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On the Verge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 5
· · >>Trick_Question
Hi ho, the darry-o the cheese stands alone
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#3 · 6
· · >>Trick_Question
Hey guys--if you were wondering whether I'd be above using this space to shill for the other MLP Writeoff group, let it be known that I absolutely am not!

At time of posting, the Friendship is Short Shorts group is close to wrapping up its inaugural contest, titled "Uncharted Territory." The quality of fics has been pretty high, and some of the art is downright hilarious.

Uncharted Territory brought in fresh faces and the energy of something new. With that said, I'd love to see more Writeoff veterans check it out the next round, with a 4-day writing period scheduled to start October 18th!
#4 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
I wish I'd known about it in time. It's extremely annoying that your groups don't show up in the main feed. How are you supposed to keep track of what's going on?
#5 · 5
· · >>Trick_Question >>Trick_Question
I agree 100%, the current situation is not great. I've pinged Roger and expressed my views. What I will say at this point is that Roger has been fantastic in general; first for adding the groups functionality at all, and second for responding to some "growing pains" that have come up during the initial contest. But I hope the front page can be changed a bit; it's even awkward now with both a She-Ra and an MLP round active at the same time, much less with Friendship is Short Shorts going on too (albeit being buried on a sub-page).

I think the core issue is that the interface wasn't really designed to handle multiple contests going on at the same time. Clearly it can, but it's not optimized for it. Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to mock-up an idea for an interface tweak that would accommodate this a little better. Whether Roger likes it and seeks to implement it is another matter.

I'm also open to thoughts about where I can/should advertise future contests if this doesn't get addressed for a while.
#6 · 3
I'd be happy with a main page that shows all the active and just-finished contests, even if I have to tick a box or something to get it. I don't care how it's organized. There's a poetry one about to start too and I'm def going to miss stuff at this point.
#7 · 4
And yes, Roger is awesome. :heart:
#8 · 1
Whoa, I missed prompt submission already? Drat, I thought I had notifications turned on too. :\
#9 · 3
I've finally gotten back into writing. Published my most recent chapter a couple weeks ago. looks at Writeoff schedule, looks at personal schedule. I don't know. This is the busiest week of the semester so far, but I'll try.
#10 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I can't believe the prompt selection is so small. Is it because it's pic-to-fic?
#11 · 2
Hey, the writing phase lasts until Tuesday. Swell!
#12 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
I forgot to submit a prompt.
I'm assuming some people forgot too.
#13 · 5
>>Zaid Val'Roa

I submitted a prompt:

Then forgot to come back and vote for any of them. Ah, the joys of the human brain.


EDIT: And the first day of the writing period here is the only day for writing in the first ever Poetry Writeoff. So much going on!
#14 · 1
· · >>Anon Y Mous
So we have a prompt. Does that mean writing may commence now? Or do we need to wait until 10/3 to start, as shown on the little timing/calendar thing?
#15 · 3
· · >>GrandMoffPony
It’s a pic to fic which means the artists draw something and when the art is revealed you can write a story based on one or more of the pictures. Your story doesn’t have to relate to the original prompt at all.
#16 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus >>Miller Minus
>>Anon Y Mous
Oh! Huh, I did not know such a setup was in play in Short Story Writeoffs. Guess I missed a lot of new things while I was away.

So I have two basic choices:
1. Write a fic based on the art, which itself should be based on the prompt
2. Write something totally unrelated to the prompt (or the art, presumably)

/is that a correct reading of things?
#17 · 2
Only choice 1. Think of it like a complete reversal of the usual round, where the artists create art based on the stories. Now we get to write stories based on their art.

In pic2fic, some writers like to write stories that feature exact scenes from the art, while other writers get inspired more loosely. It's up to you how close you want to align with the picture(s)!
#18 · 3
And, just to reiterate what Anon said, if you're writing this round, the prompt means nothing to you. When the artists are done and the gallery goes up, give it a perusal and see what strikes your fancy.
#19 · 1
Welp, I was going to submit an art this round... then I left what I was drawing in somewhere not here, and I'm going out of state tomorrow regardless :/

Hopefully, others have been having a better time with their art than I have!
#20 · 6
Given how this is the last FiM event going down before the show finally stops (here in the States, at least), I'm definitely going to give this contest a whirl. A goodbye of sorts for the show, though definitely not the fandom.
#21 · 6
Really, REALLY can't promise anything but I might try and put in an entry for this one? I'm currently trying to scrape my brain through creating midterm exams despite a) no teaching qualifications b) about a month of teaching experience so it entirely depends on whether I can finish THAT before the weekend....
#22 · 4
I think I'll give this one a go.
#23 · 1
Somehow, the poetry competition ended one hour and five minutes before the drawing competition here ends. I think.
#24 · 3
Also: Roger?

THANK YOU!!! for making the new events here accessible! :yay:
#25 · 3
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Particularly, I like this one the most. It has that eerie feeling of isolation gathered in a tv-static-like picture. Perfect for the spooky season if you ask me. I have no real nitpicks for this piece.
#26 · 1
· on Falling With Style
At first, I thought she was flying. Instead, I see my perspective changed from that to the wierd angle of her sliding down the gravel. Good way to make this piece unique, since the most common artwork of her is when she is airborne.

...unless that isn't what you intended. Again, I have some trouble telling.

Altogether, a good piece! Thanks for arting! (I feel like that last word is not right for some strange reason).
#27 · 5
· on It’s Alive!
A common misconception is that it's Twilight Sparkle's Monster, not Twilight Sparkle. Twilight is the scientist that created the monster.

Very good piece! The dust/sparks/particles must've taken forever (Including the reflection on her goggles). Also, the evil smile with the fangs is a nice touch.

The nitpick that you might hear a lot is that I can still see the structural lines underneath, particularly around Twilight's head and neck. If you were in a hurry, it's understandable, and it doesn't do too much damage to the piece. Just something I've noticed.
#28 · 2
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
The texture really deals the deal here. Pinoy's description of tv static is spot-on. That plus the nice dollop of asymmetry between sun and moon make for a really killer picture.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#30 · 3
· on Falling With Style
"Not fly! Jump good!"

I don't know if Dash would do this on her hooves, or if she would try out a skateboard. Do ponies even have skateboards? I can't remember. I mean, if Spyro the fucking dragon can have a skateboard, why not horse?

I need answers, author. >:/
#31 · 1
· on It’s Alive!
I know it's a meme to deride all modern children's animation as Cal Arts... but that's a Cal Arts smile.

I gotta tell you, bro, the particle effects in this game are so complex that my rig has a hard time running it at medium settings. Clearly the most advanced tech demo masquerading as a game since Quake.

Twilight's got a little something on her face, and it's not sauce from the veggieburger she just had.
#32 · 2
· on Would you…? · >>Trick_Question >>GroaningGreyAgony
I feel so weirdly cock-blocked right now.

At first it looks like she's about to propose to me, which, rare that a girl proposes to a dude, but you never know. Then she asks if I'd mind returning the ring to the jewelers. I don't even even know this mare, yet the brief opportunity to be engaged to her, only for said opportunity to be erased in a few seconds, has left me distraught. Never have I fallen in love with someone so quickly, only for the candle to get snuffed out just as swiftly.

But have no fear, my dear, for someday I will express my love for you, mon amour, and maybe we can live happily together forevermore!
#33 · 2
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I'm gonna bring up Berserk, because I have to. This piece reminds me of one of Miura's more picturesque panels, where he tries to capture the particular mood of a particular character by treating the panel like a painting. Much like Van Gogh, or the sodomites lurking on /a/, Miura has a knack for framing a character within a piece in such a way that there's a beautiful war going on between the symmetrical and the asymmetrical, between the beautiful and the rugged.

The detail alone is exquisite. More than any other this round, this feels like the work of a genius.

Or maybe just a highly intelligent rodent. One can never be sure.
#34 · 2
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I do have one suggestion, not a critique, but it’s that the artist make Luna smaller than she already is. It would really enhance the feeling of grandness that this picture inflicts.
#35 · 3
· on Falling With Style
The usual disclaimer: I know about as much about art as I know about carpentry. That is to say, I can maybe put together an Ikea bookshelf, but it's going to be wonky and there will definitely be that one mysterious screw left over.

ANYWAY: I absolutely love this.

The perspective, the colour, the everything. Fantastic job, artist.

I actually got TWO really cool ideas out of this, but one of them has since mutated into a freaking novel-length epic about mutated cannibalistic pony tribes, time travel and the end of the world (don't ask) and the other isn't really something I can write right now (just, not in the right frame of mind) so you won't be seeing them in this contest. But when Pray For Rain and/or October finally make it onto Fimfic (hopefully sometime this century) you can be assured you were a big part of the inspiration!
#36 · 3
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I swear I can hear the chorus of Muse's Megalomania everytime I look at this....

Yeah, this is really good. You convey a real sense of something just being wrong, in that weird Lovecraftian sense. Both Luna and the moon are breathtakingly still, and not just because they are an actual static image--it feels like a scene of absolute silence and stillness, right before everything starts exploding to the sound of an orchestra and Thom Yorke wailing. Great stuff.
#37 · 2
· on It’s Alive!
While the signs of how you built this piece do draw the eye away from the final product a little, said final product is pretty good! Mad scientist Twilight is always fun, and always great fuel for writing, but this one really has a little bit of extra pizazz. Those particle effects just give off the right amount of pastel coloured menace. My only real nitpick is that the smile is kind of corny? I think you could have gone a tad less cartoony and a tad more deranged, but that's just personal preference really.

Good job!
#38 · 1
· on Would you…? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I'm not sure that's necessarily a mare. I'm getting a pretty ambiguous vibe from the image.
#39 · 1
· on Falling With Style
I really like the watercolor-y feel of this, with the layered strokework. It's striking in Dash's wings, with how you suggest the texture of feathers with it.

The composition was a little bit confusing to me at first; it took me a moment to realize she was on top of a cliff/ramp. But once I did figure it out, I love how the little details in the background come to life, like the river and the bridge. It's a cool, storybook-like image, and it really suggests a larger world to me.

Thank you for arting!
#40 · 2
· on It’s Alive!
Okay, this is really cute. I'm going to have to disagree with Raisin and say that I love Twilight's goofy-looking smile,which is made all the better by the fact that her eyes are hidden from us. I'm also really impressed by the work you did with her mane. It looks billowing, and it gives off the appearance of individual fibers very nicely. I think it was a good decision to leave in the sketch lines, here.

Now, I will have to say that I had a little bit of trouble with the sketch lines in her face, though. Her head circles were really attention-grabbing in a way that in a way that the sketch lines you've left in her mane and hooves aren't. The circles combined with all of the sparks kind of make the middle head area feel a lot busier to me than it actually is, so you might want to think about toning down the amount of visual information. I didn't really see the blowtorch until I really started studying the piece, just as a gauge for how my attention was divided.

Don't get me wrong, though. This is still really awesome, and the caption made me chuckle. Thank you for submitting!
#41 · 1
· on Would you…? · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Okay, I really love the work you did with the eyes. They do a great job of grabbing your attention and immediately making the piece feel very empathetic. Overall, this is some really clean linework, and I love the way how the curve of her arm draws your attention away from her eyes and towards the ring box. Everything just feels very well-composed.

If I had to lodge some criticism, (and you'll have to forgive me for being vague) I'd say that there is a kind of static-y feeling to this piece. Like, it feels very much frozen in time, with no movement. For some reason, this feeling was kind of heightened when I'm looking at the cup and the spoon, and something about how they're shown. Sorry for not being able to be clearer!

Anyways, this is great, and the caption was just the right kind of stupid.

Thanks for arting!
#42 · 2
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Ever since I learned about how they animated Batman TAS, I've always kind of been intrigued by the white-on-black concept.This is super cool. The shadows and the highlights around Luna's wings do a great job of conveying the feeling of light, and I love how the top and bottom of this piece kind of just fades away into black, leaving us focused on the things in the middle.

Thank you for submitting!
#43 · 1
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This would be amazing on scratchboard.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#45 ·
· on Would you…?
Anyway. Some advice for an already well-drawn image.

The table lines and the cylinder are far too rigid and clean for the rest of the piece, which has an organic quality to it. They feel out of place, and would look better drawn loose. The neck seems overly thick, and the angle of the hoof is a little awkward.

I like that the look in the face is ambiguous rather than super-emotional. That provides more room for interpretation about what might be happening here, beyond the obvious connotation.
#46 · 1
· on Overseeing Her Domain
I think the snort clouds (I assume that's what they are) are bizarre.

Earth would look better pitch black in the back with a crescent of illumination visible toward the Sun.

That's all I got.
#47 ·
· on Falling With Style
I'm not sure why she's standing in front of a path rather than a precipice if she's planning to take flight as the title would indicate (I think), but that's not really a problem for the image.

The grass could be a little less spidery.
#48 · 1
· on Overseeing Her Domain
Oh! Also the shadow on the lower-right should curve over that crater, not bisect it straight.
#49 ·
· on It’s Alive!
The spots look great, but it seems like they're coming from the welding or blowtorchery in which case they're not very representative of sparks from a welder. This is especially true since you're not actually welding anything, what with the welder held apart from what the audience can't see.

The sharp angle of Twi's upper stripe is weird.

I think the blowtorch is drawn too rigidly. The super-straight lines contrast with the imperfect ellipses. It's okay to have shaky lines when you have an expressive piece like this, don't fear them.
#50 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Dang it. :( I tried to push myself into getting an entry written, I really did. But that was back on Friday when I had a day off, and as soon as I got sucked back into my work schedule, my focus just scattered.

Good luck to those of you still working on your entry!
#51 ·
FWIW, there’s still another day to work on it, if that helps.

I managed to get a concept down before my weekend got sucked into the Family Events Nebula. I’m hoping tomorrow can be a decent writing day...
#52 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
I too am failing to get anything entered this time. Damn you, real world responsibilities!!! :-P
#53 · 1
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This picture is stunning and it makes me think of this song every time I see it.
#54 ·
Yo Xeph! Good to see you around, at any rate. ^^

I dunno, I’m starting to worry I might not be able to pull off a fic either in the time remaining. I’ll give it one more heave-ho tonight.
#55 · 1
The bad news: Despite my promises and desires, I won't be able to submit my story for this final round while the show airs. School work and my own sloth kept me from fleshing out enough of a story to meet my standards (however low they are). I'm really bummed about this, because as a tight-lipped introvert who exchanges few sentences with any of you, I was hoping I could say goodbye to the show in my own special way.

The good news: What little amount of story I managed to crank out has given me a grand project to finish on my own. It'll give me something to do this month and allow me to say goodbye in my own weird way. So thanks to everyone for being here and giving me the drive to complete stories. I hope this place keeps going for a long time and that we continue to make interesting stories to read.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#57 · 1
· on Would you…? · >>Baal Bunny
>>No_Raisin, >>Trick_Question, >>Bachiavellian

Would you…?

Thanks for the great comments!

This was a side idea that was simple to execute and had potential for story hooks, so I drew it up. It probably would have benefited from a redraw, but here we are.
#58 · 4
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>Meridian_Prime
>>PinoyPony, >>thebandbrony, >>No_Raisin, >>Anon Y Mous, >>Meridian_Prime, >>Bachiavellian, >>Trick_Question, >>wishcometrue

Overseeing Her Domain

Wow! Thanks for the gold, and the wonderful comments with their flattering comparisons!

The seed of this idea started with the prompt I submitted for this round, “The Longest Shadow.” I retooled it a bit when I realized that “On the Verge” could refer to the terminator, the line of partial shadow that separates the light side from the dark side.

The medium here is black paper with white pencil. I love the resulting texture, and I felt very much in artistic control as I drew this piece. The sun and planet were given their start by tracing around a bottlecap; everything else is freehand. The stars in the sky are artistic license; most stars are not visible in daylight on the moon.

Those aren’t snort clouds; it’s her mane, which I tried to make symmetrical for some reason.

Thanks again, and see you all next round!
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#60 · 3
*fortnite dances*

I'm in
#61 · 2
· on It’s Alive!
I just wanted to mention that this was my favorite of the arts, and it would’ve been the one I wrote a story for if my weekend had gone differently.
#62 · 2
To my eternal frustration, I came within spitting distance of finishing an entry but fell just short. But you bet your various booties I'm finishing this AND the other entry I wrote 2 pages of (I can't not write a concept I like that much).

Good luck to the actual entrants: I just hope you don't make me feel too bad with how inevitably awesome yours will be.
#63 · 1
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I have like 80-90% of a fic for this done and I am incredibly frustrated that I didn't manage to finish it, because this piece deserves it. When I do finish it (in the next few days if it damn well kills me) I wouldn't mind linking back to here to credit this artwork, if I have your permission? The story wouldn't exist without it after all.
#64 · 3
· · >>Trick_Question

Hey hey sorry to interrupt when you were all about to start reviewing, but I just wanted to let you know that I've opened up a new group on the writeoff called Miller's Cash Money Contests!

Because if there's one thing we all need, it's more writeoff!

What makes my group special, as you can probably already tell from reading the title, is that it's MINE! Also, you can win some money. The format for the contests will be similar to that one event Jaxie hosted last year with long writing times (up to a month), special guest judges, and of course, the opportunity to read and critique each other's stories.

Full details regarding genre, judges, and the precise quantity of dolla dolla bills you can win are all contest-dependent. If you have any questions for now feel free to hit me up on the discord or through PM.

Please consider joining the group! The first contest will be MLP related :O
#65 ·
· · >>Miller Minus >>Miller Minus
>>Miller Minus
I can't argue with more MLP-related fiction, but do you think that maybe at some point too many contests might be a problem...?

I remember when we used to do only FiM stuff once every four weeks and we'd get maybe a hundred entries for our minific rounds. While this isn't a minific round, we only have eight entries and that's not very many. So I do support this (and joined), but I dunno what is going to end up happening.
#66 · 1
We are already discussing this on the discord.
#67 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
Oops that may have been too terse.


I agree, and there are ongoing discussions in the discord about this.

*hugs you*

That's better.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#69 ·
I want to start review madness here, but I gotta do the Poetry thing first.
#70 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
S'all good, friendo.
#71 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
>>Miller Minus
Also tell me how I can put money where your beak is for help with your fabulous cash prizes.

Also also I'll try to win so I can reject the prize to help too.
#72 · 1
We have our first donor :V

I will certainly be letting you know. Thanks!
#73 ·
· on First of Fall · >>thebandbrony
This is a great little AppleDash. Very visceral, all five senses flowing, nice word porn.

I would like to have seen a little more of an arc with their relationship, though. At the end I'm left uncertain what AJ has learned from the experience, or what Dash wanted her to learn. Isn't the story about them learning to understand each other? In this story, both Dash and AJ are keeping feelings and thoughts to themselves, and it's a little frustrating at the end. I want to see a little more mutual understanding develop.

EDIT: Is the title a pun?
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#75 · 1
· on The Long Fall
Ouch. Right in the all-too-familiar feels. :fluttershysad:

I saw most of the story coming, including the gist of the ending, but it's not your fault, author. I don't think you should try hiding things more than you are. I'd even appreciate a little more of a hint, to be honest.

Anyhow, the thing that rubs me the wrong way about this story is that Dash recalling the past paints her as a soul entirely without agency, and that's not Rainbow Dash. She has these severe problems in her life, bad enough to lead to the events in the story, and she never tries to fix a single one of them! For one of the problems, all she had to do is speak up, and she couldn't even do that. This simply does not remind me of Dash, and it doesn't explain the biggest question: what happened to her?

It also doesn't remind me of Fluttershy or Pinkie. The characters here are so severely different from the ones I know that it doesn't quite ring true. While that indeed serves the purpose of illustrating how they've drifted apart, it doesn't make it seem realistic that they would have reached this point in the first place. I'm not buying it right now, even though I want to.

I think if you extend this in a way that will make me believe Dash's history of events, I'll be able to feel a lot more from it.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#78 · 2
· on Overseeing Her Domain · >>Meridian_Prime >>Meridian_Prime
That hurts. You can certainly link back. Looking forward to seeing the completed work!
#79 ·
· on Little Dark Age · >>CoffeeMinion
Lots of little problems:

Jump out at me. The very first word, for instance, establishes a narrator, a character who is addressing me directly and telling me the story. But that doesn't happen: the rest of the story is just a regular 3rd person narrative. I kept expecting a sort of Portnoy's Complaint ending where it turns out Luna is telling all this to Twilight or a psychiatrist or something. A couple lines later, the phrase "thousands of years of loneliness" also confused me. Luna only spent one thousand years on the moon. So was she lonely for another thousand years before the Nightmare Moon Incident? Or is this story set a thousand after her return, and she's been lonely all that time?

The third paragraph tells us there's no atmosphere on the moon, and yet Luna watches the giant Nightmare Moon of her dream breathing. How exactly does that work? When Nightmare bursts out of her own chest, we're told that Luna "was used to gore at this point", but later Luna says to her, "Your entrances usually aren’t so theatrical." So she usually does something that's gory but not theatrical? Is that possible? And near the end: "The scandal of it all! Their relationship didn’t even make the tabloids." Can something be a scandal if nobody knows about it?

The story itself is an interesting take on the "Luna confronts Nightmare" genre, but I'd like a little more resolution at the end—have Luna finally wake up so we can see what her true situation is or use the narrative structure you set up at the beginning to have Luna telling somepony all this or something—and it definitely needs another pass through the word processor.

#80 ·
· on True Romance · >>Posh
Okay. I've had time to calm my apples.

My long-term memory over the past few years has been poor for medical reasons, so I don't recall if I've ever had to abstain from an entry before, but I might need to do it here. This story is beautifully written, composed, and directed. The only problem is the characterization of the antagonist, but it is a tremendous problem for me. The fact that the protagonist is clearly infatuated with her from scene one only makes it tragic.

I really don't think I'm going to be able to get across how atrocious this is, so let me try to be direct. She never softens one iota. She never does anything nice for him, ever. Everything she does is abusive, usually in the extreme. She literally gets him sent away to a boarding school, TWICE, for EIGHT YEARS of his life, when all she had to do was admit she played a prank on him. He willingly tests a dangerous device for her, and she uses it to cover him in shit and invites all her friends to come take pictures of him when it happens.

This guy is an orphan and he has NO FRIENDS. She is literally his only social contact. By the end of the story his grandmother is probably dead as well. Zero ponies in this story are nice to him. Zero ponies in this story provide him with emotional support, apart from his grandmother in the beginning. It's absolutely horrifying.

This mare is never his friend. She is never nice to him, not once. She never lets up and she loves hurting him. The only time she shows any affection for him at all is a kiss she does specifically to taunt him, which shows that she knows he's infatuated with her and she wants to use HIS FEELINGS to hurt him even more! My Stars. It's absolutely appalling and unconscionable. That line made me physically sick to my stomach. The fact that it worked on him makes it far sicker.

Reading this story makes me want to kill myself and I am not exaggerating when I say that. That's not much of a challenge, granted, but I can't read it again in its current form. You are celebrating the worst kind of bullying that exists. True Heart is far worse than Cozy Glow and Michelle Carter combined. My, what a perverse name to give her.

I'm sorry for how I feel about this story. You're an amazing author. You write so well, and your scenes are perfectly balanced, and everything else about the story is perfect.

All night as I tried to get to sleep I kept running through possible addenda to this story I might post here, but I can't bring myself to write anything involving these characters, even to illustrate a point.

I'm done now.
#81 ·
· on Overseeing Her Domain
I actually finished it about 10 minutes before you made this comment? Coincidences are weird. Also, time differences, hence why it took so long to reply!

I think I might just publish it mostly as is; it hasn't been proofread or edited by anyone but me (or at all yet because I've been lazy), but that kind of keeps it in the spirit of the writeoff! The only thing that's missing now is the cover art, and I wanted to ask if I could use this? Honestly nothing else would really fit as well; I turned this picture into an actual scene in the story so it makes a lot of sense. If you'd rather I not, I'll find something else--just thought I'd ask.
#82 · 1
· on Not To Touch The Sun · >>alarajrogers
Very nice:

There are a few more commas than there ought to be in the opening paragraphs, but that all settles down once we get to Discord's house. Time travel stories always leave me scratching my head, so I'm still not quite sure what'll happen to Twilight once they figure out how to cast this spell. Maybe have them address that at the end? Other than that, though, like I said: very nice.

#83 · 1
· on It Wasn't Alive in the First Place... · >>Trick_Question >>PinoyPony
Your title is a little too glib, I think. I get it; it's amusingly meta, but it also side-steps a very important ethical issue that this story never once deals with: Is Pseudo-Ocellus alive? And if so, is it right to kill her the way that they do?

And if the story's title gives away that the answer is no, then that's a very weak means of addressing that question in your story.

Narratively, I thought that matters in the second half were confusing, difficult to follow. It may just be me, but the nature of the problem, and the solution to it, didn't make a great deal of sense. I understand that Smolder's vomit, gemstones, and flu medication were all somehow involved, but I really don't know how those elements come together to form a logical whole. There are other logical questions as well; there doesn't seem to be any pattern to what P.O. consumes. I understand why she's so gluttonous; Ocellus's constant appetite foreshadows that subtly, but I don't understand why she eats what she eats.

Beyond that, the choice to make Rarity the POV character in the first scene doesn't pay off. Rarity vanishes from the story after that scene, never to be seen again, and we shift over to Ocellus immediately for the real action of the piece. Rarity, herself, is awkwardly voiced from the get-go, with her use of the word "dangit" sounding delightfully Applejackean, and overall, isn't adding much to the piece... beyond having a vessel for the character to inhabit so that Twilight and Starlight can deliver exposition about Ocellus's molt.

You made me smile a few times with some of your dialogue and interactions, but the overall piece doesn't come together and do it for me, I'm sorry.
#84 · 1
· on Little Dark Age
First, story stuff.

So, Nightmare emerged from herself? I'm not sure I follow this.

I think the theme of the story could be a little more coherent. I don't understand what Nightmare represents to Luna psychologically. Why is she tormenting herself this way? How is this different from the Tantabus, apart from it not being magical in nature? What is her subconscious mind attempting to do here? It isn't clear to me. Your subconscious doesn't seek to torture you. That's the opposite of what dreams do for you, even nightmares. They're built to decouple emotional connections from memories so you can move forward.

Since the dreams are not necessarily connected to reality (the last dream for an obvious point), I'm left uncertain as to whether Luna did, or did not, elope with Twilight Sparkle.

I don't quite buy the ending yet. All of a sudden, Luna's fine. How did this happen? What was she thinking or deciding that led to her character growth?

I'm not sure Luna having no control in the realm of dreams is believable. Perhaps she should willingly remain within the dream because she is determined to learn from it.

Now, writing stuff.

This prose is super telly. You need to focus on showing us what Luna looks like, and allow the reader the latitude to determine what this means for her emotional and psychological state. The dialogue is also a little telly in places when you use it for exposition. Sometimes that's okay, but in other places it doesn't feel natural for Luna to directly describe things that happened to her in the past when she argues with herself.

Showing is something you should really push yourself to do. Even when you are showing details, you have a tendency to hoof-wave it a little. I don't know if it's a fear of trusting the reader, or a fear of trusting yourself to do it well. But, for example, when you describe the gore, you have an opportunity to paint with reds, and you don't take it. Instead you say "there's some gore and viscera". You don't have to get super graphic to show gore, and you can still speak poetically, "rivulets of red" instead of "blood" is fine if that mutes the rating. But you really need to work on painting a detailed picture and giving up control over the value judgments to the audience. Showiness is a very difficult thing to do, but it's the soul of good writing.

It should be "younger of", not "youngest of", and "sister's story" rather than "sisters".

EDIT: "Twilight would die by other means, the oracles assured her of that much." What is this about? I feel I'm missing out on important details here, as the reader. Invite me in.
#85 ·
· on What Hath Twience Wrought?
By far the biggest problem with this story is that Timber Spruce, like Flash Sentry, is a total Gary Stu. You make it even worse by having him save the day with magically incredible athletic prowess (he even saves her mother's life!), having him be perfectly understanding of Twilight's flaws and immediately forgive them, his only emotional development is that he's shy about making a good impression on Velvet because, being perfect, he desperately wants to be Twi's boyfriend, and so on. It's irritating beyond words. His Gary Stuness is just terrible, and it makes him incredibly boring and grating. He needs some flaws to show through, even in a story of this length. You did it for Sparkle and Velvet, so I know you can do it for him.

There is definite sexual tension between Timber and Velvet in the first part. I don't think you intended this, but it's there. You're describing his charm, she's evaluating him, and cursing the fact he isn't Sunset, and the way it's framed it seems like she's irritated by his positive demeanor because she's responding to it personally. It doesn't make sense that she'd be irritated by him being too perfect, which I think is what you were trying to imply.

If you go this route, you need to indicate why Velvet would be attracted to Timber aside from his looks, and I think we need to see evidence of what she sees in him in order to understand why she's tempted: is she dissatisfied with her husband, or midlife crisis, or envious of her daughter's youth, or what? If you don't want to go that way, you need to more clearly illustrate that Velvet has distaste for him, and give us a hint as to why (maybe experience with former dates) because his Gary Stuness really makes it weird that anypony wouldn't like him immediately. That factor is not coming across right now, so it's creepy, and gets worse when he jumps on top of her.

Twilight's parents decided "long ago" (assumedly when she was small) to allow her to essentially raise herself, with no restrictions? Without even bothering to check up on her, unless she specifically comes to them for help? She almost burned the house down when she was twelve and that makes them watch her less! This isn't just free-range parenting, it's positively negligent. Children aren't tiny adults, and this is way too much. She doesn't even seem to care that she almost died today, or that her daughter could have killed herself. She just says "oh, sometimes I worry a little". Horse jesus, lady. You're a terrible, terrible parent.

By "wagging his fingers at Twilight", did you mean "waving at Twilight" or maybe "wiggling his fingers"? Wagging means waving side to side, and the only finger you can wag is the index finger, which is done to scold somepony.

I refuse to believe Twilight's middle name is "Matilda", or that anypony in this universe would be named "Timothy". Unless they're a Pie.

"I'd do it myself, but I was in such a hurry to get down here last night that I forgot my geode." You lost me.

I'm pretty sure Velvet would have Tylenol in the house. Offering somepony a pain reliever they all-but-certainly have access to in a modern household is presumptuous and weird. Oh, but wait: why miss an opportunity for Timber to be a Gary Stu even more! Maybe you could have her cough too, so he could pull a lozenge out of his ass for her. And then he can go volunteer at the homeless shelter! :trollestia:

(Do you see why Timber is incredibly annoying?)

The punchline worked perfectly, though if that's the payoff, maybe trimming the story down a little would help make it more solid.

That said, the story would be much more amusing if Twilight Sparkle had shit herself. Okay, maybe not. But if you were trapped in a bubble for an hour while being threatened by a robot, don't you think you might pee at least a little?
#86 · 2
· on True Romance · >>Trick_Question >>Baal Bunny
I can't say that my response to this story was quite as visceral as >>Trick_Question's, but I agree that the love story here is... kind of horrible in its implications. I can't decide whether or not the irony inherent in it is intentional, and that's not a sign in the story's favor.

Trick already gives a laundry list of reasons why True's treatment of Trusty is so abhorrent. The love that blossoms by the end is treated as some kind of a triumph, but to me, it just reads like a psychologically broken young man Stockholming it up with a bully. Who doesn't seem to have even a modicum of respect for... well, for anyone.

Shit, at least Diamond Tiara had a neglectful mother. True's just a budding young sociopath, through and through. This doesn't feel like a friendship between equals at all, because not only does Trusty never get one up on True, he seems completely incapable of doing so. Of interacting with her as an equal.

And if this were a story about abuse, framed as a story about abuse, I could see it working as a cautionary tale; I could even see the lack of punishment for True as part of the story's theme and argument. But it's not framed that way. The town applauds their first kiss, and I just, where were any of you when this girl was pranking and bullying him?

Oh, right. Photographing it. You're all complicit in this guy's abuse.

This doesn't read like a love story. This reads like a 4chan incel's greentext about why he hates women, an account of how he was mistreated by a Stacy in high school.
#87 ·
· on True Romance
It's rough, because the story is otherwise excellent. This would be a solid candidate for first place were it not for that one issue.

It might still make first place, actually. The story I really like isn't likely to do well because it's too disturbing, and I still think this one tops all the others I've read so far. I still need to finish two of them, though.

It would be really, really weird if I end up top-slating this story, or more likely ranking it second after the one that was practically written for me. Abstention is also likely. I'm not sure what to do here. The writing is amazing but it's so painful to read and the ending doesn't carry through the evil, so that theme seems unintentional.
#88 · 3
· on True Romance
For my part:

Trusty came off as whiny, malicious, and manipulative throughout, so I'd recommend some work on both characters. More scenes with them interacting where they're not being awful to each other and the world around them, maybe? Unless that's your goal, author. Then I'd say go further with it and push their awfulness up to 11.

#89 · 1
· on It Wasn't Alive in the First Place... · >>PinoyPony
This has some really cute voicing that works well with the low-level moment-to-moment narration. The whole effect does a good job of imitating the tone of a show episode, so if that's what you were going for, then good stuff!

Personally though, I'll have to note that I'm having some issues with pacing and structure here. Let's take a look at that first scene in particular. Out of this story's 4.6 thousand words, this first scene alone takes up 2.2 thousand. That's essentially half of your word count, but in the end this scene really ends up being relatively unimportant. The major things that it establishes (Rarity's POV, plot point about making armor, Twilight and Rarity's presence) are all dropped by the second scene, with the only carry-overs being Ocellus and her molt.

This is a problem, because by the time we're halfway through the story, we'd expect to have a good idea of what the story is about. I'm expecting maybe a science-y piece about getting the armor to work, with Rarity providing a support POV to Twilight and Ocellus's arc. Instead, the real conflict that gets resolved at the end is actually Ocellus's molt taking a life of its own, which doesn't actually get explicitly detailed until about the end of the third scene, when we're 3.1 thousand words deep. By that point, you've spent nearly three times as much word count introducing the problem compared to the word count spent developing and resolving the problem. At this point, it's very difficult to make the conclusion not seem rushed.

So I think my suggestion would be to either really cut down on the first two scenes, or to find a way to significantly expand on the remaining areas. The simplest formula to follow is the three act structure (which 90% percent of modern films follow), where about 1/3 of your reader's time and attention is spent introducing the characters and conflict, about 1/3 is spent developing the conflict and working towards a resolution, and about 1/3 is spent dealing with a twist (if that's what your story wants to do) and resolving the central conflict. This doesn't have to be the approach you take, but personally it's one that works well for me in Short Story events.

I hope that's helpful! Thank you for entering!
#90 · 3
· on Eternal · >>Trick_Question
The concept here is extremely well-thought out, and it really does show that you put a lot of effort into coming up with all the ways that the moving parts fit together. You do a great job of setting up intrigue in the beginning with the obvious but hidden significance of the necklace, and I think the way you paced out the information delivery about what exactly the necklace does works well to keep the reader engaged throughout the first 1/3 or so of the story's set-up period.

Now, I think I'm going to have to open up with some pacing concerns that I had. This story is the longest entry, and it really does feel like it. The general structure of the piece is that we're basically given a series of conversations that Rumble has with his peers and family before the final decision at the end, but in order for this to work to the fullest potential, each conversation really needs to provide new and interesting information and perspectives.

Unfortunately, some of these conversations feel like rehashes of previous ones. For instance, a lot of these conversations seem to lean heavily on the "but it's your choice in the end" conclusion. Even the conversations with Skeedaddle and Thunderlane (the closest we get to unequivocal "yes" and "no", respectively), kind of seem to neuter themselves, Thunderlane with this second more "calm-headed" convo, and Skeedaddle by account of creeping out Rumble enough to leave him literally running. And despite the last of these major conversations ending quite negatively, the next time we see Rumble, there doesn't really appear to be any effect on his perspective/opinions.

As for the subject itself, I'll be honest and say that I'm having difficulty with it. I'll start by stating that I'm not at all sure what the actual point of the story is meant to be. If, as Trick Question postulates, the story is meant to be creepy/horror, the fact that it seems to gloss over the worst of its implications feels really strange. And if the story isn't meant to be horror, then the fact still remains that it glosses over some awful implications.

For instance, it's clear that the collars do not just stop biological development, as both Mango and Skeedaddle exhibit childish mental characteristics as well. But it's not at all clear about how much of their psyche is still immature. I mean, can a thirty-something year old who still likes playing trains be expected to be able to give sexual consent in just a handful of more years? It's just really hard to get a solid handle on what actually happens to their decision-making capabilities.

This confusion gets compounded by the fact that apparently pedophilia is considered taboo in this universe. If this story is supposed to be horror, I'm not sure why you needed to emphasize this point so strongly. If this story isn't supposed to be horror, then it comes dangerously close to seeming to advocate for the permissibly of pedophilia under certain circumstances. Elements like the Princess putting a gag order on the sexual activities of those married to "frozen" foals, the transplanting of marriage into care-taking/adoption, or the explicit signal of a "frozen" foal's ability to give consent (diamond vs sapphire) all strike me as "safety rails" that actually dampen horror instead of intensifying it.

So in the end, I'm really not entirely sure what to make of this one. There are definitely elements of this story that disturb me, but the overall trajectory of the story with the interviews and the conclusion doesn't seem to arc towards horror genre cues. I think the only solid suggestions I can give at the moment are to mind your pacing, since the story does feel more and more compressed as you come up to the word count.

Thank you for submitting!
#91 ·
· on What Hath Twience Wrought?
This has nice voicing and an easy-going pacing that really helps the whole thing to read easily. And of course, you've won several brownie points from me for writing about Twilight Velvet.

Regarding the humor, I'll have to say that while I was definitely amused, I don't think any of the joke deliveries struck me as outright funny. I don't consider myself very well-versed on what makes humor work, so I'm honestly not very sure why the jokes came off as muted to me. All I can offer you is my personal experience as a datapoint.

The story sans humor is a pretty standard get-them-into-a-ridiculous-situation sort of deal, and on second and third readings it feels a little straightforward. Granted, it's basically just a vehicle for you to get your jokes out, but I personally do tend to like a little more of an arc, even in comedies. As it is right now, the whole piece comes across as relatively low-risk, which is great for the purposes of readability, but it may detract a little from having the kind of edge that humor often needs.

I know that a lot of what I'm describing here are matters of personal preference, so I'll be interested in seeing what other reviewers have to say. Thank you for writing!
#92 ·
· on True Romance · >>Baal Bunny
Okay, I give up. I'm ranking this one near the top.

It'll be very funny if it turns out I wrote it.
#93 ·
· on First of Fall
Very nice:

My only question is whether they've done this before, or if Dash has even brought it up before. 'Cause I'd like this to be culmination of Dash's campaign to get AJ to try freefall. I don't need to see the previous steps, but I think some references to this being an ongoing discussion between the two of them would give the scene here an even greater impact--and while I didn't mean to use that word, now that I have, I'm no gonna change it. :)

#94 · 1
· on It Wasn't Alive in the First Place... · >>PinoyPony
I agree with >>Posh that switching from Rarity to Ocellus is a mistake, especially since you also show us Starlight's personal thoughts between the two. It seems like the primary reason you do this is so you can have a surprising reveal at the beginning of the story, but there are other approaches you could take that don't necessitate glomming onto Rarity's headspace. Maybe have the same character who sees the reveal also help to defeat the Pseudocellus (which is totes what Twilight would call it) so we can stay consistently with a character who can appreciate the payoff. Here you're toggling between perspectives and it doesn't help the story.

However, I don't agree that there's anything wrong with the title, nor do I think it's intended to be meta. It just sounds like a response to the title of the picture that inspired the story. In FiM they've murdered potentially sapient magic beings before, so an exoskeletal golem doesn't seem like a big ethical quandary to me if you're not focusing on that aspect of it (though it's fun to do that for drama).

Starlight said, thinking to herself.

Totally confused here. Did she say it, or did she think it to herself? Context suggests she said it out loud. Choose one. "You may also want to use formatting to separate the two," said Trixie. Gosh I hope I'm not offending the author with my comments. I'm always so bad at this. I have no right to criticize anypony here. What's wrong with me? Why am I such a bad person who needs to die? Forgive me I'm sorry I'm not crazy I'm not crazy. Thank goodness nopony can hear my thoughts. Whew, she thought, badpersonbadpersonbadperson.


Gallus, Silverstream and Smolder emptied the contents of their jars on Pseudo Ocellus.

You have an issue with microparagraphing. This is a problem I have in my writing, and you have it a little worse than I do. During dialogue it's okay to have a single paragraph be a sentence, but normally you want to combine sentences into larger thoughts than this unless you have something super-important to isolate. You need to push yourself to make your paragraphs larger. For this paragraph in particular, it really stands out because it's in the middle of an action sequence and you just hoof-wave over all the action with a single sentence paragraph that says "this stuff happened". But there are other less severe examples throughout.

"I take that as a sign that I should stop reading for a bit."

Not sure if Twi would say this, especially since the crime in question is she just has a book in her office? I'm not sure why having that particular book is a bad thing.

The payoff is very flat because we already knew Ocellus was going to ask Sandbar that. Make it a surprise.
#95 ·
· on Not To Touch The Sun · >>alarajrogers
The biggest problem here far and away is that the story is mostly telly exposition, and it's super-detailed, massively complicated, long-winded tell.

If I were writing this, I'd start by showing the disaster. Or, if you want to start in the wastes, have a flashback to the disaster very early on. Don't tell us what happened, show us. This is especially relevant when what you have to show is incredibly theatrical! Who wouldn't want to write word-porn about Amblegeddon? Who wouldn't want to show us the Mane 6 surviving and coping, or Fluttershy's funeral? If you're pressed for time or space, keep in mind it doesn't take many words to do this, but even a few words with some questions unanswered is better than telling us rote. This is a wasted opportunity, and without it the story languishes in exposition.

Same thing for Discord telling Twilight what happened. Please don't give us paragraphs of Discord telling us the technical details of the past. Do a flashback. Show us.

It was a skeleton, it had no gender.

Show canon disagrees.

One huge unspoken issue here is that even if they save the world, Discord will lose his mind yet again when Fluttershy grows old and dies in sixty years. He'll probably try to go back in time yet again to be with her, and what effect will that have? Her mortality and its effect on him needs to be addressed or at least lampshaded, because anything they do here is at best a very short-term fix for his loss. There's no way he wouldn't be aware that all he's doing with centuries of effort is potentially buying another small dose of his drug.

The ending is a little weak. Part of the reason for this is that your explanation for what Twilight needs to do differently is not as cohesive as it needs to be.

You tell us that Twilight's despair is lifting, but I'm not seeing it with show, nor does it seem believable. The story at that point is terribly bleak, and Discord is starting to cry. Convince me better.
#96 · 1
· on The Long Fall
This does a really good job of handling all of its flashbacks. I mean, I'd normally think that having four flashbacks within a single framing narrative would be a tall order for a barely 2K long story, but you handle the high-level narration very well, and it doesn't come across as distracting. And I do have to note that the religious characterization of the sky was a really inspired detail.

But I think that my personal biggest issue with this story is that the payoff of each flashback don't really seem to feed into each other. Yes, there is the general sense of regret throughout all of them, but the specifics don't quite seem to mesh. We start with what seems to be a lesson about doing-before-thinking, then we get something that's geared more towards Dash struggling with stagnation, and finally we get one about people naturally growing apart. Outside of these all being rather negative life events, they don't really come together to form a cohesive picture of Dash's mental state. Dash comes across as rambling (which, may have been your intention), and it doesn't quite gel together for me by the end of things.

So in the end, it's a little difficult for me to say whether or not this does what it's trying to do. On the one hand, these kinds of emotions are a very complicated subject and should not be treated with simple cause-and-effect descriptors. But on the other hand, when the reasons for something as meaningful as a character's apparent suicide doesn't come across as coherently explored, it's hard to feel like I've gotten complete payoff for my investment.

I hope that kind of makes sense! Thank you for writing!
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#98 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Reviewing really is a thankless job sometimes. I try to always throw a Like at any reviews my entry gets as a "Thank You" to the reviewer before I can thank them properly in my retro, but I don't have an entry in the running this time around. :P
#99 · 2
Thankless though it be, the reviews are IMO what separates the Writeoff experience from other groups, contests, et cetera. I’m grateful to see the time and effort that I see from you guys (and others!) to keep the flame burning.

So: thank you!
#100 · 1
· on The Long Fall
The verb tenses:

Gave me all kinds of trouble here, the way they switch from past to present and back again at seemingly random intervals. The thing is, though, you've got the perfect structure here, author, to do that sort of switch legitimately, but you don't take advantage of it.

Let me suggest, then, that Rainbow standing at the top of the cliff should be in present tense and her flashbacks should be in past tense. Right now, both the clifftop stuff and the flashbacks are past tense, but then Dash makes all these interjections in present tense throughout the flashbacks: "It's like... the world is just kinda... grey now. Not literally, obviously, I can see all those colors out there! But, it's just...", for instance, and "I wonder if any of them will come looking when I don’t show up for our show tonight." This tells me that Dash has a present even after she makes her dive at the end of the story, so either she didn't commit suicide successfully or she's in some sort of afterlife. I don't think that's the impression you want to give, though. By making Dash's present be the scenes at the top of the cliff--and that last section especially--you'll emphasize that there isn't anything for her after this.

As for the story itself, all I can suggest is maybe have the rainbooms get more and more difficult for Dash to pull off as she begins feeling more and more isolated with her friends drifting apart. The whole thing about the rainboom in the show, it seems to me, is that Dash can only do it in service to other ponies. And it's nice symbolically if it gets harder for her to produce rainbows as the world seems to grow greyer around her.

A little clean up, though, and this'll be good to go!