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Gold medal
Not the Whole Truth
FiM Minific
1st
100%
225
In Your Quietest Voice
Bronze medalLightbulbMortarboard
Through A Mirror, Brightly
FiM Minific
3rd
85%
178
In Spirit Golden
Ribbon
The Grass isn't Greener
Original Short Story
4th
50%
163
A Good Glass of Gin
Not the Whole Truth
FiM Minific
6th
44%
8
Rest Easy, Justified
Ribbon
I Did My Best
Original Short Story
7th
0%
0
The Gift & The Well
#21073 · 8
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>CoffeeMinion
Right. Haven't done this before, but there's a first time for everything! Let's give it a shot.
#21293 · 3
·
Well that was close. Very nearly didn't get anything done at all. Not my best work, but I'm glad I got something in.

Time for bed now, I think.
#21638 · 3
· on The Changeling · >>Miller Minus
The conflict here is made pretty obvious by the title alone. But that's not the point of the story now, is it?

I may be totally off the mark here but: this feels like a story about the trans experience. Even if unintentionally, you've done a wonderful job of showcasing the subtle claws of dysphoria, both personal and societal, in a way that translates seamlessly to the world of MLP.

Execution wise, this is excellent as well. If I spent a lot of time I'm sure there are lots of wonderful things I could point out, but suffice to say that everything read cohesively, immersively and engagingly. Top-tier for me.
#21780 · 3
· on Kitsune · >>Miller Minus
I'm not entirely sure I understood exactly what was going on by the end, but that only added to my impression of an unholy masterpiece.

I want to give you a good review, but I'm not sure I can. It's intimidating.

But christ on a bike this is good. Every word feels carefully picked. By the end, every line lands like a precisely swung hammer. Guh. Loved this.
#21824 · 3
· on A Good Glass of Gin
>>Meridian_Prime
Who's this moron?

Anyway, retrospective is a go! First off, I'm pretty surprised that this did as well as it did. As my own comment revealed, I was a bit unsure of my execution of it--what you got was actually a second draft I intended to go back to on Saturday night before a sudden and rather horrific hayfever attack that left be bedridden for most of the next 24 hours. But I'm still pretty happy with the concept, and I'm very happy with a respectable fourth place.

>>Baal Bunny
Both the next too reviewers had much the same issue that you did with the story, so it's something I clearly need to address. The funny thing is though that I didn't really think very much about the whole Apocalypse angle--more specifically, I wasn't worried about it clashing with his idea of liking being a little more normal. In retrospect, this was a bit dumb, and why I really should have badgered my random friend who I press-ganged into being pre-reader into actually reading the damn thing before the submission date. Sometimes you really just need someone else to point out "why is that there" for you to realise something obviously wrong with your story.

My vague thoughts on the matter were along the lines of how some people think about the big bang. Namely, that when the universe eventually goes into total heat death, things will eventually collapse inwards into another big bang and the whole universe will start again. I was sort of thinking of the apocalypse less as 'God destroys the world just because' and more 'the world already ended (hence why we see no human characters at any point in the story) and God is just cleaning up and starting again'. However, this was very much confined to my head rather than anywhere at all in the text. If/when I rework this, I'll definitely need to either add that subtext in as actual text (or even actual subtext rather than JK Rowling-esque author headcanon) or just ditch the apocalypse bit. I'm not sure it's needed.

>>No_Raisin
I'm glad you like the concept! Most people seem to have approved, which makes me think I've got something worth chipping away at here. I'm even more glad you like the dialogue, since it is (as you mentioned) most of the story.

I go into a bit of detail above in my response to Baal about my flub a la Apocalypse--suffice to say, I have read less of the bible than you, and did not fully think through "hey let's just have the end of the fucking world in here lol". I did have some reasoning behind the decision, but I really don't think it holds up under scrutiny, and I will definitely be changing this part quite a bit. Maybe just make the story about Mr. Holy Trinity just generally slacking on godly duties, rather than specifically putting the Apocalypse behind schedule.

Your other point is... not wrong. I only really noticed when re-reading if after your comment, but there's definitely an abrupt shift once Mary comes along. Things like this are why pre-readers/long-suffering friends are essential. :/ I'll work on it--maybe expand it a little? But just having visitor after visitor feels a bit like I'm adding words for the sake of adding words. I dunno. I'll work on it.

>>WritingSpirit
You always write me amazing comments. Bombay Sapphire bless you. ^_^

Speaking of, your suggestion to actually name him is an interesting one, and actually has a lot of merit. To be honest, I was kind of considering it early in the writing process, but discarded it once I couldn't think of a name that felt fitting. The closest I came was just calling him 'Abe' as in Abraham, or 'Jay' as in Jay-Z Jehovah. But you've converted me back to the idea.

And man, the new Good Omens adaptation was great. Definitely part of where this idea came from (along with this Bon Iver song).

The interactions between Bombay Sapphire and everyone is pretty nice. Seeing as the majority of the story is carried by the dynamics of Bombay Sapphire's relationship with everyone, all you needed to do was to make those relationships feel grounded, mellifluous, and worthwhile, to which I can attest: "Mission Accomplished".

This was my big goal for this story, so I'm glad I got that right!

Yet despite that, however, it didn't really draw my interest further into the story any more than the premise already did. I think there are definitely some points of the dialogue that I think could be expanded further, like when Bombay Sapphire answered Enoch's question about why he was building the still, or his response to Mary calling him a child. As it is right now, it's good, but I personally believe more can be done to really let every one of Bombay Sapphire's moments with them shine.

That's completely fair. More than that even--you've given me some great pointer on 'where to go and try and flesh things out more'. You're right, both the 'child' moment and the actual first answer he gives to 'why are you up here doing this' could use more depth to them.

The issues about the use of Revelations in this story pointed out by my fellow reviewers is definitely what stopped me from getting into the story properly, in that Bombay Sapphire's motives as the story progresses seems to be inherently asinine.

Ouch. This, and the paragraphs following, pretty brutally deconstruct exactly how dumb I was being about the apocalypse issue. I answered in more depth above to Baal, but essentially I didn't think it through enough, and didn't make the rather shaky reasoning I had for God's actions clear in the text at all. The consensus seems to be this was a make or break issue that fell very much on the break side, and in retrospect I can only ruefully agree.This is clearly the biggest thing I need to fix here. And while I'm going to at least tinker with the idea of making the apocalypse angle work better, I think I am most likely going to stop serving the apocalypse and gin cocktail. Possibly start serving them in separate bars entirely.

Finally:
That's not how it works in our neighbourhood, Bombay Sapphire. You hear me, I know you can read the WriteOff comments from up there, you tempestuous backwards mongrel.

You really do write the best comments. Even when you're tearing me (and Bombay Sapphire) a new one.

Last but never least: >>Miller Minus
...Yeah, I really fucked up the apocalypse angle. I don't really have answers for your first paragraph here, as I didn't have any when I was writing this. And no, I don't think Sunday school would have helped.

I also found the dialogue to be stilted in places, and I'm not sure how much of that is an issue with the dialogue itself, or with the amount of character description that's gone into these interactions. Between most every line, I have to read about what each character is looking at, or what their eyebrow just did, or what a bead of sweat travelling down their neck is up to. All this stuff just slows you down, Author, and suffocates the dialogue.

Hmm. I was really trying to bring the scene to life, give the reader a proper mental picture of this dude and his surroundings. I may have been over-zealous with the descriptives. Thanks for pointing it out, definitely something for me to chew on.

As for the rest of your review, I think you're right about a bit of a mixup in terms of Big G being in the wrong. I was going for the 'don't run away from your responsibilities even if they kind of suck' angle, but it's not like he was asking for much. In some ways this is actually a harder thing to fix that the big issue about the Apocalypse, because I'm not really sure how to fix it at the moment. I'll work on it.

Thanks to everyone for the reviews. I truly appreciate the time and effort that everyone puts into them, it's one of the best bits of the Writeoff as a whole. See you next time!
#21132 · 2
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
Packing that amount of emotional punch in 750 words is both unfair and incredibly impressive.
#21224 · 2
· on In Spirit Golden
Aaaand here come the retrospectives. I'm lazy, so rather than pre-writing them all I'm just going to respond comment by comment in chronological order, and post them as I go. First up: >>Bachiavellian (Congrats again on winning!)

I really like the premise here, with the unexpected origin story and all. This executes its last line twist really well, and especially liked the repetition describing her smile. Gossamer herself is also really interesting, with the whole semi-psychopathy thing going on.


Much appreciated! The premise stems from an idea I had back in 2013 I think? So practically forever ago. I'd completely forgotten about it, but the prompt both jogged my memory and made me flesh it out beyond "Chrysalis becomes a bug thing willingly". The smile line was one of the last things I wrote, but I'm pretty chuffed someone pointed it out because it's one of my fave lines. As for Gossamer herself, I found her personality pretty naturally flowing from "who would willingly become a soul-eating bug demon thing?". There are surprisingly few kinds of people like that, haha.

One thing that's a bit of a nitpick (and may speak much more to my ability as a reader than yours as a writer) is the fact that I somehow read every instance of "Solar Swirl" as "Star Swirl", until I started my 2nd read-through. It surprised me how easily my eye kind of skipped over the familiar-looking name alliteration, to the point that I actually Ctrl-F'd the story for "Star" just to try to figure out where I went wrong. Now, I'm not saying you should change your protagonist's name just because one doofus somehow managed to misread it five or six times--I'm just offering my reading experience as a data point.


In retrospect, I probably should have ditched Solar Swirl for the writeoff version. Not his character - but his name and specific backstory, which I attempted to cram into one line about his 'vaunted predecessor'. I still like my idea for him, but I can definitely do a lot more with him outside of a 750 word limit. Given this is a FiM fic, I probably should have foreseen the name causing a bit of confusion.

Something that I think might be a little more than a nitpick is the way this story handles its information reveals. The first scene comes off a little like a "As you already know..." speech from both characters, until the paragraph where Gossamer talks about her psychopathy. I can tell you're straining against the wordcount to get all of your ideas in there, and I appreciate the volume of info you're trying to convey (about the characters, setting, mood, and set-up for the magic bits in scene two). But I still can't help but feel that you may have taken the path of least resistance a time or two too many. In the end, the scene is serviceable, but definitely not quite as engrossing as it could have been.


You are 100% correct about me straining against the wordcount. The start of this story was originally past the half way mark. I had to chop the opening 200 words or so three separate times as I was writing, and as it came down to the wire I was definitely having to make a few brutal editorial cuts. Perhaps, as you pointed out, a bit too brutal. Something for me to keep in mind for the next writeoff! Thanks for pointing this out.

My suggestion would be to focus on making your information dumps feel less like information dumps. It helps a lot when there's some kind of immediate concern or question presented to the reader as a kind of distraction, so I suggest doing something like heightening Solar Swirl's initial distrust of Gossamer, and making that seem like the driving conflict of the story. This'll help the complicated ideas in the first scene go down a bit easier, and would heighten the emotional stakes of the twist in the second scene.


This is excellent advice, and as I try and rework this for Fimfiction, I will be coming back to this quote. Thanks again!
#21305 · 2
· on Cages · >>Baal Bunny
...I'm not crying, you're crying.

This wouldn't feel out of place in a published compendium. Minor quibbles: I don't know why Gloria is italicised outside of the top line of each letter. It looks kinda odd? And we never get any context for who the heck Jonathan is.

But then that doesn't really matter--it's not really the point. And that last line did the same thing to my heart that Jonathan did to the letters.
#21350 · 2
· on The Gift & The Well
Super late on this retrospective (IRL stuff kept getting in the way), but here goes!

It seems people didn't think too highly of this entry, which is fair enough; it's certainly not my best work. I think I may have become a little too invested with the 'gimmick' of the story, as it were, and rather lost out on some of the much needed content. But this was the definition of a last minute entry, and if nothing else has let my prove to myself that I can, in fact, finish an original piece of fiction. That's worth its weight in gold to me, regardless of how good or otherwise the final product ended up being.


Anyway, let's start with >>AndrewRogue:

I figured out what was going on in scene nine. Mostly by virtue of knowing what the available art was, but still.

There are still a few things I can't quite place (like what exactly is happening at the beginning of the penultimate scene) yet, but for the most part I think I worked out all your poetic kitchen descriptions.


I don't think most people need it, but confirmation if you did--this was indeed supposed to be about an ant on his epic quest to the kitchen sink.

My problem ends up being that, once I realized the gimmick, my interest kind of faded because the compelling force behind the narrative is that mystery. Ithilis gets just enough characterization to exist, but they aren't particularly compelling either? The stakes aren't really well established for them. The parallel narrative doesn't actually do a lot to illuminate their motivations (or really provide much in the way of stakes).


This is a very accurate and fair criticism. I don't really have much to respond with other than 'I'll try and do better next time'. I don't think I'm going to rework this particular piece.

The parallel narratives also don't really build on each other tension or interest curve-wise either. The flashbacks are fairly flat and mostly informational, providing context for the current scenes. But them being set directly against the present scenes doesn't really add much IMO, and, by breaking up the journey, make it seem like a pretty minor thing instead of as harrowing as it seems like it should be.


This is actually very helpful. I've noticed that I have a tendency to drift towards these parallel narratives, so it's good to know that they weren't effective here. I can see what you mean about them breaking up the journey too. Thanks.

Of course, the somewhat ironic problem is that pre-figuring out the gimmick, the Terminology and Words are so thick and fast that they really get in the way of actually trying to appreciate what's happening.


Also good to know! I think this is in part, as I said up at the top, down to me getting too hung up on the gimmick. I think I was trying too hard to make the gimmick shrouded in mystery, and I just ended up writing very confusing prose instead.

I dunno. This is cute conceptually, but I think as a story it comes up short because it is -too- focused on the gimmick. I'm a bit sleepy now though, so I'll take another look on rested eyes later.


100% agreed. I really need to stop writing these entries at 5AM the day of in a mad rush--maybe that will help me write an actual focused narrative.




Next up, >>Baal Bunny:

I never got:

Any real image of what anything looked like. I kept thinking we were outside in a park around a drinking fountain or a spigot with a garden hose attached or something. But then the ending with the queen coming in made me wonder if we're dealing with a terrestrial situation at all--once again, never having taken biology in school leaves me confused as to how the insect world works. In the end, though, I couldn't form any pictures in my head of what's going on here. Everything was way too abstract for me to feel any attachment to the goings-on...

Mike


I mentioned this in my response to AndrewRogue's comment, but it bears repeating--I got way too hung up on the gimmick in this. So much so that it really impacted the quality of the actual writing, as I was too focused on making sure the whole 'an ant travelling through a kitchen' thing was hidden enough people wouldn't spot it, but obvious enough that people would go 'oohhhh' (I pretty clearly failed to accomplish either). I didn't think about how people without much insect knowledge would read this either. Thanks for the comment, sorry the story didn't deliver much.




Let's see if third time is the charm for me and have a look at >>Watchglass Mercury's comment:

I like the package fairly well. There are a couple of typos, but it reads clean and has some great, if impenetrable, descriptions.


Yay! Given this story is almost entirely made up of impenetrable descriptions, I'm pleased some of them landed.

The esoteric nature of those descriptions, on the other hand, did make it difficult to firmly visualize the world, as >>Baal Bunny said, and that left me grasping for meaning and how to set the scene.


I'll say it again--I got way too caught up in my gimmick for the story. Definitely negatively impacted the actual quality of the storytelling.

That is, unfortunately, how I spent most of the rest of the story, trying to tease out the importance of name choices, some hints from descriptions, the grandiose mysticism. I was able to do that because the driving impulse of the story never caught me. I cottoned on to the ant angle fairly early, but all that did was change my focus to "how does this fit that piece of art?". It then became a matching puzzle rather than providing a solution that let me get back to the story.

I had no reason to care about Ithilis's quest because I didn't know what they were doing; I couldn't get on to why or how when I was stuck with what and where.


This is very useful feedback. I'll be keeping this in mind, and trying to avoid these pitfalls, for the next pic-to-fic round.

The divine mystery from two angles has potential, balancing the active quest against the historical inspiration with alternating POVs. But something weighty is missing, something to anchor me, the reader, to the mystery through the character's eyes rather than my own.


I think my real problem (the 'something weighty' as it were) is character. It's always been a failing of my original writing--I can build an interesting world, and I don't think my prose is mechanically too shabby, but I kinda suck at characters. :/ Definitely something to work on.

I think I might also have been too ambitious? Epic adventure in what, 3000 words? Not the best plan. Anyway, thank you for the feedback!





Last but never least, we have >>Miller Minus:

I didn't understand what had happened until I got to the comments. Oops. I need to brush up on my ant science, I guess.


For shame! :y Best get cracking with that revision; the exam will be on Tuesday. :p

I think Watchglass puts it best when he says the descriptions are great, but impenetrable. Because they're that way by design. The story can't describe anything clearly to us because it would prematurely reveal to us what's going on, yet the story is written with the descriptions of the environment as the main event, so everything's beautiful, but we're not allowed to see it.


Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head there. Reading through it again, there's so much I held back on, or didn't adequately explore or describe, because I was trying to hide the reveal.

And that's the main issue here. I don't have much to add that hasn't already been said, but I just want to point out that this is really priority number one. Author, I think if you wanted to tackle this story again, there's a lot to be said for having the "twist" established up front. It's tough to pull off a story about ants, but I think getting it out of the way makes for a prettier story.


That's definitely good advice, and almost certainly how I'd go about rewriting this. But I think I'm just going to leave this as it is for posterity's sake. Maybe I can come back in a few years and go 'wow I really sucked back then huh?'. One can dream.

But thank you for submitting! You've done a good thing. Best of luck in the voting!


I appreciate this sentiment a lot, and it's why I'm not too upset about my placing in this. In the end, I'm here to try and improve as a writer--better to try and fail, than not put forward anything at all.


Thank you all for commenting, and see you in the next round!
#21634 · 2
· on And That's When She Sees Us
A couple of stylistic things, to start:

peculiar Pinkie by her side

This felt... weird. Just not particularly like Celestia's voice, and very much like alliteration for the sake of it.

She slowly opens each one of them with her magic, noting the difficulty it takes to rip them all off, like some active force was trying to ward her off from the letter.

After the seventh seal is removed, the scroll finally unfurls.

Celestia’s heart begins to pound. It's not normal for Twilight to use two seals, let alone seven.

Why does Celestia only show signs of worry after opening the seals? Surely she would have started feeling nervous as soon as she saw the thing, not unbind every seal (with noted difficulty) and then think "hang on, lots of seals is bad news, oh dear".

Maybe she’s discovered

I think you lost your tense here...

Anyway; all of that aside, this isn't one of my faves for this round, but it's not bad. Just a little clunky in places. It's a quirky little idea in a serviceable vehicle--you might be able to make something longer and more interesting out of the core idea of this, but with the angle you took it's more "the characters are watching us oooohhh", and that's ok. And I do think it ties in to the , or even half of it picture in an interesting way.