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#17518 · 1
· on Unheard and Unseen
I should begin writing some in depth commentary tonight, but I think I should just point out my brief interpretation of this story.

It's a metaphorical story about depression and how it feels.
#15008 · 1
· on There Are No Graveyards in Equestria
I had honestly forgotten the Writeoff, so this story was written in a panic-filled hour of frenzied writing under the deadline. It has tons of issues, but I must admit I'm still satisfied with how it came out, considering all the limitations.

What I wanted to do was to give ponies a different approach to the dead, and have them place no worth on the physical body. Once a pony dies, only a worthless corpse is left behind, a corpse which, in ancient times, was prime scavenger and predator bait. Enter the undertaker, the pony responsible for carrying the carcass away, add a couple of millennia of traditions and social constructs and you get the situation of the story.

Thank you for having read and commented the story. I agree with almost all the problems pointed out, and will try to fix them in some way.

Well, originally I intended the pony to be the midwife (midmare?), but I think about using a different character, somepony who has a stronger connection to the Apples. I will have to expand upon their role and how it relates to others.

I admit I managed the scarce space I had less than gracefully. My choice of psychopomps was also less than ideal in building up interest, I suppose.

As for the silence, that will stay an integral part of the story.

The rhythm has to be polished, no arguing there. As for how the Apples reacted (or didn't react) to the undertaker, well, that begs for expansion. It isn't as simple as the pony being a pariah, but that never really came through in the story.

I will try to keep the different threads, but they will have to be handled more organically. I'm not so sure about using some other family for the scene, as it would risk leaving the reader without any kind of anchor point. That said, I will have o find a way to make the main character a bit more compelling to balance that out.

The word (and time) limit was a tyrant I couldn't defy. I will have to expand the context in which the characters move and why they do what they do. The challenge will be doing it without falling into the usual traps.

Thanks again to the commenters, it's for you that I return to the Write-off again and again.
#14994 · 1
Congratulations to the medalists!
Even if I hadn't time to comment them, I adored them all.

This was, all in all, a pretty solid round. My compliments to all the participants.
#14979 · 1
· on The Shadow Alphabet
I too didn't feel horror or dread as I was reading this story, and yet I appreciated it as it showed an admirable dedication to preserving a strictly limited PoV. Instead, we get the version of The Fall as seen from the inside, experiencing it without feeling anything wrong with the process. This leads, IMHO, to a great moment of Fridge Horror once the story is finished and we have time to reconsider it. If I had to make a suggestion, I would work a bit on the second to last section, adding some hints of wrongness to the new quill.

The writing itself is rock solid, and the conclusion is apt for this kind of story, so thumbs up.

Thank you for the submission.
#14839 ·
· on The Benefits of Eternity · >>Whitbane
Hmmm, I'm not sure I would define the theme here as immortality angst, as I think the Angsty part is missing. The immortality and constancy is presented as a fact, a state of being that simply is, with the brief glimpses of joy and love being treasured and celebrated. It may seem horrible to us, and yet Celestia seems to be, if not fine, at least accepting of the condition most of the time. It is never said if her silent scream comes from being surprised, in pain, or from despair.

This is an interesting story that is slightly uncomfortable to read. I'm still on the fence if this is a feature or a bug. It communicates the passing of time well, and the repetition is, if not surprising, certainly emotionally effective, driving the point (or a point, considering there could be different readings of the story) home pretty well. On the other hand, it is difficult to truly wrap one's mind around an idea with so few anchors to what we know, to grok what's happening. Which, according to a certain interpretation of the piece, may be exactly how it should be.

Long story short, I liked this a lot.

It still needs some editing and polishing. There are a couple of issues there and some repetition that could go. I think also making the points of light more luminous without extending them too much could improve the improve the impact on the reader.

You have powerful, if a bit raw, stuff here in an engaging format. Thank you for having it written.
#14784 · 1
· on First! · >>Fenton
This story needs to breathe, at least another couple of hundreds of words. >>Dubs_Rewatcher already pointed out a couple of things to fix, and with more space you should be able to easily make the characters more memorable. A bit of editing and you have something quite good. As it stands now it feels incomplete and lacks emotional involvement, as we have no time nor way to connect to the three explorers and to get invested in their fate.

That said, you have a nice framework for conflict and three characters with clear objectives and wants. It's a solid setup, and the Wendigos are a good addition. The way I see it, this could both work as a mini-fic, with just a couple of additional paragraphs, as a short story going for a couple of thousand words.
#14782 · 2
· on Wake · >>Bachiavellian
An evocative and well-written piece, with the third paragraph from the end being indeed powerful.

That said, I feel that the missing context here. There is a sense of loss and a subtext of anger, and there are a couple of hints as to whom left the lands of the living, but it all is a bit too vague to lead to an arc of any kind. We have instead a beautiful scene and a sensation permeating it, yet it isn't enough.

Thank you for having submitted it. Despite my criticism, I liked it a lot.
#14712 · 3
· on The Forgiven · >>PaulAsaran >>horizon

I think my esteemed colleagues misread this story. Here's my take on it:

Twilight caught the adulterers, and was filled with rage. So, to not do something to them and to free herself of those feelings, she went to Queen Feral and let her live in exchange of the Queen devouring the anger. Then Twilight returned to Ponyville free of hate, but soon the unintentionally powered up wendigo followed.

This was an interesting read, with a little moral about suppressing problems instead of facing them. Well written and packing some punch. Not sure I would change anything in it.

Thank you for the submission.
#13980 · 3
· on The Coat · >>Not_A_Hat
Let me start by thanking every one of you who read the story and commented on it. Feedback of any kind is always a wonderful thing, and one of the reasons I love the Write-off.

Now let's talk about my entry this round.

The most debated point seemed to be Rarity's role in this story, as her character arc was non-existent, which leads to an unsatisfactory read if seen as her story. The thing is, this wasn't her story if not tangentially.

I can't deny that there is a problem here. Even if she wasn't the protagonist, she deserved a meaningful conflict of her own, and the lack of it was one of the major weak points of this story. I intend to add it in the revised version that I will publish.

What this story was was a tale about griffins, both in the larger sense of their civilization and culture as in the specific regarding Gerard's Relationship with his past and his future. Here I need to rework his tale a bit to make the delivery of important information (who made the coat, why it was important, who his daughter is) more organic and better timed. As it stands it works mostly, but that is clearly not enough.

Warm-and-fuzzies was one of the intended effects, and I'm glad I made you feel that.

I hope that improving the timing of the delivered information and the rhythm of the narration will solve the boredom issue, which is one of the mortal sins of writing IMHO.

Aside from adding a more meaningful conflict, I will probably have to make clear from the beginning whose story this is. I get the impression that I built up some expectations that I then betrayed, and not in an interesting way.

THe weird words were brainfarts on my side. Used the wrong language and all that. Regarding the color, I was actually convinced it was widely used as a word for dark gray.

>>Zaid Val'Roa
I'm glad it resonated with you, even with all the rough edges and the structural weaknesses.

If you have time I would love to talk with you about which sentences sounded strange or broke you out of the flow of the dialog.

You are right that I will have to reshuffle things a bit to make the gradual reveal more meaningful.

>>Cold in Gardez
As I said before, I will have to work a lot to avoid building wrong expectations, mostly regarding whom this story is about. I will still have to add some meaningful stakes for Rarity, but I have then to make it clear that this is about Gerard. His stakes and the conflict have to be tightened too, obviously.

And that's it. I thank you all again for the comments and the suggestions, and they helped me quite a lot in seeing what I have to work on to make this better. Having a week in which I can only read comments and criticism without answering to them did wonders for me.
#13509 ·
Congratulations to Sharpspark and Winston, and to all the other finalists too. My retrospective will follow this evening or tomorrow.

It has been a nice competition as usual. Thank you all.
#13494 · 2
· on To Be a Dragon
I actually liked the shifting focus of the narration here. We get two points of views on different aspects of what it means to be a Dragon. It's an awful lot to pack in a mini-fic, but you managed to do it.

As for my criticism, I'll echo >>Trick_Question here. Give Twilight a bit more sensitivity and compassion, or give us a reason for her being so blunt, and you'll have a very involving story here, one that could tell us a lot of the deeper meaning of growing up in a certain culture.

A bit of polish and you have a real gem, one I really hope to see published on Fimfiction.

Thank you for having written it.
#13477 ·
· on Closing Time
I am sorry. I tried, I think I even get the gist, but this is still beyond my capabilities. I suppose it depends on my own horrid pronunciation, but I can't really get into the flow of it.

I will abstain on this one.

Still, looking at the other comments it seems I am the odd one out here, so you can discount my opinion on your entry.
#13437 · 4
· on Your Fate · >>Fenton
I may be in the minority here, as I actually liked the format and the length of the story.

Considering the constraints of mini-fics, I personally think that falling back to FIM episodes for context and writing single scenes expanding or playing with what we know is a valid tactic. It's also a risky one, because it's easy, among the deluge of stories, to miss the detail that puts everything in place. In this case, I'm pretty sure this is NMM from the Season 5 finale who followed Twilight after she disappeared from that timeline in front of her. This gives us context, but it requires to connect the sentence about RD and Rarity with that episode. Missing that, it all falls a bit apart and you'll lose your readers.

The ending needs a bit tightening, IMHO, and I think you should keep Luna from entering the scene until the second to last paragraph. I liked the horror-like conclusion was a nice touch and elevated the whole fic for me.

That said, the prose is solid, the Lines about the Friendship Dungeon are splendid and dialog flowed quite well. A bit of polishing and you have something very interesting here.

Thank you for the submission.
#13422 · 1
· on Black / Flightcamp
I don't think the intention of this story was to be cathartic. I get the feeling that this was a tragedy, a long sequence of compounding failings, of missed opportunities and of solitude. Or at least that is what I got.

From a technical point of view, there's not much I can add. Like >>Zaid Val'Roa said, with a bit more space you could expand on the descriptions that make us feel Windy's panic and fear. It would help to frame the successive action better.

While it is a good story, I feel we need a bit more context to make it great. As it stands, it has been a good if not exactly entertaining read. Thank you for it.
#13408 ·
· on Today's Special
I'm a sucker for this kind of subdued Slice of Life stories. It was heart-warming, had a charming setting, and a cute ending.

The initial dialog has to be tightened, and it would be nice if the other patrons got a couple more details to round them up as characters, or even to classify them into know archetypes. It worked quite well with Rosehip, and extending the same treatment to others would make the scene more lively.

It made me feel warm and fuzzy, but it can be improved dramatically. Still, a good story, thank you for it.
#13365 · 1
· on Undirected Action · >>AndrewRogue
I'm generally a bit wary toward meta-fiction (Fenton will hunt me down if I got the definition wrong, but I'm pretty sure I use the term correctly here), because despite the potential for deep statements or cutting comedy when it fails it tends to go down the deep end.

I think it avoided the bad path here. It wasn't incredibly insightful or ambitious, nor was it, as >>Trick_Question said, a completely original concept, but it was solidly executed and I was smirking quite a lot while reading it. That's enough for a minfic to place in the upper half of my slate, considering the constraints under which we work.

Could it be more profound while staying as funny? I don't know, probably, but I'm a bit lost about how it could be done. Maybe by hinting at some kind of connection between the characters aside from what the reader's headcanon will fill in.

To summarize, the story made the legitimate choice of being a fun and well-written piece without too much meat on it. It was an entertaining read the first time and kept being very good when I went through it a second time for the review.

So, thank you for your submission.
#13364 ·
· on Heroism
I may be one of the few for whom this story didn't anything, which probably comes from me having missed the previous round. For me, this feels like a laborious setup for a joke I don't get.

Ignoring the context does a great disservice to the story, as the descriptions tell us simply stuff that happened. The dry delivery improves the situation, and I'm a bit of a fan of slightly sociopathic Twilight, but it isn't enough to pull it up from the lower half of my slate.

Once the write-off is over, I will probably look back and read [b]Villainy[/i], considering the enthusiastic reactions you are getting.

At the end, it boils down to a story for a specific audience, and for them, it seems to work quite well. I think that's a legitimate choice, even if a bit of a risk in the Write-off.

Still, thank you for having written it. I sincerely hope to be in the target audience the next time.
#13301 · 2
· on The Bad Dreams
I interpreted the sigh as something related to the drudgery of the work she is doing.
#13295 · 1
· on The Bad Dreams · >>Trick_Question
Well, it ends with
In the darkness, withdrawn from reality, Princess Luna extinguished the nightmare from the dreamscape. Sparing no more than a sigh for the creature, she called forth her magic and moved on to the next dream.

Which sounds as something worse than simply a bad dream. I filled a lot of void here with daring deductions, but it's possible that the creature latched onto the dream manifestation of stress.
#13247 · 1
· on The Bad Dreams · >>Trick_Question
I intended the limited as "shows us only a very specific detail". Luna has to work around the shifting focus to see the picture.

I also think that Luna and the doctor were treating different aspects of the problem. One the mundane cause, the other what could be a parasitic infestation.
#13201 ·
· on Reflections on the Passage of Time
I really appreciated this story and was quite entertained by it. Not a laugh out loud kind of enjoyment, but you got certainly a giggle or two out of me.

The surprise was well prepared, you built up the right kind of expectations, and the prose itself was spot on. There isn't really much I can say, as the story does exactly what it intended to do. It isn't maybe as ambitious as some other entries, but it is rock solid and well written.

Thank you for it.
#13199 · 2
· on To Be Dumb, To Be Dumber · >>Trick_Question >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Fenton
I think a more recent Rainbow Dash would have fewer problems at addressing her insecurities than the one in the story, but then we lack any kind of temporal placement, so it could be a more inexperienced version of her.

As it is, the story is an interesting character study, with the internal conflict portrayed fairly well. What needs some more work is the narration surrounding it. The opening is a bit weak, and I think that Cheerilee, who clearly understood the subtext, could have used a bit more tact in answering to RD. The story also ends a bit abruptly, with Rainbow's last sentence dropping the whole thing without a proper conclusion. Maybe that's exactly what you wanted to do, but I think it lessens the impact this story has.

There's a lot of potential here, you just need to polish it a bit. Thank you for having thrown your story into the ring.


I'm pretty sure the story is Rainbow panicking because she has no idea how to solve the homework, an idea completely alien to bright eyed Scootaloo. RD probably doesn't want to admit it even to herself, so she deflects and creates an alternative explanation (it's stupid Earth Pony stuff) instead of trying to reason about it. She doesn't challenge herself like Cheerilee asks her to do at the end.
#13127 ·
· on Five Score Divided by Four Plus the Square Root of Negative Nine · >>Trick_Question
I never got into the story this piece satirizes, but I've read the first couple of chapters so I got the references. As a consequence, I snickered quite a bit reading this entry.

The limited space was used efficiently, the dialog flowed well, and the idea itself was fun and the right match for the story length.

That said, I'm not sure how well it would work for somebody not familiar with the original source material. I'm well aware that such is the curse of parodies, but if and when you'll decide to expand it and publish it somewhere, I would recommend adding a bit more context to it all.

Still, entertaining and competently written, which is quite an achievement in 24 hours. Thank you for the submission.
#13067 · 1
· on The Bad Dreams · >>Trick_Question
This story gives me the impression of being an attempt to boil down a character piece to its essential components, playing with negative space and leaving the reader to fill the void surrounding the ingredients they are served. It kinda reminds me of a deconstructed dish.

I don't think it fully succeeds, but it is an interesting experiment.

I have no comments on the technical side. The prose is evocative if segmented, something that helps to establish the dream logic. The symbols are clear but not much on the nose, which means you used the right amount of subtlety for a minific, IMHO.

While it is well written, the two storylines here, the mundane and the magical approach to the problem, don't reach their full potential mainly because we lack some binding passages. We have only a partial vision of what is happening (akin to the mist that seems to hinder Luna), but we can get the gist. Lacking the investment in the character, which I admit is difficult to achieve in 750 words, the conclusion feels lackluster. Luna's "brute force" approach doesn't help much too.

Using an established character could, maybe, have helped in making us empathize faster.

Solid entry but lacking some ineffable quality.

Thank you for having written it, though, it has been a pleasant read.
#12926 · 1
Paging WIP