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Through A Mirror, Brightly · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
#1 · 5
·
I'll be available Saturday night via #mentors or PM for anyone who wants a pre-deadline critique.
#2 · 4
·
(gets out the *big* box of Crayolas and the sharpener)
#3 · 3
·
Can’t believe it’s pony time again.
Time to write another game loser :p :p
#4 · 2
·
Pones ftw
#5 · 2
· · >>Light_Striker
I’ve been making noise about returning for the last six months. Can I finally accomplish more than making noise? Stay tuned!
#6 · 1
·
IT'S GO TIME, BRUDDAS!
#7 · 8
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>CoffeeMinion
Right. Haven't done this before, but there's a first time for everything! Let's give it a shot.
#8 · 4
·
>>Meridian_Prime
I hope you have a good time!
#9 · 2
·
Got some fun prompts this time. I’m looking forward to digging in.

>>Meridian_Prime
Eyy, welcome aboard! Any other new folks out there this time? We won’t bite, I promise...

(Posh, don’t bite the new people, y’all been told)
#10 · 2
·
>>CoffeeMinion
The struggle continues…
#11 · 2
·
My sleep schedule plus my work schedule leaves a very messy few hours scattered here and there but we'll see.
#12 · 2
·
What just happened, why is it hours later, and what is this in my editor window? Is this a first draft?

*reads*

The flaws… the flaws
#13 · 3
·
The following image is presented without comment.
#14 · 2
·
Oh cripes I thought the upper word limit was 900

*deep sigh*

Why did I have to get inspired in a mini round? I did that last time!
#15 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Alas:

I've been getting nothing from this prompt all day, and with the time change robbing some of us US people of an hour tonight, I'm pretty sure I'm out this round. See folks next time!

Mike
#16 · 2
·
“Oh deary me,” said PoohLight Striker. “I've submitted a story.”
#17 · 1
·
Well, work happened. Know what didn't happen? Pony writing. I'm off Monday, but I'm afraid that doesn't count for anything.
#18 · 4
·
I actually managed to get something done early this time, rather than struggle at midnight to write something coherent.
#19 · 1
· · >>Light_Striker
I've submitted. In order to give you'all the best possible critique—uninfluenced by other's opinions, reflecting only what this one reader understood reading your words—I once again pledge not to read anyone else's critiques until after the end of the voting period. I challenge you'all to do the same.
#20 ·
· · >>scifipony
>>scifipony
I decided to do something similar, but I don't extend it until the end of the voting period; I only read the other comments after I've personally voted.
#21 ·
·
>>Light_Striker
Fair enough. I don't trust myself not to be so impressed by other's reviews not to be tempted to revise even at the last minute. My mileage does vary.
#22 · 5
·
Well, I'm spending the weekend helping my parents sort out their taxes, and I don't know if I'll be able to do any reviewing next week -- but I managed to sneak a fic in.
#23 · 1
·
Words and vodka mix well, but maybe a little too much.

Regardless, another round of each!
#24 · 2
·
I have a nice fic, but I can't write word one of it because I am yet too tightly gripped by the throes of depression. Best of luck to the rest of you!
#25 · 2
·
>>Baal Bunny
I couldn’t get anything out of the prompt either, I’m afraid. D:

I have failed the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain CoffeeMinion.
#26 · 2
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
Packing that amount of emotional punch in 750 words is both unfair and incredibly impressive.
#27 · 1
· on On A Scrap of Paper, Hidden Away in Applejack's Drawers · >>Bachiavellian
If a girl’s is fixing

Should be either "girl is fixing" or "girls is fixing", unless I'm missing some subtle nuance of Southern grammar (quite possible, given I live in Warwickshire, England).

Outside of that, I absolutely loved this. If AJ wrote poems in her free time and stuffed them away in some obscure drawer never to be read, this is exactly what it'd look like.
#28 · 1
· on My Sister Loved You
That double spaced paragraph near the start is bugging me. Don't know why, but it just kinda looks out of place.

I thought I should mention that in particular because I don't really have any other complaints with this. Tight, evocative writing, which tells its story in exactly as many words as it needs. The beginning hooks you instantly, and I loved the ending. Great job.
#29 · 1
· on In Spirit Golden
That's certainly a unique take on the 'brightly' part of the prompt! Not a bad entry, nice and eerie.
#30 ·
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That
I love and have always loved this particular kind of characterisation for Twilight - the not-quite-mad-but-getting-there scientist, with three or four reference sections in her head and a remarkable ability to roll with any kind of bullshit life throws at her by aggressively making it her bullshit, and thus someone else's problem.

And this reads like a day in the life of her. This is very much a good thing.
#31 · 1
· on Retirees
Weirdly enough, I think this particular spoiler only makes me want to catch up with the seasons I haven't watched.

That aside, this is one of the cleverer ways I've seen EqG explained, and I have to say I really rather like it. I'm always a sucker for the Royal Sisters, and they're very natural in this. From Luna's opening rebellious mutter, their relationship flows wonderfully - very sister like, and also very Sister like, which is not a balance people manage as often as you'd think. Great work.
#32 ·
· on The Forever Friend · >>Miller Minus >>PaulAsaran
Pinkie Pie and dialogue only fics are a tried and tested formula, and it works here too. I like the ambigousness of who, exactly, Pinkie is speaking to, and her dialogue feels like it could have come from a (good) show script. Good job!
#33 ·
· on Forgotten Lessons Remembered
The opening lines are a little odd in their phrasing, but it works well enough. There aren't many stories pairing these two particular characters (not like that, get your head out of the gutter shipping chart), and I like what you did with them! The ending in particular feels very FiM in a good way, the kind of moral that we could all use every once in a while.
#34 ·
· on Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
I absolutely love the prose in this. Every line feels carefully chosen. The scenario, too, is great - exploring the what ifs of Starlight's time travelling shenanigans is always fun, and this in particular is a delightfully grim take. It's also very believable. The characters, although you don't really do much with them, are instantly recognisable from the littlest actions.

My only real complaint is that, as in character as it is, Twilight throwing away the spell instead of getting out of there for medical attention drives me a little nuts. Juuuuust a little.

Still a great piece.
#35 ·
· on The Village of Friendship (and Property Damage)
Short but sweet. It's been a long time since I've seen these two in a fic, for some reason, but this is a really nice reintroduction to them.
#36 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie's Pocket Pamphet to being Hap-P · >>PinoyPony
This is an interesting take on Pinkie's, er, Pinkieness. The slightly haphazard grammar and stream-of-consciousness style certainly feel like they could be from a journal entry by her.

I really do like the take on the prompt though. It's probably the most literal, out of all of these pieces, but the idea of Pinkie just cheering herself up in the mirror every morning is oddly heartwarming.

Edit: I'm pretty sure my eyes skipped over this the same way the authors did, but I have to point it out now I've noticed it - Pamphlet, in the title, is missing an L.
#37 ·
· on Endless Lawns Below
Sentimental but sweet RariDash. I have to admit I find the ending a little overly flowery, and in general the prose gets a bit too purple. But overall you've got a lovely little snippet.
#38 ·
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Light_Striker
I can always get behind a Daybreaker fic, and this is an unsual take on it too. I've never seen someone try to write Celestia falling into the same trap her sister did, but this is a believable way that she could - and I love how you tied the prompt into it. 'Through A Glass Brightly' indeed!
#39 ·
· on Homecoming · >>Miller Minus
Rather creepy, and Carapace certainly acts as a bright mirror to good ol' Chryssy - but I think the word limit hampers this a bit. It stops juuust before it could get interesting, and we're not given enough of our protaganist to quite feel the dread I think we're supposed to.

The prose is strong, and the idea interesting, but it just didn't feel like it had enough room to breathe here.

Still, good luck in the voting!
#40 · 4
· on On A Scrap of Paper, Hidden Away in Applejack's Drawers · >>CoffeeMinion >>Bachiavellian
What a great first entry to read. Emotional without being melodramatic, powerful whilst saying so little, and perfectly aligned with Applejack's character. Very well done.

My only complaint is the title. Either this single piece of paper has been torn up and put in several different drawers... or AJ has it stuffed inside her underwear. I recommend losing the 's' at the end.

I haven't had so little detract from an entry before. Literally just a letter. Thanks for submitting and good luck!
#41 ·
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That
This entry hasn't done a whole lot for me, I'm sorry to say, and it mostly has to do with not being able to put myself into the scene. There aren't a lot of scene descriptions, or descriptions of what the different Twilights look like compared to each other, so even though there are character actions scattered here and there, I get the same feeling I do when I read talking heads. And I think the saidisms have gotten away from you a bit, too.

I think the comedy here might be relying a little too much on reminding us that the premise is very silly, instead of grabbing that premise and running with it, creating chaos and absurdity at every turn. The first place you seem to move on from the premise is at the end, where it's implied that... they're all going to have sex with each other? I suppose that one's not my humour.

Good ending line, though. It is very Spike. The only problem is that I'd rather follow him than stick around with the Twilights.

Also, your title. Dynamite pun right at the start, I love it. But the "or Something Like That" dangles a little. I withheld judgment until I was finished to see if anything in the story supports it, but it doesn't look like it to me. I recommend a little snippy-do.

Thanks for writing! Good luck to ya.
#42 · 1
· on In Spirit Golden · >>Meridian_Prime
I really like the premise here, with the unexpected origin story and all. This executes its last line twist really well, and especially liked the repetition describing her smile. Gossamer herself is also really interesting, with the whole semi-psychopathy thing going on.

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

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

My suggestion would be to focus on making your information dumps feel less like information dumps. It helps a lot when there's some kind of immediate concern or question presented to the reader as a kind of distraction, so I suggest doing something like heightening Solar Swirl's initial distrust of Gossamer, and making that seem like the driving conflict of the story. This'll help the complicated ideas in the first scene go down a bit easier, and would heighten the emotional stakes of the twist in the second scene.
#43 · 1
· on Homecoming
I can't quite mesh our protagonist's backstory with her motivations here. Based on my reading, she abandoned the hive long ago to live as a pony (or maybe she was lost, but she still didn't seem too eager to come back). And now she's come back to visit, putting herself through a lot of discomfort in the process.

It just seems weird that she would be invested in helping the hive after leaving it. But even if it's out of plain old love, why does she think she has any pull in the changeling world? Sister of the queen or no, she's been gone ten years, and coming home and talking like she knows what to do... It would just never work.

I really like the premise, and Powder Brush was certainly growing on me as the story went on. I just wish she were going about this a little smarter, especially considering who she's up against. That, and I agree with >>Meridian_Prime that the story ends just as it gets going.

I think part of that has to do with your intro. Before we even really know what the conflict is, we spend over half the wordcount getting to know our protagonist. I get what you're trying to do, but honestly? The second half of the story was when I felt I was getting to know her.

But that's all from me. Best of luck to you, and as always thanks for submitting!
#44 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie's Pocket Pamphet to being Hap-P · >>PinoyPony
I don't think that the pamphlet style has done you many favours here, author. That type of thing works well when there is some implied narrative happening behind the scenes—some previous context that warranted the writing of this pamphlet, or some specific pony it is being handed to. Without that, all you have is the lesson.

And it's a good lesson! 'Mirror work' is definitely a thing, and some people swear by it. But as it is it's just kind of sitting there, not supported by a story. Pinkie's voicing does sell it pretty well, and her randomness is well-realized, but while I appreciate the message, I wish there was more to learn about Pinkie's life, or about the life of somepony she's helped.

But thanks for writing anyways. It's a pleasant reminder.

Good luck in the contest!

P.S. One last thing. Pinkie seems to be simultaneously baffled by the 'early bird' and 'night owl', while also applying them correctly. She's weird, but she's not usually of two minds like that.
#45 ·
· on The Forever Friend · >>PaulAsaran
I am going to have to detract from my main man >>Meridian_Prime here 'cause I had no idea what was going on.

I mean, it's talking heads, and I could go on about how it's not very immersive, yadda yadda, so on and so forth, but I've decided I'm not going to harp on that anymore because it's not like it's ever an accident. I don't like it, but let's talk about the story instead.

So what happened in this story? There is an abstract concept being applied here, and there's the story of Pinkie making her first ever friend. I don't know if we're supposed to know who Blue is, and since I don't know him, I can't really say anything about the abstract stuff. The friend-making aspect of the story is nicer, and the conclusion did feel earned with the whole "I remember what not being able to smile feels like" approach. But it would have been a lot stronger if I knew the first thing about Blue.

Sorry, Author, if this comes off harsh. I think your first step is letting us know more about who Blue is. Abstract mysteries are really tough in fiction, especially when the answers we're looking for aren't there for us to grab hold of. Plus, when writing about a relationship, we need to know who both parties are.

But still, you did a good thing submitting, and I hope I've been helpful. Good luck in the contest!
#46 · 1
· on Homecoming
I find this one to be a tad impenetrable. The idea of Chryssi having a twin sister is a nice one; I especially like how it creates a further parallel between Celestia and Luna (there are even shades of their good sister/evil sister relationship in here, now that I think of it). The relationship between the two of them is well-depicted as frigid, and if I'm reading this right, it even has a fridge horror element to it.

Am I correct in interpreting this as Chryssi, and the Hive, preparing to feed on the love that Powder brought them? That this is the genesis of the whole "changeling infiltrator" trope that fueled Canterlot Wedding?

But I find it tough to invest myself in the protagonist, given that she is, at first blush brush, a generic OC, even if there's far more to her than that. Tougher, still, given how long it takes the story to reveal her true nature to the reader. I don't think the story makes strong use of its word count to hook the audience, given that its primary twist isn't really a twist, per se.

And I guess I find Powder's motivation shaky. She clearly wants to change changeling society, but has enough self-awareness to realize that her efforts are, probably doomed to failure. So why is she doing it in the first place? And lines like this one...

Will they still listen to me? Does she command them completely?


...raise a lot of lore questions that I'm not sure the story adequately answers.

I like this story for its ambition, but it feels like it needs a stronger emphasis on character and motivation.
#47 · 1
· on Endless Lawns Below
This is written sweetly, and the voices definitely ring true. Characterization is really important for a piece like this, and I think you've nailed it.

Still, I personally had a bit of trouble with how this story handles its payoff. There's not much of a conflict or an arc, which makes the piece feel more like a scene rather than a story. And I think you might want to consider what exactly you want your reader to walk away with. Eliciting warm feelings towards a cute pony couple acting cutely is definitely a legitimate goal, but it's a rather simple one. If you want to make your audience buy into the relationship between the two of them, it might be a better approach to think about a specific thing you want to say about their relationship. Having a more tangible goal/point will make the payoff that much more satisfying.

I also have to admit that the last paragraph didn't really seem to mesh with the rest of the story to me. It's got a completely different tone than the tight 3rd person Rarity perspective(EDIT: Yeah, I'm dumb, and the story was in omniscient the whole time, as scifipony says. But I still think there's quite a tone shift here.) used throughout the rest of the story, and it comes across more like a summary than an ending. I also can't help but feel that the information it conveys (the specialness of the moment, the closeness of the characters) should have been conveyed in the bulk of the story, within the interactions between the characters. IMHO a minific doesn't really need an endcap; it just needs as much content as you can cram in there. You've still got more than 150 words left—a full 20% of the max. I'd really like to see you use it!

In the end, I think what would really help is if focused on a concrete theme/message/payoff that you want this fic to accomplish, such as "Dash wants to do romantic things for Rarity, but doesn't know how" or "Rarity likes Dash because of how special she makes her feel". Once you have a visible goal, it's so much easier to ensure that every part of the story works towards evoking your desired emotional response in your reader.
#48 ·
·
Feedback preamble: 14 entries, including “Retirees” which I will be abstaining on due to the strange choice to include unreleased-season spoilers… what's going on there? I guess there's maybe been pre-season official material I haven't seen? Added later: Miller Minus (thanks!) has told me that it's only based on the trailer. I'm still not planning to include it in the feedback set, but I might come back to read it later. :-)

Complete slate, so I'll be attempting to comment on all of them minus “Retirees”, including mine. Slate numbers will be from a “virtual slate” that's similarly inclusive, in order to avoid revealing authorship; my actual votes will be approximately the virtual slate minus my entry.

Also, I'll be writing most of my feedback before looking at anyone else's, though I'm not using that as a hard rule.
#49 ·
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That
Also known as: This Sparkle Won't Last Forever (sorry)

Running impressions:

Hmm, does Princess Twilight Sparkle usually point with a scepter? The main canon one didn't like the Twilicane much. The first two paragraphs definitely left me thinking it was EqG Twilight and Humanized Pony Twilight until I got further in. If that was an intentional feint, it worked! If not, maybe don't use those two names first.

Something feels odd about one Twilight only referring to the Laws as a whole. I don't think any Twilight would make a slightly less precise reference when she has the more precise one to hoof and it's not much less succinct. You could cut straight to “as clarified in”.

Are you sure you mean “printing” rather than “edition”? The sixth and seventh printings of a book would on the face of it have identical text, unless that's a usage I'm not familiar with.

The pseudo-mathspeak isn't doing it for me, sorry. I bet it'd work with some tweaks, but this is probably a niche complaint.

The pronoun switch is a little too subtle an introduction to the joke; it just looked like a mistake at first. More foreshadowing of it or just more explicit presentation would be nice.

I do love the writing style at the climax. I can just feel the fourth horseshoe dropping. The only awkward bit is “good speed”, which makes sense but was a minor speed bump for me.

The title falls flat for me. The pun might stand without the waffling, except it's not clear what the “beauty” part is, so it doesn't seem to have any relevance. The prompt connection also falls flat for me.

Overall: It's a one-note joke: competently executed, but the underlying material is kind of thin. The characterization is similar: accurate but shallow. It's all dialogue, which seems like a missed opportunity: some of the dialogue could easily be cut for more scene description or more backstory or something. Slate: 9th of 13.
#50 ·
· on Homecoming
Also known as: Mom Didn't Love Me Back

Running impressions:

I like the twist in the seventh paragraph, and the way everything before that feints toward a more pony-centric reading. The mirror is a little on the nose for the prompt but still works. You also establish Powder Brush's inner voice well.

The mention of emotions having flavors helps deepen the changeling characterization, and the similes really round out the setting. The drip-feed of information about who the sister is and the immediate situation is well-paced.

“drones and workers” is a weird combination. The usual characterization I've seen for changelings involves most of them being called “drones”, but the meaning of it being more like what “worker” means for ants or bees, which would make this redundant. If we go with the insect meaning of “drone”, then it's odd that they'd be so prominent and stay in one place.

The last two paragraphs before the break don't pace as well; they could be condensed into one.

Nitpick: the break doesn't follow the style guide; you're meant to use [hr] for those to help preserve surface anonymity.

Reigned as… princess over a changeling hive? That seems out of nowhere.

“toxified” feels rhythmically awkward.

The description of the attitude difference between the rulers after Powder's white lie drives it home powerfully.

The buildup in the second scene paces acceptably; it's a little slow, but that feels justified by the nature of the action. But then we run into the big problem, which is that it falls off a cliff at the climax. I can get the motivation, even if it's not that explicit in the text, but it's not clear to me what exactly Powder is trying to do, or why it doesn't work. It looks like it's supposed to be a demonstration of her proposed new way, but Changeling Classic psyches would need a lot more than that to get the picture. And unfortunately, so do I.

Overall: This has so much potential. It doesn't do enough with it, but what it does do tastes great. It just leaves me hungry for the missing details, and the response at the end is bizarre. Interlace more of what's really going on and why, and write the missing scenes that come after the climax, and this could be a good short story. Slate: 3rd of 13.
#51 ·
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Bachiavellian >>Light_Striker
Also known as: The “Princess” Text (sorry)

Post-competition note: This was a review-by-author for anonymity reasons. (This is visible in the names, but I'm adding it to the top of the post just to make it extra-clear.)

Running impressions:

So this is… what, at the beginning? At first it looks like dialogue, but then it's clearly news, but what time period is this supposed to be set in where Luna's just reappeared but Twilight's also just been crowned? Is this AU?

Okay, jump to first person. Viewpoint character's established well. Callback to that one episode with the breakfast.

Oh, I get it. I think. Was the introduction supposed to be a time lapse? That was pretty jarring at first.

Narration feels… a bit stilted. Or maybe bland? Raw? “mechanically” sounds about right. If that's supposed to be the viewpoint character's emotions… why, though?

“Square Measure” sounds like somepony who would specialize in bar chocolate if they're working for Cocoa Swirl.

The news article tone is just perfect. Also I love “Lecturer Princess Twilight Sparkle”.

Two scene breaks in a minific. That's ambitious. But I'm not sure about the time jump in the second break. The transition sentence makes it clear enough, I guess, it just feels rushed.

The inner monologue is laying it on pretty thick here. I don't know if that's realistic for someone who's used to keeping such equipoise in canon (and earlier in the story, for that matter). “Or maybe that would be for the best”, really? “I can barely breathe”? Also, wouldn't she proactively have learned about the nature of the stars a long time ago? Or was that kept secret from her for some reason? It sounds like that's the tipping point here and it's not quite justified.

terrifying energy surges from my fearful heart” clangs rhythmically due to the almost-doubled adjective, which is a shame because the rest of that paragraph unfolds pretty nicely.

Ending is punchy. Maybe a bit rushed, but I think it's more the gap between that and what came before. Or maybe the middle part is just too repetitive and it leaves a bit of a sour taste.

Overall: It's a straightforward take on a theme that's been around pony fandom for a while. That means it's probably been done a bunch before, but that doesn't make it bad. The use of news to present backstory works well with the characters involved, and the overall story arc has a good feel. There's some stilted narration, and the buildup before the climax is marred by the viewpoint character's reactions not feeling well-justified. Showing more of the development of her state of mind might help, if it's possible to fit that in earlier. Not bad as a whole, though. Slate: 6th of 13.
#52 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie's Pocket Pamphet to being Hap-P · >>PinoyPony
Also known as: Secure, Contain, Pinkie

Running impressions:

Nitpick: the title is repeated as the first paragraph, and it probably shouldn't be.

I can't decide whether “that a Griffon that I should not name smashed” is way wrong for Pinkie or just right. I think she'd have a sillier name for the device than “copter-pedal-machine” though.

… are the typos here and there also Pinkie? And the smushed-together entry heading? “gain ear to ear” later is especially distracting, as is “for any goal”. “Your awesome”.

Getting up for the non-early bird apparently starts with becoming an early bird. Huh?

This is a good rendition of Pinkie's voice for the most part, except for “snoring boring” being used twice in the same paragraph. Also aaagh, “life hacks” no. Why. Okay, I revise that: there's little bits of wrong sprinkled in. “abstract idea of confidence” also doesn't feel like Pinkie. Neither does the insistent entry numbering; I know she's actually a very organized pony underneath the silliness, but this feels like the wrong kind of level-mixing.

I think the last parenthetical should probably have come before the end-of-entry marker, especially with the P.S. at the end.

So… what is this supposed to be about? I'm left feeling like it doesn't really go anywhere. The journal monologue is funny, but it takes a long time for a shallow arc with a bunch of digressions that don't connect up, and even if that's in-character, where's the payoff for the reader?

Overall: I like a lot of the individual corn-kernels of it, but they don't jigsaw into anything meaningful. It doesn't work as cornbread because it doesn't hold together well enough, and it doesn't work as popcorn, because now instead of forgivable burnt edges on a piece of cornbread, you have burnt popcorn, with bursts of unfortunate flavor. And “how Pinkie Pie would recommend people get up in the morning” is too thin to be effective slice-of-life for me. Sorry, author. Slate: 13th of 13.
#53 ·
· on My Sister Loved You
Also known as: Who Needs Epicycles Anyway

Running impressions:

That's a heavy scene to start with just like that. The hook feels just a tad soggy with the first paragraph where it is; is there a way to move the first sentence of the second paragraph up to become the hook without making it feel rushed, I wonder? It doesn't feel glurgey, at any rate, which is good.

The scene breaks are a bit weird. I think the first weak break should probably be removed, and the second weak break should possibly be a hard break.

The description of the information spreading is evocative.

I'm having trouble visualizing the scene starting at “Only a curtain …”, and that seems like a significant problem on my second reading, given where this goes later. When I hear about a curtain in this context, I at first think Luna's still indoors preparing, and it's a window curtain. But then it turns out that she's facing away from the curtain and toward the… sunlight? Wait, no, she is in a room. Hmm. I'm confused.

The idea of spinning globe theory being dangerous raises questions for me: why couldn't they explain it as the princesses taking shifts spinning the globe, and maybe something about the motions feeling the same, or being the same? (That's probably a nitpick.)

The dialogue starting at the part with “notwithstanding” is kinda where this starts into the weeds for me. Why would it be different to lie about it because Luna was going to be back? What emotions are these characters having that makes this conversation like it is? What does the part with the “somepony who was actually apologizing” have to do with anything?

And then I mostly don't understand the third section. (The antecedentless “she” in its second paragraph doesn't help either.)

Luna tipped her head back… oh, I see what that means now, but… and what's the prompt connection? Oh. … nope, I still don't get it. What kind of spell was it? What actually happened? The last paragraph is evocative yet again, but evocative of what? Does the title have something to do with this?

Overall: I like the style, but the progression behind it is confusing. It feels distinctly possible, especially because of the buried but striking-when-I-saw-it connection to the prompt, that I've just missed something specific and important, and that it'd have gone up several places on my slate if I'd understood it properly, but I've gone over this section a few times now and I still can't fit the events together in a way that makes the motivations and in-character knowledge make satisfying sense. Which feels bad, because the writing has quality ingredients. Looking forward to finding out what I missed! Slate: 8th of 13.
#54 ·
· on Forgotten Lessons Remembered · >>Miller Minus
Also known as: What a Twist! (sorry)

Running impressions:

Oh good, it's frazzled Twilight! Yep! That's how that would go, all right. Nice punchy way of introducing the slower meat of the story while getting her out of the way.

“Trying my mane” → “Tying my mane”. Also, who's Starlight whispering to in that paragraph? Herself, I assume.

The banter between the two reformed villains plays out nicely to reflect them in each other's eyes to the reader, even if it's only a glimpse.

How does a scar darken in a perceptible amount of time like that?

I hope a quicksilver pane isn't a mercury poisoning risk, and spaghettification, owww—I can see what you're going for there, but the first thing that comes to mind for me (via the usage of the term for black holes) is really gory. “trans-dimensional plane” also feels odd here given that it's depicted in the movies as more like a fantasy wormhole, and “plane” usually implies a more solid sense of place. I like that you tried to describe this, but the terminology might need some massaging.

Then: “moderate traffic and ZoidbergKnucklesa bus”, “fountained silver horizontally”… It doesn't throw me out of the story, but it's a bit disorienting.

Oh, that's very nicely kinetic of humanized Starlight. You're paying attention to the body-feel of things for the whole rest of the story and it makes it so much more grounded. Starlight's “I want to find out” is appropriate for her as a curious mage, too.

Link feels unnecessary. If the reader hasn't seen the movie, they should be able to look this up already.

I'm not quite sure I understand the lesson at the end. Is it supposed to be that Starlight's still stuck in her old combative habits? Maybe it's just weird for me because I've been around people who very likely would find it easier to make friends after beating the crap out of each other, and aside from the increased distance between those who have that trait and those who don't, it doesn't seem to inherently work out badly. Is Starlight conflicted about whether she means it or not?

Added later: I think that must be it, on further thought: she was going into it with the wrong intentions and the wrong unresolved emotions, and it ties back into the poem at the beginning, which I didn't catch the cue to remember when I got there.

Overall: It's very FiM in tone, and I love the environment descriptions and the characterization, plus the way it pulls in movie-adjacent backstory and the way the characters get translated into the EqG world. The lesson arc could use a little more grounding, but overall I really liked this one. Slate: 4th of 13.
#55 · 1
· on The Village of Friendship (and Property Damage)
I'm a sucker for some hurt/comfort; it's like ice cream to me. The approach this story brings to that decadent little genre one feels a little thin, however.

First, some bare-bones setting description breaks up what is otherwise a dialogue-driven, introspective story. Second, said introspection isn't telling us that much about Bon-Bon's character; it mostly restates the facts of the episode and repeats variations of the same theme: "My friendship with Lyra is over."

It's... it's largely wallowing, to be frank.

Third, my concept of who these characters are to one another changed as the story went on, because I don't think their relationship was clearly communicated. They're best friends at the start, but marefriends at the end. Yet they don't really act like a couple until the end. I think some more physical interplay between them might help establish that they're a couple, without necessarily having to say that they're a couple.

(And this isn't to imply that best friends and girlfriends are mutually exclusive; just, if that's the nature of their relationship, show it. You know?)

So... um, it's cute. But it's not really doing much more than being cute, and fluffy, I'm afraid. Not yet, anyway. A little more polish, some added detail, maybe a deeper look into Bonnie, and this could be both fluffy and substantial.
#56 · 1
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That · >>CoffeeMinion
Shades of "Twilight, Sparkle," and "Crisis on Infinite Twilights," here, but lacking the same sense of narrative cohesion. It's a good premise, if a bit overdone, but this isn't a story based on the premise. It's just the premise.

I think the only narrative action in here is Spike booking it out of the story, and taking the reader with it. Which actually might be funny if the author slams the reader firmly into Spike's POV from the get-go.

But right now... no, I'm sorry, I don't think this is working as a story, author.
#57 ·
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
Prompt Relevance
Quite evident here, with the almost mirror reflections of the Applejacks' perspectives on their parents.
It's also literally through the mirror portal so obviously this story passes the prompt but that makes it no fun to go deeper into the review.

Content and Characterisation
This is an interesting take on EqG!Applejack's perception of her father, though it only clicked in me with the last few lines; they really drove home the 'emotional punch', as >>Meridian_Prime stated, with Twilight's white lie contrasting both realities' Applejacks and their relationship with their parents.

Both are 'dead' to them, literally and metaphorically respectively, and that was a nice point to draw the story around.

However, Twilight's thoughts on "So then what was eating Applejack?" was most probably unnecessary; it was well evident in thr other descriptions of Applejack's sour attitude. Just a minor issue, and it doesn't detract from the story by a notable margin.

Characterisation is on point, with Applejack's focus on family. Also nice detail in including the relative ages of Applebloom and her sister, in explaining the differences in view towards their father. Twilight, though not featured as prominently, pulls through with her role as a shoulder for Applejack to lean on.

Prose and Form
While I personally am not in favour for stories with heavy dialogue, I feel here it plays well with Applejack's cold shoulder towards her father. Moreso with the sense of unease that is brought with the first few lines, where the situation is normal - even pleasant with Applebloom joyfully returning home - yet the structure of the narration is mechanical.

Even if it wasn't intentional, props to the author for stylising the narrative to suit the emotions of the characters.

Final Thoughts
This piece fits in its word count very nicely; scope was well within what is expected and didn't fluff about needlessly. Solid characterisation, prose fit the ideas - all around an enjoyable read.
#58 · 2
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That
I might not be in this round, but >>Posh-Chan pulled review-aggro from me with the mention of Crisis on Infinite Twilights, so here we go. Yatta!



Genre: Multiversal Tinder

Thoughts: I was amused by the story’s core premise and final revelation. Granted, I’m a bit biased in favor of multiple-Twilight shenanigans anyway. But juggling multiple characters who are essentially the same isn’t easy, and I think this did a good job of keeping things readable and comprehensible throughout. It certainly doesn’t put much in the way of one’s ability to enjoy said shenanigans if one’s so inclined.

I do think the ending would benefit from a bit more resolution, though. The sudden cut to Spike at once both does and doesn’t wrap things up. Yes, some sort of impending mult-Twilight horseshoe-knocking is pretty clearly implied, but I don’t feel like that’s intrinsically satisfying given the otherwise high-concept pursuit of better living through SCIENCE! magic that the Twilights have engaged in. This might be personal bias again, but IMO it’d be much funnier to have the female Twilights descend into pseudo-intellectual arguments about how they’re going to share (or not) the object of their various pursuits, rather than stepping towards him with an unspoken “GET ‘IM!” And then there’s the matter of Spike himself pulling our focus away from the conflict that’s brewing right at the moment where it seems ready to start boiling over. I totally get running out of words in a Minific contest, assuming that the Spike-cut was a way of managing that—God knows I’ve had to face that word count struggle umpteen times myself. But it’s still kind of a bummer when it feels like there’s more to a story’s premise and potential that’s just being left on the shelf.

Nevertheless, I feel this does what it does pretty well and it’s bound to clean up well for FimFiction. Though if I could chide the Twilights a bit: who can find a perfect mate? Even “long-term reasonably happy and satisfied” isn’t perfect.

Tier: Almost There
#59 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie's Pocket Pamphet to being Hap-P · >>PinoyPony
This is an essay, not a story nor a vignette, albeit written to be by a fictional character. Does qualify it as a minific? Mort de l'auteur. It is a plotless exploration of character that is high in message. It entertained me, which is good, and the qualifying mirror prompt paragraphs were enlightening and wise, though much of the Pinkie-prattle felt to me like it sported sophisticated words Pinkie would not use. It needed more randomization, maybe. For a quick throw together, I'd say you did a pretty good job—but for the lack of story part.
#60 ·
· on Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
I really love it when stories are razor-focused like this, especially in minific rounds. I can tell you've got this very specific vision in your head of how you want to execute this, and the focus shows. It was a very bold move to keep the defining conflict vague, and to try to encapsulate the emotions of the story as a standalone.

Ultimately, I think I'm mostly just getting tripped up (ha!) over what feel like minor issues, but these little things for me were enough to derail my reading experience off of how you probably wanted me to feel/react.

For instance, I really don't see how Glim-Glam and Twinkles can't just magic themselves out of this situation, no matter what it is. Let's be honest--due to how the show has depicted these two (especially Twilight) in recent years, it's really hard to come up with a situation that genuinely feels like it could put a powerful individual like Twilight in mortal peril. Even the show itself doesn't always do a great job at this.

Maybe I'm being knitpicky, but I really feel like you need to convince me that Twi can't teleport them to safety, or magic the wound closed, or why Glimmy can't just send them back in time to before this SNAFU even happens. If you look at some of the best post-alicorn Twilight fanfics that put her in physical danger, there's almost always some kind of explanation as to why she can't magically fix things. The example that I can't get out of my head is the Celestia Code series, which gradually ramps up the scale of its skill-based magic system until finally it strands Twilight in a low-magic environment just to keep up with her power level. It also helps that a lot of its conflicts are emotional and interpersonal, rather than man vs nature.

The point of my rant (my apologies!) is that I'm not sure that you can reliably bet the stakes of this story on Twi's and Glam's well-being alone. I know that there are hints of the surrounding conflict, like the bit that makes me wonder why they turn around, and consequentially why they set off in the first place. But I'm not sure if these are substantial enough to make me really feel invested in their situation. Maybe just a few more tantalizing details might seal the deal.

I really hope I didn't come across as preachy here--the reason why I've gone into detail is because I can just barely taste what you're going for, but it's just not quite there for me. I'm really in love with what I think you're trying to do. But these deceptively small elements are really hurting my experience, like the fact that there's just a little too little explanation. I don't want you to ruin the sense of mystery you've built, but at the same time a mystery is the most fun when it's intriguing, not when it's confusing.
#61 · 2
· on Retirees
This is definitely a clever idea, and I'm charmed by your characterization of Best Girl Celestia. But if I'm honest, I've got to admit that I'm running into a couple of roadblocks that stop me from liking this as much as I could.

Firstly, it's the fridge logic. I really hate bashing stories for logistical reasons, but I just had a lot of trouble really buying into the scenario. To me, it feels overly convenient that the EQG dimension is time-looped for precisely as long as needed for Celly and Luna to meet Twi again. And I'm also wondering if there are now doubles of Celly and Luna, consdering that there are pre-existing doubles of pretty much everypony in Equestria? For that matter, does that mean there are versions of the Mane 6 and everypony else at the time Celly and Luna hop in, which would be at least a few hundred years before the events of the show? Is there a reason why Principal Celestia doesn't recognize Twilight on-sight in the first EQG movie? These distractions really hurt the payoff of the story.

My other roadblock is more on the execution side of things. The first scene, to be honest, was tough for me to work through.Out of the approximately 500 words that make up this scene, almost 300 of them are spent on 4 blocky paragraphs of speech. The fact that these are embedded in even more dialogue really makes it hard to stay focused and invested on the details of what's being said. "Talking heads" is an overused phrase, but the point remains that reading a back-and-forth where many of the story's important emotional beats are discussed rather than demonstrated is mentally very tiring for the reader.

On the other hand,I really like the flow of the second scene. There's reaction, excitement, proactivity, and a sense of heft. When you compare it to the first, it really makes the Princess's back and forth feel a bit monotonous and droning—the fact that their cool demeanor towards one another is never broken really makes the exchange feel static. Star Swirl, on the other hand, goes from mildly surprised, to confused, to angry, to accepting, all in a very believable flow. It really helps keep the dialogue interesting.

IN the end, I think what'll really help this piece is a brush-up of the emotional pacing of the first scene, and maybe just a bit more explanation into the logistics of the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey details of the reveal. You've got a good set of bones here, but you might need another go at the meat and potatoes of how the story wants to fit together.
#62 ·
· on Homecoming
It's hard to take a deep dive in restricted word counts, but I feel you tried and mostly succeeded. I had to reread the ending and still it feels like Powder tried to affect Chrysalis the way Thorax did, but failed just leaving a bad taste in the queen's mouth. I know the writing was rushed for all of us, but the pronouns are critical and in the ending needed to be more definite.

Powder felt her love flow freely into Chrysalis. She felt nothing in return, but she continued.


The first "she" is probably Powder.
The second "She" continued, implying a verb. Since "felt her love flow freely" is something that not something that one can intentionally continue since it happens without volition, my mind says this "she" is Chrysalis. This breaks the story flow at the most critical moment.

"Oh, sister," she said, "How I loath...


"She" is probably Chrysalis, but is it?

The net result is vagary, combined with an abrupt ending. Maybe Powder died. Maybe she became a mindless worker. Maybe Powder's love left a bad aftertaste. Maybe, Powder's love gone she's now a queen and a fight will insue. You needed more polish in these last paragraphs to make them concrete. I have a sense of missed greatness. Good editing on a hard deadline is a good skill for a published author to acquire. Think about what you could have done here.

This place still looks creepy as ever,

I cite this as it is a POV error. It threw me out of the story. Better would be how Powder could see how a pony would see it as creepy. Don't buy creepy from her. Painful, bad memories, institutional, lacking warm... not creepy, especially when it subsequently evokes nostalgia.
#63 ·
· on Endless Lawns Below · >>Bachiavellian
A nice slice of life with Dashie and Rarity written in ways that seem true to character. The ending, especially the implied and explicit poetry of it, the comparison to Twilight, the spell and Dashie's taking care to assure her friend doesn't fall, plays to the characters strength and begins to feel profound. It doesn't quite get there, but I think this is only because of the necessary rush to complete. Even so, it leaves an afterglow that escapes the sappy ship fiction.

That said, you need to pay attention to your use of the omniscient narrator. I've no objections to it's use, but you spend more time in Dashie then Rarity such that it almost feels accidentally omniscient and not intentional.

I assume this is Equestria, but this line quoted below gave me pause. It threw me enough out of the story, that I spent the rest of the story looking for hooves. This likely led to me not feeling the full impact of the ending.
She squeezed one eye shut and adjusted her arm somewhat.

Are these Equestria Girls? Ponies have forelegs. Unfortunately, I can only believe the wonky astronomy for the magical land of Equestria, not the pseudo-human land of Equestria Girls. Take this as an example of how even one word can ruin the verisimilitude of a story.


When I looked for the quote to cut and paste, I found "hooves" two paragraphs above. That "hooves" was completely invisible in the narrative because it fit my preconception. "Arm" broke that.
#64 ·
· on Long Distance Beauty Calling or Something Like That
A fun creative story with a satisfying twist that you lead the reader carefully to such that it is both unexpected and totally perfectly foreshadowed.

This story misses greatness, however, for one big obvious reason: It really needed some good system for enumerating* and distinguishing the various Twilight Sparkles, something Twilight Sparkle the character ought to have wanted to do immediately. Instead, you have the age-old writer's plague of multiple characters of the same gender and having to reuse the gendered pronoun, in this case "she" for multiple distinct characters, without the luxury of being able to use their name or title or distinguishing physical attribute as a stand-in. Equestria Girls fiction handles this with Sci-Twi. You do have at least one alicorn and many unicorns. They need classification. A rewrite with classification, perhaps having the last Twilight Sparkle (no spoilers) just being Twilight, expanded to 1000 characters and published on FimFiction would been a real hoot. I'll be expecting it.


*at first I thought there were two. I didn't get at least half-way through that there were many many more.
#65 ·
· on Endless Lawns Below
>>scifipony
Just an FYI, "arm" is actually an anatomically correct term for a horse's foreleg. Don't worry—it kind of crept me out when I first learned it too. :P
#66 ·
· on Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
Also known as: Through the Desert with a Parchment of Runes

Running impressions:

There was nothing to look back “from”, or “to”? It sounds like there's nothing to look forward to, so looking back would have been more interesting.

“smothering the land onto her muzzle” sounds like a clause; it was confusing to read.

No need for “the unicorn” at the end of paragraph 3; just use the pronoun. “the mare” in paragraph 4 (and various uses later) is also awkward, as are the pronouns in that paragraph; that took some rereading, though I was able to get it in the end. To be fair, this is a pretty tricky situation, with two characters with relatively few distinguishing characteristics—though is there a story reason to hide Twilight's name for several paragraphs? I currently read that as an attempt to have the scene sort of “fade in”, but if that's the case, I wonder if it causes more problems than it's worth. The names definitely flow more nicely in the second half.

“the glare came back in full force”—did you mean the glare from nine paragraphs ago, or some other glare which I'm not finding?

The sequence of events once the rock section gets going is confusing, partly because I think you meant “the rock had pierced”, in past perfect tense. There's actually too many little pieces of text that don't quite link to each other here to keep pointing them all out, but the biggest thing that's hard for me to correct for as a reader is: what is the parchment, and why is it their only means of survival, and if it's some kind of escape spell like I want to assume it is (especially since in the episode this seems to be based on, the closest object was a time travel parchment, and it was apparently usable from anywhere (added later: I think, at least? Maybe I need to rewatch that)), why aren't they just using it right now?

Overall: I like that you were bold enough to try to keep the surroundings vague, especially with the level-mixing similarity with the literally hazy setting, but I think maybe it went a little too far, or just needed better execution. The environment is a neat choice, and you can keep a lot of faraway details hidden to good effect, but the connections between the events that are actually in the story need to be tighter, and the writing needs to be a lot tighter on a mechanical level. I think that's all fixable, and I'd be curious what this would look like afterwards. Slate: 10th of 13.
#67 ·
· on The Village of Friendship (and Property Damage)
Also known as: Ponyville

Several minor pronoun antecedent problems. (This continues to be hard to do well, but it's still important for reading flow.) On the plus side, yay, correct omissions of closing quotation marks at paragraph breaks that are immediately followed by further dialogue from the same character!

I like the character voicing, sweet and simple, and the emotional contrast comes through clearly. Very FiM. The hard “damn” feels a little out of character, though.

I wish the clarity didn't also wind up so telly, though. More indirect signaling of the emotions rather than repeating lots of variations on “Sweetie Drops is sad and feels like a failure”, which gets monotonous about halfway through the story. Oddly enough, I think the viewpoint character inner monologue section has a positive effect on the flow, even though the content of it could use some work.

I can't quite tell whether Sweetie Drops's further instructions actually won't be coming because she was politely fired before, or her further instructions actually won't be coming because she's going to be fired as a result of the current incident, or she's just feeling self-deprecating and assumes that one of those things will happen when it's not true.

I love the detail of spycraft instincts leading to dodging the second pillow.

The ending is pretty punchy, but I'm not sure even after the last line whether Sweetie Drops would actually prefer to still be called “Bon Bon”, but it's plausible and it comes across as convincing. So maybe it's a little truncated, and it would be better to show Sweetie Drops's emotional response to the last line with just one more sentence to round it out to completion.

Overall: I'd like this better if it were less one-note/wallowing and less telly/talking-heads, but the good bits string together well. I can imagine this being half its length and still being a complete story with the same impact, or this length but with more interesting scenery and details packed in; either way, cutting a lot of the more repetitive stuff would make this much stronger. Slate: 7th of 13.
#68 ·
· on The Forever Friend · >>PaulAsaran
Also known as: Where's Blue's Clues?

Running impressions:

So the talking heads with no direct dialogue attribution actually works great here. Nitpick: disappointed that there's no textual echo of the echo in the first line. :-P

Good Pinkie voicing! Good revelation of this being young Pinkie.

She doesn't see a horn, or legs, or eyes, or a mouth… does she see anything else? Should I be imagining a strange body with none of those things, or more of an incorporeal space? I was leaning toward the latter until that line, and I think my leaning is confirmed later… yeah, looks like it. Leaving that ambiguous is probably okay.

“I am not a pony”, but still uses “for the love of Harmony” as an intensifier? Huh.

Even the “…” beats work pretty well.

The big problem here is I still have no idea at the end of the story who Blue is, and it seems like it's supposed to be someone specific, with the whole evil-magic shtick going on.

Overall: It's got a nice arc, it's got good voicing, and the minimalism works for me. But who the heck is Blue? I wanted to like it, but that was glaring, and I can't quite get past it. It might work if it were clearer on the meta-level that it's meant to be ambiguous, or it might work if there's enough more textual clues that it's easier to puzzle out who the mysterious interlocutor is. As it is, that part leaves me way hanging. Slate: 11th of 13 (though to be honest I was pretty unsure about how to rank this one and I'm not certain that's fair).
#69 ·
· on Endless Lawns Below
Also known as: Starry-Eyed Lovers

Running impressions:

“let the question hang in the air like silk suspended by soaring winds” right up front, that's a nice one. Is Rarity lonely, though? It seems like she's pretty satisfied given she's got Dash by her side right now.

The “Up you go now” reads like it's from Rarity, but it also sounds like what Dash would be saying to her in its stock-phrase sense.

“climbed the sky”, I like that bit too.

If these are like reality-prime optics, gravitational lensing is always happening, and it's just a relative visibility change that makes it only possible to notice it during eclipses. But it's also like Dash to get that wrong, and having the lensing only happen during an eclipse could also be the “Painting the Frost on Windows” aspect of Equestrian reality, so I'm not too worried. What actually clangs more is that it feels like this is meant to be the “mirror” part of the prompt, and it's… not a mirror?

That last paragraph… mmf. Gahhh.

Overall: Most of this is workable romance-fluff. (Gravitational lensing continues to not be a mirror, at least not in any way that's justified by alternate physics in-story.) Dash's motivation is eh for me; I think oddly enough, this might have worked better if it were thoroughly a slice-of-life with no point to it, and the characters and narration both acknowledged this. “Rainbow Dash tries to be romantic and hypes something up as really cool; Rarity is unenthusiastic about it, but they're still happy with each other even though the original purpose was lost” sounds like a compelling idea. But that last paragraph is so, so telly and glurgey that it ruins the rest of the story for me, and it kills that arc stone dead by completely contradicting the “the purposelessness was okay” attitude which I thought I was starting to see. And the alternative of making it land more purposefully would probably require changing the course of the rest of the story. Sorry, author, but it's not working well for me as it is. Slate: 12th of 13.
#70 · 2
· on On A Scrap of Paper, Hidden Away in Applejack's Drawers · >>Bachiavellian
Also known as: Sincere Applejack Writes Poetry Accidentally

Running impressions:

Blank verse?

Oh, this is very slice-of-life-y. Streams of consciousness, over time, implying things, with lots of flavorful details.

The gradual revelation of what thoughts this is spiraling inward toward are elegantly twined into the text.

The gradual letting go too. That really hits home, and so does the ending. And the voicing is perfect. That's Applejack's private journal all right. I could just cry.

Overall: Sweet, crisp, and just the right amount of mushy, with a vibrant, deep tang. Slate: 2nd of 13.
#71 ·
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
Also known as: The Scar on the Apple Tree

Running impressions:

The “fingers” are a good early scene-setting to show me this is EqG universe.

Good balance on showing the Apple mode of speech.

Some minor typographical errors, like a missing full stop after “said Apple Bloom”.

Is Winona inside the house or outside when the front door closes?

Pleasantly evocative details, like “salt and cayenne”. And the tension in the centerpiece scene is palpable.

Possible inconsistency: when's Apple Bloom going to get time to say bye if Bright's already starting the truck by the end of the story? That could just be him making a mistake or assuming Applejack will say something sooner, but that feels a bit off.

The things being the same way for pony Applejack in the ending feels underjustified, and I'm not sure where it was supposed to lead; that could maybe use another sentence or two to link it up and round it off. I like ending on the imagery of the truck crunching, though, and the emotional tone of that image reflects the broken family well.

Overall: Oof, this is one of the more powerful ones, and the tension sticks around. The ending is a little weak on plot, but the emotion comes through great, and the laconicness of the main body of the story works for it. Pretty solid as a whole. Slate: 5th of 13.
#72 · 1
· on In Spirit Golden · >>Meridian_Prime
Also known as: On the Origin of Changelings

Running impressions:

“Solar Swirl”, eh? Any relation?

Punchy early characterization and dialogue, and the argument between the main characters flows well. Loving the driving home that yes, this is very much a friendship-magic-based universe and that affects how everything works.

That sympathetic motivation near the end of the first section… is she really… I'm holding my breath here.

What kind of array is it? (Is this the mirror part? A mirror array? That'd be neat, but it could just as well be explicit.)

That's just how Solar Swirl would act based on his attitude earlier, with the surface arrogance and curtness tempered by a true love of magic and underlying deeply prosocial affinities. And the part where this is the first thing that's made him feel reverence in a long time is great exposition of how momentous this is.

Oh sugarcubes, that's what the textile mark was for.

What is she doing? Okay, so ambiguously sympathetic motivation from earlier gets resolved into a

Hair and coat and oh my god.

And the true sociopathy, the casualness of it and the unflinching decision to

!!!

Overall: It tastes like a thunderous church organ piece with chromatic counterpoint in cunning cadences, author. Or like a deep, sparklingly bitter, lightly intoxicating juice with the scent of grapefruit and blood. Were I the appropriate one of the main characters, and had I the abilities she has in certain canons, I would devour you to take your ability to write like this. Amazing. Slate: 1st of 13.
#73 · 1
· on The Forever Friend · >>PaulAsaran
Well, bam! I am speechless! Luckily, I'm writing.

I'd say, off-hand, that you aced this prompt, both the mirror and the "brightly" part. Your choice of Pinkie works perfectly for her history and for her distinctive voice, the latter especially because it allows you to utilize a very spare and sparse prose style that lacks attribution or decoration. The latter works into the story because she's in a cursed mirror so we don't and shouldn't see. The former, her voice, never leaves me (a reader) unsure who's speaking. Altogether, it maximizes the way-too-few words available to tell a story, and you do. You tell a uniquely Pinkie Pie story that could possibly only work with her. And you use her history to make your little story emotionally affective and kind while deeply exploring character.

I can't think of one thing I think is obviously wrong, nor can I think of anything to do to improve the story, though frankly, a little more time would probably marginally improve the dialog as the point of this type of writing is to rush. Perhaps, the use of the HR tag instead of three ellipsis lines might have netted you a dozen more words, but that's a stretch.

Overall, fabulous. I will point out that you may never be able to use this style again, because where else would it apply, but it demonstrates your capabilities. Good work.
#74 · 1
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
Huh! Don't know rightly how you fit all that in so few words, but it was at minimum an incredibly skillful weaving of the troupes of midwestern life and no-good parents. As a child of divorce, I really feel this story, and I am not in the least offended (as I imagine general MLP readers on FimFic might be) by such a deviation from canon, which you so soundly and profoundly acknowledge. Fiction is a platform for explicating and dissecting the human soul; I feel I witnessed a heart operation, one I'm unsure was successful for those involved.

I appreciated it, and for me that is enough.

Except for one line, it all rang true. The voice, the situation, the need for a witness. The all of it. That off-key line was:
"I understand," said Twilight.

Nope. Pony Princess Twilight wouldn't say that. My opinion: change that.

I loved how you expertly set the stage with incidental information, like the use of the word fingers and then phone to set the Equestria Girls stage. The use of a vulgar word is soooo midwestern in this context, it adds verisimilitude and sets the stage for highlighting a human condition. It also allows you to incidentally introduce this Twilight is the princess one, setting the reader's expectation and perspective in incredibly few words so that we can understand and contrast a very human drama. I could blather on, but I'll stop with the one word, card. While I didn't instantly get where you were going with this git, it hit me with a hammer when it paid off. Skillful. Skillful Skillful.

This wasn't a story of good feelings, it didn't need to be, but I felt for everyone in it, including me in the stead of the witness, Princess Twilight. Good work.
#75 · 1
· on On A Scrap of Paper, Hidden Away in Applejack's Drawers · >>Bachiavellian
I don’t quite know how I feel about peaches.

This describes how I feel about this story if you substitute this story for peaches.

It is a list of diary entries presented as blank verse. Yes, the sum total does tell a story, but not via plot, and in a secret way not intended to be read but by its fictional writer, which has its attraction even if you must intuit it. It has no conflict, unless you count recounted problems.

Your story is very meta. Intentionally. I usually can't judge experimental writing, but I think I can give this a go. Take this crit with that grain of salt.

I like the blank verse format, but think an HR tag between diary entries would make it easier to read.

I like the concept as a whole because it is an effective affective exploration of character—through confession, which further nuances it.

It challenges the reader to fill in a story, even if there isn't one.

I can see no reason to have chosen verse formatting when regular paragraphing would have worked perfectly well and made it easier to read.

It entertained me. I'm a lit-nerd.

It forced me to work, meaning I had to figure out what you were doing. After reading, I had to analyze it. I did both because I felt obligated by entering the contest along side you. This means that I got thrown out of the story in the first paragraph. Depending on what venue it was published in, with what type of introduction, that could mean no one would read it in its entirety. (I'm thinking but not limiting it to FimFiction.) Keep that in mind.

This meta story is very meta as to how it fits the prompt. To me, the diary entries are a reflection of AJ in a non-mirror medium. I'll ignore the brightly clause.

I'll say good job because, in its context, it works.
#76 ·
· on The Village of Friendship (and Property Damage)
Good story and a nice take on the prompt with Lyra as the mirror and oh so brightly. Two things stood out as somewhat problematic.

Her best friend suddenly revealing she wasn't the pony she seemed to be—that might do the trick!


This sentence ends in the conditional. That implies a future situation. I immediately thought this takes place before SD's big reveal. I was confused as I read on, though I figured it out within a dozen paragraphs.

Sweetie Drops tried to argue, but got a hoof stuffed in her mouth.


The story ends at that paragraph. I was astonished to scroll up and find more. The rest is fluff, IMHO, especially considering that this isn't the beginning of a much larger story—which, incidentally, I would welcome.

Good exploration of character. Good depiction of emotions. Good work.
#77 ·
· on Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
Intense.

Competently written.

Not sure what the point was of having me read through that or how it fit the prompt. It didn't so much end as it concluded abruptly.

Since it wasn't one of the Cutie Remark time loops or they would have used the parchment and left, or it was and there is no reason that Starlight didn't activate it, or Twilight was proving something by wrecking their chances, or Starlight was proving she was strong and Twilight weak... Can you see that I see there's no determinate story here, just a stream of consciousness I cannot fathom the meaning of?

I'm guessing your entry is an incomplete submission. So, I'll keep with the competently written assessment. One nitpick: If you don't have an em-dash on your keyboard, the manuscript convention is two hyphens (dashes).
#78 ·
· on Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit
You've not given us the context of the conflict, as far as I can tell, and reading the above comments confirms it. That's priority number one when expanding this. Other than that... I feel like I can't comment on the characters' decisions, the stakes, the emotion, the ending, anything, without knowing what the context is. Sorry, Author.

But thanks for submitting! Best of luck to you.
#79 ·
· on Retirees
I'm abstaining on this one because I haven't seen the sirens movie (I'm still waiting for somebody to get angry enough at me to tell me what the actual title is), but from a technical standpoint I figure it's probably worthwhile to agree with Bach here about the execution side of things. First scene clunky, second scene much better.

Also, why is Luna talking like that?

Thanks for entering!
#80 ·
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Bachiavellian >>Light_Striker
Disclaimer: The first sentence of this review sounds harsh. I'm sorry but I'm unable to think of a better way to start it just now. Don't worry, I get nicer.

This is one of those stories that sacrifices the reader's enjoyment of the story in order to facilitate a twist at the end. I've seen this a lot before, actually. See, as I was reading, I was all ready to complain that Celestia sounds absolutely nothing like herself. Disdainful, petulant, a big ol' baby with shiny hair. It really took me out of the story.

But okay, so she's changing* into Daybreaker. True, that technically explains what was happening with her throughout the story, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't enjoy it. A little more reader empathy would have gone a long way here.

Now, you see that little asterisk up there, next to the word changing? It's there because, if I'm being totally honest, I don't think this story shows her changing into Daybreaker at all. She seems to already be Daybreaker right from the start. The first line that Celestia delivers in your story includes "playing perfect for my subjects". That isn't a Celestia line; that's a Daybreaker line. I wonder if this story would have been more impactful if Celestia had started off as the Princess we all know, and finished doing something slightly Daybreaker-esque, such as what she does here. That way we actually experience the internal changes with her, instead of just the external changes. You can even keep the same ending line (which I loved).

Luckily, (and you may have already noticed this), the first issue I discussed would also be solved by adding the full arc.Two birds with one stone, look'a that.


That's all for complaints though. On the positive side, this story has great prose. Some of the best this round, if you ask me. It's fresh, yet unobtrusive. So kudos on that front!

Aaaaand that's all I got. Thanks for writing, Author, and good luck in the voting!
#81 · 1
· on Forgotten Lessons Remembered · >>Posh
I feel like... the only one who didn't find this very FiM. The dialogue felt very clunky—specifically in that the characters are using more words than they need to—and a lot of the word choices are not very FiM at all (spaghettification, beating each other bloody, etc.). And what is this about mlp characters beating the shit out of each other to become friends? I'm certain that's never been a lesson.

I mean, the story certainly referenced FiM a lot—the characters spent a long time talking about stuff that happened in the show and the movie (or hyperlinking to it). And that's one of my complaints, Author. You can assume we've seen all this stuff. Because we have.

But okay, let's talk about the lesson. I'm with >>Light_Striker, I'm lost about what anyone has learned, let alone what anyone has taught. Perhaps I'm a doofus. But the whole story is predicated on people learning something here, and without knowing what that is, I just see characters taking a tour through some random environments, referencing stuff that's happened to them in the past, and pointing out that Tempest is a reformed villain just like them.

I'm certain the lesson exists in your head, Author. But I haven't caught a single thread of it. Sorry about that.

Perhaps someone else can set me straight?
#82 · 1
· on Half a Pair Short · >>Posh
This story is one of my favourites this round, although I do still have a major grievance to air out. But before I get to that, some "good job"s are in order!

The subtlety in this story works exceedingly well. I'm a big fan of how you didn't spell out the issue for so long; you just let me figure it out (alongside Twi). And yeah, eventually AJ does spell it out, but this isn't to explain what's going on, this is to bring up the contrast with Human AJ and Pony AJ, which to me is the whole point of the story. See, this is one of those stories where the author's decisions really shine through, if you're looking for them; and when you're not, it's just gripping. But in a subdued way. So good job!

Okay, so only the one good job. But it's an all-encompassing kinda good job.

The grievance, though, is that you lost me pretty hard on the third-to-last line:

"Yeah. It's like this for her, too."


It's really not, Twilight. It's not the same at all.

I first thought this story was building up to a reveal—not for us, but for Human AJ. I was genuinely curious how she would react to the fact that Pony AJ lost her father. Would she re-evaluate her position? Would she bitterly say that Pony AJ is lucky to not have seen what her father would turn into? Something else? I don't know.

I also felt like it didn't make sense for Twilight's character? Let me put it this way: If the roles had been reversed, and Twilight had lied to Pony AJ about there being an alive father out there, that would fit her character a whole lot better, because Pony AJ stands to be protected by being lied to, whereas Human AJ might actually gain a little perspective. Or not! Again, I don't know.

And it might seem that I'm just whining about not getting the story I wanted, but I honestly feel like having Twilight lie at the end betrayed what the rest of the story had built up. When she equated a "deadbeat dad" with a "dead dad"... it just felt like the meat of the story was being reduced to a pun on the word "dead".

Perhaps I really am just whining about not getting the story I wanted. I don't know. I hope this review has been helpful, Author, and best of luck to you. I think this story should place very well, but on the off-chance it doesn't, I'll bring out my best pitchfork, and I'll lend you my second-best if you need it.

Thanks for writing!
#83 · 2
· on My Sister Loved You
The technical skill on display here is great. Your hook turns heads, and you do a great job of switching between high-level, informative narration and the moment-to-moment dialogue as the story needs it. It really makes your wordcount feel longer than a minific, in a good way.

The thing is, I think I'm having trouble with how you're handling your payoff. To me, Twilight's convo with Luna makes it clear that the audience is meant to empathize with Luna. But Luna's motivations and actions come across as somewhat manipulative and selfish, the more I read this. I assume that we're meant to believe that day and night are non-magical processes, and that Luna is lying to the public to preserve the image of her sister. This begs the question of why Celestia "faked" raising and lowering the sun in the first place. The story doesn't convince me that it was a good thing for Celestia to deceive the world, so it makes me feel that Luna's involvement and enforcement of this deceit is similarly in the wrong.

Additionally, Luna's explanation as to why her lie on Celestia's behalf is just as valid as Celestia's lie on her behalf falls flat to me. Just because Luna was 'dead' to the people who knew her originally, doesn't mean she can't benefit from a good image upon her return. But no matter how you cut it, preserving Celestia's image (since she is, as far as we can tell, irrevocably dead) can benefit only Luna, by association.

This is causing a degree of cognitive dissonance for me. On the one hand, I'm supposed to care about Luna because she acts very sympathetically. But on the other hand, the decision she makes and the way she rationalizes it still feels wrong to me.

In the end, I feel like this could be a great "the princesses are manipulative tyrants" story if it lost its sympathetic depiction of Luna, or it could be a great "princesses are only people" story, if it did a better job of convincing me that deceiving the public is an acceptable idea. As it stands right now, I'm definitely enjoying the prose, but I feel like I'm not getting a coherent message.
#84 · 2
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Light_Striker
I like the idea you're going for here, and I like that you used a tight, thought-by-thought level of first-person narration here, which was definitely the right choice.

I'm going to be brutally honest and say that when I got to the twist, it just didn't feel as impactful to me as I suspect you wanted it to be. I've done some thinking on why this didn't work for me as well as the twist in In Spirit Golden, and I hope my thoughts make sense.

I think a lot of my let-down might have to do with the fact that outside of the twist, there is actually very little else, if anything else, happening in the story. I think one of the most important parts of executing a twist is to actually distract the audience from the mechanics of the reveal. In this story, the first third of the story with the newspaper headlines sets Celestia's mood, then the middle third sets the physical scene of the twist event, and the last third is the epiphany playing out. It's about as barebones as you can get. In contrast, In Spirit Golden had a lot of little things happening in the foreground, like Gossamer's psychopathy, and the dynamic between her and Solar. All of these little things helped me get invested in the setting, before the story executed on its premise.

I think what >>Light_Striker is picking up as "rushed" might be because the twist itself ends up feeling small in comparison to all of the word count and lengthy bulk that was spent building up to it. I know that sounds odd to say about a minific (which is by nature short), but you need to take into account how readers read minifics. We're going into this knowing that there's only 750 words before we get our payoff. So, almost every sentence, we're asking ourselves, "Okay, where is this story going? What is the central point?" just because we know it's going to end soon. If you look at historic winners of minific competitions, the vast majority of them establish settings and characters within the first couple of sentences. They almost invariably telegraph their theme/arc/message/conflict within the first 100-200 words. It's important to hook your audience as quickly as humanly possible.

With this story, we open up with the news headlines, which while mood-setting, doesn't really hook the reader immediately. As readers, we're still asking ourselves, "Where is this story going?". During the breakfast scene and the telescope foreshadowing, we're still asking ourselves "Where is this story going?". And when we finally get the answer at the end, the story is already over. It's a bit of an anti-climax, since we don't have anything to latch onto until we're already done with the whole thing. I think this has a lot to do with >>Miller Minus's point about sacrificing the reading experience for the sake of the twist.

In my opinion, you need to give the audience some kind of answer to "What is this story about?" as darn fast as you can, even if it's just a distraction. With In Spirit Golden, the hook was the mystery of Gossamer's motivation and the intrigue of her psychopathy. These both play into the twist, but they do not directly set the twist up. They're there for the reader to become interested, first and foremost. I feel like you need something like that here—something demands my investment. Otherwise, when the twist is all there is to the story, it can feel bare-bones, and it becomes limited in how much of a reaction it elicits.
#85 · 2
· on In Spirit Golden · >>Meridian_Prime
Genre: Origin Story

Thoughts: I kinda wondered from the first mention of green eyes if this was going to be a Chrysalis origin. I’m okay with that, and I like what the story did with her.

I think my biggest beef here is with some fridge logic around Solar Swirl. I don’t feel like the story presents a motivation for him going along with Gossamer’s request. She exhibits several behaviors that might telegraph untrustworthiness, including an explicit statement that she wants to gain the power to control the kind of magic that he’s researched. And I’m left wondering why he’d freely give her that power without any kind of compensation or assurances about her intentions for it.

Otherwise, though, this is pretty great. It’s clean from a technical perspective. It wins style points for diving right in with its first line and holding the action firmly out to the last line. And it probably makes the right choice by using its limited wordcount to focus on Gossamer from inside of Solar’s head—that strikes me as not just a choice to help preserve the reveal, but to make the most of the space.

Tier: Strong
#86 ·
· on In Spirit Golden · >>Miller Minus >>Meridian_Prime
Stories like this, with lots of potential radiating from the core idea, oft run afoul of the time restraints of an event like this one. You didn't finish or couldn't revise or failed to reread. I am going to assume that happened. If that's the case, don't read any further.

“That does not explain,” he said coolly, “why you care about bond magic.”


This line is says precisely what I want to say to you as the author. I understand that Gos has a power not unlike Luna's in the Tantabus episode and that she is like some godlike powerplant of the soul. What I don't get is the message you are trying to impart or why I should feel more than detached horror that she basically killed the pony nation. I sense a metaphor, but not its intention.

What caused you the most issues is the totally emotionally-flat writing. Everypony spoke mechanically. Even Gos, in her relief from maintaining the connections should have cried or raged or even moaned. Think of Lord Tirek when he eats alicorn magic. The characters demonstratively didn't care, so I couldn't care. Tell not show.

The choice of no stock characters or MLP situations was fatal. This could have been a mainstream fantasy, though Sturgeon or Bradbury would have found something to kick the reader in the ass.

There was no sense of place to relate to. It wasn't even Equestria based on the 100 year reference in the story. Except for the energy strands and Gos's green eyes, I saw nothing. No houses, trees, grass, ponies... nothing. I didn't even smell horse sweat or the ozone of a spell cast, or have a sour taste when the horror revealed itself. Did he sweat, was it hot or cold when the world ended? Was there a crackle or buzz in the treads? Enough said.

I sense you could do better. Next MLP event, go with a stock or at least background character. Don't make your work so hard.
#87 ·
· on Retirees
Thank you for the warning. I abstained.
#88 ·
· on My Sister Loved You
I see the intricate weaving of grief and emotion here, but it feels muddled all the same. Mourning often rips the soul like that, so I'm sorta okay with that, but also disappointed. This story would have benefited from revision and polishing.

The story's one fatal flaw was implying the denouement rather than showing it. The emotion of explicitly describing the sun* would have generated the emotional heat that would have burnt away the foggy sense building throughout the entire story.

I usually ask writers not to justify their work after receiving a critique because that' should must be a personal journey for them and I am but one reader whose own context should not be ultimately trusted. Justification just sours your relationship with the critic. Mort de l'Auteur. I'd typically advise you to say "Thank you" to all your crits and just silently ask yourself if anything stated was helpful or enlightening.

But still, I am asking you, why not show?

I'd written off your story and wasn't even going to give a critique, and spent time asking myself why when I figured out what I asserted above to be true about your story. Vague endings are justified when you want the reader to decide their own ending: I wrote a novel where either the main character genuinely interacted with the spirits of the dead, or she was insane but good at managing her insanity. Why? I wanted readers to question their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

So. Author. Why?


*Yes, I am implying Celestia's face is on the sun.
#89 · 4
· on On A Scrap of Paper, Hidden Away in Applejack's Drawers · >>Bachiavellian
Genre: Feels

Thoughts: I’m usually a stickler for desiring a story in these contests. Usually. But this is the rare exception that really won me over despite being something different. It’s emotional, heartfelt, and well-voiced. The pacing and structure are good, too. I feel like there’s a progression in AJ’s thoughts/concerns, which build smoothly from the initial head-fake about peaches (because peachfics used to be a thing, and as >>Miller Minus noted, it’s possible to take a different meaning from the phrase “Applejack’s Drawers”) all the way through to AJ showing how she’s gotten to a state of feeling mostly okay. It’s a progression that feels almost story-like even though it’s kind of not.

This strikes me as the sort of high-risk/high-reward piece that deserves acclaim when it’s done well.

Tier: Top Contender
#90 · 5
· on In Spirit Golden · >>Meridian_Prime >>Meridian_Prime
This is another strong entry. I sense it has a bit of the same problem as I mentioned in another story, where the enjoyment is partly sacrificed for the sake of the twist. It's not a huge deal in this instance, since it's mostly just confusion that we experience when approaching the final reveal. Mainly, confusion as to how the story fits into the universe, and why this story matters in the grand scheme of Equestria, but that's something that with more expansion could be easily filled in, even without changing much of what's above. An added scene with just Solar Swirl so we understand his goals, a little background as to what led Gossamer down this path (that way we like her even before we realize we know her), that kinda stuff.

One thing that might help us understand what 's going on is what "bond" magic is. I got the impression that this was a scientific meeting, so I was thinking about covalent bonds. Just a nitpick, I know that friendships are a "bond" as well, but I recommend revising a touch, just to make sure nobody makes a mistake like that.

My only other real complaint is that Gossamer isn't reminiscent of who she becomes, except for attitude. Unless she has some connection with bugs—oh, threads. Like in a coccoon. Okay... *ahem*.

Carry on.

Now, I've never reviewed other reviews before, but I've also never come across a comment that I've disagreed with on so many levels before. So... here we go.

Hi, >>scifipony. I'm a little confused.

Putting aside the fact that you haven't noticed the twist—that's fine, because it's good for the author to know—your review feels like it's for a different story, and there were a couple things you said that flew in the face of everything I've learned as an author.

What caused you the most issues is the totally emotionally-flat writing. Everypony spoke mechanically.


I'm curious how you came to this conclusion. I can see the "emotionally flat" impression by the amount of adverbs and narrative italics that the author uses, and their drive to mention every little action and facial expression in the scene, but the dialogue is what you didn't like? To me, it was one of the strongest parts of the story. Every line felt carefully designed, fresh, and the discussion gave us a window into the characters' intentions (SS's fridge logic aside). But okay, that's a personal experience thing, so whatever, the author can review that on their own time.

Except for the energy strands and Gos's green eyes, I saw nothing. No houses, trees, grass, ponies... nothing. I didn't even smell horse sweat or the ozone of a spell cast, or have a sour taste when the horror revealed itself. Did he sweat, was it hot or cold when the world ended? Was there a crackle or buzz in the treads? Enough said.


Clearly there was something that held you back from enjoying the story. That's fine, but I implore you to try and dig deeper than this complaint, because it's kind of odd. The author explained, in great detail: The threads, the glowing orbs, the houses, the links attached to Gossamer that she severs, how she looks before and after her transformation, etc. The author chose to describe these things because they were what mattered to the story. The thermostat setting? Not so much.

Plus, while describing senses can be handy, you talk about them as if they're items on a list that the author must check off in order to have written a Good Story(TM). It's mechanical, unspecific advice. What would the smell of horse sweat add to the scene, anyways? Did the threads not making a sound really damage your reading that much?

I sense you could do better.


A pinch of condescension before the big finish:

Next MLP event, go with a stock or at least background character. Don't make your work so hard.


This is honestly the main reason why I'm writing this response. That final piece of advice, applied in this context, and in this setting, is madness. Taking on challenges is how you grow as an author; it's how you develop your craft. Telling the author to avoid hard work and just stick with what they know is the same as telling them to stagnate. And who knows what the author's goal is? If it's to improve their writing to a degree that they feel comfortable to start submitting their work to magazines and editors, then attempting original characters is fundamental to achieving that goal.

Alright, that's enough outta me. Thanks for writing this story, Author! I expect it to do well.

Bye!
#91 · 1
· on The Forever Friend · >>Light_Striker >>CoffeeMinion >>PaulAsaran
guys, it's. It's Filly Pinkie meeting Nightmare Moon while she's still sealed away.

So I get the premise, and I understand the story well enough. I don't especially care for the format, however. Credit where it's due, you manage to keep the characters distinct enough that's I didn't really feel lost when reading it, but telling a story that relies, to some degree, on action, and using exclusively dialogue to do so, seems self-defeating.

Its placement in the series timeline and lore is iffy, too, but I'm willing to cut you some slack on that'll.

Overall, an interesting experiment, but I'm not sure it's entirely successful.
#92 ·
· on Forgotten Lessons Remembered
Out of all the entries, this probably left the biggest impression on me when I first read it. I mean, I'm already stupidly predisposed to like Tempest stories, and this does have what I think is a really fun premise. But I have to be honest and say that on the second and third reads, I'm not quite getting as coherent a message as I thought I did. I don't usually do this, but let's break it down from the top.

The poem is a little bit of an odd choice to start things off. I mean, it wasn't distracting, but it didn't really hook me either. I'm not sure what your intentions are with it, other than maybe how it references the prompt? The poem also gave off the impression a somber tone to my first read-through that turned out to not be correct, considering that the actual fic starts off with two snappy jokes in a row.

I liked the slapstick intro to the conflict, and the little coda of Spike having to physically run away. I also like that you jump straight into character-developing dialogue between Tempest and Glimmy, to keep the pacing rolling.

I'm a little less on-board with the character voicing. In the film, Tempest is definitely stoic in her speech, but I don't think she's ever outright formal. Phrases like "what do you wish" struck me on the odd side, as a result. I find myself liking Glammy's dialogue a bit more, but I'm not sure that you're taking full advantage of the first person perspective you've chosen. Outside of a few sentences describing using the mirror, I don't feel like we're getting much of her perspective.

Speaking of the mirror, the more I think about it, the more I don't see why they had to go to Human-land to fight, other than to possibly call back to the prompt? You spend a lot of words describing the portal and Human-Tempest's appearance that I think could have gone into emphasizing the message,

The message itself, about apology and forgiveness, is just about perfect in scope for a minific. I like that you've left a degree of it up to interpretation--this feels very appropriate. But at the same time, I can tell you're hitting the word cap, here. The entire resolution plays out in about 140 words, and it definitely feels like only 140 words. I can't help but feel that if you trimmed some fat (like human-land, or maybe the poem) you might be able to do some more work here, where it really counts.

In the end, I definitely enjoyed what I think you were trying to do, but a handful of execution choices did bother me. So even though this was one of the entries that I enjoyed reading the most this round, I also think that it's one of the entries that could benefit most from a top-down rework.
#93 · 1
· on The Forever Friend
>>Posh
But… “I am not a pony!”? And why would the blue be “sunny skies blue”?

I considered that as the thesis, but I didn't think it held up to the text. Maybe I'm wrong though.
#94 · 5
·
So, this Writeoff was particularly hard to judge. I always feel a little guilty with these things, because there are a lot of great stories here that deserve recognition, and yet have to be bumped down to a seemingly poor rating because that other one was slightly better. As much as I love these things, I hate that downside. Maybe this weekend when I start my "reading vacation" I'll go through these one-at-a-time and give my thoughts on each, but I just didn't have the time this week.

What's curious to me is that my two favorites by a large margin were Apple Horse's stories. Didn't see that coming.
#95 ·
· on The Forever Friend · >>PaulAsaran
Genre: Max Headroom

Thoughts: Talking heads is another high-risk design choice for a story. It economizes word count by keeping the focus purely on the characters’ dialogue, but it also requires everything to come across through that dialogue. The only exceptions are things like the verbal pauses that this story uses, which again don’t chew up any words, but which can’t convey any other details either.

In this case, I think the story comes close to being effective even though it’s rendered in a more challenging format. It does a good job of portraying Pinkie’s character in the wake of a pivotal moment of her personal development. It also does a good job of building tension around whether she’ll be able to escape wherever she’s ended up. I think it also does a fair job of conveying enough detail about the setting to start to build a mental picture.

However, I still find myself uncertain who this mysterious entity is, and what the full meaning and implications of Pinkie befriending it might be. With respect to >>Posh-Chan, I think it can’t be Nightmare Moon because it explicitly states that it’s not a pony. Without that knowledge, the story hamstrings some of the impact that it could’ve had. I also feel that the pauses were a bit obtrusive, and really would’ve been more effective if rendered through showing Pinkie’s (and the entity’s) body language (if applicable).

Still, it’s not a “miss.” It’s actually one of the better such stories that I’ve encountered. And I think it has more potential that could be unlocked by adding a nominal amount of narration beyond just the dialogue.

Tier: Almost There
#96 ·
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Light_Striker
I can see what you're doing here, and I think that while it's a good story, I think length constraints do make it hard to achieve. Telegraphy of snippets is a good choice, and it really does set up the situation, but it has its limitations. While the news articles stage the transition to C's cognition and decision, and each communicates an passion of its own, the whole chain (the definition of C's existential crisis) is devoid of emotion. You created a clockwork of logic, but what it lacks—and this is only one reader stating broadly and telegraphically—is pony tears. It's the missing pendulum to make it tick. Totally. Add that and enough verbiage to make us see and feel C's sense of isolation, and the story might be publishable. Except for the burning paper, it's all tell and no show.
#97 · 2
· on Forgotten Lessons Remembered · >>Posh
Genre: Shadow Boxing

Thoughts: WOW was the beginning rough. I’m totally on-board with the potential value of an opening accent poem and dropping in in media res, but I got pretty significant whiplash from trying to figure out who was talking and what was going on.

Similarly, I felt like the end got really jumbled with Starlight’s very brief mention of Sunburst, and then having Sunset and Twilight run in. It’s a lot of new elements and moving parts to drop in right as you’re delivering the core emotional moment & message of the fic. Like I was with it up through “—won't fix a thing,” but it got muddled afterwards.

Here’s the thing, though: the story has some really good bits in the middle. I like Starlight’s internal struggle about facing Tempest given what happened during the invasion & its impact on Trixie. There’s a wonderful bit of character exploration that happens by having Starlight literally want to beat the crap out of Tempest for what she’s done. It delivers a proper balance of MLP friendshippy-lessony stuff and a visceral reaction to trauma to show Starlight’s head going here. And couching it in a lesson given by Sunset is even better. Tempest’s point is true and gets delivered well as well.

Tier: Keep Developing
#98 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie's Pocket Pamphet to being Hap-P · >>PinoyPony
Genre: Instructional Text

Thoughts: I am, regrettably, not in the target audience here. I have a much greater preference for stories in these contests, rather than other artifacts. I’ll make exceptions when something absolutely knocks it out of the park, such as with this contest’s Scrap of Paper in Applejack’s Drawers. But even there, I prefer when the work includes some kind of more story-like thrust, or a deeper look into a given character’s psyche.

What we get here is a competently assembled episode of Pinkie waxing manic about one of her ostensible favorite topics. There’s nothing wrong with that. But ultimately I’m not getting a “story” vibe from it. I think it also narrows its potential by focusing exclusively on Pinkie’s manic persona; I feel like Pinkie is more often made interesting by exploring her greater but sometimes less obvious depths.

Sorry Author. On the plus side, though, I ain’t gonna ding ya either.

Tier: Abstain
#99 · 1
· on Neighton's Cradle · >>Light_Striker
Genre: Sunbutt Sunbutt Burning Bright

Thoughts: I think there’s a valid and interesting subgenre of Celestia’s Fall fics. I think this could even be the beginning of one. My beef with this, though, is that it’s only a beginning.

Now I’ve done this too with past minifics, so I can hardly throw stones. But it’s ultimately just not as satisfying for the reader to be taken through the buildup and “first disaster” of a logical plot arc without getting to experience the rest of it. Celestia’s fall has earth-shattering implications that don’t scan as well with just a fade to black and a trailing “Dunn dunn dunnnnn...”

But I feel like that’s more of an issue with topic selection and story structure rather than a knock against what we get here. What’s on the page is pretty good! But it’s more like an intro or a trailer than the full thing. Keep working on the rest of it, and it’s bound to be a worthwhile journey.

Tier: Keep Developing
#100 ·
· on Dolda Anslutningar · >>MLPmatthewl419
I like the idea behind this one, but I'll be honest and say that it took me about 5-10 seconds to realize what was actually going on. I'm not sure how much of it is coming from the website's compression, but I think your resolution is just way too low to easily notice the yellow lines at first glance.I also think that maybe you could have outlined them to make them stand out a bit more from the light green background, yellowish houses, and the overall manila-ish tone of the piece. On the other hand, NMM pops up really nicely, and feels detailed despite the low resolution. Thanks for submitting!