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Closing Time
FiM Short Story
Setting the Beat
The Darkest Hour
FiM Short Story
Mysteries of the Chamber
One Shot
Original Minific
Hacked Beyond the Arc
Here at the End of all Things.
FiM Short Story
The Double Bar
Ignore It and It Will Go Away
FiM Minific
Lonely at the Top
Great Expectations
FiM Short Story
The Princess's Own
It's a Long Way Down
Original Short Story
Poetry Minific
Unforeseen Complication
#10633 · 6
I'm in. First time I've submitted to an original fiction or a minific round.
#15222 · 5
· · >>Fenton >>Kitcat36
Nothing wrong with character pieces. If that's what you come up with, that's fine.
#15695 · 5
· on The Double Bar

As many of you no doubt guessed, this was my entry this round — I think it's safe to say that this piece could only have been written by a musician, and nobody else here advertises themselves as such.

I came up with the title before I figured out anything about the story. The double bar, as >>QuillScratch noted briefly in the podcast, is the musical symbol for the end of a piece, and I spent a bit of time debating whether to go with that or "Coda", before deciding that not every piece has a coda. Then I had to work out what kind of place the Double Bar would be.

Well, obviously, it would be a bar.

...Actually, it would be two bars, wouldn't it?

And it kinda went from there. (I briefly considered also having every drink served in either half of the bar be a double before deciding that no, that's stupid.)

Those of you who identified it as attempting to be a story about the bar (>>Lamplighter sort of, >>Baal Bunny, >>Not_A_Hat, >>CoffeeMinion) are correct that that was the intent, and I appreciate your suggestions in the vein of how to improve it in that direction.

Those of you who felt the conflict needed a bit more meat to it (>>Trick_Question, >>Not_A_Hat, >>Zaid Val'Roa, >>CoffeeMinion)... well, yes, Octavia having a bit of trouble writing a piece of music isn't a conflict that's going to carry very far. The intended Part B of that, which clearly I didn't play up anywhere near as much as I should have, is that she's not just trying to write music, she's trying to write music that Princess Luna will enjoy, and she's worried about what might happen if Luna doesn't like it — still maybe not super-high stakes, but it would at least be something that doesn't get resolved until the final scene.

The Quartet for the End of Time that got name-dropped is a real-world piece, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. I have no idea what circumstances might have led to the composer writing Equestria's version, but I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't be the same as they were in our world (namely, it was written in a concentration camp in WWII).

The theme and variations is a fairly standard and fairly self-explanatory musical form: you play a melody (the theme), and then you mess around with it, usually making it more complicated (the variations). Here is one of the classic examples, which does a lot of the normal things one might see in a piece of that form, and pretty much all the ones I explicitly used (also, it's Mozart, so you should listen to it anyway).

On to individual responses:

I can't say that I know enough about how music works to be able to audibiilze what the music might sound like, but this is simply a restriction on writing about music in a story.

Sure, that's a thing that I knew going in I'd have to be aware of. I tried to write it so that you didn't need to be able to hear the music in your head to get a sense of what was going on (because otherwise that cuts out a huge chunk of the potential readers), but that it might add a bit if you could.

(That said, if you're looking for a good auditory reference, about 0:52-1:08 in this video is kinda the sound I had in mind.)

Learning to write fiction has taught me how much it shares with nonfiction: you have to do your homework. Your research definitely shows in this piece, and the result is outstanding.

I agree with the general point, but I'll note that it helps when you're already very familiar with the subject matter.

I was a bit concerned about whether or not the musibabble was going to get in the way; it certainly wasn't as much as when I did Setting the Beat, but that story had a lot of it. From the sound of your review, it looks like there wasn't too much musibabble in that scene, just not enough anything else. Which is a problem with a different solution.

>>Baal Bunny
That's an intriguing suggestion, and I'm not opposed to it except to the extent that it would mean I have to come up with more names (there are fewer terms that work for both music and alcohol than you might think). I'll see what I can do with it.

You mentioned the first sentence during the podcast; I didn't respond at the time, because I didn't trust myself not to break anonymity. I'll say now that I described the sign the way I did because I was trying to avoid actually using the phrase "double bar" until I got to the end of the segment, where I named the place. From your comment, it sounds like you'd be fine with that in theory and it was just a failure in execution; I'll play around with your suggested alternative phrasing and see what shakes out.

The point of having every scene be in the bar was, indeed, to try to strengthen the setting-as-character idea. Thank you for picking up on that.

>>Zaid Val'Roa
Thanks for your time and your suggestion. I'm unlikely to go for this one, because most of the composition would likely be done away from the bar, which... see above.

Absolutely, this piece needs expansion to be what it wants to be. I'm generally of the opinion that perfection has been reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove — but with this one, yeah, there's stuff that needs to be added.

Thanks, all of you, for your time and your comments.
#15340 · 4
· on Familiar · >>Kitcat36 >>Trick_Question
Twilight's never been good at pretending nothing's wrong, has she?

I like the slow hints from the very beginning that something's gone horribly off the rails. The first time I took a look at the first paragraph, I actually missed the "took a pill, waited fifteen minutes", but then I had to step away and do something else, and I took another look when I came back. That's a detail that gets referenced again later on, but never quite explained, and it's nagging at me a bit — I think maybe the idea is that she's trying to fortify either her mental stability or her magical reserves, but that's far from clear to me.

That said, I thought the revelation at the end was well executed, and the story overall left me feeling like it did what it set out to do.

I'm not sure where you're getting "five sisters" from. The "five good friends" are either her memories of the other Element bearers or Celestia, Luna, Cadance, Flurry Heart and Discord, but nowhere in the story does it say anything about five sisters.
#15485 · 4
· on The Crystal Uprising · >>The Power Wolf
Formatting note: When writing online, you usually want a blank line between each paragraph to make it more readable. My eyes glazed over a bit looking at that wall of text.

In addition to agreeing with most of >>2Merr and >>Zaid Val'Roa , I've got some notes of my own.

This story seems like it ends too early. We get the canon-imposed deus ex machina and then... nothing. Literally nothing. Since it seems Scarlet survives, a scene after he regains consciousness and can react to the victory would be good. (If you meant for him to die, that would be fine, but then say he dies, don't say he loses consciousness.)

Regarding characterization, I'll add that not only do your characters not feel consistent (and it throws me for a bit of a loop whenever I see ponies using real-world swears like "damn", especially when they're mixed with ponified swears like "buck"), many of the details we get about them feel like they're only present because you think they have to be but couldn't find a more organic way to integrate them into the narrative. The most obvious example is that Midnight is mentioned as being trans, but this has literally no bearing on the story — so why have it?

Appearance descriptions can be worked in more smoothly, too: something like "Scarlet recognized the navy-blue form of Midnight Star standing atop the pile of corpses" is not only cleaner integration, but suggests that Scarlet recognized Midnight because he saw the color of his coat, which gives the detail a reason to be there instead of just adding words.

There's certainly the potential for a good story here, but it'll take some work to draw it out.
#5772 · 2
Submitted something for the first time in... a year and a half, almost.

Not expecting it to do terribly well, but we'll see.
#5809 · 2
· on Music After Midnight · >>AndrewRogue
I think it's safe to say that everyone here has struggled with creator's block at one time or another. So if you were attempting to play to your audience, writing about that is a good start.

I'm also a musician, so that's another level on which this could appeal to me right from the start.

So what do I actually think of it?

The first part does a wonderful job getting us into Vinyl's head. The moment where the clock chime breaks what little concentration she'd managed to build up is one that's easy to identify with; I feel like without other issues in play, that wouldn't have been as disruptive to her workflow as it was, but you did a decent job of showing beforehand that there were some of those other issues. The destruction of the turntable is another spot that shows there's more going on than just creator's block; Vinyl's reaction immediately afterwards reminds me of what I've heard about people who attempt suicide by jumping off buildings ("wait, shit, no, this was a terrible idea and I want to take it back").

The second part, the discussion with Octavia, appeals to me a little less, and I'm not sure how much of that is systemic bias on my part. I guess Vinyl never really learned how to deal with negative critics, but I'd have thought that would have been a skill that came up some time before this. I did appreciate that there was an offer of help made, and more importantly, accepted.

From a technical standpoint, there are a couple of typos and a few odd phrasing choices (including some that I wouldn't generally expect to see from a native anglophone), but not necessarily any that really pulled me out of the fic.

Overall, it could probably do with a bit more polish, but there's some good stuff here.
#6061 · 2
· on Mysteries of the Chamber
All right, okay, I get it, I need a better ending for this. Message received, and I've already started working on it. (The story may be renamed by the time I'm done, but it will still be recognizably descended from what's here.)

Honestly, part of the reason the ending is what it is is that it was midnight-thirty and I just wanted to throw something onto the end of it so I could go to sleep. Writing a better one would have taken more time than I was willing to spend that night, and it might have devolved into incoherence anyway.

"Literal total darkness" was the seed of the idea for this story; I don't think I actively decided to also go for the metaphorical meaning of "darkest hour" so much as I discovered a ways into writing that this idea could also fit the figurative version and decided to go with it.

(I laughed aloud at Random Walk).

A Glimpse Into The Process:

What's the most embarrassing situation I can think of to have this character get lost in?

How about in a city where the street names are numbers and letters?

...No, I can do better than that. "Literally a numbered grid" would be even worse.

...There's really only one thing I can name this character, isn't there.

Don't worry, it was only a 2D grid, so he did eventually get back to where he started. ;-)

>>Zaid Val'Roa
I'd love to see a more fleshed out version of this story, where we get to actually see the chambers.

I hope the final version, when I get around to completing it, meets your expectations.

I also like that the part at the end pulled us deeper into her world, as we got to see some of the support apparatus that surrounds her adventures.

I'd have to rewrite that scene more or less from scratch, but I do intend to have something like it in the final product.

Also, I don't see why someone like Daring Do, meticulous and methodical lass that she is, wouldn't bring extra batteries on a trip. I like the idea that she literally has no room to maneuver enough to swap them out, and in total darkness, probably wouldn't be able to do so effectively anyway. But let her have them, fer the love of Mike.

My thought was that they were back at the campsite, where they still ought to have been reasonably accessible (but weren't, because she couldn't go back and get them). If that's still unsatisfying, I can certainly go back and change it - it's not like being able to swap them out would have even fixed the problem of a burnt-out lightbulb anyway.

One more thing: I think you go overboard with the pony puns. And this is coming from someone who put "Nägermeister" in a story.

The words "time-honored tradition" spring to mind. I do not apologize for those.

(Actually, I was going to have "Chineighse water torture" until I discovered that there's no evidence that "Chinese water torture" is really from China. That one, I might have been sorry for.)
#15415 · 2
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>Caliaponia >>MrNumbers
On a first read, I liked this. You did a good job of delivering just enough detail to keep us interested and wanting to know more, and you handled Celestia's emotions as they related to Discord and Fluttershy well.

On contemplation, however, there are a few things that don't quite hold up as well as you might have intended.

The first of these: You're trying to make this story a tragedy, but you haven't quite done the work to establish it. It's sad, but it's not tragic.

The thing that defines a tragedy, as opposed to a sad story, is that in a tragedy, the bad things that happen are the result of the characters' own mistakes, and they make those mistakes because of their particular flaws. Pride is a common flaw for tragic characters, but far from universal; the one you seem to have gone for is impulsiveness, which works for Discord — but I'm not sure I buy it as much from Fluttershy, and you need both to really make it work. (I might accept passivity for Fluttershy, except that doesn't quite square with her being the first one to say "I love you". Which means I'm not clear on her flaw. And she was part of the decision to have sex, so she has to have had one.)

With that in mind, "Childbirth is enough to kill a mother" isn't tragic, unless they should have known ahead of time that it would happen, and you haven't indicated that they did. It's a dark form of situational irony, in that the act of bringing life into the world can also take it out, but that's not the same thing.

Another problem comes from the line, "Because mortals are not to meddle with immortals." It's a good line on its own, but it doesn't fit the specific context you're putting it in: You've set your story after Twilight's ascension, so you're implying that being an alicorn is not a sufficient condition for immortality. This is an uncommon position to take, and there's not really any evidence to support it (certainly less than the alternative).

The line would work better in reference to Celestia and just about anypony else, even pre-ascension Twilight (though that runs into a different problem, namely, fitting it into the timeline — Fluttershy and Discord's relationship isn't that far along by the time Twilight gets her wings). As is, though, it's not a good justification for why Celestia won't reciprocate Twilight's desires. If you want Twilight to still be mortal after becoming an alicorn, make that clearer.

I still like this, and it'll likely be towards the top of my slate, but I think there are ways to make it closer to what you intended.
#15681 · 2
Go for it.