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Here at the End of all Things. · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
#301 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Make that two reviews. Two reviews for each story. Rejoice!
#302 · 3
· on Yesterday's Diamonds · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I’m impressed with Rich pulling some actual parenting duty here. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Filthy Rich. He’s not a bad guy (even in his Legends of Everfree appearance), but he’s raised a brat and that’s nigh-on unexcusable. However much of that his him versus his wife is up for debate, of course.

Yesterday’s diamonds were yesterday’s Diamond’s.

Cheeky monkey :P

Didn’t her father love her anymore?

And here we see the issue with spoiling children. It’s not at all unthinkable that one will start to equate being showered with material things with being loved, and the withdrawal of those things as being unloved. This is a great little glimpse into DT’s psyche, and her historical relationship with her family.

She had never heard her name in such a gentle voice before. It made her want to be on her best behavior.

Goddamn, another brilliant little line that says so much about her family dynamics in so few words.

So, in whole, we get a total arc for helping DT not be as huge of a selfish bitch, a little Luna screentime (with dangling mystery!), and a little bow tucked on the Rosehip relationship.

Spoiled is still a huge bitch though. 10/10.
#303 · 2
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
I think I have one more slate story to go, then it's time to start bringing up the average. :rainbowdetermined:
#304 · 1
· on Beyond Deity
Genre: Starlight Glimmer (Nearly) Ruins Everything

Thoughts: I enjoyed this as a character study of the Mane 6+3+Discord, and for its emotionally evocative pseudo-science-y imagery. I thought Fluttershy's casting was poignant, but it left Discord's as an out-of-left-field surprise.

The ending didn't do much for me. It's probably mostly a personal preference, but I felt that building to a "heaven" of sorts undercut the rest of the story's theme of working towards rebirth. Even though it's kind of an egg-carton heaven from which the rebirth might still happen. I dunno.

Tier: Strong
#305 · 2
· on Lily's Letter · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Trick_Question >>Miller Minus
Did not see that coming, boy howdy. What a reveal.

I feel a little uncomfortable with our nameless narrator, because I used to have similar opinions about the overly well-dressed/wealthy kids/etc. Seeing those opinions linger into adulthood and make somepony so bitter is a little peak into what could have been for me, so congrats on hitting that nail on the head, intended or not.

We get this nice contrast between Jack and Lily. While he held onto his youthful bitterness and hasn't done much of anything noteworthy or met anyone worth really caring about, Lily apparently let go of her ruffian ways. Whether this happened before or because of Fancy Pants is an interesting question, but regardless she seems to have fallen in love and made a genuine connection with someone.

Thinking about it again, her knowing that the throne was already moved is a great bit of foreshadowing about why she was already in the castle.

>>Trick_Question
>>Zaid Val'Roa
I hated how they stared down at me, their squinting eyes throwing words like 'rabble' down their noses in an attempt to make me feel small. And most of all, I hated that it worked every time.

I think this answers the question of why he hates the nobles so much. They flaunt their class around in an effort to the narrator feel like garbage. He hates them, and probably himself a little, because it works so well. Marriage has, historically, been about building and handing down wealth and assets, so it's not unreasonable to link his distaste of marriage to his hatred of nobles.

Now, whether or not anypony actually called him names or belittle him is up for a little debate, I think. In the example above he's interpreting their looks as disdain, but never really gives examples of any direct action against him. And again at the end with the guards: they're never anything but polite, but he reads their looks as insults.
#306 ·
· on Moving On
I'll go ahead and add my voice to the chorus saying that this is well done for what it is, but there are ways you could make it more interesting. We've all read this story dozens of times, and while there's nothing wrong with that (and it's seasonally appropriate), it does mean you have to do a bit more to stand out from the pack, and you haven't really done that.

Still, for what it is, it's solid. You can take pride in that.
#307 ·
· on Santa Bring Me A Dinosaur
Genre: Immortality Blue( fillie)s

Thoughts: What a strange but interesting ride. I'll echo >>regidar's call for more Thanatos-Santa friendshipping, though; I think their shared moments were some of the best here. Bonus points for trolly Discord!

I think >>Trick_Question makes some good points about Santa's relatability. At risk of being overly prescriptive, I feel that the story could go a long way toward solving the relatability issue by just answering "no" to Santa's question about whether ponies still remember him. Right now that coupled with his complaining almost drowns out the story's attempts to convey the very tangible reality that Santa is dying/fading away/having the life choked out of him. Vivid opening there, BTW, but right now it isn't quite establishing him strongly enough.

Tier: Almost There
#308 ·
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Genre: Salad Fork

Thoughts: Holy dang! This is top-flight material that I would gladly put at the top of my slate if it wasn’t for this huge ginormous but about the ending. IMO it’s like the story cuts off at the climax without giving us the resolution. Like this is wonderfully crafted but there’s a really big part missing. And I don’t think this is just me quibbling about liking the ending or not; it simply doesn’t resolve in its current version. That’s a shame, because this would deserve top marks with more of a resolution.

Tier: Almost There
#309 · 1
· on Paint It Black
Unfortunately, I need to agree with a lot of the above thoughts. While this story is fine, it's not really funny, and a lot of what it does has been done a million times before.

I'd highly recommend reading Barnyard Barge-ins which is the same concept done with a lot more flair. A story like this can work well, but you need to add something over the basic formula, and right now that's not there.
#310 · 1
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Xepher >>Dubs_Rewatcher
There's a lot to like about this story. It's a neat premise at the high level, and I enjoy Rarity as the framing device. Unfortunately, it also has one big issue that means it's going to end up pretty low on my slate.

Luna isn't worthy of respect, she is selfish, and honestly, she's kind of dumb.

That inof itself isn't a crippling flaw if, if, the story is about Rarity coming to terms with that fact. If this is Rarity's journey to realizing that Luna isn't all that, then that can work well. But as is, Rarity doesn't seem moved by this realization, and Luna learns nothing. As a result, neither character gets to experience any growth. All we get is insight into the mind of a character who really isn't all that likable. So from the perspective of the reader, nothing happens.
#311 · 1
· on Twilight Under the Bodhi Tree
I'll start by saying that, had you managed to give a more rounded narrative, you would've gotten one of the top spots of my voting. Hell, just a well-rounded conclusion would have satisfied me. That's how much I liked this story. You have a solid foundation here, but I feel it trips within a few strides of the finishing line. It's not as though I think you need to spell out everything about what happened to Twi (still, a few extra details would be appreciated) but we never get closure on Glitter's arc. What is going to happen to her relationship with her mother?

I think you have something great here, and with just a few rounds of editing and expansion, it could be amazing.
#312 · 1
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace
Well, this is shooting right up to the top of my slate.

I grumbled a bit on (The Flesh Is) Weak that it didn't really seem tragic to me. This is a better example. It really sucks for the conspirators (great word to end your first sentence with, by the way, immediately hooks the reader) that they chose the wrong person to be loyal to, but they made that choice and stuck with it too long, and it got two of them killed and the other two arrested (or possibly one and three, depending on what actually happened to Lazulite).

There's a nice bit of doublethink from Compass regarding Shining and Cadance — he thinks of them as the "usurper prince and princess", perhaps forgetting that Sombra was a usurper himself (at least, going by the snippets of history presented here).

I'm with the other commenters in feeling that getting to know the characters a bit more might have been good, but I can see how you might not have been able to fit it into this draft, you're up against the wordcount limit as is. Something to expand for later, maybe.
#313 · 1
· on Lily's Letter · >>Miller Minus
It took me awhile to figure out how to review this story. I'm still not sure what I think of it overall, but I do have some specific points.

From a technical perspective, there are a few grammatical and formatting errors. None of them are severe, but they did keep throwing me off. Nobles should not be uppercase.

I feel it would benefit from more insight into the protagonists point of view. While I respect the minimalist style (in fact, the style of this story is one of its best points for me), I didn't feel we had quite enough to actually understand where he's coming from. I think you can add more detail without changing the story's light construction. For instance, the exchange where Lilly observes that he has "no real friends," was excellent -- you nailed that, and it says a lot with a few words. But the line where the protagonist says "All nobles are the same!" felt weak. I don't feel his hate or understand why he feels that way.

Overall, points for an engaging style and a neat idea, but the execution needs polish.
#314 · 1
· on Lily's Letter
>>Rao
For something as big as Protagonist's distaste for nobility, I think its something that should be more strongly reinforced through the narrative than just a few mentions spread here and there. MC's main issue with Lily's wedding is not so much that she's getting married (although yeah, that too), but that she's getting married to a noble. I want to know what happened to get the protagonist to feel that way. They were reminiscing about old times, why not include a few examples of times the nobles were dicks to them? That way it'd be easier to sympathise with MC's point of view.
#315 · 1
· on No Spring Chicken · >>Bachiavellian
I like the premise of this story, and many parts of the execution are solid, but when I actually read through it, it felt a bit paint-by-numbers. What's here is done well, and I like the portrayal of RD and AJ, but this isn't anything I haven't seen before. More detail would help to bring it to life, or to help us understand why the characters aged the way they did.

I think this will end up solidly in the middle of my slate: well executed, unobjectionable, but it didn't blow me away.
#316 · 1
· on Could-Have-Been · >>Winston
While at the micro-level this story does some things right, it's ultimately just too short. Rainbow shows up, gets the ashes, scatters them, feels sad, and... that's it. What there is is fine, but there's so little it barely qualifies as a story. I get the impression that the author knows how to put a scene together, so I'd love to see them write something longer, but this will go near the bottom of my slate.
#317 · 6
· on Monsters · >>Lamplighter >>ToXikyogHurt >>Baal Bunny >>regidar >>Cassius
Rating: Take it elsewhere.

Automatic bottom of the slate.
#318 · 2
· on Twilight Under the Bodhi Tree
Toying with the non-linear scene arrangement is cool. My only structural complaint is that in the first scene with (sane) Twilight and Glitter, it takes a bit too long to really establish who the second character is.

That said, while this really pushes almost all of my buttons just the right way, I feel like I'm missing any sort of real narrative payoff here. Twi's fried from doing a thing, Glitter almost ran off once because dealing with Alzhiemer's/disabled family is goddamned hard (I get that all too well), and then Celestia shows up and they have a chat. I guess I'm confused about what overarching problem we're supposed to be following and ultimately seeing (having seen?) the resolution for. All of the pieces are great, but I feel like there's a scene or two missing to really complete the full story.
#319 ·
· on Entropy · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Bachiavellian >>zaponator
"Only one regret," she uttered calmly. "In all my eons of life, I've known so many ponies. I've had friends beyond even my ability to count. But..." She paused, briefly. "But my best friends. My first true friends... I can't remember them."


And yet she remembers Trixie and Starlight?

There is a ton of potential in this story. I love the premise entirely, and the early setup is highly effective. But when we meet Future!Twilight, it all falls apart. She just doesn't feel ancient, her world doesn't feel unaccountably old, and the entire interaction with her has little plot holes (like the above) that rob it of any sense of majesty.

With heavy editing, this story could be an amazing classic. As is though, it's going near the middle of my slate.
#320 · 3
· on The Dressmaker's Lament · >>Morning Sun
My impression for most of it was, "oh it's the 'I can't think of what to write' cliche, but with a twist. How neat," and then it turns out there's an actual ending and a plot and some self reflection! Pleasantly surprised.

Good use of the first person to keep things engaging and the emotional pacing up. The slow, yet frantic, reveal of information worked extraordinarily well, I think.
#321 · 4
· on The Crystal Uprising · >>The Power Wolf
Formatting note: When writing online, you usually want a blank line between each paragraph to make it more readable. My eyes glazed over a bit looking at that wall of text.

In addition to agreeing with most of >>2Merr and >>Zaid Val'Roa , I've got some notes of my own.

This story seems like it ends too early. We get the canon-imposed deus ex machina and then... nothing. Literally nothing. Since it seems Scarlet survives, a scene after he regains consciousness and can react to the victory would be good. (If you meant for him to die, that would be fine, but then say he dies, don't say he loses consciousness.)

Regarding characterization, I'll add that not only do your characters not feel consistent (and it throws me for a bit of a loop whenever I see ponies using real-world swears like "damn", especially when they're mixed with ponified swears like "buck"), many of the details we get about them feel like they're only present because you think they have to be but couldn't find a more organic way to integrate them into the narrative. The most obvious example is that Midnight is mentioned as being trans, but this has literally no bearing on the story — so why have it?

Appearance descriptions can be worked in more smoothly, too: something like "Scarlet recognized the navy-blue form of Midnight Star standing atop the pile of corpses" is not only cleaner integration, but suggests that Scarlet recognized Midnight because he saw the color of his coat, which gives the detail a reason to be there instead of just adding words.

There's certainly the potential for a good story here, but it'll take some work to draw it out.
#322 · 2
· on Lily's Letter
>>Rao
I think this answers the question of why he hates the nobles so much. They flaunt their class around in an effort to the narrator feel like garbage.


It doesn't do that for me, primarily because it isn't an objective statement—it's the narrator's impression. I'd expect the narrator to see nobles that way regardless as to how they're actually treated, because they hate nobility. Without a concrete example it's just a reinforcement of the hatred.
#323 · 1
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Pascoite
>>Pascoite
You should! :twilightsmile: Tartarus, even I read Writeoff entries when I'm a participant, and reading for me is like pulling primaries.
#324 ·
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>TrumpetofDoom
Probably the strongest part of the story for me was the voicing, which fit the kind of understated tragedy theme.

I'm not sure about the (parentheses) sections, though. They do sort of go with the narrative style, but I also found myself distracted by wondering who was saying them. Fluttershy?

Good use of detail. Generally sparse, but such that the details used stood out more (teeth, smell).

The characterization seemed solid enough; at least nothing jumped out at me from it.

Plot was relatively straightforward; no big twists or turns, but it does a good job exploring the situation. That said, it's not flawless - >>TrumpetofDoom already pointed out the danger of assuming mortality to Twilight, but this particular problem also seems to stem more from reproduction than affection, and given that they're both mares... 

Flaws aside, it got the job done, and gave me the feels - a minor case of sad, to be precise.
#325 · 6
· on Monsters · >>GaPJaxie
This wasn't even one of the stories on my set list, but after spotting >>GaPJaxie(An author I've read and respected for years now) give such a cold, two line reaction and instant rejection of this story, I just had to see what it could possibly be about, to garner such a reaction.

Having read it, I guess I can sort of understand the knee-jerkiness of the reaction. But I can't say that I agree with it. Not even a few months ago I had given a heated rebuttal to something of a similar reaction a fan had left on a story I was reading. Not the same kind of situation as here, simply similar in that the angry comenter was upset for what I thought of as a silly reason was all. Instead of judging a work of writing on its merits or style, they chose instead to get angry about the direction the narrative took. It didn't agree with their head canon you see. And so, they became vary rude about it.

Now I'm not saying that this is anything like the same thing here, it's just that it seemed similar to me. Instead of looking at the work as a piece of writing about a super heavy and uncomfortable subject, like pedophilia. GaP Jaxie, you seem to have looked at the idea the story set up (icky as it is) and judged the work on how you felt about that subject, instead of the skill of it as a work. If you find you can't judge this without letting those feelings cloud your opinion, perhaps you should take >>horizon's advice and simple abstain from voting on it.

And now I am going to go hide myself and hope you won't think too much less of me for disagreeing with you on a matter that you seem to feel so strongly on. As I said before, I really am a huge fan.
#326 · 1
· on Twilight Under the Bodhi Tree
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZlDTd0a_Yl49DmAHES3Me9BVNljj4ROd/view?usp=sharing
#327 · 1
· on Beyond Deity
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c4Bw3nOrRbIDbbyX9Jbm8C2VNQafIyyB/view?usp=sharing
#328 · 1
· on Another Lifetime
I generally agree with the other critics, but just to summarise; the second half felt like a different story to the first half, with the two ideas mashed together. I was expecting something more in the way of a magical ascension, in accordance with the show. Perhaps having a better established sci-fi theme in the first half would help join the two concepts together.

This was an emotional ride which absolutely got me invested. It's just the ending feeling like it came out of left field!
#329 · 3
· on Yesterday's Diamonds
Really good piece here, very well structured in its three acts. I especially enjoyed the second one: the mood, the world-building, and Luna's role as dream-teacher.

The only thing that felt a bit off is Rosehip. Not her frankness as >>CoffeeMinion pointed out, but the fact that she suddenly became the focus of the third act. I get that everyone only see her as the family's maid, more like a servant, so going unnoticed may actually be the point. But as the readers we don't see why Diamond Tiara should have such a meaningful interaction with her, instead of a reconciliation with her father.
We get a bit of motivation with the scratches from the broken glass, and the desire to apologize. You could stress this part and introduce it earlier. Make Diamond Tiara mistreat Rosehip and then regret it. Or maybe give a deeper connection between Rosehip and the grandmother's tiara.

Anyway, I'm probably nitpicking, and this entry definitely belongs to the upper tier.
#330 · 3
· on The Bonds You Choose, and Those You Leave Behind · >>AndrewRogue
An OctaScratch entry, let's see what it has in store.
*Reading done*
*Heavy sigh*

Okay, so, all the tropes for an OctaScratch fic are there:
- Noble ponies are dickheads? Check
- The Gala damaged Octavia's reputation? Check
- There is not a single pony that side with Octavia? Check
- Glorious lesbian scene? Again, check.

That doesn't make the story bad per se, especially since you have a solid prose and a great pace, but it still makes it unoriginal. There is nothing new here to bring a new light on their relationship, or the way it is described.

And that makes it hard for me to rank it, because on one hand, the unoriginality feels like you took a straightforward shortcut to please readers, but on the other hand, the writing, as mentionned by others, is fucking great (the beginning of the last scene worked so well for me). So I'm left wondering how this two can coexist, and my guess is that it's the first time you're trying to write this ship.

Even with that in mind, I don't know.
I'll probably rank it pretty high, because I believe the first half should be ranked based on writing skills, and only the very top should be sorted according to taste.

And this is not Andrew's.
#331 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Trick_Question
>>Trick_Question
Nah, I don't have time for that. I'd have competing goals anyway. I'd rather read the stuff that has the fewest reviews in the name of fairness, but for the purposes of judging, it's more useful overall if I read my voting slate, but I wouldn't read enough to get to every story on it. So it feels like I'm doing something wrong either way.
#332 ·
· on Monsters · >>GaPJaxie
>>GaPJaxie
Interesting to see such a closely aligned opinion.

Perhaps sadly, second to bottom for me. This is a story I don't want to read, and it's not well told. Bottom went to a piece where the author didn't really get around to telling me a story at all. But I'd happily work with them on what they had, to help turn their outline into something. I just don't know what to do with this.
#333 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Pascoite
>>Pascoite
I don't think it's right to vote on stories you haven't read.
#334 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Trick_Question
>>Trick_Question
Well no, I didn't mean that. On the one hand, going off on my own and reading stories that need reviews doesn't get me to where I can submit a ballot. But if I do stick to my ballot, I'm not going to get to them all, so I'm only voting a partial ballot anyway, and some of those stories have plenty of reviews.
#335 · 1
· on Could-Have-Been · >>Winston
Genre: Rainbow Dash Flies East West

Thoughts: I felt like this was well-constructed and a bit poignant, though its poignancy was blunted by the conclusion being delivered in summary rather than letting us see it unfold. I feel the Author could likely spin a great yarn out of the train trip and flight that we didn't get to see. It's fundamentally more engaging for the audience to be able to see and/or experience significant events like those; whereas the moment with Twilight isn't significant in itself, IMO.

But the pieces that are here do well.

Tier: Almost There
#336 · 1
· on Special Delivery
>>MLPmatthewl419
>>Trick_Question
I did a 4 month internship this summer with, among others, a British guy.
#337 · 5
· on Monsters · >>GaPJaxie
>>GaPJaxie

And yet, just 4 Writeoffs ago, you explained to us all that the story you'd written had Rainbow Dash commit a rape and then feel no remorse for it. How then is a story where she doesn't commit a rape and has devoted herself to not committing it somehow worse?

And yes, this story has problems. >>ToXikyogHurt points out some, and I'll point out that the very existence of Cadance kind of calls the whole premise of the story into question. Couldn't the Princess of Love somehow magic Rainbow's brain so she doesn't feel sexual attraction for Scootaloo any more?

So that's my suggestion, author. If you want to do something with this, have Rainbow's session at the end be with Cadance after Cadance has had her first session magicking Scootaloo's brain. Maybe make it so they have to meet ever two months or something to renew the spell, but since she's there in the Pony universe, bring her into the whole thing.

Mike
#338 · 7
· on Monsters · >>Lamplighter >>Baal Bunny
>>Lamplighter
>>ToXikyogHurt
>>Baal Bunny

I should be fair -- it is entirely possible the author of this story was trying to do a serious, dramatic depiction of someone struggling with dark urges they can't control. That's an entirely legitimate genre of literature, which contains many compelling stories.

But if that was their goal, they failed. Entirely.

They failed for a lot of reasons. One is humor -- like the over the top balloon trap Scootaloo put together, or the farcical dialogue in the first scene. Or, hell, the entire premise of the story. That Scoots tries to rape RD only for it to turn out that RD secretly wants it! Humor does not belong in a story like this because the subject matter is not funny.

Second is context. Where is Cadence to un-break Rainbow Dash's brain? Where is her fear of the law? Why doesn't she more seriously consider leaving town, or having scoots sent away? Yes, as Baal Bunny pointed out, I wrote Familiar, which is meant to be interpreted as being about rape. But 2/3s of that goddam story is explaining why Rainbow was raised by her society to consider that acceptable in context, and when she realizes that it's not, she immediately has a crushing breakdown. The context matters.

Third, the story acts like this is somehow a happy ending? Having someone watching a child and going, "Only X more years until they're legal!" isn't good progress. Dash, at the end of this story, is still dangerously obsessed, and that psychiatrist is severely negligent by allowing her anywhere near a child.
#339 · 7
· · >>Bachiavellian >>TrumpetofDoom >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
>>Posh
>>Kitcat36
>>2Merr
>>MLPmatthewl419
>>Bachiavellian
>>007Ben
>>CoffeeMinion
>>MrExtra
>>DuskPhoenix
>>AndrewRogue
>>kits
>>Lamplighter
>>Trick_Question
>>Mystic_Mind89
>>GroaningGreyAgony
>>Rao
>>The Power Wolf
>>Baal Bunny
>>georg
>>Whitbane
>>horizon
>>TrumpetofDoom
>>TitaniumDragon
>>discord
>>Winston
>>moonwhisper
>>Icenrose
>>Miller Minus
>>ToXikyogHurt
>>dragon discord
>>PaulAsaran
>>writeratnight
>>Dubs_Rewatcher
>>Cold in Gardez
>>Pascoite
>>TheCyanRecluse
>>regidar
>>zaponator

OKAY, I think I got everyone (plz >>RogerDodger, make an @everyone available, pwetty pwease)

As you may not know, there is a podcast airing on the discord server (link a the top of this page) this Saturday, but thanks to Quill Scratch someone, the schedule has changed. We will start at 9 pm GMT. There are still room if you want to become a member of the podcasters club.

What are we gonna do during this podcast you say? Well, we will obviously talk about this round and some of the entries (we can't really talk about all of them).
And you know what's great? It's up to YOU to decide which stories you want to see (or hear) discussed. How? With the magic of Internet, you click on that beautiful link right here.

In the meantime, keep reviewing.
#340 ·
· on Monsters
>>GaPJaxie
Ok, I see better where you're coming from now. I agree completely about Dash's mindset in this story. It's written almost as an apologetic defense of her dark desires. Having read some of the things you point it out about the story's misuse of humor when trying to talk about deep subject matter, did bother me. I was just wasn't able to figure out why until seeing your comment.

When I saw the brevity of your previous comment, I simply didn't understand the context of your dislike, or where you're coming from. Thanks for the reply.
#341 ·
· · >>Fenton
>>Fenton
I'm actually kinda/sorta tempted to join ya'll. But I talk funny and have hardly had the chance to read stories yet. :P

I'll definitely be listening in, though.
#342 ·
·
>>Fenton
If there's still space, I'd be happy to join the Radio WriteOff crew this time around.
#343 · 5
· on Monsters · >>Cassius
Hm.
Abstained.
I will say this: not funny enough to be a comedy and not reverent enough to be a serious exploration. I’d recommend studying sexual psychology a bit more if you want to write this kind of story, because it comes off as “I’ve only ever seen depictions of pedophilia in muh nipponese cartoons”. I had a lot more problems with it, but until I can muster the energy to read it a second time, that’s my snap judgment on the fic.

>>GaPJaxie
I wish I could downvote comments.
#344 ·
· on Another Lifetime
My mother worked for NASA for twenty-five years, so I've got a soft spot for stories about space programs.

Unfortunately, that also means I had a "hold on a minute, that's not how that works..." moment towards the end, when Twilight twists the ignition knob herself at roughly T-0 seconds. I recognize that a fictional space program doesn't necessarily have to work the same way as Earth space programs, and I recognize that most people don't know the timing of a launch — but on the other hand, that's publicly available information, and it's a sign that the author hasn't quite done their research and/or thought through all the things that need to happen. Honestly, it's a minor point, but it's irritating.

(If anyone is curious, here's NASA's official page detailing the Space Shuttle countdown sequence. The relevant entry is that the auto-launch sequencer kicks in at T-31 seconds, after which time the crew doesn't have to do anything — presumably, they can call for a halt if they see something that worries them, but there is nothing else they're required to do to make the launch happen.)

Now that that's out of the way:

The first part of the story was some good Twilestia — the setup of "they used to be in a relationship, then that stopped, and now Twilight's come back to see Celestia for the first time in a long time" reminded me of The Lessons of Eternity, which is a solid story, but not one I'd want to see you just rewrite. But you took it in a different direction, which was good to see.

The second part is also decent, but more as a start to something. I agree with >>Zaid Val'Roa that that countdown is very slow; one trick for writing scenes like that, where you've got events happening around other events, is to actually act out the scene yourself and see if the things you have happening actually fit into the time you've given them. Step away from the keyboard if you have to. Still, that and the ignition thing above are relatively minor details, and I liked Star Chaser's characterization.

The connection between them is... tenuous. Like, I can easily see how they could occur on consecutive days, but it doesn't feel as if either of them needs the other. You've got two good scenes that aren't necessarily part of the same story.

Still, I'd be interested to see where this goes after the writeoff is done.
#345 ·
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Trick_Question >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Rarity gaped as the diamonds melted away into vapor

That don't seem right...

Anyway, I don't have much to add aside from what has already been brought up. Luna is a bit caustic, the running gag was funny, and the whole story feels like the first chapter of a longer narrative

Interesting, but leaves me wanting more.
#346 ·
· · >>Trick_Question >>Fenton
>>Fenton
Why did you include me in this?
#347 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Pascoite
>>Pascoite
But you do read those stories that you vote on, yes?

(If the answer is 'yes', then I have detected the misunderstanding and all is well.)
#348 · 2
· on Yesterday's Diamonds
Hmmm, yes, quite so.

I'm with >>Rao here, in that the little snippets of dialogue helped paint a nice background image about Diamond's family history. It's a pity that what came before seems more robust than the unfolding events. I liked Filthy Rich being a parent for once and putting his hoof down regarding his daughter's brattiness, and Diamond's reactions felt in line with the way a spoiled child would act. Nevertheless, her Heel-Face Turn comes too abruptly. Just one trek through the dreamworld, and she recognises she acted wrong, and is asking the help for forgiveness. That's nice, but she does this after waking up, and she went to sleep after passing out (how did she do that?) after throwing a huge temper tantrum.

This story needs some breathing room to properly flesh out its arc. Once you do that, though, I'm sure this story will shine.
#349 · 1
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Zaid Val'Roa
As long as Rarity's gaping it's all good. :raritywink:

I regret nothing
#350 ·
· · >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
You so silly.
#351 · 3
· on No Spring Chicken · >>Bachiavellian
Genre: Automatic heresy, Big Mac / Sugar Belle OTP :-p

Thoughts: This has a strong overall narrative. I can go through checking off lots of good elements like strong characterization, few if any typos, and clear imagery. Descendants of the M6 can be grating, but these ones felt pretty natural, so bonus points for that.

The romance aspect feels about halfway to being believable right now. It makes sense that Dash would rethink her life priorities under the circumstances, and Twilight was a fine choice to help her with that. I have a harder time buying that AJ can just flip the switch from being sidelined to being all-in so quickly, though. It still mostly works, and I would imagine that fans of the ship would give you a pass. But from the outside looking in, I think it could be framed up more strongly.

Nevertheless, the quality of prose and overall solidity pushes this up into my high tiers.

Tier: Strong
#352 · 1
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Trick_Question
>>Trick_Question
Rarity must have one hell of an internal temperature to be able to sublime diamonds into vapor...
#353 ·
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Question!!
For the drawing part, does the drawing have to do with the prompt or one of the stories that have been made?
#354 ·
·
>>dragon discord
They must be related to one of the stories. This is the opposite of previous rounds where stories would be based off drawings.
#355 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
As long as I'm bored, there are two things I'd like to add to the ongoing discussion of reviews.

First, there's an old practice that seems to have died off around here. Say everyone gets a ballot of 8 stories. If I review 8 stories, it's clear I didn't write any of those. As horizon noted, if you're going to review them all, then you need to sneak in a fake review of your own entry so people can't figure out which one was yours. But most people only read/review what's on their initial slate. So what people used to do was to do one extra story that you pick in truly random fashion, including the possibility that it's your own story. So if my ballot had 8, I'd post 9 reviews. This way, nobody can eliminate me as the author of any of those 9. What may mitigate this is that I'm pretty sure ballots are formed by word count now and not number of stories. It always tried to give balanced word count anyway, i.e., if you got the longest story, you'd get some of the shortest ones, too, so all ballots were about the same total words. But it might be the case now that ballots give different people a different number of stories to control word count that way, and I know at least at one point that as the voting deadline approached, it'd start shortening unsubmitted ballots anyway. So if you can't be assured all voters have 8 stories, then people could be doing an extra one anyway, and nobody would know, short of the reviewer explicitly saying so, I suppose. Furthermore, if you're going to request added stories on your ballot, either don't post the reviews in batches, or else add another random one for each batch, which will continue this effect. Anyway, this is a pretty good idea just to give that last little degree of anonymity. If you're not going to review them all, consider adding a random one, which could end up being your own, to the pool you do review.

And the second one... is gone now. My short-term memory sucks.
#356 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe
>>Trick_Question
I would. But I haven't voted in years.
#357 · 2
· on Lily's Letter · >>Miller Minus
Im here for the praise kind of things, I don't do well criticizing people-even when they literally ask for it. Aaaaand I've never reviewed anything before.

So

That twist had me shook. I remember reading someone's review earlier who said something about a twist but I did not expect that at all.

I like the writing style and descriptions. The scenes were a bit confusing at times but were laid out nicely.

PS please keep writing, I really liked this story.
#358 ·
·
>>Trick_Question
:P
#359 ·
· · >>Trick_Question
>>Pascoite
What I try to do is hit up Random.org and roll a D(story count minus stories I've reviewed thus far) until I get a 1. Then I self-review.

(Also if you're truly bored then holy crap do I have reams of Dark Rarity story stuff if you want it...)
#360 · 2
· · >>Monokeras
>>Bachiavellian
Keep your microphone close, as we usually cool off after the podcast in the voice chat where everyone can talk. That could be a good training exercise.

>>Monokeras
Because wether you like it or not, you're here with us, and this fact means that you can't get off the ride.
\m/ ALL ABOOOAAAAAAARD! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAaa! \m/
#361 ·
· on Shoot for the Stars
>>Zaid Val'Roa
That's so hot.
#362 · 1
·
>>CoffeeMinion
I do something similar. I just roll dn a single time and whatever the number is, that's the point where I do my self-review. If I roll 1, I do my self-review first. If I roll n, I do it last. If I don't do enough reviews, I don't get to it. Simple.
#363 · 1
· on Melatonin · >>Icenrose
Genre: Sleeping Pill (I kid, I kid...)

Thoughts: I feel like >>Trick_Question and >>2Merr have already made excellent points about this story's funky character voicing and lack of clarity about what the plot and message ultimately are trying to be. And I really, really, really hate making that my staring point here, because the quality and vividness of the prose are significant. Like seriously, a lot of writing skill is clearly evident here. My main objection is that it doesn't seem to add up to something internally consistent.

I think having Evil!Twilight suddenly reveal herself as Good!Sunset at the end is what throws this for me. It's a left turn that throws out all of the subconscious themes of failure (and random sexy dreams?) that the story was kind enough to call out for us in very explicit terms. It robs Sunset of the chance to face and defeat the negative internal voices that the sleeping pills have brought to light. Honestly I think having her wake up right in the middle of it is a golden opportunity to give her a chance to come back to the "final battle" fully equipped and ready to rock, and it's disappointing that her adversary basically just says "Nah" instead.

...but but But BUTT

While I've been mostly negative here, I do it because I see a lot of potential in this story. There is wonderful material here that might just need more than 72 hours to develop fully, and that's completely fine! I think with some tighter steering this could be a knockout.

Tier: Keep Developing
#364 ·
· on The Double Bar · >>TrumpetofDoom
...slice of life, I guess?

This story really doesn't have any of what I'd call 'conflict'. The most difficult thing Octavia faces is composing the end of her melody, which resolves itself pretty easily. As such, I don't find it particularly compelling; I want to see things change when I read, whether that's character or mood or what.

The opening felt rough to me, specifically the description of the sign. I don't like throwing in a bunch of details like that and asking the reader to construct a picture; maybe it's because 'parallel horizontal' sounds weird to me, (if they're all horizontal they're also parallel, right?) or because I'm not the best a right/left, but I nearly had to draw it out to figure out what you were going for, which... doesn't really set a good tone for the rest of the story in my mind. Saying something like 'The sign showed a musical stave, empty of notes' would have worked better for me.

You seem to be going for a 'setting as character' thing here, which is something I did like. You put in a lot of time describing the surroundings at the beginning, which made this piece feel a bit front-heavy, but it did help flesh out the character of the place and the ponies inside it, and wrapping it up at the ending did work somewhat I think. Maybe keeping all your character interactions here, at the bar that you've detailed so carefully, supported that as well - although it did feel a bit strange at first.

All in all, some ups and some downs? I feel like this sort of thing could work for a serial, where the focus is always on the bar, but the ponies come and go. Pretty sure they've done a show like that, actually. Cheers? But I've never watched it. I'd still like something more compelling for the core conflict, personally.
#365 · 1
· on Solacing Dreams · >>Zaid Val'Roa
You've got a few scattered typos, but that happens in first drafts and this isn't a story where you have no room for those kinds of errors, so they're forgivable.

Luna helping ponies come to terms with their regrets so they can die in peace is an uncommon extension of her dreamwalking abilities, but I suppose it works. The question of whether she should be in disguise or not is one I'm divided on — on the one hand, having her disguised does make it about the recipient, which is good; on the other hand, there are some people who really kinda need to know who this person that's spending time with the end-of-life patients is (certain members of the hospital staff spring to mind).

I like what you've done with Summer Breeze. We get to see what she most regrets, but not through being there with her when it happens, just in the form of what she thought she'd moved on from, and you did that quite well.
#366 ·
· on Moving On
I feel like I've read this before... Not gonna lie, I had a pretty good idea of how this was going to end after that first scene-break. Well, I didn't expect Kringle, but yeah.

Still, on the whole I enjoyed it.

This story got me thinking about agency of characters. In this story, the MC is basically unable to do anything. I wondered a bit if this would go dark at the end; it could make for a half-decent horror story, tbh. Well, I'd probably dislike that, because I'm not a fan of horror, but yeah. The characters with agency are, unknowingly, destroying an innocent, and Molly can't actually do anything about it; that's pretty good nightmare fuel.

Well, the twist does turn that around, with 'the power of love' and all of that. Which is honestly a big part of why it works, I think; the trappings of pain, but with a bright ending? The contrast makes the mood shift stand out brightly.

On the other hand, the characters with agency don't really see any growth. Part of why Toy Story works, I think, is because we see both sides; Woody and Buzz grow into their friendship, and Sid ends up... well, not exactly 'better', but at least not someone who tortures living creatures for fun anymore. I'm not sure if/how that could work here, but it might be worth thinking about, so the bits with the kids feel a little less like filler. Sure, they're cutesy, but I think you could do more with them.

I'm not really sold on the in-media-res opening. I feel like it shows too much of your hand; if it hadn't been there, I might still have guessed the shape of the story, but it wouldn't have been quite so easy, I don't think.

Anyways, kudos for writing something cute, and good job on giving progression and growth to a very passive character. Good work, thanks for writing. :)
#367 · 1
· on Special Delivery · >>Caliaponia
I feel like I'd like this more if Prompt didn't act so much like she was enjoying it. That switch at the end felt rushed and a bit uncomfortable.

It might also be nice to throw in some foreshadowing of them getting along at the beginning; it might make the 'we're friends now' ending feel more satisfactory.

I don't feel like the opening line was ever really justified. Are horoscopes still just trash, or was there actually a disaster averted somewhere that I missed? It did seem to lead directly into the plot, but then the plot sort of ignored it.

Your 'discord things' worked fairly well; they didn't seem to depend too heavily on visual gags, which is something of a problem at times when people write Discord. He's very much intended for a visual medium, so good work sidestepping that. OTOH, I didn't find them particularly funny, either, except for the 'chase the dog' bit. That was cute. Then again, I'm not very good at humor, so YMMV.

On the whole, this was fun, and feels solidly constructed. A bit rushed at the end, maybe, but a little tweaking should put that right.
#368 · 6
· on Monsters · >>Cassius >>Trick_Question
I read this because I wondered what all the fuss was about. I'd been skipping most of the comments that were directly about stories except where one of them caught my interest. This title isn't an attention-grabber, and nothing in the comments stood out to me until today, when it got some pretty strong language from some.

I don't get how several people interpreted this as potentially trying to be funny. The part with the balloons could be a comic setup, but as nothing had taken a comic tone before that, I wasn't in the mind of a comedy at that point. Plus there aren't that many options with their technology for catching something that flies, though maybe some kind of launched net might work better. But I digress.

This is a very difficult subject to deal with, not only for portraying anyone in even the slightest sympathetic light, but also in giving it the gravity it requires to feel like it's done for more than shock value or pathos. And in my mind, Dash, does behave as if she's giving it the proper weight. She's not making light of the situation, and she treats it very seriously. However, she's not dealing with it in a healthy manner. Saying that this all goes away once Scootaloo is of age is dodging the problem, and she pretty much admits that. What floors me is that the doctor is content to sit back and do nothing but listen and occasionally ask a question leading Dash to more self-examination. And while it's valuable for a psychiatrist to avoid being too judgmental about things, this is different. She's being very irresponsible in failing to discourage behavior that's destructive to more than just Dash, and she's failing to discourage conduct that's very seriously illegal and immoral. For that matter, why would she spill the beans to Scootaloo's family? Shouldn't Scootaloo be able to seek treatment with complete confidentiality? Urging her to involve her family in her healing process is one thing, but forcing her to, and quite possibly without forewarning? If one thing makes the whole story fall flat to me, it's the doctor's completely unbelievable conduct. A story like this should be real, very starkly real, and she just kicked my suspension of disbelief out the window right when the story couldn't afford to do so.

I mean, I can't really say myself what a realistic portrayal of this problem would be. I only know what I've seen when my wife likes to watch Law and Order: SVU, and I don't doubt that has a lot of Hollywood embellishment, so Dash herself didn't come across as fake to me. I'll defer to those who know the subject better.

The secondary issue is how over the top Scootaloo is in the first scene. I never got a comic vibe from her, but going over the top is certainly one way to effect comedy, so maybe that's where some of the other readers are picking that up. But even if it didn't create genre dissonance for me, it still made this feel far less authentic than they should. Someone who's been dropping subtle hints she feels aren't being perceived would just go to more overt things, right? Like directly stating what she wants, not forcing the issue.

So on a type of story that requires the utmost adherence to realism and authenticity, you lost me on both counts. But I don't fault the writing itself. The word choice, sentence flow, etc., were well done, so I have no doubt you're an able author. You just picked a subject that you couldn't fit in the word count, give the gravity it needed, do the research for, and all that stuff.
#369 · 2
· on Melatonin · >>Icenrose
I enjoyed this story. Which brings me some conflict, because I wanted to love it.

>>Trick_Question Covered my main problem with the story. The dreams have no impact on the plot at all. They hold no deeper meaning about Sunset's psyche and are ultimately little more than non-sequiteurs.

“A fathomless depth replacing the familiar form and structure that guided your education for so long,” Twilight said dryly. “How apt.”


That? That's clever. All the dreams should've had more of that. What does the dream of a morning after with Twilight say about Sunset's relationship with her newest friend? Does the loss AJ suffers mirrors how Sunset feels about the Equestrian life she's left behind? Does sunset have a vampire fetish? You can use the dreams and their inherent nonsensical nature to explore Sunset's insecurities in creative ways.

Right now, the story is okay, but it can be great with a bit of work poured into it.
#370 · 4
· on Moving On
I'm seeing a lot of dogpiling this round — not just on this story, but on some others as well — for "unoriginality". I could leave another review here adding to the pile of "this was technically very well done but didn't move me", but I think that would be less helpful than trying to unpack what it is about "unoriginality" that creates such a problem in a story that everyone acknowledges is solid in craft.

So let's step sideways and talk about shipping.

Let's say that you have super strong opinions on a totally hypothetical ship which nobody appreciates, like, um, Dragon Queen Klember and Shapeshifter Leader Snorax. You post a story to FIMFic in which they glance across a crowded room at each other and realize how TOTES AWESOME they would be together, and their cheeks get all blushy and they both go all stammery and the only thing that happens in the story is that they spend all their time thinking about each other's hot bods. The pinnacle of literature, amirite?

Except most of your readers are rolling their eyes and saying, "Okay, okay, you ship it, I GET IT," and downvoting and moving on. (Meanwhile, Blorizon is faving, writing flowery signal-boost blogs, and recommending it to the Floyal Chanterlot Tribrary.)

I'm pretty sure everyone, everywhere, who has ever read or written a shipping story has fallen prey to this. What's wrong with that story? Nothing, if you like blushy cheeks and stammery glances and dragonwaifu fantasizing. The problem is that these are things which fans of That Particular Ship are going to be Highly Motivated To Read, because they send little emotional barbs shooting along the pathways established by your crushes on those characters — and if a reader without those existing pathways opens up your story, they're just going to say "Well, that was a thing" as your carefully crafted emotional arrows bounce off.

The reason I talk about Alien Shipping Syndrome is that I think the root of "unoriginality" complaints is ... certainly not the same, but at least from the same direction. You are carefully crafting emotional arrows to send down readers' emotional pathways. They are going down your own emotional pathways just fine (presumably; or else you'd probably have written something else which did). There will be a target audience out there for whom you are connecting at full strength (just like your Klembrax story is gonna make Blorizon squee at frequencies inaudible to the human ear). But when you throw that story to a wider audience that's not receptive on those pathways — and the Writeoffs are, if nothing else, a well-read and diverse audience — you just find your arrows skittering off of armor. ("Unoriginality" is a pathway problem more about overuse than underdevelopment, but the end result is the same.)

The first takeaway here is: Maybe this is just an audience problem. If you have written exactly the story you want to write, then your only problem is that it wants to be read somewhere besides the Writeoffs. With shipping stories, you'll have a built-in audience with the group dedicated to that ship; with feels-plucking stories, it's not hard to find an audience with the fandom that gave My Little Dashie half a million views. Heck, I've seen stories bomb here and then go on to wide Featurebox acclaim. (I'm also reminded of Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, which MrNumbers posted to the Writeoffs out of spite, to argue that readers overvalued the worst sorts of stereotyped paint-by-numbers stories, only to soar to acclaim both here and there on the basis of a lot of the little subtle details.)

It's a subtle and difficult skill — easy to fail at even at high levels — to write a story which connects with people despite that lack of pathway. (I would argue STGM is a great example of one which succeeds, but I'm pretty sure Numbers rolls over in his future grave every time that story is cited. Maybe read up on why people thought it succeeded anyway.) It's also not necessary for every story; sometimes it's the right choice to consciously decide that you want to rely on particular pathways being there. (This is, like, literally the foundation of 90% of fanfiction. We can write "Twilight Sparkle" and activate a billion pathways in readers' brains, rather than spend thousands of words carefully crafting our magical purple winged unicorn OC.) To get back to this particular story, you could do literally nothing and it'll do well with a whole bunch of readers who are not me (and people upthread). Or you could pour your heart and soul into revisions, and maybe it'll move the needle? It's a legitimate question whether you're better off ripping this apart to please your critics (and/or everyone who's mentally comparing it to Toy Story 3) or not.

But it also might be worth trying to build that connection, because the reason you're getting "unoriginal" complaints is that they're not connecting. (I've read plenty of stories which were predictable start to finish, which nevertheless got me reacting with: "I knew exactly what was going to happen and I don't care.") If you draw your reader in with a sympathetic character or vivid setting or gripping thematic hook, the plot can be paint-by-numbers and it won't reduce reader enthusiasm. So one possible takeaway of lots of "unoriginal" complaints might be to work on those other story elements rather than trying to scrap the plot arc you've got and tell a new story.

Anyway, hope that rambling helps someone. Re direct feedback, nothing really to offer; re scoring, I can't fault this for anything but it's also not sticking the landing on any of the sorts of daring leaps or compelling hooks that distinguish top contenders for me (see previous paragraph wrt some of those missing elements). So it'll probably end up high middle-slate.

Thanks for writing, and good luck with this. I know it sucks to get this much faint praise with no real actionable feedback ("write something else" is rather un-actionable in terms of how to fix your story in editing).

Tier: Strong (but see above wrt my voting and personal reaction)

EDIT: Didn't see !Hat's comment before posting. Yes, agency (and the lack of protagonist growth) is absolutely a major factor of my own disconnection here.
#371 ·
· on Here at the end, of all things! · >>ToXikyogHurt
My favorite:

Of the stories I've read so far. Friendly banter overlaying a slight crisis of character is pretty much all I want from fiction--add a dollop of light adventure, and it'd be exactly right. >>horizon's got a lot of good advice for making the piece stronger, but I'm too busy grinning.

Mike
#372 · 11
· on Monsters · >>Monokeras >>ToXikyogHurt >>Trick_Question >>Baal Bunny
This review is dedicated to my dear friend AndrewRogue, who died attempting to review this story.

This story has been getting a lot of attention, and it is one of the few stories I have actually read, so I feel compelled to engage the ongoing debate. Despite being the writeoff's biggest cunt and ball-buster, I am inclined to say that everyone here is being a bit too harsh on this story and by extension the author. I am going to have to coldly rebuke >>ToXikyogHurt and >>GaPJaxie, despite the fact that >>ToXikyogHurt provides many useful observations and suggestions that I will later incorporate into my own review. I see no compelling reason to imply that this story cannot be altered to fit as a tonally dark re-imagining of the show's universe, and the suggestion that the author forego writing a story with that sort of purposeful inversion of the source material's tone to be mildly insulting to the author.

The word of the day for this story, and the one that nobody has mentioned specifically thus far but has often alluded to, is "tone." The closet point of critique someone has mentioned is >>ToXikyogHurt in reference to the inadequacy of the first scene, which, I believe, is probably the biggest issue with the story itself. As many have said previous, rape and pedophilia are hot button issues, and it belies a story to adopt a certain tone to establish the mood of the piece.

Why then, does the story open with an attempted rape in the form of a cartoon rope trap complete with nets? Why does a friendship lecture stop said rape? Why the hell give your psychiatrists (although they are really more psychologists as you use them) cutesy names based on brain parts? These ideas you're pulling from the show don't work tonally in context with the situation.

For this story to function, there needs to be a dichotomy: serious elements are to be portrayed seriously and close to reality in how they would realistically occur, and cartoon elements are to be employed illustrate that the story itself takes place in the familiar reality of the show. To write this story convincingly is to balance the tone on a knife's edge. You are essentially taking the character interpretation that Rainbow is still the family friendly, canonical Rainbow Dash, at least in the public eye and trying to re-contextualize her character as a anxious, ashamed pedophile. Not a insignificant undertaking, to say the least, but it certainly is possible.

Ideally, you want the cartoony, family friendly nature of Rainbow Dash to be demonstrably contrasted with her internal mechanics to create the impression that there is more to Rainbow Dash than the show presents, but also that she still is the Rainbow Dash from the show. You have to address the plausibility issue that immediately arises when trying to so drastically alter the reality of the character in the source material and explain how despite having x, y, z qualities in the source material (for example, as >>Pascoite mentions, Rainbow has poor impulse control as part of her character), Rainbow Dash can still be a secret pedo.

Character voices are indistinct here. Writing dialogue is tough, I understand, but if the characterization and voice isn't concrete, readers will reject it out of hand immediately. You're operating at a higher threshold of scrutiny. Other entries that write firmly within the tone of the show are given a benefit of the doubt that you simply don't have when writing a story based around pedophilia and rape. Rainbow's character is faintly present in the story, with some Rainbow-esque choices of phrase, but ultimately her voice is fairly neutral, and so is Scootaloo's. It becomes additionally jarring the difference in profanity use from Rainbow between the two scenes: in the scene she's about to be raped, she is very PG, but in the therapist's office, she's spewing profanity every sentence.

I get that the intention was for Rainbow to be putting up a false front for Scootaloo, but at some point there needed to be a breaking of character for something so extreme, or alternatively, have Rainbow speak in a consistent voice throughout. As it stands, the two scenes seem to be of two people, rather than two different faces of the same Rainbow.

Additionally, author you need to use more restraint in utilizing italics in dialogue. This is quickly becoming my biggest pet peeve in the competition these days. Use your italics wisely and sparingly, for words you really want to emphasize. Using an italicized word for every two lines of dialogue defeats the purpose of emphasis.

Additionally, I wish there was a more narrative. Most of this story is long-winded dialogue that could be easily cut down to be both more impactful and less turgid. The whole story is basically two long conversations, and that is boring to read. People have been giving you a pass on your construction because they'd rather talk about the topic it discusses, but you really need to work on a number of fundamentals. Pacing, sentence construction (particularly in regards to economy of words), and scene construction ordering all need significant work.

Also don't bury your dialogue. Break up your paragraphs more. Simple organization can make your story much easier and enjoyable to read.

Since >>Pascoite brought this up, I can finally get to use my Psychology degree: how accurately does this story convey the therapeutic environment and confidentiality?

To be honest, it doesn't get a whole lot wrong. But there are some issues.

The fuck is Scootaloo's extended family doing in her therapy? Certainly Scootaloo's parents would be present, as minors don't have HIPAA rights, but her aunts? What? I laughed at that line when I first read it. Is everyone and their grandmother invited to Scootaloo's rapist recovery counseling? What?

But that's not even really the biggest problem with that scenario.

You see, there are several circumstances in which the confidentiality between therapist and patient can be broken, and one of the most important ones is if the patient is considered a danger to those around them. As a health care professional, one does not admit a person who tells you they tried to rape someone the day prior to therapy and not alert the authorities. Additionally, one does not get to say they want to have sex with a specific child they see on a regular basis and not have the therapist report them to CPS. If Dash was a pedophile with non-specific attraction to Scootaloo, it would be more acceptable for the therapist to not break confidentiality, but because Dash is particularly fixated on Scootaloo as the object of her desire, there is a compelling reason for her to break it.

I didn't find this to be a huge issue, as I don't really expect people to know the limitations of confidentiality, and this is actually a bit of a gray area than anything else. I would not say that either situation explicitly requires the therapist to break confidentiality, but there are a million reasons why it would be in her best ethical interest for her to do so.

Bunch of people mentioned Cadance, so I'll be the rare voice that advocates against pulling her into this. The point of the therapist is that Dash DOESN'T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW SHE'S A PEDOPHILE JESUS CHRIST. Even if Cadance could conceivably fix her, would Rainbow Dash seek out the help? Not as a established, no. And maybe Cadance could take the role of therapist, but it really to me seems outside her wheelhouse, and she's more of a matchmaker than a physician. Adding her in any other way than to make an offhand comment about why Rainbow Dash can't or won't seek out her help I think would hurt the story as much as it would help, so I can't really justify the change.

>>regidar

I’d recommend studying sexual psychology a bit more if you want to write this kind of story, because it comes off as “I’ve only ever seen depictions of pedophilia in muh nipponese cartoons”.


This I would also disagree. But maybe I'm just sore over how a criticism similar to this was leveled at me last round.

Ultimately I would say this is a fairly nuanced portrayal of pedophilic desires, something that absolutely NOBODY except academics and pedophiles will appreciate unless you're writing on the level of Lolita, which unfortunately, you are not. I can appreciate the level of ambition and thought that went into creating a story like this, and I would never do something as drastic as put it at the bottom of my slate (if I were voting) for content reasons, but it does not change the fact that the construction of the story itself is an atonal mess that occasionally feels like it's veering into comedic territory. Something like this ought to be more of a slow burn—starting with over-the-top Scootarape was a huge misstep that cost you the majority of your audience, myself included.
#373 · 3
· on Welcome to the End of all Things · >>LiseEclaire
As others have said, this was a novel interpretation of the prompt

There were a noticeable number of grammatical hiccups, but not too major. You'd want to have someone go over it before posting, but it's fine for a writeoff piece.

One thing that bugged me - there was never any mention of the price, and barely any of payment. That's particularly critical at a magical mystery shop, but even if Moondancer isn't particularly genre savvy, it's still pretty integral to the shop experience.

Granted his claims are hard to believe, but given the quality of the dress that Moondancer has been observing, going to fleamarket

Special terms and conditions? That's worth digging into.

It was an interesting choice for her to go down the path of existential anxt. Not what I would have expected, but it worked.

Overall, an enjoyable tale. With mystery shops, the real intrigue is often in unraveling the back story, which wasn't touched on here, but it still made for an interesting take on the concept.
#374 · 1
· on Should I Stay or Should I Go. · >>Lamplighter
Genre: Hamlet Soliloquy

Thoughts: Behold, the rare story where a last-minute introduction of new but extremely significant characters serves as an effective resolution and coda rather than feeling random. I feel this deserves some bonus points for pulling that off. Until that moment I hadn’t been sure if I was going to give a thumbs-up to the story or not, as the pure introspection and flashback-y-ness of it is... only a bit engaging. IMO it’s hard to use that as a storytelling device without making people wish that they were simply reading the story that the character is recapping. This managed to juuuuuust hold my interest long enough to hit the payoff.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I’m in the target audience for this. The choice to structure the story around Twilight’s introspection isn’t bad, but as a result it’s simply got less going on plot-wise than I typically look for. But to Horizon’s points about reviewing, I don’t know if radically reshaping the story to please me better is a good idea. This is a pretty stable little story as it is, though there’s an extent to which it’s also “Twilight Sparkle Contemplates Suicide And Nothing Happens.” It’s the limitation in scope and internal relatability that hold this back a bit for me (and that could represent opportunities for tweaking) rather than whether it sticks the landing.

Tier: Almost There
#375 · 1
· on The Double Bar · >>TrumpetofDoom
Cutie’s Mark whiskey

I hear they call it that because if you drink enough of them, you'll wake up with a tattoo on your butt.

Anywho, this was an interesting piece, though it would've had more impact had we worked alongside Octvia through the trials and tribulations of music composition. Right now it brushes upon several interesting topics, but doesn't take the time to dwell on them. Maybe you just didn't have the time to fully flesh it out but with some polish, this could be great.
#376 ·
·
>>Fenton
I haven’t paid my ticket, can’t pass the turnstyles!
#377 · 1
· on Monsters
>>Cassius
I haven’t read the story and don’t intend to, but the whole commotion is (to me) highly redolent of an old (minific?) round in which a story depicting Dash encouraging pupils during sports to become Wonderbolts, while knowing they had no chance to, and puking discreetly at the end, had also unleashed the dogs of war.

Every now and then, something has to be rotten in Celestia’s kingdom, and people have to hurl skulls one at the other.

Much ado about nothing.
</shakespeare>
#378 · 2
· on Entropy · >>Bachiavellian >>zaponator
>>GaPJaxie
Seeing your faces, hearing your voices," Twilight paused to inhale deeply through a warm smile, "it revived so many memories of you two

I was under the impression that seeing and hearing them is what brought back all the memories of Trixie and GlimmyGlam, just like how seeing the picture of her friends reminded her of all the good times they had together. Nevertheless, future!Twilight's characterization can be spruced up to sound old and wise.

Still, I'm glad I'm reading through all entries, because this is amongst the better stories I've read. Just look over the things brought up by the rest, namely Twilight's characterization, and giving some reason as to why Starlight is looking into time magic again.
#379 ·
· on Monsters · >>ToXikyogHurt >>Baal Bunny
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

I end up talking a bit about the story within context of the Writeoff, so if you are not interested in hearing about that author, please feel free to stop listening when I start rambling about. I end on a bit of a repetition of the beginning re: writing quality, so I'm pretty sure you will miss nothing new.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=11kGn_t_73Yuz5l310f9gxmfLXtJF9MTJ
#380 ·
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
Luna's dress fitting: It feels odd who she's very grateful for being saved, then seconds later, is so dismissive of the dress.

Rarity twice mentions Salad Fork's school, once as an etiquette school in the title, and once for calligraphy. Assuming those were classes at the same school, but... [EDIT: Seeing "Gastroenterology" now too, so this is on purpose each time] Canon Rarity has rather "uncultured" parents. Seems unlikely they sent her to a fancy private school. [EDIT: On purpose, maybe they didn't and this are the lies she tells herself]

Secret plans to meet in the woods, but... still hasn't corrected Luna about her name? Characters just feel ever so slightly "off" because of things like that, at least to me.

This goddess stuff feels weird in the MLP setting. As does the sudden shift into modern speech for Luna. If she's speaking old/formal style because she JUST returned from exile, then how does she accidentally slip into modern form?

Okay, and this doesn't end, just... stops. Luna as unredeemed jackass, and Rarity feeling sick. I'm really not sure what the message or point of this story is intended to be now. If this was mini-fic, I'd say the author ran out of words or time, but this is nowhere need the word limit either.

Overall, this has decent pacing and prose, but ultimately feels unrewarding as there is no character growth, no "lesson learned," nor any real reveal. >>GaPJaxie says it best, I think. This is presented as a Rarity story, but Rarity doesn't do much of anything.
#381 · 5
· on No Spring Chicken · >>Bachiavellian
This was a very enjoyable read. Dash felt completely in character, as did Twilight. AJ was half and half; her main purpose was mostly just reacting to Dash.

Overall, it was sweet and bitter in all the right ways. I just feel this kind of story would benefit greatly from having a bit more to it. This could easily be hammered out into 20-30k words, which would immensely help the romance aspect not feel as sudden.


A few errors are easy to skip over, but Dash counting on her “fingers” really stood out for me. I think you were going for feathers and just forgot. There was also a weird typo where you misspelled Sugar Belle, making it seem like Fluttermac was a thing. How silly.
#382 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe
Bummer, I was rooting for the universe.

This was quite the trip, and my only real complain is that you could've eased the pedal before ramping up the sci-fi. And yes, Discord. Figures he'd offer his input regarding the nature of entropy. Either way, this was a fun romp.
#383 · 2
· on Wake-up Call · >>2Merr
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Y7mRZutZk6VyBBDRVbTWwvOfvzmBU3wp
#384 · 1
· on No Spring Chicken · >>Bachiavellian
Nice bit of noir in describing the pain.

Reads really well through the AJ scene, save that calling AJ "Jack" just feels weird. It's too human of a name, I think, as well as a nickname we haven't actually heard.

The heart-to-heart with AJ at night: AJ prompts too easily for exactly what Dash is thinking. More needs to come from Dash herself, with maybe a little less certainty, like she's just figuring it out some if it as they talk.

Also, ponies don't count on their "fingers." :-)

Alright, got to the end, and this is a very well written story about getting older. It moves at just the right pace showing the milder worries of approaching age instead of the cliches like broken hips or Granny Smith type stuff.

The implied history of romance between AJ and Dash is... well it's a bit obvious, with so many ships in this fandom, but, as a stand-alone story, this story itself doesn't do quite enough to show a strong background/history between the two. It's a minor issue, but it's the main thing I could see where some more detail would bolster it.

Overall though, an enjoyable, introspective story!
#385 · 2
· on Wake-up Call · >>AndrewRogue
>>AndrewRogue
You made a point about there being no real progression, but I would argue that’s the point. Sunset can’t move on. She’s stuck in a spiral of emptiness, unable to progress to the next stage of her life. Since this takes place over such a short time frame, a large amount of change isn’t expected. As far as story goes, you’re right that there isn’t a whole lot, but I see this more as a peek into the mind of someone who’s lost their everything, rather than a tale of self-betterment or what have you.
#386 ·
· on Entropy · >>zaponator
I'm trying something experimental this round (and seeing if it makes reviewing at all easier for me) with rambling audio reviews. I don't normally do this, so apologies for roughness while I see if this works out for me.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1lvxNsGXPtk37kmcquWLHNR9svMVONS8W
#387 · 2
· on Wake-up Call · >>Haze
>>2Merr
You are correct that that likely is the point. The problem is that that doesn't really make the reading any better (e.g. the ol' intentionally annoying is still annoying thing - intentionally flat is still flat).

To be clear (or try to be, I'm incoherent right now), I'm not really looking for Sunset turning her life around or anything. I'm just looking for a bit of variation in the tone of the story. Like, even something like Sunset sinking deeper into her depression would be movement.
#388 · 1
· on Santa Bring Me A Dinosaur · >>2Merr >>CoffeeMinion
Thantos said that he consented to deliver the note. Does somepony else have a hoof in this? It seems odd for a little filly to be passing notes to death.

I generally liked the scene with Discord, though his defense of logos was a bit longer and more logical than I'd expect. Still, the Discord-tree hugger interaction was an amusing one, and the various gags weren't overwhelming.

"misaligned, if that makes sense?" - it doesn's seem like Tree Hugger would overly concern herself about making sense.

Would entities believing in themseleves be entropy? Seems more like recursion to me. I suppose it has some aspects of violating the rules of thermodynamics, though.

The protagonist took a long time to warm up, but I did like the kind of enlightenment he had at the end. I was also amused by the image of a foal and tiny dinosaur chasing each other around.
#389 · 1
· on Welcome to the End of all Things · >>LiseEclaire
Sorry, but I've got little to add that hasn't already been stated by those more able to express the same points I would have made. A good story. Interesting use of the prompt, and not too fond of the excessive inner monologue.

I think I see why you used Moondancer though. It's like having a more cynical, salty version of Twilight. You get to play around with how she might act a bit more because of her limited development, but avoid the need to invent some random OC for the occasion. When you say "Moondancer" It brings to mind all the things we know about her -Abrupt, cynical and unwilling to put up with nonsense- without having to spell all these details out.

One other thing that bugged me was that the shopkeeper, Wing (thank you for not naming him Wong) Seemed to be going for that over-the-top Chinese mystery pawnshop owner. But somewhere in the middle of the story, his act seems to slip a little. It seemed that once you got the introduction down, you forgot to keep writing him in that manner.
#390 ·
· on Yesterday's Diamonds
The tantrums at the start are kind of all over the place. Diamond shifts from seeing a big older (and just being spoiled) to being younger, and not really knowing what she wants. Assuming this is going to be a character growth story, having her in one solid place to start might help.

The "hold your breath until you faint" thing seems a bit dark for a child. Then, this dream sequence (one assumes) is also strange. Diamond's rage is suddenly gone, and she's behaving calmly and cautiously (not touching anything, thinking about how to find "civilization", etc) which is the opposite of her rage and tantrums before.

How does a moon strike open a locket by coming out? Not arguing dream logic, but literally, I can't visualize what is meant to be occuring. Similarly, the house is just a "foundation" yet there's a clock on the mantle? Other visuals in this scene are pretty good though, but... it strikes me what we're in Diamond's PoV for the most part here, but the descriptions and narration sound far, far more sophisticated than her thoughts were earlier. It doesn't sound like a child thinking/observing this stuff.

Got some real Deus ex Luna going on here. She just infodumps the meaning of the place, then, without even a reaction from Diamond, reminds her she's looking for something. This should be an interaction, a dialogue, much sooner. Otherwise, it feels like just a floating quest marker over Luna's head.

She wakes in her room later at night? If you pass out from holding your breath, it's like 10 seconds max. She should've had a visit to the hospital if no one could wake her up after she blacked out!

The maid has a crown (in her "hands" even), and now Diamond is jealous again?

I feel this story has some really good core ideals it's trying to express, but there are a lot of rough spots in doing so. Diamond's personality and level of discourse/thought seems to swing wildly up and down in apparent age/maturity. If this is a character growth story (and I think it is) the progress needs to be more consistent and in a single direction.

The garden of lost things that Luna maintains is a brilliant idea, but until Luna's infodump, it's just "a weird place." Diamond needs to explore and discover/learn about it some herself if you want emotional payoff for the reader. As it stands, any revelation there feels unearned, which may be part of why Diamond's journey in this story doesn't feel convincing to me.

In summary, I think this story needs a lot of work, but shows (along with its author) a lot of promise.
#391 ·
· on Maker of Makers! · >>ToXikyogHurt
Uh oh, first sentence, and we've already got made up words, names, and strange capitalization of a common noun. This is a red flag (or maybe more of a red cape to a bull situation) to me. Either this story will do something genuinely interesting and novel, or... it'll be a confusing mess. Let's find out.

Hmm, leaning more twoward mess so far. "her cross section in three dimensions resembled a stellated icosahedron." That's the kind of needlessly technical babble that should probably be played for humor, but isn't here. And again, "having taken an appearance like a dodecahedron with toroid loops joining the vertices in cross section." That's not something that in any way helps the reader visualize what's occurring, nor does it appear to in any way advance or help the story. It's just adding confusion to the reader at best, and wasting word count at worst.

The dialog between the angels... I mean elements... no wait... "Utherai"... feel vastly out of place compared to the narration. We've just been hammered with how alien and Nth dimensional their existence is, then they say things in a very modern vernacular like "dare to even touch it" or "Try it!"

And it wraps up as a creation myth, as expected. The end feels rushed, quickly bringing in a bad guy to add chaos, and then outright calling the planets as such, instead of the weird words used previously. E.g. The ending basically explains itself, which seems to go rather against the feeling of "myth" the rest of the story felt like it was striving for. The thing about the ancient myths is that they are relatable. Zeus got angry, liked to cheat on his wife, and she got jealous, etc. They stood atop a tall mountain and looked like humans, they weren't impossible-to-visualize geometric abstractions in null space that we only link to our beloved characters because of blatant "inspirations" they give.

Overall, I think this may have been an interesting dream/thought the author had, one without a true plot or story to tell. Just "what if the Elements were like the Titans of myth?" The bare-minimum word count hints at a struggle for plot to me.

However, I will say, a creation myth shown from the outside IS an interesting concept, and elements of this one could work quite well if polished, but the abundance of difficult names, the needless obfuscation of basic terms, and the geometric babble all combine to make it slower to read (and nearly impossible to visualize), severely hampering my enjoyment of the core idea.
#392 ·
· on Second Chances · >>writeratnight
This story bugged me while I was reading it, the whole premise reminded me so much of the first part of Yu-Yu-hakusho, simple without the likable protagonist.. I felt like it was just missing being a story I'd like, it just kept hitting little bumps that nudged me the wrong way.

I didn't like this version of Sunset in the slightest. Not that she was a character written to have an unlikable personality, she was more like that stupid coworker that you have to be around at work, but wouldn't give the time of day in passing. Just unpleasant andself-absorbed in the worst kind of way. I mean, you would think that Dying and being told that she had a chance not to go to hell be be a bit of a humbling experience, but no. She might as well be Lumpy Space Princess/Ponyhead for all the F's she gives. When you make a character in a story that you want to be the protagonist of the work, while also being unpleasant, try to give them some kind of redeeming trait, or at least don't make it painful to read them.

I found that any detail I was hoping would be expounded on, was instead ignored, skipped over or rushed so that the story could get to where it was going.

Sorry to be so abrupt, this story just sorta rubbed me the wrong way I guess. The writing itself was well done, and I don't think enough people write about Human Sunset. It's a good idea for a story, I just think it could be better executed.
#393 · 3
· on Maker of Makers! · >>Xepher
>>Xepher
I do want to bring attention to a specific point you made.
...impossible-to-visualize geometric abstractions...

I know exactly what a stellated icosohedron looks like.

So, while "ridiculous abstract language" is a completely fair complaint to level – and not wrong – what counts as "abstract" depends on who's reading.

I don't want to convince anyone that your review somehow "isn't right" because it is right, I just wanted to explain why we have different points of view here.

It's a matter of audience, I think. In the same way that I love spicy food and my friend hates it. The author is unlikely to be able to make both of us happy simultaneously here. Perhaps something useful to know and consider.
#394 · 1
· on Monsters
>>Cassius
I accept my rebuke. I would like to clarify, however:
...no compelling reason to imply that this story cannot be altered to fit as a tonally dark re-imagining of the show's universe..

I don't deny that this is possible. Merely that I think it would involve so many changes to the tone, structure and characterisation that I would start again entirely, rather than attempt to re-work this text. Take the premise and a blank page and try again.

...and the suggestion that the author forego writing a story...

Not my intention. Write it, but know how narrow your audience might be.
#395 · 1
· on Monsters · >>ToXikyogHurt
I saw GAP's comment and the back-and-forth so I had to read this story next.

This is another story that could have been written by me, except for a few small details. I did not write this story, but I'm actually concerned whoever wrote this story had me in mind, and was aiming this story directly at me personally. I'm not sure how I feel about that, even though I think the story is a good one.

I'll start off by saying something: I don't understand the hate on this story at all, and I don't understand how anypony could see comedy in this. There's nothing comedic here. This is a serious story about a serious problem, and it's handled with a decent amount of tact. I don't get the hate, I really don't. It bothers me a lot because I don't understand it.

I mostly agree with >>Pascoite , except I have a more positive view of the story. I don't agree that the psychotherapist was inappropriate: Dash has been seeing her for years and we don't know what they've covered or haven't covered (and I personally have experience on both sides of the couch). I think a lot of things Pascoite might have expected the psychotherapist to say would have been things she and Dash have covered in great detail before. I don't agree the subject wasn't covered with realism, though I do agree more horse words would help it. I do agree that the focus on an arbitrary date is silly, but that focus serves a purpose here—I'd rather not say what it is, however, because I don't expect the author wants it to be made that overt. (Again, I promise I did not write this story.)

The reactions to this story are reflective of how much people who share Dash's problem are hated by society even when they do the right thing. The bitter irony here is that the readers this story is most likely aimed at are the same ones who will dismiss it outright out of prejudice. I don't think there's a solution for that. There are some things you just can't write about and have your words well-received by a target audience.
#396 ·
· on Monsters
>>AndrewRogue
While I'm here, and somewhat unrelated, I quite like the short, audio review format. There are things that come across clearly in speech that maybe don't in text.

>>Trick_Question
dismiss it outright out of prejudice

I also want to be clear here. I don't quite think this is what's happened. If that's what you think of me then I've failed to convey my feelings well.

My issue isn't with the raw subject. I don't hate "Dash" for having urges I don't understand – I do admire her control. But this "Dash" isn't my Rainbow Dash, the characterisation missed entirely. That's where the second scene failed for me. The author needs to either convince me this is Rainbow or put somebody else here, and give me a reason to care about them. I think the second option is – by far – the easier choice.
#397 · 9
· on Monsters · >>Trick_Question >>regidar >>Baal Bunny
Hi. It's that time again. I'm going to put out some things here that I know a lot of this community doesn't agree with. I have mostly "retired" from actively posting commentary after being harassed to the point where engaging here was not good for my mental health, but eh, I'm feeling okay right now, and we have a lot of new faces who might benefit from hearing this perspective. (And a few commentors getting harassed, as I was, for posting honest but negative reactions to this piece. Stop doing that, people. Seriously. Cut it out.)

There are some things you just can't write about and have your words well-received by a target audience.


This is, by my reckoning, the truest statement in this thread.

Concepting is part of the skill of writing. A very important part, actually, and one that tends to be neglected and glossed over. Not hard to see why. People don't want to appear biased, they're taught that bias is bad and we should respect all forms of writing, and so we start to preach and believe that all concepts are equal and should be treated with equal "respect" by never criticizing them and placing "the author's intent/vision" as a thing of paramount importance.

However, consider: no.

That's wrong. Not what that means.

All story ideas are not created equal. Far from it. Writing exists not in a vacuum, but in contexts, and when looking at a certain context with certain goals of expression, there are going to be concepts that are better or worse at achieving those goals than others. Coming up with effective concepts and making good choices in your subject matter and story elements is part of the difficulty, and the skill, of effective fiction writing. "The direction the narrative takes" is not a thing separate from a piece's merits and style. It is part of those merits and style, inseperable.

It is also not the duty of readers here to respect the author's viewpoint and choices of subject matter, no matter what those may be. Nor to refrain from criticism on that basis. Nor to "consider the author's intent" and try to take a positive view based on it. The author's intent is unknown, unknowable, and often largely irrelevant. The text stands on its own. Once a story is delivered to readers, they are the ones whose interpretations matter. Particularly in a competition like this, where the readers are also the judges, it is not the judges' responsibility to be charitable or to twist their responses and try to look at all submissions in the most favorable lights. It is the authors' responsibility to write stories that the reader-judges will think highly of, not the other way around.

Perhaps if the prompt for the round had been "Pedophilia" then I might agree that readers have some obligation to respect this piece's concept. But it isn't. The prompt is "Here at the End of all Things." This piece being about pedophilia is a conscious decision that the author made, like any other decision in their process of composition.

Not only is it legitimate to consider the subject in judgment of the piece, I believe it is irresponsible judging not to do so. If this piece were to be published "in the wild," in a magazine or FIMfiction or etc, we can be sure it would draw a great deal of visceral negative response. Should that not be represented in the feedback it receives here? Are those reactions somehow less "fair" or less valid than more generous ones? If we accept that as somehow true, and apply it as a rule to critiques and/or votes, what happens to this site looking forward?

Responsible, fair critique is not "critique that seeks to eliminate all trace of personal bias and treat everything exactly the same." That is impossible, and pretending that it is possible is disingenuous. Rather, responsible, fair critique is critique that seeks to recognize one's own bias, to be aware of it, disclose it when appropriate and work with it in forming your framework for analysis, as part of a larger framework of personal development.

I don't know why the author thought it was a good idea to write and submit this piece to a T for Teen rated Friendship is Magic fanfiction competition/workshop/hootenanny. I bear them no particular ill will for having done so, and I hope they will return. But I also hope they will think carefully in the future about what the likely responses to controversial subjects are going to be, and how they often far overshadow "technical merits" in the minds of readers. Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff. Thanks for writing, though!

-------------------------------------------

That all having been said, I do have one other point of curiosity. What in the heck is up with this place and pony pedophilia? This piece, The Best Days Lie Ahead, Blueblood's Greatest Love, A Gem Beneath (arguably)... those are just the ones I remember from the last six months. I liked some of these, and none of them individually raise an eyebrow for me beyond ill-considered edgyness. But what's weird here is that it keeps happening.

Lest you believe me some shocked prude throwing a fit, let me open up a little. I'm no stranger to love, baby the subject of "lolicon" and underage relationships. Geek and anime culture and sexuality is one of my wheelhouses. I've (poorly) translated, written academic papers and taught a college course on erotic visual novels, including some with very controversial content. My personal beliefs align closely with Neil Gaiman and the CBLDF's excellent manifesto on the topic. By general societal standards I would think this puts me pretty dang far on the liberal side of the issue.

But I'm getting a little sketched out here, because never in my life, in all the venues I've been in and all the people I've known, never, ever, have I seen this subject come up this seriously, this often, with this sort of serious handwringing defensiveness. Not even with openly professed "lolicon fanatics," not even with Piers Anthony fans for god's sake. This doesn't happen anywhere else. Even Piers Anthony himself usually keeps a tighter lid on it than this. It really seems to be just this site, this community, especially the pony rounds, where I can count on some "let's take a serious sympathetic look at the subject of pedophilia - OH NO PEOPLE ARE SUPER HARSH ABOUT IT, what persecution, who could possibly have forseen this" popping up every couple of months.

So, open, honest question. Why is this? What is it with Pony Writeoff that makes this keep coming up as a subject, from multiple people over multiple rounds? Is there something going on here that I'm not aware of? And can we maybe consider making it stop?

Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff.
#398 · 4
· on Monsters · >>AndrewRogue
>>Ranmilia
Don't do edgy stuff in Writeoff.


If that's the lesson you're imparting from this, I couldn't disagree more.

First off, the Writeoff is not like writing for a general audience. For one thing, it's writing for fans of MLP, which is already a young, male, and liberal-leaning set. But much more importantly, you're writing for other authors. I expect the writers here to be able to handle controversial content.

Edgy stuff isn't bad, far from it. Edgy stuff ups the degree of difficulty. If you take no risks at all, you aren't going to grow as an author, and it's irresponsible to suggest authors ought to 'play it safe' with content. We should all be taking risks, as long as those risks are measured and we enter into them with full knowledge of what we're getting into.

When I wrote Outmoded, I knew exactly what I was getting into. I failed with that fic because I didn't leave a strong enough impression of what the message was, and that's absolutely essential when doing something that takes the kind of brash risks Outmoded took. But that doesn't mean taking a risk was wrong, because I knew what I was doing. And even in failure, it helped me to grow.

People complaining about how horrible Monsters is seriously need to grow the buck up. This is not a story that should be making grown authors clutch their own pearls to read, and some of the critique sounds awfully pearl-clutching to me. If you're afraid of examining ideas that disturb you, I have no idea why you're an author.

(And once again, even though this fic reaches me on a personal level, it isn't mine.)
#399 · 1
· on The Dressmaker's Lament · >>Morning Sun
I love the idea. There are a few problems with the execution, and this is mostly because you chose a method of storytelling with a high degree of difficulty: first-pony extremely dramatic stream of consciousness. That's not easy to pull off without seeming incredibly telly or cartoonish in the process.

The first problem is that Rarity's stream of consciousness rambles in too many directions too abruptly, and lingers on certain topics well past the point of novelty. This is a rare case where fewer horse words would help. I think you should trim down, try to make points more briefly, and organize the stream of consciousness into a more orderly progression of topics, if possible. I'd also tone down the dramatics just a little bit. Even for Rarity on her wedding day this is a little over the top.

I saw the twist coming but I was grateful for it, because I'd hoped that's where you were headed. However, the reveal is done so casually you could almost miss it while reading over it, and I think you should reveal it's a wedding dress long before you hit the twist. I think you should also mention the beloved before you hit the twist, not casually drop it afterwards. You want to build up to the climax, and currently your climax is flat and you add things afterwards that would have helped bring it to a fever pitch.

This could be a great work with a little more organization. I hope you see it through!
#400 · 4
·
!!HEY GUYS!!

Didja know we're close to having at least 4 reviews on every story? Well, we are! A round of applause for us for helping maintain dat culture of good feedback.

If everyone would be so kind as to hit up the gallery and have a look, you'll see a couple stories that could use some love. Sadly I've already reviewed our one story still languishing with 2 reviews, so I'm deffo gonna need some backup there.