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Not the Whole Truth · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 7
.......Whoa, it's a pic2fic event!
#2 · 7
· · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Start grinding your inks and sharpening your brushes…
#3 · 3
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Vote Ot! If not now, when?!


#4 · 8
Vote elsewise, and have mercy on the Ottists.


#5 · 8
Arting is such sweet sorrow!
#6 · 1

The thing is, I'm just a couple hundred words away from finishing The Casebook of Currycombs, the MLP-Sherlock Holmes pastiche I've been working on for nearly two-and-a-half years now. I'd really, really, really like to get it done, so I may end up skipping this round. We'll hafta see if any of the pictures reach out and rattle my teeth.

#7 · 3
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Oh that’s clever. Kind of troublesome to view fully, but a very fun and interesting concept. Many kudos for doing something original!
#8 · 2
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
I just wanna say, that's goshdamn cool.
#9 · 1
I suppose I should have given my regrettably traditional “I’m out” message earlier, but I’m soloing the kids today and my wife flies home tonight, so my odds are basically nil.
#10 · 7
· on The People's Champion
my bad, ya'll

Implying you're the least bit sorry.
#11 · 7
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Is it a gimmick? Absolutely.

Is it a clever use of dark mode? ABSOLUTELY.
#12 · 9
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
And so I learn that the site has a dark mode...
#13 ·
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
But it wouldn't be make believe...
#14 · 3
I'll be available in #mentors and via PM tonight if anyone wants a critique/proofreading before they submit.
#15 ·
· on , or even half of it
But why on a circuit board?
#16 · 3
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Alright, time to kick off some art reviews!

I gotta say I kind of love this one because it perfectly captures the first concept that popped into my head when the prompt was revealed. "Is the sun moved by magic? Well, that's kinda true..." The way you've created it is somewhat abstract, but it connected with me the minute I saw it.

What's still confusing me right now is how much of this piece is clipped from pictures, and how much is drawn. That arc reactor-lookin' mechanism behind the sun looks like it was taken from a photograph, but the sun, to me, looks almost like a clay model. That, coupled with the hand drawn lower-resolution background and planet makes this whole thing kinda surreal to me.

I definitely like this, but I don't really know how to critique it. It has a kind of adorable crafted aesthetic about it, like I can almost see the strings keeping the sun and moon suspended in space. Sorry I couldn't give more helpful feedback.
#17 · 2
· on I'm Not Asleep · >>CoffeeMinion
This one is going to have a snazzy story underneath, I can just tell.

When I was looking at this on my phone, I really thought the shadows obstructing her face were meant to be the viewer's eyelids. Also, seen from a distance, the shadows on her eyelids gives her a more sinister expression.

Needless to say I completely missed the tone of this piece until I got a closer look, which I think could be my first critique. Some of the shadows around her face and body feel too soft and fuzzy. We don't have much contrast from crevices where deeper shadows would be, and some of the nuance is lost. Same can be said about the pillow. A few creases in the pillow would give it more depth and volume. Maybe a few creases on the pillow like the split you've put into her mane.

That being said, after I understood what was happening with this piece, I really liked it. Subtlety works great here. You've given us a sliver of light and just enough details to tell us what's going on in the scene.

Great work, and I wish you luck!
#18 · 2
Aww, I wanted to get in this one, especially since I have a new machine to write on, but my brain was like “no, I'm busy being broken, don't ask me for inspiration right now”.

I'm going to try to do reviews of the art and stories, though!
#19 · 5
· on The People's Champion
Just want to mention that -- if I was taking time to enter the Writeoffs this weekend instead of racing to write new Time Enough For Love scenes in time to get it into my Bronycon book -- I would totally be using this art as inspiration for some ridiculous piece about an AU where people can project their body parts into Equestria.

Heck, if I thought I could do it justice in 750 words I might even cheat and sneak an entry in, but I just don't think I can make an idea come together satisfyingly in the ... hour I have before the coffeeshop closes.
#20 · 4
#21 · 3
I didn’t expect it, but I’m in. Excelsior!
#22 · 6
· on Talk to Transponer
I don't critique any author who has way more processing power than I do, as a rule.
#23 · 1
· on Talk to Transponer · >>Meridian_Prime
This seems to be a case of someone letting a machine write their entry for them. This is bad, either way.

Author, if you did let a script write a story for you, only bothering to wrap it in a few framing sentences to excuse its “AIness,” then what’s the point of reading it?

If you wrote the story from scratch to be intentionally random and meaningless just like a AI-generated story, then you did it too well, there’s no sense of knowing commentary, and again we must ask, what’s the point?

I’m not passing judgement on generated stories altogether; even Burroughs did it with the tools he had at the time. But there should be an aware mind somewhere in the process, picking out and enhancing the good bits, cropping out the gibberish, making sure it will repay honest interest to read the thing. Otherwise, you’re just letting the paint dribble onto the canvas without even a Pollockian fillip to justify it.

Bottom slater for me.
#24 ·
· on The Shadow Cast By Truth
This is interesting.

The first poem, being (as far as I can tell) free verse, felt weakest to me. Well, I'm not much of a poetry critic, but I feel like free verse needs to invest a lot more meaning into what words it picks and where it puts linebreaks and things, and... I'm not really sure I'm seeing that in the first poem.

Your word choice seems a bit loose, with things like 'supple sphere' not really doing much for me. How is Equus a supple sphere? I don't get it. Sure, the alliteration is nice, but it would take some pretty strange circumstances for me to describe a planet as 'supple'. Moreover, you have those poetic contractions, like 'upon't', which have always struck me as a crutch even in places where they actually help with meter and rhyme. Since you're writing free verse here, I think you'd have been better of eschewing them. Sure, they make your work look kinda 'poetical', but that's like randomly throwing 'thees' and 'thous' into modern english to get Ye Olde. It's going to look off no matter what.

Anyways, I think the second poem is my favorite. Did you know, though, that dark mode apparently inverts that nice purple text into a fairly bright green? I'm not sure if that's something Roger should be appraised of, but I was like 'Is this supposed to be Twilight because of the 'search for knowledge' thing? If so, why is the text green?' The 'run/to ground' split line confused me a bit, since 'there I run' actually makes sense by itself in a pursuit of knowledge meaning, so continuing on with 'to ground' forced me to re-read it.

The third poem is probably the easiest to understand, and I liked the 'arise arise' ending, although 'awaken with surmise' just feels... forced. Like, I know rhyming is hard, but I think that line kinda clunks.

The fourth poem does a particularly nice job of tying the first three together. The 'subtle things' of the first poem, the 'arise' of the second poem, and the search for knowledge in the third poem, all inform this one. I think I'd be more personally satisfied if there was a stronger indication of what Twilight's epiphany is; what the deeper ties/passions felt actually are. As-is, I buy in, but if I felt that realization along with her, I think it would be an even stronger ending. Well, maybe that's a bit much to ask, or not the direction you wanted to go. Anyways, the last poem is pretty satisfying.

I think, if I were doing this, I'd have swapped the positions of the first and third poems; tying what's presumably Luna's section to dreaming Twilight more clearly. Although this way it does kinda bookend stuff, so I can see why you'd do it the way you did.

Anyways, this was pretty good. Poetry is harder to do than prose (at least for me) so I applaud your ambition. The gimmick is used really quite well, so props for that too.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Nice work, thanks for writing!
#25 · 1
· on In Your Quietest Voice · >>Meridian_Prime
The emotions are conveyed fairly well here.

I have a bit of trouble with the idea of a dedicated, strong-willed athlete like Rainbow smoking, but... eh. It fits in fairly well with the scene you're painting.

The justification stuff felt gimmicky to me. I think this would be perfectly understandable and more readable without it; I didn't see any bits where it seemed more useful than just sticking to normal convention. Sure, there's always something to be said for making stuff weirder, but I'm not sure it's worth it here. Well, if people stop experimenting in writeoff minific rounds, I'll be sad, but yeah. Part of that might be because it doesn't seem consistent; in the first scene, I think that's Fluttershy with the right-justify, while in the fourth, it's Rainbow?

I'm not sure the first two scenes are doing much for me. They feel sort of... floaty and loose, which helps set the mood, but other than that, they just kinda exist. I feel like the 'smile' kickers are supposed to be conveying something, but I'm not picking up on anything really concrete. As-is, I think I could read this from the beginning of the fourth scene, and get nearly the same impact. It might be because it took me several reads to figure out who's doing what where, and I'm still not sure I've got it. Rainbow is walking, while Fluttershy is on the riverbank? I originally scanned it as being the other way around, since I assumed the walking mare was the one speaking in the first scene... tightening up your action tags would help, and I don't think keeping names out at first is very useful... although I guess I'm not really sure what you're going for here.

Anyways, I'm a fan of the 'multiple small scenes' thing in minifics. It can be difficult to do, but it can also give a lot of weight to a very short story.

On the whole, I enjoyed this. Thanks for writing!
#26 · 1
· on The Butterfly Effect · >>Meridian_Prime >>Baal Bunny >>Caliaponia
I have no idea what I just read.

I'll say that tongue-in-cheek for random stories, but this time I really mean it. This was so packed full of technobabble that I only had a vague sense of, and for my understanding of it (I am not exaggerating) this could have been reduced to fewer than 10 sentences and been better for it. It sounds like a piece of technology is malfunctioning but somehow finding its way to an unexpected path to even higher efficiency by doing so, but by the end where it's trying to accomplish whatever its mission is, I don't know what happened to it. My best guess is that Fluttershy broke it, or maybe it saw her emerge (or created her?) and was then broken by whatever's in charge, but since I had no investment in this bot or any other character, it doesn't do anything for me to see it succeed or fail. That bit about the pegasus and one mention of chaos are the only things that could even have a tangential relation to pony, as far as I can tell, so I'm not even sure what this is doing in a FiM round. The "oval airfoils" and title also lead me to think you're maybe talking about a butterfly, but that's not a correct application of the term "airfoil." It would mean the cross-sectional shape, not the overhead profile, and an oval is a pretty bad shape for an airfoil. It also seems to be something targeted at a niche audience, and if that's the case, then my opinion on it means less toward improving it, though as this isn't a forum dedicated to such a niche, I also can't discount my reaction to it as not applicable.

I always want to say something nice about a story, but I really can't here. And that doesn't mean the story's bad; I don't think it is. But it does mean I don't know enough about what happened and what it was trying to accomplish to say how effective it was in achieving that. I just totally blanked on this. The editing's clean, I'll give you that. I only noticed 1 or 2 typos. Maybe someone with more of an electronics background can give you a better analysis, but for me it just came across as emotionally flat. I don't feel as negative about this story as all that probably sounds, but I'm just not in the audience for this, and I don't know who would be. There's a huge workload to figure it out versus a minor payoff to what it means, and now I've read the thing 4 times and only get a little closer to an answer each time. That's not something I want from a minific, unless it's explicitly being billed as a logic puzzle.
#27 · 3
· on The Butterfly Effect · >>Caliaponia
...is this about Discord?

Well. This works fairly well as a 'robot learns to love' kinda thing, although I had to read it twice to feel like I had a good handle on it.

I think a stronger orientation at the beginning would help. Maybe starting with the bit about re-designing junk into a datacenter, then doing the whole 'D15 was flawed' bit, would start the readers off with a better understanding of what D15 is. I mean, even if we know it's flawed, we have no context to put that in at first. Better orientation at the beginning would help keep people interested, I think. A good hook (I do tend to value this more than some, but still) wouldn't go awry, either.

Anyways, it's a fun story. I wish it were, overall, clearer, but the structure and meaning is definitely there, if you look closely enough.
#28 · 1
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
Eyyy, it's short and cute. I liked the incremental asides, that sort of thing is a quick way to break up stuff and add some impact.

I smiled. Thanks for writing!
#29 · 1
· on I'm Not Asleep · >>Pascoite
For some reason, my brain is telling me that her closed eye goes inwards instead of outwards. Maybe fuzzing the shadow more on the left side, to show the gradual slope, would help with that?
#30 ·
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Yeah, this is just really nice. Great style, nice concept, clean execution. Maybe a few more ripples in the water, especially across the reflection boundary, would help tie things together a bit more? Or maybe they'd just be extra visual noise.

Suffice to say, I like it a lot.
#31 ·
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>Pascoite >>GroaningGreyAgony
I've been staring at that thing for five minutes, trying to figure out where it's from, but I just can't place it.

I like the picture, though.
#32 ·
· on , or even half of it
I'm pretty curious if you photo-shopped this, or actually programmed it. Interesting piece either way.
#33 · 1
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Yeah, this is a great use of a conceit. The only thing I think would make it better for me, would be if the moon/sun were actually integrated into Celestia/Luna somehow. That would probably be more effort than it's worth, though. Nice clean lines, clever concept, good execution.

Very nice work.
#34 ·
· on Yes, Twilight, There is a Celestia · >>Miller Minus
There are a couple typos just in the first few paragraphs, and you'd really like to see a story start off well to create a good first impression. And there ended up being several more pretty prominent typos.

This is a funny premise, and it's structured fine. The ending was nice. Not exactly a surprise that she would react badly, but the double whammy of spoiling Santa Hooves for her heightened the effect.

Really, the main criticism I have of this is that the logic doesn't seem to work. I can get wacky cartoon logic for comedy's sake, but... it's obvious the sun isn't controlled by magic, but somehow the moon is? If not, Luna never denied it. And the extreme lengths they all went to to impersonate Celestia? Asking her to write friendship reports, her friends also getting in on writing them, publishing the book, Celestia transferring her magic to her... That's a whole lot more than the casual "this is a talk we eventually have to have with everypony" would equate to. So for me, there's a larger disconnect that I can't bridge with comic wackiness alone. I would have liked a little more rationalization, or maybe a "Twilight imagined all that and they're very concerned about her."

Not bad, I like the idea, but it needs a little more to complete it.
#35 · 1
· on In Your Quietest Voice · >>Meridian_Prime
The atmosphere here is great, and I like the visual formatting, which almost makes it poetic. On the whole I'll say I rather liked it, because those are the big things. The problems were a lot of small ones and one kind of big.

So, for the structure. You have 5 scenes, the first two in Fluttershy's POV, then you alternate. By the time I get to the third, especially in a story this short, I've already been conditioned to think the whole story will be from Fluttershy's POV, so it was a bit jarring to switch to Dash's. After the first time, it's less jarring, since it's precedented. (Huh. Spell check says "unprecedented" is fine but not "precedented.") But what do we really gain by going into Dash's POV? I learned that she didn't like the kettle and her dislike troubled her, but I have to think that's something Fluttershy could have read from her. And the last scene certainly wasn't anything that required being grounded in Dash's POV. So I don't understand why you didn't just stick with Fluttershy the whole time.

Then the way you ended the first scene: "Smiles, soft and sad and merciless." The second one ends "Smiles, soft and sad and pitiless." I liked the connection, that you were changing only one word to morph from one thing to another. At least it seemed like you were doing this intentionally. Then the third scene didn't have such an ending. Maybe justifiably, since it had switched to Dash's POV, but I think continuing that thematic repetition would be even more grounds for keeping everything in Fluttershy's POV. Then the fourth scene ends "Smiles, sad and sweet and weightless." Same phrasing, but you changed two of the words this time. It breaks the pattern, possibly fits a new one, though if you increase the number of changes each time, it's not sustainable after the next time, and there's no more of them to see what a more complex pattern would be. Finally, the last scene doesn't have such an ending, again maybe because it's in Dash's POV.

We're seeing a watershed moment in their relationship, and that hit me the wrong way for two reasons. One, because the story had seemed to focus more on being atmospheric. Through the first two scenes, it was clear Fluttershy was melancholy, but not that something this climactic was on the way. So it was a bit of mood whiplash. But then the climax doesn't even feel properly built up to. We're conditioned to care about these two characters because we've spent years watching and writing and reading them, but were this original fiction, I'd have no investment in seeing them work it out. All I know is that Fluttershy doesn't like Dash's work hours and smoking habit, but those are pretty generic, and also seem on the low end of a reason to break up a long-term relationship. Unless they were of much more importance to Fluttershy than they'd be to the average person, but there's no evidence of that in the story. I'm not getting a lot of reason to care beyond the default "breakups suck."

A pleasure to read, but it feels thin on the background, and a few of the structural decisions threw me for a loop.
#36 ·
· on Whose who? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Not too sure what's happening in this piece, but I get the feeling that's kind of the point. Whose who? Who's what? Who am I? Whose on first?? What's happening??? This feels like one of those games where you're supposed to figure out the rules based on context clues, and half the fun comes from watching your friends squirm in confusion while they figure it out. This drawing might be making me a little angry right now (in a good-natured way).

I like the overall tone of zaniness, from the sketchy style, to the rearranged cryptic messages, to Thorax hanging upside down from the top of the drawing. I can't stay angry at a playful drawing like this for long.

The drawing itself could stand to be cleaned up a bit. Looks like there's little grey specs all over the bottom half, and some overlapping outlines around certain features (ears, horns, etc.). I'm guessing this might have been sketched in a rush, so I'll leave it there. Thanks for the art!
#37 · 3
· on I'm Not Asleep
For the record, I really think this deserved a fic. Wish I'd been able to distill the words in my head into a coherent shape for a story.
#38 · 1
· on Rest Easy, Justified · >>Bachiavellian >>Meridian_Prime
A few small editing glitches, but of the kind most people wouldn't notice.

It always throws me to have a character with a decidedly American voicing in the show spouting lots of Britishisms in a fanfic, but YMMV on that.

There's nothing wrong with this, but it falls into a bountifully populated genre. They can be statues or paintings or gravestones, but Twilight visits them all and reflects on them, sometimes happily and sometimes maudlin. You didn't branch out beyond that. What makes your take on it unique? If I read the short synopsis of it posted on FiMFiction, what would strike me as different from all the others there? It's a better written example than most, but in terms of the plot, there's nothing new. So it's just kind of middle of the road for me. Not bad, not surprising. Though I do prefer this version where Twilight's not over-the-top melancholy about it.

None of that is really going to help you revise this, but that's really what it needs: something to make it unique.
#39 · 3
· on I'm Not Asleep · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Author of “The Mære” informed me this was supposed to be a related pic. I've updated it accordingly.
#40 · 2
· on And That's When She Sees Us
This is pretty much the story I wrote for my first ever write-off and later published on FiMFic. So to me it's going to feel dreadfully unoriginal, but that won't be the case for just about anyone else. I'll try to be as objective as possible.

The pacing feels off. The letter takes up a huge chunk of the middle of the story, and there's not that much of it that's essential. Then that leaves you no word count to address the story's actual content. You set up the problem, and at the end, the characters all perceive it... only to do nothing about it, formulate no plans to, don't discuss what it means for them... nothing. It never comes to a conclusion. It's just about the concept. Coming to a conclusion doesn't mean you can't have an open ending.

So I don't have many suggestions for this. The writing is good enough. It just needs less focus on the extraneous details of how this all works and more on what this means for them. That can happen through reallocating what word count you have or just lengthening the end significantly.

Twilight never does say why this has to be kept so super-secret. I understand she wouldn't want it to be public knowledge, but I don't know why Luna can't find out, and Celestia never confirms that as a good decision or unnecessary. It's just there to ramp up the mystery, only to end up being irrelevant. I don't have a sense of why all this security is necessary either. Is there a history of lesser measures resulting in messages being intercepted? Or is this purely precautionary on Twilight's part? It feels like it might need some more justification there.
#41 · 1
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
Author informed me “, or even half of it” was supposed to be a related pic, and not “Whose Who?”. I've updated it accordingly.
#42 ·
· on The Mære
This immediately has a subtle issue most authors don't pay attention to. When you have a limited narrator, you need the narration to be plausible for the focus character. It should sound like something she might think or even speak out loud. You have to watch the word choice and phrasings. I could buy this as an older Apple Bloom, but that's not the case, and I don't easily buy the one we know from canon being this comfortable using semicolons and fancy language.

Once you've identified the "featureless filly" as female, why do you subsequently refer to her as "it"?

This is pretty effective as a mystery. You gradually dole out clues as to what's going on, and you ramp up the creepiness factor. The problem at the end is that the tension is all with the reader. We don't have any idea whether it was real, and since Apple Bloom doesn't remember any of it, she doesn't have any concern. We can be concerned on her behalf, but we're not even sure there's something to be concerned about. Plus it would be a generalized concern, since we don't know what any of this means for her.

Then if it is all a dream, you have the same problem to overcome that all such "it was all a dream" stories do: convincing the reader they didn't waste their time reading something that doesn't matter. It's possible to do that, but it'll normally mean showing that even though it was a dream, there are lasting consequences to it. The fact Apple Bloom doesn't remember it takes away pretty much any chance of that.

I think this needs some stronger closure. You can leave it open as to whether it was a dream, but we still need to see that this results in something. As is, it's a nice depiction of a nightmare, but if that's all it is, Apple Bloom's already forgotten it, so if she doesn't care, the reader doesn't have a reason to either. Great as an atmospheric scene. As a story, it doesn't complete an arc.
#43 ·
· on I'm Not Asleep
Well, now I just feel silly.
#44 · 1
· on Rest Easy, Justified · >>Meridian_Prime
The prose here is really clean. You strike a great balance between keeping it easy to digest while still keeping it descriptive enough to effectively build the mood. Solid text-level execution is something that has a deceptively big impact on how a piece can come across to the reader, so I wanted to highlight it as a big plus for me.

Now, I'm going to have to note that since Twilight (and most of the MLP cast) speak with a decisively North American dialect, hearing her use vernacular from across the pond did take me out of the story to a degree. I know it's sometimes hillariously difficult to realize what parts of your own speech are actually strongly localized, so I thought I'd make a few notes on the biggest offenders:

- "tizzy" is pretty rare on this continent, outside of some settings with very small children. I think it's considered more of a play-word for toddlers, on this side of the Atlantic.

- Using the word "right" as a intensifying modifier virtually never happens in American speech. I think I've actually only heard it here being used like this if someone is actively trying to mimic a British or Australian dialect.

- "Sod" feels will feel pretty archaic to most American ears, I think. An American might still use it, but is probably much more likely to say "bum" or "idiot" or "fool" instead.

- I do not ever recall encountering the word "fob" before. I understood it in the context (as, to discard or to toss away), but it's definitely something that made me do a double-take.

I mean, it was kind of cool to imagine Twilight speaking with an entirely different accent/vernacular, but I think my amusement from this mental image may have detracted a bit from what you're actually going for, here.

I will have to echo >>Pascoite that this is some well-trodden territory for most of us, but personally, I like Princess-immortality-related stuff (just look at my submission history), so I had a good time with the idea. It's a little straightforward, but in minifics I often have more trouble with fics that try to overshoot what they can do with 750 words than fics that feel overly cozy.

Thanks for submitting!
#45 · 4
· on The Mære
This is a depiction of sleep paralysis, yeah? This isn't how I usually experience it, but reminds me of how I've heard other people describe it.

Once I figured that out (at the very start), most of the conflict goes away... I know nothing can hurt Apple Bloom, so I'm more waiting for her to just break out of it/for Applejack to come.
#46 · 2
· on The Changeling · >>Pascoite >>Miller Minus
I really like the voices here. Despite the short amount of time we get to spend with each of our characters, everyone comes across really strongly and entertainingly. And this is coming from somebody who usually has difficulty enjoying anything with the Student 6 in it, so job really well done!

I think my biggest issue with this entry is how it handles its payoff. I can tell you're running full-force into the 750 word wall right now, which is extremely unfortunate. I need to be honest and say that as things are right now, the ending scene doesn't quite feel right.

I'm guessing that you're tying to be a little open-ended about the question of whether or not Smoulder is a changeling, but at the moment, neither answer feels particularly satisfying. If Smoulder is a changeling, then I'm going to end up asking myself why she sheds scales and appears to have a hoarding instinct. Conversely, if she doesn't have a hoarding instinct, then her advice to Spike feels shallower and less meaningful in retrospect.

On the other hand, if Smoulder isn't a changeling (which I personally think is the path with more potential), then we're dealing with a dragon with a deep identity crisis that you've only got enough words left to hint at. What about being a dragon does Smoulder find so alienating? What about it does she think she needs to imitate/conform to? I think this would be a great starting point for a story, but as an ending point it feels insufficient—a good idea, with no payoff yet.

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm almost entirely sure that these payoff issues are an artifact of the word count, so I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't get to see everything you wanted to show us. What is here is great, but what isn't here might just be vital.
#47 · 1
· on The Shadow Cast By Truth
Right away, I'm thrown by some of the rhythmic choices. The first line is in perfect iambic pentameter. That may be unintentional. In fact, I bet it is, because you don't fall back into that at all. The second line isn't in two ways (though the extra unstressed syllable at the end is allowable as 'female rhyme'). But then I don't get why you're going for contractions and elisions like 'pon and upon't. It's not to get it to fit a rhythm. Do you just want it to have an antiquated character to it? If so, I think poetry of that era would even more likely keep to a meter. I don't know. It bugged me, it won't bug everyone, and in poetry you can do what you like even more, provided it affects the reader the way you want it to.

The poem likely to be Celestia's much more faithfully comes in iambic pentameter, but there are a few notable misses, like the stress being wrong on "globe encompassing." Its ending really puts me in a mind of Maya Angelou. Twilight's second poem likewise has a couple of egregious rhythmic misses in "That guide but constrain reason" and "The map is not the world; spurn its extremes!" Her first had only "Seek deeper threads than black and white reason." If I'm to read anything into the difference with Luna's poem, I'd say as the only one without rhyme and rhythm, it's showing her absence of harmony, plus the more antiquated mode of speech reflects how Luna still talked at that time. The thing is, you're inconsistent. You have "she knoweth" and "hour doth," but "lance[...] cleaves." I know poetry is hard mode, but that's a choice, and there are all these considerations you wouldn't get with prose. It's like judging dives, I think, where the harder ones get you a better starting score, but there are more things to get potential deductions for.

Another thing I'd put forth almost as an axiom: don't make people go find part of your story. Only half shows up, and you'd have to surmise there might be more there to try highlighting it. And in light mode, it's pretty hard to read the hidden lines.

If I'm reading this correctly, the first scene is about Luna trying to subvert Celestia and the second is about Twilight trying to figure out the legend of Nightmare Moon some time around the pilot episode. Though on reread, Luna's poem doesn't sound antagonistic. It's only slightly so, then when coupled with Twilight's urgent pursuit of knowledge it seems to go that direction.

It seems most of the poetry we get in write-offs is the kind that tells a story, which makes sense and also makes it easier to compare with the prose. Or maybe that's not the case. Poetry that only evokes a feeling isn't much different from the scenes we get that don't tell a complete story arc, I guess.

Anyway, this one has very lovely language use, but I feel it's caught between whether it wants to tell a story or not. Each scene individually doesn't. Luna's just saying how she can sneak around unnoticed while pursuing her agenda, and Twilight's saying how the knowledge she seeks eludes her but she'll keep following it. Provided I interpreted that right, of course. So both of those are just a state of being, and the poetry is all about creating the mood of it. However, juxtaposing the two suggests creating tension by having the two together. They'll soon be adversaries. But nothing actually happens, except Twilight's second one does skip to the outcome, or means of achieving it, I suppose. They're both just describing a state of being, one which will come as no surprise to anyone who's watched that episode.

If I look at each sentence individually, it's very pretty and well crafted language, but it doesn't adhere to any kind of structure even though it seems visually like it's supposed to. So just reading it, I like it a lot, but to me it kind of takes the easy way out on both the structure and storytelling fronts.

I like this in concept, though I question the wisdom in hiding part of your story, and it has enough niggling breaks in form to detract from the whole, plus it's telling us a story we already know. As a mood piece, I'd like it better, but Twilight's parts suggest a plot thread. Still, I think I'll rate this pretty highly.
#48 ·
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
There are some editing misses, but the one that bugged me the most was this: ...—

Don't put those together. They mean opposite things.

This was cute, and I like the way Tempest keeps building on her reasons to live. Plus her general cluelessness makes her a bit endearing. I had two overall problems with it.

One, I'd like to see her addressing those other reasons to live. We only see her hanging around her house. What's she actually doing to repay Twilight and make Equestria a better place? It's obviously important to her, so it's odd that you're skipping all that.

And two, this has shipping out of nowhere. Tempest and Fluttershy are immediately making goo-goo eyes at each other, and I have no idea why. I don't know what either one finds good relationship material about the other or what their basis for wanting to be together is. We're just told they've apparently got a crush on each other, but that only leaves it as a fact in my head, not something that was actually demonstrated.

Short and cute, and I like fluff shipping at times, but this needs more background.
#49 · 1
· on Talk to Transponer
So this is a meta story about someone programming a bot to produce a story, then presenting that story as most of the frame story's content? Iunno. I don't get anything from this. The middle is nonsense for the sake of nonsense, and once that became apparent, there really wasn't any need to pay much attention to it. It's not like I have to keep plot progression and characterization straight in my head. I can just forge ahead and let the words flow over me. Not only will I finish faster, I'll get the same effect.

It makes a point, I guess, but more as editorial than entertainment. It reminds me of the cat stick figures in the art rounds.
#50 · 2
· on The Changeling · >>Miller Minus
The character work is front and center here, and it's very good. All these characters come alive right away, and the banter in the first scene is great. Who knew Sandbar was Mills Lane?

I had the same issues as >>Bachiavellian with not knowing exactly what kind of identity crisis Smolder was having, but I'd have to discount her actually being a changeling, because at this point, changelings are on good terms with everyone. If she revealed she was one, what does she lose? So I'm taking this more as a body dysphoria thing. Either she acknowledges being a dragon but doesn't like dragons much, or she feels inside like she isn't really one. I could take her obsession with history as being her desperation for cover or just a source of embarrassment since it's not something most dragons would care about.

If this suffers particularly from something, it's that there's a really recent episode that would seem to contradict a lot of this. If you'd written it a month ago, I could buy it a lot easier. But now we know a Smolder who's not afraid to confide, and she readily admits not being like other dragons. She really liked the sulfur smell, the sharp rocks underfoot, and she said it was nice to be home, all in front of two characters she wouldn't feel very self-conscious around. It seems like something she would have discussed with her brother, and Ember had pretty much ordered all the dragons to be more accepting. For that matter, she'd already confided in her classmates that she liked tea parties and makeup and dresses, so I don't know why she wouldn't share this with them. I'm prepared to accept it, though, since people can be quirky about what subjects are off limits or not.

I guess maybe this could use a clearer delineation of what her problem exactly is. Is it just that she likes things dragons typically don't, so that she feels like she doesn't fit in? That's the one more suggested by the story but more incompatible with "Sweet and Smoky." Or is it that she actually feels like her body is wrong, that she hates being this size and shape and texture? That's far less suggested by the story, but the way that'd be easier to mesh with canon. Either one could, of course, if you do enough explaining.
#51 · 4
And since I forgot to look at first sentences in the individual reviews, I'll do a roundup here.

Talk to Transponer:
Princess Twilight built Pinkie PAI to make everypony's lives better.

Okay, It makes me want to see what the hell Pinkie PAI is, and there could be quite a comedy of errors suggested by this. Middle of the road for me.

The Mære:
Apple Bloom blinked. In the instant that her eyes closed, and reopened, the universe lurched, and she woke.

More than one sentence here, but the actual first one is obviously a poor hook, and it's over soon enough, a reader isn't going to rely on that alone. It immediately suggests a very unusual happening. Universes don't often lurch, after all, so this has my interest. Pretty good.

Yes, Twilight, There is a Celestia:
Twilight thought she had gotten used to surprises after being friends with Pinkie Pie for so long.

This does immediately suggest that more is going on than is apparent, though linking that with Pinkie's presence is almost a given. Middle of the road, maybe a little better.

And That's When She Sees Us:
Celestia puts the newly-read scroll to the side. She cannot help but chuckle. Some things never change, for both Twilight and Pinkie. All she hopes is that Twilight doesn’t hole herself up in her multiversal studies with peculiar Pinkie by her side. And that bit about that magic nothing space Pinkie accessed that one time… typical Pinkie Pie!

The only thing of much interest here is the multiverse bit, and even that appears to be a non sequitur at first. It's not until the third paragraph that something out of the ordinary happens. On the weak side.

The Shadow Cast By Truth:
I'm not going to bother copying out lines here because it'd be tough to edit to avoid ruining the surprise, and it can be hard to say what constitutes a first line in poetry anyway. Honestly, the hook is going to be the poetry itself for most people. That'll define whether they're looking forward to it or gritting their teeth to wade through it. Story-wise, though, it's halfway through the first poem before I get a sense of what's happening and before that action is actually going somewhere. I'd call this middle of the road.

Emotional Support Being:
This morning, Tempest Shadow had two reasons to live

Nice. Right away, I know something's amiss, and it makes me want to read on to see what these reasons are. It's also not a dilemma I'd inherently expect of her. This one's good.

In Your Quietest Voice:
The mare walks carefully. Not quite cautiously; there is no fear in her step. Just learned deliberateness, each movement chosen with care.

This does hint at some conflict, but it's on the bland side. Even without reading on, I can see that it appears to be structured like poetry, so I'll get the same effect as the previous poem from knowing that. It'll also predispose me toward accepting something that's more atmospheric and introspective than a traditional story might be. Middle of the road, maybe a little better.

The Changeling:
Across the lunch table, Gallus pressed the tips of his talons together, his thumbs upright like goalposts. He stuck his big, stupid griffon face between them and smirked.

The limited perspective here of calling him big and stupid already gives me a nice mood and touch of characterization. Nothing that interesting happens, but it still makes me want to see what this is about. Pretty good.

The Butterfly Effect:
D15, coordinator, was a failure — ping any unit about it.

I could grab the entire first paragraph, but it doesn't add much to this. It does set up a conflict right away, so I want to see where it's going. Pretty good. By the end of the first paragraph, I did have an accurate taste of what the rest of the story would be like, for better or worse.

Rest Easy, Justified:
The princess steps through the doors, and unfolds.

I don't know what "unfolds" means in this context, but I would have guessed it meant she was relaxing or crumpling, and either one would convey a situation in flux. This is good for the promise of some conflict, so middle of the road or a little better.


At worst, some of these were bland, but none of them turned me off to the story, so this is a good batch.
#52 ·
· on Whose who? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I like the variety here, but as long as you had to sketch the character, why not handwrite the signs? Twist is probably the best done, but she's maybe a bit toothy? I'm getting Sonic vibes here. Cute variation on the phrasings.
#53 ·
· on I'm Not Asleep
Agreed a bit with >>Not_A_Hat but that her closed eye looks like the cheek under it is puffy to me.

This is just me being colorblind, but I wouldn't have thought that was Apple Bloom without reading the story.

The art is very nice. Her expression is convincing, and the lighting is very well executed.
#54 ·
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
I don't know if there's a meaning to be derived from how they seem to be swimming together, or if that's just a reflection of Fluttershy, but I like this. Nice color, accurate forms, and Fluttershy's mood comes across really well.
#55 · 2
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>Not_A_Hat >>GroaningGreyAgony
I would guess this is a model someone actually made out of a moldable material and some scrap pieces.

As art, I love this. I wonder if the moon looks similar from the other side, or if you're saying only the sun is fake, though. This is very clever.
#56 ·
· on , or even half of it
I'm impressed you managed to pull this off that quickly, but as you say, the picture of Pinkie comes from somewhere else, so it's only partly yours. I just don't know if I'm supposed to get any additional meaning from the choice of medium.
#57 ·
· on Yes, Twilight, There is a Celestia · >>Meridian_Prime
I thought:

You were going for the double twist when Twilight said, "I'm the only princess in Equestria." I thought Luna was going to object, no one in the scene was going to notice, and Luna was going to vanish in a puff of logic when it turned out that she isn't real, either. But that twist doesn't happen, so I can't figure out what Twilight's line quoted above actually means.

So yeah, this is a fun idea. But I'd recommend pushing it even further in the direction you've already hinted at: Equestria in fact only has one princess, and it's Twilight.

#58 · 1
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
As a gimmick, this is very clever. But as was said, the missing pieces of Twilight in day mode look odd. I don't know how to take this, though. A sun associated with a seemingly subjugated Luna? Would the opposite make more sense? And I realize you couldn't alter Twilight's expression the same way you altered Celestia and Luna's presence, but maybe giving her a more serious expression would have fit better tonally? Her mood fits better with Celestia there than Luna.
#59 · 1
· on The People's Champion · >>Bachiavellian
I don't know the cultural reference here enough to make sense of this.
#60 · 1
· on The Changeling · >>Miller Minus
This is the most technically accomplished story of the ones I've read so far, with the most fleshed-out and compelling narrative, as well as the best voicing/dialogue. I enjoyed the twist on dragon-lore that you provided, author: that a hoard kept out of sentiment, rather than out of the base desire to simply own things, is what drives a dragon batty. I can see that gelling pretty well with both the MLP universe as a whole, and Spike's character in particular.

I think I might not be the target audience here, though, because this story didn't land with me. I applaud its merits, but I have no real attachment to any of these characters; I never watched season eight, and Them's Learning Herds never really caught on with me.

But if I check that bias (or... lack of bias?) at the door, then this stands up as a solid character piece. :)
#61 · 2
· on Rest Easy, Justified · >>Meridian_Prime
Not naming the "Princess" at the start of the story... I understand the narrative choice, but anybody paying close attention to the story would know that you're trying to keep the Princess's identity a mystery. In theory, it sets up the audience to assume it's Celestia or Luna, only to reveal that, whoop, it was Twilight all along. Shocking~!

Except, in practice, it... doesn't. Because stories like this have been done so much, so many times, that anybody who's been in the fandom long enough would see the twist coming a mile away. Which means it doesn't land, which means, ultimately, it's not helping your story at all.

I have no problem with a good cliche, so long as it's used effectively. I think you... sort of do? There's angst in here, but it's unusually optimistic angst. Does that make sense? Twilight's clearly burdened by the deaths of so many friends, but she's also very well-adjusted, and just seems to treat it as a fact of life, of her role in Equestrian society. I approve of that. This story acknowledges the burdens that comes with alicorn longevity, without letting the protagonist become self-indulgent over those burdens.

But it's also a mixed bag, for reasons I explained above.

I guess I'd suggest that you do a little more to establish how much time has passed since Twilight took the throne, too. We can infer it's been a while, if there's a new dragon lord (I assume dragons are long-lived, and don't abdicate willy-nilly, which means Ember presumably sat the throne for quite some time), but the ambiguity leaves me curious. How long has Twilight been alone, exactly? How much time has she had to process her grief?

...also, there are at least two cloud cities in MLP. Las Pegasus and Cloudsdale. you ffffffffffffake pony fan.
#62 · 1
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Meridian_Prime >>Bachiavellian
This has a breakneck pace and a disjointed structure, which doesn't serve the narrative or the character's development. It's cute, shippy fluff, but it's insubstantial, too. I like there to be something beneath the fluff, and this... this doesn't feel like there's anything deeper than just "two gay horses stammer at each other, also there's a puppy."

It's not bad. It's just. It's not much more than "not bad," I'm sorry.

EDIT: And I'm sorry, but you can't open with Tempest Shadow literally contemplating suicide and just not deal with that at all. That's symptomatic of the problem this story has. It's insubstantial. It teases substance, before yanking it away.
#63 · 1
· on Yes, Twilight, There is a Celestia
This tries to be a comedy, and bless it for that, but it didn't do much for me, personally. Comedy's a subjective thing, I realize, and a comedy that made other people laugh while failing to elicit any such reaction from me might mean that I'm the outlier, but... I don't know. I felt that you stretched the Santa Claus metaphor a little too tautly through most of the story, and that joke only had so much potential to begin with.

Then you openly mention "Santa Hooves" at the end, and the subtext stops being subtextual. And now that I think about it, I think I understand exactly why this didn't land for me.

Sorry, guy. :/
#64 · 1
· on Talk to Transponer
The concept is interesting I guess, and the line about Anon-A-Miss fics did get a very small 'heh' from me. But I've got to agree with a lot of what >>GroaningGreyAgony said here. Even if you're trying to make a point, this is at best just a bit dull.

Still, this is the writeoff. There are definitely worse places to experiment with your writing. I just don't think this experiment bore much fruit.
#65 ·
· on The Mære
On first read this hit me hard--(to me) it's a very vivid description of the very worst nightmares everyone had as a kid, the ones that felt both utterly surreal and just a bit too real.

As that, it's fantastic. I'm just not sure it really accomplishes anything else. But while it's not exactly a story, given "vivid description of this particular scenario" seems to be what you were going for, you've done an excellent job, author.
#66 ·
· on Yes, Twilight, There is a Celestia
I... liked this a little more than everyone else seems to. There's not much to it, but you've got 750 words--you're not exactly going to be writing A Confederacy of Dunces here!

Anyway, it's a rather one-note joke, but the execution was pretty competent, and Luna's indignation at the end (as well as Twilight's blatant forgetting of her) got a chuckle. >>Baal Bunny mentioned how they thought that particular train of plot was going to play out, and I agree you could have done more with it; it was certainly the funnier bit of the story, as the Santa Claus equivalent is an old trope. But this was still a decent effort, and decently funny. Good luck author!
#67 · 2
· on And That's When She Sees Us
A couple of stylistic things, to start:

peculiar Pinkie by her side

This felt... weird. Just not particularly like Celestia's voice, and very much like alliteration for the sake of it.

She slowly opens each one of them with her magic, noting the difficulty it takes to rip them all off, like some active force was trying to ward her off from the letter.

After the seventh seal is removed, the scroll finally unfurls.

Celestia’s heart begins to pound. It's not normal for Twilight to use two seals, let alone seven.

Why does Celestia only show signs of worry after opening the seals? Surely she would have started feeling nervous as soon as she saw the thing, not unbind every seal (with noted difficulty) and then think "hang on, lots of seals is bad news, oh dear".

Maybe she’s discovered

I think you lost your tense here...

Anyway; all of that aside, this isn't one of my faves for this round, but it's not bad. Just a little clunky in places. It's a quirky little idea in a serviceable vehicle--you might be able to make something longer and more interesting out of the core idea of this, but with the angle you took it's more "the characters are watching us oooohhh", and that's ok. And I do think it ties in to the , or even half of it picture in an interesting way.
#68 · 1
· on The Shadow Cast By Truth
The previous two comments do an excellent job of going through various critiques that might be had with this. Frankly, I suck at poetry. Always have, likely always will. More of a prose guy.

So my critique will mostly be restricted to variations on this theme: I fyay!ing loved this.

What little poetry I do love I have tended to relate to on an emotional level, and not always to the themes; sometimes, I just love the way the language flows. All four poems remind me of both Shakespeare and of Eliot in Prufrock, not in any particular stylistic or thematic ways (outside of ye olde english) but more just in the lovely turns of phrase I can't help but grin at.

I like the connection to the inspiring art with the two Luna/NMM poems hidden inbetween the lines, although unlike the original you don't see them by switching to dark mode, meaning I had no idea they were there until I read the previous comments. That's pretty much my only problem with them though, and it's a pretty minor one.

Content wise, each poem feels very in character. The word choice, the flow--it all feels right. Not perhaps the most eloquent of appraisals, but this is a top contender for me nonetheless.
#69 ·
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
had to replay Twilight

It's a minor typo, but it really jumped out at me for some reason. Although 'replaying Twilight's forgiveness' could have led to a very different kind of fic. Hard Reset 3: Reset Harder, anyone?

Anyway, I liked this quite a lot. While >>Posh isn't wrong about the breakneck pace and disjointed structure, I felt like these were more reflections of Tempest's own emotional repression. She's not very good with words, or with people (is the impression I'm given, I have to confess to not watching the movie yet so I may be entirely wrong). And while I think it was done a little hamfistedly, the "reasons to live" bits actually reminded me a little of my own experiences with depression; not so much suicidal thoughts as 'do I have any reason to get out of this bed?' and just kind of staying there in a grey cloud if I couldn't find any. And how much effort those few reasons can take on bad days.

So yeah. A bit rough around the edges, but still good. And while the fluff is kind of generic cute, I think the way you wrote Tempest actually has some real promise to it.
#70 ·
· on In Your Quietest Voice
The left-right thing with the dialogue is a bit of gimmick, but that's not necessarily bad. I liked it at least. Less sure about RD smoking? Seems a bit odd. And the "Smiles, sweet and sad and ___" repetition didn't quite go anywhere.

It feels like there's a lot you're not saying here--purposefully. It's atmospheric, maybe overly so, but I like it quite a lot. Once the results are out, I wouldn't mind hearing a little more about this.
#71 · 3
· on The Changeling · >>Miller Minus
The conflict here is made pretty obvious by the title alone. But that's not the point of the story now, is it?

I may be totally off the mark here but: this feels like a story about the trans experience. Even if unintentionally, you've done a wonderful job of showcasing the subtle claws of dysphoria, both personal and societal, in a way that translates seamlessly to the world of MLP.

Execution wise, this is excellent as well. If I spent a lot of time I'm sure there are lots of wonderful things I could point out, but suffice to say that everything read cohesively, immersively and engagingly. Top-tier for me.
#72 · 2
· on The Butterfly Effect · >>Caliaponia
The first 5 or 6 times I read this I had no idea what I was reading. I was very much in >>Pascoite's boat, and so thoroughly confused that I was tempted to abstain.

It's only on my most recent reading that it finally made sense. "D15, coordinater". Ha!

Once that clicked, I grew to appreciate this a lot more. It's very dense, especially for a minific, almost approaching unreadable. But once you know what's going on that sort of adds to it? Enhances the impression of a very alien, robotic mind. I ended up liking this a heck of a lot more than I thought I would anyway.
#73 ·
· on Rest Easy, Justified
Your prose here is good. Economical.

I think everyone else has already highlighted the problems, but you definitely picked a cliche plot. The idea could have flopped pretty hard given that, and I don't think it did entirely which is to your credit, but I think you might find it hard to turn this into something more than it is now.
#74 · 1
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Let me get it out of the way up front, and say what everyone else has already said: there's a dark mode??

Oh, and that's a *wonderfully* thematic use of the website's tools.

All around, I think this is a really neat piece, especially for the creative use of the medium. I'd also give this my personal "Most Related to Prompt" award for this round. There's so many neat ways you can take this idea. Why do we see Luna with the sun and Celestia with the moon? What's the significance of their positions? What can be said about neither being present at the same time? Just a gold mine of story potential out of the symbolism in this one.

Putting aside the nifty gimmick, I'd say this also holds up decently on its own as a drawing. The characters are very cleanly drawn with some minor exceptions on the two sisters (see Celestia's muzzle, the top of her foreleg, and Luna's mane above the forehead). Kind of flat without more shadows, but it's obvious why this doesn't use them to excess.

Others have already mentioned the weird clipping on Twilight. I'm personally a bit put-off by Twilight's mane dissolving to ribbons in the back. I haven't really seen a mane work like that in flight, not even in a cartoony fashion. I think trying to round off the strands a bit, as you've done in the front of her mane, will make them look more like strands of hair and less like streamers. It's up to you, though. Far be it for me to judge an artist's style when I've tried to get away with weirder ideas simply because they looked/sounded cool to me.

Very good work! I wish you good luck, good health, and many more creative ideas from the Inspiration Gremlin.

(EDIT): I also want to mention that drawing silhouettes that actually look like characters and not featureless blobs is really impressive to me. Maybe just me, but kudos.
#75 · 2
· on And That's When She Sees Us
Meta is always going to be a little divisive. Personally, I usually have trouble enjoying even the supposedly really good meta stories, just because I don't like to be reminded that I'm reading a story—it kind of ruins the immersion for me. But as far as meta stories go, the concept here felt fairly solid to me, despite its simplicity.

I think I'm going to have to note that this story doesn't do the best job of managing its word count. For instance, take a look at these sentences:
Not one seal, but seven seals.

They take Celestia by surprise.

It's unusual.

It's not normal for Twilight to use two seals, let alone seven.

This is overkill.

Any one of these sentences by themselves would have more or less conveyed the same sense of unease and strangeness. The fact that we get five actually threw me off a bit. For a little while, I almost thought I was reading a comedy, since the strong repetition almost conveyed a sense of ridiculousness.

I really don't think this is the best use of your word count. In minific rounds, every single word is precious, and you need to develop an economy of using your expository passages to tell the reader exactly what they need to know, and only what they need to know. Telling the reader stuff is important, but you need to save as many words as you can for things like mood-building (if that's what your piece is oriented towards), character establishment, and plot payoff.

Similarly, I am not quite sure of the letter really works the way you intended. It takes up a very large portion of your word count (more than half!), and these kinds of extended passages in general do usually slow the feel of a story's pace way down. I personally think it would have been best to convey more of this information in the following direct convo with Twilight, instead of relying so heavily on it.

As the story is right now, you've got some neat ideas (like the Biblical callback to the Seven Seals, I especially enjoyed), but I'm afraid that the overall structure of the story doesn't quite feel right. So my biggest suggestion would be to try to pace out your information reveal a bit to rely less on the info-dumping letter. Information is you payoff in a story like this, so be mindful about how and when you dole it out to the reader.
#76 · 1
· on In Your Quietest Voice · >>Meridian_Prime
On my first read I had difficulty following the characters at times, particularly in the beginning, where I wasn't sure who was speaking.

I can't say I'm a fan of the smoking either, but fics gotta fic, and it could be for the 'smoke' part of the 'smoke and mirrors'

There's some nicely understated drama here. It takes some time to come into focus, and benefits from the second read.

I appreciated some of the subtle shadings of emotion that the phrasing achieved, such as 'allowed to grow apart' and 'come to love them less'

Descriptions / body language were on the sparse side, and I'm not the biggest fan of the use of alignment to denote speaker. It did work, however, and there's the word limit to keep in mind.
#77 · 1
· on The Changeling · >>Miller Minus
First of all, take my feedback with a large grain of salt, as I'm behind in my episodes and can't speak with any certainty on the student 6.

So speaking from general impressions, the first scene did a good job of mixing action and dialog, and the individual characterization felt internally consistent. A character asking a dragon how they know so much about dragons, though... Um. That could be legit characterization, and he is called on it, but it's egregious enough that it raised an eyebrow. As well, the 'X has been a changeling all along' has been done enough that it feels a bit worn, especially with reformed changelings now in the mix. Having it later seem to turn out to be true felt like a bit of a stretch.

Overall I felt that the dialog and interactions flowed nicely enough, and the story beats came together as a serviceable arc, but due to the particular elements used, I had some trouble with suspension of disbelief.
#78 ·
· on Emotional Support Being · >>Bachiavellian
Solid overall structure, what with the number of reasons counting up.

The individual characterization felt solid, with nice little asides and moments that both built atmosphere and showcased personalities, such as the unrealistic expectations of Ursa's eating. Also, Ursa. A dog named bear; not at all unrealistic as far as pet names, but amusing.

The relationship was pleasant, though it would have benefited from having more word count to develop over.

Also ' this morning ... had' tense feels wonky, especially as the narrative progresses past the original 'this' morning point. A tense change or consider rephrasing to something like 'Tempest woke up with two reasons to live'

Some places where you the story both showed and told; for example "the though was a fun on,e and it made her heart skip" - granted fun is not the same as attraction, but it still might have been better with just the heart skip.

I wasn't sure how to apply the emphasis from the italics in the last line
#79 · 2
· on And That's When She Sees Us
I had some reservations on Celestia's voicing; 'peculiar Pinkie' is nicely alliterative, but not the type of thing I recall hearing from her elsewhere. Similarly, I'm not so sure about the 'magical nothing space', although maybe that's a thing in an episode I'm not caught up on.

There are some places where the wording could be tightened, for example "Bound by seals. Not one seal, but seven seals." could be just "not one, but seven". The seven seals thing wasn't bad, though.

Twilight's voicing seemed more solid for me; I can't recall anything that particularly jumped out at me.

The meta twist isn't bad, but it's a subject that has been visited enough that it has a hard time keeping up the story as the primary plot point. There's the reveal and then just kind of ends. Granted, it's a minific, and there's not all that room for much more, but it's something that would strengthen it.
#80 · 1
· on The Shadow Cast By Truth
My first go at this I highlighted the whole thing and tried reading straight through. That did not work so well. It's also worth noting that I am not particularly great at poems, either writing or reading.

The Luna poem was a little hard to follow at times, also referencing guards by name broke my rhythm, as I wasn't familiar with them. 'honored guards' might have been a smoother way to refer to them.

The first white poem was easier to follow, but as I went along, it started to feel like it overly relied upon the 'ise' rhyming scheme.

The purple and last white poem both suffer from it not being clear exactly what (presumably) Twilight is trying to find, but provide a nice point/counterpoint of her doing it in day, than night.

Hard to follow the overall arc of things, and I'm not really all that well equipped to comment on it, but it was intriguing, and I respect the effort.
#81 ·
· on Whose who? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This is a cute idea. Now, I've got no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to art, but the piece as a whole does come across to me as a little.... static? There's nothing really dynamic or immediately grabbing about any of the characters, outside of Thorax's Pinkie Pie impression. Like, If I were to take the silhouettes of all these figures, it'd look kind of plain. Sorry, I'm not being very coherent right now.

Overall, all of our characters are instantly recognizable, so big plus there. I personally think that Thorax looks the best. On the other end of the scale, Twilight's proportions look a little funny when I look at her torso a certain way.

Thanks for submitting!
#82 · 1
· on I'm Not Asleep
I like what you're going for, here, with the stark highlight of the limited light source. The concept and the composition here just feel right and work together nicely. If anything, though, I think you might have stressed the contrast between light and dark a bit too much. At first glance, it's a bit difficult to tell what's going on outside of the beam of light, so the things like the pillow and her bow are easy to miss. And, well, I have no idea how drawing shadows works, but it struck me personally a little funny how we get such aggressive shadowing near her face, but none at all around her hoof or ear.

Still, have to say this really leaves me with an impression, Thank you for submitting!
#83 · 1
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
This is probably my favorite out of the bunch. I really like the pastel-y, watercolor-y feeling here. It complements the subject matter very well, with the whole idea of blurring the lines between things. You also do a really good job of managing the different layers of focus, between the lily pads, fish, Flutter-pone, and the clouds.

If I had to lodge a complaint, I'd say that the lily pads feel a little crowded in the area around Fluttershy, and at first glance it kind of distracted my eye a bit. But that may well have been your intention, with the whole perspective play and all.

Thank you for submitting!
#84 ·
· on Whose who? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Cute and cheerful, but if the artist intended a story behind it, I'm not sure what it is. (though obviously folks were able to apply ones to it)

The drawing skills were solid; while not the most refined in the field, the subjects were all identifiable, and nothing looked out of place. And while not the sort of composition that inherently benefits from being a sketch, but gets the point across, and doesn't really suffer from it, either.

Nice entry, overall.
#85 · 1
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Full disclosure, for some reason, the first time I looked at this picture, my brain just didn't compute it. I almost thought I was looking at some kind of distorted city skyline? It wasn't until somebody pointed out to me in the Discord chat that it was a sun that it clicked for me, and I realized the two smaller circles were the moon and earth. Now, I've got absolutely no idea what made my brain fart like that, and now I can't even see the old, weird perception that I originally saw.

Anyhoo, this is an interesting one. I'm pretty sure that the sun is a photo, but I'm also fairly sure that the earth and moon are digitally painted. Maybe. If I'm right, then kudos for making the photoshopping lines absolutely invisible to me. If I'm wrong and the whole thing's a photo, then kudos for getting earth and moon to come out so perfectly clean-looking.

Overall, neat idea with strong execution of the medium. I'd be curious to know what the metal sun thing is IRL, once the contest is over. :P
#86 ·
· on , or even half of it
This is really cute and energetic, and I just love the casual nihilism. But I do kind of have to wonder what I'm looking at? Is this etched on a circuit board, or is this an electronic display of some kind? If not, then I'm a bit confused why you decided to frame it with all the microchip-looking bits on the sides. I think there must be something clever going on that I'm just not getting.

If anyone thinks they know what's going on, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, would love to hear a retro from the artist after the round closes!
#87 · 1
· on I'm Not Asleep
Not really your fault, but the thumbnail throws off my sense of composition/shape; in particular the shadow of the closed eye is prominent enough that it almost makes it looks like it's a fully side on shot. I don't know the best way to address it, but it was hard for me to recover when looking at the actual picture.

I did just have the realization that her pupil actually looks lighter than the adjacent shadow, which feels odd, and de-emphasizes the open eye.

It could be from a beam of light, but I did get the sense that the view was out of squinted/open/closing eyelids, an impression which never really went away.

The shapes looked fine, and the colors were naturally muted; no issues there. I'd think it mainly just needs some playing around with the shading to take it to the next level.
#88 ·
· on Between Day/Night
....Okay that's a neat trick.

As for our three characters, Twilight definitely looks the cleanest by far. I personally like this kind of borderless pastel-y vibe. Celestia, looks just a little wobbly around the shoulders and torso. Finally, Luna is kind of confusing, to me. I can't really tell if she's tumbling, or if she's flying, and it makes her smile seem a little out of place. Overall, just not exactly sure what's going on with her.

So, cool idea, but with an overall mixed execution to me. Thank you for submitting!
#89 ·
· on Between Day/Night · >>Bachiavellian
Aside from commented-on educational factor, this is a solid piece.

Colors are accurate/provocative, the shapes get the job done, and the posing is clever; dynamic, and the non-visible characters impact Twilight just enough to make the viewer think something is going on, and then it turns out that there is.

Top tier; the artwork would be serviceable enough on its own, and the clever prompt-related use of site features takes it to the next level.
#90 ·
· on The People's Champion · >>Caliaponia
Apparently, this guy is a pro wrestler called "The Truth". So given this rounds prompt.... ha. Don't worry, I had no idea either, until somebody told me in the Discord.

Anyhoo, not much to review, here. I'm pretty sure this succeed in exactly the way the artist intended, which is to say it made me rub my eyes at the sheer dad-ness of this pun for a few seconds.
#91 ·
· on , or even half of it
Definitely getting a 'trapped in the matrix' type vibe out of this one. Inventive use of the prompt, in conjunction with the display technology. It hadn't occurred to me until the other comments, but I'd grant more points if I could be sure that the artist drew the Pinkie, as well as managing the display.

Still, it's a provocative combination of image and media to enhance the impact.
#92 · 1
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Clever and well executed. It took me a bit to grok just what I was seeing, but it was one of those lightbulb moments when it did.

Serviceable composition and nice colors; although it doesn't wind up with the highest beauty quotient, it's still interesting and the mechanism in particular is visually intriguing.

No idea what medium it's in. I'd believe either the model theory, or maybe CG, also. Either way, high props in both creativity and effort.
#93 · 1
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Vivid colors, and nice sense of motion; the transition of reflected sky to water is handled nicely as well.

One thing that wasn't always that clear to me, though, was just how much of the fish are in the water. For example the bottom left and right fish aren't really water-shaded, but are clearly below the lillypads. By contrast, the fish just to the bottom right of Fluttershy is much more obviously underwater.

Also, to really be contrarian, I'm tempted to advocate for clouds in the water and lillypads in the sky, but that's probably just being silly.
#94 ·
· on The People's Champion
Okay, with that context the missing bits now make sense. Still not particularly pony, but worth a groan.
#95 · 1
· on Any Sufficiently Advanced Magic · >>GroaningGreyAgony
>>Pascoite Pretty sure you're right; I think I just recognized part of the machine. After taking a second look, I'm fairly certain those dark ridged bits looping it together are zip-ties.

My guess on the method is clay modeling for the sun and planet, a hand-made miniature machine, a hand-painted background (including the 'paper moon' in the alt text), a bit of photography, and some digital editing to bring the pieces together. Looking at the edges on the sun - especially the upper edge - I'm pretty sure I can see jagged bits from quick masking. The planet wouldn't have this because it would likely be shrunk, effectively anti-aliasing it.

i can't decide if the machine is 'shopped onto the sun, or if the models are physically joined... my instincts are telling me the shadow that the machine casts on itself doesn't quite match the shadow it casts on the sun, but... honestly, that's probably wrong. The only thing I can actually point to would be the shadow of the top-most pipe seeming to not fall on the projection sticking out of the sun below it. That could well be a natural lighting artifact, though.

I'm super curious now if that inner glow is an actual light source or if that's digital. The glow looks really real, but the mesh-looking stuff inside doesn't seem to be casting shadows... maybe it's a combination?

This piece has definitely benefited from a second look. I'd love to see a retrospective on how it was made.
#96 · 1
· on Talk to Transponer
I don't have anything nice to say about this, so I'll keep it short.

The integration of an AI-generated story is perhaps the most interesting choice here, which isn't saying much. There's no point to it. It feels lazy and tacked on, serving only as fodder to waste the words away to reach past the minimum limit. I was hoping that if you're attempting to make a meta-commentary about AI writing our stories in the future, there might be at least something salvageable here, but of course, that's not how it was framed.

This story felt like some meta-commentary on a subset of the fandom that I was entirely and blissfully unaware of until the moment I stumble upon this. Honestly, I just baffled as to why is there a need to inject meta-commentary into something as insignificant and irrelevant as Anon-A-Miss fanfiction. I guess I can admire the irony of you spending time on and submitting an entry surrounding a topic that you seem to have some disdain for, but that's the only positive experience I could get from this.

I may get some flak from the more sensible writers on the site for saying this, but I'll just say it anyway: this story isn't experimental, it's just lazy at best.
#97 ·
· on Smoke and Mirrors · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
I have no serious critical remarks to add (Shy could maybe use some more contrast in her shading), so let me join the praise; this is a lovely piece, skilled in conception and execution, that will take top ranks. Thank you for creating it, Artist.
#98 · 1
· on The Mære · >>Posh
Now, I'm pretty sure that some of my fellow reviewers above have made it known to you that this is more of a scene than a story, so I won't go into that. Instead, I'll just be judging this entry as the scene that it is.

By itself, this is a pretty good scene. The tone, mood, atmosphere, whatever you call it, it's the first thing that caught my eye. It reeks of dread and despair, and the adjectives littered around the story firmly cemented it, so kudos for that. I do think, however, that you can still go an extra mile with what you have here, Author, and it may help with resolving some of the issues that the others might have with the story.

Personally, I'm not entirely sure that Twilight was your best pick to be the monster beneath her desk. I'm guessing she was used as a segue from Apple Bloom initially believing it was Princess Luna, but that didn't really go anywhere in the end. Twilight also didn't seem that close to Apple Bloom to begin with save for a few interactions in the show here and there.

To have Applejack in place of Twilight, however, I believe would bring more interesting developments to the table. I'd fear for Apple Bloom if I learned that she was being choked out of her life by her own sister. That dread would also be further amplified at the end when Applejack stops by at the door. It'll leave me questioning the sequence of events that happened and also wonder whether the danger has really gone away, which I think would do wonders for this entry.

Apart from a few pacing issues, I think this scene came in and did the job it set out to do, which is great. However, like the others, I do wish that it achieved more than what we're given. Nevertheless, as a fan and occasional dabbler in FiM horror myself, I would be interested to see an expanded version of this.

Good luck and thanks for writing!
#99 ·
· on , or even half of it
Ah, if you'd only filled the image area with an AI generated pony, we'd have wound up with the visual analogue of Transponer.

As it stands, this is an amusing and effectively low effort piece. I'll be giving the higher ranks on my slate to works that took more original effort, but thanks for creating it, Artificer.
#100 ·
· on I'm Not Asleep · >>CoffeeMinion
You won't know when
I go to sleep
Cause I'm not tired

This is a subtle piece that needs attention to pick out the details. At first, I had trouble. It might actually help to widen the aperture of sight a bit, or shrink the subject. Part of my mental processing got diverted by trying to figure out exactly what parts of the subject are in the picture, and it may help to play with what's shown and perhaps to improve the contrast with the bed clothes.
I am classing this as an upper tier effort. Good job, Artist.