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#17548 · 4
· on Little Dahlia
Thanks, all, for the two cents. I will address, above all, the big issue:

>>Anon Y Mous
>>HiTime
>>Filler
>>Monokeras

Yeah, fair's fair: this leaned waaaaaaay too heavily on the original. Thinking about the prompt, the old favourite popped up in my head as an example, so I thought "Hey, I should do something like that!" Then, I started playing around with the original concepts. Then, I just lifted them wholesale as placeholders to be replaced later. Then, I realized I couldn't match the original's brilliance. Then, I changed the names in a half-hearted attempt to pre-empt any "plagiarism" accusations and convey I was reimagining or taking inspiration from it (hint: anyone notice the "Ronald and Dahlia" connection?). Then, I noticed I was struggling even with the new ideas I introduced -

Long story short, it was a complete mess and a complete miss. Frankly, I'm not surprised it didn't make it to finals. Given its copycat nature and general sense of muddle, I'm not putting up any defences for it.

Next time, I'm going to delete something like this. The only reason I didn't this time was sheer fascinated reluctance.

I'm especially disappointed the characters were only so-so, but someone like Dahlia in particular needed more of a twist to make the old double-personality thing feel novel. As-is, the lack of inspiration and the word limit kick it while it's down.
#18710 · 4
·
Yes! I've DONE it! Just in time too. I hope my work is as enjoyable to read as it was to write. n.n
#18895 · 4
·
>>Miller Minus

Have you tried turning it on and off?
#19272 · 4
·
YYYYYEEEEESSSSS! I did it! Literally at the last second! HAHAHA!
#17215 · 3
· on Amaterasu: I Am Here, and So Are You · >>Pascoite >>Fenton
G'day, mates. First-time contender here, and now the results are in, congrats to GaPJaxie for the well-deserved first place. Bonza!

I had planned to keep mum as a mystery contender, but what the hell; let's be polite and respond instead.

>>Fenton

Not sure about this comment. Is that a "wow, this is good" or a "wow, this is bad"? Hard to read at my end.

>>Hap

I'm not sure what you mean about the narration, as it seems no different to me from start to finish. Don't suppose I could request an example or two for help?

Regarding Amaterasu's "alien-ness": that's a hard criticism to interpret. I don't know if you put it there simply to toss ideas out, or as a subtle criticism of my characterization. A clarification would be welcome.

I agree with you about the ending, though you made a damn good guess all the same. But I did muddle it and I'm not happy with the result either. Truth is I was still tinkering with the bioweapon subplot right up to the end, which didn't do me no favours.

>>Monokeras

Oh, the message was supposed to be a mystery. It was meant to be a case of "you've read the story and got an idea about what these two are like; what's your take?", but it didn't mesh well with all the other mysteries floating around, which probs weakened it a tick.

The rest, though, is a legit critique. Last-minute tinkering is to blame. I was a bit fuzzy on the specs near the finish and failed to make them fit together properly.

Also, re: the draggy middle, it was meant to build character and suspense, but I think I did too much of the first and not enough of the second. Maybe introducing the bioweapon plot sooner and making it matter more would have worked.

Also also, re: everything else: Thanks! And "elaborate" I'm gonna take as a compliment.

>>Baal Bunny

I'm not gonna lie: I half-thought this comment was a wind-up at first. See, I did get your point for revealing Melissa's ID early on. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I did that beyond getting distracted by other story stuff. And I won't go to bat for the ending, which was a mess I spent too long trying to fix, especially the bioweapon subplot.

But I'm not sure the whole thing was THAT big a muddle.

I mean, it's not like I just wrote on the fly, without the reader in mind. The rest of your advice I swear I used beforehand, to give the readers the details as and when they seemed to be needed. I had the characters, setting, and events planned out and everything, right down to the topics for discussion every few hundred words. I was constantly asking myself what readers needed to know and when. Short of being a micromanager, I'm not sure just planning more is gonna help. That it's unclear throughout the entire fic is a bit much too much more than I can take. Surely it wasn't that bad?

I do get the larger point that a bit of grounding, like horizon says and you seem to be saying, would be top stuff. I mean, I'll try harder, sure. I did reread it to get an idea of what seemed to make sense, and tinkered with the thing up until the end. But if that wasn't enough the first time round, I don't think "do it more next time" will work.

Honestly, I think the bigger problem is either trying to be too complicated (esp. at the end) and-or trying to leave too many mysteries at once, which is why the ending didn't fit together properly. That's my best guess.

>>horizon

"an ambitious story with some great interactions": Aw man, can I frame this and hang it on my wall?

Same as I've said to the others: I see where you're coming from. Half of it was too much tinkering with the ending; the bioweapon thing was a clumsy last-minute addition to try and fit the abandoned station with Amaterasu's breakdown, but the result is it just cuts off at the end. The other half I think was leaving too many mysteries floating. Cos I knew the solutions to them, I just assumed I'd left enough clues for readers to figure them out too (Hap seemed to nail it, for example), and the message at the end was meant as some meat to chew over afterwards.

The naming of the station's main parts was just to make clear the parallel between being trapped on an island in the sea and being trapped on the station in space. It really wasn't much more than that. Also, I'm not really sure a proofreader is practical for such a tight time schedule.

The grounding thing I definitely will remember for next time. That's my takeaway from all this.

TO ALL: Ta for the feedback, and hope to cross paths with you again next writeoff! Toodle-oo!
#17235 · 3
·
This oughtta be good... Count me in!
#17378 · 3
· · >>Bachiavellian >>CoffeeMinion >>Rao >>Miller Minus
First things first: I'll pool everything here for future reference. A lot of comments spread out over three fics and no fics? I'm getting this all done in one fell swoop. Apologies ahead of time if I miss anyone out.

Also, pleased as punch to get the bronze medal. After the mad rush of the weekend, I should hope to see something for it, and this is a nice something indeed.

But let's deal with the here-and-now first:

>>Baal Bunny

Thanks! Writing that many words so quickly is possible, but it was a frantic weekend of writing, let's just say that. Sure as sugar I won't be doing that again in a hurry. Besides, in hindsight - and judging from those comments - the scars on the resultant fics are bloody obvious.

>>CoffeeMinion

Damn, now I wish you had come back. Sounds like I pushed a hell of a button.

>>Baal Bunny

Sprawling is the word. Particularly around the circus scene, I was sure I needed to trim it here and there, but a combo of author's blind love and will-I-wreck-it jitters stayed the scissors. I think this "good to great" brevity lark is something I'm just gonna have to learn on the job, guv. Still glad your first word on it was "lovely". That did my heart good, so it did.

>>Bachiavellian

First of all, sweet! You reviewed every fic here. I wish more had done that, so credit where it's due. And for a stellar use of the f-bomb, if I may be so bold.

Petunia being sweeter than sugar-marinated muffin was a sort of necessary evil; she had to be the normal one to contrast with the world full of crazies, and inevitably that makes her less interesting, relatively speaking. On top of that like a cherry on the aforementioned muffin, her canon characterization doesn't really delve much into who she is as a person (pony?), so there's that. Plus I was writing this last minute and chanting profanities at myself like a madness mantra, which might have been a minor factor.

Honestly, after two dead serious epics, I thought I had enough time to toss in a lark. A lark written like a goddamn whirlwind on crack, but hey, that's part of the fun, right?

>>Bachiavellian

That said, really not sure about this comment. Since I took longest on this one - plus it's the only one I had time to get proofread - I might get a tad defensive here, but I'll try to be fair and hear you out.

So fair's fair, I'm going to blame the slow burn leading up to the midway point as the red herring that led your sniffer astray. Otherwise, I'm not sure it's that radical a shift in tone. At least the subject matter and how one thing led to another never struck me as off, but as a logical followup of what went before. Don't know if that's an explanation, an excuse, or actual (gasp!) exculpation. All I know is I really don't see it as that drastic. But then I wrote the thing; I had access to the worker's notes.

Disappointed the ending didn't stir your cup of coffee. My proofreader did suggest the speech tie in more with Amity's philosophy rather than her emotions, which I guess is what you meant by themes carrying over from the start, but I didn't see it as that serious an issue given the drama on display. Going for the psychological angle was on the cards from Word One; I thought it was enough to cool Amity's emotions but leave her a sad wreck of her former self, and Sugar's defusing of the bomb with empathy (i.e. seeing things from the Other Side) was kind of the point, given her history. What I'm saying is: I'm not sure about your criticism here.

And while I'm at it, I'm not sure describing something as "cliche" really helps as a criticism; cliches aren't automatically bad, and can be done well. It's sort of like telling someone "Oh it's been done before". I think the Book of Ecclesiastes had a saying about what's new under the sun, or somesuch. At the least, this criticism's not specific enough for it to be actionable for me...

>>HiTime

I did cut corners, yes, but mostly because I thought it would bog things down to go on about the "hows" and the "whyfores". The slow start I've already talked about with Bachiavellian up top, but suffice it to say I did get a note from my proofreader about this, and I just said, "I'll take it on the chin; I don't think it's that serious". Ho hum.

Glad you seem to have liked it so much, at least. This was the one I had the highest hopes for until the comments started pouring in. And yes, Amity/Arcadia was a big part of why.

>>HiTime

I'll say more about this when we get to TitaniumDragon. Needless to say, I don't disagree with the criticisms, and the abrupt ending was inevitable, given how late I left this madcap monstrosity. Also, I really, really, really wanted to write more scenes with the family together again, believe me, even if writing Ye Olde English the first time put me in a faux-Shakespearean panic. I'm sure some linguist who loves antiquity is going to roast me giblets for those mangled lines.

>>Miller Minus

Same caveat with Bach above; I may get a teensy-weensy bit defensive here, but I'll try my best. I think the long list of story elements was a bit much, though. Yeah, I'm willing to concede a few things got lost in translation. Still, I'm not a complete neophyte; I did have those elements in mind.

I think the problem here, in the specific example and more generally, is one of assuming it's obvious what I mean when I write something. Take Double D here: to you, it's a jumble of unorganized mini-arcs with no coherent overall plan. To me: well, everything fits under the super-arc of being blindly overprotective because his empathy's lacking. Starlight's influence and him turning "evil" were the results of his spying habits for a (once) good cause, which he still has trouble with even in the emancipation era of Our Town. His affection for and bravery around Sugar likewise reflect his trouble recognizing when his good intentions are shooting him in the foot (note how Sugar brushes him off "brusquely" when he tries this once too often).

All these threads are products of the theme of empathy and good intentions: in his efforts to do good as best he can, Double D doesn't realize how he comes across. He compromises his own goal, both under Starlight - hence his bad habits - and now that he's free to determine things himself, even on this quest. The ending comes when he realizes he's neglected Sugar's POV in all this, to the point where he doesn't actually know her. Celestia's speech wakes him up, he reaches out for the first time, bingo! Complete arc.

How this didn't get across, I dare not speculate. I will say this, though; your opening paragraph at least was music to my ears. Uh, eyes. Brain. Well, it was music, one way or another, and I loved the damn thing. That's exactly how it felt, and why I'm kind of galled it didn't do so well in finals.

>>HiTime

Yeah, I'm making no excuses for the first half. What happened was that I actually started when Lyra came home from the funeral, and after finishing the circus scene I was like, "Wait a sec, people are gonna get confused about this". So I finished the later scenes, then scurried back to add the opening scenes as a patch job. I was never fully cheered by the sight of them, because around that point the word count bit me in the posterior and the clock hit me round the head screaming "TIME'S A-WASTING! TIME'S A-WASTING!"

The other thing, about the scene being dull? I think that was a deliberate ploy that worked a little too well. See, I was trying to contrast the dull real world with the lively nightmare of Everyland and Nothingland. Sadly, the trouble with trying to make something dull to read is that you make something dull to read. Part of the reason for the earlier scenes was also to shout at the reader, before they got to that scene, "I'm not a bad writer! I'm doing this deliberately! See, here's some more interesting writing to reassure you!"

Also, same as Bach: good work getting a review out for every fic in the contest! Naturally, I had a good time reading the good bits. Especially here, where the strong emotion was exactly what I wanted to see shine.

>>Bachiavellian

Funny you should mention Coraline, because that was a big influence on the fic (along with Alice in Wonderland, the Discworld books on Death, that one parade scene in Pom Poko, The Greatest Showman, and Inside-Out; I had a LOT of ideas bubbling away for this one). But yeah, Coraline was a big one. Without straying far into hyperbole here, I would marry that film if I could.

Said my piece about those scenes to HiTime above; needless to add, they're my least favourite scenes of the bunch. The circus one bothers me too. On the other hand, I'm trying not to rely on flashbacks in case they quickly become a crutch, and they seem awkward to use in a dream going more for abstract or half-formed imagery.

What I was going for was suspense rather than mystery; we know early on that Lyra's avoiding something, and that it's clearly too touchy to bring up. I didn't care if anyone guessed within the first few words that this was about Granny Virgo's funeral, since the emphasis was on how Lyra's escapist denials would lose to reality, and how she'd handle the clash. Those first scenes were meant to be spiced up by that suspenseful wait.

Lastly, it's probably the most "stock" of the three I wrote, but I loved every second of it. Kind of happy it made it as far as it did, though I twinge a little it didn't go further.

>>TitaniumDragon

Thanks! Although I don't think it works because of Limestone's anti-humour so much as she's a straight-up nutjob. It's her incredibly parochial but passionate POV which makes her the living end, if I do say so myself. The rest almost literally writes itself from there.

The ending I make no excuses for. The reason it reads like a rush-job is simple: it was. I only started writing this thing hours before the deadline, and frankly I'm shocked it's actually legible. I wanted to put in at least a couple more scenes to show the bond strengthening, but past a certain point I went "Crap, crap, crap, time to wrap this up".

That in mind, I'm also kind of shocked it did as well as it did. I mean, I didn't even have time to proofread it (same went for Everyland and Nothingland, but I was still editing that one myself anyway, so ran out of time).

>>CoffeeMinion

It may please you to know I'm submitting this Limestone malarkey to FIMFiction.net even as we speak. Keep an eye out for it, mate!

>>Rao

Professor, I ran out of words sooner than I would have hoped. This was a last-minute entry, in every meaning of the word.

Also, since when was Limestone a baby sister? I could have sworn she was one of the eldest, at least (can't remember Maud's age).

Other than that, another nice little comment to add to my collection. Shame we seemed to run out in the finals, but then it is THAT time of year. I know I'll be kept busy for the next couple of weeks. Still, ta and thank ye for the two cents!

>>horizon

Soon as it's published, my first fic will be joining that folder. No worries there!

>>Baal Bunny

See, I want to respond cleverly to this, but I'm having a little trouble for similar reasons to the predecessor reviewers above: the criticism seems a little off to me. Also, again, I might be jumping too quickly, sword and shield ready, to fight for this one.

Your comment suggests the fic doesn't have room to breathe, and needed more time to flesh out its concepts. I'll confess the ending piled it on a bit thick compared with the slow burn of the first half (now we're in an overgrown area, now we're getting attacked by fire demons, now we're in a cave with crazy unicorn, etc.). I'm not gonna pretend the word count wasn't against me on this one a bit, but I think the major problem structurally is that slow burn I mentioned, which if anything suggests to me that trimming it is the correct way to go.

I might be misunderstanding you here, fair enough. Plus, I cannot claim impartiality. Only everything at least seems to go at the right pace, and ending aside I guess I just don't see it as underdeveloped ("overdeveloped", now...?). I'll give it a ponder, at least.



Well, that seems to be everyone. You have my profound gratitude for the post-publication editorial assistance, guys. Hope to see you next time. Now I've got a taste of medal, I might just come back for more.
#17379 · 3
·
Before I forget: Well done, Miller Minus and Cold in Gardez, for the medal wins! Solid entries, both of them. I tip my hat to you two.
#17776 · 3
· on The Perfect Day: A Retrospective · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
>>No_Raisin

Normally, I don't dare to critique a critique, and not only because we all have our biases and likes and dislikes, fair enough, and we can't bloat the comments beyond all reason, and no one should feel like they can't give an honest opinion. Most of all, I also feel flat-out unqualified to do so, and I don't want to be the pot calling the kettle black.

But... Really? If you're reviewing the thing, it would be more gracious to actually review it as a thing. Some poor devil worked on this; I can't speak for them, but I think they would appreciate at least some semblance of constructive feedback. To be honest, if this were a comment to one of my own, I'd be deeply disappointed.

OK, moving on. Back to you, author.

Fair enough, there is the question of why you wrote this as a poem. Unlike prose, it's atypical, so we usually assume some special reason for it. It's not a fatal question, by any means, and at least it's a fun change of pace. The problem I see here is in the odd scheme you used. Each stanza starts rhyming faster as it nears the end, and while that gives it a running, jaunty feel at the start, after a while it's just too distracting. The actual content doesn't feel like it benefits from speeding up at those specific points, like she's always getting stressed and then winding down, so the discrepancy becomes confusing and even slightly irritating after a while.

As for the content, I agree with >>FanOfMostEverything's assessment. The little flourishes of characterization (Chrysalis being a spoiled brat who complains about her "ungrateful" subjects is totally believable) and the sort of weird villain humour are lovely little touches that help the perspective. But ultimately, this is a retelling of A Canterlot Wedding with a new POV and a stylish twist. My point is, beyond that, it doesn't feel substantial enough.

I mean, if you'd elaborated more on those flourishes, turned them from icing into cake, I might like it a lot more as a standalone piece. Capitalize on those asides more, and maybe give it some deeper or more overarching purpose. For instance, you strongly hint that Chrysalis is highly resentful of her hive despite performing her duty. Great! That could feature more in the action, such as her dealing with a mutiny or punishing changelings for minor infractions. And there could be a broader theme to this, like examining her hubris or emphasizing the irony of a love-eating creature being such an unlikeable bitch.

The retelling of the double-parter and the choice to use a counterproductive poetic structure drag this fic down to mid-tier for me, but a high mid-tier. I did, ultimately, enjoy reading it, and you deserve credit for that. Those two elements need to be reconsidered, though, if you want to make a starring entry out of this material.
#17937 · 3
· on A Bitter Leaf from an Old Book · >>GroaningGreyAgony
>>BlueChameleonVI

Sigh. I'm taking this review down. It was extremely bad form to go off on a tangent like this, much less to make such a poor excuse of a "constructive" critique that boils down to reiterating my dislike of the genre. I revoke my comments and confess I screwed up badly.

I still don't like this kind of feghoot fic, but that's no excuse for reacting mean-spiritedly.