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But First, We Need to Talk About Parallel Universes
Original Minific
Walking With A Goddess
FiM Minific
Swimming Against the Current
One Shot
Original Minific
The Bargain
The Twilight Zone
FiM Minific
Fallen From Grace
#13524 · 5
· on Swimming Against the Current · >>Fenton >>Ranmilia

I want to thank everyone who commented on my entry and for your criticisms, and hopefully this won't be too boring of a post.

I think an explanation of what I was trying to do in this piece can be split into two parts: structure and idea.

One part of this was to try and create a piece that would have a complete narrative arc within the 750 word limit. I know it was a cliché scenario (akin to 'Jimmy falls down the well') but that was kind of the point; I knew on that level that I had to keep the subject simple and visceral, and 'someone saving the life of someone else' sounded good. I also wanted to see if I could come up with something emotional and fast-paced, such as an action scene.

From the responses I got, I did okay on a structural level. The piece does have a narrative arc, a beginning-middle-end thing going on. And a number of you also thought it was fast-paced and had emotional content.

At the same time, I also heard from a couple of people that the language was a little clunky, and >>AndrewRogue mentioned that there wasn't enough description of the setting.

The biggest problem, though, was the low-stakes nature of the piece. It's supposed to be about someone holding on frantically for dear life in the middle of a raging river, while another character risks their own life to save them.

And...after looking at the piece further, I can see it didn't turn out that way. Adagio just dives into the water, swims to Twilight and then they get rescued; any problems the former runs into are just bypassed easily. Adagio might as well be making her way through an indoor swimming pool, while I act as the breathless narrator and try to pump up the events with hyperbole.

I think what I need to do is give more explanation. Why is it so important for the character to do this? What are the dangers involved? And why can they not simply 'walk in, do what needs doing and walk out'? Have the character pause before an obstacle while I mention what they stand to lose if things don't go well. And also have them screw-up a little or have something unexpected foul their plans up at some point. Perhaps also have the character be more ill-suited for whatever they are facing (in the case of the river, have a character who isn't a particularly good swimmer have to save her).

The other part of the story is where I really blew it, the distribution of information that was necessary to make sense of the action.

Pretty much everyone had no idea why Twilight was in the river, or what the deal was between Adagio and Twilight, or what the heck was going on. And never mind the throwaway lines Adagio was using. The whole thing was out of context.

Part of my problem was that I didn't correctly gauge how niche EqG was; I thought it was more well known than it turned out to be, and so that hurt me.

But now that I've thought about it, what really sank me was that this scene was originally an idea for an AU fic I had in that universe; you can all relax about being lost, since the references are just from my own imaginings. Sorry... <:(

(I hopefully won't bore with too many details: The Sirens, instead of vanishing after Rainbow Rocks, come across the naïve and lonely human counterpart of Twilight Sparkle before the 'Humane 6'; after finding out Twilight's been dabbling in finding a way to contain and analyze magic, Adagio 'befriends' her in hopes that they together can restore the Sirens' powers; after a while Adagio and Human!Twilight begin to bond, only for things to fall apart when the latter figures out she's been used; the piece is set after Twilight's run somewhere to figure out what to do and Adagio has chased after someone she really is beginning to think of as a friend she could pull into the darkness.)

My apologies for my ambition/arrogance with this piece, and more apologies for you having to read through it. I was hoping to separate the presented piece from the source material enough that it could be a relatively self-contained story, but I failed in that (mostly, I think, because I started putting in non-self-contain material back in for some stupid reason).

I realize now how ridiculous the situation I'd set for myself was. For the audience to make sense of the whole thing I needed to: explain enough to put the action of the story into context; explain who a relatively niche character was and what was going on in a niche part of the MLP universe; and explain how the situation in this AU was different from normal.

To paraphrase the man in the TV show: I had a lot of 'splainin' to do...

I also realize how deeply unfair that is to the audience. People who at least know something about the source material are going to be confused and people who don't are going to be totally lost.

Going back to the piece's flaws, >>Ranmilia noticed the story elements butting heads – Adagio's emotions (a character-centered piece) and the rescue (an action-centered piece). What I now think I should have done was either change the characters to ones that would likely wind up in the situation presented (subordinating them to the action element of the story) or change the scene entirely to present a 'day in the life of' piece that would show the relationship between Adagio and Human!Twilight (subordinating setting and action to the character element of the story). It might still have wound up a bit of a mess, but not as bad as it is here.

And, as you suggested >>Ranmilia , I'm going to see about coming up with simpler ideas for the mini-fic rounds and save the more complex stuff (with more need for information) for the short story rounds.

I know I sound like I'm putting myself down here, but this really has gotten me to think. Hopefully that will show up in an improvement in my writing.

Thank you for putting up with me this round, and I hope to see you all next time!
#11556 · 4
Whew! I actually managed to place a comment on each and every one of the stories on my slate this time. Maybe they were good or maybe they were bad, I don't know; I'm still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't as far as being a critic as well as a writer, and hopefully I haven't crushed too many toes as I went along. I want to thank everyone here for letting me tag along this round, and wish everyone the best until the next contest!
#9278 · 3
· · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>FanOfMostEverything >>Haze >>CoffeeMinion >>Xepher
[url=""]Zaid Val'Roa[/url]

I think that's everyone who commented on my entry, Fallen From Grace, and I want to thank all of you for putting in comments about it. I wanted to contribute something to this contest (sorry it wasn't very good), and I've gotten feedback and suggestions that I'll definitely try to incorporate in my future attempts at fiction.

The story was supposed to be something of a throwaway bit of adventure (kind of like the prologue to an Indiana Jones movie) set in the Nightmare Moon world from 'The Cutie Re-Mark'. Twilight Sparkle, still a blank flank in this world, decided to try her hoof at being a 'real-life Daring Do'...not realizing there really was a Daring Do wandering around. A bad first encounter (not unlike what happened in 'Daring Don't') caused the two of them to become rivals over the years: this version of Twilight is sort of a Lara Croft to Daring Do's Indiana Jones.

Things changed when Nightmare Moon took over, and now Twilight's been trying to use her skills to find some kind of artifact, anything at all, to be able to defeat the Fallen One and restore Celestia to the throne. Unfortunately, she's had to make some unsavory alliances, Cabelleron and his crew being one of them; the same people funding him are just about the only serious group even contemplating revolution, so Twilight had to either team up or try to find a Wonderful Widget on her own. It helps that this Twilight has a slightly relaxed sense of morals from her years of being in more than a few...interesting locales...

With Twilight as a researcher on the team, Cabelleron has begun to pull ahead of Daring over the last couple of years and so she in turn has had to make some...interesting choices. Daring doesn't care much about politics or who is on the throne, only that the items that she finds are dangerous in the extreme and need to be locked away. Nightmare Moon has offered funds and help in exchange for Daring's services, and the dark alicorn really is trying to lock these artifacts away...and the world hasn't really ended...and Daring isn't really doing anything she didn't do before...

So while they were fighting/forced to work together to grab yet another trinket, the idea in the back of my mind was to have them argue about who was worse: Twilight, who has decided to work with an unsavory element that will likely use whatever power she gives them for nefarious ends, or Daring, who has taken up with an evil dictatorship that at least is a 'devil you know'.


Now that I look at all of this, I'm shaking my head and laughing at myself. I was trying to write a minific that required that much material to support it (at least I didn't have Twilight and Daring stuffing themselves in an old refrigerator and getting blown across a Neigh-vada test range...), and even worse...

None of that material appeared in story, or at least not much, and from the comments that were so graciously offered, I've think I have an idea where I went wrong (beyond the technical issues, which are relatively easy to fix).

For one thing, I was essentially trying to tackle too complex an idea in too small a space. I should have gone for a simpler idea more easily expressed, instead of doing something that was too baroque (or maybe rococo) in nature and that required more set-up to make sense.

Another problem I had was not providing enough information to the reader. I was too trapped in my own mind (something which happens all too often, I'm afraid) and wasn't thinking of the questions someone who walked into this cold might ask. That was very selfish of me, and I apologize for that.

And then I was trying to be too clever by half. I thought I was creating an interesting plot twist at the end, when in fact I was yet again confusing the heck out of the audience.

I don't think I really had any 'core' in the story, either, as in a central conflict or narrative that would tie everything together; if I did have something like that, I did a very poor job of putting it in.

In my defense, I had been working a lot of extra shifts at my job recently, and due to my schedule I only had three to five hours to think on the prompt and put something together. So I was rushing through it while suffering from some brain meltdown. And there was the fact that I've never tried writing a minific before, which didn't help either.

But enough with excuses: I'm very glad I was allowed to participate in this contest, and hopefully I'll be able to join in again for the next one. I didn't do very well this time, but I'll see what I can do about improving next time.

And is it too late to comment on other peoples' work? I'm still new to the etiquette of this site, and I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I won't be doing anything today, but I have read all the stories that were submitted to this contest and have some thoughts on some of the entries.
#11347 · 3
· on Dashed Dreams
A solid piece; not anything to write home about (sorry <:), but it gets the job done in telling the audience what's going on.

But like some others said, there's no new ground covered with Rainbow Dash; it's just a segment of her life, and one that she really doesn't have any control over. She spends most of this story reacting instead of doing anything.

What might have helped is if you pulled the whole 'Rainbow is getting expelled for her lack of school performance' into the earlier part of the story, perhaps through a series of quick flashbacks show Rainbow choosing to repeatedly goof off instead of study. This would have made the story fit the prompt better, as well as given the story something of a moral - “This is what happens when you ignore essential things in your life”. It would also give the ending more emotional power, as it would now show that Rainbow still has the same problem that got her into this mess in the first place.

All of that said, thanks for writing and sharing!
#11348 · 3
· on The Last One
Like other people, I thought this one was well-written and atmospheric. And the subject matter, of Twilight having to outlive her friends because she's an alicorn, while well-worn is a good subject for the writing prompt.

That said, I don't care for the characterization as is. Spike is way to much of a jerk in this story; he's also a near-immortal who had just as close a connection to the others as Twilight, and I would think his actions and words would be leavened with at least some sympathy and understanding – a sort of “I know this is bad for you, but we need to do this” vibe. As it is, he doesn't seem to care at all about her feelings on the matter. (Nor does he seem to care about the possibility of alienating his last remaining friend from that group; as an immortal, Twilight might remember this exchange for a very long time...)

There's also the fact that Twilight is actually made of much sterner stuff than is presented here (a very common problem, even in canon these days, so I don't blame the author that much). After all, at the beginning of the series Twilight was willing to personally face down Nightmare Moon, and later to talk down Applejack in “Applebuck Season” (just to name a couple of examples). I don't think she'd really hesitate being at her friends' deathbeds, even if it tore her up inside; and as a princess she'd feel that it was a necessary gesture to the members of her court. Alternatively, I can see her trying to ignore the matter of her friends' mortality so much that she goes insane and simply acts as though it's still during the time of the series (in which case I'd see Spike being comforting rather than angry). But she is definitely not a coward.

I think the problem here is a lack of information. The story is set decades after the series, and something obviously caused Twilight to retreat into something of a shell and be reluctant to face her friends' deaths, as well as cause a massive rift between her and Spike. What was it? Answer that and the character's actions will be on a much more solid footing.

Hope that all didn't sound to harsh, and thanks for sharing!
#9809 · 2
I've got the time and I'm going to see what I can do about writing something for this one (seeing as how I was the one who suggested the prompt this time, I think I'd better <:)
#11546 · 2
· on The Art of Lingering
I hope I'm not ganging up when I concur with >>Cold in Gardez, >>Trick_Question, and >>Monokeras on the nature of this story. It's technically well-written, and very good at painting a picture and it does follow the prompt. The problem is that there's not too much under the hood; Rarity's standing around considering things, but not really making much of a decision and not really doing much of anything.

>>PaulAsaran also has a point that the situation is kind of OOC for Rarity; she'd hardly pass up a bold new business opportunity or new contacts. I think the problem is that there's no counter-weight, no 'bad side' to the deal, so why shouldn't Rarity take it on?

Perhaps you could have the scene play out at the ball itself, and with her friends talking positively (or trying to) about her impending trip and all the benefits it will bring. But instead of it being Fancy Pants making the offer, what if the trip is an ambassadorial junket led by Prince Blueblood? Now Rarity has to decide: are all the connections, knowledge and experiences of the trip worth spending an entire year in Blueblood's entourage?

Anyway, it's just a suggestion, take it as you will. And thanks for sharing!
#12864 · 2
· on Walking With A Goddess

Thank you everyone for your comments and criticism, they're all appreciated. And sorry about being a little late with this response; for some reason I was dead tired yesterday.

I'd thought about the prompt a bit and realized that 'parallel universes' didn't necessarily mean a sci-fi concept; the term could apply to things like the spirit world or the lands of the dead in mythology. I just happened to think of Norse mythology because of its Nine Realms, which could be interpreted in such a way.

Another element to this was a thought I'd had concerning the idea of Viking afterlife: Niflheim (or, more accurately, Hel's hall of Helheim) was where those who had died of sickness, old age and generally anything other than valorous battle would up going. Well, that would also include the absolute best warriors as well, since no mortal opponent could defeat them in battle. Hel would be more than willing to take such warriors into her company, I imagine, and it sounds fitting that the daughter of Loki would be the beneficiary of such a cosmic technicality. (She's also getting more than a few leaders, wise-men and who-knows-how-much of a labor force as well, so it's no wonder her home is essentially hermetically sealed from the rest of Creation in the legends.)

Looking back on it now, even before the comments came in I realize that I did badly hurt myself with the format I used. It requires that the audience be able to 'become' the viewpoint character and be led around the nose by the author. It's either going to work or it isn't, and there's not much middle ground.

I also managed again to write a piece that really didn't have anything going on in it. It does have nice mood and an interesting idea, but there's no real story going on in it like >>Ranmilia mentions. *sigh* And I thought I was being so clever, again... (Then again, it was something of a stream-of-consciousness piece that I wrote in about an hour and spent another hour polishing, so I shouldn't be surprised.)

As for individual responses:

I'm glad you liked it. Like I said above, it was an experimental piece, and I'm glad it wasn't a total bust with everyone.

Thanks for the detailed review. I do agree now that the format hurt the story, and also the 'twist' of Hel being the goddess in question. I thought I'd learned that lesson from my first attempt in these contests back in February but...apparently not. (Oh well, maybe I'll do better next time. :) And you do make a good point about the 'leprosy' thing being made too late in the piece, it should have been better integrated in the piece (considering she was rotting away in mythology, I thought it would have been a likely cause of her condition, making her home something of a leper colony).

Glad you liked the piece, though I imagine you saw much better later on.

Sorry if the idea went a little past you; I was trying for something different and I apparently succeeded on that count, for good or ill. And I didn't think about the use of the word 'damn' being so jarring in the piece. Thank you for pointing that out.

Thanks for liking the piece, overall. I agree, looking back on it now, that 'who the audience is supposed to be' could have been made a lot clearer. And thanks again for mentioning my sad attempt at a 'twist' that shouldn't have been one. As for Hel's name and home - I thought 'Hela' would be a better way of putting down a female deity's name, while the rest of it means I should have done a better job of researching my mythology before submitting the piece.

Glad you liked the piece. I think you're probably right about the choice of protagonist and the fact that there's a lot of mood but not much in the way of a sense of triumph for Hel. I think the latter is probably a consequence of this piece really needing more of a story element to it and higher stakes.

Thank you for the praise and the different take on Hel's naming in the story. I'd meant the word 'damn' to be used because Hel is basically trapped for eternity in her realm; no one, no thing can leave her realm, not even her, and I would imagine that to be horribly frustrating over the long term, which is why I had her getting like that. She's just that upset over the matter.

You're right about the problems with the piece: when I take a closer look at it, it looks more like a guide giving a tour than anything else. No conflict, no stakes, just someone talking to someone else. While it is well-written, it needs a lot more to it. (To be honest to everyone, I'm shocked at how well this piece did in this round.)

Yeah, this piece seems to be well-written, but it's 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'. I don't have a lot of answers to the questions you raise because I wasn't thinking about it at the time; I just wanted to put something out into the contest this time around. I really should have thought a lot more about this piece and given it more underlying structure before submitting it. But thanks for the detailed critique, I do appreciate it.

I'm glad you thought it was interesting. Like I've said to some of the others, I do understand that this piece needed more directioon and 'story' to really work better. I'll see what I can do next time.

Thanks once again for all of your comments and kind words. I hope to see you again (and do a better job with my submissions) next time!
#12918 · 2
I actually just submitted something for this round! It may wind up in the 'it sounded better when I was writing it' category, but...we'll see what happens. Good luck to everyone else!
#9412 · 1
· on Crisis on Infinite Twilights
This comment is really late, and I apologize for that; I'll try to be better about it in the future.

I've been a fan of anime for a number of years, so the concept for this story caught my interest. I thought it was an enjoyable little piece, though I agree with a number of the comments: the first paragraph was too long and clunky, there wasn't enough interaction between different Twilights in the middle, and the resolution of the main problem seemed kind of flat.

I think the main reason for that last is that you introduced an action style character (and a cat-girl on top of that) in the beginning; when she runs into the main problem, she should pull out her laser sword and invoke Leeroy Jenkins, damn the consequences. If she does actually try to talk down the villain, it should only be because something about the situation reminds her of something deeply personal (maybe Twilight-chan faced a similar situation involving a close friend, and she wants to see if she can make things come to a more satisfying conclusion this time). Either one would better fit the character and the anime genre in general, and I think it would glue the different parts of the story together a little better.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to Towairaito-chan's further adventures!