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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#201 ·
· on Only, Only, Only You

I have no idea how to react to this, or where it will go on my slate.
#202 ·
· on TrixGlam
First of all, what's with the "Glam" thing? Did the fandom decided that Starlight's name is "Glim-Glam" while I wasn't paying attention?

I think you did a good job with Trixie.
The incompetence of the guards was amusing enough for it to be accepted under Rule of Funny.

Inconsistencies. You point out that Starlight can levitate herself, so she shouldn't have needed Trixie to pull her up onto the balcony.
Fridge logic/things not really making sense. Why didn't they just break into Twilight's room in her castle?
The ending is pretty weak. It would have been much better to see Trixie and Starlight actually reacting to the things that were written in the diary.
The writing seemed pretty weak to me in some parts.

I'm normally a fan of silly shipping stories like this, but this one mostly didn't work for me. I recommend inserting a nice dose of common sense here to balance out and call attention to the ridiculousness (personally, I would probably make Starlight more of an Only Sane Mare). Or if you're feeling brave, you could try to turn up the ridiculousness even more, to the point where we can just ignore anything that doesn't make sense. But that's very hard to do well, and usually just results in crappy trollfics.
#203 · 1
· on Not So Sweet
Very well written, but I have real issues with plot: Sweetie Drops is just so NOT agent material! She's completely irrational - including during the opening scene - and is worse in her flashbacks. But the real kicker is that she's not allowed to have a family, but the Chief is? Why? And why would Rarity know about her if the Chief is keeping to protocol?
#204 · 4
· on Only, Only, Only You
Garrison Keillor:

Says in the introduction to the 2011 collection Good Poems: American Places that "the dear readers, bless their hearts, have their bullshit detectors turned up high when reading a poem, and usually those detectors start beeping by the second line." I've always felt that my job when writing poems is to find a way to keep that beeping silent for as long a possible.

The first way I try to do that is by keeping as strictly as possible to the meter, the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line that gives a poem its rhythm. This one here breaks the pattern all over the place, sometimes starting a line with a stressed syllable and sometimes with an unstressed syllable, sometimes having eight syllables per line and sometimes having seven. So that would be my first suggestion: smooth out the lumps in the meter.

Another thing I try to do in poems is use concrete imagery. Individual words carry a lot of weight in a poem--maybe more weight than in a regular prose story where you can stretch out and describe things in a more leisurely fashion. In this poem, I wasn't sure where we were at the beginning or who was speaking, and that cast me adrift right from the start. Even as things went on and the identity of the speaker became clear, I never got a sense of what was around the speaker, where she was or what she looked like--a ghostly equine or something more blobby and Tanatbus-like. So my second suggestion: give us something specific right at the beginning. What's the first thing the speaker sees when she realizes she can see again? Has the moonlight drifting through the shattered battlements brought the speaker back to life? You have some very nice language later on in the poem, author, but concentrating on making the opening ten or twelve couplets really grab the reader will help keep that dreaded beeping at bay.

I'd better close this down now, or I'll go on for another three or four pages. But maybe you could have Luna and our narrator engage in dialogue when they meet. Dialogue's good for capturing a reader's attention and for bringing the characters to life.

I salute you, author, for what you've got here and hope you'll keep whittling away at it!

#205 ·
· on The Outer Dark
Well this was a huge mood swing from the last story I read.

I don't really like horror stories, but I still thought that this was really good. My only real complaint is that Rarity says she figured out something of what led Twilight to do all of this, but we never find out what she knows. I guess that helps to preserve the aura of mystery and whatnot, but it still bothers me a bit.

I strongly suspect that this story will end up at or near the top of my slate.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to go do something happy.
#206 ·
· on Not On the Outside
I didn't know that! Thanks for the fyi! Even then. Weren't they hardly even defined as individuals since it was a Hearts Warming play focused on a history lesson? Like seriously Mayor Fudge up this bizz! MY fault for not noticing it. It wasn't my favorite episode so to speak. So that info was more white noise than anything. We should do a silliness or a "Clown About" contest and see the reactions.
#207 ·
· on TrixGlam
"Enduring". I believe the word you are looking for is "endearing".
Twilight’s Entry #690

My, aren't you clever.
I don't have much to say about this one, and unfortunately, I wasn't overly impressed. This story had its moments, like when the guard's intention with the rope was revealed. I also liked the idea of Starlight blushing when she and Trixie were an inch apart.
I think there's where my trouble with the story comes in: the goal of this story is a little... murky. It's supposed to be funny, and it does that well enough. I think that if the goal is to poke fun at shipping, then it should commit itself to that idea. Perhaps make Starlight's attraction to Trixie even more apparent.
As others have commented, the ending is a little underwhelming. My suggestion, if you wish to hang on to the general idea, would be to shorten it and tighten it up. Gags run out of momentum quickly, after all.
#208 ·
· on Growing The Future
A few typos and whatnot, but nothing too bad. As others have said, the characterization was solid. Overall, I quite enjoyed the story, aside from a couple nitpicks.

For one, I'm surprised they were able to take Applebloom from the hospital with as little fuss as they did. I would've expected them to have to resort to some scheme, maybe a 'we're taking her to zecora' excuse or something.

The other thing that stuck out to me was how Flower Power was able to maintain such a large, modern facility when there doesn't appear to be any others working with him. It'd be a full time job running a farm like that, let alone going out and trading for the stuff he can't buy, and conducting his research.

Aside from those niggles, I thought it worked nicely.
#209 ·
· on The Locked Door
I actually found the writing in this one a little, I dunno, unwieldy? There were no grammar or spelling errors that I noticed, but the sentences seemed to flow a little oddly. They kind of ran in to each other, which probably works better in real world dialog but seemed odd when written. At least, to me. No one else seems to have thought so, so I'm more than willing to admit that might be my own preferences at work.

As for the story, harder to say. Starlight is still such a new character it's hard to get a feel for her. I don't mind that it didn't have an answer, but it didn't really seem to go anywhere either. At the end it seems to just tangent off to Starlight wondering if the others accepted her.
#210 · 1
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies
You are really going at it with Applejack's accent. Honestly, it's a little off-putting.
This... took a turn.
I was a little lost with the exchange between Applejack and her parents' spirits. An additional read-through helped clear it up, though.
Like others before me, I enjoyed the scene between Applejack and Rarity, even the fact that she left Rarity hanging. I liked the thoughtfulness of that scene.
For while, I felt that Applejack was a bit out-of-character and acting overly cold. The ending helps explain it, though.
It's an interesting idea that poses interesting questions and dilemmas. It's a little rough, but it can easily be smoothed. In the end, I'd say I liked it.
#211 · 2
· on The Outer Dark
piggybacking off Corejo, in hindsight, after the first "mare who does not sleep" keeping up the illusion of the "mare who does not sleep" kind of falls flat. The first time is great--and there's kind of a sense that the name is sort of a He Who Shall Not Be Named sort of thing, an urban legend or something. But both of these characters would just use her name.

The problem of voice is also an issue. There are parts where it sounds like Rarity but other times when it doesn't, like at all. Even with the intervening time and perhaps picking up some latent pretentiousness from those dusty grimoires, it sometimes misses the mark.

On the other hand, I love Lovecraft. Hell, I did papers on him in undergrad. Weird papers.

"Phenomenology" was a bit silly, but it adds to the overall "Poe/Lovecraft technobabble effect" where you have all of these titles or terms that make the horror in front of you suddenly seem more credible. Kind of how there are certain books and terms shared across the Mythos that not only link them but also add an undeniable air of authenticity.

I'm a title guy, and I wonder about the title here. I get the ref:

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But wonder how it fits here, beyond the fact that the narrator references it near the end. A title can't just be pretty, I think, but should add to the effect of the whole. Certainly it's spooky. Ominous as hell, even. But is there anything else there? I wonder. Honestly, I don't think so, unless Twilight is the "unprofitable servant" I guess?

Overall, I like this, but I'm not sure what to feel about the uneven sections and the narrator intruding too much into the narrative. Otherwise, I like the creepy runes and the mare who don't sleep.
#212 ·
· on Twice Paid, For a Lie · >>Morning Sun
I know what you are doing, author. The clues are all there, like a scarlet thread.

I'm not sure I can comment on this entry. Not right now, at least. I may return to it later, but for now, I think it'd be best if I leave it alone.
#213 ·
· on Not So Sweet
Oh wow this one! It's almost rather twisted how it takes two canon characters and explores the possibilities. While it's mostly a coincidence I can actually see this plot working. What we're given here is just the premise of a "what if" factor. where the show takes two ponies, and mostly likely overlooked during their designs, was actually very similar in style. Which would bring up the question some viewers might think to themselves about "what if this happened". This story explores that question and makes a show out of it.

Somewhere alone the story I kind of got confused. At first I didn't know what was going on but looking it over there was very subtle hints of why certain things were happening. Such as Rarity's knowledge of knowing who an what Sweetie Drops was
It wouldn’t be Rarity’s crime to see me out. Who would blame her when she was told all about me?
Even how Chief seems to have the right to living a normal life, which makes sense.
“I was retired at the time when I heard about the break up. The two best agents having a baby! It was unheard of.
This would give him room to actually have a family. Bon Bon is also heavily unprofessional which again it's hinted in such a small statement.
I won’t lie to you. At first, I didn’t care much for it. I had the talent and skill for it. Being able to fly through each task and order, quickier than a bumblebee could shake it’s wings I was the best at what we did.
The story is shrewd, but it's scattered in such a small amount that it gets lost in the mountainous pile of other words. The intro drags on and tends to make it's reader start to skim through some areas, thus these statements can be over looked quite easily. This is especially true when the story doesn't show it's intent making most readers read through it quickly to get to the main point. These things should have been fluffed out to avoid any confusion that may arise during a read. It's a good decision to allow your readers to think freely and continue on that "what if" thought process, but you are leading them through the story. Author you need to guide them through it.

So we get a slice of life within an agent's life? But we never get to see Bon Bon at her headquarters or during one of her missions. I understand this story is long enough but it could have shown more of Bon Bon's skill and why she is such an priority to keep within the agency. It was a bit alarming seeing her break protocol. Time and again, with no regards to the punishment thereafter. Also I don't think it was wise sending her to the very same place with her daughter. Granted Chief and Sweetie Drops may be the best in the business perhaps, but it didn't seem to fit how much effort the agency had placed to keep Bon Bon away from her daughter. Though it could be explained through orders that were given to Chief. Like the above mentioned factors. This story seems to not explain itself well. A lot of the content was actually well done. I think the order and choice of the events unfolding could have been better chosen to represent more of Special Agent Sweetie Drops rather than Bon Bon who was yearning to just be normal.

Just wow! I could not stand up after this one. The emphasis on how Sweetie Drops felt during each moment was spontaneous while at the same time wasn't overindulging. It was brief simple and sweet. I loved following her through those flashbacks and thinking back about my own life. My own training and my own love life. Being torn away from a person you love is stressful even more so with a stressful job. Combine those together and you get a trouble pony who is just fun to read about. Now the only problem I had was that some of the emotions didn't play out enough for me to follow it. I suggest more detail, just a tad bit more. To stretch out that trust net for your readers to connect with the scenes taking place. It's a good try and I'll admit I wasn't jarred by it as it was intended for, but it still hit home.

The thought of bringing this to life must have been difficult. I couldn't grasp the point of this story until the birth scene! Which was then fueled by the flashbacks about Bon Bon's career. It was like setting up a bonfire. Grab the tinder, stack em, light a match and, feed it more fuel. Until you get a blazing reaction that is bright enough to share. It was really well done for taking a background pony and making her come to life within your story. The twist of the story is the forbidden relationship between Sweetie Belle and Sweetie Drops. It's even hinted where Bon Bon might come from. Which I though was a great Japanese reference as Bon Bon seemed to hail from Neighpon, making her Neighponese and thus having her last name first. There was actually quite a bit of references to take part in and made it enjoyable to read over to get a sense for each one. I know I had to reread a couple of things to see what I was missing. The writer does this without ever having to break the story for me, which is quite hard to do right. The only problem I see with this is that is indeed too abstract! I had my eyes reeling back every so often to find these points to make what I was previously reading make sense, while at the same time made it feel a bit confusing until I did so. Once again it's great to get me thinking but it can be a bad thing.

I loved the addition of the side characters. Having Hondo Flanks, Cookie Crumbles, Lyra, and Rarity in the story made way for several interactions that made the story pop out. Hondo who is barely used in the show actually got a story out of this. Even Bon Bon meeting Lyra for the first time. Chief completely caught me off guard with him being Hondo and Lyra actually being explained in the story while still fitting to her character of being a loving friend. These background ponies only have a handful lines in the show but make an appearance in the story without breaking their original canon characteristics. It explains why Hondo is such a character and Lyra is just always lucky with other ponies. What I didn't seem to understand is why Rarity and Sweetie Belle got such short roles. They could have been played out more and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wanted to see more of them.

Wow! Alright this is my shortest one yet. Um... I don't have a lot to say. The story was great and I'd love to make an audio read on this to share it with others. It needs some refining as there are grammar errors here and there. But the story comes out quite powerful as it stands. I do need to reread this one and see what I missed. I admit that having absolutely no regrets in doing so. The wording is great but could use some work. Which then again it's just small things to point out from editing and proofreading. The read was greatly entertaining and I do recommend others to give this a read. Solid work author!
#214 ·
· on TrixGlam
The tire swing moment was definitely the high point. There's nothing overtly bad about this one, but nothing super clever, either. I think it's a good experience-builder though; Starlight's voice could use some more distinction, in particular. Trixie felt a little...too bombastic? Or rather, bombastic in an idiotic way. I can SEE her being overly loud, I can hear it, yet there's something just slightly...off, here.
#215 · 1
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section
This was most certainly a great deal of fun. I mean, okay, you do require Twilight to gleefully hold the idiot ball in some ways, but ultimately I am fine with that.

After all, it gets Rainbow Dash to unleash a plague of locusts. How is that not a win?

Next, Applejack learns how to turn wood into venomous snakes, in order to have guardians for her Apple Trees against sleeping pegasi.
#216 ·
· on Return To Sender
I did mention that she does go off in what's pretty much free verse above, but I recall at least her debut episode that she kept a pretty solid meter. I'll have to rewatch a few of hers when I get home this morning.

Also, no, her lines aren't playing much into my ranking. That'd be more than a little rude to base thus story's rank by and large by a small bit of it. I merely went into detail cause it's something that I can critique.
#217 · 3
· on Not So Sweet · >>horizon
I give a lot of credit to this story for how utterly ambitious it is. Establishing a connection between Sweetie Drops and Sweetie Belle due to the similarities in their names and design is neat. Molding an entire story around it is quite impressive.
From an editing standpoint, this story needs a lot of help. Just something to keep in mind if you intend on publishing this.
I'm not very fond of the opening. It takes quite a while to confirm who the narrator is, and all of the self-doubt and the struck-through mental voice were more distracting than enlightening.
I was never really sold on the relationship between Sweetie Drops and Silver Lining. The story kind of glazes over that part without getting me invested in their relationship. I think the story could be more impactful, in that regard. Something to consider if you plan on expanding this.
I'm glad I got the opportunity to read this. It was definitely an experience, and I have a feeling that this one is going to stick with me for a while.
#218 · 2
· on Standards and Practices · >>Cassius
To be frank, I'm fairly conflicted on how to regard this story, mainly because I don't think attention is put forth properly explaining the character motivations of Luna's methods and how they are effective or what "standards and practices" really means contextually to Luna. The whole process seems to me to be eerily similar to brain washing, at least how it is currently explained (when people get negative and "out of line" Luna comes in a dream to subconsciously correct those thoughts) makes the whole business seem a bit sinister than the author likely intended it to be, especially with Shining Armor's line (which ends up being dream!Shining) "Dreams're just weird, but maybe your Aunt Luna can help." I'm aware this is foreshadowing, but in the context in which it occurs, and how I perceive the set-up, it comes across as a bit spooky. This could easily be rewritten to be a visceral sort of horror story with only a few minute changes, and I don't think that's what the author wanted me to leave the story thinking.

Additionally, I feel the hand-waving of Cadance's poor therapy work as "not really her" is a bit of a cop-out and given the set-up as her dream in which she acts as her own agent in an environment Luna manipulates around her, I have no reason to believe that Cadance would not act this way in that situation outside of that one throw-away line. Since the narrative perspective follows Cadance directly, it would be impossible to distinguish her real thoughts and feelings from those supplanted by Luna, leading to sort of a mess where I'm really uncertain on what Cadance really thinks or feels about anything, especially because of the strange "dream within a dream" scenario. Personally, I think that if the author would like to retain the angle that Cadance is not acting as she would in the therapy sessions, then they would either have to have scene written in such a way that Cadance is clearly cognitively dissonant from her actions around her prior to the Luna reveal or have Cadance observe herself at a distance and internally contemplate whether or not the Cadance she sees is really her or not.

The introduction grabbed my attention. Good job. I thought the story was going to be wildly different than it was, but that's inconsequential. Some minor bits with the prose took me out of the story (ex. "Cadance tapped her pencil against her notepad, the books lining her office walls and the thick carpet perfect for muffling the sound." Not sure if this refers to the dialogue prior or the tapping of the pencil, although the pencil tapping wouldn't be substantially muffled to those inside the room and likely inaudible to those outside it, so I don't know why this is mentioned other than supply imagery for the scenery). Another example of some awkward phrasing would be this sentence "Startled, Cadance hitched backward in her chair and tipped right over onto the floor, crystal cold against her, the ceiling of the palace's private dining room sparkling above her" which I understand is hard to write because it's supposed to be transitioning the setting, but I think the action where she is on the palace floor should just be its own sentence. The narrative is generally worded fine, although not particularly imaginatively in its descriptions, and the only issue I have is the aforementioned construction of certain sentences.

Small personal note: when Cadance says "So you want me to...what? Become some sort of psychiatrist?", it would be more appropriate to describe that occupation as a Psychologist or a therapist. A psychiatrist typically does not conduct much therapy and is more involved in diagnosing and prescribing medicine to treat mental illness. Finally my Undergraduate degree in Psychology is worth something .

Of course, I can't really comment on how well the characterizations of the ponies were aside from my aforementioned beefs with Cadance and Luna, because they're purposelessly out of character. Personally, I think, however, that making them (aside from maybe Rarity) so inherently apart from their real selves and over the top makes harder to sell the scene, which yes, I understand is a dream, but robs the humanity from the ponies and the credibility from Luna's concern by virtue of being such a massive extreme. Really, to better serve her point, it would be best for Luna to demonstrate the real negative traits of the ponies when unmitigated through support: Rarity's perfectionism, Rainbow Dash's pride, Twilight's anal-retentiveness, Fluttershy's insecurity, Pinkie's irreverence, and Applejack's workaholic nature (incidentally all traits addressed by the show itself) taken to a disorderly level.

Another question I find myself asking is whether or not this is the first chapter in a larger work, or is it concluded as presented. Not a major concern, but just something to note.

Thoughts to Consider:
-Address Luna more fully. This does not need to be an extended dialogue with excess concentration on pinning down every semantic detail, but it should inform the reader what happens when she doesn't do what she's been doing, what she does, and what authority she conducts it under.
-Add some cognitive dissonance to Cadance as to make her appear more like-able and compassionate, or at least, inform the reader in some way that how she acts in the therapy dreams is not how she would really act
-Tighten up some of the more awkward turns of phrase and consider experimenting more with visceral description
-Perhaps making the mane6 resemble their themselves a bit more
-Writing additional chapters or a scene in which Cadance does what she is instructed in order to demonstrate that the ending is a "life goes on."
#219 ·
· on Journal of Forbidden Knowledge
I wrote this review while riding on the train, so don't be too finicky.

First, language. You use very simple sentences, which indicate you don't have much experience as a writer. Fine, welcome to our brighter world. I would give you two pieces of advice:

1. Try more complex sentences, especially when you describe the background of your scene.

2. Vary your words, expand your lexical swatch. Many of the words you use are repeated; as an illustration, take the following passage and consider the words “hit, shelf, stood, see/saw”: “The gate hit Twilight in the chest, and she was sent flying backwards towards a shelf of books. She hit the shelf with a thud, landing heavily on the floor in front of the shelf. She rubbed her flank, sore from the fall, and stood again. She stood before the doorway, looking inside to see if there were any lights further down. What she saw […]” Later: “Twilight began to breath heavily, […]. She began to panic, and tried to teleport out of the hallway. When that had failed, she began […].”

3. Mind your grammar and avoid tense shifts: “As she walked inside, she saw that the walls were covered in mold and dirt, most likely meaning that nopony comes down here to clean it.” (Besides the change from past to present, ‘it’ should be ‘them’.)

Now the story itself. The set up feels too contrived. Twilight gets lost in a library she knows like the back of her hoof (how is that even possible?), finds that door (delete the passage about her pushing on the door: it is meant to be funny, but your story is not so it feels out of place), walks inside (why? She's looking for an exit); gets trapped (how?); how do mice survive here if all is closed?; discovers a book miraculously lit through a chink; drinks from a puddle (how that puddle formed? Isn't the water dirty?).

On the diary itself, some parts are contradictory: the lead scientist says she dislikes the foal considering her as her mother, yet later it is written that it's an advantage that foals are gullible and easily led on. We don't really know what those experiments are about, why Celestia condones them, and the end, memory erasure, is simply too simplistic: you won't get away with such a hocus-pocus! :P

And while I don't mind the story being told through the pages of an ad-hoc diary, this stills comes across as very, very telly, and it will turn off a lot of readers. It's a lot of information stuffed into a hardly palatable dish.

The underlying idea is interesting, but that fic needs a lot of polishing to make it shine.

Since Horizon’s scale seems to be popular: NW
Post by Foehn , deleted
#221 · 2
· on Twice Paid, For a Lie · >>Morning Sun
A quick aside; for the merry few of you who're into the whole author-guessing game, I've gone and accidentally submitted under an alias. Instead of Foehn, look for Nemoral. Why Nemoral? Because it's a lovely word, that's why.

With that out of the way:

Somebody is killing off the bearers of the elements, one by one - a tragedy, by any other name. But not here. Because something's not quite right...

I could swear I've seen this title around somewhere recently - at first I thought it was a submitted prompt, but it wasn't. Oh well.

A relatively strong entry overall. Opening with Pinkie's scene was a good idea. Without the flag that the conversation provides - the metaphorical promise that this story is more than it seems - I probably would've switched off fairly quickly. As far as the rest of the story goes; the premise was strong, and but the execution was lacking.

1. The central conceit - that of the matrix-esque setting - had already been used to great effect by TQ in a previous round. It's a conceit that relies on the reader not fully expecting it; however, because I (and a fair few others I'd imagine) have seen it before, it lacks the punch it should hold.

2. The piece jumps perspective far too much. Third-person multiple is a perfectly legitimate perspective to use - but jumps should be between scene breaks, author, not during scenes. It's jarring to have observations made from AJ's point of view, only to have another character observing her corpse a paragraph later.

3&4. Word count and dialogue. I've lumped these two together because I'm presuming they stem from the same cause; lack of time. Writing convincing dialogue in a short time limit is hard. And whilst the initial conversation between Codex and Pinkie is fine, the dialogue quality swiftly deteriorates thereafter, with Twilight's final lines reading more like something out of a marvel superhero comic than something said by an emotionally damaged Alicorn. Feels...tacky?

And I know you were pressed for time, author - but use the wordcount you have as best as you can. Your story could've been twice the length it ended up as, and probably could've benefited from the extra length to tell a better story. For the majority of the piece, I'm not invested in any particular character; only after a perspective switch to Rainbow Dash am I finally given a persona with which to empathise. If you choose to expand this, consider rewriting parts of the piece from her perspective, or inserting additional scenes in. Give me a wider window into her world.

Tier: Almost There
#222 · 5
· on If, Amidst the Flames, a Pony
While I admire the narration, this would have way better if it wasn't pretty much If a Winter's Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino, only, y'know, in the Writeoff.

I mean, it's obviously not plagiarized at all -- this is clearly written from scratch -- but the concept is the exact same. You, the reader, are going to read a story, but it's faulty and you can't get to the end. You try to get another go, and it's a different story. And between bursts of story you read, there's a little adventure for ya.

It's a great concept, and this is well-written? But yeah, I think that taking the entire concept and baseline of the story from something that already exists is like... eh. Too much inspiration by Calvino, to the point where I can't really enjoy this. I just think that hey, I should re-read Winter's Night.
#223 ·
· on Trade · >>Nicktendonick
Man this story needs more attention.

Okay, so before we begin I have to say that this story hits my absolute worst pet peeve. It doesn't tell us how it ends. I'm going to take a very strong guess that Pinkie removed her knowledge of loving Twilight in order to make them both happier and I think I'm probably right. The problem is that I really don't know. The ending for that is a bittersweet tragedy, but I'm not sure the actual ending manages to convey just what happened. Now, there's definitely room in fiction for ambiguous endings, but in something so character focused not telling us the character's decision is a major black mark.

Other than that small rant I did love this story. Mysterious shops that you can never find again are probably my favorite narrative cliche and the whole story flows wonderfully. Pinkie being portrayed as a deep and complex character is rarer than you'd think and but Trade plays this extremely well. The shopkeeper was also fun, stepping outside of narrative conventions to be genuinely engaging and entertaining.

I think with better signposting at the end this story would be great, but even without that its still very good.
#224 · 1
· on Applejack v. FBTwi · >>The_Letter_J
Well this was a read. I'm not so sure to call it a story, but it was a read of some sort. Long story short AJ and Twi end up arguing over sharing a single recipe. In which Rarity is asked to intervene and end the conflict. Twilight loses and ends up becoming a drug dealer- I MEAN smuggler! Not gonna lie author. It just was something to read. I didn't really seem to notice that it was a story but more so a script piece. A really small script piece that takes place in two settings and has about a scene and a half.

-Word Play
This is the first of your strengths displayed within the story. You have a definitive display of complex wording that actual ties well together. This is shown in Twilight's complex teaching of the "All Reins Act" and with Rarity's "Exposure Act" which actually does sound very official and "law-like", if that's even a word at best to describe it. The way the conversation flowed back and forth was well done. I for one don't like banter too much, but it did seem to have a court feel to it. The complexity of wording also seemed to drop the characters in their respective characteristics. I really thought I'd hear about some country euphemism from AJ and more of a polished charm with Rarity. That's just oversight on my part and could just be that I'm picky about my own view of the characters.

The idea for the story is great! Twilight and Applejack have a problem and ask for help to solve it. Twilight ends up in her Paranoia state right before a visit from her beloved mentor. While Applejack is refusing to fill out an order, or more so a request, for this very same visit. It was wonderful as the concept of the story. I just really didn't think the way it turned out fit how good the idea could actually be. It'll take more of a friendship problem to make both AJ and Twi get to this point where they're fighting about Pie and who's making it. Probably change it up and show Discord setting up pranks for the lunch. Or trying to undo all the preparations to make it a disaster. I just think more thought could have been placed into this without completely redirecting the story.

-Cause of Conflict
Pies. Out of everything else that could have been associated with the conflict it had to be about pie. Not apple tarts. Not apple crumble. Not apple sauce. Which by the way is very easy to make those compared to a complex crust and filling for an apple pie. Why did it have to exactly be apple pie for this one shindig? Why couldn't they agree to have AJ do a much simpler dish to help with the lunch? I'm pretty sure at this point the mane six will be able to call upon the rest of the town to make something. So it goes without saying they could have more than enough help for a casual visit. Unless only God knows what Celestia might do without her pie. But I kid! It made way for a somewhat interesting conversation. Which I guess was suppose to be silly or somehow comedic? I can't tell. I just know I didn't enjoy it. I'm sorry.

So when I open a can of food I expect something to be in it. It's the same for a book and a story. I opened this one up and I get a long drawn out conversation that pretty much ends and then a shifty shady scene that doesn't feel like it had any effect. At the very least play it out more and show what happened or who the culprit was to stealing to formula to the Krabby Patty. The ending had little to no effect when it feels like the story cuts off immediately. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn't have time to shape the story out more like you had wanted. You most likely only had a couple of hours to write this and didn't end up finishing it before the deadline. Alright, cool. What you did get right was that it was a good quality conflict between friends. With Rarity being the hero. Hurrah she slayed the dragon!

Okay. The problem was Pie. No! The problem was not getting enough food for the lunch. The only two known procurers of any type of food at all in Equestria is Sugar Cube Corner or Sweet Apple Acres. At least that is how this story makes it out to be. We still have Hay Burger's and the farmer's market that the ponies constantly visit from time to time in the show. We already have desserts from Sugar Cube Corner coming in but we need more? AJ cannot make her own pies for the moment but we need them? I say this like a question because the conflict didn't really make sense. we can see that you're forcing the character here of AJ to be backed up into a corner, with all her excuses and reasons actually being legit and holding for true concerns that would be justified within an AJ character and her family. What I didn't get was why those pies were so special that they just desperately needed it. It was however very good that this turned into a court like trail with the Honorable Rarity in session *Stands up, sits down*. This interaction was the highlight of the story and actually provided quite a bit of detail and showing for your work.

This felt lackluster at most. First I want to say, bravo. You've shown effort and skill in your writing. The potential for that is very admirable. Don't take this as nothing but a negative, because out of your own strengths you will find your own style and become even better than you'd ever expect to be. You keep trying and I promise you! You will become what you've always wanted to be. For now keep working and we'll be here to help you. As always loved being here for you and thank you for writing for me.
#225 ·
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Obscure
You've got several really cool ideas, here. The mysteries here are pretty darn intriguing, and the little details like a Masters in Adventuring really make the world pop.

In terms of weaknesses, I'm going to have to parrot what a couple of other reviewers said about the pacing. I'm really not a fan of cutting a story up into ultra-short scenes, especially when you're going for a mood piece. The thing about horror is that the scariest moments tend to be when things are building up--during those little quiet moments when you know something is going to happen, but you're not sure what or when. It's hard to build up that kind of feeling of tension when we're being thrown from one scene to the next, especially when each little scene seems to exist only to introduce a very specific concept. It makes it feel a little bit transparent.

I'd suggest merging several of the mini-scenes together. I feel that longer passages that drop multiple hints would be more effective in preparing the reader for the finale.
#226 · 1
· on Twice Paid, For a Lie · >>Morning Sun
I was directed here by somepony who shall remain unnamed.

Somepony (not I) wrote this sequel to my story, I must presume in part because I openly admitted that my prompt suggestion was "write a sequel or parody to any medal-winning story". It's luck alone that this is the first pony competition in more than a year that I wasn't able to enter due to time constraints (I gave nopony any indication that I would not be entering until a few hours short of the deadline).

I liked it; it was a nice homage, and it fit without needing to read the prequel. :twilightsmile: My impressions are mixed partly because there is a sequel in the works, and there's quite a bit more to it than a narrative which slightly extends the original idea. But I guess this puts the fire under my ass to get it out there soon, before other ponies start publishing sequelae to my own works. :facehoof: (I'm still stinging from Blink.)

If you have not read the original, it is here:

The Price of a Smile

...however, note that the ending is slightly spoiled in hindsight from reading this.

That said, my one critique is that this doesn't add much to the original other than the narrative. I suspect this was in part because the homage was intended not to step on hooves, and I appreciate that, but more story is needed to make this stand out from that which it borrows.

All that said, I am humbled and honored. :heart:
#227 · 1
· on Return To Sender · >>Bremen
A smart premise makes for a pretty entertaining read. There's some really golden character situations in here, and I really liked everyone's voicing overall.

The biggest shortcoming IMHO is that for a comedy piece, there's actually not all that many laughs. Don't get me wrong; this definitely put a smile on my face, but I'm afraid that not much struck me as outright humorous.

I think a lot to do with it is that while Twilight is playing a good straight mare to the ridiculousness, we actually never really get to see said ridiculousness. For instance, this line is probably one of the most entertaining in the story:

The suitors had finally found a way to trick her anti-stallion shield spell, forcing her to relocate to Rainbow Dash’s cloud house. The worst part was the stallion who’d figured it out had actually seemed to expect her to swoon over his cleverness.

... but it doesn't quite cross the line into laughter-inducing. I can't help but think this would be a great exchange to actually see, but instead we hear about it.

In other words, give it to us full strength; don't water it down by limiting things to recollections and summaries. I think that would really make the story shine.
#228 · 1
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section · >>horizon
I quite appreciate that Applejack satire. Very nice.
"But the store is called 'Fireworks and Propane'. You only sell two things!"
Twilight Sparkle was sweeping dead locusts out of the castle foyer when Rarity arrived.

You know what she could use right about now? Some aardvarks.
Well, I quite enjoyed this. It was funny and clever and amusing to read. It'd be too long of a list for me to point out each individual thing I enjoyed. Just know that I'm impressed by your ability to tell a story and to keep a joke rolling without losing momentum.
A very strong entry, indeed. Thank you for writing.
#229 ·
· on Standards and Practices
That's... quite an opening line.
"Twilight" and her session were particularly uncomfortable. It made me cringe to read it.
This was an interesting experience, but I can't help but feel like I've been jerked around by it. Partially because of the "It was all a dream"-ending (it's a lazy storytelling strategy, especially in stories with Princess Luna), and partially because I understand what "Standards and Practices" refers to and the role it's playing here. I rolled my eyes at it when it came up in the story.
All that aside, though, this is competently written and I was invested in the story. I appreciate how members of her staff had their own flavor, in a manner of speaking. For being background, original characters, they had personalities and were not merely cardboard cutouts for Princess Cadance to talk to.
My advice to you would depend on what your goal with this story is. If you want to give this serious consideration as a publication, I'd recommend reducing or completely removing the references to standards and practices and focus on the role Princess Cadance would be taking on. If the purpose of this story is indeed to make references to standards and practices, I'd say make it a bit more apparent. As it is, it'd likely be too subtle to get its point across.
#230 ·
· on Buried
Creepy. Creepy and sad.

I have to admit this isn't my kind of fic, but looking beyond that, I have to say it's an extremely good one. It's very well written, has no technical problems that I can see, and tells a good story. The ending doesn't bother me; it's light on the details, but I thought the gist was clear.
#231 ·
· on Trade
There are few things I love in this fandom more than I love Twinkie. Seriously, there's something about the dynamic of their characters that simply fills my heart with glee. And, in what's probably a sign of deeper issues, I love seeing and putting that pairing through hardships, be it loss, insecurities, or one-sided love, to this story hits a lot of positive points for me.

That being said, as much as I liked both the setting and the plot, there were a few things that stood out to me we're you could work a bit more. Mainly that we never got to experience more of Pinkie's inner troubles. We're told about them, and we get several clues about the past. That is great, but I feel it would've had more impact in the reader if we got to experience the events Pinkie talks about, or if she would have gone in more detail about how exactly she felt.

If your story is about loss, then the reader should feel that loss. We should be able to sense the sadness Pinkie feels about knowing that Twilight will never love her as she does. That, I believe, is the biggest missed opportunity with the story.

Still, I really enjoyed it, and as others mentioned, the Shopkeeper is a very interesting character. Great work, keep it up.
#232 · 2
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Obscure
This instantly gave 'Writing on the Wall' vibes, and I think you should read that for sure if you haven't, author. Both of them set up an oddity at first, and both twist that near the end. But whereas Writing's feels totally natural, the false 'It was humans!' only to reveal 'Nope, Lovecraft!' doesn't quite work here, because A -> B is unnatural. If we're dealing with Deep Ones or something similar, then we should see more primitive, tribal-style artifacts. Stuff that hints at a village or something, not modern civilization.

The whole 'Masters in Adventure' part is awesome, I like that, you've got a good vibe there - just, well, decide if you want to double down on people, or Elder Things, and rebuild the relevant other pieces from there.
#233 · 2
· on Only, Only, Only You · >>Everyday
I feel like I'm the first one here who really, really loved this. Like, I normally hate poetry, beyond bits of Robert Frost, but this one stuck with me the whole way through.

There are some stumbles - relying on 'again' pronounced like 'a-gain' instead of 'a-gen', or 'H-OO-uhf' instead of 'H-uhf' for Hoof. It's not too hard to parse, but at least where I'm from a-gen and H-uhf are are the natural pronunciations.

Still, this really did feel like something akin to Frost to me. I shall cede to Baal that the meter can almost certainly be improved, but this is still a top contender for me and probably the only piece of serious Pony Poetry I've ever really, really liked the whole way through
#234 · 1
· on Only, Only, Only You · >>Morning Sun >>horizon
>>Morning Sun

probably the only piece of serious Pony Poetry I've ever really, really liked the whole way through

If you've not read it already, I would give horizon's Melt my highest recommendation.
#235 ·
· on TrixGlam · >>Nicktendonick >>Nicktendonick
It's just silly slapstick comedy, but sufficient comedy can forgive many sins. And this story got a number of laughs out of me. I agree with the flaws others have mentioned, but I still enjoyed it.

I have to wonder, is this the first story that was written knowing it would probably be outdated before the judging even ended?
#236 ·
· on Only, Only, Only You · >>horizon
The difficult thing about critiquing poetry is that every line, every word, every syllable needs to be taken into consideration, which can make it a daunting and potentially discouraging task.
Come closer here—my heart, my host.
Come closer. Hear my heart, my host,

i particularly enjoyed this couplet.
There are a few bumps along the path, but I enjoyed this little trek. I think it would help this poem if you found a way to make who the speaker is more apparent more quickly. As it is, I kept adjusting my theory until I reached something I was confident in.
I admire your courage to delve into the tricky realm of poetry. Know that your efforts are recognized and appreciated.
#237 ·
· on Only, Only, Only You · >>horizon
I took a read, and I can appreciate it's clearly well crafted, but I admit for me poetry without rhyme is very very difficult to sink into.

Which is part of why this worked so well for me.
#238 ·
· on Foundation
Filly-Twilight made a macaroni-Celestia? I love this already.
Hmm. It's ponies talking. In doing so, the dramatic conflict is both introduced and resolved.
I want to point out that, far and away, my favorite part of this was the reading from Starswirl's journal. The language there is... "exquisite" is the word that comes to mind for me. If that been the story, this could've easily been one of my favorite entries.
It wouldn't even disrupt what you're going for here: Starswirl and Clover seek out Magma, the Dragon Lord. Magma warns them that Alicorns are doomed to go insane, just as Discord did. The implications alone are enough for the reader, given that we know what happens to Luna. It would be enough to give us a sense of dread for Flurry Heart's future. I concede, though, that incorporating the importance of friendship would be a bit more challenging.
You demonstrated an enviable proficiency with the written word, even outside of that portion. I'm glad to have read this.
#239 · 2
· on The Sparklator · >>ZaidValRoa
She magically fished a big pen out of her saddlebag and drew a dark, thick circle around Pinkie’s cutie mark.

Shouldn't she do that after making the Mirror Pool copies?
So, as soon as Twilight started taking the press conference underground, I had a general sense of dread about where it was going, and was correct, up to a point. I had actually anticipated and prepared for a darker reveal than that. Much darker.
And then Twilight learns why it's illegal to yell "Fire!" in a movie theatre.
Honestly, I expected the team of unicorns to simply catch whatever object happens to be falling, especially considering that, statistically, it's likely to be something small. I don't know. That seems more practical than trying to clear out the immediate area within ninety seconds.
I think, as we approach the end of the story, pacing becomes a bit of an issue. It is remarkably faster than the story had been up to that point.
This was interesting to read. The asides to Twilight's mindset after the events of the ending were... distracting, and yet I don't think the story would necessarily be better off without them. I appreciate that they're at least explained by the ending. As I said, this was interesting, and I think it was worth the stumbles along the way.
#240 ·
· on The Sparklator · >>Remedyfortheheart >>Everyday
That seems more practical

You monster...
#241 ·
· on The Sparklator · >>Everyday
-Raises torch and pitchfork -
#242 ·
· on Growing The Future · >>billymorph
First of all, this story really needs a decent editing pass. I'm going to assume that this was just a product of the time limit, but all of the spelling and grammar mistakes were really distracting for me.

But even ignoring those problems, this story doesn't quite work for me. Part of it is that it was pretty obvious how this story was going to end once Twilight realized what the flowers were. We just had to wait for her to inevitably come around.
But I think most of it is that there are a few important things that just aren't explained well enough or don't make sense to me. First, it seems a bit unlikely to me that Life Blossom would have been completely and permanently banned, especially since you made it clear that ponies knew that it only needed somepony to die, and not necessarily to be murdered. You could probably fix this just by saying that most ponies at the time did think that they needed murder.
But I think the biggest issue is that you never adequately explain why Flower is even keeping Granny alive. You mention that she has a job and a deal, but you don't say what those are. Does she bring him supplies or something? It also sounds like he's doing the same for some other ponies. Do they have various deals to help him too? This is an especially big issue because Flower talks about how terrible it is for "the seeds of the future [to be] devoured by the well meaning in the present." If he's keeping her alive just because she's his friend, then he's guilty of exactly that.
I'm also a bit bugged by the fact that this story tries to comment on the problems of being immortal when your loved ones aren't, but it completely ignores the problems that come from everyone being immortal.

On the positive side, I liked the bit about the momentos that Flower has been keeping, and I do think that there is a decent story in here. It just needs some work to clean it up.

As a final note, I also can't help but imagine this as the beginning of or prequel to one of those stories where Twilight discovers something that Celestia has been hiding/repressing for centuries, and then in the end, Celestia realizes that Twilight was right all along. (I never really like those stories very much.)
#243 ·
· on Growing The Future · >>The_Letter_J
But I think the biggest issue is that you never adequately explain why Flower is even keeping Granny alive.

I think the story does. They're friends. Maybe mentor and student in the old days but it's clearly now a long standing friendship. I'm sure Granny helps him out with supplies and the like but I get the impression deep down he can't stand losing her. Selfish maybe, but hardly inexplicable.

...it completely ignores the problems that come from everyone being immortal.

Post-singularity problems! :P
#244 ·
· · >>Nicktendonick
I'm with you on that one. I quite enjoyed Trade. I honestly came out of that one thinking that Pinkie might not have made a deal and found her own way to move on. Like you said, the ending says something happened, but not exactly what.

Thumbs up.

That's running on the assumption that the episode ends with the three of them not friends. My gut tells me that whatever problems do happen, Equestria's sugarbowl nature will win out and they're gonna patch it up and be friends or on good terms by episode's end. I assume that's the author's guess too. That or he's running on the Trixie/Starlight hype train like a... well, rabid shipper.

Also, I didn't see the romance angle you guys saw. I kinda thought more friendshipping then anything else, but *shrugs* As I said below, not everything is written is interpreted as the person who wrote it intended. *shrugs*

Also, I've been reading the entries and has been lazy / preoccupied to getting around to writing actual critiques of them.While I know I don't need to, I feel as I should.

Miracle and Trade were really good, TrixGlam was fun and did what it needed to do (be funny), and Only, Only, Only you is, definitely unique among writeoff entries. Seriously, As Obscure said, 2000 words of 7-8 syllable couplets. Impressive.

When the contest is over I really want to know what made you want to try that.

Speaking of unique... If, Admist the Flames, a pony. I will admit, it kinda confused me. Not everyone will be able to see the Meta you intend when you go full meta-story like that. I remember my editor (Who I showed it to) called it pretentious, but I disagree. I enjoyed the segments and the meta-nature of the story, even if I didn't completely get the meta part that tied the whole thing together. Good work.
#245 ·
· on The Sparklator

...Okay, am I missing something? Some sort of joke?
What's monstrous about what I said?
#246 ·
· on Standards and Practices


Somehow the fact that this was about S & P went over my head the first time I've read this. Nonetheless, I feel my critiques still apply with this information factored in, but with the segments with the mane6, I think it would be more appropriate for them to be doing things that are blatantly against S & P as opposed to what you have now, and I'm not sure how well the therapy set-up really communicates that end. As an angle for telling a story, directly referencing a real-world law as a character motivation should have more of an edge (comedic, derisive, hammy, or otherwise) and be more in the forefront of the story than a throw-away line that I (and judging from the comments, other people) missed. I mean, it's the title of the story, and you say nary a thing about it, really. It seems very out of place to have that casual breaking of the fourth-wall mainly because although the story wildly diverges from what would be expected in the FiM universal, it is within the context of set-up that allows the reader to dismiss that divergence (i.e. the dreams).

My reaction upon discovering this element of story was one of mild annoyance, and I felt the reference detracted from it rather than added to it. If that was what the story was going to be about, there should have been more a conscientious decision by the author to include that element in the narrative and progression of the story. I don't know, logically, it doesn't seem to follow that Luna would even be able to make such dreams occur, anyways, because of S & P.
#247 · 2
· on The Sparklator · >>Everyday
The Sparklator

What is a ‘primeval womb,’ exactly? How does it differ from a regular womb? Curious minds want to know.

Well, there’s a lot of sections here. That’s the first thing that stands out. They don’t appear to be linked to each other, or at least, not yet.

(Though I wonder if the weightlessness described in the first section is felt by the falling flower pot? I think Douglas Adams used the sentient-flower pot joke.)

Anyway, back to reading, and we get to this line:

Sometimes I feel an emptiness into my tummy, like something needs to be replenished. It's painful. I don't like pain, it makes my clouds dark and ominous. I’m afraid, so I cry, and when I cry usually in the distance a small object appears that is not a cloud. I grip it and take it to my mouth and nibble it and it’s hot and it’s sweet and it feels good.

And, uh…


It’s a nipple?

Anyway, this story goes to some unusual lengths to set up its premise -- a machine that tell the future. We aren’t actually introduced to this machine until 3/4s of the way through the story, the entirety of which is consumed by Pinkie Pie using her Pinkie sense, and Twilight’s investigations of it.

Then, once the machine is unveiled, we never see Pinkie again. I guess she just went home?

I’m going to echo what everyone else said about the penultimate scene – it’s a flabbergasting tone change. We somehow go from a world where flowerpots land on ponies without any apparent harm, to a world where earth ponies stampede in panic and crush their children, all of which is graphically described to us.

And Celestia apparently just watches it happen. That’s cold.

And in the end, I’m left wondering, what was this story about? What is the author trying to tell me about science or pride or humans or the world? So much time is spent on Pinkie Pie, but then she simply vanishes from the story, and we’re left with Twilight going catatonic because of a poor experience.

But here’s the problem – Twilight didn’t go catatonic because she did something wrong. In fact, she was acting on what she believed to be good information in an attempt to save lives. There’s no tragedy here, because there’s no flaw. Twilight did what any reasonable person would have done. Rather than giving us a meaningful insight into consequences or values, we simply see bad things happen to innocent people for no reason. In that sense, this story might as well be about a graphic auto accident that kills dozens of innocent people.

Sorry, author. This one didn't do much for me.
#248 ·
· on The Sparklator
>>Cold in Gardez
And Celestia apparently just watches it happen. That’s cold.

Well, consider Sonic Rainboom: Rarity plummets right out of the sky, and Princess Celestia didn't do anything then, either.
#249 · 2
· on Starlight Glimmer and Sunset Shimmer Are Dead · >>Monokeras

The movie version of Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is one of my all-time favorite things ever put on film. Here, though, I'd like to see the ending come back around to the scene they performed in the bar--maybe Sunset and Starlight have indeed committed high crimes and misdemeanors while on their own, but the only thing that should matter is what they did when they were "on screen."

Of course, what I'd really like to see now that you've put the idea in my head, author, is a full Pony version of R&G: Sunset and Starlight wandering around in the background of an episode unsure what's happening even when they get swept into their scenes interacting with the Mane 6.

What's here, though, is pretty much fun.

#250 ·
· on Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake
Last review on my slate! :P

Anyways, I think I'm going to have to parrot a bit of what CiG had to say about the repetition. Honestly, it made the middle a little frustrating to read, especially since we've already seen Twilight learn the whole "just trust Pinkie" lesson before, in multiple episodes and in a fair number of fics. I mean, even RD gets on board with Pinkie's train of thought pretty quickly; the only thing that's stopping the story from coming to it's climax 1000 words sooner is Twilight's stubbornness.

Honestly, though, that's pretty much the only issue I had, here. A lot of the jokes hit the spot for me, especially that whole 'silent x' deal. And I really loved the way you've described how Pinkie breaks the laws of physics. The way she thinks about it comes across really naturally while still preserving the inherent weirdness of, say, teleporting via icebox.

Nice work!
#251 ·
· on Growing The Future
That doesn't really work for me. For most of the story, he makes a point of talking about how his research is more important than anything else, and how using the plants to help people now is well-meaning, but awful. But he keeps his own friends alive because apparently it's not awful when he does it. If his research was really the most important thing, like he claims, then he would let them die so that he would have more plants to use. This could be the sort of thing that humanizes him more, but it doesn't come across that way to me.

I think it might be especially frustrating to me because the justification is almost in there. Granny Smith says they have a deal, but we get no hints as to what that deal is. If there was some explanation there, this probably wouldn't be an issue.
Post by Remedyfortheheart , deleted
#253 · 2
· on We Are All Made from Silence
Stories focused around the idea of Rainbow Dash injuring herself are not uncommon, and among them, stories told concerning how Scootaloo is taking it are fairly common, as well.
That said, this story did an impressive job of making itself unique and distinctive. Language was creative and painted an interesting picture, although there were times where it felt like it was trying too hard to have some deeper significance than the situation merits. Pacing is a little scattered because of the extravagant prose. It occasionally slowed down the progression of the story to the point of feeling redundant.
I really liked when Scootaloo first entered the hospital, aided by the silence. The emotions Scootaloo was experiencing felt the most real and genuine in those moments, and it made connecting with her come naturally.
The little insights we're given into how Scootaloo is truly feeling were definitely the most profound for me. Favorite lines:
Who knows if she’ll [...] Ever hold you again?

"Rainbow, it’s me, it’s your Scootaloo!"

(Oh, that use of "your" just makes my heart ache.)
"I couldn’t bear it if you didn’t wake up.”

"I’m frightened [...] that she’ll have forgotten how to love me"

(Pardon me while I go weep in a corner.)
These lines are all so powerful, standing out in contrast to Scootaloo's aversion to sharing her feelings. Very nice work.
I'm glad I got to read this. Thank you for writing.
#254 ·
· on Tell Her What She Means To You · >>Bachiavellian
I like the significance of the title, having read the story. There's more to it than it would first appear.
It's the little details that help bring this story to life. My favorite was Princess Celestia being the one who taught Twilight to sing.
Precious memories.
I have to agree that Princess Celestia dropping that she abandoned Twilight as a foal seems abrupt and almost casual. As a side note, I'm not entirely sure what Princess Celestia meant about replacing eyes. It just sounds really weird and off to me.
Still, this was a pleasant read. Spike was in good form here, which I always appreciate.
In all, this was a nice way to celebrate the approach of Mother's Day.
#255 ·
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies · >>Obscure
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that all the stuff about Rarity was added in at the last minute to pad this up to 2000 words. Most of that section feels extremely unpolished (it took me quite a bit of rereading to figure out what half of the sentences were trying to say), and it seems like it has almost no connection to the rest of the story. I really think that you should either cut it entirely or find a way to better integrate it into the story.
The part with Carrot Top doesn't stick out as much, but it could use some work too.

Now the last scene, on the other hoof, has some nice ideas, and is really pretty good. It could use a bit of cleaning up too, though; mostly in the dialogue with the spirits. The bit about AJ apparently having a brother named Tart was especially confusing, because it's basically just a random twist that comes out of nowhere without any warning. I also got confused by a typo and the ordering of the paragraphs for a bit and thought that you were saying that Apple Bloom had a different mother than AJ.

Basically I think that the biggest problem with this story is that I keep being thrown out of it, mostly to try to figure out what you're trying to say. With some good editing, this could turn into a really great story.
#256 ·
· on Trade
Yay, a story I have feelings on strong enough to warrant a comment.

I liked this. I'm having trouble saying more than that.

The whole mysterious shop thing was well done, and the shopkeeper is a very interesting character.The portrayal of both Pinkie is Twilight is great as well. Nothing negative really bit me other than the more-open ending, but I don't think it is as a huge of a sin as others may think it is.
#257 · 2
· on If, Amidst the Flames, a Pony
Alright. Heads, I wax philosophical about the nature of this entry; tails, I leave that alone and stick to what's here.
I enjoyed reading this. It's a shame, really.
I love the writing in this. It's sophisticated without being pretentious. The language is smooth and flows well. Each "story" is engaging, which is impressive in its own right. The poem was well-crafted. The "asides" were even written well, regardless of how accurate or inaccurate they may be.
I like how all of the titles come together: "If, amidst the flames, a pony--standing on unbroken stone--looked upon the stars and wondered: by their light, what candles they must be,"
...And yet, it's not a complete thought, is it? Not in the "if-then statement" sense, at least. I yearn to know how that thought ends, but I do not feel cheated without it.
However, I cannot overlook the fact that this draws much of its inspiration from another work, even how the individual titles come together. That's why I said "It's a shame" earlier. It leaves me conflicted on how I should feel about it.
You are a talented writer, and I'm glad I got to read this.
#258 ·
· on Standards and Practices
So! A story within a story to explain and hand out an invitation. Wait what? It's not exactly like that but it's an actual enlightenment of bringing about a secret service to help monitor and control Equestria's morals and balances. There's a lot of meaning behind this story and rang true to the methodical meanings and processes that the real show brings to us, it's audience. Candence has a dream that was induced and shaped by Luna to show her a lesson. That one sentence sums up the entire story. But what the author did was take this story and stretch out so far that not one bit was wasted. In my regards that actually really neat. It shows how this writer is well rounded in all traits of a story and proves that he can write a good story with a simple idea. Taking something simple and making it complex without it turning into a mental chaotic mess.

This made so much sense. In fact this story could be one of the filler episodes for the original show. It's that good and plays well enough with it's characters that it doesn't seem to miss a beat on the original construction of the canon material given to us in the show. Shining and Cadence did very well for characters and played their parts exactly how I'd imagine them in the show. Even the main six. Though they did seem to have a colorful language that went above a PG-13 rating.The way this all just flowed into Luna's influence made this even more admirable. As it was her way of inviting Cadence to help the land in secret. The strange part is why give the Alicorn of Love a day job to help ponies when the Alicorn of the Day/Sun already does that? It seems to be more so Celestia's job and position to do it rather than an inexperienced alicorn who has an alicorn child to raise and a long forgotten kingdom to watch over. Just saying. The initiative to take these twists turns and angles and turn it into a story that feels so true the same show we all love so much, a must read on my list.

Dreams within a dream to give off a moral lesson on service and loyalty. Where have we seen this before? the twist of the story was really creative. Where it shows Cadence what is needed to be done without actually having her wake up form her slumber. In fact she is more so the example of how a troubled pony might end up causing a mishap if they're not looked after. Which is what Luna is asking Cadence to a much bigger scale. The lesson taught here was very well woven to make a beautiful picture. The angle this story takes in is just very well done and thought out. If there was any negatives to it, I'd have to say how the story felt choppy. Which it's understandable as Cadence fades in and out sampling several ponies concerns and thoughts throughout her dreams. More so it wasn't the inception part but the scenes leading up into it. which again is mentioned that Cadence cannot keep focus on what she is doing throughout the day.

Some of the detailing in the story here actually seem to cut off at the story description? This can cancel out the effect of a passage as it should just tell the reader what is going on or what they have to perceive to better understand the story. Cutting it off for dramatic flair just doesn't work out. You're cutting yourself off thus canceling out your own words. Which feels like you trying to hit the delete key quite often. This is better used through character interaction where characters will lose their own words or meanings due to something that suddenly pops up or for the reason of having their opinions or choices changed on the spot. This is natural for sentient beings as we tend to make wrong choices and try to change it for the right choices. So tell me this author. Did you make a wrong choice anywhere in the story to explain how it's taking place? Did you suddenly change your mind in the middle of your writing just to make it seem something different? I thought about this heavily as you cut yourself off in the details. You shouldn't do that. As with my review in "Not So Sweet" you have to guide your reader through the journey. An unsure leader can be disastrous.

The story was good and got it's point across. What felt strange was that it felt choppy. It was missing some detailing that seemed to cut things off. You focused on some details more than others and it shows. You seemed to have ignored minor details and tried showing off more complex ones.One detail that wasn't mentioned in the story but highly shown off due to Cadence falling asleep was that she was tired thanks to the baby and attending to her duties. A small scence or a single sentence where she is tending to her frizzled mane would have made this much smoother. Other details could include the expressions from the mane six as they talked their problems out. Give more adverbs and let me know exactly how each one feels rather than "They're here acting weird and I don't like it." type of deal. Let me know Pinkie has no emotion in her eyes. That they're dead set cold like the stones she used to tend to as a filly. Something small like that would add the zing that would make those moments pop out more. The one that stood out the most was Twilight's rant and Candence's thoughts of running away or yelling at her to stop. Something like that made me crave for more of that fix, man.

The characters themselves did interact with one another but all of it felt like they were dolls. Not really there for a purpose other than to say one or two lines and then get cut off from the rest of the story. Even Shining Armor who I think needed a bit more spotlight to make him seem real not just to Cadence, but to the audience as well. The only times I see true interaction taking place that felt genuine was Luna and Candence's conversation. Again, I want to feel the servant's concerns for her majesty. I want to see them light up or grimace or somehow react in the story to where they feel more than a mannequin. The reason this is up is because you've done such a great job keeping this story together in such a balanced way I couldn't find much to review about. So hopefully this'll add some more kick to your story. Just slight seasoning advice so to speak. I did wanna see more of the sessions between Cadence and the others, but than again. It's your story. Though I'm sure dozing off for a couple of minutes would give way to more content than a passage that takes 60 seconds to read? Hm? I think you could have played with the characters more which would have just made this better to read.

This was actually a fairly good read. It wasn't great in some aspects but it really did feel like a published book ready to go out into the world and share with it's audience. I can see it being shaped into a comic and a real live episode for MLP. It's that good. Now because we've kinda inflated the air a bit. It was missing bits and pieces that could have made it better. Not gonna lie. It won't be my favorite comic issue or my favorite filler episode for that matter. It's a type of content material that would be picked up once and probably never mentioned again unless a movie comes out and Luna is the main reason for things happening. What this story does shine so much though is the fact that it is complex without tripping over itself. It doesn't insult your knowledge of things or force you to research something online. Instead it offers a good wholesome read that is just entertaining to get into. It's just too bad that this is a short story contest and not one of a novel as this would have been a great addition to the start of an MLP book. Just like the show this one is can actually be for a wide amount of audiences. Unlike it's competitors. who only seem to fit a certain category for a certain group.
#259 ·
· on The Outer Dark
Ah! Hello there! Oh sure come on in. Not like I'm gonna stop you from....Jesus you really just entered without my permission! Okay, what are you doing? Where are you? Okay fine sit on my chair!

Why are you just staring at me?! What do you want?! A story? Does it look like I make stories?! Okay don't answer that! Just....why? Why are you sitting there like some kind of zombie expecting me to tell the tale of- Oh I don't know?! A ghost pony haunting a cake.

Wait? You seriously want me to tell you that story? NO! Why are you being so nosy?! What? No I don't have any crimes to share with you and also don't look under my bed! There is not some stash there to abide by that claim! Also you're not a cop! So HAH!

What pony in their right mind! Barges into some other pony's room and expects some type of story?! Go online like the rest of us!

What do you mean I'm making a story now?! That doesn't make sense! How can only dialogue make a story? I can't even?-why are you?- bah! AGH! I'm getting my blasting staff and you better be gone before I get back.

NO! THIS IS NOT A SCENE CUT! What is wrong with you!? Get out of my house!

Nothing but dialogue by Remedy F. Heart.

JESUS! The twist on this story is one of a kind! Which I'm sure most authors wouldn't have done this without having some experience in reading books. It gave me something simple and confused me at first. Like the story was talking to me. which indeed it was. I felt like I was in some type of stick-up situation with me being fed the story. Which felt nice for a change of pace. It made me think of who I was reading about and who might his audience be? It's a companion of some type that may be the reader himself. Yet this is confirmed through what the narrator carefully says. Which he does time and time mentioning that it was "their" home. Meaning that this companion is indeed a pony. A former residence of the town just like he was reminiscing about home and the current state of it. My main problem with this is that it's like tea. Some people like it. Others like me don't like tea. Unless it comes in a bottle with high amounts of sugar store bought, but I digress! It's a different flavor that may not appeal to your audience. It's a rather big gamble.

This was confusing. The Golden Oak Library should be in shambles right now. Yet in this story it's still standing. Or halfway standing. It also came to mind that were dealing with a highly magically advanced Twilight Sparkle. Meaning she's most likely her Twilicorn self if she did this much damage. The prompt is forbidden knowledge so this had to come by when Twilight wasn't studying friendship anymore. Unless it just came up to her door and said "Look at me!". What is interesting though is that we kinda get a feeling on what happened with Sombra and possibly the creation of Chaos himself Discord. It's chaotic magic that in a sense could explain a lot of things. In fact there's so much potential in this idea that it could easily line up several chapters of mystery and suspense along with it's dark atmosphere.Needless to say I just wanna ask when in the timeline is this taking place? Past, Present, or Future?

I'll admit the constant variable of the mood made this really light up while having it hide in the dark. It was hinted throughout the entire piece that it was indeed a dire time for Ponyville. Which are now ruins. It gives this thought as our hero traverses through town, forest, and castle grounds to find the one answer that had been eluding her while at the same time picking at her mind. It tied well to the fact that it left me intact in my seat to continue reading this story. Sadly the strange half of the story with the narration being so one-sided left me to think that it is indeed a memory and nothing else. So it was a scary story told by it's survivor, who was conversing in a very pleasant surrounding. If she has brandy and a faithful friend to listen to her we can come to the conclusion that everything was fine just then and there. Until we get to the other half that gave way to a big time implosion of confusion. The pony telling the story is none other than Rarity. With the companion being Rainbow. Now I'm not one to judge but I suspect Rarity wouldn't have been talking like that for the longest time all calm and sincere and then break out into a panic disorder. And I'm sure Rainbow being the Element of Loyalty would have had much more to say during the first half of the story rather then just being a pony on a leash. The mood really shines when it unveils who these two were form the beginning and comes to a drastic conclusion of all the warning signs coming together. Great ending but very very very strange build up.

JESUS! It was a grand take, but I wanted to feel the story. Not have it be told to me. I never got to even understand the narrator! Which was highly disappointing for me. I wanted to feel something from here but it felt like a lecture. Like my grandfather was talking to me while I nodded my head. I'm sorry, while it was beautifully written. I really wanted to fall in love with this story. It's basically nothing but dialogue. It could be turned into a script more so than my last story that I've reviewed. I can literally copy paste and edit everything and turn it into a fully blown up script and have someone act the story out with their own voice. It was highly creative but I just didn't fall in love with it. I'm sure people will come to love this but this type of narration is for a certain group. I wish it was simple and just made me come to see characters conversing about their adventures into Ponyville while they enjoy each others company in a cigar lounge. Instead I'm left with nothing about the viewer. Which is not even me. Which is actually hinted in the story as the narrator constantly says things like "Our Ponyville". So I just couldn't connect with it when I really so badly wanted to.

This is a new one to add to the list of story traits. Its as is stated. The commentary was troublesome. Let me explain. Majority of the story is told via mouth by the narrator/main character of the tale. Often times he gets distracted by his own detailing so much in fact he seems to literally drone on about one particular thing. This annoyed me as I already got the gist of it. Maddening runes. Yet there was multiple scenes where he paused the story just to talk about how "maddening" these runes were. We get it. He needs to actually speak like it's an actual conversation he's having rather than trying to build something up. I'm sure the pony listening in on his story was waiting for the story to continue. I like detail but not under another person. We as writer add detail into our stories to paint a picture. What a character needs to do in a story is to express themselves and actually venture out. Having this sort of pseudo story telling style with the character actually reading a story out loud, without actually reading from a book. Just feels odd. It was throwing me off quite a bit. It was lovely the wording and the added details but his speech didn't seem natural. Keep a character as a character and not as some kind of tether to the story's detailing. At the most! Show the significance of why he was so excited or touched or moved by such things. As in having his shake or tear up his speech. To where it seems traumatic. Not like it was some evening stroll. Let the viewer rattle and roll in his seat at the sheer mention of the frightful thing happening. Do not make it sound so normal in fact that it's just turns tasteless fluff.

Now this one had words and ideas that I can't even think of myself. Well done on that. Though I do advise some scripting. Line what events will take place in your story and follow it. Use it like guidelines for your writing material. That way things don't go off rail and feel and seem different than what is originally planned for your story. the narration was nice but once again just a very risky angle to do it from. I really wish I could have seen this from a normal angle. To see how my two beloved canon characters would react to all of this. Which would have brought n even more of a connection to the story and add more feeling to it. Not gonna lie this story idea and the material you've already outline was like a grenade! But it ended up feeling like a dud, due to some complex modifications holding it's original explosive aspects. I think this would have done so much better form an originally writing standpoint without it going over the top. I loved the ending once I got pass that Rarity said all of this and that and RD was pretty much dead weight at the beginning of the story. I wanted to see more of your ending come to like. Not some dialogue. I actually do want more. For now. I cannot say I love this piece. Still ranks high for material and concept in my opinion but it has many things to hash out before I think it'll be safe to share.
#260 · 1
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies · >>Obscure
First off, though it is well written, many of the issues I found have more to do with the story, and less with the actual writing. The main thing that struck me as peculiar from the very start is the way Applejack is portrayed. She seems very out of character and kinda lacks emotion. Because of this, she comes of as a bit cold, which makes the Rarijack scene all the more surprising.

On the subject of that scene, I'm afraid that I agree with many of the other reviewers on the fact that it's a bit out of place, like it was taken from another piece and placed here to boost the word count. Which is a shame, because I almost enjoyed that story more than the main plot, though they don't really connect. A recommendation for this, if it's absolutely vital that you keep the Rarijack scene, would be to add more connections to the main story, other than the bit about Carrot Top.

Another issue is that, though I did find the idea of utilizing necromancy on the farm, and the concept of this being something every farm in Equestria has been doing for what I assume to be several generations, I feel there was not enough buildup. I feel that Applejack possibly making comments or having thoughts earlier in the story that were indirectly related to the necromancy could have built up a sense of dread, which would definitely work for this style of story. However, the surprise ending did have its benefits as well, most of all the shock factor. Another thing about the conclusion was that it did seem a bit impractical, and, as I already mentioned, out of character for both Big Mac and AJ. What I mean by this is that their parents come to life every day to work on the farm, yet everyone is fine with allowing Apple Bloom to think her parents are gone forever, or at least let her think this until AJ decides it's time to tell her.

Finally, Applejack's dialogue is a bit difficult to understand, though I can not fault the author too much for this, as it is no easy feat to nail her accent in written form while both maintaining it's authenticity and keeping it easy for the reader as well.

So, in short, although it may seem like there was quite a bit of criticism, it was largely easy fixes and minor errors that are simply a side effect of writing with a time constraint such as the one in a writeoff. I applaud the effort you put into this, and overall it was an entertaining read.
#261 · 1
· on Natural Dreams
Natural Dreams

There’s a little awkward language early on. This sentence stands out to me, due to the repetition of ‘her’ in such short order:

Before her stood a woman who appeared no older than her with blood orange skin, a band of flowers adorning her crown and a terse expression adorning her face.

The second thing I’m struck by is the odd logic expressed by Gloriosa. She says that introductions are in order, then promptly refuses to name herself because “I’ll never understand your kind’s obsession with the separation inherent in assigning one.”

So, why was she so eager to start with introductions?

Anyway, the next part of the story is basically a debate between Sunset and Gloriosa. However, there isn’t much in terms of development for Sunset; she basically just wins the argument and goes home.

Then, in the inexplicable Part II of the story, Rarity calls and Sunset is concerned that her dream might have actually been real? But the reader thought it was real up until this point, so really the only thing Part II does is make the action in Part I seem less impactful. I’m not sure what this second half offers, especially since Sunset doesn’t take Rarity up on her offer.

Finally, Sunset decides she (and we) will just have to wait until they meet again. Why, one wonders? Didn’t they resolve everything in their first meeting? Was there some unfinished business I missed?
#262 · 3
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
A Faint and Curious Voice

The first thing I notice about this story is its rather old-fashioned style -- it reminds me more than anything else of a 19th Century novel, in which the entire story is relayed as though literally being spoken to you by the author in a bar, or around a campfire. It takes the first person perspective to the absolute extreme, with almost no dialogue or narrative. The entire story consists of the narrator telling us what happened.

That’s a style choice. It’s neither good nor bad – I’m not personally a fan of it, since I believe novel writing has evolved quite a bit since the 19th Century. But certainly there were plenty of good novels written back then, and tastes differ.

I do have problems with the story itself, though, and they begin early.

For starters, the entire first 1100 words are literally backstory. They’re Twilight telling us how Twilight got to become a student in Celestia’s school. Everything in this section is in the absolute past tense – it’s happening in the past, from the perspective of the storyteller, who is already narrating in the past tense. Backstory.

Even worse, it’s kind of pointless backstory. I mean, do you need a thousand words to tell us how Twilight became a student at Celestia’s school? I think you could’ve skipped that and most of us would have been just fine.

So, anyway, after a thousand words the actual story begins:

A section of the window was shattered.

There. That’s the start of the story. If you’re reading this one fresh, just scroll down until you see that line and start reading there. You won’t miss a thing.

Anyway, creepy things happen, at which point I assume the author began to realize one of the drawbacks of using first-person narration for this kind of story. It kind of implies that the narrator survives and was just fine. After all, if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t be narrating this to us? Using first-person narrative in a suspense or mystery story adds an additional burden to the author, to make sure the narrator’s motives for telling the story are consistent. It introduces the question of the unreliable narrator, which Twilight doesn’t seem to be in this case. She’s just a scared filly, telling us about why she was scared.

Anyway, fast forward to the end, we reach the climax, and… Celestia shows up and saves the day.

Yeah, that’s about it.

Wikipedia defines Deus ex machina as “...a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object.” And this story gives us an almost textbook example.

Here’s the narrator at the end:

Oh, please Celestia, make this end.

And here’s what happens next:

I felt again, I felt an embrace, a loving embrace, like the ones my mother would give me when I woke up from a nightmare. It was warm, it was caring, it was loving.

“Princess Celestia?” I asked after finding my own voice.

“Shhh…” she said, calming every one of my nerves, “It’s alright, Twilight. Everything is alright now.”

So, yeah. That’s how you solve your problems. Ask Celestia for help, she’ll appear, and the story ends happily.

Author, if it sounds like I’m being down on your story, it’s only because this is the only competent story I’ve had on my slate so far. Therefore it gets a bit more criticism. It’s actually in first place on my ballot.
#263 · 1
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
There’s a voice behind a stained-glass window. A monster under the bed. Twilight knows this. And Twilight is afraid.

Because it’s coming.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this piece after reading it. After having discussed it with some folk, I’m still not entirely sure. Very little happens in the story, but the author was clearly not lacking for time; it’s 2542 words before the first line of dialogue, with most of it spent telling the reader things that, as a writer in a FiM round, they should already know.

You do suspense well, author. You chose a good narrative perspective; your scene, once you finally got to it, was strong, and tense; and you prose was largely fine.

But one scene does not a story make. What am I supposed to take away from this story, author? I’m given large amounts of semi-relevant exposition, a scene in which a young child is haunted by a monster in the shadows, and then the parental figure comes in and banishes the monster away. The status quo is back to what it was. Nothing has changed. Nobody has learnt anything. No insight is developed. And whilst you succeeded in evoking emotions in the one scene where things actually happened, the rest of the story feels like an idle narration.

And the sudden end, with no agency on Twilight’s part, feels jarring.

Build a story with that scene, rather than one around it. Remove the unnecessary exposition. There’s a good story in here; it just needs some work done to realise it.

Tier: Needs Work/Almost There
#264 · 1
· on Buried · >>horizon
A lonely Alicorn is a sad Alicorn. Twilight is a sad Alicorn. Twilight does not want to be a sad Alicorn. Twilight goes a little psychopathic when Twilight is a sad Alicorn.

Alright, good hook. Good setting. The characters, however, let this story down.

I’m never given a reason to empathise with Green Leaf; a look into his world; what he likes, or dislikes; who he cares for, what he loves doing, and why he does those things; what makes him get up in the morning, and what he wishes he could be, or was. If you’re using an OC as your perspective character, author, then you need to paint me a picture. Currently, I’ve got a stick figure. He fulfils his function as a vehicle for the narrative, and does little else. For a story that relies on horror vis-à-vis the demise of the perspective persona, it fails to make me invested in them.

I’m never given an explanation as to why Twilight goes off the deep end, and doing all sorts of bizarre insanity. She lost her friends? Surely, she knew they were going to die. Ponies do that all the time. People do that all the time. That’s what people do. And surely, surely, after all those years of friendship, she’s learnt enough to interact with other ponies on some level. Surely she knows how to make friends.

If you’re going to base a story around something that so gratingly conflicts with the reader’s suspension of disbelief, then you need to do so with emotional weight. However, my inability to empathise with or connect to Green Leaf means that this never occurs, and the story suffers because of it.

It’s not a bad story, author; it just needs more time invested into making the narrative persona a person.

Tier: Needs Work
#265 ·
· on Truth Unwanted
I abstain from reviewing this work, until the author requests for me to do so. I will however commend and give credit for having the guts to just come out and share your work with us. By no means is your work horrible. Nor is it great. What I can see is great potential. I advise you to keep writing. You played Discord well and actually have a certain way with words. Especially your dialogue for your characters. So much in fact that I'd love to see a Discord fiction from your. Keep at it. The build up is great but by no means did it all come together smoothly. I advise scripting to make a line up of what you want to happen in the story. I'm sure with more adequate time you would make a very fine story.
#266 ·
· on Truth Unwanted
A very long time ago, Princess Luna died. Today, she'll die again. One day, she might even learn why.

This was a fairly messy story. There are numerous grammatical errors. The prose tells, rather than shows. There are numerous cliches; sometimes in the same sentence.

The moment of truth. Every fiber in her body screamed for Luna to refuse.

These things are partially attributable to an author not used to working under a time limit, and that's fine. They are things to work on. But the story itself also suffers plot-wise; Obscure covered several points in his review, which I won't repeat. I'm meant to empathise with Luna, author, but I'm not. She seems rather out of character; emotional swings, frequent idiot-balling, and the like. And if I'm not empathising with her - if I'm not concerned for her - then the ending holds little power. Horror works of you have you reader invested in the characters' fates; unfortunately, the errors described above prevented me from being so.

Tier: Needs Work
#267 · 1
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
This story's biggest problem is probably that it clearly wants to be several thousand words longer. If you're going to write a story explaining how Equestria turned into a wasteland, then you have to actually explain how Equestria turned into a wasteland. As it is, this looks like it could just as easily be a timeline where Chrysalis or Tirek takes over.

My other big problem with this is that Starlight seems to come around way too suddenly. I'm sure this is also due to word constraints.

I have a few smaller problems too:
* The potion Twilight makes seems to do a lot more than it did in the show. But I suppose this is pretty much necessary for the framing story to work.
* Giving Rarity the dragons was a cool idea, but they were pretty unnecessary. Maybe they'll be more worth having around in the expanded version, but it might have been a good idea to cut them out for this version of the story. (Or, if you wanted to mess with things a bit more, have Sunburst pass the test without hatching Spike (since you didn't mention Spike being there when he shattered the egg, I actually initially thought that Sunburst had just destroyed the egg without hatching it), and then have Rarity happen to find one baby dragon in the mine, who she just happens to decide to name Spike. But that might have complicated things a bit too much for this story.)
* I can't think of a good reason for Chrysalis to not leave a few disguised changelings in Ponyville to keep an eye on the Element Bearers in case they try to cross her. I was almost certain that at least the Applejack at the end would turn out to be a changeling, but there really should just be several of them who snuck onto the train and are just waiting for the right moment to turn and kill everyone on it. Maybe this is another product of the length, but it wouldn't have been hard to at least have Applejack make it onto the train and then reveal herself and start attacking before Twilight cut off the vision.

But despite my complaints, I do think that this was a good story overall. I probably liked it about as much as I can be expected to like a dark and tragic story like this one. It's currently a solid second place on my ballot, with only one story left unread. Just go ahead and expand this story, and it will probably be great.
#268 · 4
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section

Cold in Gardez was first published on Equestria Daily in 2011 with the story "Maiden Flight" and has since gone on to be a very prolific and popular author on the pony fan fiction site FIMFiction.net. Cold in Gardez is well known for his comedies; he particularly enjoys portraying My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic character Twilight Sparkle in a slew of humorous situations as a result of her inherent social awkwardness and obtuse reasoning, as seen in his break-out hit, "The Naked Singularity." Cold in Gardez's style typically revolves around characters in conventional situations acting in subversion of the reader's expectations for comedic effect, or ramping the absurdity of a set up to the nth degree for maximum ridiculousness.

In late October of 2011, while penning "The Contest", Cold in Gardez allowed a strange man named Cassius and a stray bear into his work document for the story. His life was made mildly worse during this time, but not by much. Gardez later asked for the daring duo to return for a couple stories, just for fun. Some say that Cold in Gardez feels pretty indifferent about it, even to this day.

He also enjoys the word "somewhat."

"My Writeoff stories tend to be highly guessable, based on past experience"
-Cold in Gardez, 2016

Goddammit, some of these setups just make me smile. I'm transitioning between being highly amused to being mildly annoyed with the amount of dialogue I have to wade through in order to get back to my state of amusement. There's a lot of fluff in this story, and I feel that a lot of the scenes could be tightened up by cutting down on the excess dialogue between characters, or at least, make the elements that aren't written to be comedic a bit more than transparently functional pieces for the plot to develop. The primary offender of this are the interludes with Rarity and Fluttershy. I knew where it was going from the onset and was wondering why the writer felt the need to communicate that particular plot point over so many words while nothing really occurs in the scene. It would be one thing if Rarity and Fluttershy had the same sort of humorous back and forth quips that Twilight has literally with everyone else in the story (the comments with Rainbow and Twilight about Applejack and apples just slays me), but the scene is played uncharacteristically straight and slow for some reason, with the funniest bit being the oddity that Fluttershy requests asbestos—something that screams "wacky set-up" to me, but is not followed up on with any real moments of comedy. This is contrasted sharply by the Rainbow Dash scene, which not only sets-up without being unnecessarily bloated, but also pays off in a much more hilarious way.

Quick note on the Rainbow Dash scene: It seems strange to me that during a Biblical-plague scenario that the characters are still casually engaging in dialogue with one another. They should be screaming back and forth to be heard and given a little more room to emote, I think. Play up that reaction a bit more, I feel it is a bit understated in its current situation. Why do you hate speech tags so much, man?

There is a lot of dialogue in this one. This is not necessarily a problem, but a lot of these scenes I think can be helped by giving the ponies a bit more business to do, breaking up the dialogue, and allowing the reader a moment to breath for a moment, which will slow the pacing. In particular, I'm hoping for maybe just a little more description in the aforementioned Rainbow Dash scene. Pretty please?

I would have liked to see Twilight's methods of preventing book theft, as elaborated by the Applejack scene. As such that scene seems unnecessary given that set-up never has a pay-off as far as I'm aware. Uh well, okay, it sort of pays off at the end, but in a more mundane way than I would have hoped, and much less preventative than I would have anticipated by Twilight's smug certainty. This is definitely a missed opportunity in having such a comically unhelpful preventative measure that should be demonstrated in that scene, I think.

The resolution is aces though, along with the penultimate scene of Rarity creating BDSM or something. It feels like a story that was written for that conclusion, and that is high praise. Although I will say that the Twarity ship baiting comes across a bit too strongly, and I think the author is deliberately dicking with me by including it or is just doing it to satisfy his own head-cannon. It's gratuitous and distracting, but if you really want to keep it in, you can do that. As always, there's some phrasing that could be improved on, but generally the piece moves well.

"Et tu, Fluttershy?"

Things to Consider:
-Working some more comedy into the Fluttershy + Rarity scenes or drastically cutting them. As they are, they mostly fluff with not much substance other than to act as a demonstrative of the book, which is already accomplished in a more spectacle and funnier manner by the Rainbow Dash scene.
-Cutting down excess dialogue and giving the narrative more room to breathe. This story is 80% dialogue as it stands, not all of it necessary, and the narrative being underplayed I think is a tragically missed opportunity in some scenes
-Tighten up phrasing (I realize I say this every time, but it's true, even for you)
-Go wild, more wild!
-Pat self on back for being britty grud
-Burn the ships

God I'm gonna look like such an ass if this isn't CiG's. If you're the author and reading this, and you're not CiG, please just pretend you are for the rest of the contest. If you are Gardez and reading this and you aren't the author, pretend to be the author please, for old time's sake.
#269 · 1
· on Journal of Forbidden Knowledge
Try for a little more variance in your sentence structure for a more interesting style. For a good number of the first paragraphs, most sentences begin either "Twilight" or "She". The third paragraph's sentences begin with "She" three times in a row.
There are numerous problems with the execution. First I want to mention the logic of the journal. Is it Doctor Epistími's personal journal? Because it doesn't read that way, since the entries are numbered. Yet the language is too casual to fit as a scientific journal. In either instance, why would her apprentice have access to it? I imagine Doctor Epistími would discover the additional entry and not be too pleased with its contents.
Also, consider this: they don't read as journal entries. People don't write indecisively. They don't contradict themselves. They erase or scratch things out (an effect you can easily portray by using a strike-through). "This is it. This is the end." I don't imagine someone stopping to write this if that's how they truly feel.
To be clear, I don't have an issue with the story unfolding from a journal. The journal just needs to know what kind of journal it is.
Next, I wish to talk about the set-up. It feels... contrived. Everything is just so, in order for Twilight to end up with the journal. It makes the circumstances difficult to believe, and as a result, makes it difficult to connect with the story. Try to think of a more natural progression for your story.
Finally, and most importantly, I offer you the age-old wisdom, "Show; don't tell." You should try to avoid expressly stating what a character is thinking or feeling. The line "Twilight looked up from the book, slightly scared now." is a good example. I try to explain it this way: when you envision this scene, you have an image in your head. Describe it to us. Twilight is slightly scared. What does that look like? Are her eyes dilated? Is she shivering? Is there a bead of sweat trickling down the back of her neck? Whatever it is you picture, paint it for us.
Now, for all that I've said, I don't want you to think this is bad, or that I consider it bad. All of these are rookie mistakes. Most people make them, learn from them, and grow as writers because of them. As you continue writing, you continue improving, and that's all we can ever strive for, after all.
In reading this, my curiosity was grabbed and I was invested in seeing how everything would end. The dark feel and sterile atmosphere of the story reminds me of SCP-231, if you care to take a read. [Content warning: not for those of fragile constitutions (as in, Fluttershy shouldn't read this), especially if not familiar with the SCP Foundation. Viewer discretion is advised.]
I encourage you to continue writing. You demonstrate the skills and desire to be a good writer, and I hope to see you again as you improve.
#270 · 1
· on Journal of Forbidden Knowledge
Alright this was a fancy little thing trying to put on a show. The story felt like it was a new borne puppy trying to get my attention. It just doesn't know better. Did that sound harsh? I hope it didn't. It's cute in a way but of course just needs some training. And who doesn't love Puppies! Come here ya boo-boo boo! Awwww! It's a good story that just needs some work and you'll have the right to consider this a wonderful piece. Let's go it's elements shall we?

I personally love stories that get you involved through entries, clues, and flashbacks. It adds this spice that just makes taking in the character so much bolder than normal. You learn about their history. Their life. The accomplishments of what make them proud. Even their weaknesses and drawbacks. The choice of unveiling Twilight's past wasn't a bad choice. In fact I thought it was really smart. I will say however that you played it wrong. It's just that a lot of it doesn't make sense and your build-up seems to be lacking somewhat. Take the time to stretch things out and thing carefully about how you want it portrayed. you had an idea but didn't seem to decipher it well enough for your audience. You're giving us a story, so we want to avoid as much confusion as possible give reasons and explanations as to why this is happening and why such things have happened in your story. Let us know why this experiment was so important that the Princess was involved. Take us through how Twilight even got lost in the first place. And why in the world would Twilight soil the sanctification of a LIBRARY!? So many questions left unanswered give a negative reaction by the ending of the story.

The take on keeping this a solo journey is a very hard thing to do. Keeping it as adventurous as possible to mitigate the slumps of the story is usually the most common way to shape these types of scenarios. You actually did that and added a mysterious feel to it. To use something normally used in horror classics about forbidden knowledge and whatnot. It was great. I could follow along with Twilight and see exactly what was bothering her during her journey. My only problem with this is that you kept it too simple. If she is the only traveler in this story, you need to highlight everything she is experiencing. Unlike most stories that focus on multiple characters. Authors cannot jot down every detail for every character, as it would overdo the story with details and things we the audience would not care about. Since the journey is solo and does actually highlight one character you wouldn't be able to go overboard with this feature. As Twilight is the main focus, so should her view on everything affect us since we're lacking interaction with other characters. It replaces that normal dialogue and script like reading style to a more point of view reading style.

Now this was very close to being a negative as well on boarder line of a positive. The idea and premise of this piece was by far one of the most creative and simple things out of a story. It didn't have some complex cast and had only one thing to uncover during the whole read. It was a simple concept that just didn't seem to play right on your part. The idea is fantastic. And I implore you to continue exploring and experimenting with these ideas. Just because you played these parts wrong, didn't mean you didn't have something good here. It may have been a bad choice implementing both parts of this story but it was still fun to read and I'm glad you shared it. You took a simple idea and still made it entertaining. So this is going up on positives for the initiative of just being yourself and staying completely simple and easy to follow. Good work!

Not gonna lie. I was confused throughout the whole story asking questions that the writer just never seems to answer. Why was Twilight lost? Why would she break into a forbidden section of the library that's obviously gated off for a reason? Why is scared of the mice in the first scene but doesn't care that there's a mouse in the journal? In fact why is there a mouse in the journal? Why is Twilight drinking dirty water that is dripping form a stone wall? Where is the water coming from? Why is there a sunlight spot for this particular book? Why is it in a room that seems to house it like it's a precious commodity? The list just continues to go on and on and on. now I understand it's problem length wise is being held back by the contest limitations. I completely understand. This style of writing is meant to be very lengthy with it's traits and very fluffed out to have a full effect. Since it is a story within a story that just happens to be a point of view journey for Twilight. The way to solve this to make up for the ridiculous amounts of detail the story needs would probably be to have somepony else give Twilight the journal. Rather making her find it. Have her suddenly just receive it and read through the book. Or she could get lost in the library but come out with new knowledge. Either way you'd have to eliminate one of the other points of your story to make this fit within the boundaries of the contest.

So we already went over this, but I wanna make sure you understand that these two points that you strongly focused on needed pretty much more detailing to make it pop. I wasn't with Twilight on her journey. It just kind of skimmed through it, thus it had no effect. I loved the entry part, but it went by so fast that there felt like little to no build up. Going through something like that should have explained a lot more with it being a historical journal type of reading. Adding these two together in a 8,000 word limit is probably your biggest choice that affected the story. Overall these two combined would make a novel. A short book so to speak before it can make it's full effect. Example being one of my favorites. Is H.G Wells "The Time Machine". Doing one or the other would have actually made this story stand out as I have previously stated. Right now I just think it would need more room and plenty of time to shape appropriately.

This story was fun. While flawed it was still very fun to read. I don't see much wrong besides some shaping of the story and that it needed more time. I can't say that it's flawed when the author doesn't get enough room to engage himself in his own story. The effort is there but I think you need to slow down get comfy and write. Just write. It felt like you had a lot on your plate before you got done submitting this piece. Which I don't blame you. We all have lives to focus on. Overall thumbs up. Keep working and I look forward to your next submission.
#271 · 1
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
For me, not a fan of the 'Tee hee murder the Princesses' bit you have in here. It doesn't even make sense, either - why would Chrysalis drain her food supply that fast?

Ponies are livestock, and you don't slaughter the most productive cows on Day one. And I mean, that's like, bitter to say, but if the Sisters are that strong, then...yea.

For me, this is in 'Needs Work', for just being unpleasantly dark without really justifying it, as well as general speed-whiplash to get to the final point.
#272 · 3
· on Might Make Right · >>horizon
A three-day drought of reviews for this story? We should fix that.
This was an interesting little trip. Shifting between perspective characters so much was a little... disorientating, perhaps? I can say it messed with my immersion, at least. I wouldn't necessarily call it a bad thing, though. It's a stylistic choice, meant to have an effect on the reader.
This story poses some classic moral dilemmas, and I enjoyed seeing how each character responded. I quite liked your use of Garble. Like a quality bad guy, he thinks he is in the right and that he will be vindicated.
A minor note: I wasn't a fan of the way you described magic. Honestly, it seems pretentious to me, because what does it really add to the story? That's just my opinion, though, and you are absolutely free to ignore it.
Overall, I liked it. While the stylistic choice was a bit unconventional, the writing itself was solid and engaging. Nice work.

I believe the "(hugs)" were intrusive thoughts that were compelling him to hug Spike, not individual actions.
#273 · 1
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section
Completely Safe in the Reference Section - A+ - Nice hook, good descriptions, wonderful characterizations. Spike is best pedant. And yes, it makes perfect sense for Ponyville to have a Fireworks and Propane store. Sigh. All top marks completely across the story.
#274 · 1
· on Tell Her What She Means To You
Tell Her What She Means To You - A+ with a minor ding - Okay, the goofup at the start does not really help. (reads a little more) Actually, that’s about the extent of the technical errors. Nice characterization, and I love the way the subtext tells a story that’s deeper than the conversation going on at the moment. Twilight is Best Clueless Alicorn. Top tier.
#275 · 2
· on Only, Only, Only You
Only, Only, Only You - A - An aggressive approach to a difficult task, like climbing K2 on the north ridge. Very good and tight, with better word control than I ever could do. Certainly top tier work. I only have one thing to say:
horizon it seems
now writes longer pony themes
stories told in verse
#276 · 1
· on Not On the Outside
Not On the Outside - A - Nice hook and very good work dragging me into the story with the two-tier conversation. Good characterization for all of the characters involved, from Star Swirl to the sparring teacher. The transition from silly/serious to just serious was well-handled, but probably weakened the story slightly by switching tempos in the middle. Still, a good solid A and in the top tier.
#277 · 1
· on Return To Sender · >>Bremen
Return To Sender - solid A - Oh, Trixie. Never change. Good intro, good exit, the middle could use a little work. Comedy is one of the hardest things to pull off, other than poetry, and although you’ve taken a few dings on Zecora here, ignore them. Her text is fine. One thing to consider is cranking up the physical comedy a little (that may be personal preference for fountains) I like that you skipped several of the M6. Far too often we get cornered into having to have a scene with each and every one of them, and that just gets clunky. The mental eye follows interpersonal actions, and since most of the comedy bits are between Twilight and a suitor, they need extended out somewhat and described to make them seem more ‘real.’
#278 · 2
· on Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree
Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree - A - And on the fifth day, God created Pony and said to her, “Keep an eye on Man, would’ya? An’ try to keep him from doing anything stupid.” It didn’t work. Reasonable hook/setup, good end, nice story overall, foreordained conclusion, fails the Bechdel test because Adam goofs that up too. Still, cute and lighthearted for a story about the Fall of Man and the Tree.
#279 · 1
· on Buried
Buried - A- - Nice hook. Well-defined plot thread. Perhaps a little too well-defined. The steps from plot point to point are a little too jarring and jerky for my taste. Still, psychopathic princess is best princess. If I might offer a suggestion, the ending was fuzzy, so I’ll drop you a note with a suggestion after the contest if you want.
#280 · 1
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
A Faint And Curious Voice - B+ - First person is normally harder to pull off, and this shows, as it is fairly slow to start but rich in details to counter. Still, it drags up to the broken window which is where the story really starts, goes pretty good, then kindof trails off into what in the world happened here and it’s frightening true, but more confusing until it just… ends. Twilight is well characterized, but that’s to be expected as she is nearly all of the story.
#281 · 1
· on Truth Unwanted
Truth Unwanted - C - Grammar pedant triggered in first paragraph, that’s a bad sign. Unbound bbs codes, another sign. And I’m totally lost. It’s not a bad story if it will get tidied up and straightened out later. It has a fair plot, but since it’s from Luna’s POV and she doesn’t know what is going on, it confuses the reader. Ambitious, but needs a lot of work.
#282 · 1
· on Starlight Glimmer and Sunset Shimmer Are Dead · >>Monokeras
Unlike most pieces in the write-off so far, I think that this story is a bit shorter than it should to be and could be served well by giving it more room to expand on the concepts of its premise. People before me have mentioned the ending in particular, which I think works well theoretically, but needs more development in order to be properly executed so that people unfamiliar with the source material will understand the mechanics of the story and its abruptness doesn't seem unnatural to the reader. There needs to be a consistent method in which you convey the idea of "being on-stage" versus "being-off stage" to the reader without being too obtrusive (if I am indeed reading this story correctly and that their actions only are relevant when "on-stage" as part of a story).

I think an easy way to do this (and in a way that would set uniquely apart from its source material) is to omit the dialogues that the characters have "on-stage" and only show their reactions while being "off-stage." For example, in the Lyra scene, shifting the perspective over to Starlight observing Sunset say her "lines" while not being able to hear them and trying in vain to communicate with Sunset while being "off-stage" would effectively communicate the notion that there is a clear disconnect from what is being done in the narrative and what is occurring "on-stage" without giving too much away all at once. Also the strange, what I assume to be Romeo and Juliet homage, strikes me as a bit out of place anyways.

I believe there should be a bit more space for scenes with SS and SG to play around with the "rules" of the world they inhabit, both to better set up what gets them killed, but also to more firmly establish how the universe works around them. Additionally, this allows for you, the author, to experiment more with what you intend the overall tone of your story to be. RC and GS are Dead is an existentialist, absurdist piece, that explores those concepts, and I would enjoy it you played around more with your overall thesis, because as it stands, the story is a bit of a flat-line in terms of what I'm supposed to get out of it. It trends towards mildly amusing, especially with the smash-cut ending , and the quip about Freshman-level Philosophy, but doesn't fully commit to being absurd, and overall the story seems rather contained considering what happened off-screen in the ending. Put some more meat on these bones, is what I'm saying. This would also give more moments for SS and SG to work off of each other and give each other some characterization.

The whole set-up with the coin appearing out of no-where after sinking to the bottom of a lake seems unnecessarily contrived for the scene it's supposed to convey: essentially they've walked "on-stage" without realizing it and their actions suddenly have consequences again. The same mistake could essentially be made without having the lake bit, and the reader wouldn't wonder where how the coin (if it is the same coin, I suppose) ended up in the next scene without explanation. It would be better to have several scenes of SS and SG checking out the coin after each "scene" to make sure they're still off-stage and fall into a sense of complacency after several successful and wacky antics. It would seem more natural and fun that way, I think.

Additionally, as I always do, I think the baiting with the sex and the darker frustrations and whatnot takes away from the piece if it's not going to be followed up on in any significant way, especially since it seems that our villains are more "redeemed" or at least, trying for redemption. I think the worst scene in the story starts with this line right here:

Sunset laughed. “Maybe you’re right. Say, when you’re dreaming and you achieve lucidity, what do you try to do?”

Because SS and SG set up a bunch of fun hypothetical ideas to do, but the only thing they end up doing is throwing water around, which is fairly mundane, and sets up for something that never actually pays off (other than being implied to have happened off-screen) which causes the ending to seem very abrupt and out of nowhere.An interesting thing to try, perhaps, would be the the more antics they try off-screen, the more they revert back to being villainous, and once they've made the transition, they come back "on-stage." Just spit-balling some ideas here.

There's some problematic and awkward phrasing here. Examples include:

"Sunset floated the coin in front of her face, staring into the relief of Princess Celestia."

"She tossed the coin into the water, letting it sink down to the bottom, and she didn’t check the result."

"Starlight was too horrified to react properly, and Sunset dragged her out the door with magic and shut it behind them."

"Sunset channeled her magic, straining a little as she lifted all of the bottles of booze into the air at once, walking out from behind the bar and letting them swirl around her."

Typically these awkward phrasing come from having an action, tacking on a participle phrase, and then tacking on an additional conjunction which causes the sentence to be jam-packed with actions or otherwise adds actions that could be their own sentence unnecessarily. This is particularly offensive is when one of Starlight's reactions is tacked on to Sunset's actions when the two obviously happen independent of each other.

I found this story amusing, but also wanting more: more antics, more focus, a more complete vision. I enjoyed its ideas, but as a story, I feel it is incomplete and needs to be fleshed out more.

Things to Consider:
-Writing more scenes, at least one more scene being "on-stage" and as many as you see fit "off"
-Developing the concept of your world and its rules more fully, and demonstrating those rules to the reader
-Rewriting the penultimate scene entirely; the ending works, but the build up to it does not
-More antics more absurd! Have fun with this concept!
-Idea about the gradual decline into villainy and coming back "on screen."
-Injecting more humor if that's what you want to go for
#283 · 1
· on Starlight Glimmer and Sunset Shimmer Are Dead · >>Monokeras
This one's not on my slate, but I recognized the title instantly and I wanted to read it. So, author, instead of a full review you just get a few thoughts.

Overall, I liked it!

- The writing was nice, though Cassius points out a few weak spots. It wasn't distracting to me, but it didn't really stand out, either.

- SS and SG's characters seemed rather generic. In fact, nothing about their characters really came through in this, particularly for SG (granted, she wasn't the POV character). But all I really got from SS was skepticism and fatalism.

- The creeping sense that something is wrong is wonderfully setup with the coin, and the coin's recurring motif really keeps the story rolling.

- As Cassius mentions another 'stage' scene would be nice. Maybe give SG something to do?

- I'm going to have to agree with other readers that the ending was the most disappointing part. You could've played it straight, as it were, with them truly being lost in some metaphysical representation of another person's story. You chose to subvert it, but the type of subversion you went with – comedic but not redemptive – wasn't very appealing to me. Now, nothing says you have to try and appeal to your readers, but I think you'll find they grade your stories higher if you do so.

Anyway, this story would be at the top of my ballot, if it were on my slate. Hopefully it will be in the finals and I'll get to judge it there.
#284 ·
· on Starlight Glimmer and Sunset Shimmer Are Dead
>>Baal Bunny
>>Morning Sun
>>Cold in Gardez
I’ve nothing meaningful to add after all that has already been mentioned by the former outstanding people, whose art and sharpness way outstrip mine, so I will spare you my babbling.

1. of of alcohol;
2. Proselytising herself????
3. trying to finder: don't let your love of MacOS seep into your fictions! :P
4. I know I don’t know you all that well, but I know your story, and you know mine. That's many “know” for a single short sentence.

And now good luck for the finals! :)
#285 ·
· on TrixGlam
#286 · 1
· on Return To Sender · >>Bremen
*skips over other reviews so as to not yet taint his opinions*

Well, I thought that was pretty well done! All of the characters were very... in character. I particularly liked the bit with Rainbow Dash and not actually reading the entire story... ;> Each little segment was amusing and reasonable, and I definitely enjoyed it.

I have two critiques however... The ending was a tad... abrupt. And ha some, well, not dark, but let's say dim implications. The fact that Shining Armor, Cadence's beloved, Flurry Heart's father, and Twilight's brother will inevitably die could have been handled a touch more delicately.

Secondly... I'm not quite sure how to describe this issue... Each scene was well done, concise, in character, and amusing. But somehow it felt like we were hopping from scene to scene purely for those events to happen, as opposed to being part of some overarching plot. I guess that might dovetail nicely with the rather abrupt ending... It's like the story was meandering down this lovely path with lots of nice scenery... But when you reach the end, you discover that it didn't really lead anywhere in particular. O.o

Not a very instructive critique, I know. But that's the best I've got. Regardless, good story! :)
#287 · 2
· on Applejack v. FBTwi · >>The_Letter_J
This was a rather odd read. Based on the title, this is clearly either inspired by the recent Apple Computers vs. FBI legal drama -- where the FBI ordered Apple to write them a backdoor which would allow them to bypass an iPhone's lock screen protection, and Apple fought the injunction -- or this is a direct ponification thereof. My major problem it that it straddles the line between those two possibliities in a way that feels to me like it leaves it incoherent as a story.

A story like this can work as direct commentary on the source issues, but here it seems like it's taking steps to abstract those source issues out in a way that leaves them Equestrian enough to obscure the parallels. Instead of the need to write software, Twilight's ordering Applejack to bake pies, and then we're talking about pie recipes which is yet another layer, and we're talking about the financial harm of recipes and going out of business (and the Blackberry thing -- I don't remember that being cited as precedent in the real case, but maybe I missed that part?) ... and rather than there being something unique about Apple for the situation, the way there was in reality because it was an iPhone the government needed to unlock, in this story Applejack wasn't even Twilight's first choice (which makes it even odder because she's willing to order Applejack around but not the Cakes). I'm passingly familiar with the IRL Apple case, at least from the infosec angle (the argument that having a backdoor to bypass security is a Really Bad Idea if the security is supposed to mean anything, and the near certainty that a backdoor for the "good guys" will be exploited by the "bad guys" before long), and I was struggling to read anything meaningful about the IRL case out of this. That's exacerbated by the choice to have this be about the innocent, pony-flavored core dispute of pies for a royal visit, rather than about trying to deal with a "bad guy" (maybe something like AJ baking a pie for a suspected changeling, because her pies are so awesome that everyone who eats food will drool at the smell, and changelings won't?) -- a lot of the drama of the original case was about the angle of "yes, nobody likes terrorists, but this is about a principle much bigger than a single bad guy".

So the other way this could go is to take the inspiration -- the flavor, if you will -- of the original events, and use those as the premise of a piece of original fiction which takes this in its own direction. On that level, the problem I'm having is that this clings too hard to its core conceit -- a legal battle between corporate giants -- in ways that keep it from feeling like, well, a pony story. There's a lot of lampshading here over the premise that Twilight would issue a royal order to Applejack (as there should be!), and that they would consult Rarity rather than a legal authority, but the literal climax of your story is Rarity dredging up an obscure point of Equestrian law to settle the issue, and the only thing I could think is: why wasn't this treated as the friendship problem it is? If you're just using the real-world events to establish the premise and then showing us a pony story based on it, then this needs to resolve with pony logic. That's exacerbated by the fact that the story hinges on a court ruling, when in reality the case sort of dwindled out when the FBI said "never mind" because they found a contractor who was able to hack the phone (and, ironically, found nothing actionable in it), so not only does this resolve in a non-pony way, it resolves in a non-pony way that doesn't even reflect reality!

I've got no complaints about the prose here, and the core concept definitely seems workable, but this just fundamentally seems misaimed right now to me (in the construction sense, not in the "Horizon will never like it" tier sense). It needs to pick one of the two paths above rather than trying to split the difference, because right now it's in an uncanny valley that is leaving it near the bottom of my slate, and by committing to either a satire of RL or a genuine pony story, it could so very easily transcend that.

Tier: Needs Work
#288 · 1
· on Might Make Right · >>horizon
Hmmmm.. On the technical side, using lines to split between perspectives and blank lines to denote a passage of time in the same perspective is a bit.. clunky. I'm not sure what to recommend as an alternative, but that was one minor quibble.

I liked the way you turned some throwaway bit of an episode into something a bit darker that reveals something unpleasant about the world... "Oh, we never use mind control!" doesn't necessarily mesh with "Rainbow of Reformation to the Face!" And the epiphany that sometimes there is not right answer was nice. These are the sorts of lessons that rulers and other in positions of power inevitably learn. And the saying that power corrupts is there for a reason...

Having said that, I'm a bit puzzled by the ending. Perhaps I'm missing something... Celestia is in the middle of some delicate negotiations, getting two hostile powers to agree to a cease fire. Though it seem that "Getting" could be replaced with "Forcing." But I'm not sure why Twilight's letter shakes her so... If anything, I would expect her to be please that Twilight is finally grasping the nuances and necessities of ruler ship...

Anyway, I still thought it was pretty good! Thumbs up! :)
#289 · 1
Alright Writeoff, we're ticking down toward finals ... let's see if we can at least end prelims by giving every author at least five reviews!

Here are the stories which are currently short of that goal (by one apiece):

2 Miracle
4 The Trolls
6 Trade
7 Buried
11 The Locked Door
22 Natural Dreams
24 Applejack v. FBTwi

I'll do some of those later today (Buried and The Trolls are on my slate), but I just got called out to help a friend move, so I'll be AFK for a few hours.

(Also, anyone want to start up mashups while I'm gone?)
#290 ·
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
Hmmmm.. This one just doesn't quite work for me I'm afraid.

I don't really have any issue with the basic plot... The whole "exploring alternate timeline's" thing is pretty much a trope in an of itself, and there's nothing inherently wrong with it. There's also nothing wrong with thing being dark, or even grimdark, if properly framed. But this just had too many loose threads hanging...

Starlight not believing Twilight, and constantly threatening to rip the scroll does give us a bit of Drama. But her change in attitude was just too abrupt at the end. She goes from "I don't believe this. this is all a trick." To "I totally believe it all, and am so very guilty" in an instant. Showing her growing less and less certain in her denunciations would have worked better.

Also, you're rather lopsided in showing the actions and fates of the cast. Fluttershy goes splat, so that settles her. But then we see Rainbow Dash growing having anger management issues... I kinda expected more with her. Perhaps she grows up to be a rougher, angrier Pegasus? Nothing is really shown, no answers are given... And there's some of the same feeling for the others...

Mind you, I'm guessing that a lot of that was due to the word limit, which you're brushing right up on... I think this story would have been a lot better if given more time and space to grow. As is, it feels kinda rushed for time and space..

Still, not a bad idea, and not horribly done, but rather rough around the edges and compressed...
#291 ·
· on Natural Dreams
Hmmmm. Interesting. My biggest complaint? This doesn't feel like a short story. At all. It feels like the first chapter, or maybe prologue, of a much longer story.

A good first chapter/prologue, mind you. I like the idea: That Earthquestria has it's own magic, and it's not necessarily, or completely compatible with Equestrian magic... And that the hidden beings of magic there are not happy about it. It's a great idea!

Now go write a few dozen chapters following this up and post it on FimFiction. I'll definitely give it a thumbs up and track it! :)
#292 · 1
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
Wow. I’m baffled. I have never felt this conflicted about a story in such a long time.

Do it.

I mean. I have so much to say. Yet so little to complain about. It’s like wearing a wet shirt. It’s disgusting but it can be pleasant at the right circumstances

Just do it.

The story is wonderful! It uses words in such a masterful way that you forget that there's still a plot!

Just DO IT!

Just like a sparkler, it starts out so amazingly good. Then it just gets old real fast. After the first initial lighting it's all awe and wonder. Then it turns into yeah....same thing as the last 60 seconds of my life.


Shut the BUCK up! Shia Labeouf! Or so help me by Luna's mane I will stamp a permanent hoof on your FACE!

DO IT!!!


And thus Remedy had shown his royal guard training in action. As an act of retaliation to the meme. By jumping onto the poor human and attempting to bite his nose off. Much blood was shed. Yet only one victor came out. Thus the meme continues.

Usually most people have problems with the length of their paragraphs. They can't seem to add enough to fit the targeted effect they so desire. Yours has the opposite problem. That it just draws out so much that your reader will just skim skim skim and continue to skim. Shaving off the layers of fluff just to find the meat of the story. Let's start with the intro in which every fan knows about Twilight Sparkle. She grew up loving to learn with her face in a book. She enrolled into Celestia's school while still having a hard time learning to adjust to other ponies. See how I summed up almost one third of your story in two sentences. You took these simple facts we all knew and somehow drew it so far that the Guinness World Record would accept you as a candidate. I'm over exaggerating, but it is by far the longest drawn out thing I've seen for merely a two sentence summary of what we all already know. You again show this on the main conflict of the story. You had me at gunpoint. For the next 30 minutes the adrenaline rush has passed and I'm just wondering if you even have rounds in the dang thing. Why would a person not get to the point and just kill me or somehow torment me further with something new? why didn't you give us something new to see or experience? Your conflict amounted to. Twilight getting into her room and scaring herself. Which I've done several times. happens when you sleep alone often. It felt like nothing new either way. Just try doing something new every once in a while. staying on topic for as long as you did killed things.

People usually add a twist to a show's canon knowledge by adding a twist of some kind that would or might explain mannerisms or reasons for a character to act the way they do. Your story seems to just remind us all of what exactly Twilight is without ever having to get away from what we already know. What grabbed the most attention was Twilight's explanation of why she loves books. Which was the high levels of curiosity when she was a child to know more and explore. Pretty much what I see is that you don't seem to deviate from every giving us a Twilight Sparkle unique to you. other authors have hit on how Twilight turned into an alicorn or explained the real defeat of Nightmare Moon. Your story doesn't explain anything or offer something to experience. In fact it's like a report card. Good job continue doing what you're doing. It's a one time thing. We do see elements we never seen from the show. Such as Smarty Pants's relationship with Twilight. Or how Twilight is just like me and has very bad sleeping habits. Now this was both cute and exceptionally well done! I wanted to see more of this! I really wanted to know more about Twilight and not just what she already is. Teach me a lesson and I might pay attention. Tell me a secret and I'm all ears! Think of adding such a twist to your story to keep us in tow.

Forbidden knowledge prompt here is on the creature that torments Twilight in which we never get answers on to what happened to Twilight or what was it? Well that's that! I'm to assume Twilight scared herself so badly that she happened to get into a deep medical condition where he body shut down. IE stroke, heart attack, panic attack, Schizophrenia, rabies, fainting episodes, paranoia etc. Need I go on? It felt like something else entirely that happened to Twilight and her um...more unstable self. Can attest to that little outcome more so than the writer properly would take credit for. You left us in the dark there with nothing to go by with the real thing that happened to her. Granted the build-up only came up in the middle of the story with the window scene. Right around to the very end I wanted to know what that voice was and who it might belong to. It would have even excused the extremely long wind up for the ending. Though we get knowing to show for how long we stayed along for the ride.

-Word Usage
Your wording is very much on par. I was turning my eyes left and right and felt tiny pops of fizz like thoughts coming to my mind as I grasped the wide array of vocabulary you laid out in just details alone. All while keeping Twilight's characteristics simple. Going from simple to complex seems to hold the best results as far as keeping a reader's attention so this was a great angle in which to share with your audience. Its a strength that not many authors can seem to grasp. You have a good grip on it by the way. Pretty much to explain this is the story is laid out simple and eventually you come up to a word that will remind the reader to continue to use their mind. Thus empowering their imagination because you continue to grease the wheels. This is just some literacy theory that has been proven to work majority of the times. It's also placed into such visual means of art and advertisement posters. That grabbing the attention of a desired crowd with yield better results. Same goes with reading. Now the only draw back to this is your more susceptible to errors coming up within your works. Grammar and spelling aren't really something I'll consider as problems or bad qualities of a story. So right now there's nothing wrong with it. It just means you may have to spend more time to closely proofread your work more than others.

The intended conflict between an unseen threat that would rattle Twilight Sparkle just lit your story up like a firecracker. Now if it came out like a dud or just a weak explosion will show on your readers' reaction. For me I saw it pop and just hop in place. Not a complete dud mind you! Now. What really made this a great positive is that you took something that literally had no form. No visual description. With barely a voice and turned it into something worth fearing. For what more should we fear besides the unknown? Without having any clue as to what this entity is, you have opened up the mind for the darkest of things that most people avoid. Thus your audience would shape their own fears into the story and become one with it. This was a highly unusual take that ended up being effective. Until you realize the fuse was still going and you just didn't care about the big boom. Twilight got scared, hid in her bed, and fell asleep. Add as much detail as you want. It doesn't change the fact that the scene was just that. With added actions of turtle speed blanket pulling or having a staring contest with your inner eyelids. the cause of the conflict was grand and you had me on my seat. Though you held the gun for way too long that I just didn't care anymore.

This was felt like getting scammed out of a hyped up ride. You would pay any amount to get a two minute ride that ended up taking hours to wait for. You were bored at the line up bored at the ending and only got so much excitement out of it. This story had excellent elements in it but I really think the descriptions really ended up drowning the story. We can get a lecture that would be sleep inducing or a tall tale that would blow our minds. Need to rethink on this one. I can see the effort and then I see the cover up. I'm not sure which to follow. The author here is highly skilled. I think he had a difficult choice to make on story ideas and settled for one thing. I couldn't seem to enjoy it because it felt like the writer didn't enjoy it. I know it's strange but writing should be fun. Maybe you should take a small break do something for yourself and come back with a fresh mind and shaky fingers that are inching to just get some work done. I'm sorry. I wanted to enjoy this piece and I did at certain times. but it was wavy at best. Overall it was a highly detailed piece of work that didn't seem to catch my eye as it did others. What do I know though? I'm just one person. You have fans! Look to them for inspiration!
#293 ·
· on Only, Only, Only You
Okay, right out of the gate I have to admit: I hate poetry. Generally speaking, I find it insipid and pointless, with the occasional tolerable bit thrown in. Generally speaking, I abstain from voting on poetry, because my dislike of the medium is an unfair bias against someone's hard work. Having said that...

I, surprisingly enough, didn't hate this.

As a matter of fact, you can take credit for being the first bit of pony poetry I've actually read all the way through. (Normally, I read enough to get a feel for it before I decide to abstain. It wouldn't be fair to not at least try to enjoy someone's hard work.)

So, you may take that fact as a badge of high honor indeed! Truthfully, I'm not sure if I should vote on this one, and let my biases possibly drag it down from a higher ranking... Or abstain, and let others with more love/tolerance of poetry rank it suitably.
#294 · 1
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies · >>The_Letter_J >>Obscure
For me this like...well, the problem is that selling 'The Apples are Necromancers, and this is a Big Thing for Farmers' requires me to accept a lot of things I'm unlikely to accept. Also it makes Equestria way darker because...???

Like, the reason we have in-show usually is 'Earth Pony Magic'. And this is getting replaced with something dark because...why? That's the big problem here, it seems like there's an idea of 'Lets make the Apples necromancers!' without a real 'And here is why I want to do that'
#295 ·
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies · >>Obscure
Okay, this was strange... I'm not really sure what I think of it.

On the one hand, it does go some way into explaining how a small family can handle an entire orchard. On the other... With the early deaths and the strain and whatnot, you'd think they'd have been more interested in the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy... Also, how the heck is Granny Smith still alive if this is how they do things?

Also... If those souls empower AJ enough to buck all those apple trees... And she carries them all season long... She must be a total push over in the winter months, no? Yet we see her and Rainbow Dash keeping up with each other in all seasons....

Unless... Is there a secret Pegasus cloud graveyard, where RD goes to perform dark necromantic rituals in order to handle the weather? O.o

Suddenly I'm imagining Paranoia: Equestria Version. Necromantic rituals are evil and banned and treason, and everyone knows this... And everyone uses them, but everyone believes they're the only ones, and so are desperate to keep it secret... ;>

Anyway, returning from that random tangent, this was still pretty good. I especially liked AJ's subtle snubbing of Carrot Top... Because she isn't making the kinda of sacrifices the Apple's are, she's not a real farmer...
#296 · 2
· on Applejack v. FBTwi · >>The_Letter_J
My biggest problem with this? The ending.

While I can buy the rest.. Applejack and Twilight fighting over such an issue isn't out of character... And I liked the legal wrangling and the explanation of why Rarity knew that sort of legal wrangling... Twilight is COMPLETELY out of character at the end.

I just can't believe that Twilight, of all ponies, would break the law or at the very least circumvent it in such a way. Especially when doing so endangers the livelihood of one of her best friends! If the world were in danger, okay, maybe. Same if Celestia had ordered her to. But bribing some seedy characters (Flim and Flam I presume) to steal the recipe for her? No, it's just not working for me. At all.

Also, I would expect a touch more concern about Twilight using what is more or less 'Eminent Domain' on one of her friends in such a fashion. While not quite out of character for a panicked Twilight (Lesson Zero anyone?) it's still a rather jarring thing for the Princess of Friendship to do...

Really, if you'd dropped the ending, I'd have been happier with it. Or at least made it funny... It's Granny and Bic Mac in disguise selling her the recipe... Sweet Apple Acres pies are so delicious because of the apples, more so than the recipe... AJ just played up the recipe's secret nature to get one over on Twilight... And the bag of coins is the traditional Earth Pony Tax on Snooty Nobles Who Try To boss Farmers Around or some such...

Besides my discontent with the ending, the rest of the story was quite good and cleverly done. ;>
#297 ·
· on Miracle
Definitely agreeing with the others. Good idea, good execution, and it fits why she went power mad and eventually sorta-kinda-crazy.

I mean when you're told, hey, you are the Kwisatz Haderach, that's kinda a lot of pressure.
#298 · 2
Alright, it's been awhile since I've participated in a contest, and contributed with my own gimmick, but without further adiue, it's time for Oroboro's Review Haiku.

Whatever it takes
You must keep the lights turned on
Money and madness

Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree
The Forbidden Fruit
A curious mind damns Man.
A pony just sighs

Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies
The soul of the farm
The soul of romance, unknown
The souls of the dead

Completely Safe in the Reference Section
The onus of books,
Alluring power calls
A storm of fashion

Twice Paid For a Lie
False Reality
Only death can set us free
To fight for our home

The dynamic duo
Secret matchmaking brings horror
Quite a daring heist

Applejack v FBTwi
In laws and apples
A Princess reigns above both
Whatever it takes

Natural Dreams
Power in nature
A promise to protect it
Consumed by magic
#299 ·
· on Miracle
Well, that was a solid, heartwarming story. It didn't really jump up bite me on the nose, but it did all it set out to do and did it well. The plot makes sense, and everyone seems to be in character, acting reasonably and believably. Though I'll admit, I find it a bit selfish of Sunset to run off like that. Understandable, but selfish. After all, an apocalypse might well be descending on Equestria, and she's been raised to stand against it... Cutting out because she's worried about the aftermath, and thus leaving the whole world in danger seems a bit cowardly. At least she knew Celestia had replacements in the winds...

All in all, pretty good story. I enjoyed it!
#300 ·
· on Truth Unwanted
Okay, let's get the first quibble out of the way: Typos. There are lots of them. You know it, I know it, everyone else who's read this knows it. I'm betting you finished this at the last moment, as I did, and thus just didn't have time to proofread. I'll not deduct points for that, because , well... People and glass houses, stone throwing, etc.

Now, onto the meat of the story... Which, by and large, leaves me going "Huh?"

Okay. Celestia is lonely and all alone. She get's Starswirl to work on creating her a sister. There are a few... missteps. Eventually it works, creating Luna... Okay. Strange, but I can roll with it.

But the timeline, the deaths, the other alicorns... It doesn't make a lick of sense! She's producing a recolored, amnesiac clone of herself.. Fine! But why is she constantly KILLING them when they get close to the truth? HOW is she killing them, and getting away with it? If she's killing them, and creating a new clone, won't that clone be amnesiac at THAT point?? Why was 'Luna' gone for a thousand years then? Just pop out a new one!

And what's the whole Volunteer thing? Is she murdering normal ponies as base material for her clones? Because that doesn't make much sense either! We know Twilight Sparkle before she becomes an alicorn! If Celestia is murdering a pony to create an alicorn clone of herself... How is it that Twilight remembers herself and her history and name and whatnot?

Also, there's the whole thing about the moon... As if the moon itself did not exist until recently... Whaaaaa? How the heck does THAT work? Celestia just tossed it up there like some sort of shotput and then put her clone in charge of it? And.. Nopony noticed this? Or commented on it? Or wrote about it? Or anything? O.o

It's an interesting idea, at least in terms of Luna's origins, and the writing isn't bad (typos aside)... But the plot is incoherently inconsistent. I just couldn't make much sense of it. Sorry!