Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Alone Together · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 3
·
OwO what’s dis?
#2 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
My Little Coronavirus: Social Distancing is Magic
#3 · 3
·
So we get:

The 18th to write over here, but the 18th and 19th for the concurrent poetry contest?

I'd better sharpen a couple virtual pencils...

Mike
#4 · 1
·
>>No_Raisin
We better get “Social Distancing is Magic” as a prompt.
#5 · 2
·
I see the prompt suggestion, "Everything is FINE" and some small part of me wants to point out the missed opportunity at hand.

Everything is AWESOME
#6 · 2
·
I find that I like this prompt.
#7 · 2
·
Alas:

I'm out this round. I've got a deadline on some non-pony writing that'll be eating my time the next month or two...

Mike
#8 · 4
·
Oh my god, I actually made it in! With multiple minutes to spare this time. Still did the whole thing in like the last 90 minutes, as is apparently my tradition to not start writing until the early morning of the deadline, but feels good to have written at least something after many months away from any fiction writing at all.
#9 · 3
·
Congrats to everyone for making it to the top ten!
#10 ·
· · >>No_Raisin >>CoffeeMinion
Hello, I haven't done one of these in a while. I was wondering, with rounds this small, do people normally post fic reviews after all the writers are revealed or do they write a fake review for their own story?
#11 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>CoffeeMinion
>>Pig-Serpent
We tend to do fake reviews. It's not fun.
#12 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>No_Raisin
It does give a chance to blow off some steam about our perceived shortcomings and how they manifested in the story.
#13 · 2
·
>>Pig-Serpent
>>No_Raisin
>>Zaid Val'Roa
I used to hate my fake reviews, but I’ve sort of made my peace with them as the price we pay for small Writeoffs. I also try to use them to practice positive self-criticism. No work is perfect.
#14 ·
· on Rain
I'm reminded of a friend who's hilariously anti-marriage. Seriously, he's unable to see any positive from it. To this day he champions the Shrek movies as being a testament to how marriage sucks and ruins a person. Love him to pieces, he's always a source of entertainment.

Dash and AJ seem to be going through a lull in their relationship, and I love how you portrayed it. These little moments that show how things have changed, and that longing Dash has for things to be normal, and how it ends on a high note showing that despite the low points, they still love each other and they'll make it work.

Just wait until winter. You'll have more downtime and a perfect chance to snuggle.

This is my favourite out of this batch, and I don't see that really changing.
#15 · 2
· on Crowns and Mimosas
Twilight Sparkle Caught Drinking While Country Faces One of Its Harshests Social Crises
by puff piece


Be it after the banishment of Nightmare Moon, the second coming of Discord, or the Great Butterfly Kerfuffle, creatures of all kind inhabiting the lands of Equestria have looked up at its Princesses for reassurance during harsh times. However, that does not seem to be the case with our current regent.
Multiple reports coming from Eastern Canterlot shed an unflatering light upon Equestria's newly appointed Princess.
Dynamite Stick, 68, had this to say, "You could see her in that balcony, waving that champagne flute around, blasting music. I don't rightly know how much she must have drunk to start having seizures." Additional reports indicate that the Princess was, in fact, dancing. "This didn't happen when Celestia was in charge, I tell you. That mare knew how to be regal."
Local brewer, Stiff Drink, 26, was confused. "What's the big deal? I for one, can get behind a ruler who can handle a good drink." After being informed the Princess was drinking mimosas, she launched into a two hour diatribe against fruity drinks. "Those things are an insult unto alcohol itself!"
#16 · 1
· on Silent Gestures
Look at the bright side, Twiggles. At least there's no Equestrian UN.

I like the spirit of this story. It follows the theme of Twilight trying to fill Celestia's horseshoes and not quite getting the hang of diplomacy. Nevertheless, I wish there would've been a bigger resolution, for Twilight to arrive at a bigger epiphany than just appealing to the Gryphon ways.

It was nice for Spike to make some time to give Twi a hand, though.

So... Nice, but I can't say much more than that.
#17 ·
· on Silent Gestures
In which Twilight Sparkle is stressed doing armchair coffeehouse diplomacy.

The quotation at the end baffles me. The message of Twilight diving into griffon culture and traditions is nice, but it comes off as a surprise, a left-fielder, if I may. Perhaps it is merely because it is not formatted like the rest of the dialogue here, though.

Other than that, it is a nice and warming story, but it feels like more could have been done with it. Maybe something subtle is what you were going for, and if that's the case, that is fine. However, with all the set-up and the somewhat ominous backdrop we have (crop blights and Spike being the last friend in Canterlot, to name just two), having it end with Twilight read up a book on griffon culture and traditions to understand them more... is sensible and realistic, yes, but it just doesn't have that *oomph* that the set-up has prepared for. I guess that, ultimately, the set-up was too much for an otherwise benign and non-threatening ending.

Overall, an unassumingly warm story with a shadow that's too big preceding it. Expecting this to be within the middle three of the pack.
#18 ·
· on Plip · >>Xepher
In which plip goes the water.

I couldn't find anything wrong with this. Having two very different sections seems like a risky move, but you pulled it off because the second section feels like a breath of warm and fresh air after the first section of cold and calculated technical prose. With the story centered on Celestia's promise to Luna, it sort of loops back to the first section: not just in how the first and the last word is a version of plip but also because it brings the reader's mind back to the present when "all the stars in the sky [have burned] out... and then some!" So: tone is stunning, details are concise but essential in bringing out the flavor of each section (lots of technical details for the reader to understand just how these nebular beings live, and then terse and punchy prose for the flashback), and the characterization is just heartwarming with the short dialogue given the background you've given them.

Overall, a heartwarming story through-and-through! Should get gold or at least silver.
#19 · 1
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
I initially had a lot of specific notes about grammatical and other technical mistakes, but there're too many of them...

So let me judge this on intent, rather than execution. I see the outlines of the moral here, author. I can see the comparison you wanted to make between an aging adventurer and a temple falling apart. The metaphor itself is apt, and perfect for this prompt.

The execution, however, is a bit lacking.

The good news is that the vision you started to paint here... that's the hard part. You grabbed at a deeper concept and tried to wrest it from the aether. The rest—the spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.—the rest you can learn with practice. And as long as you don't lose that spark of inspiration, you'll get there.
#20 ·
· on Crowns and Mimosas
In which a princess drinks alcohol.

The dialogue seems too fast-paced: the greetings, a somewhat semi-philosophical debate which gets cynical, and reassurance. I believe that this could be because the set-up for the story's setpiece (which I think begins with the debate) is too long and ends up suffocating the prime part of the story. Shortening the beginning (like starting with Celestia already in the throne room and/or reducing the beginning exposition about the events of the series finale) would provide more space for the debate and everything afterwards.

Overall, this is a good story that can be a scene in some Season 10 next-generation episode of the show, with a good moral to follow. Should see this in the middle of the pack at least.
#21 ·
· on Crowns and Mimosas
The language, especially from Twilight, feels at once both too eager (childish) and too formal. "Recall that, for few terrifying moments..." Super formal and weird sounding from Twilight. But then, near the end, the bit about a retired mare and mimosa week sounds like an entirely different character.

Overall, I fear this reads like a moral in search of a story. The author had a message to get across, but the characters just clumsily explain it, rather than showing us their insight into it.
#22 ·
· on In Need
In which there's a skeleton in the closet and it's Luna's.

There's lots of mystery here that remains unsolved. I am in the dark as to just what is making Luna scared enough to hide in a closet, and I am in the dark as to what made Luna come out. I was about to say that too much unsolved mystery is a problem, but I realize the genius that in this piece:

You made me feel just like Celestia. I felt frustrated that I didn't know what got Luna trapped there, and, for a brief moment, I didn't care about it because Luna might be coming. As stated in the story, a pony in pain is a pony in need. Not knowing what the problem was, in this case, doesn't seem so important in the long run... though the reader/storyteller in me wants to know at least a hint, a right direction, as to what did plague Luna so badly.

So, overall, a good story if somewhat open-ended! I expect this around the middle of the pack.
#23 · 1
· on Taste of Cherry
Wait what? Suicide?

Wait wait... baiting us with suicide? Sure hope I'm wrong.

No, it was played seriously, but averted.


Hokay, so... Lots to say on this. Mostly, it's clumsy. The IDEA here is strong, really strong. But suicide, depression, and a warrior's death... Those don't work in fast forward. I'm sorry, maybe the headcanon for Tempest has moved far enough along that this might make sense for another reader, but I'm still reading the mare who finally smiled and admitted her name was "Fizzlepop Berrytwist." That mare was just coming OUT of depression and learning to smile, so this just... doesn't work for me.

Now, in fairness, this concept could work, especially in a longer form, but the story would need to slow down a lot, and show us the full journey. Most importantly, it would need to make sure the action and events don't outpace the emotions of the audience.
#24 ·
· on Silent Gestures
Nice prose to open, though tending slightly toward the purple at first.

Wow, and after that, I just read. In total, a really nice slice of life. I had to blink a couple times, as the style almost feels like something I would write, so take that for better or worse, author.

The distinction came with the coffee. I certainly prefer tea to burned beans. :-)

So yeah, no grand leaps of fiction here, but for what it set out to do (and by it's title, I'm pretty certain of what that is) this accomplished it rather well: A warm scene with a pony we love.

Now if only I had a fireplace and some tea...

(Also, if CoffeeMinion is in this one, and this isn't it, then someone's got the wrong name.)
#25 ·
· on Plip
Does purple prose exist in sci-fi, or is it just... blueshifted? *insert shades* (Sorry author, I'll see myself out!)

But yeah, very techy opening stuff. It's big word city up in here, which... kinda works I guess?

Celestia as the Celestial. Not sure if trite or clever...

Okay, you got me with the last part. I'm a sucker for a callback, and I honestly didn't see how "Plip" was going to figure in until those last few lines. You hit your "D'awww" quota, author.

That said, the radical shift from the cold, sci-fi thing, to the warm fireside moment IS abrupt. My problem is I'm not sure if that's a point for, or a point against.
#26 ·
· on Splinter
Premise: Dash wants to break up drop Pinkie Pie from the Rainbooms but stay friends.

What the story accomplishes: it gets through the messy "fire Pinkie Pie" part, and does it pretty well. Lots of good visuals. This is very Pinkie Pie in a good way. Maybe a touch heavy on the Pinkemina Diane Pie, but Pinkie's always kinda over the top with both her highs and lows, so. Works for me.
What it doesn't accomplish: the "but stay friends" part. It's a shame we don't get to see the resolution to whether or not that works out, because that's the big emotional stake that the story has set up quite well in the time it has. With the important question going unanswered, though, this is left feeling more like a scene than a story.

My big take-away: to fulfill its potential and become a real story, this one needs either more space to allow the story to accomplish its resolution, or to focus the space it has on a different scene instead, namely the one in which Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie resolve their friendship question.
#27 ·
· on In Need · >>CoffeeMinion
Hmm, nicely believable opening scene here.

"...With shame creeping into her voice" is a bit tell-ing (vs showing.)

"Celestia was never exactly a good actress." This also feels contrary to what we know of Celestia, but perhaps is forgiven as this seems to be far in the past.

Wait, it's not in the past. These are adults, not foals. We're told this is after the banishment and everything. But Luna locked herself in a closet?


Okay, author, I admit I'm confused. All the dialog sounds like a foal having a tantrum, yet there's talk of Celestia burying thousands of ponies all the time, and this is set after banishment (so in/after the show timeline.) Yet Celestia is worried about "burying" her sister because she locked herself in a closet?

I'm sorry, but it feels like some mix of adult consequences with childish prerogatives that just refuse to mesh in my mind.
#28 · 1
· on Flat Spiral · >>Comma Typer
Dramatic opening... go on...

"Screwball" for a pony with spiral eyes? Maybe a bit on the nose.

Nevermind, pure Discord... got it. This is creepy in all the good ways now.


And yeah, that creepy continued to be excellent until the scene break. The absolutely self-defeating scene break. We already had the existential horror in our heads, and it was GOOD. A throwaway scene at the end with the puppet-ponies is pointless. Alliteration aside, I feel it even actively detracts from the impact the closing of the last scene had.

Still, high marks for some real originality here, but I'd definitely drop that final scene from prose. (Though I can see how it would work in a purely visual medium like television.)
#29 ·
· on Splinter
Not sure I get these analogies. Frosting on cupcakes, purple snake?

Okay, that aside, the rest of this flows pretty quickly, but... leaves me wanting. Having to tell a friend bad news is a good premise, but it just feels out of character here. This is still Pony after all, and without some "lesson learned" to walk away with, this version of Dash feels far too selfish. Beyond that, nothing much sticks out. "Bad news, it sucks, sorry friend."

On top of that Pinkie is just as a clueless as she's ever been, not at all able to "read the room" about why Dash is talking to her here. That feels like many steps back on the character growth as well. Moreso because she initially assumes someone ELSE is getting the boot, and she's not at all upset by her friend(s) being kicked out, but instantly leaps into new names for a duet band.

Again, another story I'm complaining about, and I'm sorry author. The writing is decent, but it just doesn't mesh with these characters in my mind.
#30 ·
· on Rain
Rain
+
Takes time the time to develop the emotional core of the story. In this case the setup needed the most time spent on it, and the focus given in the beginning makes the pacing of this piece excellent.
The portrayal of love in this story is realistic and I enjoy the focus of parts of a relationship that aren't in the honeymoon period.
I love how direct Dash and AJ are with each other. At this point in their lives it feels natural that neither of them have any qualms about taking direct action, especially with each other.

-
This is splitting hairs, but the brief inclusion of Sugar Belle slightly dampens the thematic elements of Applejack and Rainbow Dash being alone especially as she only has a small role.

=
I did find the last few paragraphs of the story, especially ending with the prompt, to be rather cheesy in the way it spells out the message. I think in a story like this it's earned to some extent, but I can also see people not liking it because of that.
#31 ·
· on Silent Gestures
Silent Gestures
+
Out of all 9 stories, this one has the prose I found most fun to read. They make the most out of the limited amount of words and give a fullness to the story.
The thought that Spike knows Twilight well enough to know that she needs a friend but can't be distracted by a friend right now, so he gives her exactly what she needs for her problem gives me a warm and fuzzy emotional response.

-
I don't think the ending quote hits the mark it was aiming for. It's about individuality, but specifically having differences between people. That partially relates to the Spike knowing Twilight side because that aspect is about Twilight's individual character shining through, but without Spike acting as a foil it doesn't connect to highlighting the differences. As for the Griffin side of the story, there's contrast between how people act but it's mostly on a cultural level, rather than an individual level.

=
There are a few points in the story where my brain wants to jump down a rabbit hole of the lore presented by this story's attention to detail, namely my brain wants to know more about the conflict with the Griffin kingdom and the trade deal Spike is working on. The story shouldn't follow these trains of thoughts, but they're so specific that some readers might get hung up on them.
On second thought, there is some possibility that you could expand the Griffin conflict and have a slightly more complex resolution than Twilight just not understanding how Griffin culture works.
#32 · 1
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
Between a Rock and a Sad Place
+
The atmosphere and tone are conveyed early on and fit the overall message of the piece.
I found myself fairly invested in Yearling's musings. Even without any strong conclusions I found the character's reflection to be believable and worth my time.
"The rock silented in agreement." is a great sentence

-
The prose at the end about Yearling's actions get overshadowed by the much more interesting conversation between her and the rock. As such, they don't leave an impact and become hard to follow, making Yearling's escape feel incredibly sudden.
"It was small, but it let her slowly push it out of the way." - It took me quite a few reading of this sentence to understand what the second "it" was referring to.
#33 ·
· on Taste of Cherry
Premise: "Fluttershy, I'm depressed. Gonna need you to off me."

"Uhh... how about some cherries instead?"

"Oh, yeah. Okay."



...That's flippant, I know. Sorry. But that's a pretty honest reflection of how the story strikes me, I regret to say. It's just sort of how these things come off when the space available isn't conducive to conveying the whole heft of the concept. That's the fatal flaw of this one, at least as it is within the constraints of the minific format. I think Xepher has that covered in his review above.

Unlike Xepher, though, I'm not convinced that this story works in a longer form, because I'm also truthfully a little (maybe a lot) uncomfortable with cliched tropes of the "warrior" longing for a "soldier's death" and other such pretensions about there being something honorable in a mentality of disregarding one's own life. That's a subjective personal thing, though, so maybe I'm just not the audience this story is for and my finding it disagreeable can be safely ignored if characters in that mold are your thing. Maybe there's something there for people to explore, in a story format with more space.
#34 ·
· on Plip · >>Xepher
This has some fantastic imagery. Minds spread out over billions of light years, taking eons for a single thought is brilliantly imaginative. And then the camping scene at the end brings it back to earth, keeps it relatable.

I do have one nitpick. Aside from the names Celestia and Luna, it's not much of a pony fic; it's only one find-and-replace away from being an entry in one of the original rounds. A good entry, mind. But it was something I couldn't help but notice.

Plip.
#35 ·
· on Taste of Cherry
In which suicide prevention hotlines now come in cherry flavor.

I think I get what you were trying to go for: with a soldier in peacetime not facing any deaths in the battlefield anytime soon, there's the search for death since there is no purpose in life... but a childhood memory and passion is able to save her from the brink of (assisted) suicide. While this sort of thing has and does happen in real life (maybe not so much with ex-soldiers but that's my gut feeling; don't quote me on that), the execution of it here doesn't do too well because it comes off as ham-fisted. I can imagine the memory of cherries being the start of the path to not killing herself, but with how the story ends so open-endedly and with the memory of cherries being so fresh on the reader's mind, it's not hard to imagine that cherries alone saved Tempest from certain death. Which, to be honest, sounds a bit absurd.

If I may, I think it also suffers from showing too much and not telling enough. I believe that the story could benefit from more focus on the tension between the childhood memories and the present-day desire to kill herself, but it cannot do that because the first half or so of the story is spent going around the bush about suicide which is the main subject of the story anyway. Perhaps starting the story at least a bit later into the conversation would help bring more balance and/or emphasis concerning the real conflict/tension of the story.

On the bright side, I am intrigued by Tempest's choice of going to Fluttershy of all ponies. Not to fellow Storm King fellow Grubber or her savior Twilight Sparkle, but Fluttershy. It's an unusual match-up and I am pleased that you were able to give them some good characterization and chemistry between each other especially since most of it comes through dialogue and appropriate word choices (especially for Tempest).

Overall, an okay story held back by an absurd but understandable conclusion. Could see it as middle of the pack as best.
#36 ·
· on Flat Spiral
In which reunions aren't always happy affairs.

The ending is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's sensible for it to just go off the rails like that, what with this being a story where Screwball and Discord are characters and there's chaos magic involved so I can enjoy some narrative bending here and there for the sake of it. On the other hand, it's just a massive mood whiplash that I feel like I'm reading two writers writing the story with varying directions. There should be some way for the reader to at least ease in or prepare for the whiplash—maybe showing Vine Eye succumbing to the insane-happy chaos magic and then cutting to the Screwball ending. Not to mention that Screwball's point of view comes off more as a more caffeinated Pinkie Pie than someone truly steeped and brainwashed via chaos magic.

I am very concerned about the ending because its disruptiveness pulls down on an otherwise great story here. Nailing the motherly "Mama Bear" point of view takes some nuance without coming off as overbearing, but as someone who is not a mother and hasn't been in a similar situation, I'd say that I think you did well on that. As for Discord's characterization: it's refreshing to see pre-reformation Discord in a story because of how nonchalant and how cruel he can be at the same time—the evil sort of chaos, not the neutral happy-go-lucky one we get post-reformation. And, of course, that sadistic twist on reuniting mother and daughter is... well, sadistic. Like, it's not something I should like, but it works. Then again, I am not a big fan of horror, so take that as you will.

Overall, a terrifying tragedy with a tragic end, for good or for bad. Should see this at least near the top of the middle of the pack if not medaling.
#37 ·
· on Splinter
In which Sonata Dusk is Ringo Starr and Pinkie Pie is Pete Best.

Seriously, though, bonus points for going the Fifth Beatle route with the story. And additional bonus points for setting this in the Equestria Girls verse.

As to the story: it is quite fast, and dangerously so for a minific which are often okay with fast paces. A serious argument, especially over the topic of whether one is a friend or not and whether one is just using her friends for self-gain or not, is hard to pull off in the limited space of a minific. I get the feeling that I'm seeing a condensed or abridged version of the argument because the dialogue between the two comes quite fast and there seems to be some mood whiplashes (what with Pinkie bawling out after a few lines of her apparently normally talking with Rainbow).

On the bright side, I like the flashes of great prose such as "It turns out Pinkie is a lot of things," after Pinkie's rambling and "The empty diner, chosen as a comfortable meeting place, now felt like a frozen cave." It certainly did its best to prop up a too-fast story.

Overall, a breakneck-fast trip held up by decent prose. Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised to see it at the bottom three.
#38 ·
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
In which I silented in agreement upon finishing the story.

The only thing that's bringing this impactful story down is the surface-level errors such as spelling errors, especially so in the beginning (like "the lanternin her mouth" and "the frog of her hood" [I think you meant [i]hoof[/i]?]) If you are not doing it already, I advise that you do an editing pass and/or get something like Grammarly or LanguageTool which can be helpful to speed up self-proofreading especially in lightning-fast minific events.

Other than that: wow. Daring Do talking to a rock sounds like a stupid idea but you didn't just make it work; you made it shine. You balance her moral-laden dialogue with descriptions of her surroundings and, of course, the subtle comedy of her talking to a rock. The best sentence, entertainment-wise, is "The rock silented in agreement." You actually made me think the rock would talk back, and I guess you used that as part of the hook even though the rock never did talk back... because, in some weird way, a rock is enough for Daring Do to reflect on her own life. And nice moral!

I don't have much else to say, really. Overall, a great story where talking to a rock can be helpful! Should see this medaling or at least in fourth place.
#39 · 1
· on Flat Spiral · >>Comma Typer
Well now, this was neat.

If there's anything in a story that would win me over from the first read, it's the ideas it toys with. And there are certainly some good ideas here, no doubt about it, so much so that my experience with the story is just hitching along for the ride and hoping to see where I end up when it's done. Those ideas still stick with me even after the second and third read, so kudos.

Regarding the ending, I think it could've worked if we stick with Vine Eye's perspective instead of leaping over to Screwball's. It does feel a little abrupt to suddenly change it after spending a bulk of the story being with Vine Eye. I'm guessing with this current approach that there's supposed to be a contrasting duality at play here. I guess it's because of this new context we've been given post the scene break—that Screwball is viewing her mother as a new friend—that I believe the duality doesn't fully translate. If that's true, it's ambitious, I'll give it that. I'd still prefer to stick with Vine Eye though. I think getting a look into her thoughts in the aftermath of her transformation could potentially be more crushing to the soul.

Just a bit of a nitpick here, I'm a little iffy on how Vine Eye's train of thought works. It's a bit harried at some points. I think it does help with making the whole story feel raw, but it does make the story feel a little bit messier for me. Don't know, just something that kinda popped up in one of my later reads.

All in all, great ideas at work here, Author! A bit of polishing and you're good to go!

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#40 · 1
·
Voted. That might be all I have it in me to do.

Just letting y'all know I'm still here sometimes.
#41 ·
· on Taste of Cherry
The Taste of Cherries
+
Well, it's not a Rockhoof and a Hard Place
I rather like the conclusion that Flutteryshy would be a logical choice to ask for euthanization, and of course she would never do it (see above.)
I have no qualms with the technical aspects of this story, and found the pacing to be appropriate too.

-
I agree with everyone else that the solution was too simple, but I would also like to say that it felt like the solution was just handed to Fluttershy. All she had to do was ask what would make her happy and Tempest just tells her.
Tempest is a soldier who wants to die an honorable death. She does not consider suicide to be honorable. From there I ask why is being euthanized considered an honorable death to her? It's not like Fluttershy is going to run at her with a sword or something, so I imagine to an uptight warrior type it would be equally as disgraceful.
#42 ·
· on Crowns and Mimosas
Crowns and Mimosas
=
This piece is very much a talking heads fic, and that contributed a lot to both what I like about this fic and what I dislike about it. It's not really a story, it's just some musings on a subject.

+
I really like the subject they're talking about and their responses to it, to the point where I would say it is rather profound.
The mimosa joke is pretty solid and cuts the tension just before the end. I could see naming the piece after the joke ruining it for some readers though.

-
Typos ("a wan smile," "know thentruth")
I think the biggest thing that can be done to fix the talking heads vibe is to add more characterization outside of what Twilight and Celestia are saying to each other. Have them do more things to add depth to their emotions.
“You know, for a retired mare at the start of her ‘mimosa week,’ you aren’t very comforting.” - I don't agree with Twilight on this line in the sense that Celestia didn't say something obviously discomforting enough to warrant it, at least in the manner it's currently phrased.
#43 ·
· on In Need
Premise: Luna's in the closet and won't come out.

Literally. Or maybe the closet's a metaphor. Or both! It can be two things.

Now, the real question is, when do we get to find out?
I say that's the real question because the point at which we find this out is the point at which the central conflict of the story goes (or would have gone) from superficial to substantial, and the meaning here goes from ambiguous to tangible.
But unfortunately, we don't get there. The conflict is just left at "Luna is in a closet."

And, okay, maybe that ambiguity, the puzzle of the meaning to the literal situation, is the point. There's things to examine about how Celestia faces that literal situation and tries to solve it without many clues, and that can be good character exploration. This could be a good impetus for a character-driven piece... but the issue is, in this minific format, it seems that ends up being all there's room for. We get a good look at Celestia, but it feels so zoomed in on her that we don't get to see what (if any) greater depth exists to the conflict, and we don't get far toward a resolution to that conflict. Because of this, it feels more like a scene than a story. We get those last few paragraphs at the end, but that comes across more like a stub holding the place of a conclusion than an actual resolution. It needs a real sense of completion to be, well, complete.

My take-away? I like this one, actually. What's there is good, it just needs more. Keep going, build it out, finish telling the story.
#44 ·
· on Plip · >>Xepher
Plip
+
A unique and fascinating take on immortality that appeals to both the fantasy side and the science side of my brain. It's a brilliant premise that slides in perfectly with the sisterly love aspect of the story.
Plip is a great word.

-

=
On my first read the 2nd half wasn't working for me, but that's because I missed the implication that Celestia and Luna are meant to be a lot younger than they are in the show, which is a necessary detail for the scene to have the desired impact. I feel like this is on me, but I think it's still worth pointing out.
#45 ·
· on Splinter
Splinter
+
This fic has a solid premise, and there's a lot of mileage that can be had out of a simple conversation like this one.
Pinkie Pie being oblivious to Dash trying to be serious at the beginning worked pretty well for me.
Adding Sonata Dusk as the new band member is a great twist that adds more complexity onto the stressful situation.

-
This feels like an overly condensed version of the argument that lacks breathing room. With more space those punches can hit harder
There isn't really an ending, let alone a satisfying one.

=
The whiplash from happy Pinkie to sad Pinkie is a bit fast, even if somewhat believable based on what Dash is saying. It might work better overall if it's rearranged to where Pinkie gradually becomes less jokey as she realizes the gravitas of the situation.
#46 ·
· on In Need
In Need
+
A story based around a noodle incident, which creates a lot of ambiguity which can create frustration for the reader, both in a good sense and a bad sense. I think for keeping this isolated from Luna creates a good frustration because we all know what it's like to try and comfort someone who won't tell us what's wrong.

-
There are a few moments where it feels like we don't have all the information Celestia has, which pulls the reader out of her shoes and makes the story less impactful. The big part for me is Celestia saying she doesn't trust herself, which means she knows at least one thing that she did wrong that we don't know about.
I interpret the Luna saying she'll stay in the close until she dies to be a thing a child would do to be over-dramatic, and that there's no chance she'll actually come close to starving herself because people don't stay that angry for that long (and people don't tend to kill themselves with long, drawn out methods.) This part of the story takes up a lot of space for how little weight it holds compared to the rest of the piece.
The ending is well written to create a very tense moment and cliffhanger, but I'm not sure this is the best way to close this story. Luna staying in the closest for a little longer isn't bad enough of an event for the tension to feel justified.
#47 · 1
· on Daughter, Mirror
I don't like this. I feel her staring into my soul in a nonconsensual way.
Make her stop.
Make her stop!
#48 ·
· on We'll Be Together Forever and Ever
Together forever and never to part
Together forever we two
And don't you know
I would move heaven and earth
To be together forever with you


Of course, when it comes to all other constellations, they're just a couple of dots here and there meant to represent an image, but when it comes to you and your sister it's a full rendition, isn't it, Luna?
Narcissism aside, I like the concept and execution. It's simple, but it manages to evoke enough of the story for me to appreciate.
Well done!
#49 ·
· on Magic. Friendship. Rock n' Roll.
Can't wait for the exposé on Fluttershy's substance abuse.
Overall, there's something about Pinkie's pose that seems... stiff. I can't put my finger on what it is, but she feels a bit wooden.
On the other hand, I like her thighs, so it's all forgiven.
#50 ·
· on Rain
It's really nice to be able to just set my thoughts aside and sink into a heartwarming story like this. Love it when a story just allows you to sink in and experience it firsthand.

I like Rainbow Dash's voice here. The way it's paced, the words that are used, all of it feels very simple and deliberate, yet there's this certain delicateness in the way it all comes together that makes me feel as though it's just one push away from crumbling. Which is not a bad thing, by the way, I love that it's there. It translates to us her insecurity really well. Absurdly well. 'So well that I'm kinda mad at you for writing this' kind of well.

I think if there's one thing that I'm curious to learn about, it's how Rainbow Dash came to feel this way in the first place. Maybe not the thought process, but more like where she was and what was she doing when it happened. You know, something that hints at the cause, not the cause itself. It's not a question that I think you need to answer, but I can't lie, I'm a bit tempted to know why she feels that way.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#51 ·
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
Genre: Sounds of Silence

Thoughts: I like this as a simple, quiet moment of AK reflecting on herself. It’s a small scene, but the stakes seem rather high, which builds interest.

I feel like the central hook of AK interacting with the rock doesn’t quite work for me at the moment, though. It’s not a bad choice from a structural or storytelling perspective—it’s certainly been done before, and well. Here, though, I feel like we’re a bit rushed into the introduction of the hatted stone, as well as AK’s interest in talking to it. The monologue itself scans well, but I’m not fully buying that she would just want to launch into it.

I’d love to see this with a more gradual setup on the front end, and potentially a less sudden resolution as well. It’s fine that she suddenly sees where to push to get out, but it’s all rather fast, and I don’t feel we get enough connection with the stone for our Indiana Jones stand-in to justify leaving her hat. But again, you’re starting from a strong center part, so it might just be a matter of fleshing out the ends.

Tier: Almost There
#52 ·
· on Splinter
Genre: Snakes on a Fame

Thoughts: Sadness and drama incoming! Sonata gets a promotion! That’s got some hook.

Where this resonates for me is in the characterization; particularly in the character voicing. I could see this being a rough conversation if these two ever had to have it, and I think this captures that rawness pretty well. It’s clear that Dash is trying to do her best, whereas Pinkie is shattered. The vibe I get from Pinkie feels like it could go a bit Party of One, or Cloudy With a Chance of Cupcakes, which makes sense. Both characters feel about right for the conversation they are having.

What I don’t entirely buy is the premise itself. I’d tend to think Dash (or someone) would talk to Pinkie about her skills and playstyle rather than just axing her—especially if this is set fairly soon after Rainbow Rocks, as it seems to imply. If there hasn’t been outreach and discussions, then the firing feels rushed. If that’s the story you want to tell, so be it; but it seems odd if the characters’ renewed friendship doesn’t at least translate into a bit of trying to work through differences.

I also want to poke at one specific bit that didn’t resonate for me:


“She wasn’t that villainous, she was mostly being led by her sisters. Her full devotion is music now that we’ve defeated her and I’m not sure you can commit that much.”


I have difficulty with the “not sure you can commit that much” bit. This is the one place where I didn’t think the character voice worked as well. This seems to reinforce the thought that Dash hasn’t even tried talking about this before the firing, which sets off my OOC alarm that Dash seems to care more about Pinkie’s level of commitment than the duo’s level of connection, if that makes sense. I could be brought along to accepting this, but right now I don’t feel the story is leading me there.

I’ll also throw out a note about this being Equestria Girls: Author, it would’ve been helpful to have an earlier indication of that. I spent the first bit thinking this was developing as a FiM shipfic rather than an EqG drama, and at least half of that might’ve been made clearer with a quick mention of hands or other description. This is something I nitpick because I’ve been on both ends of it myself; most readers tend to auto-assume it’s ponies unless you give them a nudge. (Related: I’ve learned how easy it is to forget how much mileage you get out of the FimFiction niceties like a tag list and short description. With Writeoffs in general, and Minifics in particular, you’re kinda stuck building the metaphorical airplane as you’re flying it.)

Tier: Keep Developing
#53 · 1
· on Flat Spiral · >>Comma Typer
Genre: Tripping the Light Fantastic

Thoughts: Hold up, everybody—this is how you should start a fic:

My daughter fades into a twist of insanity spinning in her eyes.


And this is only the beginning of a large mass of effervescent prose that carries me along a path of suffering and defiance. Dis gud, in other words. I enjoy writing both Discord and Discord accessories, and this provides fine examples of the genre. Brava! Bralette! Bravissimo!

So uh, the awkward thing is that I’m not gonna Top Contender this. D: My rationale comes purely from the ending. It’s actually a great concept IMO, and hella tragic, to have Screwball’s mom fail to win her back, stop Discord, or even keep her own sanity. But right now, even though this drops into some brief suggestions about her mind expanding to encompass chaos itself, IMO the description and depiction of such is rather a bit pro forma, in stark contrast to the more captivating phraseology that preceded it. The problem once you’ve shown me that you can hit harder is that now I know you can hit harder, and you’ve given me a fresh taste for it.

Seriously though, please flesh this out a touch more after the contest! This with a slightly more developed sense of its own tragic ending could be a very memorable tale indeed!

Tier: Strong
#54 ·
· on Taste of Cherry
Genre: Tripping the Light Kevorkian

Thoughts: Hoo boy, rough premise on this one, not gonna lie. I will do my best to set that aside, or at least come at it from an angle that isn’t punitive. Because honestly, once I get past my initial surprise at the concept of Tempest asking Fluttershy to kill her on an otherwise pleasant day, I find a lot to like here.

No, seriously. I can buy a somewhat Klingon-ish interpretation of Tempest. She’s definitely an anomaly among canon ponies, and this is one way to dig into her mindset. I think this Tempest frames her argument in a way that’s at least internally consistent: she has a stringent set of values related to how a warrior should live and die, she has an overriding sense of honor that prevents her from taking an “easy” our while not forbidding other loopholes, and she doesn’t feel she can adapt those values to a peacetime existence. I swear I’ve seen this as an episode of TNG, and maybe I’m being a bit partial, but that curries some favor with me. I even like it that, I’m the end, Tempest finds a relatively small thing to get her through the day—that feels like an organic step in de-escalating her internal conflict between what she sees as an honorable path, and what must be an earnest desire to find her right place while living in the universe. Those two things needn’t be in conflict, but the story grounds its premise in letting them be.

I think the main thing I want here is a more gradual or fleshed-out intro. It’s clear that Tempest feels a strong sense of connection and trust with Fluttershy to make this request. Right now we’re not given much to establish the substance of that, though. It’s an easy leap to think that Tempest has befriended the M6, but why ask this if Fluttershy? I mean, the thing about putting down sick animals makes sense, but it becomes more of a leap when you think about what it might take for Fluttershy to physically kill Tempest. Someone like AJ or Dash would have more of a plausible physicality to deliver a killing blow or whatnot; it’s a comparatively bigger ask of someone meeker & (presumably) weaker like Fluttershy. I can still see it working but I’d get there more easily with a deeper development of their bond first.

Tier: Almost There
#55 ·
· on In Need
Genre: Lock-In

Thoughts: There’s solid prose here. There’s believable emotion from Celestia as well. I appreciated the bit of humor about her not being a good actress—>>Xepher, I hate to call you on this, but we literally had a whole late-season episode dedicated to playing that concept out. The nod to the Tantabus is appreciated as well.

But ultimately I’m not sure what the story here is supposed to be. It plays so coy with its own deeper meaning that all I can really hang my hat on is Celestia’s reaction to what Luna is doing. Maybe that’s the point; but if so, IMO that’s not very satisfying. In a similar vein, the ending is just kinda there, adding to they mystery but not giving us a conclusion per se.

I’m possibly not the right audience for this due to its highly open-ended structure. But even making allowances for my general preference of tight conclusions, I feel like it’s a hard sell to set up a scenario like this where Luna is suffering, and not really give us much to cling to as to why.

Tier: Keep Developing
#56 ·
· on Rain
Genre: Realism

Thoughts: Dash's doubts and disconnection felt pretty authentic to me. There's a lot that's kind of "meh" in a long-term relationship, which isn't knocking it--it's just the law of averages, or something. Sometimes you just have a lot of time apart to think, and sometimes you wonder if it's really working. If the small weird things outweigh the big things. Or if the biggest thing is that you're just going through the motions.

This captured that well. It also captured the other thing, which is when you get the jolt that "oh yeah, that's why we did this, it's indeed working and I've just had a bit too much of a sit-and-think." Time to sit an think is important, but it's easy to overthink sometimes.

I feel like I'm writing in circles. But I'll give this one kudos for capturing something that rings true, and doing it with ultra-good prose.

Tier: Top Contender
#57 ·
· on Crowns and Mimosas
Genre: Talking Heads

Thoughts: I get the feeling that this story is meant to pack more oomph in its central conversation than it currently does. It builds to the moment where Twilight shouts about her disappointment and Celestia tells her it comes with the job. It's a bit blunt in its execution, though there are flashes of comedy and liveliness with the "mimosa week" concept.

Ultimately I'd want to see this acquire some more meat on its bones. It could have a broader scope than just the conversation. The scene-setting before that is extant, but limited--I really feel the word count ceiling here. Maybe just developing that more would provide a stronger foundation to build the central conversation on.

Tier: Keep Developing
#58 ·
· on Plip · >>Xepher
Genre: Red Dwarf

Thoughts: First off, this shows an excellent use of its cosmic scope, and highly effective contrast between the opener and the cute pony scene that follows. It leaves a lasting bittersweetness to see Celestia's foalhood promise kept out to the near-eternity that's ensued. Possibly the strongest "pure" use of language in this contest. Very good read!

I think possibly a less-obvious challenge this might face is that it may not work at an expanded length. Usually we (or at least I) think about the necessity of expanding a 750-word Minific into 1000+ for FimFiction publishability, but this feels very complete just the way it is.

Tier: Top Contender
#59 · 1
· on Silent Gestures
Genre: The Happening

Thoughts: I give this credit for building. This methodically builds an image of a Twilight in the midst of great challenges. It also builds a picture of what she needs, and builds toward the question of whether she'll get it.

In contrast however, I found the resolution to be a bit abrupt, and in some ways sidestepping rather than addressing what had been built up before it. Spike is the main thing that jumps out at me; the story mines some d'awws out of him dropping by to help Twilight, but this seems to contradict what it set up about him being off facilitating other parts of Twilight's plan. There's also the question of the Griffon communications Twilight is working on, which suddenly don't seem to matter to the plot as much once Twilight gets her coffee. In that sense, it doesn't stick the landing for me.

With that said, though, this delivers a good tableau of Twilight struggling to fully occupy and excel at her duties. There's groundwork laid here for seeing Twilight continue to develop and overcome the challenges before her. What would help me feel that more viscerally would be to see Spike's encouragement manifest as material change in Twilight's ability to get things done, rather than just a lifting of her spirits. Maybe that's less realistic, but I feel it might be more satisfying.

Tier: Keep Developing
#60 · 1
· on Flat Spiral
>>Xepher
>>WritingSpirit
>>CoffeeMinion

So, it turns out I was able to hang with the top half of the pack this time around which is encouraging. I believe this means I'm improving as a writer, which is the main reason why I'm in the Writeoff in the first place.

I am concerned, however, with my consistent failings or mess-ups with how I do endings, especially since the last paragraphs or sentences are one of the strongest a reader usually remembers from the story, I believe. Your suggestions for better endings—from cutting off Screwball's portion entirely and leaving it at that, to still sticking with Vine Eye but after the chaosificiation—are certainly better than this massive mood whiplash of a screwball as it stands.

I don't have much else to say other than this: Thank you for reading this fic and for providing feedback on it! I hope it was good spending for your time, and see you all next time!
#61 ·
· on In Need
I think it's safe to say that I've enjoyed this story a little more than my fellow writers here. Perhaps it's because I'm always eager to sink into something moody to accompany my listen of the latest krautrock album I've dug up from the infernal recesses of Bandcamp. After getting a grasp of everyone's thoughts, however, I think I understand why.

I feel like this story isn't about Celestia or Luna than it is about the circumstances surrounding their relationship from Celestia's point of view. When I first went into this story, I unconsciously believed that what I was reading in the first two-thirds of the story was taking place before Luna was banished to the moon. I thought that this story was set in the distant past.

Then I got to the scene break. And then, this:

(Celestia) raised the moon, as she had to do during her sister's thousand-year absence.


And suddenly, my context of the story abruptly changed. Suddenly, Celestia has a character motivation that was never there before. She wants to stop a repeat of what had happened between them a thousand years ago. Maybe it was there the whole time but we couldn't see it past her actions. All it took was just a mention of the 'when' and suddenly everything clicked.

Now, a lot of this frankly is just me filling in the blanks here. I'm not exactly sure how much of this is intended. All I know is that it's the most positive interpretation I have of the story that I could conceive. That's the joy of an ambiguous story for me though, to be given the privilege to fill in the blanks. I do think it plays a little bit too ambiguous with how they got here in the first place, but it's a light bump in the road that I can put off my mind.

So yeah, I think the story's pretty neat. The krautrock album wasn't good though.

Thanks for writing!
#62 ·
· on Rain
Somehow it didn't post when I tried to submit my actual review last week, same time I reviewed all the other stories So below, verbatim as I wrote it then (as I write reviews in a notepad first, so had it saved.)

----

Dash worried about her wife, AJ? No names though. Doesn't feel like Dash would say "Wife" but just "AJ" or "Applejack."

Sex problems in a long marriage? How very traditional.

And it's all fixed with nary a word.


Alright, I like the metaphor at the end here, about the rain and such, but I feel this was another "emotional fast forward" entry. If a lover isn't responsive in bed, it's not just all fixed with a single question the next day. Never mind longer term concerns that Dash has apparently had. Dash isn't stupid, so if she's been suspecting something is "wrong" for a while, as you set the opening scene to show, then we want to believe Dash's feelings. There has to be some conflict somewhere, or the story just kinda falters. Maybe it's not what Dash thinks, maybe something else is causing stress for AJ, etc. But it can't just be "Is there a problem?" "Nope." and then all is good.

Now, as I said, I like the metaphor and story this feels like it's trying to set up. But I just feel it HAS to have more space to breathe. Resolutions, especially deep, emotional ones in a couple, can't just be solved in two sentences, or there's no satisfaction for the audience.
#63 ·
· on Between a Rock and a Sad Place
Absurdly late with these last couple of reviews, sorry about that.

It's certainly becoming a WriteOff tradition to have a story involving Daring Do look inwards every couple months or so. Not that I mind, it's always interesting to see how everyone goes around putting their own spin on it. With this particular one, I can definitely see what it's striving to go for. Even in spite of the grammatical hiccups, the concept overall is crystal clear. Looking closer at the finer details, however, I don't that it's not fleshed out enough to really hit me emotionally as much as I would've liked it to do.

I think what's really the missing piece from the puzzle is why she feels that way. Why does A.K. feel that she would sooner die from being trapped in a crumbling temple than of old age? How does it relate to the conversation that she's having with this rock? Now, it's fine if she actually doesn't know the reason as to why she feels that way. I think what I'm really wanting from our explorer is to be a bit more upfront with what she's feeling inside. Have her pour her heart out as if to make that rock she's talking to attain some semblance of sympathy to her. Make this conversation matter to her and, inadvertently or otherwise, to us.

Otherwise, good job with this story! Thanks for writing!
#64 ·
· on Splinter
Sorry about the late review. Becoming a bit of a habit, but since I've already written my thoughts on every story here on the tiled walls of some undisclosed location, I might as well get them out.

As much as I'm not a big EqG fan, I certainly can dig what's happening in this story. The pacing is fast, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. The prose is also pretty on point when it wants to be, which is always a plus. There's a pretty compelling conflict in the centre of this story here. Rainbow Dash dropping Pinkie Pie from the Rainbooms for... reasons? Okay, perhaps with some expansion on that end, perhaps the conflict can then have a strong-enough foundation to really weigh the story down.

But yeah, the central conflict here is undeniably a strong one. It allows a lot of room for Dash and Pinkie to interact with each other. However, I think it's because it lacks a central focus that the story does feel a bit aimless by the end. I'm inclined to think that the idea you've started with was much larger than the word count would allow, and thus had to trim a bit of it off to fit it in without it looking implausible. It's a familiar place to be in for everyone here, even the most experienced of us. Trust me when I say you're not alone in that department and you certainly won't be the last.

Personally, my general advice would always be focus on the things that you think matter on the story you want to tell. Find an aspect of your idea to home in on and work your way around it. For a conflict like what you're posing here, I would single out a moment in which our protagonist (Dash, in this case) is resolving the conflict instead of preventing it from happening. She could succeed or she could fail, but ultimately, it's the attempt that matters more to the reader, not the result.

All that aside, it's certainly a good start! Would love to see where you'll go from here.

Thanks for writing!
#65 · 2
· on Plip
>>Comma Typer
>>axxuy
>>Pig-Serpent
>>CoffeeMinion

Thank you all for the kind words, and glad it seems generally well received. I haven't been able to enter one of these in a while now, so even though I only found time 2 hours before the deadline, I'm very happy it worked out as it did.

As axxuy points out, not much "pony" to this, at least in the first half for sure. I'd argue that the only reason it works though, is that we have the background of Celstia/Luna as day/night eternal sisters. Without that background (aka, if I remove it from pony) that would need more words to flesh out and make us "care" about the characters in the fireside scene. But... Yes, it would just be more words, and it could definitely be done.

Pig-Serpent mentioned how they missed the "young" part in the second scene. I did try to mention they were fleeing as they'd just become orphans (yeah, why not double down on the darkness? I guess I was thinking) but that's really the only clue to the timeframe, so easy to miss.

CoffeeMinion: Red Dwarf... yeah, I'll take that! :-) But you're also right, I don't think it expands TOO easily. Certainly not to true short-story length, but I already had to trim slightly, so I think I could add another 250 words (e.g. making the timeframe in the second scene more obvious) and... to be blunt, it's REAL easy to burn word count with cold, detached techno-babble in that front half. I don't think it SHOULD be longer, but... if I want to publish, there's probably one more good paragraph to add in there with maybe even a funny observation or somthing.

Thanks again, all!
#66 ·
· on Flat Spiral
Well, if it makes you feel better, this was still the top of my slate. I just mostly "ignored" the bit after the scene break and it's pretty dang solid!
#67 ·
· on Plip
Oh wow, I just found this... https://youtu.be/uD4izuDMUQA?t=529 It's really worth the watch from the beginning, to get the full sense of scale. But from the timestamp on the link, the next 60 seconds basically describe this story!