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It's All Rather Confusing, Really
#20653 · 2
·
>>Miller Minus

I get the feeling:

That asking what on Earth that video was would just confuse me even more. So I don't think I'll ask...

Mike
#20646 · 3
· · >>Miller Minus
>>CoffeeMinion

I've been tempted:

Especially since this is the 100th contest. But I already used my free month of Netflix back when "Legend of Everfree" came out exclusively on their platform...

Mike
#20632 ·
·
>>Pascoite

And of course:

Dr. Watson tells us the Sherlock Holmes stories...

Mike
#20631 · 1
· on A Christmas Carl
>>Miller Minus
>>horizon
>>Rao
>>AndrewRogue
>>scifipony

Thanks for the comments, folks:

And congrats to our medalists!

The "double swerve" problem here should be pretty easy to fix, I think, especially since the markets I'll be sending the story to after running it through the revision process will be science fiction/fantasy oriented to begin with. So they'll be expecting any story submitted to them to have some sort of SF element. I just need to bring up the Santa/Snow Queen conflict at the top of the story--Carl could mention his theory about Mr. Doohan to his father, and his father could go off about the Fae Elite who have opposed Santa from the beginning or something like that.

The biggest problem for me is one I didn't bring up in my own comment 'cause I didn't even think of it till Haze put up a non-Writeoff-related blog post over on Fimfiction yesterday that crystallized what I'd been finding lacking in the story since hammering it together: Carl doesn't want anything. Even just making it more definite that he wants to be unnoticed and unremarkable might help his character, seems to me...

At least I've got some time to get it cleaned up. Editors aren't interested in seeing Christmas stories till August.

Thanks again!
Mike
#20614 ·
· on Temporal Entanglement
Once again:

I'll be largely agreeing with >>horizon about things here, author. Decide how time travel works in the story and get that information to us through Sakura, then find the ending and take us there.

Mike
#20606 ·
· on Into the Skies Again
I hate:

Leaving entirely negative comments, so lemme give a positive suggestion here, author, for a way to pull Nicky more into the story and maybe make the romance work. Maybe the narration could make it clear in the first half of the story that Nicky's also in love with Joren. Then when he tells Leisha that she should tell Joren how she feels, she can point it right back at him. Then at the end when we find out what Joren wants, the threesome's all set.

Oh, and the song is by Stan Rogers, not Steven Rogers.
#20603 ·
· on Into the Skies Again
I think I would've enjoyed this more:

If it wasn't such a pastiche of Robert A Heinlein. 'Cause I like the bones of the story, author, but Heinlein's writing has always made my skin crawl.

His characters, like those here, never advance much beyond what the late SF critic Baird Searles called "a snappy name and a job description," his attempts to incorporate alternate sexuality into his stories were as unconvincing as the attempt here, and the dialogue here reminds me of the wooden phrases that dropped heavily from the lips of Heinlein's characters: I mean, has anyone ever in real life called anyone "old fella" or "bosom chum" or said "However, there’s a deeper reason I haven’t been forthcoming"?

So sorry, but this one just pushes all the bad buttons in my brain...

Mike
#20600 ·
· on A Christmas Carl
The word I'd use here, author:

Is "goofy," I guess. I like goofy stories, but I'd also like to know that it's a screwball fantasy from the beginning. Maybe Carl's mother's reaction to Carl's father's conspiracy theories can be that it's elves keeping them down, not the wealthy? A little something to prepare us more for the big turn the story takes. And I almost want Santa to bring Carl's father back into it at the end by saying that he chose Carl because his father, still roaming around the multiverse somewhere, recommended him. Because the more loose ends you can tie up in a story like this, the better.

Mike
#20592 · 3
· on Antoine's Armory · >>Miller Minus
Top of my slate so far:

I've really got no suggestions. One line near the end--"The house had been on fire"--struck me as a little inelegant because I have a mild allergy to using unadorned forms of the verb "to be" when there are so many other verbs in the language--maybe "Part of the house had burned" instead?--but this is just plain terrific from top to bottom.

Mike
#20587 · 1
· on Unreported Clairvoyant Events · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
I'll just echo >>horizon:

Pretty much from start to finish here. The writing's just plain lovely--so many sweet, crunchy verbs!--but I need another section or three containing more puzzle pieces that I can try fitting together.

Mike
#20581 ·
· on A Story of Water and Blood
Very nice:

The only suggestion I can make would be to strengthen the reasons why Teague can't go. Maybe open the story during one of the parties he's put together. Introduce us to him at a moment of triumph and have people remark on how much they're looking forward to the things he'll do with House Curran once he takes over. He can tell them that he doesn't really understand how to administer an estate and they can tell him he can hire people for that, but make us see that he has a future he's kind of looking for forward to. Then the letter arrives, and everything changes.

Mike
#20579 · 3
· on Three-Card Shuffle · >>horizon
I enjoyed this story:

Until about halfway through, the third or fourth time it pulled the rug out from under me. I stopped caring about what was happening because I realized everything was only going to be revealed to be another lie within a handful of paragraphs. And when I realized that Regina had been lying to me, the reader, from the very first sentence--she knows Roulette isn't a detective, but she still calls him one in the narrative--I felt a little stab of betrayal.

A way to fix that problem would be to start the story one line earlier by having Roulette introduce himself as Detective Gil Grissom of the Las Vegas Police Department or something. You could also add more about con games at the beginning. Maybe have Roulette ask Regina what a "cold reading" is since it would give you a chance to explain it to people like me who don't know and it would let Regina wonder what kind of Las Vegas cop doesn't know what a cold reading is...

The larger problem of all those rug pulls might be helped if I was more grounded in things. Let me know as early as possible that we're in Las Vegas, for instance--another reason having Roulette introduce himself as a detective at the beginning would be helpful. And we only hear about the Heat's headquarters being bombed when the Red Queen mentions it in passing after knocking Roulette out. That would've been helpful to have known earlier in the story.

In short, I'd recommend making the story longer as well as making sure that we readers get the necessary information at the time we need it. It's a lovely world, some fun characters, and an interesting situation, but I found the way it doesn't give me a chance to get my footing after each reveal to be a little off-putting.

Mike
#20567 · 2
· · >>vladspellbinder
>>horizon:

Me, too, despite everything. I've had an idea kicking around my head for weeks now that'll fit right in with this prompt, so, I mean, I have no choice but to take advantage of the opportunity and actually type it out, right? Isn't that how this whole thing works?

Also, whoever submitted "When the Citrus Came to Town," that is the single greatest prompt I've seen in the five hundred years I've been hanging around this place. I'll definitely be writing a story to go with it at some point in the near future.

Mike
#20563 · 5
·
Hmmmm:

I've got the rewrites on my Discord vs. Daylight Saving Time fic that I want to do this weekend and a couple interviews I'd like to send out to potential inductees into the Royal Canterlot Library, but some of these prompts are just so fine, if one of them wins, I might have to throw all my plans to the wind and do this instead.

Hmmmm...

Mike
#20557 · 1
· on Metaphysical Therapy
>>Miller Minus
>>GroaningGreyAgony
>>Icenrose
>>Pascoite
>>Monokeras

In case anyone:

Wants to check out what I ended up doing with this story, it's one of the stories up now on the Aurora Wolf website.

Mike
#20538 ·
· on The Castle Courtyard
>>Cold in Gardez

One thing:

Using the odd orthography tells me immediately--and I haven't read more than the first dozen paragraphs of the story so I don't know if this turns out being the case--is that there's going to be conflict between the princess and the girl from the town and that the author's sympathies are with the girl from the town.

Because my understanding of the "dash vs. quotation mark" thing is that it signifies the political struggle between the English and the people they conquered in the British Isles. The English had the power, so when they spoke, they had a voice and they used quotation marks. The conquered peoples had no power, so when they spoke, they didn't have a voice and wanted something other than quotation marks to show this imbalance. So just by using the dashes, the author is giving the reader a signal as to how the author feels about the characters.

If I'm remembering right. It's been 35 years since I last took a class this kinda lit-crit stuff... :)

Mike Again
#20535 · 2
· on The Castle Courtyard · >>Cold in Gardez >>No_Raisin
>>Cold in Gardez

As I haven't seen:

The new She-Ra show and only saw a couple episodes of the original decades ago, I hadn't planned to comment on the stories here. But as a point of information, using dashes to mark dialogue became a bit of a thing mostly with non-English British writers after James Joyce did it in his writings. Roddy Doyle does the same thing in his books, for instance, and I think even the original book of Trainspotting used dashes for disalogue.

Mike, Trying in Some Way to be Helpful
#20517 · 2
· on Behind the Magic Eight Ball
>>Pascoite

Shhh!

Don't spoil the illusion! :)

Mike
#20515 · 1
· on Behind the Magic Eight Ball
My initial thought:

Was to make this very much an interior Applejack story--she gets the prompt as a fortune from Pinkie, outwardly laughs it off and is inwardly very upset about it--but then I started wondering why Pinkie would say such a thing to AJ, and everything derailed from there. Like I said, I still think there's a story in among these various shards, and I hope to have it ready to post on FimFiction before the new year kicks in.

Thanks, folks!
Mike
#20484 ·
· on Behind the Magic Eight Ball · >>Pascoite
I'll agree:

With everyone above and call this a box of jigsaw puzzle pieces that've been dumped out onto a tabletop. There might be a picture here, but it's gonna take a bit more work before it becomes apparent what it is. I'll suggest focusing on Applejack, on how she might feel or what she might do knowing that she just got this other pony fired. Something, though, to take things on from here...

Mike
#20469 ·
· on Twilight, By Herself, On A Holiday Afternoon
After reading this one:

I had to go back and check the "Guessing" list to make sure GaPJaxie didn't have an entry this round. My only question has to do with the phrase "time clone". It's very evocative, as they say, but it's not quite explanatory enough for me to figure out what's going on logistically with the operation Twilight's set up here. Just give me a few more hints as to where they come from and where they go when they're done with their shifts, and I'll be happy.

Mike
#20465 ·
· on My Immortal
I have to say:

How happy I am that so many folks this time around decided to take the prompt in a non-gloomy direction. The only thing I could suggest for this one would be to have Twilight dressed in some outlandish get-up when Celestia walks in, but that's just detail stuff. Much abundant fun here.

Mike
#20462 · 1
· on Diamond Ponies Aren't Forever · >>007Ben >>007Ben
I'll agree:

Pretty much with >>Bachiavellian here--having Celestia appear in disguise and then almost immediately reveal herself was a little whiplashy. But you've got some solid bones here, author, to expand the story so it's long enough to post on FimFiction. I'll definitely look forward to seeing its final form there!

Mike
#20443 ·
· on Escape
Very nice:

But the POV switch at the end didn't work for me in the slightest.

One of the writing principles that I've lately become a big fan of is ending a story very firmly in the POV of the character the story's actually about. Give the last word to the main character, as it were. So a switch like this at the very end makes me think that, even though we've been following Celestia throughout, the story's actually been about Tirek the whole time.

But it isn't, as near as I can tell. It's much more about Celestia, and I'd suggest it needs to be even more about her. Make it so that she comes to offer Tirek parole on the 50th or 100th anniversary of her exiling Luna or something. Make it so that her journey here isn't about Tirek at all but is all about Celestia feeling that she didn't do enough to help Luna back then. Celestia can't break the timelock on Luna's exile--that thousand year thing is inviolable--but she can try to assuage her guilt by extending her offer to Tirek. She knows he'll refuse, and she can leave feeling better about herself.

Or something like that, anyway. Make the story be about Celestia. Put the last line in her POV, and make this visit to Tirek mean something to her. That'll give it the arc folks are looking for.

Mike
#20440 · 1
· on To Anyone Listening · >>TitaniumDragon
The stuttering meter:

In the poem made me cringe, author, but I love the double lampshade you hang on it, making it a translation put together by someone who claims not to be very good at writing poetry. I'd say leave it as rough as it is since you've got very good, in story reasons for that roughness.

A couple things confused me, though. In the poem, it sounds like we're dealing with three completely separate apocalypses. So has the poem been sent by three different sole survivors on three different planets who have found each other and are somehow able to reach out together to contact Equestria? Maybe you could have one of the princesses wonder about this, too. Also, Twilight says, "It sounds like they all destroyed themselves," and Luna answers, "A fate we ourselves have almost shared." When did the ponies almost destroy themselves in any comparable way?

Still, this is quite nice.

Mike
Paging WIP