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Uncharted Territory · Friendship is Short Shorts Short Short ·
Organised by CoffeeMinion
Word limit 750–1250
Show rules for this event
#1 · 10
Greetings friends, and welcome to the inaugural contest of Friendship is Short Shorts! I’ll be your host for tonight’s entertainment. Most of you know me—my name’s CoffeeMinion—and a lot of you have heard my sales pitch for why it makes sense to have alternate lengths for FiM contests.

“But CoffeeMinion,” someone’s bound to say, “I haven’t heard the sales pitch!”

Let me do it for you this way: everybody knows there are three parts to writing a Minific entry, right? The first part is brainstorming it, the second part is actually writing it—but the third part is taking a hacksaw and cutting things out of it to try to get your perfectly functional 1100-word story down to 750 words so that you can submit it.

Or maybe the writing part doesn’t resonate for you. “Surely I have not had trouble fitting my Minifics into 750 words,” some of you say. All right, fair enough—but what about all those minis you’ve reviewed where 9/10ths of the feedback looks like: “Wow, this has some great potential, but it feels really compressed / the conclusion is rushed / it needs another scene / etc.” Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to read a slate of stories that aren’t all overstuffed?

“Now hold on Mr. ‘Coffee Minion,’ if that’s even your real name,” a few are bound to protest. “Surely you can’t fix the problem of people overstuffing their stories just by adding more words? Surely they’ll still push the limit, regardless of whether that’s 750 or 1250. The fundamental problem is that people need to be telling stories that work with the word count, not against it.”

To which I say: “Stop calling me Shirley THAT’S WHERE YOU COME IN!

I would argue that the FimFiction community in general, as well as the FiM Writeoff community, has amply demonstrated their ability to write toward a “sweet spot” of 1000 words where the stories are both short and satisfying. And yes, let’s address the elephant in the room: that’s also the minimum publishability threshold for standalone FimFiction stories, which also motivates my views. But I’d argue that 1000 truly does work well as a target unto itself. We’re collectively brilliant at Minifics, except inasmuch as we generally end up cutting and cramming at the end—so why not take that basic concept and just relive a bit of pressure at the upper end?

Here’s the thing, though: I could be wrong. Maybe everyone really will just plaster themselves up against a higher limit, and the stories won’t be any better.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think everyone who participates will have the chance to spread their wings a little more and write some flank-kicking short shorts. And I think they’ll also enjoy it more on the back-end when the higher limit makes it that much easier to transplant these stories from the Writeoff site to FimFiction.

I think it’ll be a win-win for everybody.

But to make it happen, I need your stories, your comments, and your reviews. You guys already know how to make a Writeoff awesome; please join me now in making this one awesome!
#2 · 3
· · >>Moosetasm
BTW, anyone feel free to post up with your thoughts about the word length, the schedule frequency, or what your odds look like for joining in this weekend. Oh yeah—and did I mention that you have a whole 48 hours to write? You can totally come up with 750+ words in 48 hours!
#3 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
We have needed a story length like for the longest time. It adds extra incentive to write if I know that I can post it directly to Fimfiction after it fails judging.
#4 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Why did this not show up in the active events?! Dammit.
#5 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
Took the words right out of my mouth. :derpytongue2:

The good news is you’ve still got an entire day to join in if you like, and it’s probably not going to involve much more work than the average Minific entry.

Lol, exactly! At least the consolation prize for us all is an easy transfer!

Though who knows... assuming relatively fewer people join in on this one, the top spots could be wide open to more than just the usual suspects...
#6 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Jewel's birthday party is tomorrow, but maybe I'll try to write something.
#7 · 1
Happy birthday to Jewel! It’d be great if you made it in, but I understand that conflicts happen. I’m just glad to have mine in already, and with another whole 24 hours to tweak it!
#8 · 2
"Friendship is Short Shorts Short Short"
#9 · 1
Pwew! Made my entry!

I like the amount of time you gave us and also the timing of when we could write. The minifics usually have such a short amount of time to write, so when Sunday comes along and I actually am able to sit down and do the writing, usually the writing portion of the contests is over. So I really like the new setup here. I just wish it showed up on the main page under the active events.
#10 ·
· · >>Bachiavellian
Having just joined today, I was wondering what the guessing segment of this contest meant.
#11 ·
· · >>Unseen Storyteller
>>Unseen Storyteller
Hey! Good to have you with us!

To answer your question, once the stories are visible the Guessing page will list all the authors that have entered this round, and will give you a chance to make guesses about who wrote each story. It's completely optional, but feel free to have a go at it! If you want to see what comes out of it, check out the bottom of the Results page of a previous completed event.
#12 ·
· · >>Bachiavellian
Thanks, I wasn't sure if I needed to select my name or anonymous to participate in that portion.
#13 ·
· · >>Unseen Storyteller
>>Unseen Storyteller
I think how it works if that if you select "Anonymous" during story submission, your entry won't be credited to your Scoreboard placement and your name will not appear even after the event is over. I'm assuming that your name won't be visible for other participants in the "Guessing" slates as well.

I've never actually submitted anything under "Anonymous" so I might be wrong, though.
#14 ·
· · >>Bachiavellian >>_Moonshot >>CoffeeMinion
If that's the case then I'm definitely not selecting anonymous. Not only do I want to be credited, everybody needs a target to aim their criticism at lol.
#15 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>Unseen Storyteller
Just cause I tend worry about new users to an unhealthy degree, I'll just throw in a reminder that regardless of which you choose, you should maintain anonymity about the entries you wrote until the voting period is over and the results are shown.

Good luck, and hope you have fun! :)
#16 · 1
· · >>Unseen Storyteller
>>Unseen Storyteller
Ay, glad to see you here!
Good thing people will be too distracted by my awful writing that I most definitely have already started working on to notice yours!
#17 ·
· · >>Unseen Storyteller
>>Unseen Storyteller
Welcome! I hope you’ll be able to submit an entry in the time remaining, but welcome regardless!

You too Bachi, get to it *cracks whip*
#18 ·
· · >>_Moonshot
I don't know, I've been told my execution of ideas isn't the most elegant at times.
#19 · 1
I'm trying but a chair is only comfortable for so long. I should have one ready if I keep at it though.
#20 ·
· · >>Unseen Storyteller
>>Unseen Storyteller
A couple comments I've gotten from the past couple speedwrites:
"A brilliant hook and a strong opening that quickly devolved into what feels like a semi-coherent crackfic" - GaPJaxie
"I think it's around here that this story starts to come off the rails for me. It's just a little at first, but it feels like a disaster by the end." - Lofty Withers
#21 · 1
It would appear we both have a lot to learn. While the comments you received seem rather blunt. It would seem that you've avoided make a person "physically ill" as they put it. Here's to the improvement of both our writing ability.
#22 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
I submitted a fic!
#23 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Whew! barely made it.
#24 · 1
>>Unseen Storyteller
Huzzah, and welcome to the party!!

Edit: Actually, congratulations to everyone for joining the party! I love it that we’ve got a mix of old and new (or at least new to me) names in the running.

So what happens now?

Keep your authorship anonymous! The experienced Writeoff folks know how this works, but for any new folks, anonymity is rule #1. If you compromise your anonymity before the voting period is over, I will be forced to disqualify your entry, which I really don’t want to do. :-(

Read and vote! This is where the rubber hits the road, friends. Check out people’s stories and use your voting slate to separate the wheat from the gluten-free!

(Whether you’re into wheat or GF is, of course, besides the point.)

Get your reviews on! Feedback is a great part of participating in the Writeoff, but what makes it great is you! Post up with your thoughts about the stories, be they positive or (constructively) critical. What did a story do that you thought worked, and what still needs some tweaking to make it land properly? Whether you’re a professional reviewer or a warm body with eyeballs (or just ears, if you’re having things read to you), chances are you’re going to notice things that give you a reaction—and sometimes the best feedback is just knowing that one thing or another caught a reader’s eye, for better or worse.
#25 · 3
· on Soccer Dash!
Rainbow Dash: "I'm about to end this man's whole career."

Something I liked:

Weirdly funny. I figured this would be a comedy of sorts, but I underestimated the prose's ability to ambush me. There are some really odd word choices that somehow work ("fake-thinks" still gets a laugh out of me), and if anything I really like the tone of this story. I feel like Dash herself is characterized beautifully, and Twilight checks out for the few lines she has. Ballsy move to have the other main character be an OC, and at first I couldn't tell if we're supposed to shit on Thoren or not, but I ended up liking him a fair bit; he's developed enough that his "victory" feels like it means something.

Something I didn't like:

While I am please with how Thoren's side of the story turned out, Dash's side kind of just... stops. It could be that the stakes of this match aren't established very well (Why does Dash even wanna do this?), and it seems like a good deal of context of missing. Then there's the subtext, which I didn't get much from. Unless you're really into soccer (or any sport), it's a good idea to add subtext to the physical activity, so that the reader has something emotional to latch onto aside from the game itself.

Verdict: It's fun, it's funny, it's pretty endearing, even if the ending left me wanting something more.
#26 · 4
· on Prince Cadance
All horse words are gay, but some are gayer than others.

Something I liked:

A classic gender-bender, but not of the usual kind of bending. M/M... we don't see those around here, lemme tell ya. It's like a fucking curse; you do M/M and you get blacklisted. I guess this means I'll have to bottom-slate this entry, which is a shame, because it's kind of a gnarly character piece? Not on Shining, fuck no, on Cadance. This is one of the more "different" Cadance stories I've seen (she's a low-key narcissist here, which is funny to me), and the result is bizarre but also entertaining. The very last curveball at the end is the cherry on top.

Something I didn't like:

The pacing's fucking whack, dawg. Okay, that might be hyperbolic. Only the last third really hits me as whack in how it's paced, because things happen too fast. We go from Cadance revealing to Shining that she is now a he, which is crazy, but then Shining gets over it in like a minute, and before you know it... well... It's one of those things where if you really want to make it work, you need to spend a lot of time with it, and this entry starts to clash with the word ceiling in that last big scene.

Verdict: Flawed, but audacious. Kind of sexy, actually. Cadance's characterization is what sticks with me most.
#27 · 5
· on Daring Do and the Unfortunate Case of Unchartered Territory · >>wishcometrue
Daring Do being self-published is so relatable it hurts.

Something I liked:

There are many ways in which to characterize Twilight. One of the trickiest is to have her to be basically a helicopter parent, but more of a teacher, and here it works beautifully. She's so keen on lecturing Daring Doo for her hack fraudery that she will risk drowning to get the job done, and that's great for some laughs. I'm not sure if this entry made me laugh the most, but it got me to smirk the most consistently, which hey, a knowing smirk is like a silent laugh. The last 2/3 of this story is great stuff, with Daring Do herself providing about as many lulz as Twilight, much to my surprise.

Something I didn't like:

I do, however, feel that the first scene is clunky. It kind of drags; we don't need this much anticipation over a new Daring Do book. I'm also not sure what the point of TwiDash is here? It's a fine ship, and I like my ships, but the story doesn't really do anything with the fact that these two are marefriends. At least the other entries that are gay have a discernible point to the gayness. Doesn't help that there's little humor in the first scene.

Verdict: Kind of slow and rocky at first, but it gets better. How Daring Do responds to Twilight really hits me where the home is.
#28 · 3

I only discovered the event here last night about six hours before the deadline as I was clicking around the site after putting up my final comments on the "Devil in the Details" contest. I've gone in and updated my preferences, though, so I should get notes from now on--and I'm oh so tempted to start a novel group since National Novel Writing Month is coming up in November! Still, I'll try to read and vote and comment.

#29 · 2
· · >>LoftyWithers >>CoffeeMinion
Haven't commented anything yet due to writing and need for sleep. This is the very first writing competition that I've ever properly entered, so regardless of the outcome, I'm super excited just having finished something to begin with! Just the act of submitting my work was extremely exhilarating! After a personal hiatus of several years, it feels like coming back into the fandom with a proper bang!

I had no idea this group even existed, so I'm glad I was referred here. This has been really fun! Thanks for hosting! <3
#30 · 1
with a proper bang!

Think I know what you wrote then.
#31 · 2
Tortoise, we’re excited to have you as well! And the fun is just getting started IMO. Feel free to throw out some comments when you have time, but don’t feel like you have to go overboard!
#32 · 1
· on Prince Cadance
Part of me wanted a small scene where we see Cadance desperately trying to pray the gay away. Missed opportunity, I'll say that much.

Jokes aside, I do like how upfront this story is with its... subject matter? I guess we could call it that, sure. It's certainly better than having a story that delves into such matters yet conveniently omits anything remotely dirty, which most of the time comes across as emotionally dishonest. Quite contrarily, this story knows what it wants and was gunning for it right from the get-go, and though it may seem as a cardinal sin to any male-on-male hater on FimFic—of which I'm pretty sure there are none, and if they declare otherwise, the best way to not alert them of your presence is to walk backward slowly and leave them alone to grumble in their closet—I personally liked how unforgiving it was with approaching the topic. Less beating around the bush, more taking the bull by the horns. I like that.

Looking at the story proper, the lighthearted and straightforward approach to the narrative coupled with the simplicity of the prose helped build upon the whimsical and awkward yet unbearably sappy feelings between both Shining and Cadance for me, so kudos. I do think, however, that the second scene where Cadance is alone to parse her thoughts does need a bit more work. As much as I liked her thoughts on the matter, I think it does kinda interfere with the overall pacing and focus of this story a little. In fact, I actually believe that if you left out that section, it kinda hits home the awkwardness and sappiness a lot more. With those extra words, I think you could definitely use them to expand upon the final scene, which I too concur with Raisin that it breezes by a bit too quickly for me to really appreciate.

So yes, liked this a fair bit! Would like to see a bit more of this. Just a little~ bit more. Really don't want to see this taken a bit too far; I think there's a virtue in having restraint when it comes to expanding it, but that's just, like, my opinion, man.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#33 · 1
· on Forever · >>Moosetasm
“Come on Frost!”

Let's not.
#34 · 1
· on Forever
I promise you I'm not just saying this: the story here is beautifully gripping! Overall, there's just the right amount of description and character interaction to paint a nice picture. At which point, there's more than plenty of immersive elements, even with the time skip--which was nicely transitioned to. There's just enough open ends for the audience to tie, yet there remains a yearning to see how the expedition played out. This looked like it was fun to write, so personally I would definitely look forward to you possibly filling in the blanks later on!

In terms of change, all I can think of is the beginning dialogue. Instead of Klondike giving Hail an order to scout, Hail could advise Klondike that he should scout the descent, and then give his explanation as to why. Klondike could then agree, and double down on the sentiment of safety. This could serve as a more thorough yet subtle way of establishing Hail as a main character. My line of logic: the ponies depicted appear to be very close despite holding certain ranks in relation to each other. I think it's safe to say the main cast is like family, right? In which case, Hail might have more than enough room to give suggestions on their expedition.

Hopefully that makes sense, and isn't too long-winded! Either way, it's still very immersive and encourages the reader to use their imagination. Great job on this! I loved it!
#35 · 2
· on Recipe for Love · >>Baal Bunny >>LoftyWithers
This might be the most chaste horse fic to involve a really out-there kink.

Something I liked:

When the humor works, boy does it. The stuff between Bon Bon (it's two words, you scoundrel) and Lyra is adorable, even if I was disappointed by Bon Bon never going into conspiracy mode. I mean fuck, the premise certainly calls for them to be a couple. If you're a lesbian couple, and you want a baby, and you live in a world of magic... I guess this is one way of doing it? I have to wonder how/why Big Mac agreed to this arrangement, but I'm sure it must've been something. Also got some TaviScratch going on, which is usually nice. Vinyl being deaf is my spirit animal tbh.

Something I didn't like:

At the same time, I feel like we're reading the wrong story here, or at least we're not reading the story that gives one more brain food. We're told that Big Mac agreed to watch bodies with Bon Bon, wherein Bon Bon would swap with Big Mac and impregnate Lyra. Okay. Trippy stuff, but who am I to judge. But we don't get to see even a little bit of how this all happened; we're just told about it after every important decision has already been made. From a storytelling perspective, this is a real bummer, and I feel like I missed out on something.

Verdict: Good stuff, but expand on it. Go further with it. Go nuts. Make it weird, funny, sappy, and hot as fuck. You can do it, author. I believe in you.
#36 · 2
· on Undercover Ambassador
I stewed over this particular story for quite a bit, mostly to figure out and pick apart my thoughts on why this entry didn't quite pan out for me as much as I had hoped. Just to be clear, I do like this more than I don't, especially given the rather unique concept this story has going for it. It's probably one of the more conceptual entries of the bunch, which usually elicits a longer and harder look from me. When you consider my belligerent attention span, the fact that the story's concept alone could keep me engaged on my first read was a win in of itself.

We have Twilight and Starlight here, at first alchemically conjuring up what seems to be a homunculus of a Timberwolf, before they proceed to bind Twilight's soul to it, all so they could have a proper dialogue with the Timberwolves of the Everfree Forest. I can't speak for everyone but I personally haven't read anything like this before, so to see something like this come by did excite me a little. Even after my fifth read, I can't get over gushing how brilliant the ideas at play are here. Really good stuff, fellow Author.

I kinda like the methodical approach you took to tell the story, especially in the beginning when you have Starlight and Twilight throwing in all the ingredients to build the statue. I do think, however, that some sections of the scenes definitely felt a lot colder than it should've been because of that. Case in point, I think Starlight's qualms about the whole process was something that you could definitely expand upon. Not to the point where she gets super frazzled and the whole experiment blows up or something, but just give it a little bit more space to breathe so that this scene feels a little more personal to both Twilight and Starlight.

I have a similar thought for the dialogue, or lack thereof, in some of the scenes, especially leading up towards the end. I might be a little bit nitpicky here as I like myself a story with good dialogue. Nonetheless, you have a lot of spots here where a lot of interesting dialogue could've happened, moments that would allow both Twilight and Starlight to shine with their characterizations to properly contrast the cold delivery, yet they didn't. I think it wouldn't be so glaring were it not for the fact that there is already a bit of dialogue the moment the story started, so I was wondering why the more important bits of dialogue (Twilight asking Starlight how she's doing and Starlight deflecting, Starlight checking on Twilight after the soul-binding, the whole bit at the end) were left out. I think the story would do wonders if we had a more personal touch from the characters themselves in my opinion, and it's something I think the dialogue between our two magically-inclined ponies can deliver in spades.

I do have one question about this story that's been nagging at the back of my mind: why are they doing this? Why are they going through all this trouble to converse with the Timberwolves? I'm convinced both Twilight and Starlight both have their reservations to perform these experiments, so why are they going through with it? Was it just to gather data? If it were, then why couldn't Twilight just perform a few presence-cloaking spells and just observe them in their natural habitat? Frankly, I think the reasoning should be a lot bigger than just 'it's for science!' to warrant the two of them almost exhausting their magical abilities and going through what was essentially a life or death situation.

Summing it all up, I think this entry really does wonders when it comes down to describing the process as it goes along, though I wished more care and effort was placed in giving our characters some room to breathe in a bit more life to balance it out. Nevertheless, I still think the concept's amazing. Would be intrigued to see an expanded version of this, especially one that details what brought them to this point in the first place.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#37 · 2
· on Facing the Storm
Genre: Cartography

Thoughts: So as much as I hate to say it, I bounced off a few things during my read-through of this. I don’t feel like these are insurmountable, but there are a few specific places where I might focus as you work toward a second draft.

The main thing is around establishing the characters early and thoroughly, so we can start getting oriented to who and what the story is likely to be about. Now I do think the story does bits of this well, but I feel like there are some gaps that prevent it from gelling fully. Rocky Road himself is an example of doing this pretty well; by the end we’ve learned a good bit about his motivations, outlook, and tactics—and all these things have been building on each other throughout the story. A significant counterpoint, though, is the unclear identities of the ponies traveling with Rocky and Rose. Yes, we eventually infer that they’re guards of some kind, but I feel like the story tiptoes around their purpose and relationship with Rocky. Rose also has good but challenging aspects; the “dream of Rose” line seems like it should finally establish a strong motivation and characterization for her, but at the end it doesn’t seem like she’s clear on Rocky’s goals. That ends up leaving the relationships between characters unclear, which in turn blunts the ending’s impact.

With all that said, though, the story wins bonus points with me for its all-OC cast. That’s definitely hard mode in a Minific contest, because you have to burn wordcount just to introduce them—and the added length of Short Shorts only buys you so much more.

It’s also worth calling out the bits that aim at being more visceral and atmospheric, such as the blazing orange sky at the beginning. Those add good visual elements, and I’d like to see more.

I think it’s also worth asking if you‘d consider tackling some of the implications of Rocky Road’s long-term plans; for instance, is Rose okay with what he’s ultimately trying to do, and if not, could that be used to create more tension at the ending?

Tier: Keep Developing
#38 · 1
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>No_Raisin
Genre: Soul Caliber

Thoughts: Opening with a dream sequence is one of those risky things that either has to grab the reader and bring them along, or it risks becoming an early turnoff.

In this case, though, I think it works. It contributes to a moody, dreamlike atmosphere that permeates the rest of the story. I might prefer if the vignettes were more narratively connected rather than thematically connected; for instance, the stray cats bit was characterful but felt a bit out of place. We’ve also got a downer bit of a non-ending that just hammers home how much of a mood piece this is.

Overall though, I think the story pulls this all off by executing strongly. It’s a mood piece through and through, meant to showcase one character’s melancholy from a few different angles. And in that sense, it does very well.

Tier: Strong
#39 · 2
· on We Rest In The Penumbra · >>CoffeeMinion >>WritingSpirit
I wonder what Freud would say about all this.

Something I liked:

Horror is a hell of a genre to do justice, author. Even more so than comedy it relies on getting reactions out of the reader that defy rationality, which means some people (like myself) won't find this entry creepy at all. But, with that said, I would have a hard time denying how conceptually interesting this is. You use Luna as sort of a Lovecraft protagonist, where she's more an observer than a player, and what happens is we observe the eeriness and darkness of the Penumbra as she does. I don't think this story would work so well if it was told in any other fashion. Not to mention you capture Luna's voice so well.

Something I didn't like:

You can take the following criticism with a grain of salt, since my brain isn't wired in such a way as to be susceptible to this specific brand of horror, but I honestly think you went overboard with the climax. The idea is that Canary's fate is unbelievably agonizing, and that Luna's fate will eventually be the same, but you could... I guess go about describing it in more creative ways? The part where ink spewed from her eye sockets made me think, "Come on. You can do better." If you want some real spooky shit, I'd recommend honing in on the conceptual darkness of the Penumbra more.

Verdict: I respect this entry more than I actually enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it won't do well.
#40 · 3
· on Impermanent Vacation · >>CoffeeMinion >>CoffeeMinion
The "Consent is sexy" line made my inner hyena come to the surface.

Something I liked:

who knew that the most exciting Daring Do story would not involve Daring Do herself? Cheese Sandwich, my old friend; you might just be Weird Al on four legs, but you mean so much to us all. Kinda goes without saying that Cheese's writing is on-point here, and even though this is very much a dramatic story, the few jokes he got in landed for me. Reading this entry the first time around was kind of off-putting (for reasons I'll explain soon), but the second time around I feel like I understand what Cheese is looking for and why he's going through all this. A lovely adventure story, no doubt.

Something I didn't like:

God knows why, but the story feels it necessary to be really coy about the fact that Cheese is looking for Pinkie Pie. Apparently something happened to her in such a way that Cheese is unable to contact her, and doing some Daring Do shenanigans will help him... find her somehow? It seems to be like a twist, except we already get the impression early on that Pinkie is the "her" at the center of this plot; the story, unfortunately, is not being honest with me here. I don't like it when stories feel the need to hide things that have no reason to be hidden.

Verdict: Fond of this entry, but there's something missing about it. Would love to see some expansion, but not that much.
#41 · 2
· on Undercover Ambassador
But will it blend? That is the question.

Something I liked:

Thinking back on the first time I read this entry, my memory of it is quite foggy. Blame that on me being tired and reading all the entries in one go, but the thing that stuck with me was the ending. If I were the author, I would take a lasso and get a tight hold of what this story is going for. Twilight using a timberwolf statue as a vessel to communicate with other timberwolves is such a creative use of magic, and the fact that the story spends so much time delving into the details of this magic makes it fascinating to read, if not as a story then as like a nature documentary. I like seeing these two alchemists (they may as well be) work their magic.

Something I didn't like:

Like what Spirit said, there is a lot of context missing here. I don't know why Twilight and Starlight are doing this beyond scientific exploration, which... come on, author, there's gotta be a better reason than that. You can't just give me all this step-by-step science stuff and then deny it any kind of personal weight. To make things worse, it's not like the story was struggling with the word ceiling; on the contrary, it barely gets past the minimum, and that's a cardinal sin for me with mini rounds. Every word matters, and it seems like you deliberately chopped off a good portion of your story for... I'm not sure what reason, frankly.

Verdict: If there is any one entry that needs expansion, it's this one. It's an idea right now, but it can be so much more than that.
#42 · 2
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>WritingSpirit
Alternate title being "The Discreet Melancholy of the Bourgeoisie."

Something I liked:

Every entry I'd read up till now followed a linear sequence of events, but this one just doesn't give a fuck. It explores Fleur's moodiness from several angles and it doesn't care how it does it. We're in a dream, then we're in the present, then we're in the past, past, present, past... it's kind of a messy timeline, but I get it. For the record, it's not that I don't think rich people don't have problems, but it takes something different to make a rich person seem sympathetic without it becoming "white people problems." Make no mistake, Fleur is very white (and French), but this entry does an admirable job of exploring her plight.

Something I didn't like:

I enjoyed every scene... except for the last one. There's a weird air of confidence in how the story details Fleur's mental state, except at the very end where it falters and goes too far, frankly. I think you could make the imaginary questionnaire thing work in a different context, but as an ending piece it feels like the author worried that we wouldn't quite get what the story's about, so they decided to hammer it in one last time for good measure. It's the one part here that borders too close to melodrama, and melodrama is the thing I hate most (aside from AppleDash shippers, of course).

Verdict: Big mood. Pretty solid and unconventional example of a niche genre that often suffers from cliche.
#43 · 2
· on Prince Cadance
Gendre: Bendre

Thoughts: Well I’ll be darned. That kinda works, doesn’t it?

I thought that Cadance’s characterization was done well here. it’s nice to see her with some depths beyond just what the show provides, while still keeping her consistent and recognizable. Shining’s characterization was more unexpected, and not just for the obvious reason; I get it that you’re going for emotional vulnerability with him, but right now (for example) the stuttering might be a bit overdone. It just doesn’t always feel like Shining to me.

Overall though, I think this does a solid job of focusing in on these two characters opening up with one another about themselves and their relationship. I can see the argument that giving this more length would help it develop at a more even pace, but I think it comes down to the question of what the story’s goals are. IMO, for a story that’s more about answering the question of how Cadance would react to Shining in a situation like this, I think you’re pretty much already there.

Tier: Strong
#44 · 2
· on Impermanent Vacation · >>CoffeeMinion
Genre: Welcome To The Jungle

Thoughts: So before I dig in here, I note that my colleague >>No_Raisin has presented a thought that could significantly sway one’s interpretation of Cheese’s underlying quest. Personally, I didn’t read this as Cheese being out to rescue Pinkie from unspecified peril; I read this more as Cheese’s wanderings in search of her prior to Pinkie Pride. Though the story makes a big enough deal of this that I can’t be sure now. Didn’t he know she was in Ponyville all along? In which case, why the quest?

Author, I would fact-check this and/or try to present it more clearly either way, because that leads to two very different readings of the conclusion.

However, that issue aside, the rest of this story strikes me as capital-G Good. It’s difficult to write a satisfying adventure story in so few words, but this manages to deliver that while maintaining good pacing for the most part—though the third scene did start to feel a bit crammed by the word limit towards the end. This is where a little bit more clarity about Cheese’s goals and situation would go a long way to help make the short dialogue between Cheese and the Sphinx carry more meaning. But you could also potentially fix this by just extending the dialogue there.

Here’s the thing... based on the rest of the story, this is a potential Top Contender that suffers from a single really big flaw. The balance of humor, action, and a little bit of darkness, was all solidly delivered. Assuming this is actually set in an early-seasons timeframe, I like this as the secret history of how the Alicorn Amulet got out to a random shop where Trixie later bought it. So I hesitate to stick this in my Almost There tier, as it fundamentally works.

Author, clean this sucker up a little and it should do great on FImFiction.

Tier: Strong
#45 · 3
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot
Genre: Touched By An Angel Adventurer (which sounds worse than Angel when I write it out like that)

Thoughts: Maybe I’m a sucker for the concept of a hero getting cheered up by a fan in their darkest hour, but I can’t help but enjoy this one. It knows exactly what kind of story it wants to be, and it just gets on with it. The prose is clean, the pacing is pretty good, and it maintains the uncertainty about whether it’s a dream or reality just as long as it needs to... overall I’d call this highly successful.

With that said, this does lose a few points with me for two specific things. First is more of a personal thing: the scope of the story itself is fairly small. Now, again, I think this is a deliberate choice on the part of the Author, and I can’t fault them for choosing to zero in on a small moment and play it to the hilt. Second is... also kind of a personal thing: I felt like the moment with the color stone would’ve been more effective if it had come earlier.

I dunno though, this is pretty good! All I’ve got is personal stuff that I might’ve done differently!

Tier: Strong
#46 · 1
· on Facing the Storm
I wasn't digging the conflict here. These pones needed more skin in the game. It felt dry and saggy, like a granny's tits after she's been living in the air-conditioned retirement home for years and they don't have a humidifier. Make it more pert, smooth, and tight. Focus on the nipples conflict. Let's take a gander, eh?

He blinked, squinting at the horizon. Nope, not a trick of the eyes. What the hay was anyone else doing out here in these wastes?

Boring. This idea continues until the buffs speak. Knock it off. The words that don't matter don't count. For this paragraph, the blink and squint captures every idea. The rest is a waste. The question could lead to a punchline from another character, but the inherent irony is just a withered husk of potential.

Cartography of War kept my interest by throwing together two characters in constant conflict. This one not so much.
#47 · 1
· on We Rest In The Penumbra · >>WritingSpirit
I'd like to like this story, but it drags on like a kiss with a needy girlfriend who you want to break up with but can't be bothered because there's nobody else to date in your little town so why bother. And her kisses taste like stale cigarettes and coffee. Except the cigarettes are fancy words. And the coffee is long paragraphs. Thanks, but I want my kisses without bitter ash flavors.

Or maybe switch to cocaine and weed to make it a long strange trip.
#48 · 2
· on Soccer Dash!
Instead of pumping a hoof, let's pump the gas. Pedal to the metal and hit the ramp so we can hit the ground running. Start your story in the middle because nobody wants to watch a NASCAR driver taking a piss before the race. [actually, if that's your kink... submit a prompt to the next competition. Let's make everyone write about it.]

I want to see the conflict at the starting line and wrecks along the way. Inject drama with a Chase for the Cup near the end. Instant replay shows you nailed that part, but consider cutting to commercial a sentence or so sooner.

"towards his goal" is ambiguous without the last line. Fix that if cutting.
#49 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Unfortunate Case of Unchartered Territory · >>wishcometrue
This story is beautiful like a son set sprinkling a palate of reds and yellows among the clouds.

It's a bit of a lark and nonsense, but everything in service to the joke. Good length choice.

You have my permission to write gay shit for no reason whatsoever. I support incidental shipping.

The boomerang joke worked great.
#50 · 1
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot
This story was well-written, but the premise was like waking to find that my cat had dropped a live snake in my bed, but instead of a snake, it's a bald eagle, and I don't have a cat.

Hard to see how that happened.

Maybe the eagle is really Daring Do's dead child, returned to haunt her dreams? Or maybe I'm that kid's mom, and abandoned him at birth, but tracked him down and stand outside his window every night, staring inside and dreaming of what could have been. Or maybe it's someone else's kid, and I'm a creepy stalker who's going to get a face full of buck shot when the kid's dad breaks down the door and finds me in the window.
#51 · 4
This new reviewer is a wanker. Comes in here, pisses in our pool, and didn't even submit a fic? Lame. His one redeeming feature is his handsome appearance. This Señor Alta Cruz is quite the hottie. Rawr.
#52 · 2
· on Soccer Dash!
I won!

Ok, starting from the top, I think we could've used more context as to why Rainbow Dash is going into this arrangement. What was Rainbow setting out to achieve; did she set it up to challenge Thoren or was it just a random thing that happened out of the blue? Also, incredibly nitpicky -- the average soccer field is about 110-120 yards long, so I assume this field was designed as a 1v1 only or something? I'd also like some clarity on Thoren's backstory.

I think I'd also appreciate more of an insight on Thoren's personality that I think you'd benefit from after the word limit is lifted and you edit for publishing to Fimfic (hopefully!) What caused him to become such a shut-in? How and why did he train soccer? What happened during the match for his competitive side to come out? No Raisin already mentioned this, but it would fit really well under the subtext of the match, and cause readers to feel more emotionally invested in the characters, rather than just watch the physical story (which I suspect here was inspired by something one might find from comics or manga, or maybe even the 4chan Cup :thonk:).

One final thing. Agree with Raisin that there were a couple odd grammar things and word placements (for ex: Twilight rolling her eyes, or calling Thoren "the chosen one"). Don't wanna go too in detail here but I'd be happy to give some more specifics after the event!

With that being said, I think the characterization of Rainbow Dash was pretty good, and I actually had a pretty easy time picturing the scene as it happened. I also enjoyed the upbeat tone of the piece, so I felt happy for the characters by the story's conclusion. So did I enjoy this piece as a whole? Absolutely! It fit perfectly into the slice of life genre.

Total side note, but I used to be a soccer nerd so soccer is always a win in my book. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#53 · 3
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot
If you lurked about in the WriteOff's Discord chat, then you'd probably already know the thoughts I have about your story. Of the two Daring Do stories we have this round — three if you count Caballeron and the Sphinx's appearance in Impermanent Vacation — this story was the one that resonated with me the most, as flawed as I found it to be. Like with another entry, I've pondered about this one for quite a bit, mostly cause I really like the ideas at play here but I couldn't quite pinpoint why its execution didn't quite seem to hit the mark for me. After much thought (and a good night's rest), I think the issues I brought up below kind of explained why.

I kinda liked how abrupt this whole situation between Daring and Wild Ace seems to be. The narrow scope and the use of present tense definitely helped with making it look like a spur of the moment kinda thing. It livens up what I think ultimately would've been a rather nondescript exchange otherwise. Honestly, I had some qualms about Daring Do just randomly showing in the filly's room in my first few reads, and I've made it known to others in the Discord chat about it as well, but I think I'm willing to look past it this time since it can easily be addressed in the context you've given us. The story does a lot with how the situation unfolds and hints at a greater narrative happening in the background at the same time, one we may or may not get to see. That's always a plus for me.

The crux of the story lies in the dialogue. It's where I think this story really shines, especially in the first two-thirds of the story. The exchange between Wild Ace and Daring Do left me smiling as I went along. They play off each other really well and the dialogue, though a bit rocky at some parts, comes across as rather natural.

It's really when they bring up the gem all of the sudden where I think the dialogue begins to falter, mostly because I felt like both Wild Ace and Daring Do began to talk in platitudes, which drives a wedge into how natural the conversation had been flowing up to that point. I feel as though it's because you needed a place to end the story quickly and had to shave off a lot of extra material to make it fit into the wordcount, which I get it, we've all been there once upon a time. Hopefully in an expanded version, I wished this part of the conversation would go along a little more smoothly and slowly, let the pacing even out a little to have the scene slowly sink in for the characters and for us in turn. In other words, I want the climax of the conversation to be more personal to the characters. Give both Daring Do and Wild Ace the resolution they both deserve.

The voicing of Wild Ace, I feel, needs just a bit of tweaking here and there, especially towards the end. It's not really the choice of words I have an issue with but more of how I think her narration as the story unfolds needs to be a bit more paced out, especially, again, towards the end. I think it could still be a little bit more dynamic by letting some parts breathe a little more. You know, let us sink in every pause she takes and every gesture she makes. Give the young filly a few quirks to really brighten up the whole conversation.

I did bring up in the chat about how maybe switching to Daring Do's perspective that the story would fare better. I could definitely envision a version of this story where that's the case, but ultimately I think that really comes down to what kind of story you're looking to tell and whether or not you're capable of executing it. I think there's a version of this story coming from Wild Ace's perspective that would blow out of the water most versions of this story being interpreted from Daring Do's perspective. All it needs is just the proper amount of time and effort in the right places and you might have it in your hands sooner than later.

Ultimately, this story did a great job in immersing me into the story proper. I think most of my problems with it comes down to the pacing of the final several paragraphs being a little too breezy than I had hoped, which I think was either from lack of time or from having to fit into the wordcount. That being said, I would love to see an expanded version of this on FimFic.

Thanks for writing, fellow Author, and good luck!
#54 · 2
· on Undercover Ambassador
Genre: Better Living Through Alchemy

Thoughts: Rarely have I encountered a Writeoff story that simultaneously trips my perimeter alarm for basic grammar & “telliness” issues, while also managing to be gripping & fascinating just below that surface. I mean, as much as I hate to say this, the story is in dire need of an editing pass, and much of the dialogue is either wooden or glossed-over by narration.

But but butt, I think the story manages to hold up a ton better than I’d expect given those issues. Once we start getting deeper into the ritual itself, the prose quality jumps noticeably, and it takes on a gripping and almost hypnotic quality. This is (to borrow a phrase from myself) capital-G Good. It’s one of the things that makes Top Contender entries stand out from merely Strong entries (by my reckoning).

In the end, I’m rather flummoxed trying to rank this. It’s got clear and visible roughness; it also cuts off just as the ritual is beginning to bear fruit, and it never tells us what the significance of it is in the end. But it’s also got some extremely good parts and a metric truckload of potential. I sincerely hope the Author continues to develop this, but even in its present state, I think it comes shockingly close to just working.

Tier: Almost There
#55 · 3
· on Soccer Dash!
Technical difficulties first:

Next time you're at Fimfiction, author, tap the "Help" button at the top of any page. In the menu that comes up, select "Writing Guide," then under "Punctuation," click on "Said tags," and read through the next several sections. Pay special attention to the examples Ezn gives so you can see how properly punctuated dialogue should look: when to use a comma and when to use a period, when to use a capital letter and when to use a lower-case. After all, if you're gonna play soccer, you hafta know the rules or you're gonna get penalized...

As for the story itself, I'll agree with the others that the big unanswered question for Dash is "Why now?" Why is she doing this today instead of yesterday or the day after? What is it about this moment in time that has triggered her to challenge this random stallion to a soccer game? Give us an answer to that, and you'll go a long way to making a fun story even better.

#56 · 3
I didn't see this event existed until just now.
#57 · 2
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot
So because I waited a day to review this, I went from being potentially the first to review it to now being the fourth. News travels fast around WriteOff HQ, apparently, specially when booze is involved...

Something I liked:

The pacing. Unf. There are a few entries this round that I would describe as "patient," but this is the one that feels the most evenly spread out to me. Pretty much everything fits so perfectly, like a cog in a well-oiled machine, that it accomplishes something that's very hard to do in 1250 words or less: it left kind of an impression on me. Sometimes less is more, and although I can see this working from Daring Do's POV, I like how much we find out about her emotional state through the eyes of another pony. It helps that Wild Ace herself is a child character who doesn't annoy me.

Something I didn't like:

Although I must confess, author, that as is often the case with "rough drafts," this is a weaker reading the second time around. This is mainly because of the ending, which is too clean. Granted, this is a common symptom of mini-fics (1250 words borders on mini), but it's still a bit disappointing to see a conflict of this magnitude (while still being very much on a personal scale) be resolved with such swiftness. It's the only part of the story that feels rushed to me, because up to this point the exchange had been pretty much flawless in its pacing.

Verdict: One of my favorites, without a doubt, although exactly how well it does remains to be seen.
#58 · 4
· on Facing the Storm · >>LoftyWithers
Technical difficulties first:

You've got lots of run-on sentences, author, places that have commas when they should have periods. Maybe my analogy here would be, "If you go out into the desert without knowing the rules of survival, you're gonna get penalized," but that's really reaching...

As for the story, I'd also recommend a little more push back from Rose--since she's the only other named character, the job would fall to her. Give her some actual character for starters--imagine if she were, say, some combination of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle: what would she think of Rocky Road and his methods?--and then show us her character entirely through Rocky Road's perceptions. I'm also not sure what the title means, but I'm kinda dense than way... :)

#59 · 2
· on Facing the Storm · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
run-on sentences, author, places that have commas when they should have periods

I find an example or two is really helpful in these cases. Otherwise, when I don't see the technical error in my own work, I just end up thinking the reviewer didn't know what they were talking about.
#60 · 4
· on Forever
This is probably one of the rockier entries from our current batch here, with the aspects I like and the aspects I didn't like split evenly into both halves as with how this entry presented itself. As per usual with my reviews, there's a fair bit that I'm going to dive into here, mostly because I think the central idea of this entry's a rather nice one. I just think that most of its flaws come directly from the execution itself, particularly in the latter half.

In the first half, we have a team of explorers scouting out what I believe is the Frozen North, which in of itself delivers on the whole prompt relevance front. We're given a look at their camaraderie in the beginning and the scene ends on a hopeful, aspirational note. A quick cut later, we're being given the aftermath of an encounter with something Lovecraftian, one that drove most of the team mad save for Hail and Frost, who are now being pursued by the team and are trying to escape from these mountains.

When I break down the story like this and look at it, the whole thing's actually rather spectacular. For a story at a thousand words, the remaining two hundred and fifty notwithstanding, there's really a lot going on, yet pacing-wise it doesn't feel as rushed as many of the other entries here, which I find a bit impressive. The forwardness of the prose definitely helped with letting everything glide along.

Where I think this story really shone was definitely the characterization. The dialogue happening in the first half was lively and immediately convinced me to sympathize and root for them. By the time Klondike was done with showing Tundra and Frost the view, I was hooked. I really wanted to know what's about to happen and I was on board with whatever that came next.

That's about all the stuff I liked about this entry, all in the first half.

The second half is where things really began to fall apart.

Now, I want to make it clear that I don't believe it's the fault of the scene itself that hindered my enjoyment with this story. In fact, I can definitely still see clearly the stark contrast that these two scenes were supposed to be presenting when pitted against one another. I also don't think that we need to really see the horror of everything happening for this story to really shine. The problem, as per usual, lies in the execution of the second scene, of which there's a couple I found that, when they're put together, really dragged the story through the dirt.

The first was definitely the notion that the transition could be a lot smoother. We're left off with Klondike giving praise to the beauty of the landscape in the first scene but the second scene we're suddenly given a somber look into Hail's condition in the aftermath of an attack. I can't really reconcile the imagery of both sections side by side in my head no matter how hard I try. Maybe if we're being lead into this second scene before being abruptly tossed into it, the dread I think we're supposed to be feeling would then properly sink in.

The second and most glaring of the issues was the tone, in that the atmosphere we're being presented lacked the doom and gloom that the story seems to be indicating towards. Throughout this whole scene, we're being told what's happening, yet we're not being shown how it's all happening. What does 'a tone of dejected hopelessness' sound like? What was the imagery that Hail found so disturbing that he had to physically cover his eyes to block it out? It's these little details that I think, if expounded, would do wonders for this entry.

On that topic, I should admit that the simile 'as dead as Drift when she hit the snow' kinda had the opposite effect on me, though not as bad as the last line of the entry. As much as I appreciate the attempt of trying to incorporate the prompt into the story, that last line was too ridiculous for me to really take seriously, especially since it's the line that closes off the story.

Thirdly⁠—and this one ties back to the tone as well⁠—the prose. I know I praised how it was utilized in the first scene, but in the second scene, the circumstances have changed. The atmosphere has shifted dramatically. Where the simplicity of the prose worked in the scene where everyone's still bright and hopeful, here it comes across as negligent of the weight of the horror that both Hail and Frost are going through. Really, I think there needs to be a lot more detail into the second scene for us to really immerse ourselves into the hell that our pair of survivors are experiencing.

Last but not least, the dialogue. The delivery of both our characters here fell flat for me, unfortunately, which is a shame when I consider the vivacity it had going for it in the first scene. When I read them, I felt as though you didn't really delve properly into the emotions both Hail and Frost were going through in that scene compared to the earlier one. At one point, I even found myself beginning to think that the dialogue's only really there to explain away all that had happened, which is not a mistake, far from it. I just think that in doing so, it didn't allow the character's a chance to breathe for the sake of finishing off the story, which is always a big no-no in my book.

Ultimately, I liked what this entry stands for. In fact, I actually found it endearing, especially since I'm working on a super-long ponyfic involving something a bit similar, with my story's expedition being about the ocean instead of the mountains. The ideas presented here are definitely something a longer story could do justice, but as it stands currently, especially with the second half being the way it is right now, I can't say it's something that'll rank highly on my slate.

Nevertheless, thanks for writing, and good luck!
#61 · 1
· on Prince Cadance · >>LoftyWithers
Change my mind: this fic is what would happen if Disney attempted to adapt a clopfic

So from the very top, the intro is great. It's easy to quickly immerse myself in what's going on, and there's no awkwardness about getting straight to the subject matter. The dialogue was believable, and the characterization is distinct and memorable. I will say though that I do agree with Coffee that Shining is a bit, uh, submissive. As someone who doesn't read clop (or romance at all, really), this is probably what brought the story a little into murky waters for me, or dare I say it, uncharted territory :S

Was the premise of the story believable? Oh, absolutely, and even relatable. As someone who has an incredibly select group of people who I tell my deepest secrets to, I think it was a great way of immediately establishing a strong feeling of trust. Was the conflict believable? Yes, for the purposes of the story at least. Was Cadence's reaction to the conflict believable? Maybe. Totally agree with what Raisin mentioned about Cadence seeming like a low-key narcissist here, and I'm not sure if that works for me or not. Overall, agree that the scene where she's thinking to herself could use some work. I feel like it was a tad hasty and maybe could've been communicated better through different means, since I understand writing single-character scenes can be tricky.

And then the third scene hits, bam. I personally didn't have trouble figuring out what had happened, since the title did a pretty good job of dropping the hint. Like the others, though, I think this scene could have used a lot more expansion. The pace of the story goes from relatively slow to fast, and I would've appreciated more of a buildup. IMO, Shining needed a lot more time to process what was going on. Maybe some of this came down to Cadence not giving him any prior warning to this, and also her feeling both incredibly confident ("I'm a genius") and insecure ("this was a mistake") with not much in-between. After all that, though, is where I got the Disney clopfic feel from. The tension dissolves very quickly, and both characters have their happily-ever-after. Again, I am clueless about romance, so I'm gonna assume that this is just a matter of personal taste.

Anyways, I suspect that with a longer wordcount and another editing pass, this story could do incredibly well with Fimfic's general audience, perhaps even the best out of any entry here. It was a fun read as a whole; just needs some cleaning up. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#62 ·
· on Prince Cadance
Cadance would sing a song during that reflective part if it was Disney.

Also, they'd have talking crabs or something.
#63 · 2
· on Recipe for Love · >>LoftyWithers
Genre: I’ll Have What She’s Having

Thoughts: There’s a part of me that’s really pleased to see a story with this kind of structure in the competition, apart from any other aspect of the story itself. The structure that we see here strikes me as being hard to pull off as a 750-word Minific, but also unnecessary to stretch out to a traditional 2000-word Short Story. There’s room enough for multiple scenes that can breathe and not feel rushed, but in the end the story is just this small slices-of-life thing for the most part. I like that a lot.

So there’s obviously a background element of magical impregnation and body-swapping to the story itself, which I’ll get back to in a minute. But really, the main point here seems to be playing up how embarrassing Lyra is to Bon Bon, while showing Bon Bon in this sort of long-suffering but loving role. All three scenes find different ways to highlight how frustrating Lyra can be, which comes through clearly in strong prose. What comes through less clearly, though, is the nature and strength of Bon Bon’s affection. They definitely make up in the end, but I can’t escape feeling like there’s something missing. Bon Bon is along for the ride, but seems to spend a lot of it just being frustrated. I need a bit more help from the story to get to the point where I can see her reactions to this through a different lens.

I’ll also mention that the magical body-swapping impregnation thing ended up being more of a distraction than a contribution to the story for me. Now when I say that, consider that it opens up a lot of questions about how magical, sexual, and social mores work in this the world, when ultimately, the point seems more to be that (a) Lyra’s pregnant, and (b) the means by which she became pregnant are suitably embarrassing when announced in public. Because once the world is open to magical body-swapping impregnation... is it embarrassing? “Should” it be? Maybe Lyra dropping an F-bomb in a family restaurant isn’t cool, but others’ reactions also seem to stem from hearing about the body-swapping impregnation thing, which—for all we know—could be reasonably common. I’m just saying that this specific way in which Lyra embarrasses Bon Bon raises some questions that (IMO) distract from the character interactions unto themselves. Consider as an alternative if Lyra talked about various trials and tribulations related to obtaining and “applying” semen samples; you could get to a similar place of “embarrassing public story” while keeping it very grounded and avoiding some of the questions this raises.

But I should stop there, as a cardinal sin of Writeoff reviews is going off on how one would do it differently than the Author. As it is, this does what it does pretty successfully, though I still come back to wanting to see more of what Bon Bon sees in Lyra, rather than just leaning so hard on their established relationship. In deciding how to rank this, I think I ultimately get to a place of wanting to see that tuned-up a little more, even though it’s close. It’s really close.

Tier: Almost There
#64 · 1
· on Impermanent Vacation · >>CoffeeMinion
The hoof that slammed into Cheese Sandwich’s face lit his world up with whirling colors and dizzying pain.

Good start. Right into the action. An extended metaphor that tied in the artifact/jungle/temple/missing-romance theme could improve it. Not necessarily all of them.

He couldn’t resist smirking with irony as the henchpony’s wings were clipped by a fusillade of feathered darts.

Your prose is pretty tight, but you could ditch a few words, like ”with irony” in this example. Calling out irony feels like failure to me. Irony needs to be self-evident. Alternatively, your characters instead of narrator can claim irony, and then use reaction to the claim for adding context.

Let’s go find a reputable merchant where we can ditch this and pick up some sponge cake and tofu-dogs to celebrate our freedom

Perfect. In-character dialogue. Denouement. Hook for next chapter/story/episode.
#65 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Unfortunate Case of Unchartered Territory · >>wishcometrue
Ok, before I start, was this story inspired by Googling "uncharted territory"? Not that it's a good or bad thing, but that was literally what I got when I was searching the topic haha

First quick point. Extraneous shipping is not my thing because I am a heartless bastard, so I won't comment too much on the shipping itself :^)

Ok, now onto the actual story itself. I found nothing wrong with the intro itself, except for the fact that it seems to be written as a really big buildup. I feel that for a whimsical story like this, a little less introduction and a little more action would have better suited the purpose.

Again, I will repeat that the premise itself is neither good nor bad, but I think when the conflict is a bit simpler, it's a little trickier to write an engaging narrative. This one in particular, I think, would have been doubly as good if it was written as a comic, especially since there are so many different short scenes and scene changes (pic submission artists, I'm watching you!). Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, but I don't entirely agree with No Raisin's assessment of the story. Most of the humor I think wedges on Twilight being an obsessive grammar nazi, which as Raisin mentioned is tricky to pull off without turning off the reader, so I kind of found myself empathizing with Daring Do throughout this. One final question, what was the "that would explain a lot" referring to? I think I missed the memo on that one, as well as why Twilight was looking daggers at Rainbow over it.

With that being said, I do think the story was written pretty well. And for the purposes of writing a silly story, did it achieve its goals well? Absolutely! Thanks for the entry, anon!
#66 · 2
· on Forever
So just like WritingSpirit, I liked the first half of this entry. You did a great job of introducing OCs in such a short word count, and it was easy picturing the situation they were in. The dialogue was incredibly believable, and I found myself sharing the atmosphere of confidence that the adventurers were feeling. Despite that though, I did get a sense of foreboding, even if the text didn't convey it. Captain Klondike's situation reminded me a lot like Robert Falcon Scott's journey to the center of Antarctica, which obviously ended in disaster, so I expected something like that to happen within this story.

So when the second half of the story hit, that's what I was expecting in the first couple of paragraphs, too. Then all of a sudden there's the horror bit, which threw me for a loop. So I think that there could have been a much better transition, at the very least with some foreshadowing thrown in. That way, when the horror sinks in, the reader goes "oh shoot, there it is" rather than "wait, what happened?" And yeah, definitely needs some more work on show, not tell, as Spirit also mentioned. And maybe some work on the final line as well :^)

So overall, I think this story is good, but has a lot more potential with an edit. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#67 · 1
· on Forever
I agree with the previous two comments, from Writing Spirit and Moonshot. The first part is fluid and full of wonder and hope, but then there’s a jarring transition into part two, which feels maybe a little rushed. The feghoot (is it a feghoot if it’s not a pun/joke?) also didn’t sell me, and seems a little shoehorned in there.

As far as recommendations, I think you might be able to try a sort of mirror style for execution in the second half. For example, Klondike starts the first section by pulling back his parka and wiping his forehead. Do something like starting section two the same way, where Hail goes to pull back his parka to wipe his forehead, only to realize the hood has already been torn off. Then he looks up at the steep ascent that he has to make, which would contrast with Klondike already having made it to the top. Easing into it like this gives the reader an indication of something wrong without the sudden earth shattering kaboom.

But I do love the potential. And I do love me some Lovecraft style horror. You just need to do a little work on the second part.
#68 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Unfortunate Case of Unchartered Territory · >>wishcometrue
I like the plot and most of the execution on this one, but it seemed a little... fast paced, I think. Even before we get to the multiscene Twilight lecture, there are a few rapid fire scene transitions.

But other than that, it’s silly, fun story, much to enjoy.
#69 · 2
· on Impermanent Vacation · >>CoffeeMinion
“Never rob another stallion’s rhubarb,”

Excuse me, have you ever danced with devils food cake in the pale moonlight?

Oh, so Cheese is responsible for that particular episode. Well written, and very... cheesy.
#70 · 3
· on We Rest In The Penumbra · >>WritingSpirit
Genre: G̶̮̥̠̭͎͎̯̐ȍ̵͖̦̳̠̳̔r̷͔͓͌g̷̝̿̇̃͒͋ė̸̟̪̹͙̺͕̈́̐ͅo̵̠͔̰͚̿̈́̇̉̀̉̓ų̷͈͍͚̆͝s̶̛̗̲̮̒̀́̓͘ ̴̼̹͙̃͝P̵̮͇̉͐͆͗̿̈́r̸̢̛̰͔̠͚̗͇͑̌̂͘o̵̢̝̳̯͚͋ͅs̶͓̩͗̄̇̀͘ȇ̷͚̣͎̪̱̒͌̑́͋͝

Thoughts: This story wins several million style points with me for its unrelenting torrent of vocabulary. Obviously every story in this contest has been written, but this one carries the feeling of having been Written. As for why, once again I find myself concurring with the esteemed >>No_Raisin: this is extremely Lovecraftian in style and approach.

This leaves me in something of a weird place, though. As Raisin points out, there’s a fundamental question of whether this kind of horror works for the reader or not.

To me, it absolutely does; I’m happy as can be with it in terms of delivering the horror of the Penumbra, and of Lady Canary’s fate. But then I’m still sometimes unsure why I’ve emerged as a bit of a fan of specifically pony horror, as opposed to almost any other kind of horror. There as here, I struggle to quantify why it works as well as it does for me—but make no mistake, this does. Lady Canary’s meltdown (hurr hurr) struck that perfect balance of horrifying unto itself, and horrifying because she’s at peace with her eternal suffering. Brr, man; that gives me the horror-tingle.

Still, subjective reception aside, I maintain that this makes ambitious and successful use of the language to portray its dark, alien, yet visceral setting in ways that are unlike anything found elsewhere in this contest. Though there are one or two moments where the verbiage’s reach exceeds its grasp, such as: “However, I quickly understood the need for that the moment we delved inside.” That’s just a bit redundant, with “I quickly learned” and “the moment” right next to each other.

Still though, for the few lines I could call out for minor quibbles like that, there are countless more that are vivid and clear. The end result strikes me as being not merely chilling, but memorable.

...And then you look back at the title AND GET CHILLED AGAIN

Tier: Top Contender
#71 · 1
· on Prince Cadance
You got your hot gender-bending stallion on stallion teen-romance flick in our writeoff gallery! We got our write off gallery in your hot gender-bender stallion on stallion teen-romance flick!

I could see this taking off with some moar steamy action. Not here, of course.
#72 · 1
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>No_Raisin
The only thing that threw me was mentioning Eons at the beginning. I thought it was a different character until the name came up. Otherwise, it’s well written, but I feel it’s just not my cup of tea.
#73 · 1
· on Undercover Ambassador
"I'm ready when you are Starlight," Twilight stated. Starlight retrieved a spell, now foreign to her, from the corner of her mind. To her displeasure, the necessary focus and level of power resurfaced effortlessly.

"Are you sure, Twilight? We can always find another way." Starlight replied skeptically.

I feel needlessly lost at this point. There's no reason to hide what's going on, but you do. It's frustrating. Not knowing what's going on yet, I'm not invested in the story.

You've got actor problems in this first paragraph. Twilight states, Starlight retrieves (from, I assume, Twilight's mind, but it's not clear), and then her displeasure is ambiguous in the final sentence. I don't know who is acting upon whom. Tidy up your paragraphs so we have one primary actor and pronouns have clear antecedents. For example, the third sentence could be rewritten to have Twilight be the subject like so: Twilight felt a pressure in her head as Starlight extracted a spell, leaving her with no memory of it.. "Leaving her" in this example re-establishes Twilight as the antecedent for the next sentence.

"Skeptically." If you have to use the word like this, you've failed. You haven't failed. The skepticism is already clear. You don't need to double-down on it by adding a superfluous modifier. It doesn't intensify the skepticism. If you want to make her sound more skeptical, adjust her dialogue.

Once the ingredients were added, Twilight filled the beaker half-way with filtered water from The Northern Luna Ocean. Once corked, she vigorously mixed the contents until a gooey dark-green liquid formed. An exhausted Starlight met her sight as she turned around. With mixture-in-hoof, Twilight made her way over to inquired about her well-being.

It was Starlight's turn to deflect, asking instead if Twilight was ready to finish the ritual. With an exhausted breath, she nodded. Uncorking the beaker, Twilight poured most of the mixture onto the statue. Setting aside the rest, she began to smear the mixture over every inch of it.

Use of tell like this just kills the story for me. I live for character interaction. Show me what they're doing. Put their speech directly onto the page, or use a line of exposition to skip forward in time to something interesting and don't mention the deflection/wellness narrative at all.

"Vigorously" is useless here. "Starlight met her sight" is an odd turn of phrase and Twilight should be the subject in this paragraph. "Inquired" is a typo. "Began" is unnecessary unless an action is interrupted.

The quality of prose continues like this throughout the story. I scrolled down midway, picked a random paragraph, and grabbed the next one to go with it. If you'd like, I can review the prose with you in more detail after the contest. It detracts bigly as-is. Simplify your prose so your story and ideas can come to the surface.

However, she soon got the hang of walking. According to Twilight's hypothesis, the words spoken by her were translated into the proper lingual of the Timberwolves. Eager to gather data, Twilight maneuvered the statue out of the basement and into the Forbidden Forest.

Doesn't really feel like an ending. Look at how the Cheese Sandwich story ends. In your case, I might go for something like "Twilight shivered as the forest closed around her, but she opened relations with the Timberwolves." That is, show what she's doing directly and what the ultimate outcome is.

I don't think "lingual" means what you think it does.

Overall, this story fell flat for me because of the prose, which is a shame because I think the story was interesting.
#74 ·
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>No_Raisin
I hate that I like this story. Character introspection is usually not my cup of tea. You sunk the Fancy Pants ship. The questionnaire at the end made me cringe.

But I love it.
#75 · 2
· on Undercover Ambassador
I like the premise, and most of the execution. It definitely needs an editing pass or two. There are a few sentence structure and use of tenses mistakes that broke up my reading of an otherwise intriguing story.

I agree that even a sentence or two more about what happened to bring the characters to such a dangerous and exhausting ritual are in order. Was somepony killed? Have the Timberwolves been attacking Ponyville without reason? Or did they notice something that lead them to believe that the Timberwolves are more than just wild animals? Even just hints at these things keep us from wondering why Twilight is willing to risk so much.

I think it’s fine to end the way it does, as the lack of resolution shows her going off into uncharted territory.

I liked this, it just needs to be polished up a bit.
#76 · 2
· on We Rest In The Penumbra · >>WritingSpirit
Very nice. Well written, loved the theme, the execution, everything about this one is good. It makes for a good horror “beneath the surface” kind of tale.
#77 · 4
· on Facing the Storm

Here are five examples of misused commas:

Let me know when you're good to go, I want to get a move on before the sun goes down.

We meant no offense, we truly didn't expect anyone to be out here.

He was just glad she really did dream of making a map of the continent, helped make his sell more convincing.

But of course, sir, my ponies will be on their best behavior.

She flinched, but was shocked out of her silence

The first three are straight-up comma splices. In the fourth, one could make an argument about the comma after "sir" if one wished to, and in the fifth case, there shouldn't be a comma before "but" since the verbs "flinched" and "shocked" share a subject.

Mike Again
#78 · 2
· on Facing the Storm
I wanted to say something witty at the beginning here, but Coffee's review made me think of my favorite level from Halo: Combat Evolved, "The Silent Cartographer."

Something I liked:

The connection isn't entirely pointless either, since "Facing the Storm" is, much like the king of Halo levels, about exploring territory that is already occupied by a force that maybe doesn't want you there. When I first read this entry, the main thing to take away was the ending, and the implications of it. Having only two named characters was a good idea, since they're OCs, and keeping track of too many OCs in a fic so short would be a hassle, but the whole thing is nicely self-contained. One could argue its connection to horse is tenuous, but I can at least see the parallels being drawn here.

Something I didn't like:

Although, implications aside, this story is desperately lacking in something, and that's conflict. The confrontation between Rocky Balboa Road and the buffalo gets resolved within a few sentences, and the same thing happens when Rose questions him about the purpose of the map-drawing. One would thing there conflict would arise from this, specially since historically speaking a lot of cartography has been done with insidious intent, but once again the conflict dies out too quickly. This is an entry that, like a few others this round, suffers from being so short.

Verdict: I like it more than its closest living relative, which would be "Forever," but I'm still not too keen on it.
#79 · 2
· on Facing the Storm
Ok, I swear I wasn’t trying to rant, but I wasn’t able to voice my thoughts properly and it just turned into this rambling mess.

Aside from some of the technical difficulties others have raised, there are a few things that outright confuse me about this, even with subsequent readings.

I find myself wondering about why this group of ponies is as cohesive as it is.

Rocky seems to hate the group... a lot. And he seems to treat most of them like dirt. Only him and Rose seem to have something approaching an amenable relationship, and even that seems kinda sketchy since she’s so reluctant to even ask him a question. There’s no visible dynamic that holds the group together.

Are they scared of Rocky? It doesn’t seem so, they laugh at him over something simple.

Even though they’re not officially part of Equestria, are they actually “little soldiers” or (since it’s in quotes) is he saying that in a derogatory fashion about them? What even are they, if not an official force? The guns seem out of place, are they bandits?

Maybe it’s me, but the group just seems like one that wouldn’t remain together.

Then there’s the bit with Rose. It’s confusing how she wants to make a map of the continent, but then in the next scene asks why they wasted time doing just that.

I suppose that question comes back to the group again.

Their purpose of existence seems dubious. They’re a bunch of ponies who don’t get along, who don’t work for anypony, but occasionally map regions and tell the crown that now they belong to the crown? How does that even work?

I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be overly critical (fail for me there), it just seems that Rocky’s group needs a little more backstory or something to make their actual purpose more tangible.
#80 · 1
· on Recipe for Love · >>LoftyWithers
Red Robin


Interesting fic, you write Lyra the way I write Vinyl, loud and oblivious. Characterizations are nice. The three way body swap is... ummm... weird? But overall entertaining since it resulted in Lyra shouting about one literally rutting oneself in front of a bunch of foals.
#81 · 2
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot
This is heartwarming. I’d say that even if I didn’t a heart (might be the case). This story might cause one to spontaneously grow a new heart (Not that I would know anything about that).
#82 · 2
· on Soccer Dash!
I like having a competitive Rainbow Dash, but she really seems a bit... psychotic in this. I’m pretty sure she broke his ribs with that one kick. And in the end, I ask: WHY?
#83 · 2
· on Recipe for Love · >>LoftyWithers
To help:

Connect the first scene to the two that follow, I'd suggest some hints that Bon Bon ( I agree with >>No_Raisin: two words) is concerned about Lyra's health. She could try to lure Lyra away from the stove by asking, "Are you sure you should be doing that in your condition?" or something like that, just a line or two that would set us up for the revelation in the second scene.

I had some POV problems with the second scene. For the most part, we seem to be seeing everything through Octavia's eyes, but then Tavi and Scratch leave the scene before it's over. I'll recommend keeping us firmly in Bon Bon's head from start to finish. Let us feel the embarrassment rising over her skin like she's sinking into warm butterscotch pudding--or, y'know, whatever embarrassment feels like to her by now: she probably lives in a perpetual stew of it...

For the record, I also got lost in the multiple body swaps: Lyra was in Big Mac, Bon Bon was in Lyra, and Big Mac was in Bon Bon? And I love the quote from last week's news about the merit of not discussing things. Fun stuff that needs a bit of tuning up.

#84 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Unfortunate Case of Unchartered Territory · >>wishcometrue
Genre: Twilighting

Thoughts: I do enjoy a bit of Ponies Behaving Badly, as well as Ponies Being Absurd. This strikes somewhere closer to the latter than the former, but still with shades of the former. So in that sense, this has a promising setup for me. We have a strong central joke, a suitable amount of dragging it out (which is good for this kind of humor), and at no point do voices of reason prevail. Thus far I’m with you, Author.

But after ruminating on it for a while, I can’t shake a certain feeling that the story‘s recurring joke space ultimately boils down to just one or two. It’s not that what we get is *bad*, it’s that it doesn’t feel like it goes far enough. The short scenes don’t do as much as they could to build up the absurdity because we don’t get to see many environmental clues in them; so then when it turns out to not have been a dungeon after all, the reveal feels very sudden and not as much like it was built up to.

Again though, this isn’t bad! If anything, I’m probably more inclined to pick on it because it makes me want to see essentially the same thing dialed up to 11. There’s great potential in things like the revelation that DD is self-published. Similarly, if they ended up raiding the wrong place, can we get some more resolution for the threads that generates? Imagine stumbling upon an irate homeowner who soon gets pulled into an argument with Twilight, to DD and RD’s embarrassment (yet also mild relief). And what about the *real* necromancer they were trying to stop? Bonus points if Twilight getting into a ridiculous argument with the homeowner leads to her (a) inadvertently revealing that the homeowner is indeed the necromancer, and (b) inadvertently stopping the necromancer by virtue of some trivial mistake during the argument.

But I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of potential here that doesn’t quite land for me yet. It’s in there, but right now it’s—

Tier: Almost There
#85 · 3
· on Recipe for Love · >>LoftyWithers
So I am pretty sure I know who wrote this. So sure, in fact, that most of my comments will be directly towards this person. And if I happen to be wrong, then I guess I'll just cry myself to sleep until I die, probably.

Really enjoyed the first scene. Characterization is great, and the dialogue is natural. As someone who once cooked a dish so bad that I dubbed it "Hawaiian Nuclear Disaster" (the much-awaited sequel to Hawaiian Missile Crisis), I totally empathized with Bon Bon. Overall, this did a good job of having me complete the picture without everything needing to be said. In places, the wording was a little weird, and I think personally I enjoy slightly longer paragraphs, but that didn't really detract from the scene.

So I think the second scene, like most other commenters are suggesting, is what needs work the most. Also had some POV issues right off the bat which significantly slowed my reading. Some of the dialogue I also found a little weird, especially Octavia's, where I was kind of wondering why she was saying or thinking something.

And then...yeah, that section. If my guess on who wrote this is right, then I'm just not gonna point out any flaws that any of the other commenters have suggested. You do you I guess. Good job on conditioning me to immediately suspend reality :^)

If this isn't who I think it is then I apologize immensely but also why did you write this. Why why why why

On a second read, though, I really have to wonder why either pony even thought suggesting those names was okay except for the comedic relief. I get that this scene is supposed to portray how Lyra is being totally embarrassing to Bon Bon, but I think it played out a little too long for my personal taste, so it partially ruined my enjoyment of the story as a whole.

The ending was sweet though. I snorted at the pickle. Best Worst Chekhov's gun in world history. Thanks for the entry, probably not anon!
#86 · 2
· on We Rest In The Penumbra · >>WritingSpirit
Ok, first order of business, against the grain, the writing really, really didn't work for me. It screams purple prose, and although I guess it could work in certain situations this was not one of them for me. I get that authors are free to distinguish their characters from the in-show characters, but even the difference between this and S1 Luna is jarring to me. Plus, did people from the time period you'd expect them to speak like this actually speak like this? Probably not. The sentence wording was also confusing at points, but I guess it went hand in hand with the rest of the prose.

Without the prose, did I think the story was well written? Yes, and no doubt you're a stronger writer than I. Lovecraftian horror ain't my thing but I really enjoyed the pacing, characters, and scenic descriptions. The conclusion was also captivating, but I was left with a couple questions and I think that it could've been done a little better.

Thanks for the entry, anon!
#87 · 3
· on Soccer Dash!
Genre: Thoren? Take An Athpren

Thoughts: I’m going to just cut to the chase here—the story that starts once the soccer match begins feels entirely disconnected from the story taking place up to that moment. The first one is, as much as I hate to say this, kind of random. Ponies gather, RD calls out a fellow in a trenchcoat, and eventually they duel on the (soccer) field of honor. But what makes this rough is that there’s no clear context presented for the gathering. Right now it reads like someone has arranged for a crowd to assemble so that Dash can challenge a not-predetermined one of them to a one-on-one... which (IMO) doesn’t make sense without further explanation.

But not all is lost. Once we get into the (logical) second scene, things start working a lot better. The action reads pretty well, the back-and-forth banter makes sense, and we even get a cool flourish by Dash at the end. This all is fine and functional, and it (again) makes me wish there was some clearer context to plug it into from the first half.

So I guess that’s where I’m at with this. There’s good execution in the second half that’s held back by a lack of explanation in the first. Or maybe it’s more like... explanation of some things, yes; but not of either character’s reasons for showing up to the competition. Focus on adding some more of that, Author, and the rest will follow.

Tier: Keep Developing
#88 · 2
· on Impermanent Vacation · >>CoffeeMinion
The good news is that this was my favorite by far after a first read! Now that I'm going through it a second time, I'll try to point things out when I see them, but my hopes remain high :)

First, the hook is great. I'm immediately immersed, and things flow incredibly naturally. It takes everything I like about Daring Do, pumps it up, and throws in a unique character to boot, which I really appreciate. The first scene has the right amount of funny.

So this gets pretty dark rather quickly, and I can understand why some people might dislike that. I think maybe Cheese Sandwich's shock at seeing other ponies die could be communicated a little better in order to reflect that. Later, I especially didn't understand why he smirked as another pony dies. The dialogue remains really high quality, though. The one issue I had with it is the "alpha as buck" part, which I felt wasn't really needed. Very, very minor nitpicky thing -- some of the words here feel a little offbeat (for ex: "indescribably", "ceilinged", and "guesstimate", which I'm okay with but which my sibling really despises), although this didn't detract from the story. The scene with the Sphinx is probably my favorite, and yes the "consent is sexy" line is wonderful. I also loved Cheese's answer, and the Sphinx's response left me so satisfied.

With that all being said, there's one issue I think could've been worked out a little better. The first is that it took me a while before I realized it was set before Cheese met Pinkie. I think it was a little strange how he referred to Pinkie as well, and I would've liked to see some more elaboration on ther relationship at this point in order to make it feel a little less forced. Finally, it does work for the sake of comedy, but I do wonder how Caballeron picked up on Cheese's attraction to Boneless, and why he even came up with the idea of threatening a rubber chicken with a knife in the first place.

All in all though, a really solid story. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#89 · 1
· on Undercover Ambassador
So first off, I think what Lofty said is really helpful. It may be harsh advice, but it is solid advice. Adding on to what he said, I think there are much better ways to show difficulty rather than saying "due to the x".

I'd also like to have understood the conflict of the story much earlier, because for the majority of the story I was confused as to what was going on. I'd also like some more insight as to why exactly they're trying to communicate with timberwolves. I think I'd also like a little more insight into Starlight's inner conflict to casting the spell; the problem with casting it again actually isn't very clear-cut to me.

Something else I found a little out of place was the level of detail put into constructing the potion. It was fascinating, sure, but I feel like something that specific would also require the rest of the story to be a little more technical. I did think it was really creative, though, and I did like the general idea of making a sort of golem.

So overall, there's a lot of fantasy potential in this one to be had, and I think it could definitely achieve it with some good editing and more words. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#90 · 1
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>No_Raisin
I was a little thrown off by eons too. I'm not sure how to explain, but the prose in the first scene doesn't quite sit right with me. Descriptions seen to stretch on fairly longer than they need to be; for example, the second and third paragraphs are a little wordy, and I don't think "despite my thirty-year-old body" is necessary if it was already mentioned. The scene as a whole worked for me though, and despite the nonlinearity of everything I didn't feel that the transitions were forced. The tense changes are a tiny bit confusing, but not by much.

Real quick, and probably nitpicky. I do wonder why Fleur was initially the one to bring up the question of becoming a "Canterlot mare". At this point in the story, I assume she's naive, so I feel like it being experienced or brought up by someone else would be a better way to introduce the core problem. I enjoyed how Hoity Toity responded to the question, though.

I also appreciated the sense of angst being conveyed, though I can't help but wonder why Fleur is never able to drag herself out of her situation. As a total cat person, I also would've liked some more elaboration into the cat scene. I suspect it was there to show how Fleur was different from all the other Canterlot elite by caring about the poor (the cats)? Not entirely sure if that works.

Finally, the last scene. I'm still kind of struggling to come to a decision about this. One one hand, I think this would be done beautifully as an audiobook. On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure why its there. Upon close reading, it feels like it's just repeating what's already been conveyed in the past couple scenes, so I'm not entirely sure what this is adding other than additional angst.

Overall though, this was pretty well done, and a good take on the situation. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#91 · 1
· on Forever
Genre: (Power Will) Live To Fight Another Day

Thoughts: Ooo, this one’s interesting; the focal point of this story ends up being a part of the story that isn’t in the story at all. We get a tremendous leap from scene one to scene two, with the foundations of a large OC cast and a picturesque frontier being sacrificed upon the altar of... Pony-Cthulhu? I’m getting shades of Pony-Cthulhu here.

What I like about this is that everything’s very vivid. The cast introductions are all delivered quickly and adequately for the space; Captain Klondike is an attention-grabbing name, and Frost’s bubbly nature & decision to eschew conventional gear make her memorable while also setting up for the bad stuff to come. (Definite bonus points for going all-OCs and making that work, BTW.) After the jump, things are tense and visceral... except inasmuch as the story has to recap the missing chunk in the middle. But I definitely get the senses of urgency and danger that our surviving heroes are left with.

I have a big but(t) coming here, which I actually arrived at by reflecting on the opening section.

As I was going through the opener, it stood out to me that the story spends kind of a long time making the point in multiple ways that an injury out there would be fatal. This actually pairs well with the recap dialogue in the second scene, where our heroes on the run have to pause and tell us of the horrors that occurred. Where I’m going with this is that the story ends up having to spend time leaning really hard on both foreshadowing and recap given the absent middle section that might let the tension build and characters fall into madness more gradually. That’s ultimately just less satisfying than letting us see it all play out.

I think what’s here works. It’s very technically clean, and it manages to tell a mostly complete story. I also have a lot of confidence based on what’s already here that the Author can flesh out that middle section and make this shine all the way. But it’s very much headed in the right direction.

Oh yeah. One last thing—
it would be a beauty way to go.

Author... just take off, you hoser.

Tier: Almost There
#92 · 3
· on Confidant
inb4 Daring Do accidentally gave Wild Ace an infinity stone

So I'm actually finding myself agreeing with a lot of the other commenters on this one. First, I'm getting mixed feelings about the premise. I get that a little suspension of disbelief is required to accept that Daring Do randomly decided to show up at some child's room, but maybe we could see this better elaborated later on in the story, so I think combining that with Daring Do's is this a dream/not a dream would be quite nice, since they both seem to follow kind of the same thread. I think Raisin mentioned that maybe she's just desperate? I'm not sure if that's the case, but it does seem kind of likely, so I'm gonna subscribe to that too (please tell us if we're wrong!)

Outside that one thing, though, I found the intro quite nice. It gets to the point, and it's pretty immersive. The dialogue is belivable. Very nitpicky, but maybe I'd like to see a bit more of Daring Do's voice in Daring Do, maybe something along the lines of how she felt in Daring Done (which you mentioned later).

Towards the middle of the story, I think the dialogue gets a little less believable, presumably to push the story along. For ex: the kid's "and who always beats the bad guys to it" seems a little out of place. This is maaaybe also the case with a couple other lines, but nothing blatant. Something I think could've been a little better done here would be why Daring Do repeatedly brings up that it's a dream, and like I said earlier this doesn't immediately need to be revealed but can probably be brought up later.

So a little later in the story is where I'm debating the use of a passive main character, as Spirit mentioned. First, Daring uses Wild Ace as a bouncing board, which is understandable but maybe could've been conveyed a little better. The other reason why I think shifting POV might be beneficial is because we rarely get to hear the kid's thoughts, and I feel like that's something Daring Do would have a lot more to say on.

Final thing. Agree with Spirit that the characters start speaking in platitudes. It feels a little like you had to rush here and make things a little more tell-y, so I think checking this before publishing on Fimfic would be a good idea! Overall though, heartwarming and pretty well written -- just a couple important details to iron out. Thanks for the submission, anon!
#93 · 4
· on Facing the Storm

I dunno why, but I think I had the most difficulty forming an opinion on this story. The other commenters did a pretty good job of getting to the core of it so I'll echo what they say.

First, I think the characterization of Rocky Road was pretty good, and I enjoyed getting to know his personality and motivations. Thought the final reveal was pretty clever. I was mixed on his inner thoughts, though, and they didn't entirely work for me for one reason or another. Maybe some of it was due to some repetition I felt was maybe not needed? For ex: I would have cut the second "fool" part and the "and figure out a map was" part.

Agree with Baal that the grammar could've used some work, and he gives some pretty good examples.

I would have appreciated some character expansion on Rose. All we know is she's good at maps and likes mapping things. In the final scene though, I was confused by her dialogue, where she wonders why they're "wasting time" making maps, which is something I feel she wouldn't believe. Also am curious as to why she sticks with Rocky Road.

I think the initial description of the buffalo is a bit long-winded, and I think did more to confuse me than intrigue me as to what the creatures were. Maybe an earlier reveal that they were buffalos would've served the purpose better, so then you can actually describe their imposing stature a little more in detail. Also agree that there should be maybe more tension. The buildup was really good, but I think the problem might have been solved a little too quickly. Noting here real quick though, I really enjoyed Rocky Road's outer dialogue here; it was probably one of the highlights of the entire story.

I think the final scene could benefit well from some additional expansion. Aside from going more in depth about Rose's situation, maybe there could be some more depth into Rocky Road's relationship with the grunts too, which I find kind of suspect. There are a couple sentences that are a little awkward or could be elaborated on too, for ex: "After seeing that sequence four more times" and "her naivety wasn’t going to be doing her any favors from here out".

Overall though, this was pretty enjoyable and I'd look forward to any additional expansion featuring a more developed whole cast. Thanks for the entry, anon!
#94 · 5
· on Confidant · >>_Moonshot

But two things confused me. The little thing was the way Daring Do calls Wild Ace both "filly" and "him." "Filly" is the term for a young female horse, y'see, while "colt" is for young males...

The big thing was how Daring Do found this kid to begin with. You can give us clues--are they Daring Do print blankets Ace practically leaps out of at the beginning? Is Ace surprised by how similar--or how different--the real Daring Do looks when compared to the posters all over the walls? Does Daring at some point gesture to the bookshelves overflowing with her novels? Give us something that'll let us suspend disbelief and say to ourselves, "Oh, Daring was slouching down the street despondently and looked up to see her posters on the other side of this window." Show us that Ace is a fan so we can see how Daring Do knew it.

#95 · 3
· on A Modern Mare in Search of a Soul · >>No_Raisin
This is one of the more evocative stories in our current batch, featuring a series of vignettes surrounding a day in the life of a disillusioned Fleur De Lis. Before I go ahead and review, I should mention that any story that contains even an ounce of melancholy panders greatly to my sensibilities, so you could say my opinion has been colored somewhat. I do think, however, that in spite of its strengths, the story does falter on certain subtle aspects that prevented me from really going along for the ride, but that’s really if I’m being nitpicky.

Before that, I do wanna ramble a bit about the stuff that worked for me.

I’m rather fond of the running theme with these scenes here, which I believe is Fleur’s ineffectual search for fulfilment. Despite it being rather passive and under the surface, I kinda admire the restraint being displayed here, particularly with the scenes in the middle.

At the same time, the tone Fleur uses here is rather confrontational and almost self-deprecating, particularly when she addresses her many dissatisfactions. I was a little unsure of how it came off to me initially, as I thought the coldness somewhat clashed with the mood that the scenes were hinting towards, though that slowly changed after a few more reads. Right now, I think it really adds onto and amplifies her characterization well, as it perfectly encapsulates the misplaced anger she has at herself for circumstances that were really beyond her control.

Now for the nitpicky bits.

As much as I admire how speckled these scenes are, I feel like it also comes off as lacking some focus on some of my consecutive reads. Some part of me wanted to see a narrower, more cohesive theme than what we’re given here, yet at the same time, it does risk losing the dreamlike aspect it has going for it. I’m pretty sure there’s a way in which both can be reconciled, though that might take some time to figure out.

I also wish that the melancholy was delivered with a little bit of a progression in mind. Maybe demonstrate to us the levels of disenchantment Fleur goes through as she moves along. I think it’ll add a dynamic to the story that will complement the vignette structure.

Chiming in with another thought of the last scene as well. I agree with the others that it feels a little abrupt and out of place, and I’m especially with >>No_Raisin that it comes off as melodramatic. I think it also added a degree of separation between Fleur and her situation that I don’t think was needed, especially when it’s something this personal to her. As the story began with her talking about her mother, I think maybe you could come full circle and bring her mother up again. I realize you were channeling Fleur’s mother via the questionnaire but I think that extra layer really only interfered with the mood that the story had been cultivating up to that point.

Overall, I’m a fan of what this entry brought to the table. I’ll come out to say that this entry is ranked highly on my slate purely from execution alone. Apart from the issues with that final scene, I’m honestly at a loss as to where to move forward from what you have here, though I’m sure you’ll figure something out.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#96 · 3
A pale shadow of a ghostly image in my mind
lies scrawled upon the page, and the labor of my hours
but mocks the golden lines my fancy painted.
I face the morning gallery with dread
I cannot aid it more; it’s time for bed.
#97 · 3
· on "Next, you're going to say: 'Get me a pickle, Bon Bon!'" · >>CoffeeMinion
Get me a pickle, Bon Bon!
#98 · 3
· on Someday You’ll Understand
Stylistically this matches up with the show to an uncanny degree. Even the artifact is rendered in kind of a conspicuous CGI-ish fashion that matches how a lot of objects season 3 onward look.

Just from looking at her hoof you know Daring Do needs a nap. :/
#99 · 3
· on Mare, Stallion, I've Still Got It Going On
This is so well-done. The little Shining in the corner slays me.
#100 · 1
· on Someday You’ll Understand
Cool stuff! Compositionally straightforward, but with a lot of detail upon closer inspection. The gem is great and I wanna know how you did that!