Yamaku Book Club (20200224 This Padded Cell…)

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:50 am

ProfAllister wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:25 pm
Okay, apparently, she just confessed her love for Nurse.
Okay, that adds another layer of unbelievability that I didn't get...
When reading the story I took the "she" that confessed to nurse to mean Meiko, because she had been mentioned in the previous sentence. Knowing how the story continues makes that sentence not make much sense, but at first reading I still think it's a bit ambiguous.

Apart from that I agree with QS. Any five year old can clobber together a story full of surprises - heck, I'm sure I could cram twice as many unforeseeable plot twists in the same a mount of words if I had a mind to do so - I'd start with the "secret half-brother" Emi questions the existence of and have him be Mutou. There! Didn't see that one coming, did you?

So no, I do not consider being surprising to be any measure of quality in a story. 90% of the time it's quite the opposite, because few surprises are written so well that I consider them credible.

The obvious exception to this rule are nonsense comedies like Excel Saga, Konosuba or similar things...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by brythain » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:57 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:50 am
I'd start with the "secret half-brother" Emi questions the existence of and have him be Mutou.
Oh, thank the VN-gods that I didn't think of going that way! :D
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)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:08 am

...and now Emi finally understands why he rejected that confession she made to him a few months ago...

See? Surprises aren't hard to write at all!
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by ProfAllister » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:39 pm

This is starting to feel a bit like a pile-on. Rather than complaining about what might be wrong with the fic, it's probably better to focus on how it went wrong, and how it might possible be salvaged.

I'm a strong proponent of the idea that a sufficiently skilled writer can get away with nearly anything, given the proper approach. In this case, "get away with" means "avoid alienating the readers". For example, there are exceedingly few ways that Uncle Nurse-kun avoids the uncomfortable and unprofessional implications with that plot point. Nevertheless, a skilled writer can theoretically present the Uncle Nurse-kun plot point without causing most readers to go "wut" and "y tho".

In this case, what we're missing are two of the most valuable tools of the writer: Build up and Context. Had we entered the scene a little earlier, inside Emi's mind, we could have had her reconciling with the confusing and unwanted desire she was feeling for the Nurse, thinking through their past, perhaps noting how unusual it was for him to give up a lucrative career opportunity so that eh could follow her to Yamaku - a set of unusual behaviors that could only be explained by the Nurse having a special fondness for Emi. Reassured, she reasons that he must feel the same way for her as she feels for him. Given that preface, we could potentially jump to the post-confession, as in the original, and things seem a little less out of left field.

The "surrogate parent" plot point would be a bit trickier, ideally a long game in an extended fic, with the occasional comment or observation hinting that Emi's parentage might not be what it seems.

What happened to her (biological) father is really an unnecessary detail for this scene. Better to leave it to the reader's imagination, only going into detail where and when it's relevant to the plot (if ever).

And there you go! Not perfect by a long shot, but add a scene or two, and it's marginally less offensive to the reader's sensibilities (by my estimation).

This goes back to my initial estimation of the seeming absence of craft or intent - the reveals just happened, with no context or buildup. He may as well have just thrown a handful of Plot Twist Dice and Shyamalanned like crazy.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:30 pm

That's basically what I meant when I said this might have worked as the climax to a larger story.
I also don't think the idea of nurse and Emi sharing some kind of blood relationship is completely of the rails. IIrc there's nothing in the VN explicitly contradicting it (Sure, nurse told Hisao the story, but did he tell him the complete story? ...I'd have to reread the appropriate passages to be sure.)
It might even be an alternative take on the Nurse X Meiko hints in the VN if they were, say, cousins...
The way it's done here is just too forced and contrived, though.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by Oddball » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:14 pm

Well, if nothing else, I'm glad I picked a story that caused so much actual conversation this time.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by Oddball » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:39 pm

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Schwäche by WetCrate
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Read and enjoy!
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180211 'Eat My Shorts' by NekoDude)

Post by ProfAllister » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:40 pm

I was going to open this to the effect of "Holy Shit", but Silentcook beat me to that by nearly 9 years.

As a warning to others, I strongly recommend you read the fic before you read our discussion here. This fic deserves being read free of any context.

Now, the first thing that got my attention was the author - famous for Closure.

Overall, this is a fascinating work, both for the parallels with the final routes and for it hitting on a lot of the same themes and assumptions that are still brought up.

The prose is a little purple here and there ("orbs" for "eyes" and "portal" for "door" being the worst offenders), but largely solid. I think I'll keep my discussion short until we get some more opinions, but my initial impression is that the worst thing to say about this fic is that there was never a Part 2.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by QuietlySomething » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:18 pm

...

...Eh. I'm not taken with this fic.

I don't know. It's a love triangle! Not exactly the most revolutionary concept in the world is it? It's not that I think it's bad, but I'm just not a fan of the execution here. I'm distracted by the fact that the tension in this story comes from the fact that Hisao is betraying Lilly and yet Lilly does not even appear in the story. I'm not invested in that relationship at all and the story does very little to establish it. And it's not like it's expanding on any canonical relationship they have, so it can't ride on that. It makes the conflict feel kind of artificial when you can just take out a few sentences at the beginning and end and essentially write her out of the story. This is a problem that makes me agree that the story would have been well-suited for a part two; the conflict should be more fleshed out. I think it suffers from some of the same problem that the last fic we read had: it's a climax to a story that doesn't exist; there's not really enough buildup for me to buy it or be invested in it.

I also find it a little irritating the way Emi just kind of thrusts herself at Hisao after one incident and drops a bunch of shallow adolescent insecurities on him about not being pretty and being a freak for being disabled (neither of which feels appropriate for Emi but I suppose can be excused due to the time of the story's release). Even still, to me, this story really does not reflect well on Emi as a character and had me rolling my eyes at multiple points.

Finally, as (almost) always, I find it a little grating when the main character's thoughts in first person are just intermittently used in italics in a third person story. Makes me feel like the story should just go all the way and use first person throughout.
How would I feel if I had no legs?
Whoa. Deep, Hisao.

I guess this turned into a pretty negative take on the story but as I said I wouldn't say it's bad. It's not badly-written for the most part, and a lot of the character interaction between Hisao and Emi is pretty well-done.

I guess it's not my thing.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by StilesLong » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:45 am

The passing reference to Hanako's "family issues" struck me as odd somehow. Just say she didn't have family and would feel bad alone. She's not got family issues in the ordinary sense so you need to specify.

In general, I liked the way the author writes ("A croak escaped Hisao's lips then, regret condensed into sound waves"). It's generally very descriptive and gives a good visual of what's happening ("More wisps of brown hair brushed against Hisao's skin as the small girl shook her head. His foot involuntarily twitched from the sensation.").

There's some ambiguities and odd word choices, like Hanako's family issues, the "hastily arranged birthday party" that may or may not have been for Lilly (The auther mentions Hisao only just found out her birth date), Hisao being referred to as "the boy" or Akira and Lilly's trip to "her place" for the holidays. Also, I felt that some sentences are, in terms of style, unusual and miss out on chances at metaphor and simile. In one instance, the author could have likened the wind outside Hisao's window to his mind in turmoil, or some other fanciful stuff. Another example would be that Hisao was reading while fretting over Emi. He would be reading, but I doubt he'd be absorbing anything and mentioning that he's read the same line several times would have been a nice (if cliched) touch.

The narrative also got a little confusing for me. Some elements (describing the day leading up to their one-night stand) should have been in past tense, but were not.

It's been a while since I last read through Emi's route but I don't recall her being super upset about being in the wheelchair when she hurt herself, nor do I remember her being as much of a wimp as she is when she's bawling all over Hisao. Even if it's a ploy to get into Hisao's bed, I can't see her trying it. I didn't think of Emi as the sort of person who'd air her weaknesses to anyone.

Reading it certainly was interesting, though it certainly does need a second part to give context and meaningfullness to Lilly's relationship with Hisao. It's a story about a betrayal, but unless you're fresh from playing Lilly's good end, you wouldn't know what had been betrayed. More references to the route (Lilly and Akira were going to visit family in Scotland to make up for their aborted trip earlier in the year...) would have helped with that. The fact that he doesn't even kiss Lilly on the lips when she's going away also makes me wonder if their relationship is any deeper than a puddle. Adding a reason why he didn't might have justified it ("Under Akira's mocking eye, I was too embarrassed to kiss my own girlfriend a proper good bye, though Akira still made fun of me.")

A second part might have also solved the problem of Hisao's emotional, heart-rending betrayal of Lilly when we don't know why it's such a big deal.
Finally, as (almost) always, I find it a little grating when the main character's thoughts in first person are just intermittently used in italics in a third person story. Makes me feel like the story should just go all the way and use first person throughout.
I think I'm with QS on this one; if we're going to have the occasional, first-person thought tossed in with italics, switch to first person altogether. You can still toss in their more personal thoughts while they narrate the action from their own perspective. Italics feels a bit like cheating.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:18 am

StilesLong wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:45 am
The passing reference to Hanako's "family issues" struck me as odd somehow. Just say she didn't have family and would feel bad alone. She's not got family issues in the ordinary sense so you need to specify.
Oh, but we didn't know that back when that story was written. It was more or less accepted fact that Hanako's father was dead, but there was no information at all regarding her mother. I also had her "visiting her mother" in one of the stories I wrote back then.
Same about how Emi is handling the loss of her legs. As Vysetron so fittingly punned, Emi was the "least developed" character in Act 1, so some repressed frustrations and complexes regarding her disability were certainly within the realm of possibilities.

Also note that while WetCrate correctly guessed that Emi lost her legs in an accident (admittedly not a very hard guess) the story makes no mention at all of her father having died, because that was also not known back then.

As for the writing I agree that it is not as polished as WetCrate's later works but still quite good.
Yes, it is a story about a love triangle and it is missing one of the corners of that triangle completely, but it was supposed to be the first chapter of a longer story, so that can be excused.

As WetCrate obviously went on to stay on and create for the forums for quite a while after that I have no idea why he never continued this story, since he said he already had the whole story drafted out... Well, unless he comes back to tell us we'll never know.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by brythain » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:48 pm

ProfAllister wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:40 pm
Now, the first thing that got my attention was the author - famous for Closure.
I remember Closure too, and it was an excellent read. Just enough pathos and raw emotion and human interest to sink a ship in tears. But it came three years or so after this one, and so is a lot more polished.

This one comes across more as a sort of experiment. It's raw, and the plot is just short of preposterous. It's been shoehorned into the plausibility shoe, so to speak. However, it does manage to grab you in the gut and make you feel awkward for the characters.
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)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by Oddball » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:25 pm

Also note that while WetCrate correctly guessed that Emi lost her legs in an accident (admittedly not a very hard guess)
That does seem like the obvious way. I suppose she could have lost them from disease, birth defect, frost bite, or a highstakes poker game, but that does seem less likely.

This is really one of those stories I wish could have continued. It was off to a really good start, adn I hate judging it and saying it's incomplete when it's obvious that it was meant to have more chapters.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by ProfAllister » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:06 pm

Okay, plenty of discussion for me to go into a little more depth on what I thought...

For context, Google translates Schwäche to mean: weakness, debility, deficiency, frailty, feebleness, faintness, failing, softness, foible, penchant, fondness, slackness, partiality, slightness, poorness, proclivity, dimness, lightness, lowness, unsoundness, or brittleness.

Interestingly, most of those terms seem apt, though it's likely the intended use was simply "weakness". I'll defer any further reflection on German to our resident native speaker.

Also for context, since some of the comments seem to have missed it, this was posted May 27, 2009. Act 1 was released on April 29, 2009. The Canon was much smaller back then, with a lot more unknowns. It's really not fair to judge it for inconsistencies with post-Act 1 Canon.

Granting that this WetCrate is still essentially 3 years removed from the WetCrate, it's fascinating to see what appears to be a signature melancholic tone to his works - a dull grey world, with the occasional silver lining; the primary conflict focusing around trying to distinguish silver from chrome.

On to the meat of this particular story.

As I touched on, it's fascinating from an academic standpoint to see it prefigure themes and conflicts from the final product (especially since thehivemind headcanons Emi as a lesbian ;)). Fascinating in an altogether different manner for the guesses at future canon - Emi having family in England, Hanako having family (another WetCrate story included Hisao seeing Hanako's mother, stepfather, and half brother), etc.

Also amused by the inclusion of Hisao running with Emi in a Lilly route, since it's something added to many Lilly fan fiction works (for the obvious reasons) - especially as this fic explores what should be obvious potential complications in that arrangement.

As for Lilly's relative absence from the story, I feel that, for the in media res approach attended, the first five paragraphs after "Memories assaulted his consciousness" sufficiently set the stage for where they are. On top of that, the increasing repetition of "Lilly" as Hisao gradually approaches the danger zone is a particularly powerful bit.

Admittedly, this draws on personal experience. I once found myself in a similar situation (with many significant differences that are irrelevant to this point). Hisao's "Ackbar Sense" (e.g., "This is dangerous, get out now!") is actually a terrifyingly good representation of your conscience screaming at you in that kind of situation. It is very much the classic battle of the shoulder angel saying "This is wrong and you know it. This will only end in tears." vs the shoulder devil saying "No one will know." You know the shoulder devil is the devil in the conversation, you know he's lying to you, and yet... you still want to side with the devil.

Similarly, I think you're all missing a lot of the buildup to Emi's breakdown. I return to those five paragraphs setting up the conflict. Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical route in which you're experiencing both Emi and Lilly's Act 2 routes. The moment Hisao chooses one, you know the other will be absolutely destroyed.

On top of this, I get the sense that I may be putting Hisao's thought of "These things aren't supposed to break" in greater prominence than maybe other readers might. The (unfortunate) picture that develops in my head is an Emi whose jealousy and envy gradually turns into hatred (not necessarily the type that she would recognize as such). So she developed a plan - seduce Hisao, then toss him away, destroying him the way he destroyed her. Using a hacksaw, she sabotages her running leg - just enough that it'll break on its own when put under enough strain. Shock him into realising he cares about her, then come to him that night, bare everything to him, and make him hers.

Of course, not as diabolical as that all sounds - less of an elaborate plan, and more taking things as they go. The sabotage of her leg was planned, of course, but the rest was at last marginally organic.

But, after it's all over, the morning after, realising the terrible thing he's done, Emi hates herself. She also hates Hisao, for letting her seduce him. But, in a terrifyingly accurate reflection of canon Emi, she tries to box it up and set it aside - "-but tomorrow morning you'd better not be late!"

As for italicising the main character's first-person thoughts in a third-person story, it doesn't bother me that much as a stylistic choice. Especially as this is more third-person over-the-shoulder vs third-person omniscient.

At the end of the day, it is very rough, and unpolished. Without a part 2+, though, it's very hard to say for certain whether it's a gem or a turd.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (20180218 'Schwäche' by WetCrate)

Post by QuietlySomething » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:52 pm

Sorry but I'm just not on board with this. There is nothing that makes this conflict particularly compelling.

The other girl in question doesn't need to be Lilly- actually she doesn't need to be anybody in particular at all; the only purpose she serves in this story is to be Hisao's existing girlfriend to give Hisao a reason to be torn about sleeping with Emi. That's why I said the conflict feels artificial. It hasn't earned its tension. Hisao wants to comfort Emi (Misha style of course) but he already has a girlfriend, so he's conflicted about it. That's really about as far as this story gets with it. It's easy. Frankly it's kind of shallow. Sure the story has set the stage for the scene at hand but it hasn't given me any reason to get invested. Maybe if you are projecting a specific personal experience onto this situation it is easier to forgive but that isn't something I would personally give the story credit for.
ProfAllister wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:06 pm
On top of this, I get the sense that I may be putting Hisao's thought of "These things aren't supposed to break" in greater prominence than maybe other readers might. The (unfortunate) picture that develops in my head is an Emi whose jealousy and envy gradually turns into hatred (not necessarily the type that she would recognize as such). So she developed a plan - seduce Hisao, then toss him away, destroying him the way he destroyed her. Using a hacksaw, she sabotages her running leg - just enough that it'll break on its own when put under enough strain. Shock him into realising he cares about her, then come to him that night, bare everything to him, and make him hers.

Of course, not as diabolical as that all sounds - less of an elaborate plan, and more taking things as they go. The sabotage of her leg was planned, of course, but the rest was at last marginally organic.

But, after it's all over, the morning after, realising the terrible thing he's done, Emi hates herself. She also hates Hisao, for letting her seduce him. But, in a terrifyingly accurate reflection of canon Emi, she tries to box it up and set it aside - "-but tomorrow morning you'd better not be late!"
All I can say about this is that it is... er... a pretty generous interpretation. Considering the majority of Hisao's random thoughts are totally straightforward, if not outright pointless.

Like I said, I don't think it's a bad fic, but there really isn't all that much to it. Maybe it would have been great had it been continued, but that is something we will never know, so I'm just taking it as it is.

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