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Separate Ways · She-Ra Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
#1 · 6
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Moosetasm
What is this sorcery?

No srsly, is She-Ra to become a regular thing?

Ought I watch it?! :-p
#2 · 3
· · >>Miller Minus
>>CoffeeMinion

I've been tempted:

Especially since this is the 100th contest. But I already used my free month of Netflix back when "Legend of Everfree" came out exclusively on their platform...

Mike
#3 · 5
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny

Does anyone else hear music?
#4 · 2
·
>>CoffeeMinion
I’ve seen the little mini thing on Netflix, and it looks... clever? Like some of the jokes made me laugh. I’m a fan of the He-man and She-ra universe since the first animated series was out for them. Have a Hordak in my basement somewhere, along with Leech, with real sucking action... ahem. I should prolly just watch it.
#5 · 2
·
>>Miller Minus

I get the feeling:

That asking what on Earth that video was would just confuse me even more. So I don't think I'll ask...

Mike
#6 ·
· · >>QuillScratch >>RogerDodger
I like the idea of supporting new/other (non pony) universes in the writeoff. But... I've barely even heard of she-ra, much less watched it. Not knocking anyone's taste, but aren't there more popular animations in similar veins? Basically I'm wondering if there are plans for "Adventure Time," "Steven Universe," "Gravity Falls," or other writeoffs. And if so, how'd She-Ra end up first? Was there was some cabal that voted for this when I wasn't paying attention? :-)

But seriously, I'm not meaning to complain, just actually curious how/why this was chosen (trying to keep up with the discord chat is hard at times when I go to read the backlog) and want to know if universes which I AM actually interested in are coming up at some point. (Unfortunately, the "Schedule" link only goes a few events out.)
#7 · 4
· · >>Xepher
>>Xepher
I've been organising the She-Ra events directly with Roger, in discussion with people in that fandom. If you're after other franchise writeoffs, check around to see if you can get interest & ask Roger is my advice. I for one would love to see more fandoms in rotation!
#8 · 1
·
Guess who's back
Back again
She-Ra's back
Tell a friend...
#9 · 7
· · >>Xepher
>>Xepher
Basically what Quill said. Just convince me that at least 3-4 people will enter.
#10 · 4
·
honestly i'm just glad a prompt without character names was selected, cause that would narrow the field quite a bit

altho if you think about it, separate ways itself could easily be interpreted as highly specific...
#11 · 5
·
Wooo! My prompt won!
Now to see if I can write the story I had in my mind.
#12 · 2
·
I didn't get any takers in the last She-Ra round, and I still haven't watched the show, so I wasn't planning on being generally available for pre-submission critiques. If you want some, feel free to ask, but I'm going to leave my status in #mentors as "off duty."
#13 · 1
·
>>RogerDodger
>>QuillScratch

Cool, thanks for the explanation. If I had more time where I could rally people (or even know I could participate) I'd push something. Maybe in a few months!
#14 · 1
·
Blorp, I wound up sleeping through submission process. For the curious, my submission: https://archiveofourown.org/works/17498444/chapters/41215835
#15 · 2
· on Every Letter I Ever Wrote You · >>Zaid Val'Roa
The important part of a backstory is rarely the end. We already know how things are going to turn out. And to its credit, this story acknowledges that, there's no attempt at a shocking reveal or overwrought underlining of tragedy at the end. The final letter simply is, and, haunted by the title, trusts us fill what happens afterwards.

If not the end, the important part of a backstory seems to be the process. And how does the story fare on that front?

We start in innocence. For a character like Shadow Weaver, who edges out Hordak as most clichéd villain on She Ra, the contrast stands out. But otherwise, it looks like things are pretty thin on the ground. The tragic slide-into-evil form runs on character choice. We have to know the character well enough to understand their decision.

It's impossible not to bring up Catra here. Promise gives us the same contrast of innocence and bitter experience as Every Letter does. But it also gives us Catra pride, her hurt, her need to be ackowledged – and gives us a point where it's not obvious which way she'll turn. She chooses poorly. Here, on the other hand, Light Spinner progresses more or less directly from innocence to eminence to obsession to catastrophe. There's no real complexity there, and the progression ends up feeling shallow.

Except …

Except, I've missed something, haven't I? This isn't just an epistolary, this is a one-sided epistolary. The bulk of this story isn't the end or the process. It's in the structure and theme. It's not about Light Spinner. It's not really about Castaspella either. It's about Light Spinner as she is perceived by Castaspella, a subject irreducible to either of them alone. Loneliness haunts this story. Light Spinner has, as it were, chosen not to speak to us. She is aloof, distant. She communicates only by her actions, none of which seem responsive to anything but her own aims. Casta is in her orbit, begging for attention (literally, at one point.) And when at last Light Spinner flares out and sinks into darkness, we can imagine Casta left adrift.

All sorts of events mentioned in passing have significance. From stuff like Light Spinner's illness during the wedding to the identity of Ishara (a quick visit to Wikipedia confirmed my suspicions). And then there's the coins: Moon and … scorpion? Now there's an odd contrast. But it all fits. Every Letter is very much a story that lives in the stuff that isn't told. That's damned hard to do (I've failed at it myself), but it succeeds admirably. I'd say this has a good shot at first place.
#16 · 2
· on Every Letter I Ever Wrote You
I like epistolary stories, and I think you've done a pretty good job here. Though one-sided, I could get a good glimpse of Casta and Shadow Weaver's friendship and how it developed since their infancy up to they going their separate ways. The story as a whole is quite understated, and as >>Scramblers and Shadows said, the small mentions of the world beyond Casta and Shadow are what paint the backdrop for the story's unfolding drama.

I also agree that the progression feels a bit shallow. I would've really liked a few more letters sent on the early years of their friendship so we could see, well, the friendship come to be. Going in, we already know how their story will end, so your job is to make the reader invested in their relationship. We know it will all come down to broken promises, friendship in ruins, and Light Spinner in the dark side. So, we've got to get invested in this friendship so the climax has a real emotional payoff.

This story is... somewhat successful in that regard. Even though we only see Casta's side of things, we still can imagine enough of Light Spinner's responses to fill in the gaps ourselves. Hell, I'd argue getting just her side of the story helps us empathise with the feelings of isolation and confusion Casta has regarding Light Spinner's fall from grace, so kudos for that.

Still, I go back to what I said. I would've really appreciated a couple more letters to really get a firm grip of their friendship. Even if it's just mundane things. Hell, specially if it's just mundane things. Sharing secrets, complaining about their parents, talk about magic stuff. But hey, isn't that what you did in the first half of the story? Indeed! I just wanted more. I wanted you to go deeper. To show me how this friendship shaped Casta and why it means so much to her.

Just a bit of work could elevate this story from good to great. And know that you've set the bar quite high for the rest of the stories this round.
#17 · 2
· on Entrapped
I'm going to contact that Japanese chapel where lonely guys marry their dakimakuras. I'm going to print this out and marry it.
I'm not even going to correct the spacing issues.
#18 · 2
· on You Trust Me, Don't You?
Adorbs Totes Adorbs.
In all seriousness, though, I like what you accomplished here. And in just under 5k words, to boot!
Honestly, I think you played up their similarities and the way they can complement each other as well as possible. I think I would've liked to see the full extent of their feelings, see how they try to make sense of their new situations and how they find company and understandment in each other.
Really, stellar job, and I'd like to read more of this.
#19 · 2
· on "Fuck Adora!"
If you aimed for a solid glimpse into the lives of the villanous trio, rest assured. You did a remarkable job.
SoL comedies are harder than people think because you run the risk of ending up with an aimless inane work that does little to exploit the character's potential, but you did quite well. Adora, Entrapta, and Scorpia all felt in-character. It was really nice.
Scorpia in particular I enjoyed. She was a real pal throughout the story and still as charming as in the show.
I don't have much to say because I don't feel there's much to be said about the story. It promises comfy times, and it delivers comfy times. Drama, comedy, all neatly tied together.
Good job.
#20 · 2
· on Caught Between Confusion and Pain
I think I like this story more for what it aims to do than what it actually accomplishes.
I love introspective pieces, character analysis and the like, plus the parallels with the scrapbot were fun. Ultimately though, it all feels very surface-level. I mean, yes, Entrapta felt abandoned by the other Princesses and she feels at home with the Horde. So? What exactly is being told beyond that? How is that being used to further her character? There's that bit where she feels she wasn't useful to the Princesses and that's why they left her, and how she now feels useful to the Horde, but again, it's just... brought up and never explored in depth.
I don't know, am I alone in this? Maybe there is a deeper theme I'm missing, but right now the story is nice but that's really it.
#21 · 2
· on "Fuck Adora!"
Now there's a hell of a title. I went into this with more than a little trepidation, but it turned out to be unwarranted. Mostly. I mean, yeah, we have a a nigh-obsessive focus on bodily fluids, but it's all front-end stuff, so I'm not too put off.

So, once we've wiped away all the snot, what do we have here? A cute little hurt/comfort fic. The plot is simple enough: Catra gets sick. Catra continues to obsess over Adora. Scorpia looks after her by … acting the part of Adora to a feverish and hallucinating Catra, thereby allowing her to find her old tough-bitch self and get back on track.

I want to say I have two big problems with this. Except they're entangled enough that they could just be facets of a single problem. And I'm not really sure if they/it are/is actually problems.

Semi-problem one: There doesn't seem to much linking the events of this story together. Catra has some issues with Adora. That's fine – we can take it as given. And Catra gets sick. That's also fine as a way to kick things off, but the story tells us that she very rarely gets sick, which makes it seem like there's something else going on here. What? Is it linked somehow to Adora? I have no idea. And then Scorpia looks after her. That follows on in a causal sense, but it doesn't seem to have other significant connection to what's going on. And then at last Catra gets better, and everything fine again. Again, it follows – fevers usually retreat at some point – but that's about it. As a sequence of events, it's on a par with “I didn't have any milk so I went to the shop and bought some milk and then I came home and put the milk in the fridge.”

The second semi-problem is character. Why is this entangled with the above problem? Because one of the big ways to link events is by characterisation. Good characterisation informs how your characters are effected and the choices they make in response. It links up events in a way that's emotionally meaningful. Conversely, when its lacking, those choices start to feel arbitrary or trivial. So, what's the characterisation here? It's very thin on the ground. Scorpia is chirpy and really likes Catra. We already knew that. Catra has loads of baggage about being abandoned by Adora. We already knew that.

That said, there is one thing we do learn about Catra, an admission that she probably would only make in a fevered state: She feels guilty about leaving Adora behind on the cliff. Aha! This is good. It expands on what we saw in the show, and demonstrates the emotional relevance of those events to Catra. This is the focus of the story, and to a degree it counters my criticisms above. Everything leads to this revelation, and it gives the story coherence. But … it doesn't feel like enough. It's there and gone in a few lines, and that's it.

Am I being too harsh? This is only 2000 words, after all. I can't reasonably ask for a full dive into Catra's personality and relationship with Scorpia. And yet, I still fell unsatisfied. Perhaps I would feel more satisfied if less of the story had been spent on talking about snot and puke, and more on Catra's confession, or on how that guilt manifests earlier in her training the cadets (you could show this with her reaction to one cadet leaving anther hanging, like she did to Adora in the first episode).

And I suppose by this point I've talked myself into a somewhat coherent understanding of “Fuck Adora!”. I want more focus on the things that matter, and less focus on the things that don't.
#22 · 3
· on Caught Between Confusion and Pain
Alternate Title: No Cat, No Cradle

Okay, so this is more a mood piece than an actual story. In another way you could think of it as a character study, but there's kind of a big problem with that, which I'll get to.

I'll get positives out of the way, though, because despite some big issues I have with this entry it's very adept at one or two very specific qualities. For one, it's written with a real sense of warmth and humor; I say that in the sense that it's very peaceful, like fishing out at sea on a calm cool day, and yet there are occasional hints of not taking things too seriously.

If this entry took itself too seriously (which it comes dangerously close to at the end), I wouldn't like it.

But in terms of finding a tone and sticking with it, I think it does a good job. It also does a good job, at times anyway, of capturing a normally emotionally enigmatic character at an emotionally trying time. Entrapta is as morally grey a character as the show has given us so far, and as the title here suggests we get an Entrapta who is unsure of herself. I like moral ambiguity, and I especially like morally grey characters confronting said ambiguity, so by all rights this should be a win for me.

But sadly, I can't say that.

Now, in fairness, this is the shortest entry of the lot; it just barely makes it past 2,000 words. But what exactly happens in this story? Not much, really. Oh, having a story that's mainly internal, about a character's internal struggle, isn't bad on its own. But I feel like if you're gonna put Entrapta in this mental state then you should back it up with more substance in the action. The fact that Entrapta doesn't interact with anyone from the Horde here only makes the lack of action more conspicuous.

And then there's this line, which even on a second reading I have an issue with:

“I’m better know, I think,” I said, as I felt my smile coming back. ”I’m doing better. I can do more research now, and I’m certainly of assistance to The Horde. My research is benefitting so many people, I’m still doing a difference. I hope Adora, and Glimmer, and Bow, and everyone else will be happy for me.”


Actually, upon revisiting this entry, this line strikes me as even more questionable than before. It's clearly a self-contradiction, and I'm 99% sure the author was aware of this, but that presents a whole new problem. How does Entrapta feel about her old friends? How does she justify working for the Horde while still apparently caring about her old friends? Why does she think they'd be proud of her for working for the enemy?

This ending bit raises way too many questions about Entrapta's character to function well as an ending. It's a contradiction that could work, if it was explored, but it's not, so we're left scratching our heads.

I would highly recommend not leaving this as is, dear author. I say that because of all the entries this round, this one deserves the most expansion. It presents a good starting point for a more fulfilling character piece that I think you could really do something with.
#23 · 2
· on "Fuck Adora!"
Alternate Title: Puke, Sweat, and More Puke

I'm gonna be real with you, author, I almost abstained from this. Not because it's bad, but because when I look at that title I think of an entry that's way more of the shitpost breed, and I tend to skip out on shitpost entries.

But surprisingly, this entry is way more sincere than its edgy title would indicate. As cheeky as the title is (it's memorable, if nothing else), I feel like it acts as a red herring for a story that actually works as a story and not a shitpost. Oh, it's a comedy, no doubt about that. Everything from the title to the heavily colloquial prose to the sequence of events presents the reader with a general sense of playfulness.

Even the feverish confession from Catra doesn't try too hard to take away from the enveloping atmosphere of lulz and bodily fluids, but I'll get more into that when I get to negatives.

Also, Scorpia is the protagonist here, I think? Her POV seems the most established, and I like how nice she still is. Actually I'd say the three named characters here are characterized reasonably well, albeit not getting too much time to flourish.

And that's one way to segue into the big problem I have with this entry, which is its length.

While this is longer than the shortest entry, and stuff actually happens in it, it all feels too abridged. The pacing is quick, but too quick for the reader to get a good grasp on any single thing happening. I would've thought the fever confessional scene would make up the meat of this story, but I don't even think it was much longer than the first two scenes. As with "Caught Between Confusion and Pain," I think this entry deserves expansion.

Like, for example, I think I get what the author was doing with the first and last scenes. The story has kind of a circular thing going on where the ending is pretty much like the beginning, but with a small change (Catra no longer being sick), and the final line seems to hint at this, but the scenes are all so short that I don't think this circular structure entirely works.

At the very least I think this entry needs far more of a middle section, expanding the second and third scenes, maybe adding an extra scene focusing on Catra interacting with the cadets.

A final nitpick, but while I like Scorpia's characterization here, I would appreciate more substance for her character that we weren't already familiar with. There are hints at Scorpia's friendship with Catra evolving to be more reciprocated, but hints are usually inadequate for this sort of character-heavy stuff.

But yeah, messy bodily fluids aside, I'm pleasantly surprised with what this entry turned out to be.
#24 · 2
· on You Trust Me, Don't You?
Alternate Title: Cuteness Overload, Not Even Joking

HELLLLLLLLL YEAH!

Sorry, allow me to compose myself. Author, I like what you did here. I like it so much that I feel tempted to say you don't have to change anything about it, aside from a few typos here and there.

I didn't think my top pick would be not only the longest of the batch but placed right in the middle. Truth be told, though, this entry doesn't feel that long; it might be because there are over a dozen scenes which organize the beats of the story in nice little bite-size segments. It might because there is hardly a sentence wasted, or the fact that the buildup in the relationship between Entrapta and Catra is borderline perfect.

Seriously, that ending blue-balled me in how it gives us a tiny slice of how this relationship could further evolve, but has enough restraint to not go all the way. At first the anti-climax of the ending irked me, but it's honestly kinda beautiful in how it goes just far enough to feel cathartic.

Yummy.

The prose is quite beautiful as well. I'm impressed at how deliberate certain phrase choices are (especially in Entrapta's scenes), and how even the tense changes between Entrapta and Catra's POVs have purpose. Entrapta is all about the present while Catra's mental state is stuck in the past for most of the story. I could be wrong about this, and the tense changes might've been arbitrary, but I highly doubt this; they're too consistent to be just there for the lulz.

Now, sadly, there's no such thing as a perfect story, and this entry does suffer from one big flaw, and unfortunately I can't ignore it. It has to do with how Catra is characterized here. Don't get me wrong, Catra's arc is very well-handled for the most part, but she's way too nice from the outset.

Catra is not a nice person by default. She's moody, lazy, and tends to lash out at others, seemingly for no reason at times. But here she is far too composed and introspective at the beginning, and while we do get sort of an explanation for her behavior (her combined desire to become a nicer leader and her growing attraction to Entrapta), for much of the story it doesn't feel earned; I just feel that her arc could've been handled better, even though the conclusion is pretty satisfying.

Actually, if Catra got into an emotionally vulnerable situation, like out of "Fuck Adora!" this would smooth out both her arc and her interactions with Entrapta. Is it okay to want to steal something from one entry and put it in another? Because this entry could've used something like a hallucinatory confession, but maybe without all the bodily fluids.

Aside from that, though, I find it hard to fault this entry. I can see some people taking issue with how many scenes there are in a relatively concise word count, but I honestly prefer it this way. You can squeeze a lot of stuff into your story if you have a lot of concise scenes, as opposed to a long unbroken scene, and I think that's a good deal of merit in that tactic.

Okay, there is one last thing I wanna bring up. This is either one of the most masterfully written romantic buildups I've witnessed in a while, or one of the most hilariously incompetent attempts at developing a platonic friendship. I hope to god it's the former, and considering how many passages feel like something out of a romantic comedy (or even mildly erotic romance), I'd say the romantic subtext was extremely deliberate. It's like some of the stuff in the show if it was allowed to be taken to a PG or even PG-13 level.

I know that the show likes to be "ambiguous" with its relationship dynamics, but for the love of god I hope the author didn't intend to go down that same road here. That would be mildly upsetting.

Author, please don't let me down. This entry is too good.
#25 · 2
· on Entrapped
Alternate Story: Inebriated

What the hell?

I feel like the title doesn't do this entry justice. I say that because this entry is fucking nuts. I've read it twice now and I can barely tell you what happens in it. Does that mean I should read it a third time? Maybe. But at the same time I doubt it'll help much; this story defies explanation, for good and bad.

Now...

...takes a few hard drags on his customary pipe...

"Entrapped" is a story that starts out stoned and then becomes drunk. I don't want to make assumptions about the author's mental state at the time of composition, but I almost feel I'm in a position to, reading all this back.

Actually, "drunk" might be too mild a word to describe the narrative twists and turns, combined with Entrapta's increasingly intoxicated state; it's safe to say this entry gets totally shit-faced. Try to think about what happens here. Where even are we? There are maybe two short passages of the setting being described that I can recall, and they don't exactly help.

Take this gem, for instance:

I untangled Paul and he dusted himself off, leading us around the ballroom. Sadly, technology did not clutter the expansive room, instead, intricate designs and paintings of naked people on the ceiling were plastered everywhere. I tried to avoid looking up.


I didn't think a description of a fucking ballroom would make me question reality. I have questions, author!

...coughs up a storm as the room becomes more hazy with weed smoke...

This is both a comedy and a sort of espionage thriller, but it's not really thrilling; I suspect it's not meant to be. Things only get wackier when we run into one of those crazy communist horses. You can never trust 'em.

I prefer my equines to be anarcho-capitalist, thank you very much!

I feel like I should just give in and embrace the goof of this entry, because as far as meeting my weekly goof quota this certainly meets it more than "Fuck Adora!" did, and I wasn't expecting that. But there is something on a technical level that I wanna cover here; I didn't really bring this up when I reviewed "Caught Between Confusion and Pain," but I wanted to save it for this review because I think this entry suffers from this particular problem way more.

Okay, here we go.

...trying to hold back weezing laughter, taking another hit of the pipe...

So if this is told in Entrapta's voice, I think the author should've gone to greater lengths to make sure it sounds like her. This is a problem you generally run into with fanfics told in the first person, from an established character's perspective, because usually one of two things happens: either the character's voice isn't convincing enough, the circumstances of the character telling this story aren't laid out, or both. In the case of "Entrapped" it's more the former. I have a hard time believing, most of the time, that this is Entrapta talking. In the beginning it's easy to buy, and the chuckle-worthy remarks like Emily being reborn are endearing, but things go absolutely fucking nuts.

Was losing track of the plot a deliberate choice, author? I must know all your secrets.

Tell me pls...
#26 · 1
· on Every Letter I Ever Wrote You
Alternate Title: TFW Your Best Friend Becomes an Evil Sorceress

Childhood friendships usually come to an end, but usually not like this.

Hey, author, you did good job today. I have a soft spot for epistolary stories; you can get away with a lot in this style, like not having to describe settings in intricate detail, or the every fucking stitch on a character's suit. It also lets you get away with cramming a lot in very short scenes. How many scenes are in this story?

29.

God I'm a sucker for prequel stories that inevitably foreshadow events we already knew about going in. Like, we already knew Light Spinner was gonna turn into Shadow Weaver; we already knew the Black Garnet was gonna corrupt her and give her magical powers and all the shit.

What's fun and interesting, and the author knows this too, is seeing how all this came to be. How Castaspella (what a name) started out as Spinner's best bud and watched her, with more and more distance and desperation over time, turn into the evil baddy-bad guy we know her now as. The fact that we never hear Spinner's side of the story only makes this more fascinating to watch unfold, because Spinner's words don't matter here, but rather the consequences of her actions, which can be clearly seen through Casta's eyes.

Now, this entry does run into a bit of a character problem, and I'm not blaming the story itself for this. I'm gonna talk about Shadow Weaver for a second and why she's such a horribly bland villain. Okay. So in She-Ra there are basically two big baddies who need a spanking, Hordak and Shadow Weaver. Both are incredibly stereotypical in how cartoonishly evil they are, but Shadow Weaver arguably gets the worst of this since we get far more screen-time with her. From the second you see her you probably think, "Oh hi blatantly evil person, how are you doing today?" And that's the show's fault more than anything; I can't blame this entry for dealing with a really boring villain's origin story.

I can sort of blame the author for giving Shadow Weaver an origin story in the first place, but I think it's telling of the writing quality on display here that I don't think this is such a big problem. You can make a good story out of a bad villain if you try hard enough, and "Every Letter I Ever Wrote You" certainly did; in fact I'd say it's a contender for top of the slate, the king of the hill, the big cheese, the top dog, the head honcho, the alpha bitch, the...

Okay.

Basically, I like this entry a lot. Clearly a lot of thought was put into how the reader would get a clear picture of everything from Casta's words, and as she's developing as a character no less; when we first see her she's a little kid who can barely write, and upon a second reading I realized the typos in the first few scenes were likely intentional. The fact that how she addresses Spinner over time changes depending on both her age and the state of her doomed friendship is another testament to how much attention the author paid to his/her craft while making this lovely little story.

I can dig that shit, yep yep yep!
#27 · 2
· on 20 Feet Apart · >>No_Raisin
This is lovely. Look at them, they're so content and comfortable. And yes. It is very gay.
Even though I feel you could've had more intensity on some areas, I love the shading in the drawing. Using markers certainly helped.
Now, I won't grill you for the blank background; however, I wonder if it could've been used more efficiently. Just by itself, the negative space makes you focus on the central elements. And even though Entrapta and Catra are farily centered on the image as a whole, the focal point are their heads and intertwined fingers (lewd, btw), and those happen on the left half of the picture, meaning that the right half leaves a lot of unexploited space. Simply moving it around a bit would've solved this. Work on your framing and your drawings will improve significantly.
Also, this is just nitpicking, but it bothers me how both Catra and Entrapta are centered in the picture except for the end of Entrapta's hair. Oh, and she should also get some ice for her broken foot.
Regardless, this a great drawing, and one of my favourites this round. I'll be sure to rank it highly.
#28 · 1
· on Just Give Me a Chance · >>GroaningGreyAgony
You know what, kitty? I believe in you.
Never give up.
#29 · 1
· on Just Give Me a Chance · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I'm not sure, you're not so disarmingly adorable in this one. Might only be worthy of bronze.
#30 · 2
· on You Are Now Cooler by Virtue of Having Seen This Picture
Something a little off about Mr. Horse's face, but aside from that...

This pic is basically made of awesome. Sure, it's colorful and pretty finely detailed, but what makes it work is just how crazy it is; the craziness of the pic matches the craziness of its inspiration.

It's like that classic memetic image of Ronald Reagan riding a velociraptor, but even better.
#31 · 1
· on Fuck Adora!
I'm trying to decide whether this is more reminiscent of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or Fist of the North Star, but either way I'm reminded of one of those super-campy shonen properties from the 80's. Mainly in how detailed and super-serious Catra's face is drawn, that it ends up being humorous.

The stark contrast between the animesque design for Catra and the very simply and blob-like designs for Scorpia and Entrapta makes things even sillier.

I can dig it. It makes me lol.
#32 · 2
· on Worlds Apart, Hearts Broken in Two
The most impressive element here is the effect of the broken glass; if not for that, I don't think this entry would be nearly as memorable. I understand, however, that the childlike way the two friends are drawn was totally intentional.

The one to the right, though, who I'm assuming is Light Spinner, um...

WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE?
#33 · 1
· on We Belong Here
I have mixed feelings about this one. I like how intricate the background is, and how we can tell which character is which just by what they're wearing, but I feel like this is stuck in a weird spot between silhouetted and not silhouetted. We can make out the edges of their faces, more than just their outlines, but we can't really see anything past that?

The result is creepier than what was probably intended. Catra and Entrapta look like Slenderman here, and the atmosphere is presumably supposed to be way more romantic.
#34 · 2
· on Just Give Me a Chance · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Very few unironic points here, but ironic points?

FUCKING JACKPOT, BABY!
#35 · 2
· on 20 Feet Apart
On the scale from 1 to 10 in terms of homoeroticism, this almost beats Top Gun.

I guess Entrapta's hair would be pretty cozy. This is generally a cozy pic. I don't remember Catra's freckles being this pronounced? And Entrapta's face is a bit too squished. Also, as >>Zaid Val'Roa said, it'd be nice to have some kind of background here. Actually, if this had its foreground combined with the background of "We Belong Here," you'd have a pretty dope entry.

But this does help satisfy my weekly gay shit quota. Thanks, artist.
#36 · 1
· on You Are Now Cooler by Virtue of Having Seen This Picture
same energy
#37 · 1
· on You Are Now Cooler by Virtue of Having Seen This Picture
I thought I couldn't like this picture any more until I took a closer look at the horse's face and realized that it's fucking smirking.
#38 · 1
· on You Are Now Cooler by Virtue of Having Seen This Picture
i am now cooler by virtue of having seen this picture
#39 · 2
· on Caught Between Confusion and Pain
If I could suggest one thing to change about this piece that would instantly make me like it significantly more with minimal impact, it would be diversifying your punctuation.

This is just good advice in general, imo (the impact punctuation has on tone can't be overstated!), but in this piece in particular it seems very important to get your choice of punctuation right. In this piece, you're attempting to capture Entrapta's inner monologue, and generally speaking one would expect such a voice to be somewhat in line with the way a character speaks. Entrapta's lines in the show are written and delivered with a manic energy and a distinct lack of focus, which I don't think is particularly well reflected in your punctuation. Let's take a look at some examples:

A few noises escaped me. Mostly of the D’aw variety. I was sure I had a silly smile on my face, but I didn’t mind, it wouldn’t affect the data anyways.


There are plenty of places in this piece where the full sentence break between connected sentences isn't used badly, at all, but I do think it's overused (especially when trying to build Entrapta's voice, which I would have expected to flow more, hiding its uncertainty rather than presenting it in its tone) and when something is overused, the weakest examples stand out more. This is definitely one of them: that second sentence is very much an unnecessary aside, and I'm not all that convinced by it, but at the very least it would feel much more at home as a parenthetical than as a sentence of its own.

I've included the last sentence for a quick grammar check-up: that last comma is a comma splice! Since we're talking about how we might use punctuation to link sentences together more, I figured it's worth briefly pointing out places where you've linked sentences together in not-so-great ways. Here's how that passage turns out:

A few noises escaped me (mostly of the D’aw variety.) I was sure I had a silly smile on my face, but I didn’t mind; it wouldn’t affect the data anyways.


(Up to you whether you want to use a dash, semicolon, or a colon at the end there. I'm trying to challenge myself to use semicolons more because I always fall back on the other two when I probably shouldn't, which is why I defaulted to that!)

In the words of legendary musician DJ Khaled: anotha one!

My thoughts were interrupted once more when a noise caught my attention. I looked back at the scurrying scrapbot and saw that it had found another scrapbot. This one was smaller and it appeared to be carrying less bits and pieces of discarded tech. Both machines exchanged a short series of lights and noises before my test subject pulled out a large piece of metal and gave it to the other scrapbot.


This example is less obviously an issue, but I wanted to bring it up in its entirety because... well, take a moment to read over that paragraph and think about the pacing. It's very... stop-start, shall we say. The relative brevity of the sentences gives the paragraph a sense of distanced observation, in this case, and while I get that that might make some sense in context, we've got to remember that this is Entrapta. Entrapta might observe from afar, but she's not emotionally distant from her observations: in fact, one of the reasons her character works is that she's often so caught up in her observations that she doesn't notice the things other characters might consider much more important.

It's also just a bit dull to read. As a general piece of advice, changing up your sentence structure is the single simplest tool you have that will help to keep your readers interested. Punctuation is key to getting this right, imo.

So how do we make this better? I'm going to focus on those middle two sentences, because they're the ones that are crying out to me to be linked in some way: they both serve the purpose of introducing the new scrapbot, after all. But this isn't quite as quick a fix as just "slotting a different bit of punctuation in there and calling it a day". Oh no. We're going to have to change the words a bit:


...and saw that it had found another, smaller scrapbot, that appeared to be carrying...


This is certainly one way of fixing it, as we'd now have one big sentence in the middle of the paragraph and a lot more variety in structure. But if you're not keen on that (and I'm not super keen on it myself), I'd like to propose something that keeps more of the original structure in place without all those annoying sentence breaks:

...and saw that it had found something different: another, smaller scrapbot, that appeared to be carrying...


A tiny change, but one I think improves the paragraph immensely.

Honestly, author, I know that this comment so far has basically just been me whinging about punctuation, but the takeaway from that is simple: most of the technical problems I've found with this story are fixed with a bit of spring cleaning, which is exactly what you'd expect from a piece written under tight time constraints. And look at the benefits, here: one quick editing pass not only clears up any remaining problems, but also gives you a chance to fine-tune your character voicing. Definitely worth it, author.

Above me, Raisin brings up some points about the content here, and by and large I agree. This piece doesn't really have much of a punch, and it's built so much around Entrapta's observations of the scrapbots that I definitely expected more to be made out of that as a metaphor (or whatever). You edge towards that idea, but I think I'd just like to see more commitment: without that, the piece seems to be lacking in purpose, especially given the unaddressed contradictions of the closing paragraph that Raisin notes (I'm less convinced it's handled poorly, given Entrapta's pretty poor track record of understanding that people she likes are enemies, but I do reckon it could be explored in more depth than it is here. We're left relatively unsatisfied, as it is.)

All in all, like Raisin says, this is a fantastic starting point. I'd love to see what this grows into, author. Do keep us posted!
#40 · 3
· on Caught Between Confusion and Pain
Overly-long last minute review activate!

It's always a risk to make a story out of a single character contemplating their life. At least part of that, I think, is because narrative works best on multiple levels, weaving them together, playing the physical, the metaphorical, the conceptual, and the emotional off against each other. If you've only got the one level, the medium doesn't really work.

Fortunately, this story clears that first hurdle. For one level, we've got Entrapta going about her business and studying robots. For the other, we've got a deep dive into Entrapta's character (squee!).

But the point of having two or more layers is to have them interact. And here … they don't really do that. At least, not enough. The emotional journey here is mostly bunched up at the end, which make sit hard to weave it into robot-watching strand because they don't really share much space. The result is that a lot of stuff seems to come out of nowhere. For example, Entrapta suddenly lurches into melancholy near the end. Why? She just does. It's arbitrary.

Okay, now, you could say that she does so because she sees the scrap robots looking after each other, which makes her think of her own friends, which leads to the sudden realisation that they're not with her. The problem is that the story doesn't draw this connection. In an introspective fic, this is exactly the sort of place where you could follow her thought processes. And on top of that you've got three paragraphs between these two events filled with other stuff, which weakens the link even further.

From there, a couple more things pop up. First of, she decides she's okay again. Again, this just happens. Second, near the end, we learn that Entrapta's motivation is …. helping people. This really comes out of left field. The big issue is that we've seen none of that in the show. By all appearances, show-Entrapta is motivated by a childlike, amoral curiosity, a need to understand and control. She's shown as largely indifferent and ignorant of the effects her actions have on others.

This doesn't mean that you can't add a moral dimension to her character – one of the goals of fanfic is to expand upon what we see in the show. But since it is a big change, it needs a lot justification. It needs groundwork. We need to see why it doesn't become apparent in the show. We need to see how it connects to the behaviours of the character we've seen. Once again, it's a matter of connections. And this story doesn't give us those connections, so this event, too, seems arbitrary.

That's it for structure, what about voice? There's both good and bad here. Let's start with the bad.

A lot of the time, the voice is often off. The most common problem is that it often feels like a third person voice with the pronouns changed. Entrapta has picked up a weird habit, it seems, of describing her facial expressions instead of displaying emotion. You get stuff like “I furrowed my brow in thought”, which doesn't seem Entrapta-ish at all. (Even in third person, this way of doing things can seem a little stilted when compared to free indirect.)

Now, I don't really blame you for this. That most imbecilic form of show-don't-tell, the idea that you should write facial expressions instead of emotions, has a lot to answer for. It's repeated by people who ought to know better far too often, so it's easy to fall under its spell. Right. Enough of S&S Soapbox Hour. Let's get back to the review.

I do want to flag this phrase here: “Like that time she’d programmed her computer to print out the results of an experiment.” This is difficult to parse. It seems like it's actually referring to Entrapta in the third person … was this fic written in third person and then converted? Because that would explain my earlier problem.

All that said, however, sometimes the voicing here is really good. Take, for instance “The modifications I had made to the plasma rifles had reduced kickback by twelve percent and the number of shoulder injuries had gone down to unprecedented levels!” That sentence is so Entrapta. More of this, please.

And how about this beauty? “Science was evolving and ever changing, too, but it was also honest … it would never stop, or abandon you.” This is even better. It expands on Entrapta's character is a way that's consistent with what we've seen. And notice what is does: It connects two things we've seen in the show: Entrapta's love of science, and her pain at her friends' apparent betrayal.

And what a serendipitous segue into final thoughts that is. Because the main takeaway here is connection. Tie things together. Unify things that look unrelated. Follow the roads of implication. That's your route to improving this story.
#41 · 1
· on We Belong Here
This has a good chance of hitting the top of my slate. And I'm not just saying that because bias.

The composition here is excellent. let's face it, silhouettes are always gonna be sexy. But this goes further than that. The impressively detailed, 2000AD-ish Fright Zone in the is the background. Except not quite. Your normal background in an environment for the foreground elements. But here, the Fright Zone is constrained by a window. Entrapta and Catra overflow it; they are, in a sense, beyond it. (Compare that to the title ... )

But they are not the only silhouettes. The gritty industrial-gothic of the Fright Zone is itself a quasi-silhouette against the bloated sun. The ultimate backdrop, behind the industry, is the greatest force of nature. But, like the characters, the building also overflows its frame. Layers within layers.

Criticisms?

I'll follow Raisin is saying that the coloured edge of the characters doesn't really work. For one think, it looks like they haven't got eyes or mouths, which is just a tad creepy. Their profiles also look pretty inhuman, which doesn't help.

One more thing: There's an asymmetry here. We see Entrapta's hair between then, but not Catra's tail. That's not a criticism, and I won't try and interpret it. It's just something interesting that stands out to me.
#42 · 2
· on Worlds Apart, Hearts Broken in Two
Raisin is right again. The broken glass makes this. As well it should: Like the story, we see the counterpoint of innocence and bitter experience. And like the original story, this is an epistolary picture, a one-sided trace, something that uses what we already know to tell a story is what we don't see.

Also: Cats!

Also: In joke!
#43 · 2
· on 20 Feet Apart
This is hella adorable. Especially Catra's expression, which communicates so much serenity. It's not the sort of picture which invites interpretation, so I won't do that.

I suspect you already know this, but the biggest weakness here is anatomy. And two people cuddling does make for some hellishly complex anatomy, so to be fair, bravo for having the ambition to attempt it.
#44 · 1
· on Fuck Adora!
The impression I'm getting from Catra here is whatever-age comic-books. (I don't really know my comics too well.) The super dramatic close up in this context is delightfully silly. As is Entrapta's shocked hair. And, holy hell, Scorpia is shorter than Entrapta!
#45 · 1
· on Just Give Me a Chance · >>GroaningGreyAgony
OH MY GOD THE GUN WORKS
#46 · 1
· on Just Give Me a Chance · >>GroaningGreyAgony
IM SO PROUD OF YOU KITTY!!!
#47 ·
· on Just Give Me a Chance
>>Zaid Val'Roa, >>Rocket Lawn Chair, >>No_Raisin, >>Zaid Val'Roa, >>Anon Y Mous

>clunk<

On behalf of the stick cat, I thank you.

Well called, RLC.