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Let's Make It Quick · Friendship is Short Shorts Short Short ·
Organised by CoffeeMinion
Word limit 750–1250
Show rules for this event
#1 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
#2 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Am I ready?

I've no idea.
#3 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>CoffeeMinion
Chaos... reigns...
#4 · 1
· · >>Light_Striker >>CoffeeMinion
Harmony... neighs...
#5 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Changeling… feigns
#6 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Huh. I actually got an entry in early. Early.

...Alright, who gave me superpowers? Come on now, out with it!
#7 · 3
· · >>Meridian_Prime >>thebandbrony
>>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Good morning, everypony! Sorry it’s taken me a bit to rouse myself here. As you can see, the hours of operation for this contest have been tweaked a bit. This was intentional; basically I’m trying to stop myself (and anyone else from a comparable time zone) from giving into the bad habit of staying up until obscene hours Sunday night/Monday morning writing. I hope this will still make for an enjoyable contest, just with less collateral damage.

Anyway: the game’s afoot! Best of fortune to those writing!
#8 · 2
I'm in a very different timezone so I can't say it applies that much to me, but for what it's worth I think it's an excellent idea!
#9 ·
Completely exhausted for stupid reasons, partly related to the global “situation”. Damn.

I am defeated. Good luck to the contenders…
#10 · 2
>>CoffeeMinion I think the time change is a good move! Those Sunday night/Monday morning hacking sessions can be brutal. Now there's no excuse to get it done at a reasonable hour.
#11 · 2
Well, I don't think it works, exactly, but I'm in for the first time in a long time and that has to count toward something.
#12 · 1
· on Mixolydian
Genre: Groundhog Assassination

Thoughts: Creepy! Experimental!

...Somewhat unclear on that ending!

I rather like this, both as an invocation of the Groundhog Day concept, and as an example of clean writing that does a good job of capturing movement and emotion. I do have some quibbles with the ending, though I like how the story casually tricked me into ignoring that it's a mare who's supposed to get shot, while it's a stallion sitting there. Octavia's solution at the end hits a high note of poignancy, and I appreciate its cleverness.

With that said, I will grouse a bit that we never do get an explanation of what's going on, what its significance is meant to be, et cetera. The story plays this as a strength for much of itself, with Octavia's frustration about the scenario's futility coming through as clear, compelling emotion. And yet, with no payoff other than the presumed breaking of the loop, I'm left wondering what it all means. Groundhog Day made this work with the not-very-subtextual story of a jerk becoming a better person, which brought meaning to the otherwise arbitrary cycle. Here though, it's primarily (dare I say) empty despair that remains. Yes, Octavia feels a burst of inspiration at the end; but it's mostly funneled through a vein of l'appel du vide.

Honestly though, as I said earlier, I like this a lot. I will peg this slightly lower than I'd prefer to start with because it's my first review of the batch and I do feel there could've been more done to tie the meaning of it together. But this does an excellent job of tying the scenario itself together from beginning to end.

Tier: Almost There
#13 · 1
· on Meat for the Grinder
Overall, really fun! The dialogue was snappy and appropriately paced. I find myself bogging down in dialogue more often than not, so I admire your ability to keep it dialed in. I felt a little thrown by the switch in Sunset's tone from teasing to impatient, though. That plus the "all of a sudden he realized they were the only people left in the restaurant" line leads me to believe they just lost track of time, but a little reinforcement of what exactly you meant by that could go a long way.

Thanks for sharing!
#14 ·
· · >>Light_Striker
I think in light of my current mental state and the title of the round, I am going to initially post very short reaction-responses to these fics…
#15 · 2
· on Mixolydian
She was too detail-focused before, missing the armory for the rifle. In the end, perhaps, she learns how to C♮ly.
#16 ·
· on Riteoff
Oh dear sweet Celestia, Sylphen Cert.
#17 · 2
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude · >>Meridian_Prime
Lockdown? Minecraft. Mooncraft.
#18 ·
· on Expert Amateur
Interesting how speedily she departs from just dashing one off… some of those techniques are hard to see being so immediately obvious on only a third try. Or perhaps she just has a quick enough mind when correctly motivated to piece it together?
#19 · 2
· on Hayseed Turnip Truck: Re-Animator
Solid jumble! Crazy beans. Double the real gold?
#20 · 1
· on Dashed Hopes
Depression really sucks. That sure is part of the reason. I wonder how reliable the narrator is… and I wonder how many times it's been.
#21 ·
· on Meat for the Grinder
Peering into the hot shimmer is a good way to blind yourself for a while. Oddly realistic. Unsure what this means for story. Set early, with early Sunset, yes?
#22 ·
There, that's one each.
#23 · 1
· on Mixolydian
This one is... strange. Worth mentioning early that, if one swaps out species for human and nothing else, there's nothing really connecting this to FiM. Especially with sniper rifles.

I don't see much of Groundhog Day in this one, for several reasons. While it is a time-loop story, whatever has stuck Octavia here has given here an imperative, and it doesn't explore any of the themes of self-improvement (because she can't, basically). It seems like the reader is asked to riddle out the identity of the looper (loop-causer), but that is impossible and ultimately irrelevant.

The descriptions of Octavia's struggles failed to really connect me with her; rather, I felt like I was just watching her try one thing after another, grasping at one straw after another.

The target being a mare where the one in the seat was nominally a stallion was a super-clever twist, and frankly the one thing this story has going for it. Given that, and Octy's final actions, it is reasonable to assume that she was the target, and the reason for it was because of her "mistake" of the mixolydian mode.

...Except that she was under no compulsion to play in that mode, or any other form of correctness or inappropriately. She just does. She felt that the universe wanted to force blues upon her just once before she died and/or obtained freedom?
#24 ·
· on Riteoff
There is nothing so dull as a story about the angst in struggling to write.

While the self-references are extremely nuanced, the fact that it was self-referential to the writeoff was another major turn-off for me.

As for exploring the feeling of being unable to create... watching a character mope about trying to think of anything is hardly riveting. I see a missed opportunity of engaging between characters to explore their situation.
#25 · 2
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude · >>CoffeeMinion >>Meridian_Prime
Examining Luna and the Nightmare in exile is not exactly new material, but I found this interesting, nonetheless. I couldn't get a good read on what the Nightmare was after, exactly, but did perceive that it is deeply invested in Luna (its host, in more ways than one?) and it had this sense of unrelenting... hunger? It wants Luna, and while it will give her space it won't ever go away.

I'm less clear on Luna. She's grieving, then she's seizing upon something to do, then... seizing onto the only other entity available? Her shift(s) came across as abrupt, and it's difficult to intuit why she makes these behavioral changes -- not enough space to explore it, in part.

Mixed feelings on this one.
#26 ·
· on Expert Amateur
The internal logic in this story -- Dash's apparent very quick development of painting skill -- is a bit incredulous, but everything about this story really works. The voicing is superb, the pacing is deft, and these characters pop and really play off one another believably. Great use of imagery and diction.
#27 · 2
· on Hayseed Turnip Truck: Re-Animator
So... that happened. Distracted by the sexy, then yeet(?) that distraction as a sacrifice to fix all the things, I guess?

I would be surprised if this was deliberate, but the crude, stumbling storytelling here meshes all too well with the events of the story itself.

There really isn't much specific I want to add about this one, except to point out this one little gem:
Moondancer’s the second-smartest pony that I know, and not as connected to law enforcement as the first!
#28 · 1
· on Meat for the Grinder
It's a date!

Light seems to have it right, with cues early on suggesting that this is Flash and Sunset, maybe on their first date. Sunset seems a bit less campy and a bit more more competent than we see in EQG, but still clearly in character (manipulative, etc., etc.).

As a story, it... doesn't really have any? It feels like it belongs as part of a longer narrative... They shoot the breeze over a dinner, which abruptly ends.

Had a fridge moment. As Sunset said she only dated Flash to become more popular, and dates serve the social function of being seen together, maybe that's exactly why she cut it off then: there was no one else to watch them. If so, she is one cold ponegirl.

The banter seemed to flow well, if a bit lopsided (Sunset is assuming direct control?), with plenty of little innuendo and obviously deliberate body language on her part.

The bit with Pierce doesn't really tie in, but somehow makes it still feel a bit grounded?

Too much thinking about this one. I blame the sexy Sunset.
#29 · 1
· on Dashed Hopes
Logic quibble: physical labor is the kind of thing that you can do while the other person works to sort out what they want to say. It is easy to be short with them when devoting your attention to them (consarn it, I got stuff to do!), but the two aren't as mutually exclusive as this story seems to imply -- it's fishing for testiness that AJ doesn't need to express.

That aside... nothing really changes because, thank you, depression, nothing can.

The narration feels a bit clunky in some places, but nothing too major. The characterization of both (see above quibble) is stretched for both of these characters, but not egregiously so...

Difficult to assess this one.

The salve to depression is not optimism, but warmth. By apparent design in this story, AJ fails to provide Dash with either.
#30 · 2
· on Riteoff
Genre: Metamagic

Thoughts: Geez man, it's not often that I get called out for my schtick. This brought an absolutely solid chuckle:

Genre: Watching the grass grow. Interminably...

There are other great moments in here that riff on the ways my fellow Writeoff participants tend to speak or interact in the Discord chat. Speaking of which, however, a couple nights ago several of us were discussing this in Discord, and there was some uncertainty about the "goodness" per se of going so heavily meta. I'm definitely a bit charmed by it, but I'll acknowledge that the decision limits some of the universality of those parts of the story. Author, you clearly know your audience, and I have to give credit for using that to your advantage.

The middle section has a bit more universality, though. Quite a bit more. This was another thing we were kicking around a few nights ago: the experience of coming back to the well (as it were) and sitting down to write, again, even though you've already written tons of stuff before. Can I just call this bit out cuz I love it?

Celestia had done it again, created another instance of the daily work of art, just as she had Done It Again over and over for thousands of years… There was nothing new. What must be running through her mind at this point? The ultimate artist, who yet had to churn out endless copies of her great creation--could she be taking pleasure in this act any more, at this point?

I feel that. And yet, I'm glad the story explores that instead of just leaving it sitting there. We all come back to our creative pursuits and create even though there's struggle and challenge and more than a bit of surface futility in doing so. I very much like how this story captures that experience and struggle, even if it does so under a mode of meta. The only real thing it's missing is a delve into the why. What keeps bringing us back? Yes, the "doing what you did best over and over, and letting time hone your craft to its brilliant essentials" line reaches in this direction, but it comes as such a short moment relative to the larger questions.

I dunno. The quality of prose is high, and the humor was on-point. I'm glad this was submitted.

Tier: Almost There
#31 · 1
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude · >>Meridian_Prime
Genre: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

Thoughts: This presents strong imagery while capturing the weight and despair of Luna's long exile on the moon. I also think Luna's decision to create her own monument after coming out of her doldrums is fitting.

However, I'm going to have to tag >>KwirkyJ here because he hits on my biggest quibble: Luna's relatively quick turnaround. Quick from a narrative perspective, of course. I do see how this shows us Luna suffering through a lengthy, idle despair; I particularly like how the dust imagery contributes to this, both in its slow gathering and in its swift dismissal. That's effective! But she just stands up all of a sudden, and boom, it's SimCity-time. I can clearly see the conversation leading up to it, yet it still feels like a sudden shift. Maybe that could be mitigated by planting some earlier seeds about wanting to build? I have to think there could be some space in the midst of repeating "is this not what you wanted" for someone to drop hints about building that empire.

I'll also poke at the kiss at the end. It kind of makes sense, but also kind of comes out of nowhere. I totally get why Luna's embrace of the Nightmare would go in that direction. But for that moment to carry weight, IMO it would need more buildup than what we get right now.

Buuuuuut, see, here's the thing: I'm poking at the things that don't work here because this is firing in most of its cylinders otherwise. It's a story that fundamentally works. It's complete, it has good imagery... it's well done IMO. Yes perhaps it could use a tune-up, but I think it's doing what it came here to do.

Tier: Strong
#32 ·
· on Expert Amateur
Genre: "There! Are! FOUR! Lines!"

Thoughts: Boy do I like the character voicing & interplay in this one! This feels like it could be an episode of the show, except captured from a more intimate and punchy perspective. This makes the most of its relatively low "real-world" stakes by centering the POV in Dash, for whom bruised pride makes for intrinsically higher stakes. That's just a solid storytelling choice from concept on down. Rarity is charming, fun, and an overall delight to read. This story is an overall delight to read.

I'm just gonna put this here for now, but I might move it up later...

Tier: Strong
#33 ·
· on Hayseed Turnip Truck: Re-Animator

Thoughts: Author, you wound me. First you get me all invested in things, then you slap me with that ending? No. Just no. That is, as the kids say, a party foul. Flag on the play, fifteen yard penalty, third down.

...I could be being harsh here. Maybe I'm wrong, and this is the complete story. If so, then, I have to ask what it was all about? The prose is solid, don't get me wrong! Honestly, it's funny! But this needs more fleshing-out IMO to make the meaning stick. The single line tacked onto the end doesn't bring this to a true resolution, in the sense of showing how the characters grew and/or changed after this. We're left to infer that the resurrection spell must have worked, and everyone got to go about their daily lives... but I would much much much rather be shown that than be told it. This is also fairly rushed, moving to and through especially scenes 2 & 3 at a breakneck pace. The chalk outlines of more are there, and I believe this can be tweaked to deliver the goods, but right now I'm just not seeing it.

Dagnabbit Author, this could've been in my top spot. Honestly. The prose is clean. It manages to decapitate someone without going over-the-top with it, and then use the body as effective humor. But right now I can't escape the thought that this had a little bit too much cut off to make it fit the word count.

After this contest, though? Hit me up. Seriously. Let's get this banger tuned up for FimFiction.

Tier: Keep Developing
#34 ·
· on Dashed Hopes
I'm not really sure what to think of this one. As someone who does not currently struggle with depression, I don't feel qualified to speak on the emotions underpinning the plot. However, I will try to articulate some grievances with the vibe, which should not be read as dismissive towards people going through depression.

My grievance stems partially from the issue of length. Short stories aren't great mediums for building a well-rounded emotional profile, which is something I feel this story lacks. It's pedal to the metal from the very first sentence with no room for tonal variety, which is something necessary in any good story. A story that is all action all the time or all romance all the time or all intellect all the time gets dull over time.

The only real sin here stems from the limitations of the contest. A longer story would leave more room to expand on the emotions presented and give a more engaging look into the issues you're trying to present.

Thank you for sharing!
#35 · 1
· on Hayseed Turnip Truck: Re-Animator
Very Skirtsian!

This story reminds me of a moment I had while playing a show with my band at a dive bar in Indianapolis. It was close to 2am, and we were playing what was supposed to be our last song. The stage was tiny, so I had to set my drum set on the very edge of the stage. It was also raised only three or four inches off the ground, and it was directly next to the bar's main entrance/exit. So I was right in the thick of things.

So we were playing, and I was trying to summon the energy to make good music, and I closed my eyes for a minute. And as I did I heard this crowd walk past me, right next to me. And then a moment later, I felt something his my shoulder, and I felt my drum set shift. I opened my eyes just in time to see a man from that group, drunk off his ass, trip on the ledge of the stage and fall all over me, then fling himself over my drumset, which proceeded to collapse.

That's how this story made me felt. I felt a great disturbance, opened my eyes, and there was a corpse-looking thing right in front of me.

This story was shocking, provocking, and rocking. Thanks for sharing!
#36 · 2
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude · >>Meridian_Prime
Very brave choice to add the kiss! It's right on the edge of acceptability, but in my opinion you made it work. The lack of romance lends it an air of desperation, or maybe resignation. At any rate, it was a gamble that paid off.

Thank you for sharing!
#37 ·
· on Riteoff
Meta, man!

This reminds me a lot of the self-referential nature of Broadway plays. The payoff is best if you've lived in that world for awhile and gotten to know the people in it. While this works well for the writeoff.me crowd (where there is essentially zero outside audience beyond our fellow writers), the real test would be to put this in front of, say, someone on fimfic who's never heard of the writeoff before and see if the story (if not the references) made sense.

Again, the story itself is geared towards creative types. And while I'm unsure how well it would do outside that crowd, I think as someone in that crowd that you did a great job!
#38 · 1
· on Mixolydian
WOO, I loved this! I am such a huge sucker for ambiguous endings, and you nailed the tone of uncertainty super well. A lot of time loop stories tend to play out like lifetimes of reincarnations; you screw up over and over until you find a way to make it through without hurting anyone, and then you achieve transcendence. Though we don't get the transcendent moment here (and I'm personally more satisfied without it), the feeling of liberation from the wheel of time is palatable. This one's my number one this go-around. Well done.
#39 · 1
For the pic half of this round, there's few enough, and I'm one of them, that I'll be holding off on making any public comments about them until after the artists are revealed.

(Edited to add: what I mainly mean is about any of the works specifically. I did make a small comment below that was more general.)
#40 ·
· · >>Light_Striker >>KwirkyJ
Hey guys! Fic voting closes tonight. I’d love any feedback on the different timing that I used for this round. Feel free to hit me up here, on Discord, FimFiction, whatever. Personally, I think I like this, but it has taken me a bit of getting used to. Curious what y’all think!
#41 · 1
· on Carcere · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Gosh, dude, this is really nice. The level of detail you were able to achieve is truly commendable. All of the imagery, writing, and statues are done so very very well it's just amazing. I'm also pretty sure what this is without even having to read the story, so again, seriously nice job.

My one nitpick is that in the top middle, that piece with the wings, the wing on the right sticks behind the archway that the structure it's attached to is in front of. Kinda messes with stuff, ya know?
#42 · 2
· on Ottava caduta · >>Light_Striker
Okay, so first up, this is a very unique and clever piece. So serious props on the idea portion. Also, that lighting is absolutely perfect. I don't know if it was planned, but gosh you did a great job with it.

However, it does have a couple perspective issues. Take the scope, for example. By showing the circle on the front (right) side you give the illusion that we are looking at the rifle from the front. But the way you did the butt and, more importantly, that you did not have the circle on the forestock and barrel give the illusion of looking at the rifle from the rear (As well as just the general proportion/ angle of the piece). The way the monopod(?) attaches to the forestock is also just a little too symmetrical to match with either perspective.

Now, that's a lot, I know. But it's because I love this idea so much that I want to see it succeed. Like, I'm honestly struggling trying to rank these.
#43 · 2
· on Tri-Linear · >>Light_Striker
I... don't really know what this is. Nor how you did it. But it evokes something and I like it. The color of the background, being off-white, really complements the black and red of the tears, and the black shadow-esque border looks really nice. That's all I got, though. I'm sorry I can't really give you much more feedback on it, mate.

(I figured out why I'm having a hard time ranking the art, though. It's basically trying to choose between technical, creative, and emotional)
#44 · 1
I only submitted in the pic round, but I liked the timing for it compared to before. (I'm in the US.)
#45 · 1
· on Tri-Linear
That's a really good way of putting why you're having a hard time ranking the art, by the way. I think that summarizes the entrants pretty well all by itself.
#46 ·
· on Expert Amateur
I could only hope the impresarios were impressed with the impressionists’ impressions.

Well, that's the best sentence I've read in a while.

Seriously, though. This story has such a good dynamic between Rares and RD, and manages to show off Dash's pride in a way that complements her rather than makes it frustrating. Dash's quick mastery over the painting is a little short-story-ish, but it also makes sense in a way. She is a natural at a lot of things.

In the interest of reducing repetition, I'm gonna direct you to Coffee's comment. He really nailed it.
#47 · 1
Being an Americanier, I found this timing more convenient overall. 9/10 -- Would recommend to business associates.
#48 · 1
· on Meat for the Grinder · >>KwirkyJ
Genre: Soufriere

Thoughts: The Canterville Burrito Barn is strong with this one. Author, either I know exactly what you're referencing and I appreciate the connection on that level, or you've stumbled into a rich history that's well worth diving into. Your move.

Speaking of things I appreciate, I confess that I have a weakness for pre-reformation Sunset, and the one we get here is a wicked tease. What I mean is that it's interesting to see her stranger-in-a-strange-land aspects explored in light of the fact that she obviously managed to survive and thrive in both an alien world and body. Seeing her wreak havoc on Flash's attraction here doesn't just come across to me as fantasy wish fulfillment; it's part survival mechanism, and part seeing Sunset push her (considerable) limits.

As I say that, though, I fully admit that I could be biased in approaching this, and I might well be reading something into this that isn't meant to be there. Maybe all we're supposed to take from this is "sexy Sunset gets a free burrito" (which probably isn't a Soufriere fic, but which could be). For what it's worth, it works quite well on that level as well. This has solid pacing, clean spelling/grammar, and effective use of imagery & emotion. Yes, Sunset's teasing is over-the-top, and Flash's clinging-to-a-life-preserver response is a bit OTT as well. It's got a definite fantasy wish fulfillment aspect. It executes that pretty darn well, though.

But that's putting aside the other, deeper aspects that I think are going on here. Perhaps the story's greatest shortcoming is that Sunset pulls back suddenly and the fic kinda screeches to a halt. But that even makes sense within the realm of her teasing/survival/dominance mode. She knows she's set the hook with Flash, and there's no reason not to call the free meal a win and hit the road.

Remember, Sunset/Flash was not supposed to be a healthy ship. Doesn't mean you didn't capture it well.

Tier: Top Contender
#49 ·
· on Dashed Hopes
Genre: Third Studio Album By American Alternative Rock Band The Smashing Pumpkins

Thoughts: I've spent a while thinking about this one, and I find myself continuing to go back to my first reaction after reading it. That was to go back through the fic and try to figure out how long we spent with AJ alternately trying to coax Dash into saying something, or telling her she didn't have time to wait for Dash to start talking--then comparing that to the length of time they spent truly talking back and forth, or the length of time we saw Dash processing their interaction. I don't feel happy with that as a reaction, in part because it renders my chief piece of feeback something along the lines of, "Overhaul the pacing, yo." And I'd like to do better than that within the realm of constructive criticism, but I am hung up on that and a couple days of trying to un-stick it aren't getting me anywhere.

Thing is, I think I see what this is trying to do, and I think it's a solid concept. Dash has things she wants to say to AJ, and we're meant to dwell within the melancholy of her inability to say it. I've even seen this sort of thing work before! There's nothing wrong with melancholia, or even a straight-up mood piece. I've done those as well. I rather like the genre when it works.

There are flashes of it working here. I like how the earliest paragraphs speak about Dash's physical reactions and experiences from the feelings stuck inside her head. There's a transition from that style of physical description to more of a narrative statement that she's feeling various things after it. IMO, when you can keep things more visceral and "showy," it buys more room for readers to follow along and experience the characters' feelings right along with them. Bringing more of that out would help set a hook that you can use to reel readers in.

Also, IMO, AJ be a bit grumpy up in here. I buy that she's busy, but right now her abrasiveness serves as an impediment to developing the emotional aspects of this IMO. What would accentuate Dash's frustration and melancholy (IMO) would be for us the reader to see more openness and warmth from AJ, and yet to have that sit in contrast to Dash's more struggle-filled experience of the moments with her.

Tier: Keep Developing
#50 · 1
· on Meat for the Grinder
You seem to have gotten everything I intended and dreaded about this one, so have a slice of cake!

This was definitely Sunset in early survival mode, first in her working to establish dominance in the social situation, but also digging for any and all information she can use. In just about every sense, she is exploiting Flash, and he has nary a clue. That Sunset has learned about and to weaponize so many of these extremely nuanced (or at least socially complicated) behaviors speaks to both her intelligence and ruthlessness. Sunset Shimmer is the most dangerous adversary the students ever encountered. She is cunning, ruthless, and will not hesitate to exploit every single one of you.

Flash is definitely a weak point here, and the "wish fulfillment" angle is a valid concern, but as you pointed out this is not at all a healthy relationship. His guiding motivation here amounts to little more than Don't mess this up, don't mess this up, don't mess this up.

The ending is so abrupt for two reasons. In-narrative, as I said (with my "fridge moment", which led me to write this), the purpose of the date was completed, and she hadn't yet mastered closing out the evening gracefully. In reality, it was abrupt because I ran out of time and things for them to talk about.

Finally, as I said in my own comment, this scene really belongs in something longer, to give a narrative purpose. As it stands, on the surface it is just about Sunset getting a free dinner-and-a-movie. Stories are hard.

Coffee, how can you nail soaccurately what I was on about with the story, yet leave me with no idea what you mean by 'Burrito Barn' reference or how Soufriere applies! (...it's a Caribbean town?)
#51 · 2
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude
Oh wow, I wasn't expecting to place with this piece. It's a bit of an oddball - I essentially wrote a story about the Nightmare being a creeper and Luna deciding to play Minecraft while heavily channeling my 15 year old self's love of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. I'm amazed I made it work at all, and I'm glad you all liked it - thank you!

I don't know about you, but I would buy that game in a heartbeat. Space Horse Princess builds fortress on the moon? Hell yes.

Perhaps my greatest weakness in this fandom is that I am morbidly fascinated by the two OG Alicorns and their stories. I do write about other things sometimes, but it's these two that I keep coming back to. Ah, well - there are worse vices to have.

I couldn't get a good read on what the Nightmare was after, exactly, but did perceive that it is deeply invested in Luna (its host, in more ways than one?) and it had this sense of unrelenting... hunger? It wants Luna, and while it will give her space it won't ever go away.

You got a pretty solid read on the Nightmare actually! The key conceit I was working with is that the Nightmare is ultimately a part of Luna. Something conjured from the depths of her psyche and dark magic, and as such is deeply and inextricably drawn to her. It's obsession made natural, like an electron drawn towards a positive ion, striving to complete the whole it was once part of.

I'm less clear on Luna. She's grieving, then she's seizing upon something to do, then... seizing onto the only other entity available? Her shift(s) came across as abrupt, and it's difficult to intuit why she makes these behavioral changes -- not enough space to explore it, in part.

Mixed feelings on this one.

Totally fair. I was trying to explore the grief and isolation that Luna would have gone through - after four hundred years alone, I think most people would turn to the only company they had left. I think the pacing particularly fell apart in the second half, after Luna gets up, but it's a bit iffy throughout.

Thanks for reading, and for the feedback! It's always appreciated.

Heh, I suppose that could be the genre! I was thinking more Mooncraft as Light_Striker alluded to. Building for the sake of building, of leaving a monument, not so much making a civilisation.

Anyway: wow. That's a lot of feedback, and a lot of it very flattering. Thank you!
my biggest quibble: Luna's relatively quick turnaround.

Yup. Totally understandable. I'm actually reasonably happy with how it came out given the whole 'short shorts' thing, but if/when I rework this it will definitely have a bit of fleshing out just to give the isolation time to breathe a little.

But she just stands up all of a sudden, and boom, it's SimCity-time. I can clearly see the conversation leading up to it, yet it still feels like a sudden shift. Maybe that could be mitigated by planting some earlier seeds about wanting to build? I have to think there could be some space in the midst of repeating "is this not what you wanted" for someone to drop hints about building that empire.

This is very good advice, that I will most likely be taking! Although there is, in story, a massive gap between Luna standing up and the constructed city it is pretty abrupt narratively, and there could definitely be more to hint towards this being the outcome of the story.

I'll also poke at the kiss at the end. It kind of makes sense, but also kind of comes out of nowhere. I totally get why Luna's embrace of the Nightmare would go in that direction. But for that moment to carry weight, IMO it would need more buildup than what we get right now.

That's very fair. It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision to add that, and I went back and forth on keeping it or not, but I just felt it worked for where I'd taken the characters (or at least where I'd envisioned them to be). There's definitely more I'd want to add if I expand this. I'd make the Nightmare's obsession with its creator (and subsequent disillusionment when she spends four hundred years sitting in one place) clearer, and there was originally going to be a scene of Luna mourning her weird lonely little world back on Earth too.

THIS IS EXACTLY IT! Oh man, thank you for saying this, I wasn't sure if I'd played this right. Luna and the Nightmare's relationship isn't supposed to be romantic at all - it is, as you said, desperation (on both their parts), resignation (on Luna's) and a little bit of obsession (on the Nightmare's, although I don't think I really conveyed it in this version). Thanks for reading, glad you liked it!
#52 · 1
· on Tri-Linear · >>Light_Striker
I saw this at first as bloody clawmarks. Evokes latent frustration that the artist in the story might have been feeling. A solid piece that is going in my upper tier.
#53 · 2
· on Ottava caduta · >>Light_Striker
A great visual pun that unites the source story's elements. Execution is slightly rough but none the worse for it. This piece will go in my upper tier; thanks for creating it, Artist.
#54 ·
· on Carcere · >>Light_Striker
Clever alt text hints at the real game: this is surely inspired by Piranesi's Carceri d'Invenzione. A clever stab at evoking his Byzantine architectural fantasies and emphasizing that no matter how homely Luna may make the moon, it's still her prison. A top slater, definitely.
#55 · 1
· on Carcere · >>GroaningGreyAgony
WOO, love me some black backgrounds. The vibe it evokes is definitely indicative of the moon-centric setpiece of the original story, but it without a doubt holds up as a merit-worthy piece of art on its own. Wonderfully done!
#56 · 1
· on One Thousand Years of Solitude
YES MAN, I get hype when artists take risks, and the kiss was a risk that totally made the story. I really hope this one makes its way over to fimfiction. More people need to check this out.
#57 ·
FYI, I've now written down (short) comments on the two art pieces that aren't mine; I'll post them unchanged after the reveal. :-)
#58 · 1
· on Carcere · >>GroaningGreyAgony
[This was written before the reveal to avoid indirect revelation of which artwork was mine, and is being posted now unchanged.]

This clearly had a lot of work put into it! So much detail, composition and perspective are balanced, feels a bit Escher toward the left but that works. So many little touches, the spires that look like horns, the endless, ubiquitous statues of the Queen.

I'm going to guess… pencil drawing, possibly digitally inverted?

I'm sure I didn't realize the relevance of the text part before >>GroaningGreyAgony pointed it out, though I saw the reference to the Montes Pyraeneus and thought that was great.

I'm very curious what the inscription under “NOX ÆTERNA” is meant to be now.

Thanks for submitting!
#59 · 1
· on Tri-Linear
[This was written before the reveal to avoid indirect revelation of which artwork was mine, and is being posted now unchanged.]

I have some trouble “getting” this one. They read as bloody clawmarks to me at first… they don't match any of Dash's paintings exactly, and the background doesn't really look canvas-y… it definitely seems like an offbeat interpretation of the story rather than a straightforward one.

I saw the possibility of “evocation of frustration” like >>GroaningGreyAgony pointed out, and I kind of like that interpretation, but something about the presentation isn't quite visceral enough for me to have it stick as “yeah, I'm pretty sure that's how I'm going to see this”. So ultimately I dunno.

Whatever the case, thanks for submitting! I'll be very curious to see what medium and process and idea you used for this if you do a retrospective, artist.
#60 · 1
· on Ottava caduta
Ottava caduta, the retrospective:

Silver! Thank you all—well, with only three pic entries, we were all guaranteed to get at least bronze, but still, I'm glad I did this.

This is my first pic entry in the Writeoffs, and it was a completely impulsive inspiration on the last day of the pic period. The medium was some of the pens I had lying around on my desk on some nice paper I had lying around on a shelf, followed by photography of the “well, I don't have my scanner set up, so whatever” type, then some digital touchup in GIMP to erase a particularly egregious lining mistake and to fiddle with the color balance.

Blather and/or interpretation notes, in no particular order:

Make sure you've read the prompt story first, of course, and much of this may already be obvious to people who have some musical background.

The music itself was just as improvised as the rest of it. I read the story as implying a cadenza, and this seemed plausible as the ending of a cello cadenza leading back into the orchestral section, matching the ending of the story. I took the liberty here of assuming that only one of the C♯ notes had been changed to a C♮, mainly because that let me bend and exaggerate the natural sign into a trigger shape against its ledger-line-and-beam “frame”. The ending trill in the front of the barrel is very long for the passage that precedes it, in reality just because it worked visually, but I like to think of it as Octavia sitting there drawing it out while cringing and waiting for the bullet that the whole notes turn into at the end of the tie. Followed, hopefully, by an actual rest this time, rather than da capo all'eternità.

Fun extra: the specific C♮ in question is the lowest note a cello can play, and therefore can only be played as an open string as opposed to fingered, with a noticeable difference in timbre from the C♯ right above it. I like to think of Octavia leaning into her “error” that way to jab at whoever is “listening”.

The piece at the front where a monopod or bipod would be on a real weapon is based on a modified idea of a cello tailpin. Hopefully that part was obvious, but I had to distort the shape a lot to get it to fit in the picture, and I'm not sure it worked.

The title is a play on the “ottava sopra” and “ottava sotto” musical markings for “octave above” and “octave below”, but instead meaning “fallen octave” or “dead octave”, referring to the main character.

The caption uses “con silenziatore” as a play on the “con sordino” marking for “with a mute”, but instead meaning “with a silencer”. “loco a tempo” combines the “loco” and “a tempo” markings which refer to “in the original octave” and “at the original speed”; it's meant to ambiguously refer to either restarting the time loop or exiting it, but I'm not sure how well that actually works.

The shape of the rifle was strongly influenced by a photograph of an M24 SWS from Wikimedia Commons by Dr. Zachi Evenor and MathKnight.

The clefs were originally drawn in a subtly purple color, intended to match Octavia's cutie mark, but this didn't really come through; I should've dug through my drawer for a more vivid purple to use.

Fun extra: the secondary melody line in the scope is a more specific reference to events in the prompt story. The story describes a death in seat 4B leading to a shriek from seat 5A, so the scope melody starts on the note B4 and rises to an expressive peak at A5.

Review responses:


I agree that the perspective is troublesome, and this is entirely my mistake; while I was in the middle of doing it, I was treating it too much as a purely 2D work. Worse, I actually saw some of the mismatch at the time, but part of my mind brushed it off as not mattering. I'm glad you took the time to describe it!

The underlying reason the butt is that way is of course because it's extended outward from a restyled bass clef. I hadn't considered the “with the front pointing partly into the page” interpretation at all, so I didn't realize the effect that would have on how I needed to handle the rest of the edges.

With the repurposed tailpin, I was too focused on trying to get the shape to work at all, then just didn't notice that I should possibly rotate it or otherwise make it more three-dimensional.

As for the lighting, it wasn't exactly planned, in that it came from the way I happened to have a lamp set up on my desk plus a color side effect of a way I was trying to tweak the contrast in postprocessing, but when I saw it, I decided to keep it, because it looked appropriate for implying a stage light. I'm pleased that it worked for you.

Thanks for reviewing!


And thank you for reviewing too; I'm glad that you enjoyed it, and that the awkward execution apparently didn't ruin it.

Hope to see you all again in future Writeoffs!
#61 ·
· on Carcere
>>MLPmatthewl419, >>thebandbrony, >>Light_Striker


Thanks for the praise, the wonderful comments, and the gold! Congrats to Light Striker and CoffeeMinion on their medals.

Reiterating what I said in my fake review: This is a reference to the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an artist and architect noted for his detailed etchings of fantastic architecture. What he could not construct in real life, he built in his mind.

While I mentioned his Carceri series, I actually chose a plate from a different work, the Opere Varie di Archiettura. I inverted the colors to give it a ghostly look, then did a loose freehand copy in chalk pencil on black paper, omitting most of Piranesi's exquisite details and modifying others to add pony value. The image was not traced at any point, but done by eye and hand.

I encourage everyone to have a close look at the image above in its full resolution; Piranesi was an intricate and dedicated artist and the detail is amazing.

My one nitpick is that in the top middle, that piece with the wings...

This is deliberate. Piranesi was including impossible figures in his works 300 years before Escher, and I especially wanted to add one to give a hint at Luna's mental state. (Have a careful look at plate 14 from the Carceri.)

I'm very curious what the inscription under “NOX ÆTERNA” is meant to be now.

It's a jumble; I didn't compose any text there. If you grok Latin, you can read what Piranesi put in that spot on the original work.
#62 · 1
*That feeling when you have all your art guesses correct - but then change it literally last minute*