her chair out from her desk and bolting to her feet startles the thought back down my throat. As if trying to put out an approaching flame with nothing but the waving of her hands—and the intimidation of her grin—Shicchan swiftly signs back to our guest.

[Welcome, Hideaki. It’s good to see you here and on time. You just barely squeaked by with thirty seconds to spare, you know. Misha and I were beginning to wonder if you had wandered off to try and impress the locals with your flavorful choice of stockings.]

Rather than countering snark with stubbornness, the tactic he usually goes for, he pivots his face and eyes toward me—an equally expectant and confused look in each.

Oh no, there really is something wrong with my hair, isn’t there?

No, no, he’s just waiting for me to translate. Silly me~! That’s probably why Shicchan brought me here, after all~! I guess I’d better not keep them waiting—Shicchan can be a real grump when she thinks I’m not working fast enough-

My hands freeze—halfway from resting on my lap to signing at my shoulder level. Shicchan’s eyes have locked on to me, and I can tell from her eager smirk that I’m centimeters away from a trap—but which direction is it coming from? I mean, all I’m doing is translating for-

Oh, of course! I have to remember: S-I-L-E-N-C-E.

That was pretty clever, Shicchan. You thought I was going to fall for that and lose the challenge right out of the gate, didn’t you~? It almost makes me want to congratulate you on your ingenuity, but while this challenge is still on, that’s not happening.

Somewhere in the midst of my competitive awakening, I have the equally potent realization that I have yet to unfreeze my hands—they’re still awkwardly suspended out in front of me.

I must look like a zombie.

I have to purse my lips to suppress laughing at the thought of that, but I know that merely holding in a laugh won’t break me out of the trap that Shicchan has laid for me…

Oh, I know~!

I finally unfreeze my right hand, moving it upward toward my still-pursed lips—pretending that that’s where my hand was heading all along—and run my index finger along them from left to right.

My lips are zipped.

Immediately deciphering the meaning behind my little mime performance, Shicchan plops back into her chair, every part of her body instantly relaxing and a warm smile replacing the scheming one from just before.

[Good. You pass.]

It worked?! Alright~! Life is kinda cool sometimes…

After scraping this… admittedly minor victory out from what could have been an early demise, I feel totally in it to win this challenge. Is this the kind of competitive spirit that Shicchan thrives on? If so, I think I could get used to this feeling~!

Before my daze could progress to daydream, I’m brought back to attention by Shicchan’s thundering snap, but it doesn’t look like it was my attention she was after.

[Ready, Hideaki?]

Hideaki, who appears to have been snapped out of a daze of his own, quickly nods and just as quickly flings his hands into motion.

[Before we begin, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to meet me here, today. I eagerly look forward to learning much from you both, and I hope that this lesson will be productive, insightful, and unoster- unosten- un- unostentatious.]

As if getting that last word out had just made him the richest man in Japan, a beam of pride suddenly shoots through Hideaki. The ends of his lips curl up in what might be, dare I say, a smile on his face—and for good reason! I mean, that introduction was impressive~! I don’t think I even know what that last word means, let alone how to sign it.

Oh, but it looks like Shicchan knows both, and judging by how rapidly her legs are bouncing up and down, I can only imagine that whatever Hideaki said must have really, really impressed her~!

[Okay, Mister Hotshot. Let’s take a quick walk.]

Uh… What?

True to her word, Shicchan is already halfway out the door before she’s even finished signing, leaving Hideaki without a trace of his newfound confidence visible in his expression, and leaving me without a lick of a clue as to where Shicchan is going with this, much less where she’s going, physically speaking.

After a few moments of Hideaki and I awkwardly staring at each other, our legs unfreeze simultaneously and we give chase.

As we charge into the hallway at a speed that, had Shicchan been watching, would have resulted in me footing the entire bill of our planned trip to the Shanghai, my thoughts are stuck replaying what just happened in the student council room.

At first I thought I was called to help with the lesson by translating for Hideaki, but with my lips figuratively zipped, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Did Shicchan just bring me here because she really wants to win that sundae? Or was I backup in case Hideaki literally couldn’t sign at all?

Well, it’s clearly not the latter of those two options~!

When Mr. Hakamichi asked Shicchan to help Hideaki with his signing a couple weeks back, I didn’t think he’d have picked it up this fast~! Anybody would think that he’s been learning for months. Well, anybody except for Shicchan, apparently.

I guess it takes a lot more to impress Shicchan than it does me.

Come to think of it, I wonder if he has been teaching himself for months, but has avoided facing Shicchan until he felt that he could match her in conversation. After all, that’s what Hicchan did when he learned how to sign.

Is Shicchan really that intimidating to talk to? Maybe it’s just a boy thing.

After finally closing the distance between us and Shicchan, Hideaki and I flank her from each side and treat her to our best ‘what the heck is going on?’ stares. Shicchan, probably anticipating our confusion, inaudibly chuckles and moves to sign—though her hand motions seem noticeably slower than normal.

[Clearly, our tutee here has already demonstrated a high level of proficiency when signing in a controlled environment. Logically, the next step for him to take is to sign in an uncontrolled environment. In other words, we’re going to teach him some practical skills—like signing while walking, for example.]

Oh, so that’s why we’re going on this walk~! That still doesn’t answer where we are going, though.

Not missing a beat, Shicchan elaborates.

[The student council still has a few tasks here and there that must be taken care of today, so we’ll be making a few stops around the building. I hope that neither of you mind.]

That doesn’t really answer my question, but it does raise suspicions about how Hideaki factors into all this. Is he even still Shicchan’s student, or has he been chosen to be today’s student council errand boy?

We reach our first stop, which happens to be the mailroom, in no time at all. Shicchan gracefully opens the door and trots inside before abruptly slamming the door behind her. Had she looked back while doing so, she would have seen Hideaki, who had been trying to follow her into the room, nearly jumping out of his stockings at the startling sound of the door being slammed just centimeters in front of him.

It’s either that, or Hideaki merely leapt backwards to protect his fingers from getting caught and crushed between the door and the doorframe. I’d have leapt further back if that were the case. Between the numerous stacks of paper she lifts and all the arm-wrestling matches that I’ve lost, I know that Shicchan’s arms—seemingly imbued with the strength and authority of a thousand previous student councils—can seriously pack a mean punch. I wouldn’t want my fingers on the line if she were the one slamming a door on them.

Shicchan emerges from the mail room with a stack of books so tall that her face is blocked from view when Hideaki tries to look up at her. Amazingly, she can apparently still sense his location, and walks right up to him. More amazingly, she maneuvers her grip on the books so that she can simultaneously hold on to the stack while signing.

[You think you can hold these for me?]

Without waiting for an answer, she unloads the entire stack of books onto Hideaki, who clumsily catches them—his knees nearly buckling in the process.

Oh dear... Errand boy it is, I guess.

Shicchan then walks around the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ before her so that she can make eye contact with Hideaki.

[Thanks. It’s not too heavy, is it?]

Shicchan~! Now you’re just being cruel to your poor brother. Is this even a lesson anymore?

Apparently sensing my glare, Shicchan raises her hands as a gesture of innocence.

[Hey now, don’t look at me like that. I haven’t forgotten that this is a lesson. I’m just having him practice signing while holding objects at the same time.]

Don’t you think that might be a bit of a leap in difficulty for him, Shicchan?

[The difficulty is irrelevant. It’s a practical skill that he will have to learn.]

Goodness… Are my questioning expressions that easy to interpret? It’s either that or the previous one-thousand student councils also imbued her with mind-reading powers.

Actually, it would explain quite a few things if that were true.

[If he expected to come here and have me regurgitate the alphabet to him fifty times over, he should have asked for a lecture instead of a lesson. Now, if I can sign while holding those books, so can he.]

We both turn our heads to look at Hideaki—me with sympathy, and Shicchan with assertiveness.

[So, I’ll ask again: it’s not too heavy, is it?]

Hideaki, who has been silently crumbling under the weight of Shicchan’s luggage, also begins to squirm under the weight of his newly garnered attention. As the tower of books tilts and sways with the unpredictability of the waves, Hideaki moves along with it to try and keep himself positioned directly under the stack, lest it come crashing down on him. All the while, he hurriedly tries to free up his hands by switching his grip on the books, much like how Shicchan had just done it, but while Shicchan made the process look effortless, Hideaki… looks like he’s been thrust barefoot into a field of hot coals.

While his upper body remains fairly still and balanced, his legs and feet would appear to be playing a seriously ticked off game of whack-a-mole. Each time the books sway in a new direction, Hideaki excessively takes around ten steps in that direction to rebalance the stack—probably triggering a minor earthquake somewhere on the opposite side of the planet. I guess foot-tapping, leg-bouncing, and other repetitive lower body movements are a nervous habit that runs in the Hakamichi family.

After staring at the soon-to-be trainwreck long enough for second-hand embarrassment to kick in, I pry my eyes away from Hideaki and briefly allow them to wander elsewhere.

The hallways are devoid of students, and the birds—which usually perch on tree branches outside the windows, or if they’re feeling especially brave, the windowsills themself—are also nowhere to be seen. It’s no surprise that they’re gone; the students don’t come when it’s a weekend, and the birds don’t come when there isn’t a show—the ‘show,’ in this case, being the students.

I can’t prove it, and science—or Mutou—would probably laugh in my face, but I have always been suspicious that birds revel in watching the unexpected, the crazy, and the embarrassing that humanity is capable of producing, and what better place to find that sort of entertainment than a disabled school?

Hideaki should be thankful that nothing is around to watch his struggle. Even the ever-watchful eye of the sun is completely obscured behind the rainclouds that slowly approach from kilometers away. I suppose it would be somewhat inaccurate to say that nothing is watching him. After all, the two of us are still here.

Shicchan, for one, appears to have no qualms with sitting back and enjoying the free entertainment—seemingly no longer interested in getting a response to her question. I, on the other hand, narrowly stave off a bout of uncontrolled laughter by biting my tongue and clenching my fists—probably digging trenches into the palms of my hands in the process.

I should trim my fingernails. I must look like a witch with fingernails as long as mine~!

No, no, no~!, I need to stop thinking silly thoughts like that or I’m going to start laughing, and I don’t think I can dig into my palms any longer unless I want my nails painted red.

As Hideaki continues to put every tap dancer within a thousand kilometers to shame with his one-of-a-kind performance—a tribute for all in the high heavens to see—it would seem that some sort of librarian deity smiles upon him, as he very suddenly finds a steady grip on the books.

Keen on not letting this opportunity go down the gutter, Hideaki clears his throat—a fruitless gesture given the person that he’s talking to—and begins to raise his newly freed hands.

This is it. Showtime.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Shicchan leaning in toward her future prey, no doubt ready to pounce at the first sight of what she defines as ‘weakness’—or perhaps, what she defines as ‘illiteracy.’

Here it comes…



Hideaki’s right hand twitches.

Not a split second later, the book on the top of the stack begins to slide. Hideaki’s signature ‘overslept raincloud’ eyes suddenly shoot open, revealing-

Wait. Hideaki has blue eyes~?! I never noticed before…

With his composure gone, Hideaki makes yet another spontaneous offering to the librarian deities, but even all the divine blessings in the world can’t stop his grip on the books from hopelessly relapsing further and further.

Realizing that the mission is a lost cause, Hideaki limply hangs his head—partly out of exhaustion and partly to avoid Shicchan’s shaming glare—and tentatively nods his head.

The books are clearly too heavy for him, Shicchan… Shouldn’t we try something else? Something a little easier?

Shicchan exasperatedly rolls back her eyes and cranes her neck up toward the ceiling before taking a deep breath—her lungs expanding so far that it makes her blouse look a size too small. Out of pure instinct, I raise my hands up in front of me, as this is usually the aura that Shicchan gives off right before transitioning into ‘rant mode,’ but before I have the chance to sign anything—and inadvertently lose Shicchan’s challenge by doing so—she merely barks out one word directed toward Hideaki.

[Butterfingers.]

I… don't think Hideaki understood that.

It even takes me a good few seconds to decipher the meaning of that exceptionally obscure sign, and in that time, Shicchan steps forward and takes about a third of the books off the top of Hideaki’s stack. Picking up on Shicchan’s intentions, I follow suit and claim another third for myself. Once again, Shicchan maneuvers her grip on the books, making sure that Hideaki can see just how easy it is for her to do so, freeing her hands enough to start signing.

[Hideaki, you probably wouldn’t make a good librarian…]

After a few seconds of staring, the corners of her lips perk up into a grin.

[But that does give me an idea. Follow me—we’re going to try something else.]

Shicchan gracefully spins around on her tippy-toes before waltzing off down the hallway. She can be really girly sometimes, but pointing that out to her always makes her grumpy. Last year, Lilly called Shicchan cute as a passing remark. In response, Shicchan nearly flipped a desk. Maybe that’s the beginning of what drove a wedge between those two…
Last edited by Chatty Wheeler on Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:54 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Chatty Wheeler
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The Learned Fool (Part 2)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am

After a short walk—made even shorter by Shicchan apparently attempting to set the new ‘100-meter power walk’ record—the three of us find ourselves at the entrance to the library. As we walk through the door frame in a single file, Shicchan takes a deep breath, I let out a deep exhale, and Hideaki would appear to be unconsciously holding his breath. He’s kind of cute when he puffs his cheeks out like that—it reminds me of his big sister.

Save for Hanako silently reading in the corner—probably sunk as deep into her book as she is into her beanbag—the library is completely deserted. Besides the usual in-and-out stops that Shicchan and I make here for student council work, I rarely come here, so maybe it’s always like this on weekends. Figuring that it’s about time I stop and smell the roses while I have this chance, I look around and instantly notice all of our student council posters hung up on the walls and bulletin boards—conflicting feelings of the past simultaneously warm my hands and dig under my fingernails.

One would think that it’d be pretty hard for me to miss the posters, considering that they’re everywhere, but also because most of them have little faces of me and the rest of the student council drawn on them. If I ever wanted to test out my inner-archeologist, I could probably use my various hairstyles to chronologically date each poster. I mean, some of them even have my old brown hair~! Some of them even have Lilly in them~! Some of them… were clearly drawn by me. Shicchan may value my handwriting almost as much as her own—which I take as a major compliment—but I’m no artist. My poster drawings kind of stick out like a sore thumb.

Now that I have the two siblings reunited in front of me, I can’t help but think that anyone could mistake the little Shicchan faces as little Hideaki faces. My drawings especially blur the line between their faces. If I squinted my eyes and someone dimmed the lights, I might not be able to tell them apart.

With Shicchan in the lead, we make a beeline toward the front desk. On the way there, two of us hear a harsh thud coming from one corner of the library. Not a second later, Yuuko’s head pops up over a bookshelf—probably noticing the three bobbing heads entering the library—and gives us a wave before moseying over to her position behind the front desk.

She looks… uncharacteristically relaxed. A drop of sunshine must have fallen into her coffee this morning.

[Good afternoon, Shizune. It's a pleasant surprise to meet you, today. Would those books happen to be the new orders?]

Yuuko’s signing is still somewhat crude, with motions much less expressive and coherent than those of one already fluent in the language, but Shicchan seems to have no trouble understanding each word.

[That they would be. Hot off the press… Well, hot off the mailroom in this case.]

Shicchan steps forward and lifts her share of the books up onto Yuuko’s desk—poorly masking a grunt as she sets the stack down. At that, Yuuko lets out a grandmotherly chuckle—though she probably wouldn’t like me describing her with that word—and begins to sign once again.

[That looks like quite the heavy load for just one person! It’s a good thing that you brought two more this time.]

Yuuko shifts her attention toward me.

[How do you do, Misha? You’re being rather quiet. Most days, I know you’re coming before you’re halfway down the hall.]

As I heave my stack of books up onto Yuuko’s desk, which suddenly seems very tall, I take a sharp breath—unintentionally causing Yuuko’s eyes to widen in horror.

“O-oh! N-n-no! I meant no offense! Please just forget that I said that…”

I have to stifle a laugh at Yuuko’s misinterpretation. It looks like the sunshine has worn off; I’d better not do anything to unnerve her any further.

I firmly shake my head to reassure Yuuko that she’s done nothing wrong, then I run a finger along my lips from left to right to explain my situation. Yuuko seems to regain her composure—enough for her to resume her signing.

[Oh… So you don’t feel like talking today, Misha?]

Hideaki, who had been silently watching the entire exchange, puts his stack of the books up on the desk—giving Yuuko a closer look at him.

[And who might this young lady that you’ve brought with you be?]

Yikes~! The second-hand embarrassment is back! Or in this case, first-hand embarrassment, since I recall making the same mistake when I first saw Hideaki...

At the very least, Hideaki doesn’t seem to react at all toward Yuuko’s error—he must be numb to getting mistaken for a girl, I suppose. Shicchan, on the other hand, violently, silently snickers—causing Yuuko to retreat further and further behind her desk.

[Did… Did I say something wrong?]

Shicchan stretches her fingers, cracking them one by one before wringing out her hands like one would do to clean a sandy beach towel.

[Please forgive me for the confusion, Yuuko. Allow me to explain the situation. The longer-haired version of me over there is my younger brother, Hideaki. He’s here to-]

“I-I’m so sorry for assuming such a thing! I can not begin to tell you how embarrassed I feel or how sorry I am for the mistake that…”

As Yuuko continues going in circles, eventually trailing off completely, Hideaki chimes in for what must be the first time today.

“Umm… No need to apologize, ma’am. In fact, I don’t even know what you’re apologizing for-“

Before either of them can say any more, Shicchan—probably miffed at being left out of their conversation—steps between both of them and picks up from where she left off.

[Hideaki is visiting for the day to learn some signing. We’ve been walking around the school—teaching Hideaki practical skills as we go. I’ve asked Misha to refrain from performing any form of translation so that Hideaki can’t cheat while I’m tutoring him.]

Shicchan shoots a sly wink at Hideaki, who merely nods in response. Yuuko claps her hands together, a renewed sense of youth in her eyes, and begins to sign in slow, sweeping strokes.

[Oh, you’re a fellow student of sign! How wonderful. I’ve been teaching myself how to sign for the past couple of months when my hands aren’t full… Oh! No pun intended.]

Yuuko awkwardly chuckles, clearly proud of her spontaneous wordplay, and carries on.

If only you knew how relevant that pun was five minutes ago, Yuuko~!

[Would you like to do some practice with me? It might be easier with another novice—practicing with your older sister can be a little too… intense for me at times.]

Hideaki nods, earning him an aggressive flick on the shoulder from Shicchan.

[Great, great! Well, let’s see… What to talk about…]

Yuuko’s eyes dart around the library, looking for something to inspire some light conversation. After a few seconds of searching, she ends up landing on the obvious.

[Oh! Do you like to read?]

Hideaki nods.

[I’m happy to hear that. You see, I’m the librarian at Yamaku! Ah- wait, you probably already figured that part out.]

Hideaki nods.

[Right, right. Sorry, sorry… Anyway, this is a rather special library, supporting various reading formats, but we carry all the usual types and genres of books that you’d find at any other library! So, what do you like reading, Hideaki? Maybe we can find a book for you to read…]

Hideaki pauses, tilts his head slightly downward, and nods once more. Shicchan raises an eyebrow, while Yuuko desperately tries to follow his gaze.

[Are… Are you trying to point to a book that you want with your eyes? You can try signing it to me if you want. You don’t have to be shy about it. I promise I’m not going to judge you if you have trouble! Try… Try to sign something.]

Hideaki takes a deep breath…

…And merely nods again. Yuuko’s face is ghost white by now—perplexed and embarrassed.

Shicchan, whose foot-tapping had been ramping up in tempo for the past minute, finally snaps—literally—before marching right in front of Hideaki. She stops at a close enough distance to hug him if she wanted to, but judging from the blazing look in her eye, I think the word ‘tackle’ would be more appropriate than ‘hug.’

[She’s not signing a different language, Hideaki. She’s signing J-A-P-A-N-E-S-E, so please give actual responses when she asks questions. You don’t get to just nod your way through this conversation. Understand?]

Hideaki… just nods.

Shicchan takes a step back, completely appalled by Hideaki’s blatant insubordination—she seems almost personally offended… But then…

Her eyes shoot open…

…And a conspiring smile slowly manifests on her face. It’s the kind of smile one would see on a creepy old doll in the back corner of an antiques shop.

Shicchan takes a few more measured steps backward and begins to sign, but she does so with no speed or style—like a robot with its batteries almost depleted. Instead, she seems to be trying to make herself as clear as she can to Hideaki.

[I think I need a little… break. Let’s head back to the student council room, shall we?]

She then turns to Yuuko, and bows slightly.

[Thank you for your time and assistance, Yuuko. I promise I’ll be back to explain everything soon. Everything.]

Yuuko awkwardly returns Shicchan’s bow and attempts to sign—though her scattered motions are further masked by her trembling fingers.

[Oh, I’m glad that I could… be of… service. Take care, girls.] She nervously looks at Hideaki before adding, [It was nice to meet you, Hideaki.]

Seemingly satisfied, Shicchan finally looks at me and winks.

What is happening, Shicchan? What exactly are you planning?

We walk back to the student council room in silence. Well, silence in this case just means the absence of any signing, since conversations with Shicchan are always silent regardless. Our trip back mirrors our trip there: Shicchan leads the way with Hideaki and I in tow. Shicchan doesn’t look back, so I can’t read her expression, but I can sense a rising giddiness within her with every step she takes.

Between the brief, puzzled glances that Hideaki and I exchange as we walk down the hallway, my eyes are once again drawn to the windows. The rainclouds are still there, so I make a mental note to grab an umbrella before Shicchan and I head out for the Shanghai, but unlike before, the sun has poked its way through some of the clouds—allowing a pocket of unsullied light to escape through the confused greyness of the clouds.

The ray of sunlight washes over the trees outside of the window like a blanket, invading the veins of each leaf like a virus, making each tree twinkle as the leaves and branches sway and shiver with the wind—constantly meeting, bumping into, and parting with other leaves and branches.

A violent gust of wind forces the leaves apart for just long enough for me to spot birds perched on the branches—the ones absent from earlier. They’ve perched farther in on the stiffer parts of the branches, probably to avoid being tossed around on the outer, flimsier parts of each branch that are currently being jostled by the wind, but they are still ever eager to watch us from the other side of the windows.

I want to shoo them off; I want to tell them that it’s a weekend, that there is no show today, but given the bother it must have been to come here on a windy day like this, something must have brought them.

What do they expect to see?

In a short time, we’re back in the student council room. It feels cold in here. My legs instinctively take me back to my desk while Shizune practically leaps over to her own. Hideaki doesn’t sit down; he just stands in a way that makes it look as though he’s about to testify in front of a court—which probably isn’t far from the truth, on second thought.

He’s clearly nervous: his toes are popping in and out of the holes at the front of his shoes; his right hand awkwardly runs through his hair while his left hand rubs his chin; and his eyes bounce between me, Shicchan, and the ground like a ping pong ball.

Shicchan doesn’t seem keen on releasing her grip on the tension any time soon—leisurely taking time to remove her glasses and clean them until they are long past the point of absolute spotlessness. Without the thick shield of Shicchan’s glasses to cover her face, I am given a rare look at her sapphire blue eyes.

They look just like Hideaki’s eyes.

After Shicchan is sure that her glasses are clean, she slowly presses them back through her hair until the bridge fits snuggly on her nose.

Shicchan looks up at Hideaki, staring at him for a long, long time…

It sure feels like a long time, but maybe it’s only been a few seconds…

Then she turns to me before raising her hands.

[You realize that he’s been bluffing this whole time, right?]

She signs it so fast that she’s already finished signing by the time I start to translate her motions into words, but before I can get far, she begins to sign in a frenzy once more. It’s as if she’s trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle made of hot embers.

[He just memorized a flashy greeting to try and butter us up with a good first impression, but didn’t bother to learn any of the rest.]

After my brain finally catches up with my eyes—both of which are probably spinning—I’m left in total shock.

That’s such a… bold claim, Shicchan. Don’t you think that’s being a little harsh on him?

Not missing a beat, Shicchan presses on—eager to peel back each layer of her poor, unassuming brother.

[You want proof? Fair enough.]

She quickly shifts to gaze toward Hideaki.

[Watch this: if I look at him and sign fast enough, he just gets confused and resorts to nodding along. He’s about to nod right now. Watch.]

As if right on cue, Hideaki nods.

Shicchan… You’re… You’re right~!

Not only did Hideaki nod along like she said he would, but he hasn’t reacted in the slightest to Shicchan’s rather revealing accusations! In fact, he’s been nodding along and not reacting to things all afternoon!

Sensing that she has me sufficiently convinced, Shicchan looks at me and signs.

[I had suspected right away that his wordy introduction was memorized, but I didn’t expect that he would know nothing.]

I can’t even let out a nervous laugh right now. I just feel cold all the way down to the bone. Maybe Shicchan could share some of her thermal energy with me—she looks like she could burst into flames at any second from pure excitement. I don’t really know what she’s so excited about, though. It would seem that we’ll just have to call it a day. After all, Hideaki isn’t really ready for this kind of tutoring, is he? Maybe he can come back next week-

[Let’s have some fun, shall we?]

Fun? What are you talking about, Shicchan?

She quickly looks back over to Hideaki.

What’s going on-

[Have you been bluffing this entire time, Hideaki?]

Hideaki obliviously nods.

Yes, Shicchan. We get it. You don’t need to manipulate him like that to prove it.

[I see. Do you want to join the student council?]

Hideaki nods again.

Wait… Oh no, I can see where this is going... Is this what you had planned all along?!

[Fantastic. I’ve also been wondering, do you have a crush on Misha?]

Hideaki nods, causing Shicchan to let out a light, breathy snicker—breaking the perfect poker face that she had kept up until then.

That one was too cruel, Shicchan.

But also… This is actually kind of funny. I almost feel like laughing-



Oh no…

[So, you really were screaming at the top of your lungs on that roller coaster and it wasn’t ‘just a big yawn?’]

Hideaki nods.

I mustn’t laugh. I mustn’t let her win.

[Are you saying that you want me to tell Akira that you like picking out clothes with her on your little shopping trips?]

Hideaki nods.

I’m holding back. I’m holding back.

[Does this mean that that whole thing with Mrs. Satou and the ‘reach around’ wasn’t an accident?]

Hideaki nods.

I mustn’t laugh. I mustn’t laugh. I mustn’t-

[So, you’re saying that you did have a crush on Lilly before you realized we were cousins, and that’s why you always tried to sit next to her when we had family gatherings?]



Dang. Looks like I owe Shicchan a sundae. At least the sun’s out.



THE END

———————————————

Author’s Notes:

After months of lurking, followed by more months of merely commenting on the works of others, I am glad to be throwing my hat in the ring with the first story of my own! It took an embarrassingly long time to write this story—about a month and a half to complete the first draft, and an additional two months to complete the final draft. What was originally envisioned to be a five hundred word story slowly transformed into the five thousand word story that you see today.

I’d like to take a quick minute to thank the folks who have collaborated with me and supported me throughout the entire process of writing this story.

Of course, I must first thank BristerXD, who has been consistently cheering me on in DMs from the earliest days of writing this story. He’s had countless indirect influences on how I write and how I think about the art of writing. But beyond that, he was also directly involved with the writing of this story in a few tricky spots. Sometimes I wish that I had half the creative skill that he does, but he’s been more than willing to share his writing secrets with me so far, so maybe I’ll catch up with him someday! BristerXD, I couldn’t have done it without you, bud. Thanks a million.

Next, I need to thank my man, Xeraeo. As the first person to encourage me to stick around on these forums and continue spending time commenting on other works—he basically jump-started everything that I’ve been doing here since I joined the forums in August. His stories and writing have consistently been an inspiration, and his contributions—whether it be comments or proofreads—to the Katawa Shoujo community are admirable to say the least. Many thanks go out to Xeraeo for his thoroughly insightful and detailed proofreading of this story, and for being a pal.

If you are interested in the development history of this story, read on! Otherwise, thank you so much for reading my story. Please take care!

——————————

Development History:

The premise of this story—Hideaki continuing his learning of sign language—came to me while reading Shizune’s route. I thought that the side plot of Hideaki learning sign language from Hisao was interesting, and I was disappointed to see it dropped after only a couple of scenes. I suppose that one could say that this story is a snippet of how I would have continued that side plot.

In the initial outline of this story, the only two characters to be featured were Shizune and Hideaki, but I ran into a problem early on: the story didn’t have much tension. In response to this dilemma, I added Misha and her “challenge” into the story to give it some much-needed tension.

Misha ended up becoming far more vital to the story than I anticipated. At first, she was largely going to take a backseat to Shizune and Hideaki’s antics, but—in addition to her being a lot of fun to write—I found a very important use for her: she controls the flow at which information is revealed to the reader.

If this story took place from Hideaki’s perspective, like I had originally envisioned, the twist ending that he’d been bluffing the whole time wouldn’t work because… he already knows that he’s been bluffing from the very beginning. Having such a disconnect between the reader and Hideaki wouldn’t have worked in the slightest.

If the story took place from Shizune’s perspective, this story really would have only lasted five hundred words. Shizune suspects the twist ending from the very beginning, and having her think this to herself would spoil the twist for the reader. The reader would also figure out right away that Shicchan is just toying with Hideaki throughout the majority of the story—making those bits far less effective.

If the reader knows all the information, there is no twist, and the story doesn’t work. To remedy this problem, I introduced a clueless third party into the plot: Misha. Misha is basically left out of the loop for the entire story, so by having her narrate it, the reader can learn information at the same, evenly spread pace that Misha does. At the very least, if I’ve done a competent job at writing this story, the reader should be making discoveries at the same pace as Misha.

The library scene was originally going to be longer, with Hanako making a larger appearance, but with the story already stretching far longer than I had ever anticipated, I trimmed the fat and left in only the good bits. Sadly, as much as I tried to make Hanako necessary to the plot in some way, I couldn’t, so she had to be reduced to a small cameo. Besides that one bit, I basically took the rest of my ideas and incorporated them into the talk with Yuuko.

Writing this story has given me a heightened appreciation for Shizune—she’s a lot of fun to write! The calculated yet playful way that she acts opens the door to all sorts of strange, interesting ways that she can interact with other characters.

I was initially nervous to make Misha the narrator to my story, given how eccentric and unique she is compared to the rest of the cast, but I actually found her to be quite endearing to write at the end of it all. I tried to challenge myself by writing what I thought that Misha was thinking behind all the smiles and laughs—a task made easier by the fact that she does nothing but think for almost the entirety of this story.

I’ve always had a difficult time understanding Hideaki. His love-hate relationship with his sister, his apathetic personality being at complete odds with his grand ambitions, and the strange way he dresses made Hideaki into a sort of enigma throughout my first read of Katawa Shoujo. For this story, I eventually landed on Hideaki being a good-natured, stubborn, and prideful individual whose pride didn’t allow anyone to get the better of him—not even his sister. As we all know, that stubbornness came back to bite him in the end.

If you’ve read this far, you have my sincerest gratitude. I hope that you found my ramblings to be interesting. I hope that you have a lovely day. Take care!
Last edited by Chatty Wheeler on Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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brythain
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Re: Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:42 am

Very amusing, enjoyable Hideaki story. Breezy and light!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

MexicanPsychopath
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Re: Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

Post by MexicanPsychopath » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:02 pm

Congratulations on your first creative post Wheeler! After you told me on the MS discord that you were working on a creative piece to post on the forums, I was checking the Renai each day to see if it was finished. Having read it, I can definitely say I was not disappointed! I hope to see more from you soon!

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BristerXD
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Re: Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

Post by BristerXD » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm

Well Mr. Gossiping Tire Guy, you finally did it. You joined the big boy club and have posted your own original work, welcome to the land of crippling self-standards and low audience numbers. Hope it was worth your soul.

In all seriousness though, good job man. I know for a fact it was a lot of work for you and I’m happy to finally see it done. Before any more sarcasm can slip through the cracks, because I’m of course doing this in my preferred state of sleep deprivation intoxication, I want to say good job. This story functions and even more so, is even clever in parts. The idea feels fresh in the space, it made me laugh, and had a spectacular payoff. I really do like it and I can’t wait for you to do more stories like it.

I get that out of the way now because now I have to do my thing. Pick apart a person’s writing style and structure in the hopes of illuminating them to things they might have missed or not realized. Or at the very least make them ask questions about their own writing. And in that process, I can come off as rather negative and possibly psychopathic, unable to enjoy art at all in a pursuit of unattainable perfection that is really just a personal construct that has no actual base to stand on. That may be 27.8% true but that last thing I want to come off as is discouraging. So, remember that through all I say, I still think this piece overall, is very good. With my conscience cleared, onto the abuse. I’ll just be doing this section by section because organization is for academics and there are too many actually learned people around here to compete with. Better to stay in the mud.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[Wait a second, Shicchan~! ‘No noise’ means that I can’t speak or sign?]

[Yes. No noise means no signing.]

[Oh~… I guess that means I’ve already lost by having to ask, huh?]

“Wahaha~!”
Alright, the first stumble is on the first hurdle XD. Just a small note here that will pay to keep in mind later I feel, know the spacing of your punchline. Brevity is the soul of wit as one old England word cuck would say. The closer you can make your setup and punchline, the better your joke will work. This is obviously the set up to the two-part kicker of Shizune grimacing and including no laughing. There is no reason for “Oh…” and “Wahaha” to not be just in the same sentence. It might feel weird to put sign dialogue and spoken dialogue in the same sentence but it’s certainly possible. If you think that simply looks odd, you would just describe Misha laughing, we already know it’s her from the use of Shicchan. Wahaha is not the primary identifier if that’s what you’re worried about. If anything, a longer sentence that requires the reader to focus more on a complex image would be a greater set up to the stark stop of just Shizune’s annoyed face. Better than two short sentences that have no flow. And just so you know, I’m only making this big a deal of it because it’s literally your opener. It’s a strong one in concept. Make it stronger in practice later.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[But once we do start, S-I-L-E-N-C-E.]
I'm pretty sure JSL doesn't have the fingerspelling this sentence kinda implies in its imagery. I mean you could easily read it as her just making the sign slowly but I feel like Shizune is more bold in the points she tries to make if you catch my drift. Along with that there's the sentence underneath that-What...No one cares...this is super nitpicky...just move on to a point that matter...whatever you say voice in my head that also tells me to send anthrax in a mail.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[We were going to start when he arrived, but in forty seconds, he’s going to be late.]
Simple tense mistake I only point out because you italicized the very word that would make it present tense which really ups the embarrassment factor which is why I choose to draw attention to it. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Done now, moving on.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
he takes off his oversized coat and places it on one of the desks, revealing his… jarring, but routine, style of clothing. Even without his coat, he’s still probably too warm—if there’s one thing Shicchan abuses more than her power, it’s the heater in the student council room.
Two things. One, I don't know how I feel about the first thing with the jarring but routine clothing part. I get the joke is two opposite adjectives able to be used on the same thing but something about it, maybe the emphasis, makes it sound like something un-Misha-like. She should be well accustomed to it at this point and that whole ... feels more judging than I think she would be. But that is certainly up for debate in the free hills of character interpretation. What feels more solid of a case is the second part with the abusing power line. I don't think even the most salient version of Misha would make a comment like this. I believe at least she buys into Shizune and her vision and her problems with Shizune running the council go more along with her trying to do so much and demanding more of people than people reasonable want to do. Not making sweeping power grabs. Again, this is naturally up for debate, but it is certainly a thing that stuck in my craw.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
That was pretty clever, Shicchan. You thought I was going to fall for that and lose the challenge right out of the gate, didn’t you~? It almost makes me want to congratulate you on your ingenuity, but while this challenge is still on, that’s not happening.
This is section is well written and has no logical hiccups as far as my eyes can see. So why highlight it? This feels very Misha... to a fault. It feels like the way she expressly speaks which of course you might think you're striving for given you're writing her perspective but the problem here is contrast. This is, as Rin would say, Misha at her most Misha-y. Great right? Not in the context of a larger piece that's mostly inner monologue, a piece that has the reader not only relying on her to dispense her thoughts but also the substance of the scene. There needs to be a balance between characterization and prose. However here and in other parts of the piece I'll point out, it seems you're trying to just split the difference, keeping most of the prose in a state while having bright flashes of Misha's personality come up seemingly at random. It feels awkward, like suddenly I'm going from classroom lecture to broadway opening number. It not as extreme as that here but it feels that way just from whiplash. It makes me as a reader ask "why the hell isn't the story written like this?" I wouldn't want it to be because that'd be hell but I'm still asking that question.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
It worked?! Alright~! Life is kinda cool sometimes…
Especially when you have parts like these that do feel like they fit the character and don't immediately draw comparison to the rest of the writing.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Shicchan then walks around the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ before her so that she can make eye contact with Hideaki.


There's... not really a joke here. There feels like it should but instead we have a sentence that just interrupts itself to say a proper noun that resembles the image in the reader's head, ruining the flow. ."-walks around her own learning tower of Hideki before-" This is how I would write that sentence. You could say the joke is dumber, I certainly fucking agree, but it feels more in character for silly name-giver-outer Misha and it doesn't have two of " that act like brake pads for the reader's eyeballs
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Goodness… Are my questioning expressions that easy to interpret? It’s either that or the previous one-thousand student councils also imbued her with mind-reading powers.

Actually, it would explain quite a few things if that were true.


Nothing to add here, I just like how this has been building up since the beginning and was paid off here. Made me do the large exhale through nose.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
As the tower of books tilts and sways with the unpredictability of the waves, Hideaki moves along with it to try and keep himself positioned directly under the wave, lest it come crashing down on him.
The main thing here is the double use of the word wave. You have the first time being plural, describing what Hideaki is actively dealing with, the wobbles of the book stack. However, right afterwards you use the same in the singular form which is just odd-sounding and repetitive. Bad flow. Unreadable.Illegible. Eye-souring. Pupil-bursting. Other words to drive the exaggerated point home.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Wait. Hideaki has blue eyes~?! I never noticed before…
...wait what? The in-game sprite of Hideaki has big a fuck eyes. Was that an actual detail that I just missed or forgot about? Either way, still a weird line considering the shared history. I don't buy it either way.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
He’s kind of cute when he puffs his cheeks out like that—it reminds me of his big sister.
Okay, thing I'm noticing in your writing. It's very dink and dunk to borrow a football term. In sport that means short passes and quick plays. Here it's short sentences that, when not short in total length, break themselves up with interrupting thoughts through your use of hyphens. It's one I'm not used to so I won't comment much on it now until I see more of your work but in this instance I would this is where your style could falter. In a paragraph that already has you using this technique once and twice more in the paragraph right after, a period would just be fine here. It's a thought that is best emphasized with a clear break. A hyphen is usually good for that but the way you have constantly used it here has taught me as a reader to read in an almost staccato flow, to have it signal when I'm going to be rushing into another, vaguely unrelated thought. However the thoughts here are clearly related, they build to one another in fact. Breaking it with a hyphen does nothing for you while a period would be more impactful. It's a small moment here but could certainly hamper other emotional moments in the future.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
One would think that it’d be pretty hard for me to miss the posters, considering that they’re everywhere, but also because most of them have little faces of me and the rest of the student council drawn on them. If I ever wanted to test out my inner-archeologist, I could probably use my various hairstyles to chronologically date each poster. I mean, some of them even have my old brown hair~! Some of them even have Lilly in them~! Some of them… were clearly drawn by me. Shicchan may value my handwriting almost as much as her own—which I take as a major compliment—but I’m no artist. My poster drawings kind of stick out like a sore thumb.
And to probably make yourself and myself feel better, I really like this paragraph. The way it demonstrates the effect of Shizune running everyone out of the student council, the way Misha doesn't spend the time to mourn the loss of her friends but instead chides herself for not being better for Shizune. Probably not intentional but the best writing rarely is.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
She looks… uncharacteristically relaxed. A drop of sunshine must have fallen into her coffee this morning.
...
I have to stifle a laugh at Yuuko’s misinterpretation. It looks like the sunshine has worn off; I’d better not do anything to unnerve her any further.
I don't know If this italicized thought was really with the payoff. Like I don't see why this couldn't have been included in the paragraph before as normal with it trailing off. Even then it's corny which of course fits Misha's MO for sure and I'd accept it at that face value but you have then the lines soon after it all kinda... feel weak. It's unneeded, not very clever, and doesn't do much to characterize anyone I feel. Just kinda lame.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Shicchan, on the other hand, violently, silently snickers—causing Yuuko to retreat further and further behind her desk.
Very awkward sentence with the back to back rhyming and three stops in a sentence that just has 18 words. 18/3 is 6 so that means I have just realized I don't know how to pay off this setup because I have no idea how to creatively use stats but just know that it feels wrong in my brain and out my mouth.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
I want to shoo them off; I want to tell them that it’s a weekend, that there is no show today, but given the bother it must have been to come here on a windy day like this, something must have brought them.

What do they expect to see?
I... don't know what to say about this bird thing. I mean technically it was built up well and has a reasonable payoff, all without horrendously hampering the flow of the story. So in that aspect it's good but reading it out again I can't but feel like it's a little thin. There isn't much being done with it as we don't the presence of birds to tell us something is going down, the complete attitude shift of Shizune should be sign enough. I doubt the birds are gonna catch anyone up who managed to miss that. And it's not a little detail that just adds to the scene in the background as it's pointed out literally on the way to the main scene. It makes me ask the question of why it was even included to begin with. Mind you, I realize that it's mostly harmless to the piece as a whole, it's just I subscribe to the idea of making every sentence count for something more. If you can't, chuck it.

And finally... I am very impressed with the conclusion of the piece. And not just because I helped you write it XD. In case anyone cares I was basically a punch-up guy, the spectacular build-up since the beginning that I had almost forgotten about was all Chatty. I had other lines in mind that I could bring up and make a fuss about but they straddle the line between bad form and style too closely for me to make a call. I only tried to bring up points that struck me during my initial reading or could be a point of consideration later for you Chatty. But overall, I think this is a really good piece. And I can't wait to see more from you dude. I hope you feel like you've gotten a full taste of the insomnia ridden Brister experience. Hope to do this again.

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Re: Chatty's One-Off Collection (January 11th, 2021 — The Learned Fool)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:52 am

Greetings brythain, MexicanPsychopath, and BristerXD,

Thank you all for reading my story! I really appreciated seeing and reading your comments. My apologies for not saying anything for so long. I've been working away at my Secret Santa submission. Now that I have some free time on my hands, I thought that now would be a good time to make a response.

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brythain wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:42 am
Very amusing, enjoyable Hideaki story. Breezy and light!
Hearing that is a huge relief. I was intending for this story to be "breezy" and "light," so I'm glad that it worked for you in that regard. Thanks for reading!

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MexicanPsychopath wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:02 pm
Congratulations on your first creative post Wheeler! After you told me on the MS discord that you were working on a creative piece to post on the forums, I was checking the Renai each day to see if it was finished. Having read it, I can definitely say I was not disappointed! I hope to see more from you soon!
I'm flattered that you were looking forward to reading, and I'm glad that I didn't disappoint. It feels good to finally have something of my own finished. Thanks! :o

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Mr. Gossiping Tire Guy
I'll have you know that I added that to my list. I haven't forgotten. :wink:

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Welcome to the land of crippling self-standards and low audience numbers. Hope it was worth your soul.
I'm in this biz for life, baby. Couldn't be happier. 8)

——————————
BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
I get that out of the way now because now I have to do my thing. Pick apart a person’s writing style and structure in the hopes of illuminating them to things they might have missed or not realized...That may be 27.8% true but that last thing I want to come off as is discouraging...
Of course! I didn't feel discouraged at all when reading your comment. I was really thrilled that you were paying such close attention, and that you provided such detailed and revealing feedback. A lot of your critiques were things that not only ring true in this piece, but also apply to all of the other writing that I do. I've taken notes from what you wrote and will be referencing them as I write future works and analyses. So I believe a big 'thank you' is in order. Thanks, my man!

Now that I've gotten my spiel out of the way. Allow me to make some comments on some of the things you mentioned!

——————————
BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[Wait a second, Shicchan~! ‘No noise’ means that I can’t speak or sign?]

[Yes. No noise means no signing.]

[Oh~… I guess that means I’ve already lost by having to ask, huh?]

“Wahaha~!”
Alright, the first stumble is on the first hurdle XD. Just a small note here that will pay to keep in mind later I feel, know the spacing of your punchline. Brevity is the soul of wit as one old England word cuck would say. The closer you can make your setup and punchline, the better your joke will work...
Hehe, well... this wasn't actually intended to be a joke. Rather, I was trying to convey some exposition in a logical, easy-to-understand way. By having Misha sign and Shizune tell her that she's not allowed to do that, the reader learns that Misha can't sign. Misha then laughs, and Shizune tells her that she can't laugh either, teaching the reader that Misha isn't allowed to laugh either.

I will concede that the very fact that you had misinterpreted what I was going for is a failing on my part. Good writing shouldn't leave room for misinterpretation so soon after the story begins.

——————————
BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[But once we do start, S-I-L-E-N-C-E.]
I'm pretty sure JSL doesn't have the fingerspelling this sentence kinda implies in its imagery...
Fair point. It's a point that I was aware of while writing the story. I don't know anything about Japanese Sign Language, but it's highly unlikely that it works in the way that I wrote it. In this case, I opted to sacrifice logic to make it easier for an English-speaking audience to understand. I hope it didn't cause too much frustration, because I used the same trick a couple more times later in the story. :wink:

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
[We were going to start when he arrived, but in forty seconds, he’s going to be late.]
Simple tense mistake I only point out because you italicized the very word that would make it present tense which really ups the embarrassment factor which is why I choose to draw attention to it. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Done now, moving on.
Ugggggggggghhhhhhh. Fixed.

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Even without his coat, he’s still probably too warm—if there’s one thing Shicchan abuses more than her power, it’s the heater in the student council room.
What feels more solid of a case is the second part with the abusing power line. I don't think even the most salient version of Misha would make a comment like this...
I will accept and in fact retroactively agree with this criticism. I completely admit that I wrote this line because I thought it sounded neat. I sort of rationalized it in my mind at the time as Misha saying it with a degree of tongue-in-cheek. You've pointed out that this issue creeps up again at other points in this story, but I think this is where the problem is most notable. Duly noted.

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
That was pretty clever, Shicchan. You thought I was going to fall for that and lose the challenge right out of the gate, didn’t you~? It almost makes me want to congratulate you on your ingenuity, but while this challenge is still on, that’s not happening.
There needs to be a balance between characterization and prose. However here and in other parts of the piece I'll point out, it seems you're trying to just split the difference, keeping most of the prose in a state while having bright flashes of Misha's personality come up seemingly at random.
This right here is the piece of criticism that I appreciate the most out of your entire comment. Not only is it a recurring issue in this story, as you've mentioned, but it's a problem with my writing style as a whole. I will be paying careful attention to this feedback as I continue to write.

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
As the tower of books tilts and sways with the unpredictability of the waves, Hideaki moves along with it to try and keep himself positioned directly under the wave, lest it come crashing down on him.
The main thing here is the double use of the word wave. You have the first time being plural, describing what Hideaki is actively dealing with, the wobbles of the book stack. However, right afterwards you use the same in the singular form which is just odd-sounding and repetitive. Bad flow. Unreadable.Illegible. Eye-souring. Pupil-bursting. Other words to drive the exaggerated point home.
Oof. Yeah. You got me. That sentence kind of sucks. I should have changed the second "wave" to "stack," to alleviate the confusion. I might even go in and make that change when nobody is looking.

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
He’s kind of cute when he puffs his cheeks out like that—it reminds me of his big sister.
Okay, thing I'm noticing in your writing. It's very dink and dunk to borrow a football term. In sport that means short passes and quick plays. Here it's short sentences that, when not short in total length, break themselves up with interrupting thoughts through your use of hyphens.
This is another piece of criticism that I seriously appreciate and will keep in mind while writing in the future. I've said this before, but I love em-dashes and hyphens. Perhaps... I love them a little too much. I definitely understand your point about how abundantly using them creates a choppy feeling when writing. I'll watch out for this as I keep on writing in the future!

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
Shicchan, on the other hand, violently, silently snickers—causing Yuuko to retreat further and further behind her desk.
Very awkward sentence with the back to back rhyming and three stops in a sentence that just has 18 words. 18/3 is 6 so that means I have just realized I don't know how to pay off this setup because I have no idea how to creatively use stats but just know that it feels wrong in my brain and out my mouth.
Yeah... Big mistake on my part. So many choppy pauses and an inappropriately placed rhyme make that sentence a real clunker, doesn't it? :lol:

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:20 am
I want to shoo them off; I want to tell them that it’s a weekend, that there is no show today, but given the bother it must have been to come here on a windy day like this, something must have brought them.

What do they expect to see?
I... don't know what to say about this bird thing. I mean technically it was built up well and has a reasonable payoff, all without horrendously hampering the flow of the story. So in that aspect it's good but reading it out again I can't but feel like it's a little thin. There isn't much being done with it as we don't the presence of birds to tell us something is going down, the complete attitude shift of Shizune should be sign enough. I doubt the birds are gonna catch anyone up who managed to miss that... it's just I subscribe to the idea of making every sentence count for something more. If you can't, chuck it.
I'm glad you brought this up because this is something I'll need to work on while writing. I don't know if this is going to make me sound like a pretentious smarty-pants, but I sometimes get nervous about whether or not the reader will "get" all of the stuff that I'm writing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that everyone that I know on these forums is smarter than me, and that they can handle context clues without me needing to add extra symbolism to explain what's about to happen. As I continue to write, I imagine that I'll get better at gauging how the reader takes in information, and hopefully this kind of problem won't arise again. Thanks!

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BristerXD wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:13 pm
And finally... I am very impressed with the conclusion of the piece...

And I can't wait to see more from you dude. I hope you feel like you've gotten a full taste of the insomnia ridden Brister experience. Hope to do this again.
I am so relieved to hear that the ending worked for you. If nothing else, I wanted the reader to enjoy the payoff of that ending.

The insomnia-ridden Brister experience was pretty sweet, I'll tell ya. I hope to do this again, as well. :D

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Thanks for reading, folks! Take care, everyone.

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