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No Rest for the Weary · She-Ra Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
#1 · 3
·
It’s 7:30am and there’s no comment yet? Jeez, you guys are slow.
#2 · 2
·
With apologies for the delay, as I had work and a coding challenge yesterday afternoon and little time to sort things out here:

Welcome! It's time for another She-Ra writeoff, and this time it's a minific round. Newcomers, do make sure you check out the rules, the most important of which is that entries must remain anonymous until the site announces who wrote them. This rule is pretty strictly enforced, so be careful not to break it.

Feel free to discuss the round here, or in Discord (there's a link to the official writeoff discord at the top of the page, but we also have a series of dedicated channels over at the She-Ra: Princesses of Power server, who have been kind enough to let us promote the contests there.

Good luck everyone!
#3 · 3
·
Nobody's asked for help for a She-Ra entry yet, but I'll be in #mentors if anyone wants a pair of eyes on their story before submitting it. And this time, I've actually watched some of the show. I'm about halfway through.
#4 · 3
·
One of these months I'll finally get access to a Netflix subscription long enough to start watching the show. :P

Until then, good luck to everyone with their writing!
#5 · 2
·
Hello, ill try to find out what im supposed to do here ! ^@^/
#6 · 4
· on Of Shadows and Fire
THIS. IS. SO. GOOD. I love this. I love the fire. I love the voice and the narration. I love the writing. I love the symbolism and the allusions. It's different and it brings out something else in characters you wouldn't expect to see narratives on.
#7 · 4
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
This is so cute! I love how it's written. The way you interpreted this prompt was just so creative so kudos on that!
#8 · 5
· on everything stays
This was very moving, although having a lot of format and misspelling errors, it was still beautiful.

I’ll brush over the fact that most (all?) of the sentences do not actually have a capital letter on the first word. I think it might be a style choice because Catra DESPISES change and its eventual end whether she likes it or not- almost as much as I do- and the story reflects that by not having any capital letters.

Maybe I’m thinking too much into it.

This poem has prose, much unlike me, and it is perfect. It’s not trying too hard to be poetic, it just is. Well done, author.

Lastly the actual moral/takeaway of the story isn’t hard to find and molds well with the story. In other words nothing felt shoehorned in.

Welp. This is my review. 10/10 sad Catras. Thanks for the read. ;)
#9 · 3
· on everything stays
this was beautifully written! i understand that the no-capital-letters thing was an aesthetic choice, one which i make many times myself, so it was a pleasing read for me.

i'm sure there's a phrase for pretty prose like this that i can't seem to remember (one that isn't purple prose) but that's what this is. you've put a lot of time into styling your sentences just so, and it shows.

the content itself is beautiful, too: the cyclic nature of everything, including your story itself, bringing the point up at last, in the very end, about catra waiting for the next cycle was, as anon y mous already put it, incredibly moving, and i salute you. paragraph spacing could be more consistent, and i'm sure the whole piece would also read well even with the missing capitalized letters, but all in all, i enjoyed reading this immensely, so kudos!
#10 · 3
· on Fire
this is an interesting fic! you've written well-formed descriptive paragraphs, focusing on the surroundings of the characters and doing so in detail. said characters are, well, characterized competently, with catra's thoughts and scorpia's pouncing on the lithium-ion batteries remaining in my mind. there was one bit, though, which confused me for a bit: the part where adora and catra met. it took me a couple readthroughs to figure out who was speaking when, so perhaps that could be rewritten to clarify what you were trying to say?

there is, of course, the inevitable mention of grammar and punctuation, which was off in a number of places. (i think the tense you were using changed once, too.) with some editing, this fic could be a much smoother read :)
#11 · 3
· on Safety In Your Arms
Ahhhhh, delicious Glimmadora fluff. Nothing like some quality hurt/comfort to quench one's thirst.

I think you picked a really great subplot to explore here, one that we were kind of just left hanging with because the season ended. I like to think that Glimmer isn't just magically "fixed", at the very least she has some trauma or unresolved issues because of her experience. Gotta work those kinds of things out, kiddo.

That said, my main piece of feedback would be some of her lines and characterization seem off. "Stop being so obsessed with me" is a bit incongruous here, because it's not like we've had enough of their interactions outside of the scope of the scene to know that Adora is acting "obsessive." Plus, Adora's kneejerk reaction to that seems a bit too doormat-like for her at this stage in the story. Instead of apologizing, I think she'd push back a little (i.e. "Glimmer... how could you say that? I'm your friend.")
Feel me?

Well done overall, I'm definitely glad that this ship got some love in the contest!
#12 · 4
· on A Fiery End
ADVENTUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURE!

Thank you for this gem. I enjoy that you ran with the idea of illustrating that Sea Hawk is "Actually A Really Good Dude" that the show established after the first episode he was in. Mermista being outwardly annoyed with him, but inwardly grateful is such a fun dynamic to play with and I really think you did very well at capturing that in your fic.

Poor Mermista's never going to get her beauty sleep at this rate, though. "Ughhhhhh"
#13 · 3
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
You took the low-hanging-fruit option for this prompt and ratcheted the surreal experience of extreme sleep deprivation all the way up to 11. I'm very impressed with the characterization for the Super Pal Trio--they remain in-character despite being in an altered state of consciousness where they'd be prone to act out of character. A+ name choice for the drug, it evokes the perfect image for the experience.

Watching Catra come unglued was oddly satisfying and equally disturbing. In conclusion, very well done.
#14 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
PROPER REVIEW:
This one feels like the intro for something big, after so much conflict, after spreading herself too thin, Adora has to do something drastic

Maybe Adora just sees the most logical conclusion is to just get rid of catra? becuase....

It seems her injuires are such, that trasnforming back to adora might kill her, so knowing she is already dead, decides to take Catra with her, its so heartbraking, hold Catra one last time, if she can change or not, they could be together again in death ;/

I know i look too deep into things, but seeing it like that REALLY hit me hard.

Tho if this was to coninue, then they probably are going places for Adventure!! , Does she grab Catra and take her off to Eternia? lol?
#15 · 3
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
You saw a 750-word limit and thought, "yes, let's fit an apocalypse into that word count." Bold move, sport! I admire the cut of your jib.

The story does audibly struggle against its limits, admittedly, something real hard to avoid in a format like this. That said, if my immediate reaction is "I want to see more of it," you can't be doing *too* badly, can ya?

I'm not sure I can single out a particular favorite moment 'cause the whole tale feels like a moment in time, which is also its big strength. This thing is dripping with melancholy. Like accidentally taking a look at the last page and realizing that the story's gonna have a sad ending.
#16 · 3
· on Of Shadows and Fire
There's something pleasantly horrific at how understated and gentle Shadow Weaver's torture is, and yet how inescapable and awful it must be for her. Even if she is a huge bitch (bluh bluh), you gotta feel for her when she's been reduced from, as the poet said (boy am I in a quotey mood for this comment!) a looming specter of evil down to a sack of laundry going under the car.
#17 · 2
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
Is this Trainspotting at Etheria? º-º
I have to confess at first, everything seemed way off and felt a bit jarring, but it soon picks up and i knew what was happening,
I want to believe they are drugged out of their asses and they are just seeing flashy colors .. the feeling and emotion unnnh it made me so anxious >w<!!!!!! are they gonna be ok waaaaaah!!!!!

Was it just their imagination? did Catra really Claw off Scropias face :(

if nothing really happened then its all fun , reminded me of "fear and loathing in las vegas" movie
Unless its meant to be really REALLY happening,, Waah thats what woudl get me so Anxious >w<!!!!!!!!!

Also made me think fondly of Sealab 2021 Stimutacs episode LOL!!!!! <3
#18 · 3
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
Charming and fun, and deffo Scorpia's style all the way through.
#19 · 2
· on everything stays
Proper Review:
My interpretation of it made me cry so much:
Catra is hell bent fixated on a thougth, a prayer, cycles, repetition

We see that she is all out violently plowing anything in her path, doing what she believes is right

" but she doesn’t see endings. no. a small, shrivelled part of her tries not to"

Her mind is broken

"she dreams of gold hair and blue eyes and whispers under blankets promising futures that should have come. she dreams of soft lips and warm smiles and hands that held the secrets of the whole entire universe in them. everything comes back."
"everything comes back."

The whole narrative is her mind, fighting with itself, and the words "there are no endings" repeated over and over again.

She lets the sun observe, judge and decide what it all means, she is no longer important, she just wants to keep destroying, there has to be a cycle, the cycle is just around the corner, everythign will repeat again.

"there are no endings, even when she looks at adora square in the eye and turns her back on her-"
-one final time.

Catra killed her, and she snapped, she lost everything, and just keeps going cause, she will find Adora again, somehow , she knows she will find Adora again if she keeps doing this.

That broke me :<

Well perhaps its too much of a downer concept, and for this to be extended i guess Adora is not dead, but i think itll still make for a very angsty sad fic, which I LOVE so much too :D
#20 · 1
· on Fire
Woa.. on the road with a mission, they must keep going, where to, we will never know o3o

I got confussed with who was tryign to kill who for a bit, did Catra do it? what happened .. wahh, but if they keep moving on? what is their goal :D?

intrigued :o
#21 · 2
· on Of Shadows and Fire
Wow this is so sad, alexa play Catracito

Ok for real this made me feel sad for Shadow Weaver, intrigued as what would be of her, why is she being tortured so overkill like this >w<
I feel theres soo many literary references that may have gone over my head, i wish the word limit wasnt there, cause im sure a little more could have been stablished, but the core of it all is setting up something big, why would the story focus on her who is supposed to rot away like this, this could be an amazing Shadow Weaver revenge story! it coudl go to VERY DARK places.

I still think Shadow Weaver has yet to play a huge role in the show, i feel like she will reddeem/sacrifice for the heroes :p
#22 · 2
· on A Fiery End
HAHAHAAH typical Seahwak <3

This one is short and sweet and i can see the STRUGGLE in Mermista, she truly gets not rest with Seahaw around lol

I would totally love to see this spin off into more adventures, and i am intrigued as to how Seahawk was able to be there on time, perhaps he had something to do? ooooh, the lengths he might go to swoon Mermista? hehe :p
#23 · 1
· on Safety In Your Arms
Ouuuuh fluffy Glimmadora, i always think about characters psyche after such traumatic events, and how often nothing is explored further from what happened.

I wonder if glimmer holds any sort of trauma that may pop up later in the show.
My interpretation:
Its a glimpse in to the mind of Glimmer and how the event of her kiddnapping really messed with her mind, being perhaps the most sensitive of all characters, she was put against shadow Weavers torture, the kind of torture that marred Catra, imagine!

The word limit really hurt it to get stablished I could see this spawn a nice slow burn psycological story about Glimmer and her PTD, i havent seen many fics like these, and i remain hopeful that somehow in the end Adora and Glimmer over come the trauma with LOVE.. MNNHNHH YES im a fuggin softie Dx
#24 · 3
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
Wahhh did you steal this from Scropias desk :D?
lol, that was cute as fug id love to see more from Scorpias point of view, maybe this is a part of an introduction, a series of observations, Scorpiasdiary about Catra :D this could go places!

That would make for some good drawings!
#25 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
Adora, what are you doing? You went full Mara, man. Never go full Mara.

Kriegs summed it up quite well, but the sheer density of powerful imagery packed into this fic was quite a feat. Apocalyptic battle, Adora basically on death's door, She-Ra stretching her powers to the limit by trying to be everywhere at once, Catra getting called out for turning into Shadow Weaver, and the whole "mortal freezes in awe upon seeing a divine being's full power manifested". I like all of these things.

My only real feedback is that this fic should be longer. There should be more.

In conclusion: fic fucked me up in such a good way.
#26 · 3
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
Very clever! You nailed Scorpia's voice and the formatting was a great added touch.

I hope this one gets picked up by a few people in the next round so we can see some Scorpia-style stickfigure drawings of Force Captain Catra.

(P.S. #11 was my favorite one in the list)
#27 · 3
· on everything stays
Great imagery and prose here. You gave us a very interesting portrait of Catra's mentality about all the canon events we've seen thusfar. I like how it only reinforces the audience's desire to empathize with her. It's one of the most compelling things about Catra as a character, I think.

Echoing what salamander said, the aesthetic choice with the formatting/capitalization was interesting but kind of distracting in my opinion. Take that for what it's worth

It's borderline poetic as a whole, though. I wonder if you weren't considering doing this in verse if there had been more time for it? Would be interesting to see a remix of this after the contest is done.
#28 · 3
· on Of Shadows and Fire
Ah, so at last we learn Shadow Weaver's fate after she's dethroned by Catra. Great take on this.

I realize the show hid her motivations for 'adopting' Adora, but having it illustrated in this context is a great way to explore her character further.

Bonus points for the mythology tie-in. Minus points for making feel somewhat sad for this terrible abusive person.
#29 · 3
· on Fire
Super Pal Trio dynamic at the beginning was well-executed! You seem to have a good grasp on these characters.

Did you run up against the word-count limit and have to slice out a paragraph, though? There's a bit of a disconnect between the first and second scenes. The one with Adora seems minimally sketched out and kind of hard to follow or contextualize.

Salamander already hit on some of the key points regarding grammar and formatting. I think given enough editing time, this one will shine.
#30 · 1
· on Of Shadows and Fire
now this was well-written, and a pleasure to read! even if you did make me feel sort of sorry for the evil that is shadow weaver, something i never thought i'd experience.

it took me a second to realize what time the story was set in (is this shadow weaver somehow as a cadet, eating gruel? is this when she first joined the horde?) but it became pretty obvious within a couple of lines that this was about what happened after her fall from grace -- or, well, from her second-in-command position. meadows got it right when they said you get bonus points for all the mythology references! well done :)
#31 · 2
· on A Fiery End · >>QuillScratch
i'll admit, i laughed in a number of places while reading this fic. mermista being perpetually tired, having to deal with everything herself, not to mention seahawk's enthusiasm permeating his actions... it made for a pretty good combination.

as bearpigs mentioned above, this was short and sweet, but perhaps there were too many short sentences grouped together at times? adding a few longer ones in between the short ones would mix things up a little :)
#32 · 2
· on Safety In Your Arms
and here i find yet another well-written entry. i like your choice of subject, as seemingly does everyone else, since the aftermath of glimmer's time captured by shadow weaver was something we all wanted explored, and you did just that for us. (some glimadora added to the mix never hurts, either!)

i'm pretty sure both meadows and bearpigs have covered the two topics i noticed myself i. e. the "obsessed with me" bit and how, given a little more time (and a higher word count limit) this story could have had more detail. besides that, i have no criticism to give :)
#33 · 2
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
this was an incredibly creative fic with how you decided to format it, and i salute you for that! not only did you nail scorpia's personality in your writing, but you also managed to bring out catra's: the way scorpia perceives her, that is.

i would have loved to read more of this, not because i think the word limit, well, limited how much you could write (it's perfectly well-rounded and doesn't actually need more to it), but because i personally enjoyed it too much to want to leave it at that :) i wonder what catra would do if she discovered the pamphlet after all?
#34 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
that was a hell of a lot of feelings packed into such a short 750 or less words, man. the ending, especially, got to me: catra and adora, together at last after such a long period of warring with each other, except this togetherness comes in a form nobody would have expected. kudos to you for that.

besides certain punctuation errors that can easily be fixed, there were certain parts near the end where you seemed to shift between adora's point of view and catra's. did you mean to do that? if so, perhaps some form of separation between the POVs could be used in order for the reader to properly see the distinction between them. :)
#35 · 2
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
took me a paragraph or two to figure out what exactly was happening in the story and sink into it, but all of that certainly did happen! the story fits the prompt quite literally, and the description of what a drug like DROSTE would do to the Super Pal Trio's general temperaments and mannerisms was very well done. oh, if only i could know whether everything that happened was simply catra hallucinating or if some parts of it were true!

i've already mentioned this in one way, but the beginning having more clarification would certainly help a reader to start enjoying it earlier. all in all, a good work :)
#36 · 2
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
The language in this is great.
#37 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
The dialogue reminds me of Star Wars, but the ending reminds me of Equestria Girls. Catra as Sunset Shimmer? There are worse comparisons.
#38 · 2
· on everything stays
Exactly what I'm looking for from the Writeoff.

I might suggest delving a bit into Catra's reasons for waging this war. As evil as the Horde is, presumably they're trying to kill the Princesses because they believe it will bring about a better world (for them, at least). Maybe Catra finds some hope in that... that all this blood will mean something when the Horde shows everyone the light.
#39 · 1
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide · >>Pascoite >>No_Raisin
I hate being the grumpy-guts of the writeoff, so I'm going to preface this by saying that I genuinely enjoyed this entry. It's funny, simple, and a great use of the minific format: completely self-contained. I had fun, for the most part, reading it, and that's the most important thing. (Plus it's in my top half.) Besides, I'm never really grumpy: I just like going into detail about things that could be better because I like to think it's more helpful for everyone.

This entry has a lot of promise, but there are a couple of places where it didn't quite live up to that promise. You start strong, with arguably the funniest joke of the round in points 3 & 4, which are a brilliant use of repetition (& a clever way to up your wordcount to boot.) But this is followed by points 5, 6, & 7, and that's where I started to feel almost let down by this entry's reliance on repetition. And I think part of that might actually be because of the title.

Ok, bear with me here. Your title tells us we're getting fifteen rules of engagement: the humour from points 3 & 4 comes from taking one simple rule and dividing it unexpectedly, so that the two combined imply the exact opposite of what each implies by itself. But that humour also comes from the title: the very fact that we know there will be fifteen rules of engagement sets us up not to expect this sort of split. It's funny not just because Repetition Is Good Comedy™, but because we've been specifically placed in a mindset where we don't expect it. I love this!

Points 5, 6, & 7, however, aren't nearly half as clever. The comedy of this sort of repetition is merely that the point is laboured so strongly it gets multiple entries. On its own, this is silly and fun - here it just falls flat, because that's just a fraction of what made the joke before it so good, and it's adding very little to the story.

This is something that happens several more times throughout the piece. While it does work to build Scorpia's voice, I'd prefer to see this entry rely less on repetition for humour: you've got enough good jokes in here to tell me that you know how to write good jokes, author, and I'd rather just see you write more good jokes than throw in another point that just repeats the joke from 3 & 4 but worse (c.f. 11, 12, & 13 as a triplet, which arent quite the same as 5, 6, & 7 but have the same feeling to me of being unnecessary.) At the end of the day, author, you've promised us fifteen rules, and by extension fifteen jokes: don't throw away too many of them, or your audience can feel cheated! It's all about finding the balance between new material and repetition, and I think you've fallen on the wrong aside of that line with this entry: it's always better to err on the side of new material, imo!

Even so, this is a fun entry, with great voicing and a few great laughs. All my complaints above essentially amount to structural complaints that result in fewer laughs! I'd love to see this polished up post-contest, author: do let me know if and when you do.
#40 · 1
· on everything stays
This one was beautiful.

Stylistically powerful, just the right length and use of prose, with a really interesting interpretation of the theme. I also love how much emotion is blended into the narrative... each line was really well illustrated.

Kudos!
#41 · 1
· on Fire
This one was alright.

Really nice idea, with some fun moments! The reviews above say it best, but besides those, I think the "flow" of the story could have been a bit smoother. Both for the ending scene, and how the dialogue/actions were written.
#42 · 1
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up? · >>Pascoite
I was hoping someone would do a literal take on "No rest for the weary"... But damn, I didn't expect it to be so visceral.

It's an intense and very well crafted story! I enjoyed how you chose to characterize the Super Pal Trio's psyches when they're pushed to the limit. Your casual narration style also juxtaposed the manic events really well... And the lack of build-up added a spontaneous feeling to Catra's decaying mental state. I think that helped to create a lot of surprising, and memorable moments. Personally, I couldn't get the image of Entrapta swallowing her tooth out of my mind, even while reading the other submissions.

All in all, an excellent fic. I would love to see any other expansions or content you come up with.

(Also, after reading the "Droste effect" on Wikipedia, I appreciated your choice for the name that much more)
#43 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
I love the imagery here... In a good way, it feels like the climax of a much larger fic.

I'd probably have to reread it a couple times to really unpack all of the content here, and I wouldn't be surprised if others would too. I think that's a sign of great authorship.

Keep it up!
#44 · 3
· on Awaiting the Next...
MOM says it's MY turn to play with the nuclear warheads!
#45 · 3
· on Awaiting the Next... · >>Pascoite
Congrats on first place!!!
#46 · 2
· on Of Shadows and Fire
The sheer pain that Shadow Weaver is put through... It seems to be in the same vein of intense punishment given to victims in Greek mythology. Somewhat fitting ;p

Shadow weaver is truly a weary soul, and this fic does an excellent job of showing just how depraved of a life her actions have lead her to create.
#47 · 2
· on Awaiting the Next...
>>Anon Y Mous
And sorry you got last place.
#48 · 1
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

--------------------------------------------------------------

There's a little about the beginning that feels off. I like the imagery, but it leaves a few too many questions about what's actually happening.

Take the bit about the "hunter's reverie." What's Catra doing? Daydreaming? Watching something moving in the distance as if to track it? You just mention she's in one, but not what that is or how it makes her feel. Then you say Entrapta is sobbing in her perch. It's ambiguous who "her" is, though I think I can reasonably take it as Catra's. But "in" is a weird word to use with "perch." It suggests more a room, so perhaps where Catra lives, but then "perch" is a word I'd expect to see associated with a bird, not a cat. The reverie and perch also suggest she's sitting still, but then "patrol" connotes motion. So there's a fair amount of the language here that's a little off-putting and nebulous.

If "Bast" is defined somewhere in the show, I missed it.

I'm going to assume Entrapta is upset just by the concept of losing her tooth, since she's not acting like she's in pain. I'm curious why Catra tells her to stash the tooth instead of throwing it away, though. Do they have the capability to reattach a broken piece? Doesn't seem like they would.

I'm not a fan of embedding links, unless it's to material you made yourself (which would probably out you as the author, then), because it's getting someone else to do part of the story's work for you. I didn't follow it, so if I'm supposed to get something out of watching the video, I missed what.

I was confused about what actually happened when Catra hit Scorpia. The most obvious interpretation is that she clawed Scorpia and made her bleed, but the "her claws were loose" is a strange phrasing. To make that obvious interpretation work, it'd have to mean her claws were extended (versus retracted), and that's an odd word choice. Coupled with Entrapta losing her tooth, it made me wonder whether Catra's claws had similarly become brittle, so when she tried to slap Scorpia, her claws broke off, and it was her own blood she was leaving across Scorpia's face.

Overall, I like the story. It does a good job of creating a mood of characters who are having altered perceptions due to sleep deprivation or the effects of the drug and becoming unnerved by it. The characterizations are right on. It actually doesn't feel like it's straining against the word count, either, so you had space to address those issues I had with the opening paragraph.

Now, were you right at the word limit, I'd harp on this more, so this is only a suggestion, but I don't see the point in having Entrapta in the story. What happens to her could as easily happen to Scorpia as well. Or go the other direction: keep Entrapta, drop Scorpia, and have Entrapta be the one reacting as Scorpia does. This is a minor thing, though, since you did have the word space to use them all, they are an established team, and it allows you to treat the two as having slightly different reactions based on their personalities.

I wonder who made this DROSTE, though. Is it something the Horde had already? It's not obvious, which makes me think it's perhaps something Entrapta developed for them, in which case, she should know what its effects are.

Based on >>Lazer 's comment, I looked up Droste Effect, and while it's a cool thing, I'm not sure how it applies here. Are they in multiple levels of dream/dissociation from reality? I can't tell.

First one I've read, but this does keep up the quality I'd expect of the FiM crowd, so a good sign there. This was quite good, and it even sneaks in a kind of point, so it's not really an inconsequential scene, as minifics are prone to being.
#49 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>Posh >>meadows >>QuillScratch
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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Oh boy, another link, and right up front, no less. Just let your writing speak for itself. If you expect the reader to have the same attachment to whatever music, image, or video you're linking, that's a gamble you're almost certain to lose, and if it's necessary to get the reader engaged in the story, then you haven't done your job with the writing.

To be frank, the beginning is pretty dull. It's telling me she's in a dire situation, but it's doing it in such a matter-of-fact way, divorced from Adora's feelings about it, that it comes across as coldly factual. Demonstrate how she feels. If you want an omniscient narrator, that means letting me see her behave as if she's struggling. If you want a limited narrator, that also means having the narrative tone sound like someone who's struggling. When you leave it as a fact with no demonstrated character emotions tied to it, then it's not going to make the reader empathize with her.

Ah, so you're going to introduce a new power of She-Ra to exist in multiple places at once? Kind of bold, but I don't think it's necessary for the story, so be careful about Mary Sue-ing her up.

In their dialogue, you're making a very common mistake, and that's having them call each other by name so frequently. That makes the conversation feel unnatural. People just don't do that. There are specific uses for it, but you don't have any of those here. Adora doesn't need Catra using her name to know she's speaking to her, since they're the only two there. Adora doesn't need to use Catra's name to get her attention; she already has it. They can do this to stress a point, but you have to use that sparingly. If you stress everything, you're effectively stressing nothing.

Oh no. "A single tear rolled down her cheek." This is the second or third most cliched sentence you could have possibly written. "It was a dark and stormy night" gets the top nod, and this one is a tough call to rate against "she let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding." Please don't do this.

You have some editing issues, mostly in comma splices, but also one spot where the dialogue capitalization is off.

By the end, it's more clear you're trying to use a limited narrator in Adora's perspective, but that leaves the beginning seeming even more impersonal, because it implies these are Adora's actual thought processes about the battle, and she states them so emotionlessly. One other thing to consider about a limited narrator meaning Adora's the one choosing what the narrator says: when you refer to Catra as "the feline lady," it's Adora doing so. Why would she refer to someone she knows so well with such an external and impersonal descriptor? You don't mentally call your friends things like that. It's fighting the perspective. Well, then there are places you have the narrator say things from Catra's thoughts and impressions. Perspective is a tough thing to get a handle on, but once you do, your writing will benefit greatly from it.

The short version is that if you keep jumping between their viewpoints, it doesn't let the reader get settled into, i.e., identify with, either one of them; it can get confusing when every time the narrator says something subjective, I have to stop and take a mental inventory of who holds the perspective at the moment; and it can muddy the waters as to who the story's actually about. (Hint: you can still show growth of a character from outside their viewpoint.) It's worth sticking to a single viewpoint per scene until you're experienced with knowing when it's a good idea to shift perspectives and how to do it smoothly. In a story this short, it shouldn't really be necessary to do it at all.

Now, I'm a sucker for sad stories with a feel-good ending, so I liked the story despite having misgivings about it. And those misgivings are that this story didn't surprise me in any way. It's just following the inevitable direction the show clearly wants to regarding these two (and already has, to a degree). In other words, in any given She-Ra round, I would expect someone to write a story where exactly this happens, so you have to throw something in there to surprise the reader about your take on it, and you really haven't done that. Why would I read your version of it over the dozens of other identical ones I could probably find on AO3? Maybe the writing quality is higher than the average those would have, and while that can make a story float up, it's got to have exceptional writing quality to make it memorable in that case.

So... pretty well done, but there's nothing unique here, and I probably won't remember the story in a week.
#50 · 1
· on everything stays
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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There are two levels to this one. I'll take them one at a time.

First, the story. I like this very much as a story. It can be a hard thing to talk about events that have already occurred and have them carry weight. But here, you're using imagery mostly to do that. You talk about missiled ground, for instance, instead of talking about the actual action of the missiles destroying things. Essentially, you're letting the scenery tell the story through implication. And you've done a good job of that.

Then there's the story's form. I don't get this at all. I don't see why some paragraphs get a blank line before them and others don't. If there's an effect I'm supposed to get from that, it's completely lost on me.

I'm going to have to go on a bit of a tangent. This is a gimmick story, and what qualifies as a gimmick? Anything that it's unusual for a story to do, and what's the dividing line that makes one thing unusual and another not? I don't know. Just a gut feeling, I guess.

But as an example, take a epistolary story. Not many stories are told that way, so when you see one, it stands out on that alone. Some readers will like it just for the fact it made that choice. But I look for the author to justify it.

So still using the example of an epistolary story, I have to ask myself whether the story is better than if it had been written as a standard narrative. Or at the very least, is it about the same. Authors will use a gimmick to prop up a weak story, hoping it will survive on the novelty alone. As I've said, this isn't a weak story, so that's not what's going on here, but I do still have to wonder if a normally formatted story would be at least as good. And, unfortunately, I think it would. When I don't understand the formatting decisions, they can't add anything to the story for me, after all.

That especially applies to the choice not to use any capitalization. As one other commenter did, I could read into it and say it's Catra feeling down about herself. In that case, it would make more sense to leave her own name lower-case while using normal capitalization for everything else. Maybe it's just meant to show she's world-weary and doesn't care anymore? Now you're making me do the work of assigning importance to it, which is another trap gimmicks can fall into. Besides, the narrative tone already communicates world-weariness; the lack of capitalization isn't enhancing it any.

In the end, I really like the implied plot arc, but the gimmicky formatting isn't doing anything for me, at best being an ignorable detail and at worst being the author reaching for unearned uniqueness. Give me a reason why it has to be this way or the story wouldn't be as good, or else just ditch it. In my opinion, the story's good enough not to need it, and it doesn't make it better anyway.
#51 · 1
· on Safety In Your Arms
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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The opening paragraph does one thing very well and one not so well. The good thing is anecdote. Rather than just say something's been off about Glimmer, you give me a specific instance of it with the hair brushing. That's precisely how to bring the concept alive. What doesn't work is that it's told more as a summary after the fact, so it leaves me distanced from it. Don't tell me about "that one time Adora brushed Glimmer's hair." In some stories, where the present action is important and the past is needed to justify it, that kind of structure can work, but here, this is the climax of Adora realizing something's wrong. Don't give me a summary after the fact. Show it to me as it happens.

Well, there's one other way. As a later summary of Adora's memories of it, you can still make that powerful if we see how Adora reacts to the memory of it. Either way, tie the event to the emotions surrounding it. You're almost there, as some of the word choice in the narration describing it does imply her mood about it, but it's on the understated side. Unless you want to create the effect that Adora's become inured to it, but I don't think that's the direction you're taking the story.

One thing I'll say about the dialogue: it's very show-appropriate. The show itself is obviously aiming for a young-ish demographic, and that comes through in how it deals with certain situations or what tone it takes. And how comedy slips in here and there, of course. An adult audience might wish it took things more seriously, but what you have here is very much what I could see the characters saying in the show.

Oh, Glimmer has steps now? Did she add those to account for what happened when she was glitching? Or for Adora's benefit? Eh? Eh?

Moving on...

The obsession thing is kind of weird, as we don't have the context to feel it's justified, even through Glimmer's possibly warped perception of things.

You've got a spot where you lapse into present tense.

The ending's a bit pat, and it's confusing whether you've switched to Glimmer's perspective there. Assuming you haven't, it dodges a bit of the pat-ness, just by virtue of it being what Adora hopes is true, not what actually is. And because it would mean Glimmer's problems aren't just instantly and miraculously solved by a tiny bit of obvious psychology.

This is another one that's just a slight reasonable extension of events already in the show, but the depth to it at least hints at a different kind of relationship between the two. But see, here's where I bring in the uniqueness thing I talked about in an earlier review. This is such a standard kind of story and such an expected take on events that doesn't branch out much from what actually happened in the show that it could easily be forgettable, if still up there in quality of writing. But that one image of brushing hair gives this the kind of signature it needs to stick in the reader's head and do something to surprise. I really appreciate that for its inclusion. It just needs to be a little clearer which perspective you're using at the end, and if it's Adora's (which, once again, would seem to be the stronger choice), getting a hint of Glimmer's reaction to it would say a lot.
#52 ·
· on Fire
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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This just makes me ask so many questions. They have pickup trucks? They have music recordings? I can just buy stuff like this at times for comedy's sake, but it's still strange. Why not have it be one of the skiffs from the show, for instance?

There are quite a few editing misses, but I'm not pulling out specific examples, because they're easier to fix than story issues, and it'd take too much space to copy out every one I see.

You have a flighty perspective. Early on, it floats around, seeming like it wants to be omniscient and yet subjective, and then finally the story starts being about Catra, and yet it words things in a way that doesn't make sense for her perspective. Keep that under control.

The ending underlines the lack of justification for the beginning. They're not going to make it where? It sounds like they're about to run out of gas, and they stop where they do because the truck's died. But then they get right back in and keep going. Why'd they have to stop, then? Or is it a different truck they took? If so, I can't tell.

There also wasn't any indication of there being a village around where they stopped, so when they set it on fire, I'm left scratching my head. Or is the fire just happening in her memory of encountering Adora? I'm confused.

I don't even know what her specific issue is here. She has the same conflict with Adora that she does in the show and every other story here, and there's no new spin on it. And there's kind of a thin reason for her to get so enraged here: that the place they're staying reminds her of a hut where she saw Adora before.

Or maybe I'm reading that wrong. Maybe she never encountered Adora in a hut, and she's just envisioning Adora coming into the one she's using now. If so, then the way the story is structured confuses the issue by being unclear whether this was a flashback or dream, and when it actually pops back to present reality. The whole flashback/dream transition was pretty rushed and could have been handled more elegantly.

I don't have a lot to say about this one, as there's not a lot of specific things to bite into. It's just kind of a generic "Catra still has angst about Adora" story without any concrete stuff to add to the mix. I don't know enough about this past (or imagined?) encounter to know why it affects Catra so much. I mean, these feelings must always be with her, right? What sparked them so strongly now? They just happen.
#53 ·
· on A Fiery End · >>QuillScratch
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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You have an odd mechanic going on at the beginning. The narration is summing up these sailors' reports, so it seems like something that's already occurred in the story, but then you cut into the conversation of it. The sense of what's happening and when gets jarred right there. You go from live interaction with the attendant, to summing up the argument as if it's complete already, then going to the argument "live."

Okay, then you narrate the third sailor saying he doesn't care how many ships there are before giving him dialogue that repeats it exactly. I don't know whether I'm supposed to take that in a comedic sense or not, since the story hasn't been about random humor so far. And that particular use of humor, if indeed it's intentional, is not a good type to use before it's been established the story will be a wacky comedy, since it's so easy to take it as a mistake on the author's part.

In the end, this is very show-tone comedy and an accurate representation of the dynamic between Sea Hawk and Mermista. There's not a lot new here, though. Like I don't learn anything more about Sea Hawk and Mermista's relationship than I already know from the show. It's kind of dangerous to have what's essentially a one-joke story, because then your success is predicated entirely on how funny the reader finds that one joke. That's one reason (among many) why it's still a good idea for a comedy to have some kind of message, so that you can bring the story arc to a close and make a point. Plus the battle ends so quickly and decisively that there was no tension built up. Mermista at least has the luxury of knowing the Horde can't break through her shield, but if some people were trapped outside, and the fight to save them wasn't going well, then Sea Hawk showed up... something like that would have a more dramatic arc to it. And of course, sprinkle some more jokes through there.

Not bad, a typical kind of comedy we see in these events.
#54 ·
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide · >>No_Raisin
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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Rule 11 seemed to be set up much better for a joke about being catatonic.

This is really funny. I'm struggling to say much about it so it doesn't look like I'm being stingy on the comments, but it worked so well. The voicing is perfect for Scorpia, and the jokes about Catra are funny. I think you could get away with the repetition more in a longer piece unrestricted by word count, but as it is, it tends to smack more of "I could come up with more material, but it's easier to copy-paste the same things a few times and hit the 750 words."

This is a good example of something I talked about in one of the other reviews, and it's whether a gimmicky format makes the story better. Here, it absolutely does. Simply giving me the text of the pamphlet is much funnier than, say, showing Scorpia writing it and getting the text of it as she does. Of course, the latter could be done well, too, if we get additional jokes related to her writing it or making her observations in the first place that inspired her to record them. But then the story has a shifted focus, so for what focus it does have, I think this was the right way to deliver it. The gimmick enhances the story.

I'm going to further echo >>QuillScratch 's point about the repetition, because there's an interesting thing here about how comedy works. You make a joke via repetition that's funny on two levels. Then you go on to make two more jokes via repetition that are only funny on one level. The name of the game with humor (and horror and mystery, incidentally) is escalation. You want to order your jokes so that they get funnier and funnier. When you couple that with the concept that each time you do the same thing, it becomes less effective, that escalation is even harder to accomplish when it's the same joke. It has to be funnier in a vacuum, and it has to be even funnier because of the depreciation of the first instance's humor. So you either have to really turn up the dial on what's funny about the repetition, or you have to go to a new source of humor to lend some variety.

This was a fun read, though, and it actually contains a subtle character arc to it, as it implies a lot about how Catra's promotions have changed her and how her relationship with Scorpia has developed.
#55 ·
· on Of Shadows and Fire · >>QuillScratch
First time commenting on a She-Ra round, as I just finished watching the show. Since we have a lot of newcomers, I'll put this header on my comment for every story, since I don't know whether the new people will read the whole discussion thread or just the one for their story.

The write-offs were originally from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom, which has an unusually high caliber of writing standards. Or at least it used to. Sure, there's plenty of bad stuff here, but when you attract that large an audience, you attract a proportionally large number of very good writers, and those tended to congregate in a couple of key places. One, in reviewing groups that helped writers develop, and two, in places like this, that at their best function more as a writing workshop than a competition.

Since I haven't actually started reading any of these as I write this intro, I'll say I don't know how the average writing quality of any given fandom compares to MLP, and it's possible that the critiques given by the MLP veterans will come across as harsh. That's not the intent. I wouldn't spend the 15-30 minutes it takes per minific for me to read, digest, and write up a response if I was just trying to be mean. We all really do intend to help you improve your writing.

I'll put all this above a break so people reading the whole thread will know where to skip down to on subsequent posts.

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This verges on gratuitous torture, but it's at least of the non-graphic kind.

The language use was very good here. Nice flowing sentences, good characterization. At one point, I was confused whether this was Shadow Weaver when she was young, but she would have been full-grown before leaving to join the Horde, and it's pretty clearly her punishment for her failure to deal with Adora. Or failure to rein in her obsession with Adora, leading her to disobey.

In any case, the last line ruined it for me. You had me going until then, as something that wasn't really a standout in concept or plot, but that rose above the rest with good, evocative writing.

But see, that last line did two things. One, it made the story fatalistic. That's not an inherently bad thing, but the story had been fatalistic from the start, so all it did was confirm: yes, everything you were led to believe at the beginning of the story is still true. You didn't throw in any kind of surprise.

And two, I'm going to have to explain my reading of the story up until that last line. Shadow Weaver had felt like she was Prometheus, stealing something incredibly valuable (Adora) and delivering it to the downtrodden (the Horde, who were in the minority for not persecuting her for her use of dark magic). Then at the end, she sees that she's enduring the punishment for it.

However, you set up the Prometheus parallel at the beginning, which undermines its aptness. To draw a complete parallel, she'd be punished by the humans for delivering fire to them and letting it get away. You could certainly mangle it that way, as long as you acknowledged doing so and made a point out of it, but you played it straight. However, consider the reversal. It fits so much more perfectly. She took fire (Adora) from the gods (the Horde) and delivered it to those in need (albeit unintentionally--she more instigated Adora being delivered than intended to do so), leading the gods to punish her. That lines up so seamlessly that I can't help thinking you meant me to see it that way, but then that last line.

It pretty much negates the possibility. I mean, Shadow Weaver is seeing the Horde's true colors now (though I suspect this doesn't come as a surprise to her), and I can't help thinking she realizes she's made a wrong choice, and hopes Adora will be this world's savior. Perhaps she's only being fatalistic about her personal chances of rescue, not the world at large. But I'm not given any reason to take her at more than face value. She seems very earnest in what she's saying, so I'm left thinking she still sees the Prometheus problem as originally stated: that she still wants Adora to belong to the Horde. If that's the case, we do have some very clear dramatic irony (and Cassius will surely chime in before the deadline to explain it in detail, right?), but the parting shot isn't phrased in a way that makes me think it is.

I'll be the first to admit I can be pretty slow at picking up subtle things, and maybe everyone else sees this much more clearly, but if Shadow Weaver's narration said something to illustrate that reversal, even without her realizing the truth of it, then it's a lot easier to see it as intentional dramatic irony rather than me going way off here and reading far more into it than you meant. (And even in the case of realizing it, she may not see it as good. She may wryly observe the reversal, for example, because she realizes the irony, or she may have a turn of heart and hope that Adora is the hero Bright Moon needs, though she believes her own fate is sealed--just because she would then believe in Adora doesn't mean a rescue awaits her.) If you did intend for me to see she had the Prometheus analogy correct but backward, then I'm impressed at how you structured the story to accomplish it. If not, then I think it's a big opportunity missed. But even if you did mean to, I fear it's buried too deep for most readers to see. None of the commenters made that connection so far, but maybe because it's so obvious to them and I only think I'm being deep. >:V

Shadow Weaver does reflect on the irony that she saw herself as a Prometheus, but it seems more like she sees the source of that irony as her being incorrect, and that Adora is either a failure or working for the wrong side, not that the irony is that Shadow Weaver is Prometheus, just in the opposite direction than she'd envisioned (again, either as wryly seeing it from Bright Moon's perspective or having a change of heart and admitting it from her own).

Since I can't tell whether you meant it that way, I'm struggling with where to place you on my ballot. If you meant it, I think you're very clever and merely made a misstep in having the final line be far too subtle, to the point of being misleading. But if you didn't, then I think it's a problem that the analogy works far better for the way things turned out than the way Shadow Weaver wanted them to, i.e., you didn't see that and made a faulty application of the analogy.
#56 · 6
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>Pascoite >>meadows >>Miller Minus
I'm not participating in this round, but I peeked at the reviews out of curiosity. I have to say something to >>Pascoite.

I'm not here to tell you not to be honest, or to kiss a writer's ass when they've made mistakes. Writing communities like ours work best when we're honest about stories' merits and shortcomings, and pussyfooting around errors helps nobody.

But as you pointed out, we have a legion of newcomers for this She-Ra round. That means people who aren't members of the writeoff community that's developed over the years, as well as younger, less experienced writers as well, are throwing their hats into this ring for the first time. A newcomer in an environment like this no doubt expects to be criticized, but would hope to be, at the very least, encouraged.

Your review highlights positives, and criticizes honestly. That's good. But this?

Now, I'm a sucker for sad stories with a feel-good ending, so I liked the story despite having misgivings about it. And those misgivings are that this story didn't surprise me in any way. It's just following the inevitable direction the show clearly wants to regarding these two (and already has, to a degree). In other words, in any given She-Ra round, I would expect someone to write a story where exactly this happens, so you have to throw something in there to surprise the reader about your take on it, and you really haven't done that. Why would I read your version of it over the dozens of other identical ones I could probably find on AO3? Maybe the writing quality is higher than the average those would have, and while that can make a story float up, it's got to have exceptional writing quality to make it memorable in that case.

So... pretty well done, but there's nothing unique here, and I probably won't remember the story in a week.


We want people to keep coming back to these contests, to keep this community alive and evolving in the face of MLP's ever-shortening lifespan. But if I were a first-time writer in a competition like this, and I got a review like this one, I wouldn't be particularly encouraged to come back. Not if I were going to be spoken to in such a belittling, dismissive, condescending manner.

I respect you, Pasc, but that's just insulting.
#57 ·
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>Posh
>>Posh
Rather than write up a long response, I'll just say that I don't see your issue at all. What I wrote doesn't sound insulting to me. The story didn't surprise me, and surprise is what makes you remember a story. I said that several other stories didn't surprise me either, and you're not complaining about those. I don't see what you're seeing.
#58 · 7
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>Pascoite You don't see how someone could read your review, particularly your last few lines, as dismissive or condescending? You really, really don't see how someone could take "pretty good, but I won't remember it in a week" as a back-handed compliment?

Because if you can't, then I don't know how to explain it to you.
#59 · 3
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>Miller Minus
>>>>Pascoite
If this is the kind of feedback culture that exists here for WriteOff, I never want to be a part of this place.
Rather than write a response full of vitriol and righteous-indignation, I'm going to take the high road and walk away permanently.

Learn to think before you speak, because you've just discouraged and driven away a lot of new authors with your hostile commentary.

>>Posh
Thank you for writing what several of us have been wanting to say in the wake of these reviews, it's nice to know that someone else here feels the same about the nature of feedback that was given on every fic in this round.
#60 · 2
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
>>meadows

Hi there.

I'm sorry you feel this way, and I understand if it's turned you off the contests for good. I promise this comment isn't me hanging on to your coattails and begging you to stay as you march out the door. I just find it a little... funny, I guess, that someone has just had the exact same first interaction with Pascoite that I had.

I won't be able to find it, but basically I submitted a story to an MLP-themed newsletter (EquestriaDaily) that ended up on his desk for screening. I had two things going for it, and I was very proud of those two things; he promptly identified these two things and dismissed them so flatly that it left me devastated. This story had done pretty well with early pre-readers. So I responded (a little indignantly) asking him what the hell he even liked about the story so that I at least had something to work with. We worked it out with a little dialogue, and I'd be lying if I said I learned nothing from the experience.

Now, I'm not going to excuse Pasco's tone here (I only read the paragraph that >>Posh quoted, and yeah, it's probably too much, especially for a new crowd), but I do want to say that being able to receive a harsh review and move past it is an indispensable skill for any creator. Whether you do it by assuming the reviewer was just tired, or that they hate the source material, or that they were having a bad day, or by leaving them a little polite-yet-agressive note in your retrospective after the contest ends (I'm a big fan of this one), whatever. But because God is cruel, the only way to learn how to deal with harsh reviews is to receive them.

Writing workshops can be an ugly business sometimes, especially with the world being so full of morons who think that their opinion is worthwhile even when it only boils down to "this sucks, lawl". But Pasco is not one of those people.

Lastly—and I can't stress this enough—Pasco does not represent the feedback culture you can find on the Writeoff. Not any one of us do. And that's kind of the point. For what it's worth, it's my experience that for every bristly reviewer we have, there's at least two or more reviewers with a much softer touch. And anyone might have something important to say.

Thanks for reading. Take care, wherever you go.
#61 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>Miller Minus
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I understand what you are saying with regards to feedback and being able to receive it as an author. I've taken part in plenty of other writers' workshops before, this isn't a new concept to me.

What I can't abide by is someone like Pascoite coming along to freely insult, belittle, and dismiss my fellow writers (as Posh observed and commented). None of us should have to accept that sort of treatment--I absolutely refuse to. It's simpler to just shut the door on that kind of abuse by not participating. I will go someplace where this kind of toxic behavior is unwelcome, which clearly isn't the case here at WriteOff...
#62 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World · >>meadows
I'd promised myself I was going to start my reviewing this morning with the entries with the least reviews, but I thought I'd start by giving this author a notification that wasn't drama instead 😋

I like this entry, despite the fact that I've never been all that keen on embedded links as a reader. I think this entry handles the link well: stories where a link shows up for the first time in the middle of a sentence, several chapters in, tend to break my immersion at that point, so I like that you've opened with it to avoid that shock. That is, of course, personal preference (but what in reviews isn't?), but I felt it was worth sharing regardless.

Despite my personal opinions on links, I thoroughly disagree with >>Pascoite on what they mean for an author's success. Reliance on external sources is not a failure on the part of the author (putting aside fanfic for a moment, bringing meaning through reference to extra-textual sources is an important skill to develop as a writer - what else would you call a metaphor built around iconography of a world religion, for example?), and links are a natural part of writing on the internet. Not all writing has to work in traditional print media, and I don't see the purpose of critiquing an online piece for using an aspect of its medium at all, rather than critiquing it for how it uses it.

How does this piece use that extra-textual source, then? Opening with the link, the tone is set by the song: a light, distant piece, with the refrain "nothing's gonna change my world" (oh hey, the title ties into it too!) This helps to understand the distance the piece looks on Adora with: your gorgeous second paragraph's decision to tell, not show, fully consistent with this quiet, meditative sort of defiance. Adora's exhaustion, too, comes through in drawled tones. An excellent tone-setter, indeed, and used creatively.

Onto the writing itself!

Your first paragraph might benefit from some varied sentence lengths - honestly I think it's fine as it is, but I'd love to see that tiny bit more stylistic flair to get me hooked, since I didn't really feel invested till midway through paragraph two. Even just joining a pair of sentences with a conjunction or semicolon would be enough, because content-wise it's a perfectly good opener.

The dialogue, for the most part, is strong, but there's one part of it I'm not super keen on: you introduce the idea of Catra becoming more like Shadow Weaver in dialogue, which left me uncertain as to whether it was an honest assessment, or Adora trying to play on Catra's insecurities. Both are good, and there are places in fiction where ambiguity is a strength; I'm not convinced that here is one such place. Likely this is a consequence of the tight wordcount, and I'd love to see this cleared up in a later draft.

And that's really all I have left to complain about, author. This piece is lovely: emotive yet distant all at once. I adore your second paragraph in particular, with that image of She-Ra rending space asunder to fight on multiple fronts is a delight. I'm also not quite sure how to put into words my feelings about the ending, except that they are Good. Thanks for sharing this!
#63 ·
· on A Fiery End
I adore your hook, author. I'll admit, the whole "open with a single, snappy sentence paragraph, then transition to a longer paragraph putting that first sentence in context" construction is one of my favourites, but you've used it incredibly well here and made me one very happy Quill indeed—and that's before taking into account my general good mood from reading about grumpy!Mermista. We all need some grumpy!Mermista in our lives. Thank you for providing it.

I'm not sure I agree with >>salamander calling for more varied sentence structure (I've certainly seen much less varied sentences in my time, and this story works perfectly well as it is), but I do think there are some places where your structures don't quite work out, and changing them around a bit might help. Let's take a look at the end of that second paragraph:

The day started off terribly: she had been forced awake at dawn by an insistent knocking at her bedroom door, followed by her guard-slash-butler saying, "Your Highness, we have a situation."


The transition to dialogue at the end of this sentence doesn't sit well with me—I don't think it's wrong, per se, but it feels a little... clumsy? There's a couple of other places in the story where the line between dialogue and narration doesn't feel quite as smooth as it should, too, but this one is the one that stood out the most to me (perhaps because it came so quickly after the fantastic opening sentence construction that the juxtaposition threw me for a loop?) I can't pin down exactly why it feels off—my gut instinct is to say that the entire construction of "followed by..." is what feels weak here, along with the relatively weak "saying" vs the strong "knocking". It's worth looking into in more detail, at any rate, and I'm happy to chat after the contest about it to see if I can articulate myself better in conversation.

I think >>Pascoite makes an excellent point regarding the discussion of the number of ships, and I actually wanted to expand on one of his points because... well, it interested me, and I'm not sure it should be taken quite as negatively as Pasco makes it out. Let's talk about this construction:

The third did not seem to care how many ships they'd seen. "I don't care how many ships you've seen," he said.


I talked about repetition in an earlier review, and its place in comedy, but this is a very different approach to repetition that I think can be very effective: deadpan humour. I actually think this kind of humour is the right fit for this story (though I agree that seeing slightly more of it before this point would certainly help this joke to hit home) because there's a wonderful similarity between this sort of delivery and Mermista's own grumpiness. I'm also not convinced that this story isn't "wacky" enough to pull off this construction: I think you've balanced the very fine line of not descending into random humour that allows you to pull this off, while still appealing to people who aren't too fond of random humour.

Unfortunately, I think the weakest part of this story is its ending. There's little I can say beyond remarking that the story feels a little too constrained by the wordcount, and the ending feels a little... not rushed, but certainly like too much packed into too few words. I don't blame the author for this: minifics are hard, and they take some getting used to. And despite feeling constrained, the ending is still evocative and amusing, which is the most important thing.

I really enjoyed this one, author! Some fantastic laughs were had, and the stakes never felt so great that the comedy was clouded by the tension. A good variety of jokes and on-point characterisation made this an absolute pleasure to read, and the negativity above really amounts to little more than spring-cleaning recommendations. Thank you for writing this! (And thank you again for my weekly dose of grump.)
#64 ·
· on Safety In Your Arms
Soft, but heavy on the emotions, Safety In Your Arms is easily my top contender for this round. This piece hits almost every note, and I don't have all that much to complain about. I could talk for hours about some of the strongest parts of this entry—establishing the hair-brushing motif via juxtaposition with an immediately-dropped tooth-brushing motif, the immaculate emotional arc from Glimmer, that little aside detail on the finger-paintings in Glimmers room—and I suspect the author knows full well that I could do that, and doesn't need the ego boost. This writing is good, author. You'll get very few complaints from me if you keep writing like this for future rounds.

My only slight concern is your final paragraph. I adore the way you end the story, here (did someone say bookend structure?), but the actual writing at the end is some of the weakest throughout the piece. Like I said in my last review, a weak ending isn't the best for leaving your audience with a good feeling about your entry, and it's taken me most of the week to process just how much I love the rest of this piece because of the weakness of the ending! You've taken a gamble ending on that fragment, author, and I'm not convinced it's paid off.

There's little else to say: perhaps some of the dialogue could be less distant, after that initial gulf between the characters has been established, though I'd understand why you'd want to maintain that given the nature of the ending. Overall, though, a powerful piece with a powerful message. I loved it!
#65 ·
· on Of Shadows and Fire
Retrospective

I don't have a huge amount to say on my entry this round, except that (as usual in minific rounds) I tried to execute a concept without actually having a story to go with it, and that never ends all that well. I did want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who read and especially everyone who took the time to leave comments: I appreciate all of them.

I'm going to have to do some work to establish the time period for this piece, evidently; it seems a lot of people were tripped enough by that to note it, and that's not great. That said, if I do expand this piece, it'll probably be quite different (at one point in drafting, I had a scene from Catra's POV, and was considering an arc for her. That wouldn't have fit in the wordcount, though!), so hopefully I'll have quite a few places to do that.

And a quick specific reply (>>Pascoite):

That's not actually far off the reading I was going for, though I know my attempt was botched. My goal was to try to lead the audience towards the interpretation that Shadow Weaver had gotten the Promethean myth the wrong way around, but without letting Shadow Weaver herself ever have the self-awareness to recognise it. I know I didn't do the best job there (time constraints, word limits, being tired, yadda yadda yadda), but if I do expand this I'll probably take the metaphor and run with it a bit more sensibly anyway.

Thanks again everyone!
#66 · 2
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
A Retrospective

I've been playing too much Apex Legends, because this went through my head this morning.

Anyway...

I'd like to thank the newcomers for participating and contributing to what is yet another pretty damn solid round of She-Ra. I swear these rounds have a higher standard of quality than original and MLP rounds; maybe that's just because there are fewer participants, but I think it's also that everybody, for some reason, is on their best behavior with She-Ra.

Or at least not their worst.

Some quick responses to >>QuillScratch and >>Pascoite since they had the juiciest criticisms.

First, Quill.

At the end of the day, author, you've promised us fifteen rules, and by extension fifteen jokes: don't throw away too many of them, or your audience can feel cheated!


You're kinda right, in that this entry has closer to 10 jokes than 15. However, that's 9 more than in your usual comedy mini-fic. I'd say that, even if we're being conservative with how many jokes land here, you're still getting a lot of bang for your buck, which was the aim with this entry to begin with. I wanted to write something in response to the typical structure of a comedy mini-fic, in that you basically have one big joke at the end, and maybe a couple small jokes sprinkled before that. With "A Cadet's Guide" I wanted to appeal to a school of comedy I personally love, and it is also sadly a school of comedy that is an endangered species at best in this day and age.

But this is followed by points 5, 6, & 7, and that's where I started to feel almost let down by this entry's reliance on repetition.


Putting rules 3 and 4 so early in the list was a mistake, I'll admit. Especially since those two were, weirdly enough, the hardest for me to get right, and normally you'd want to save the jokes you worked the hardest on for last. Of course it would make even less sense for me to place 3 and 4 at the end, so...

It's all about finding the balance between new material and repetition, and I think you've fallen on the wrong aside of that line with this entry: it's always better to err on the side of new material, imo!


Again, it's strange to criticize a comedy for not having enough new material when it has far more comedic material than your average comedy mini-fic. Hardly a line goes by that isn't either a setup or payoff, and the jokes come in rapid succession. There is obviously some repetition to it, but as you said, Repetition Is Good Comedy™.

I have to say, though, that you seemed to put more thought into the mechanics (one might even say the science) of the comedy than I did. I just kind of went with whatever, which naturally resulted in a piece that should've been more polished.

Now on to Pasco.

Rule 11 seemed to be set up much better for a joke about being catatonic.


Goddamnit, you're right! I FUCKED UP! REEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I think you could get away with the repetition more in a longer piece unrestricted by word count, but as it is, it tends to smack more of "I could come up with more material, but it's easier to copy-paste the same things a few times and hit the 750 words."


It's not copy-pasting if you change a few words to make it look like something different. How do you think The Force Awakens made so much money? :p

But then the story has a shifted focus, so for what focus it does have, I think this was the right way to deliver it. The gimmick enhances the story.


I mean, it's not really a story? A big criticism that surprisingly nobody brought up. Then again, readers are way more forgiving about non-stories for mini-fic rounds. I figured going in that if I was to write the pamphlet itself that I couldn't make a proper "story" out of it. Sure, there's a lot of characterization for Scorpia, and also Catra, but I couldn't do much to squeeze a proper arc in there. I figured that what this entry lacked in plot, it would make up for in comedic firepower, and I think I largely succeeded there.

I hope to see more comedy entries like this in the future, and not just because it appeals to my specific sense of humor. I think we need more comedies in these WO rounds that go for quantity over quality, instead of always going with the one big joke that may or may not land. It can get really fucking banal to read so many comedy stories that are structured in pretty much the exact same way. That's how storytelling stagnates, my dude. We need some experimentation thrown in there.

So even though it's not perfect, I'm glad my entry got quite a positive reception. Actually, this is like the first time I went in an unorthodox direction with my WO entry and the readers all but unanimously bought it, so let me have this moment plz. !>_<!
#67 · 2
· on Do You Remember The Last Time You Woke Up?
B-b-b-breakdown!

This was indeed as literal an interpretation of the prompt as I could. It all started with an image taken from a nightmare I had--a tooth breaking in my mouth and swallowing parts of it, inspired by my porcelain implants crumbling a bit as they settled into their final shape. Originally, the story opened post-battle with Glimmer having suffered a hit to the mouth that broke a tooth, but that didn't feel compelling enough. And so I decided to take a cue from the nightmare I had and make it like a nightmare.

As to why "everybody is on crazy drugs in the jungle" is The Thing Tha Happun, that was probably tickles of Jacob's Ladder in the back of my head. The drug's named DROSTE to show that the victims are trapped in an endless repeating cycle of images. (Also why Catra goes from "two days left" to "three." She's perpetually caught in a present with no past or future.) That said, future drafts are probably gonna expand a little bit to better illustrate the repetition they're caught in.

Alternate titles: Catra's Ladder; Unedited Footage of a Cat; This Jungle Has Hordesmen In It.

Originally, this ended with Catra explicitly murdering Scorpia (spoilered for those who don't want to read the gruesome original thing: murdering Scorpia via disembowelment), but besides toning it down as to not upset my new readers without building an unearned trust first I felt like giving it a little wiggle room for Scorpia to be okay, if scratched the hell out of.

I've got some plans for updating and slightly expanding this story to post elsewhere, but that's for you to read and me to write.

And for those wondering... the authorial intent is that nobody is hallucinating.

For those who really want to know the process of DROSTE: DROSTE works through some kind of vague super-science nerve acceleration that, theoretically, can reduce or remove fatigue in lieu of sleep or other forms of rest. Unfortunately, Catra and co. have found out that not only does it not work that well, it has horrible side effects: their nerves are slowly burning out entirely, visually manifesting as their eyes (and vision) darkening--thus Entrapta's confusion over how many days it's been--and their teeth rotting from the inside out--thus Entrapta's tooth falling apart in her mouth. And yes, it's also trapping their minds in a perpetual loop from around the middle of the DROSTE effect. It might not've been so bad if Catra didn't keep injecting people with more DROSTE to keep them from falling asleep. Don't blame her--it's the DROSTE talking. And no, none of that is strictly scientifically plausible (IIRC), but it's a science fantasy setting and it's spooky.
#68 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>BearPigs
I don't think you look too deep into things at all. That's pretty much exactly how I intended for it to come across, haha. So glad to hear you enjoyed the fic!

Adora's in a dire situation and knows she's not going to last much longer. Catra is the one driving the push for destruction (she maybe even defeated/dethroned Hordak offscreen at this point) and she's completely lost herself trying to prove...whatever it is Catra wants to prove. That she's stronger than anyone, I guess?

But yeah, I plan to expand and possibly continue this later. Trying to fit it all into 750 words meant some other good details I had planned were left out.
#69 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>KriegsaffeNo9
I said I was going to try and challenge myself with this contest, so I did. This concept was very difficult to execute effectively within the word limit.

You're absolutely right in that it strains against its word limit. It wants to be more and have deeper narration to build around the core scene, but those words man... just not enough of 'em.

I wanted to capture a very specific moment here that spoke to the theme of the contest, that was sort of my driving goal with this. I said "What happens if Adora is beyond tired and about to fall over from physical exhaustion? What sort of situation would cause that?" and then took it to its natural conclusion.
#70 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>salamander
Thank you, thank you. Nothing like walking into a minific and unexpectedly getting a hard dose of FEELINGS to the face, eh?

Very good feedback about the "POV" issues, I definitely noticed what you meant after rereading it. That is the tricky thing when writing two characters who have the same pronouns and are interacting very closely with one another, I find.

It's ultimately written from a 3rd-person Omniscient Narrator's POV, and Catra's and Adora's actions are being described by that entity watching the scene. So it sounds like it's just a matter of clarifying certain actions and which character they belong to.
#71 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>Dubs_Rewatcher
I have no idea what that is but it sounds like some kind of MLP thing and also a compliment so... thanks?
#72 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>Lazer
Yes, good good. I'm glad the imagery rang true for you.
I was trying to convey a sense of something larger going on around it, and this was just a single scene/snapshot from it.

As mentioned, my intent is to expand this fic and possibly integrate it into another one I have planned already.
#73 · 1
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
>>QuillScratch
I'll keep it brief and just say the song was added 100% after the fact. I had about 25 words left under the limit and wanted to toss in a dash of extra flavor that fit with the tone of the fic. I'm glad it came across the right way for you.

It was meant to pair with the image of She-Ra's golden aura: made of limitless undying love and shining around her like a million suns. Paraphrasing that line directly in the body fic would have been cheesy/disruptive, though.

Great points about the sentence length/variation. This was definitely a side-effect of the word length limit. I cut out some conjunctions to save on words, but I will bolster that and make the sentences more fluid when I edit and republish this.

I see what you mean about the dialogue with Catra being called out for turning into Shadow Weaver and how that's confusing in the context. What I really meant here was that, it's more of Catra's actions that make her like Shadow Weaver. She's manipulating, power-hungry, and cruel. Adora is saddened by watching Catra devolve and chooses this moment to comment on it. It will be clarified in the next draft!

Thank you for your thoughtful and constructive review. It felt like a breath of fresh air.
#74 ·
· on Nothing's Gonna Change My World
I've responded to all the worthwhile comments I received. Thank you to those who made the effort to give constructive feedback.

That said, I am now invoking my right as an author to revoke any and all publishing rights granted to WriteOff as part of posting my work here. I've deleted the story and will be publishing it elsewhere.

Some may think this is extreme, but I want to make a statement about acceptable treatment of members in a writing community.

Actions have consequences, and the consequence of one individual's appalling behavior and has resulted in my decision to leave this place.
I encourage others to do the same if they feel so inclined.
#75 ·
· on Fifteen Rules of Engagement: A Cadet's Guide
I think it is a story, though, as I said in my review. There are a lot of little anecdotes implied through how Scorpia determined these rules, and how some of them originate before or after Catra got promoted. It speaks to how their relationship has evolved and how they interact. If that was serendipitous, then so be it, but it certainly felt like it was by design.
#76 · 1
·
Congrats to the winners!!! I loved your guys’ stories. 🧡✨