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Time Heals Most Wounds · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 5
· · >>PinoyPony >>Trick_Question >>Trick_Question
Please refrain from saying anything that might compromise your anonymity. Doing so is grounds for disqualification. It's recommended you do dummy reviews of your own stories should it otherwise be easy to deduce which you wrote.

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#2 · 3
Really I don't have much to say so—good luck everyone!
#3 ·
Life has been making it really hard for me to participate in these events, but this time, I will get something in! It's either do or die at this point!
#4 · 1
Here's hoping I get to participate in this one too. Wish the best to everyone!
#5 · 2
· · >>Monokeras >>Remedyfortheheart >>Leo
Sorry I'm new here and have a couple of questions. (Some of these questions will be 'no-duh' questions, so please bear with me, I'm just checking...)

For one, is it required to submit a prompt to participate?

And two, for the Prompt, are you looking for phrases like:
"The End of the Line"
"Forbidden Knowledge"
#6 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
No it is not required. You can participate even though you submit no prompt.
On the other hand, if you submit a prompt and no story, you can stick a fork in it.

And yes, prompts are, well, prompts. There’s a good sample already available.

Good luck and welcome!
#7 · 1
· · >>QuillScratch >>PinoyPony
>>PinoyPony Oye! Phillipino! Finally someone who shares my love of rice. Anyways! Welcome and be sure to have fun here. If you just wanna write a prompt is not required. Though it can help adding more ideas to the prompt roster.
#8 ·
Let's see...now to think up a good prompt.
#9 ·
· · >>Leo
I would love to participate, but...

Well, finals are next week. I need all the time I can get to study for these. :(

Good luck, everyone!
#10 ·
I haven't competed in far too long. I'm gonna give this one a shot, if I can.

Rice is the best.
I love rice too.

#11 · 4
The new email preferences are excellent. Thumbs up.
#12 · 2
· · >>Oblomov


Thanks a bunch to both of you!

Also, Remedyfortheheart, to answer your presumption, I do like rice- goes good with many things.... yum.

I have another question though... for 'Original' Minifics, I take it that you stay out of fandom and create something of your own. Or am I overthinking things? So, what I am really asking if you can write FiM stories for this, or not?
#13 · 2
· · >>PinoyPony

You are correct. Original rounds were previously called "General", and this question would come up every time. You were allowed to write FiM stories, but it was sort of frowned upon. Now, I'm pretty sure that fan fiction of any sort is barred from Original rounds.
#14 ·
· · >>PinoyPony
Oh, hi there! I knew your avatar looked familiar c:

That sucks. Good look with finals!
#15 · 2
Huzzah, here we go again. Hopefully the muse cooperates.

Also, for any of the folks who read Homebound from last OF round, I've completed the rewrite (though the ending is still incomplete - I'm working on the continuation). Feel free to take a look.
#16 ·
· · >>Leo

Welp... I haven't written a story with my own setting and characters in a long time
...time to cough up some archetypes


I wish you luck, you are a very good writer... I don't stand a chance

Still though, this writeoff is going to fun, competition or not...
time to club and kidnap my muse... it's writin' time!
#17 · 3
Huh, no Ot prompts again. We must ot forgotten.

Anyway, I'm really hoping 'Time Heals Most Wounds' wins. That's just an awesome bittersweet prompt.
#18 · 1
I gotta say, I'm pretty excited to do this. Can't wait to see what prompt wins. I'm pretty proud of the one I submitted. I can tell this will be some tough competition.
#19 ·
· · >>RogerDodger
My hopes are on "I Will Be There", but on the other hand I don't care too much. I just want to start writing already!

We gonna see about that, but I accept the compliment, thanks xD

Edit: Now wait a second, when does the event start again? Someone on FiMFiction said it's 6 pm UTC but the counter counts down to 12 pm UTC.
#20 ·
· · >>Leo
Edit: Now wait a second, when does the event start again? Someone on FiMFiction said it's 6 pm UTC but the counter counts down to 12 pm UTC.

Well, everyone wants to see countdown timers on the front page of the event, but either there's a technical challenge or Roger's just allergic to it.

For now, just click on Fic Submission to see the time left before the prompt vote ends and the 24 hour story submission clock starts counting down.

FWIW, My times all show 5am Pacific as the cutoff/start times (SF Bay Area).
#21 ·
· · >>Leo
All scheduled events will start at 12:00 UTC from now on.
#22 · 2
Man, two rounds in a row during convention weekends — Babscon and EFNW drawing out all the pony authors. (I'm at a convention myself this weekend, though not Everfree.)

I guess I'll see if I feel like taking time off from the con to slap a minific together. :\
#23 · 2
Thanks. Maybe you could mention this in the FAQ, in case other newbies might wonder about this too.

I shall now start writing.
#24 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
Do stories have to be titled with a phrase that isn't the prompt, or do we simply use the prompt as the title?
#25 · 3
· · >>Astrarian
You cannot use a title that has already been submitted to the competition (so only one author would be able to, were that the case).

It isn't expected that the prompt appear explicitly in either the title or the story. Be creative!
#26 · 1
It would be too confusing if all the stories shared a single title.
#27 · 1
Yeah, I thought it would be something like that, but it's not explicitly mentioned anywhere and I'm new so I wanted to check. Thanks!
#28 ·
Crud. This seems like a good prompt.. But nothing is coming to me. :(
#29 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
After my surgery, my scalp is covered in tiny scabs I am not permitted to pick at. This is driving me crazy and though most wounds heal with time, I don't think I can concentrate enough to write a story in time. And this wounds me. Mostly. :raritydespair:

Good luck everypony!
#30 · 5
Well, the stars aligned and I had a decent idea for an entry. Then I wrote it. Then I finished writing it and submitted it. >.>

I don't imagine it'll do well, but it feels good to break my non-participating streak. I'm back, I suppose. Hi everyone. :p
#31 · 5
Wow first write-off I've participated in since 2012! Perhaps I can return my former glory as the fifth place warrior. Or just do okay. I'll take okay.
#32 · 6
It's been a long time since I entered a Writeoff. My last one was Illusion of Choice, all the way back in November of last year. I dunno how many of you might remember what happened with my entry, but it doesn't really matter anymore. I'm as ready to jump back in as I'll ever be, so here I am.

I wouldn't say I only recently got done licking my wounds. I made my peace with that round a week or two after it all went down. I guess it's just been a mixture of not having any ideas for a Writeoff and not having any motivation for a Writeoff. Plus, I've been busy with an account move and school and personal issues. Just hasn't worked out until now.

I had ideas for a few of the prompts immediately while I was voting on them. This prompt is one of those, so I wrote an entry and submitted it. I guess we'll see how it goes.
#33 · 4
Oh crap I lied and submitted something anyway. :facehoof:
#34 · 4
· · >>Ratlab
Huzzah! I finally managed to submit something!
#35 · 3
· · >>NotARock

Congrats! I have just done the same.
#36 · 3
So have I!
#37 · 3
· · >>PinoyPony
Erf. Submission made. I'm not particularly pleased with it, but at least I managed to submit something. It's a shame. I came up with a bunch of ideas for this prompt, but pretty much none of them really developed properly in my head. I'm sure if I had a bit more time to let them percolate, I could have come up with a second story to submit... Alas, it is already well past time for me to hit the hay. Good luck to everyone still rushing to finish their story! :)
#38 · 10
I have a confession. My daughter writes another kind of fanfiction, and I've tried to convince her to submit an entry for this week. So I'm not only a pony author, but I'm contagious.
#39 · 5
I wasn't planning:

At all on doing one. But then? Whoosh! There was one! So I submitted it.

#40 · 1

To be a little honest, I procrastinated a wee bit. But, you get no more than twenty-four hours, so, what exactly counts as procrastination?
Eh, anywho, like you said, time to hit the hay. I'm looking forward to reading what others had thought up for the prompt...
#41 · 7
· · >>horizon >>MonarchDodora
I broke up with my girlfriend today. Longest relationship I've ever been in.

I turn to writing instead of the bottle.

I did an experiment. How much could I write in two hours, no planning, no editing. Just story idea, execution, submission, idea, execution, submission.

I got... results.

Hope this doesn't tank my score too bad though. Not my best work.
#42 · 2
It's in there. May the writeoff gods have mercy on my soul.
#43 · 6
Heyla, everyone. Long-time lurker, first-time poster.

I just submitted a story. It is not a very good one, but it is a finished one. It is the first story I have completed in roughly ten years, and, if nothing else, I take an earnest pride in that. Hacking a path through personal anxiety and ego, not to mention generally being able to get out of my own way, are abilities at which I am decidedly imperfect, but, hopefully, my little tale represents a step towards getting better at all three.

For everyone else laboring to finish their work in these last small hours, I say to you:
I wish you all success, by whatever personal rubric you use to measure such things, and I look forward with all chambers of my heart to reading (and commenting upon, even!) what you have written.

Good night, and good luck.
#44 ·
Mama Mia! Here we go again! 25 ideas and all of them flopped thanks to this prompt. Wasn't expecting a normal prompt to win on my end. So had to make up something completely new. Taking forever to write it though.
#45 · 5
· · >>Trick_Question
Alright, I'm not entering this round, but...

Last round, I suggested live readings to people in the Discord chat, and the idea seemed popular-ish.

So, I plan to try the same thing again. I'm going to aim to read some of your fics out-loud in the Discord chat (click the link above) about twelve hours after submissions end here. If you're interested in potentially hearing your fic read aloud by some weird stranger, come hang out around then.

We can also discuss fics and stuff. It might be fun.

Be there or be perfectly circular.
#46 · 1
I submitted! It's crap Yay!
#47 · 4
Well, I got something in. It's probably not up to my usual standards, but considering I crammed it into a frantic hour of writing mid-convention, I'm just happy I'm participating.

Kudos to all the new and returning-after-an-absence authors! Please remember, if it gets ripped apart in feedback, it just means your story needs a little *more* love — we're all writing without a safety net here, and the vast majority of stories benefit from a little refinement after it looks "done".

Sweet stars. D: Good thoughts your way. Breakups are horrible experiences at the best of times.
#48 · 6
· · >>Trick_Question
Huh 750 words exactly on the first draft. I may be getting a little too practiced at these contests.
#49 · 2
Well, I submitted something. Hurray! Bit nervous about the fun and games to follow though...
#50 · 2
Time might heal most wounds, but nothing can soothe the pain you'll get from MY story entries!!
#51 · 2
· on Cryogenics Anonymous
My thoughts about this story, in the order in which they occurred:

1) Hey, there's a story about Cryogenics on my ballot. I considered writing a story about cryogenics, but couldn't think up any good ideas. I should read that story to see what it's like.

2) I am going to have nothing to say about this story, aren't I?

3) Yeah, I really don't have much to say. I think it's pretty good, and there are no glaring problems. It's the type of story that I wouldn't mind seeing more of, but this short bit of it stands alone fairly well too.

4) For some reason, I'm getting a Not_A_Hat vibe from this story. But he apparently didn't submit anything this time, so I'm forced to conclude that NotARock probably wrote it instead.
#52 · 2
· on One Day I Shall See a Bird
One of the four bird stories is on my slate. I think I'll read that one next.

This story just seems empty to me. Nothing happens, the setting is never explained or hinted at much, we know almost nothing about the the characters. It's just empty filler. But considering the content of the story, I can only assume that this was intentional. The formatting is also nonstandard, which is weird and I can't figure out much of a reason for it, but it seems to work.

I'll give you some points for technical excellence, but I don't think you're getting any for enjoyability. So overall, this will probably end up somewhere in the middle of my ballot.
#53 · 1
· on A Beautiful Morning · >>Monokeras
Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945

Welp, I don't know much about history, but I know enough to know how this ends :|

Overall it was okay. I mean, yes, it's sort of a clever twist at the end, but I didn't feel invested enough to care about Naoki.

I think that part of it is the telliness--stopping the story to tell me about the details of Naoki's wounding experience, and his PTSD-like dreams, and the war against America. It might also be how not-unique Naoki feels to me. Naoki really only has a few personality traits, most of which have to do with being a war vet, but others like enjoying the outdoors are sort of generic.

I'm not going to say "dialogue would've engaged me", because I can't say it's exclusive to making me feel more intimately for a character, but it might've helped me, I don't know. I think maybe more personality in the narrative would've helped, since you're already going for 3rd person limited, and at that, personality that doesn't feel generic.

Again, this one was just one I couldn't get into.
#54 · 2
· on Six Candles · >>Trick_Question
It would've threatened to wake little Billiam, if he weren't already outside in the backyard.

Oh. Ohhhhh. :| Two entries in and I've already hit two twist endings. >.>

Great twist, great use of the prompt. But something's keeping me from being engaged, and I don't know why. It might possibly be the first few paragraphs, where it was a bit disorienting and four names were dropped (Maddie, Billiam, Sam, and Billy) and I had to reread the paragraphs to gather my bearings, trying to pick up on Maddie's relationship to those people. It might possibly be the lack of description of the environment and the characters, so I couldn't always quite visualize what was happening. But I don't know. This could be a great story, so please take my feedback with a grain of salt. But for me, personally, it was almost there, but just not quite there.
#55 · 2
· · >>FrontSevens
Perfectly rectangular doesn't imply square. You'd need to be equilateral as well, or have the angles in oppositio—buck why am I like this
#56 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
How about be there or be quadrilateral :v
#57 · 1
· on Six Candles · >>Trick_Question
And now I've found my first actually sad story. I suppose it was only a matter of time.

I'm not always a huge fan of sad stories, but I think that as far as they go, this one is pretty good. The twist was well-executed, and I didn't see it coming until just a few paragraphs before the reveal.

My only real complaint is the name "Billiam." I'm pretty sure that's not really much of a real name, and the internet seems to agree with me. The first page of Google results turns up only one person who is clearly actually named Billiam, and Wolfram Alpha treats it as a mispelling of "William," which was my first thought when I saw it too.
My second thought, when I saw that you continued to call him "Billiam" was that this was set in the future or some other place where naming standards are different. But there's no other evidence to support that theory, so I tossed it out. So I guess that Billiam's parents just wanted to give him a unique name. Okay, fair enough, but why? Are we supposed to imply that his parents wanted him to be a special snowflake when they named him? I guess I can see why you might think that would add to the story, but I think that the name is odd enough to confuse readers for a bit and thus pull them out of the story, which in my opinion at least, more than counteracts that small benefit of the odd name.
Basically, if you had just named him "William," I don't think the story would have lost anything, but it would have improved immersion.
But this is really a rather small point in the grand scheme of things. I think i'm mostly going on about it because I have nothing else to say about this story.

Good job!
#58 · 1
My usual experience:

Maybe this will be 500 words if I pad as I go.

I'm almost done and it's 600 words, no padding needed.

Okay, time to trim—WAT how is it 930 words now‽

These contests are the nightmare realm of stories ranging between 742 and 750 words.
#59 ·
Rectangles are already quadrilateral silly. You'd also need to be equiangular and equilateral. Convex would follow from those, at least.
#60 · 1
· on Long Distance Call · >>PinoyPony
I think this one lacked an emotional punch because it was trying to punch too hard.

On a technical note, the telliness doesn't help. Things like the "sarcastically" in [“Heh… Home Sweet Home…” He remarked sarcastically] and "his voice trailed off" in [“Healed…” His voice trailed off] are unnecessarily telling when they're already showing. The punctuation on dialogue is also incorrect in most places. It might help to look up those rules.

The conversation between Barrett and his dad, mainly the backstory told through it, felt heavy-handed. The best example comes from the line [“She was… she was a good teacher, helping her dyslexic child… ya know, before the… crash,”]. In that sentence, you introduce three new peices of information--that Barrett's mother was a teacher, that Barrett was / is dyslexic, and that Barrett's mother died in a crash. It's a lot of information at once, for one. It's also odd for Barrett to relay to his dad. Doesn't his dad already know that information? It feels like the only reason it was brought up was to inform the audience, and I think there are less overt and clumsy ways of relaying that kind of information. It also doesn't help that there are a few cliched phrases tossed around [Barrett just about had enough. Life went downhill from then on, and it would continue going downhill from then. ] [can you pay your old man a visit, just once?] [After the longest time].

I think it's a case of backstory overload, with lines like [Barrett studied his trembling limbs “Healed long ago… like the rest of my scars.”]. I can certainly tell the characters are feeling things, but the above points make me feel removed from the emotion.
#61 · 2
· on Excerpt From 'A Grimoire: Madness Writ Death'

I almost want to take offense to this story. Though this probably wasn't the author's intention, I get the feeling that it's deliberately trying to confuse someone like me who isn't as well-read or doesn't enjoy reading dry textbooks.

I mean, the problem is that it's well written, so I get the feeling that the author of this entry knows what he/she is doing, but I don't know what's going on. It's so hard for me to follow. The language isn't as clear as it could be, nor is the content. I don't get the significance of the last line, though it's emphasized like it's super significant. While reading, I was actually squinting in trying to focus on this one and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Maybe I'm an idiot. Oh well, joke's on me then. I might have to take a break now.
#62 ·
· on Sgt. Ripper
Not bad, but hard to follow. A squad of time troopers mission goes awry, and they are hunted down as they flee across time and space.

The concept is solid, but very hard to condense to minific length. I had no idea how the mission was supposed to go, so it going awry didn't mean much. Likewise, while I appreciated the creative naming, the other soldiers weren't characterized enough for me to care about their demise.

Some interesting ideas and implications of time looping and erasure. There are also hints of larger world building. I don't recall any grammar or mechanical mistakes.

Overall, I found it to be a clever concept and competent execution, but it never really moved me.
#63 · 1
· on It Does Heal Burns Though
Permission to speak candidly?
I don't get it. It's half story, half meta, and I don't get why those two discuss the prompt. It feels forced, or uncalled for. It's more that: it lacks an introduction, a context, a raison d’être. Beginning in medias res can be apt, but here, in such a short format, it leaves us disconnected from the characters. Besides the dialogue is very abstract (prolly something intended) but sounds glib.
#64 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
Another small question: what do the triangles next to the stories do that appear in the ballot? Is that how I vote? Can I undo clicking on one by accident?
#65 · 1
· on No Pain Without Brain
Interesting read, but there are to many characters in such a cramped space, they feel sorta shoehorned in and I lost track of them. The whole point is a bit shallow, and though the coinage at the end is nice, the whole piece lacks an emotional payoff. I'm not sure what the takeaway is, neither I am sure to understand what all this was about in the first place. It's fair, entertaining because the dialogue are snappy, but it never goes further than that.
#66 ·
· on Second Chance
This plot is too ambitious for a minific: it leaves too much unanswered, and it isn't a complete story. There's no clue given to the reader about why the protagonist was bombed, or who the man is.

I'm not clear on why her sense of hearing is so acute. Being in pain or having injury to the ears doesn't amplify your sense of hearing.
#67 ·
· · >>Leo
You vote by clicking and dragging stories to the top in rank order. If you click the triangle it will place the story in the ranking area at the bottom of the vote count, but that's all it does. You can click "abstain" to remove an accidental vote, but you can only abstain five stories at a time, so the system is imperfect.

Once you've voted on all of the stories, you can click to add another story to your slate if you wish. You can change any of your votes later, except that you can only abstain five stories (so you're forced to rank any of the others you've clicked upon).

EDIT: Wait, if you abstain then un-abstain, it reverts to the "not voted" territory. So you can always undo.
#68 ·
· on Once Upon a Time
I'm torn about this. I like that the implication is that the whole story is a retelling, through several different timelines/perspectives/viewpoints of what's actually happening. And I really like that it focuses on the two brothers. It focuses on them working together on the course of their lifetimes, and now that Billy's hit, James tells the story. In some ways it makes the story cyclical, and encourages re-reads. That's good.

However, I feel like it wasn't effective as it could have been. I liked the call backs to the other symbolism used in the story, but in some places it just felt like a chore to read through. I wasn't really invested in the story. Perhaps it's a sign that it just wasn't for me, but I couldn't get into it.

Certainly not bad. It's well written. Very well written. It just felt on the dry side.
#69 ·
· on Fertile Fields · >>horizon
The story starts out well, but becomes a little telly at the end. I think the prompt drop is where the telliness begins to turn things too much into an author tract. Try to say the same thing with a little more subtlety.
#70 ·
· on In Defense of Death
There's a lot of telling here. But that said, the way you told it was humorous.

While I read this, I felt like I was watching a puppet show, two puppets interacting with each other while a narrator told the story. I like the narration style here. I can tell there was some serious thought put into this.

But, there is a serious problem with telling rather than showing here. In fact, you told me the whole story. There was nothing for me to imagine.

I'm also kinda torn on what we are meant to leave the story with. What's the moral? Is there one? Forgive people eventually? Don't fear death?

An enjoyable story, but I'm not sure what else I can say about it.
#71 ·
· on Pocketful of Time · >>The_Letter_J >>horizon >>TitaniumDragon >>LiseEclaire
This is a perfect fit for the minific format, with a great message and ending.

I think it would be more impactful with foreshadowing. For example, you might try to show that although the girl appears to be energetic, she isn't smiling, even when she laughs. Currently the ending lacks meaning because it isn't clear why the girl needs smiles if she could make them herself.

I think the inner dialogue of the protagonist is a little overdone. I'd put more of the text into observations he makes of the other character.
#72 ·
· on Owl City
“I'm sorry, I got all distracted. I keep thinking about that stupid argument I had with Sarah. I keep going back over it, how I could've handled it differently.”

The story would have more impact if it began with that daydream described to us and transitioned into the conflict, rather than beginning with the conflict, then telling us about the daydream after-the-fact.

The double feghoot at the end seemed very forced, and it just wasn't funny for me. Furthermore, it didn't seem like natural dialogue that could come up in a real conversation. I would have enjoyed the story more if you'd have struck the last line from it entirely: the format of story you chose lends itself to creativity (like poetry does), and that shines through more than your ultimate intent.
#73 · 1
Thank you. That makes sense :)
#74 · 1
· on Khan · >>Ratlab >>Leo
The story is telly with Jane as the author's mouth. It'd be nice if you could inject more show into it. Currently it's a speech disguised as a narrative between two characters, which is an easy way to format a minific but something short of a story with meat.

It was only in part, however.

This was a highly confusing way to say, "there was something else bothering Jane".
#75 ·
· on It Does Heal Burns Though
I think this story is partly silly and partly pretentious, but all in all I think it misses the mark.

First, to get it out of the way, the thoughts are a bit jarring. It would help to format them differently. I've often seen italics used for this, as in [Why does such a short, practiced distance always seem to go so long when occupied with a poignant conversation? his friend thought.]. Otherwise, I don't know it's a thought until the last sentence, because until then it could've been 3d person limited POV.

Second, I think it's important to note that this story is not about the characters so much as the conversation, since that's where the focus is--very little time is spent describing or distinguishing the characters. Is that a good decision? Well, if the conversation is interesting enough, then sure, I suppose.

Now, I'm a fan of silly and ridiculous, and I do like that two college students (perhaps philosophy majors?) are discussing such high-level philosophy. I'm not sure what it's going for, though. If the story is pretentious, well, you lost me. If the point is to be pretentious, then you're close to something great here, I think. I don't know what could make it great, and that's sort of up to the author. Perhaps the contrast could be more clear that a high-level philosophy discussion is being had, amongst a couple of dudes (one of which just broke up with someone), but in this entry the latter isn't clear. Perhaps one character could be the high-level philosopher, and the other is just a dude who's like "yeah, whatever you say, man". Or, he's just a dude who mock-argues for the heck of it. The high-level language they use might be a bit much, maybe. Perhaps that could've been toned down.

Again, that's not my call to make, and I hate to offer ideas and put words in the author's mouth, but as is, it's a good concept that just isn't there for me yet.
#76 · 2
· on Pileup
Vivid descriptions, and the dialog flowed naturally. The subject matter was weighty, but handled intelligently. Length felt right.

The ending was complicated. Nothing really changed, except for maybe Dave's perspective. Still, it was poignant and reflective for the reader.

Overall, this was a strong entry; I'm not sure what I would change to improve it.
#77 ·
· on Innocence
I don't have much to say about this one, since not much happened here.

The ending feels a bit cliched, if I understand the ending correctly: that the mother died and the father has trouble talking about it with his daughter. It's sort of a cliched idea with a cliched execution. It's not poorly written, but there's just not a lot of things it does with the idea. Feels pretty standard.
#78 · 2
· on The Faintest Smile · >>Icenrose
Brian seems just a little too callous at the end. His last two statements are so provocative, they aren't things I can imagine someone saying here without a larger confrontation resulting.

I'm also not sold on why he acts this way. If you're trying to portray Brian as stupid, hit that harder earlier with more foreshadowing (he seems clueless, but not stupid or senseless). If you're trying to portray him as entirely heartless, he shouldn't be shown caring so much about the protagonist in the places where he clearly does (his shame at the faux pas, his insistence on getting the protagonist out for his own good).
#79 ·
· on Second Chance · >>Murmurpunk
Well, the story fits the prompt, is well written and intriguing, but doesn't finish what it started. Would be an interesting intro to a larger story, but falls down by itself. That's going to get called on a lot, so I'll try to look beyond it.

I don't get much of a sense of character; we never even learn any names. Also, I'm not sure if her hearing is some sort of super power? Maybe part of why she got in trouble in the first place?

The writing was vivid. Although the sounds might have been overdone, they did at least set the environment, though we don't get much visual description of anything but the man. Also, you had a big block of paragraphs that all started with either 'he' or 'her.' Nitpicky, I know. The writing was good, and would be a strong intro for anything to follow.
#80 · 1
· on Time, Talent, Treasure
So this is a fairy tale in which I'm not entirely sure what happened.

I'm not sure whether it was the language that was confusing, that not enough plain language was used for me to understand, or the inherent vagueness of some of the words used (does treasure mean gold? jewels? something else?). I don't know the significance of the star crown in their eyes. I don't get how the prince gets his treasure and what the significance of his methods were. And I think that the grandfather is actually the fairy prince, but I don't get the significance of that if that's true. And I don't get the ending in general. Usually fairy tales have a moral, and though I feel like there was one here, it wasn't clear to me because of the things I mentioned above.

So all in all, not all that engaging for me.
#81 · 1
· on Trimmed
Another fairy-tale-type story. This one might be an analogy for climate change here on Earth? I dunno.

This one feels pretty general and vague. Perhaps if I knew what this was an analogy for, then I'd be able to follow it, but I don't understand what the sun means or the branches mean. And since that's all this story really is, that's all I really have to say about it.

Also, was there prompt relevance in this one? I don't dock stories for it, personally, but sometimes I wonder.
#82 ·
· on Precision · >>The_Letter_J
I was a bit lost in the technobabble, and in the story. I think the end was trying to tie the story all together, but it didn't, for me.

I'm not sure what the relevance of the beginning quote is to the rest of the story. Most of the story is spent explaining how precise this strike system is, to reveal it was off slightly. And then Amir is at the end, to show the consequences of the system being off slightly. I don't understand how it all ties together.

So I don't have any feelings for this story, either. I guess I feel bad for Amir, but that's about it. It wasn't all that engaging for me. The technobabble definitely didn't help, although I know that's a taste thing.
#83 · 3
· on The Faintest Smile · >>Leo >>Icenrose
I'm not a fan of present tense, but I'll try to ignore it. Body language was good, I liked the detail with the ring - you did a good job of alluding to things and letting the reader fit them together. Another winner was the 'watch spring wound too tight'.

The 'who's birthday' strikes me as a little odd, since she's at the root of an issue that has apparently been going on for a year. While it didn't blow me away, it was a solid piece.
#84 · 1
· on The Spoils of War · >>Flutterpriest
Except for “it’s” instead of “its”, the English is perfect. Characterisation is strong throughout, the characters have as much depth as such a format allows. The story is simple, yet efficient, and the end is… well, divisive.
On the one hand, we feel disgusted by Dave Wand's reaction. On the other hand, if everyone reacts like him… then the future of the guy as a peddler is doomed…

Good job anyway, right stop my slate right now.
#85 · 3
· on Waiting: The Simple Solution to All Problems · >>Icenrose >>The_Letter_J
I enjoyed this one. Thank you. :>

I like the slow progression from a (funny) bogus sales pitch to becoming personal. It is a bit overplayed, but I love the concept and the execution is great.

Minor note: What's the F for in EWTBPSFI? Also, when the acronym is first introduced, it's [Estimated Wait Time Before Problem Solves Itself (EWTBPSFI Rating)] when it probably should be [Estimated Wait Time Before Problem Solves Itself (EWTBPSFI) Rating]. They're minor notes but they did trip me up.
#86 ·
· on The Fox in the Backyard
I have some trouble with the narrative voice. It meanders too much between human perspective and fox perspective, and it's too telly in places. Try telling the same story without using words like "skyscraper" and without speaking outside of the fox experience.

The romance between the two foxes (I presume the initial one was a reynard/tod) seemed abrupt and out of place among the rest of the story, probably because it started to get actually story-like before retreating to the original voicing.

I think the story would be better as a series of vignettes from different fox lives, and let the reader piece together the clues.
#87 · 2
· on The Fox in the Backyard · >>Trick_Question
Eh, well all right then.

So the humans came and caused problems for the foxes, and then the humans wiped themselves out, and then the foxes had no more problems. Okedoke. It's not much more than that, though.

The story spends less words on the fox story and more about the big picture, which makes the story a little less intimate and a little more heavy-handed. Also, I'm sensing a pattern--fairy-tale type stories and climate change >.> Which is to say, this story doesn't feel unique in that regard.

I like some of the little details [But then, men had come who talked to each other in loud voices] but the focus seemed to waver too much between little details and the big picture.
#88 ·
· on Time, Talent, Treasure
...each wearing a crown of stars that could only be seen reflected in their pale, crystalline eyes.

That's poetic, but a little confusing. You can't see someone's reflection in their own eyes, so it couldn't be a crown. Unless you mean that if another fairie was standing near the original fairie, you could see the crown of the other fairie by looking in his neighbor's eyes? But that seems too complicated. I think you mean "holding a ring of stars" or something like that.

I don't understand the ending of the Scheherazade at all. The fairie-turned human is forced into the human lands, for some reason tries not to be noticed, fails at this (so people notice him), then "his efforts were forgotten" means what exactly? People forgot that the strange man was trying not to be noticed? And why did the bard have the treasure from the well, if faeries did not interact with men, being from magically separate worlds?

I don't find the ending of the main story to be impactful, because there isn't any foreshadowing to support the idea that the former-fairie gained a human family.

The brief tension between the mother and grandfather should be expanded upon or dropped. Who tells their father to stop telling stories to their child, and why does she disbelieve? We don't see enough of the mother to get a sense of the conflict.

I realize this is a lot of critique, but I think a story this detailed was very ambitious for a minific.
#89 ·
· on The Fox in the Backyard · >>Leo
I agree with you about the ham-hoofedness of the message. The idea that humans are inconsequential is an important and well-told element of the story, but the story seems in places also to be pushing the idea that humans make things worse for foxes, while providing ample evidence to the contrary.

Foxes have hard lives with humans. Without humans, they have different hard lives.
#90 · 2
· on Fertile Fields · >>The_Letter_J >>Leo
There is some slight awkwardness in the language, but nothing really painful. Just itches from here to there. Labell is not a French name, not without the final e (Labelle), nor was/is Gerald a common French First Name, especially at the turn of the 20th century.

Vineyards where the action is located (WW1) are mandatorily Champagne, and I'm not sure the whole story fits in with this inescapable framework. In any case, all that the story says is plain wrong. Where the earth was barren cereals and beet now grow anew.

The way you depict the dialogue is very – how to say? – unworldly. I can assure you that the few facts I know about life in the trenches during WW1 do not really point towards such peace and ease-of-mind. Try to dredge some images on the Internet, and I think you'll figure out what I mean.

Fairly written, but highly unrealistic.
#91 · 2
· on Longer Knives · >>billymorph >>Leo >>The_Letter_J
interesting perspective arc for the reader, where we go from the protagonist starting out sympathetic in the beginning, to getting his just desserts in the end.

One nitpick (and I could be wrong); from what I understand, Nazi persecution was on a racial, not religious basis. They were equally ruthless in going after Jews who had changed religions, so I don't know that he would have couched it to the reporter in the terms he did.

Some irony in the 'respiration expert's daughter having asthma. Intentional?

I'm not sure if the aside of Thulke 'forgetting certain things' helps or hurts overall. It sets up some tension, but also kills the surprise. 'Ocular void' was a strange phrase. At first I thought it was a weird way of saying he was blind, on reflection, I'm guessing he may have lost his eyes?. Regardless, it couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow.
#92 · 1
· on In Defense of Death · >>MrNumbers
There are interesting ideas here, but the execution is pure telliness.

For example, the voice doesn't describe Life's advances; the voice merely tells us they happened. The voice doesn't show us Death's pride taking a blow, we're simply told "Death's took quite a blow".

You can't take the easy way out and tell the audience what you want them to think and feel; that isn't proper fiction. Your narrative voice tells us what to think and feel from the outset: simply read the first two lines, where we're told that a statement is false, stupid, dangerous, and sexist. Those opinions are forced on the reader. You're not trusting the reader to decide things. The reader isn't engaged.

The only time this kind of writing is acceptable is if the voice is developed as a character, but we have no idea who is speaking to us or how they know what they know.

Show-don't-tell is the hardest thing to learn in writing, and it's one of the most important things. The trick is to paint a picture with words that will lead the reader to come to the conclusions you want them to. Don't tell me someone is powerful; describe how they look or what they do in a way that conveys that feeling to the reader. It's an art you should push yourself to focus because you have some really neat ideas but they're all displayed in the vulgar.
#93 · 1
· on The Faintest Smile · >>Aragon >>Icenrose
I mainly agree with both the previous reviewers. The dialogue is solid and the characters clear cut. Brian's retort is curt, but contrarily to Trick, I agree that in those situations bluntness is sometimes the best of remedies.

I am more dubious on the need you had to make the deceased woman a military. There are thousand reasons why someone can die outside being a soldier, so plumping for that particular possibility gives a characteristic tang to your story.

Not aiming for the stars, but competent nevertheless.
#94 · 2
· on Pileup · >>Leo >>horizon
It's very hard for me to buy into Dave's degree of naivete. Police don't prevent traffic accidents, unless they're traffic cops, and in that case they do so in a very indirect manner that seems more like they're harassing people than protecting. The nausea makes perfect sense, but it doesn't make any sense that he feels responsible for the accident. People don't become cops to prevent traffic accidents, they become advocates.

Dave and the other cop play no role in the story when they should be working. They should be assisting with covering up and blocking the area so other motorists don't have to see the wreck. Instead, they just sit and watch. Some of this is okay because Dave is sick, but there should be something for them to do, and the other cop should assist Dave more.

I could buy Dave being nauseous and having a hard time coming to grips with the scene, but you need to establish Dave as a rookie cop with more foreshadowing or descriptions. It could be something as simple and cliche as his partner mentioning it being his first day on the force. His partner seems unusually callous, which I know is the point, but it's a little much. After vomiting in hot weather, Dave needs immediate assistance (hydration) or he'll die from heat stroke. The paramedics would have offered to help him. I can see them joking, but it would be better to show us the dialogue than leave it to our imaginations, because they also come off as being more callous than realistic (even though I do buy that part of it). The paramedics should also be working to cover the carnage.

In general, I think you should tone things down and strive for more subtlety. Just for an odd example, the word "boiled" is much too severe of an exaggeration. I understand the narrative voice is through Dave's lens, but he isn't watching something bubble and boil on the asphalt at that temperature.
#95 · 1
· on Once Upon a Time · >>Leo
I was confused while reading this, and the ending did not completely satisfy that confusion. The way the last two sections are blended together doesn't fit the idea that the initial narratives were stories being told to Billy after the gas attack. It also makes little sense that one of the stories he'd tell would be about a gas attack he failed to get his mask on in time considering that was the horror he'd just endured.

My best guess is that the end of the story begins it, and you didn't include a section break before that point in order to bring things around full-circle. But it needs to be clearer.

Some minor points on the initial vignette:

The phrase "inches away" isn't clear: inches from James face? From his fist, to which it was being compared? From the flower?

The phrase "bobbing like a boxer around a rose bloom" unfortunately comes off as a dangling participle; boxers don't bob around rose blooms.

I've never heard of "shaking teeth" before. You might have meant "chattering", but that makes no sense in context.

Wasps don't come in fist-sized varieties (hornets almost do), and it's not immediately clear that the first story lies in a fantasy setting. I think it would help if there were more exaggeration up front. I don't think non-solitary wasps feed on nectar, certainly not large ones. The bones making up the nest are ominous, and I'm left feeling like there's more context I need in order to understand what this vignette is about. Why were they doing it? Were they just doing it for the thrill? It really isn't clear until the end of the story, so I think putting some motivation in for the characters would help the flow.
#96 · 1
· on In My Head
Well, this one is noble in the message it's trying to convey, but I'm not so sure it works.

All the concepts and ideas here are literal. The upside is that your analogy is clear. The downside is that it doesn't feel imaginative. It feels like a full analogy and less of a story. For me, it wasn't entertaining. It doesn't help that he speaks in an... archaic way, if that's the right word for it [I know their names well, for it was I who fastened them about my feet.] [Instead, it is in the hands of one named Time.].

A couple of things in this analogy made me scratch my head. Like this statement [I saw the signs you silently showed me. I heard you crying, I saw your depression, but I did nothing.] is not quite true, because his sister wasn't shown until after he had the chance to pick up Opportunity. Also, doesn't Distrust pretty much mirror what Doubt said? Also, I'm not sure where Joy came in. Death killing Joy--is that a metaphor for the realization of the inevitability of death killing joy? If not, what is its purpose, because it doesn't seem to tie in to the sister's plight. There may be more odd things about it, too, but those are the first that I could think of. I don't know at the moment what a more accurate analogy would look like.

I mean, if you don't stop to think about it, it's a pretty good analogy, but I can't help it could've used some ironing out. Perhaps the 24-hour time limit didn't help.
#97 ·
· on Sunny Side Up · >>Cassius
A chorus of screams suggests multiple children dying, which is clearly not what the story is about; that ambiguity muddies the picture you're trying to send.

I cannot imagine a dissociative fugue coming and going this quickly. It just doesn't happen like this. You can't forget your child is dead for the entire duration of the woman's actions unless there are other forces at work psychologically, like medication. You need to invoke something like that in order for the story to be realistic, I feel.

You might be tugging on the reader's Lyra a bit too explicitly at the end, and the last line especially is over the top.

I wasn't certain if you were trying to connect the racecar with the way the child died—I think that should be clearer one way or the other.
#98 · 2
· on In Defense of Death · >>FrontSevens >>The_Letter_J
I gotta say, I didn't like it that much either, sorry author, but in their hypothetical defense I think you've kind of missed the point just a little.

Unreliable narrator seem to be the key words here. Because the voice was a character, they just didn't bother to introduce themselves. Because they let their tone convey that character for us.

Show-don't-tell is important from the author's perspective, but this is obviously from the point of view of a third party. The conversational tone, almost casual campground-tale style of telling, is the key indicator here.
#99 · 3
· on In Defense of Death · >>Trick_Question
but in their hypothetical defense

So you're in defense of In Defense of Death?

I know, a low-hanging fruit, but how could you not :v
#100 · 2
I should put out a disclaimer here for anypony who sees it:

Degree of criticism in my responses is not generally a bellwether for how I ranked a story. Heavy criticism of approach probably indicates some docking of rank, but ultimately it's the story that interests me, and I'm often more critical of stories that I see have more potential.

tl;dr plz no hate wuffiez