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An avid fan of the show, and a reader and writer of horse words. Most importantly, I'm a Christian, believing in the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Consider this: Are you sure you're going to Heaven?
Gold medalMortarboard
Message from the Underground
Original Pic
Signs of Life at Event Horizon Station
Gold medalLightbulb
The Hugs Went Away Again
FiM Short Story
Gold medalConfetti
The World Wants to Be Fooled
Original Short Story
Alone Together
FiM Minific
Flat Spiral
Bronze medal
Message from the Underground
Original Short Story
The Americas and the Second Sun
FiM Short Story
Silver medalConfettiLightbulb
The World Wants to Be Fooled
Original Pic
A Flock, Anthropomorphed
To Those at the End
Original Minific
Time-Traveling Salesman Problem
#24153 · 2
· on Belshazzar
>>Baal Bunny

I thank you all for your constructive feedback and criticism for this piece! I do not have much to say about such feedback because, in hindsight, I feel that it deserves the place it's gotten in the end. It is a shame that it seems like a potentially arresting ending and probably great revelations were marred by everything else, and I do apologize for disappointing you here. I hope I can learn and be better next the time.

On a greater level, I think that there's a common error that runs through all my three entries in the Writeoff so far: being gimmicky, too much focus on a theme or a device that it detracts from the story. In my haste, I was enraptured by the movie Inception and this talk of dreams, and I wanted to incorporate a dream-like tone. Couple that with taking Ot as the Old Testament and bringing along themes relating to Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar (because dreams for Nebuchadnezzar), and I ended up with a dreamy and too metaphorical tone that I now see as a bothersome weight to carry. I have also realized that I might be bogging things down with unnecessary worldbuilding details when this isn't supposed to be some kind of history book.

If there is a key thing that I can take away from this story, it's restraint. I've indulged myself too much with much wordplay and imagery to an almost narcissistic level, to the detriment of the poor reader who needs to get hooked to something and, afterwards, must have a smooth experience through the rest of the story; the hooks are too few and far between, the distance increased by said dreamlike tone. In short, I've tried being "the cool guy" to a very bad extent that I end up losing sight of the fact that a story is not exclusively poetry, that it's supposed to take into consideration the reader and not just the writer—something that stories with "simpler" writing tones don't miss in this contest.

On the bright side, I'm glad to have the highest number of shiny icons beside a story and to also have one of the two stories that became the subject of a pic submission.

In the end, it's a much-needed learning experience and also a fun way to get the juices flowing and to interact with other writers and readers! Thank you for this event, thank you all, and see you soon!
#24169 · 2
· on Wotchmen · >>Meridian_Prime

What were the setting details that clicked for you later on, or that you had to piece together on your own, which you wish you had known from the beginning? In other words, what would I need to work into the first scene or two (or an earlier prologue) in order to give readers a softer landing in the story?

To be honest, I didn't face much of a problem with the beginning details at all. As I've said in my first comment here, I just imagined up the missing details or otherwise the things I didn't get. Though, to be honest, this is because I am just plain ol' illiterate when it comes to conventional sci-fi, so, in a way, I got the story's setting precisely by not getting it, if you know what I mean. I realized I didn't understand much nor should I understand it much to enjoy the story. I just rolled with it.

So, really, I disagree with the questions themselves because the mystery oozing out of the first few parts of the story (like, subliminal jolts from messaging apps? A chat-style piece of dialogue? This takes place in the future? Stella Yan is surely not a pony, but this Colt Peacemaker sure is; I'd like to see him very soon!). Why? Because the mystery was part of the hook.

Perhaps, in hindsight, room for improvement would actually be a bit further in: the sudden introduction of Liam Earthson. There's been no reference to this guy previously, and in a world with much original flavor and admittedly not much pony to it, throwing one more new guy that (seemingly) doesn't have anything to do with the characters introduced beforehand could be too much new stuff too fast for a reader who needs to be smoothly eased into the story's world and its characters. As is, Liam Earthson's intro came off as one introductory explosion too many. This could be alleviated by, say, Stella seeing some deep web user mining out a conversation between Liam Earthson and Emily with the "What is ot?" question in there and then we cut to Liam Earthson's P.O.V. as he is in surprise at "Emily's" words.

What assumptions did you have to unmake that I might give readers a little better help in breaking up front?

I may be the outlier here, but, again, I just rolled with the setting. My lack of literary sci-fi experience meant that I had no assumptions to make.

Also, thank you for this great story! Despite the shortcomings pointed out here and by others, it really deserved its place here, especially so in this lifetime Ot event. Have a good job with your writing endeavors! :)
#24228 · 2
· on Draw Your Own Conclusion
In which "time is really more of an etch n sketch."

Throughout the whole story, I imagined this whole thing taking place in black nothingness. With the descriptions given in the story, I am not sure if this is the effect you were going for, though the revelation that there is no heaven even after getting out of Hell and purgatory probably helped, whether for good or bad. I'll chalk this impression up as "questionable" because while the story did work for me in a setting of nothingness, it seems the other commenters here were dismayed at the lack of enough descriptions to have the setting stick or make sense to their heads. For example:

“You see that hourglass up there?” She pointed up.

“Of course I do.”

The bigger and shinier hourglass is not given much focus even though it is the subject of important discussion in the story. That the hourglass was just given that description plus this exchange without any description relating to it like Thomas looking up to it or having Thomas' thoughts about it and so on... it all leaves the most important object of the story in the background, which isn't good when the hourglass relates a lot to the story's revelation.

Much of the dialogue here also seems like filler even though I believe you were going for characterization here, though there is the danger of too much characterization when writing a short story or a minific. I sympathized with Thomas when he got confused with Natasha's over-spilling story about Mr. Goldstein—they may be fine in a longer story, but with 750 words being the cap, you could have cut Natasha's gushing about ex's here and there, bringing it down to one-liners and things like that.

I am also concerned about Thomas' reaction to the revelation. Maybe it's more of a your mileage may vary sort of thing when it comes to reacting to such big things like this after the huge struggle he went through to get to the point he was at the beginning of the story, but still, I find it incredulous that his reaction to finding out that there is no heaven after all, at least for now after all he's been through is to just sort of blank out and make small talk with Natasha? It seems more likely that he would have gone a more dramatic route considering his struggle to get here. Maybe Thomas is different from the average person, but not much if any in the story indicates that Thomas has had something that makes his attitude different from the average person.

In the end, this is a story that could have reached its destination but needs some description beef-up an a better, more realistic ending. Would make it to the middle if only barely.
#25787 · 2
· on Stairs to No Place
If I just focus on the staircase, I can trick myself into thinking that the staircase may also be going up. The background keeps me telling me otherwise, but I guess that's just me fooling myself.

Either way, this does pose some interesting questions about the location itself. Why are there stairs here in the middle of nowhere? Maybe there's some ruins nearby? Who knows? This may be an archaeological find (which would be quite a bonus if this is in the USA).

I'll have to agree with Griseus that I don't see how the prompt makes its way here, but I like the photo nonetheless.
#25788 · 2
· on Hookbug
Well, this has the potential to be an SCP, for one.

That aside, I can see some ways into how the world can be fooled by hooks, of all things. Get construction companies to build these everywhere, and then suddenly, they start terrorizing a major city.
#25789 · 2
· on Flattened Scream
>>GroaningGreyAgony >>Griseus
Let me add: some very bad egg(?), though that's a reach.

And I like how this is the opposite of looking at the sky and making shapes out of passing clouds. Instead, it's just something static, and yet we can "fool ourselves" into thinking it's something else.

Or maybe I'm just looking into a blob of paint way too much!
#25790 · 2
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed · >>Griseus
Given Grey's source of the quote, I did some further digging and found out that this was written up by none other than Charles T. Russel himself, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This would only reinforce this pic's spin on "The World Wants to be Fooled" by way of religion and/or cults.

Also, maybe I'm being way too cheeky with OP for this, but I can't help but find the juxtaposition of sheep and cell towers a bit funny because it reminds me of the 5G tower craze a few years back. You can reasonably apply the prompt to either the conspiracy theorists themselves in the eyes of the world or the rest of the world in the eyes of the conspiracy theorists.

And no doubt, the idea of sheeple slots into the prompt perfectly.
#25791 · 2
· on Mundus Vult Decipi
"I'm gonna steal me a silver stallion,
With not a mark upon his silky hide
Teach me he can trust me like a brother,
One day we'll saddle up and ride"

~ "Silver Stallion," The Highwaymen

I mean, I tried looking up what "Silver Stallion" would mean by the hover text, but what I got first was an old song from the 90s.

That aside, it's a hilarious idea! Imagine that unicorns are real, but the horns are just something they tape on their heads, but it still works. Even if it's a sketch, it still gets points for being cheeky about unicorns.
#25792 · 2
· on Sky Touch
I'll have to agree with Griseus here. I like the concept of the moon touching a tree (or the other way around), but you'd have to stretch a lot of noggins just to see how the world would be fooled by it, even if in abstract. Or perhaps perspective tricks in the vein of tourists pushing against the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just another method of mass hysteria.

This is a nice picture, though!
#24116 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
In which Ot is an upstart.

This is a very strong entry precisely because I can't find anything wrong with it. The world feels very packed and it's nice that you didn't explain everything because there's enough space for me to imagine whatever the missing spaces are. I have a feeling that this is a crossover of some franchise, but I'm not well-versed enough in sci-fi stuff to know just what that is—unless this is all original, in which case, kudos to you for making this feel like a crossover with an established series when it isn't!

I felt lots of familiar vibes with it though, especially from the SCP given the memetic nature of Ot. And that leads up to the main thing with this: Ot. This meta thing you've got going on here, as well as how you managed to make it into something that's sensible in the story, along with asking the out-of-the-box question of not treating it as a monster: it's very commendable.

The other characters also do well for their screentime. The supporting characters such as Mikhail and Foresight (and, arguably, Stella and Braeburn and Thunderlane), for example, come into the story with a distinct flavor but don't overwhelm the story nor do they become forgettable.

Which leads me to Liam and Apocalypta, and I'm grouping them here because I can't separate them. It is good enough that Liam is a nice (sort of) anti-hero trying to do something good. It's even better that in a way, Liam and Apocalypta share the similar if not the same burden (though in different magnitudes) even before the mind fusion thing— and that's something I realized just now, so more kudos to you for re-read bonuses!

All in all, a strong contender for the top. I will be surprised if this does not place.