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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
Alone Together
FiM Minific
Flat Spiral
Bronze medal
Message from the Underground
Original Short Story
The Americas and the Second Sun
FiM Short Story
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.
#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.
#24141 · 1
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
In which Sweetie Belle blends in with the fish.

You might've needed more time proofreading due to the errors here and there. To pile onto that, the ending seemed a bit confusing for me: What does a bean and a kidney have to do with Ruby Pinch and Scootaloo trying to run away from Applejack? Though, to be fair, I think this means that that particular action is more implied than anything—maybe even a noodle incident. I also sadly do not get how Ot relates to this. The closest I could get from the top of my head and some quick online searching is that ketamine seems to have some relation to occupational therapy (OT).

Oh. I just answered my own question just now, huh? That actually makes the mention of therapy and Rarity going to Manehattan for a patient much more sensible now. It's still not too related to the prompt, but, hey, if that didn't happen, this comedy story wouldn't have happened.

Other than that, this is a very blunt and very straightforward comedy piece. Black comedy, to be precise. It's interesting that it's not just straightforward: the rather long-winded tone of Scootaloo somehow makes all the raw surprises here all fun and good to the point that, for some reason, some of the errors just fit with how, for lack of a better term, broken the story becomes as it gets into the end with the depravity and insanity levels rising.

Shock value will keep this afloat, but proofreading errors may prevent this from reaching the top. Still, good job on a crazy story!
#24212 · 1
· on Snail Mail Delivery
In which France has the final word.

This is a lovely little piece and it's nigh perfect. While I did not understand a few sci-fi terms here and there, that's okay because they're merely flavor for a story that is good even without it: a good set-up of expectations at the beginning, some misdirection with the mystery of the box, and then the surprise of the cargo being a celebratory gift of wine which is quite heartwarming considering the rather somber or otherwise serious tone of the story's first section.

The only thing I would complain about is how the description/atmosphere tapers off in the end like the story is just suddenly fading to black. The final moment could be more poignant/emotional if there was at least a phrase if not a sentence or two regarding how the scene felt or even what kind of surface they were walking on.

Other than that, it's phenomenal! Easily a medalist in the making.
#24213 · 1
· on All Deafening on the Home Front · >>Miller Minus
In which war is a terrible thing.

I have to admit my bias when it comes to stories like this since I have a penchant for commentary on war. With that out of the way: wow! I love how you build the atmosphere and Mrs. O'Hare up until the last few paragraphs of the story where it all switches to the devastating revelation. All the details in the build-up seem to just serve their purpose as worldbuilding, but then to pluck out one or two details and to remind us of them in the ending revelation, and the thematic and repeating words of "
And she could hear a pin drop."
sealed the deal for me at the end.

Another thing of note here is this line: "An idea hits her, to simply shove her hand into the machine." Such a surprise to have there and yet it makes sense given how, with the information already given out, I should've expected it. Perhaps she's bored out of her mind or otherwise just dying to get out of there, and this is like a mental version of suddenly raging out but without the physical trashing.

Overall, this is great! I'll be surprised if I don't see this at the top.
#24281 · 1
· on Disenchantment

If the piece is a disguised call for help, then do not hesitate to PM one of us or, if it's more than just writing, better yet a close friend of yours.

Do note that, as far as I know, the Writeoff these days is now mostly conducted by older, more experienced writers so the informal barrier of entry, so to speak, might've been higher than expected.

Even with that, though, the point about the Writeoff is that it's mostly about getting honest and straightforward feedback in order to improve one's writing. Since it is done in a contest format, that automatically bars off or disadvantages authors who might do better when thinking about their stories over longer periods of time: I certainly got time pressured a lot for this contest and ended up not up to snuff for my entry.

Ultimately, I get that it is not easy, especially with how blunt criticism and feedback can get in the Writeoff. It can be discouraging to read the medalists and to compare them to your entry and to see how the commenters praise them while they look down on yours.

With that said, maybe you can try taking things a notch lower and try to see improvements not by comparing yourself to other writers but by comparing yourself to yourself. Comparing yourself to the likes of, say, Miller Minus or Bachiavellian may be very discouraging to you since they're very well-seasoned and have tons of experience here, but it's easier to ask yourself, "How is my writing now compared to my writing half a year ago?" At least with that, it's easier to see improvement there: it's at a manageable and much more personal rate, and it's ultimately your own style that you are analyzing and critiquing.

Also, I would suggest reading this blog post about being discouraged or otherwise feeling lonesome or negative with writing.

All in all, I wish you well in your future endeavors and, if you are feeling super down, I hope and pray you get back up. Stay safe wherever you may be.
#24373 · 1
· on Flat Spiral

So, it turns out I was able to hang with the top half of the pack this time around which is encouraging. I believe this means I'm improving as a writer, which is the main reason why I'm in the Writeoff in the first place.

I am concerned, however, with my consistent failings or mess-ups with how I do endings, especially since the last paragraphs or sentences are one of the strongest a reader usually remembers from the story, I believe. Your suggestions for better endings—from cutting off Screwball's portion entirely and leaving it at that, to still sticking with Vine Eye but after the chaosificiation—are certainly better than this massive mood whiplash of a screwball as it stands.

I don't have much else to say other than this: Thank you for reading this fic and for providing feedback on it! I hope it was good spending for your time, and see you all next time!
#24497 · 1
· on Dead in the Water
In which—boom.

Up front, I'll have to abstain on this one because the story is a work-in-progress. I like the reasoning in the outline for the latter parts of the story, but I think it would be unfair to judge those parts of the story as is.

From the parts of the story that are fleshed out: there is a good sense of worldbuilding without being too heavy that it bloats the word count, and there is good characterization (especially with calm Tobias and ever-angry William). The investigator paragraphs (talking about the murder) fit right in with a crime thriller: tight, logical, and rarely if ever going into useless tangents.

All in all, a pretty good story but sadly an incomplete one. I'll vote Abstain for now.