The Skit

The DVD case is a jarring shade of translucent pink, though against the dark wood of the bookshelf, it looks blood red. Clumsy writing, only just recognizable as my own, scrawls across it in silver gel pen. The words are smudged by years, some to the point of illegibility, but that matters little. I know exactly what they say.

This is it. This is the silly dance and weird little skit that my elementary school best friend and I put together during a sleepover one night.

I can at least remember the dance fondly. Blissfully unaware of the true form of The Chicken Dance, my friend came up with a “chicken dance” of her own, accompanied by a song composed entirely of exaggerated bawking. I don’t appear onscreen at all during this; it was her creation, and she pulls it off better than I ever could, then or now. My rhythm extends only to my brain, lungs, and vocal cords.

No, it is definitely the skit whose memory makes me wince. My brain has already generated a list of explanations for this abomination. We were, like, ten, it reminds me. We were in elementary school. This was back in the mythical time before the iPhone; you can’t be counted upon to have good acting skills. Or writing skills. Or taste.

The skit is half-roleplay, half-fanfiction, inspired largely by the Inheritance Cycle, though at that point it was still called a trilogy and only comprised one published book and one in progress. I play a Dragon Rider, while my friend takes on the role of a lynx-person. Not a werecat, mind you, a lynx-person. Her pretend name is literally “lynx” with some extra letters tacked onto the end.

I contemplate watching the DVD’s contents, just to see precisely how bad it was, but decide against it. This was not meant for human eyes. Not even mine.

I deposit it in a box of my old projects and shudder.

Eating Pasta with Sporks: Jeff the Killer

I am often unsure what to think of the online phenomenon known as “creepypasta.” On the one hand, it’s great to know that there are a lot of other horror fans sitting around on the Internet and wanting to write short stories. On the other, a lot of the stories that actually get popular are, quite frankly, crap.

Jeff the Killer is one of those stories.

I know a lot of people like Jeff, and many consider him truly creepy. To those people, I must ask: have you actually read the creepypasta that he comes from, or is your opinion of Jeff as creepy based solely on this image?

OH GOD MY EYES ARE DRY... DO YOU HAVE ANY EYEDROPS?

Because if I’m being honest, that picture is the creepiest thing this pasta has, unless you consider terrible writing skills to be creepy.

So without any further ado, let’s grab our sporks and dig into this big plate of pasta!


Excerpt from a local Newspaper:

Why is “newspaper” capitalized?

OMINOUS UNKNOWN KILLER IS STILL AT LARGE.

Not a promising start. “Ominous Unknown Killer”? They haven’t given him some nickname yet? And no, “Ominous Unknown Killer” is not a good serial killer nickname. Why not just say that he’s a serial killer? Or, given the victim we’re presented with in the next line, “Serial Child Killer”? I don’t think any newspaper worth the pulp it’s printed on would call a killer “Ominous Unknown Killer.”

After weeks of unexplained murders, the ominous unknown killer is still on the rise.

Again with the “Ominous Unknown Killer” bit, although not with the caps, which proves it’s not the killer’s press nickname. “Unknown killer” would probably be fine, actually, but what’s with the “ominous”? You can’t build an ominous atmosphere by calling your monster ominous. That’s like writing a scene where a character gives a really shitty speech and then saying, “everyone applauded their eloquence.”

After little evidence has been found, a young boy states that he survived one of the killer’s attacks and bravely tells his story.

That sentence would have been so much better if that “after” was a “though.”

“I had a bad dream and I woke up in the middle of the night,” says the boy, “I saw that for some reason the window was open, even though I remember it being closed before I went to bed.

When you begin another sentence of dialogue after the dialogue tag, you put a period after the dialogue tag. At least there’s no said bookism.

I got up and shut it once more. Afterwards, I simply crawled under my covers and tried to get back to sleep. That’s when I had a strange feeling, like someone was watching me.

Time out, time out. This is supposed to be a “young boy” talking? “Young boys,” or young people in general, don’t typically say “once more,” even if they’re in an interview. The “afterwards” is also weird. This character is speaking in the voice of the surrounding prose with no regard to how the character should actually sound; that’s bad writing, plain and simple.

I looked up, and nearly jumped out of my bed. There, in the little ray of light, illuminating from between my curtains, were a pair of two eyes.

PAGING THE DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT! Yes, pairs generally come in twos. Only one of those was necessary, writer. A pair of eyes, or two eyes. Not “a pair of two eyes.”

Also, “illuminating from between my curtains”? Illuminating? I am surprised your thesaurus isn’t pressing sexual assault charges. To make matters worse, the punctuation makes it impossible to tell whether the ray of light or the eyes are doing the illuminating. Either way, it’s wrong, and not just because it’s a dangling participle.

These weren’t regular eyes; they were dark, ominous eyes.

Again with the ominous. Really, creepypasta writer, if you keep doing this, the word “ominous” is going to register about as much as the word “the.”

They were bordered in black and… just plain out terrified me. That’s when I saw his mouth. A long, horrendous smile that made every hair on my body stand up.

That ellipsis is highly unnecessary.

So, this is the description of our killer: a Joker wannabe wearing eyeliner. Also, how is that “when you saw his mouth?” Your last action was seeing his eyes. So you saw his eyes, and that was also when you saw his mouth. There’s no tension at all there! If you wanted to make that intense and creepy, you should have had something happen in between, like having the boy stare at the eyes for what felt like hours. Heck, I’m going to come back to this in a second, because what comes next could easily have led to that.

The figure stood there, watching me. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he said it. A simple phrase, but said in a way only a mad man could speak.

“He said, ‘Go To Sleep.’ I let out a scream,

The kid stares at the eyes, then the killer says “go to sleep,” which makes the kid finally notice his Glasgow Grin. He screams. That is a natural progression, and could have been effective.

This grammar is still atrocious, by the way. “Go To Sleep,” capitalized? And right before that, a sentence fragment, and “madman” split into two words? You didn’t get a beta, did you, pasta writer?

that’s what sent him at me. He pulled up a knife; aiming at my heart.

How can you tell that he’s aiming the knife at your heart? How can you misuse a semicolon that badly? HOW?!?

He jumped on top of my bed.

I think you mean “onto my bed.”

I fought him back; I kicked, I punched, I rolled around, trying to knock him off me. That’s when my dad busted in.

That sounds more like “the figure” is trying to molest this kid than trying to kill him. If the kid is fighting for his life, he should be trying to keep the knife the hell away from him. Punching and kicking won’t do jack squat when there’s a knife coming at your chest.

And again, no good transition for a “that’s when.” “Then” probably would have been a better connector.

The man threw the knife, it went into my dad’s shoulder.

Throwing Your Knife Always Works! Not.

Wait. That comma. That should be a semicolon. If that comma was a semicolon, the sentence would work perfectly fine; it would be one short but complete sentence connected to another, related sentence and it would be perfectly natural. What do we get instead? A comma splice that makes me want to steal Jeff’s knife to gouge my eyes out!

The man probably would’ve finished him off, if one of the neighbors hadn’t alerted the police.

Okay, the dad bursting into the room just in time, I can see. He heard his son screaming and then, presumably, the sound of a struggle. That’s a primal fear right there; he’s immediately up and running on adrenaline, because he heard his kid scream in terror and he wants to save him.

Once this comes in, though, that all breaks down. For the neighbors to call the police and the police to intervene, three things have to happen:

  1. The neighbors have to wake up and notice something is wrong
  2. The neighbors have to actually call the police and tell them about the situation
  3. The police have to drive out to this neighborhood

Even if we assume the police had someone in the area (not unreasonable if there have been random serial murders going on in people’s homes), and that the neighbors called 911 immediately, that still leaves some delay. So either Jeff wasted a lot of time walking toward the dad in order to finish him off, allowing the police to finally get there, or the dad wasted a bunch of time between hearing his kid screaming and running into his room to protect him. Either way, we have a nice, tall glass of Fridge Logic, and it doesn’t taste very good. Or realistic.

“They drove into the parking lot, and ran towards the door. The man turned and ran down the hallway. I heard a smash, like glass breaking. As I came out of my room, I saw the window that was pointing towards the back of my house was broken.

I actually wasn’t going to break here at first, but then I noticed two details: “parking lot” and “house.”

Houses don’t typically have parking lots. The presence of a parking lot would seem to suggest that the boy telling this story lives in an apartment, but all other details seem pretty consistent with his home actually being a house. Details that agree with each other? What are those?

Also, what’s wrong with saying “the back window?” Do you really need to beef up your wordcount, pasta writer?

I looked out it to see him vanish into the distance.

Ignoring the awkwardness of “I looked out it,” I don’t think this kid would be able to see Jeff “vanish into the distance.” It’s night, and the fact that he has neighbors indicates that he lives in an urban or suburban setting, i.e. one with buildings everywhere, as well as all sorts of other obstacles (fences, shrubbery, the like). If he can see Jeff in the darkness, which I suppose isn’t that unreasonable, as Jeff wears a white hoodie, he should be losing track of Jeff behind a tree or a shed, not just “in the distance.”

I can tell you one thing, I will never forget that face. Those cold, evil eyes, and that psychotic smile. They will never leave my head.”

Again, kind of a weird tone for a young child. Heck, it’s a weird tone for anyone suffering from recent trauma. I would expect this kid to be, say, afraid of sleeping in his own bed, or to say that he’s always going to check the window from now on, not to give some bland description of how creepy his would-be killer’s face was.

Police are still on the look for this man.

“On the look?” Really? “Look” is not a verb that you can use like that, pasta writer. Try “on the hunt.”

Ignoring that, though, why wouldn’t they be? He broke into a house, threatened a kid, and stabbed a guy in the shoulder. Obviously, they would be looking for him.

If you see anyone that fits the description in this story, please contact your local police department.

Here, the “excerpt from a local newspaper” ends, though the story doesn’t say so.

I honestly cannot believe that they would only interview the kid for this article. What about the dad? He saw the killer too; he got stabbed by the guy. As an adult, he’d also be more credible than the child, and probably give a more accurate description. Children are not considered reliable witnesses in court, and for good reason: they are very impressionable, and can get all kinds of crazy ideas in their head surrounding a crime, since they’re not yet equipped to distinguish between fantasy and reality. If this kid saw a pale guy with dark eyes in his room, he could easily blow it out of proportion for any number of reasons. He could identify the killer with the monster in his closet, thus adding monstrous traits to an otherwise normal-looking person; or he could modify his mental image to something non-human after hearing a relative describe the killer as “inhuman.”

To sum up, neither the police nor the press are going to go to the kid for reliable, accurate details. Yes, the press might be interested in telling the kid’s story for sensationalist purposes, but they’re not going to say that what the kid saw is exactly what people should be looking for. It would be much more realistic if the article also listed some description given by the father, and then told the reader to look for someone matching that description.

But no, that would be silly, because Jeff the Killer actually does look like that! Just wait until you see the reasons for that…

Jeff and his family had just moved into a new neighborhood.

And here we start our “Origin Story.” Our pointless, pointless origin story.

This is pretty terribly formatted. There is no transition whatsoever from the excerpt beyond the paragraph break. No horizontal line, no “x years earlier,” not even an extra bit of space before the story of Jeff and his family begins.

This first line could easily be part of the previous article. It would be all too easy to assume that the kid who had been menaced was named Jeff and that his family were recent arrivals in town; it would just be the writer of the newspaper adding background. It would be an awkward place to add background, yes, but considering what we saw up there? Not exactly out of character for whatever fictional journalist wrote that abomination.

His dad had gotten a promotion at work, and they thought it would be best to live in one of those “fancy” neighborhoods. Jeff and his brother Liu couldn’t complain though. A new, better house. What was not to love? As they were getting unpacked, one of their neighbors came by.

To be fair, we would probably realize that this wasn’t newspaper pretty quickly, because that sounds very much like narration. To be more specific, it sounds like piss-poor narration.

Jeff the Killer, the story of two brothers unwittingly forced into the world of neighborhood politics! Brace yourselves, dear readers. Brace yourselves for the incoming tidal wave of stupid.

“Hello,” she said, “I’m Barbara; I live across the street from you. Well, I just wanted to introduce my self and to introduce my son.” She turns around and calls her son over.

That tense shift gave me whiplash, and the splitting up of “myself” into “my self” made my eyes bleed.

Also, Barbara is my stepmom’s name.

“Billy, these are our new neighbors.” Billy said hi and ran back to play in his yard.

Billy’s actions should be in a separate paragraph. As-is, he looks pretty much like an afterthought. That’s probably because he is. Well, maybe he’s important enough to merit the status of “plot device,” considering what’s coming… but he’s really not that vital to the scene, and the writer clearly doesn’t give a shit about him.

“Well,” said Jeff’s mom, “I’m Margaret, and this is my husband Peter, and my two sons, Jeff and Liu.”

Okay. Hold the phone.

The dad is named Peter, the mom is named Margaret, and the sons are Jeff… and Liu.

Why does Liu have a Chinese name?

Considering Jeff’s description later in the story, it’s probably safe to say that he’s white, and not just after he gets bleached to shit. So really, there are two possible explanations for this.

One is that Liu is adopted. This is never mentioned or even hinted at in the story beyond his name, but I could probably accept it. It would be nice to actually explain this a little, though.

The other is that Jeff and Liu’s parents are culturally appropriative fuckwads who gave their son a Chinese name for the hell of it. Outside of the story, that would probably be the author just not giving a shit or using a name they thought was cool and not realizing how it might make their characters look.

Now that that rant is over, I’ll move on, after I point out how weird Margaret’s dialogue sounds. “Well?” Really? Not “it’s nice to meet you,” or some other typical pleasantry?

They each introduced themselves,

We just saw that.

and then Barbara invited them to her son’s birthday. Jeff and his brother were about to object, when their mother said that they would love to.

I guess this constitutes evidence that Jeff and Liu are teenagers. Who else would object to going to a birthday party? FREE CAKE, guys!

When Jeff and his family are done packing, Jeff went up to his mom.

Again with the horrible tense shifts. My neck hurts from that whiplash.

Also, packing? They just got here! I think pasta writer meant to say “unpacking.”

“Mom, why would you invite us to some kid’s party? If you haven’t noticed, I’m not some dumb kid.”

Jeff is apparently not just a teenager, but an asshole, and this is before he becomes a psychotic killer.

This could probably be remedied if we were told how big the age difference is between Billy and Jeff, and if Jeff phrased that a little more diplomatically, e.g. “I’m not a little kid anymore.” As-is, though, he just looks like a jerk.

“Jeff,” said his mother, “We just moved here; we should show that we want to spend time with our neighbors. Now, we’re going to that party, and that’s final.” Jeff started to talk, but stopped himself, knowing that he couldn’t do anything. Whenever his mom said something, it was final.

He knows it’s final… because she just said it was final. Seriously, the pasta writer is a shoo-in for a job at the Department of Redundancy Department. Currently accepting applications now in a local location near you!

He walked up to his room and plopped down on his bed. He sat there looking at his ceiling when suddenly, he got a weird feeling. Not so much a pain, but… a weird feeling.

The writer does not know how to describe feelings.

He dismissed it as just some random feeling.

Jeff needs to be more in touch with his emotions!

He heard his mother call him down to get his stuff, and he walked down to get it.

The next day, Jeff walked down stairs to get breakfast and got ready for school.

Pasta writer, you really don’t need to tell us every time Jeff goes down the stairs. Especially not twice in a row, even if it is different times.

Wait a minute. When Jeff went to his room, it just said he “walked up to his room,” not that he “walked up” or “walked upstairs.” Heck, I just did a Ctrl+F for “walked up,” “upstairs,” and “up stairs,” and the only result I got was from a sentence where he isn’t walking. Why does the pasta writer have such a fascination with walking down stairs as opposed to walking up them? That’s kind of a bizarre fixation to have.

As he sat there, eating his breakfast, he once again got that feeling. This time it was stronger. It gave him a slight tugging pain, but he once again dismissed it.

This “feeling” never gets explained, by the way. The pasta writer probably thinks that it does, and I will point out the attempt, but they really never justify it.

As he and Liu finished breakfast, they walked down to the bus stop. They sat there waiting for the bus, and then, all of a sudden, some kid on a skateboard jumped over them, only inches above their laps.

Their… laps? The kid decided to jump over the bench right above their laps? Why not jump over their heads? That would be far more impressive.

They both jumped back in surprise. “Hey, what the hell?”

The kid landed and turned back to them. He kicked his skate board up and caught it with his hands. The kid seems to be about twelve; one year younger than Jeff. He wears a Aeropostale shirt and ripped blue jeans.

TENSE SHIFT, RARGLEBLARGLEARRRGGGHHHH!

Also, hey, we finally got some character ages! Bummer we only get them for Jeff and Sk8er Boi there, though I guess we could extrapolate that Sk8er Boi’s flunkies are around the same age.

“Well, well, well. It looks like we got some new meat.” Suddenly, two other kids appeared. One was super skinny and the other was huge.

There really should be a paragraph break after that line of dialogue.

“Well, since you’re new here, I’d like to introduce ourselves, over there is Keith.” Jeff and Liu looked over to the skinny kid. He had a dopey face that you would expect a sidekick to have.

“I’d like to introduce ourselves.” Apparently number agreement between subject and reflexive pronoun is for suckers who aren’t X-TREME enough.

Also… Keith is my dad’s name. STOP STEALING NAMES FROM MY LIFE, PASTA WRITER! AND STOP APPLYING THEM TO REALLY BAD CHARACTERS!

“And he’s Troy.” They looked over at the fat kid. Talk about a tub of lard. This kid looked like he hadn’t exercised since he was crawling.

The Fat Joke: guaranteed to alienate readers and make you look like either a bully or a self-hating fat person since “skinny” became desirable!

“And I,” said the first kid, “am Randy.

I’m still gonna call you Sk8er Boi.

Now, for all the kids in this neighborhood there is a small price for bus fare, if you catch my drift.” Liu stood up, ready to punch the lights out of the kid’s eyes when one of his friends pulled a knife on him.

‘90s Bullies: too X-TREME for age restrictions on buying knives!

“Tsk, tsk, tsk, I had hoped you would be more cooperative, but it seems we must do this the hard way.” The kid walked up to Liu and took his wallet out of his pocket. Jeff got that feeling again. Now, it was truly strong; a burning sensation.

Depending on where that sensation is, you should either take some Tums or see a doctor.

He stood up, but Liu gestured him to sit down. Jeff ignored him and walked up to the kid.

“Listen here you little punk, give back my bro’s wallet or else.” Randy put the wallet in his pocket and pulled out his own knife.

Is a thirteen-year-old really going to call his brother his “bro” in a stressful situation? I submit that he would not.

Also, at this point I must ask: which one is older, Jeff or Liu? It’s pretty much impossible to tell from the text, and knowing might help us understand certain bits of the story (e.g. the dynamics in Jeff and Liu’s relationship as brothers, which ends up being pretty central to a lot of this ridiculous horror-less shit). I guess the author didn’t think it was important.

“Oh? And what will you do?” Just as he finished the sentence, Jeff popped the kid in the nose. As Randy reached for his face, Jeff grabbed the kid’s wrist and broke it.

Sk8er Boi should get checked for osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). That’s not normal.

But hey, we might actually get Jeff being a killer!

Randy screamed and Jeff grabbed the knife from his hand. Troy and Keith rushed Jeff, but Jeff was too quick. He threw Randy to the ground. Keith lashed out at him, but Jeff ducked and stabbed him in the arm. Keith dropped his knife and fell to the ground screaming.

If this is Jeff’s killing rage, which I’m pretty sure was what the author was going for, why isn’t he, you know, killing? The writer would probably point to a thing later… so I guess we’ll get to that.

Troy rushd him too,

Blatant typos that could be easily fixed by spellcheck! Clearly this is a polished work of horror fiction worthy of its widespread fame and memetic status.

but Jeff didn’t even need the knife. He just punched Troy straight in the stomach and Troy went down. As he fell, he puked all over.

Vomit Indiscretion Shot from the fat kid. Stay classy, Jeff the Killer…

Liu could do nothing but look in amazement at Jeff.

I think if a member of my family flipped out and beat up some knife-wielding muggers, I would have a little more to do than stare in amazement at them.

“Jeff how’d you?” that was all he said.

That may be the worst dialogue tag I’ve ever seen. I mean… look at that. Just look at it. Let it burn into your eyes until you, like me, feel the creeping urge to reach through the screen and slap the writer of this creepypasta with a book of basic grammatical rules.

They saw the bus coming and knew they’d be blamed for the whole thing. So they started running as fast as they could. As they ran, they looked back and saw the bus driver rushing over to Randy and the others.

Way to look even guiltier and not be able to defend yourself to the bus driver, guys!

As Jeff and Liu made it to school, they didn’t dare tell what happened.

How did they manage that? If they weren’t on the bus, chances are they arrived pretty damn late, and since they were running, they’d be panting and tired. Their teachers are probably going to question them about that.

All they did was sit and listen. Liu just thought of that as his brother beating up a few kids, but Jeff knew it was more. It was something, scary.

Something so scary that he had to add an unnecessary comma!

As he got that feeling he felt how powerful it was, the urge to just, hurt someone. He didn’t like how it sounded, but he couldn’t help feeling happy.

This is supposed to be where Jeff starts to unwillingly embrace his psychopathic nature. Instead, readers with any knowledge of grammar are going to be annoyed by yet another poorly-placed comma.

He felt that strange feeling go away, and stay away for the entire day of school.

And the author immediately destroys all tension by having “that feeling” just go away. Wait, pff, what am I thinking? Like there was actually any tension to begin with.

Even as he walked home due to the whole thing near the bus stop, and how now he probably wouldn’t be taking the bus anymore, he felt happy. When he got home his parents asked him how his day was, and he said, in a somewhat ominous voice, “It was a wonderful day.”

Hey look, he said it! Ominous! It’s coming full circle!

Really, though, I have to point something out here. This whole attempt at building something up is completely wasted, because we already know that Jeff is going to become the “Ominous Unknown Killer” from the start of the story. Why? BECAUSE YOU NAMED THE STORY “JEFF THE KILLER,” PASTA WRITER!

Seriously, this is worse than Twilight spoiling the “vampire” reveal on the back cover. It’s in the goddamn title!

Next morning, he heard a knock at his front door. He walked down to find two police officers at the door, his mother looking back at him with an angry look.

…and no conjunctions!

“Jeff, these officers tell me that you attacked three kids. That it wasn’t regular fighting, and that they were stabbed. Stabbed, son!” Jeff’s gaze fell to the floor, showing his mother that it was true.

Again, missing paragraph break. Heck, the last part of this paragraph probably should go with the next line:

“Mom, they were the ones who pulled the knives on me and Liu.”

Which you could have told the bus driver if you’d stayed at the bus stop.

“Son,” said one of the cops,” We found three kids, two stabbed, one having a bruise on his stomach, and we have witnesses proving that you fled the scene.

*points up at previous comment*

Now, what does that tell us?” Jeff knew it was no use. He could say him and Liu had been attacked, but then there was no proof it was not them who attacked first. They couldn’t say that they weren’t fleeing, because truth be told they were. So Jeff couldn’t defend himself or Liu.

All unnecessary, because, well… you know why, because I just explained it, and honestly, you probably figured it out on your own too.

“Son, call down your brother.” Jeff couldn’t do it, since it was him who beat up all the kids.

“Sir, it…it was me.

Honest for a psycho, isn’t he?

I was the one who beat up the kids. Liu tried to hold me back, but he couldn’t stop me.” The cop looked at his partner and they both nod.

“Well kid, looks like a year in Juvy…”

That’s “juvie” to you. And what, no trial? Not even a hint of investigation? Nothing?

“Wait!” says Liu. They all looked up to see him holding a knife. The officers pulled their guns and locked them on Liu.

“It was me, I beat up those little punks. Have the marks to prove it.” He lifted up his sleeves to reveal cuts and bruises, as if he was in a struggle.

TENSE SHIFT! OMGWTFBBQ! Kill it with fire.

Is the implication there that Liu cut and bruised himself to protect Jeff? That’s… disturbing. The writer would probably try to say that he feels grateful to Jeff for standing up for him, but for fuck’s sake, it was a wallet, and I don’t think they even got the wallet back! That’s not worth “a year in juvie!”

“Son, just put the knife down,” said the officer. Liu held up the knife and dropped it to the ground. He put his hands up and walked over to the cops.

“No Liu, it was me! I did it!” Jeff had tears running down his face.

“Huh, poor bro. Trying to take the blame for what I did. Well, take me away.” The police led Liu out to the patrol car.

Again with the “bro,” which probably bothers me more than it should, but is still completely obnoxious and should be called out regardless. I mean, seriously? Did kids in the ‘90s really talk like this? My age was a single digit in the ‘90s, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying “bro.”

As for the police, why are they so willing to believe Liu? He’s clearly got an ulterior motive for saying that it was him; namely, he wants to protect his brother. The witnesses might not have actually named Jeff as the attacker, but they probably would have given some description of the kid who beat up and stabbed the X-TREME ’90s Bully Gang, which would necessarily match Jeff more than Liu. And yet, Liu stands at the top of the stairs with bruises, cuts, and a knife and says that he did it, and they’re all ready to take him to juvie (which I must again point out that they are doing without due process)? Did this town’s police department put out an ad that said “Incompetent Help Wanted,” or something like that? Heck, Liu’s willingness to be taken away alone should give them pause. He is way too eager to actually be the culprit.

“Liu, tell them it was me! Tell them! I was the one who beat up those kids!” Jeff’s mother put her hands on his shoulders.

“Jeff please, you don’t have to lie. We know it’s Liu, you can stop.”

Less than a page ago, she was convinced that Jeff did it based on his guilty look. Why does she believe Liu? Is Liu the Unfavorite?

Jeff watched helplessly as the cop car speeds off with Liu inside.

I wonder how many horrible tense shifts there have to be before I can sue the pasta writer for whiplash.

A few minutes later Jeff’s dad pulled into the driveway, seeing Jeff’s face and knowing something was wrong.

“Son, son what is it?” Jeff couldn’t answer. His vocal cords were strained from crying. Instead, Jeff’s mother walked his father inside to break the bad news to him as Jeff wept in the driveway.

Okay, what kind of thirteen-year-old who refuses to go to a birthday party on the grounds of “I’m not some dumb kid” weeps openly in the driveway? Jeff should be crying in his room, or in the hall where he was when Liu got taken away. The writer just put him in the driveway so that his dad could see him and go “what’s wrong?”

Which brings up another point: the police didn’t tell the dad? What the hell?

Wait… Jeff was just coming down the stairs (AGAIN) in the morning right before all this happened… and then a few minutes later, his dad comes home? Unless the dad works the graveyard shift, which I highly doubt considering the promotion at the beginning of this ridiculous origin story, that’s some seriously bad continuity.

Pasta writer, you need help. Perhaps an English tutor.

After an hour or so Jeff walked back in to the house,

That’s one word, pasta writer. “Into.” ONE. WORD.

seeing that his parents were both shocked, sad, and disappointed. He couldn’t look at them. He couldn’t see how they thought of Liu when it was his fault.

Again, pretty empathetic for a psychopath. Oh, wait, according to the stuff that comes later, he isn’t a psychopath yet… *sigh* We’ll take it as it comes.

He just went to sleep, trying to get the whole thing off his mind.

Seriously, Jeff? You’re not even going to TRY to get the police to investigate it again?

Two days went by, with no word from Liu at JDC. No friends to hang out with. Nothing but sadness and guilt. That is until Saturday, when Jeff is woke up by his mother, with a happy, sunshiny face.

“Jeff, it’s the day.” she said as she opened up the curtains and let light flood into his room.

Well, she sure got over having a son taken to juvie without due process quickly. I think someone should call child protective services…

“What, what’s today?” asked Jeff as he stirs awake.

TENSES… HRRRNNNNGGGGH, MY HEART…

“Why, it’s Billy’s party.” He was now fully awake.

“Mom, you’re joking, right? You don’t expect me to go to some kid’s party after…” There was a long pause.

“Jeff, we both know what happened. I think this party could be the thing that brightens up the past days.

Lady, your son is telling you that he doesn’t want to go to a party because he feels sad about his brother being taken to juvie. It’s not “I’m not a dumb kid” anymore; it’s “I would rather not because I’m still upset.” Let him process things. I’m surprised you still want to go, since it’ll no doubt involve explaining why Liu isn’t there. Having a son get taken to juvie will not make you popular with the neighborhood moms.

Now, get dressed.” Jeff’s mother walked out of the room and downstairs to get ready herself.

Honestly, pasta writer, the only thing that would make your walking-down-stairs fascination acceptable would be if you were setting up a scene where someone falls or is tripped down the stairs. Even then, though, this is really getting annoying.

He fought himself to get up.

*sigh* Why did I decide to snark this?

He picked out a random shirt and pair of jeans and walked down stairs.

Oh god, the writer can’t even keep “downstairs” as one word anymore? ABANDON SPORK! ABANDON SPORK! *jumps out the window*

*bursts in through the other window* Fuck. I forgot I constructed this reality so that I couldn’t leave until the allotted snarking was done.

He saw his mother and father all dressed up; his mother in a dress and his father in a suit. He thought, why they would ever wear such fancy clothes to a kid’s party?

Concurrent adult party, perhaps? I don’t know. I just don’t want to look at that horrible use of a semicolon.

“Son, is that all your going to wear?” said Jeff’s mom.

Hey, would you look at that! A your/you’re error! Kill me.

“Better than wearing too much.” he said. His mother pushed down the feeling to yell at him and hid it with a smile.

I think you mean “urge,” and there should be a paragraph break after “he said.”

“Now Jeff, we may be over-dressed, but this is how you go if you want to make an impression.” said his father. Jeff grunted and went back up to his room.

“Overdressed” doesn’t need a hyphen. At least the pasta writer didn’t completely rip the word into its component parts this time.

“I don’t have any fancy clothes!” he yelled down stairs.

“Just pick out something.” called his mother.

This is a patently obvious way to get your character into his signature outfit. Really, why do we need this? We don’t.

He looked around in his closet for what he would call fancy. He found a pair of black dress pants he had for special occasions and an undershirt. He couldn’t find a shirt to go with it though. He looked around, and found only striped and patterned shirts. None of which go with dress pants. Finally he found a white hoodie and put it on.

Missing commas and sentence fragments, oh my!

“You’re wearing that?” they both said. His mother looked at her watch. “Oh, no time to change. Let’s just go.” She said

If your dialogue tag is “she said,” put a comma at the end of the preceding dialogue. The stuff in the quotation marks functions as the direct object of “said.” When you punctuate it like this, you get a sentence fragment.

as she herded Jeff and his father out the door. They crossed the street over to Barbara and Billy’s house. They knocked on the door and at it appeared that Barbara, just like his parents, way over-dressed.

“And at it appeared that.” Fuck, the grammatical mistakes are getting so bad that I’m starting to just not care anymore. I mean… what is that sentence? What is it?

As they walked inside all Jeff could see were adults, no kids.

Again with the redundancy. If all he could see was a bunch of adults, then it’s obvious that there are no kids; you don’t need to tack that on and abuse another comma to do so.

“The kids are out in the yard. Jeff, how about you go and meet some of them?” said Barbara.

Jeff walked outside to a yard full of kids. They were running around in weird cowboy costumes and shooting each other with plastic guns.

So, cowboy-themed birthday party. Fair enough. I thought parents in the ‘90s were really strict about gun stuff, though. My parents didn’t even like me to make “gun signs” with my hands. School was even stricter about that; we weren’t even supposed to say “gun.”

He might as well be standing in a Toys R Us.

Toys”R”Us has a lot more variety in their toys than we see here, and typically isn’t filled with kids playing with the toys. Instead, it’s full of kids screaming at their parents to buy them toys. Unless it’s the holiday season, in which case it’s full of desperate parents fighting over the best gifts.

Suddenly a kid came up to him and handed him a toy gun and hat.

“Hey. Wanna pway?” he said.

That is cloying, annoying, and awful.

I completely loathe the device of transcribing small children’s lisps. It comes across as the writer trying to be cute and detouring somewhere in the Valley of Saccharine Hell.

Now that we’ve established that Billy and his friends are very young children, though, I have to point something out. Barbara, why on earth did you invite young teens to your toddler’s birthday party? It would have been much more reasonable to invite the neighbors over to dinner sometime, or to a neighborhood barbecue, or some other mixed-age social function where the teens won’t stick out like sore thumbs in a mass of tiny children. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t have turned down a birthday party when I was a teenager (see “FREE CAKE”), but seriously. That’s just bizarre.

“Ah, no kid. I’m way too old for this stuff.” The kid looked at him with that weird puppydog face.

“Pwease?” said the kid. “Fine,” said Jeff.

Again with the cloying, plus an omitted comma and two more places where there should have been a paragraph break. Also, “puppy-dog” should be hyphenated.

He put on the hat and started to pretend shoot at the kids. At first he thought it was totally ridiculous, but then he started to actually have fun. It might not have been super cool, but it was the first time he had done something that took his mind off of Liu.

Well, you sure got your mind off your wrongfully-incarcerated brother easily.

So he played with the kids for a while, until he heard a noise. A weird rolling noise.

It’s Sk8er Boi. Obviously. We could see that coming miles away, pasta writer.

Then it hit him. Randy, Troy, and Keith all jumped over the fence on their skateboards.

Even Troy? Come on, pasta writer, you missed an opportunity for another fat joke!

Jeff dropped the fake gun and ripped off the hat. Randy looked at Jeff with a burning hatred.

“Hello, Jeff, is it?” he said. “We have some unfinished business.” Jeff saw his bruised nose.” I think we’re even. I beat the crap out of you, and you get my brother sent to JDC.”

The poor paragraph breaks, so neglected, so unused…

Those quotation marks need to be attached to the dialogue they’re quoting, dammit. This pasta was clearly not proofread, or if it was, it was proofread very poorly.

I also have to point out that last time Jeff and Sk8er Boi fought, Jeff broke Sk8er Boi’s wrist. It’s been only a few days, not even close to the amount of time a broken bone needs to heal. He should have a cast. Yet here he is with only a bruised nose and a grudge.

Randy got an angry look in his eyes. “Oh no, I don’t go for even, I go for winning.

Stereotype bullies are stereotype.

You may have kicked our asses that one day, but not today.” As he said that Randy rushed at Jeff. They both fell to the ground. Randy punched Jeff in the nose, and Jeff grabbed him by the ears and head butted him.

Aw, come on, guys. Not in front of the kids.

Jeff pushed Randy off of him and both rose to their feet. Kids were screaming and parents were running out of the house. Troy and Keith both pulled guns out of their pockets.

Wait, what? Okay, the knives, maybe I could buy. The bullies could have stolen them from their parents. But guns? Seriously? Pasta writer, do you honestly expect me to believe that these twelve-year-old barely-pubescent kids somehow got their hands on guns? No matter how X-TREME your ‘90s bullies are, pasta writer, there are limits. Twelve-year-olds are not going to have access to guns.

Not to mention that putting guns in pockets is horrible gun safety and would probably have resulted in at least one of these kids shooting himself in the leg while skateboarding, because I seriously doubt that these kids know what the safety is, let alone how to use it.

“No one interrupts or guts will fly!” they said. Randy pulled a knife on Jeff and stabbed it into his shoulder.

At this point, the parents should be calling 911.

Jeff screamed and fell to his knees. Randy started kicking him in the face. After three kicks Jeff grabs his foot and twists it, causing Randy to fall to the ground. Jeff stood up and walked towards the back door. Troy grabbed him.

Again with the random present tense. Bloody hell, I’m already running out of typical American swear words to the point where I have to dip into the British ones.

“Need some help?” He picks Jeff up by the back of the collar and throws him through the patio door. As Jeff tries to stand he is kicked down to the ground. Randy repeatedly starts kicking Jeff, until he starts to cough up blood.

It seems the present-tense hiccups have grown powerful enough to consume the story and make it entirely present tense. I do not approve of this, for two reasons. First, we know that this is a flashback, since this is the origin story of our creepypasta killer. Second, present tense is incredibly hard to do right, and with an incompetent writer like this? Yeah, it’s not gonna go well.

“Come on Jeff, fight me!” He picks Jeff up and throws him into the kitchen. Randy sees a bottle of vodka on the counter and smashes the glass over Jeff’s head.

Wait, the adults have vodka just standing out at a birthday party? Barbara, I know the kids are outside, but you could at least try to hide your alcoholism, especially with your neighbors over.

“Fight!” He throws Jeff back into the living room.

Jeff must be anorexic, or these kids must be fucking Superman-level strong, because I sure as hell couldn’t throw another kid around like a ragdoll when I was twelve. Plus, I could only imagine how much harder it must be to throw someone with a broken wrist.

“Come on Jeff, look at me!” Jeff glances up, his face riddled with blood. “I was the one who got your brother sent to JDC!

I didn’t really point this out when Jeff said it, because I had horrible proofreading errors to focus on, but I need to say it: why are they suddenly calling juvie “JDC?” “Juvie” is a perfectly fine way to say it, and in fact it takes fewer syllables, so it sounds much more natural in conversation than “JDC,” especially in a heated situation like a fight. Plus, when you use “JDC,” you’re abbreviating “Juvenile Detention Center,” which I’m pretty sure means you need a “the.”

And now you’re just gonna sit here and let him rot in there for a whole year!

Under normal circumstances, I would say that there’s no way Liu is gonna stay in juvie with you yelling like this and pretty much telling everyone in this house that Jeff was the one who beat you up, but considering how this town is apparently patrolled by the Complete Incompetence Police, I’m just not sure anymore. We are too divorced from reality for me to apply that kind of logic.

You should be ashamed!” Jeff starts to get up.

Again, lack of a paragraph break. Ffffffffff…

“Oh, finally! you stand and fight!” Jeff is now to his feet, blood and vodka on his face. Once again he gets that strange feeling, the one in which he hasn’t felt for a while. “Finally. He’s up!” says Randy as he runs at Jeff. That’s when it happens. Something inside Jeff snaps.

It was his ribs. He had brittle bone disease too.

His psyche is destroyed, all rational thinking is gone, all he can do, is kill.

This is your big “Jeff becomes Jeff the Killer” moment, and you go and ruin it with poorly-placed psychobabble and an ungrammatical comma.

That is just sad.

Don’t get up and leave yet, guys, because this demands a lot more analysis. The pasta writer pretty much just said that Jeff became a psychopath because he was unrealistically beaten up by X-TREME ‘90s bullies. Um, pasta writer? Psychopathy doesn’t work that way. Getting horribly beaten up by bullies can result in all sorts of problems, yes, but psychopathy is not one of them. Anxiety, depression, maybe even PTSD given the extreme danger that these kids are pushing on their victims by using actual lethal weapons, but not psychopathy.

At this point, the pasta writer would probably bring up something that I mentioned a while ago: that the “weird feeling” was foreshadowing that Jeff would respond to stress like this, i.e. by becoming a psychopath. To that I say, bullshit. The beginnings of psychopathy are not random quasi-supernatural premonitions that can be dismissed as a “weird feeling.” If you are going to portray a “crazy” character, do it in a way that indicates that you actually know something about human psychology, for fuck’s sake. Not doing your research into psychological disorders is the very best way to end up writing something wholly unrealistic, blatantly inaccurate, and offensive to people who know about human psychology and/or struggle with a disorder themselves — simply put, it’s one of the very fastest ways up your own ass.

Jeff’s psychotic break here is completely unrealistic, on a level with Sk8er Boi and his gang having access to guns. It is complete and utter fail.

He grabs Randy and pile drives him to the ground. He gets on top of him and punches him straight in the heart. The punch causes Randy’s heart to stop.

This is kind of interesting, because a heart stopping because of a blow to the chest actually is something that can happen. It’s called commotio cordis, and it most often happens in teenage boys and young men, usually when they’re playing sports. Sk8er Boi is on the young side of that range, but it’s actually fairly plausible that he could get commotio cordis from being punched hard enough in the chest. Such a pity that this random accuracy is pretty much an accident. I’m convinced at this point that the pasta writer just wrote it because it sounded cool, scary, and near-supernatural.

As Randy gasps for breath. Jeff hammers down on him. Punch after punch, blood gushes from Randy’s body, until he takes one final breath, and dies.

This, however… in contrast to the commotio cordis above, this is just inexcusable. This reeks of the pasta writer watching too many bad horror movies. I could see punches resulting in some blood from Sk8er Boi’s mouth, if the punches broke some ribs that punctured the lungs, or if a few ended up on his face, but he wouldn’t have blood “gushing from his body.” That’s just ridiculous.

Everyone is looking at Jeff now. The parents, the crying kids, even Troy and Keith. Although they easily break from their gaze and point their guns at Jeff.

Why are Troy and Keith introduced with an “even?” That implies that it wouldn’t be expected for them to be looking at Jeff. Jeff just killed their friend; I would be surprised if they weren’t looking at him!

Training their guns on him, though? Probably a bad move, and I don’t think it’s quite in-character for the X-TREME ‘90s Bully Flunkies. When the leader goes down, the flunkies tend to drop everything and run like hell.

Jeff see’s

The only time that there should be an apostrophe between “see” and an S is when you’re talking about See’s Candies.

the guns trained on him and runs for the stairs. As he runs Troy and Keith let out fire on him,

The guns were actually flamethrowers? Cool!

That, or the pasta writer messed up the phrase “opened fire.”

each shot missing. Jeff runs up the stairs. He hears Troy and Keith follow up behind. As they let out their final rounds of bullets Jeff ducks into the bathroom.

It seems like commas mysteriously vanish from places in this story where they’re needed, and show up where they aren’t. This is, sadly, typical in amateur writing. Heck, sometimes it’s typical in published writing. I’m looking at you, E.L. James. *brandishes a riding crop*

He grabs the towel rack and rips it off the wall. Troy and Keith race in, knives ready.

Troy swings his knife at Jeff, who backs away and bangs the towel rack into Troy’s face. Troy goes down hard and now all that’s left is Keith. He is more agile than Troy though, and ducks when Jeff swings the towel rack. He dropped the knife

…which was a stupid move, considering that his opponent was armed, angry, and bigger than he was.

Also, hey, the past tense is back! Kick that present tense back into the abyss, past tense!

and grabbed Jeff by the neck. He pushed him into the wall. A thing of bleach fell down on top of him from the top shelf.

It cracked his skull open, because liquids are fucking heavy.

It burnt both of them and they both started to scream.

Bleach doesn’t usually burn you right away. It takes a while for it to start really stinging. Of course, stronger bleach solutions burn faster, but in that case, what the fuck is Barbara doing with industrial-strength bleach in her bathroom? And why is it open?

Also, that’s “burned,” pasta writer, not “burnt.” “Burnt” is the adjective.

Jeff wiped his eyes as best as he could.

Now, that actually should burn. In fact, Jeff should be sustaining permanent eye damage right now, especially if the bleach is strong enough to burn his skin immediately upon contact.

He pulled back the towel rack and swung it straight into Keith’s head. As he lay there, bleeding to death, he let out an ominous smile.

How does a towel rack make someone start bleeding to death? You’d think it would just bash Keith’s head open, killing him before he even hit the floor. That’s one sharp towel rack you’ve got there, Barbara.

“What’s so funny?” asked Jeff. Keith pulled out a lighter and switched it on. “What’s funny,” he said, “Is that you’re covered in bleach and alcohol.” Jeff’s eyes widened as Keith threw the lighter at him.

Bleach isn’t flammable.

Okay, it can be, but not on its own. Bleach is pretty much just a solution of chlorine in water; it won’t be flammable unless you mix it with something that reacts with the chlorine to become something flammable. Alcohol is not on that list.

Actually, bleach and alcohol mixed together make chloroform, which you may recognize from those rags that people in movies use to knock each other out. If Jeff is suffering any ill effects from what’s been dumped on him, those effects should be some skin bleaching, severe drowsiness, possible fainting, and organ damage if he inhales too much chloroform for too long.

Chloroform, by the way, isn’t flammable either.

As for the alcohol, it should pretty much all be used up by the reaction with the bleach. Vodka is usually about 35% to 50% alcohol, which is kind of a lot, but when you consider that the ratio here is one bottle of vodka to a whole “thing” of bleach? Yeah, there should be a whole lot more bleach than vodka. The amount of alcohol on Jeff should be totally negligible.

So of course this works out exactly as Keith intended.

As soon as the flame made contact with him, the flames ignited the alcohol in the vodka. While the alcohol burned him, the bleach bleached his skin. Jeff let out a terrible screech as he caught on fire.

*sigh*

The bleach should already be bleaching him. Bloody hell. This is just made of fail.

Wait. Wasn’t Keith supposed to be the stupid one? How come he’s the one who does the “clever” trick of throwing a lighter on Jeff? I guess it must be because he’s the only one left.

He tried to roll out the fire but it was no use, the alcohol had made him a walking inferno.

Which, again, it shouldn’t have done, because it would have mostly evaporated already or reacted with the bleach to make non-flammable chloroform. This is stupid.

Also, “roll out the fire?” What is that? He tried to stop, drop, and roll? There were, like, a million better ways to say that, pasta writer.

He ran down the hall, and fell down the stairs. Everybody started screaming as they saw Jeff, now a man on fire, drop to the ground, nearly dead.

I wouldn’t exactly call a burning thirteen-year-old boy a man on fire, pasta writer.

Shouldn’t these people have been screaming earlier? Hell, shouldn’t they be doing something? The way it’s written, it looks like the people were just standing around and watching as Jeff brutally murdered two boys. Sure, they were threatened at gunpoint to get them to stay out of it, but Troy and Keith were pretty focused on Jeff once the fight with Sk8er Boi started, and they’re fucking twelve; even if they have guns, an adult jumping on one of them from behind is gonna overpower them. Even allowing for the guns, which I am still not ready to accept at all, this story pretty much relies on the bystanders being unrealistically stupid and useless.

The last thing Jeff saw was his mother and the other parents trying to extinguish the flame. That’s when he passed out.

Another “that’s when” that would have been much better as a “then!” Joy of fucking joys.

How exactly can Jeff see all this? I mentioned earlier that he should have sustained permanent eye damage from the bleach. Add the fact that he’s currently on fire, and he shouldn’t really be registering much of anything, especially not images. His eyes should be totally fucked to shit.

When Jeff woke he had a cast wrapped around his face. He couldn’t see anything, but he felt a cast on his shoulder, and stitches all over his body. He tried to stand up, but he realized that there was some tube in his arm, and when he tried to get up it fell out, and a nurse rushed in.

Since this is apparently close third person and he just registered what is clearly an IV as “some tube,” I’d like to know how Jeff knew that “a nurse rushed in.” Of course, considering the general ineptitude we’ve seen thus far (random tense swaps, anyone?), I shouldn’t really be surprised that the pasta writer couldn’t keep the point of view consistent.

“I don’t think you can get out of bed just yet.” she said

Again with the period at the end of dialogue where there should be a comma. At least the dialogue tag isn’t capitalized. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the lack of said bookisms, although that’s probably more of a symptom of the writer’s, er, lack of advancement in the field of writing than a positive point. It doesn’t really seem to be the writer’s style, either; the prose here is really quite beige.

as she put him back in his bed and re-inserted the tube.

Speaking of the tube, how did that fall out? I don’t think IV’s fall out that easily. I guess the tube attached to the needle got dislodged, but in that case, how did Jeff feel that?

Jeff sat there, with no vision, no idea of what his surroundings were.

Jeff was very dull; any other kid would assume that he was in the hospital.

Finally, after hours, he heard his mother.

“Honey, are you okay?” she asked. Jeff couldn’t answer though, his face was covered, and he was unable to speak.

I guess we can see where he gets it. Seriously, Margaret, your son is covered in bandages. Of course he can’t answer you.

“Oh honey, I have great news. After all the witnesses told the police that Randy confessed of trying to attack you, they decided to let Liu go.”

At least the Complete Incompetence Police seem to have recognized their mistake. No mention of Sk8er Boi talking about it being Jeff that beat him up, though. Perhaps Margaret has grown a sense of tact and isn’t telling Jeff that he’s going to be tried as an adult for the murders of Sk8er Boi, Troy, and Keith… or perhaps the pasta writer simply forgot about that, because it would be inconvenient to this killer origin story.

Then again, considering that the X-TREME ’90s Bully Gang was threatening Jeff and everyone else at the party, Jeff probably could get off on self-defense, or at least have the charges downgraded to manslaughter.

This made Jeff almost bolt up, stopping halfway, remembering the tube coming out of his arm. “He’ll be out by tomorrow, and then you two will be able to be together again.”

Jeff’s mother hugs Jeff

Careful with that tube. And your tense.

and says her goodbyes. The next couple of weeks were those where Jeff was visited by his family. Then came the day where his bandages were to be removed.

Well, now the timeskips are giving me whiplash instead of the tense shifts. Progress? I don’t know.

His family were all there to see it, what he would look like.

Horrible grammar. Moving on.

As the doctors unwrapped the bandages from Jeff’s face everyone was on the edge of their seats. They waited until the last bandage holding the cover over his face was almost removed.

“Let’s hope for the best,” said the doctor. He quickly pulls the cloth; letting the rest fall from Jeff’s face.

He looks awful. He looks like the “Ominous Unknown Killer” in the “excerpt from a local newspaper.” We know this because, again, you titled this story “Jeff the Killer.” We know that Jeff is going to become the killer!

Jeff’s mother screams at the sight of his face. Liu and Jeff’s dad stare awe-struck at his face.

It is generally poor writing to end two sentences in a row with the same word, and even poorer writing to end them with the same two words. We also have yet another instance of the author bifurcating words into their components with the unnecessary hyphenation of “awestruck.” It’s getting to the point where I want to punch something every time I see it.

“What? What happened to my face?” Jeff said. He rushed out of bed and ran to the bathroom.

He slipped and fell on the way, because his muscles had atrophied and he wasn’t ready to get back on his feet yet.

He looked in the mirror and saw the cause of the distress. His face. It…it’s horrible.

The ellipses are coming! THE ELLIPSES ARE COMING! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

His lips were burnt to a deep shade of red. His face was turned into a pure white color, and his hair singed from brown to black.

Uh. No. None of this is right.

The bleaching, I could kind of get, if not for all the burns. In real life, Jeff probably would have needed skin grafts. Considering the extent of the burns, they probably would have come from a donor; thus, they wouldn’t be bleached. It’d look pretty awful for a while, but it would not look like this.

The lips… would probably be mostly scar tissue. I’m not an expert on how lips heal from burns, but burned red? No. I am pretty sure that’s not how it would work.

As for the hair, the doctors probably would have had to shave him to get to his burned scalp, and then put skin grafts on it if it was really bad. So, whether temporarily or permanently, Jeff should be bald or have very, very, very short hair. Even if the doctors left his burned-up hair on for some unfathomable reason, the hair would still grow in brown — which means that he would have a tangled mess of burned black hair suspended on top of brown roots. Lovely.

(By the way, DON’T do an image search for “skin grafts.” That shit will haunt your nightmares.)

He slowly put his hand to his face. It had a sort of leathery feel to it now. He looked back at his family then back at the mirror.

“Jeff,” said Liu, “It’s not that bad….”

Behold, the mysterious and magical Four-Dot Ellipsis! Beware, for if you find it in your own writing, it signifies seven years of bad luck.

“Not that bad?” said Jeff,” It’s perfect!”

That comma after Jeff’s name should be a period.

His family were equally surprised.

Jeff does not seem very surprised. I think the pasta writer was trying to say that Peter, Margaret, and Liu were all surprised to the same degree, but that was a very poor way of writing that; as-is, it looks like their reactions are being compared to Jeff’s.

Jeff started laughing uncontrollably His parents noticed that his left eye and hand were twitching.

The pasta writer is clearly trying to speed through this and get to the gory details. What other excuse is there for missing a period?

Oh, wait. There’s no excuse. There’s no excuse for that, ever.

“Uh… Jeff, are you okay?”

“Okay? I’ve never felt more happy! Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa,

I am not a fan of laughter being transcribed, especially since we’ve already established that he’s “laughing uncontrollably.”

look at me. This face goes perfectly with me!” He couldn’t stop laughing.

Again, pasta writer, you have established that he’s in the middle of a gigglefit. WE KNOW ALREADY.

He stroked his face feeling it. Looking at it in the mirror.

Another redundancy, seeing as he was doing this just a few lines of dialogue ago. Is it too much to hope that this piece was actually the pasta writer’s attempt to get hired by the Department of Redundancy Department?

What caused this?

Oh, hey, we’re about to get some hand-holding!

Well, you may recall that when Jeff was fighting Randy something in his mind, his sanity, snapped. Now he was left as a crazy killing machine,

I already went into how much fail this was when it happened. Goddammit, pasta writer, have some faith in your audience’s ability to remember things! We do not forget everything we just read every ten seconds.

that is, his parents didn’t know.

Why did you introduce this with a “that is?” It doesn’t follow with what came before it at all.

“Doctor,” said Jeff’s mom, “Is my son… alright, you know. In the head?”

Unnecessary capitalization and loss of a question mark. Also, Margaret? If you can’t tell that Jeff is fucked in the head, I have serious doubts about your ability to function as an adult.

“Oh yes, this behavior is typical for patients that have taken very large amounts of pain killers.

What.

Someone fire this doctor.

If his behavior doesn’t change in a few weeks, bring him back here, and we’ll give him a psychological test.”

I think you mean “psychiatric.”

“Oh thank you doctor.” Jeff’s mother went over to Jeff.” Jeff, sweety. It’s time to go.”

Jeff looks away from the mirror, his face still formed into a crazy smile. “Kay mommy, ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Again with the annoyingly- and unnecessarily-transcribed elongated laughter, and also a lack of apostrophe to note that “‘kay” is a contraction of “okay.”

his mother took him by the shoulder and took him to get his clothes.

The capitalization seems to have taken a day off.

“This is what came in,” said the lady at the desk. Jeff’s mom looked down to see the black dress pants and white hoodie her son wore. Now they were clean of blood and now stitched together.

Uh, I’m pretty sure Jeff’s family should have brought in clothes for him. Like the scene where Jeff has to pick out fancy clothes, this is a baldly transparent way of getting the main character into his signature outfit, only this time, it’s all ~significant~ because the clothing has a ~history.~ Yes, it’s the hoodie and dress pants that he made his first kills in, whoop-dee-fucking-doo. It’s also unrealistic.

Plus, those clothes should look nothing like they did when he arrived at the party. Let’s recap what happened while Jeff was wearing that outfit, shall we? He was stabbed, he beat someone up, he got a bucket of bleach dumped on him, and he was burned severely. If we assume that they managed to get the bloodstains and soot out of the hoodie, which is a very charitable assumption, those clothes should have been burned beyond repair. Even if they did somehow manage to salvage them, the pants should no longer be fully black: the bleach would have removed the color.

Jeff’s mother led him to his room and made him put his clothes on. Then they left, not knowing that this was their final day of life.

And the pasta writer again spoils the story for us!

Now, to be fair, there are some published authors that do this. Stephen King himself is pretty well known for slapping in little comments of “they would be dead two hours later,” or the like. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it can be used to build tension. We know that a character is going to die, but we still don’t know how and when, and the anticipation can be wonderfully thrilling. Here, though, it just falls flat and just reads like the writer is desperately grasping for some kind of horror. There is zero doubt about how these characters are going to die, because the writer established very early in the story that Jeff is a psycho killer and his preferred method of killing appears to be stabbing. We know exactly what is going to happen to his family.

Later that night, Jeff’s mother woke to a sound coming from the bathroom. It sounded as if someone was crying. She slowly walked over to see what it was. When she looked into the bathroom she saw a horrendous sight. Jeff had taken a knife and carved a smile into his cheeks.

Jeff’s mother then ran down the stairs, locked herself in the other bathroom with a phone, and called 911. The police showed up, and Jeff was committed to a mental institution.

Or at least that would be how it ended if anyone in this story had a shred of fucking sense.

“Jeff, what are you doing?” asked his mother.

Jeff looked over to his mother. “I couldn’t keep smiling mommy. It hurt after awhile.

So to avoid your face hurting from smiling too much, you go and carve a Glasgow Grin into your cheeks, severely injuring yourself in a location with lots and lots of nice, sensitive nerve endings.

Flawless logic, Jeff.

Now, I can smile forever. Jeff’s mother noticed his eyes, ringed in black.

She was horrified: not only had the quotes taken an unexpected vacation, but her son was becoming an EMO!

“Jeff, your eyes!” His eyes were seemingly never closing.

This is just unfathomably awkward writing. Pasta writer, if you wanted her to be horrified at his eyes, why did you neglect to describe how horrifying they were in full before having her express that horror? Alternately, you could have her express horror at his eyes, and then describe exactly what prompted that response. But splitting up the description? That just makes the whole thing clunky and annoying.

“I couldn’t see my face. I got tired and my eyes started to close. I burned out the eyelids so I could forever see myself; my new face.”

Remember the ocular damage I mentioned when there was bleach in Jeff’s eyes? Remember how I said that his eyes should be pretty bad now?

Yeah, this just makes that a whole lot worse.

Jeff, you need your eyelids. You need them to wash ocular fluid over your eyes and keep them from drying out. Without your eyelids, your eyes are going to hurt like hell, your corneas are going to get inflamed, and you’ll develop all kinds of nasty problems. You’ll never be able to see your new face if your eyes dry up and rot out of their sockets, Jeff.

Again, flawless logic.

Jeff’s mother slowly started to back away, seeing that her son was going insane.

You only just now realized this? I find that very difficult to believe.

“What’s wrong mommy? Aren’t I beautiful?

The quotation marks really are taking a lot of vacations, aren’t they?

“Yes son,” she said, “Yes you are. L-let me go get daddy, so he can see your face.”

She ran into the room and shook Jeff’s dad from his sleep. “Honey, get the gun

“Get the gun.” Um, what about, you know, calling the police? I guess she realized after the Liu incident that they were the Complete Incompetence Police, so she and Peter have to take the law into their own hands.

we…..”

Behold! The fabled Five-Dot Ellipsis, Harbinger of Horrid Writing! It only appears when the story is the most absolute bullshit ever! WEEP, DEAR READERS. FALL DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND DESPAIR.

She stopped as she saw Jeff in the doorway, holding a knife.

“Mommy, you lied.” That’s the last thing they hear as Jeff rushes them with the knife, gutting both of them.

Apparently Jeff is telekinetic, or else he would have to gut them after he rushed them instead of while he rushed them.

His brother Liu woke up, startled by some noise. He didn’t hear anything else, so he just shut his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. As he was on the border of slumber, he got the strangest feeling that someone was watching him. He looked up, before Jeff’s hand covered his mouth. He slowly raised the knife ready to plunge it into Liu. Liu thrashed here and there trying to escape Jeff’s grip.

“Shhhhhhh,” Jeff said,”Just go to sleep.”

The return of the catchphrase, and the end of our story, with a missing space and unnecessary capitalization. I guess that is a fitting way to wrap this up.


For all the flaws in the actual story, Jeff the Killer took the internet by storm. The photoshopped image referenced at the beginning of this post has achieved memetic status, along with the catchprhase “go to sleep.” Beyond that, the pasta has spawned fanart, YouTube videos, and even fan games.

Still, there is some hope. Phelan Porteous, better known by his internet handle of Phelous, dedicated the third episode of “Old Man Reads Creepypasta” to making fun of Jeff the Killer, and the Creepypasta Wiki has actually removed the Jeff the Killer story for not measuring up to their content standards. It’s good to know that at least there are some people who look at the story as well as the creepy image.

Speaking of the image, I must close this sporking by noting that since reading the accompanying story, I no longer find any depictions of Jeff creepy in the slightest. Sure, they might plug into the primal fears a bit with their gross mockery of a face, but that’s only a tiny component of being creepy, and knowing that the story behind that face is this poorly-written and nonsensical completely neutralizes that fear response. No matter how bizarre the image or how deep in the Uncanny Valley it falls, its ability to keep someone up at night can be killed with horrifying efficacy by some truly bad writing.

This Week in Spam: Right Under the Wire

I am pleased to report that the past week has been relatively spam-free! In fact, the only spam comment I received was posted this very afternoon.

This one also came with a hilariously broken link to “foxnews.co.uk.” I’m pretty sure the U.K. doesn’t have Fox News. Fox News is one of those things the U.K. uses to point and laugh at silly Americans, along with our portion sizes and weird accents. It’s a distinctly ‘Murrican thing.

The other funny thing is that the comment was another Spamception, posted again on my first This Week in Spam post. I’m not sure what it is about that post, but apparently it’s a magnet for further spam.

Content-wise, this one was another one of those “generic compliment” spam comments: complimenting the writing, saying something about how Spambot McSpammyson would forward the post to his roommate, etc. It also addressed me as “you guys,” or rather, “yyou guyss.” This particular spambot, you see, has a consonant reduplication fetish.

Perhaps this coming week will see an actual spam-drought… it would be very nice to get a week off.

The Sims 2 Machinima I Made When I Was A Teenager

When I was 13 years old, I happened upon the wonderful world of Sims 2 machinima.

I’m not sure which one I saw first, but I remember getting really, really obsessed with AliaMovies’s A Pleasant View. I totally disagreed with some of the shipping choices (Lilith/Dustin? even if it was only a brief one-time thing, HERESY!), but I liked watching what the creator had done with her Pleasantview, and she was pretty good with cinematography. So, I decided to make my own miniseries.

Main character choice was obvious: I would make it all about Lilith Pleasant. She was (and still is) my favorite character, and I kind of had a crush on her, though I hadn’t fully realized I was a lesbian yet. I would touch on all the families of Pleasantview, but Lilith would be the hero. In the course of writing this, I turned her into an utter Mary-Sue, which is kind of funny since Mary-Sue is literally her mom’s real first name. In my defense, I was a teenager, and Mary-Sue Pleasant is a canon character whom I did not name.

The series was called Lilith’s Journal.

Yes, I am the true identity of the former YouTube machinima writer LilithPleasant13.

Looking back on the series, the thing that makes me cringe the most is the music. Some tracks are blatantly lifted from A Pleasant View, and the rest are from my own personal taste from the time, which meant it was mostly crap. I recently went back and watched some of the videos and hearing the specific Avril Lavigne songs I used kind of makes me want to stab my eardrums. In the years since making Lilith’s Journal, I happened upon the wonderful world of symphonic metal, and since then I haven’t really been able to listen to pop music without wondering where the crashing guitars and full orchestra are.

I was also truly horrible at writing characters. As previously mentioned, Lilith became an utter Mary-Sue. Her dad and sister became largely one-dimensional villains, and most of the characters were reduced to flat cardboard cutouts of their personalities as my uninformed young-teen brain saw them. I even made a love interest, Mallory Ink,* from scratch; now that I think about it, she was a blatant self-insert Relationship Sue. If the series had continued, she would have gotten even worse. The story was simplistic and I pretty much wrote it as I went along, though as I got toward the end I started to figure out where the plot would go. I was even planning a second season.

Why did I stop? Well, I got a new computer, and I didn’t know back then how to get my savegame from the old computer to the new, and I never got around to constructing stuff on the new computer so that I could continue the series. Plus, I don’t think my new computer even had Windows Movie Maker. I found some new obsession to work on, probably one of my ridiculous Raven-ripoff characters. I was a teenager.

Oddly enough, at that point, the series was pretty popular. It wasn’t as popular as A Pleasant View, but I just looked up my old channel… and it still has almost 300 subscribers, which is roughly a third of AliaMovies’s current subscriber count. It makes me kind of proud.

If you’re wondering why I never deleted that channel, or why I left in the first place… well, I forgot the password a long time ago, and the email address the channel was attached to is now defunct, so I can’t really recover it. Plus, sometimes you just need to look at your old work and remind yourself how far you’ve come.

If you want to watch the series, I won’t stop you. Just… prepare yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Lilith’s Journal, and you want me to make Episode 11… I probably won’t be doing it, at least not how I originally intended. The way it was going to go was, their plan worked, and an alien tagged along with them because she wanted to go see the Curious brothers and their alien baby. Then they returned to Pleasantview just in time. Dina ran off in a huff, preparing some new scheme… and was promptly struck by lightning. The final shot would have shown Mallory watching, implying that Mallory is some kind of witch. Yeah, that’s why I said she gets worse in terms of Mary-Sue-ness. She has magic powers.

In my defense, I was a freaking teenager.

 

*I don’t think I ever mentioned Mallory’s last name in the series. So if you used to watch the series, now you know. It was Ink.

This Week in Spam: Spamception!

Since last week, I have received four comments, all of them spam. The hope of finding another real comment fades. If any of you would be so kind as to throw one my way, I would be quite grateful.

The funniest thing about this week’s surge of spam, in my opinion, was that half of the spam comments were posted on last week’s entry of This Week in Spam. Does the word “spam” attract more spam? Are there sinister forces at work here?

Eh, probably not. It’s still funny, though.

One thing that I really can’t figure out, though, is why the people who make these spambots seem unable to disguise them as actual comments. The ones who are given away by their blatant link-drops and alien grammar are strange enough, but then I happen upon ones like last week’s tropical smoothie, or one from this week that talked about weight loss, and I just think… why? Does anyone actually click on these things?

And now that I’ve posed that question, I must again remind myself that I live in a world where Donald Trump was elected President over one of the most qualified candidates in United States history. I may just be going broke overestimating the intelligence of the American public.

You would think, though, that it wouldn’t be too hard to disguise a spam comment as a legit one. General praise is far easier to give in a non-spammy way than these comments would lead me to believe. The obvious compliment would be “well-written,” or a simple “I liked your article.” Perhaps the spammers feel that this too would be obvious, which it definitely would if they keep dropping their link right in the body of the comment text. Some try to integrate it with a comment about how “this is a great site” or “check out my blog,” but the first is still blatantly obvious in its clickbaiting, and the second becomes obvious when it links to something that obviously isn’t a blog URL.

Perhaps I should keep these insights to myself, so that the spammers never figure out how to actually slip past people’s radar. That would certainly save a few people from falling victim to their annoying tactics.

Ultimately, I think this nitpicking of mine stems from my horrible tendency to attempt to correct any perceived inaccuracy. It’s a character flaw of mine. If any of you have some idea how I can curb it, I would very much like to hear your suggestions. As long as it’s not something woo like crystal therapy or hypnosis, that is.

How Valentine’s Day Became Sappy Bullshit Day

Happy Sappy Bullshit Day! Or Valentine’s Day, if you prefer.

As a single person, it seems to be my duty to take the piss out of our culture’s designated Romance Holiday, but I don’t want you, dear reader, to think that my problems with the day stop there. I’m not some bitter old maid leveling her clawed talons at the happy young couples and shrieking about public displays of affection, or a lonely person jealous of what others have and striving mightily to bring it down. No, I’m simply a crazy history nerd here to tell you that a lot of the stories your parents probably told you about Valentine’s Day are simply not true. Who is also single.

So, without further ado, let’s begin our history lesson!

St. Valentine’s Day has its origins in the late Roman empire. Catholic Online lists 10 articles for a St. Valentine, only three of whom have further names to distinguish them, plus two Valentins, one Valentina, one Valentinian, and one Pope Valentine. The two (!) associated with February 14th were Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, both of whom were supposedly martyred in the third century C.E. Valentine of Rome was canonized in the fifth century; I couldn’t find a canonization date for Valentine of Terni. However, given that Valentine of Rome was associated more with the Gnostic movement than Catholicism, the saint most associated with Valentine’s Day is likely Valentine of Terni.

In its original form, St. Valentine’s Day was a simple feast day, just like most days associated with saints by various Christian denominations. Nothing in the original story of Valentine of Terni suggests his feast day’s future association with romance. It’s a simple persecution narrative: the saint was imprisoned on a trip to Rome, tortured, and finally martyred on the Via Flaminia. The modern legends attesting to St. Valentine performing forbidden marriages or leaving a note for a jailer’s daughter are later inventions, probably created to retroactively explain the romantic association of the holiday. Of particular note is the fact that both of these stories reference the saint as having been martyred during the reign of Claudius II, a detail that could only apply to Valentine of Rome, who was supposedly martyred in 269. The official date for Valentine of Terni’s martyrdom is 273, three years after Claudius II’s death. If a Roman Emperor did have Valentine of Terni killed in that year, it would have been Aurelian.

(As an aside, the Lupercal has no connection with Valentine’s Day whatsoever. The connection is simply made because of their similar dates; in its original form, Valentine’s Day would have borne no other resemblance to the ancient Roman festival. The modern Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with Lupercalia.)

The true origin of Valentine’s Day’s connection with romantic love lies in the medieval era. The first attested reference to such a connection comes in Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules (Parliament of Fowls), which repeatedly associates “Seynt Valentynes day” with the mating of birds. This connection comes after an extended reference to the Roman gods, beginning with Priapus and a half-naked Venus. The Roman gods are followed by a litany of characters who have some association with a story of tragic love. This prelude to the association leads me to believe that Chaucer was likely making some sort of joke, though admittedly, my comprehension of Middle-English is somewhat less than my knowledge of ancient mythology. To conclude that Chaucer was joking does, however, fit within what I know of Chaucer from his wonderfully dirty Canterbury Tales.

Whether or not Chaucer was joking, it is debatable whether he was the originator of this association of Valentine’s Day, or simply making fun of it. As my expertise in medieval culture is largely to do with the research I undertake to write fantasy novels, I think I should probably leave that to the experts in Middle-English poetry. Either way, the fact remains that Parlement of Foules is the first text to reference such a connection.

The modern form of Valentine’s Day is simply what most of our holidays are: a fucking corporate shill with a lot of bizarre invented bullshit attached to it. Celebrate it if you will, but don’t try to pretend that there’s some deep meaning or saintly deed behind all this love stuff. The best you can hope for in terms of potential famous historical origins is the same pen that wrote The Miller’s Tale.

Novel Progress: Wordier than Senior Thesis

I passed an important milestone today. My novel draft has how surpassed my senior thesis in word count.

To be fair, my thesis was a bit short for a senior thesis at Reed. I wrote it over one semester, so the length requirement was cut down a bit. Still, my thesis is one of the biggest writing projects I’ve ever done, and I have managed to exceed its word count within about half the time. If that’s not something to be proud of, I don’t know what is.

Of course, some of this speed might be owed to the different type of writing. Academic writing requires a lot more setup, because you have to research everything. Novels also require research, but when you write in your own world, a lot of the history is in your head. The research largely functions to establish whether what you’ve imagined is at least plausible.

It’s also interesting to note that although I have passed my thesis in word count, I’m not even close to passing its page count. The reason for this one is far more obvious: I’m writing my novel single-spaced. I will have to double-space it when I send out the manuscript, but for now, I really do prefer to have it single-spaced, because it makes it easier to scroll around. It also keeps me from feeling like I’m being too long-winded. This is the first draft, after all. I have heard that most final drafts are anywhere from twenty to fifty percent shorter than the first draft. I can cut down on unnecessary material later; for now, I just want to get the story written and crafted, so that I know what needs tweaking when I look it over.

Perhaps the most fun thing about this is, I’m not even out of the double digits in chapter count. This book is going to be long… but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And now, back to the draft I go! After all, I still need to get up to my 2,000 words of the day.

“OMG! A full moon AND a lunar eclipse!”

Okay, the actual headlines I’m seeing are more along the lines of “A full moon, a lunar eclipse, and a comet all in the same night!” But… that does not make this any better. That title contains a blatant science failure, and I don’t think I’ll be able to focus on anything else unless I explain it.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s shadow falls across the moon. For this to happen, the moon must be “behind” the earth relative to the sun. That means that wherever we are, we’re going to be seeing the moon as entirely illuminated; that is, up until we get in front of it.

Basically, what I’m saying is that a full moon is a prerequisite for a lunar eclipse. You can’t have a lunar eclipse without it. So, having the two occur on the same night is really nothing special.

Splitting the eclipse and its necessary lunar phase into two separate things just smacks of clickbaiting bullshit to me. The best it could be is an attempt to follow the Rule of Three, but that’s also kind of a sign of clickbait. Marketers know that people respond to threes. Heck, one of my weird idiosyncrasies is a love for numbers that are divisible by three! It’s a thing!

Alternatively, it could be that the person who came up with the title didn’t really think about how lunar eclipses and full moons go together. In which case, this is a demonstration of how titles need to be edited just as much as the texts they introduce.

The weirdest thing? The article with the offending title is from the Washington Post, which as far as I know is not known for clickbaiting or poor research.

To be fair, the whole “comet plus lunar eclipse” thing is actually pretty cool. Pity Seattle’s weather won’t let me see it.

This Week in Spam: Tropical Smoothies and Portuguese

In the past week, I have received three comments which definitely come from spammers, and one which I think is legit. My ability to joke about “wonders of the Internet, amirite?” is fading a bit.

The first spammy comment was immediately obvious because it was written entirely in Portuguese. I don’t speak Portuguese. Previous experience with high school Spanish and college Latin allows me to identify the language and pick out a few words, but overall, it’s all cuneiform to me (I prefer not to say “it’s all Greek” because I actually know some Greek, albeit the ancient version).

Further evidence for its spam nature comes in the form of the name “baixar pc flash” and the linked portfolio. A more obvious spambot you will rarely see.

The second spammy comment actually puts its link in the body of the comment itself rather than the commenter details. It’s a Twitter link, which I didn’t follow, but am pretty sure is porn because the username has the same two capitalized characters at the end that the other account with a link to Twitter porn did. This one might actually be a person hired to post spam rather than a spambot, but I only say that because the link embedding is botched.

The body text of that one is hardly worth mentioning. It’s a generic compliment with poor grammar, the kind that looks like either a chatbot or a poor author’s rendition of a non-native English speaker. This also matches up pretty well with the other Twitter pornbot.

The third, well… I’ll just let it speak for itself.

[…] Tropical Pineapple Coconut Smoothie: if you’re looking for everything exotic, this 3 ingredient smoothie is exactly the one you […]

Yes, those bracketed ellipses are actually a part of the comment, and to ridiculous grammar-pedant me, they are utterly baffling. Is the spambot adding ellipses to the comment? Why? What are they trying to imply with this unnecessary punctuation? Is it supposed to be a quote? What the hell is going on here?

This one is actually the only one to have a human name attached to it, though the website and email links don’t match it. They also don’t match with the text of the comment, which is kind of a bummer, because a pineapple coconut smoothie actually sounds pretty tasty.

While the spam comments are kind of annoying, I am interested in seeing what happens to their rate of posting as I keep building this blog. I’m not really sure yet as to whether they’re targeting new posts, because while the first two popped up rather soon after the corresponding blog post, the third was on a post that I made back in January (though to be fair, that’s not exactly a long time ago at this point).

I think I’ll be making this a series. Tune in next Wednesday evening for another installment of This Week in Spam!

I Took the Fantasy Novelist’s Exam

Have you ever heard of the Fantasy Novelist’s Exam, of RinkWorks fame? If not, take a moment to read through it. It points out a lot of the most annoyingly persistent tropes in the genre, and even if I disagree with a few of its points being deal-breakers, I do agree that a good many of these things are red flags. Plus, when you get down to it, it’s just a funny commentary on the kinds of devices that show up endlessly in the ever-growing library of fantasy novels.

On a whim, I decided I might as well put my current novel-in-progress through it, and this is what I got.

WARNING: THIS POST IS REALLY LONG.

Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?

At the time of this posting, I’ve written about fifteen pages, and although a lot of it is worldbuilding and character establishment, the main character has already set out on her adventure and is making her way toward the initial goal. I’d call that something happening.

Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?

Not quite. She’s young and has a Missing Mom, but she’s certainly not a farmhand.

Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn’t know it?

No; I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that both of her parents are of completely common birth.

Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?

There is an element of coming-of-age, but gaining great power is debatable, and defeating a supreme badguy is a no. It’s much less a “good versus evil” story and much more a “struggle against adversity” story.

Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?

No. Ancient magical implements are generally considered outdated and kept as curiosities and status symbols rather than actually being useful. A few ancient spell formulae are worth study and adaptation to modern methods, but for the most part, ancient magic is obsolete magic.

How about one that will destroy it?

As implied by the above answer, magical artifacts in this world generally aren’t up-to-date; hence, most aren’t anywhere near powerful enough to destroy a city, let alone the whole world. Heck, they probably couldn’t even knock down a stone wall without exhausting the item’s entire supply of magical residue… if there’s even enough magic left in the thing.

Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about “The One” who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?

No. There’s an elaborate system of astrology based on the multiple moons, but like real-life astrology these only give general predictions. Plus, as stated above, it’s not really the kind of “good versus evil” story that you usually see in the fantasy genre.

Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?

No, and if I ever write a character like that, please slap me round the face.

Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?

None of the characters in my novel are gods, disguised or otherwise. I don’t really touch on religion much, though I might make a separate post about this world’s development in that regard. Functional magic can have interesting implications for that sort of thing.

Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?

The main character’s father is a loving single dad who plays the role of mentor. So, pretty much the opposite of that.

Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?

There is no one king of the entire world in this setting, and none of the kings I’ve created so far are that kindly. Most are reasonable to a degree, and there aren’t many outright tyrants, but any shady or misguided actions are there without the influence of evil magicians.

Does “a forgetful wizard” describe any of the characters in your novel?

In this world, the word “wizard” refers to an ancient class of people who practiced a highly outdated form of magic and kept their lofty position by hoarding their secrets. Essentially, wizards are historical figures, and not very well-liked ones at that. So no, there are no forgetful wizards. Calling a magic user a wizard would be like calling a real-world, modern-day scientist an alchemist.

How about “a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior”?

There isn’t really much focus on warriors in this novel, so no. Those who do show up aren’t really portrayed as this kind of archetype as much as they are, you know, soldiers; that is, they’re more likely to act like Haymitch Abernathy than Lennie Small. (Yes, I know neither of those characters are soldiers per se, but the difference I’m illustrating is between “near-textbook case of PTSD” and “misunderstood Gentle Giant archetype.”)

How about “a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons”?

The story is pretty low on mystical sages. In a world with functional, documented magic with a variety of tried-and-true uses, the closest you get are the astrologers. See above for why they don’t actually know crap about the plot.

Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?

Moot point: the main character is female.

Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?

Capture-and-rescue plots are another thing my novel is fairly low on.

Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?

I like to think that, as a woman, I can write female characters as fully-functional, fleshed-out people. It’s kind of my default. If a character in my novel ends up embodying feminist ideals to the reader, then good for them, but that would not be my sole intention in creating them. I create my characters for the sake of the story.

Would “a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword” aptly describe any of your female characters?

Definitely not.

Would “a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan” aptly describe any of your female characters?

Closer, but still no cigar. The main character kind of fits the latter description, but she’s never actually been in a battle and has a marked tendency toward self-doubt. One of the major characters fits the former description to some degree, but is less a “warrioress” than a huntress, and would not take kindly to the insult to her cooking. Things made in a frying pan may not be her forte, but she makes a mean rotisserie.

Is any character in your novel best described as “a dour dwarf”?

Moot point: there are no dwarves.

How about “a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage”?

Moot point: there are no elves.

Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?

See above responses for why this, too, is a moot point.

Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?

No, they’re extras. I don’t really focus on child characters unless the main character is one, and the story starts when my main character is sixteen.

Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?

The first chapter of my novel features transport barges. That’s how the main character’s hometown exports its lumber. It’s also the most convenient way to travel from said hometown to literally anywhere, seeing as it’s surrounded by thick forest.

Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?

The 1870’s, if I recall correctly.

Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like “The Blasted Lands” or “The Forest of Fear” or “The Desert of Desolation” or absolutely anything “of Doom”?

I have a map, but it’s more a representation of a map that’s actually in the novel, and I like to think that my naming skills are much, much better than that. The named places so far are called things like “Northwood,” “Afenhold,” “Rivermeet,” and “Lake Freith.”

Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you’ve read the entire book, if even then?

I’ve actually been going back and forth on whether to include a prologue. I would kind of like to, but I feel like I should get the actual story done first, or at least significantly started. I don’t want the reader to have to read the whole book to understand it, but I do want there to be a bit of mystery, so that they can put things together as they go along.

Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?

Actually… yes.

This is the point at which, by the rules of the test, I fail. I’ll admit it: trilogies are totally overdone. However, I really do think it fits the story, so I’m going ahead with it anyway. Tropes Are Tools, after all.

How about a quintet or a decalogue?

I think this is covered by the above. For what it’s worth, I promise not to succumb to Trilogy Creep. I will not have my books be the next Inheritance Trilogy Cycle.

Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?

Don’t know yet! We’ll have to see when it gets published.

Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you’re still many sequels away from finishing your “story”?

Moot point: this is my first novel.

Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?

See above.

Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?

Isn’t Robert Jordan dead?

*checks Wikipedia*

Yeah, he’s been dead for ten years at this point, though he was alive at the time of this test’s writing. Considering that I am alive, I am obviously not Robert Jordan. Some friends of mine have been fans of The Wheel of Time, but I could never really get into it. A lot of the gender stuff struck me as seriously problematic.

Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?

If I wrote a novel based on the adventures of any roleplaying group I’ve been a part of, it would be the most ridiculous thing I ever put to paper. Well, except the Mary-Sue cat aliens I created when I was seven years old, but those are a discussion for another day. Needless to say, no, my novel is not based on a roleplaying campaign.

Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?

Nope. C.S. Lewis did it better than I ever could.

Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?

No. Their names are fantasy-ish, but they’re all fully pronounceable. They range from actual Celtic and Anglo-Saxon names to similarly-sounding but entirely made up names. The main character, for example, is named Andreva, and her father’s name is Garron.

Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?

Not unless you include bynames and/or titles. The first names of the main cast are all either two or three syllables.

Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named “Tim Umber” and “Belthusalanthalus al’Grinsok”?

Asclepius help me, that name makes my eyes bleed. That is a very specific level of bad commonly known as “only works in a parody.”

Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?

Nope! It’s just humans.

How about “orken” or “dwerrows”?

Please, if I wanted to disguise a fantasy race, I’d be a hell of a lot more creative than that. I’d call elves “huldren” and give them a hollow in their backs. No, wait, I’d just write actual huldren. They’re interesting.

Do you have a race prefixed by “half-“?

Again, it’s just humans, so there aren’t any various humanoid species to hybridize in strange and unusual ways. I’m not writing in Faerûn.

At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?

Refer back to “no dwarves.” Hey, did you know that “dwerrows,” mentioned earlier, is the correct plural of Tolkien’s dwarves, according to the Professor himself? Just a little fun fact there.

Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?

Oh Hermes, no. RPGs are fun, but they’re not exactly great at simulating actual combat.

Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?

I honestly have no idea how I would stat Andreva alone. I mean, I guess she’d be a Ranger, probably, but there’s no way to make the class features work with the world. This is largely due to the aforementioned “it’s just humans” thing, plus the fact that the variety of monsters is rather limited, which makes the “favored enemy” class feature difficult. There are a lot of nasty animals, some of which are somewhat fantastic, but this isn’t a world where dragons, trolls, and chimerae roam the land. It’s a world where big, scary birds swoop out of the sky and grab your cattle, and ocean fishing carries the risk of something eating your boat.

Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?

I think I would have to be an established writer before they would make a deal with me, and I’m not sure I would really go for that. When I was thirteen, I would have eagerly said yes, but decisions made when one was thirteen are not generally good decisions. Now that I’ve matured a bit as a writer, I’ve found that I really like writing in my own worlds. If I use someone else’s world, it’s almost always just a side project. I’ve never even had a fanfiction.net account, and I was a teenage girl in its heyday.

Then again, my lack of interaction with fanfiction in my teen years stemmed largely from my ridiculous innocence and the general impression that almost all of it was yaoi slashfic.

Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?

My characters use inns for sleeping.

Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don’t?

The inner workings of feudalism have been branded into my mind by the red-hot iron of childhood obsession. They’re not quite as ingrained as classical mythology, but they are definitely there.

Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?

I must admit, there are a lot of travel scenes in this book. The main characters’ profession pretty much requires them to move around, and when you live in a world with roughly late medieval technology, you’re pretty much stuck with slow travel even if you do have functional magic. Attempts at magical travel in this world have been few and far between, and those that did happen were, without exception, disastrous. They also used a disgustingly impractical amount of resources. Much better to just stick runes on existing methods of transportation to make them safer and/or more efficient.

So, the answer to this question really depends on what you mean by “inordinate.” I suppose that when I go on about semantics, I should just put in a “yes,” but I honestly think this is a subjective thing.

For what it’s worth, I do hit fast-forward on the travel when nothing else is happening.

Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won’t break the plot?

I am taking great pains to avoid this. Thankfully, most of the plot revolves around things that the characters really, really don’t understand, so that makes it a little easier.

Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as “fireball” or “lightning bolt”?

This kind of goes with the “wizards.” Fireballs and lightning bolts were things people who used staves did. Nowadays, they’re considered clumsy, “blunt instrument” spells. They only see use for stage pyrotechnics, because the people who work with magic have found much better, more precise ways to use it.

So, yes, but they’re party tricks, not badass combat spells.

Do you ever use the term “mana” in your novel?

No, because the tech level is far too low for MMORPG’s to exist in this universe.

Do you ever use the term “plate mail” in your novel?

No. The main characters wear leather armor (when they wear any), and the soldiers mostly wear chain mail, though it does depend on which country they’re from. If you have better mines, you get better armor.

Heaven help you, do you ever use the term “hit points” in your novel?

Zeus’s balls, is that something that people actually do? Seriously, the only time that could EVER work in a fantasy novel is if it’s urban fantasy and the main character plays MMORPG’s. Or if it’s about a magical MMORPG where hit points are a thing. I mean, there are circumstances… but they are very far-fetched and would be incredibly hard to do right. Plus, didn’t Sword Art Online already do that? This is verging on that “only in a parody” sphere.

Then again, I live in a world where Twilight, Eragon and Fifty Shades of Grey made their authors rich and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, so perhaps I should curb my optimism.

Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?

When I was in middle school, we didn’t have lockers. The school was too small. As a result, I brought all my books to and from school with me. My dad would regularly make the same old joke about how my bag must be full of gold bars.

So yes, I do know how heavy gold is. It’s fucking heavy. If I have back problems later in life, I am blaming them on that book bag.

Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?

This was actually something I called bullshit on Christopher Paolini for back when I liked the Inheritance Cycle. Don’t judge me; I was barely double-digits in age.

Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?

There is a bit in the second chapter draft where the main character gets a mild case of sunstroke from taking a slightly-too-long nap outdoors at high noon. She spends the rest of the day feeling ill and delirious, and has to take several hours to sleep it off. This also gives her a nasty sunburn, because she is a pale kindling-person.

My point? Nobody in this novel avoids the ill effects of things that should tire them out or make them sick, and if they ever do, there is always an explanation.

Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?

Remember what I said earlier about how transportation magic is virtually impossible to do? Yeah, that applies to weapons. It’s not expensive like actual personal transport, but it really doesn’t work.

Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?

Definitely not. They’re made for slashing. Plus, I got the Drizz’t ripoff out of my system back in my middle school D&D club.

Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?

Possibly, but it’s a Justified Trope in this instance. Starmetal blades on normal earth-metals are like knives through softened butter. You certainly couldn’t do it with a normal blade, but if you’ve got a high-quality starmetal alloy and a good arm, and your opponent’s armor doesn’t have warding runes on it? Yeah, you could do it.

Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more?

It’s more in the neighborhood of five pounds, and that’s only for the big ones. Starmetal alloys might mess with the figure a bit, but probably in the other direction.

Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?

Ignoring the assumption that my hero is male, which she isn’t, my hero is not exactly focused on romance. She’s an ambitious, socially-awkward teenager with high career goals that involve a lot of travel; not exactly the kind of girl who moons after unattainable people. The first book doesn’t even have a romance subplot.

In the latter two books, Andreva will develop feelings for another major character, but I would hardly call the recipient of her affections “unattainable,” and I haven’t decided yet whether the feelings are reciprocated.

Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?

Puns? What’s wrong with puns? I think they’re punderful!

Joking aside, no, I don’t think I’ve written in any puns. Yet. Humorous moments are largely found in awkward actions by the characters and Garron’s dad humor, which is far less punny than your average dad humor.

Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?

My hero is only able to withstand a little more punishment than you’d expect of a scrawny teenage girl. She’s stubborn and tough, but a well-placed blow from a sword would definitely kill her outright, and a small woman with a dagger would still be a plausible threat to her.

Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?

Not by a longshot. Most arrows to the chest are going to be fatal within a minute because of the blood loss; that is, if they don’t kill you outright. Heck, if you assume medieval-level medicine, even a guy who survives the initial blow to the chest and the resulting blood loss will probably drop dead of blood poisoning within the week.

And yes, that “longshot” pun was intentional.

Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an “on the road” meal?

Believe it or not, I have some skill in the kitchen, so I do know that stew is annoying as hell to make.

Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?

The tundra is largely uninhabited in this world, so no.

Do you think that “mead” is just a fancy name for “beer”?

I don’t really know much about alcohol, but I’ve never pictured mead as beer. Mead never really comes up in this story, so I don’t see how it has an impact on my writing skills in this case.

Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?

Again: just humans. No monolithic species here. Honestly, the Species of Hats is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves’ guild?

Nah, it’s probably the Arathi military. Their organization is almost on Ancient Rome levels.

Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?

The series as a whole doesn’t really have a single main villain, though I suppose there is a character whom I could call the main villain of the first book. He doesn’t do this. My antagonists all vary in nastiness levels, but none of them are cartoonishly evil.

Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?

My story is about a teenager trying to prove herself and ending up in a big pile of world-changing shit. It’s about uncertain futures and trying to live up to the expectations of yourself and others. It’s about making mistakes and trying to fix them. It’s about the misuse of things that could have been great advances, and how everyone tries to do the best they can with what they have.

So no, it’s not about a D&D-style adventuring party.

Is “common” the official language of your world?

There really isn’t an official language of the whole world. Andreva, her dad, and people from her town speak Freithan, the language of the region surrounding and north of Lake Freith. In the neighboring kingdoms, they switch to the regional language if they know it, or the eastern trade tongue if they don’t. The people of Arath, the larger country west of the mountains, speak Arathi, which is highly standardized a la Classical Latin (though grammatically, it is definitely not Latin).

Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?

No. Ruins are few and far between, and the ones that haven’t been plundered are the ones that haven’t been discovered. Plus, as I’ve said before, ancient magical items are weak little party favors compared to modern ones.

Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?

It really doesn’t have that much in common with The Lord of the Rings.

Read that question again and answer truthfully.

I guess that’s my cue to go into detail.

Yes, I do draw a significant amount of inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m pretty much a fangirl. I can conjugate Quenya verbs, and sometimes greet my friends “mae govannen, mellon nin!” I would never deny that The Lord of the Rings was a significant influence on my desire to write, my choice of genre, and my style.

Here, it is important to note the difference between inspiration and rip-off. The plots of Tolkien’s trilogy and mine do have some elements in common, though I can’t go into too much detail on that if I want to avoid spoilers. Heck, there are even some meta elements in common: Tolkien originally intended for The Lord of the Rings to be a single book, the sequel to The Hobbit; he’s quoted as saying that “the tale grew in the telling.” Yet, these are either coincidence or inspiration rather than a rip-off. Inspiration is also using a medieval-esque setting. Ripping off would be naming the main character “Freuda” and giving her the quest to destroy a magical necklace used by the Evil Empress of Arath, and having Arath just be Mordor but in the west instead of the east.

However, my opinion that I’m not ripping off The Lord of the Rings goes much deeper than the difference between being inspired by someone and ripping them off. I would argue that once you get down to the bare bones of the story and themes, past all the tropes and assumptions, what I have planned is very different from what the Professor wrote.

The Lord of the Rings, along with Tolkien’s other works, is the Ur-Example of high fantasy. At its core, we have that familiar theme that permeates so much of our literary canon, particularly the post-Christian portion: the struggle of good versus evil. The central quest is to defeat the dark lord Sauron, whose former master Morgoth was essentially Middle-Earth’s Satanic Archetype. The secondary quest is to restore the monarchy of Gondor and Arnor, which strikes me as rather conservative. Above all, though, there is a persistent theme throughout the books that everything that happens is meant to be. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and Frodo in turn was meant to carry it into Mordor. The world of Middle-Earth is one of fate and myth, a legendary history for a world much like ours.

I want no part in fate.

I suppose it’s somewhat ironic to say that, since I’m basically controlling the fate of all my characters. What I mean is that I want no part in suggesting that fate is the driving force behind anything that happens in my novel. My novel is a story about a young woman making her way in the world I’ve created, and how she both contributes to and deals with the major world-changing events of her lifetime. While her story does put her into conflict with people who could be considered evil, she does not do this because she is some destined instrument of good, but because she is in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time, and because her own moral sense compels her to act. There is no Good with a capital G and Evil with a capital E, and there is no divine plan for how the former is to defeat the latter. There are people.

That, ultimately, is the biggest difference between my novel and The Lord of the Rings. It doesn’t involve the destruction of a ring or any other powerful artifact, it doesn’t contain elves and dwarves and hobbits, and it doesn’t have the elaborate mythology of Middle-Earth… but those are window-dressing. My story differs from Tolkien’s not just in plot and setting, but in themes. It’s not about the same things with regards to plot… and it isn’t about the same things with regards to theme and message, either.

So, to conclude? No. I can honestly say that my book is not a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings.