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Ribbon
FiM Short Story
10th
74%
359
Here at the end, of all things!
Gold medalMortarboard
Original Minific
1st
100%
232
Short a Long Story
#15263 · 3
· · >>horizon >>Fenton
That was fun. Didn't end where I thought I was going to (again). I wish I'd been able to give it a pass through my pre-reader but they had to go to sleep. The wuss.
#15557 · 3
· on Maker of Makers! · >>Xepher
>>Xepher
I do want to bring attention to a specific point you made.
...impossible-to-visualize geometric abstractions...

I know exactly what a stellated icosohedron looks like.

So, while "ridiculous abstract language" is a completely fair complaint to level – and not wrong – what counts as "abstract" depends on who's reading.

I don't want to convince anyone that your review somehow "isn't right" because it is right, I just wanted to explain why we have different points of view here.

It's a matter of audience, I think. In the same way that I love spicy food and my friend hates it. The author is unlikely to be able to make both of us happy simultaneously here. Perhaps something useful to know and consider.
#15721 · 3
· on Monsters · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
So again, I'll apologize

I don't think you have anything to apologise for in making an honest attempt. Don't be too harsh on yourself. I bear you no ill will.

I regularly get words like "fun," "cute," "romp," and "meringue" applied to my stuff, and that's the way I like it.

Particularly since this sort of thing is way outside your norm. I don't have the courage to tackle hard subjects at all. Also, "meringue"? I'm intrigued.

You tried something difficult and often the only way to improve is to try hard things. One won't always succeed, but the real value is in making the effort.

And, wow, I've tried for a half-hour forty-five minutes to write something more encouraging that won't come across as condescending or trite, neither of which I mean, and I still can't find the words.
#15386 · 2
· on Should I Stay or Should I Go. · >>Lamplighter
My synopsis:

Twilight wonders what it would be like to die.


Overall thoughts:

I thought this was boring, with flickers of warmth and a tiny gem of brightness in the closing paragraphs.


+
Some of the imagery works nicely, when you're setting the scene at the start.
Celestia's paragraph feels like Celestia: wise but not omniscient, with a motherly tone.
I liked the ending: from where Spike turns up onwards. More is conveyed here about Twilight, who she is and how she feels, than in the entire rest of the text. It's short but it seems genuine.

-
I found the whole thing quite dull and dry. I think that's because it's mostly distant-past exposition; worse, it's mostly expositing things that we outright know (Twi was Celestia's student) or can very easily presume (Twi was precocious) instead of giving new insight into Twi's past or current feelings.
It dumps this: "Twilight had a boyfriend but things didn't work out" on the reader with very little tact. No leadup, not much explanation. Not much thought seemed to be put in; I think this was just to set up her having a kid and it was sloppily done.
There are technical problems with the writing in places. Things like: "was soon followed later", which really makes no sense – pick one or the other.

--
The piece spends a lot of time trying to tell the reader: "Twilight Sparkle is Twilight Sparkle, she thinks Twilight Sparkle things" but the things she has done didn't always ring very true to Twi to me, and you didn't explore anything in enough depth for it to have much impact.
Getting frustrated at honest "we don't know" answers doesn't seem like her. Take it from a precocious child: people pretending to know and lying is ten times worse than "I don't know". You learn to appreciate "I don't know".
We don't know how she felt or coped with the death of her grandmother – was she sad? scared? indifferent? You never say.
Being embarrassed post-hoc about getting into a relationship, well after the end of that relationship (I think?), doesn't seem like her.

When I got to this line: "her mind traveled back to when she was nine years old." I literally threw my hands up. Because I understood that you were trying to set things up, but I thought you finally ready to go somewhere! And then you plunged into another vaguely-retold experience. If you had a scene break here, you could tell the events of that night in real-time. You could have Twilight actually experience the funeral; we could be with her as she deals with loss. Instead there's yet more exposition. I was so frustrated with you.


Rating:

Needs a lot of work.


I'm sorry to have to be so harsh. You could certainly hammer the concept into something. It reads like an outline rather than a story in it's own right.
#15387 · 2
· on Monsters · >>Baal Bunny >>Cassius >>Baal Bunny
My synopsis:

Rainbow Dash's ongoing struggle with her inner daemons intensifies when Scootaloo tries to rape her


Overall thoughts:

I didn't like this. I also thought it had problems, as a story.
"Rainbow's" struggle seems to have something to it. I just didn't care.


+
Treats a delicate and scary subject matter with a surprising amount of respect, once it gets to the second scene. Just as in real life, there are no easy answers here.
I think there's a moral, and I think it's: "Don't touch kids. Seek medical help if you need it", and I think I approve.
The opening, pre-Scootarape, did engage me. I just didn't like where the story took me: I thought Scoots might have been possessed and I was down with that happening. The lurch was sudden and not unwelcome, but it went left instead of right. Finding out that she's just a deeply troubled kid isn't as fun or rewarding, especially since she's given no closure whatsoever.
The whole thing is uncomfortable reading, but not in the "sledgehammer to the face" way that I would have expected, given the subject.
Technically it's not badly written, on the whole: my problems are more deeply seated.

-
I thought the first scene floundered about at the end, failing to resolve the conflict convincingly. It doesn't add much to the rest of the story either, we never go back to "Scootaloo" and her problems. Cutting (or at least re-working) the entire opening would strengthen the work as a whole.
I think I want to see Dr. Pineal's medical license, I'm not convinced it's genuine.
This doesn't feel very true to the show. I don't mean "ooh, it's so dark": I mean it seems only tangentially related to the world of Equestria and the characters that live there.
The plot needs a rapist so it casts "Scootaloo" without bringing any of her character with it. And then it basically abandons her at the end of the first scene. I don't think it's Scoots, but I do feel bad for whoever this is.
Then it turns "Rainbow Dash" into a high-functioning self-restrained paedophile, when half of Dash's character is: "I have no real impulse control". I struggled to make anything fit. Her dialogue doesn't sound like the Rainbow I know.
It brings in a boring OC doctor, because really who else could you have "Rainbow" confess to? Twilight? Celestia? Luna? Cadance? Fluttershy? Iron Will?
Is this how Equestria deals with mental health? You just see a therapist? How is that special? It seems a bit flat and unfeeling.
There are a couple of technical problems where things are not right in a few spots: some over-long sentences and some tense mismatches etc.

--
"Scootaloo" is so crazed with lust that she literally ensnares "Rainbow Dash". With a snare. Or a net – same difference. But then simply lets her go, just because "Dash" says: "Hey, how's about you don't rape me, it's not nice". My suspension of disbelief did not survive. A shame: the second half of the piece is better than this. More interesting.


Rating:

Take this elsewhere.


The characters felt too far removed from the show and setting, not much like the characters I know. I think this would stand better as a piece of original fiction, without having pony names stamped into it.
I'm not sure I'd rate this as "Teen" because the subject matter is so adult and heavy.
I think it strayed a long way from the prompt: it very much seems to be about "continuation" and "struggle" rather than having much to do with anything "ending". A mean criticism to make, perhaps.

I don't think this was terrible, although there are certainly things I thought were huge problems. I think the concept is interesting at the least, and given some thought and time this would make a creepy and unnerving little commentary piece on society, mental health and the assumptions you make about people. But I want no further part of it, thanks all the same!
#15388 · 2
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>Lamplighter
My synopsis:

Fluttershy is an eldritch horror now. It’s Discord’s fault, and Celestia has mixed feelings on the matter.


Overall thoughts:

A lovecraftian mood piece? Not normally my thing.
It reads well enough, but it only nominally held my attention. I wouldn't have been overly disappointed if I had to stop partway and never finish it. I think the teen rating hampers this from getting properly creepy enough.
A simple premise with – not a veneer but perhaps timber cladding – of depth stretched over it.


+
Celestia comes across as appropriately sympathetic-but-sadly-detached as an immortal. Ineffable, I think.
Discord has committed an unforgivable sin, but in his place I might easily do the same. His mistake is so relatable, a very human crime for a very inhuman entity.
It avoids being too maudlin, too overblown or purple. This is greater praise than I feel it sounds. It would have been easy to over-do things and sink the whole thing into quagmire, but that never happens.
I was dragged through the entire thing, even though I suspected immediately – was told, frankly – the central concept and only had those suspicions confirmed. Morbid fascination? I think that's probably the correct tone for this sort of story, but nothing surprised me at all.
Technically it's pretty good. Nice and smooth, excepting your use of parentheses: which I hated. The gross bits are pretty gross, perhaps it's impossible to do this sort of thing any real justice without breaking the rating.

-
It’s a sad piece, but it’s a restrained sadness. Because it’s told from Celestia’s point of view, we see it as she does; somewhat faintly, almost resigned.
I think I would have liked more-purple prose at times. Eldritch horror should make my skin crawl and my stomach twist. I read most of this thinking “oh, yeah, of course” and sighing almost apathetically at the mess they're in. But I never really thought "my gods, how terrible, I think I need a bucket". I think this can be done without just slapping gore around.
Some phrase choices didn’t ring true to me.
I really didn’t like the use of parentheses. Try italics?
I think the opening phrases somewhat spoil the premise. Nothing terribly unexpected happened after the first horizontal break. You may have sabotaged the work by telling me what's happening so early.


Rating:

Go big or go home.


I do wish this were more acutely bittersweet. But it plays like this: Discord has done something stupid, Celestia spends the entire story faintly thinking ‘I told you so, idiot’. Because of the way it's told, I never feel all that sorry for Discord. I never feel all that sorry for Fluttershy either, and frankly that's a little tragic in it's own right. Maybe the fault here is with me?

It wasn't bad. I don't have much else to say. I wanted to feel worse for Flutters. And maybe Discord. Or better, if they'd scraped a happier ending out of this – somehow. This seemed to sit in a terrible middle-ground where I just sort of glossed over it and nothing really stuck. It provides an interesting insight into the way Celestia thinks, perhaps, but she comes off as a bit cold and so intentionally-detached that I end up feeling the same way. Perhaps that's a triumph of the writing, if a pyrrhic one?
#15391 · 2
· on Paint It Black · >>Kitcat36
My synopsis:

Ponyville hosts a Black Friday Sale. Out-of-town ponies swamp the town, and cause predictable problems.


Overall thoughts:

I liked this, though it never really made me laugh out loud.
I think this would have worked better had it been told with more background ponies. Using all of (and really, only) the mane 6 seemed quite a poor fit for the story.
Could you go back and make it about 20% more ridiculous?


+
Steadily paced, the story kept well on course and was easy and pleasant to follow.
Very nice, technically. Polished already. Straight and smooth to read.
Graaaains!

++
Twilight having to deal with morons is a laugh.
Twilight is just great here generally.

-
Steadily paced comedy: The ramp-up to disaster was kinda slow and easy to spot coming, and the final tip-over was quite underwhelming.
It really felt like it was trying to find places for all the characters to be, at times. Especially Fluttershy – at least before she gets sold.
The mane 6 are (mostly) not sales ponies, so while Rarity & The Apples seemed to have somewhat appropriate problems, Twilight selling books was weird. Which was a shame, because Twilight's customers were easily the funniest.
I don't think you should use an interrobang (‽) unironically. It doesn't actually carry as much weight as separate glyphs (!?).

--
The narrative for Pinkie got too lengthy. She's energetic and changes directions; the text of her parts got long and plodding.


Rating:

Comedy is subjective.


I didn't think this was funny enough. It was quite predictable, but where it wasn't predictable was often good.
The Apples are boring, Dash lightens things a little but not enough.
While Pinkie finding herself suddenly looking after tens of babies should be funny, the narrative tries to take her style for a bit and I really think it missed.
We don't see Rarity get offended when her shop empties, and then have to fight a weird tug-of-war between "making sales" and "having integrity". We don't see any of that, she just gets swamped and then she "does what Cnut couldn't" on the crowd. (I'm not being vulgar, that's a thing, look it up. I've given you the link.)

I think that, if you're going to use a slightly-tired premise, you need to do something more interesting with it. More outlandish. Drop some characters, focus on who's left, sprinkle in some more jokes. Dial it up a bit.
#15399 · 2
· on Familiar · >>Kitcat36 >>Trick_Question
My synopsis:

Twilight has been avoiding dealing with the end of her world for very long time.


Overall thoughts:

This is great.
It quickly frames itself as a mystery that doesn’t try to hide too hard, or be so oblique with its clues that they’re meaningless.
Wonderfully bittersweet, funny in places without detracting from the subject.

+
The characterisation for Twi’s friends is almost spot on, which is ironically just right!
Twilight is exactly this neurotic.
The clues that something is horribly wrong have perfect balance, tantalising us and giving us a pretty good idea what Twi is up to without spoiling exactly what’s going on too soon.
Patch notes for the "universe".

++
That ending. D'aw.
Twilight’s friends are a magnificent blend of self-aware and oblivious.

-
It’s almost too slow in a couple of places. One or two judicious line edits would improve things.
Flurry doesn’t have a terribly strong character voice.
Angry Twilight (vs Flurry) sounds a little off.
You made me look up the word "charmeuse"


Rating:

Patch 1.3.1.493b (build 18750)


Top tier for sure. It reveals new clues to the truth at just the right pace, adding snippets of detail here and there. I wrote a list of possibilities in my head (well, actually in my review notes) at the end of the second scene and then got to cross them off as the story went along. It was my second guess that turned out correct, if you're wondering.

One thing I'd try: I would opt to use Cadance here instead of Flurry. Not because Flurry is a bad idea (and she shows the passage of time well) but because getting Cadance’s characterisation right would be more straightforward, and possibly more interesting. We don't know anything about Flurry and we don't have time to learn here. Cadance is a character already.
#15725 · 2
· on Should I Stay or Should I Go.
>>Lamplighter
>>regidar
I'm inclined to agree. I like the setup and concept, the order of scenes, the resolution. It could be such a lovely story; if only it were finished. That's why I was so annoyed.

My drafts are nothing like this; I write perhaps a paragraph of plot, then mostly wing it. There's far more here than that. I can almost see what it wants to be at every turn, and it just isn't there. What this needs is expanding to fill the gaps, along with some proper editing.

I love the irony...

Important lesson here then. It doesn't matter what order you think of things in, we only see them in the order they appear in the writing. You can write a later scene because of an idea you had in an earlier one, but there's nothing stopping you going back and tweaking the earlier scene to fit your new idea a little better. Drop some foreshadowing in. Spin a line of dialogue a little differently.

Twi's kid keeping her grounded in reality really does wonders for this little arc. I'd love to have seen some of the process of Twi:
Deciding to get some
Finding a stallion
Convincing them
Realising she's made a mistake
Separating amicably
Having a foal that she loves, despite the separation

That takes time, of course, and we were limited here. Hell, that on it's own is an entire novella to me. I wonder if you just tried to write far too much plot, given the limits here. Reached too far and spread the writing too thin. That's certainly how it seemed.

I'd like to see this become what it was born to be.
#15888 · 2
· on Here at the end, of all things!
Firstly, thanks for reading; thanks even more for commenting!

I'm glad you generally seemed to like bits of this, even though different people liked different bits. I think I can explain...

My 'plan' for this basicly runs out just before Luna shows up.

I had just wrenched myself back awake to finish writing with about five hours to go and realised I couldn't fit a proper character driven ending. So I made a joke. I think of this as two stories welded together: I think the seam looks okay but it's not ideal.

I'm going to let it sit for a while longer then I'll take another crack at getting it right.

>>Zaid Val'Roa
Basically spot on.

>>horizon
I enjoyed subverting the prompt.

I'm afraid you've partly imagined your favourite bit :( I had no plans for Rarity to swap tickets with anyone. I like to let the reader infer things though so I can't say I'm unhappy.

I also like to skirt the boundary of 'shipping' so I'm not sure if Twi and Rarity are a couple or just good friends here; I like to believe it doesn't matter.

Toffy-swirl is just an aimless British pun. A toff is a member of the upper class, a toffee swirl is a sweet.

Thanks – I hope I can bring this up to where I want it.

>>Baal Bunny
Meringue? ;)

>>Lamplighter
I'm glad the jokes landed well with you.

>>Trick_Question
A fair concern. I'm pretty gender-blind in ponyfic these days, I wasn't really going anywhere specific with the f/f flirting. I need to work a bit harder laying out motivations towards the end.

>>MrNumbers
I don't have a spanner to hand but I'll see what I can do with a keyboard.

I meant for Rarity to start a little unsympathetic and then have Twi reign her in, and I never really got to the second part.

>>WillowWren
Foppish was just an offhand joke. I take the shotgun approach – I pile them in and hope enough of them are on target. I see I'm going to have to find a way to salvage something from Luna, even if I just have to split her off into a separate fic.

>>Rao
My dialogue is a crutch but it's nice to know it's not unappreciated.

>>Xepher
I think I've covered that I hardly knew what to do with the story myself.
Luna Ex Machina is regretably all I had time for.

Rarity is supposed to be intentionally over-selling the 'fame and power' thing a bit, I think I can fix that to be more obvious.



Again, thanks all who read. I look forward to participating in more writeoffs.
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