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Forbidden Knowledge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#101 · 2
· on TrixGlam
Light hearted and funny, solid Trixie characterization with accurate depictions of Royal Guard life.

The end came off kinda weak in execution and probably would have benefited from an absence of shipping up to that point.
#102 · 1
· on Growing The Future

You managed to tackle immortality and loss in a believable way, while tackling all the baggage that such an issue would bring.

Great work, you.
#103 · 1
· on The Outer Dark
I'll admit, the one-sided conversation format at the beggining made it hard for me to get into the story.

Stylistic issues aside, I found it to be more enjoyable as I read on, I just had some trouble getting into it at first.
#104 ·
· on Tell Her What She Means To You
I've seen this story a few times, and this a pretty decent rendition. Characters are solid and the dialogue is good.

But you didn't add anything to it.
#105 ·
· on Might Make Right · >>horizon
I feel several parts were a bit rushed. Some plot points were resolved rather quickly, just as new ones were introduced.

That, plus the shifting first person perspective made it a bit hard to follow at some points, though that may just be my own experience with it.

Not bad, I managed to get a good laugh at the end, but it was a reasonably enjoyable fic.
#106 · 6
· on If, Amidst the Flames, a Pony
Hm, who else is our Italo Calvino fan?
#107 · 1
· on The Locked Door
Haha, the dialogue feels so accurate to the characters that I almost forgot it was a fanfiction. Nice work. :)
#108 ·
· on Return To Sender
The ending felt a bit rushed, but that's the sole negative aspect I can think about the story. It's a solid comedy, and plays nicely with the expanded lore about alicorns and its impact on society.

Well done.

PS: Poor Zecora...
#109 ·
· on Journal of Forbidden Knowledge
There are significant issues with this story.

The journals are the backbone of this story and if you can get them dry and professional enough and into a coherent voice you can get this story up to "interesting but flawed."

Just remember that the journals do not exist to tell the story but to catalog events in order and you should do fine.
#110 · 2
· on Truth Unwanted
I assume you type at near-olympic speeds - hence the long trail of typos and auto-correct word-swaps.

Also, a person (or pony) who lisps usually has issues with sibilants so that "s" is pronounced like "th" in thick and "z" is pronounced like "th" in this. I haven't a clue where you got the "ph" idea.

I also have a real problem following the logic of this story - and at least in my case the "friction" of these errors may simply overpowered the "fiction".
#111 · 2
· on The Outer Dark
At the core of this story, there's some pretty solid mood-building. The text really conveys a sense of everything bring wrong very effectively, which makes the story a pleasantly disturbing read.

I feel like the biggest issue here has got to be that hook. The fact is that whenever you open up with paragraphs and paragraphs of dialogue, readers are going to inevitably wonder when the dialogue ends and when something actually happens. This isn't really helped by the fact that the one-sided nature of 3/4ths of this piece means that a lot of the exposition is almost certainly going to sound telly. Truthfully, it's not always easy to pay attention to the monologue, since Rarity seems to always describe things in very vague terms, and descriptions of consecutive events are often interspersed with seemingly unrelated tangents.

Give us something more concrete to latch onto early on. Even a quick description of Rarity, Dash, and their surroundings would make us feel more grounded in the story, especially since I don't really think you've gained much by withholding the identity of the speaker and her addressee until the very end.

With concrete characters in mind and a sense of the setting, I think readers will have a much easier time getting invested when you need them to be.
#112 · 1
· on Twice Paid, For a Lie · >>Morning Sun
Oooooh... Nice twist.

For a while there, I thought Codex may have been from the future. But the reveal was still surprising.

I wonder if Luna was the one to kill Twilight in order to let her out. But anyway, great job.
#113 · 3
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Obscure
Technically very well written. The build-up to the conclusion was well thought out, but I have to say that the use of so many short segments, all ending with unease, got annoyingly repetitive. If I were editing your story I would recommend that that you slow it down. Take more time for the descriptions. Dwell more on the feelings of the ponies involved, and make it less "in-your-face". Ambiguity heightens tension. Having so many short segments left me feeling slapped around, not freightened!
#114 ·
· on Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree
Absolutely Haram.

I will now believe Equestria is just a scaled up Garden of Eden.

>>Morning Sun


But yeah, this was an entertaining tale.
#115 ·
· on Miracle
Overall, I like this. It's got its focus, and it doesn't deviate from the objective, that being Sunset talking to Celestia about why she left. Writing's solid, too, and bonus points for the parallel with the roses (however heavy-handed it might be).

My main gripe with this story is less in the execution and more the believability of Sunset's motives in aligning with those shown in Equestria Girls. I could see it working perfectly well as an AU or if EqG was never a thing, but given Sunset's clear intentions in the movie, her desires for otherworldly domination aren't handwaved enough here, in my opinion.

Celestia comes off a little succinct in her dialogue early on, but that might just be more of a blinder caused by 5+ years of fandom interpretation than anything else.
#116 ·
· on Return To Sender
Solid work.

It would be better if Spike read a letter from a Noble using the honest straightforward approach including phrases like "matrimonial cohabitation" "Issue of heir" and "transfer of land"
#117 · 2
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Everyday >>Obscure
This is an archaeological adventure story which smoothly escalates into horror, and while I think the core concept here is solid enough, I feel like this has a lot of details weighing it down. There's a large number of problems which individually feel like nitpicks but collectively kept me from engaging with the story. Again, I'm going to toss out a random sample of the parts which stuck out in my mind the most (yay sleep deprivation):

– The title character's name, Jiggery Pokery, means "dishonest manipulation" (*), implying that he's some sort of con artist. He's even described at the beginning as a "shifty looking pegasus". But as the story goes on, he is played as a completely sincere, straightforward archaeologist, and becomes a very vanilla heroic protagonist, which sets up a cognitive dissonance that is never addressed.

– There are some big red herrings in the archaeological expedition. The biggest is the lamps that use oil rather than fireflies, which led me to initially assume that this was heading toward a "The Writing On The Wall" ending of the big reveal involving Equestria once being Earth. There's the World's Best Dad cup (wouldn't ponies use "Sire"?) and the unopenable metal box, neither of which have anything to do with the final reveal. That's okay sometimes! But I definitely find it more satisfying to read stories in which everything is a subtle clue toward the ultimate nature of the mystery, and the reveal is the puzzle piece in the center which clicks everything together.

– There are also some clues which do seem to tie in to your reveal, but even after reading through to the end I can't figure out how. The sweetness of the water is a central clue, but given that (big spoilers) it's apparently related to the Deep Ones that eat everyone at the end, I'm getting conflicting clues. First of all, they're carnivores and so the spring water should be full of dead things, but JP apparently rules that out by noting that he detects none of the things that would make water undrinkable (like dead animals in the water). …Though, granted, stripped-clean bones near the water site with no evidence of predators should have been a red flag of its own, and he sort of shrugs it off. Secondly, the purpose of the sweetness is kind of incoherent. Sweetness is an attractant, generally; it would make sense that if there was some sort of agent in the water that the sweetness was masking, it would drive the ponies crazy and give the eaters fresh food — but JP is drinking the same water as everyone else, and he doesn't go crazy!

– Related, this part is kind of word salad, so I'm not sure what it's supposed to express:
On his way to the spring the pegasus noticed the bones of a dead rabbit. The bones were still intact and not yet dried out but the carcass was entirely picked clean.

If "the carcass was picked clean", then we're seeing just the bones, which is the first thing you told us. How exactly do bare bones "dry out" (especially given that he finds them on the way to the spring, i.e. nowhere near the water), and why were they "not yet" dried out, i.e. how did they start wet? This also feels like a bit of a missed opportunity; it's heavily implied that the ponies ate the rabbit (since the Eaters are messy bone-crunching devourers), but when you talk about the casserole in the camp, you basically just say that JP stops eating because he's not hungry, rather than him sensing anything off about the food.

This is totally Fridge Logic, but I'm not sure what the point of driving the ponies carnivorous and crazy was. I mean, the eaters in the depths are eating the things they attract to the spring, right? So wouldn't turning their prey into carnivores just reduce the food they themselves get?

I think the big takewaway here is: give this some additional high-level structural plotting, and let the details all flow from that. Decide — in your own mind at least! There's no need for gobs of exposition — how the eaters in the depths work, how the water works, who your main character is and what drives his actions (whether they're meant to be con-man-y or heroic), etc. The big things. Then look at the story and reframe it with that big picture in mind. You might need to rewrite some scenes to take your outline into account, but this will end up much stronger for it.

Tier: Needs Work
Edit: This one was right on the border for me. I think I'll upgrade it to "Almost There" on the basis that the structure is pretty smooth considering my foundation complaints.
#118 · 1
· on Buried
That was... uh... abrupt.

I like the character of Green Leaf, and I also really liked the way you built the tension and the atmosphere up until the ending. I can kind of see where you were going with it, but I'm still left with several questions. Is Twilight going to use Green Leaf in her experiments? I want to know, and I think you could have done a better job wrapping up the story. I would have loved to see more of Green Leaf and Twilight interacting, I liked the characterization you gave them.

As it stands right now, though, it doesn't end just as much as it just... stops.
#119 · 1
· on Applejack v. FBTwi · >>The_Letter_J
Twilight sure is hell-bent on cracking the secrets of that Apple product, isn't she?

>>Baal Bunny
should therefore be embarrassed about being caught trying to break it

It's not illegal when a Princess does it. (If I could use a Big Mac emoticon, it'd be right here)

And second, why didn't the Blackberry family use that law to stop whatever mayor it was who forced them to reveal their pie recipe?

I thought of that too. Maybe not everypony is as well versed in law as our dear seamstress.
#120 · 2
· on Might Make Right · >>Everyday >>horizon
This was interesting. You took a side clause in the recent episode, turned its silliness into a serious matter, and then ran with it. I love the idea of doing this sort of thing, but part of me wants to hold back and share some criticism.

First, it feels rushed. Granted, that's a Write-off thing, usually, but it needs to be pointed out anyway. Most specifically, the first scene is what's most notably rushed. Perhaps starting closer to the beginning of that conversation you opened with would help.

The whole "(hug)" thing was a little obscure. Yes, it's clear he can't stop hugging dragons, but who is he hugging in those first dozen or so parenthesis? Also, not sure I feel the transition enough from silly to serious with those (hugs). It's a hard boundary to cross, sight-gags like this, in written media, but yeah.

The meeting between the ambassadors seemed unsure if it wanted to be funny or serious. From our perspective, they overreacted to a silly friendship report. But at the same time, the way it's presented leaves wiggle room for 'I'm actually trying to be serious,' because the soldiers' reactions really were believable. That said, we're talking about a friendship report sparking the scene's actions in what is effectively a cartoon show, so more effort could have been put into clarifying the intent of comedy or srs bsns.

I do have to say, though, I loved the detail you put into Celestia's thoughts and whatnot regarding her magic. Really nice touch.
#121 ·
· on Only, Only, Only You
That was an emotion-driven journey, and while I enjoyed it, I can't find it within myself to properly judge it. I wouldn't even know where to begin.
#122 · 1
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
This starts out with the framing story of Starlight Glimmer fighting Twilight Sparkle in the big alternate-timeline feud at the end of Season 5, but quickly shifts from that into the inner story of a specific "bad end" timeline. In the abstract, that's a pretty solid structural choice — it gives you a way to "bookend" the inner story and provide it with context and commentary — but I felt like, in execution, that was the weakest part of your story.

The crucial problem is that your starting and ending scenes are basically identical to the show's treatment of the same scenes, and that's a lot of words used to retell someone else's story that you could have used on your original material. It was a little frustrating to need to plod through a re-hash in order to get to the part where your story starts. This also means that your final scene gives us nothing new from the show, and so your story deflates right at the end when you want to leave the biggest impression. A smaller problem, but still worth fixing, is that Spike exists both in the framing story and the inner story — so sometimes it's confusing which one is commenting. A third small-but-crucial problem is that it looks like you're focusing on the "wasteland" timeline from the show, but your inner story climaxes and ends before we actually see what made it wastelandy!

As for the AU itself, you make some daring choices, and they feel a little hit-or-miss for me. Most notably, you've got Rarity's two orphan dragon sidekicks — who are cool on general dragon principle, and I want to read more of their story, but you've already got a large ensemble cast and are capped at 8000 words. Every word you spend on these add-ons to your Mane Six is one you can't spend on your core concept, so I suspect they would have a lot more room to breathe in a novella or novel-length fic. (More nitpickily: I also feel like the addition of "core" characters with no analogue in the original timeline contributes to this throwing off a lot of the numerology that makes Equestria sing — you're going from two of each earth/peg/uni, plus Spike as a seventh wheel, to a cast where there are three dragons and three earth ponies to one pegasus and two unicorns.)

Chrysalis murdering and dismembering Luna was also a vivid moment, though frankly Celestia's reaction to that comes across as way understated (as well as Spike's reaction to the subsequent scene). That also raises Fridge Logic questions: you state later on that the New Mane Six explicitly know Chrysalis killed Celestia, but they side with her anyway? I'd think that would pretty much nullify any trustworthiness or "better than Sombra"-ness she had, or at least that it would come up when they're discussing hostage-Spike's fate.

I think the parts of the AU that feel strongly interwoven — elements like Fluttershy's fate, the shift in Dash's rainboom, and the butterfly effect (ha ha I am so clever) on Rarity and the magic school — are the best part of this, and the logic all fits together for me. Good job! (I say this as the author of a Rainbow Dash-less AU that made similar change-half-the-mane-six choices, so you managed to hold up against my comparison to my own story: double good job.) I'll provisionally accept Cheerilee, though this is definitely an area you'll want to expand in later editing, because as the story currently stands she feels kind of like a bit part. (Also: as prev. mentioned, you're now short a pegasus.) The magic-school scene is a great pivotal moment for both the inner and outer framing stories, with big implications for the latter, though again more words would help here — unpacking the reactions, which are big character moments for both Twilight and Starlight. The shift in gender balance, i.e. your replacement Twilight being male, has a lot of potential ground that's sort of glossed over once in the meeting-Rarity scene and never returned to. So, uh, tl;dr: this just wants to be a much, much longer story. … Though the more you expand it, the tougher it becomes to keep that outer framing story coherent and relevant. That might require some heavy rewriting and/or rebalancing — altering the framing story to have them cover a lot of ground the show doesn't, maybe even finding a lot more common ground than the show ever gave them, and coming out of it with a genuine friendship that takes your outer story into AU territory of its own.

Tier: Almost There
#123 ·
· on Foundation
While it drops some interesting alicorn lore and backstory but as it stands, it feels as if it were part of a larger narrative, an addendum, or a prologue to what could be a great story.

However... Author, if you're reading this, don't let us discourage you from writing a sequel where Discord and Insane Flurry Heart have waky adventures throughout Equestria.
#124 ·
· · >>Everyday >>The_Letter_J
> short story round
> 32 stories
> 29 authors

Three of you wrote multiple stories this round‽

#125 · 3
· · >>georg

Alternatively, one author wrote four stories.
#126 · 1
· on Tell Her What She Means To You
For my part:

I don't think I've seen this sort of story before, and I enjoyed it. My recommendation, though, would be to let us see the fear and trepidation on Celestia's face the moment she comes into Twilight's study. Her asking "Was there some sort of occasion?" seems really odd to me since, as far as she knows, her deepest, darkest secret has finally come to light and Twilight has learned the truth. Then when it turns out that that isn't the case, then, we should see her relief followed by her sadness, and all of conveyed to the reader without our POV character noticing any of it. A hard thing to do, but you're most of the way there already, author.

#127 · 2
· · >>Syeekoh >>RogerDodger
I think there's at least a 30% chance that you're one of those people, horizon. :P

I notice that "Anonymous" is listed twice. I thought that "Anonymous" was only listed in the guessing once before, so did some wiseguy create an alias named "Anonymous"? Or did something change or is my memory wrong and it just means that two people submitted anonymously?
#128 ·
· · >>The_Letter_J
Someone filled in Anonymous as their name because they were uncertain on how the writeoff worked.
#129 · 1
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section
And to think it all could have been solved from the beggining had Rarity just threatened to show the Codex to Pinkie Pie...

But either way, I always have a soft spot for stories that tackle an episodic format. Even more so for a story that gives a rather nice spin on the common "Twilight finds a book about dark magic" story.

Well done, author. Well done.
#130 ·
Ahh. That still means that there might have been a few people who submitted anonymous stories and fewer who submitted two (or more).
#131 ·
· on Miracle
Nicely done, very sweet, well paced. an enjoyable read. I can't comment on the conformance to canon when it comes to Sunset Shimmer, as I'm not a fan of EG, but the overall idea of Celestia embarking on a multi-generational exercise to "encourage certain traits to develop among her little ponies" is one I've use in fiction before to explain the amplitude of Twilight's and Shining's magical powers.
#132 ·
· on TrixGlam
If I'm coming down hard on this one is only due to my passion for well-developed romance, which is a department in wich I feel this story was rather lackluster.

There are a few shipping teases interspersed throughout the story, but there's no payoff to them. We don't see Trixie and Starlight's reaction to Twilight's disturbing levels of shipping fever, they just faint, and the story may as well have ended with a fade to black.

I have no qualms about the comedy parts, I thought they were ok, but my bias about romance prevented me from further enjoying this story.
#133 · 1
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
I'll be honest; not much of the story worked the way it was intended for me. I know that sounds pretty harsh, but the problems that we're facing are actually pretty straightforward in terms of fixing them.

Starting with the introduction, I cannot stress enough how rehashing material directly from an episode is going to hurt your reader's attention. Honestly, just a quick little paragraph or two would have been enough to establish when/where this fic takes place in relation to show cannon. As is, you start off a little on the wrong foot, here.

The conflict itself is fairly interesting, in that AU's tend to pique interest from their nature. You've gone a solid job at showing where you want to go with this AU, but I'm afraid it doesn't quite deliver. Mainly because the whole point of Twi and Starlight drinking the potion is to find out how Ponyvile/Equestria became a wasteland in the first place, and by the end of things, that central question still isn't answered.

In terms of characters, I had a lot of trouble with trying to feel sympathetic for many of the AU inhabitants. Rarity's adopted dragons have too little screentime to really differentiate them from each other, which makes them feel a little redundant. Also, the general formula of having different bad things happen to the characters repeatedly and in rapid succession kind of belittles their emotions. It's easy to become numb to yet another terrible tragedy when it comes hot on the heels of something that's supposed to be even sadder. I'd really recommend focusing on one or two key moments where things all go wrong, especially if you have a bit of backstory behind it to make it work.

In short, the biggest takeaway in my opinion is going to be that you need to spend a bit more time with your characters and their situation before you try to "cash in", so to speak. Develop your OC's and give yourself enough time to make the AU characters feel interestingly distinct from their cannon counterparts. Then, when the stuff starts to hit the fan, you're going to be able to make the readers feel everything you want them to.
#134 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake
That... was brilliant! You have ALL the kudos, and my admiration! Great story, beautifully written!
#135 · 1
· on The Locked Door
The huge paragraph at the beggining was a bit jarring.

Plus, keep in mind that you need to start a new paragraph when a new character starts speaking. Oh, and if you choose not to use indentations, you have to leave a blank line between paragraphs, otherwise it can be hard to read.

But those are aesthetic complaints, there are a few things that stood out to me regarding the actual story. First of all, the entire story feels too fast paced. Characters speak too quick, and this works against your chance to properly convey the emotions the scene is supposed to transmit.

And yet, the biggest problem of the story is that it offers no resolution. We never find out what was in the book beyond some vague explanation about Celestia wanting it to be hidden. We don't get to know anything more than that because that plot point is quickly left behind. Then there's the issue with Starlight's lingering doubts about herself. They arise, are never properly explored, and then the story ends.

You raise several interesting ideas, but I don't feel you developed them as well as you could have.
#136 · 1
· · >>horizon >>horizon
Someone created an alias called "Anonymous". (Alias names aren't unique.) I have to do some changes to disambiguiate the special Anonymous alias from any user-created ones.
#137 ·
· on Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake · >>billymorph
Author, a nitpick: Starting your story by repeating your title makes it sound like "Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake" are the words writhing on the page at the start of your story, which I don't think is what you meant.

The text tried to escape off over the edge, but I stopped it with a hasty fold.

Diving into the kitchen I grabbed a pair of chefs’ hats from between the scene transition

“Pinkie, focus!” Twilight snapped, sticking her hoof in my mouth. I don’t know why ponies kept doing that, hooves don’t taste very nice and I’ve licked a lot of hooves.

Gotta admit, I am really enjoying this meta and this Pinkie.

"What do you use to defeat something with that many tentacles? Because I've see some of Spikes comics and I really don't like how losing to this thing would go."

“Aww geeze look at my feathers, and I just had my shower for the week.”

Laughed out loud.

This one is an easy TC simply because — this is no small thing — it shut my inner critic up long enough for me to read this the whole way through. Even the frequent and flagrant typoes didn't break me out of the story.

I strongly urge you to consider this not ready for final publication until you've had a chance to read through line by line and iron those typoes out. But I can't think of much I would otherwise change. This has some great depth — executing callback jokes on the eldritch abomination names, casually writing a Reality Warper Pinkie Pie as good as any I've read, and mixing the low-hanging jokes with the unexpected ones.

Constructive criticism … mmm. The last line seems a little flat, though I like the way the ending as a whole wraps things up. Twilight seems to be doing a fair bit of idiot-balling in her brushing off of Pinkie's powers, depending on when in the series this is set, but that's probably forgivable given the setting and character destruction you're doing to bring the eldritch abominations in. Really, just, great job. ^.^

Tier: Top Contender
#138 ·
· on The Sparklator
I agree with Morning Sun, if the threats had escalated, with increasingly more dangerous things of varying degrees of absurdity falling, then the ending would have felt more justified.

I still liked it, and I feel it would be much better than it is right now with a few edits and an expansion of some sections.
#139 ·
· · >>ZaidValRoa
As of this post, we're only three stories shy of giving every participant at least one piece of feedback. (Not bad for 15 hours in!) Any reviewers want to take up that challenge?
#140 ·
I'm making my way, or at least trying to, go through all the stories and leave some feedback.
There are quite a few great stories in this batch.
#141 ·
· on Trade
Anyone else getting a Warehouse 13 feel on this? Maybe even a little of the Librarians in this little tale? Only me? Oh well. I love the take on this. Though it does seem to have it's own problems. Overall it was a good read. There was a lack of focus on certain aspects, but of course that would just need some tender care and fine tuning. So we'll ignore those bits for now. Let's move on to what makes this story unique!

Shopkeeper was just a grand thing to read about. Just how perplexing he was while giving advise and words of wisdom to Pinkie Pie really tied this story together well. You even added details that made this character come to life. And I want to say one more thing about having the twist of adding an OC character that came to have such an effect on me. It was a well done move and really shows off your own creativity and flair for keeping me entertained. I appreciate your hard work on this fine fine character. Though he did seem to break away from his own characteristics a bit, he did his role in being the mysterious mystical character who pretty much only has one place in the story. To get the reader to think. This works well in many cases where your audience would never come to expect certain things. Slowly he unveiled the curtain for the true reason behind his store and he put on quite a show. Like I said though he tended to break out of his own shell. Maybe you were rushing pass that bit? Or you had no ideas on how he may react or act in such a situation? Also was he a unicorn or a normal earth pony? clues point to the magical type. Either way I think you need to sit down and reflect on who this character is. Why? Because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wants to see more of Shopkeeper. Enough about Shopkeeper, let's move on to Pinkie and Twilight. My problem with them both is they seem very different from their canon counterparts. Heavily different. Which is justified with the angle that you're going into. Twilight is concerned and worried the whole time, which we've all seen how wacky she gets when she feels that way. And Pinkie is troubled. Though you've portrayed her pretty much spot on. A little research on both of these characters and they will pop right out of your story as if the reader could touch them. For now, I just look forward to seeing a cast of your own in a whole different story.

Alright! I for one didn't expect that much magic to be in this one story. In fact I'm sure it'll be the most creative setting in this entire line-up. The shop itself was like a carnival of whimsy. Oh! How I would have loved to explore it with my own eyes and see what it holds. The author hints at bits and pieces of how this complicated store works too. Being filled with trinkets that belonged to the single customer that entered the store. The vertical dimensional window and the cauldron of Cream of Mushroom which I'm sure is some type of catalyst to stop negative memories from flooding the place. Think about it. Who hates Cream of mushroom? Or the smell for that matter. Mushroom haters that's who, which are few and far between. The smaller details in Pinkie's interrogation of the place only seem to liven everything up. Painting a picture in my head about how the shop ran and worked with just one pony to tend to it. It was a playground and I wanted to try everything out for myself. The only thing about this is that it took away from the story. Halfway in the shop's tale we find Pinkie asking more questions about the store rather than trying to get the information she desperately needed. Which is to successfully court an alicorn princess. The memory trinkets did the job quite well on emphasizing this,but other than that it took quite a lot to get back to the main picture. We also never get to see the results. When you create something thing about one simple thing. "Why is this happening?" Think of the reason behind it all. If the reason is strong enough for said character or the reader than you need to focus on that more so than the interior of a store. I did think Pinkie had no reason for becoming so attached to this place to even forget that her beloved Twilight was scared to death out in an alleyway where she might get hurt or worse.

I had trouble following this one. The story made sense, but also made way to a whole bunch of questions. Overall I thought this was the weak point of the story. Canterlot has been known to be a shining beacon. The city having a slum like area just doesn't seem to fit, not while the two Goddesses of the land watch over it with their very own eyes, literally. Maybe some place like Griffonstone or the city of Manhattan would fit the bill just right to make way for the nitty gritty alleyway Pinkie and Twilight roamed around in. The magical shop also held a lot of possibilities that could have been explored more. Which would have made the read even more delightful to experience. The story would have worked even if you just took the intro out and took the perspective of Shopkeeper in his workplace. It was a good interesting story that could have hit on a lot more things to make it even more. I'm not saying it's weak but at times it did make me question what was I reading. There were even a couple of statements that seem to hint at something going to happen that we never get to see. Such example being Twilight getting a turn to see the shop. Twilight's party, etc. These kinds of points could be played with to really make something come out more rather than having it said and never acting it out.

-Word Usage
The character you've created in this story was brilliant. Just simply enjoyable in every trait he displayed in the story. his language was a bit off but that's admirable since character such as him do have a rather twisted type of speaking. Hell I know I have quite a way with words. Though the wordings for your descriptions didn't seem to hit on point a lot. All in all this wasn't a bit deal because I know it's just editing time that's needed for this story. It did however take me away from the story. My only advice for this is, to take it slow when you do write it raw. Maybe read a couple of paragraphs in the middle of your writing. Take a break from the constant tapping of your keyboard and just look it over real quickly. It's what I do when I want a story to be perfect and when I know it'll take a ton of time to reread everything just to find the smallest of errors. This method will help eliminate the small stuff from being so scattered within your story and may even give you more time to worry about the main meat of the story.

I can't tell where the story was headed. We're given a small scene and that's that. Maybe I'm so hungry for more of this place, that I just want to read more about it. My main concern is that there was no lesson behind it. The prompt for this story even seems to bounce back and forth between how powerful the store felt in terms of its effect on it's audience to the strong feeling Pinkie felt for Twilight. Which wasn't really explored too much and just felt hinted. Even thought it was the main reason for our main character to be there in the first place. I cannot say much about this part except for the fact that it felt like a really strong scene cut for an even greater story. I just can't seem to put my finger on where it was headed though. It wasn't confusing it just seems like it wasn't fully decided on where the direction of this story will actually finish for that matter. Could have been better if we saw Pinkie decide to stay friends with Twilight at the end of her party or maybe a confession with how much the pink party pony loves Twilight, but understands that she needs to respect Twilight's decision and personal space. Give me a moral to follow through. The main part of this story was the store. Which really had no place for the main character's side. Other than to give her information. Done deal. Now what? That is what this story seems to give it's readers. It's title is "Trade" yet nothing was exchanged here and Shopkeeper gains nothing.

This story was fantastic. Two-faced reviewer, I KNOW! My final remark for this story is it's great in it's own way. It made me explore heavily on what was really entertaining to me. The author definitely had it's readers in mind with how tantalizing it's details were. It was hilarious with how Shopkeeper calmed down Twilight in the alleyway. It was genius to take Pinkie's memories and turn it into items that only she knows about. It was confusing that this place still does paperwork! All while still adding a bit of comedy into it. Cream of Mushroom soup, paperwork for one of the most magical places in Equestria, the vertical window leading away from the door. It was a blast to experience. Good job!
#142 · 3
· · >>horizon >>horizon
>>RogerDodger So, if I wanted to impersonate, say...

Oh. Hey. Would you look at that.
#143 ·
· on Natural Dreams
It took me a moment, but I came to the realization that Gloriosa is from the upcoming Equestria Girls movie. Okay, then.
I don't know how much of this is based on evidence and how much is just artistic liberty, so I guess I'll stick to judging what's here.
Gloriosa comes through pretty well, overall. I feel like the opening paragraphs are trying too hard to give her an air of mysteriousness, though. She and Sunset are just talking in circles for a while. Still, I'd say she is effectively characterized, providing a show of force without resorting to violence.
Realistically, not a whole lot happens. First it's Sunset and Gloriosa talking, then it's Sunset and Rarity talking. There are other instances where I feel like the story is talking in circles, and considering the story is only just above the word-minimum, I'm inclined to think that some of it is padding.
There is some interesting Sunset characterization at work, as well. I can't help but think that some leftover darkness she hasn't completely gotten rid of is revealing itself here.
In the end, we're presented with an idea more than an actual story. This could easily be expanded, exploring different routes, such as Sunset having more nightly visions or actually meeting Gloriosa in the waking-world. But as it is now, there's not a lot going on.
#144 · 1
· on Truth Unwanted
As the others have mentioned, the amount of typos and the odd handling of Twist's lisp made the story a bit hard to read. You also had a few instances of formatting errors with what were supposed to be either a italicised or bold lines

[/i]What is he doing here?![/i]

[i]Sheesh! I'm like a dragon guarding her hoard. How long have I been here?[/b]

[i]Today Luna died.[/i]

Still, all the previous points can be fixed when editing the story. Moving on to story issues, while the "Luna was a construct of Celestia to keep her company" isn't a bad idea, I don't think you exploited it to its full potential.

This could be a solid Mystery/Thriller but you'd need to work that angle a tad more.

Also, this is just me, but I don't see how the Star Swirl fragments did much to enhance the narrative.
#145 ·
· · >>horizon
Wait, we can't spoiler text?
That can't be right...

#146 · 3
· · >>horizon
Hmm, yes, pip pip, I am not a changeling, cheerio, how quaint, pishposh
#147 ·
· · >>Everyday >>horizon
Roger hasn't installed a button for it, but you can manually add the codes [spoiler] [/spoiler] around text in order to black out text inside the tag.

Totally not impersonating myself right now
#148 ·

Oh... Thank you. I was almost positive I'd seen spoilers used before.
#149 ·
· on Return To Sender
This was cute, I liked the ending, and now for some amusing reason I am thinking the original alicorn mom is Celestia and Luna is her secret babby. A silly story.
#150 · 1
· · >>horizon
>>RogerDodger >>horizon >>horizon >>horizon


#151 ·
>>horizon We were so preoccupied with whether we could... we never stopped to think if we should.
#152 · 1
· on Natural Dreams
How odd that I haven't read more Equestria Girls entries, I would have expected to be a few more.

Either way, regarding the actual story, I found it enjoyable, even if it was cut short. This feels like the setup of a story, and considering you used a character of an upcoming EqG movie, that may be the reason. Outside of that, I don't have many negative things to say, the pacing was good for a story this short.

In conclusion, I'd like to read the whole story about Gloriosa and Sunset's struggle with the remnants of darkness inside of her, as it stands, the story felt like a good introduction to a story, but not so much as a complete story.
Post by horizon , deleted
#154 ·
· on Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake
I liked this a lot. I do think it dragged a bit in the middle - it kind of felt to me like some of the 'fighting' grew a little stale, but overall, still quite enjoyable.

Honestly I wanted to explore more of Pinkie Pie's eldritch family, because that bit sounded quite amusing.
#155 ·
· on Foundation
A title like this, and Flurry Heart - I was expecting something entirely different.

Now I kind of want to explore writing that idea, given we have our little Mule.

At any rate, this needs some cleaning up grammatically/spelling-wise, for sure. Then, perhaps, expanding upon - this seems a good serial story with this being chapter one, although this 'curse' seems...a touch contrived. Why does it happen, beyond narrative convenience? Is Celestia feeling the effects of it? One assumes Luna is not given she already fell and was rejuvenated.
#156 · 1
· on We Are All Made from Silence
You know, I am legitimately terrified of the dark. Leave me in a room with no light and no way out and I'll hyperventilate myself into a full blown panic attack in about five minutes.

So, when I say I liked this, I say that with the knowledge that you've encapsulated my greatest fear into a tiny fiction ball and rolled it towards me.

I found myself wondering if this were imagination run wild or something actually supernatural, and I honestly still haven't decided.
#157 · 1
· on Starlight Glimmer and Sunset Shimmer Are Dead · >>Monokeras
I'd like to express my dissatisfaction with the ending, as well.

While I loved the tone the story had, I wished you had pursued the storyline of Sunset and Starlight being imprints of themselves left behind when they crossed the mirror.

On an entirely personal note, if you still wanted their hijinks to have real world effect, you could have had them cause so much havoc in their pocket universe that it bled out into reality. It's only a suggestion, and would probably generate more issues, but I just want you to consider other possibilites, because right now, the ending is the weakest part of your story.
#158 · 1
or they're multiplying in the queue...
#159 · 1
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
Hmm. I'm left in an odd place with this one. Overall, though, I'd say I liked it.
Too much is left unanswered to leave me truly satisfied, though. As an example, I'm not even fully convinced that this Twilight is Twilight Sparkle. There seems to be evidence that the voice is Discord, but it isn't made expressly clear. Nor am I completely confident that it's really Princess Celestia there at the end. Where exactly is the last scene taking place? And perhaps most important of all, what is the significance of the broken stained-glass window?
But all of that aside, I'd like to talk about what I enjoyed most: this story demonstrated amazing control of its atmosphere. The entire scene where Twilight was hiding in her bed was expertly crafted. The tension built and built and then hit hard with the voice at just the right time. I had physical and audible reactions while reading that scene. Excellent suspense, truly.
I'm glad to have read this.
#160 · 1
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Obscure
I liked your setting, and I enjoyed the style. It's hard to find horror fics that deal with ancient evils the way this story does. Not without its share of issues, though. I'll try not to repeat what has already been said.

Regarding build up, I think you were doing a good job with the looping carvings on the walls, and with the progressive decay of the drinking water.

On the other hand, the main character felt rather lackluster. It's fine if you want your character to be a blank slate, but we're barely given enough character development to care whether or not he'll be fine by the end of the fic.

Like horizon said, I see the potential this story has, and with some reestructuring, it could be a solid horror fic.
#161 · 3
· on The First Adventure of Jiggery Pokery · >>Obscure
I just want to start by saying that Jiggery Pokery is a great name for a pony.
"Being rusty and green makes that masters in adventure basically worthless."

Sounds like he's made of copper, to me.
Well, this was an odd little experience, but certainly not a bad one. With the scenes being as short and rapid as they are, it makes the story feel a bit unfocused, in the sense that it's not clear which details are significant and which aren't. Still, the transition into horror worked well enough, and I was invested in finding out how it all turned out in the end.
Not much else for me to say beyond that, I'm afraid.

There's the World's Best Dad cup (wouldn't ponies use "Sire"?)

Pinkie Pie says "Hi, Mom and Dad!" in the first part of The Cutie Map, and in Crusaders of the Lost Mark, Applejack says "if Mom and Dad were here".
On the topic of the sweetness, as you said, sweetness is generally considered an attractant. I imagined that it serves a similar function to the sweet sap inside of a Venus flytrap.
#162 · 1
· on The Outer Dark
I really don't think this story is well-served by having a majority of it told in second-person, Writer. I found it much more enjoyable once the camera zoomed out to hover over Rainbow Dash's shoulder, rather than being told the story as her.

That said, as a fan of both scaring myself silly and Lovecraftian motifs in general, you do an excellent job of wheedling the reader along through the slowly building tension of the narrative. It strays overlong at points - particularly where you interrupt the story being told by referencing the bar the story is being told in (getting drinks, etc) - but for the most part this is creeping dread at its finest.

This is going pretty high up on my slate, Writer. I'll take comfort from the thunderstorm raging outside tonight - it's funny how peaceful silence can be, up until somepony calls attention to it.

Final Thought: This Round is Going to Damage My Psyche, Isn't It?
#163 · 2
· on The Trolls
The troll characters:

Are very Equestrian, and the basic set-up works quite well. But the point-of-view is all over the place, and that's always a problem for me when I'm reading. In the scene in the map room after the first attempt at fighting the trolls, we jump from a sort of external POV to Starlight's, then to Twilight's, then back to Starlight's again. The tea party scene's even rougher: we go from Rarity to Tristan to Fluttershy, then back to Rarity, then to Trenton, then back to Rarity once more before the external POV takes over again, then to Prince Rutherford for one paragraph, then out to the external just before the scene ends.

I find that this kind of thing makes it really hard for me to fully enter a story. I want to be anchored, want to see and hear and smell what's going on through a single set of senses. External or omniscient POVs can be done in written fiction, but they're really hard 'cause they tend to dissolve into head-hopping, and that's what's going on here. Personally, I need a unified story to have a unified POV: after that tea party scene, I felt bounced around like a tennis ball.

Maybe focus the whole thing through Starlight? It'd take some rethinking, but that'd be my suggestion.

#164 · 1
· on We Are All Made from Silence

I wasn't sure what to expect, considering the opening paragraphs. I was readying myself for a different kind of story, only to get blindsided and enraptured in what unfolded.

I really enjoyed this. If I had to mention something negative, well, I think you could have used the Silence to further explore more of Scootaloo's inner thoughts and fears rather than forcing her to come true with them. I'd love to read a deeper analysis of her psyche and maybe what she thinks of Rainbow's possible fate and the possible similarities it has with her inability to fly.

But overall, quite enjoyable.
#165 ·
· on Not So Sweet
I noticed a few typos and what appeared to be misattributed speech; you might want to see if anyone's willing to proofread for you.

Other than that, an interesting idea, and an ambitious attempt at portraying a very emotionally charged mindset. I can't say it really struck home with me, possibly because it took me awhile to catch on to what was going on and the timeskip.
#166 ·
· on The Trolls
This is a difficult story to Critique. I can say that it is good but I can't define where it is laking.

The emulation of show style is nearly perfect. But in your pursuit of it have you lost your own voice?
#167 · 1
· on The Trolls · >>horizon
I liked this one. Silly throughout, yet keeping enough seriousness to care. Writing was solid, save baal's comments above. My only main concern is how easily the trolls were just like "meh, I guess we don't need to pillage and burn everything." If there were more examples of them seeing the ponies working together, or even of the yaks doing so, I'd believe it more.
#168 · 3
· on Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes A Cake
Pinkie Pie Saves Equestria And/Or Bakes a Cake

Okay, first up! One of the longer ones. Let’s see how it holds up.

I like the meta-humor here. Pinkie Pie is an inherently difficult pony to do justice with when writing, but lines like “The text tried to escape off over the edge, but I stopped it with a hasty fold.” are wonderful.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure I agree with the slapstick comedy that’s so prevalent. Slapstick and physical comedy are notoriously difficult to portray in text, and this story falls into some annoying fanfiction shortcuts:

Twilight gigglesnorted.

“O~kay. Anyway, mind if I stay here for a while? The library is a little noisy right now.”

As other reviewers have noted, there’s a fair amount of repetition in the middle of the story, the 4,000 word ‘fight’ scene between Twilight, Pinkie and the abomination. For some jokes this stands out more than others. For example:

“Pinkie Pie please!” Twilight shot back, wincing as the tentacles slammed into her shield yet again. “I’m trying to save Equestria. This is not the time to think about snacks!”

“Is this really the time?” Twilight demanded, parrying a tentacle with the broom handle and eliciting a scream of pain and rage from the monster.

“Seriously!” Twilight rounded on me. “Pinkie, please work with me here. We have to do something before this gets even worse.”

“Yes she’s baking a cake,” Twilight sighed, burying her head in her hoof. “Now come on. We have to stop this monster now before it's too late.”

Twilight’s ear twitched. “Pinkie Pie we do not need a cake right now,” she snapped. “Equestria is about to be devoured and I need a plan to save it before it's too late.”

A tentacle lunged towards us but, even with her horn down to mere sparks, Twilight batted it away with a sudden shield. “Pinkie. Feeding it cake makes no sense.”

That’s… six variations on the “Pinkie, why are you doing X? We need to do Y!” If it looks familiar, it’s because the same joke was used (again, repeatedly) in this episode:

Swarm of the Century Clip

Six times! Did you think we wouldn’t get the point after the first five?

And when it’s over we get exactly what we knew was coming: the cake works, Twilight is amazed, Rainbow says “Oh, that’s just Pinkie Pie.” If that sounds familiar too, it’s because the show has told that same story several times (Swarm of the Century, Feeling Pinkie Keen, etc).

So, okay, that’s the criticism. What did I like?

Well, first, this story was very well written. The humor was the sort that I can appreciate (discovering the pear under Apple Bloom’s dresser, the early meta humor). And it’s certainly an original tale that hints at something much grander, which I always appreciate.

And, finally, comedy is hard to do, even under the best of circumstances. Attempting an 8,000 word comedy in the Writeoffs is basically accepting the ‘hard mode’ challenge, and I applaud that.
#169 · 2
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies
It's okay but there are some issues.

The strength of the Apple gibberish is decidedly lacking and after reading the Rarijack section there is a decided absence of romantic build up.

Applejack waxing on like a lovestruck filly was pretty cool though.
#170 · 1
· on The Sparklator
Hmm, so this is a strange story to review. Like a lot of fics that hit the 'almost there' category its hard to point a finger at just why it doesn't work. I think that for The Sparklator its all about tone, pretty much everything is out of kilter with everything else. The writing is solid and the story flows fine, but somehow the elements within just didn't mesh.

I'll explain.

So we have mad science Twilight (not my favorite Twilight but can be a fun one) going rogue and using the clones of her friend to predict the future (strange, boarder-line out of character even for mad science Twi, but I'm still with you) and using it to set up a subscription falling object insurance...

Okay. Not sure that that was the most logical outcome but continuing on.

The whole idea turns out to be fundamentally flawed as it turns out 'something is going to fall' is about as vague a prophesy as you can get and this ends with predictable calamity. At which point Twilight goes off the deep end and regresses to a childlike state completely out of left field. (Yes this is foreshadowed, but out of character even within the story's own continuity. This is mad-Twilight, who ran off for two months without telling anyone to work on a oracle, is one death really enough to break her utterly?)

So, starting out silly the plot meanders around a number of funny ideas, non-nonsensical conclusions before taking a hard right at the opera towards a brutal tragedy. Its this final tonal shift that knocks this down the rankings for me. If this was supposed to be a doomed edifice the story should have been tragic from the start, if it was supposed to be a comedy the ending should have been way lighter.
#171 · 5
· on Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree · >>Corejo
Huh, biblical fanfiction. Didn't expect that today.

Anyway, continuing a grand tradition started by Dante this story inserts Pony and Unicorn into the Garden of Eden story. Personally I really liked the content of this story, its funny, irreverent and doesn't fall into the usual trap of being too preachy to get anything done. Pony and Unicorn are also well defined and fit remarkably well into the narrative, though they don't really have much impact on how everything seems to shake out in the end.

Actually, that's probably my biggest critique in the end. Fanfiction I firmly believe is an additive thing, throwing new characters and events at a well established setting to see how things change. I'm not sure this story does that, or rather, despite the new characters it changes neither the message or eventual outcome. While there's a level of value to writing in the bridges, it struggles to be interesting when the audience begins knowing the ending.

All in all, a fun slice of life in the Garden of Eden but without being much more.

Edit: Oh, and while I remember. No Pegasus? Was she off playing with the Greek gods?
#172 · 3
· on Natural Dreams
Disclaimer: I am unfamiliar with Equestria Girls, so I won't be commenting on the accuracy of the characters portrayed, and instead focus more on the construction of the story itself. Whoops.

From the outset, I am unsure how to regard what is going on in terms of the tone of the writing. The inclusion of such phrasing a "quite literally, in fact" seems to imply some levity to the situation itself, but the overall purpose of the opening scene seems to want to communicate danger, fear and mysticism. Vague/awkward phrasings or contextually ambiguous reactions such as "a terse expression", "cringed upon uttering that" (i.e. cringed from what emotion?), "currently unable to find words to express her affirmation" take me out the piece a bit. The very first line of dialogue, "Why did you tie me to this tree?" is a bit too on the nose to seem like a realistic utterance. Same with "She honestly couldn’t believe that had been a dream―it felt so real" later on.

Another thing that immediately jumps out at me is that abundance of dialogue with little description. There is usually one line of terse description to accompany dialogue, but the scene is restricted to an extended back and forth between the two characters, which, I don't inherently object to, but would heavily prefer more description to color in the detail. To make a metaphor of this, the narrative at the moment seems to be all line-work and no colors, functional for seeing a picture, but seems incomplete and lacking aesthetically.

A key tip I would like to impart to you is that when writing a mysterious and ominous (seemingly wise?) character like Gloriosa appears to be, it would not be particularly appropriate to have her engage in an elongated dialogue explaining her motivations while delivering waxing poetic dialogue. I think this story could be improve dramatically by cutting down Gloriosa's dialogue by both giving Sunset more room to be expressive and speak (and thus not be a listener to Gloriosa's extended diatribe) and giving Gloriosa more room to act instead of speak. Sunset seems to me like a roguish, but persuasive, character, so I think it would be a lot more suiting for the scene to begin with Gloriosa attempting to wordlessly murder Sunset while Sunset gradually works her persuasion to prevent that end. It is also more interesting to me to figure out why Gloriosa wants to murder Sunset, or have Sunset figure it out, rather than having it explained directly to me. But it's your story and you can structure it how you like.

Another minor hitch for me is the overuse of italics for emphasis and that one use a boldface type. Try to restrict the amount of italics for emphasis to only the most important beats you want to stress; using italics every three or so paragraphs makes it lose its impact. Additionally, some words seem very out of place considering their context and use, as if someone was using a thesaurus. One example of this is this sentence, "That definitely happened on some level, she mused as she extricated herself from her bed" where the word "extricated" seems to be an unnecessary complex word to describe leaving her bed and really jumps out from the surrounding passage as such complex vocabulary is not widely used for the rest of the story.

Of course, as a story, this isn't complete, which I'm sure you're aware of, and it is more functionally similar to an introductory chapter setting up a conflict rather than a complete story. Charles Dickens really believed in coincidences, but I'm not sure if I do, and the scene with the reveal that Gloriosa is Rarity's yoga instructor seems to me to be unnecessarily contrived and potentially robs the reader of an interesting interaction by outright telling the reader immediately under what circumstances our mysterious dream character will interact with our main character. For the purposes of the establishing a more interesting pacing, I think it would be preferable either to delay the reveal of Gloriosa in the real-world, or make their first encounter a surprise to Sunset. This would allow for a more rich character interaction and cut down on the more drab internal drama of Sunset simply wondering if they are the same person at length.

I'm not sure why you italicized all of Rarity's dialogue. There's no reason to do that in my opinion.

Things to consider:
-Additional attention of prose construction
-Restructuring character interactions to better suit the scenes they are in
-Cutting down on redundant/unnecessary information or spending too long on one beat
-Leaving the meaning of substantial things vague / open to interpretation
-Tightening the phrasing of the narration to be clearer as to how actions occur and what they imply
#173 · 1
· on A Faint and Curious Voice · >>ZaidValRoa
For how much story there is here the general absence of a back and forth or a changing of gears makes it feel dense and inert.

Even if the story is narrated by a single character without interruption by an outside force the story can still experience the shifts in mood and foolish tangents of that single character.

Regardless, this is an exceedingly well done story.
#174 · 2
· on Completely Safe in the Reference Section
After the gang manage to retrieve an ancient, eldritch manuscript, Twilight does what any sensible librarian would do: put it safely in the reference section. Because it’s the principle of the thing, you know?

This was, by and large, a strong comedy. The opening scene doesn’t linger too long, and quickly segues into the main narrative; the characters are all portrayed consistently and authentically; and it doesn’t make the mistake of having its central premise its sole source of humour, nor does it try to force jokes where it needn’t do so – and that’s a sizable achievement in a comedy pushing the upper word limit of an SS round.

Most importantly, it was fun. Rarity and Twilight’s conversations had me laughing out loud. Your Spike was touching. The throw-away last line worked. And elephant ears, author? There was a conversation about them on Discord a short while ago…

My only gripe is that some scenes felt almost superfluous. The fifth, with the conversation between Rarity and Fluttershy, could have been removed, and the story would have lost nothing. The same could be said for their next scene. Whilst the story certainly makes use of its word limit, I’d suggest paring it down in future editing passes; repetition of jokes, recurring scenes, only serve to slow the comedy down.

Nonetheless, this story’s current place at the top of my slate was well earned.

Tier: Top Contender
#175 ·
· on Foundation
Idk about this one. The forbidden knowledge of this story I could roll with (despite how contrived it is), and how Celestia and Luna gave it dramatic weight was done well enough, but then the story kinda feels like it got the rug pulled out from underneath it with Twilight's ending bit. Like this story tried to be serious, but then couldn't think of a decent way to wrap up and so Twilight went full aunt mode to put the period on the end. It was cute, but out of touch with the rest of the story.
#176 ·
· on Foundation
Also, I have to say, dat random, subtle Twiluna at the beginning. Unecessary? Most definitely for the frame of this story. Unwanted? Its one of the few ships I'm okay with. I like that color pairing, dark blue and purple.
#177 · 2
· on Foundation
Alicorns are cursed - friendship is the key.

Where to start? This story did not do much for me - but keep in mind that my opinion is just that, and should be taken with a grain of salt (give or take a good half a cup). It felt like a small excerpt from a larger narrative sandwiched within an otherwise ordinary scene, and left more questions than it answered.

Why does the curse - in both its forms - exist?
Why has Celestia never fallen to it?
Why is Luna still endangered by it, haven been cured?
Considering that Celestia of all people nurtures Twilight's learning of friendship, why does she need to be taught anything?
Why is friendship a cure to the curse?
Like, seriously. Alicorn social meetups would solve all the world's problems.
And, furthermore, why has Celestia never mentioned this before?

The curse never poses a threat in this story, author; you spend a large amount of time introducing a contrived obstacle, only to retroactively solve it. The status quo does not change, nor do characters develop, save for sudden mood swings that, with respect to Celestia and Luna, feel quite out of character. You had another 6000 words to flesh out your idea; in the future, try to make the most of the space.

Tier: Needs Work.
#178 · 4
· on If, Amidst the Flames, a Pony
To review something like this is certainly a trying effort by nature of the piece's construction. Judging by the phrasing and unobtrusive flow of the story with a relatively advanced grasp on mechanics, organization, and use of various conventions, this is clearly not the writer's first rodeo. Or second. It eludes most conventional critique by squaring the focus on its conceptual themes rather than traditional narrative progression, development of characters, and scene construction (although this concept is still important for this story, just not in the traditional sense). However, it plays a dangerous game with the reader and builds a contract based on trust, that being that by the end of the story, the reader should have all the components necessary to reasonably deign the author's intent by careful examination of the passages. A failure to honor that contract with the reader on the part of the author will lead to the frustrations detailed in the story. Experimental fiction like this is an all-or-nothing gamble, is what I'm getting at. Example: when the story accurately rendered my reaction, I smirked, I was amused, I was impressed with the author. When it was not true to life and dissonant from my reaction (see passage IV and V, particularly the inference about the person-hood of the pony.) it seemed trite and foisting a perspective upon me.

Nonetheless, I feel the good outweighed the bad, and the thought experiment kept me on my toes. Unfortunately, I am entirely not confident on the metaphor being employed or its significance, which perhaps can be attributed to myself as a reader, but I view it as due to an excess of purposeful obscuring on the part of the author. The piece of itself speaks of this critique, but whereas the story mockingly presupposes that the obscuring is due to lack of a real thesis, I feel this story's is just not expressed clearly enough to successfully interpret it. Obviously, the story itself wants to wear a short skirt—terse enough to keep you interested, but not outright revealing itself to you, and I think it strikes that balance fairly well, but could use a bit more content that would inform the reader of its intentions.

My interpretation is that the story is going for a nihilistic/absurd-ism theme and its central thesis has something to do with the contradiction of the "reader" being dismissive of the story itself while projecting life onto the purposeless pony character used in the first narrative passage. But that may be just me projecting. It is apparent the candle is a metaphor for the terse, purposeless vignettes, and story-telling in general that live and die—serving as some sort of communication of humanity. I'm uncertain of what if that statement is being made here is oriented towards a more hopeful "all stories are like tiny candles, they have life even when unshaped and incomplete" or "such a sentiment is just a projection, a communication with nothing."

But then I could entirely wrong. Totally and utterly wrong. Such is the game the author plays with us for his amusement, lording over me like some sort of god.

Final note, author, I'm sure you're painfully aware of the errors in this last sentence: "Shaking your head, you close the story, leaving its mysteries to be its own; leaving it’s world to those who’ve yet to read it."

Thoughts to Consider:
-Try to keep the length as it is or shorter; expanding it would likely lead to greater confusion for your reader with having to juggle numerous independent scenes and their significance
-Perhaps giving us a greater window into your thoughts.
-Minor grammar touch-ups are necessary
-If I right in considering the second-person narration as a surrogate for the reactions of the reader: temper them slightly in later passages
#179 · 1
· on Only, Only, Only You
It was an interesting read, and a view into the mind of a pathologically egocentric monster. However, I also can't pretend to being able to judge verse by any other metric than like/didn't like, and in this case I'm left feeling rather ambivalent even there.
#180 · 4
· on We Are All Made from Silence · >>TitaniumDragon
I am a creature of habit, and when I see the opening line of a story involve a non-descript statement of the weather conditions, my expectations are immediately lowered. Luckily, the story managed to rope me back in almost immediately with its strong narrative voice for Scootaloo and imaginative prose. Reorganize that introduction, please, if you take any of my advice. Start with the action, not the weather.

Hmmm something about this scenario seems awfully familiar I wonder if this was written by someone I know...

Scootaloo's internal monologue is generally convincing and well-crafted, but occasionally some characteristically un-Scootaloo words end up cropping up such as "askew" along with some moments being a bit too cut and dry when they should be more visceral (ex. the other half talking about Rainbow's ribs being askew and being lucky yo survive the night). Some images, while creative, just don't function well enough to justify their inclusion (ex. "Scootaloo blinked. The cottage blinked, the night itself blinked.") but generally I am appreciative of the effort to have a childlike levity and ignorance contrasting a serious situation, and that child's attempt to understand and deconstruct that sort of pain. In that regard, I feel the story is also mostly convincing and does a fine job of playing up Scootaloo's childlike optimism with more real-world cynicism and fears. I am not entirely sold on the description in the scene where Scootaloo sees what I assume to be her more negative half, however. To be frank, it's not a very creative or interesting description, and stands out in sharp contrast to some of more inventive framing scenes and turns of phrase used in the story itself. Additionally, the scene in which Scootaloo tries to find her silence also goes a long a bit longer than is necessary to get the point across and comes across as a bit of padding.

When revising this story, I would urge you mull over your phrasing in particular, which in my opinion is the aspect this sort of story lives and dies on, and excise details go on too long. The short, punchy narration style suits this story best (the sound of the cracks in particular is well executed), and it does seem to drone on a bit when building up to the moment of silence while leaving not a lot of spare narration for the actual moment itself. Some misgivings aside, this was a fine story, and I enjoyed it.

Things to consider:
-Reorganize the introduction
-Make sure your Scootaloo voice is airtight on revision. It's very good now, but can be improved
-Consider rewriting the other half segment to be more visceral and interesting in its description
-Phrasing for certain sections when the narrative focus is not on Scootaloo
#181 · 1
· on TrixGlam
Let me start with a disclaimer: I hate shipping.

This story pokes fun at shipping. It pokes tons of fun at shipping. I laughed out loud several times reading this. On the train. Good job!

The weakest part was the ending, but only because there was much more potential for comedy. Imagine how funny it would have been to see them discover "shipping paraphernalia" as they searched for Twilight's diary (i.e. continuing the gag you started with the rope)! You could have squeezed so much more out of our prudish pair of prowling ponies!
#182 · 1
· on Not On the Outside · >>horizon
Whoa! Military! Touching on quite a subject there huh? What can I say. It's a story. We're joined with Star Swirl, the Legendary, along with his apprentice, Clover. The story follows Clover's perspective throughout her training. What we get is a simple glance at the difficulties that surround her training under the best of the best. We get to see a couple of things with her life from relationship status to even new things that play out during her training. This is where we see the struggle of the story. Clover's new instructor happens to be a renown soldier that had just recently retired. Charged with teaching this wizard student how to physically fight something, I really don't know why in the stars she would need it, Glowing dawn is Clover's next big obstacle to overcome towards being a master wizard.

Who the hell is Clover?! What mane style does she have what color is her coat? What is she doing with her life? Where are the details that point out that she is the main character for this story? Other than the story following her there is almost nothing about her. These are things that a reader may want to see when they're foreshadowing a character through their journey. Overall, I loved Clover as a character. She was unique and well done as an OC. There was a lot to explore but it really didn't seem to do any justice in terms of how well each of your characters had played out. Believe me when I say your characters will be very much remembered through this round. Each attitude and behavior just drew out your story more and made it feel like it really was a war going on or probably a preparation for one. Either way it was heavily military and I adored that. I really don't have much to say for negatives but if I needed to say one thing was that each one should have been played out more. You had a good hand but refused to play it. Why is that? Take that idea and let it shine out more. If you still want to keep it minimal try only one or two characters being complex or to stand out more. You had a lot of detail to play with. From Pansy and Clover reminiscing to Star Swirl's past relationship. Even more so on the endings climactic scene. Adding more to Dawn's part would have made my day even better if she ever gets pass her problem. From what I've read. I know that Clover is training to be a wizard pony and that she's a lesbian who hates physical strenuous activities. (Celestia help Pansy.) Can we get more please, sir? Her behavior makes her one of a kind but it's missing details.

I felt as though there was a lack of feeling. It might be due to a lack of experience to such situations, but I seem to not actually connect well with whatever the characters were going through. Their actions seem to be on script and it's not really detailed as to how they feel inside. I thought the story could use more in depth material to show how each character feels. Even if we don't need to see the side characters' feelings it's Clover's that need to be on point then. What was she feeling when she gave all that advice to Dawn? Was she out of words. Confused and befuddled at the lack of experience in such a battle. Maybe she never seen a pony frightened that badly before. Why did it feel like she didn't care? Point out how they feel which will give us more reason to care about the character and their situations. Make me see that soul and fire in your heart. Even the ending. I just didn't feel sad for dawn. I wanted to but couldn't. I think it should have been extended more so to relieve the tension and call it a good ending. Rather than giving us what felt to be like no bait on the hook at all. Yeah, as fish we're interested in the floating metallic thing there but we have no reason to bite on.

-Attention to Detail
Pony story, yet the word "feet" is used. Several times. Don't forget what you're writing here. This enough was proof that you had the right mind for a scene and plotline but forgot that there were certain things to keep in mind. it's rather challenging to suddenly change certain common vocabulary associated with writing but in the end it keeps are minds sharp while we do such an art. Which again can point out skillwise. I for one just think you were having trouble with time on this one. Which is why there was a lack of proofreading it in.

Loved the setting these characters interacted in. I can see the middle of the entire castle grounds being used as training ground for this supposed military group. You can feel how there's a sense of order in the things these characters do, due to the fact that they're being watched by peers they work with. It was the type of aura they each held, because they knew what kind of work they were doing and where they were at the time. In castle grounds training to become better soldiers or wizards. The fact that there were three barracks there meant it could well be a military establishment. Nothing else says otherwise unless it's Star Swirl's company. I doubt it could be his place of study as having so many troops around mean more of a hassle to deal with the obvious chaos that comes within the military. What really shined through was that it was a much older setting. The time that this all takes place shows that the land has need of strong wizard ponies to tend to things. To keep things in order. That the military must have a hand in society because most of the magic and technology the show uses wasn't always there. It gave the story the impression of being unique without having to handle characters that we already know of. This is a very useful strategy that avoids using character that have already had their own outlines shaped for them. My only problem is the location didn't seem to make much sense. Doubt that the castle that use to belong to the two princesses was so um... soldier oriented. Perhaps showing more civilian ponies would have lightened the mood so the speak. We only get to see what remains of just an outpost of some kind and your story seems to reflect on it highly.

-Side Characters
Dear god! The author is really good with interaction. Which shows in how well he interprets each individual relationship that Clover has in her current life. From love interest to mentor to challenges. It was done beautifully and really made it entertaining. I can point out character, but Star Swirl himself isn't exactly a story trait to be talking about. I just loved how you made each one your own. None of them fell out of line with their own styles and they didn't seem to mesh together as some authors would do when they haven't hashed out their character entirely. There was a lot of thought placed into each one and how they would affect Clover and it was just so much fun reading about the next. I would love to read more about Clover's life. Meeting Morning Breeze seeing Pansy court Clover even more. Though again. More detail. I know who Star Swirl is but who is this Pansy? The only pony ever described in the story ends up being Dawn. While not the strongest character in the story she gets to have a good intro rather than the hilarious Star Swirl? I really wanted to peek into your head and see what you intend to make these characters out to be. Sadly this piece doesn't give me much access to your thoughts.

This piece was good. It was a pleasant read that was perfect to sit down by my bed and just read through. Sadly there are elements that make this a one time read. Though I would quickly shoot someone for a copy of the next installment. I'm sure with more time this author would have made such a wonderful story. There were a lot of things left unwritten, that I believe will make this an excellent series for the writer's followers to enjoy. While I may be negative. I cannot lie and say this wasn't a total bad entry. It had so much potential and Author you have shown your strengths in elements of a story that is usually hard for others to follow on. I'm sure that if you had more time you could blow right through this contest.
#183 · 2
· on Modern Farming Techniques of Earth Ponies
I feel all the pieces to a great story are here, even if some are a little rough around the edges.

I wish there'd been a little more build up to the reveal of Applejack and Big Mac using Necromancy to help with farmwork, maybe a few hints here and there during the other segments.

Speaking of which, others have already mentioned there was some disconnect with the Rarity scene, I can't help but feel it's a little isolated, even though it's later linked through the dialogue of AJ's parents, same with Golden's scene.

Just a suggestion, but you could maybe try to have all the scenes connect through a central theme, rather than have all these apparently stand-alone scenes that only have a pay-off at the end.

Still, it was an interesting read, and I'd love to read it again once you polish it a bit more.
#184 · 4
· on If, Amidst the Flames, a Pony
I'm of two minds here. On one hand, I hate metafiction fiercely. I should declare that bias first. "Jazzing around" Gardner used to call it. I know that I'm supposed to "get it" somehow and that it's "smart" to twist the structures of narrative until they snap, but honestly it's always seemed a bit onanistic to me. Pointless. Like the sort of joke that only one person can laugh at--or like the ultra angry young reformeds in the Christian Studies department I remember from undergrad whose whole attitude towards their own study was simply to use it as a bludgeon--behold my systematic theology feel inferior--and so I really cannot divorce that sentiment from anything that smacks of really meta-fiction.

On the other hand, if I change the "you" of the in-between sections to "s/he" or the name of a character I find I would have enjoyed this. The idea of a page I can refresh and get a new tiny, unfinished bit of story ex nihilo is basically a dream come true. I wish that there was an actual page that could do that. I would read it all day long, and not be nearly as frustrated as this story left me.

"Frustrated" is kind of my word here for the experience of this story. The actual narrative sections were each and every one wonderful. I loved the mare in the furnace, the universe within a universe, the conversation between unascertainable persons. And yet each and every time they would be abutted by which left me feeling not cheated so much as toyed with.

Maybe that's the point? Maybe it's just supposed to be a huge middle finger towards an unknown and unseen audience? Maybe I'm just not smart enough to get it. Honestly, I'm not sure I want to be smart enough to get it. Because the second-person narration was only partially right each time--mostly I was just angry that I was being made a fool of and was duty bound to continue. When a story is wonderful, I need not ask "why is this?" because it's chiseled its intent on my spirit, even tho often its hard for me to put to words in adequate ways. The asking of the question "What in god's name was this supposed to mean?" I find to usually be warning enough.

Not sure this one can be in the top half for me.
#185 ·
· on Miracle
After a few other stories, this was a nice palate cleanser.

It was a solid plot with a solid execution. The idea of Celestia pulling the strings from behind the scenes is always an appealing concept. I feel there's not much to say, given the self-contained nature of this story. I wish there was more to it, though I couldn't even begin to find a way to do it.

That's the issue, I believe. This is a nice SoL one-shot, and that's about it. It's a very well done SoL one-shot, but that's really it, there's not much substance to it once its conflict was resolved, and for a story like this, that's a good thing.
#186 ·
· on Tell Her What She Means To You
Other than the duplicate first paragraph, I didn't find any technical issues with this story.

I felt the introduction of the abandonment issue was a bit blunt, made even more so by another issue I had with the story. A lot of the narrative relies on the actions the characters make, and while that's valid, you missed the oportunity to work more with their thoughts and emotions, which should be a bigger focus considering the plot.

Still, not a bad effort. With some polishing it could be even better.
#187 · 2
· on Growing The Future
A little nitpick: Apple Bloom isn't one word. But I've been guilty of it myself, too, so don't feel too bad. :P

Aside from that, I think there's a pretty good central idea at play here, but I'm a little less convinced by the execution. For instance, the piece seems to set itself up as an investigation of moral grey grounds. But at least to me, there's nothing really morally questionable about what Flower Power is doing.

In fact, the only real conflict is Twilight's misunderstanding of the situation. But even this feels a bit perfunctory because it's pretty obvious to the reader that there's more to it to Flower Power's research than it initially seems, with his insistence on calling it "Life Blossom" and all. And without any real character-driven conflict, much of the story feels a bit like exposition. We learn about Flower Power's struggle for a better future, but there's not much that gives us a concrete investment in it.

Honestly, I think this story might have been a bit stronger if it was told in Flower Power's perspective. We'd be able to see the conflict a bit more clearly, and the inherent mystery of initially not knowing very much about the main character could be used to give a little drive to the expoisitiony parts.

In other words, I'd suggest refocusing the story a little. A big emotional core of this story is the relationship between Granny Smith and Flower Power, so give them a little more time together. Have us learn about their relationship from how they talk to each other, rather than mostly through their explanations of it. I think the piece would benefit a lot from readers being more sympathetic to Flower Power earlier on.
#188 ·
· on Standards and Practices
I have a soft spot for fics that tackle an episodic feel.

My only complaint would be that it feels like the set up for a great story about Cadance and Luna guiding ponies away from a dark path in an effort to keep Equestria safe.

Heck, you've got yourself the premise for a buddy cop style show right there. (Luna would be the moustachioed one who's too old for this job.)
#189 · 3
· on Growing The Future
This one's:

Got me in a whole "compare/contrast" sort of a mood, so I'd like to say why I enjoyed this more than a couple other really good stories by GaPJaxie that address similar subjects: the cure for death in "Modern Medicine," and the outsider pony scientist in "A Change in Three Parts."

GaPJaxie's stories are always very thought-provoking and always very interesting, but they usually seem to be populated by cardboard cut-outs rather than characters. When Twilight Sparkle appears, for instance, she isn't the Twilight Sparkle we know from the show but is rather a straw pony spray-painted purple by the author to mouth a particular argument.

Here, though, we've got not just a Twilight Sparkle who acts in a recognizable fashion, but a nicely-rendered Applejack and Granny Smith. And the OC fits quite well into the whole Equestrian setting while also bringing in a concept the show would never address in a million years. It's got a few typos--see above for Apple Bloom--but there's some very good stuff here.

#190 ·
· on Thou Shalt Not Eat Of The Tree
>>Morning Sun
Pretty much all this. That last line had me laughing out loud.

Also, I love this question and second it.
#191 · 4
· on The Outer Dark
Before I say anything else, I must say this: I read this story on my phone while at work. A coworker, who didn't know what I was doing/reading on my phone, asked me why I had goosebumps.

This is far and beyond my top pick of my mandatory votes (and is equally why it gets my longest review with the most of my criticism. Love is funny that way, eh?).

Firstly, let's start with the perspective. You've taken to using a recounting method of narrative, one with a character telling another in the present (who is totally not an audience surrogate!) what's happened in the past. I, personally, like this sort of narrative. It's like a step up from first person, being that, rather than just using the pronouns "I" and "We," it forces a much closer perspective than normal first person does. Force, being the stressed word here, as normal first person can get this close; it just doesn't have to be, from what I've seen.

This setup does have its counterpoints, though—namely how in-the-way the framing device can get. There's a point where I really don't care if Rarity wants a brandy after all and just want her to finish the damn story. Ultimately, while it's good for initially setting a mood via 'this guy's pretty F-d up by whatever happened,' it starts detracting from the groove the real story's telling if you too readily let the narrator talk directly at the listener and/or reference their setting rather than the scene of the story he's telling. It's a criticism I've had of one of my own fics that, while author-blind to it then, here looking at someone else's story I can see rather easily. Inject sparingly.

I really like how you breadcrumbed who the speaker and the antagonist were. Well-placed clues gave just enough to pique interest without leaving us in the dark, with enough information for me to puzzle out the obvious antagonist around 500 words in, and just enough to be certain which of her friends was the narrator maybe a thousand or two words before the actual name drops, which did well in heightening the tension. I do have to say, though, that I feel you teased us a little too hard about who's who. Rather than just giving us clues, you seemed to go out of your way to reference Twilight as 'the mare who does not sleep’ and the like, as if to say 'haha! I know something you don't know!' despite how quickly you establish who it is.

The ending is 50/50 for me. I like how dark it gets (oh, Celestia, do I love how dark it gets. This is Horse Voice-level darkness and that's just unf!), but at the same time I was so into the one-way dialogue format that when it went third person it felt like a different story. I have no idea how you could preserve that same perspective without either gloriously ruining the current ending or an equally jarring perspective shift to Rainbow Dash, though.

My biggest concern with this story is, ironically, the narrative. It reads beautifully, and the imagery engrossing, but once you figure out who it is, it doesn’t seem to fit. The phrasing’s off. It doesn’t sound like her at all. Yeah, you might argue that she's pretty messed up by the whole ordeal, but this reads more like an eccentric like Doctor Hooves or an OC than Rarity talking. You need to hone in on that more the next time you go for a story like this. Even if direct usage of the character's voice would spoil the mystery, there should at least be some indication by the way they talk that would indicate who they are. Really, that should be used as part of your arsenal of clues rather than a thing that should be hedged to retain the mystery.

Let’s sandwich those negatives with a restatement of my overall feelings: holy fuck, I love this. Top pick. 10/10, would goosebump again.

This story has earned you a follower once I find out who you are (provided I’m not already following you, in which case I’ll upgrade that to stalking).

EDIT: actually finished that first point of criticism, cause I somehow forgot to go back to that point when I got sidetracked making the others.
#192 · 1
· on History Lesson · >>007Ben
In my opinion, the biggest issue with the story is that it's too fast paced. Events take place in quick succesion, too quick to properly get invested in anything of what's happening.

Not to mention, the narrative as a whole feels dry. Later on, there's a bit too much of "character did this" and not enough "character felt this way", which didn't help with the detachement I felt as I read on.

I also expected Rarity's adopted dragons to play some sort of role later on in the story, which sadly didn't happen and left me wondering what purpose they served other than make Rarity worried about Ponyville, point that could have been easily addressed with Sweetie Belle and her parents.

Also, the ending felt extremely rushed. Almost as if the story was cut short and tacked a forced resolution (and judging by the worcount, that may have been the case). We don't get to see Starlight slowly realise the error of her ways, she's resistant to admit it all the way to the end, but the reader never gets to experience her doubting, thinking that maybe she was wrong after all. Which is a big missed opportunity in the story.

There were a few points that I liked, but they were far and few. I do encourage you to try again, though.
#193 · 1
· on TrixGlam
Well, this fic was funny, but funny in a juvenile, almost slapstick way. There’s not much in terms of character development. It’s a sort of collection of gags, which makes the arc pretty weak—all the more than, as the other reviewers have pointed out, the end is somewhat of a letdown.

Also, the English is very choppy, and the story has some hiccoughs. I’ve collected some examples for you to look on. I hope they’ll be useful:

Inconsistency: “Starlight exclaimed only to find Trixie’s hoof on her mouth. […] When Trixie took her mouth off Starlight,” Hoof or mouth?

Check your numbers (singular/plural) (underlined); also two very similar expressions with “point” (bold): “For many mages, there comes a point in time where one’s magical prowess overtakes their physical capabilities. It is a sort of a point of no return, where a unicorn realizes that normal everyday actions can be accomplished far easier with the use of magic rather than actually physically doing it.”

Repeated words: but saw nothing but the rope on the floor,…

Non sequitur: Starlight turned to her and saw the same amount of fear on Trixie’s face. The same amount w/r to what? Her own face? But how can she look at it? There's no mirror available.

Ambiguous antecedent: the mare swinging on a large rubber tire, hanging by a rope. What is hanging? The tire or the mare?

Inconsistency with saxon genitive: princess’s … then princess’ …

Trixie watched Starlight miraculously dove should be ‘dive’.

Shaky construction: They were about to continue before Starlight stopped, a thought in her head. Besides, have you ever encountered a thought outside someone’s head? :P

Here it is for the main examples.

Good luck!
#194 · 3
· on Not On the Outside · >>Remedyfortheheart >>Bachiavellian
Just FYI, Clover's not an OC. "Clover the Clever" is one of the historical figures from the pageant in "Hearth's Warming Eve" (the one played by Twilight Sparkle), and is canonically a unicorn mage who made great advances in friendship studies and has a wing of the Royal Canterlot Library named after him/her. Private Pansy (the one played by Fluttershy) was the pegasus friend who, along with Smart Cookie the earth pony, helped Clover ignite the fires of friendship and drive off the windigoes. (Though the characters are virtually undefined by show standards. We don't even know what gender they are from the expanded-universe stuff — The Journal Of The Two Sisters refers to Clover as female and Princess Celestia and the Summer of Royal Waves refers to Clover as male.) I think Dawn is an OC, unless she's from the comics.

And since this comment is going to inflate the story's review count, I might as well read and review it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story, though the quality felt quite uneven. There are moments of brilliant prose:
…she took another sip from her teacup. It tasted like distilled hatred.

But that first scene is also dragged down by clumsy "As You Know, Bob" exposition:
“Why’s that?” asked Star Swirl, distractedly. …

“Because we’ve stayed up all night working on whatever that is.” Clover waved a hoof at Star Swirl’s experiment.

And the actual hook — the "sparring lessons" part — is buried six paragraphs deep by the banter and the tea jokes and the experiment.

The character work and the interactions here all feel individually strong (though I wasn't as much a fan of the character-destruction comedy of the manipulative, petty-vengeance Star Swirl — in particular, the ultimatum that sends Clover into training rubbed me the wrong way). Clover and Star Swirl's adversarial friendship is vivid, and Clover and Dawn play off each other well, and the bit parts pop off the page. My big hesitation is that this doesn't feel like it has decided whose story it's actually telling — and when you switch focus, the borderline-slapstick comedy of banishing eldritch abominations to ex-wives creates a jarring contrast to the serious portrayal of PTSD.

That's not to say you can't change mood within a story. See: my Writeoff winner The 18th Brewmare of Bluey Napoleon, which takes a lurching gear-shift from comedy into a deconstruction of Blueblood's family history of failure. But you should know the overall tone and theme you are trying to communicate, and any departure from that should reflect upon your core theme in some way. Brewmare focused on Blueblood, and drew a great deal of its comedy from his petty ego and his quixotic selfishness; when it took its turn into pathos, it was to examine exactly the psychology which drove him, and to provide a character moment both for him and for the fellow monarchs trying to coax him toward making something of himself. It remained his story, and returned to the core comedy once it had picked itself up and dusted itself off.

Here, the only character that stays a constant is Clover, but at no point does this feel like her story. She's got remarkably little agency — she wouldn't even be in training if it weren't for the ultimatum, and is basically along for the ride when Dawn flips out. As noted by previous reviewers, Star Swirl is a very colorful character whose don't-take-this-seriously comedy (e.g. casually murdering/banishing sentient spirits) carries the early story, and then the climax of your story is the discovery of Dawn's emotional issues. So whose story is this? Should we not think too hard about the characters and laugh at their spirit-murdering antics from a distance, or should we get emotionally invested in them and choke up at the sober d'aww of the ending?

Basically, both of the stories you're telling are good, but this would be much better if you weren't telling both at once. Take my tier as a signal of "Top Contender with significant flaws"; maybe I should rename "Solid" to "Strong" to better reflect the dual way in which I use it?

Tier: Solid
#195 · 1
· on Twice Paid, For a Lie · >>Morning Sun
I really liked this story, Writer, once it became clear what was going on - my gripes about Codex and Pinkie Pie seemingly talking past each other, as well as Codex never really explaining herself, evaporated within the context of anypony having the potential to compromise her mission. Even my complaint that some random unicorn alicorn is able to pace Rainbow Dash in a chase goes out the window with the inclusion of Matrix-powers. This is the first time I've seen The Matrix crossed over with ponies, and you do a good job of painting Actual Equestria with the Desert of the Real brush (particularly with the mushrooms/Tasty Wheat reference).

If I had one complaint, it's that this isn't really a complete story. You've done an excellent job of setting up a much longer piece, and I'd love to read it, should you choose to continue expanding on what you have so far.

Final Thought: The Flexing Walls Should Have Tipped Me Off
#196 ·
I'm sensing an odd pattern of a lot of stories feeling like prologues to bigger stories rather than self-contained ones.
#197 · 1
· on The Locked Door
This is well written, with excellent dialogue. Where it fails is in generating any sense of real tension. The problem may be that all these characters seem disconnected from their feelings. Starlight is intellectually aware that she is transgressing, but seems to feel no personal jeopardy in the act, and gives no thought to others' feelings, especially Twilight!
#198 ·
· on Might Make Right
Wow. Speaking of "changing mood within a story" and "whose story is this?" … this story's a beautiful wreck, but it does something interesting I might not have noticed if I hadn't been primed by writing my last review. Despite all the headache-inducing viewpoint-hopping, we see Twilight Sparkle and Spike in every scene (at least by proxy, if that friendship letter counts). So "Whose story is this?" has a straightforward answer — even though there's five different viewpoints, this is a story about the two of them wrestling with the morality of mind control.

… Actually, no, I don't think that's quite right. There are two half-scenes (set off by soft breaks) without Twilight — Spike and Ember, and Spike and AJ. So Spike is in every scene, except the ending, in which the letter he sends leads to an implied implosion of the peace negotiations. Is this set up around seeing Spike screw up in each scene? Except he doesn't — his big action in Ember's scene is to keep her and Twilight from fighting, which is good; and the screw-up of his lie is central to the Applejack scene, so as far as I can tell he doesn't do anything wrong in Ember's scenes. Augh! That's so close to some sort of unified theme, I feel like there's something I must be missing.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more sense that makes as a central theme, maybe with that Ember scene as a Writeoff goof. Spike being your central character would also explain why we start out with Twilight Sparkle narrating — it sort of sets up a pattern where we never see through his eyes, but we see him through the eyes of all the people who his mistake screwed up. That's actually a really cool idea, even if I'm not thrilled by the execution of it. But Twilight really muddies the waters there, because she is his co-protagonist throughout so much of the story (and she's responsible for the existence of the spell, and for the ultimatum to Ember, and the letter to Celestia). Plus starting the story in her narrative POV makes it feel more like we're reading about her. If you were going for Spike as a central character, you're really going to have to work to disentangle this from Twilight — they split the blame for all the screw-ups here, and a lot more of Twilight's agency needs to be piled on Spike's head to make that theme coherent. Or maybe you could take that the other way, and make this about Twilight and Spike like it first seems, but then if you want to narratively circle around them like sharks smelling blood in the water, that first scene's narration has to go to someone else.

Anyway. I could nitpick the noble but failed experiment of the structure all day, but the rest of the story … mmm. I kind of agree with >>Obscure, there's just so much potential here that doesn't quite gel. The drama of Spike's decisions and the big emotional moments feel awfully hurried; one of the big downsides of that "circle around the protagonists" storytelling you're doing is that the big emotional moments are all seen at a remove. (I wonder if that was intentional? I felt more sorry for Garble with his unreliable-narration not-crying than I did seeing Spike burst into tears several times, and that seemed deliberate. If so, an odd decision that didn't land for me — given Garble's continued villainy, and especially that we cut completely away from him, making him totally off-screen when Spike ruins his life again.) Honestly, this story's at its best when it lets itself breathe and steps away from the drama into the more languid descriptive sections, with moments of awesome like Ember's dramatic entrance and Celestia's no-sell of …

… oh hell. The title just clicked.

(BIG SPOILER) If I'm reading this right — and if I'm not, author, then you should rewrite this post-haste to frame it this way — mind control is a red herring. This is about the ways that rulers use power. It alternates narration from the Princesses/Dragon Lords casually exerting authority, with narration from regular people affected by them. Spike's mind control drives the story, but there's a parallel in the last section with "the feuding rulers that [Celestia] had dragged kicking and screaming into peace negotiations", and Ember talks Spike into a decision that literally ruins Garble the same way that mind control did. Applejack's scene is the weak link here — I guess it was going for the Elements of Harmony mind-control angle?, but that seemed really underplayed compared to the rest of this.

Okay, author, that by itself is bumping this up to a Solid. But that theme is way too hidden, and the perspective switch is as disorienting as it is necessary — I have no idea how to fix that and keep the thing in the last spoiler. Probably the first thing you should do in editing here is resolve that Spike/Spike+Twilight protagonist ambiguity — getting that crystal clear might illuminate a way to draw the rest of this out less incomprehensibly.

And yeah, I think it's time to officially change my "Solid" tier to "Strong". This is not even a little bit "Solid" as in "well polished", but it's a hell of a story regardless.

Tier: Solid Strong
#199 · 1
· on Return To Sender · >>The_Letter_J >>Bremen
Like the above said, this was cute. I liked it. The ending felt a bit rushed—or perhaps concise, if you want to mince words, as I found the final line suitably effective.

One thing I can definitely critique here, though, is Zecora's dialogue. Traditionally, she speaks in iambic tetrameter—four sets of unstressed-stressed syllables. That can be argued, as she has a few appearances where she breaks from this to use practically rhymed free verse, but I'll stick to my guns here for the sake of critiquing. Her lines, in chronological order, are as follows:

If all they want is to rear an alicorn,
Perhaps you can show them their hopes are forlorn.

You are right that the story cannot be deleted,
But what if they thought it would not be repeated?

I am flattered you think my idea is a winner,
If you like it so much, why not thank me with dinner?

She saw a joke where there was not;
Still, I think, it was worth a shot.

Now, the same with stressors and [syllable, foot] counts:

If all they want is to rear an al-i-corn, [11, 5]
Perhaps you can show them their hopes are forlorn. [11, 4]

You are right that the story cannot be deleted, [13, 4]
But what if they thought it would not be repeated? [12, 4]

I am flattered you think my i-dea is a winner, [13, 4]
If you like it so much, why not thank me with dinner? [13, 4]

She saw a joke where there was not; [8, 4]
Still, I think, it was worth a shot. [8,4]

If you look, only line 7 is iambic tetrameter, and also the only perfectly iambic line in here. Lines 3 through 6 are effectively* anapestic tetrameter (un-un-stressed), which is why they feel right, while line 2 is true anapestic tetrameter. The rest is just a mish-mash of syllables. The number of feet (sets of stressed and unstressed syllables) are consistent on a couplet basis, save the first, which helps her speech come across as not too stilted, but the lack of consistent meter is still very much noticeable. Here's a website I've come to reference as a 'poetry bible.' It'll get you writing Zecora—and any other creature you please!—and her rhymes like tequila 'til the clothes come off.

I apologize for the per-line spoiler tags... I used fimfiction as a guide, and it wasn't letting me spoiler separate paragraphs for some reason, so I played it safe here.

*There's names for the trimmed syllable on line 7 at the leading anapest and for the added unstressed syllable at the end of both lines, but I don't know them; ask Baal Bunny/AugieDog.
#200 · 1
· on Return To Sender · >>Corejo
I haven't read this story yet, but I noticed you talking about Zecora's rhyme scheme, and I think you're giving her way too much credit. I think that almost all of her dialogue is basically just rhyming free verse. Look at her quotes on the wiki. There is almost no consistency at all there.
I don't know what this author's rhymes look like, but I don't think you should dock them too much for not having perfect iambic tetrameter when the show doesn't either. That being said, I do think that giving Zecora a consistent rhyme scheme makes for better fics, even if it's not entirely accurate.