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Ot · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 4
#2 · 7
Stile looked up at the bulletin board, straining at the tip of his hooves. "Can somepony tell me what the prompt is? I can't see it from here. I'll pay, honest I will."
--Michael Bloomberg Goes to Equestria

"Hey! I'm trotting here! I'm trotting here!"
-- Dustin Hoffman Goes to Equestria

"This isn't very funny." The fox stopped pacing in circles and flopped down on the floor with his nose stuck into his bushy tail. "I mean it's kinda neat and stuff, but it's not funny."
--Michael J. Foxx Goes to Equestria

"I dinna want to be cheered up, and I don't care that you're throwing me a party! I'm trapped in a big green body I have no idea how to use, and everybody's looking at me like it's another Shrek sequel."
--Mike Myers Goes to Equestria

"I wanted a change of pace after Harry Potter, but this is not exactly the kind of spellcaster character I had in mind."
--Daniel Radcliffe Goes to Equestria

--Charlie Chaplin Goes to Equestria

"I'm never leaving! This place is fantastic!"
--(The Artist Formerly Known a Prince) Goes to Equestria

"I hate foals. They're barely equine."
--Emilio Estevez Goes to Equestria
#3 · 2
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Is it time for a bunch of straight men to write stories about lesbian horses again?
#4 · 5
There are gay horses sometimes.
#5 · 4
"I'm not just gay, I'm fabulous!"
--Elton John Goes to Equestria
#6 · 10
You did it.

You absolute madlads did it.

Welp, let’s make this one for the ages!!
#7 · 11
If there are any people who are not in on the joke prompt, it's a typo from almost five years ago that these madmen here wouldn't let die.


... Oh lord, it's come to this at last.
#8 · 7
The Otstrumentality is nigh.
#9 · 8
· · >>Baal Bunny
Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it.

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
#10 · 7
"Mother of me..."
--Princess Celestia
#11 · 8
#12 · 6
· · >>Bachiavellian >>horizon

I assume:

You'll be doing a sequel to "Last Dreams of Pony Island" in honor of the Ot Connection?

As for me, I've got a couple other contests on FimFiction that I'd like to finish my entries for this weekend, so I'm likely to sit out this historic occurrence. Or should I say "likely to sit ot..."?

No, no, I shouldn't.

#13 · 5
>>Baal Bunny
Or should I say "likely to sit ot..."?

No, no, I shouldn't.

You just did, bucko, I'll fight you and your entire family lineage for making that pun. >:(
#14 · 5
· · >>PinoyPony
Holy shit. I can't believe we're finally here. Did I have plans this weekend?
#15 · 8
Oh God, it finally happened.
#16 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>PinoyPony
>>Baal Bunny
Alas, the “no explicit sequels” rule is still in effect.

Which just means *someone else* is gonna have to write the Pony Island sequel while I try to sneak something else in for this historic occasion.
#17 · 1
Is it bad if I admit that I’m super excited to have you back? Cuz... I totally am. And I’m hoping that other Writeoff vets will come home for this one, too.

...This is gonna be off the bucking hook!
#18 · 2
If you do decide to write something, go for it! I know time can be tight for some, but anything is welcome at this point. Besides, the chat is going insane saying stuff to the nature of "if there is anything you want to write just for the heck of it, now is the time to do so".

...within confines of course... >>horizon
set the boundary.
#19 · 9
This is certainly an interesting time to try and come back into the fold. No idea how I'll pull this one ot...
#20 · 10
· · >>Chris
I actually have an idea for this one, but it's stupid. Really, really stupid. Still, when has that ever stopped me before?
#21 · 8
· · >>horizon

Betcha I can write something stupider!

...Granted, I don't have an idea yet, but I bet I can come up with a stupid one!

UPDATE: I have officially passed the 2000 word mark, so as long as I can get to the end of this thing and edit it up in the next couple of days, I expect I'll have an entry. Out of respect for anonymity, I will neither confirm nor deny the stupidity of my idea. It's totally stupider than alararogers', tho


UPDATE III (Sunday night): Got a finished story! It doesn't have things like "editing" or "cohesion" yet, but hopefully I can get that done after work tomorrow. BUCKLE YOUR BUTTS

UPDATE IV: Turns out Alarajrogers didn't submit a fic (boo! hiss!) so I'mma claim victory in the stupidest prompt interpretation battle by forfeit. Woo!
#22 · 3
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I am sorely disappointed in all of you.
#23 · 3
Chiming in to join the over-2000-word club! Now, how that translates into an entry, I have no idea, but I've still got a few nights left to square that away...
#24 · 1
>>Anon Y Mous
I'm disappointingly sore in all of you.
#25 · 7
Two years. Almost two years since my last submission.

Well, let's see wot happens.
#26 · 2
I’m going to miss this. I swore I wouldn’t, should it ever happen. But duty has called in other directions these last few days. Not even Ot could stop that, in the end.

To anyone still writing: fight well, my midnight brethren. :rainbowdetermined2:
#27 · 7
It's 3 goddamned AM and I have goddamned submitted.

Because I, of all people, am not allowed to skip out on the Ot round, methinks.

I hope all of you like reading unedited messes.
#28 · 3
And once again, I'm not getting anything entered. Flying out of the country in a couple days, and have a lot of work stuff I've had to get done before then. *sigh* Hopefully I can use this vacation to get some writing done though!

Good luck, and have fun to the rest of you crazy fools. (Still can't believe Ot finally won.) :-)
#29 · 4
Did I say I was laying off participating in the pony fic rounds? And particularly eschewing Ot? I did say that, didn't I?
What the hell am I doing, up at this hour?
This one's for you, Coffee.
#30 · 3
It's 3 goddamned thirty AM, and I have submitted. With over an hour left! What the hell! I'll actually have time to do some editing this round! Or get some sleep before work!

... Nah, editing.
#31 · 4
Submitted with 1m 50s left—talk about cutting it close!
#32 · 3
Just looking at the gallery titles I can already tell I'm going to love this round.
#33 · 2
To all the (other) entrants: you are all annoyingly talented and I've no idea how I'm going to pick my top five let alone three.
#34 · 2
So I wake up this morning:

After a night of troubled dreams and find that I have an entry in. Can't wait to read it!

And the others, too, I guess....

#35 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot · >>Baal Bunny
Weee're off to see the Lizard!
(Well, someone had to say it.)

Great bit of rare character interaction, though I do feel Twilight should've been at least a bit more skeptical of the not-so-good doctor. She's the one who introduced Dash to the Daring Do books, after all. (Though I suppose sending Spike to supervise was her way of ensuring he didn't try to sell everything not nailed down.) Still, you approached the prompt in a delightfully metareferential way. Ot is what Ot is, and it is up to each of us to decide what precisely that means.

All told, quite fun all around.
#36 · 2
· on Wotchmen · >>Baal Bunny >>horizon
Everyone asks "What is Ot?" but no one asks "How is Ot?"

A fascinating world, introduced haphazardly. Cramming enough about this unfamiliar universe for us to get a grasp on it while unveiling the mystery at the same time isn't easy, and for a while I wondered where the pony was in all of it. Once this got rolling, it was fantastic, but it took a while to build up momentum. Given more room to breathe (and maybe a couple dozen other stories in the same setting) it will be truly phenomenal.
#37 · 1
· on Obsolete Thaumatology · >>Meridian_Prime >>Baal Bunny
A good answer to a question I hadn't thought to ask. It's one thing to be remembered by history after more than a millennium; it's quite another to have one's work still considered relevant. But Star Swirl didn't exactly have the best track record with the rest of the contemporary scientific community, and so here we are. Plus, I really like this proposed role for Moondancer.

That said, the line between thaumatology and other scientific fields is blurry here. The microwave oven presents several questions in terms of physics, material science, electrical infrastructure, and so forth. Equestria suffers from schizotech at the best of times. In a story about one discipline's apparent stasis, it's especially odd.

Still an interesting thought exercise, though, and I quite appreciated Luna going stir-crazy with her new subjects. The good definitely outweighs the less good here.
#38 · 1
· on Kill The Bugs · >>Meridian_Prime >>georg
I've always found that Heinlein quote ironic in the context of ponies, given both cutie marks and the adaptability of changeling shapeshifting.

A Starship Troopers crossover. Didn't see that coming. Brutal imagery on display, with underlying desperation and despair that bleed through all the more clearly at the end. Yet the characters still feel like themselves for the most part. My only major complaint is that the mention of estrus feels superfluous. All told, devastatingly evocative work.

Also, am I correct in thinking that Skinnies are EqG humanoids?
#39 ·
· on The Odd Testament · >>Meridian_Prime >>GroaningGreyAgony
Sans the Winslow? Who cares what other deities are in place if the most important one is missing?

In any case... I mean, it's a fun idea, but the sisters being this foul-mouthed threw me off, and not a single member of the host politely mentioning Satan's work history seems a touch contrived. And the sisters aren't stupid. They're going to catch on at some point, right?

... Right?

In all, the concept is sound and the cubits made me smile, but this reads more like the first chapter of a story I'm not sure if I'd want to follow.
#40 · 1
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Chris
Oh, this was a lot of fun. Brilliant use of Rarity's narrative voice to cover up just how much she was glossing over. I honestly don't have a lot to say that isn't summed up by the spoiler, but this was still a subtle delight to read.
#41 · 2
· on Belshazzar · >>Chris >>Comma Typer
This left me cold, ironically enough. After the first trip down to Twilight's Cave of Wonders, the narrative goes so dreamlike that it edges on incomprehensibility and mostly stays there. Plus, I've never liked the central premise of the story. She's the Princess of Friendship. I'd like to think she'd be able to make other friends. I admit, a lot of this comes down to personal bias, but I still came out of this one unsatisfied.

Plus, I'm not even sure how it fits the prompt. Overtime, perhaps?
#42 · 2
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
I'm not sure how many times this story crosses the line, but it came out to an odd number. This just feels off. The Crusaders directly antagonizing Diamond Tiara without provocation, Scootaloo's diction, the overall events as they unfurled, Rainbow Dash's entire deal, Scootaloo not getting who Dash meant with the sister comment...

I'd say it's Uncanny Valley characterization in terms of how everything feels subtly wrong, but there's nothing subtle about this story. I just don't think I'm the right audience for it. Also not sure how it fits the prompt. Is it so off it's ot?
#43 ·
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure
Huh. Multiple stories featuring Caballeron. What are the odds?

In any case, this was a delightful bit of butting heads. The chemistry between the two is certainly present, though there are stretches where the heads go from butting to just talking. Also a few proofreading hiccups here and there, and I'm not sure if the time table for Daring's pregnancy works out.

Still, clever use of the prompt and nice incidental world building. All told, a fun read. Though I can't decide if that end stinger undermines the message or not.
#44 ·
· on Overtime · >>Meridian_Prime
This is some good police drama, but it's suffering from "humans in funny suits" syndrome. Beyond names and species, this could all be taking place on Earth. Consider especially the line "White Lightning’s eye twitched as she gripped her pistol tighter," emphasis mine.

Don't get me wrong, it's a gripping read. It's just one with a very thin veneer of pony.
#45 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
I'll agree with >>FanOfMostEverything:

There's so much going on here, I'm still not entirely certain about all of it. On a large scale, we have an alternate version of Equestria and an alternate version of Earth that are somehow linked? Coexisting? Merged together? And on a smaller scale, we have Liam, Thunderlane's ex and Braeburn's current flame, who could be a superhero but insists on doing something that gets him arrested instead? What that something is, though, I couldn't figure out.

And at the end, I would've found it more satisfying if Apocalyptica is leaving to find Ot and befriend him instead of apparently destroying herself. Lots of good stuff here, but way too much of it to fit.

#46 · 1
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime >>Baal Bunny >>Meridian_Prime
So! I can only assume this story was written specifically for me, what with the Carrot Top cameo and all. Best pony is still best, even when she's getting stabbed by cat-murdering unicorn fillies.

But as for the rest of the story... well, it's got some great bits. There are laugh-out-loud moments here, and I'm generally inclined to judge a comedy by its highs rather than its lows. But everything here feels tonally disjointed. From language (Scootaloo apparently has the voice of a dapper englishmare, except when she's dropping f-bombs) to setting (if you're going to make a joke about how nobody at the market notices a bunch of screaming and an alcohol fire ten feet away from them, best not to undermine it by making the impassibility of the market a plot point right afterwards) to level of psychopathy (which vacillates from "kids are dumb" to "these are actual literal psychopaths")... I'm just wishing this story would pick a lane and ride it. Right now, it feels like you've got a brutal dark comedy in mind, but you're continually undermining it to try to make it feel more FiM-ish. And the effect is neither rather than both. If you want to go full dark, go full dark. Make no apologies, punch me in the face from the word go, let me know "this is a completely brutal story that uses a few canon personalities to poke fun at an edgefest," and dare me not to go along with it!

Or, if you worry that too many readers can't/won't take you up on that dare, go the other way and give this the full R-to-PG-13 conversion treatment--no swearing, no actual death or permanent disfigurement, more emphasis on matching up the character dialogue and tone (though not story events, obs) with canon. Either way could work! But definitely take this one direction or the other, because right now you're pulling back just enough to make your darkest moments and most out-of-character actions and dialogue feel like tonal mistakes instead of like a concerted effort by the entire fic to push the envelope.

There's a fair bit of work to be done on this one, I think--but you've already got some brutally funny bits, and if you can get this story all pulling in the same direction instead of fighting against itself, I think you'll really have something.
#47 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure · >>Meridian_Prime >>FanOfMostEverything
A lovely little story about how expanding one's responsibilities may mean giving some things up, but doesn't mean we lose what's important to us. Having a child is a big responsibility, and sometimes it might mean that you aren't able to do something nobody else can. Good thing you're wrong about that, eh? You manage to make being replaceable uplifting in this fic; good job there!

The husband-wife banter did feel a little artificial in places; I'm not entirely sure what was nagging at me, but I think it's that the conversation felt a little too long to be read as anything but genuine conversation (i.e. it wasn't to-the-point enough to feel like something I should pass off as dramatic license), but didn't really have the kind of digressions that a real conversation would have; even the sidebars end up feeding into the larger narrative. Does that make sense?

Regardless, I still enjoyed the message, and the chemistry. Nice work!
#48 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
While it's certainly a little bewildering at the start, I found the starkness of the world-building here quite refreshing. The whole time I was reading I got the sense that there was a very large world we were not privy to just beyond the corners of the scene, and the at world seems really interesting. Now, some of this is probably just a matter of taste, and there were bits that could probably use some cleaning up - it's not super clear what actually happens to Apocalyptica at the end, and I don't just mean the copy in Liam's head.

But yeah, I liked this! Fun world, a well thought out story, and a chuckle-worthy use of the prompt.
#49 · 1
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
I liked this quite a lot more than I expected to! Slice of life has never massively been my thing, but the uncomfortable candour between Celestia and Star Swirl really worked for me. It really felt like they were both unsure how to navigate their new dynamic - not awkward, just unsure. And the conclusion reached was a interesting one (and one of the best justifications I've seen for the Princesses behaviour in general).

>>FanOfMostEverything Does raise a good point about the microwave I hadn't thought of though.

Still, a solid piece of work, and bonus points for Luna bringing eternal night to her ant farm.
#50 ·
· on Kill The Bugs · >>georg
Of all the early sci-fi greats, Heinlein was always the one I found least appealing. It's the ultra-militarism - one of the great appeals of early sci-fi for me in particular was how starkly optimistic it was. No unrealistic promises of utopia, just a belief that we could and would reach the stars and build a better life out there. The Mass Effect vision, as opposed to the 40K vision, if you will.

This is all essentially a justification to say that while this is fantastic, I don't know that I liked it all that much. Nothing to do with your writing skills - this is pitch perfect. Every line feels carefully crafted, and the way you transformed MLP's characters into Heinlein-esque ones is nothing short of inspired (I particularly liked the implication that the Skinnies are either EqG humanoids as >>FanOfMostEverything
says, or just straight-up humans). To say nothing of probably the best take on the prompt in the whole bunch. It's because you nailed the feel of this genre so well that it leaves me a little cold.

As such, while it's not really my cup of tea, congratulations on a damned fine job.
#51 ·
· on The Odd Testament · >>GroaningGreyAgony
...Well, Odd is definitely the word for it.

This story is distinctly odd, for better and worse. The idea is fun, and execution is great, but as >>FanOfMostEverything justly pointed out, the sisters are just... odd. The foul-mouthed thing didn't bother me so much but I did find their (as well as the other angel's) total obliviousness to Satan's shenanigans baffling.

A well executed and fun idea, but once more I have to agree with FoME - if this was a first chapter, I'd be cautious about the rest of the story.

...I did like the early stuff about Celestia and Luna's drunken hookups though!
#52 ·
· on The Circle and the Cross
This is just a delightful read. Suspenseful and wholesome in equal measures, with a masterful use of narrative perspective to divert the readers attention.

It feels like I'd be spoiling the read for others if I said much more, but I will say that this on both first and second reading is one of my favourites, and that you're tying with Kill The Bugs for best interpretation of the prompt.
#53 · 1
· on Belshazzar · >>Comma Typer
Conceptually, I like this a lot. Execution-wise, it's a little weaker, but it still has a lot going for it.

First off: while the beginning is a little jarring, it feels purposeful, a way to throw the reader in the deep-end of this particular version of the MLP universe. There are some odd choices in vocabulary (I find it weird that the 107,134 year old alicorn uses words like 'bash' when for most of the time she speaks in highly formalised and almost technical language).

The middle, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. Again, I think it's supposed to be at least somewhat confusing, but there are parts that I still don't understand, and events that don't seem to connect to anything else. For example, what happened when Twilight got stabbed by that weird spear? Was that part of the reset spell? Something else? All in all, I found myself wanting a bit more there.


The ending? Magnificent. The section with Discord cleared up enough for me to mostly understand what was going on, and everything after Twilight woke up was so damn good I could feel my jaw dropping. Seriously, the burning scene was just absolutely riveting writing, and Twilight's fall gave me honest-to-goodness goosebumps.

This is unpolished, but you've got something good here if you work on it a little.
#54 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot · >>Baal Bunny
It's a cliched and rote compliment at this point, but someone's gotta say it: this feels like an episode of the show.

Not a very long episode, but still - the light hearted feel, the friendship lesson learned, the charming and snarky banter between Spike and Caballeron (of all people!) it all just felt good. And the take on the prompt is certainly fun. Good job!
#55 ·
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
While I liked it, and got a few chuckles out of it, I'd say that this looks pretty unpolished to me. A lot of fun ideas, as >>Chris said, but the execution sometimes is just a bit lacklustre.

You also seemed to keep wanting to switch to the third person perspective - there are bits and piece that don't actually make much sense if Scootaloo is telling the story as we're supposed to believe she is? If this was an attempt to experiment, then there are worse places to do it for sure, but I'm not sure it really worked for you.

Still, there are some genuinely funny moments, and as oblique as they were I did appreciate your references to the prompt. Keep at it!
#56 ·
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure · >>FanOfMostEverything
The grown up versions of Caballeron and Yearling you've got here feel very natural and real (sorry >>Chris gotta disagree with you there!) and really fed into the sense of a surprisingly down-to-earth story for a pair of very much not down-to-earth ponies. The first half/their conversation felt meandering enough to be real, but focused enough to be the kind of important conversation that people sometimes need to have with each other. The second half, on the other hand managed to make me d'aww over a character so barebones they may as well be a skeleton, so good job there.

All in all, an excellent effort!
#57 ·
· on Overtime
This isn't a bad story, but like >>FanOfMostEverything said it doesn't really feel like a pony story. In fact I'll go a bit further than FoME and say that it doesn't feel like a pony story at all - the pony names feel slapped on at best.

It's a concise, tense and well-written snippet of cop drama, with a realistic feeling portrayal of talking down a potential shooter, in what I'd guess is rural America. In an original round this would be scoring highly for me. But I'm really not getting the ponies here.
#58 ·
· on Overtime
I really, really like the perspective work you do, here. You do an excellent job of making a very focused 3rd person perspective shine, especially in the first half of the confrontation where everything is chaotic and White Lightning is trying to figure out who's who. It was disorienting, but not confusing—it made me want to read more. In this kind of moment-to-moment pacing/story, making the reader feel the same things that the perspective character does really goes a long way towards narrative investment.

In terms of critiques, I'll just quickly note that I'm in the same camp as FOME and Meridian in regards to this not feeling like a pony story in the end. I'm not even sure how to picture ponies operating cars or holding guns.

I'm also just a little bit disappointed that we never really got to learn any solid details about the inciting event, after it was teased to us in the first half of the second scene. In that sense, the climax of talking a gun-tooting Lucky down from the edge felt a bit unrelated to the cut-through-the-chaos people management skills that were taking center stage just a few paragraphs before.

Still, there's quite a lot to like about this one, and I think that it was one of the best entries this round at giving me an uninterrupted reading experience. It feels polished and slick on an execution level, despite my conceptual complaints about the setting and resolution.

Thank you for entering!
#59 · 2
· on Kill The Bugs · >>georg
So, writing-wise, this is great. A strong Heinlein pastiche, without just mindlessly aping the style. Not my favorite style, personally, but that's pure individual preference, and I'm giving you full points for the writing accomplishments. But once I get past the surface appeal, I'm struggling.

Because, say what you want about Heinlein's politics (and I've got plenty to say about that), there was never any question what the message of his writing was. Starship Troopers is a polemic, of course, but even in his less strident stories, the themes of libertarianism and individual social obligation are right there. Here, I got nothing. You took a fight scene, and gave me the event-context to understand why the ponies are attacking, but didn't give me the idea-context I'd need to take anything away from that.

I'm also having trouble with the point of writing it as FiM-fiction. It's not for the setting, since you're basically just using Troopers's. It's not the themes, since as mentioned, you don't really seem to have any. It's not the characters either, as far as I can tell; recasting Moondancer as drill-sergeant-style taskmaster and Twilight as a faceless grunt whose defining characteristic appears to be her horniness... that's fine as far as it goes, but it makes me wonder: if you're not using pony characters, and you're not using pony setting, and you're not using pony themes, what are you using?

Maybe I'm missing something obvious. I have definitely been known to do that sometimes! But right now, I'm looking at this as a very well-written scene that doesn't do anything, and that doesn't take advantage of the strongest pieces of either of its sources material.
#60 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot · >>Baal Bunny
As the folks above me alluded to, this is a charming, wholesome story that makes me feel good for having read it. And I like feeling good. So... good!

There's a lot of nice humor around the edges here (that question mark calling-back is just my kind of humor), and I actually didn't mind Twi's essential assumptions of good will/fangirling overriding her common sense, but I wish we'd gotten more Spike/Cabby interactions. You could have given us some of those Ot stories, for example, and actually shown Spike coming to marginally appreciate Cabby's company, rather than just telling us they worked together. The ending with the Lizard is also rather short, but in that case, I think that gives it a very appropriate feeling of anticlimax, so I ended up appreciating that choice.

All in all, a sweet little bit of writing. Good stuff.
#61 · 1
· on Kill The Bugs · >>georg
This really nails its cadence of action, which I know from experience is super-hard to do in writing. You do a great job of making the stakes of each moment feel immediate without overstating them and bogging the reader down. I'm also the sort of guy who really likes cool quick-and-dirty sci-fi technobabble, and I also have to admit that the idea of Fluttershy as a medivac pilot is about 5 different kinds of perfect to me.

While the best parts of this story are definitely the punchy, brutal moments like Twilight casually knocking the officer out or Moondancer dying, I think that similarly, the weaker parts of the story are the bits that get away from the moment-to-moment stakes and try to put together a higher-level message. To me, the bits about Shining Armor and Cadance felt a bit heavy-handed, and I didn't personally think they added very much to the overall message of the story. The whole point of the story seems to be to emphasize that all the soldiers are cogs in the machine, so giving one particular cog (Twilight) a backstory and a personal reason to be invested feels a little redundant.

So in the end, I did have a lot of fun with my reading experience, but I thought the piece as a whole may be having a difficult time putting together its overall message. Which only really affects my opinions about the piece in hindsight and on my subsequent readings, but is still a point worth mentioning, I think.

Thank you for writing!
#62 · 3
· on Belshazzar · >>Comma Typer
This one is just brimming with ideas and fascinating concepts, so much so that 8000 words doesn't feel like it does it justice. There's a lot of food for thought here, and I'm glad that I went through multiple readings to try to unpackage it all.

Now, I will have to mention that this piece feels every bit as dense as it is. This story took me the longest by far to read my first time, and that's not just because it's near the word max. You've made a very bold choice to go for a super detached narrative style, but unfortunately it may have been a bit too much for me. Many non-dialogue sentences are high-level and passive, and there's also a lot of insertion of hard-to-parse sentences in dialogue paragraphs. The dialogue itself is also extremely formal. It all made it hard to me to get into the flow of the story and feel invested.

Whenever you go for an evocative style like this, I like to think of it as offloading a lot of the 'processing' work to the reader's side of things. You're asking a lot from your reader, to work to obtain a lot of meaning in the sentence-to-sentence level. It can be exhausting, and it personally did exceed my own limit more than once. I ended up taking about three or four breaks while reading this the first time, which is definitely not something you want happening in a short story type of situation.

As for the narrative itself, I will have to note that I was a little disappointing by the ending. This isn't quite a "it all happened in a dream" scenario, but it does come close. I couldn't help but feel that a lot of the work that I did to comprehend and analyze the dense information up until the reveal was rendered moot by the twist.

So in the end, I think there's unfortunately quite a few distractions that make it hard to fully appreciate the ideas at play here. The piece as a whole kind of struggles with setting reader expectations, which is especially important in the Writeoffs since we're going in blind without tags, cover art, or story descriptions/summaries. So I think my primary advice would be to give the readers a greater sense of anchoring and expectations early on, and then try to link those expectations with the kind of payoff they're receiving both in the sentence-to-sentence level and in the sense of the overall message.

Thank you for submitting!
#63 ·
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Comma Typer >>Chris
Overall, quite enjoyable:

My only problem was identifying the narrator at the beginning. I was going back and forth between Discord and Luna before Rarity actually identified herself, and that's doesn't happen for nearly a thousand words. So for those of us who need more clues, I'd suggest giving us those clues earlier on. Other than that, though, very nice.

#64 · 1
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
Another nice one:

I'll echo >>FanOfMostEverything about the talk of microwaves and all bothering me a bit. I mean, that's a whole area of knowledge that's new, which seems to address Starswirl's main complaint right on the face of it. Also, I've always seen his name written as one word, "Starswirl", and you've got Moondancer both as one words and two at various places throughout the piece.

Which brings me to my other problem. In a world like Equestria where half the citizens only have one name--Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, et cetera--would the first line of the story even be a thing? I know it sets up the joke, but it doesn't make sense to me that pony society would've developed that question.

These are nitpicks, though, 'cause the bulk of the story is really well done.

#65 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
In which Ot is an upstart.

This is a very strong entry precisely because I can't find anything wrong with it. The world feels very packed and it's nice that you didn't explain everything because there's enough space for me to imagine whatever the missing spaces are. I have a feeling that this is a crossover of some franchise, but I'm not well-versed enough in sci-fi stuff to know just what that is—unless this is all original, in which case, kudos to you for making this feel like a crossover with an established series when it isn't!

I felt lots of familiar vibes with it though, especially from the SCP given the memetic nature of Ot. And that leads up to the main thing with this: Ot. This meta thing you've got going on here, as well as how you managed to make it into something that's sensible in the story, along with asking the out-of-the-box question of not treating it as a monster: it's very commendable.

The other characters also do well for their screentime. The supporting characters such as Mikhail and Foresight (and, arguably, Stella and Braeburn and Thunderlane), for example, come into the story with a distinct flavor but don't overwhelm the story nor do they become forgettable.

Which leads me to Liam and Apocalypta, and I'm grouping them here because I can't separate them. It is good enough that Liam is a nice (sort of) anti-hero trying to do something good. It's even better that in a way, Liam and Apocalypta share the similar if not the same burden (though in different magnitudes) even before the mind fusion thing— and that's something I realized just now, so more kudos to you for re-read bonuses!

All in all, a strong contender for the top. I will be surprised if this does not place.
#66 · 1
· on The Odd Testament · >>GroaningGreyAgony
This sort of:

Character assassination comedy where the biggest source of the humor comes from the characters we know not acting like the characters we know is always "hit or miss" with me. This one hits fairly often, but that just made me want more of it: have Satan be more unctuous, for instance, and have other angels try to tell Celestia and Luna about Satan but have the ponies completely unable to understand the concept of someone who's deliberately nasty.

And as long as I'm asking for stuff, I'd like the story not to pop into Satan POV the two times it does. I think it'd give the whole piece more of a kick if we only ever see events through Celestia and Luna's eyes, and the ending would be more fun, too, if there's some disaster they're rushing off to fix and Satan has to ride them off into the sunset. Something anyway so we never hear Satan's plans directly but are able to figure them out from context.

#67 · 2
· on Belshazzar · >>Comma Typer
I think, in the end, that most of what I could/would say about this story has already been said (especial hat tip to >>FanOfMostEverything, who fit more good advice in that first paragraph of his than I can into three). I was along for the ride at first, but the narrative just stays dreamlike, to the point where I found it incredibly difficult not to start skimming--doubly so because I found my enjoyment actually increased when I was skimming, and just taking in the general tone and major events rather than trying to suss out anything more. There's nothing wrong with writing skim-worthy material, of course... but I very much get the impression that that wasn't what you were going for.

There are some things here, especially once we get to Discord and stakes and that whole area of the fic, that could make for powerful moments, if they didn't feel like just another hazy event in a line of hazy events. Honestly, you've already got a lot of good advice from the previous commenters, so I'm just going to point upthread, and tell you that there's some great suggestions there for how to take this from "evocative but ephemeral" to "arresting and thought-provoking." You're on the right track; keep going!
#68 ·
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure · >>FanOfMostEverything
I personally really like this kind of "two characters having a conversation" set-up for a story. You do a great job of selecting an interesting moment in Daring/Caballeron's lives and giving the reader just enough backstory to get caught up comfortably. The general concept is also pretty much endlessly cute, which really goes a long way towards making an impression on the reader.

Now, I will have to note that I did find good chunk of dialogue in the second half of the first scene kind of meandering. I'm personally of the camp that every sentence of writing needs to have an active purpose. The conversation has already told us the crucial points of Daring's internal conflict pretty quickly. But there's still a couple of hundred words afterwards that I don't feel are really doing much, other than having us spend more time studying their chemistry. It unfortunately came just at the point where I really wanted to know how the main conflict was going to develop, so when the story decided to start stopping and smelling the roses, I did find it a little frustrating.

Like I said earlier though, I think this has a lot to do with my particular style of reading/writing, so YMMV when it comes to your other readers.

Thanks for entering!
#69 · 1
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Chris
This isn’t a story of distant shores.

And the award for "Most meta first sentence" goes to... (Seriously, though, I'm better than 70% sure I know who wrote this just from the opening few paragraphs, what with how they're booping the prompt around like that)

Anyway! I think the thing I like best about this story is how I've read it a bunch of times before, but from a different perspective. There are a lot of horror stories that would write this from Forbes's PoV, where he's an explorer who encounters a mysterious stranger while out in the middle of nowhere, then slowly discovers more and more disconcerting things about her until he pieces together that she's something that's liable to eat him. It's even got the attempted flight and final confrontation of the truth! This story goes in a rather different direction from there, of course, but my point is that by telling it from her perspective instead of his, it feels fresh. On the other hand, the biggest weakness here is how I've read this story a bunch of times before. I can't help feeling that this is another "X is a changeling" fic in a clever disguise.

Nice work!
#70 ·
· on The Odd Testament · >>GroaningGreyAgony
So this is just really silly, and ends up being chuckle-worthy several times, which is a win in my book. I especially liked the re-framing of the Great Flood as a troubleshooting procedure. Overall, this is just a great excuse to enjoy a completely irreverent setting/tone.

Now, I don't really write comedies, and I don't consider myself as someone with a great deal of understanding of how they work. So feel free to take it with a grain of salt when I say that this piece kind of felt a bit insubstantial by the end of it. We get a (pretty good) string of jokes, but we don't really get a satisfying plot arc. The closest thing we get is Satan's shenanigans, but the story deliberately cuts itself off before those really amount to anything. So in the end, to me this ended up feeling more like an excuse to tell jokes rather than a self-contained work.

Like I said earlier, I'm still giving this one a lot of points for making me laugh several times. But there's a lot of room to take this idea and go beyond a simple joke delivery machine, which is something that I really wanted to see by the time I got to the ending.

Thank you for writing!
#71 · 2
· on Belshazzar · >>Comma Typer
I've tried:

Three times to read this, and the farthest I've managed to get is "Princess Twilight sits down on her throne to continue Night Court after a small break for tea." So I'm done. Sorry, author, but this is too opaque and lugubrious for me.

#72 ·
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
In which the world moves on and that's okay.

It's a very plain piece, and I mean it in a good way. There's few frills here. The only one I could think of is the name joke at the beginning: the joke could be dropped and, instead, a more normal interaction would have proceeded which would only more sharply contrast the modern things with Starswirl's ancient sensibilities.

The plainness fits the story well. What it lacks (but then again, does it really lack if it doesn't need it?) in style, it makes up for in being a densely-packed short story with its message and the interactions between the two main characters. You focused on the two, made them very distinct, and... well, the message is very touching. The ending wraps it all nicely in a neat little slice-of-life bow, leaving the story in a somber but wistful note which befits, again, the plainness of the story.

This is too good to be in the middle of the batch. This ought to be somewhere in the top.
#73 ·
· on Kill The Bugs · >>georg
In which humans have to pick between evil invaders and less evil invaders.

The story is like a glittery marshmallow: beautiful and fun on the outside, but lacking on the inside. The inside is that this does not feel like a self-contained story and more like a scene to something greater. I was hoping for some twist in the end: maybe the humans don't side with the ponies after all, or maybe Moondancer is a traitor or otherwise replaced by a changeling... which leads to another point: the enemy being changelings doesn't feel like it matters. With very few adjustments, this could be a story against Sombra's brainwashed forces or otherwise some generic seceding country from Equestria or what have you (though I do understand that, for the Ot theme to work, it had to be changelings.)

In short, the story doesn't really end. It just tapers off from the last scene to when the story stops. I get it: bugs bad, ponies good, and humans need to be convinced that the ponies are the good guys. However, I already learned that in the first few pages, and the rest of the story does not provide much to twist or at least detail that main idea I've learned (although Twilight saving a human from the exploding sticky bomb was a nice way to humanize [equinize?] her).

However, this is written very well. I am not well-versed in sci-fi so more than a few terms go way over my head, but that just adds to the mystique of it for me. The Pinkie Pie bombs were hiilarious! Besides that, you somehow make Twilight's long-winded and calculated point of view mesh well with an action story complete with the fast pace that it usually has. Kudos to you for that!

Over all, very strong in the middle of the pack, but it has a weak case for being at the top.
#74 ·
· on The Odd Testament · >>GroaningGreyAgony
In which a Reformed reader reads the story in dreading uncertainty.

As a mere comedy, it is quite funny, I must admit, if quite vulgar. As has been pointed out, Celestia and Luna swearing about is unusual, and not to mention having God swear in his letter was unusual to. The fact that this implies a loop since Celestia and Luna, while doing things differently, just end up having the same things happen that led to sin, the Flood, and probably the rest—and all because they believed in Satan's lies—is both something genius and something pettily hilarious.

However, I feel that this is too crass for my taste, and that I might have enough biases that I could not vote in good conscience. While this would be good in the middle of the pack and maybe having a chance to snatch a top spot if it ends up being very funny with others, I am not sure if I would be okay with my own vote considering my convictions.

Thus, I give this an Abstain.
#75 · 1
· on Overtime
I'll echo everyone:

In saying this is nicely written but severely lacking in anything Pony related. A simple suggestion would be to place it in the Equestria Girls universe and switch White Lightning out for Shining Armor--I seem to recall seeing him cast as a police officer in several EqG stories. But as it is, hooves holding guns and pegasi driving cars just don't mesh well with me.

#76 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot

But again, I'll ask for more. Give Twilight a good, solid reason to send these two off on the Road to High Adventure; have more banter between Spike and Dr. Cab and more banter with the lizard once they meet him. I'd like more of an idea of what the cave looks like, too: how big it is, if it's stuffy or cold or anything like that. Just take what's here and deepen it.

#77 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
I liked everything about this story except two of its core features. So, let's start with those.

First, the setting. I am just completely baffled by it. It's... it's 20 years in the future, except it's set in a world where humanity has expanded to the stars, but also it's MLP-world, and also it's maybe a Superhero RPG where everyone's aware they're characters and know their level/tier the same way they know their GPA? None of this makes sense to me, and the combination of it makes no sense to me, and I'm just completely bouncing off whatever you're trying to do here because I can't figure out what it is you're trying to do here.

Second, the ending I notice you're up near 8000 words. Did you run out of room and cut this short? Because you spend a bunch of the fic setting up this whole thing with Ot having a personality, then we get the big reveal that it's lonely... and then instead of dealing with that in any way, you just shunt Ot to the side and end on Apocolyptica's suicide-but-not-really-because-she's-just-deleting-a-backup-file, while she comforts maybe the fourth most-important character in the fic. It feels like you forgot what your story was about, but I wonder if you were just rushing to put a bow on something that was sprawling on you. Either way, it didn't land for me, because it felt like you ended on a sidelight to the story, without ever getting to an actual conclusion.

So, that's two big paragraphs of "I didn't like it." But basically everything else was great! The individual pieces of worldbuilding were fantastic, and when I stopped trying to fit them into a coherent or comprehensible setting, things like Apocalyptica's backstory or Stella's Ot-testing were super-enjoyable. You managed to make both Polly (totally what the ponies would start calling her, don't you dare disagree) and Mikhael highly memorable (and the latter highly entertaining) in few words. And if I find the setting and worldbuilding incomprehensible, I found the aesthetic and tone both immediately graspable and very appealing.

So even though I have no idea what this world even is or what you were going for at the end, I still enjoyed this. And that, I think, is high praise indeed.
#78 ·
· on Overtime
Put me in the same "not pony" category as everyone else. So instead of that, I want to talk about something else: message.

What am I supposed to take out of this story? Is it about Whitey? Because right now I feel bad for her, but you aren't placing her for me. She's broke, but do you want me to feel like this is suffering that she rises above? Do you want me to be angry at the injustice of unpaid/underpaid cops in general, with her representing their plight? Do you want me to think that she's made bad decisions in the past that have put her here, and see this episode as a/the moment that she rises above her history and starts moving forward?

Or is this a story about rural life? Should I be thinking about Lucky and how the way impoverished people in distant communities don't have the resources to get aid, and resort to drugs and violence in a vicious cycle? Should I be thinking about the nameless mother, and how non-urban domestic abuse victims often have nowhere to go? Is this a story where Whitey is a camera to show us the desperation of life in a region that feels it's been forgotten by the rest of the world?

Whatever it is, right now I'm not getting it. And as a result, this "just" feels like a generic cop drama, and not a meaningful episode. It's engaging generic cop drama, but what I'm saying is that if you give me an angle to approach this from, it'll resonate with me that much more strongly. But hey, you've already got the drama down; now it's just a matter of putting it to use!
#79 ·
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Chris
In which Ot is interpreted as glyphs.

To be honest, I've somewhat spoiled myself on who the P.O.V. belongs to before reading it so I did not experience any problem interpreting who it was. Yet, I have to agree with Baal Bunny (>>Baal Bunny) that the P.O.V. did not have many clues for the reveal of who it belongs to, especially with the reveal being as deep into the story as it is.

Beyond that, you painted her P.O.V. very well—it's not exaggerated but seems fancy enough to fit her syntax without making her pompous. On top of that, the feeling of dread that you also have with her and the lamia illustration (with using her cutie mark as a way to distract the reader from the full reveal until it's all revealed) is quite palpable, and that you have her as a somewhat unreliable narrator is quite a nice twist (not to mention the bigger one of her being a lamia).

I don't have much else to say. This is a very neat piece you got here! Strong in the middle of the pack, a great case to be in the top three.
#80 · 1
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
What a sweet little fic! It's clever how you turn stasis into a crisis from an angle I haven't seen before, and yet it also feels relatable; at least in my profession, that feeling of giving(/trying to give) someone the tools to succeed and seeing them do nothing with them is a common one. Here, it's writ large, and with it that question that always follows: is it they who aren't using the tools? Or is it me who didn't actually give them what they needed? That's heavy stuff, but the SoL tone serves you well here, keeping this from getting maudlin.

As a nitpick, I think the last line almost works, but is just slightly off; it's trying to tie back that SS being forgotten is a good thing, I get that, but since we specifically brought up the examples of the inventors of important base elements (wheels and whatnot), and since the line references base elements, it comes off to me as trying to bury the important of those elements, rather than their inventors. The wheel's still important, you know? It's just that we do so much more interesting stuff with it now, that the "wheel" part doesn't excite any more. Likewise, SS's contributions are still important--they should just be so basic as to barely be worth mentioning. Maybe something to fiddle with, to tie the bow up that much neater at the end.

But as I say, that's getting kinda nitpicky. Overall, I really enjoyed this story, both its idea and its tone.
#81 · 1
· on The Odd Testament · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Honestly, this feels like it would work best as a minific. You could end it at the first soft break, and have a complete comedic arc. Everything after that... don't get me wrong, there's nothing bad about it, but it seems to me you're mostly doing two things. First, extending the original joke of C&L being stuck making the best of our absentee deity's half-cocked plans, which isn't terrible, but does get a little repetitive. And second, doing the whole "Satan" thing, which isn't bad in a vacuum, but feels to me like it pulls against the original joke.

Because that joke is how C&L are much more competent than Y, and how his universe is a poorly-designed murder-sex-monkey dystopia. But then everything with Satan is about how C&L are actually super incompetent themselves, which undermines the joking about the setup of this universe that Y left them.

You could expand that into more of a "all gods are incompetent" idea, if you wanted. But honestly, I feel like you've got a great, punchy minific on your hands, and that you'd be better served making your first joke land and land hard than on expanding the backend. Whether you agree or not, though, there's certainly no question that you've got some fun ideas here!
#82 ·
· on Belshazzar
In which Nebuchadnezzar would be a more fitting Old Testament name than Belshazzar.

This is a case where the writing is too rich, punching at a level where it isn't supposed to be. Lots of fragments, broken sentences via em dash, and a gluttony of poetic imagery. This is supposed to be a serviceable story, not a platform for you to tell me how well you can string multiple metaphors and similes and other rhetoric devices together. In a word, you've put too much rhetorical spice on the narrative meat and since it now tastes too strong, I have a hard time stomaching it.

Speaking of imagery, I believe that, with the imagery and the title and the other numerous references to the Old Testament, you were going for a theme-heavy story, which is good and all. However, you've leaned on it too much that it's become a gimmick; more than some of the too-rich writing comes off as a haphazard attempt to capture Old Testament wording (which is dangerous because most of the Old Testament is not written like a typical modern-day short story). You could've gone better with a broad strokes approach: dial down the references and distill the theme to what's essential (judging from the title, it would have to be having a kingdom or one's self fall from greatness—so cut down on the flowery politics, companionship thing, and so on). This could've been better as a 4,000-word or less piece even if you just remove sections with minimal editing: that way, the pace is tighter and the reveal would be much more impactful.

On the bright side, you did nail the theme right. Maybe having Princess Twilight be the target isn't the best option, but the royal(?) fall from grace/greatness is there and isn't too hackneyed.

Overall, it's written well enough to be in the middle but only barely. Even then, it's only because the author shows they can pull off some nice wordplay that's great in isolation but dragging when strung together.
#83 · 2
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
I definitely agree with >>Chris:

About the tone here. Assassinate these characters further! They're not just chilling in the town square at the beginning: they're passing around a joint and a bag holding a can of malt liquor! Cheerilee here isn't their teacher: she's in charge of Ponyville Juvenile Hall! The story's already cranked to 11--take it to 111!

That's my suggestion at least...

#84 ·
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure · >>FanOfMostEverything
Very nice:

But as others have said above, it could use some tightening and a look at the transitions. Near the beginning, for instance, she says something about tracking down a potential museum piece, and he's suddenly asking if she seriously thinks he'll try to steal it. I don't quite see how his comment follows from hers...

#85 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot · >>Baal Bunny
In which Ot is simple yet profound.

The only problem I see here is that your descriptions are a bit too bare. At times, it feels like an upgraded screenplay. Just add a little more of description with, say, Twilight's new office and the lizard's cave and it would be eye-catching all the way.

For how simple and short the story it is, I've been fooled by it and was shown a simple story. No great twist (unless you count an anticlimax a twist), no deep matters to be had here until we get to the moral, and the ending seals the wonderfully optimistic and light-hearted tone to it. On a meta level, this is something refreshing like stopping at a gas station on a long highway given the two stories before this. Spike and Caballeron seem like an unlikely duo but you played their unexpected chemistry quite well, and, for the little screentime the lizard himself had, you paint him for long enough that he's interesting but without dragging on for too long as the final character.

It's a nice story! It certainly doesn't belong at the bottom, but, given what I've read so far, I will be surprised if it gets a top place and I will also be surprised if it doesn't get a top place.
#86 · 4
· · >>georg
So, I’m all done reviewing/ranking/author guessing now! But I thought I’d do one more thing, here.

See, I’m a big believer in the importance of beginnings and endings. A good first line hooks the reader right into your world, and sets them up for what’s to come. A good last line cements a story in the reader’s mind, and ensures they won’t forget your fic ten minutes after they’ve read it. So I’m gonna go through every story’s opening sentence or three (as decided by me, what constitutes the “first line”), and their closing sentence or three (ditto), and tell you what I think of them. I’ll spoiler-text the last last lines, and anything else that feels spoilery, and we’ll see what I have to say. As with my regular reviews, feel free to disagree and/or ignore; openings and closings can be such personal things, that peoples' opinions are bound to differ.

So, in the order I reviewed them:

Well It Starts As A Joke…

Right, so this is the story of that one time me and the girls got absolutely clobbered.

It's very catchy and hook-y, but I don't know that it sets up the tone or narrator well. Because Scootaloo's voicing is all over the place in the fic, this isn't able to "set" her voice for me. And since it doesn't sound like Scoots from the show, it doesn't build character right away. If Scoots' voicing was more consistent throughout your fic (something for when you edit!), this would be a lot stronger, but even now, it's got a lot going for it in the drag-the-reader-in category.

“And that,” she said to the snoring mare next to her, “is why I’m in your house Ms. Punch.” She shifted slightly, getting comfortable. “And why I owe your daughter a kidney.”

She frowned, glancing up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “Not sure why she wants one bean so bad but, well,” she shrugs and closes her eyes.


I didn't remember this was how the fic ended until I re-read it just now, so, not a great sign for memorability there :( Problem is, you've got one nice joke in the reveal that Scoot's isn't talking to the Pink Pony we might guess she is, but that doesn't have much to do with the plot, it doesn't tie anything together (how they got the bottle was such a tangential bit to begin with), and then the bean joke and the nothingburger of a last word just do nothing. If you made Ruby more important to the story, you could still end on that note with this kind of structure, but I'd definitely rethink the content of this closer, if I was you.

Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure

Daring Do pored over the ancient codex. It was a secondhoof copy of a thirdhoof account, but she'd worked with far worse and still uncovered more than one ancient treasure that could've spelled the end of the world. Compared to the Voyneigh Manuscript, this was foal's—

She winced. Okay, bad phrasing, but the point stood.

The significance of those last two lines is lost on the reader at the time, most likely, but they'll pay dividends in a bit. That's mostly how I'd describe this opening; it doesn't draw me in, but it feels very appropriate in hindsight. In that sense, you're setting up the reader well, but maybe not hooking them as strongly as you could.

She grinned, then considered the Diadem of Pansy in one corner. Retrieving it had nearly made her miss Last's third birthday party. "Don't I know it."

I love that reveal, and how it takes some of the sting out of Daring's decision. She still has to give up some things, but not everything, you know? And of course, it's sweet in the same way the rest of the fic is. Good thematic reinforcement, while offering juuust enough of a twist to feel playful.

Kill All Bugs

“Specialization is for insects.”
— Robert A. Heinlein

The first quote does some nice work; it sets up the pastiche and preps us for changelings. But the actual content feels strangely irrelevant? If this story was in some way about the importance of generalization, or if there was something in your backstory/setup that made the weakness of a non-hybridized army a point, I'd get it more. Here, it feels like you just picked it because it was from the right book and had the right animal, which is pretty surface-level; whether it's adaptring the story to the quote or finding a better quote for the story, I wonder if you can make this set up your fic even better.

Moondancer died on the way up.

Optrunco Thysanoptera.

Great whammy line, and closing on the prompt is never a terrible idea. The only question I have with it is that it feels so anti-war in a story that doesn't really have any anti-war themes (or pro-war, particularly. Like I said in my review, theme this baby up!). This whole story is about a raid on a semi-neutral third party for purely political purposes. That Moondancer died fighting someone at least two, maybe three degrees separated from Equestria's war, all because someone upstairs thought it might help with negotiations, is much more Forever War than it is Starship Troopers. And if that's where this story ends up going, that's an amazing ending. But if you aren't going for anti-war-from-ground-level, then this isn't the way to finish out. All depends on what you see this story as meaning, really.

The Lizard of Ot

"Treasures unfathomable!" the unshaven stallion peering from the shadowy alleyway hissed.

"Really." Spike didn't even bother putting a question mark at the end.

My only problem with this is that ("unshaven" notwithstanding"), those first two words feel like one of the FlimFlam brothers talking. Love Spike's response though, and love the humor of the narration; it sets up the kind of humor you gird the story with well.

"Be right back," Spike said, and started out.

A Friendship Ambassador's duties were never done...

This would be a stronger ending if we'd built up at all to Spike being "always on." That's something you could work into the story in a couple of places with minimal effort when you edit; I'd definitely consider setting up how Twi's promotion keeps him busy with this sort of thing. Other than that, this does feel anticlimactic because of how quickly the story resolves ahead of it, but like I said in my review, I also think that's appropriate to the story you're telling.


Her eyes squeeze, closed the whole time

I can't tell if the lack of period is deliberate, to create more of a stream-of-consciousness feel, or if it's just an accident. Since you don't seem to do it elsewhere, it leads me to suspect the latter (and if not, the failure to do it elsewhere still makes it a bad idea IMO). Either way, as an opening, it doesn't tell me what to expect, which I tend to feel is not the way to start a fic-opening dream sequence. I'd rather you gave me something more solid, then subverted it; that lets me know that things aren't as they seem while still hooking me in, instead of having me open by questioning whether you're doing this because you're clever or because you're a bad writer.

To be clear, you're not a bad writer :) All I'm saying is, don't let your opening give me an excuse to wonder if you are!

Twilight keeps falling.

The last thing they hear before the unbridgeable chasm closes is one last cry.

I hesitate to say too much about this ending, because the fact that it doesn't pack much punch to me is mostly to do with the rest of the story, rather than the ending itself. You're closing on potentially tragic imagery, but you just gave me 8000 other words of potentially tragic imagery, most of which was imaginary, and that weakens this ending. And because your writing style doesn't change, you end up implying by construction that everything after Twi wakes up is also imaginary, Inception-style, which takes even more of the punch out of it. In a slightly different context, this could be deliciously tragic, but right now, it's overwhelmed by what comes before. So that's where I'd start tinkering, not here.

The Circle and the Cross

This isn’t a story of distant shores. It isn’t a story of far-flung lands, nor of exotic locales. This isn’t a story of the places that lie at the edge of the map. It’s not even a story about coming home, and leaving those faraway lands behind.

This is a story about a circle and a cross.

As I said in my review, super meta. I like it, but I also wonder if it's a good setup for your fic, which is mostly drama, when it leads the reader to expect something more silly. Also, this probably won't land so well outside of a contest context; something to consider when you're editing this for elewhere.

For a long moment, we look at each other in silence.

And then, to my joy, I’m blinded by a flash of light.

Syrupy-sweet, as you no doubt intended. After all that suspense, it feels good to end on something wholesome. I wish you told us who and what, but that's a wish you're absolutely right not to grant, so... yeah! A pleasant way to end, that ties right back into the prompt.


Ot all started with a typo.

See, that's just funny, and I love it. Doesn't tell us much about the setting or plot, no, but it's very hook-y, and clever in a way that's immediately appreciable. Plus, it does set up the tone, albeit in ways that aren't immediately obvious. I like this one.

"Well," he whispered back, "what else are friends for?"

As I alluded to in my review, this would be a lot stronger if it had anything to do with Ot, since we were just introduced to the idea that Ot needs a friend and all. But instead, it feels to me like it's applying the right lesson in the wrong place, so to speak. Poly feeling uncertain about her friend-level based on her backstor is something you only really started setting up a few paragraphs beforehand; addressing that at the end doesn't feel like a resolution to either the emotional or the event-level stuff this fic was all about.


Why was she doing this?

Never a bad idea to start with an open-ended question. It basically forces the reader on for a couple more paragraphs, which gives you time to introduce a character or event and give me something to care about. It's a pretty generic opening, but that doesn't mean it's not perfectly fine for what it is. This is a solid single, rather than a homerun, but there's a lot of value to hitting a single when you're leading off.

“Well, you’re the one that wanted OT,” joked the sergeant.

“Yeah. I guess I did. I’m getting paid for this, right?”

It's a nice, jokey line to end on after the higher drama of the standoff, so tone-wise this is good. The fact that it calls back to her not getting paid makes it almost feel like that's an important plot point instead of a throwaway, though, and if it's an important plot point then I admit that that sailed right over my head. Readers assume that whatever you're ending on carries particular weight, even if you don't necessarily mean for it to!

Obsolete Thaumatology

“Last name?” asked the disinterested-looking receptionist.

“Uh, how about, ‘the Bearded?’”

It's 99% great, so I'm only going to mention the one part I'd change; "Uh," sounds to me like a "duh" opening, i.e. casual insulting. I feel like SS should be more prickly/bristly, or at least less casual, based on the rest of your fic. It's tough to communicate tone in your very first words, so I'd play around with that if I were you. But beyond that, nice little bit of conversational humor to open on!

“That sounds delightful,” said Star Swirl.

And for the rest of the afternoon, he thoroughly forgot all about spells and research and studying.

I already said everything I had to say about the last line in my review, so... go re-read that, I guess!

The Odd Testament

In the beginning was the Word. And the word was “FUCK!”

It's a great opening... as long as the tone of your fic stays irreverent and crass (ties in with my "this'd be a great minific" thoughts, FWIW). It sets a tone immediately, and the internal contrast between biblical and swearing may be shooting fish in a barrel, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work!

And when the glorious and terrible end finally came for this Cosmos, he was sure it would be riding both a pale and a dark horse.

By contrast, I feel this isn't nearly as strong as your first line, because setting up Satan as a chess-master-y manipulator doesn't match what you've been doing with most of the rest of the fic. It doesn't have a lot of payoff; though you could read that ending as a joke, the more serious way you've portrayed him makes it feel almost serious--at least, in contrast to the rest of the fic, and that's what matters. I've already talked about where I'd end the story, but regardless, I think you want to close on a "incompetent deities +curse words" note, because that's your schtick here.
#87 ·
· on Kill The Bugs · >>georg

I find myself agreeing with what folks have said before. I'm very glad the writing here isn't copying Heinlein stilted and wooden style, but the lack of info about this AU was a problem for me throughout. As a scene from a longer work, this would be fine, but as a standalone, it left me shrugging my shoulders.

#88 · 4
Well, I haven't had a lot of time this week to do reviews (hopefully tomorrow), but now that we're closing in on the end of the round and everyone's presumably read everything, I can at least bring back another Writeoff tradition —

Mash-ups: Original Theme Edition!

Belshazzar and the Cross: The angry mob drags Twilight Sparkle out of her castle and burns her at the stake. They realize a little bit too late that the "O" actually represented a disguised nirik.

Daring Do and the Lizard of Ot: Last Frontier asks her mother where she came from. Daring Do and Caballeron look at each other. He tugs at his collar. "Well, sweetie," Daring starts, "when two ponies who love each other very much defeat an ancient draconic guardian and find their Ot…"

Obsolete Testament: Star Swirl asks Celestia how to cope with returning to a culture that's entirely unchanged from when he left Equestria. She drags him to an alternate universe and puts him to work fixing the sex-and-murder monkeys.

Well It Starts As Overtime: "You just HAD to call this a peaceful night," White Lightning shouts as their cop car approaches the scene of a drug-fueled, cat-murdering, filly-kidnapping, mayor-stabbing rampage.

Wotchbugs: After realizing that Ot is entirely, 100% the fault of humanity, Equestria and Apocalyptica's war fleet team up to teach them a rainbow-colored explosive lesson about the dangers of invoking memes.

The Circle and the Lizard and the Greatest Adventure: Three words, Sparity fans. "Lamia-dragon hatchlings."
#89 · 1
· on Phoning ot In. · >>horizon >>GroaningGreyAgony
I'm surprised this wasn't connected to Wotchmen. It works great as a visualization of Ot's more irreverent side.
#90 · 1
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
In which Sweetie Belle blends in with the fish.

You might've needed more time proofreading due to the errors here and there. To pile onto that, the ending seemed a bit confusing for me: What does a bean and a kidney have to do with Ruby Pinch and Scootaloo trying to run away from Applejack? Though, to be fair, I think this means that that particular action is more implied than anything—maybe even a noodle incident. I also sadly do not get how Ot relates to this. The closest I could get from the top of my head and some quick online searching is that ketamine seems to have some relation to occupational therapy (OT).

Oh. I just answered my own question just now, huh? That actually makes the mention of therapy and Rarity going to Manehattan for a patient much more sensible now. It's still not too related to the prompt, but, hey, if that didn't happen, this comedy story wouldn't have happened.

Other than that, this is a very blunt and very straightforward comedy piece. Black comedy, to be precise. It's interesting that it's not just straightforward: the rather long-winded tone of Scootaloo somehow makes all the raw surprises here all fun and good to the point that, for some reason, some of the errors just fit with how, for lack of a better term, broken the story becomes as it gets into the end with the depravity and insanity levels rising.

Shock value will keep this afloat, but proofreading errors may prevent this from reaching the top. Still, good job on a crazy story!
#91 ·
· on Daring Do and the Greatest Adventure · >>FanOfMostEverything
In which the title is a serious player.

Seriously though, props to the title. Out of all the stories I've read so far, this one uses its title very well, particularly to set up expectations for what that adventure might be and then turning it into a very heartwarming revelation.

There's not much here to gripe about or debunk. Maybe some stylistic choice or pacing issue here or there, but I can't name anything specific for now... well, there is not recognizing Martingale in the second section of the story as Cabelleron but that could be a thing that differs between people. And I wonder why Daring Do would keep her secret adventuring identity a secret to her own daughter. However, as it stands, it's a solid piece.

True, I am a sucker for shipping, so knowing that Daring Do and Caballeron are together was quite fun and to know that Daring is actually pregnant was also a nice surprise. Also, kudos to you for making me laugh the hardest with that dad joke over there! Beyond that, it's just... again, written well. It may not have any special punches for the reader but it also doesn't have any of the crippling issues that affect one or two other stories here. It's a great Friendship is Magic-flavored story and I would like to see it turned into an episode.

Overall, nice in the middle of the pack, might make it the top of the pack. Good story!
#92 ·
· on Overtime
In which is an episode of CSI: Equestria.

Ot relates here in the form of overtime so I thought overtime would be the main theme here. And then that's thrown out of the window and I thought it wasn't really a thematic story and more about a story of Lucky and whatever he or his wife is hiding. And then that gets solved pretty quickly and overtime comes up again in the end. So, yes, it has a sort of loop going for it, a kind of don't-notice-you're-in-a-cycle sort of thing.

Beyond that, though? It didn't feel like a story; it felt more like a scene of something greater. I would like to know, for example, why White Lightning is down in the dumps in the first place, why she's in overtime to begin with. Or what's Midnight Strike's deal. Or the story behind Lucky and his family. Again, this is good if it were a scene, but since it is meant to be a standalone story, it doesn't meet the expectations of being said standalone story.

On the bright side, you write this action-packed piece well in terms of tone and pacing and characterization. You don't drag on for long about this or that detail, and White Lightning's internal monologue through the whole thing really settled her muddled past-midnight state of mind.

Overall, a good piece but sadly not good enough for the top. Still, it's a seed with multiple directions to grow towards. I'd be interested to see a longer story come out of this.
#93 · 1
· on Well It Starts As A Joke... · >>Meridian_Prime
I really like the super stylized first person narration here. It's got a nice noir-y parody flavor to it that really does a good job of setting up tone and reader expectations from the get-go. I personally think the best jokes are the over-the-top descriptions that Scootaloo gives of her fellow Crusaders and each new character as they come in.

Now, I'm going to be honest and say that not a lot of the jokes landed with me in the end. That's not as condemning a statement as that sounds, though, since I frankly have a pretty odd track record when it comes down to disagreeing with other reviewers about comedies. I don't write a lot of humor in general, but if I were to hazard a guess as to why these jokes aren't doing it for me, I'd say that maybe it's because there's not much of a contrast for the ridiculousness to play off of. I don't want to say that this needs a straight-man role (because character deconstruction comedies rarely need one), but there might be some other way to keep the reader from becoming desensitized to the sheer craziness that's happening.

So in the end, this didn't really end up being my personal cup of tea, but I do think that it does do a bunch of things right. I'm not entirely sure why this didn't work for me, so I'll just let you take my reaction as a data point.

Thanks for entering!
#94 ·
· on The Lizard of Ot · >>Baal Bunny
I really like the charming, cute style that this is written in. It feels comedic without overdoing its tone, and overall just does a great job of being exceptionally inviting towards the reader. Twilight in particular really steals the scene that she's in--you've really nailed down her brand of affable goofiness down.

Now, I think I'll have to say that the main conflict itself never really got a hold of me, despite how much I enjoyed the general feeling of this story. I think it may have to do with the fact that our perspective character, Spike, doesn't really seem very invested in the story himself, so I spent a lot of the story waiting for a 'real' conflict to show up and make him sit up and pay attention.

On a similar note, the resolution of the conflict didn't quite feel as satisfying as it could have for me. The Lizard is the only one getting what they want, since Spike doesn't really want anything and Caby wants the wrong thing. The whole thing felt kind of odd to me, if I'm being honest, and I'm not entirely sure why.

So overall, while I definitely had a lot of fun with this one, I think I'm stepping away from it with the sense that I still want there to be a bit more of a satisfying arc/conclusion. Which may be completely counter to how you want the story to shape up, so feel free to just take my thoughts as one reader's reaction.

Thanks for writing!
#95 ·
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Chris
It took me about a half dozen paragraphs before I realized who our narrator was, but as soon as I did, I had a really good time with the first person monologue-y style you went with the narration. You do a great job of adding a lot of commentary and thoughts that feel very much in-character for Rarity while giving the piece a nice spoken-word kind of feeling.

This kind of narration does have its drawbacks though, and I'm afraid that there were definitely moments when you put out a lot of information all at once in big descriptive paragraphs that made me have to put in a bit of extra effort to digest. I'm not claiming to have the best attention span, but a lot of my gauge on how much I think I enjoyed a story is how much I am able to forget that I'm reading a story. Having a lot of information dropped down on me at once can take me out of the flow and distract me from the emotions that you're trying to convey.

Another thing I want to note is more of a personal taste sort of thing, so feel free not to pay it much attention. But I do just want to say that this is kind of basically a "main character is a changeling" story, and I make no secret that this genre isn't my cup of joe. I got on the pony train right after season 2 wrapped up, and Fimfiction and EQD was absolutely saturated with these kinds of stories.

In regards to how this particular entry handles its reveal, I think I'd like a lot more explanation of how the whole thing works logistically. You touch on Sweetie Belle being a interesting topic, but the fact that the story never really addresses the intriguing questions raised by the reveal kind of made me feel unfulfilled.

So in the end, I think that I'd personally like to see a lot of expansion on this concept in order to differentiate it from changeling stories and to give some satisfying explanation for the logistical questions that come up. That might not be the direction you want to take this story, though, so feel free to just chalk me down as someone who's not part of your intended audience type.

Thanks for entering!
#96 ·
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
I'm a sucker for Star Swirl, I'm a sucker for Celestia, and I'm a sucker for introspective stories. You've basically written this story just to pander to my pointless desires. Congratulations.

To be frank, out of all the entries this round, this one is probably in need of an editing sweep the most. There are moments where I did feel that I was being distracted by the sentence-level construction, such as heavily repeated words and phrases and oddly phrased embedded clauses. In a piece that's basically entirely dialogue, these kinds of technical level slip-ups can really bite you in the rear.

Speaking of the dialogue, I did end up getting a feeling of talking heads once or twice. I did notice you inserting actions and descriptions to break up the back-and-forth, but there's really so much you can do to support almost 3 thousand words exclusively of talking ponies. I think it would have been less distracting in a minific, but in a short story length entry, it does wear down on my attention.

That all being said, this story still wins brownie points from me for its subject matter and the cute way it wraps up its arc.

Thank you for writing!
#97 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
Holy snap, this ended up being a lot of fun by the end. There's about fifty different ideas in play here, and somehow, some way, you've managed to give all of these themes/motifs/conceits a chance to shine and pay off in the larger scheme of things. From the SCP-style mnemonic entity, to the HeroAca/OPM style super hero ratings, to Apocalyptica's cosmic redemption story, there is just a lot of stuff going on, and very little of it feels redundant or underdeveloped. I came away from this one feeling very satisfied.

Now, despite how I felt by the end of the story, I think it is worth mentioning that this story was probably the most difficult for me to start. I actually ended up having to scroll up and re-read stuff to reorient myself thoughout the first three or four scenes. It was really difficult for me to finally nail down the setting and understand who's doing what. I definitely appreciate the fact that you're avoiding infodumps and "as you know, Bob" dialogues, but I also feel that with a universe as conceptually complicated as this one, it might be warranted to hold your reader's hand just a little more.

My other significant-ish concern is that not all of the characters really feel like they're adding to the plot. Braeburn doesn't really do anything but physically move Liam into the conflict zone, Liam doesn't do much decision-making himself until his shared-brain talk with Apocalyptica, and Thunderlane mostly just watches Stella do her hacker thing. So when I learned that the three of them have a semi love triangle thing going on, it felt kind of superfluous to me. Now I know that when you have a cast this big, some characters are bound to get more spotlight than others. But on the other hand, I think that there might have been opportunity to either consolidate some characters or expand on them enough to make them feel impactful. Of course, you are at the word cap, so I understand that your options were probably limited at that point.

But in the end, like I mentioned up front, I really thought that this story caught all of the balls it was juggling more often than not. I think this story is a great example of how investing in a complicated setting can pay off splendidly, even if it kind of demands said investment from the reader at gunpoint at first.

Thanks for submitting!
#98 · 1
· on Wotchmen · >>horizon
I was just saying, either not long before or not long after the round started, that sci-fi is really the best of all possible worlds in terms of broad genre, and this exemplifies that spectacularly. We have a galaxy spanning human race side-by-side with Equestrians and other aliens, a reformed omnicidal AI living out everyone's "wish I was a pony" fantasy, and a war beyond the bounds of creation itself and that's just the background lore to the story itself. Thunderlane casually hangs out with vets who spend time at the edge of stable reality like it's a perfectly normal thing to do on a Saturday and I am absolutely here for it.

Which, like I don't watch enough TV to compare things to Lynch, but the early stages of this straddle the line between what I imagine Twin Peaks is like to the uninitiated and a less body-horror based Junji Ito (like the early chapters of Uzumaki where the weird stuff is happening but it's still pretty benign), with just a breeze of Sentai tossed in. I was a little confused right off the bat, thinking this was some EqG/Standard pone hybrid, but then the space stuff kicked in and it all made sense.

Anyway I'm rambling, but suffice it to say I dig this entire thing and would absolutely love to read more about the ongoing War. Also Liam's name is Earthson and that's pretty rad.
#99 ·
· on The Circle and the Cross · >>Chris
The only thing I think I can really add that hasn't been covered is: My money is on Pinkie Pie, but strong 2nd place odds on Fluttershy, both due to their seemingly uncanny kinship with Discord and being at odds with their species' usual affects.

Thanks for entering, and getting my brain juices going on who the real spy is after all.
#100 ·
· on Obsolete Thaumatology
Doubling down on Chris's opening comment, it's absolutely fantastic to see Starswirl and the general idea of progress approached in such a completely novel manner. Honestly, I'd never even considered the fact that he's such a big deal even after being gone so long. Looking at real world parallels, we study the history of fields and the early giants plenty (Newton and Leibniz laying the foundations of Calculus, for example) but there's always more after. So, so much more everywhere and growing all the time.

And finishing one of Starswirl's spells was enough to get Twilight exploded into an Alicorn, like centuries of progress erupted all at once in a single spot.

Absolutely fantastic to see one of the Giants whose shoulders they should have been climbing over come back and go, "come on guys, really?"