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The Greatest Contradiction · She-Ra Minific ·
Organised by QuillScratch
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 4
This is getting out of hand! Now there are two of them!
#2 · 2
My obscenely long work week is finally over and I am so ready to curl up and write she-ra!

Also I just found out there's a drop down letting me post as a user or as an organiser. Don't let me abuse this power*, folks. It's so tempting.

*I think it just changes the colour of my name tag to green but shush that's a kind of power.
#3 · 3
· on Thinking in the Rain · >>QuillScratch
People who review She-Ra entries be like...

Something I liked:

There are quite a few characters I imagine being the center of mood pieces, and Swift Wind is not one of them. It takes a good deal of guts, author, to write a mood piece about a talking gay horse that isn't Equestrian. On top of the original point of view, the tone of this entry is quite different from others of its kind. It's kinder and more optimistic, which granted, might be hammered in too much by the ending, but it's nice to see that at least someone is having a good time after what happened in season 3.

Something I didn't like:

Unfortunately, there are some major technical problems I have with this entry. Hyphens are used in place of em dashes, and they're not even spaced in such a way that you can at least tell when there are meant to be pauses in the text. The unspoken rule with ellipses is that you use three dots and space them to some degree, and that doesn't happen here. One of Arrow's lines is especially hard to read, both because of the use of hyphens and because I'm pretty sure there's a quotation mark or two missing in that paragraph. Goes without saying that the first third or so of the story is very exposition-heavy.

Verdict: It's cute, but there are some glaring flaws that make me unsure if I enjoyed it or not.
#4 · 3
· on The Gardener
Let's be honest, this is exactly the kind of story that would happen after the season 3 finale.

Something I liked:

Queen Glimmer. Oof. Season 3 was a pretty emotional gut punch towards the end, and one of the biggest punches was Angela sacrificing herself, and Glimmer didn't even know until after the fact. Those who know me enough know that I'm a big fan of introspective pieces, and this is definitely one of those. I imagine Glimmer would be sort of lost in her own world after becoming basically an orphan, and how she would be unable to connect with her friends, at least for a while. I mean, Adora's kind of an orphan too, but she doesn't remember having parents in the first place.

Something I didn't like:

As much as I enjoy what this entry is going for, I do wish Glimmer actually talked, if only to herself. I feel like showing a character's internal conflict through their own words is more effective than having an omniscient narrator tell us that this is the case. This is particularly jarring in Glimmer's case because she has a pretty distinct voice, even among a large cast of characters who all sound very different from each other, and one of her defining traits is that if she will always talk about a problem she's having. Maybe the lack of dialogue was deliberate, with this in mind, but I do wish it wasn't so tell-y.

Verdict: Definitely a strong entry. The last line is kind of poignant, actually.
#5 · 2
· on The Heartfelt Caution
You made me look up lissome. As cool as that is, folks often comment on my large vocabulary and obscure word choices, so making me look up a word is probably an indication it should be changed or used with enough context that the meaning is clear.

I weep for the lack of an Oxford comma in your second paragraph.

I have mixed emotions regarding the use of "pawsed". Again with "purrpose". The unspoken "cat burglar" does well unsaid.

I'm surprised that this story isn't a feghoot. Maybe I missed something.
#6 · 3
· on The Heartfelt Caution
Mission Impossible theme intensifies.

Something I liked:

So, it was inevitable that we would get a Catra-centric entry, because we get at least one of those every round, and I'm actually glad that this one doesn't delve into her relationship with Adora for once. Instead of being an emotional thief, she's a literal thief here, which is... better? Catra is a very selfish character by nature, and her being a literal cat burglar (easy, I know) makes sense. This is also an entry where the lack of dialogue bothers me the least, if only because the determination of the narration matches Catra's own sense of determination. It's a good writing voice, and a pretty solid narrative overall.

Something I didn't like:

Kind of a weird point of criticism, but it took me a few readings to get what this was about, and even now I'm not 100% sure. There are a few words that caught me off-guard, like what Lofty said about "lissome," a word I literally did not get the meaning of until ten seconds ago. Considering what the story is about, it does reach too closely to purple prose at times, and the action sort of gets caught up in the maze of words. I would like to read more about this one, if only to get a better idea of Catra's life as a thief. And yes, I want to read more about Catra for once.

Verdict: Pretty strong entry. There is something that holds me back with it, though.
#7 · 3
· on Basking in the Glow · >>QuillScratch
Your mood piece will make a fine addition to my collection.

Something I liked:

Being easily the longest entry of the bunch, this also has the most moving parts. We have Scorpia's conflicted feelings on Catra, Lonnie's conflicted feelings on Adora, and the two kind of talking to each other about their problems. Much like with "The Gardener," this seems like the kind of story that would definitely happen in the wake of season 3, and also like with that entry I admire the emotional complexity of it. Of course it's hard to dislike an entry that has Scorpia as a main character, and she's wonderful to read as always, even though this is really more about Lonnie, who's also nice to see again.

Something I didn't like:

However, seeing as how this is the only entry to reach the word limit, it does have some issues with pacing. I feel like the conversation would be much longer if it were to actually go down, and Scorpia leaves Lonnie behind too abruptly for my taste. The writing also borders on taking heads syndrome, since the much of the descriptive prose is in the first few paragraphs, and then the prose kind of takes a backseat to the dialogue from then on. Definitely an entry that would benefit more from a word count expansion than some of the other entries, which seem much smaller by comparison.

Verdict: Kind of a dense entry, which for the most part works in its favor. I like it.
#8 · 2
· on Lancing the Wound · >>QuillScratch
Are they canonically married? I just remember them being parents. Is anyone in She-Ra canonically married, or are they just in stable, long-term relationships without labels defining them?

Big oof on ”I don’t want to lose my family again.”

The interactions seem good descriptively, but I think you could show more emotion—ratcheting the prose up a notch while keeping the overall emotion at the same level.

Rubbing noses at the end was... probably not what I'd choose, but I'd need to rewatch their episode to decide if it's wrong.
#9 · 2
· on The Gardener
”Queen Glimmer” was big oof.

The parentheses are odd.

The prose is good, but it feels like it should wrap or begin a detailed scene rather than being the scene. Probably that parenthesized bit. If that part were expanded to a full scene with direct characterization, interaction, etc—and that set up the ending—it could be more powerful. Maybe put it into Bow's and Adora's perspective so they can interact with Glimmer, she leaves the scene, and they continue the discussion with more openness.
#10 · 3
· on Lancing the Wound · >>QuillScratch

Something I liked:

From what I remember of George and Lance, you capture their voices and dynamic pretty well. I remember the episode they appeared in rather vividly, if only because it marked a degree of queer representation that's very rarely depicted in children's media. I think what makes this dynamic work is that their struggle would be relatable to just about any parent. We're reminded of George's strong disdain for war, and while his lines might be too on-the-nose, I think they're appropriate. I also like that despite their situation, this is still very much a couple in love, so it's like a trial they face together.

Something I didn't like:

With that said, I think the conflict gets too cleanly resolved. This is not the sort of thing they would just have a bedtime chat about and then get over it. I understand that you want a clean resolution for a minific, but sometimes it's not enough if the story raises too many questions. When I look back on this entry, I really like the voicing and the generally distressed tone, but then everything kind of deflates by the end. I think that even with an extra 100 words you can milk the drama with more satisfactory results. Once again I agree with Lofty, in that I don't think this is as emotional as it could be.

Verdict: The beginning of something more emotionally involving. Could definitely use expansion.
#11 · 2
· on Thinking in the Rain
Second gay couple story I've read for this contest.
She-Ra fanfic is apparently super gay. Who knew? I did..

The other one resonates with me a bit more because the conflict is externalized in dialogue, but they both seem pretty similar in theme: reflecting upon an unexpected discovery about another person.

Points here, however, for choosing gay horses instead of gay humans. Bold move. Not sure how the umbrella works for two horses, but I'll just roll with the absurdity for the sake of gay horses.

I feel like we're missing a cute, absurdist moral at the end. Something like ”As you go through life, reader, remember. At some level, we're all just gay horses, trying to keep our husbands dry. Giddy up, partner, and yee-haw.”
#12 · 3
· on Basking in the Glow
The prose in this story is about perfect. Good paragraph lengths, tags in all the places I need them, good mix of narration and dialogue for the scene.

The narrative is good. A corporal takes a few minutes to find out what's bothering one of her privates during some down time. No solutions. No action. Just some talking. New to her role (right?), Scorpia doesn't seem to know how to handle this situation. She's trying to help, but all she can do is say a few words. Did she say the right ones? Who knows. We don't get to see part the scene. She seems to retreat pretty quickly as we reach the word count, but I can chalk this up to inexperience. I expect this conversation would continue later as Scorpia grows into her role and become part of her character arc instead of just the mood piece we have here.

Overall, this is a great entry. Thanks, author.
#13 · 1
· · >>LoftyWithers >>No_Raisin
Question: in the She-Ra community, what do the authors want out of the writeoffs? Is it just a motivation to sit down and write something? Or do they use the feedback, revise their stories, and post them somewhere?
#14 ·
I'm barely in the She-Ra community, so pound of salt.

I'm looking mostly to write and receive feedback. The write-off community seems to be a good place for that. I don't care so much about publishing right now. If there's a better place to post She-Ra fics than AO3, I don't know it. The feedback for me will go mostly into improving skills for future stories.

I liked the word count limits for this round. With small effort, I can get feedback on many of the skills I am working on:
🎀 Pacing
🎀 Starting and ending stories and scenes
🎀 Narration
🎀 Effective tag elision
🎀 Unknown weaknesses
🎀 Sentence variation

At the same time, I get to practice general skills, writing pace, schedule management, word count estimation, and more.

Most importantly, I get to support some new friends. She-Ra is not of primary interest to me, but I enjoy it enough that it is no chore to participate at this level. The longer rounds are at the edge of my willingness to participate, but some of that limiting effort boils down to skill. As my skills advance, dumping something longer into the page will become easier.
#15 · 2
· · >>Pascoite
Hard to say, because despite being established as an official group for quite some time now, the She-Ra group here is still really small. And on top of that, the few people who contribute to pic and fic are for the most part absent for feedback. Sometimes it's okay, but then you had the last round where literally no one touched the submissions. And with this round it's been just me and Lofty giving feedback, and that's it.

I feel kind of lost with this group, to be honest. As in, I don't know what to do with it, since feedback is so minimal and we don't even discuss these rounds in the Discord server.
#16 · 1
That's pretty much exactly what I'm getting at. The authors, except for ones who have already been around the writeoffs, don't comment on the stories. If they valued the comments they got, I would assume they'd reciprocate, but they don't, which makes me wonder if they read and use the feedback at all. And it's fine if that isn't what they're here for.

There's a She-Ra Discord server, right? I think I remember Dubs Rewatcher saying so. Maybe some discussions go on there?

I'm kind of torn too. I don't want to spend time posting reviews nobody will use, but I also don't want to neglect the few who do just because the community at large doesn't. The two parts of this site I wanted to keep supporting when I can are the She-Ra and poetry events, but it seems like the interest for She-Ra just isn't there. Maybe I'll just wait until the authors are revealed and comment on stories whose authors also left comments. Except I can't tell if LoftyWithers is Anonymous.
#17 · 2
· on Thinking in the Rain
I'll admit that the opening conceit of this story (namely, that Swift Wind knew and cared about the moral alignment of the Horde prior to S1E1) is an interesting one, and I'm not sure I'm fully sold on it. And it can be a bit difficult to enjoy a story when you're not sold on the premise—that I did enjoy myself while reading this speaks volumes about the story's warm tone and uplifting message.

There are, as >>No_Raisin points out, technical errors that hold this piece back. You kinda expect to see that sort of thing in writeoffs, and especially in minific rounds, where the short writing time leaves little room for editing passes. I reckon this piece would look dramatically better with a bit of careful attention post-contest to tidy those up, and I'd love to see it if you do give it that polish! Despite its faults, this piece has some really strong ideas ("Being able to fly and use magic were both nice, but Swift Wind's favourite power of all of them is the ability to speak his mind" is just lovely) that would be a lot of fun to see if given the proper time and care.
#18 · 2
· on The Gardener · >>Pascoite
Author, let me be frank: I really like all of your paragraphs individually, but I am absolutely not sold on the order you've put them in. There are a couple of places where the flow of the narration jumps from subject to subject (and in a piece like this, which reads almost like a meditation on a single theme, that really feels like a poor decision), and I don't really see how they're connected. Particularly weird moment: the shift out of the parentheses. I actually really like the parentheses, for the record—they add this sense of distance to the only paragraph that opens with Adora and Bow, which says so much—and my gut instinct is that the single-line paragraph that follows is meant to be a thematic bridge, but instead it's more like a door slamming shut as a new theme opens up.

The structural issues are a shame because the tone and mood of this piece are delightfully melancholy. The piece keeps us at an emotional distance, but occasionally lets these heavy blows come in (to quote both previous comments: "oof") without taking a step closer to the reader, which really makes the impact greater ("big oof"). With a bit of spring cleaning and rework, this could be a very good piece; as it is, it's a middle-of-the-pack entry for me.
#19 · 2
· on The Heartfelt Caution
Ok so I'm gonna dive right into the thing that I both adore and loathe in this entry: the lack of context. Look, I get it—the whole point of this piece is that it doesn't matter where Catra is or what she's stealing, and you make that abundantly clear (both implicitly, by saying nothing, and explicitly, when you describe objects of past heists as "shiny things"). It's not often I see a piece that manages to use not saying something to such good effect, and that is admirable and fantastic and excellently done and...

... arrrrrrgh. It frustrates me. Every fibre of my being wants to know the context of this story, even as I write a review that praises the story for knowing that adding that context would take away from the piece's primary focus. It feels like this story is actively taunting me, author: the cat wordplay certainly adds to that impression. I really like this piece after reading it, but I can't say that the act of reading it was the most fun I've had.

Overall? Solid entry. Frustrating, yes... but solid.
#20 · 3
· on Basking in the Glow
What a great piece. Lonnie makes a fantastic foil to Catra, as this piece makes perfectly clear, and this piece manages to combine a lovely framing of Catra's mindset with an emotional character piece about two of the best horde soldiers. Like >>No_Raisin, I think this piece feels confined by the word limit, but I think that's because this piece reads more as a proof of concept for the idea of "Lonnie as Catra-foil" than as a full piece in its own right. And I don't really want to discourage that—minific rounds have always been events that welcome experimentation, and this is by all accounts a successful experiment. That the conclusion is "yeah, this idea works and could be a good long-form story idea" shouldn't take away from this piece's strengths.

My only concern, then, is that the piece seems a little too focused on exploring that idea. You know the old addage "show, don't tell?" It's not a bit of advice I'm a fan of, but I think that the more general idea of standing back and letting things speak for themselves is a useful one. In this piece, I'd love to see you step a little bit back from that idea of Lonnie and Catra's similarities: you straight-up have Lonnie say "I think about Adora a lot too, which doesn't make me and Catra so different," after all! The similarities are there; just show them to us, and let them do the talking instead.

Honestly, though, that's nitpicking. This one's top of my slate, after all 😉
#21 · 2
· on Lancing the Wound
I'm gonna chime in to disagree with the other commenters here: I love that this piece tones down the emotions of the scene, and that the resolution is boiled down to "We can talk about it tomorrow"—the conversation George and Lance have in this piece is not an easy one, and I think the decision not to address it through to a resolution was a sensible one, given the format restrictions. I also like that the piece feels sleepy. It's a lovely tone, imo, and the sort of creative decision that works well for minifics.

Other than that, I'm in agreement with >>No_Raisin and >>LoftyWithers on the strengths of this piece. It's a lovely moment between two characters who I'm glad are getting much-deserved attention and a really fun take on the prompt. My own personal gripe is that the prose doesn't quite match up to the strength of the dialogue—I don't really get any sense that the prose changes pace at all, here, and the pace you've set is a pretty slow one! I like the choice of pace, don't get me wrong, but I'd love to see a little bit of variety here and there to spice it up and keep interest going.

Overall, though, this is a solid entry and a genuinely lovely bit of fanfiction. Shout out to the decision to repeat the "Lance waited" motif—I think it could be tidier, but that was a really good choice and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
#22 · 2
· on Lancing the Wound
Well, there are only 5 entries. It won't take long to review them, even if only 2 or 3 get read by the authors.

This is a nice little slice of life. It doesn't expand a lot beyond what we saw of them in the episode, and it takes a pretty expected direction, but it still does extend their characters past what the show did.

On the one hand, I like their behavior. It's very lifelike and atmospheric, so you did create a nice little movie of them in my head.

On the other, it feels like there were a couple of important questions you skirted without exploring. Maybe there's not space to tackle both, but I think you could have done at least one. Given that Lance calls Bow's decision a mistake, and George doesn't refute that, do they both feel disappointed in Bow? Or can they just agree to disagree with him and respect his choice? And they bring up the question of what they'd do if the war swept through their home, and they say they'd try to protect it, but what does that mean? Trying to move everything valuable to a safe place? Or if it felt like they wouldn't have time, or there was no safe place, what would they be willing to do? Would they rather die to violence than engage in it, or are there times they'd be willing to compromise their pacifist ideals to keep safe what they hold dear? Either one of those would have been interesting questions to address (not necessarily resolve), and you had some leftover word count.

As a scene showing their bonding and concern for Bow, it's pleasantly written.
#23 · 2
· on The Gardener
That's a very striking line to end on, and I applaud you for it. It's a rather true yet insightful statement, and it truly captures Glimmer's grief and horror at what her mother is now subject to.

A few editing misses, but nothing too serious.

Like in my previous review, I do wonder about something this seems to be skirting at the edge of. I don't get a good sense of what Glimmer's attitude about this place is. That it's a tribute to her parents, yes, but what's her need for it to remain private? She's clearly conflicted in that she both wants and doesn't want Bow and Adora to ask where she goes, but what if she told them? They'd gladly stay away if she told them she needed some alone time, or they'd accompany her if she needed companionship. It's kind of a shame that such a place has only ever been know to three people. How does she feel about that? Is it a waste? Is it owed to the other citizens to make it public? Is it that necessary for the royalty to have a private refuge? There's never been much rationale behind why it was set up that way from the beginning. Didn't whoever built the palace know about it?

It feels like you're focused on Glimmer's sadness about her mother, and that's fine. It's an obvious plot, but obvious plots can be done well, and this one was. I just think if you explored a little more about what it might mean to her to include Bow and Adora, at the very least, in this place might say about her attitude toward maintaining the status quo. Just the fact that she was considering it, not necessarily making a decision.

Agreed with >>QuillScratch in that the paragraphs don't always flow well from one to the next, leaving it feeling a bit choppy at times.
#24 · 2
· on Basking in the Glow
I don't think I've seen a story before that looked at the way Adora's defection affected anyone but Catra. It's interesting to see one where Lonnie misses her, and I like seeing that parallel with Scorpia's feelings toward Catra.

The characterization is good here, with Lonnie being the strong silent type and Scorpia having her usual goofy cluelessness even in a serious situation.

I'd like to see this come to a conclusion, though. We learn about Lonnie, but she comes into the story with this attitude already set, and talking about it doesn't change anything. Scorpia's there as a bit of a foil to draw out Lonnie's admission (it does say something about their relationship that she's willing to tell Scorpia this, and it makes me wonder if this is the author who wrote a Lonnie/Scorpia shipfic a while back). But Scorpia doesn't change either. She hears Lonnie's story, but then doesn't end up helping her at all. She just goes back to the game and basically ignores what she's heard.
#25 · 2
· on Thinking in the Rain
It's nice to see a story focus on Swift Wind. I think I've only seen one before. I like the idea that he's reconnecting to these horses. Was he with Arrow before he met Adora, or is that a more recent development?

As has been said, this one had numerous editing problems, but those are easy to fix. I would have liked to see more development on something that's actually a source of conflict here. There's a little about his feelings on Adora and what's happened to her, but otherwise, it's just him being pensive without direction, then introducing Arrow, but not having that lead to a message.

For that matter, I'm curious about how this works. As I recall, he can only speak because of She-Ra, so I assume Arrow can't. They must be communicating through normal horse means, right? I'd like to see some of that and how he has to juggle between that and human speech. If Arrow's a regular horse, I don't know why he'd think to bring an umbrella, and how there's one made that horses can operate. Does Swift Wind also find comfort in going back to other horse things? Like how does he feel about grazing or playing or whatever? He's set up to be a great character for being caught between two worlds.
#26 · 2
· on The Heartfelt Caution
The language use here is really good, with the word choice, phrasings, and imagery. I'm not sure what happened though. It's a nice character portrait, showing her in her element, but it's hard to get worked up about this prize she has when I don't know what it is and what it means to her. I don't know whether it's something very precious to her or something she's stealing just to be able to say she did.

It seems more like the latter. Some of the language implies she steals just because it's her nature, but then I think it would have been a good choice to have more of the narration focus on making that clear. There's very little reaction from her about it, and how emotional she gets would really sell this. Whether that reaction is to the conclusion of the process or to the object itself would be revealing. By leaving it feeling more everyday, it carries less weight as an insight to her character. I can see that people sometimes want to write low-key things that don't have a high impact, but even framing this as a "thrill of the hunt" kind of thing would preserve that while giving it more gravity.
#27 · 1
There was author guessing on this, but where did the results for it go?