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The Lighthouse and the Sea
#9386 · 6
· on Trial by Fire · >>Fenton
*blink blink* Holy crap! I can't believe this won first place! I was hoping it might medal, given the positive reviews, but based on how many good stories there were this round, I didn't have particularly high expectations!

So, a retrospective... I am, obviously, the author of "Trial by Fire." Which I wrote in maybe three or four hours.

On my kindle.

While stuck waiting for my delayed flight in an airport.

Needless to say, I am rather surprised it came out as well as it did. Or that it has done as well as it has!

I don't recall the exact origins of this little gem on an idea. Just that "Twilight Zone" made me think of a zone of something around Twilight Sparkle. And for some reason I had also been ruminating people's peculiar obsession with ritual and ceremony. And not just around religion. Just think about how many little rituals and ceremonies we have... From weddings and funerals to handing over of keys or changing out of guards...

Anyway, those two ideas collided and out of that mess came this story. I really enjoyed writing the dialogue between Brother Inkwell and Acolyte Bookkeeper. It was fun trying to write a bit of ceremony that only hinted at their true purpose at the beginning, before slowly making it clear. I waffled on whether or not to include Spike in the story itself, or just reference him as the order's creator... I considered having him be the serious but loving grandmaster who judges and aides his students... But then I decided that he'd find all the pomp and ceremony around his mother/sister/boss/best-friend to be a bit over the top and ridiculous.

Spike complaining about them being overly melodramatic, and Rarity having a hoof in the order's creation, were last minute additions that I'm particularly fond of. ;>

Inspiration is a very peculiar thing. After I started reading other entries, I was struck by a strong bit of it, which if I'd had earlier would likely have been written instead of this piece. After seeing so many people go for a straight Rod Sterling Twilight Zone interpretation, I had a brilliant idea... A rewriting of "Nightmare at 20,000 feet" wherein William Shatner sees a muffin fall out of the sky and get sucked into the engine... And then a cross eyed pony lands and waves at him, before trying to get at the lost muffin... Destroying the engine in the process. Of course, Derpy keeps falling off the wind just before anyone else sees her...

In the end, Shatner grabs the gun and shoots the window out... So he can toss the adorable pony his breakfast muffin...

Yes, my mind does go to strange places...

I'm using 'elder' here as a synonym for 'older' more or less...Though he is one of the Order's Elders... But I picture them using a more martial artist style of ranking... After all, they are an Order of warrior monks. They battle chaos, ignorance, and misplaced library books!

>>SPark >>shinygiratinaz >>Morning Sun >>Posh >>Crafty
Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you all enjoyed it so much! :)

Okay, now I'm curious: Who did you think wrote this one? I'm guessing it wasn't me, because I generally assume that my writing and writing style are good at slipping under the radar. ;)

Hmmmmm.. *looks up 'proscribed'* You're completely right! I don't know why I thought proscribed had the opposite meaning.. But for some reason prescribed just doesn't sound... right. There's some other, more ceremonial word floating around the back of my head that fits there just right, but now I'm not sure what it is. Curses! My vocabulary is dwindling in my old age!

Honestly, I wasn't sure how big of a part of things to make Spike at the beginning. He was always going to be the origin of the Order, but I wasn't sure how visible to make him in this story. The beginning was supposed to be the real heart of the story, with the ridiculous, amusing, and somewhat appropriate ceremony our eager Acolyte goes through containing most of the humor. I didn't want to go too over the top though. And it would have been difficult to keep the ceremony going and amussing while not quite giving away who their order was devoted to... So I decided to do it in two halves, one from the perspective of the eager Acolyte, and one from the wise Master of the order.

"Ritual seems to form around princesses like dust on the back shelves." I am so stealing that line. Hmmmm.. Actually, it would make a decent Write Off prompt if it were just a bit shorter... ;>

I'm actually quite surprised by how 'well polished' it came out myself, especially given the medium I was writing it on. In some circles my typos are legendary, and I didn't really have a lot of time to proof read it. And sorry, but despite being stuck in an airport terminal for several hours, my brain was fully focused on comedy. Which is odd, because an airport terminal is probably only second to the DMV in places that should make one think of dystopian futures. O.o

Ah, but here's the problem with that: Ponies keep writing more books! And there's no way one pony, no matter how long lived or voracious a reader, can keep up with all of them! Of course, this certainly beats the alternative.. An eternity with nothing new to read. Just suggesting such a thing to Twilight would likely mean nightly dream visits from Princess Luna for weeks!

Wait, I missed and opportunity to pun? Where? Where?? But honestly, even if I'd had more words, I'd still have kept the details of Twilight's melt down off screen. I wouldn't be able to do it justice, or make it funny / horrifying enough to create the outcome we see in the end. Well, maybe I could manage it, but it would take a lot more than 750 words to amussingly break a pony's mind like that. ;> And Twilight's melt downs aren't necessarily that bad. The order might have just picked up a bit of melodrama from their founder's love interest... On the other hand, Alicorns only grow more powerful as they age... She might be even worse than we can imagine, and Spike is so blase about it for the same reason frogs don't jump out of a pot of boiling water if you raise the temperature slowly...

I have indeed read quite a bit of Prachett! And he is certainly one of my favorite authors. Alas, his style is one I could never replicate. Though for some reason when I was writing Brother Inkwell, GhostOfHeraclitus's Dotted Line was a character that rather sprung to mind. Now there's a fellow who writes very Prachettesque works, IMHO. Though that could just be because he writes his ponies as very British. :)

...... I was really hoping for a Silver at best.....
But really, I read your story as well, and it was ranked quite highly on my slate. So congratulations right back at you! :)

Thanks for the reviews, and to everyone who liked this story and voted it up! :)
#11845 · 5
Ha HA! It's in! And just in time too!

And I resisted the urge to try to write 2000 words around a horrible, horrible pun that would have gotten me booed out of the Write Off! So go me! ;>
#12483 · 5
Well, it's stupid. And silly. And campy. And probably still filled with typos. But, most importantly of all, it is submitted.

May god, and the poor, unfortunate readers, have mercy on my soul.
#3507 · 4
· on The Lighthouse and the Sea · >>Trick_Question >>Rolo >>Monokeras >>georg >>CoffeeMinion
The Lighthouse and The Sea

Retrospective / Response

Wow! First Place! I really didn't see that coming! O.o

I was rather hoping to medal this time, given the generally positive reviews… But I figured I'd maybe get a bronze, or (more likely) fourth of fifth place! Well, I guess that ends my slow crawl up the scoreboard as the highest ranked writer without a medal! :)

Also of note, I apparently get my best results with stories that have little to no actual dialogue… I'm not sure what to make of that… O.o

Anyway, when this prompt came up I quickly decided that I wanted to write a genre I generally don't do. Romance! Because love is something where just about everyone finds themselves in over their head! Now, I had recently (re)read Georg's “The One That Got Away” (which I highly recommend) so when I thought 'Romance' I quickly followed it up with 'Sea Ponies.'

So I decided that a lonely soul would fall in love with a sea pony and live happily ever after. And what job is more lonely than running a lighthouse? But the Lighthouse would have to be really off the beaten path, or you could just have a pegasi work there and fly home every day. So I needed an excuse to have it be really isolated… Thus it being on the coast of the Badlands, a place filled with monsters, chaos, and nasty weather.

The opening hook of “Watch out for the sea ponies” came soon after. Originally I was going to have Beacon Heart 'Watch Out' for the sea ponies by rescuing them from a monster.. And falling in love with one of them. But 750 words just wasn't enough for the setup, a monster fight, and a 'happily ever after.' I'd have been lucky to manage two of those!

So I went with a straight love story, told in a very abbreviated fashion. Which apparently turned out quite well!

I'm a bit surprised that people found the ending ambiguous though… I mean, sure, in human mythos Mermaids often drag their would be paramours to a watery grave. But this is Equestria, and thus leans heavily towards happier endings. :)

I hadn't really meant for it to be ambiguous at all, truth be told. Beacon Heart makes his leap of faith, an Earth Pony jumps.. And a sea pony hits the water, where he can be with his true love. I thought of making mention of some seapony magic that would let him join her… But I a) didn't have the words and b) thought it would work better without excessive explanation… It's just 'magic.'

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

Hmmmm.. I've never heard of that book, let alone read it… I just figured that Mermare and Sea Pony would more or less be equivalent terms for the same creature.

Thanks! I really had to cut things a lot to make the whole story fit, so it's nice to see that I picked the right words to leave behind when I was trimming it down.

Yeah, it is a bit lacking in details.. But that's really the only way I could tell an entire story in a minific as opposed to a single scene.. And why does everyone expect my love story to end in murder? O.o

I thought that "Watch out for the sea ponies" made an excellent hook... And in the end it was going to be revealed that it was meant not as a warning: 'Beware the sea ponies.' But as a call to protect them: 'Take care of the sea ponies.' The storyline kinda shifted away from that, but I think I'll clarify that point a bit when I lengthen it for FimFiction.

You know, I think I'll take this little story being compared to Disney movies as a major compliment. :) It was really meant to be a simple little love story after all.

>>Morning Sun
Thanks, that was pretty much exactly what I was aiming for. :)

But... But... But.. What's wrong with Turquoise?? Damn it, I knew I should have gone for emerald green! :)

Thanks for the vote of confidence! But I gotta ask... Who did you think actually wrote it? Because I seriously doubt you thought it was me! I am perennially surprised that I never manage to win an 'avoided detection' award. Surely my writing style isn't that recognizable? And a love story is a bit outside of my usual genre... Or at least I think so.

It's my over use of italics that gives me away, isn't it? Curse my reliance on them for emphasis! Curse it! ;>

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!

I'm just still puzzled why everyone seemed to expect it to be a tragedy. I'd say that my writing style clearly needs work... But it seems to have worked, so... If it ain't broke, don't fix it? O.o

I was actually a little worried that the section describing the existence of the lighthouse didn't quite fit the rest of the piece. I left it in for two reasons: a) I needed to give some sort of explanation as to why this particular lighthouse was so isolated and b) I was just really pleased with the explanation I came up with, and the prose I used to describe it. I know it's generally a bad idea to become so attached to a bit of your own writing that you can't cut it for the good of the story... But I had a reason to keep it... And I was so happy with how that bit turned out. ;)

Honestly, I wish I knew what I had done right... Then I'd keep doing it! The lesson I'm taking away from this is... Never write any actual dialogue. Yep, that's definitely the key to a highly ranked story!

My next story? It's going to be nothing but descriptions of interpretive dance! ;>

Thanks! I.. think. I'll just take the whole 'vague-bordering-on-pointlessness' thing as a compliment then....? Heh. But really, I suppose I was sort of subconsciously aiming for that type of narrative... Sort of an old sea story. An archetypical tale told over the ages, changing a little each time, but with the core of it remaining true...

Everybody thinks poor Beacon Heart is gonna die! It's a love story! He turned into a sea pony! He and Sea Foam are gonna get married in a lovely underwater ceremony and have lots of sea pony foals! He'll take them camping and as he'll tell them stories of the Dry Lands as they make smores out of kelp and algae, melted over a hot magma vent! They'll grow old together and spoil their grandchildren rotten and one day they'll swim off into the deep ocean together and never be seen again, because nobody dies on screen in a love story, not even of old age!


Okay, so maybe the original ending just had him jumping into the water, and was intentionally vague as to whether he lived happily ever after or drowned... But I changed it to mention hooves and a tail hitting the water to make it clear it was a happy endings! Though perhaps a single sentence isn't quite strong enough to differentiate between a romance and a tradgedy... ;>

Glad you liked it!

Yeah, I have to admit, the characters in this story were... I won't say weak... More like they're just general outlines. I didn't have enough words to really describe them after all, so the reader has to use their imagination. I think that under most circumstances focusing so much on the setting and so little on the characters would be a detriment... But somehow, and I'm, not quite sure why or how, it seems to have really come together in this one.

Of course, it probably says something about my skills as a writer when I wrote it, and I'm not quite sure why it worked so well. ;>

Anyway, thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, and voted for this. I'm really very surprised and pleased to have gotten the gold on this one! Thanks Everyone! :)
#3839 · 4

Now all I need to do it format it, fix all the formatting errors, and edit it properly.

All in about fifteen minutes. Because I need to work tomorrow, and I need sleep if I'm going to remain awake through pointless meetings. O.o

This.. this is not good.
#4644 · 4
· on Nobody Move · >>georg
Well, as a firearms enthusiast and staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment, this story automatically get's a few bonus points for catering to my biases. But beyond that, it's well written, and the protagonists reactions, emotions, and behaviors all ring very true. The terror, the disbelief, the muscle memory, the way things don't happen like they do on TV... Very well done and well put together. Definitely high on my slate (bonus points not withstanding. :) )
#5749 · 4
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Posh
Ugh. This is terrible. I have an idea. I have a basic plot. It fits the prompt decently, and it's not horrible...

So why does starting it, just writing the first sentence, feel like lifting a giant lead weight? :/
#2136 · 3
· · >>PinoyPony
Erf. Submission made. I'm not particularly pleased with it, but at least I managed to submit something. It's a shame. I came up with a bunch of ideas for this prompt, but pretty much none of them really developed properly in my head. I'm sure if I had a bit more time to let them percolate, I could have come up with a second story to submit... Alas, it is already well past time for me to hit the hay. Good luck to everyone still rushing to finish their story! :)
#4669 · 3
· on The Perfect Crime
Homeopathy? Seriously? Homeopathy? You sir, are the worst assassin EVER!

Though I suppose it provides a bit of catharsis for the poor soul, which explains why he's the longest running assistant the boss has ever had...

Though the beginning kinda bugs me. We're shown that his boss is a real asshole based on the phone conversation... But then our protagonist tries to show just how truly evil she is! She works for a giant corporation! And her job is moving money around, so they don't have to pay taxes! She's a greedy monster! Why, she practically eats babies!

I know that there are people out there who actually believe that wealthy people = evil monsters. (Unless, of course, those wealthy people are funding one of that person's pet causes, in which case they get a pass.) But that kind of thinking annoys the heck out of me. I would have instead focused on things that make his boss such a horrible person personally. Denying vacation, forcing people to work overtime without pay, firing them for insignificant reasons, buying a puppy every week just so she'd have something to strangle at work to relieve tension... You know, evil things! Rather than "Not only is she mean, she's also a _____! (Lawyer/Banker/Oil Tycoon/Politician/Whatever.)" Though I suppose picking a stereotypical disliked group does have the advantage of being concise, always a useful trait in a mini fic! :)
#4808 · 3
Ugh... It's kinda disconcerting when you return to review and polish one of your stories... And discover that you spelled the third word of your first sentence wrong. O.o