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

Organised by CoffeeMinion
Word limit 500–1250
Show rules for this event
#1 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Man, the timing on this round is weeeeeeird.
#2 · 3
· · >>Rao >>PinoyPony
No kidding, fam.

I remember pushing out the timing of FiSS last year when things started to go from merely a bit off the deep end, straight into the Mariana Trench. I didn’t really foresee where the world would be at right now. Truth be told, I might’ve pushed it back out more if I had remembered that it would start back up now.

But y’know what? I’m gonna write some Horse anyway. I hope others might consider doing so as well. Now more than ever, I feel like Horse is where it’s at.
#3 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>PinoyPony
With any luck I won't be in the ER through this writing period like I was for the last mini, so hey! Let's all do our best in hope for a better post-January 2021. Maybe we'll end up in a Marinara Trench instead this year, who knows. I've given up on trying to predict things.
#4 · 1
Sounds like I’ve missed some things. I hope you’re doing better now! And I could definitely go for some marinara, or margherita, or perhaps even a margarita.
#5 · 2
Well, I'm in. It's impossible to predict what available time/opportunity I'll have for the remainder of the writing period, so first-and-a-half draft is what's submitted at this time. Please don't give me gold by default again. That was really sad.
#6 · 1
Oh! Mariana Trench? Tell me when you are visiting because it's close to the Philippines! Pinoy specialty!
(I'm absolutely failing at executing said joke... made sense in my head, but not on paper, but hey, that happens all the time.)
#7 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
I'm not likely to be in the writing phase for this round. I'll see about the art. Good luck, everyone!
#8 · 1

I'll try to make my entry:

Particularly picturesque, then. :)

#9 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion

Got another 24 hours? Or did I miscalculate GMT to PST again?

#10 · 2
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
Yes indeed! Due to the website hiccuping for a while this evening, I was persuaded to bump things out another 24 hours. I hope this will bring more benefit than frustration to my fellow horsewordsmiths.
#11 · 2


I hadn't visited the website since this morning, so I apparently missed all the excitement. As usual... :)

#12 · 2
I'm in, folks.

This is not a drill.

I'm in.
#13 · 1
· on The "Us" in "Do Well" · >>CoffeeMinion
First Impressions:

Way to start off the round! This piece is polished (at least in my eyes) to the point where it has a clear direction of where it wants to go. Usually the integrity of a piece can make or break a round for me, and this one does well! (Pun intended). The emotions and the setting are picturesque and convey an energy to it that give it character. I, for one, do picture the pallid chambers of the Castle, casting grey light upon the faces of our aged heroes. Kinda emanates despair and sorrow, but in the same fashion, a warmth in the memories and the light given off by the treehouse of harmony.

Now, as for the meaning of the treehouse of harmony saying 'Us', I'm a little lost. Sorry, but I may be too daft to see the deeper meaning of it. But, I may amend my statement later. This is first impressions, after all, and I don't know how the rest of this round is going to go, so a revisit may do it justice. For now, this review will suffice.
#14 · 1
· on The Day That Twilight Sparkle Shat Out 500 Words · >>Baal Bunny >>Hristabilicus
Genre: [strongbad]TOTAL CRAP[/strongbad]

Thoughts: It's fics like this that will always keep me coming back to the Writeoff, even if whole years and nations make like a lead weight at a balloon convention. What can I say but that this is equal parts silly and literately sophisticated? Yes, it's a story about Twilight dropping The Deuce, but it's also got "fertile sentences streaming out in coils." It's a joy to behold (even if we have to cover up some of the Etuskan art... those ancients sure knew how to party).

The malapropisms vis-a-vis Twixlight Glimsickle at the beginning (and Spork at the end) feel a bit like a hanging Chad, though (in a reference sure to confound younglings from here to Virginia). Did Twilight eat a magic book, or just a book-book? Why did that cause the names to go funkier than a grand railroad? And was she ultimately trying to get words out on a page or get words out on a rhododendron? I.e., was her primary goal to read or write before her plans all went to crap?

So, there are clearly some logical head-scratchers here that could be tightened down a bit. But those don't really detract from this being a fragrant offering at our feet. In fact, the kids might go so far as to say this story is the shi--

Tier: Strong
#15 · 2
· on Times and Seasons · >>WritingSpirit >>PinoyPony
A nice little scene:

It's almost painfully straight-forward, though, without much in the way of complications. The story's single issue gets introduced and immediately resolved without us hearing any of AJ's internal deliberations. I'd recommend expanding this by adding an earlier scene where we get to see the expanded Apple family in a prickly interaction with the expanded Flimflam family--are there wives and other children involved? That'll increase the tension for the scene here and also let us get an idea of Sprocket Heart--great name, by the way--for ourselves.

Also, usually in stories with AJ, I find myself tripping over the author's attempts to reproduce her accent: awful things like "Ah" instead of "I"--and that applies to "mah" instead of "my," too, something gets me frowny--or dropping all the "g"s from the ends of "ing" words. Here, I'd actually like more indications of her unique speaking style. A line like “I’ve noticed that you’ve been very productive this month” sounds very formal in AJ's mouth: maybe something more like "I notice you been mighty productive this month," saying the same thing but with words and constructions that're more along the lines of the way she talks in the show.

Still, like I said, nicely done.

#16 · 1
· on Manifestation · >>KwirkyJ
The way Twilight's characterized:

Really bothered me throughout. It's just that I can't imagine her acting this way at all, and while "character assassination comedy" is a fine and venerable genre, I didn't find this at all funny.

If you're trying to make this a comedy where Twilight's behaving crazily and the others are reacting crazily to it, I'd say you need to go crazier. 'Cause right now, it's just making me wrinkle my brow at it instead of making me laugh...

#17 ·
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience · >>Baal Bunny
Discord does have a point. A Chaotic point, at that one, but a point nonetheless. Keep in mind (if my MLP trivia bears me correct), that there are two pairs of aunts and nieces; Celestia and Cadance, and then Twilight and Flurry, thus connecting the chain of five of them together by some fashion or another. He's the odd one out!

I love the literary tricks used to portray Discord and his never-tiresome antics. Especially of the use of turning a metaphor literal (The arms shooting up like rockets did nicely for this one). While Discord's actions can be zany and attract the attention of the reader, it still gives adequate attention to the problem with Discord (presumably drowning his feelings by rushing into a marriage).

As for the other things that this needed to improve on, I get the slight feeling that this was part of a bigger whole, a vignette (If that's the correct usage), but as for the word limit on the Writeoff, I won't hound you on that part. Altogether, though, this piece does what its supposed to do.

Thanks for writing!
#18 ·
· on Conflicting Signals · >>Baal Bunny >>WritingSpirit >>KwirkyJ
Personally, this one's been hard to parse (at least from my viewpoint):

while Luna sits folded like origami on a pillow on the floor against the legs of the comfy chair
I'm a little confused at how she sitting? Is she laying down? Sitting up on her haunches?

Without a word, Luna circles her free hand around half the hem of her sweater, like a tupperware lid, and lifts. Every inch from the top of her pants to the folds of her sweater, where there should be an undershirt or her rich indigo skin, are layer upon layer of ivory white fabric girdling her torso. I hear a gasp and realize it must be mine.
Very confused with this also. Did she roll up her sweater? Undo a bandage?

"Cyanoacrylate," Luna mutters.
Why is she referencing an adhesive? (I had to look this one up)

This fic leaves more questions answered than unanswered. So, Luna is going through a phase of wearing bandages? Forgive me if I missed a detail, but I don't know what brought this on, and why in front of Macintosh, no least... I know it mentions that this is hardly a first time, but I feel like I'm peering into a room full of giggling teenagers and not understanding a word that they're saying, or more precisely, their 'lingo'. Also, Macintosh offers massages, which is definitely a first in this case, but why in the moment? was he provoked? Altogether, what's the reader supposed to take away from this piece?

Sorry if I seem overly harsh with this one. But as for the things I liked, the positive, I liked the interactions of (I presume Celestia, but I may be completely wrong) teasing Luna and the playful banter between the two. You've definitely got the relationship and emotional side of it right, it's just that some of the sentences need a bit of re-dressing (tried to make a bandage pun, but as you can see, totally failed at it).
#19 · 1
· on Conflicting Signals · >>WritingSpirit >>KwirkyJ
I was every bit:

As confused as >>PinoyPony, I think. I had no idea who the narrator was until Luna calls her "sister," for instance, but I realized pretty quickly after that that it really didn't matter since none of the characters here seem to have anything to do with the characters whose names they're using. I mean, "alternate universe" is another fine and venerable genre, but to turn Celestia, Luna, and Big Mac into whoever these people are--I don't know; millennial hipsters?--seems more than a bit far afield for a My Little Pony fan fiction contest.

This would work much better for me in an "original fiction" round, but even then, it's more a scene than a story. The problem with Luna that's brought up at the beginning kind of gets resolved at the end, I guess, but I'm not sure how, and I'm not even sure what the problem is...

#20 · 1
· on Manifestation · >>WritingSpirit >>KwirkyJ
Genre: Thinly veiled political commentary?

Thoughts: I was hoping that this would land differently than it did in its final line. Don't get me wrong: kudos for successfully executing a setup and payoff that I didn't see coming. The circumstances are a bit odd, but the results are internally consistent with Starlight's experience with Twilight in this fic. Maybe the issue for me as a reader is that, to make this work fully, I have to buy that Twilight does stuff like this to Starlight all the time, without regarding her preferences and feelings. I have no problem buying that to some extent. I'm not sure if I buy it to quite the extent that's being asked of me, though; at least not without additional setup.

However, the fic we've got is the fic we've got, and in many ways I think it is well-composed and successful. I love the expressiveness of the prose, particularly in the segment with the monarch. It's like I could see him in my mind quite vividly (at which point my mind mashed the eject button in horror). I thought the use of rope as communicative gestures was clever. It's successful in its humor. Truth be told, there are enough creative details here that this required some re-reading to pick up on everything.

That ending, though. And perhaps that beginning. Why was Starlight given this assignment? Presumably this was set during the time when Starlight was Twilight's student. Maybe Twilight was still learning as a teacher (scratch that: she definitely was). But still, this ends on a note that doesn't suggest they'll reconcile, grow close, and become true friends. If this is meant to slot into that moment of time, I would hope to see some kind of a path for them to get back on track.

...Which raises the point that I'm mentally trying to slot this into a canon or near-canon timeline and/or depiction of the characters. That's a me thing, not necessarily an author thing. But everyone's voice and decisions feel true-to-form up to the last line, which I have a harder time letting go of. The story sets up expectations that we're not too far afield from the Equestria we know. If it wants to prep me otherwise, I need a little more help getting there.

I dunno. I'm circling around a ranking decision. Perhaps I'll take the coward's way out and defer that for now. I feel like this should rank well because of its overall strong execution, but I need to spend more time reflecting on it.

Tier: TBD Almost There
#21 · 1
· on Times and Seasons · >>PinoyPony
Now, this here's a fairly simple story. Rather compelling too when I consider how it touches on elements that are inherently familiar yet has a narrative that is holistically different altogether. Between you and me, dear Author, I believe such an approach comes too rarely on FimFiction nowadays, and it is on that note that I can safely say you have something that has potential here, no question.

Regardless, it being simple means the cracks in between are easy to pinpoint, and sure enough, what's presented here does leave a lot to be desired. Though there is a central conflict present, it feels like it's resolved itself all too quickly before even the story began. We don't really get a clear look at the circumstances surrounding this story that allowed it to happen the way it did, so much so that it all feels rather vague and disconnected. Stuff does happen and the story does move forward, yet most of it feels weightless. There's not really a strong atmosphere surrounding this story for the readers to sink into, as if we're only here to assess the journey and not truly experience it.

Some part of me thinks that's sort of the point. That Applejack believes Big Sugar was mature enough to handle this without any intervention. That she has decided her role, and to a greater extent ours, is relegated to that of an outsider looking in and not interfere in the decisions Big Sugar will be making. If so, I think a larger emphasis on Applejack's thought process as >>Baal Bunny had pointed out would be extremely helpful on that note. I would be very interested in what's going on her mind if this was the case.

On a more technical note, the dialogue does start off rather strong in the beginning, though somewhere past the middle it does start to falter a little. Big Sugar's voicing in the latter half especially feels rather awkward—the line “She invented said lantern you see in the fields at night, which produces light brighter than any candle or torch I’ve ever seen.” is a particularly blatant example of this.

Of course, there is I think a larger conceptual problem at play here that I want to point out as something to think about in the future. To be clear, it's not going to affect my view or rating about the story as it is. Just thought it would be helpful to you should you choose to expand this story going forward, dear Author. If you wanna leave the story in the singular scene that it is, then you can completely disregard the next paragraph entirely.

Now, the story's concept at its core primarily hinges on a past event: the feud between the Apples and the Pears, and all that comes after that fact as per the show's canon. The story also explicitly mentions that the feud between the Apples and the Flim Flam family is in some ways worse than that, which I believe helps set it part to an extent. The challenge here, I believe, is how to approach and expand this story of Big Sugar and Sprocket Heart's relationship in a way that doesn't feel derivative of the show's portrayal of the relationship between Bright Mac and Pear Butter. In other words, how is this story going to be different than what we've seen already? How would you tell this story so that it doesn't feel like a contrived facsimile of the other?

All in all, it's a good story that presents some interesting ideas with a heartfelt, homely approach, though the devil in the details, or lack thereof, does muzzle its effectiveness much more than I would've liked. Nevertheless, with a few embellishments here and there, you'd have a very capable story in your hands.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#22 · 1
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience · >>Baal Bunny
Here we have another story whose base concept explores themes that are rather familiar in the fandom but approached with a method that is sweeter than it is bitter. As much as the immortality gig and the whole 'living longer than your friends' angle that comes with it had always felt tiresome to me, this story works in spite of that, and that's because this is exceptionally well-written.

The descriptions are delightful to read and really tickles the imagination, setting a whimsical tone that is emblematic to the character taking centre stage. Even as it sheds the chaotic surrealism past a certain point, it never loses its momentum as it finishes painting the picture it had started with. Some parts do get a little wordy, which does play into stuttering the pacing quite a bit, though I think it does its job well enough for me to overlook that.

Nevertheless, as enamoured as I was over the technical finesse at display here, I'm afraid that the story itself at its core never really came across as all that compelling to me. Part of it's definitely because of my personal biases as I've mentioned earlier. Another part finds that it's because the story's second half starts piling in a lot more new information, and by the time we realize what's really happening at the centre of it all, we're already being given a resolution.

Put it simply, Fluttershy's death here feels a bit shoehorned in. I never got the time to really stand in their shoes and understand how deeply it had affected them, even though it's the event that kickstarted this whole story happening in the first place. As such, I couldn't grasp just exactly how important this moment of coming together was to Discord and Twilight. In the end, it sorta lacked the impact I think this story sorely needed to complement its imagery, which kinda leaves me a little more than disappointed. I really wished you took your time with it, to let it unravel and guide us into the loss of their friend with open arms. To let the emotions running through them simmer in us as well.

Beyond that, I think this story has the potential to work really well premise-wise. Most of my complaints are things that a broader wordcount could easily remedy, so an expanded version would do wonders to the concept that this story had set out with. Hopefully, you could do the ideas at play here justice then, dear Author.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#23 ·
· on The Day That Twilight Sparkle Shat Out 500 Words · >>Hristabilicus
Welp, this one’s got me cornered. I was about to make a joke about maybe Starlight had a mental breakdown or is in one of ‘those’ dreams, but nothing clever comes to mind. Besides… CoffeeMinion has the stage, doing pretty well up there, so I won’t bother them while in the zone.

Let’s get the elephant out of the room. Generally speaking, Comedy is very hit or miss with me. But, don’t fret, I’ll judge this one fairly. This one definitely does well with its style. I had no idea what a malaprop was until Coffee pointed it out. Stylistically, I’d expect this to be the type of stuff that ends up in YTP (ugh, the fact that I brought it up… I disgust myself with how crude I can be).

I guess my gripe is that it presents itself with overpowered immunities. I mean, if you polish a turd, it’s still a turd. That’s the nature of this piece, at its very core. The reader isn’t supposed to take it seriously, and neither is the editor nor the author. Overpowered. Immune to anything you throw at it. A Writeoff Checkmate with the right arguments.
#24 · 2
· on The "Us" in "Do Well" · >>CoffeeMinion
Okay, I think I get it.

As with the rest, here's another story that has a bold concept and an even bolder approach to go with it. I must admit, the story's central narrative is a little more obtuse than I would've liked—Twilight being extra cheeky about it at the very end did frustrate me to a certain degree as well—but I cannot deny how cohesive it all comes together in the end. Of course, that's if my interpretation of this story is accurate, that Mare-Do-Well showing up serves as a message of assurance from her deceased friends from the afterlife with the Treehouse of Harmony acting as a conduit between them.

In that case, I think most of what you have here is already pretty great, dear Author. Most of the groundwork has been laid here already. I could give you several more paragraphs on how to improve the story as a whole but I think I can sum them all up by saying let us see more of the world. Let us see, from their eyes, what their lives are like and how it colours the sights and sounds around them as the story progresses. In other words, show us more of what's happening as the story goes along. Let the themes of the story resonate in the locale as it does in its concept.

Then again, I could be wrong and the story isn't what I think it is. Still, I liked it when it's around. It has a lot of heart and the vision for it comes across as one that's clear from the outset. When my only complaint about it is that I want to see more of it, that's when you know you have something of great potential in your hands here. Very good stuff, dear Author.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#25 · 1
Oop, I need to review more!
#26 · 2
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience
What I think:

I'd really like to see here is Discord's realization getting applied directly to Twilight. There's a general "his friends had lost a friend this morning, too," yes, but Twilight's right there. It'd be more powerful if he sees specifically that she's holding it together to help him and decides that he's going to hold it together to help her, seems to me...

#27 · 1
· on The Day That Twilight Sparkle Shat Out 500 Words · >>Hristabilicus
Pretty silly:

If you want to take this to the next level and transfer it to FimFiction, I'll second >>CoffeeMinion's comments about ways to expand it and remove the "Writeoff specific" aroma that imbues it now. There's always room for potty humor, after all. :)

#28 · 2
· on The "Us" in "Do Well" · >>CoffeeMinion
Another confusing one:

For me. In the first place, the title seems off since there isn't an "us" in "do well." There's a "we" in there, but not an "us." So I was stumbling before I even started reading.

Second, I'd like to see what it is about this Mare-Do-Well that makes Twilight decide it comes from the Treehouse of Harmony. We're in her POV, after all, so we can see her reactions and hear her thoughts. It can be as little as a tingle along her neck or a scent that reminds her of years ago when she and her friends gave the Elements of Harmony back to the Tree, but I'd like to have some idea of where her theory comes from.

Third, I'm not sure what the Treehouse's final word means. The pronoun "us," after all, always includes the speaker, but the Treehouse apparently dies after saying it. So I can't quite square what happens with Gallus's explanation, and the story stops before Twilight can tell me her interpretation...

#29 · 2
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Oh, how I wish, I wish, I wish I could vote the art as co-equal!
#30 · 3
· on Conflicting Signals · >>PinoyPony >>KwirkyJ
Pretty sure I've pondered over this story a lot longer than I would've liked. Don't take it as a bad thing, dear Author, it just means that what you have here is intriguing enough for me to try and wrap my head around the ideas it's going for. Nevertheless, coming out of it, I do find myself agreeing with >>Baal Bunny that this is a case of a story that seems to serve better as a scene of a larger whole.

Before I get into it though, there is something rather compelling about what I'm reading here. As with the rest of the stories this round, perhaps more so, this is very well-written, walking on a tightrope between intimacy and restraint that I think highlights your talent as a writer. The fact that it is written in the present tense provides it with a sense of urgency on Celestia's part, which helps to highlight how important this moment of bonding seems to be for everyone involved.

On that note, Celestia's voicing here is immaculately hers. There's a playfulness in her tone that masks her obvious concern and worry for her sister's wellbeing, though it's balanced terrifyingly well here, so much so that I can very easily see the sombre undertones of this story going over a lot of heads. The conversation taking place as well, it feels very sincere on everyone's part, and when the dramatic shift comes at the end with Macintosh offering Luna a massage, the sincerity comes together for a gentle resolution and leaves everything on a very hopeful note.

So, technicality-wise, I have no qualms with saying that you have done some great work here, dear Author. I think the scene itself is extremely well-constructed and written with a lot of thought and care. However, as much as I admire the extreme subtlety at play here, I think there is a lot of context missing as to how we got here in the first place that does hinder it a lot more than it should.

Right from the start, I found myself asking questions about how our characters came together in this scene. I mostly found myself wondering why Big Mac was chosen as a character for this piece instead of, say, Nurse Redheart. It feels rather odd to have him be so close to our sisters, though keep in mind I am not all that familiar with the EqG universe. Nevertheless, I do think it's important to highlight how he got to be here beyond his want to help the sisters out. On that note, I also don't think it's all that clear why he's really doing this in the first place. I guess there's a relationship established here that us readers did not get to see, and I think if we're fed a little bit more information about it, it should resolve a lot of lingering questions we would have about this in the first place.

As for the central predicament of this story, I think I get it? You might have to confirm it for me with this one, Author, because I'm making a few leaps and bounds here that does help clear up a lot of issues I had in previous reads. It certainly answers a lot of the questions my fellow reviewer >>PinoyPony has posed above, so I'll take a shot at guessing and see if I knocked it out of the park.

Luna's chest is bandaged because she has lymphodema, which probably stemmed from her getting treatment for breast cancer. Celestia has no idea on how to approach her sister at her most vulnerable, and instead had opted in the past to distance herself from the topic over facing it head-on, thus her cheekiness every time it's brought up. This story is basically her finally coming to terms with her sister's affliction with the help of Big Mac and gives her hope in reforging their sisterly bond that had been lost over the course of the illness.

Provided I'm correct, I would say it's certainly a very impressive undertaking to go into this comp with, dear Author. Nevertheless, I do think there is a lot of context missing for the themes of forgiveness at play here to really stab us in the heart. The noticeable absence of certain pieces of information right from the start leaves us with a lot of questions about what's happening rather than what the story is about, and it's because we're busy asking all these questions that it puts a damper on any emotional connection and progression us readers might've had with the characters in the first place.

Of course, to rectify that, it would be better for the story to have a clear start and a clearer ending in place. Like, maybe have Celestia ask someone else—Big Mac, in this case—pick Luna up from the hospital at the start and have it end with the sisters agreeing to talk things through after the third person had left, something like that. Basically, a scene in the beginning that provides the necessary context as to how our three characters came into this situation, and a scene at the end that gives us a look into how this moment helped them come closer to achieving what they want in the first place. It'll also come with the added benefit of getting us to spend more time with our trio and understand them on a more intimate level. Of course, it's quite a massive undertaking to go through, though I have no doubt you'll succeed.

All in all, this is a story that has an idea that is ultimately going to be stifled by the word count. Nevertheless, if my guess is correct, I think you have a great story in the works here, dear Author. Give it time to breathe, widen its focus a little more, I have no doubt of its potential to be a very cathartic read. Sadly though, one has to rank the story for what it is than what it could be in these WriteOffs. Hopefully, the final results don't dissuade you from further expanding this.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#31 ·
· on Conflicting Signals · >>KwirkyJ
Genre: Of Human Bondage


Wow. Very powerful. A bit confusing, but powerful. It’s clear that Luna is in dire emotional pain. The acts and images of intimacy, however brief, are arresting. Celestia and Big Mac as a couple(?) is an unexpected choice, but it works. The brushing of his fingers on her knee is a gesture that I don’t run into often (and may have to steal cuz it’s good).

I find myself left with a Big Problem here. Simply put, I don’t think the part towards the end that’s trying to hint at what’s going on with Luna is clear enough. Unless she’s cutting on her whole body and supergluing it up? But then, why? What event has left her doing this? There’s a brief bit of narrative scaffolding, but IMO it’s notable primarily in its incompleteness.

However, that’s not to undercut the rest of this. There’s a strong core of emotion and physicality here that I’m grateful to have read. If you pick this up again after the Writeoff, I feel like a bit of further explanation would make this sing.

Tier: Almost There
#32 · 1
· on The "Us" in "Do Well" · >>CoffeeMinion
Genre: M-M-Mystery

Thoughts: I feel like this suffers a bit from being cut to fit the word count. While the prose is compact and at times vivid, there’s not a lot of breathing room to explain what’s going on.

But, what’s going on seems to have a ghostly or metaphysical touch, which I enjoy. What I think is going on, based especially on the moment where they’re flying, is that the Tree is trying to reach an increasingly isolated Twilight to urge her to go make some new friends since her old ones are kicking the bucket. Kind of anti-immortality blues, if you will. But that could’ve been made clearer by saying as much, if this wasn’t bumping its head so hard on the word limit.

I dunno. I want to say something more profound, but that’s my Big Criticism. Overall I think this works and has a lot going for it, but a significant part of the story is currently outside the story—if you feel me.

Tier: Almost There
#33 · 1
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience · >>Baal Bunny
Genre: The Droids We’re Looking For

Thoughts: I’m admittedly partial to Discord shenanigans. I’m much too fond of Fluttercord. But those things aside, this is really, really good. Strong imagery and good humor mix with a full range of emotions, from zany to mournful, ending with a kind of positive acceptance. The scope of the scene is small but it takes me on a big journey by only revealing its game bit by bit.

Absolute thumbs up from me.

Tier: Top Contender
#34 · 1
· on Times and Seasons · >>PinoyPony
Genre: Slice-of-Sugar

Thoughts: I think it’s relevant to view this in the context of the prompt. Applejack and Sugar are pointing straight at the inevitable conversation that’s going to end up happening sooner or later. We see Applejack being a good aunt, and Sugar being a kid on the cusp of growing up. Others have pointed at the moment’s straightforwardness, but the point of the story seems less about the actions happening herein, and more about the characters and their relationships. I do feel that the limited scope of the tale makes it stand out a bit less than it could this round. But I think this does what it’s trying to do.

Tier: Almost There
#35 · 1
· on Manifestation · >>KwirkyJ
I’m between Baal’s and Coffee’s post. I think I can safely say this is a Comedy.

I guess the biggest problem with this is that it has an identity crisis. Comedic for the punchline (and the interactions of Starlight and Twilight), but something else I can’t quite put a hoof on… I dunno.

The next biggest thing is that the trope goes as ‘This is Twilight’s problem, but it also becomes Starlight’s problem’. No problem with tropes, but tropes can make or break a story depending on context. Coffee does have a point when this could happen when Twilight is beginning to take on Starlight as her student. In the vein of Baal’s comment, I agree on the fact that the zany/craziness factor needs to upped with a bit of flowery embellishment, that is, if you are going the comedy direction. However, humor me while I bring something different to the table:

Like Coffee, the imagery of a Lovecraftian horror living in a fishbowl in Starlight’s room does work well. Attempting to communicate with it is Twilight, with a use of a rope. I’m getting Arrival vibes from this one. I’d say, take that detail if you’re trying for a serious fic, and spin it into gold. Linguistics is an interesting topic to visit, as the message of Arrival is that language influences how we perceive things.

…or if you are going to stay comedy, then that’s good too :pinkiesmile:
#36 ·
· on Conflicting Signals · >>KwirkyJ
Amending my previous statement

A different run-of-the-mill thing I’m posting, but I know I’ve got to do it before the round is over. I have something extra to say about this piece. Sorry if what I said before was brash and rude. But ever since >>WritingSpirit’s post, I have something different to say about this.

For some strange reason, the concept has been haunting my thoughts. The Paper lanterns, the Chinese takeout, the interaction between three unlikely ponies… it’s all been stuck in my head, in my daydreams. Yes, this concept is unfamiliar. As Baal put it… Alternate Universe.

The review I wrote before was visceral reaction due to the unfamiliarity of it. But it’s got this aspect of something that I’ve unfortunately have ran out of pretty quick: Imagination and Creativity. I find myself often constrained and sticking to old tricks instead of hopping into an unknown. This fic does that, explores and unknown what-if? Without the messy strings of sticking to canon.

Yes, the lack of context can ruin a story. But, author, if you do decide to expand it, I want to see where this road goes. Truly. Because, that’s the joy with stories like this, it’s a mystery box that is awaiting to be open. You may have some idea of what is in the box, but that’s the joy of it, the wonder of what’s next: the reveal.
#37 · 2
· on Manifestation · >>KwirkyJ
I'm never really good when it comes to reviewing the more comedic stories, though I think this story has an interesting throughline that helps distinguish it from most comedies I've read, this one being Starlight's assignment. With that in mind, I can find myself appreciating this a lot more than I did at first glance, though it does leave me all the more perplexed as to how this chain of events came to pass as a result.

Most of the issues holding me back from really enjoying this story does stem from the lack of context with everything involved. To echo >>CoffeeMinion's question, why was Starlight given this assignment in the first place? What in-world purpose does it bring? I don't really mind as much when it comes to Twilight somehow finding this monarch in the first place—I'm sure her general volatility is exactly what Starlight found unnerving, and in turn, provided her with the answer to her clay assignment. Perhaps it's this same sense of fickle uncertainty that prompted Twilight to assign this task to her in the first place? Perhaps, though I can tell you it's not a convincing enough answer when Starlight seems to be fine with the assignment itself but becomes conveniently put off when the monarch comes into play.

That aside, what we're given here is indeed an enjoyable read. I'm actually quite a fan of the interactions between everyone here and I concur that the scene involving the monarch is creative and spellbinding in its own strange way. All of it says to me that there is a considerable amount of effort placed into making this scene come across as naturally as it is. Nevertheless, there are a bunch of questions that I think the story needed to answer for us to make sense of it all. Hopefully with the proper context, this story will allow us to sit back and enjoy the fun hijinks-fueled ride that it aspires to be.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#38 · 1
· on Times and Seasons · >>PinoyPony
The heart of this story is in its interaction between family members, but there is little to no meat to speak of. The 'conflict' such as the story centers on is a combination of Big Sugar working up the nerve to tell Applajack whom he is seeing, and Applejack's reaction... as Applejack's reaction is – after a moment of silent thought – nothing short of complete acceptance, Sugar's trepidation seems unwarranted; however, we are also lead to believe that Applejack's reaction is not indicative of the family at large. The idea works, but in a format such as this feels boring, as none of the tension pays off.

At the very least, I would have liked to be able to trace Applejack's thoughts in that silent minute or two. You can gain a huge word budget by cutting away all the window dressing before Sugar's line, "I'm seeing a mare."

Not much more I feel the need to comment about here. Keep at it, and thanks for writing!
#39 · 1
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience · >>Baal Bunny
I find the weakest part about this story is that Twilight gives little to no indication as to how affected she is by Fluttershy's death – an apparent detachment that seems uncharacteristic, and I would reason as being partially counterproductive in consoling Discord.

I am also torn over the descriptions of Discord's activities here. On one hoof, they're imaginative, well-conveyed, and offer essential insight into his agitation. On the other, there were so many, in such meticulous detail, that it read as storyboard shorthand and my eyes wanted to glaze over much of it (more my problem than yours, Author). I offer this as a data point more than any real criticism.

It takes a long time to make clear 1. what Discord is actually setting up, and 2. what this is actually all about. The first (it's a wedding!) I think should be available to the reader right out of the gate; the second (she's dead, Jim) may or may not deserve more hints earlier, depending on your goals and other edits.

I have some misgivings about the particulars of the diction and dialogue in places, but again that's probably a me issue more than anything.

I really like the image of Discord melting in his despair.
#40 · 1
· on The "Us" in "Do Well" · >>CoffeeMinion
I dropped out at the start of S8, so I'm really iffy on who Gallus is. That said, I think I have this right that the story is about two people ponies who have lost most of their friends realizing that they still have friends to make/keep, and memories to share of those dearly departed.

There's a strong sense of attention to the setting. I'm not sure how well it serves the story, but it definitely adds flavor and significance to the "players", and neither does it get in the way.

The problems I have with this are either minor or far-reaching, and you will have to decide, Author. First, Twilight is extremely fortunate that her wild speculation as to the origin of the Mare spectre is correct – she had zero evidence to back it up, and the story hinges on their going to the Treehouse together.

Second, is a linguistic thing: 'we' would make more sense as it exists in "Do Well", and it is the correct subjective case. Further, "We're here", not "Us're here"; though also "called us here" vs "called we here", so shrug. It's awkward is what I'm saying. (Yet 'us' is more useful in their discussion following...)

Third, it isn't clear why Twilight is the only one working out the connection required for "look, a friend right beside you!". Gallus's line "You're getting more out of this" seems somewhat spurious on a cursory read, suggesting that perhaps more weight or indication of Twilight's contemplation might be warranted... "letting her eyes wander" on its own seems light; and her speech after could almost as easily be conversing with him as (made evident later / on closer reading) with herself.

Taken in all, the only snags here are just the one huge plot contrivance, and the conclusion and final message could be punched up. This one topped my slate – good work.
#41 · 1
· on The Day That Twilight Sparkle Shat Out 500 Words · >>Hristabilicus
This one doesn't want to be taken seriously, so I won't even try. I can't like it, but the prose is sufficiently well-written and the comedy on-point that I must appreciate it. You got me to laugh.
#42 · 1

I was uncertain, but I guess no one will care if I cop to it now. I'm not revealing anything you all didn't know.
Thanks for writing the stories that inspired the artwork, I had fun making it!
#43 · 1
· on The Day That Twilight Sparkle Shat Out 500 Words
>>Baal Bunny


This story is Just What It Says on the Can, which is where it might as well have been composed. I would apologize for inflicting it on you, but you gave it a bronze, you crazy sickos. Perfection.

I love all of you. Extra hugs to Kwirky and Pinoy; I'm sorry to have knocked you out of the running.
#44 ·
· on Strange Peons
Though some of the lines are very crude, they stand out only by being the exception. The use of colors is fantastic, and Starlight's expression is :mwah: just perfect.

On its own, this piece is a bit of a non-sequitur – Why is Starlight gawking in trepidation at a floating nautilus? Only once taken with the context of the story that inspired it, everything clicks: we then understand what's going on, and the shading in the background serve dual purpose of framing and the actual "fishbowl".

I already noted Starlight's expression – just grand. I also particularly appreciate how you took "royal license" with the "crown" of the nautilus "head" (I'm bad at cephalopod anatomy, okay?), as a deviation from the real-world creatures.

(I know I wrote 'Nautilus' as the body that he ruled, and I also wrote a description that was more like a cuttlefish; I think you made the right call from the two available options, from a visual-artist perspective.)
#45 ·
· on Eyes Glued Shut
This piece captures exquisitely the haunting, surreal themes that inspired it. This is tremendously raw, evocative, and effective. Were I to encounter this at an art vendor stall, I would have to think really hard about not purchasing it.

I would like to know the details about its creation.
#46 · 1
· on Manifestation · >>CoffeeMinion >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny

This was the second story I wanted to write, but the first one that I did (and, at that time, the only one I thought I would write).

Cut and dried, this was little more than an attempt to use a classical four-act structure to tell a comedy. I cobbled the bits together in a half-hour, hammered out the draft in another half, and then life happened. With the additional 24-hour grace period, I decided to just own what I had and file off the rough edges, then move on to create the piece that I really wanted to write. Had I taken more time to consider exactly how the pieces fit together, I worry that this story simply wouldn't exist; as it stands that would seem a net gain, but maybe I can salvage something from it as commenters have suggested.

Every bit of critique you gave is valid. I can turn my mind about and see where you're all coming from. The text doesn't clarify what Twilight is doing and why; Starlight's chafing is poorly communicated. I thank you all for your considerations.

I'm tickled that Ishmael's description ('Nemo' just wasn't working for me) connected so well, as it involved two aspects I almost never exercise: "repeated" multi-faceted descriptions, and allegorical(?) descriptions/metaphors.

Coffee, if there's a political commentary, you'll have to tell me what it might be.
#47 · 2
· on Conflicting Signals · >>CoffeeMinion
>>Baal Bunny

I wrote this work to give expression to some of the darkest places I have been, emotionally. It is meant as a combination of self-expression, cautionary tale, and educational material, and is perhaps one of my most personally-significant works to date. While none of the commenters came away with the intended "correct" interpretation, that it clearly affected all of them and compelled them to think deeply on it must be accepted as some form of tremendous success.

Coffee's inference that Luna is cutting her entire body is in my opinion extreme, but the text suggests it as possible and doesn't rule it out. WritingSpirit's perspective about cancer treatment is a riveting direction that I don't think fits my clues exactly yet is extremely powerful in its own way and that is another story definitely worth telling.

This piece is a scene that takes place in, and is intended to outline, a more complete story. Details and clues are packed in so tightly into this scene-atomic that I might argue that it's transuranic at this point... Clearly the decay radiation did plenty of damage.

I had hoped that the peek into Celestia's thoughts in the penultimate paragraph would spell things out adequately for the audience, but it is entirely possible 1. that there was information (or speculation) overload at that point and/or 2. that touch starvation and its effects – here taken to an extreme – is not sufficiently-common knowledge.

What the hell is going on?
Brace for footnotes.

This is set in an EQG universe experiencing a pandemic lockdown[1] not unlike our current times. Luna is experiencing intense depression[2,3,4], possibly engaging in self-harm[5], possibly descending into a form of psychosis[6], the root cause of which is from perceived isolation[11,13] and touch starvation[7]. Big Mac and Celestia[8] are comfortable with being intimate, if not in a relationship[9]. Celestia is aware that Luna is behaving oddly but hasn't connected all the dots[4,10,12]. On seeing what is meant by 'wearing bandages', Macintosh twigs to why she is doing so[citation needed], and with Luna revealing that she is physically in danger[5] he decides to act immediately on his (correct) guesswork and offers her the physical attention she so desperately needs; he then proceeds to draw Celestia into the solution. Seeing Luna's reaction taken with a change in perspective / jogged memory, Celestia starts seeing Luna's behavior not as a joke[12] or mere spectacle[13,14,15], but as expression of terrible pain, and takes the first steps to address it.

1- "we're stuck with each other's company these days" ... "rarely see [anyone]outside of grocery shopping and video meetings"

2- the inevitable oriental delivery

3- Luna crumples up again as she sits.

4- "it feels as though you're shutting me out"

5- "Cyanoacrylate"[16][17]

6- "To cover up all the dead-fish eyes and tentacle-filled mouths with."[18]

7- "she's been wearing bandages ... Some traditional far-eastern attire"
Luna, still blushing profusely, melts. Her shoulders sag. Her head slumps.
I see Luna tense again
Luna had always been big on physical contact ... I struggle to remember the last time she and I last touched ... the last time she'd had physical contact with anyone.

8- "I'm not an invalid, sister," Luna pouts

9- I lean into Mac
unfounded jealousy flares up in me
it's clear he's up to something
He ... [presses] on my leg. ... his fingertips [brush] to the very end of my knee

10- "it's always 'I'm fine' this and 'it doesn't concern you' that"
"If she actually needs the sling, though, I can't imagine how she—"

11- drawing our full attention

12- "Gesundheit," I answer playfully.

13- as if flaunting it

14- "Goodness, you're always so dramatic."

15- her bizarre medical aesthetic of bandages everywhere
"Not just like over scrape, or the eyepatch back in autumn, but actually wearing [bandages]."

16- A family of adhesive compounds, most popular as super glue. Again, among many other applications, it is used by athletes, military, veterinary and (increasingly) human medicine to close wounds. Most readers and Celestia are alike in not knowing what it is or what it implies, and this is was a deliberate choice here.

17- It is not specified from the text the number, nature, and source of any wounds that require Krazy Glue or DermaBond for treatment. Luna could be self-harming to a significant degree, could have picked up destructive ticks (picking, e.g.), or she could simply be careless/distracted and acquire cuts on frequent accident.

18- It is unclear in the text whether she actually believes there are "dead-fish eyes and tentacle-filled mouths" to cover up, or if she's trying to play off the awkwardness with some form of joke.

* Luna is wearing sarashi. In addition to its other uses (chest binding/support, abdominal bracing and protection in martial arts) the pressure around the entire torso stimulates the nervous system in ways similar to a hug. She is quite literally wearing a hug that she (thinks she) can't otherwise get, which Macintosh inexplicably recognizes/surmises.

For my own critique... it's hella dense. The story revolves around and through this scene, begging the reader to put the whole together – a task in reading comprehension that cannot be asked of everyone. Furthermore, a lot of meaningful and interesting information is completely absent from this work because of word ceiling and constricting first-person perspective.

There are a few really rough seams and/or oddities: The info-dump at the beginning is essential to provide the setting, but it stands out stylistically like a sore thumb. Similarly, the direct peek into Celestia's thoughts in the penultimate paragraph is the one time such a perspective happens. Mac's line "If you don't mind me saying so" also seems to come out of nowhere, only loosely connected with the 'spectacle' preceding it; similarly his offer of a massage.

The color of Luna's skin is not accurate – it should be a light greyish phthalo. I misremembered and didn't verify.

The format of first-person present-tense is a huge gamble. It perfectly conveys the restricted view Celestia has of the situation, and the limited/overlooked information of all the characters; it lends the sensation of immediacy/urgency of the scene in a way that past-tense would not. However, by limiting the reader's perspective, conveying all the essential details is much more difficult, of not impossible. If/when expanding into the ten thousand-word story it wants to be, transitioning to omniscient narrator could be very empowering for conveying information.

Even with EQG adults being "ambiguously-aged adult", one could reason that Mac and Celestia would probably have a large enough age gap to be weird. It's weird. On the subject, speaking to Baal's comment, my recollection is that the sisters have little to no characterization outside of their role of principle and vice-principle; while this isn't a blank check by any means, I argue that this characterization remains plausible in their (supposedly-)relaxed setting; I feel partially vindicated in this by WritingSpirit's comment about Celestia's voicing working for them.

PinoyPony, I'm sorry the descriptions lost you. Luna was sitting (that is explicitly stated); I envision it as seiza (on knees, in keeping with the oriental/Japanese motif), but cross-legged or on haunches (knees tucked up against her chest, perhaps?) would also fit. Luna lifted the sweater from below the waistline to under her bust – revealing her abdomen and the sarashi wrappings there... the 'circling the hem' was to hike up the fabric over the hips to have an easier job of showing off. I am grateful that you continued to ponder the piece and amend your original comments. (I see how you got paper lanterns out of it – not what I had in mind, but it's congruent!)

One more thing I wish to point out is how Big Mac approaches Luna, because it encapsulates a host of "best practices" about consent that so many people just don't know. He is specific about what he would do, and for how long. He acts only on an explicit affirmative or negative. He reminds her that she can make him stop at any time. In this specific instance, because of Luna's condition, he phrases his offer as 1. his desire to initiate contact, and 2. an 'opt-out' form of arrangement – in effect, reducing the burden/embarrassment/imposition of her having to initiate or sound like she is. His approach to involving Celestia is not perfect, as he doesn't gain explicit consent from Celestia to touch Luna, but he takes it as a given (and is again correct), seeing that they are sisters and they love each other.
* Freely given
* Retractable
* Informed
* Enthusiastic
* Specific

Finally, thank you all again for your thoughts and considerations.
#48 · 1
· on Manifestation
Something about a grotesque, exiled ruler who sows discord (if not Discord) in his wake just spoke to me in the present moment. I dunno. :-p

Well I for one am glad this exists, and would be willing to give it a once-or-twice-over if you choose to revisit it for publication. I think you’ve got a strong core here.
#49 · 1
· on Manifestation

I really, really like:

The basic idea here--Starlight coming to realize that, as much as she loves and respects Twilight as a friend and a mentor, she's also deeply, absolutely, and viscerally terrified of her. You wouldn't have to exaggerate Twilight's behavior at all, it seems to me: there's plenty of evidence in the show to make a case for Starlight's massively conflicting feelings toward Twilight. A story where she tries to confront these feelings could be quite powerful...

#50 · 1
· on Times and Seasons
Times and Seasons – In Retrospect

Just an empty shell of potential, isn’t it?

Of course, I could use my favorite scapegoat of the word limit, but with plenty of room left (over 250 words), it’s not going to fly. I should probably should stop blaming the word limit anyway and take responsibility for my actions.

>>Baal Bunny

There is definitely a lot to improve. I should’ve mentioned a prickly situation before like you mentioned (I mean, Flim and Flam seemed pretty static characters and they probably would stick to their old tricks).

Atop that, I should probs practice Applejack’s voicing down more often, since I always tend to not give it enough finesse. Part of me said not to worry about her voicing because I feel it’d be too on the nose and seemed like I was trying to embellish. But, now I know that I should probably give it my best shot, maybe try to make it too apparent. Who knows? I might be able to find that ‘goldilocks’ spot by accident.


You’ve got down to the root of the problem: it’s way too simple. Cut, Rinse, Repeat. It has a draw to it, but lets the reader down in the same aspect a bag of chips does: when you get to the end, you think ‘that’s all?’ and proceed to look for crumbs.

First things first and that is addressing the viewpoint and thought process of Applejack. You guessed correct with ‘Applejack believes Big Sugar to be mature enough to handle it on his own… with a little push of course’. I’m not sure if there’s a technical term for it, but there’s a phenomenon where the parent gets more and more lenient with each kid they raise. Strictest on the oldest, lax on the youngest. Since she’s had previous experience with Applebloom, she knows exactly what to do for her nephew. Give her a little more dimensionality, such as furthering the Applebloom and Big Sugar getting into trouble metaphor, add character and charm instead of a detached relationship.

Baal already went over the technicalities of voicing and dialogue, so as I said before, I probs need to get some practice if I’m going to master a scene with both of them in it.

But, at the very core, I need to develop the storyline a little bit more. The Apple and Pear and Apple and Flim-Flam relations are similar in nature, but not quite. I need to put in some key differences which will make Big Sugar hesitate even more mentioning his relationship with Sprocket Heart. I trust that creating scenes where there is more bad blood between the Flim-Flam and Apple would be in line. Especially since Flim and Flam are canonically deceptive.

Thank you for your review! Just what I needed!


Thank you for your kind review. Yes, the fic does what is needs to, but it’s too simple to stand out. I guess part of the problem of it’s simplicity is that I’m always trying to compensate so I’m in context of the prompt. Soon enough though, I’ll probs get used to it.


I agree it’s hard to review when you are re-iterating what others have said. Partially what stopped me from faux-reviewing my own piece this round. But, if it’s any help, in my experience, what you did with your review works just fine! Take the same idea from an earlier review, but in your perspective. Bring something new to the table. Just like your idea that the pause could be filled with Applejack’s private thoughts. I agree that its a bad habit of mine, and I need to add a little more to 'pause' scenes.


Definitely one that I think should go down the fimfic pipe, but due to the sheer amount of improvement that needs to be made, It’s pretty far down that list.
#51 · 2
· on A Marriage of Inconvenience

Thanks, folks:

And congrats to the other medalists! I'll definitely be taking your comments to heart for the revisions before I post the story to FimFiction.

#52 · 1
· on Conflicting Signals
It’s clear that the depths suggested in this piece are real. I hope you develop this further!

Wow I didn't phrase that well. I do indeed hope you continue developing this, given what you say about it being only one piece of what might become a longer story. But this clearly has depth, and has introduced me to ideas and experiences that I was not familiar with.

Thank you for writing this, and for explaining its meaning in greater detail.
#53 ·
· on Strange Peons · >>KwirkyJ
Don't smile, Starlight. Such action is a grievous offense in Ishmael's kingdom.

Just like KwirkyJ, I like the dumbfounded expression of Starlight's. Oh, the eyes, they tell everything... However, the mane seems to blend into one, that the turquoise and purple stripes are not well-defined. Maybe it's the lack of sleep caused by stressing over her assignment?

Another thing I like is the nautilus itself. I've had trouble trying to visualize Ishmael, but that's the purpose of art. Illustrate something that the text is describing.

Thanks for arting!
#54 ·
· on Eyes Glued Shut
Like Kwirky, I like to know the mediums used to create such a piece. The texture seems like canvas, but I may be completely wrong.

I'm wondering if I'm getting this piece of information right, but the top half looks like hands pulling at the bandages, in the fic. Am I right or completely off?

Altogether, this is a solid piece, no comments about improvement on my end. Evocative, surreal, haunting.

Thanks for arting!
#55 · 1
· on Strange Peons · >>PinoyPony
Don't smile, Starlight. Such action is a grievous offense in Ishmael's kingdom.

If you're making a joke, disregard: read carefully again and you should find that it's not the smile but the raised and/or waving hoof that is the insult -- they communicate with their tentacles, after all. ;)
#56 ·
· on Strange Peons
My bad. Ugh... my comprehension sucks... :facepalm:
#57 · 1
· on The "Us" in "Do Well"
Hey, kids! I wrote a thing! That means it's time for:

The "Us" in "Retrospective"

Once again I tapped the massive ponyfic idea pile I've been sitting on for several years for inspiration. From it I took the notion of a Mare-Do-Well in search of an identity... or, more accurately, unmoored from a specific identity. It's long bugged me that we have the concept of a manufactured Mare-Do-Well character, but no concept of who that character would be apart from five of the M6 being lowkey jerks to Rainbow Dash.

You'll note that I didn't actually explore that here, but it's what got me started. That and an interaction between Twilight and Gallus in my longtime co-conspirator Moosetasm's recent Jinglemas fic. I've come to feel that Twilight and Gallus are an interesting pair--not to ship, but to play off each other. Twilight is cerebral, analytical, and can struggle to connect with others when she's not deliberate about leaning into her portfolio of skills as the Princess of Friendship. (Clearly, though, she's good at doing that; but sometimes it doesn't come naturally to her.) Gallus carries the sarcastic and cynical exterior of his upbringing amid Griffonstone's nadir, but he's got a core of earnestness, dedication, and heart. The two of them can go through similar emotional experiences with completely different internal reflections and outward demonstrations. It's fantastic.

But what the heck is going on in this fic? My self-review (>>CoffeeMinion) points straight at both the intended meaning, and at my biggest problem with this: the Tree(house) of Harmony is reaching out with the last of its strength to tell Twilight to get back out there and make friends after most of her oldest ones have died of old age. Problem is, that's nowhere near clear enough. I knew when I ended this the way I did that it would be ambiguous, but I'd run out of words to spell it out in any but the most hamfisted way. On the bright side, though, that left room for interpretations like >>WritingSpirit's, which I adored. Perhaps the only thing holding me back from stealing that idea outright is that I did something similar with my past (ex-Writeoff) fic Father and Son. Either way, I appreciate the thoughts and encouragement about how to improve this.

>>KwirkyJ -- You point at issues that are probably minor in terms of effort required to fix, yet far-reaching in terms of impact to the work if not fixed. Again, the worst part of this for me was working out how much story could be crammed into the word limit. OH, but the title is absolute garbage. I cannot deny it; I will not deny it. I hit the end of my available writing time, had no title that would fit the story, and grabbed words that I hoped might hang together decently. I think they didn't. Another title would serve this better.

>>Baal Bunny -- I meant for it to be clearer that Twilight was picking up on the Tree(house) of Harmony's unique energy signature in the fallen remains of Mare-Do-Well. But I think I also had to cut a solid 50 words out of that passage to make things fit. Time to rehydrate that in post!

>>PinoyPony -- Thank you for your encouragement as well! Hopefully things are clearer now that I get the chance to explain them. But I'll have to make sure the story stands on its own in future drafts.

And yes, as always, I aim to carry this forward and publish it on FimFiction. My backlog is bigger than I'd like, and a half-year of diminished activity has not improved things, but hopefully with your feedback this will get to shine brighter someday. <3