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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?
#25795 · 1
· on A Flock, Anthropomorphed
In keeping with the cultic spin on the prompt, the quote is from Jim Jones right before the Jonestown Massacre, specifically in the context of convincing his people why they should poison and kill themselves.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#25585 ·
· on ~~~
In which the cycle of hugs goes on...? Maybe?

My gripe with it is twofold. One, Party Piece seems to go from 0 to 100 with not much justified explanation/build-up when you mention that the griffon victim is in the hospital and then apparently also paralyzed. It's a way to disrupt Piece's daily routine and change up creatures' opinions of Piece in a jiffy, but it's not a natural one. It feels forced, simply there for the sake of moving Piece forward.

And two, what is the point or moral of Piece's arc? I learn that she's got parental issues and, given that the original Pinkie is admittedly on the touchy and huggy side, Piece would be uniquely affected by the hug-censoring curse... but then what? Is it that she realizes that she's so touchy/huggy and needs to change? But then that doesn't work since everyone in her hometown was fine with it before the curse happens. Or perhaps it's a tragedy in which taking away one of her defining features(?) will upend her? But then, there's not much catharsis for the reader; it's simply Piece and a bunch of other ponies suffering because they can't fully and literally comprehend what a hug is anymore.

On the plus side, though, it is admittedly a way to tackle the prompt in a literal sense. A more casual SCP-esque tale, mayhaps? I realized that this story is pretty much an epigram of sorts, having no mention of the word hug (though embrace is cutting close), so there's certainly an A+ here for the effort and unique idea. And it's a bold effort to get OCs all the way for an MLP contest.

Anyway, it's still a mysterious and surreal way to start off the selection! Thank you for the story.
#24554 ·
· on The Americas and the Second Sun

I agree with pretty much everything said in the reviews (or, rather, the one long review and the one short one here).

I think clutching onto a gimmick for too long did it in for this story. I was inspired with the clinical form and discovered media that the SCP Foundation uses a lot in their fiction, and I tried to replicate that here—except, having never even attempted writing an SCP article before, I think I got Dunning-Krugered a lot here. That, coupled with having a Turtledove book in my collection and wanting to worldbuild, made me get sidetracked by a lot of things that I ended up losing focus on what the theme of the story should be—or wo or what I'm even supposed to be writing about in the first place.

Needless to say, this is definitely not my best piece of work: but at least I did it and can lean from it.

Thank you for the feedback you've given and for giving this story a shot. I'll learn from it and hope to do better!
#24553 ·
· on The Earthworm: A Child's Tale
In which a good earthworm goes to war.

The ending is too ambiguous for me to be satisfied with. A part of me wanted to see some kind of status confirmed for the family that left the earthworm: Are they dead? Are they missing in action? Are they just very far away, safe and away from the war zone? Speaking of war: the theme is slightly unfocused—the defining trait of the earthworm is that he can sculpt and that holds very well even long after the family leaves, but when the soldiers start coming in, I have to wonder what their point is in relation to his sculpting ability. Why would the higher ups (presumably of a military sort) want a sculpting earthworm? Maybe because they don't have to pay an earthworm any salary, but I'm already making assumptions.

However, out of the four stories here, I think I could relate to this one the most in terms of tone and everything else. It reminds me a lot of childhood stories, which makes the dark turns later in the tale somewhat surreal. Granted, I was listening to some ambience while reading this, but still: it's nostalgic and a little dreamy reading this thanks to your style. In terms of reading experience alone, this one takes the cake and then some.

So, overall, this is a fic that's quite solid despite the depressing and somewhat unresolved ending.
#24552 ·
· on The Brave and the 'Bold · >>GroaningGreyAgony
In which high-class brandy meets low-class toilet.

It's a very subtle piece and, for the most part, it held solidly because the story is focused on some two goofballs trying to get in some drinking party—nothing too complex or convoluted. Just that, and the simplicity is quite fun.

The only problem I have here is the italic sections at the beginning and the end. With slight modifications, I think the story would do better without them. As is, they feel more like tack-ons in which the archaeologist(?) doesn't bear much importance at all to the story other than to offer a little humor here and there.

Overall, a great story from the underground sewers, no less!
#24499 ·
· on Signs of Life at Event Horizon Station

Well, this was a wonderful surprise!

First off, this is photo manipulation. The source image is here.

As for the pic itself, I must admit that the signs of life at the center is a bit too dark or indistinct as libertydude and CoffeeMinion have pointed out. Sadly, the idea never occurred to me to just add more to it—I had the incorrect mindset that I could only manipulate photos that I didn't at least try, well, adding some more into it (or at least changing the color of the little lights there so it stands out more—like a thermal imaging camera).

Still, I was and still am glad about how the pic turned out. It is good to know that you've enjoyed it so well that it got first place.

Thank you, and see you around for the fic stage!
#24498 ·
· on The Americas and the Second Sun
In which foreign relations reach the next level.

There are quite a few errors here and there, notably the periods at the end of the letters and then resurrecting Sergeant Major Adam Montgomery into a First Lieutenant on the other side of the war—which makes the whole official/professional format of the story being discovered in some terminal computer (Fallout style?) somewhat unbelievable.

William also comes off as too jerkish for Charlotte to love. It was alright when he was a clueless lover, but his final appearance with him in the room with Charlotte gives off creepy vibes. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this, but still.

Also, the payoff seems muddied. We get the reveal on what's actually going on (the reveal of Operation Second Sun), but it makes the other threads going on in the story seem irrelevant and useless. A mystery fic where it baits and switches here and there is good if the red herrings are few and far between, but I think the story borders on having one red herring too many.

All that aside, this is a good fic in terms of ideas and I can't fault the writer for being creative by restricting himself into just writing through discovered media. The ability to tackle the sheer variety of voices in this fic (especially when you contrast the dry Metanormal Divison correspondence with that sappy love letter from William) is no easy feat and I think you've managed to hit the mark almost all the time. Worldbuilding-wise, it's good enough: didn't flood us with too many incessant details; just gave the reader enough details to know this isn't exactly Earth and to be immersed in some of the flavor. And the moral(?) of duty as well with that final letter from Charlotte... yes, that too.

Overall, a great story about being out of this world!
#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.
#24496 ·
· on As Above...
In which the average human doesn't know of his Morlock neighbors.

The top half is somewhat lackluster (especially with the drawn human figure there), but the bottom half makes up for it and then some. The idea of a Morlock-esque group of humans living in the underground and being able to crawl on the ceiling like lizards?! A sense of dread to be had, that is for sure.
#24495 ·
· on gift from the below
In which zombies. Don't buy them for your kids on Christmas.

Stained glass windows are usually more happy and cheerful than that, so to have such a window portend doom (thanks to the zombie hand) is a nice subversion. If I may be technical, the lines seem a bit too uneven at times to look like a proper stained glass window, but maybe that's what you were going for—a sense of unease.
#24494 ·
· on What Comes with Spring · >>GroaningGreyAgony
In which we grow letters.

Thanks to the prompt, I now think that the message is literally from the underground (either by someone from underground or if we're actually growing letters), so I am more optimistic and bright-eyed than usual than I guess the others here for this pic. Even the wall/sidewalk problem libertydude pointed out just turns it into a flickering illusion for me which is another bonus point.

Yup! Nice job! Thanks for this.
#24493 ·
· on Root Causes · >>GroaningGreyAgony
In which plants grow. (And it's a long stretch, but I would like to point out how wistful it is to see a piece about plants drawn on paper.)

On the alt text: Quite touching. I don't have much else to say other than that it feels like a quote some famous or wise person would say.

On the picture itself: Traditional art always rings nostalgic to me especially because a lot of things done these days can also be done digitally—you can say I've been spoiled by pony fan art, but enough about me. This picture is pretty and easy on the eyes. Sadly, I would have to give this a pass from the top of the pack with the same reasons as Grey.

Have a good one anyway, kind creator!
#24492 ·
· on Signs of Life at Event Horizon Station
In which we don't need to go to space for black holes.

This feels like someone took an ancient Nokia phone, went to some abandoned railroad place, and took a picture. Because if that's not how you made this picture, then it sure feels an awful lot like it. Nostalgia, for one... but nostalgia in the same way I would consider a creepypasta version of a game to be nostalgic.

I agree with some others here that the little thing at the middle is a bit too little or dark to become truly worthwhile, but otherwise, this is pretty good!
#24491 ·
· on In the End Was the Word · >>GroaningGreyAgony
In which words will not just break bones but also melt them.

This is very good as a piece of art, with my only gripe being that the words on the ground seem a bit too obviously Photoshopped (maybe lower the Alpha/transparency/whatchacallit levels on it so it blends in more with the ground)? Other than that—yup! I like that you probably used a Google Maps/Street View image for this (at least, that's what I can tell from the info on the bottom-left corner): thinking outside the box, that's for sure!
#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!
#24351 · 1
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
In which I silented in agreement upon finishing the story.

The only thing that's bringing this impactful story down is the surface-level errors such as spelling errors, especially so in the beginning (like "the lanternin her mouth" and "the frog of her hood" [I think you meant [i]hoof[/i]?]) If you are not doing it already, I advise that you do an editing pass and/or get something like Grammarly or LanguageTool which can be helpful to speed up self-proofreading especially in lightning-fast minific events.

Other than that: wow. Daring Do talking to a rock sounds like a stupid idea but you didn't just make it work; you made it shine. You balance her moral-laden dialogue with descriptions of her surroundings and, of course, the subtle comedy of her talking to a rock. The best sentence, entertainment-wise, is "The rock silented in agreement." You actually made me think the rock would talk back, and I guess you used that as part of the hook even though the rock never did talk back... because, in some weird way, a rock is enough for Daring Do to reflect on her own life. And nice moral!

I don't have much else to say, really. Overall, a great story where talking to a rock can be helpful! Should see this medaling or at least in fourth place.
#24350 ·
· on Splinter
In which Sonata Dusk is Ringo Starr and Pinkie Pie is Pete Best.

Seriously, though, bonus points for going the Fifth Beatle route with the story. And additional bonus points for setting this in the Equestria Girls verse.

As to the story: it is quite fast, and dangerously so for a minific which are often okay with fast paces. A serious argument, especially over the topic of whether one is a friend or not and whether one is just using her friends for self-gain or not, is hard to pull off in the limited space of a minific. I get the feeling that I'm seeing a condensed or abridged version of the argument because the dialogue between the two comes quite fast and there seems to be some mood whiplashes (what with Pinkie bawling out after a few lines of her apparently normally talking with Rainbow).

On the bright side, I like the flashes of great prose such as "It turns out Pinkie is a lot of things," after Pinkie's rambling and "The empty diner, chosen as a comfortable meeting place, now felt like a frozen cave." It certainly did its best to prop up a too-fast story.

Overall, a breakneck-fast trip held up by decent prose. Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised to see it at the bottom three.
#24349 ·
· on Flat Spiral
In which reunions aren't always happy affairs.

The ending is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's sensible for it to just go off the rails like that, what with this being a story where Screwball and Discord are characters and there's chaos magic involved so I can enjoy some narrative bending here and there for the sake of it. On the other hand, it's just a massive mood whiplash that I feel like I'm reading two writers writing the story with varying directions. There should be some way for the reader to at least ease in or prepare for the whiplash—maybe showing Vine Eye succumbing to the insane-happy chaos magic and then cutting to the Screwball ending. Not to mention that Screwball's point of view comes off more as a more caffeinated Pinkie Pie than someone truly steeped and brainwashed via chaos magic.

I am very concerned about the ending because its disruptiveness pulls down on an otherwise great story here. Nailing the motherly "Mama Bear" point of view takes some nuance without coming off as overbearing, but as someone who is not a mother and hasn't been in a similar situation, I'd say that I think you did well on that. As for Discord's characterization: it's refreshing to see pre-reformation Discord in a story because of how nonchalant and how cruel he can be at the same time—the evil sort of chaos, not the neutral happy-go-lucky one we get post-reformation. And, of course, that sadistic twist on reuniting mother and daughter is... well, sadistic. Like, it's not something I should like, but it works. Then again, I am not a big fan of horror, so take that as you will.

Overall, a terrifying tragedy with a tragic end, for good or for bad. Should see this at least near the top of the middle of the pack if not medaling.
#24348 ·
· on Taste of Cherry
In which suicide prevention hotlines now come in cherry flavor.

I think I get what you were trying to go for: with a soldier in peacetime not facing any deaths in the battlefield anytime soon, there's the search for death since there is no purpose in life... but a childhood memory and passion is able to save her from the brink of (assisted) suicide. While this sort of thing has and does happen in real life (maybe not so much with ex-soldiers but that's my gut feeling; don't quote me on that), the execution of it here doesn't do too well because it comes off as ham-fisted. I can imagine the memory of cherries being the start of the path to not killing herself, but with how the story ends so open-endedly and with the memory of cherries being so fresh on the reader's mind, it's not hard to imagine that cherries alone saved Tempest from certain death. Which, to be honest, sounds a bit absurd.

If I may, I think it also suffers from showing too much and not telling enough. I believe that the story could benefit from more focus on the tension between the childhood memories and the present-day desire to kill herself, but it cannot do that because the first half or so of the story is spent going around the bush about suicide which is the main subject of the story anyway. Perhaps starting the story at least a bit later into the conversation would help bring more balance and/or emphasis concerning the real conflict/tension of the story.

On the bright side, I am intrigued by Tempest's choice of going to Fluttershy of all ponies. Not to fellow Storm King fellow Grubber or her savior Twilight Sparkle, but Fluttershy. It's an unusual match-up and I am pleased that you were able to give them some good characterization and chemistry between each other especially since most of it comes through dialogue and appropriate word choices (especially for Tempest).

Overall, an okay story held back by an absurd but understandable conclusion. Could see it as middle of the pack as best.
Paging WIP