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Here at the End of all Things. · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
#401 · 3
· on Monsters
>>Cassius
The issue of breaking confidentiality is a legal matter I know quite a bit about. If y'all would like to know how it really works, here goes.

You can't break confidentiality unless you have 'duty to warn'. That means if somepony has specific plans regarding a specific pony and a means to execute them.

If I were this psychiatrist, as much as I would not want this to happen personally, I'd have no choice but to have Dash cease contact with Scootaloo immediately. If she's fantasizing about Scootaloo she shouldn't be acting as a pseudo-family member. Since she knows her well already I might need to consider this duty to warn and get legal involved.

If she's just having fantasies in general, I'd probably caution her against spending time with Scootaloo as a 'big sister', but that would not constitute duty to warn. Even if she keeps spending time with her against my advice. But if she fantasizes about her I'd probably have to get the law involved for protection.

Having to agonize over that decision is one reason I'm glad I'm not a psychiatrist.

Now let me explain how the existence of duty to warn can go very wrong.

The problem is interpretation. I'm going to offer some personal disclosure here. I once had a couple of psychologists (not my therapists) contact my place of work and show them my personal website which at the time revealed I was trans. They thought they had 'duty to warn' because I worked with children and I had disturbing artwork on the website, but this was in a time and place (the only time in American history and the only place, Cincinnati) where it was actually illegal to seek equal opportunity remediation if you were fired for being perceived to be gay. Oh, and I never discussed the website with them: they found it, and without talking to me or telling me they knew it existed, they called up my place of work and used the full weight of their credentials to suggest I was dangerously unfit to work there.

The place I worked was totally cool about it. They saw nothing wrong with the website. (And I only found out the bastards did it, because the place I work told me exactly what happened.) But there was no fucking way whatsoever that the psychologists in question had 'duty to warn' as defined by the APA. They felt they had it, and they didn't. I ended up almost getting fired for being trans because of their actions.

This is a serious problem for counseling people who are attracted to children. If I were attracted to kids, I would never bring it up with a psychotherapist, even if it was the primary cause of whatever problem brought me into the clinic. That makes it virtually impossible to treat the disorder. That impossibility puts children at a significantly higher risk of molestation.
#402 ·
· on Second Chances · >>writeratnight
Quick review because I need to finish my slate while organising the podcast and reading other entries.

I won't add much than the others. You have an engaging and solid chapter one but like many others, I tend to judge an entry on its ability to stand out on its own. Here, you start a lot of things but not so many are resolved. As a hook for a longer fic, it works quite well, but as a Writeoff entry, it unfortunately loses points because of that.
That's a shame because the rest is strong.
#403 · 5
· on Monsters · >>Trick_Question >>Trick_Question
>>Trick_Question
Or instead of me "growing up," how about you realize that I am pretty reasonable well within my rights to feel that a story where a child nets an adult and threatens to rape them only for it to turn out that the adult is severely into it might, in fact, not be the best story to enter into a general entry, T-rated writing thing about pastel ponies from a kid's show. Or how about that, as someone who has invested a lot of time and effort into the writeoff over the last year and IS A NEW FATHER, that it is perfectly reasonable for me to be a little uncomfortable with this story as ANOTHER story on this particular theme that keeps coming up in this group lately.

And I say this with all the love in the world, but fuck off with your "If you're afraid of examining ideas that disturb you, I have no idea why you're an author" MFA Litfic superiority bullshit. I have put up with that attitude enough in my life. I am not putting up with it in an event that stems from a site for MLP fanfiction.

I'm an author because I want to write my schlocky action/adventure/romance genre nonsense, because I want to write things I have fun writing, and because I want to explore the ideas I want to explore. Don't imply that me or anyone else is ANY less of a writer because, hey, a story or theme makes me uncomfortable and I really do not in fact want to deal with it.
#404 · 3
· on Monsters
>>Ranmilia
(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.)

Except you know, when someone actively tells someone to fuck off and belittles them for trying something they don’t like. I’m thinking a harsh response to that kind of review is completely justified.
#405 · 3
· on Monsters
Who would've thought a story about pedophilia, attempted rape, and questionable ethics would spark such a conversation, huh?
Author, I'm sure you were prepared for some backlash seeing your choice of topic, but probably didn't expect this. So, just to make sure you don't lose sight of what's important.

-Keep your work tonally consistent to avoid people getting blindsided by the story. If your story is more serious, make sure people get that impression from the opening.
-Be sure to properly research the topic you're writing about to be sure you're depicting a balanced view.
-Treat your subject matter with the seriousness it deserves. That doesn't mean every story about dark topics has to be a super serious drama, but even comedies about dark topics treat their subject matter with the appropriate seriousness.

I hope you don't get discouraged and keep improving in the future.
#406 · 3
· on Monsters
Wow, this was a hell of a story. Can't wait to get into the discussion thread--

https://media.giphy.com/media/nLhdSinRtaL2E/giphy.gif

Abstain.
#407 · 1
· on Monsters
>>AndrewRogue
I spoke a bit too harshly, and I'm not saying your feelings are invalid. You're naturally entitled to feel however you do, and you can't control that. You're also entitled to your opinion about what you think should or should not be allowed to compete here.

But yes, if you're an author in a competition that allows mature subject matter and you can't handle a serious submission like an adult, I think that's very disappointing. I think it's especially disappointing if this is the story that sets you off, because while Monsters has disturbing subject matter, it isn't gratuitous in how it is presented. You should be able to stop reading the story when it starts to bother you, say "I don't like the subject matter", and then move on like an adult. The reasons why you are an author, why you get angry, or what stories you like to write aren't relevant to what constitutes appropriate behavior.

It isn't an excuse to complain 'this isn't appropriate for My Little Pony' because this competition is not and has never been about writing G-rated fluff, and few of the submissions here are appropriate in that way. There are published authors who compete here and on occasion something produced by this competition is easily worthy of general publication (ponies notwithstanding). I don't think an author who wants to write on this topic should be discouraged from doing so just because it bothers you, and I am not personally discouraged. Most of us are not here for the fake prizes. We're here to become better writers.

All that said, I had no idea this topic had been written on a bunch recently, but I doubt it's a trend.
#408 ·
· on Monsters
>>AndrewRogue
Also, we might be talking past each other by mistake. My initial comment you responded to was not aimed specifically at you. I don't know if you went off inappropriately or not, and there's nothing wrong with expressing your opinion in a polite way.
#409 · 4
· on Monsters · >>Trick_Question >>ToXikyogHurt
Man, this is just blowing up more, isn't it. I'm not going to bother tagging specific comments for reply, because there are too many.

I talked about this story at length with Cassius last night, and I've learned a couple of things, but none of it changed my mind about the story. So I'll tackle a few and hopefully better explain what I thought of the story, plus some new issues that have come up.

A couple of people are bandying about the prospect that the write-off is a bad/good place to do experimental stories or things that might not be received well by a larger audience on FiMFiction. I've long been of the opinion (like, since before the group moved to FiMFiction) that the voters here don't reward things that are experimental. New angles on things, sure. Originality, definitely. But still in fairly tightly defined boxes. Then there are stories like this that, really, most readers will find distasteful. Does that mean it's okay to vote them down because of subject matter? Of course it is. That's the voter's prerogative. If someone wants to give low ranking to any story with Rainbow Dash in it, that's their business. I try to vote a story based on the strength of the writing and concept alone, not my moral judgment of what happens in it, as long as those events are plausible. I am perfectly willing to highly rate stories I hated. But people in general aren't required to do that, nor would it be productive to require them to. So while I'd love to see this be a place where experimentation is rewarded and stories challenge readers (within the T-rated threshold, of course), the reality is that won't usually be the case, and a writer has to go into this knowing that. It's not like this author had highly skewed ideas of readers loving and embracing this, so if they get useful feedback out of it, maybe that's all they really wanted. I will say it took some amount of courage to try tackling this subject.

One of my objections was how overtly Scootaloo tried to force the issue at the beginning. To me it didn't signal comedy, but I can see how it would to some. But this is a very exaggerated escalation. Think about this like a sad story. If a guy's wife dies, that's sad. If his son, dog, mailman, and childhood teacher's uncle also died, it gets ridiculous to the point it's hard to take it seriously anymore, unless there's a really compelling narrative reason to have it that way. It's also a lot harder to feel sympathetic to a character who's so exaggerated. Like sad stories, less is often more, and I think you would have made Scootaloo a lot more sympathetic character if she were played a lot more understated. Even having this obsessive love for Dash might be grounds for psychiatric help, and forcing the issue doesn't necessarily mean doing so violently. The more over the top you go with her, the less authentic the story can feel. That's not to say it's impossible to make it work, only that it's harder, and I felt so alienated from her position that I couldn't empathize with her.

Contrast that with Dash. She has a lot longer to explain her position, and she's under much tighter personal control. This makes her feel a whole lot more realistic as a character, and I could understand her much better. It didn't help that Scootaloo mostly gets dropped from the story at this point, because you had word count left to show more of what was going on with her.

Now, I'll be the first to say that if people do have immediate reactions based on faulty knowledge, that doesn't make them wrong. That's still an honest reaction. I had some assumptions that turned out to be wrong. I have little experience with therapy, but I found it odd that Scootaloo's family was involved. I would have figured that Scootaloo could seek help in complete privacy, but with her being a minor, it wouldn't surprise me to learn her parents would have to be notified, at least in that Scootaloo was in therapy in the first place, if not why. One of the best ways to keep a teenager from opening up is to ask them to in front of their parents, after all. Cassius knows a lot more about this stuff, and he says Scootaloo's parents would definitely be told she was there and probably why, but he did agree with me on two points: that's it's unrealistic to have her extended family there as well, unless she specifically requested them to be. And for the other one, I'll pull back in what at least one other commenter has said: that Dash has been in therapy for a while, so just because something doesn't come up explicitly doesn't mean they've never discussed it. Fair point. But you had the word count to cover more here, and hoping readers will assume things can backfire. I don't think it would have hurt believability to include some of that discussion here, and it would have only helped to solidify what obligations (moral, legal, or professional) the doctor has fulfilled. Yes, if the doctor gets antagonistic telling Dash she's a horrible person, Dash is going to stop paying her attending therapy, which is a bad outcome. So it's the doctor's job to gently steer Dash toward positive behaviors, and while I'll certainly allow she could have done so in previous sessions, she's not doing so here, and it would have helped a lot with her credibility if I got to see some of that. Dash's assertion that her problems will go away once Scootaloo is old enough just bounces off the doctor, and she doesn't do anything (unless I assume she's done so in the past and judges this a bad time to take another stab at it) to ease Dash away from that mode of thinking.

So I still come away with this feeling like the doctor's acted irresponsibly, but it's not as strong as before. And hey, author, you've got the luxury of disregarding what anyone says. Because Cassius can say I was wrong about thinking Scootaloo's parents shouldn't have even been there, and he'd know more about that than I would, then you can brush off that part of my reaction as irrelevant, and I wouldn't say you were making a mistake in doing so. Mind you, there's always going to be some disconnect in this regard. Say you write a story that requires a lot of technical knowledge, and you write it the way most people would assume something works, and later, an expert corrects you. Having it right might seem wrong to a lot of readers. That doesn't mean you should get it wrong to appease people, but just be aware that kind of thing can happen.

So in summary, I'll say that I'd never discount the story out of hand because of its subject matter. Something like this could absolutely happen in real life, and in my mind, that makes it fair game for treatment in fiction. It may mean I hated reading it, but in this case, I didn't, because I don't think it's advocating anything bad (both Dash and Scootaloo recognize their behavior is harmful and are taking steps to correct/mitigate it). Well, possibly except for Dash thinking that if she waits a few years her troubles are over, and nobody disabusing her of that notion. A lighter touch would have made Scootaloo seem much more realistic, and following up with her would have done better with her characterization's depth. Having the doctor more explicitly try redirecting Dash than letting the reader assume she must have at some point would have more firmly established the story's moral ground. And letting me see more of Dash's reaction in the final scene would sell her better. You're using a close limited narration, and while it does take a conversational feel, it still strikes a fairly neutral voice. You're focusing almost exclusively on her dialogue to carry her emotion, while the narration doesn't sound very emotional at all. That's the key place to convey her inner turmoil, but that part sounds almost stoic. She does have a jump in characterization where she suddenly uses lots of profanity with the doctor, and I understand why. Maybe she doesn't want to talk that way in front of Scootaloo, but maybe ease there instead of having it explode. I didn't have the character dissonance some did that this couldn't be canon Dash in any way. I mean, if you're going to confine characterization to show tone, sure, but then you can't have very serious romance, tragedy, etc., and people don't complain about those. Maybe you could draw some stronger ties between canon Dash and this one? It's hard to say; her characterization didn't bug me much, and it's well down the list of things I think need work. But that's just my opinion.
#410 ·
· on Monsters
>>Pascoite
For the record, I agree with pretty much all of this.
#411 ·
· on Maker of Makers!
Genre: That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know?

Thoughts: Author, I fear that I have failed you as a reader or reviewer, but regrettably I Cannot Even with this one. I see other happy reviewers offering enjoyment and feedback; please cling to those. As for me, I've 100% bounced off the surface of the prose here.

Tier: Orthogonal
#412 · 1
· on Monsters
>>Pascoite
Disclosure: I apparently still haven't had enough of this. Sorry. And I'm totally jealous that this is where all the comments are.

I didn't have the character dissonance some did that this couldn't be canon Dash in any way.

I'm going to explicitly claim ownership of this sentiment, unless somebody else speaks up. And my problem is not so much that it couldn't be Dash, more that it isn't right now.

For reference, I think the line that finally killed my Rainbow was this:
...Her brain was still growing into the right shape till a couple years ago...


But in general I expect Rainbow to be deeply irresponsible. I find it hard to reconcile "I'll just stop winter!" with "I better wait until this specific date."

I mean, to be fair, this meant that I got the feeling she must actually love Scoots and not simply be interested in her sexually. But frankly I found that just as weird.
#413 ·
· on The Calm Before The Storm
I'll echo:

The folks above, author. Technically, this is nicely done: the slow passage of time and the monologue and all that. But since it's a scene we've seen before, I was looking for some new insight, something that the scene originally didn't convey--maybe that Twilight reminds Tempest of the baby sister she hasn't seen in years and parted on bad terms with, and the last line reveals that the sister she's thinking of is Starlight Glimmer.

OK, maybe not that, but something to deepen the scene and the character.

Mike
#414 · 1
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
I will try not to reiterate too much what others have said.

I feel as if the pacing was a little bit off. The beginning seemed drawn out, leading to a rather abrupt end. There were a few moments where Luna slipped into a more casual way of speaking which were noticeable but not painfully so, and didn't take me out of the story.

I did like the ending, however. While it was a little rushed and awkward I did get a sense of something from the ending. You can try to be supportive and caring, but in the end you can't change people. They have to be willing to change themselves.

>>Trick_Question
Twilight snuggling Rarity came totally out of left field and it never developed further. That isn't normal behavior for women, and it seems clear you weren't trying to ship them.

I think this could easily be seen as Twi expressing friendly affection. Someone who has a more difficult time articulating their feelings would instead rely on forms of physical contact to convey them.


Overall, I really liked it. I see a lot potential in the story and I think if you are able to set aside some more time for your writing (I know it's easier said than done) you can do really well.
#415 · 2
·
And with that, they're three. At least three reviews for each entry.
Not bad at all.
I look forward to see the art entries tomorrow.
#416 · 7
· on Monsters
Hoo boy, so this one finally shows up on muh slate. Hey Roger, it’d be awesome if the “add another” button selected a bit more for stories that weren’t at the top of the review count! I think it’s a safe assumption that the “add another” crowd are more actively interested in spreading the love than in dogpiling, and doling them out one at a time via the button seems unlikely to create inadvertent dogpiling.

Genre: Scroll of Jimmy Rustling +1

Thoughts: I didn’t go into this fresh. How could I have? It’s been at the center of one of the bigger firestorms I can remember during my time in the Writeoff. As such, I fear pissing off any one of many camps by so much as touching it.

...but here I am anyway, so lez do dis thang!!

The tl;dr is that I’m going to end up rating this highly. The subject matter is not really to my taste, and part of me wonders if this edges out of the contest’s T-territory and into some light M-territory. But IMO it does so in a way that’s clearly at least trying to have gravitas and seriousness rather than being exploitative. I’ve read at least one of the thematically similar stories that (person?) mentioned (somewhere?) above, and I think an important difference from a content-perspective is that this story is being clear and unambiguous about presenting the transgressive stuff as bad. I don’t think Dash could’ve been much clearer in her views on that (see also: THE TITLE). The doctor was fairly wooden and I can’t say how sound their procedure was or wasn’t, but I think the point with making them fairly bland was to keep the spotlight fixed on Dash and her struggles, pursuant to the theme of “monsters.” As such, despite brushing up against subject matter that could very easily be a hard “NO” for me (for reasons that Andrew more or less articulated), I actually felt moved to feel some measure of compassion for Dash. And yeah, I thought this was Dash; and though I’m usually no fan of it, I thought the story’s swearing worked. The story suspended my disbelief long enough to persuade me that this is a Dash who has to grapple with a lot of very dark things in order to be who we see in public, but who gets up and fights that battle every day because she wants to do what’s right, as best she understands it. Messed up or not, that desire has gotta count for something.

And from a purely technical perspective, this is clean and very Well Written (TM).

Tier: (God help me) Top Contender
#417 · 4
·
Well, I am extremely sad. I'm gonna miss the art deadline. I'll post the art on my fimfic page in, like, a day or two when it's complete.
#418 ·
· on The Double Bar · >>TrumpetofDoom
Genre: Cheers

Thoughts: Well this is a cozy little piece. I think I’m with >>Baal Bunny, this feels like it’s rooted in being a story about the bar. And yet it’s also about Octavia encountering only the slightest difficulty in writing a beautiful piece of music for Luna. As the former, I feel it doesn’t quite show us enough about the bar ponies for them to make a lasting impression. As the latter, it’s interesting but low-stakes; that is, it seems like Octavia is never in too much danger of failing to achieve her goals. I don’t think that makes this bad; not by a long shot. However, I do think it means that this could do with some tweaking and expansion.

Sometimes I draw an automotive metaphor by saying that a Writeoff story could use a tune-up before going to FimFiction. Here I might instead go culinary and say that the story could do with some more time marinating. I think what it’s trying to build toward is fairly gentle and atmospheric, which would come (in part) from letting the bar develop to the point where it’s almost a character unto itself. IMO, some more development in that vein could lead to a more fully satisfying take on this.

Tier: Keep Developing
Post by Icenrose deleted
#420 · 2
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace
Before I begin, I’m going to spoiler tag my spoiler tags: this is a spectacular story, and I’m going to spoil the shit out of it with my feedback below. Please, if you haven’t read this story yet, don’t read any further.

Okay?

Okay.

(I screwed up the tags the first time around, apologies ^^;)

First, let me say how impressively constructed this heist/assassination attempt thriller is. I initially had some misgivings about who the eventual traitor wound up being, but when I reread this story specifically to see if there was ever any hint as to Fever Dream’s true motives, I found you had sprinkled several hints throughout the narrative. From her projecting her own insecurities on Compass in the opening scene to her trying to deflect the continuance of the assassination plot at the safe house the morning after, there are several flags for her being the true traitor. I like how much subtler they are than the cues for Lazulite and Peridot, in contrast to Fever Dreams bombastic outward presence.

My main complaint is it’s her cowardice that winds up saving the royal family, yet nowhere else in the story do we ever see her shy away from conflict. She is always up front, in character’s faces, bullying them into acknowledging either herself or her views. Her relationship with Compass is portrayed as mostly physical up until the end, too, and I think just a touch more affection between the two of them would go a long way towards helping justify the emotional tension at the climax.

Also, during the scene when everyone is showing up at the safehouse, Fever is inconsistent:


“Stop that,” Fever said. She sat beside him, trailed by Peridot. “We still have the vase, and we still have our plan. We knew this might happen, which is why we kept bags and a safehouse ready…”


Compare this to what she says just a few paragraphs later:

“Calm down?” Fever shoved past Compass and marched up to their leader. “Calm down? Now? How are we supposed to do that when all our plans lie in ruins? Years of work, gone in an hour!”


This is easily fixed by having Peridot say a version of the second set of lines, instead of Fever.

In addition to the title, I appreciated the multiple allusions you make to Communist China - having the conspirators refer to each other as “comrades,” for example, or how Sombra’s ascent to and justification of power mirrors that of Mao Zedong. I particularly liked the repurposing a slum as special housing for migrant workers - a slum with a fresh coat of propagandic paint.

Minor point - does the Crystal Empire have seasons? I was somehow under the impression that the Crystal Heart maintained nice weather all year round, and the winter signposts (bare bushes, chilly air) threw me off on the second read through.


Most of these critiques are minor points though, Writer, and none of them come close to diminishing how much I enjoyed reading. This was a thoroughly excellent ride, and I hope you decide to publish this later on.

Final Thought: Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright?
#421 · 1
· on The Crystal Uprising · >>The Power Wolf
Genre: Bro Safari

Thoughts: This is almost certainly tangential to any possible substance in this review, but I felt a certain giddy, schlocky joy from reading the opening discussion/altercation while listening to Knife Party’s song, “Destroy Them With Lasers.” Or is it? I daresay that the “*punch* *DAMN!*” style of attempted seriousness here runs aground upon the fell shoals of camp. As such, I don’t feel it’s bad, though it may have proven entertaining for wholly unintended reasons. I’d say this is a good first area of focus for potential revisions; establishing a story’s intended tone early on is good whenever you can do it.

If you really want this to read like an 80s action movie, God knows I’m not going to tell you not to do that. But if that’s not your goal (as per the overall serious-seeming-ness of the rest of it), just be aware that your Schwarzenegger is currently showing. Here, let me highlight one passage that features what I’m talking about:
And if you want to return from our nation’s banishment, not as tools for a tyrant, but as free ponies, then I suggest you follow my lead and fight.”

As if on cue, the walls behind Scarlet exploded

That, dear Author, it magnificently badass as a moment of not-entirely-serious action-ness. However, it’s also not presented in a way that makes me think, “Aha! This is srss work, yss.” Make sense? Again, it’s not a bad thing to write action, or camp, or any of a number of other things. But I think you’re aiming for 300 here, and I regret to say that right now it isn’t getting there.

For more specific feedback, I would suggest having these guys show us more of the conflict’s impact rather than starting with a normal-ish status report that swiftly descends into tough-guy posturing about their relative levels of commitment to The Cause (TM), or to ponykind, etc. This could even make it more plausible (and less random/campy) when one of the 80s Tough Guys turns out to be le traitor.

Tier: Keep Developing
#422 · 6
·
Here, at the end of all submissions, I have my art in the ring.
#423 · 1
· on Santa Bring Me A Dinosaur · >>CoffeeMinion
I really like Discord in this. You got his personality spot-on. Treehugger was good for the most part, aside from the point made by >>Caliaponia


>>Caliaponia
Discord’s lapse into logic is used for haha funny comedy. He bashes Logos for being logical, then lists the logical reasons for why he’s actually not that bad, then says he’s a tool anyway. Zany characters briefly drifting into sanity (or stupid characters with flashes of genius) being played for comedy isn’t all that uncommon, especially in a fandom with Pinkie and Discord.

Also, his thing on entropy wasn’t him saying he believed in himself. He was saying he had no need to worry whether that were possible or not. Because entropy exists, Discord will continue to exist. People won’t ever really stop believing in random chance, which is a large part of chaos.
#424 · 5
· on Familiar · >>Trick_Question
It started out weird(surely intentional), got *really* interesting as more was revealed, but then it kinda fell off at the end. Not to say the end was bad story-wise; it just seems like it was written with a solid idea of what you wanted, but with only 15 minutes left to execute.

Overall, it was well-written and very enjoyable. I don’t normally like to make predictions, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this makes top 36 easily.
#425 ·
· on Another Lifetime
I got a somewhat hung up on the first sentence - the stones (that make up the walls) have been there as long as the walls?
Generally, though, the descriptions were solid, and I don't recall any issues with the mechanics.

This had a slower pacing, but it was effective at establishing the reflective, uncertain atmosphere that Twilight was working through.

The characterization seemed true enough, though the relationship blooming with Celestia caught me off guard. It wasn't bad per-se, but I didn't catch any foreshadowing. And, although I know these sort of things aren't exactly planned, that doesn't really seem like such a great time to start something.

The slow countdown really jumped out at me as well. Also turning a knob labeled ignition? Heathen! Clearly that should be a big, red button.

So, not so much conflict, but it was an enjoyable character piece.
#426 · 1
· on Chrysalis' Kingdom: All Falls Down · >>Kitcat36
This is a nice character piece with quality mood, but it has some issues. The big problems here are telliness and a lack of new perspective—you're retelling a story, but we're not getting anything new. I'm sure the latter has been covered to death by the other reviewers, so I won't go into more detail on that one.

A separate problem is that you switch back and forth between narrated and episodic storytelling once you get about halfway through the piece. Chrysalis basically stops remembering out loud and you have direct flashbacks, and some back and forth between the two styles. The flashbacks are much less telly due to the storytelling method, but the shift in perspective is jarring.

Anyway, about the tell. It's very hard to not be telly when you're writing first-pony limited in train-of-thought style. This is easier to write (mentally), but it's a very high degree of difficulty to pull off properly. Let's look at an example:

She had a hard time thinking, then, all her thoughts washed in red or a burning white, too absorbed in her wrath to think clearly, to think in words. She gradually fought her way back into control.


Just because you're choosing this high-difficulty approach doesn't mean you can't push to show rather than tell. The challenge is to try to tell this story by describing what somepony looking at Chrysalis would look like in this moment, and failing that, to describe Chrysalis's sensations and experiences more than her thoughts. We want the reader to derive the author's value judgments rather than forcing the reader to accept what we want them to feel.

How about something more like this:

Chrysalis slapped a chitinous hoof against the base of her horn in a vain attempt to focus through her anger. As she viewed these images in her mind's eye, she saw them with a reddish tinge and felt the heat of her own rage invading her memories. Chrysalis stood up and clenched her eyes shut, stomping a hoof repeatedly until the images faded.


Note that I focus on what a viewer would see if they witnessed Chrysalis. Don't tell the reader she's fighting for control, actually show them. Then let the reader figure that out for themself. This is the challenge of writing well, and it's much harder when you're inside Chryssi's head like this, but it's still something you can improve. Keep working!
#427 ·
· on Those That Have an Eagle’s Leave · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Ohhh... fanpic of a fanfic. I like it. Mostly because I feel the story ended rather abruptly, and this makes for an amusing continuation.

Obviously, it could use some polish, but I feel the clumsy drawing adds to the charm and humour of the whole piece, to a degree. I like it.
#428 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
I'm disappointed I didn't have time to work on the art during the work week. I'm certain I'd have won. :ajunsure:
#429 ·
· on The Calm Before The Storm · >>Kitcat36
I don't know if this is the same author as Chryssi's Kingdom, but this is pretty much the same exact story approach with the same problems. See my review on that story and apply it here liberally.

More generally, who is the protagonist talking to here? Why is she talking to us? It could help to add context so it isn't just inside her head.
#430 ·
· on Stay Back!
Those are some short legs on Sunset. I can't say if you purposefully blurred them due to that, but the focus on the spilled drink is a nice touch.
#431 · 2
· on Flutterflesh · >>MLPmatthewl419 >>Zaid Val'Roa >>TrumpetofDoom >>Fenton >>Zaid Val'Roa
Love the colours, love the composition, love the scratches that had me double-checking that my screen didn't need cleaning and left me feeling completely uneasy. While this doesn't perfectly fit the description of the story in question, it does perfectly match the tone. Honestly? I think that's far more important.

However, I may have to abstain on this piece. My reasoning for doing so is spoilered, so as to avoid influencing others who might want to vote into abstaining:

It took me a minute, but I recognised the texture used on the mass of flesh as Dalek Caan, because I'm a massive fucking nerd who recognises this sort of thing. A cursory google image search suggests that the artist may have directly used a screencap from the show to help create the texture, as the similarity is uncanny. I may, of course, be wrong, and I don't want this to take away from just how well-composed this picture is. But I don't feel that I can judge it fairly with that knowledge. Sorry, artist!
#432 · 1
· on Solacing Dreams · >>Zaid Val'Roa
This was pleasant, though I'm not entirely sure why Luna has to hide her identity, especially from the terminally ill ponies... that isn't clear at all in the story. I'm also not sure why she does this only once a month if she enjoys it so much.

A few comments follow, mostly stylistic.

“I create the setting for the dream, your subconscious does the rest,” Princess Luna said, simplifying the process for the mare to understand.


You have an occasional habit of saying something the audience has already been shown, thus turning properly-done show into telliness.

She carefully measured her words—lest she provoked an outburst from Summer Breeze—knowing how sensitive a topic this was for her.


This would be better shown. Show us Luna pausing to consider her words, starting with one thing and then correcting herself, etc.

“And what, if I may ask, were those memories about?”


I don't think this is a sensitive approach. "Would you like to talk about it? Nothing you say will leave this dream.", might be a gentler push.

...once they’re laid to their rest, their hearts would be calm, and they would go in peace.


One they're laid to rest, they're already dead. They've already gone and their hearts are stopped and emotions nonexistent. It sounds like you're talking about restless spirits or zombie ponies here.

:moustache: "Zombie ponies?!"

:facehoof: "No, Spike."
#433 ·
·
Somepony misspelled cragadile in their story, but I forget which one it was and I don't think I mentioned it in the review.
#434 · 4
· on The Bonds You Choose, and Those You Leave Behind · >>AndrewRogue
I like the quality of the characterizations, but the antagonists here are monodimensional and too over-the-top. You really should dial back a notch on how repulsive they are. Just as you need to give protagonists flaws, you need to give antagonists redeeming qualities.

These ponies have zero redeeming qualities. Period. They're totally vile and lack any depth. This means Octy doesn't have a true moral choice to consider, so she isn't agonizing over anything other than a loss of wealth: after these conversations she wouldn't want anything to do with them even if she weren't getting married. This makes her interest in marrying her beloved less noble, ironically enough.

My advice: give the bad guys something positive so Octy is actually losing something by making that choice. Make them more than just shallow caricatures of ponies.

I think the twist at the end where Octavia hadn't even asked Vinyl if she wanted to get married until after she burned her bridges is excellent, but some readers will miss it because it's too subtle. Find a way to focus it more sharply into frame.
#435 · 2
· on Should I Stay or Should I Go. · >>Lamplighter
I can tell you Twilight! :twilightsmile: It would take a while, though. :twilightoops:

I'm not sure Twi would believe that the right way to learn about death is to experience it, especially since the clues suggest she isn't very old in this story. She certainly hasn't finished growing and learning; that never truly stops. Considering jumping off the cliff is just a bit too much, especially as a young mother who isn't depressed.

If Twilight were venerable and immortal (Celestia implies she isn't the latter), this story would make much more sense and have legitimate tension. As it is, it doesn't really make a lot of sense for her to contemplate the actual act this deeply. Maybe to think about what would happen were she to die, but not to actually contemplate going through with suicide. I think the premise needs significant change to make this conflict believable.
#436 · 2
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>Aragon
This is great. I don't see the flaws other reviewers have commented on. I think it's almost perfect as-is, but it could use some proofing and maybe a bit slower pace to some of the descriptions—that would add substantially to the mood.
#437 · 1
· on Solacing Dreams · >>Zaid Val'Roa
My synopsis:

Princess Luna visits an aged pegasus at the end of her day, to offer a favour.


Overall thoughts:

I like the sentiment here, that dying ponies deserve comfort and Luna provides it.
I didn't quite get sucked in properly, because I misread the intent of the opening, and then all the little technical faults piled up against me. This is very close to being something I'd really enjoy though.

+
This seems a sweet thing for Luna to do, and the kind of duty she'd be responsible for.
Summer has a reasonable voice. She's scared, obviously, but also there's joy and a spirit for adventure.
Summer literally coming full circle when she gets bitter, and then having another go, is a very nice thought/image.

++
Summer gets to fly off into the sunset, at her own pace.

-
You didn't foreshadow well enough that the ponies she goes flying with are her old friends and not just random dream ponies.
You need a proof-reader.
I think the opening, where she's going to the hospital, doesn't do much for the fic here. Everything before the first scene change.
I don't know why Luna is disguised, it seems an unnecessary and slightly distracting point to the plot. Particularly to me, because I hate her pseudonym here.


Rating:

Good draft, needs polish.


I really like the idea that Luna is "friendly death". That seems like an interesting concept. And to follow the struggle of a dying mare, coming to terms with that fact, is a powerful thing.
Unfortunately, I presumed that Luna was going to be literally death, when you wrote
Which is how she found out about my services
and that she was going to actively end somepony who was suffering. I don't hate that concept either, I just had to re-adjust.
I like that Luna shows up and basically gives this pony her heaven. It's bittersweet, and I love bittersweet. It's easy to over-do sentimentality and force it, but I thought this was perhaps a bit too cautious in that regard.
I'm an asshole about (amongst other things) grammar. I kept tripping on your words and that kept me from enjoying the story properly. And I hate "Solacing" in a pony name. It's the "ing" that does it. Go with noun-noun: "Night Solace" for instance. Solid entry despite that.
#438 · 2
·
Also I forget which story I just read, but:

Luckily the stallion in question -an author the author's self-insert she had befriended during a book convention- had been a gentlecolt about the whole thing.


FTFY
#439 ·
· on The First Princess · >>moonwhisper
I like the ideas but I'm not sure I like the story. There's no reason why things are ending right now, and there really needs to be. This is a story that should happen far in the future, not when the current Generation is at its peak of being fleshed-out with dozens of loose ends. I could get behind the story if it happened further off in the future.

The main issue I have with the writing is that a story this epic needs more than twenty-three hundred words to come alive. I assume time was a factor, but if this is fixed up for publication it needs significant expansion.

“It sounds like a prophecy,” said Sunburst. Twilight snorted. “Don’t be silly. There are no such things as prophecies!” she said.


Twilight and the other characters have quoted and used prophecy throughout the series. This is totally not something she would say.

Also, I've never seen Twilight snort.

It's difficult to believe that Star Swirl would lie to 'keep Twilight busy'. If she can't stop the end of the world, why would you need to keep her and her friends busy? It's not like she can muck things up.

Wild Fire is an odd choice. I realize she was created by a storyboard artist who left the show years ago, but I don't think this means her presence will be central in the next generation. If anything, Celestia or Twilight would be the genesis seed.
#440 ·
· on Another Pony’s Poison · >>Pascoite
On my own. It hadn’t come from anywhere. Things ending, her, thinking I’d gone, and let her mind be at ease.


I like the story, but I'm totally confused by what happened. Lines like this threw me and I never quite pieced together what you were trying to say. Does Sunset just feel guilty and can't forgive herself? Is she mad that Celestia loves her? Is that love a romantic love, and is it unrequited? I'm left with too many questions because you were overly poetic about what Sunset's problem was. I don't get it. I'm not even sure about the nature of her relationship with Celestia prior to her betrayal, and that's the central theme of the story.

Maybe if I read the story again a few more times, but I don't have time to at the moment. Still, it's a powerful story, and I like it. Just try to make the conflict—and the message, if there is one—less muddy.

Also, I don't think Celestia would choose this of all moments to recount Sunset's failures as a filly, especially if she loves her and is desperate as she seems to be to be near her. That shouldn't be what is important right now. Sure, she'd talk about how proud she is of her, but not remind her of why she left.
#441 · 3
· on Let Me Know · >>Zaid Val'Roa
This is my favorite of the art pieces. Just a lovely drawing. I hope the author feels as good about it and would consider using it as cover art. I hope also that the artist would be good with this. Because the piece suits the story very well, IMO.

(Only other suggestion: maybe have Novel-Idea work his magic on this before going live as cover art.)
#442 ·
· on Another Pony’s Poison
Okay, I totally missed the ending until peeking at some reviews. I thought her 'disguise' was just that she had become an alicorn but was hiding this fact.

Does Celestia know about Sunset? Is she the one who went to Canterlot High or is that another Sunset? I have more questions now than before, unfortunately.
#443 · 2
· on Onslaught Against Entropy
I love the little angry Twilights, it's a nice touch. Overall, this is very simple, but it works. The only thing I'd change would be the colour of the galaxy, perhaps a few additional shades of yellow would give the picture some depth.

Also, and this is entirely a matter of different ideas, I would've liked to see Twilight fade into the background of space, similar to how Eternity is portrayed in the Marvel Comics.

But, hey, this is still a very eye-catching image.
#444 · 1
· on Another Lifetime
I like it. I find the characterizations spot-on and believable.

“Somepony very smart once told me that when things seem insurmountable, you have to move forward. Otherwise things seem like too much of a burden to carry on.” Celestia’s smiling face jumps into my mind’s eye, and I can’t help but grin back at it.


I realize you're doing this for dramatic effect, but I dare you to say and do all of that in the space of one second.

Better approach: count down from twenty, and skip one or two seconds for the longer in-betweens.
#445 · 2
· on Calm of the Void
What I like about this piece in contrast with the other image for the same story is that Twilight is much smaller in comparison to her surroundings. It drives home that feeling of isolation I got while reading the story.

Alright, maybe it was a bit too small, but that contrast is interesting.
#446 ·
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>ToXikyogHurt
Not much else to say that hasn't been said before. I honestly wish I had gotten to this story earlier, so that I could have given some original criticism. >>ToXikyogHurt already said most of what I think needs being said.

I did very much enjoy reading the story, parentheses a side. A nice bit of kefka-isk lovecraftian body horror never goes wrong with me. My only complaint is that I've seen Concepts like this - it's always Fluttershy isn't it?- done better. And I think there was one too many line breaks. It kept distracting me from the narrative, and pulling me out of the story. Other than that, very well written.

This is probably going to get one of my top spots.
#447 ·
· on The Calm Before The Storm
My synopsis:

Tempest shadow decides her own fate.


Overall thoughts:

I wasn't gripped. I've seen the movie, this read like a novelisation.
Technically finely written, but not an interesting idea.

+
Characterisation seems good: in line with what I've seen.
It's a nice moral, good for Fizzlepop's character. You show it in more detail than the film and you do it well. She's not sacrificing herself for redemption. She's doing it because it's the right thing.

-
I mean... it's just a retelling of a scene from another viewpoint. And it doesn't tell us a great deal new, or provide a real window to Fizzlepop showing anything we weren't told or can't easily guess.
It's slightly dry. Telly. Not poetic enough to hold out as pure description on it's own. No allegory or simile.
There's some phrasing I found problematic.


Rating:

An unwise investment of talent.


This reads like you had no idea what to write at all, and you're relying on being a competent writer to make up for it. Unfortunately for your rating, I read to avoid being bored. I'd like to see what you can do when you find a more novel concept to explore.
Or where you're writing fuller action scenes. I'm going to guess that's more your normal thing.
#448 · 2
· on You Didn't Look Back, Not Once · >>Fenton
*beggar

I love how the colours drip off Sunset and down the page. I'm sure I could make a deep interpretation of how this relates to how drained she feels after her breakup with Twiggles, but I think that's pretty self-explanatory. I think I would've liked for you to do a bit more with those washed out colours, maybe blend them together as they rech the bottom of the page, or have a subtle purple~ish tint. There was potential for taking things further and deepening the strength of the drawing, but I liked it nonetheless.
#449 · 1
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak · >>Lamplighter
>>Lamplighter
Don't let me stop you adding detail, or putting your own spin on the good and the bad. I want to be a voice, not the only voice.
#450 · 1
· on Spelling Trouble
Fun little story to read. As was stated before, you could have spent some more time flushing out the relationship between the two main characters.

I must say, I really enjoyed Midnight Sparkle in this. Not so much an evil version of Twilight, as a snarky version of her. Would that make her Midnight Snarkle? Her character is definitely the best part about this entire story.

The odd closet homicidal Tendencies of Fluttershy did seem off-putting and out of place, but I'm guessing they were played for comedy. It may have just missed the target with me.
#451 ·
· on (The Flesh Is) Weak
>>ToXikyogHurt
Don't worry, I said as much as I think needs being said. I wasn't lamenting the fact of not being able to give criticism. Just that after reading your comment, I realized that you had noted upon every point that I wanted to make. I think that your feelings on this story were so close to mine, that I didn't simply want to be echoing them.

Not breaking anonymity, because you've made quite a few reviews, but even your critique of my story was exactly what I felt it was lacking as well.
#452 · 1
· on Undiminished · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Did Applejack made that sign? Because the heart sorta looks like an apple. Speaking of whom, did she sprout a horn? Or did Rarity change her manestyle and swiped AJ's hat to accesorise?

But hey, those are just nitpicks, I can still feel that melancholic happiness from Twilight's expression. I also liked the darkness creeping upon her as the nothingness takes over.
#453 · 1
· on Shoot for the Stars · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
This is one of the best entries that I've read. The portrayal of Luna and Rarity was excellent, even more so considering we see them at the beginnings of their characters. We get a lovely season 1 slice of life feeling, some funny moments and enjoyable interactions, some interesting world-building and a compelling story.

For the complaints, I agree with >>Trick_Question. The poetic introduction was weird and Twilight's snuggling felt off (at least in the early season 1 setting ) About the end, I'll guess the author didn't have enough time to finish the story properly.

I hope we'll be able to see a more complete version sooner or later, because I really enjoyed reading it. Can definitely be top tier.
#454 ·
· on Here at the end, of all things! · >>ToXikyogHurt
This was, perhaps the funniest thing I've read during this competition. It perfectly encapsulate the idea of a night out on the town. Two friends having fun, getting a little sauced, and ending up in the drunk tank.

I like the little touches, like how Twilight giggles as she drunkenly teleports in and out of the cell.

This story plays with the idea of Fame and popularity. A common idea pointed out by fans of the show. The question of why the main six, Twilight especially, aren't famous. Or more famous than thay're portrayed.

I think a lot of that is Justified in The Narrative of the show, by trying to avoid being obnoxious. As I'm sure if the show is nothing but the main six being hounded by Paparazzi, many would lose interest very quickly. Although this was touched upon in that one episode recently.

But the fun thing about this story is that it completely subverts that entire idea with Luna's revelation of the law at the end. Very well done.
#455 · 1
· on Entropy · >>zaponator
This story moved me more than any of the others, but I had two issues I hope you'll work on when you publish this (because you should).

First, I don't buy the premise. You need something more complex than "Starlight tried to cast a spell to learn stuff" in order for this to seem realistic rather than a simple deus ex to get the story rolling. Give her a better reason to cast the spell, a more specific goal.

Second, Trixie's characterization goes off-mark several times. She's too stupid and clueless, particularly at the end of the story after they return. She isn't as quick as Starlight, but she isn't a complete idiot.

Trixie simply waved a hoof dismissively. "Trixie's character will grow when it's ready to grow. In the meantime, magic!"


Trixie's character has already grown. Trixie hasn't spoken about Trixie in the third pony since Trixie's appearance in Season 1. :trixieshiftright: :twilightsmile:

Great story, though.
#456 · 5
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
<twin_peaks>Mashup is happening again...</twin_peaks>

No Spring Monster: On the cusp of retirement, Rainbow Dash finally talks Applejack into wearing a redacted and engaging in some even more redacted. Meanwhile, Big Mac seeks radical psychiatric intervention to help him remember that he's married to Sugar Belle, not Fluttershy. :trollestia:

Shoot For Yesterday's Diamonds: Newly minted Alicorn Princess Rosehip struggles to bring peace to the land as Luna freaks out about losing her powers and Rarity & Diamond Tiara fight to the death over a piece of fashion-forward retro jewelry.

The Melatonin Uprising: In a world... where sexy dream meds are held only by an evil smoky unicorn guy... one mare... and her six transgendered warrior friends... will fight... for their right... to believe in themselves?

The Second Bar: Sunset Shimmer can't decide if she'd rather go to the upscale artsy-music place upstairs, or to the EDM wubfest downstairs. So she embarks on a vision quest to an alternate universe instead!
#457 · 1
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace · >>Cassius
My synopsis:

The Crystal Empire is under the control of a terrible presence, but Compass Call and his companions have a plan to help free it.


Overall thoughts:

Really, outstandingly good. Probably the most-objectively best thing I've read here so far.
A proper original story, with real characters, a kind-of point, and an interesting use of the setting.

++
After a while, I stopped looking for things wrong and just let the story take me.


Rating:

I wish everything I read could be this good.


The goal, as far as I'm concerned, of a story is to entertain me. To do that, you first have to tell it to me. But I don't actually like being tangled in writing. A well written story has writing that's nearly invisible to me. After the first scene, I decided I could just trust you to tell me the story. No weird tense shifts. No awkward phrases. No weird changes of tone. I put down my notepad and just read the story.

And lo, there was a story! You filled my time and I have no complaints about how you did it.

It made sense. It was interesting. Engaging. There was action. Intrigue. Pathos. How the fuck did you write all this in three days?

You don't need me reviewing this. You know what you're doing far better than I.

I suspected Lazulite, by the way. You sold me that Fever was just too angry to consider. Well played.

You do have one erroneous leading space I noticed, before: "Really?".
#458 · 1
· on Here at the end, of all things! · >>ToXikyogHurt
This is a nice story, though it's a stretch for me to believe Rarity would act this way. Rainbow Dash, maybe. And it's quite unlike Twilight to be unprepared. It would make more sense for them to be doing these things for the thrill than because they don't have the money on them.

I was disappointed in the mixed messages early in the story. There were several moments where it seemed certain you were intentionally shipping RariTwi, especially when the discussion of gay characters and the same-sex flirting happened. I thought that was the source of the tension for the first half of the story. I think you're sending signals you don't intend to be sending. If you are intending it, you don't return to the topic which is a mistake.
#459 · 4
·
>>CoffeeMinion
Oh, right. Mashups were a thing. I'll give 'em a go.

Santa, Deliver Me a Dinosaur
To get with the times, Santa Hooves uses Equestria's postal service to deliver gifts.Things go awry when the mailmare has to figure how to charge for the extra weight of a dinosaur.

Another Pony's Wake-up Call
A changeling starves when the girlfriend of the person it impersonates breaks up with her.

Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of Familiarity
Twilight channels the energy of the dying universe to run her Season 1 VR simulator.

The Calm Before The Crystal Uprising Falls Down
A group of rebel soldiers have a deep introspective monologue about the nature of dictatorships before they're violently impaled by spears.

Paint the End of all Things Black
In order to drive up sales, Uncle Wing marks down the price of his items for Friends-Day Sale. Shenanigans ensue as nobody cares about the meaning of the objects they buy.
#460 · 3
· on Maker of Makers!
I like this story.

I think I'd like it more if it tied more concretely into the MLP mythos. More specifics about Celestia and Luna, more information about what Twilight is doing.

Actually, do you know what would be super-ultra-extreme-awesomazing? Break this piece into tiny chapters, then intersperse the chapters with stories from Equestria about Twilight triumphing. Make this a duet between the outside and the inside, instead of just looking in from the outmost, and you'll have something truly fantastic.
#461 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace · >>Cassius
This is great, but I don't think you need as much death to tell the tale. You could be equally dramatic without abandoning the spirit of Friendship from the series, and I don't see enough tie-ins to those concepts here. There were places you almost hinted at it.

I really think you should capitalize Lord everywhere except when Fever says it at the end.
#462 · 3
· on Tramonto · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I absolutely am in love with the shading in this picture!! It is so well done and is personally my favorite in this competition.
#463 · 4
· on Flutterflesh · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>QuillScratch
You mean... this image?

Yeah, I see it too.
#464 · 6
· on You Didn't Look Back, Not Once
God, we have so many good artists.
#465 · 1
· on The Crystal Uprising · >>The Power Wolf
There are a few things this story could use, paragraphing not the least of them.

I'm going to be very direct and opinionated, so your mileage may vary. Feel free to disagree or disregard what you don't like below.

The main issue of this story is I don't understand the point. I don't see a message beyond 'things are terrible' and the conflict between Teal and Scarlet (clever use of color, though). I'm not sure what you're trying to convey to the reader, and it's probably because I don't get the ending.

I don't understand the ending at all. The story positions itself as happening after the removal of the Kingdom from time, but when the Crystal Ponies returned there were no guards or battle because Sombra was still weak—the only enemy was the weather. Are you rewriting Sombra's return to make it bloody? If so, it isn't clear enough that this is taking place during the return. If this is an alternate timeline, it makes even less sense because the citizens would surely know that alicorns have been leading the battle against Sombra's forces. I think you need some clarity on where this takes place.

The first half of the story is remarkably dialog-heavy, with a lot of static dialogue (sic) between Captain Exposition and Lieutenant Plot Point. War is something we should see, not be told about. The argument over 'fight or surrender' is vital, but not the description of the war or the diamonds. You should try to show us those things without telling us directly.

If we give up now, then our entire rebellion will have been in vein


I'm going to assume this was a mistake and not an intentional pun. I don't think it's the appropriate level of pun for this piece.

Mentioning that somepony is transgender is a very strange thing during a life-or-death struggle, because ultimately it doesn't matter. I think it's best to leave it out.

He knew who the real enemies were now.


Don't tell us this, show us. Or at least give us an indication that this is the leader's perception we're getting this through, not the narrator telling us. I think you intended this to come across as the leader's POV but it isn't clear enough.
#466 · 2
· on Twilight Under the Bodhi Tree
This is one of the best. I think I'd like it more if it were a natural malady than a supernatural one, though. Maybe something physical made dementia appear more quickly than it otherwise would have? Then it wouldn't feel like the characters gave up on solving Twilight's mental status.
#467 ·
· on Welcome to the End of all Things · >>LiseEclaire
This is a good story with excellent mood, but it relies on a stale trope (there is no need for it to be Asian to be 'exotic'—I'd prefer a businesspony or an alien to an Asian stereotype), and more importantly it altogether lacks conflict.

So I think this is a really good start to a story, and the writing is good, but it needs more than the setup.
#468 ·
· on Second Chances · >>writeratnight
This is a great first chapter to a full story. It loses a little for not being complete, but not too much.

I really don't like Christian afterlife mythos, however. It's incredibly stale. You could have—neigh, should have—gone with something creative and different. As is, the 'rules' seem arbitrary and unfair, and this makes me care less about the outcome of Sunset's quest.
#469 · 2
· on Tramonto · >>Zaid Val'Roa
This is fucking breathtaking. Even though I despise Sunset Shimmer, god damn this is masterful. The image it evokes...
#470 · 3
· on Those That Have an Eagle’s Leave · >>GroaningGreyAgony
God I love you, whoever did this.

The artstyle makes it endlessly funnier, and it's adorable on top of it all.
#471 · 3
· on Wake-up Call · >>Icenrose
The story is expertly told, but I can't believe that Twilight would neglect her ex's mental health to this extent, no matter what the breakup was like. That just isn't Twilight Sparkle. She shows no compassion or empathy beyond minimal talk to get herself out of the apartment. It isn't on-character.

Sunset also seems to be in a deeper funk than just a loss of a relationship. If she hasn't gone outside in a long time, that's pretty serious. The other Mane 5 should be coming to see her, not taking no for an answer. I find no friendship in here (texted concerns noted, though), and so it doesn't feel pony or in-character to me. I think you should add more concern for her wellbeing, especially from Twilight, but in general—and dial back the severity of the depression.
#472 · 1
· on Spelling Trouble
This is cute.

The visage of the destroyer-cum-tutor appeared...


Oh, it's going to be that kind of story. Ahem.

Anyway, it's a cute story, but I think it could use a bit more. Maybe a turning point for Midnight, or more conflict? It feels more like a minific than a short story, even though you weren't padding. I'm not sure what's missing but I feel like this deserves more horse words and more concept.
#473 · 8
·
Well, that's every entry. Like a bawwwwss.

I have too much crap to do now. Must go work. Good luck to all, which is a ridiculous wish since the scoring is relative so forget I said that.

I am tired.
#474 · 3
· on Not a Thing to Do/But Talk to You · >>horizon >>Posh
Consarn it, I wish this was on my slate. This is pretty obviously the Horizon Embrax joint that he keeps promising us. I'm just here because it's low on reviews, but there's not much anyone really needs to say when H-Biggity is on the money.

Genre: Prelude to a ship

Thoughts: I loved how this invoked the Mos Eisley Cantina-like visuals and creature diversity of the MLP movie to set up for the tiger guy. That was a masterful use of humor via juxtaposition, putting the depth of his struggle with Ember against her sheer obliviousness about what she'd done to him. The character voicing was strong all around and the quality of prose was high, with only a couple of typos to distract.

Really the only/biggest negative I see here is something Horizon spoke about with shipping. (coincidence? I think not!) That is, I don't know how much outreach this really does for the central pair unless one is at least a little bit predisposed to Embrax. And that's if you go for either the platonic or non-platonic angle on it. I mean, there's the surface-level story about two very different characters trying to get closer, but there are a couple hints that more is brewing under the surface... and the latter isn't supported as well as it could be, IMO. Like right now we have a pretty thorough argument for why these two don't make sense together, but there isn't a lot to help point toward why they do. Other than dragon hugs. But that's it, or at least pretty close to it, as far as I can see.

What's here works well and is very entertaining, though.

Tier: Strong
#475 ·
· on Another Lifetime
It just didn't land for me. Sorry. Twilight's weird mopeyness had me think she was there to see Celestia and get a dressing-down, or something, and then the romance was not at all what I was expecting. I think I got the spaceship idea before some people, but I know I saw the word "spaceship" in the general discussion thread, even if I had no idea what story that was from (deliberately not paying that much attention so I don't spoil things too badly). It was interesting to have Twilight heading off into space but the almost dreamy, melancholy tone didn't really match up for me. I'm an oddball, though, so I don't know if this feedback is useful when so many other people liked it.
#476 · 2
· on The Dressmaker's Lament · >>Morning Sun
I really like how the reveal was done, with the little pronoun slips and the blink-and-you-miss-it explanation at the end. Everything about it and the voicing is so perfectly Rarity, so really big kudos for that.

The thing is, outside of the central twist, I have to be honest and say that I found it pretty hard to stay consistently engaged throughout. It's just that there isn't all that much going on, here. From a purely plot-based perspective, we begin with a central conflict/problem, and then most of the story is the main character thinking about this problem until she decides in the end that it doesn't matter. If it weren't for the twist, I'd call this story anticlimactic. And if it weren't for the strength in Rarity's voicing, I might even call it meandering.

I think this piece could really use some kind of concrete plot thread running through it to hold the reader's attention a little better. In my opinion, it's a bit too easy to start to tune out big chunks of this story because it comes across as rambly monologue. Which is a shame, because I only really started noticing a lot of the little characterization touches on my second and third read-throughs. Give us something to latch on to, and the piece will feel more focused.
#477 · 2
· on Beyond Deity
Well, this story was intriguing, but I'm going to have to say that it was a little awkward at the beginning, especially. When a character addresses another character, there's a comma: "No, Rainbow." NOT "No Rainbow." That always drives me especially crazy when the dialogue is important and it happens multiple times. You're not trying to tell me that there is no rainbow here! You're trying to say no to Rainbow Dash! I'm sorry to harp on this, but major pet peeve. It threw me when I couldn't afford to be thrown.

Now, rereading the piece some more, I like it better. I'm getting past the initial weirdness and confusion to find it rather enjoyable. It seemed really odd to me that Rainbow's perspective on what was happening changed so much from the first encounter to most of the others. I wouldn't mind this expanded, the rough wording patches smoothed, and a little clarification on the confusing abstract parts added. You have to be REALLY careful when you use a regular noun as a name (i.e. Chaos) to refer to it properly so it's clear it's a name... The idea, though, is really, really interesting, even if Discord's role totally came out of left field for me. I'd love to see this polished. Think it could be a real hit on FimFic.
#478 · 1
· on Lily's Letter · >>Miller Minus
There are some lovely lines of prose in this piece, and it was pretty well written, but I just couldn't connect at all to the narrator, doing reckless, crazy things that could be dangerous (not my jam...) and having so much hate and being convinced s/he was boring but not actually caring... I dunno, it felt like a character, but where were the genuine things to like? Why did the narrator expect their friends to react to Lily's letter if they didn't know who she is and she isn't someone famous? At least, not under the name Lily? I dunno, some of the prose was great, and I was caught up in the adventures and the dialogue in the middle--in my opinion, the best part--but the protagonist's bitterness in the beginning and worse in the end was unpleasant to me. I also don't feel like it's quite finished--it's really up in the air (oh my gosh, that pun was accidental but so bad I'm leaving it) as to what happens at the end and how it turns out. I hope you keep writing and maybe polish this up some! Explaining the protagonist's bitterness would help quite a lot.
#479 · 1
·
Phew, I made it through my slate! I hate trying to rank stories... I dunno if any of my critiques are helpful, authors, but I wish you all the best of luck going forward with your writing!
#480 · 4
· on Euvem · >>horizon >>Zaid Val'Roa
It made me laugh, and I really appreciate the joke, but I hope you understand that I can't place this at anywhere except the bottom.
#481 · 1
· on The Same · >>dragon discord
Seems like a missed oportunity to make a blue pill joke. Oh, well.

I like how you manage to convey so much through Twilight's eyes. The bags, the tears, that half-lidded stare. Makes you wonder if there's a scant second before she takes the pill when she wonders if it's worth it to keep this charade before relenting and continuing with her routine.

Nicely done, artist person.
#482 · 1
· on Yesterday's Diamonds
I'm sorry to say that I bounced off this one quite a bit. IMO, when you're dealing with writing child characters, it's pretty important to maintain a sense of their internal logic, even when they're being brats. As it is, DT ping-ponging from "She didn’t like [the tiara] at all" to "But it's mine!" without warning is a little annoying to me. I get that she's supposed to be a terrible kid, but it's still a bit of whiplash to go from ungrateful-brat to greedy-brat just like that.

The pacing also felt a little off-kilter. I think a lot of the complaints about Luna's scene from other reviewers could be at least in part due to the fact that this scene is the longest by far. The intro scene is about a thousand words, the resolution is about nine hundred, but LUna's is a whooping sixteen hundred. That's proportionally a lot time to spend on your climax, especially if it's just ponies talking. The fact that the set-up and ending are so short in comparison compounds the problem, since it makes it feel like you're spending a lot of time solving a problem that wasn't even explored very much.

My main suggestion would be to expand the fic before Luna's scene. Make DT's perspective and her personal problems a little more fleshed out before you resolve them. That way, the change of heart will seem less sudden and unearned.
#483 · 3
·
Just a few hours before the Pre-lims end, and every story has at least five reviews. Congratulations to everyone, and I wish you the best.
Post by dragon discord deleted
#485 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle vs. The Heat Death of the Universe · >>Xepher
Well this really rang my bell just right, let me tell you that right off the bat. I don't have a whole lot to add or analyze, really. But damn, yeah, if anyone's going to make the end of all things her bitch, it's going to be Twilight Sparkle. Well played on every emotional beat, start to finish. The opening few scenes hinting at the universe being more (less?) than it seemed were great. Not too long, not too short, just the right about of emotional punch to kick off the main dish.
#486 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace
Hmmm, hmmm hmmmm. I wonder who wrote this.

There are many good things in this story, and its construction is quite solid—an exceptional draft. There are points at which the story hiccuped for a few seconds, either through poor decisions in scene direction or just ineffective and inefficient explanations of the situation and setting, but never did I feel the story lost the plot or tossed me out completely. I haven't had this much of an issue finding things to bitch about in quite a while, so consider that in that of itself a compliment.

I am honestly impressed.

As with everything, there are a number of problems, however. Like another story I could mention, this story was also cut down to fit the word-count requirement, and it shows. I can't help but feel that this piece is missing a few key scenes in regards to the relationship between Fever Dream (a name I am still not really sold on) and Compass. Part of this is due to the sugar and ice relationship the two share, making it somewhat difficult to effectively communicate the how exactly they feel about what another, but there is another equally important shortcoming in properly setting up for the intensity of those emotions that require the conclusion to properly function.

Writing a convincing relationship and conveying that depth of feeling is a very difficult thing to do, and I don't expect you you know who you are to be able to get that on your first or second, third, etc. go. You're getting better, though. However, you are pinning the success of your conclusion mainly on the plausibility of that relationship being genuine, and the amount of setting up you do for such an important component is quite bare bones. I am speculating about your motivations, but if you wanted that element to be a reveal, please dissuade yourself of that notion.

But anyways. You were not able to throw me as you did >>ToXikyogHurt with the identity of the traitor, and reading the other reviews, I think that the traitor is ultimately too immediate and obvious based on how she is characterized in relation to the protagonist, and the other two suspects are too easily cleared within the narrative, both because the reader: 1. has every reason to suspect the traitor and 2. they aren't given enough characterization in relation to the others, and in reading the work in a meta sense, it becomes obvious that the character given the most attention other than the protagonist will end up being the traitor . Not to say you failed on this front or anything, just that it needs some refinement. Perhaps some minor alterations to the character's backstories, some small changes in the level of certainty characters use, etc.

The conclusion itself I'm not sold on. I'm sort in the same boat as >>Trick_Question is that, at least how the scene is portrayed, the death isn't entirely necessary for the drama to be felt, and to me, I found the way in which it resolved itself to be a bit played out. The two characters in question aren't properly primed for such a grisly end, and it seems to me that given how reluctant Compass is throughout the entire story, it is odd that it is at that point he decides to be so resolute. It is strange that you establish this component of Compass' character and then never quite use it in any meaningful manner throughout the story. There needed to be a scene where the questioning and uncertain Compass becomes more hardened and dedicated to fulfilling his mission for the the conclusion to function, thus alienating Fever Dream, who feels compelled out of obligation to put him down . To be frank, I don't find there is a compelling enough reason for each of the characters as written to want to kill each other, and the conflict could have been resolved without it.

Naturally, I suspect you'll want to keep that tragic death end and disregard a solution that involves some contrivance to avoid it. So here is my suggestion: back build it a bit more. Show the death of Compass' moral compass, as tragedy and setbacks, that voice in his head that makes him question what he is doing is just simply dies out. He becomes more angry, a monster of revenge, to even the point where his comrades are a bit shocked by his brazen nature. Don't have Fever Dream kill the guard (this actually makes her character less comprehensible in the grand scheme of the story anyways), give that to Compass. And in the final scene, have Compass be the one who lets himself get killed, instead of how it plays out. Or simply nix the implication that the traitor allows herself to be killed. One of the two.

While I found the obvious referencing to communist dictatorships to be worth incorporating, I found they were a bit overblown in the sense that they were simply pounded into the reader's skull over and over again. After a while I found myself absentmindedly whispering "Okay I get it." The reliance on the coopting of these turns of phrase serves to disguise another shortcoming of the story, which is the fact that none of the character's motivations are established outside of some vague sense of displeasure with their previous life before joining the cell. The usage of that specific verbiage conveys that these people are basically brainwashed loyalists seeking to overthrow the established order, but the story itself doesn't dive into much more depth of why they think that, despite how commonly the effects of that belief are brought up. There are some lines implying magical brainwashing, but it's not fully fleshed out.

Setting the scene for this sort of story is a complicated thing, and I personally would have a great deal of difficulty conveying all the necessary information to get this sort of plot off the ground. The story itself does an adequate if sometimes inefficient and circuitous job of explaining things, but sometimes there are lapses in communication either in regards to what the reality of the characters are (i.e. what are their plans, motivations, backgrounds, how they're doing things, etc.) or what is happening in the scene. I wouldn't say it is necessary a pacing or even an exposition issue, but more a failure to impart adequate emphasis and information key to understanding the significance of events or how they're occurring. In particular, the guard's raid scene strikes me as distinctly choppy.

Get rid of the the two line scene. It really comes across as an afterthought as opposed to an intentional decision, which, knowing you, I know you did knowingly, but nonetheless, you should know that I know that you know better than to try and pull something like that. Know.

Peridot and Lazulite conjure up images of Steven Universe, which I'm not sure if you're doing intentionally, but if you are, cut that out.

As everyone else has already said, fleshing out the characters more would give you a lot more latitude in accepting the story's proceedings and ultimately make the story more interesting. I'm only repeating that advice because it's good advice.

Your description is good, and there are lot of nice little phrases that communicate character. That being said, the narrative still needs to be tightened a bit, and your penchant for long-winded, elaborate turns of phrase occasionally bite you in the ass. Sometimes information is presented unintuitively for the purpose of the scene (immediately I think of how the vase and its functions are introduced or simply out of order, so be sure to look that over on redraft. Your vocabulary at points comes across as a bit purple and overly obtuse, but I don't think it is a glaring issue.

Anyways, this was a good read. Quite solid. Probably would be a slate topper if I were voting.
#487 · 2
· on Beyond Deity
A weird mix of abstract symbolism and literalism here. Dash is literally gravity or something, but... is having a conversation and making Fluttershy cry?

The voices don't quite sound right to me. I get this is some far distant time, so characters have changed maybe, but... Dash saying "Well tough luck pal" sounds wrong, and Fluttershy blaming Spike (or anyone) feels off too.

Ooookay... they're all merging into each other now?

The structure of this, after the first couple of them merged, becomes very repetitive, and therefore predictable. Restating each time how a new color shows up in her mane and such are really slowing the pacing. After the first merge or two, this would probably flow better in a summary.

Many lines of dialog continue to feel out of place or off. We're being shown the end of all existence with weird symbolic deities, yet they use lines like "Can she still talk like normal?" or "This is getting really weird" and "You shut up and explain everything."

Overall, this was a somewhat interesting idea to start with, but quickly lost my interest once the general pattern was shown. After that, it was just far too linear. I was hoping there'd be some payoff at the end that really tied all the symbolism together, but... Well, it goes exactly where it told us it was going. It's the end of everything, and all our favorite ponies-now-gods merge into each other, the end... (and cue the cliche "beyond the veil" ending.) The actual elements they are shown to represent ("souls," "death," etc.) seem to have nothing to do with each other or the ending. Starlight and Sunset could literally switch roles and it would change nothing. Or they could represent just about any other archetypes ("Change" and "Love" and such) and it'd read the same too.

I don't mean to be too harsh, but there was just nothing to connect me to the characters, and seemingly nothing to connect them to the plot beyond just being there as deities. So while it's a mildly fun exercise in symbolism, it feels more like an sketched out idea, rather than a full story.
#488 · 1
· on Maker of Makers! · >>ToXikyogHurt
>>ToXikyogHurt
It's not that I can't visualize that, it's that it's a curiously precise way to describe a shape when much more common words could be used instead. *cough cough* star *cough cough* In that sense, it's like a story describing a bush as "103.937cm in height." If that very, very precise number isn't critical to the story, then it's almost certainly better to describe it as "about a meter high." Unusually technical language stands out, and should be used to effect, not as a general substitute for more common terms.

Now, having said that, I think the author here was, in fact, trying to use it for effect. Specifically, to somewhat obfuscate the identities/symbols of the characters involved here. The problem is, MLP is already so obviously laden with symbolism (due to cutie marks), and so often focuses on half dozen main characters that this obfuscation doesn't, at least to me, come across as a clever ruse, but merely serves to slow down the pacing of the story itself. I know pretty early on that these characters are representations of the Elements, and it doesn't feel rewarding just to be able to match up which is which, so obfuscation of their marks in geometric jargon does more to throw off the pacing than anything else.


Now, having said all that as well... I was perhaps a bit too harsh in my previous comment. I hit the negatives pretty strongly, and because this story pushed a few of my buttons on the author-trying-too-hard-to-be-clever alarm, it probably soured my view of other elements in the story as well. To remedy that, let me add that I think the prose here is pretty decent (jargon excepted) and does a really good job of setting and sticking with a fairly unique tone. (The exception there being some of the dialog, which I noted earlier as out of place.)
#489 ·
· on Twilight Sparkle at the Gate of Heavenly Peace
Holy MacGuffin, Batman! Chekov's vase ahoy!

A little confusion here early on, as it's not clear how many ponies are in the seen, so Fever Dream sounds like a misnomered Peridot just by the back-and-forth of paragraphs. [EDIT: This actually happens throughout the story, with action/speech attribution getting confusing.]

Peridot and Lazulite? Cue the music: "We... are the crystal gems ponies!"

Some extra description of the setting earlier on could help as well. It's quite a way down before we even see we're in the crystal empire and a crystal manor at that.

Minor issues with punctuation in some of the longer sentences. Some commas should probably be parenteheticals or em-dash interjections for clarity.

Okay, end of first section, and a pretty decent hook so far. Poison grail and a gunpowder plot to kill royalty. Let's see how this goes!

Hmm... all this bit in the safe house really slows down the pacing, as we only get more vague hints about "the plan" without really learning anything new.

The dialog between Compass and Lazulite as they leave the safe house is good. "I trust me," "That's good... one has to start somewhere." Heh.


Okay, a long read, but it went pretty quickly, save the safe house. I'll also note that it's nice to see another traditional story, rather than something experimental and exotic. There's a very comfortable beginning, middle, and end here, and I enjoyed the read.

This story's biggest problem is, at least for me, the lack of empathy for the characters. We're presented with four OCs all at once, and immediately shown that they are pro-sombra terrorists. Trying to make the reader empathize with and care about these character is an uphill battle. That one of them is a traitor to their own cause as well makes that even more difficult, and I don't think it ever quite succeeded. I just barely felt anything at the end reveal, as the two characters never felt quite "real" to me.

What would improve that is to do more to show Fever's internal conflict, especially as it relates to the old memories feeling like they belong to someone else. We need to see that internal conflict more, both to make us care about the character, and to set up the eventual reveal a bit more strongly.

Also, having only four conspirators makes the "who's the betrayer" game a bit narrow. The charcters all talk about it constantly, yet end up basically trusting each other anyway because they have no choice. It kind of makes the debates about "who squealed?" feel superfluous.

Still though, a pleasant read overall, but could be genuine top tier material with some stronger character connections for the reader.
#490 · 1
· on Lily's Letter · >>Miller Minus
Hmm, I'm at the end of the first section and still not sure what this story is about. The narrators view of him/herself is kind of negative, saying literally how little they hang out with friends, but then... passing a personal letter around to an entire table of friends seems to be the opposite of that.

Some of the language here feels anachronistic. Narrator looks for quill and paper, but ends up finding a pencil (with worn eraser) and a coffee shop receipt amongst magazines, all much more modern things. Ditto the reference to "high school" while talking about a castle. Or the joke about gasoline.

A fair ways in now and this seems like a pretty standard "teenage mischief" tale as they distract the guards, etc.

Okay, most of the way through and still have no idea of the appearance, name, or even gender of the narrator. It makes visualizing the story a bit difficult. At this point, I sincerely hope it's intentional, as Lily just "joked" with "What was your name again?"

Okay, for what is very clearly trying to be some sort of romance story, the narrator's sudden rant against love feels out of place compared to all the details the narration has given showing the narrator's view of Lily.

Okay, the twist/reveal here is well done. Foreshadowing was there all along, and it really works.

But what's up with the ending? S/he jumps out the window? To death? WTF? I hate cliffhanger endings. This is like cut-to-black ending of the Sopranos.

Overall, this reads like a pretty decent romp with an old friend (and romance bubbling up) but I feel very disconnected from the narrator. There's this hatred for nobility, which is never explained. They also stopped talking to Lily years ago, which is never explained either. Both of these elements seem like they're going to be core points in the story, but instead of answers that further the plot, the characters themselves literally bring them up and basically say "I don't know." That, combined with the unnamed, genderless narrator (and the characters joke about that as well) and cliffhanger ending, really makes this start to feel like the author is intentionally saying "Haha, no answers for you!" So, despite the general good feeling I had toward the story in the early bit of the castle romp, I'm left with a rather bitter taste in my mouth by the end.
#491 · 1
· on Euvem · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Brilliant.
#492 · 2
· on Lily's Letter · >>Trick_Question >>Miller Minus
Should've finaled.
#493 · 4
· on Twilight Under the Bodhi Tree
I cannot effing believe this didn't make it into the finals.

I read and carefully reviewed every entry and this was the top one on my slate. (In retrospect, I was tired when I voted on it and it was near the end, but it's still really good.)
#494 · 2
· on Lily's Letter
>>Cold in Gardez
This was very good, but I mid-slated it (still in the top half, though). The main problem I had was the establishment of both the relationship (who was Lily to the protagonist initially?) and the conflict (why do they hate nobles so much?). Without those it was too difficult for me to relate to the characters and feel anything for them or what they were doing... the protagonist wasn't very sympathetic and I needed more—especially since it seemed like the reader was supposed to be the protagonist.
#495 · 7
· on Monsters · >>Trick_Question >>regidar >>Monokeras >>Pascoite
First of all:

I'll apologize. Among the many things I didn't think through while putting together this draft was the effect it might have on readers.

Which is a weird thing to say, now that I look at it typed there. But the Writeoff to me has always been about putting up a first draft for comments, not putting up a story for readers. In my mind, readers come later in the process after I've taken the comments from here, revised the story, and turned it into something closer to what I want it to be.

That was a mistaken belief on my part, especially for a story like this. If I'd been thinking, I would've put the thing into a Google Doc and asked for comments from readers after warning them that the piece was completely different from anything I've ever tried to write in the more than 25 years that I've been putting stories together.

Here's the background, if anyone's interested. I got a PM through Fimfiction in the middle of November asking if I did story commissions. I never have, so I asked what sort of story they had in mind. They asked if there were any subjects I would never write about, and I sent back that I'm no good at sex scenes--I've tried, and the things I write don't seem to be at all what other people call sex scenes--and I'm no good at villains--I keep trying to make them sympathetic, and that pretty much leaches the villainy out of 'em. So for stories involving either of those or the two combined--and here I mentioned rape or pedophilia--I probably wasn't the best choice.

My correspondent assured me that, in this particular ScootaDash shipfic, all the sex would happen off screen, and I declined to take part. "I believe" I wrote, "that pedophiliac urges must be resisted under any and all circumstances," so I wouldn't be able to realistically portray a Rainbow Dash who had entered into a sexual relationship with Scootaloo. My correspondent thanked me, and that was that.

Except that I started wondering what it would be like for Dash to live constantly resisting these urges. There could be a story there, but it would be way too dark for me to write. I regularly get words like "fun," "cute," "romp," and "meringue" applied to my stuff, and that's the way I like it.

Still, the idea wouldn't go away, and then I got the e-mail saying a Writeoff was coming up the next weekend. So I figured that if I could work the prompt into the mix, I'd see what I could put together, get some comments, and try to make a story out of it. I knew it'd be controversial, but I could write deep and serious on a deep and serious subject, I was sure. "Comfortably uncomfortable" is the phrase >>Trick_Question uses, and that's what I felt. I'd never written anything like this before, but I was certain I could do it.

Turns out I was wrong there, too. Turns out I have limitations as a writer because I have limitations as a person. I can write lightly serious adventures where the stakes are a broken heart or the destruction of the world, but something as real as this? Something I can't fake my way through or pin a happy ending onto? Turns out I can't do that. I'm fairly shallow, I've discovered over the years, and every time I try to get out of my depth, I end up nearly drowning.

There's still a story in this idea, I'm convinced, but I'm almost equally convinced that I'm too emotionally stunted and not skillful enough a writer to tell it in the way it would need to be told.

So again, I'll apologize. I acted without thinking, and I'll try not to do that next time.

Mike
#496 ·
·
Oh, thank goodness it's over (for my story). That's a relief. I need to try to write a big response post later today. Right now I'm just super relieved. I told y'all it wasn't a winner!
#497 · 7
· on Monsters · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
You have nothing to apologize for, and I am being 100% serious when I say that.

Write.
#498 ·
·
>>Trick_Question
I should qualify this grandiose statement with, "I didn't see the art this round before I posted this".

What I meant is that my planned composition was (is) amazing. Baal, if you plan to publish Monsters, I could do some art for you (or at least hand the design off to an artist who can do it more quickly—I art well, but I art very slowly).
#499 ·
· on Maker of Makers!
>>Xepher
it doesn't feel rewarding just to be able to match up which is which

That was half the fun of the story, for me. So my point still stands: I liked this fic because it somehow felt like an in-joke between me and the author, rather than on its merits as a story. I expected this to be a slightly divisive work, because humour is subjective. I don't even know if it's supposed to be funny, I just found it so.

pushed a few of my buttons on the author-trying-too-hard-to-be-clever alarm

It certainly did that to me initially, and I was ready to hate on it mid-way through the first paragraph. Then it doubled down on the overblown language. The extra-pointy D20 description made me grin. I swore at the author. It set off my "so bad it's good" glands.

Oh... I really hope this wasn't intended to be serious now. Laughing at something that's not supposed to be funny is a dick move, and I hope I haven't done that by accident. On purpose, for sure, but I try not to outright laugh in people's faces unless they deserve it.
#500 · 5
· on Monsters · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
I’ll go back on my original comment as I have been meaning to post a new one for a second now: you absolutely did not get a fair review in a lot of places though, to be honest. I’ll ape what I said in the writeoff chat, even as someone who only read the story twice: this is not a case of you not understanding the subject matter or not being reverent enough, as Cass and Trick both pointed out. This is a case of you not having enough time to properly construct the best supporting narrative for the type of story you wrote. I am honestly thrilled that we had such an interesting story shake things up and now I feel bad for abstaining, because overall the story is actually engaging and well-written. It just needs some proper thought and polishing so that it can’t be construed in any way as a mean-spirited, anti-humor comedy.