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Why Can't You See Me? · She-Ra Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 5
· · >>QuillScratch
Hello! Welcome back for another She-Ra writeoff, and our first since season two has aired. And what a season it was! Season two spoilers are welcome in this event, so if you are still behind on watching now is a very good time to get caught up—if you haven't heard that it's worth it from everyone else (how?), then take this as a ringing endorsement from me.

This time, the event is a short story event, with a word limit of 2000-8000 words over three days of writing time. At the time of writing, prompt submissions close in around 17 and a half hours, so here's a few words of advice about prompts:

• Prompts should be generic. Yes, I know we're writing fanfiction about a relatively short show, which gives us only so much to work with, but a prompt like "Catra Redemption" forces us to write, well, a Catra redemption. Your prompt absolutely shouldn't force anyone into writing a particular character (or set of characters), or use a particular time/location. Variety is the spice of life, and here at the writeoffs we like to encourage prompts that can have varied takes.
• Prompts should be appropriate: please remember that this event is open to all audiences, with a general content rating of "teen", and that prompts should respect that restriction.
• Prompts should take the correct form. The best writeoff prompts are short phrases (or even single words), which allow authors to write on a theme. Instructions ("Write a silly pairing") or long prompts are not what we're looking for, here. The latter mostly because there's a fairly small character count on the prompt input box.

As another point of order, our last She-Ra event showed quite clearly a little bit of a value clash between newer and older members of the community. I'd like to take a moment to clear up a few things, in the hopes that we can avoid further clashes before they escalate to conflict:

While critical feedback is a valued and important part of writeoff culture, it is important for all of us in this fledgling group to remember that we are primarily here because we enjoy creating things, be they fanfics or fanart. There is, in my opinion, no helpful feedback—no matter how harsh—that cannot be given in a friendly, supportive way, but it is imperative that we as a community are supportive (friendly is, perhaps, a bit too much to ask of strangers on the internet. Polite and respectful, however, is not.) We are attempting to encourage this community to grow, after all.

The writeoffs operate in many ways on the principle of good faith. The site lacks many moderation options that you would see in most large-scale forums, because we hold the assumption that people come here with good intentions to participate in our community constructively. As far as I am aware, while we have had drama over the years (oh boy, have we had drama), this principle has held relatively firm. I would like for this to continue to be the case—newcomers, however, may have a better perspective on how well this system is really working, and I would encourage everyone in the old crowd (myself included) to listen to their feedback and to take action where necessary.

To boil it down to one simple point: writeoffs should be fun. Let's do our best to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves, shall we?

With that out of the way, I want to wish everyone the best of luck with the event. Spread the word, let your writer and artist friends know about us. Writeoffs work at their best when they build a community of people. Have a great one, everyone!

P.S. Any questions? Reply to me here, or drop a message in either the writeoff discord server or the she-ra discord's writeoff channel. I keep an eye on the latter, and there's plenty of lovely, helpful people in the former who'll help before I even notice it.
#2 · 4
P.P.S. As a follow-up prompt guideline:

Please don't include season two spoilers in your prompts

While the event welcomes them, the chosen prompt will be public-facing in the url to the event, and I do not want to spoil people while sharing the link! Thanks
#3 · 2
Phew. Done!
#4 · 3
· on Transcribed Memories
The star attraction here is the characterisation. The voicing here is pure Scorpia. And on the level of structure, this hits that note of overwhelming, optimistic, and slightly oblivious glee, followed by the moments of self-doubt we see in Season 2. I wish I could write character this well.

The emotional structure is simple but sharply drawn. Scorpia is great for making something feel light and fluffy, and this is where we start. The foreknowledge of Season 2's end remains a subtle tension. From there, things get darker and more difficult. The final entry is filled with pathos. We end with Scorpia's optimism too – but how much it has changed. We see her determination, her thoughtfulness, her the nerves of steel that lie beneath the blithe demeanour. And what a wonderful contrast that is. The latter is why we love her; the former is why we respect her.

If I have a gripe – and I'm not sure if I really do – it's with the lack of originality. Everything we see of Scorpia here, well-rendered as it is, is nothing that the show hasn't already given to us. Every entry apart the final one tells us about things we've seen firsthand.

But is this a problem? Is fanfic obliged to add something original? I'm not sure it is. It certainly didn't hurt my enjoyment of this story (which is odd, because I tend to penalise stories for lacking originality). What this story offers is a perspective, an (admittedly not new) way of looking at canonical events. I won't penalise it as such, but if another story does impress me with an original take, that's probably going to get a higher rank.
#5 · 3
· on On Scorpia's Watch
I want to love this, but I'm not sure I can. I'm intensely ambivalent about it.

The good: This story is saturated with a melancholic maturity, a sense of largely decent people doing their best in ugly, messy circumstances. It's right up my alley. It's ambitious but effective: Behind all the adventure! and drama, She-Ra does have a tragic sense of life.

And to go along with that, you're teasing out some of the darker implications the show glosses over: The costs of war, borne largely by all those faceless soldiers.

But as impressive as all that is, it doesn't quite land. Why? Characterisation.

There's no trace here of Scorpia's bubbling brio. She's gloomy and pensive the entire way through. When we get free indirect, it's stuff like “Proms were stupid, anyway. They deserved to get blown up.” For dialogue, we get “The longer we keep this up, the more chance someone’s going to find those bombs” – a grimly practical complaint. The Scorpia we know was largely occupied with the shrimp. On top of that, at the end we get an unusually self-aware Catra at the end.

Now, I'm not saying you can't have a glum, grumpy Scorpia. Indeed, the reason we're all in love with her now is because Season 2 gives her some worries. But you need to justify it. You need to account for the phenomena. In other words, to show how this fits in with the chirpy Scorpia we've seen in the show. (Is she hiding her worries? Is it all a coping mechanism? Etc.)

A couple of other thoughts:

There's an odd lacuna before the final scene. Some drama at games night? I don't recall that happening in the show. If it didn't, and you're just skipping over a key dramatic scene … that's an unusual choice, but not a bad one. I thought it worth flagging, anyway.

The prose here is generally pretty good, and I have a thing for rich descriptions, but sometimes it could use a polish. In your first paragraph, between “dreary hum” and “carefully-ventilated corridors”, almost every noun has a modifier. It makes the prose seem plodding rather than rich. On the other hand, “She was not jealous of Adora./She was so jealous of Adora.” is a great turnaround.

In short, a strong story, but not such a strong fanfic.
#6 · 2
· on Transcribed Memories
scramblers has already mentioned this, and typed out my own thoughts far better than i possibly could, so i'll limit myself to saying only that your characterization of scorpia, and the manner in which you have presented us with a view of her world, is remarkable. the format, too, causes this piece to stand out in its own way as unique.

the journey from season 1's scorpia to the scorpia of season 2 shows her growth from merely a surface-level, light-hearted character to a more introspective one. the one problem i as a reader experienced, however, was the sudden transition between the two types of entries: the mention of seahawk made me wonder for a second if the scene scorpia was about to describe was from the episode where adora and company rescued glimmer/bow from their brief captivity, only to read the line

long story, but I can tell you it involved a corrupted sword, lots of snow, and a couple of deadly centipede monsters

and finally realize that there had been a notable time skip. a couple of extra diary entries, even if short, between Princess Prom and White Out and yes, i just googled the episode name, could help make the changeover smoother and therefore an easier read.
#7 · 2
· on Sightless · >>QuillScratch
Welcome to the WriteOff!

(I hope you are new, otherwise I'm going to look very silly come reveal-time.)

First of all, that author's note. I know it's common practice in some fanfic circles, but we don't do that here. It's a let-the-story-speak-for-itself sort of deal. So if Adora's had her eyes scratched out, the story should be telling me that, not the author's note. And personally, I think you should never apologise for what you've written (unless it's actually hurt someone).

Now, beyond that, I think there are three areas you can focus on for improvement. The first is prose.

Take this for example: “The flying unicorn said, spreading his beautiful multicolored wings.”

It's quite common in fanfic circles to refer to characters by their descriptions like this. The flying unicorn, the Princess of Power, the blonde etc. But you very rarely see it in professional writing. And so those of us who like to think we're good writers tend to avoid it and use names instead: Swift Wing said. Try it. It'll make your writing look a lot cleaner and less amateurish.

As for the second part “his beautiful multicoloured wings.” I think in this case, you'd be better off just writing “his wings.” Similarly, elsewhere you write “rolling his magenta eyes”. Instead, try “rolling his eyes”. We already know what he looks like, so there's no need to squeeze description here. Don't get me wrong. There is a place for description, but it's not here.

The second area is perspective.

In your first paragraph you bounce back and forth between Adora's perspective and Swift Wind's. Generally, it's better to pick one character's perspective and stick with it, describing things from their point of view. This limits what you can say: If you choose Adora, you wouldn't want to be describing things visually, for example.

Again, this is a matter of convention rather than a hard rule, and there are other ways of doing it, even in the professional sphere, but limiting you perspective to one character is usually easiest.

The third area is focus.

You've got a clear premise here – what is Catra blinded Adora? – but your story doesn't really reflect that. The bulk of it consists of Swift Wind running about in battle while Adora is just hanging out in bed. I'd suggest you decide what you want to do with your premise and focus on that. Do you want to give us the emotional fallout of a blind Adora? Then best skip over the battle. Do you want to show us how the battle goes without Adora? Then focus on that – (and consider if you really want Adora to be blinded, since it's not really necessary to take her out of the picture.)

I think those three areas should be your priorities. If it's a bit overwhelming, try working on each of them in turn.
#8 · 2
· on On Scorpia's Watch
my first impression of this piece was that it was well written, with a solid construction and ample description, balancing out the dialogue that came later; my second impression was much the same. it was only after reading scramblers' mention of modifiers that i went back, looked at the opening paragraph more carefully, and realized that there were, in fact, a couple too many adjectives, making the description lean just this side of "too heavy".

here what i am trying to say, then, is that this entry may need a bit of work as a written piece, but it reads easily as a fanfic - that is how i originally read it, after all. highlighting the more tragic aspects of the cartoon, presenting to the reader the side of the Horde that the TV-Y7-ness of the show glosses over entirely, it has a number of original elements that would appeal to an audience on the lookout for a new fic to read, combining said elements with conventions like exploring the relationship between scorpia and catra and that must be a convention, if most of the entries this round revolved around it, right?.

the side of scorpia we see here fits in well with the themes mentioned; however, it is only one side of her. hints of the more light-hearted, oblivious outlook scorpia boasts for the majority of the show can be seen in certain lines - "she was not out of shape", for instance - but they are few and far between, and the lack of more of them leaves us thinking that there is something in scorpia's personality that is missing. catra, too, does not seem through the show to be the type of person who would be this introspective so easily; in contrast, lonnie and kyle, relatively short though their appearances may be, look and sound exactly like lonnie and kyle. characterisation, then, which at the moment fluctuates and isn't constant, is something that needs to be focused on.
#9 · 1
· on Sparring
"Ancient tech?” Scorpia stared at Lonnie and scrabbled for context. “Oh. Right, yes! Ancient tech. Yes, we succeeded in getting the piece of Ancient tech. Which was our mission.”

scorpia is very scorpia, and i'm living for it.

i know this is the third comment where i'm mentioning characterisation, but as a fanfiction round i feel like an important aspect of writing the same is how well of a grasp the writer seems to have on the various characters in the show, and you've got it down pat. it's less of scorpia's thoughts, and more of scorpia's actions and speech which convey her personality: her speech patterns and the way she phrases her thoughts aloud mimic the scorpia i know and love, and that makes me a happy reader, to say the least.

there is a level of detail delved into here in order to explain various ideas put forth. instead of leaving it at saying scorpia liked reading books, we get a description of a sticky stick, that i now want to own, in order for her book reading to be a reasonable phenomenon: her claws for hands are not forgotten or glossed over. lonnie's kiss on the cheek, something i personally think would generally be out of character for her, is explained as plausible by her making sure scorpia knows she isn't to tell anyone; she has a reputation to upkeep.

this fic and its dialogue rely heavily on the use of ellipses, and while their positioning may make the characters' words sound right in one's head, and give the speech a rhythm similar to how said speech would be heard if voiced aloud, they do not read with an equally good result. not all of them are necessary, and a few in certain lines could even be replaced with commas without disrupting speech patterns, or taking away from the rhythm of scorpia's and lonnie's speeches.
#10 · 1
· on The New Adventures of Old Dryl
the originality is strong in this one.

and catch me using the phrase "a tone deaf raccoon playing with scrap metal" everywhere now.

the fact alone that this isn't a scorpia-centric entry in a collection of the same makes it distinctive, but you've gone ahead and given us an unconventional and therefore refreshing story from the point of view of minor characters with not much content to their names, and set it in a kingdom where you have free rein (free reign, if you will) to invent whatever you desire regarding the inhabitants of dryl - and i'm living for it. the humour was spectacular and had me laughing throughout; i could go on for a long time quoting specific things i liked, but i will desist.

the only thing that detracted slightly from my enjoyment of this fic was, in some areas, the clear separation of dialogue and description. don't get me wrong, there were plenty of scenes of both, and the two in their own right were written well, but sometimes the fact that a scene had only dialogue and very little description would jar me out of my immersion in the story. in some lines it is clear that the reduction in description is meant for humorous purposes, but it didn't always land for myself as a reader.

gonna end by admiring the time and effort that must have gone into typing out all those footnotes, if indeed that is what you did. i would have stopped well before number 10.
#11 · 2
· on Sightless · >>QuillScratch
this entry was the only one that thought of taking the prompt given us quite so literally! adora being blinded by catra's claws does make for an interesting premise, after all, and you've given us not only her own reaction to the terrible news, but also the thoughts and feelings of all the characters around her regarding the same. there's also a line of wacky humour that runs through the story, a counterpoint to the sadness and despair that one would ordinarily imagine a story about blindness would include.

the points of view from which the story is written are numerous, and you bounce around from one to another easily. this isn't necessarily a bad thing: third person omniscient narratives - stories which do not limit themselves to one POV, and which have a narrator who seems to know everything that goes on in all the characters' minds at all times - exist for a reason, and i myself have read quite a few well-known, well-written stories which make use of this style of narration. however, they require both a focal point (as scramblers has so kindly mentioned above) and a purpose; we see some of the latter here, it being to show the reader what a battle (both physically and emotionally) without adora would look like, unrestricted by the confines of only one or two points of view, but what the narration lacks is the former.

scramblers has already talked about focal point with regards to plot, so i'll mention here focal point with regards to setting. we have one large setting here - bright moon and the areas which the battle affects - but we also have a few smaller ones, and if you're going to move between these smaller settings, a mere weak scene break would help the reader understand that we're not in the infirmary anymore, but in the midst of the battle near the moonstone, and so on. changing the point of view is not enough: in the scene where swift wind looks out at the moonstone's pedestal about to fall over, the narrative view not only shifts to glimmer but also from the safety of the castle straight into the middle of the battle outside; the reader would find this sudden, and have to accommodate in their mind both the shifting POV and the shifting setting.

this entry was overall a good attempt, but just a little solid groundwork would help make it much better.
#12 · 1
· on Sparring
Well, this was immensely cute. Loved, loved, loved the interactions between Scorpia and Lonnie — it totally fits that Lonnie's idea of flirting would be sparring. One thing that romance stories live or die on is showing what makes the relationship unique; what do these characters bring to the dynamic that two other characters couldn't? And I think you do a great job of showing that, what with the sparring sessions, Scorpia's love for reading (her explanation of how she reads was great, I want to see Lonnie turn pages for her now), and Lonnie's desire to see the world. Not to mention the voicing, which was spot on. This isn't a story that could be told in the same way with two other characters.

(Rereading it for this review, love Scorpia using Lonnie's line about Hordak giving them leave on Catra too)

If I have a criticism, it's that the climax — Lonnie's big blowup at Scorpia — comes on too fast. Before it, we've just got them being the best of friends, with one tiny dig at Catra by Lonnie. While Lonnie's blowup is justified and understandable, it feels sudden. I'd love to see more frustration from Lonnie before the argument, and even during, before she goes blood-punching. A more gradual emotion slope. An emope.
#13 · 1
· on The Catra's Heart Campaign · >>QuillScratch
This is in one of the top spots on my slate. I'm a big fan of the prose here — minimal errors, which is great, but also some really clever and evocative lines. Some of my favorites:
Catra heaped cream cheese, dashed caper and onion, and went (perhaps ironically) ham with the lox.

It wasn't the kind of dance that Catra did with Adora, the intimate, chest-to-chest sexy threat dance; it was more in the genre of "eight-year-olds awkwardly pretending to be cool grownups."

"That's... not right. I mean, you're like half this team's muscle. Entrapta's the brains, I'm the unstoppable instrument of divine vengeance, and you put the hurt on people."

If Catra had to describe it, it would be "racist."

That last one especially caught me off-guard, and got a big laugh.

One line that didn't sit well, however:
Catra's nose gushed a thick black liquid that wasn't blood.

What does this mean? Is this a cat thing?

A few things broke my immersion. I think your voicing of Entrapta is off; here are two examples:
"What?" Entrapta said. "Whatever." She spun around on her chair, shouldered the mortar, and fired a bomb directly at Scorpia.

I like her firing at Scorpia, but Entrapta's not gonna say "Whatever" — especially in the middle of talking science.
"What?" Entrapta said. "I have my earmuffs on, you're gonna have to speak at like... can you do 300 decibels?"

Same with the "like" clause here.

Scorpia calling Catra "babe" seemed a bit forward, although I don't totally mind it. Not a fan of Catra asking for a "stout IPA" — too much real world intersecting with She-Ra world.

Dragstor killed me. I love it when people bring in obscure classic villains for small gags.

Lastly, I appreciate that you didn't force Scorpia and Catra together at the end. Too many writers would make Catra suddenly reveal her feelings, or do a "Let's give this a shot" ending. There's something nice about them agreeing on friendship. Feels natural.
#14 ·
· on The Catra's Heart Campaign
I'm honestly quite torn about this piece. In the details, it excels: every time I read through, I spot something new that catches my attention and gets a wry smile out of me. It's a fairly strong comedy, with a touching (if understated) character arc. But while this piece is clearly at home in quippy one-liners, which are used well throughout, its longer jokes fell a little flat for me. Let's look at a quick example:

"Did you die?" Entrapta said, standing in the exploded doorway.

"Only on the insi-hi-hi-hi-i-ide!" Scorpia said, bursting into profound, uncontrolled sobs.

"What?" Entrapta said. "I have my earmuffs on, you're gonna have to speak at like... can you do 300 decibels?"

Scorpia continued crying.


I've included the first two lines here for context, and also to praise them: Scorpia's line here in particular is exactly the sort of quip that this piece does well with, and the inclusion of "exploded" here is (beyond merely being an extension of continuity) just a funny bit of description. But after that, this passage trails off a bit: while I kinda get what you were going for, here, I feel like just the line "What?" by itself, even as repetition, doesn't really pack enough punch to be funny. This example stood out for me in particular because it was the end of a scene, which really left a poor impression on me.

That's actually a bit of a trend in this piece—weak scene endings. Your very last line is much stronger (though still felt as if it was missing a little something, to me?), but the other scene endings in this piece all left me feeling a little unsatisfied, in a similar way to the one quoted above. I got the overall impression that they just weren't weighty enough to have the scenes feel like they were ending, rather than simply drifting off.

While I wasn't too keen on some of the nuances of the characterisation here (>>Dubs_Rewatcher has touched on Entrapta's voicing above, and I think I was caught a bit more off-guard by the "babe thing"), there are a handful of great moments here that shine through and elevate this story above the silly comedy. In particular, I adored the sequence where Catra starts to teach Scorpia dancing. It's cute and funny, but also touching in a way that I wasn't expecting at that point in the story, and that's something I have to give a lot of credit to. And the detail in the description of the gymnasium was such a breath of fresh air after the action-and-dialogue-heavy prose we'd gotten so far; I'd like to see you work in occasional snippets of detail like that more, author, not just because it was an absolute delight to read but also because it could do wonders for the flow of the story.

I'm seconding Dubs' thoughts on the friendshipping at the end, by the way. That was 100% the right call here, and it worked very, very well.

Speaking of things Dubs said, we were chatting about this story in DMs when I was informed that Dragstor was, in fact, an obscure classic villain. He was already, in my opinion, the single funniest thing in this entry (I lost it at his introduction), and my enjoyment of this piece was considerably improved by looking him up. To anyone sitting on the fence on this one: go google Dragstor. It'll make your day.
#15 ·
· on Scene in Her Dreams
was gonna vote this first but then you had to take a dig at m'boi randall

for shame

#16 · 3
· on Cat
An image of perfect pity; of perfect sorrow.
#17 · 1
· on Sightless
Gonna start with the elephant in the room: as >>Scramblers and Shadows touches on, author's notes aren't really common in writeoff entries. I think this might actually be the third time I've ever seen one, and I’ve been doing this for a while now. I don't actually think they're something we should avoid—there's a lot you can do with author's notes, and they have a long history in fanfiction that I don't think we can so easily brush aside. So let's open with this caveat: author's notes in writeoffs, while unusual, are not a bad thing, and I don't want to discourage anyone from trying them out if they want to. It's up to each of us to decide how we want to use our word count, after all.

That said, I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about the author's note in this story, because it does a couple of things that aren't necessarily for the best.

The first thing your author's note does is to state the premise of the entry. This is not a particularly uncommon thing in fanfiction, and there are a few good reasons for it; most importantly, it gives readers a bit of a heads up for the kind of story they're getting in a very different way than a story description might (and, of course, we are in a setting where story descriptions aren't a thing, so this use makes a bit of sense). That said, this story goes on to try and build a little tension with the build-up to (and revelation of) that premise, and to me that feels like you're trying to have your cake and eat it. By telling us straight-up that this is a story about Catra scratching Adora's eyes—and naming your story Sightless—you rob Adora's panic of a fair amount of its emotional weight, which makes the start of this piece a lot less powerful than it otherwise could be. To your credit, it's clear that you're trying to work around this: the brevity of the opening shows that you're not trying to keep that tension dragged out for a Big Reveal™, but rather to give us that immediate moment of panic. I think there are better ways to achieve this, and I do think your author's note harms the attempt, but it was nice to see that you weren't unaware of this.

This bit of the author's note also plays into the focus issue that Scramblers highlights above. You absolutely highlight to us that Adora's blindness is going to be the focal point of this story, which is hammered home with the title, and that sets me up as a reader to expect a character-driven story about Adora coping with that. This is... not the story we get, to put it mildly. This misdirection doesn't read too well, and left me feeling disoriented throughout this piece as I waited for us to get back to what I thought the plot was supposed to be. I don't think this problem would be nearly so bad without the author's note guiding us to the wrong conclusion.

The other half of your author's note is as time-honoured a tradition as any in fanfiction: acknowledging our own failings as authors. I don't have too much to say on this, because I'm a little bit torn—as a reviewer in a workshop context, it's quite valuable to me to know what your immediate issues with the piece are, as that's absolutely going to help me give better feedback, but as a judge in a competition context we'll shelve it under "not the best first impression in writeoff history". Obviously everyone comes to the writeoffs with different expectations and priorities, so this isn't a criticism, but thought it was worth mentioning regardless.

The smiley, however, just puts the reader in a good mood. I actually can't fault that, it's a good touch.

Let's move on to the piece itself. The prose could use a little work: your paragraphing in particular stands out, as the piece is almost exclusively formed of sharp, short paragraphs. There are a lot of places where I'm just not sure why you've given us a paragraph break, because the sentences flow on from each other naturally and comfortably. Let's take a look at an example:

Before he could leave, however, Queen Angella landed, She Hawk and all the other princesses paying their respects. Angella acknowledged a few of them, before turning to Glimmer and pulling her into a hug, inviting Swift Wind in.

Swift Wind hesitated. He would never normally turn down a hug from the Queen, but he was worried about Adora.

Bow squealed and ran into the hug, dragging Swift Wind behind him.

Your first paragraph break here is great for so many reasons, and I particularly love that it highlights Swift Wind's hesitancy. As the opening two sentences of a paragraph, you've also got the right idea going here: I love that snappy, three-word sentence, followed by a longer, thoughtful explanation. (That said, and this isn't advice I often give, but I'd love to see you show rather than tell here. You don't need to state "but he was worried about Adora", when you can show us that internal conflict with a something along the lines of a nervous glance around for Adora.) Bow's interruption of Swift Wind's thought process is a great bit of characterisation—although given the relative tragedy of the moment, perhaps "squealed" is not the best choice of word—and I really don't think that a new paragraph is the best place for it. By moving this into the same paragraph, you flow directly from one to the other, and just as Bow interrupts Swift Wind's thoughts so too does this sentence interrupt his bit of the narration.

Also, too many unnecessary paragraph breaks can just be tiring to read. I can justify it all fancy-like till the cows come home, but that's the most important reason to vary paragraph lengths. Everything else is just a bonus.

I've already overstayed my welcome in this review, so I'm going to quickly summarise a few other strengths and weaknesses of this piece:

• Despite issues, there's a lot of promise to the prose. I don't know how much the issues this piece has stem from time constraints, but there are some strong lines here, so either polish or experience (or perhaps both) are going to really make those shine.
• That said, be careful of falling into some of the more easily-avoidable traps of writing. Over-reliance on descriptions of characters instead of just their names, and overuse of saidisms where the word "said" would work just fine, drag this piece down. It's a tiny change that would really make a large difference.
• There are a few things that I rarely see outside of fanfiction that I think are also a detriment to this story. Lines like "~~ONE EXPLANATION LATER~~" feel almost comical in a situation that is anything but, and I think tools like this can make us somewhat lazy as writers. There are always creative ways around avoiding unnecessarily explaining things the audience already knows, or using those explanations for some other purpose so they don't feel wasteful. This story would be much better off with a more creative way of skipping that time.
• Thank you for bringing Swift-Ra into my life. This is a concept I did not think I needed. I was wrong.

I hope this comment is useful to you, author! After the contest is over, if you want to discuss any of the above (or indeed anything else writing related), I'm available in both the Writeoff and the She-Ra discord servers, and (as long as I'm not busy) am usually more than happy to talk about writing in general. I'll also take this moment to second the bulk of what Scramblers and >>salamander have said—their feedback is super great and also far less rambly than mine.
#18 · 1
· on Sightless
I'm gonna chime in and say that while I think the author's note was unnecessary, I dig introducing metatext into the Writeoff. I've been wanting to test out story descriptions in pony rounds for a while now.

Pretty much everyone else has touched on what I want to, so I'll just bring up one thing.

How come Adora didn't come back, even at the end? The most interesting thing to me when I started the story was seeing Adora's reaction to her new disability. She's blind, not mute or dead — I want to know how she's handling/will handle this. Right now, this is a Swift Wind/Swift-Ra story instead of an Adora story, despite the fact that Adora has a much more interesting conflict.
#19 · 1
· on Transcribed Memories
It rhymes with my own, too!

In this show, whose doesn't?


I already like the diary format, because you're doing a realistic job of it. It actually sounds like a diary. Too many authors call something a diary that isn't, but you're not falling into that trap. It makes me wonder if you're the author who wrote Scorpia's list of rules last time.

Ah, now we get the additional piece of information that Shadow Weaver hasn't been arrested yet. So you've pretty well established in the first entry who the players are and when this takes place (also with Scorpia having just met Catra for the first time). That makes for a good opening scene.

Actually, let me back up to the first line, because first lines are very important. This is a pretty good hook, too. A common one, and anyone who's watched the show will already know whom she's taking about, but that gets revealed within a few sentences anyway. It doesn't set up something terribly original, but the good character voicing and quality of writing do promise a good take on it, which is also a legit way to stand out.

Better than the day of my first mission, and my first victory against the enemies of the Horde.

Minor point, but this has me almost wanting some background. We never hear in the show much about what life was like before Hordak showed up. Does she have any good memories from then? I know her territory wasn't harmonious, and it may well have been a bad time for her. A careful phrasing here could imply a whole lot about that.

sinister motives

This has me curious as well. Adora and her former classmates were all brainwashed into thinking the princesses were evil. Does Scorpia buy into that? If she thinks she's actually doing the right thing here, would she still call it sinister? Maybe. Of course, she may be of a mind with Catra, too, who knows the truth and doesn't care.

At least Princess Frosta was quick to put an end t

This is well done, and reinforced by how the next entry starts. A lazy writer would have ended this with a dash, which of course would mean Scorpia would have actually written one on the page, and of course she didn't. This is an author who gets the details.

than... the alternative

Be very careful with this. I've been praising the realism of this as a diary, but things that are chiefly speech effects don't translate well into writing. It's not like she'd actually hesitate while writing, or even if she did, she wouldn't do something to indicate that. You're having her literally inscribe three dots on the page, and she'd have to have some purpose in doing so. I don't see what it is.

The part about Seahawk kind of threw me. I don't know that there's a good answer for it, but at first it sounded like you were diverting her romantic energies that direction, only for her to go right back to Catra. It might help if you finessed that a bit more.

I'll agree with the above comments that this isn't a novel topic to deal with, but the character work and depth of emotion raise it above that. For me, the main problem is one that comes up a lot in romance stories, and that's how so many things are left in vague terms. It's akin to a shipfic showing the happy couple already at the altar, and the narrator assuring us they're very much in love. Well, yes, it's not that I think the narrator is lying. It's that I don't have enough specific information to understand the relationship.

You had the space to, and the construction even supports it. When Scorpia's going over some of the past events, have her be more specific about what Catra did, and how Scorpia reacted to them. I'll drop back to general shipfics, but here's a quick example of what I mean.

"We went on a lot of great dates together."

That's fine, but it doesn't bring to mind any images or make my statement stand out above all the other romance stories out there.

"We went on a lot of great dates. Do you remember the one where we tried to have a picnic, but it started to rain hard, and we had to eat our sandwiches huddled against the trunk of a maple?"

Just a couple of specific examples do a whole lot to flesh out how they relate to each other and the get the reader invested. It really brings things to life. You're letting the reader see and judge a window into the relationship rather than just have to accept the narration's word for it. I think that kind of thing would have helped here, but you already have a good leg up by having great characterization and an authentic diary format.
#20 · 1
· on Transcribed Memories
Dear author who I’m pretty sure I know,

I think you’ve predicted a major plot point of the next season.

Diary, I can't find Catra.

This gave me anxiety.

I think the leap from “Catra just disappeared and I’m worried” to “I’m defecting from my homeland” is too steep. There should be at least one more entry between the two, building up Scorpia’s reasons/willingness to leave.
#21 ·
· on The Catra's Heart Campaign
The characterization is good on this one, but what's throwing me early on is that the perspective is unclear. It's taking mostly an omniscient view of things, but one that uses a very conversational voice. It's not impossible to do that, but then you throw in things like this:
(She ruined one too many writin' pens and learned her lesson at last a few days ago.)

"One too many" is someone's opinion, but I have no idea whose. If you'd explicitly attributed the opinion to a character, then it still works for omniscient, but as it is, it's the narrator's opinion, and I don't know who that is. Plus using the elision (writin') creates a personal voice, which you're normally only going to do for a limited narrator. So I'm left feeling a little confused about the narrative viewpoint.

She stood up, trying to remember where she'd set her darn ol' journal last.

This finally seems to establish Scorpia as the narrator. It'd help if you made that clear right from the first paragraph.

Catra's breakfast was interrupted by the door to the rumpus room exploding open and a flaming Scorpia tumbling across the ground and at her.

Now you seem to have popped over into Catra's head. It's fully possible to relay one character's emotional state through another's observations of them, so sticking to one perspective doesn't mean giving up the ability to get at other's emotions. In a story this short, it's probably not a good idea to switch perspective anyway. It'd help keep the story more stable if you picked one of them and stuck with it.

walking out the do',

Did Scorpia ever pronounce it that way in the show? If so, I missed it. If not, it's an odd choice to have her do so.

the irritating stick

I'm not sure what this is referring to.

Okay, the racism joke was funny. This story is consistently coming up with good jokes.

The next day

This probably could have been done more cleanly with a scene break.

I like the idea of Catra trying to bring Scorpia out of her shell, as it were. That was a surprisingly touching moment. And the humor, as the central attraction here, is reliably funny. It's just got a scattered perspective, and there's a fair amount of repetition (reused descriptions, use of a word twice close together, etc.). A few typos, too, but nothing serious. On that idea of Catra being nice at the end, it'd have more to say if you could imply what Catra's motivations are for doing this. She suddenly gives in and is being really nice, and I don't understand why. Some of her behavior could imply it, or if you choose her perspective for the scene, we'd have the internal piece. The reason why is that's the story's emotional conflict. Scorpia doesn't change during the story, but Catra seems to. Even though the main thing of a comedy is to be funny, it's still a good idea for it to make a point, and you've got all the pieces you need to do so.
#22 ·
· on The New Adventures of Old Dryl
So, gonna try reviewing the first piece of She-Ra fanfic I've ever read. Wish me luck!

I really like the mood of this piece! It strikes its irreverent tone really well and does a good job of carrying a sense of frantic energy throughout.

Now, I've always had a bit of trouble with critiquing humor pieces, so please feel free to take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt. I'll be honest and say that for me, personally, a good portion of the jokes didn't quite land. I think what's going on is that you might be leaning a bit too hard on imitating the show's style of jokes, which is really geared towards cinematic tropes and cues, like most modern animated media. You've got a lot of cutaway gags, deadpan moments, and even a dramatic reveal or two. These kinds of jokes work really well in TV shows and movies because the editors can pace out exactly how long the viewers spend with each comedic beat and each elongated reveal. But in a medium like writing, they don't always translate exactly the same way towards humor.

In my opinion your best jokes here are the ones that don't rely on tropes that I've just described, and those tend to be in the beginnings of the first two scenes. What also makes these two scenes feel the strongest is that from the third scene forward, there are a lot of scene breaks and perspective shifts that make it difficult to maintain the irreverent tone that the first two scenes do such a good job of establishing. Scene breaks do cost a degree of the reader's attention, so be mindful of when you're putting a lot of them together.

Overall, there are a lot of stylistic choices here that I like, and—like I mentioned earlier—I love the tone that this piece sets. My biggest suggestion would be to make the second half read a bit more like the first.
#23 ·
· on On Scorpia's Watch
I like your prose, and I like your overall construction, here. You also do a really good job of leveraging the super-tight third-person limited perspective here to give us Scorpia's without making it feel like we're being told what Scorpia's thinking. Nicely done!

What I'm having a little bit of trouble with, though, is how passive a lot of the story feels. The first two scenes are essentially just Scorpia reacting to what's happening, and while that does give us some nice insights into the headspace you've put her in, it came across to me as a bit event-less. The feeling is compounded by the fact that these are doing the whole behind/between-the-scenes of the show thing, which always makes it just a little bit harder for the reader to pay attention to things they think they've already seen.

The result of this bit of emotional detachment is that the last scene develops a bit of talking-heads-syndrome because the story didn't quite earn as big of an emotional investment from me as it could have. It's great dialogue that gives a complicated-feeling closure to Scorpia's conflicts, but for me, it was just a bit hard to follow along at that point because I felt like I had already expended a lot of emotional attention in the first two scenes.

I think the takeaway from my reading is, to make sure you maintain your reader's investment in the story. Give your reader reasons to care about your main character, which is more difficult to do when it feels like your main character isn't doing all that much for a lot of the story. There was this cool touch in the beginning, where you establish this idea of Scorpia being a caring mother-hen type figure to her cadets, but things like this never really crystallized into payoff because Socrpia spent so much of the story simply reacting to Catra. If you're choosing to tell this story so close to Scorpia's perspective, then giving her a bit more agency would really go a long way into making her a character we can root for.
#24 ·
· on Sightless
I normally write up my reviews before reading the other ones, so I imagine someone's said this already. Author's notes aren't something we see around here. It's not against the rules or anything, just unexpected. But please, never apologize for what you've written, for two reasons. One, you're downplaying it before the reader even starts, so you risk biasing him against you. And two, you put in an honest effort writing it. That's nothing that warrants an apology. The other thing is they risk explaining something that the story really should. So if you're going to use one, be very careful about what you put in there.

Right away, I'm seeing mostly one-line paragraphs. You'd usually use those when you want to emphasize something and make it punchy, but if you do it too much, it makes reading it kind of choppy, plus if you use emphasis too much, it loses its effect. So consider which of these paragraphs you could combine into longer ones without losing anything.

I'm not sure why Adora needs Swift Wind to tell her she can't see. Wouldn't she notice that on her own?

Angella shook her head.

Oh, the "her attention" from a couple paragraphs before was Angella. It sure sounded like you meant Adora. So it's not just Swift Wind's and Adora's perspectives you're using. Another danger of switching perspective a lot is that it can be confusing.

You could use an omniscient narrator if you wanted, but it's not as simple as it sounds. Yes, an omniscient narrator can know what any character is doing or thinking, but the narrator cannot become each character as it skips around, so in places like this where you have the narration itself express a specific character's thought, you'd have to be careful not to do that.
Would she be okay? Would she ever see again? What if her blindness was permanent?!

It's surprisingly difficult to write an effective omniscient narration.

I'm kind of confused by the battle as well. Swift Wind seems to say the Horde forces had been routed once he injured Scorpia and captured Catra (beware making him seem OP), but later it says the battle is not going well for Bright Moon, just before the rest of the Horde force is taken out in a single shot.

There are some editing misses, but I'm not going to go into that because there'll be time to fix those up later, and as long as you can get a proficient enough editor to help you, they're also relatively easy things to address. So I'll just leave it that you should get someone who's willing to go through line by line and mark up what's needed mechanically, plus look for some stylistic things like closely repeated words and phrases.

You have some rather abrupt changes of perspective between various characters. It's a good idea to stick to one perspective in a scene, at least until you've gotten very comfortable with how to do a smooth transition and when it's worth it, and even then, using more than two in a scene is really pushing it. Since this is all in one scene, it would clarify things a lot to decide which one you wanted to use. That doesn't mean eliminating both of their character arcs here. You can still show what Adora's going through from what Swift Wind sees her do, for example. But that does mean he can only relate what he sees. If Adora's not where he can see her, he can't say what's going on with her.

What that can also help you do is decide whether you want to tackle both character arcs. It's definitely possible to, but one may be a lot more compelling than the other. Adora's the one that's had a huge change here. I'd like to see the aftermath to this, where we read how she's going to deal with being blinded. One big question to ask as an author is why it matters that the plot you've written happened. It obviously does in this case. Adora's going to have to change a lot to cope with her injury, but you stop the story before we get to her trying to think through all that, so you've set up and defined the conflict. Can you explore it now?

Though it is interesting that you give Swift Wind this much focus. The show never seems to. He got dropped for a long stretch of episodes, and when he finally came back, then we did get a much deeper look than any of the previous episodes had made. I like that you're giving him as much character development as the show ever has.
#25 ·
· on Sparring
Okay, this story does a really good job of selling its charm. "Sticky stick" is really cute, and you've done a really good job of casting Scorpia as a more introverted character.

Now, I'm going to be honest and say that shipping stories aren't usually my cup of tea. You're utilizing a couple of pretty well-used shipfic tropes (misunderstandings, one party being helplessly oblivious) to advance your plot, which makes the end result a little formulaic. Now, formulaic isn't necessarily a bad thing, because the ending is definitely tidy and feel-good in the way I'm sure you hoped it would be.

Despite that, I am feeling a bit of the pacing hiccups that Dubs mentions. My biggest concern is the second-to-last scene, which has a lot happen in a short time. We get the fallout of Lonnie and Scorpia's argument, an important catalyst moment, and a big personal epiphany from Scorpia in just 150 words. That's pretty breakneck, and I think it doesn't leave the reader enough time to feel the weight of Lonnie and Scorpia's hurt before the resolution scene. This might be part of the reason why the ending read so simply to me.

So in the end, I think my suggestion would maybe be to expand on the conflict between Lonnie and Scorpia. As it is right now, we spend more than two thousand words (almost 2/3 of your wordcount) building up the chemistry between the two, and then we get a resolution in a few hundred words. And while it's a nice resolution, it ends up feeling a little too easy to me.
#26 ·
· on On Scorpia's Watch
Aw crap, I forgot to look at the opening lines of all the stories.

This one is okay. It's a pretty common thing to have a character surveying something from a high place, so unless it's really relevant to the plot, you might consider moving it someplace less overly dramatic or someplace more unique. When the point of your story is that she's somewhere really mundane, there's a temptation to make the story too closely follow that mood. If you want to write about something exciting, you make the story exciting, right? But when you write about something boring, does that mean you make the story boring? Some authors will.

That's not to say your particular story is boring yet. You do get through the description of it quickly enough, but it's all stuff we'd know from the show, so there's nothing new here, either. It's a really tricky thing to write about a bored character and make it interesting. Maybe rather than focus on the elements of her boredom, focus on what she's trying to do to amuse herself as time passes? That's also a good way to develop a character. Just a suggestion, but it may spice up this opener.

After we get into the story a bit, I see a picture unfolding of a Scorpia who's maybe a bit incompetent, but also marginalized. It's an interesting look at her. Though with the strict chain of command they keep, I'm surprised a cadet would be that casual with her and snatch a communicator from her.

Scorpia seems so concerned about "her kids," but we never learn who they were until more than halfway through the story, and even then only as a casual mention. She never found them after the battle. Seems odd, given how much importance she attached to them.

There are a few detailed mechanical things, and I'm only going to point out one as an example of how carefully you'd have to look to find them. This story's very clean.
Biting her lip, her eyes kept flicking back to Lonnie, surprised as always by the cadet’s ability to remain calm when plans were crumbling around them.

This says Scorpia's eyes bit her lip and were surprised, not that Scorpia herself was.

Scorpia let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding

This is the third most cliched sentence in fiction.

This is an interesting direction you're going, with Catra genuinely concerned with Scorpia as a friend. It's also surprising, since the show more or less has her outwardly saying friends mean nothing to her. She's being a lot more open here, to the point I'm not sure whether to take it as a rewriting of her character or a more behind the scenes look at her.

The writing here is very good, and it's an unexpected look at Catra. It does feel like it comes to a very understated conclusion. The whole thing was set up to be this big build-up to Scorpia acting on her feelings for Catra, only for her to have her efforts stopped before they begin. Then the final scene, while a cool look at Catra's side of things and unexpected attitude toward friendship, is stagnant on Scorpia's front. So it felt like that story ended before the final scene, then we got a short follow-up story.
#27 · 1
· on The New Adventures of Old Dryl
Nice hook on the first sentence. I can't tell whether you're going for a comedy or just establishing a setting of a crappy place, but either way, it's got my interest. I also love that you've taken these minor characters that never got so much as a second mention in the show and focused a story on them.

This is extremely talking heads in the first scene, and I don't know that it's to an important effect. There's little to no meaningful narration going on, which makes me wonder why you didn't go dialogue-only. That'd come across as gimmicky, and probably polarizing, but it's not a lot different and would feel more intentional about it. Or, of course, go the more standard route and fill in a lot more of what's actually happening as they talk.

Dryl is a kingdom.

If it's ruled by a princess, wouldn't that make it a principality?

Overall, this is pretty funny. Nice kind of comedy of errors. I'm a little confused by the ending. I assume it was a letter for help that the threefold princess decided they had to write as one, but it could have been a copy of the constitution they made, I guess? It's a little odd in that it seems to change between omniscient and limited voice across scene breaks. I like it as comedy, but the jarring change of styles (omniscient to limited, almost narrationless to standard) detracted from it and left me scratching my head about what you wanted to accomplish with those choices.

Not much to say about this, as it's a fairly straightforward piece, and it's done what it wanted to with regard to the humor. This was fun to read.
#28 ·
· on Sparring
Kind of a neutral opening line. It's not inherently interesting, but it's unusual enough that I still want to see what it's about.

Unloading, yeah. She could do that.

This is pretty far into the story, yet it's the first time you take this personal a voice with the narration. All of it so far either wouldn't sound out of place in an omniscient narration or is at most a pretty shallow limited. If you want to use one this deep, make it clear very close to the beginning of the story, in the first paragraph if possible. You don't want the reader having to re-evaluate what kind of narration you're using, so set those expectations right away.

In the second scene, it's the third paragraph before I'm sure who's been saying each piece of dialogue. Just give me a speech tag on the first one, and it's all clear.

There's a lot of subtext here, and it's really interesting. I could read Lonnie as someone who has a crush on Scorpia and is trying to help her with Catra while secretly wishing Scorpia liked her. I could see Lonnie as just being friendly and getting frustrated that Scorpia isn't being treated fairly. Or maybe I could take Lonnie at face value, she has no attraction to Scorpia, but she's also missing Adora. Any of those are possible, and it's nice to think through the possibilities. Of course, the story might ending up resolving the ambiguity of it...

This wrapped up rather quickly. In a single scene, we start with Scorpia being obsessed with a Catra who will barely give her the time of day, and Lonnie seems to feel the same way about Scorpia. Then we end with Scorpia realizing Catra will never reciprocate, figuring out what Lonnie was doing all along, saying she's still never going to stop loving Catra but willing to start something with Lonnie, both agreeing they're an item, having a first kiss... Yeah, we had some nice pacing through most of the story, but you really cranked it up at the end.

The underpinnings of the romance are done well, though. Like I said in my review of "Transcribed Memories," a great way to sell the romance and bring it alive are to poke at small examples that are representative of the whole. So you chose reading as the way for them to connect, and you did a very good job of it. No, reading doesn't define their entire character, but it doesn't need to. It's just a specific way of getting them to relate to each other, an it gives them quite a bit of depth. Not just the fact that Scorpia likes to read, but what and how, so that it comes across as so much more authentic.

Nice job, and if you take your time with the ending more, you'll have something in great shape to publish.
#29 · 1
· on The Catra's Heart Campaign
Thanks for the commentary and suggestions, everybody! Especially the bit about weak scene transitions, which put to words something I couldn't quite gather myself.

And to answer a question: originally Catra's nose was gonna gush regular ol' blood to show she was having a stroke at trying to remember Scorpia's getup, but I changed it to "a black liquid that was not blood"... more or less to make it creepier and less explicable. So, mission accomplished? Maybe a little too well.
#30 · 1
· on Darkness
This piece is right at the edge of visibility on many screens, but when you don't have access to the display in which your work will be viewed, it's often tough to call.

The grainy effect on the highlights gives them a harsh feel. The figure seems ready to slip back into the darkness and disappear forever, which is thematically appropriate. I'd be interested to see it without the pen lines, which perhaps detract with their detail.

I'll call this an upper tier piece. Thanks for creating it, Artist!