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Divide and Conquer · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 4
It is time for miniature writings of cartoon horse program to distract us from the rest of the everything!
#2 · 3
Hah! Got a prompt in this time!
#3 ·
· · >>Winston >>KwirkyJ
Wot does TBD meanz?
#4 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
To Be Determined
#5 ·
To Be Defined
#6 · 2
A lot of good prompts for this round. I can't wait to see which one we get!
#7 · 3
Perhaps a definition more specific to this situation: "It is yet undetermined what This round's prompt will Be, and you may Directly influence it."

There was a round where 'TBD' became the elected prompt, which was a somewhat interesting experience.
#8 · 3
I'm in!
#9 · 2
#10 ·
· on Division Bell
I said I would enter this contest and finally I was unable to wrench out any workable idea that would fit this prompt. Oh, don’t get me wrong: not because this is a pony round; I would've been unable to write anything even for an OF round.

Nevertheless, this is the kind of story I could’ve written, had I been more inspired. I like it very much. TBH, I had thought about writing something connected to Nightmare Moon. I didn't do it because writing princesses is about the only kind of FiM fic I could sew together lately, and that has been a spate of rather distressing experiences.

I won’t get involved in the slate phase, so my opinion counts for little, but I enjoyed reading this one. Thanks for writing.
#11 ·
· on Five Hundred Little Zombies
The idea of taking something like Five Hundred Little Murders and doing this to it is really funny. The execution is competent and squarely hits all the tropes it’s going for, but it does feel a bit… mechanical, maybe? Like, the opening nails the story’s tone, and then from there the story just proceeds without any surprises. There’s a few points that seem like they’re aiming to be punchlines, but the broomstick bit was the only one that really landed for me. (That one was definitely a high point). Overall fun and pretty solid.
#12 · 1
· on Heavenly Bodies · >>libertydude
My first thought was "WaitI thought Clover was a stallion". But that's unimportant. This feels like a small bit of a much bigger story that I wish existed as I would totally read it. The princesses coming from space in a mysterious meteor sounds like some pretty nifty headcanon. I also appreciate the emotional complexity of the scenario in regards to Clover and Cosmos in what needed to be sacrificed to save Equestria.
#13 · 2
· on Division Bell · >>KwirkyJ
I really like this one. I feel sorry for Luna. It's clear the thousand year wait has ravaged her anger and left her full of guilt. She's ready to throw in the towel. I hope in this alternate reality she's able to get what she wants.
#14 ·
· on Five Hundred Little Zombies
“Dalmatian at 3:00" Should have been Dalmation at 1:01 but oh well. I like the core idea but I feel like you limited yourself by tying your idea up to another story. Lucky for you Five Hundred Little Murders is a super popular fic but imagine someone who hadn't heard of it before? I hadn't heard of it until Hombind name dropped the title.
I honestly think a story about Fluttershy instructing Ponyville on how to stop an oncoming horde of zombie animals crawling out of the Everfree because she has experience in that area would have been just as good without running that risk.
#15 ·
· on How I met my spouse.
This one is a sweet little short. The amount of content is very well suited to the minific length, probably better than anything else from this batch—it's exactly as long as it needs to be, and no longer. It wouldn’t hurt to polish the basic mechanics (sentence structure, dialogue punctuation, comma placement, etc), but nothing here was so rough that it got hard to understand. I would've liked it if the protagonists had been a bit more distinctive.

This definitely captures the manipulative benevolence I expect from the CelestAI program. I like how the story doesn't specify whether the protagonists' in-game relationship ever transfers to their "real world" selves, or whether it draws them into the simulation without them realizing who's behind the other avatar.
#16 ·
· on How I met my spouse. · >>libertydude
I know nothing about Optimalverse so I feel really lost about this story. Forgive my ignorance.

He wanted to be closer, but Dominic knew in his heart that Kyle didn't see him that way. Ex-girlfriend and all, plus Princess CelestAI sort of hinted at so. Currently he was with another called Princess Cadence who was helping him, well... her, get ready as Cookie tonight. To be the person in pony pad would be a dream come true.

I can't quite tell how much information Dominic knows. But I think the CelestAI isn't being totally honest about these people who turn into ponies. At the same time I honestly don't understand why she's being dishonest. It seems both Dominic and Kyle have mutual feelings towards each other.
#17 ·
· on A Fashionista's Guilty Pleasure · >>libertydude
The premise here is fun, but this seems like it’s in a sort of uncanny valley of zaniness. Rarity is being too silly for me to take this seriously as a story played straight, but it’s not *so* zany that I want to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride—the secondary characters are too nonconfrontational and reasonable for that. I wonder if this might have worked better by leaning harder into the craziness.
#18 ·
· on Heavenly Bodies · >>libertydude
I like a lot of the concepts here. That said, it feels too crowded. There’s a few moments of solid melodrama, but they have no space to breathe before some new angle comes along and the story’s focus jumps away. I think I can see what you’re going for, but while the stripped-down nature of the minific works well for the time pressure with Discord, I thought it made the past-tense relationship development with Cosmos too hurried to really land solidly.
#19 ·
· on Division Bell
There’s a lot going on here. The atmosphere is the strongest point IMO. Especially in the first half, the quiet sense that something is off—that what should be beautiful and wholesome is instead just tedious—really comes through.

Something about the second half isn’t quite landing right for me, though. The atmosphere from the first half is still there, but I don’t know that it fits as well, thematically. The bloodlessness of the first half implicitly sets up the story’s conflict, but in the second half, that same bloodlessness feels like it’s lowering the stakes. Since we’re so deep in Luna’s head, and all she can feel is futility, it means that the glory of the past and the hope for the future both come through pretty quietly.

Overall this is good, I don’t start poking at stuff like this until a lot of other things are going right.
#20 · 1
· on Five Hundred Little Zombies
As someone who hasn't read "Five Hundred Little Murders", I'm going to examine this fic outside of that story's context. What I think works comes from the moments of Fluttershy being a cute little demon slayer, keeping her canon kindness with her dire role as a gravemaker. The description of the animals' various states of decay was likewise well-done, making the fic very uncomfortable at spots (in a good way).

I think it's mostly the clashing tones that drag this story down for me. It seems a little too serious in its presentation, particularly in the beginning, and mixing it in with a comedic second-half just didn't gel well. Flitter also doesn't seem to have much of a nuanced repertoire with Fluttershy, which makes their jokes during the zombie attack feel rather stale. The end result just feels like an interesting concept that needed a little more cleaning up for it to be fully effective.
#21 ·
· on A Fashionista's Guilty Pleasure
I think >>Hornbind hit the nail on the head with this one. The story's got the right kind of voice for Rarity and the situation is definitely inspired. Seeing Rarity enraptured with a terrible dress and trying to come to terms with her fascination toward it would legitimately be a funny fic. The moments that focus on her struggle between burning the dress and buying it were the best parts for me.

Yet there's just something about the piece that feels out of place. As Hornbind said, "an uncanny valley of zaniness" where things are almost zany enough, but not quite. I think it comes from the final scene with the mirror. Such a literal representation of Rarity's struggle could have been great in either a serious or comedic fic, but the execution here makes it seem like the fic is trying to be a little too serious in at least one aspect (conquering oneself). It makes a largely comedic fic serious in a sense, and I think that is really messing with our perception of the story. Mixing comedy and drama can work, but a sudden swerve into drama after such hijinx can just feel weird.
#22 ·
· on Heavenly Bodies
Going to go along with >>pigeonsmall and >>Hornbind on this one in regards to plotting. The pressure of Discord attacking works great for a minific, and doing an ultimate sacrifice to close off the story works just fine. However, the situation's background is almost too juicy for the fic's own good, with a lot of questions regarding Cosmos (an interesting choice) and Clover's relationship. I was honestly more curious about that story than this one, since we already know where the story is going once we hear Discord and see the two sisters laying on the ground. The fic, in that storytelling sense, was successful.
#23 ·
· on How I met my spouse.
As far as structure goes, this is a really strong fic. The conflict is clear, the manipulative nature of CelestAI is well-portrayed, and the underlying tension gives the relationship dynamic between Dominic and Kyle some hefty weight. It was also interesting that the story was set in the early 2010s; a lot of fics would go to modern-day to create a time fraught with insecurity and worry, but the early 2010s were filled with just as many (if not somewhat different) problems as we do today. The touch about the characters hating corporations, yet still enslaving themselves to a corporate AI was darkly humorous too.

But I do have to side with >>pigeonsmall in regards to CelestAI's motivations. She's being coy about Dominic and Kyle's identities for no apparent reason. If she's trying to suck them into the game world, then why not just be straight-up with them about her matchmaking? One would think that would endear them more to CelestAI than openly denouncing the other in words. It feels like a case where the author needed to remind the reader of CelestAI's manipulative nature, but couldn't think of a more natural way of depicting it. It also doesn't help that we don't see why Dominic and Kyle's relationship deteriorated; heck, even they don't seem to know how it happened. Honestly, I thought the story's twist was going to reveal that CelestAI drove them apart subtly, only to bring them back together explicitly so that they would love her even more. It would come off more like an abusive relationship, where one party demeans and alienates their partner, only to shower them with praises and affection to win them back. Here, however, the manipulation feels half-baked, like CelestAI was just doing it because that's what her character does in the other FiO fics.

All in all, the fic is a puzzle with all the right pieces, just not placed in the exact right positions.
#24 ·
· on Division Bell
I really like this concept of Luna actually winning as Nightmare Moon, but having to face the consequences of an eternal night. It's an idea I've seen done many times, but this is the first one in a while that I think really captures the despair Luna would feel. The fact that she knows her pupil may turn against her makes the agony just that much more palpable. It basically becomes a reverse imprisonment, despite the ostensible win; I almost wouldn't be surprised if Celestia came back as Daybreaker after all these years, imprisoned herself by hatred. Just a really solid idea executed well in a short-span.
#25 ·
· on A Crime Against the Humanities
When you watch a Rarity episode, but she doesn't say "Darling" at any point
#26 ·
· on Heavenly Bodies
The tension you have going in the setting really works, aided perhaps by the opening being a kissing cousin to the Moria ledger ("They have taken the bridge and the second hall. We cannot get out." or something like that). Beyond that, however, this strikes me as a headcanon / origin idea in search of a story, which I don't find particulary interesting as a story.
#27 ·
· on How I met my spouse.
I posit that the above reviews are missing the crucial aspect about CelestAI: she is an optimizer with one objective: to satisfy values through friendship and ponies. She is guiding these characters into a relationship as ponies rather than as humans about ponies: Cookie and Gumdrop becoming romantically involved as ponies (A) satisfies their values (through ponies), and (B) greaty increases their probability of choosing to immigrate, where Celestia can more optimally achieve her goal. Protip: Cadance is just a puppet -- it's all CelestAI. The author has, I believe, correctly and expertly navigated her character, at great risk... not entering the story armed with this information about CelestAI is a recipe for confusion; I don't think that there is enough in the text for the reader to infer (deduce? both?) with any certainty what she is up to.
#28 ·
· on Division Bell
Seconding >>pigeonsmall

The concept and tone here works, but the execution feels a bit heavy-handed and not fully thought-out. It is unclear how correct is Luna's assessment of Sunset; it is unclear that Luna's imagined scenario [they fight] is in fact the only, or even a probable, outcome. Perhaps the above indicate the dissociation brought on by guilt and the anxiety of Celestia's return, but the story doesn't seem to explore that at all.

Instead of 'obliges', I am convinced the verb should have been 'obeys'.

I do not grasp the significance of the title.
#29 ·
· on Heavenly Bodies
It's rare to get everything together to make a self contained story in a minific round. This one got most of the way there. I agree that some elements would be stronger if given more time to mature.
#30 ·
· on A Fashionista's Guilty Pleasure
The zaniness can be tweaked just a tad, but I quite enjoyed this one. Thanks for writing it, author!
#31 ·
· on How I met my spouse.
No one else has addressed the grammar issues with this cute tale of star crossed lovers, so I will. You should (in second draft) be keeping an eye on your articles and tenses ('Kyle trudged...). Sentence fragments ('Wasn't too sure why') are okay in character dialogue but should be used sparingly if at all in the narrator voice.
#32 ·
· on Division Bell
I haven't much to add, but I appreciate the storytelling details in this exploration of an alternate universe; thanks for writing it, author.
#33 ·
· on Five Hundred Little Zombies
This is a fun riff on the inspirational fic, but it's a bit rushed at the end from space trouble. Give it another draft and fill it out, author.
#34 ·
· on A Crime Against the Humanities
Its like you paused a video on the exact moment she cracked. I really like this. It's just Rarity making a silly face but for some reason using the medium of chalk in tandem with the black background gives it the slightest unsettling vibe.