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All you need is boop
#26074 · 2
· on Zecora Explorer
Also thinking on it a little while later, Zecora's rhyme is in the title :)
Or close enough at least. It's good enough for Dora.
#26071 · 2
· on Zecora Explorer · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This is really neat. The white on black gives it a chalky look, even though I think the strokes are from a white pencil of some kind?

It took me a second to notice all the words hidden in the objects they name. "Mill" hidden in the fan blades of the wind mill were particularly sneaky. Then another few seconds to realize they rhyme, which makes entirely too much sense given the story's focus on Zecora. Cloud, plowed; oak, smoke; hill, mill; ridge, bridge.

I keep looking back at Zecora wondering if her name is on her somewhere, but then I'm not sure what you'd rhyme with Zecora in the scene ;)

Very well done. OH and the black and white style is zebra colors. Double points!
#26069 · 3
· on Fear and Rust
Normally, I'd chalk something like this up to the minific wordcount, but you've actually still got almost a hundred more words, so this must have been intentional.

Very intentional, but only to beat the timer. I spent literally the last ~90 seconds before the submissions closed cobbling together something that resembled a half palatable closing line.
it's a little funny to me that you've ended things where they did without telling us a little bit more about Dash's mindset.

That was going to be in the next ~hundred words, but procrastination is a deeply ingrained habit... Even though I had the rough idea from the day the prompt was chosen.

I'm very happy to hear that the general opinion is that I nailed down Dash and AJ's dialogue. I felt pretty good about it as I was getting it down, which either turns out very well or very poorly once it hits other eyes.

Certainly, dealing with age or the otherwise steady decrease of your abilities is a delicate subject, especially for people/ponies who have the lives built around their performance.

It sure is, I say, as my right shoulder creaks and groans more with each passing month. And that's why I thought AJ and Dash worked perfectly for this idea. They're both built for physical aptitude and were always competitive with each other, but AJ grew up with Granny Smith. She knows what old age and bodily wear and tear can do up close and I think that gives her a very different perspective than Dash on the matter—even if that specific clash of ideas didn't make it in [yet].

To me, the deep emotional core of this piece is that AJ is the one who's most scared here, not just Dash. The farther you can take that without blatantly giving away AJ's worries, the better.

Noted and agreed. Damn cobbled together final line. My original mental outline was to give Rainbow a chance at the mic before swinging back around to AJ's actual concern. Which, spoiler, wasn't meant to be Dash goin' and gettin' herself killed.

Fair rebuke! Some more context for the injury further toward the opening would give the whole piece context from the get go, and possibly set up an expectation swerve about AJ's deeper concern which I hinted at in my reply to Dubs. Thank you for swining Vonnegut right back at me :)

Damn cobbled together final lines.
#26062 · 1
· on Welcome Home
Yes, but not this time. Although knowing how photons interact with standard matter would certainly help keep the giant lights on.
#26061 · 1
· on Going Back to the Rest
Okay didn't have time to hit the movie. Ironically, I was too busy spending time with my young nieces. They've all seen it but I hate spoilers and, you know. 3/5/7 year olds don't understand the concept of "no I don't want you to tell me everything that's about to happen I will literally die--no not literally please stop crying." Though that plays nicely into the story's theme, so I'll call that a win.

I dig this, even lacking some possible context! I sort of wish I hadn't backed away when seeing Sunny's name there. "We're gonna have a history together" make fantastic bookend lines. I absolutely adore Twilight being calm, composed, and not falling for any time traveling paradox nonsense.
“Been there and done that? Know that I have, ”
Excellent display of well earned confidence. She just nopes out without trying to change things, which is exactly the right thing to do in 9/10 time travel movies.

Strong contender for Gold, in my opinion.
#26060 · 1
· on EXCLUSIVE: Where Are the Rainbooms Now?
Alright I think I found my comedy winner for the round. I was wondering after Rainbow's first section how you'd fit in so many interviews of that length, but the chopped up scenes and lengths felt great. Every beat hit exactly how it should, and everyone felt believably in character for a post-high school setting.

I thought it'd be hard to beat Scribble's email being immediately bounced by Twilight's filter, but AJ being in a Ska band and Dash being attention starved are hard contenders.

Funny and punchy with one extra joke to send us off. I give it five out of five unsmoked backwards cigarettes.
#26058 · 1
· on Welcome Home · >>Monokeras
There was much ado about their retirement, yes. Which is a bit of a cop out on Luna's part since she was AFK for 1,000 years but that's a fic for another day.

Anyway! The bombast of a minor miscommunication spiraling into such a catastrophic issue is a solid idea. Very "for want of a nail the kingdom was lost," but not a drama. But my suspension of disbelief is quickly shaken. No note, sure. But certainly Twilight would have had Spike try to send a letter. Failing that, Celestia and Luna gallivanting about the country for so long would have made it into the news, or at least reached back to Canterlot by word of mouth.

However! Based on the shirt "Where is Wall Drug" it could be that they were completely out of country. Wall Drug is a real tourist attraction in North Dakota, adjacent to Badlands National Park. If they were out past the Badlands in Equestria, that means the most likely place they were vacationing is Somnambula, which is definitely a ways out there and far removed from common gossip. And that explains Luna's need for extra sunblock and sunglasses.

QED suckers! Or maybe fanfic authors are just very good and reading meaning into details that might not have been there at all.

Also we've had two stories now with Luna in sunglasses and I think I really dig the imagery it gives off. Good work to both of those authors for stumbling onto my new hype button. Where were we?

Right. So, likelihood of them dropping off the map completely aside, them popping back up to everyone's astonishment is feels a little understated. They're all shocked, clearly, but neither the staff or Twilight actually do much with that shock until Twily pops off. Seeing them pop back up like this sounds akin to seeing a ghost or such, which I think would inspire at least a little fear with the shock.

Turning Mount Canter into essentially a giant nightlight is a funny bit of imagery, even if it feels under set up for the reveal. Imagining the HOA reactions has me going though.
#26057 · 1
· on Rhubarb Madness
My new Stand, [Little Miss Lawful Good]!

This pleases Rao. Glimmy and Trixie are easy to slip into a comedic scene, and I was smiling pretty well most of the way through here. I will not publicly address how much weed I did or did not smoke in my youth, or acknowledge the very difficult time I had climbing down from a tree house once in said youth, but I will say that I have a soft spot of some stoner comedies.

We lean on the obvious tropes here, but they got me going all the same. The string of drool, the stomach covered in chip crumbs, a random very convincing stallion selling you some mysteriously good stuff which surprisingly lives up to the hype. Then getting busted by the mom type after one yard catches fire down the street which had nothing to do with us I swear.

... Where were we? Right, story. Good stuff, 10/10 nostalgia points and one dare to be stupid music video.
#26047 · 2
· on Happy Returns · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Number 5 specifically, if this random list I pulled up from Google is accurate.

Incidentally, #8 on the list relates perfectly to this story: "Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."

There's plenty of detail up front yes. I have a solid image of the campus, the weather, the season, but nothing of the actual plot until right at the end. Granted, re-reading it there are clues that something is different about our dear Dr. Learned Crooner and I am not one to scoff at subtle foreshadowing. She has to orient herself on the campus she's worked at long enough to actually earn a vacation, and Dr. Frettle does note that she seems too refreshed. The bit where she looks curiously at her own desk is interesting and noteworthy, but comes just a breath before the hard reveal, so it doesn't do much lifting for setup.

Relating this back to Vonnegut's Rule #5 (thank you Monokeras), starting us off right in her office with paragraphs 8-10 then having Dr. Fettle come in gets us right into some intrigue. We'd already know that our imposter's disguise isn't infallible, and the conversation with Dr. Fettle would clue us in that her mannerisms aren't perfect, either.

But you seem quite cheerful, as if you're just setting out on vacation[...]
is much more fun to read when we know that he's entirely too correct. What's that literary term again, where the audience knows something the characters don't? Dramatic irony?

I'll also second >>Heavy_Mole in that "Changeling on vacation" isn't a take on "X is a Changeling" I think I've seen before, so gold star there.
#26046 · 1
· on The Wreck · >>Heavy_Mole
Excellent work on the geography names. I don't always grasp their real world counterparts immediately as world geography was never my strong point, but well grafted portmanteaus make my noggin' tingle all the same. My only question is about "Emu Dar’ya." It's the only one named after a bird rather than any other ungulate animal. It doesn't take me out of the story at all, but it did stand out as an oddity among other finely crafted names.

The rhyming is all quite good, even if Maya stretches poetic credulity a little thin. But good golly, Applejack! I like to think I have a pretty decent handle on her voice most of the time, but I've never even thought how to do her in Zecora rhyme! And you nailed it without losing an ounce of her personality. Cider lakes! Love this for us.

Though one unintentionally funny bit:
not even that Celestia’s sun will rise tomorrow, if it rose a thousand times before.

With how often she's lost control of it, this isn't the reliable meter it would be in real life. Sure, it's only been like three times (Discord, Storm King, and when Twilight had her magic during the Tirek problem) but it's still weird that it happened that often. No 'Tia, you don't get credit for the 1,000 years of clockwork regularity prior to that!

As I see it, there are two thematic conflicts presented in this story: That people listen to respond instead of listening to understand (Zecora's lesson), and that people become too blinded by their emotions to see situations logically (Maya's argument).

Incidentally, Maya's argument here was gone over in s6e22, "Pony Point of View." Which, depending on when this is set, AJ should, hopefully, remember. Though in fairness, when cider is on the line, all bets are off.
#26045 · 2
· on Outdoor Reunion · >>Monokeras
I laughed a bit right here:
Did you eat her up, as you used to before I left?’ She giggled.

I read it as literal cannibalism for a moment. Really sold the
‘Things have changed a little since her departure’
Luna's rocking big SWAG YOLO energy here, which is funny to see. And spaceships are rarely not cool, so points!

But, unfortunately, yeah the humor mostly didn't quite sit with me, over all. Celestia's obviously excited, but her childish glee is too exaggerated. Twilight by contrast seems too unbothered by all this nonsense after her initial reaction. There's that little moment at the end where it looks like she's thinking of exploring the ship, which yeah is absolutely up her alley, but then she just trots away.
Celestia rushed towards her, but a burst of Luna’s magic deflected her and she crashed a few feet beyond her target.
Did make me laugh though. Physical comedy is hard to do, but sometimes it's worth it.
#26034 · 1
· on Going Back to the Rest
I'm with >>Bachiavellian in that I'm behind on Gen 5. Give me a bit and I'll be back once I'm properly acquainted, I promise. Been meaning to watch it anyway. Just feels a bit like an affair, you know? Gen 4 treated me so well.
#26032 · 2
· on Paid Time Off
“Everypony needs time off from work to… um… decompress.”

What sort of unAmerican idea is this? And Paid time off, to boot? Blasphemy.

I kid, of course.

Super cute. As a little bit of a workaholic myself, I double appreciate Starlight's insistence that Tempest take a break. Her "well now what" reaction is 100% on point. Summer break comes around and I turn into a sludge monster. The student reactions are great, too. Some genuine connection and emotion to nail home that Tempest is pretty a-okay after all. ;-)

Tempest knew that she wasn’t good with words. She swallowed and tried again.

If believably still a little unsure of herself.

I'm keeping a more keen eye out for little movement/action; little frowns, smiles, head nods, stroking of potted plants. Keeps the dialogue fresh and far away from ye olden talking heads. Good work. Makes me wish more of my students weren't absolute jerks.
#26031 · 2
· on Fear and Rust
I dig the look at an older, more mature AppleDash, here. Dash is still a bit cocky ("Come on. I'm me."), but not as full of herself. She lets AJ talk without exploding, which shows huge growth. AJ feels more... patient? Sensitive, maybe. Not beating around the bush, but not diving right to the point, either. Dialogue sits well; expressive without being too drawn out. Mostly avoided falling into "talking head syndrome" which is super easy to do in minific.

But maybe it could have been a little more drawn out. There's still some word count to spare here, as Bachi and Dubs noted, but that last line feels like the edge of "page 1" more than an intended ending. Let us turn to page 2!
#26005 · 4
In my heart and mind more than anywhere else.
#25353 · 4
· · >>Baal Bunny
I don't know about anyone else, but between work stress (tech monkey at a junior high, oh boy was the last year fun) and 2020 fatigue in general, I've barely written or read much of anything in recent memory. I try, sometimes, but then I go blank and think of how nice a nap sounds.
#25193 · 1
· on Midnight Refuge · >>PinoyPony
Man, I feel like this was written with the explicit, specific intent to appeal to me, Rao, above all else. Hooded princess taking a midnight melancholy train ride to an older relative in a distant capitol city for a heartfelt talk about a serious life issue? It even starts with a "tickets, please."

Sign me right the hell up. This is my jam.

However, esteemed colleague Baal is correct that there are some issues afoot. Some minor, like punctuation and general sentence structure, and some I hadn't even noticed until second read since I was so enamored with the train ride opening (I'm a sucker, what can I say?).

The biggest thing I can add to Baal's comment is that the conversion between Twi and Flurry feels a bit stilted; too formal for family, maybe. Hard to put an exact finger on it.

But complaints aside, there's definitely some cool, non-specifically-Rao's-fetish stuff here.
Usually, the rooms were diffused with light at all hours of the day (Probably due to the architecture made specifically for Celestia keeping track of the sun throughout the day)

This is a really cool explanation for why there are so many stained glass windows all over the castle, by way of example. All the environmental details are solid, from the frozen outskirts giving way to a thicker treeline to the illuminated buckball court.
#25192 ·
· on Unplanned
At first I was thinking we had some big talking head syndrome going on, but on second read I noticed and appreciated the small action interjections more. Which is fitting, given the calm yet intimate nature of the bulk of the opening scene, and the potentially awkward conversation of the second. So good work weaving those in between the dialogue so cleanly I scarcely noticed on first read.

And God, Rarity nuzzling in Rainbow's rasp is just beyond adorable. I can't even with this.

But more than that, this is peak Rarity fitting into her more mature, worldly role, without ever feeling forced or out of place. For such a serious set of discussions, any improper use of the Drama Queen mask might have ruined the whole thing, so I'm grateful to not see her crying couch make an appearance.

Rainbow using the experience to really discover who she is and Rarity just rolling right along with it is just beautiful. Though, if I'm honest, I had kind of hoped Dash would have been downstairs working on breakfast that first morning. But, c'est la vie.
#25191 ·
· on Decohesion
The shifting sand recurrence had me engaged and puzzled through the first chunk, so great work on that concept. Also, the underlying idea that magical animates can retain knowledge and act spontaneously on their own is super cool. I was a bit curious at first why there'd be a Luna one, too, but then the puppet show section cleared that up for me (she was doing full plays out front, not acting in them herself, so to speak).

I with Baal's critiques in general, as well. The ending in particular is a bit puzzling. There's no hesitation in Luna's big moon beam (cool imagery!), which yes ruins the festival, but moreover her decisiveness there seems incongruent with the (maybe?) sad eyes that mismatch her small smile. Is she decisive because of any past experience with letting magic linger, or does she immediately regret her decision but choose not to show that feeling to Twilight?

More depth in that final set of moments would go a long way toward getting me into Luna's headspace and accepting, if not appreciating, her choice in that moment. But all the same, thanks for participating. We haven't seen much of "come to life" magic since season one, and I appreciate the call back and potential implications.

TLDR::Conceptually cool, but could use some sprucing at the end to bring the emotions home::
#25098 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>PinoyPony
With any luck I won't be in the ER through this writing period like I was for the last mini, so hey! Let's all do our best in hope for a better post-January 2021. Maybe we'll end up in a Marinara Trench instead this year, who knows. I've given up on trying to predict things.
#25093 · 1
· on Continuance · >>Dreamy Days
>>Dreamy Days
Welcome to the party. It's a bit scant these days but new faces are always welcome. In celebration of shaking the rust off—a feeling I'm all too acquainted with—let's continue the dialogue!
Does who died matter? I felt like it didn't, for the scope of the story.

It does a little bit, I think. Maybe not many specifics about the individual, but at least some deeper clue to who exactly this pony was to Celestia for their loss to drive her into such a desperate state that she's fundamentally alter the makeup of the nation—arguably the world since suddenly there would be a whole country of immortals overnight—without anypony's consent.

Based on Luna's speech and the castle setting, we're looking at season ~3-9 for the timeline. Celestia is no stranger to loss and coping with grief. It's perfectly reasonable that, eventually, one straw would finally break her back (and to reiterate, it's plainly clear that she's at wits end) but that straw would have to have been a mighty heavy one. Knowing anything would help me, as a reader, align myself better with not only Celestia's grief, but also her desperation to never have to go through it again after coping normally for so long.

But! You are absolutely correct that word economy is a high priority in mini rounds. If it were me, I'd have her counting out or naming spouses/friends/lovers/whatever she just lost as Luna bursts in to help give the mystery pony some context and identity, just by way of example.

She actually meant that she trusts Celestia to make the best decision for Equestria, no matter what it is, even if that means turning everypony into Alicorns.

This is a perfectly reasonable reading of that section that I hadn't considered. I think Luna bursting into the room like she owns the place sets her up as more sure and assertive in my mind, which is where the disconnect between my reading and the intended reading of her response to Celestia's plan. A shift to a cooler introduction would smooth things into the "I trust you, onee-chan," perhaps.

This is kind of rambly because I'm tired and it took 2 days to write it between work and napping at home, but I hope the added thoughts are useful all the same. Maybe next round I won't be in the ER for the writing period and we'll get to square up in the ring :)
#25086 ·
· on Continuance · >>Baal Bunny >>Dreamy Days
Rational is nothing but painful.

Careful, Tia. You're liable to make Discord swoon with that kind of talk.

Celestia is very clearly, just, absolutely over everything, and you do a fine job illustrating that, dear author. Though a clue as to exactly when we are, or whose death pushed her over this edge, would be go a long way toward getting me on board with her rather extreme plan.

Luna, despite her protests, doesn't seem to try that hard to talk Celestia out of her plan. Based on the raw text she seems to trust that Celestia will see the error of her ways, but I don't quite buy it, though I can't put my finger exactly on what doesn't sit right. Maybe it's that even in the nigh-utopia that is Equestria handing everypony keys to their own personal WMD is an idea worth just a l i t t l e more pushback than it's getting here.

Still, neat idea, solid character work. I'll never get tired of "end of her rope" Celestia.
#25085 ·
· on Turnabout
I really enjoy the opening paragraphs. Very solid descriptions of the Sun, Celestia, and the... gazebo, which kind of sticks out but reminds me of Re:Zero a bit for how out of place it is, so I still dig it and obviously where else are you going to have a nice cup of tea?

That said, there's a lot of "just roll with it" going on with the assumed narrative leading up to the banishment. Which isn't at all to say I'm not down with the cyclical banishment thing, or extending Equestria's timeline even further back. All great things! But squaring those ideas up with canon and Sunset Shimmer existing apparently right now at the beginning of a millennium long vacation really press my suspension of disbelief without some supporting history. Which, naturally, is all but impossible to do in 750 words or less.

So we've got some cool ideas tied down by an unfortunate case of "more than I can chew in the word count-itis." Still, solid mid-tier for sun swimming and plasma boiled tea.
#25084 ·
· on Ashes
The balancing act of minis is not biting off more than you can chew while also making sure you still get a proper mouthful, and I think this story hits that economy point very well. The walkway up to the door of AJ finally accepting that maybe she needs help coping with her grief is the perfect path to hit, here.

Grief is hard, and seeing Dash try her best—and fail at first—to comfort Applejack through it is remarkably endearing. Also possibly the advent of Rainbow Dash spending more and more time on the farm? :wink wink: Twilight also doesn't quite get it, but she gets her up to the door enough for Rainbow Dash to pull her through, and that's also sweet.

Every piece of a support group is important in different ways <3
#25026 ·
· on Empty Stalls
This is perhaps an extreme take on the prompt, but no less creative and intriguing for it.

I'm going to assume the Matrix vibe Baal was picking up on, and the associated baggage, is mostly solved by invoking the age old solution to every problem: Magic! Unless...

I was originally thinking that there was some incongruity between the "techno murder helmets to clone minds" and "magical horse realm" ideas, but the more I think about it, this feels like an AU Equestria rather than an early version of the world we know and love, since in canon, death is a thing (sorry AJ). Maybe it's literally a Matrix sort of thing with Magic programmed in, or maybe it's really a transcendent realm with magical properties, which is why the horses can learn to talk.

The core idea of humans making a utopian equine realm for themselves and wanting to bring actual horses along is great, but... yeah that disparity between "maybe magic is real" and "murder helmets" keeps wedging itself into my mind.

Positive note, however! The POV writing was swell, and the original horse names working more like lower-cased identifiers rather than proper names is a really snazzy touch to show the less mature thought processes at work. Not dissimilar to what I have to do at work sometimes, where kids can become "pink shirt" or "hoodie kid in the corner" if things get hectic.
Paging WIP