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#17376 · 4
·
Wow, what a finish. I wasn't expecting that.

Well done to our medal winners, especially Miller Minus for making first place in both rounds. Very nice!
#17300 · 3
· on Just A Different Shade · >>Rao
Good Stuff: I thought the real-life drama of the moment was conveyed competently and well - I especially liked the bit where Rainbow's trying not to go crazy from all this - and the moment when Twilight has to pose as Sunset's official guardian was one of those "Reality Ensues" moments I could dig. The fact that guns don't exist in Equestria - confusing Twilight - was an intriguing world-building moment, and I wanted more of that. Nice twist at the end with Hawkeye hinting he too came from another "side", and the "grass is always greener" arc words were neat.

Bad Stuff: The crime was generic, and what was all that about anyway? It was really distracting, and the story never answers it, which irritated me because it also feels wildly unlike something that would happen in the Equestria-Girls world. Apart from Rainbow and Twilight - and Applejack a little - I never got a sense that this had anything to do with pony-verse, like the majority of this scenario and these characters could have been a scene ripped out of any crime drama on TV. Those bits I mentioned in "Good Stuff" needed to dominate the story more, because they're distinctive to the setting and/or interesting ideas, but they feel like light seasoning on a generic "character got shot, cue drama" plot.

Verdict: Needs Revision. The distinctive elements are good, and it's competent at what it does. I just wish there was more distinctive stuff to spice up the bland scene, and the premise felt too off and underdeveloped for my liking
#17303 · 3
· on Nod Your Head to the Beat of Death
Good Stuff: Some of the imagery was very effective, so don't change that because it's fine. And I liked what you were trying to do by describing Cadance and her relationships with other ponies. The climbing the stairs metaphor worked neatly. The language use, especially in that ending scene with Shining and Flurry, is pleasant and even evocative at times, almost like music.

Bad Stuff: I seriously don't have a clue what is going on. I guess it's meant to be a poetic look at Cadance's psyche using metaphors and comparing her to Twilight, Shining, the other princesses, etc. to get an idea of who she is. I like that idea. But the fic revels in vagueness and I just can't connect with it, which seriously undermines my attempts to feel anything for whatever is happening.

Verdict: Needs Revision. I really think this needs to be more explicit about what it's doing and where we're going with this. Much as I like its style, I just wanna know what the hell Cadance is thinking and doing, and this feels like it barely has any direction to it. It's just pleasant noise, and I'm gonna have to say it didn't do it for me.
#17306 · 3
· on The Book of Might Have Beens
Good Stuff: Starlight's journey through the what-if scenarios was the heart and soul of the fic, and I found it really engaging and well-developed. I don't have a problem with the ending like the other reviews so far do; I think you built it that way, and that's what I like about it. If anything, I'd love to see an expanded version where Starlight explores more "What if?" scenarios with the book. The hook is just that good. And I really like the argument Starlight and Twilight have in the "Starlight Wins" scenario. It's nice to see Starlight's delusions and insecurities tackled by Twilight. There was a little of it in the last one as well, and I would have liked more exploration. At the end of the day, I'd love more of this, and that's a great sign.

Bad Stuff: This feels like it needs another check to finish it. That opening line is weirdly phrased, and put me off at first. I get the OOC-ness is the point, but it's phrased in a way that feels deliberately misleading after reading the rest, when we learn Twilight is concerned about one book rather than has an urge to burn books generally. The first flashback definitely went on too long, and in the last one all I could think was "Who's North Star?" I didn't like the visceral imagery much in the "Starlight wins" one either. It felt too much like obvious shocking moment, which took me out of the story at the time.

Verdict: Top Contender. There are a few problems that need ironing out, but who cares? They don't stop this being a strong entry with a great hook and good character exploration. One of my faves!
#17417 · 3
·
I did something! :D
#17448 · 3
· on Ode to the Artistic Temperament
Good Stuff: I loved this one! The idea: fantastic. The poetry: a breath of fresh air. The execution: elegantly done. The twist of Medusa making sculpures and giving up her evil ways was very clever, and I liked how her development was traced over time compared with her two vengeful sisters. She goes from realism over her chances against humanity, to pragmatism, to genuine investment in the craft she takes up and it's "honesty", and it seemed surprising and delightful to me. I especially liked how she met other artists in the cafe and seems so human herself now, but still has to take precautions like feeding her hair and disguising herself. It's the attention to details like that makes this so real and vivid. The rhyming is excellent, and you have a great turn of phrase, classical in a modern setting..

Bad Stuff: Really nitpicking here, but I thought some of the word choices, like "kvetch" and "lewd", seemed out-of-place. (I really don't get the "lewd" one in context; it seems to imply a sexual element that's not there in context). I also wonder if the last verse could contain one more mention of the two sisters to make it complete; they just disappear after a while. Lastly, the spaces every three lines felt like they should be closed, particularly when there's run-on lines from one to another.

Verdict: Top Contender. I mean top contender. I love the lateral thinking, the clever play with the gorgon myth, and also the way it's developed naturally in the story to genuine appreciation of art and humanity. The pleasing language with modern and classical bits in it is mixed together cleverly.
#17452 · 3
· on A Scholarly Report on the Fairy Peasblossom
Good Stuff: You're trying to be clever here and there, and it works! The Shakespeare connection and particularly the Cottingley stuff is very interesting when you know the real-life context. You even got the girls' names and the Arthur Conan Doyle connection right. Kudos for that! I also like the colorful personality of "Peasblossom" and how it contrasts with the scholarly tone of the report, and the fairy lore in a psychiatric setting was cool. You get credit for the idea, especially how it's left ambiguous even to the narrator whether she really is a fairy or not.

Bad Stuff: You're trying to be clever here and there, but you should focus more on other stuff too. There's no real character arc, and the narrator isn't really there until the last paragraph, so it feels too impersonal despite the message at the end trying to imply something about his attitude. I also wonder if a village would really have two hospitals. Maybe they should've been in a nearby city instead, like Bradford or Leeds.

Verdict: Solid Entry. The dryness works against it, and it's more a clever sci-fi fantasy idea developed as a report than an actual engaging story. But within that cleverness, it works so well that I can forgive it. You've at least put some thought into an emotional aspect, even if it's weaker than the (admittedly cool) ideas.
#17467 · 3
· on Little Dahlia · >>BlueChameleonVI
Good Stuff: The prose and the voicing in this are both excellent. I liked the arguments between the two Dahlias, and the subtle way the trauma takes it toll on the "good" one (s that a reference to suicide at the end!? Whoa!). You have an amazing opening line. What I liked best was the little twist that these aren't really two different personalities, which would have been the obvious choice, but that Dahlia recognizes they're both the same person. That's a cool subversion. Finally, there are bits of detail here I like, such as Ronnie's being cheap with the oven and Washington being his school friend, that make it seem more convincing.

Bad Stuff: Like >>Anon Y Mous, I've read "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl, and this felt uncomfortably too close to it. You got the same leg of lamb idea, the same characters, and except for the ending, the same plot points, and it feels too derivative. You at least changed things around by making it more psychological horror than dark comedy, and the ending goes a different direction. But you don't do it enough, and it gets really distracting and uncomfortable really quickly. I won't say you're plagiarizing because it is at least clearly trying to be different, maybe as a reimagining, but I wouldn't blame someone for accusing you of laziness.

Verdict: Mid Tier. I really want to like this one more than I do, but the obvious source material - you even play around with the names to make it more obvious - subtracts more than it adds. If you'd changed things around more or concentrated on developing the characters more, I might feel better about it. It's still a well-written piece you've put some effort into, and I don't think you'd have to do much to make it a solid entry. I'd also expand on that last line; it was really exciting, and then the story ends. There's potential there.
#17305 · 2
· on Fluttershy Converses with a Tree · >>Anon Y Mous
This one's not for me, so I must abstain.

Sorry, man. I started this one, I tried, but the character-breaking, the extremely basic prose, and the disgustingly visceral horror elements turned me off super-quickly. I couldn't finish it. It's not my cup of tea. I do hope you get feedback, though. I just didn't want to leave you out entirely, and maybe this comment can help a little to pick out what didn't work for next time.
#17308 · 2
· on Nights of Frights and Butterscotch · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Good Stuff: I really like the easygoing way Luna and Ink developed their relationship from scene to scene. It's like the Coffee at Three story, and the characters feel so natural and pleasant. The interview was the best bit because we got to see the relationship develop most, but I also liked the ending where Luna and Ink poke fun at each other and make light of the apocalyptic dreams. The prophetic dreams world-building was interesting. And Luna in a possum costume is a funny and cool comics reference! I loved it!

Bad Stuff: The dream bits spliced between the main stuff was distracting, but they were vague and so took me out of the moment. I feel like it would have been stronger to make it obvious what was happening so that we have tension instead of mystery, and I also feel the reveal wasn't strong enough. At times, I didn't believe this was Luna talking. It's maybe just me, but I think she was too chummy at times. Maybe she should be more standoffish and polite, like a princess. That might just be me.

Verdict: Solid Entry. It's nothing ambitious, it fumbles with Luna sometimes, it's muddled with the dream bits, but overall I came away feeling the better for reading it, and I hope it does well.