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Through Fire · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 5
· · >>Posh
Ah yeah, lemme just scoot right in here and steal the first post.
#2 · 6
· · >>georg >>Whitbane
>>Whitbane I will destroy you and all that you hold dear.
#3 · 1
>>Posh Just wanted you to know, I never really liked Whitbane, and we're not related. Sorry, Mom. Um... I mean totally unrelated person who I've never met. (Hey, Posh can be scary)
#4 · 2
Sorry, probably won't be available in #mentors for this one, as I'm out of town. I will try to remember to keep the status message updated in there so anyone can check and see.
#5 · 8
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Thought I'd try my hand at someone else's gimmick now that prompts are closed...

Through Fire, My City Was Gone, An Isolated Incident
Awkward..., We Don't Talk Anymore, It Will Claim Us All, That Feeling You Get When You've Forgotten Something Important
An Idle Stroll, Beating Dead Horses at What They Have Done, A Paper Crown
Two Ways Out, A Way Out, No Way Out, A Long Pause, Running on Fumes
Third Side of the Coin, Cyberbully, Not Even a Little Bit
#6 · 3
Too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Now to submit a prompt that'll win and not write anything for it.
#7 · 6
Ah, competition! Here’s my go.

Two Ways Out, Third Side of the Coin

A Paper Crown, An Idle Stroll Through Fire.
A Long Pause. That Feeling You Get When You’ve Forgotten Something Important.

A Way Out, Beating Dead Horses at What They Have Done.

Cyberbully, We Don’t Talk Anymore, Not Even a Little Bit.
An Isolated Incident, It Will Claim Us All.

No Way Out. My City Was Gone. Awkward…
#8 · 2
The good part: I'm actually getting into a state to do things again after weeks of crippling depression. :yay:

The not-so-good part: my brain latched onto one of my other projects and has been buzzing with that instead. :applejackconfused:


I don't know, I didn't do it.

No, actually, I think it was entirely you who did it.

Shut up.
#9 · 2
This would have to fall during the one weekend before BC when I’m on the road.

My triumphant return keeps getting postponed, but it shall come. Something something phoenix, something something Terminator.
#10 · 4
· · >>Anon Y Mous
Well, I got an entry in... Oh, wait. If I'm the only entry, do I get last place or first place?
#11 · 2
#12 · 2
In like Quinn.
#13 · 3
· · >>Bachiavellian
I've been following the writeoffs from the sidelines for months now, and finally decided to participate. Sadly, the story I got didn't turn out all that good. So before I submit, I wanted to ask:

Does anyone mind, if I enter a sub-par story? I'd appreciate learning what I'm doing wrong, but I don't want to waste everyone's time either.
#14 · 4
· · >>Anonymous Potato
>>Anonymous Potato
Literally, I don't think anybody would mind at all. And if they do, they really shouldn't. Nobody is writing at their best during these events, which is kind of to be expected given the short writing period.

Would love to see what you have, and it's always good to get some new blood around here! Don't let anybody stop you from submitting. :)
#15 · 3
· · >>Light_Striker
*sigh* I wanted to enter in this one, but real life has just kept me too busy. Grrr! I need more pony in my life! Maybe next time!
#16 · 1
Aww. Good luck another time!
#17 · 3
It still came down to the wire for me. So much editing...*shudders*

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some wallowing in regret to do.
#18 · 3
Well, it's a tonal mishmash and a structural mess with no clear resolution, but at least it doesn't feature Anon-A-Miss.
#19 · 2
Didn't quite finish in time sadly. I'll be reading and commenting, but no entry from me this time folks. Quite happy with what I was writing though--it might turn up on fimfic later!
#20 · 2
· on Old Flames
This story gave me a lot of Dark Souls vibes, and I actually liked it. I know the story is about passing the torch, but the dark atmosphere helped push this point home. Truthfully, I would like some more explanation, such as how everypony reacted to the sun dying, but it was great as is.
Final thoughts: it was brutal and unforgiving, as it should be, but it left a reminder that nothing last forever.
#21 ·
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Anonymous Potato
I think this story was written very well. The character chemistry between Luna and Shining Armor was amazing. They were complete opposites, but played off each other real well. Honestly, I felt bad for the guard (this was before I learned it was Shining Armor) and thought Luna may have been one of many mares that was chasing him. The portrayals were believable, and made this story shine.
#22 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
"The Fire Bringer". Geez, that was a trip. It was an amazing story. The tone was great. I felt nervous as the story progressed, fearing the worst. The subtle hints was nice as well, giving it a more "mythic" feel. Even when everyone came together to save Celestia and put aside there differences (for the time being), it showed how grave the situation was.
#23 ·
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames
I have mixed feelings about this. The story was good, but it could have been executed better. I noticed there was some pacing issues, but I did like the overall concept. With that being said, you may to work on the tone of the story as well. At times it seems serious; but at others, it seems comedic. I recommend you lean toward the "Dark Comedy" genre, I feel you might be able to work with that genre.
#24 · 1
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames · >>Posh
Okay, so: there are a lot of editing problems. Given that they get progressively more common and more noticeable as the story progresses, I'm going to guess that this is a "Oh nuts, I'm out of time to edit!" issue, and not a "help me, I don't understand how punctuation works!" issue, so I won't comment any more on that aspect of the fic. But there are some things you could do to polish your writing that I don't think can be attributed merely to time constraints, so let's talk about those.

First off, repetition. There are a lot of places in this story where you tell us the same thing, or use the same phrase, two or three times in close succession. When done deliberately for comedic effect that's all fine and dandy, but otherwise it just slows your story down, and makes it feel boring even if the actual content should be exciting.

Second, useless information. In the narration, I kept finding random tidbits that didn't seem to serve any purpose; they didn't help me visualize the characters or setting, they didn't seem relevant to the plot, etc. These kinds of asides are prime candidates for deletion whenever they crop up in your writing (which, if you're at all like me, is about every third sentence ;_;)

Third, your characters spend a lot of time starting to or beginning to do things. When you're specifically trying to tell us that this remains an in-progress action, that's fine. When your next sentence takes place after the thing they "began to" do is already done, it becomes ungainly, if not exactly incomprehensible.

Anyway, those are three things to look at when you edit, along with the usual spacing/punctuation/tense stuff. And if you need specific examples to see what I'm getting at, just poke me once you're no longer anonymous. But enough about construction, let's talk plot!

To me, this feels like a great start to a story, content-wise. However, I'm not sure I see a lot of stand-alone potential in it as currently constructed. Basically, you've spent a couple thousand words introducing us to Comet, and at the end we have the reveal of what he really is, that's all fine... but that's not really a story. There's no real arc here; you could maybe make a case for "solving the murder mystery," but given that our protagonist never seems to not know that it's vampires and doesn't seem to have to put any effort into any of this, that's not much. At the end of this story, I as a reader have learned a little bit about your setting and main character, but what I'm still missing is a reason to have read this story in the first place. That sounds harsh, but what I mean is this: after I finish this fic, author, what do you want me to take away from it? How should it make me feel, and what should it make me think? The answers don't need to be deep (Terrus suggested this is/should be a comedy; if that's where you, too, see this going, "I want you to have found the dialogue and situation absurdly humorous" is a perfectly good goal!), but right now, I'm just not taking much of anything away from it. Instead, I feel like all of this is building up to a chapter two where our now-introduced protagonist encounters the plot... and that chapter doesn't exist.

So... my advice is "go write it!" Or adjust what you already have so that it does have that kind of overarching purpose. Either way, I think you'll find you've got a lot of the first pieces here already; now all you have to do is give me that purpose I'm looking for, and I think you'll find you've not just a nice piece of writing on your hands, but a nice story.
#25 · 2
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Bachiavellian
This is a really solid entry. I don't know if the firefighting stuff is realistic, but it feels realistic to someone who doesn't know any better. The drama is ever-present without being over-the-top. And most importantly, it felt satisfying, both in its conclusion, and in the waypoints along the way as you resolve the various sub-tensions. In other words: good job!

Anyway, I have one semi-major suggestion and several minor ones. To start with the little ones: first, this is another story where the editing gets worse as it goes along, (missing words, tense mix-ups, close repetition, especially of the word "fire," etc.); since it's still pretty solid even at its "worst" (I only point it out at all because there's a noticeable transition), I'm assuming that's a ran-out-of-time problem, and that I don't need to give you any advice on cleaning up technical stuff. Second, I think Mama Bear's accent is a mistake, for the reason that it immediately causes me to place this story in Appleloosa (or "the West," generally), and there's nothing to correct me until the very last line of the first scene; I'd either give her no accent/and accent that won't mislead readers, or place the story in Ponyville earlier. Third, I feel like the last line is kind of weak; I love the last scene, but I'd think a little bit about the actual last words the reader takes in, and how to make them reinforce the themes of the story more strongly.

The slightly-less-minor suggestion is to add one more scene between Drizzles' first fire and his first loss. I don't think an additional scene is necessary for your major themes, but it would really help one aspect of the story: his and Sprinkler's marriage. I'd like an extra scene between "he's the incompetent rookie" and "now they're married" to help set up that romance. The extra chapter wouldn't have to be about that romance, any more than any of the other chapters are--it wouldn't even need to be "they're dating now, btw" (though it could be). But just giving us a chance to see the two of them interacting in a more friendly way during another fire would make that progression feel more natural, IMO.

Again, though, these are relatively minor suggestions, and the last point in particular verges on telling you how you "should" write your story. Excellent work; this is one I really enjoyed reading!
#26 ·
· on Ambassador Spike · >>Baal Bunny
This was a good story. I think the personality of all the characters clashed real nicely. Whether it was Twilight and Spike, or Spike and Autumn. It real like natural dialogue, just two people talking about different things.
#27 · 1
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, first of all, you missed an excellent chance to have the antipenultimate paragraph feature the ring snapping shut in a trap and cutting Rarity's leg off. You can't leave that Chekhov's Gun unfired, friend!

...Okay, maybe that wouldn't have been appropriate to the story you're telling.


More seriously: I love the word-fondling going on here, and I suspect a lot of people will, because... well, you're writing for an audience composed almost entirely of writers. So excellent job identifying your audience, first off. I do take exception to the idea that the L in cleanse is in any way a "clickety-clack" consonant, though, and since your audience is, again, composed of writers, describing letters in a way that makes me go "wait, what?" is actually a bigger issue than it probably seems (still a few orders of magnitude short of a story-wrecker, sure, but I'm just saying that "that's not what L sounds like!" isn't as miniscule a complaint as it might seem out of context).

I felt like we lost some of Pinkie's voice at times throughout this story. Now, some of that's expected and even necessary given the content, but I think a few very small tweaks to her... not so much the words, even, as their cadence, to make it match the patterns of her voice a little more closely, would make a big difference.

But that's dwarfed by the things I love about this story. There's the aforementioned word-fondling, for starters. There's the way you deftly faked me into thinking you were writing a shipfic, and then gave me something I didn't even know I wanted, but that it turned out I wanted much more. There's the dry narrative humor you put to use in describing Pinkie, and how you generally manage to write it in such a way that her exuberance and ineffable Pinkie-ness come through without turning your whole setting into a joke. Point is, I found a lot to like in this story, and came away from it with exactly the kind of warm, bubbly feeling that I'm sure you intended.
#28 ·
· on The Gift
This was very bittersweet, as I think it should be. Honestly, I gasped upon learning that the necklace belong to Applejack's father. I honestly believe if this was to happen it the show, this is how it would play out. Very well done.
#29 ·
· on Ascension
I honestly didn't expect the "Seven Heavenly Virtues". This was done very well. I liked the concept that Celestia had to perform Buddhist Monk like exercises to purify herself. This came out of left field and I total enjoyed it. At first, I thought the realization that Celestia had a crush on Twilight had come out of nowhere. But after thinking it over, it makes sense why Celestia kept deciding to talk about Twilight. Overall, it was a real nice story.
#30 · 1
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this story. I think most of it came from the points that Chris made, that being that Pinkie lost her voice through the story. I like that concept that Pinkie can't be cheery all the time, but she is very emotional. If she isn't cheery, then it is very noticeable. Whether it be from her words or facial expressions. Pinkie wears her heart on her sleeve, so it is easy to tell how she feels about something.

Other than that, I do like you chose Rarity as the character that gets to see this side of Pinkie Pie. Rarity is a drama queen, but she knows the struggles of having to look like that you know what you are doing. In a sense, Rarity and Pinkie both wear a mask. Rarity is fine with taking it off, but Pinkie isn't. Truthfully, Rarity would be the only character to understand what Pinkie is going through. This left me with a bittersweet feeling. Mostly due to that I have been in Rarity's position., so it hit close to home.
#31 · 1
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Bachiavellian
Overall, I think it is a great story. However, I do agree with Chris about adding an extra scene in-between Drizzles first fire and first loss. It's pretty jarring. But everything else? I thought you handled pretty well. Honestly, I wasn't aware of when the story took place, but that happened to help the twist. I hope to see another story like this.
#32 ·
· on Demise Reprise · >>Chris
Ah, a dark comedy. The character portrayals, in my opinion, were spot on (exaggerated, but pretty spot on). The play with the plot armor was appreciated. That, and the other girls was sick of Rainbow's BS. Honestly, if this concept played out in any other genre, I honestly think it wouldn't work. It could be use for horror, but it has the most potential as a dark comedy. I really can find any fault's in the story, so good job! I would like to see other stories like this in the future.
#33 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice
Ah, a good back stabbing. No, but seriously, this was a very well executed story. At first I was afraid this would ruin Tempest's character. I'm so glad to be wrong here. If anything, this story actually would strengthen her character. It explains why she became so rough and battle-worn. Honestly, I love the fact that you decided to build upon how Tempest fights "smarter, not harder" and only joined the Storm King just to get her horn back. I really can't see any flaws. So with that being said, I rate this "I love a good back-stabbing!"
#34 ·
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames
Given the abrupt conclusion to this piece, the rough editing, and the lack of a complete arc, as >>Chris noted, I feel pretty secure in assuming that this story isn't fully realized, that the author may not have had the time to complete it before submission, and that the author decided to submit what they did manage to complete, regardless.

I think most of the people who participate in these rounds would sympathize with that situation, myself included. You kinda have to take the lack of a conclusive ending into account when reviewing, but at the same time, what is there matters more than what isn't. You feel?

So, leaving out the obvious lack of an ending here, what we're left with is a story that's... well, I refer you again to Chris's review, which was a pretty good overview of the kinds of flaws most people would find in here. I want to use one of his points as a springboard for my own commentary, though: the exclusive focus on your protagonist.

Basically, you've spent a couple thousand words introducing us to Comet, and at the end we have the reveal of what he really is, that's all fine... but that's not really a story. There's no real arc here; you could maybe make a case for "solving the murder mystery," but given that our protagonist never seems to not know that it's vampires and doesn't seem to have to put any effort into any of this, that's not much. At the end of this story, I as a reader have learned a little bit about your setting and main character, but what I'm still missing is a reason to have read this story in the first place.

Part of the challenge with writing compelling original characters is making them feel like living, breathing parts of the universe they inhabit; it's legitimately difficult to write a person who fits into the preexisting universe, canon, and character dynamics organically. Their role in the world has to feel believable.

A lot of people (novice writers in particular) try to characterize their OCs by trying so hard to sell people on the idea of them that they neglect that simple rule of making them feel natural. One common mistake: Emphasizing how cool or aloof their character is, having them make cutting remarks or wry observations about canon concepts or characters. Or, alternatively, giving them a role in the universe that violates preestablished rules without really justifying why they should be able to violate those rules.

I see both going on here with Comet. Comet's establishing character moment is being the only person in the entire city willing to respond to a murder, because apparently, there aren't even any concerned citizens in Equestria (how bad is Canterlot's bystander syndrome, that he should find himself in this position?). He browbeats the nobles, criticizes the population, and generally acts like he's above the world he inhabits, rather than being a part of it.

This ties in with another issue with the character that comes up in the final scene. You spend a great deal of time establishing that he, a private detective, has security clearance that is equal to that of ranking members of the Royal Guard. This ultimately goes nowhere; the story doesn't get an opportunity to explain why he's so privileged in this regard, so the reader's left scratching their heads, wondering.

If Comet's central gimmick isn't developed and explained, then all that's left is Comet, himself, as a person. And from what we see of Comet, from his interactions with the other characters, and his place in the world, there isn't enough to make people (or, at least, myself) want to stick around and read more about his anti-vampire adventures.

Which is a death sentence for a story that focuses on an OC, I'm sorry to say.

I appreciate your participation in this round. Chris is right; don't give up on this story, but don't be afraid of retooling and revising to get it working.
#35 ·
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames
I'm going to preface all of my comments with the fact that I don't know that much about writing as of yet. Neither have I looked through others' reviews. With that in mind:

The descriptions in the beginning were nice enough — they got me immersed in the story quickly. I liked the lighthearted undertone as well, of which I wished there'd been more (it's, of course, your decision, author, whether you want to make the story more dark or funny, as it goes along...maybe even both, like a dark comedy?)

The story could use a quick run through a spell-checker, though, (I tried not to focus on the typos). What I found a little more jarring, however, were some of the seeming switches in character perspective, like from Comet to Fancy, or to the Captain. The omniscient narrative was a little confusing on the first read-through and personally, I think you could improve this story by focusing on just one of the characters and showing how the story unfolds from their point of view.

It might also have been purposeful, but this story reads more like the first chapter (or possibly a prologue) to a longer story than a short story. That's not a bad thing per se, though; I really wouldn't mind getting to know more about what's going on and what happens next, because there's potential for plot development, but for the writeoff, I kind of wish it had been a little more self-contained.

Thank you for writing.
#36 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice · >>Chris
Very nice:

My only comments are little things about the beginning. I had a hard time getting situated as to where and when the story was taking place. The talk of thrones and staffs in the first dozen paragraphs made me think this was an AU where the Storm King had won, and this was him meeting with Tempest afterwards. When that turned out not to be the case, it kicked me out of the story and made me smash up the mental image I'd already been building.

So I'll suggest a little more establishing stuff at the top--she's not sure if the motion she feels is the airship heaving or her knees buckling, or maybe she can reflect that this is only the second time she's ever spoken to the Storm King. Something to clue in clueless readers like me.

#37 · 1
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Bachiavellian
I'm going to preface all of my comments with the fact that I don't know that much about writing as of yet. Neither have I looked through others' reviews of these stories. With that in mind:

This was astonishingly well put together. The backstory was well woven in, the dialogue flowed nicely, the descriptions and the characters' actions were thought-out to the detail (especially the details — the story was just rich with those, like Drizzles upending the table they were playing at, and not remembering the spotter's name). Almost everything the reader learns about the characters is shown, and its shown well… makes me wish the story was longer, where the characters themselves were described a little more thoroughly (I'm particularly curious about where Mama Bear got her name from).

I really can't think of anything to improve. Maybe if you made the message in the end tie somehow to the beginning, or hint at it? I don't know, maybe you already did, and I just was too dense to see it — there was so much showing done I might've glossed over it.

All in all, a fantastic story. Thank you for writing.
#38 ·
· on Ascension
I'm going to preface all of my comments with the fact that I don't know that much about writing as of yet. Neither have I looked through others' reviews of these stories. With that in mind:

I’m getting nice Divine Comedy vibes off this one. The prose is good. The idea and the plot are very interesting, as are the various characters. I tried to come up with ways to improve it, but in all honesty, I don’t think any of the things that I did would. Sorry.

A well thought-out, well written story. Thank you for writing.
#39 · 2
· on Tempest's Choice
I'm going to agree with >>Baal Bunny, and more generally say that the setting never really feels like an (air)ship to me. I'd look to actual Age of Sails sailing for my cues on this one: everything should be cramped, uncomfortable (well, I guess you've got that already), bolted-down, damp, roiling, and just viscerally unpleasant, especially for someone who's never had to live on one. Right now, the "ship" feels way too large, airy, and stable to communicate that kind of claustrophobic-amidst-vastness feeling that would so greatly dovetail with the way you're describing the prison cell itself. The setting right now does a decent job reinforcing the themes of your story, but with a little more spit and polish, it could become vibrant and alive in its own right.

I really liked the way you seeded the backstabbing. You put all the pieces right in front of us, one after another, so that by the time she sold him out, I was perfectly prepared for it. Thank you for not trying to preserve a cheap shock; a great in-character moment is always stronger, as this story shows.

And more specifically, I really appreciated what it was that broke Tempest, in the end. Not the desire for her horn, not the pain, not even the social deprivation--no, it was the realisation that the closest thing she had to a friend on this ship was only helping her, feeding her, talking to her, because he was bored. That even "friends" are just being nice to you for their own selfish reasons. That quick slam from "That's it" to "I'm ready" is really the best part of this story, in retrospect.

Another very solid fic, top to bottom!
#40 · 1
· on Old Flames · >>Bachiavellian
Through the first few hundred words, I was already mentally composing a "hey author, Luna-on-the-moon angst is all well and good, but you've gotta bring something new to a plot that was old before S1 finished airing, you know?" Then I got to the end of the first scene.

So, yeah, I guess that's "something new." Silly me, not having faith in the writeoff authors!

I really appreciated that reveal/reversal, and I'm always down for some lore dumping... but not all of your lore-dumping is equally gainly. In several places, you either let your characters narrate things they'd have no reason to say to each other for the audience's benefit, or you outright stop the story so that you can drop some background on us. Let me pull out an example of each:

“Vahtane has its own understanding of what Elements are, as well,” continued Twilight. “You were right that I can’t bring the old ones along; it has to bond with the sphere to which it gives light and life, and Elements, or things like them, should arise in time. But in the meantime, it’s hard to get along without them.”

Celestia and Twilight are the only two here, and clearly both of them already know everything that Twilight is saying... so why is she saying it, other than for the readers' benefit?

“I’m… I’m still grieving after the Sundering. It’s like when I lost her before, during her exile, but I know this time that I won’t see her again.”

The Sundering had been a catastrophe that happened seven hundred years after Sol’s fires had started to fade. It had nearly put an end to all Equestrian life forever.

That second paragraph, where you pause to define Celestia's words for us, is extremely ungainly. It breaks the narrative for the sake of exposition, rather than letting the former bring the latter along in its wake.

Now, note that in neither case am I in any way objecting to the content you're feeding me; I think this information is great! But if you do one thing with this fic post-writeoff, I'd suggest that it be to look for ways to communicate the information you're already giving me in more natural, less pace-breaking ways. Even as-is, though, this is still a beautifully melancholy piece, and one that fills in a lot of lore while still provoking an emotional reaction. You've got a good thing going, here.
#41 · 1
· on Old Flames
I'm going to preface this with the fact that I don't know that much about writing as of yet. Neither have I looked through others' reviews of these stories. With that in mind:

Very atmospheric, I like it. The description of the waning sun is unique and captivating, or at least it was to me. There’s not much of a plot going on here as the story seems mostly to be backstory, but I still found it interesting. So, kudos on that.

A couple of things I noticed, however:

The ship overhead had left its tremendous cargo section behind in Vahtane’s stellar system. This section was overseen by seven Windigoes, who were keeping the precious contents frozen to as close to absolute zero as was feasible. Inside were the seeds of new generations of countless animals, birds and fish, along with genetic material for all of Equestria’s sapient races and as many mortal individuals as Twilight and her team had been able to preserve in the limited time and space that was available.

How would Celestia know all this, they way it’s described? I’m probably in the wrong here, but that part stuck out to me — I doubt that Celestia would know that the cargo section was specifically left in Vahtane, if she knew anything about the ship in the first place (depending on what you want to convey).


The ash crunched under her bare hooves as she traveled. Here, the atmosphere was sparse and something that only an alicorn could process, and food and water were absent.

Twilight drew a sharp breath under her force-field gas mask, but did not speak.

Why did Twilight need the gas mask, if she’s a grown alicorn now? Have I misunderstood something?

Anyways, these are very, very minor gripes (and I’m sorry in advance if I'm wrong). The story’s really good.

Thank you for writing.
#42 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
Very nice:

Usually, I'd object when a story has no dialogue, but the storyteller's voice is so clear here, it's essentially a monologue, a character giving us a word picture of this semi-mythical event. I love the "golden age of science-fiction" echoes everywhere--from Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to Ray Bradbury and Cordwainer Smith to Larry Niven and David Brin--but it's still completely and totally a Pony story.

The only suggestion I could make would be maybe half a sentence or so somewhere to describe how the sun happened to go out in the first place--was it a fiend or an accident or an asteroid or a mystery? Just a mention is all.
#43 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
Okay, I happened to glance at the other reviews, whoops. What I was going to say would’ve for the most part just echoed their comments, so nothing of value was lost.

I still wanted to say that I loved the way everything was described, and the little details that kept the story interesting (Princess Celestia getting rescued via interstellar claw-game really sold it for me). That and the tension, the adversity: the way the crew had to overcome the obstacles on their way was well handled, and really made for an immersive narrative.

Thank you. I think I might have actually learned something from reading this. (Now watch me forget it in ten seconds flat)
#44 · 1
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
This story is based on Ray Bradbury’s The Golden Apples of the Sun.Text for comparison.

The author has kept Bradbury’s central conceit (a spacecraft on a mission to retrieve something from the sun) and dressed it in MLP characters and concepts. The combination works here, and the author’s style, while more reportorial than Bradbury’s, does a fair job of evoking a sense of wonder and adventure. This is a safe upper-slater.
#45 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Rao >>Anonymous Potato
The execution of this story is pretty top-notch. I like the pacing, I like the jokes, and I particularly like that you don't dwell on anything in order to milk the funny till its dry and then some. Great stuff.

I do have two issues with this story, though. They aren't things that throw me violently out of it at random times, but things that kind of keep me out of it the whole way through. Which probably means I'm not your target audience.

The first thing is that Luna is pretty out of her character, and I know that OOC comedies get a pass by a lot of people but I struggle with them. The only time I've seen Luna be remotely this zany and dense-as-a-brick-wall is in Luna Eclipsed, when she's still adjusting to the world that's moved on a thousand years without her. I thought you were going for that here, but based on the time period revealed in the twist that wouldn't really work. And besides, she's never been this zany.

The second thing is that, throughout the story itself, I was wondering why I was supposed to care about this guy I knew virtually nothing about (except that he kinda sounds like a bit of a dick!) I had a lot of questions about him that I wanted answered throughout the story. What's his name, who he is, what's his rank, where in Equestria are we, why has the author chosen this OC and not a stock character, why did he never mention his wife during the whole encounter, etc. Obviously, you couldn't tell me these things, but when the twist comes, like, I get it, but it kind of made me groan because you weren't leading me the wrong direction through the story so much as obstinately refusing to answer my questions.

Again, I may not be your target audience, so take this with a grain of salt, but I wonder how this would look with the twist established up front. Sure, you lose the punchy ending, but there's loads of other joke endings you could come up with, and I think watching someone we know struggle with this awkward series of encounters would be more fun than watching it happen to Mr. Nameless.

Plus, "Luna wants to marry Shining Armor" is a punchy af short description for fimfiction.

Thanks for writing!
#46 · 2
· on Old Flames · >>Bachiavellian
The ideas in this story, if you'll pardon my pun, are stellar. I love them. The end of civilization, the desperate rescue of a few survivors into a spaceship, the search for another star, bonding with that other star, Sundering, Sol as a character. Phew! So cool. But the problem is, I didn't get to see these ideas, I was told about them.

Yeah, it's that tired piece of advice again. Showing good, telling bad, yada yada, expert_critique.exe. But this time, I'm kind of applying it to the entire story.

As Chris brought up, the way information presented in this story is not the most exciting. I think that's because your story is too big for 2000 words. WAY too big. The amount of ideas here, I mean... Have you read Neal Stephenson's Seveneves? Because that book is like 900 pages long, and there's enough in here to make the story that big, if you so pleased. At the other end of the spectrum, I think an abridged version of this story could cover, I dunno, 20-40K words? But I wouldn't go less than that. At the length we're at, your only choice is to summarize in as tell-y a narration as possible, and have the characters speak in "As you know, Bob"-ish dialogue.

But hey, in a few days time you can make the story however long you like. And I would be super on board to read this story in a longer format.

That aside, I wanted to talk about character voicing, because Celestia and Twilight sound nothing like themselves here. Of course, this is supposed to take place hundreds of years in the future, so it's perfectly believable. But my problem isn't with suspension of disbelief, but with the fact that they've become really boring. Part of the issue is with what I mentioned above, but at the same time I'm getting the feeling that this is a seriously emotional moment and yet the two of them are so formal about it. Again, it's believable, but it's no fun. I'm not asking for Twilight to immediately burst into tears and for the conversation to be entirely conveyed in sobs, but a little mention here or there that she's got something on her mind, that she's struggling to look at how her old teacher looks now, or that Celestia is having trouble keeping her mind off what's coming next, that sort of stuff. Because as is, when the waterworks start to come it doesn't feel earned. It seems like the right reaction for the Tia and Twi I know, but not who I've just been reading about.

That's all from me. Thanks for writing!
#47 · 1
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
Damn, son. That third-person Rarity-voice is so on-point it's insane. That's gonna carry this story super well in my ballot, let me tell you.

But story-wise I'm a little concerned. What's with this ring? When you dissect its journey throughout the story, it's really bizarre, and I don't understand Pinkie's obsession with it. Does it even have to be there at all? It honestly feels like a distraction, and I was legitimately worried that you were going to end this with an actual marriage proposal after having zero romance between these two leading up to it. I mean, I'm glad you didn't, but then what was the point?

In terms of others' struggles with Pinkie's voice in the boutique scenes--I think this is easily fixed. Make Rarity find it weird too. If you had her stutter the first time Pinkie starts talking about linguistics, and mention a couple more times that "she doesn't sound like herself when she's around me" I expect would get everyone on board, and the reveal will even be that little bit better. Because the story isn't about this ring it's about What's Eating Pinkie Pie?

That's it. Lovely work. Thanks for writing!
#48 ·
· on Ambassador Spike · >>Chris >>Miller Minus
A lot of:

Good stories this round! As >>TerrusStokkr said, the character interaction is the highlight here. I always enjoy some good banter, and this story's got that all over.

When I got to the end, though, I found myself not entirely sure what the story had been about. Spike wants to go to this convention, but Twilight says no. Heated words are exchanged. Twilight apologizes, so when circumstances then conspire to get Spike to the convention, he feels guilty about it. And...that's kinda it? Maybe it's just me, but for the longest story in the round, it feels a little thin....

I've been thinking about the story on and off all afternoon, and I just can't put my finger on what's bothering me. Maybe the serious nature of the discussion at the end is too heavy for what's come before? Maybe I'd like it better if Autumn undermined Spike's idea about his wants vs. his friends' needs by calling it the stupidest thing she's ever heard instead of her also start to wax philosophical? It just strikes me off that everyone gets what they want at the end--Spike gets to go to the convention, Twilight gets to show him that she did need him there after all, and Autumn gets to take a detour that'll lead her to meeting all five of Equestria's princesses--but no one seems very happy about it.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help, author...

#49 · 1
· on Demise Reprise · >>Chris >>Chris
I whined about OOC comedies in my Soviet Equestria comment so I don't want to do it again, but for this one it bothered me less because the comedy is absurd enough that I'm less agitated about the lack of shock-horror shown by the characters. Plus, they've apparently been through this a lot, so okay, I'm on board.

My main issue with the comedy, though, is that it is seriously quip-dense. It kind of reminds me of what some people don't like about Joss Whedon's work in that every character seems to have a bachelor's degree in banter. But in this story, my God, there's no end to it. I could swear over half the dialogue was quips. And when it gets like that, I start to lose interest in the story, because it drags the pacing to a halt, and it becomes too easy for you to dwell on the same joke by having each character give their own quip-take on what's just happened.

Take the Tartarus scene, for example. Half of that is quips, and the other half is "as you know, Bob". Those two things can really drag your story when you overdo them.

But enough bitching! Some praise. That first Twilight-Applejack scene was goddamn hilarious. Plus, it serves as a good establishment that yes, they have dealt with this before, nothing to worry about, just need to get some bloodstainer and then we'll relive this excruciating revival routine tomorrow. I liked it. What's different in this scene, and what made me like it the most, is that it was simultaneously being funny while moving the plot along, pretty much the whole way through.

Finally, the gore is really conflicting with the tone of your story. I understand what you were going for, but for the most part this story is like PG-13, and then on two occasions it becomes disgustingly visceral. Obviously this can work, see: Shaun of the Dead, but usually the gore is happening throughout the story, rather than in a couple startling moments.

Or, it could just be that the gore is conflicting with the show's tone too much for my tastes. I dunno. It put me off.

That's all! Thanks for writing, fam.
#50 · 1
· on The Gift
My reaction to this story is quite discordant. Sorry, Author, but I can't really follow any character's thought process here.

I have no idea why AJ doesn't want the gift. Similar to Terrus, my jaw dropped when the inscription was revealed. And then I became incredibly confused when everyone started to act like this wasn't a good idea. What? RD went to Tartarus and back to find it, spent a ton of money to acquire it, and it's incredibly thoughtful. Sure, I understand it carries a lot of emotional weight for AJ, and receiving it would be very bittersweet, but the idea that she would reject it boggles my mind. Intrinsic in that decision is that she's letting this lost family heirloom get away, that she would rather it end up somewhere else in the world, instead of with her family. Why not cut down her parents' trees and donate it to Appleloosa while she's at it, if the memory is so impossible to bear?

Sorry if I'm carrying on, but I needed more of an explanation as to why this was a bad idea.

A couple minor things: RD dropping the word "ass" gave me a bit of whiplash. If you want a story with them ponies speakin naughty-like, it can potentially work. But a single swear looks too out of place. That, and the term is "save for the" not "safe for the" (not sure if that's a typo or not).

All that aside, I was impressed by the narration. Well done applying RD's worldview to the third-person narration, though there were a couple misfires near the beginning when she referred to her friends as a "violently pink giggle-monster." But otherwise, it all sounds like RD, so good job!

Thanks for writing!
#51 · 1
· on Ascension
This is top-drawer, top-notch. top-to-bottom. Great job. My only request might be that we get more description of what all these immortal beings look like, but that could make the story too hokey, so nevermind.

Thanks for writing! You dastard, you.
#52 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice
I'm very close to liking this story, but that final gap that I can't close is kinda making me annoyed with it.

That's often a result of pacing--I like the beats just fine and all, and the first and second scenes establish where we're going to be this story quite well, but towards the end it's moving fast, and the dialogue is starting to take over from the prose entirely. Not that it's talking heads, though. You know what, I'd hazard a guess that you didn't feel like describing the same cage, the same throne room, and the same wall of fire over and over again, so the scenes just kinda faded to the background in those last few scenes. If I'm right, there are ways you can spruce them up each time. Have Tempest notice something she didn't notice before each time, change the formation of the guards, maybe just have them meet in a different room, I dunno. This can't be the only deathtrap.

Also, I think I had trouble reading this because the first person narration isn't quite there. It's fine, it's adequate, but have you really gotten into Tempest's head here? There's a lot of flavour in really good FP stories that's missing here, and it's a shame because Tempest is a great character to do first person in. A good way to add that flavour is to callback to her past a lot more. You have a great paragraph somewhere there about thinking of home instead of the flame? Stuff like that. If you can compare her hometown to where she finds herself now, you can help solve Chris's issue at the same time.

Again, beats are great. Wouldn't add or remove a scene for anything. Just spice them up. Have the readers saying "Holy shit" at the end of the story, instead of saying "Oh, okay. That's pretty cool."

You feel? You feel.

Thanks for writing!
#53 ·
· on The Gift
The scope and pacing of this story feel really good. It's a deceptively tough balance to strike—especially with a low-key SoL-style conflict like this one—but you do a great job of making the story feel neither dragged out, nor resolved too quickly. The character voices also feel really good, which helps get into the groove of this piece pretty easily.

In the end, though, AJ's motivations kind of confuse me. When she first sees the necklace, she's ready to accept it: she thanks Rainbow and even makes a passing comment about its expensiveness. But then when she finds out it's from her parents, she's no longer willing to accept it. That's an intriguing set-up because it implies something other than the expensiveness of the necklace is why AJ won't accept it. But then, Rarity's scene and the final scene both seem to say that AJ's original problem with the necklace was a matter of expense, after all. This resolution just doesn't quite feel satisfying to me.

The way you've got things set up as a whole right now, your message isn't coming strongly enough, I feel. The story seems to be setting up to make a revelation about Applejack, her desires, and her emotional state, but the answer that it delivers in the end feels a little curt to me.

I think my biggest suggestion would be to really think about what this piece is trying to say about Applejack's character. You might have to rethink some of the plot points to be able to get to where you want to go, to pay off on the strong set-up work that you've done.
#54 ·
· on Ambassador Spike · >>Chris
So this story takes its Character Voicing, dials it up to 11, and then tears off the control knob. Seriously, this is some really fun characterization, all around. It's a joy to just see these characters talk to one another, and your prose does a great job of getting out of the way and letting the reader really just soak it all in.

Now, I'm going to have to note that despite how much I enjoyed reading this story, I do have to note that its high-level pacing could probably use a little polishing. As it comes across right now, you've got a really strong moment-to-moment pacing with the dialogue beats and the jokes all flowing one into the next really nicely. But the overall story feels meandering and a tad stretched out. This story definitely feels like it's the longest story of the bunch, and not just because it has the biggest wordcount. There are points here and there where basically nothing happens for a couple of hundred words at a time, other than the banter and the dialogue. Especially on second and third read-throughs, it's tough to avoid feeling tempted to skim to the next good bit.

I think my main takeaway is that you might want to either trim some of the fat (maybe take 2 or 3K off the wordcount), or somehow make the "downtime" bits feel more meaningful. Your conflict is a pretty simple one, so maybe adding a new dimension or complication to it would buy you more time to play with the characters.

As the story is right now, it's super fun, but it holds my attention unevenly. With a little streamlining to the plot, I think this one could really knock it out of the park.
#55 · 1
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
I spent a good deal of time contemplating this story after my initial read. It's got a lot of elements that I enjoy in my ponyfic. I think the characters are generally on point; I think their dialogue is witty and intelligent. Everyone that's in here seems to have a role that suits them, even the ones with relatively minor contributions. I really liked Glimmer and Twigger and their little exchange, especially.

And while I see a lot of criticism of Pinkie's dialogue and voice... I disagree. Even when she's not an eldritch bounce-goddess, no part of her dialogue or her character feels less than true to herself. And I think there's enough precedent in the ponyfic community, and in the fandom, for us to accept a slightly depressed Pink-Ponk who needs to turn off the party now and again as a valid interpretation of the character.

(The focus on phonetics and linguistics and etymology, I'm not too sold on; that doesn't feel entirely authentic, but Pinkie herself is characterized well.)

With all that said, it still didn't land with me.

The scenario with the ring struck me as needlessly complicated, and it took me a couple of reads (and an exchange in the writeoff discord) to really grasp how that worked in the story. When I'd finally put it all together, I was just left baffled. So, Pinkie was inspired to do something nice for Rarity (by a comment which Pinkie made about rings and forelegs), but rather than give her the gift directly, she left it in a spot where Rarity was likely to stumble upon it. Then, when Rarity turned it in to the lost-and-found, which is something that never actually came up in the story (so how did Pinkie know where it was?), she broke into the castle, stole it from the box, and left it in yet another spot where Rarity would find it. At no point did she just... give her the ring, tell her she wanted to do something nice for her, and why.

And on a sidenote, it's weird to me that, in a story about how Pinkie feels she can only be authentic around Rarity... Pinkie needs to be cornered before she's honest with her about her intentions.

Am I missing something? Did I misread the story? Tell me; I want to know if I did. I feel like I did, and that there's some very obvious bit that I've just overlooked.

A lesser issue I had was with the story's structure. The author skimmed over a lot of less important scenes, or rushed transitions, in order to keep the focus on the most important beats in the story. In a contest where we need to be economical with our word use, I think that's a smart move, because it allowed them to focus on the more crucial stuff without wasting time on minutiae. So, stuff like Rarity finding and returning the ring to the castle before the dialogue scene with Glimmy and Twiggy with only two sentences of transition and zero scene break... works.

On the other hand, I think there's a missed opportunity here. This story argues that Pinkie has to present facades, even around her friends, and that it's only in Rarity's company that she feels free to be herself. But we don't see how Pinkie behaves in these social situations; the audience is largely left to infer based on our knowledge of how she acts in the show.

It would, however, help us more if we saw that contrast firsthand, between the more languorous and thoughtful Pinkie in the Rarity scenes, and party girl persona. Develop those scenes beyond mere summary.

Overall, a decent character piece that could be great.
#56 · 2
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames · >>Chris
I don't have any advice to add to what's been said above. But I still wanted to stop by and emphasize that you did a good thing by submitting, Author. Pumping out a short story from scratch in three measly days is not easy, and anyone who says it is a liar. So thanks for writing and submitting! I hope the experience was worthwhile.

See you around!
#57 · 2
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Bachiavellian
A really solid piece about an original character, which is something that's hard as hell to do. But you manage to create and develop not only your protagonist well, but the Ponyville fire brigade in general. Particularly Mama Bear, who really steals the show.

Three points of criticism. The first is minor: the timeframe for this story. It's vaguely illustrated how much time passes from Drizzles (sidebar: would "Drizzle," singular, be a better nickname for him? Sounds more natural) moving to Ponyville, and the end of the story, and our only concrete point of reference for the passage of time is how much time passed in between each episode of his life.

I dunno, I found the timeframe hard to follow on my initial read. Like I said, it's a minor incident.

The second involves his marriage to Sprinkler. Outside of their first scene together, where they have a short exchange and a hint of chemistry, we really don't get to see what they're like as a couple, beyond a hug and some expository dialogue. I'd like to see more interplay between them, and more of that initial chemistry in their interactions.

Finally, the ending. It's a little awkward that the story wraps up on Drizzle comforting Twilight, only for Applejack to come in and steal the spotlight. I feel like it'd be make more narrative sense, be more cohesive, to replace Twilight with Applejack altogether. The story implies that Drizzle still feels the impact of the Apple parents' deaths, all these years later, and that he considers it a personal failure. Giving that exchange about failure and regret to Applejack, rather than Twilight, would help sell that point, a point which is currently a bit thinly developed.

I don't have much else to say. On the whole, very enjoyable. Nicely structured, good prose. Pretty stuff. However, you wrote "Drizzle's" instead of "Drizzles'" at one point, which means I'm knocking your score down to 8/10.
#58 ·
· on Ambassador Spike
I’m going to preface this with the fact that I’m now considering animal sacrifices to become this good of a writer. I haven’t found a suitable supernatural entity to whom offer them yet, and I'm doubtful the animals would like that very much, so I’m going to stick to reading and writing for the time being.

I don’t know what to say about this story. I loved how all the plot threads came together towards the end, I loved the idea, and I loved the characters (the "talk nerdy to me" -bit got an actual laugh out of me). Sorry, but I really don’t know how to go about improving it.

Thank you for writing.
#59 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Rao >>Anonymous Potato
Let me start with the one bit I'm still tripping over now that I've finished the story: how did "I'm married" never come up in the night's recitation-of-reasons-this-won't-work? I mean, pretending to be taken is, like, the first thing people do in order to get rid of unwanted advances. I guess one could say "he did try it on the first night, that's why it hasn't come up again," but when he's repeating so many other things for the fifteenth time, how did that one not make the cut? The meta-reason I come up with right away is that you don't want us to figure out who the MC is, but I don't think having him claim to be off the market ruins that (especially if you don't clarify whether it's true or not). Regardless, that's definitely something I'd consider adding some variation on, or at least working in some passing excuse for not bringing up more fully.

Past that trip-up, though? I'm loving the humor of this piece. It's wackilly, cartoonilly single-minded, in a way that fits your narrative style and the word count beautifully. You do a nice job of working in things like Shining's role-playing background just subtly enough that I felt smart for knowing who the MC was halfway in, rather than feeling like you were beating me with the clue mallet. And the weary, quippy, yet recognizable tone was solid throughout. I think I'd have personally liked it a bit better if he hadn't come off quite so humble-braggy ("I'm just a totally normal guy, and the fact that mares want me, stallions want to be me, and that the co-Princess of Equestria needs my seed is no big deal, I barely notice to be honest"), but I don't necessarily consider it a deal-breaker--at least, not at the level it's presented here, and in the context given (a world where Luna runs around whacking people with warhammers so she can rape them in peace is not one I demand a perfectly sympathetic MC from (to be clear, her doing that is hilarious, and I'm not criticising that portrayal. Just pointing it out as an example of why mild douchbagginess in the MC doesn't really bother me)).

A ll in all, this is a "dumb fun" kind of story, and I'd consider it a well-executed example of the style. Nice job!
#60 · 1
· on Demise Reprise
My first thought after reading this is "the last line is pretty funny, but I don't know how well it ties the story as a whole together. It ends the story on a nice joke, but doesn't really make a perfect ending." That thought is followed a moment later by, "I just read a story about Rainbow Dash's serial suicides, what the heck?" So, I guess my point is that I feel for Twilight in the first scene, having now had my brain pull the same trick on me.

Dark character-assassination comedy isn't really my bailiwick, but I did appreciate that I was able to recognize the main characters from their mannerisms and behaviors. They're twisted, sure, but they're not unrecognizable, and I think that made this a little more palatable to me. After reading >>Miller Minus's comments, I very much agree that this is extremely quip-heavy. I think I ended up liking that about the story (quips are funny!), but that might just be because I'm more interested in the "comedy" part of "dark comedy," and was just happy that the story wasn't too mean-spirited. Which is a funny thing to say about a story where Twilight and co. seriously consider not resurrecting their friend, but there ya go. Anyway, point is: fix the quippiness, yes; lose the humor, no.

As a side-quibble: is Tartarus really a place pony souls go? I mean, it seems more like it's just a prison in the show. This didn't bother me too much as a reader (it's definitely within the realm of "sure, I can go with that"), but I can see this bugging some people, so maybe a little tweaking of the cosmology is in order.

But in the end, you made me laugh at Rainbow Dash using Twilight's horn as an impromptu seppuku knife, so way to go, there!
#61 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>Miller Minus >>georg
So, this may just be a Chris-getting-hung-up-on-something-stupid thing, and if it is feel free to disregard... but what's the significance of the name Prometheus? I mean, yes, you and I know who he was and what he did, but that's not a myth I can readily reconcile with Equestrian mythos, and if the myth doesn't exist in Equestria, then... why is that a name they abruptly all agree on? I'm finding the name leans too heavily on human/real-world background for me to make sense of it in an Equestrian context.

As a more general criticism, I don't think your "everyone working together" conceit translated well to all of the crew. Why is Chrysalis suddenly risking her life to save Celestia? Apparently the sun's already been restarted and, as far as the Changeling Queen should be concerned, everything's hunky-dory. I agree with the commenters above that the ponification of the story's themes works nicely on a setting level, but it's confusing me on a character level for some (okay, really one) of the characters involved.

But past that? There's a lovely grandiosity to the prose that doesn't feel pompous or overstuffed, considering the situation. I love the few bits of dry levity you work in via RD, and how they offer a little relief from the story's consistent tension. And I thought it was clever how you managed to make Cadence both the pining woman at home, and an integral member of the team, at the same time. This is one where there may have been a few bits that pulled me out of the story, but when I was in it, I was fully immersed. Thanks for that!
#62 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You!

Cadance isn't a blonde.
#63 ·
· on Ambassador Spike
>story is called "Ambassador Spike"
>the word "ambassador" isn't used once

Post by Posh , deleted
#65 · 2
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Chris >>Anonymous Potato
The "I'm married" bit is actually lampshaded pretty early on:
“we are gathered here today to celebrate the polygamous union of Her Royal Highness Princess Luna Selene a—”

Luna knows, she just doesn't care. I suppose it could also be read as Luna having multiple partners already, especially given her ye olden mannerisms here, but all the same.

That said, I agree with the rest. There's an element of physical comedy going on here, too, with the mallet in particular, that gives me sort of an early Loony Toons vibe which I really enjoy.

Esteemed colleague >>Miller Minus mentions that Luna is pretty early-show crazy here, which is super true, but I will point out that since our beleaguered stallion is married but still living in Canterlot, this does put our timeline directly between s2 and s3, so it's not completely unthinkable that she'd have given up on her romantic habits in favor of the modern style just yet.

Also, full disclosure, I have a soft spot for Luna as a Bacchanalian-type having a hard time kicking the habit, so I am absolutely biased. Good work all around, still.
#66 · 2
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You!

That makes sense in retrospect, but yeah, I read it as Luna being the polygamous one--as in, he's going to be joining her harem (hence "consort" and not "husband"). Anyway, it doesn't really explain why the MC doesn't bring it up.

Regardless, fully agree that the Luna/Bacchus connection is part of what sells this. If any alicorn is going to go full free love, she'd be my top pick.
#67 ·
· on Ascension
Okay, so basically, I love this. Celestia has been and always will be #bestgirl, and I love the characterization you've given her. It's great that she's absolutely confident in how she deals with the Angels, but is hopelessly lost when it comes to Twilight. I've always thought that the best part of Celestia is her duality, and this is an excellent take on the concept. Also, I really like what you're doing with the mythology. I'm not sure if this is closely based on a real-world mythos, but I'm sensing Greek and East-Asian themes, along with the Judeo-Christian stuff. It's really cool, and it feels familiar and intriguing at the same time.

Now in terms of critique, I will have to say that the bit of a tone shift in Celestia's scene with Chastity took me off guard. This is mainly because in the immediately previous scene, we see Celestia sarcastically saying things like "I hate you" to another Angel, which also made me think Celestia's begging was also a joke. It wasn't until I reached almost the end of the scene where I did a double-take and re-read the whole thing, realizing that she was serious.

I think my suggestion would be to not have Celestia be honest so quickly. Show her trying to play around, just as she did with the other Angels, before finally breaking down and being forthright. That way, when she begs, the reader will know that something is different, and the importance of this scene will be much more apparent.

Honestly, other than that, though, I think I'm in love with everything else. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be rating this as one of my favorites this round.
#68 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice
Okay, I haven’t yet read the other comments. Here’s some thoughts from an amateur:

What separates this story from the most is the development of Tempest, which seems to be the driving point of the story. Character development, yay! I think it was handled quite well, especially the way Tempest tried to "cheat" her way through the fire. I liked the imagery too (the image of the Storm King behind a wall of fire is burned in my mind — less is sometimes more).

But if there’s something I would've added, it would've been a few lines describing the throne room (just one or two should be enough). After the beginning I felt like I almost had a clearer picture of Tempest’s cage than the throne room... although that may have been just me.

Anyway, well done, this story is pretty darn good. Thank you for writing.
#69 ·
· on The Gift
I don’t know that much about writing, so please keep that in mind when reading my comments.

This was not bad. I did have, at points, trouble understanding what was going on in the story, as if it was “cluttered” somehow. That may have been just me, though. There were some nice character moments here, but I feel that there's also room for development. Don’t know what else to say, sorry.

Keep at it, and thank you for writing!
#70 ·
· on The Gift
Going to agree with some of the other commenters: why doesn't AJ want the necklace? If it was because it was something too intensely personal for her to process, that didn't really come through; all the emphasis on price muddied the waters, and we don't have any idea why she'd feel better about some random griffon trader owning it. If it's because of the price itself, then that really didn't come through, because the bit that everyone reacts to is the reveal of whose necklace it is (AJ seems perfectly willing to take it, if a bit grumpily, up until she finds out it's dad's). And if it's something else, then that really, really didn't come through, because I can't come up with a third interpretation.

If we take that aspect of the plot as a given, though--if we just assume her reason makes sense--then a lot of things here feel very nice. I like Dash's obliviousness turning into a kind of low cunning by the end, and I love the resolution. The narration's voicing is a little bit of a mixed bag, with some un-Dash-like words and phrases sneaking in ("vibe of antiquity" doesn't sound right to me, even with the deliberately casual presentation), but at least 90% of the time I felt like it was capturing Dash's voice and headspace well.

Really, all this needs is that one key piece of clarity and a little copy-editing, and I think it'll prove to be something special--and I love getting to read "something special." So... thanks!
#71 · 2
· on Ambassador Spike · >>Miller Minus
I'm just realizing how much of this writeoff is filled with ponies playing stupid/ridiculous to the hilt; first it was Luna in Soviet, then Dash in Demise, then Dash again in Gift, and now Autumn in this story. I've read four fics in a row about obtuse Equestrians!

Anway, I think tying this so closely to the school is a mistake; we know from the show that the school is pretty much zero-effort and zero-responsibility for the main six and students, so it makes Twilight seem really disproportionately mean for not letting Spike go to his convention. I think you were aiming for something more like "she has a point, but she's being grumpy and expressing it unfairly," but it really came off as her just being a dick (not helping: Starlight's entire job is "let ponies be sad in her general vicinity," which sure doesn't sound important, either. If you really want to stick with the school explanation, I'd at least give her some real duties (probably something in the same general field, like counseling) that don't drive home how there really doesn't seem to be any reason why Twilight should feel overworked). It's good for the audience to sympathise with Spike, sure, but you don't need to throw Twi under a bus for us to do that--he's our focus character and he's not getting to do something he wants, we're already sympathetic!

Past that, Autumn was a wonderfully whimsical character, and you did a great job of making her feel vibrant and active, even when she wasn't doing much of anything. I broadly agree with >>Baal Bunny and>>Bachiavellian that this is a very slight story, especially considering its wordcount, but I personally found that her exuberance kept me going right along for the entire fic. You've got a good thing going there, energy-wise. I also really enjoyed your use of Spike as a straight man, though granted he's wonderfully suited for that role to begin with. Still, you found a good balance between too dry and too snarky for him, which I appreciate.
#72 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Anonymous Potato
Snark aside, I thought this was really funny. My comments echo Rao's and Chris's in finding this headcanon of Luna amusing, while also echoing the sentiment that it doesn't really fit the character by this point in the timeline (not unless you toned down the Royal We and the archaic diction in general). And I agree that the reveal at the end, that Shining Armor was the target of Luna's seduction all along, wasn't foreshadowed enough. There's plenty that could be done to imply Shiny's our POV character without giving it away. Like, maybe when he's talking about Luna's height, he mentions "I like 'em big, but not that big."

...Or something, I don't... I don't fuckin'...

Cadance isn't a blonde, damn you.

Incidentally, this is similar conceptually to another story from a writeoff round three years ago, "Concubine." I'm not implying anything untoward, don't get me wrong, but if this was inspired by it, I think that'd be pretty neat.

And if it wasn't, then give it a read; it's always interesting to see how other writers have tackled similar subject matter. I think there's a published version on Fimfic.
#73 · 1
· on Old Flames
I'm reaching this story towards the tail end of the round, when I think all that I could say has already been said. That's the trap of the writeoff, I'm afraid.

You wrote a good piece, though. Gold star. 8/10.
#74 ·
· on Ascension · >>Posh
Okay, so, I really didn't like this. And a big part of that is that my reaction to show-contemporary Twilestia shipping is a big NO. That's not exactly your fault, author, though you sure could have done more to make it palatable ("she's not technically your student anymore, so there's no ethical problems here whatsoever!" is... really, really missing the point). But anyway, I'm sure you can see how, for the not-insignificant portion of the general readership which I'm presuming to speak for, "Celestia goes to get purified of sin" and "Celestia's gonna go be a statutory rapist after this"* are incompatible.

But, good news: when you post this on FiMFiction, it'll have the "Celestia," "Twilight," and "Shipping" tags, and most of us who feel that way will be smart enough to avoid it. So, that's probably more than enough time talking about that.

Even past the whole premise, though, that transition to Chastity was so far out of left field, I honestly couldn't tell what that it wasn't meant to be Celestia pretending she wanted to bang Twilight in order to tease her friend until I got to the end of the fic. The story could really benefit from seeding her feelings a lot earlier, and more strongly ("Celestia talking about Twi" is not, in itself, something I'd consider sufficient seeding; we already know they have a relationship, it's the nature of Celestia's feelings that needs seeding). I'd also try to establish some anxiety on Celestia's part going in; right now, the casual joviality with which she treats all the other friends, and the lack of any sign that there's a more important-to-her trial coming up, are guiding me strongly away from reading her talk with Chastity as serious. This wouldn't require big changes; I'm not saying Celestia needs to be spouting her doom every page. But I think it would be to the fic's benefit to have it establish at some point, and probably to lightly reinforce a time or two, that there is an upcoming trial/purification that Celestia dreads/desires, and a "friend" who she's not quite so excited to see.

I will say, I enjoyed the way you balanced purification of suffering and casual, glad dialogue in the first three-quarters or so of the fic. It was fun, and surprisingly breezy, and I very much enjoyed that part of the reading experience. Please don't take my "this story makes me feel disgusted" as any sort of criticism of its writing (or for that matter, of you as a person; in no way am I trying to pass judgement on any author or reader who likes this stuff!). If you smooth out the move to Chastity, I think you'll have a story that a lot of readers will really enjoy, and that the rest of us, well, won't be your audience for. So... ignore us, and keep doing what makes you happy!

*I'm not asking you to agree that she is; I'm just saying, what you've presented in this story is something that I, and plenty of other readers, can and will 100% read as statutory rape.
#75 · 3
· on Hidden Masks:Through the Proverbal Fire and Flames
So, I'm leaving for a weekend at the cabin in an hour, and I won't be back until around the time scores are final, but I wanted to come back to this story and talk to the author directly.

Author, I'm making the assumption that you're relatively new here. With that in mind, I want to talk about scoring. Specifically, I want to tell you that I've finished putting my ballot together, and I have your story in dead last.

Why am I telling you this?

Because you shouldn't care.

>>Miller Minus said something important about how just submitting something is an achievement in and of itself. And it's true! Just writing a few thousand coherent words in 72 hours is more than most people can do! But more than that, you should look at the context into which you're submitting this story: it's being compared against a very small sample of other writings, all by people who've decided they have a vested interest in seeking out criticism and working to improve their writing. In other words, the people you're competing against aren't a random sample of people, or even a random sample of fanfic writers.

And that's important because if this story scores low on other peoples' ballots as well as on mine, then in a few days you're going to log on and see that rating, and the natural first thing to think is "oh, well, they hated my story." This is not true. People are reacting to a first draft of your story, which they are comparing against a small sampling of other stories by folks, many of whom have done a bunch of writeoffs before and learned a lot of tricks, not just about writing in general, but about writing to this particular audience and timeframe. Heck, some of the stories here are written by professionally published authors!

It's with that context in mind that I want to make sure you (and anyone else who might end up near the bottom of the voting results!) realize that a low score does not mean you did something bad, or shouldn't have submitted your story, or that you should be embarrassed. A quick look at the other comments shows that nobody hated your story, and none of us were anything but happy to read and critique it; we like stories, and we like trying to be helpful! Even if you do end up at or near the bottom of scoring, you shouldn't care. You wrote a story, you've hopefully gotten some useful critique out of the deal... everything's roses.

I suppose, having said all of that, that if my story ends up being the one at the bottom of the voting, I'm going to have a lot of egg on my face. But on the bright side, I'll be able to re-read this pep talk, and it will all be just as true about me and the story I submitted as it would've been about you and yours. We're all in the same boat, here.

So, that said, I hope you enjoy the next few days as much as I'm about to enjoy my cabin weekend, and remember: no matter what the score says, everyone's happy to see you here, and we're eager to see what you do next!
#76 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
I have never read the original Bradbury story, so I'm judging this as its own beast, strictly as a work of ponyfic.

And it's... alright?

That's super backhanded, I know. Let me clarify: I think the prose is stellar. The science fiction concepts, I don't know that I can give you much credit for, because I don't know how much of this comes from Bradbury and how much is your own invention. But I think they're extremely well integrated into your story, and it's a credit to how you wrote it that the themes from the show, and the characters and their personalities, show through even when you're only implying them. I like that narration and action drive the story, rather than dialogue. Uh. I like the... spaceship?

...The premise wears a little thin at some places. It's glossed over how so many characters, even villains, put aside their differences and united to save Cellybelly. And while the theme and character of MLP are carried over pretty well, a lot of the series' personality is lost in the effort to unite it with Bradbury's style.

Except when the big crane dips into the sun... to grab Celestia... like a claw machine...

...that was a little jarring to see. unexpectedly cartoony in a story that's been dark science fiction up until that point.

Look, I don't know. 8/10. My tendies are ready, excuse me.
#77 ·
· on Ascension
I think there's a really cool concept here that sneaks its way in part way through. At first I thought the whole climb was just a way for the author to dote on Twi for a bit via Celestia—which, sign me right up—but then we come to Celestia's true motive and all the banging on makes more sense. TwiLestia can be fun, especially contemporary Twilight since it's easier to wiggle around some of those ethical student-teacher/age gap* questions.

I'm all about the Stairway to Heaven setting. Tartarus is a real, tangible place so I can buy this Christo-Greek Angel Mountain visit no problem. But, I do agree with Bachi that we're a bit light on descriptions of how the place and the angels look and act, especially since we're sub-4k on the word count (time obviously being the other likely confounding factor). You hang a lampshade on the speedy visit well enough with Celestia not being particularly sinful in most respects, thus not having to linger and chat, but it'd still be nice to have a bit more between them all. Especially to contextualize the opening interaction with Chastity.

Anyway, there's a cool idea and great framework here, so thumbs up and please do carry on.

*If Celestia only went after creatures her own age she'd have a choice of Discord (which is also fine and hilarious) or... Luna. Maybe that rock in the garden that's particularly weathered.
#78 · 1
· on Demise Reprise · >>Chris
Okay, so this is just hella dumb and also hella fun. You do a great job with joke set-up and execution, especially with the first couple of setpieces with Dash and AJ. And you strike this excellent balance in tone that's definitely got a little bite in it without being gross or off-putting. Nicely done!

Now, I'm going to have to get weird and vague with my critique, so I hope you can bear with me. I think this story comes across rather simply, because it doesn't really do anything with its edginess. Now, I know that you're doing a lot of character deconstruction here, but I've seen most, if not all, of these tropes before. The fandom's pretty old at this point, so a lot of the inversions you've picked (Twilight as the longsuffering cynic, Dash as the fucking idiot, AJ as the not-really-racist realist) are actually well-trodden ground. In other words, I think you've tried to tilt the applecart, but the applecart has gotten so sick of getting tilted all the damn time for the past eight years that it grew a pair of legs to brace itself.

Maybe I'm taking Aragon's "Comedy is Serious Business" theorem a little too much to heart, but I really think a cool way this could have subverted expectations would be if the story and its ending somehow managed to actually tie things back to the show's themes, after initially treating them with such irreverence. But, that's just me spitballing, so let me wrap things up.

In short, I like your humor, I like your jokes, and I love the tone. But I didn't walk away from this one quite fully satisfied, and I think that's because in hindsight, the edginess feels a little straightforward. I think this is a very strongly executed piece, but it could use just another wrinkle or just another "twist" to take it to a higher level.
#79 · 1
· on Demise Reprise · >>Chris
You know, I never rarely get tired of reading stories that are setups for a single, culminating joke or gag, and seeing the very first word in this story be what's called back to at the end—the bet—makes it all the more enjoyable. I appreciate the clear line through the story leading up to the final moment.

Shout out in particular to Applejack for letting Twilight go on being barely a hair less naive than everypony else when it comes to farm work and animal husbandry.
#80 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You!
I don’t know that much about writing (or at least don’t think I do). Please don’t take this too seriously.

What detracted from my reading experience was how different this story would've been, had the characters roles been reversed. Maybe I'm just sexist, but I just couldn't get over the idea how creepy that would've been.

That aside:

There are some funny moments in this. I liked that. It's not all that complex of a story, or that long, but I don't think that such lighthearted stories necessarily have to be. The character voicings are interesting too.

But if you’ll accept an amateur's opinion, I would suggest you break apart some of the longer paragraphs. To me, those were a little cumbersome to read.

Anyhoo, thank you for writing!
#81 ·
· on Demise Reprise · >>Bachiavellian >>Chris
I'm not the best person to ask for an opinion, but here goes:

In all its weirdness, this was interesting. I feel like you could potentially even expand upon the idea if you wanted. This story raised a couple of questions that I would like to ask here:

- There is a Tartarus, obviously, which in this instance is a form of afterlife. Is there also a Heaven, where the "good" ponies go to, or do all ponies their equivalent of Hell when they die?
- Follow-up: Character-wise I could see Dash getting sent to Hell. But if there is also a Heaven for good ponies, what does it say about the Elements if their Bearers go straight to Hell when they die? (Sorry if I missed something important here)

Onto the story itself. I liked the flow of the dialogue. It felt natural, and the voicings were great too (I live for Sassy Twilight, so thank you for that.)

I'm not sure how to go about improving this. I think you could maybe compress it or leave some of the less important descriptions or dialogue out; it felt like the plot may have dragged a little, at points. Personally, I don't think the visceral side of things added much either (Both are just matters of taste, though).

(I’m also not certain whether Dash would say “Contrary to popular opinion.” Sounds more like Twilight to me.)

Anyways, I had fun reading. Thanks for writing ^^

Edit: Disregard the questions. I did a dumb.
#82 · 1
· on Demise Reprise · >>Anonymous Potato
>>Anonymous Potato
RE: Tartarus, in Greco-Roman mythology, basically everyone goes to Tartarus/Hades when they die, regardless of how good you are. The only exceptions are demigods and the like, who go to Olympus.
#83 ·
· on Demise Reprise

Oh, yea, you're right. I should've remembered that.
#84 ·
· on Ambassador Spike · >>Chris
Review to come in a bit but I had a questiony-do for >>Chris

we know from the show that the school is pretty much zero-effort and zero-responsibility for the main six and students

Is this a thing? I've seen most of the school episodes and I don't remember it being implied to be zero-effort for either party.

Student Counsel, for example, seems to imply the work is difficult for the students, and that starlight's job is vital.
#85 · 1
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, so you can go ahead and place me firmly in the camp of "loved it" when it comes to that wordplay bit in the beginning. And really, I'm loving all of the voicing here as well. Pretty much everyone gets the chance to really pop, outside of maaaaaybe Twilight. But really, even Twilight is excellent, which goes to show just how fantastic everyone else feels.

Now, I'll have to be honest and say that in terms of plot, it does feel just a tad like we're going in circles. We spend a lot of time with the ring, and I can't help but feel that in the end, it didn't really warrant that level of attention. What's a lot more interesting to me personally, is getting to learn more about Pinkie and what makes her shy enough to not want to give the ring to Rarity directly. I mean, you can definitely use the ring as a framing device, but right now the way things are set up, it looks to the reader to be the #Main_Point aof the story, and it's a bit confusing when it turns out that it isn't.

In short, I think Pinkie needs another helping or two of screen time—this story is about her, after all. Giving how strongly all the characters are voiced, I really feel like you've got the toolkit to really do some work with Pinkie, but IMO you might want to take a step or two away from the mystery elements, which are really taking up a lot of the reader's emotional investment right now.

But, I'm still rating this one pretty darn highly.
#86 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice

Sorry, author, but I never saw the film. I don't know these characters, and I can't get invested in a story about people I don't know.
#87 ·
· on Ascension · >>Chris
"...So anyways, Twilight finally got through Starlight's anger and convinced her to give friendship another try instead of holding on to hate. Then they reset the timeline and Starlight became Twilight's first student!"

This is Sunset Shimmer erasure. :l

This is a highly competent piece with a compelling concept and some remarkably likeable side characters... who, unfortunately, manage to outshine our protagonist, the Princess Superior With the Big White Posterior. Part of that, I think, comes from Celestia's voice and characterization; her dialogue and personality don't quite sound like her. You also have an issue with tonal whiplash, from several scenes of amusing comedy giving up to a dark look inside Celestia's psyche during her final trial.

I might tone down her effusive, light-hearted banter with the angels she encounters.

I think the climb, itself, could be illustrated more effectively, as well, to give a stronger sense of continuity. Right now, your scenes are a bit disjointed. Show Celestia making progress; give us those details.

I'm just saying, what you've presented in this story is something that I, and plenty of other readers, can and will 100% read as statutory rape.

I'm sure the author knows that already, and I don't see why you brought it up in the first place, beyond just providing the disclaimer that you don't care for the ship.
#88 · 2
· on Tempest's Choice
Everybody knows objectively speaking, Tempest is #Second_Or_Third_BestGirl, so you've already won brownie points with me for writing about her. As our other reviewers noted, this story does an excellent job with character motivations and the way it plays out its conflict resolution. Nicely done!

Now, one of the things this story definitely struggles with is the hook. I'll be honest, the first hundred or so words aren't quite doing everything they need to do. We immediately get a cast and the pre-movie timeframe, but that can be a tough sell, considering that pretty much any story set concurrently or before an event explored by canon is automatically going to lose at least a degree of the reader's attention, since we assume we know how things are gonna play out. And, well, I don't think the Storm King and Gruber are exactly fan-favorites (unless I've just wildly misjudged the general reception to the movie), so that's another handicap you're dealing with right off the bat.

The first paragraph/sentence has this really high-level and passive-feeling tone, and I think actually voicing out the Storm King's words would have been a stronger choice. The second paragraph feels like a lot of words to just describe the Storm King's appearance and a relatively non-important action. And then, finally, despite needing to feel emotionally charged, the first conversation feels muted because of a bit of talking-heads syndrome. IMO, it could really use some kind of emotional description (the nauseating sway of the ship, the smell of the Storm King's breath) to break up the back and forth dialogue.

Honestly, when you've already read this much of a story while having trouble feeling an emotional connection with the characters, it's often really hard to claw your way back in. So the fact that I felt invested by the end of things is a huge credit to some of the stuff you're doing in the later scenes. But my overall payoff is still diminished by the fact that I just didn't really feel like I was in the flow of things from the start.

So, my advice would be to give us big and clear reason to care, ASAP. Other than that, I think this is really strong stuff, and I'm sorry to have to gone off on the opening for as long as I did. But I really do think that this is holding the story back, and with just a little tweaking, IMHO it can make the whole thing feel so much stronger.
#89 · 1
· on Tempest's Choice
Bravo. The evolution of Fizzlebop Cumberbatch from meek prisoner to Commander Tempest like I've never seen it before. Which, full disclosure, I haven't ever read it before so you're the first but I'm still impressed regardless.

The paragraphs are short and punchy but I still feel the passage of time via Tempest's physical state. Loved seeing a clever side to her with the water trick and she got him monologuing to do it! I'm still geeking out about it! The budding friendship between her and Grubber being used as ammunition to fuel her ambitions works double duty to setup her intended backstab of the Storm King and also to show us that right now she really, actually doesn't care about silly things like friendship.

Gold star
#90 ·
· on Ambassador Spike
I want to attempt to determine what's bothering >>Baal Bunny by just looking at the conflict, and how it progresses through the story. Because I don't think we got a concrete conflict to sink our teeth into, and the only conflict we did get felt a touch forced.

Like everyone else mentioned, the voices and character interactions are fantabulous, but I would pull back on that praise with one character out of the four: Twilight. In both scenes in which she features, while I found that she sounded like herself, I didn't get the sense that she acted like herself, and she seems to be only acting the way she is because without her standing her ground against what Spike wants, the conflict would be gone. In that way, it felt forced.

In Scene 1, I wondered why she was acting so strong-arm against Spike despite what he wanted not really being a big deal. Not that she should have just let him go, but, I'm trying to remember her ever being so stern towards Spike and I really can't, except maybe when he was going greed-crazy. And in Scene 2, I mean... isn't this her first time ever meeting a Kirin? She loves other species to death. Where's her desire to research? Where's her desire to be the ambassador? In both of these scenes, you could argue she's too stressed out to act like she normally would, but defaulting to a poised, stern VIP (Very Important Princess) doesn't feel like what she'd do under stress. But she has to, for the conflict.

And I noticed that, when Twilight speaks with Spike alone, she sounds like herself again... and the conflict evaporates. When Starlight and Autumn revealed their plan at the station, I asked, "Why do they have to be so sneaky about it?" Even not knowing how she pulled back with Spike, can't Autumn just go to Twilight and say "Actually I want to go the the Crystal Empire with Spike instead?" What's she gonna say? The trip is for Autumn now, that's what she wants... what's she afraid will happen if she's honest about it with Twilight?

Without the strong conflict, for me, the philosophical discussion at the end felt a bit flat. I couldn't shake the feeling that they were sneaking around for no reason.

Also, to hit rewind a bit: most everything between Twilight's two scenes sweep the conflict under the rug, which is why I think so many are finding it muddled. Spike accepts that there's nothing he can do, and then starts to hang out with Autumn, and during those couple scenes we're left wondering what the story is about anymore, because it's almost like Spike has forgotten about even wanting to go.

So all this boils down to: Strengthen the conflict, bring it in as early as possible, and try not to let it dissipate just as the story is getting going.

And all this aside, Author, you win the Best Banter award this round, and kudos to you for having such great invisible prose. There's a lot to like about this story, as others have detailed.


Her horn glowed, and

Best cliffhanger ever.

Thanks for writing and good luck, hooray!
#91 ·
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
So, hi, nice to meet you... I'll be your dissenting opinion for this round.

I am apparently the only one who found the prose overly purple. There's a lot of tangling sentences and overly verbose ways of describing things, such as which character is which (a pony most known for growing apples?), what's happening to them on their journey—hell, even the ship itself is overly showy for no apparent reason. Whose idea was it to make it gold? The Author's.

Meanwhile, as Posh mentioned, everybody's motives, and everybody's additional stories that we haven't seen, get glossed over. And as Chris mentioned, the "everybody working together" theme is meant to be taken at face-value, but all that lead up? All that working past differences and banding together to rescue Tia? That's what I wanna see.

And for the record, the final word of the story was as much a non-sequitur for me as it was for >>Chris.

Now don't get me wrong, I like pretty prose a lot. If I had the choice between an understated slice of life story with interesting, challenging prose, and an epic fantasy told in plain English, I'd choose the former every time. But that extra flavour has to serve a purpose. Evoke emotions, lend voice to a character who talks like that, or something. But the only purpose I can gather here is that an author wanted to show off...

And I've made that complaint before, and I'll use the same disclaimer I did last time: I'm just calling its like I sees its. I'm not making any guesses towards your intention. I just found it to be a lot, and "self-indulgent" was the feeling I came away with.

But it sounds like it's just me, so. I dunno. Thanks for writing anyhow. Best of luck!
#92 · 1
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Baal Bunny >>Bachiavellian
I had trouble getting into this one, unfortunately. As much as I'm a fan of these understated, invisible prose, well-dialogued stories (which is what will carry you high on my ballot, Author), I think our choice of main character is very suspect.

I want to urge caution when you bring in your own "fringe" character like this, because it's very easy to forget that his story needs to be more interesting than those of the canon characters. Here, I felt the only reason I wanted to stick with Drizzles and not the others was that I had seen their stories already. But I couldn't say his was more interesting, and in fact, it seems to only be tangentially related to the canon. I was hoping for something more intertwined, you know?

Let me try to break it down. With a character like this, I can see an interesting story materializing out any combination of three methods.

The first would be to show how Drizzles affected the canon. You tease that a little bit, with Drizzles' interactions with the apples, but he's still quite uninvolved. He's there, but he doesn't affect much. Why are we following this firefigher, and not the others? What interesting angle can he bring to the loss of AJ's parents? As it is, he and AJ have nothing really connecting their stories, which should happen if you want this character to feel like part of the canon.

The second way is to show how the canon affects Drizzles. This, I think is your stronger connection, because clearly he wanted to help, but couldn't. Yet I never felt like we dug deep into that, especially with the last scene shifting the attention over to canon again. He feels awful momentarily for the suffering parents, but once they were out of the building wasn't their care completely out of his scope of work? What does he have to feel guilty about? There may have been room to expand there, but then there's a timeskip.

The last option would be to make his own story, the one that's got nothing to do with the canon, more exciting. His development as a firefighter, his relationship with his colleagues, his marriage, etc. But we kinda... skip most of that. Hell, why is he even there? The story begins with his strange decision to choose a tougher life than he needs to, and I was expecting there to be more built on top of that. I mean, it's right there at the beginning, and he seems so secretive about why he's making this decision. But I never understood why. Again, room to expand.

That's really the crux of it. There's a lot to like about this story, and others have touched on that, but the fringe character angle didn't super work for me, and I hope I was able to explain why.

Thanks for writing!
#93 · 2
· on Where There's Smoke · >>Bachiavellian
It's pretty rare to see a story carried this well almost exclusively by original characters. The tie-in to the Apples feels natural and not at all like we're resting on canon sadness for OC character growth, which deserves a completely unironic round of applause. Less robust of an interaction with Twilight at the end, and I agree with Pohs Posh that shifting that over to AJ would be more thematically fitting; doubly so because I can't quite imagine Twilight sitting on her haunches, destroyed home or no, while a non-trivial percent of Ponyville is burning around her. A bunch of little fires can turn into a bunch of big fires awful fast.

Learned that from experience. Had to hide from a helicopter once. Real scary night.

But, still. Pretty fantastic over all.
#94 ·
· on Cleanse · >>Baal Bunny
I haven't looked at the others' reviews, so I don't know if they caught what I missed. But here we go:

The narrative voice here is good. The prose I found quirky, creative, and original. Good job. Story-wise, I like the idea of Pinkie running the risk of burning-out (fits with her saying she's constantly on fire. Very nice), and the word-plays worked quite well with that. Your portrayal of the characters is pretty spot-on too (I particularly liked the dry humor of Starlight). 

Now, I'm still an amateur writer (and a reader, for that matter), so I'm fairly certain I missed something important here, however, I found the entire point of the ring a little questionable. I'll try to explain my thoughts as clearly as possible:

I'm assuming Pinkie got the ring because of the idea of the token, and the wordplay. I also got the idea that she runs out at the start because she feels she messed up (the ‘propose’ word-play). But she then gets the ring back after leaving it behind - on purpose, or not - for a reason that I don't know, and does the same thing again.

First of all, why was the ring important, since Pinkie was not actually proposing? If the ring was just for the wordplay, why did she keep getting it back? If Pinkie didn't realize the wordplay would give the wrong idea, why did she storm off? I suppose you could peg most of that as Pinkie just being Pinkie, and not knowing what to do when she makes a mistake, but to me, that only comes to mind retroactively (it’s not clarified what Pinkie feels she ‘messed up’.) A character making mistakes is fine, if not great even, in terms of narrative, but I wish it'd been explained somewhere, because it didn’t come instinctively to me.

Secondly: why was the sizing enchantment important? The ring, I felt, was already unique enough. It even ties in with Rarity somewhat (her knowing gems and all, though I wouldn't call her a jeweler) - was there a reason here that I missed? Furthermore, I don’t understand how the ring ties into Pinkie? I had thought that if she were to give someone such a token, it'd be something more along the lines of quirky, maybe party-related. (There could naturally be several reasons for this, but I'd appreciate clarification or explanation.) 

Lastly, I think the only reason, that is given to the reader, how Rarity knew the ring was Pinkie's is the wordplay - and possibly that it keeps getting lost - which seems a little far-fetched to me, considering she found the ring the first two times by happenstance (if I understood at least that correctly).

Somebody will no doubt correct me on these, so I'm sorry I didn't get what you were going for here. I’m sorry, but if I don’t ask these questions, I’ll never learn.

I enjoyed this story greatly, nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong; any sort of nitpick I had was solely to point out the parts that I felt could use a little clarifying, to make the story even greater. This was really good.

Thank you so much for writing. Have a great weekend!
#95 · 2
In for a penny, in for an art round.
#96 · 1
· on τῇ καλλίστῃ · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Why dative? To the most beautiful?
#97 · 1
· on Demise Reprise · >>Chris
If someone held a gun to my head and asked me to name a single, blackly comedic MLP fanfic that absolutely nailed characterization, dialogue, and humor, to a T... and I have no idea why I would ever find myself in such a situation, but bear with me... I'd probably name this one.

Narratively, though, I find it a bit thin. The cast's dialogue is all so rich and entertaining that it elevates and carries the story, but especially toward the end, whilst debating the ethics and rules of allowing Dashie to kill herself, I felt that the story was wearing out its welcome, stretching the same joke across too much space. I would recommend trying to get to Dashie's second... seventh? Seventh suicide attempt a bit quicker to keep a sense of momentum going.

(For the record, the premise of the cast standing around in Hell, castigating Rainbow for killing herself, while Cerberus stands there impatiently holding her in his mouths, was entertaining enough on its own. Just don't overextend it)

I also find myself at a loss as to Rainbow Dash's logic...

“Okay, so, I was up their being bored, and then I thought, ‘If my life flashes before my eyes, but the last bit goes super-slow, then that’ll make it take longer for me to finish dying, right?’ Because, well, obviously.”

...I assume she's talking about relativity, here, but the roots of all these assumptions seem insufficiently connected to her course of action. Don't get me wrong, if someone from the Mane Six were going to kill herself for a dumbass reason, it'd be Rainbow Dash. I kinda just wish I understood her logic (or what passes for it) a bit more.
#98 · 5
· · >>Bachiavellian
Friends, it's time to bring back an old tradition.

Writeoff Mash-Ups

In Soviet Equestria, the Golden Alicorn of the Sun Shoots for You!: Celestia's spent years burning in immortal agony within the furnace of the sun, and now that she's out, she has certain... needs... that only Shining Armor can satisfy. Unless Luna gets to him first.

Meanwhile, Shining Armor goes into protective custody. In space.

Where There's Old Flames: Turns out, Drizzles is a little too good at fighting fires. The only sundering going on here is the massive rift in his and Sprinkler's marriage that his accidental deicide caused.

The Cleanse, Reprise: Pinkie Pie gets Cerberus to fetch Bright Mac's monogramed pocketwatch from Tartarus, then deposits it on Applejack's doorstep as an anonymous gift. Applejack skips the Lost and Found entirely, and hawks it for extra bits to replace her squeaky old wheelbarrow.

Meanwhile, Bright Mac rots in Tartarus, shocked at having been mugged post-mortem. "Bet she's givin' it to some hornhead," he grumbles, giving voice to his mother's outdated values.

Ambassador Tempest: Fizzlepop Berrytwist skips out on her psychological torture for a day of witty banter with Autumn Blaze. The Storm King, unable to handle his workload without her, postpones the invasion of Equestria indefinitely, and MLP: The Movie never happens.

Ascension: Through the Proverbial Fire and Flames: Turns out, Midnight Comet was the Angel of Chastity all along, and he's more sick and tired of horny vampires than anyone.
#99 · 1
· on In Soviet Equestria, The Moon Shoots For You! · >>Anonymous Potato
This is another comedy that revels in how silly it is, and ends up being a lot of fun. It pulls off the irreverence of its spectacle just right, and manages to pull me effortlessly from joke to joke.

Now, I found the twist amusing, but more of in an "oh, ha!" kind of way, instead of a "my mind is blown" kind of way. That may have been exactly your intention though, so I'll let you take my experience as a data-point. I didn't really notice any of the foreshadowing of the twist before my second read-through, so maybe that contributed to my more muted reaction.

Speaking of second read-throughs, I'll have to admit that I started running into some fridge logic issues when I took a step back from the spectacle. Things like Luna's warhammer sort of coming out of nowhere and Luna so quickly believing the "illness" excuse—well there's silly, and there's ridiculous, and sometimes this story flirts awfully close to the latter.

Overall, though, I know that I still had fun with this as a whole, so I'm chalking down most of my issues as personal or knit-picky. This one's still likely going to find its way towards the top of my slate, FYI.
#100 · 2
· on The Golden Alicorn of the Sun · >>georg
We do not get enough sci-fi around the Writeoffs, so bless your soul for entering one! As a whole, I think this story does a great job of establishing the height of its stakes, which is absolutely essential to pull off these kind of "man vs nature" set-ups.

Now, let's talk about the prose. When you're doing this kind of super-high-level, dialogue-free, telly-by-design narrative style it's a risk. I know you're doing it to evoke classic sci-fi, but this style has fallen out of vogue for a reason. Before I go on, I should note that personally for me, it worked. I got into the flow of how I should be processing the information relatively quickly, and it made for an overall enjoyable reading experience. But take a different reader, or, hell, even the same reader in a different mood, and your results can vary drastically. In other words, I can't help but think that this is a pretty uncontrolled way of presenting your story. You're leaving a lot to the reader to do the heavy lifting, and that's what I mean by this style being a risk. An example of what I'm talking about would be that last scene; it can come across as really flat and cheesy if the reader didn't happen to be 100% on-board with everything else in the story.

As for the story itself, I went and read the Bradburry original after finishing this, and I have to say that I liked the fact that you took your own liberties with the ship design, the way you highlighted the stakes, and the overall themes. Crossovers should never be carbon-copies with ponies pasted on top, so kudos for pulling things in a new direction.

Overall, I had fun with this as a whole, and I was more willing to gloss over things like Chrysalis's motivations than some of our other reviewers were. But, I still do think that the concerns expressed by them are still valid, because as I said, you are shouldering a lot of the responsibility of processing the story to the downstream (reader) side of the equation. This is going to be a bit of a gamble—but for me, it certainly paid off!