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The Next Generation · Original Short Story ·
Organised by GaPJaxie
Word limit 3000–12000


Full details here!

This is a special event that looks to have writers create a polished entry. To that end, there's a lot more writing time. There's also a #mentors channel where you can get help and feedback from people that you are allowed to reveal your authorship to.


  • 1ˢᵗ place $200
  • 2ⁿᵈ place $100
  • 3ʳᵈ place $50
Show rules for this event
#1 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
Well, then. I look forward to this.
Ah. "The Next Generation".
It's workable.
#2 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
I look forward to what people come up with!
#3 ·
· · >>RogerDodger >>GaPJaxie
Does this one not get the prompt listed up top?
#4 ·
· · >>Not_A_Hat >>GaPJaxie
The way fixed prompts work is it's not shown until the event starts.
#5 ·

Ah, that makes sense. I hadn't realized it hadn't started yet.
#6 ·
· · >>Dubs_Rewatcher >>GaPJaxie
Next Generation WriteOff?
#7 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny >>GaPJaxie
I know it's for the FiMFic contest, but this format seems interesting. I like to have more time to think about the story and to write it.
#8 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
/tosses hat in ring
#9 · 6
· · >>georg >>007Ben >>MLPmatthewl419
WriteOff 2G.
WriteOff 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Writeoff Episode II: Attack of the Rogers.
WriteOff Zeo.
#10 · 8
· · >>MLPmatthewl419 >>GaPJaxie
>>Dubs_Rewatcher Writeoff : We Might Actually Be Able To Publish This Commercially
#11 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
>>Dubs_Rewatcher Lord of the Writeoff: The Prose Towers
#12 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
Lol, those are amazingly amazing

Might as well try?
WriteOffnado: The Second One
#13 · 5
· · >>Monokeras

We've only had:

One "polished story" Writeoff, and that was just a week or ten days of writing time. A whole month makes me positively giddy in anticipation.

#14 ·
>>Baal Bunny
Try not to fall!
#15 ·
· · >>MLPmatthewl419 >>GaPJaxie
The annoying thing is I have the perfect MLP story for this prompt.
#16 · 3
· · >>GaPJaxie
You could still write and post that on Fimfic.
#17 · 1
· · >>GaPJaxie
Well, time to get crackin'. I'm determined to submit something for this, and I have an idea...
#18 · 5
· · >>GaPJaxie
#19 · 2
· · >>Monokeras >>GaPJaxie
I've been working:

On the story for nearly three weeks now, and I think I've finally figured out what the title is!

How's ev'rybody else doing?

#20 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
>>Baal Bunny
Not well. I think I’m out. I've 1,600 words written, no time to carry on.
Sorry, guys. Maybe I’ll upcycle my story for a future OF SS WriteOff.
Good luck to the contestants!
#21 ·
· · >>Pascoite >>GaPJaxie
I'm out, I fear. I have a decent story but I'm not enthusiastic enough to finish it.

Good luck to all!
#22 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie
You still have several days, and don't forget about the mentors channel where people are available to help you work through whatever problems you're having with it.
#23 · 4
· · >>Baal Bunny >>moonwhisper >>Leah Rose >>Southpaw
>>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Baal Bunny

In response to multiple requests, the deadline has been extended by a week!
#24 ·
· · >>GaPJaxie


Do those us who have our stories finished now get a special gold star/happy face on our permanent records? Or is it more likely that we get to spend the next seven days fretting over comma placement? :)

#25 ·
That's great news! Thank you!
#26 ·
Oh my goodness, thank you so much!
#27 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny

It's the second one.

Commas are proof that Satan exists.
#28 · 4

I've felt:

Much better about punctutation since undergoing my first semicolonoscopy. But that's neither here nor there, really...

#29 · 1
Welp, I'm in. I shouldn't have needed that extension, but I did.

Time for editing tomorrow, hopefully.
#30 · 1
>>GaPJaxie Thank you for extending the deadline. Unfortunately for me, I'm out. I gave it a very hard try---After 9k+ words, though, I realized there are too many issues to resolve within the limits of time and word count, not to mention the pain of drawing water from stone... I'll definitely be reading and commenting, though.
#31 · 1
I didn’t think it would happen, but I am in.
#32 · 1
Squeezed under in the last six hours! Gotta thank GaPJakie for helping me with some technical difficulties— HIm/her is a really nice Probable!Human being.

I'm probably not going to win because I went through a million false starts and this was written in about a week. But I finished something under a deadline (and finished a solid story in one week) and I'm glad I've made it a little father. Can't wait to read what everyone else did!
#33 · 1
Terribly, terribly nervous. I've never done this before.
#34 ·
· · >>Pascoite
Here we go...!

Edit: hang on a minute, we still have slates! Does that mean there's a popular choice award?
#35 · 2
Looks like a healthy field. Can't wait to see what people imagined.
#36 ·
· · >>Miller Minus
>>Miller Minus
According to the rules, the general voting determines what finalists the judges see.
#37 ·
Oh, okay. LAZY BUMS
#38 · 2
· · >>Pascoite
According to the rules, the general voting determines what finalists the judges see.

Seriously? 19 stories is hardly a herculean judging effort. If you're judging based on a set of criteria, and handing out money for it, every story should be read by a judge. Relying on populist ranking from an algorithm combining partial slates is dumb.
#39 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus >>Oroboro
The rules were made before Jaxie knew how many entries to expect, and there will be more finalists than prizes at this point. Those borderline cases may be affected, but it's very unlikely that a story the judges would have awarded a cash prize to wouldn't make it out of the preliminary round. I've seen numerous times where Gardez has said a story didn't deserve to be eliminated after the first round, but I can't think of a time he said such a story should have medaled. This way also encourages feedback from voters. Look at all the contests run on FiMFic and how few critiques the entrants get.
#40 ·
For the record, my comment was said in jest. I agree with this method.
#41 ·
· on There Is No God · >>Miller Minus
AGroBiodiVersity. Yes, I cheated.

This one made me sad, and a lil happy, after. Reminded me of Kkat's short talk about sad and grimdark; I was worried, for a while, that you were jumping on Nietzsche's bandwagon. I'm a sucker for happy endings, sorry.

I'll try to think of more to say, but there's so many more to read and I don't want to simply blab without thinking too much. It's tidy, though. Neat, and wrapped up like a gift. Maybe that empty box your brother gave you, that was filled with newspaper and nothing else, until he told you to look closer and you found a heartfelt letter taped to the underside of the lid.

That said, little girls with voices scare me, and I'm not the greatest horror movie fan for this. Maybe that took a little bit away. Ugh. How do I critique things? Someone, please help.

Best kind of ending, maybe. I still have 18 more to read.
#42 · 2
· · >>Pascoite
The rules were made before Jaxie knew how many entries to expect

And? The contest I ran last year had 55 entries to it. Every single one was still read by a judge. Anyone who didn't win and wanted feedback after the fact got it.

This is what you sign up for when you agree to run and judge a contest. Be prepared for the stories your audience is spending their time and effort to give you. If you get more than you expect, you suck it up and do it anyway. (And maybe snag a few more judges if you really need to.)

I'm all for community participation, but it shouldn't be used in lieu of actual judging.
#43 ·
· on Off the Cuff
I'm not one much for politics. But the author knows how to geezer, and as a semi-geezer I can respect that.

Somehow, despite all the tragedy, I managed to smile. I think that was the intention, anyway. So perhaps I'm smiling merely out of politeness? This is an awkward feeling; you're not supposed to smile at funerals.

I think a funeral for a generation or two counts doubly so; that's a lot of people.

More to come, maybe. Working my way down and through. Someone, please do better. Give it justice.
#44 ·
· on My Little Pony: Guardians of Crystal Growth · >>Baal Bunny
I'm sorry. Moments like this make me hate rules. I don't like seeing effort go to waste.

Am I still allowed to vote for this one? Please say yes?

Outlaws aside, I enjoyed this. Dialogue is missing a lil consistency with accents, looking at Applebloom and AJ and Big Mc. Prose could be cut down some, maybe use some simpler wordage. The emotions feel a lil too dramatic, but I haven't watched the show in a long while. You're prolly being more faithful to it than my memory. Applebloom feels a bit off, emotionally. Too... negative? I dunno.

Seeing Big Mc without the "a" in his full name is weird, even though I know that's how Hasbro does it.

I don't want to be mean, but it feels... meandering? A little bland? There's this HUGE cutie mark problem, but it doesn't seem to be a focus or especially urgent in the writing we see here. There's the Flurry Heart bomb, but I can't bring myself to care because everything tastes a little like cardboard, only with too much sugar. Go back and read your dialogue aloud; try to imagine it as a conversation you're having with a friend.

Maybe I'm still seeing the CMC as too young for this role, given how they act with their family?
#45 · 1
· on Emancipation (Prologue) · >>Kai_Creech
David Anderson

I know Saren.

This one is a toughie. I've read a bunch about AI, from fanfictions (dammit GaPJaxie!) to philosophy papers to Soma to Asimov to Stephen Hawking's thoughts on the topic. And. God, I wish I had read this sooner, because you're walking unsuspecting against that wall of prior knowledge and that isn't your fault, dear writer. Had I found this early, I would have jumped on it, and not thought much more after.

But, we're here, and instead of seeing the beginning of a neat introduction to AI as people, I'm being reminded of all the great and thought-provoking words I've read before. And I know that isn't fair to you, especially given that this is a prologue, and there's SO MUCH that could come after this.

I wish I could read it all, right now.

Boring critical bits, the clothing descriptions felt a bit info-dump, the parents and children felt a little like cardboard for dialogue and emotional content, and the robot felt a bit clunky, for a thinking being. Be less like 70s robot and more like I, Robot? Pick one: Robotspeak or smooth. Both seems too difficult to juggle well at current. The instant the bot and the kid walked in, we knew the lawyer was going to take the case, no doubt. Some of these aren't fair, we just don't see enough to care enough. It's tough, being a prologue in a sea of finished works. You have hook, but it needs a bit more oomph.
#46 ·
· on The Formative Years of a Ship’s Psyche
This made me think of that anime where the girls are ships, or they pretend to be ships, or something.

Horrible comparison, this outstrips whatever that show is about. Much deeper, and Emancipation made for a good tone-setter. Bone-setter? Anyways, do these ships really count as people? They don't get any choice, do they?

I hope this continues. I truly do. The title feels unkind, though. Too clinical, comparing to the discovery the story shares.

More to come as I think.

As we go, I think that this has the best Prologue feeling, to it. Or perhaps first chapter. The world feels so rich and tempting and full of questions that I find myself drooling for answers. It's a bit like a tempting fruit, but without the serpents and the naked people. Or maybe a highschool AU. ...I have a hard time saying things about stories I fall in love with. Someone help me out?
#47 ·
· on There Is No God · >>Miller Minus
I feel like this has already won. I especially liked how the little girl's side was written.b
#48 ·
· on Off the Cuff
Some editing flaws, and it sorta alternates between really good lines and kinda ackward ones.

It sounds like something an old geezer would right, and I love geezers.
#49 ·
· on Emancipation (Prologue) · >>This is a game I lost
>>This is a game I lost
Oh, don't forget The Iron Horse. I would back Turning Test against any other A.I as the most interesting and well-developed robot ever written.

Anyway, I agree that the idea of a "To Kill a Mockingbird" style story about a girl and her robot is something that appeals to me, but it needs a little more expansion and worldbuilding to really stand out. I hope you revisit this idea in the future.
#50 ·
· on My Son Went Missing. But I Might Find Him In Another World
I didn't like the title. I strongly dislike spoilers, and knowing where the story was going so far ahead was painful. It made for a good hook, but at enjoyment's expense. Reading a story involves discovering the world and immersing yourself in it, and I find that difficult when I have the foresight of an oracle into the conflict.

That said, ooooooh, this was fun. Simple, easy, wonderful fun. Words weren't too complicated, plot and characters drawn nicely, and played cliches well. After depressing and spooky and thought-provoking, this was refreshing, in a word.

Left me wanting more, and feels like a proper foray into a longer tale. A bit like Ship Psyche, in that regard, but without the questions involved. Not everything has to be deep and drag out philosophy majors.

More to come, as usual. Sunset of the sixth, thirteen remain.
#51 · 1
· on Emancipation (Prologue)
Shhh, I can't list them all off at once, it'd take too long! And don't forget, this is just a prologue.

I do hope it gets finished, sometime.
#52 ·
· on Inheritance of The Meek
Just started, immediate jumping post-apocalyptic steampunk guess.

Annnnnd called it! Sort of steampunk, mostly post-apocalyptic. Neat enough story, but overly complex wordage seems to be a consistent issue across the stories I've read (ONLY A LITTLE). That said, this was neat, and made you think a bit. The torture scene was kinda iffy. Kneecapping is a thing, and I cringed, but shooting upward along the thigh is pretty much going to kill you in under a minute. Something about arteries and bleeding out, or something. It's a minute, right? Or is that jugular?

Edit: Google says about a minute.

I dunno, this one didn't sit too well, with me. The setting is cool, but anachronisms and things felt odd. Commissar? Savage vs CIVILIZED was a fun touch, I think. Hard family choices.

Buuuut, short stories constrain terribly. Caring was difficult, especially after the wooden introduction to Rennie and Co. I dunno, she was hard to sympathize with. Things moved a lil too fast.

Will have to think.
#53 ·
· on My Son Went Missing. But I Might Find Him In Another World
Hm. I did like some of the creativity in play here, especially the notion of a cop in a magic land. It wasn't quite perfect; The IRL stuff bugged me a little (though I'm not sure why) and the title is a big spoiler. The sheer coincidence of Sarah finding her grandson is a little hard to swallow. I think just saving someone's little kid, making that metaphorically about saving her son, and then her leaving to go on a quest would have been better,.
#54 · 2
So you run your contest your way and let Jaxie run his contest his way. I don't see what you're so angry about. It's not going to change who gets prizes, and everyone's still going to get feedback from a judge, community or official, unless any stories don't get comments at all. In fact, these stories are likely to get feedback from more people. The judges also didn't want to have to commit to reading the whole slate before they knew how big it'd be. If that wouldn't have been a problem for you, then fine, but it's hardly something to make a value judgment about. It's not going to change a thing among the prize winners. You don't even say why it's so important for every story to be read by a panelist judge. There's nothing wrong with the community screening out things that judges would have screened out anyway and save them the time. Only a few borderline cases will come out different, and screening processes in contests are nothing new. You make it sound like it's a self-evident thing that a contest must be run one particular way.

The contest was also set up well over a month ago. Why are you just now getting pissed about it?
#55 ·
· on The Formative Years of a Ship’s Psyche · >>This is a game I lost >>Miller Minus
I didn't have high hopes at the beginning. The opening was ripped directly from Star Trek IV. For the entire first third of the story, I was as bored as the protagonist. Whether that is due to the author's skill at making the reader sympathize with the blank slate character, I don't know.

This did not come off as a "polished" story. Several typos, and I don't feel like the author knows what the word "gossip" means. Most of the dialogue was between AIs so it's hard to know if the stilted dialogue was on purpose.

It seems like the author was going for a mid-career Heinlein feel. You know what? It reminded me of Terms of Enlistment, the first book of the Frontlines series, by Marko Kloos. It is very much a coming-of-age story. The concept wouldn't make a bad novel, but I don't honestly know whether it would be possible to do it well.

I get that the process described in this story is starting with a blank slate psyche, but for most of the story the protagonist has zero personality, and we don't get enough interaction with any of the other characters to figure out whether they have any. We're told - after the protagonist having heard one sentence from her mother - how the protagonist feels about her wordplay. We don't get to see any of the personality from the ship's father or mother, we are just told about it. All of this makes it difficult to be emotionally invested in the character or the story. The protagonist was such a blank slate that they didn't even have a gender until nearly the end. No personality, no voice, nothing but boredom and angst right up until the very end. Reading this was a chore.

That said, I like the world, I like the idea, and I might read a story set after this boring part. Maybe this portion of the (larger-than-this-entry) story should be told in flashbacks, after the reader becomes emotionally invested. I, personally, would have started the story with the very last paragraph.
#56 ·
· on The Longest Possible Now
I really like myths and legends, and this had a very good cosmic feel to it. Good job!
#57 · 1
· on Stolen Time · >>Hap
This is a beautiful episode of Doctor Who waiting to happen.

Ohmygosh, I loved this story. The setting invites so many questions, the government is so evil but in a completely understandable way and it's not another cookie-cutter Orwellian Future, it's something really creative and new. I love everything about this.
#58 ·
· on The Formative Years of a Ship’s Psyche
I think you might be better at this than I am... Derp.
#59 ·
· on Off the Cuff
This is the type of story you hear late at night, at someone else's party, when the fire is dying down and your buzz isn't. You don't know why you're still listening, and you don't know why you're interested, and you don't know why he's talking.

I found the inconsistent paragraph breaks to be a bit distracting.

I enjoyed the rambling style, and the family history. It definitely had an autobiographical feel to it.

I don't think this is the kind of story I'd go out of my way to read, but it was pleasant enough and I never felt like it was a chore to read.
#60 ·
· on The Deosil Winding
Hmmmm. Tropes and Tropes and Tropes.

skinless horse mechanism

Loved this.

Seville oranges are awful. Don't eat them. As I said above, we're dripping tropes, but that isn't a bad thing. I'm not a complicated, hungry camper type, so a lil action and some goofery is enough for me. That said, this reminded me too much of Dresden and all those Hardboiled Magic types. The variations on the theme crop up every now and again, but I usually have a hard time sinking my teeth into something so strange. Fantasy and modern cities mixing it up? Not precisely my cup of dandelion wine.

A bit like Son Kidnapping Fairy World Adventure. Simple, easy to enjoy, and doesn't eat much brainpower. Again, NOT a bad thing!

More later. maybe. My motto!
#61 ·
· on The Deosil Winding
"Very." I felt the magic swirl in my chest, and took another gulp of my drink. The burn of the rum couldn't cut the chill in my lungs, but it did take the edge off. "You may have heard of Incursions before."



Okay, this was great. I got a solid John Constantine vibe from this (though I really should read Hellblaiser, I've only seen him on the DCW) and I like all the details the world has. Pretty solid!
#62 · 1
· on Memories of Home
Chowzee makes me think chowder, or chow down. I bet she's a post-apocalyptic cockroach. Okay, so she's an ant. Still! District 9 vibes, with a dose of Ender's Game and the Formics. Not sure how to feel about that.

Neat little moment, between the two critters, but it was weird how the conversation was in English like that. Though, I suppose B-something ant was speaking for the benefit of whoever was on the other end of the line. There was plenty of telling, but it's a short story. Things felt a little too neatly wrapped up, this time.

I would have expected, with a messy and imminent end, that she'd be abandoning the eggs to whatever the future holds. Instead, we get some biological desu desu ex machina with passing on memories and things. And pretty sure the humans will keep looking for the eggos. No one likes loose ends; they lead to chestbursters and tears.

Still, neat to have a nonhuman perspective.

More to come, more thoughts to thunk.
#63 ·
· on Try-Again
Second-person? Okay, sort of second-person? This is like one of those weird letters where you're addressing a person and they don't even know it, right? Takes a bit of getting used to, next to the rest. There seem to be a lot of stories with daddy issues, also.

I know I've been complaining about excessive words, but this is just. Sparse? Empty? I dunno, I feel like the lack of description hurts the story.

More to come.
#64 ·
· on A Good Idea · >>Baal Bunny >>MSPiper
I like the Gaslamp Tech angle you took, but the story felt a little slow. Taking a more lighthearted, comedic tone might have been better. Still great!
Post by Kai_Creech , deleted
#66 ·
· on To Drive the Cold Winter Away · >>Kai_Creech
Redwall and Brian Jacques. I miss that man. Nim, as well, and Rescuers. Some Discworld, a lil. Despereaux? Watership Down, even. Anyways. I SUSPECT. But hush.

Jesus. This hit me right in the childhood. All my books were about talking animals and mice and fun little light-hearted stories where the villain dies at the end through no significant fault of the hero and everyone lives happily ever after mostly. Some blood.

Nostalgia is coloring my vision here, obviously. But this is a wonderful story with a powerful nostalgia that I'm not willing to let go of.

The characters are cute and delightful and things are kept simple enough that I don't get lost in the details. I dearly desire more of this sort of thing; there's darkness aplenty already, and I'm a sucker for happy endings.

More or less to come!
#67 ·
· on To Drive the Cold Winter Away
#68 ·
· on To Drive the Cold Winter Away
>>This is a game I lost
More like Redwall and Discworld at the same time.
#69 ·
· on Stolen Time · >>Kai_Creech
Hmmmm. It's fun, but I feel like that's jumping the gun a little.
#70 ·
· on Ninety-Five Years · >>georg
Dang, this feels incredibly personal. I hope everything is okay in your life, buddy.

This story does a terrific job of capturing the unpleasant monotony of something like this. I didn't catch a lot of this when my Grandmother died, because I was out of the state. It all does still feel familiar and biting. Great job!
#71 ·
· on Stolen Time
>>This is a game I lost
I mean, I guess the story isn't all that great, but I would kill to get to play around in that setting with Star Trek or Doctor Who. Or Rick and Morty, even.

Like, why do people need to steal time? If they can manipulate temporal energy like this, what other kind of inventions are a part of this world? Did time break somehow? Or maybe it will break and they get turned into statues and it's an origin for the Weeping Angels.
#72 ·
· on Ninety-Five Years · >>georg
Sad endings make me sad, and this entire story did the same. Why so many sad stories? At least in the others there was some kind of Hope, some glint of a happy ending, bittersweet though it may be. I can't bring myself to find that, in the last few lines. It's a cycle, isn't it? Lose, be lost, be mourned, so on.

Hospitals are wonderful places. I wouldn't have lungs without one. I get people don't see it that way. I don't either, mostly. You don't go to the hospital on a good day, do you? You don't make a day trip of it, or bring snacks and popcorn and set up in the operating theater like a movie. But.

Hospitals are for saving people, right? That's a good thing, no matter how poorly memory paints it. I dunno.

This is good. Well-written and impacting and painful, and I hated every line and punch to the gut.
#73 · 1
· on Ten Scars · >>This is a game I lost
> lists a bunch of suspicious things, including a feeling "that something could stir beneath" the suspicious mounds of dirt.
Gregor and Justin didn’t find anything suspect however,

Pretty standard teen angst, pretty standard werewolf/vampire mass-produced YA fodder. It doesn't get more stereotypical than this. It could have been readable with stellar prose, but this story does not rise to that level.

I couldn't make it to the end, sorry.
#74 ·
· on Ten Scars
Teach me, zenpie
#75 · 3
· on Stolen Time
It's already been made into a movie. Called "In Time."

This story is like someone sprinkled the Milgram Experiment and Kitty Genovese Syndrome over a fanfic of In Time and poured some generic polished dystopian syrup on top.

I don't really feel like there was much of a story here. There was one character, and she didn't have much of it.
#76 ·
· on Mabel's Journey: The Bayopolis Tale
This is a damn good story, and sweet too.

Each character had their own distinct voice. I particularly liked Mrs. Yerbolski. The first-person present tense was odd to begin with, but I stopped noticing it pretty quickly. The cheesy title made me underestimate the story, for sure.

I called the three primary conflicts pretty early. The author didn't telegraph them, but there were enough hints that I figured it out. Yes, the gayngst made me roll my eyes, but for Mabel's character it makes sense as a source of conflict, and does lead to a moment of significant character growth.
#77 · 2
I received my entries. It's my first time being here and my first time doing this. It seems a little tough, but I have a weekly fic reading day on Wednesdays for a while now, so I will take time tomorrow and read those entries and rank them.
I'm very interested in seeing what's there.^^
#78 ·
· on My Son Went Missing. But I Might Find Him In Another World
The title was definitely bad.

The story? I just couldn't stop reading it. Everything about it was... real. Genuine emotion from someone who was more than a character on the page.

An excellent story, by all means. From the title I was afraid it would be nothing but an old trope - and it sort of did turn out to be a literal wish-fulfillment fantasy! - the prose and characters more than made up for it.
#79 ·
· on Ten Scars
I like titles that pop, and this was the first title in my slate that popped, so let's do this.

This is a little outside of my genre, but the good thing about that is that hopefully I can get right down into the details of the story and let you know how much it has going for it outside of the plot itself. For example, the narration.

I liked your characters, author. They were fairly distinct, despite how many there were.

I think this story is an interesting look into what happens when a story gradually goes from stellar narration to a style that's rather dry. The first scene with Gregor and the dean had me very interested—I was watching Gregor's actions and trying to figure him out. As the story goes on, and especially after the chase scene, I'm no longer curious about what's going on, because the narration is spoon feeding me every emotion and gameplan of the characters.

See: show vs tell narration. It's a hot button topic among amateur writers like us for a reason.

But on the plus side, it's an easy fix in this case, and can save you a ton of words. There are a lot of instances of you showing me what the characters are doing, and then telling me why they did it. And it's often obvious.

“Well, I’m not Ryan,” replied Gregor, turning away. He couldn’t stand staying one second longer with those revolting creatures.

You already had me thinking he hated these guys. And when he's turned away, I'm thinking it looks like he can't stand being around them. And then you tell me what I already know. So you can delete that second sentence and save me having to think "yeah, I got that, cheers, mate."

And there's a lot of "second sentences" in this story, especially near the end. The impact is stronger if you stick to body language and dialogue (and not inner thoughts).

But that's all from me. Thanks for the read!
#80 ·
· on The Fixer

That was a really, really odd story.
#81 ·
· on Off the Cuff
This was a fascinating read. You've certainly taken a fairly simple prompt and stretched to a pretty profound level. The human condition is changing, all the time, and I wonder how many generations of people have had issues in their lives thanks to their parents trying to imprint their own conditions on to their kids without realizing that the world has changed, and it is changing, faster and faster by the day.

You're makin' me think! Awesome!

I almost don't want to say my two concerns with the story, because I feel to change them may defeat the entire purpose. But I'll still bring them up. One issue was that this style of writing can get... I won't say old, but hard to follow. We're jumping around the family tree a lot and I'm not that nimble, so to speak. I had a hard time remembering everybody's names.

This narration is the type you see scattered around a much longer story. One where the different periods of a family's history get told with similar poignant ease, but only as they become important. And for such a short piece, it all becomes hard to follow when it's squished together like this. But as I write this... I guess where each member sits on the tree isn't as important, so long as the generations are clear. But sometimes I got them mixed up, so it's something to work on, I think. The focus of the piece is the time periods of the people, after all, so if you can make that clearer I think you'll be in good shape.

My other concern was that the ending felt like a non-sequitur. I have two guesses. One, you ran out of time and stamina and just needed to cross over the finish line. The word count definitely supports this. My second is that it's a commentary on the condition of the current generation, to be unable to focus on heavy tasks anymore—thanks to our little screens which have dulled our senses with instant gratification on steroids. In which case... I can't say I disagree. Still was a jarring ending though. Perhaps don't use three! exclamations! in a row! when they're the first time the narrator has shouted anything in the story.

That's all I'll say. Good luck in the contest! I think this should make finals for sure.

Oh, and one last note:

"it's the one that I remember the best because he did it when I was five"

...Is the age of 5 famous for being well remembered?
#82 · 1
· on And What Becomes of Champions? · >>Kai_Creech
The best way I can describe my reaction to this story is "lukewarm". I'm a sucker for world-building, and the first half of the story had me putting on a slow smile for this very reason. The metal dragon, the magic mirror, the elves and dwarves interacting in a way that made them feel like they lived just down the street from me—it was all quite charming.

But I think it's the plot of the story that I can't really get behind. I worry that too much thought has been put into this fantastical world, and so the crux of the story—the message you're trying to convey—got a little malnourished.

I'd point to Pyria herself as being mostly to blame for this. She's meant to be the vessel to deliver the message of the story, but she's not a very good one. Her duality is astounding—she acts and talks as if a dragon attack is just another day at the office, but then her body language (trembling, mostly) gives the notion that she's truly terrified of what could happen to her daughter. These two personalities—nonchalant and terrified—would work well individuallyfor this story if it was straight comedy or straight drama, but when they're both together popping up at random places, I can't get a read on her. And as such, her fear of watching her daughter's fight came off as insincere. It's as if seeing her daughter appear on-screen (on-mirror) reminded her that she should be at least pretending to care.

And it could be part of the reason the revelation at the end felt very heavy-handed. She's just seen her daughter claim victory in clever fashion, and her first thought is that she's just so old now, and it sucks. And it's Ruvor that has to remind her that her daughter was just a badass. In my opinion, it would have made more of an impact if these worries of being old were a lot more apparent during the fight, and for the victory to be the cathartic moment when she realizes that maybe growing old isn't so bad after all so long as the next generation's doing alright.

But that's all from me. Good luck in the contest!
#83 ·
· on Ten Scars
More than a little melodramatic, but hardly the worst Vampires VS Werewolves story. There's a lot of editing bugs, though.
#84 ·
· on Stolen Time
Establishing a decent, believable sci-fi universe in 3,000 words is bold, so kudos to you for sticking your neck out like this.

I'm going to judge this story the same way I judge Black Mirror episodes: That is, on whether or not the premise is believable. Unfortunately, I can't say it is.

This is the mark that a lot of dystopian sci-fi's tend to miss with me: I don't like reading stories of people being cruel in the future, I like being in bed, clutching my pillow as the credits roll, and whispering to myself: holy hell, if we developed this specific technology, humanity would totally do these things.

This story unfortunately also doesn't hit that mark with me. But again, I'm only seeing 3,000 words of it. So maybe the answers to all of my questions are somewhere in your brain still. Questions like...

-What exactly is the difference between a young person and a creature? Their appearances are never really described.
-Why does nobody give a single shit about the creatures? It has to be more than just getting people to call them "creature". They're children for god's sake.
-Why exactly is everyone playing along here? There's allusion to an oppressive government, but not really what it controls, except time. This whole situation is fucked up! Why hasn't there been any revolts from the more fortunate? It doesn't sound like the police can harvest time all willy-nilly like the renegades can—they have to get people in a factory first.
-Where do the creatures come from? Where are their parents?

But as of right now there's no indication you have an answer for these things.

Premise aside, I also found the story to be rather dry. It's the string of unbroken, same-length paragraphs with very little dialogue, that are constantly telling me everything that Samantha is feeling (though it's not very much), and throwing information that doesn't seem important to the story (like the organized weather or Sam's opinion on the days of the week) that makes it hard to be engaged.

I'm sorry that this story has fallen flat for me, Author. But I hope this comment has been helpful. Thanks for submitting and good luck in the contest!
#85 ·
· on The Fixer · >>This is a game I lost
It's a little disconnected from the prompt...
#86 ·
· on The Fixer · >>Kai_Creech >>Admiral_Biscuit
Next Generation of mafia, I guess? Next Generation Unicorn? Not sure where you're getting the disconnect. Haven't read all of the stories, but for the most part they all seem to have a connection to the prompt in some way or shape or form.

That said, gotta agree with Hap. This was WEIRRIRIRIIDID.

It's fun, and requires you to NOT think and NOT question things, which is neato. Why is there a unicorn, why is no one curious about this. You've taken the magical and wonderful and made its biggest concern whether or not the landlord will be mad about the scuffed floors. And I like that. It's fun, to NOT question things and just accept a little weirdness.

The interactions between characters were lovely, and certainly there's the strength in this story. Hell hath no wrath like a woman uniscorned. Or an associated bad pun. It was a bit... I don't know, I found myself thinking Rozencrantz and Guildenstern, but with a little bit of Pulp Fiction stooges. It was cute, and silly, and I'll confess that I forgot entirely about the body stashed behind the couch. In a good way!

I felt a little lost, at the end. I wish she hadn't done it. Generations are supposed to get better, to improve. This isn't the days of when Men were Men and Women Goddesses.

More to come, maybe. Again.
#87 ·
· on The Fixer · >>This is a game I lost
>>This is a game I lost
Yes, but the new generation isn't really the focus of the story. It's not the next generation of crime; its just one criminal with a gimmick. SHe's not responding to or challenging either the previous generation or the next one.
#88 · 2
· on The Fixer
I think we'll have to disagree. The focus is on the unicron and Marco Polo, and their interactions lead to Clem's Next Gen Crime Shenanibaloo. Marcus is part of the old generation and she Fixes, just as her talent for vanishing things is the next generation of problem solving. The old and new do interact, it's right there. AND, there's the layer of unicromom, and how she's the successful older generation that the new generation is struggling to live up to, prove itself against, and so on.

I don't think anyone would care about a macro-view of next generation crime. The author is constrained by the medium, and all the author has is a max of 12k words to make us care about their characters. I'm not going to give a damn about some dry encyclopedia entry about unicron majicks being used in crime as a next generation type deal. But I AM going to care about one unicorn's story within that framework.
#89 ·
· on My Son Went Missing. But I Might Find Him In Another World
I have to agree with everyone so far about the title: it's awkward, strips an important element of surprise from the story, and immediately put me in a mindset to prepare for the worst, to be very honest.

There are a lot of cliches, here, though they weren't over-played. I also felt like the characters were just on the edge of being flat, so the story didn't really engage me until about half way through. And then the action kicked in and helped pick it up a bit—you grabbed my interest a lot more at that point.

I also liked that you handled the first-person perspective really well.

Overall the story was nicely written, and I'm glad you entered this.
Post by This is a game I lost , deleted
#91 · 1
Okay, site complaint, having to spam "Add another" to get all the candidates into the voting box is annoying.
#92 ·
· on The Longest Possible Now
Stories like this always leave me feeling cold and empty, because this? We don't have this. If it is possible, if that's even the case, we WON'T have this, in our time.

It's not my problem, but I fear for it.
#93 · 1
· on Mabel's Journey: The Bayopolis Tale · >>This is a game I lost
This story barely has any conflict. It wasn't a story so much as it was my little sister telling me all about her amazing vacation to Europe with a slideshow that's entirely selfies. It's so skin-deep.

And I was about to say it had no conflict at all, until we had a glimpse of conflict with Mabel's pseudo-awakening there at the end. But that was the last 1000 words. And even that was a just a tease of conflict. It gets solved by a dream sequence. It's so shallow.

Sure, the people in this story are lovely and distinct. Yes, the setting sounds very nice. And I can tell you've put a lot of thought into it and that's great, but I don't find it fun being spoon-fed details of scenery and insights into Mabel's vapid and saccharine thought processes for 12000 words.

I'm sorry if this comes across as mean, and especially if you don't find it helpful. But it's just how I feel. Perhaps others can help me understand what I'm missing here.
#94 · 1
· on My Little Pony: Guardians of Crystal Growth
This might work, author:

Posted to Fimfiction as the first few installments of a weekly serial or something featuring the new adventures of the CMC. But here where the terms of the contest call for a complete story using characters and situation all of your own invention, it doesn't work nearly as well. When all you do is introduce concepts ranging from no more cutie marks appearing to Scootaloo only having one wing to Flurry Heart somehow being involved in Granny Smith's death without giving them any sort of resolution, it makes the reading experience more than a bit frustrating.

I'll also echo >>This is a game I lost about the characters' voicings. If you want Scootaloo to have grown into the sort of pony who would say something as stiff and formal-sounding as, "I think Ponyville stretches out farther beyond the castle than it did at our departure," then have Apple Bloom reflect on how much Scoots has changed over the years...

But I think I'll have to abstain on this one since it's Pony in a non-Pony contest.

#95 ·
· on Mabel's Journey: The Bayopolis Tale
>>Miller Minus
It's sweet, and pretty, and a bit like a Hayao Miyazaki movie but without the bite to it that makes it a grand adventure. Everything resolves far too easily. Just compare the start to the finish. Marble Pie arrives in Bayopolis, discovers needs monies, and is Simple Farmgril. At the end, she's getting in lesbians with Stronk Manly Ukraine Gril, is rich for reasons, and abandons a part of her religion for someone she's only known for... what, a couple days?

It's too neat. It's too perfect. It's Howl without the Witch of the Waste and the war, it's Kiki without the drama, it's Nausicaa without the invasion and the Ome, it's Castle without the military or the superweapon, it's Porco without the airplanes and the pirates and Curtis. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. It's sweet and cute, and makes me diabetic.

It just doesn't feel like there's enough conflict. There's no struggle. Pursesnatched? Never fear, strong friend is here! Need a place to stay on a low budget? Friend offers lodgings on the cheap! Getting cheated out of millions by a prince from a foreign land who needs your help to access his bank account? Easy! Talk to jewelry store owner and GET DEm Monies! Make it rain on your stronk Ukrainian girlfriend!

Oh noes, Ukraine waifu is actually pit fighter and in lesbians with main character?!???! This might be a problem! Quick, run a dream sequence and loving friendship montage to make her abandon her religion and worship the booty instead! We don't have enough words left to solve this in a meaningful fashion! D:

I'm sorry, I just. I loved this. It's a beautiful story. The settings are wonderful and the characters are distinct and lovely and other complimentary words borrowed from Millus. The descriptions of the setting and the characters are compelling, but you shot yourself in the foot because so much was spent giving us a window into the world that there wasn't enough space left to find meaningful solutions to the problems that were given. There's nothing to challenge them. The growth that Not!Marble Pie faces feels forced and everything is solved before it can truly cause any trouble. The story HAS to be longer, but you're sitting at 11,999 and I get the feeling that this version was cut down to size.

It's a bit like the first Hunger Games book, where there's ALL this opportunity for the author to make Katniss into a morally grey character, to make her grow and force her to make hard decisions, but instead everything she does is morally justified and she doesn't face anything that could really force her into meaningful change. Well, boring trauma related to death battle royale aside, that is. The point is that there are all these potential conflicts, and it feels like you didn't go anywhere meaningful with them.

I know that's a little harsh, but I really really really liked this, and I wanted more from it than I was given. I'm selfish.
#96 ·
· on The Fixer · >>Admiral_Biscuit
I think I figured it out. This needs to be a Netflix Original Series.

It's a coming of age story, but it's also a story about the loss of innocence. In the beginning, they wonder about the old myth of a unicorn only being visible to the pure of heart. And in the end, Clémence loses sight of what and who she is.

That said, I don't see what it has to do with the prompt. Any story, ever, will be about characters who probably had parents, and thus could ostensibly fall under the broadest interpretation of "the next generation."
#97 ·
· on My Little Pony: Guardians of Crystal Growth · >>Kai_Creech
I like this story! I look forward to reading it on FiMFic, where I will say all manner of nice things about it.

Unfortunately, the author needed to read the rules of the contest more clearly:

All stories must be fiction not dependent on work under U.S. copyright. You may write something about a potential Generation 5 of My Little Pony if you want, but if you do, you may not use characters or settings from previous generations of the show, including Generation 4

As a result, this story is disqualified from winning a prize.
#98 ·
· on The Formative Years of a Ship’s Psyche · >>Hap
I don't understand how this universe works spatially. How big our main character is. What she even looks like. What age she appears to be. Who is a ship and who isn't. How on earth a person-shaped ship can be piloted.

For these reasons, I couldn't picture anything. The scene with her sparring with her dad, for example, was a total mystery to me. They might as well have been frogs.

It's easy to tell, author, that this world is totally clear and vibrant in your mind, but it hasn't come across that way to the reader. I'd wager that's your next step. Figure out the least obvious aspects of your story and put them on display so that you can invite us into this world and show us what's so cool about it.

I also have to echo >>Hap in that the protagonist has no personality. Nobody really does. And as such I'm not invested in anything that's happening. There isn't anything to connect with, and it feels shallow as a result.

Perhaps a better way to start this story would be where it ends. And switch the perspective to the pilot that will eventually pair up with celestial light. And he or she can ask her just what it's like to be her, perhaps break her out of her blank demeanor over time. Or maybe they hate her! Not what they signed up for, after all. The point is that a human is a lot more relatable than a ship is on first glance, so if Celi is going to be boring, then a story from her perspective will be too.

But that's all I can say here. Thanks for writing and best of luck!
#99 ·
· on My Little Pony: Guardians of Crystal Growth
You may write something about a potential Generation 5 of My Little Pony if you want

Oh, we could have done a pitch for G5? Oh well, that ship has sailed.
#100 · 2
· on A Good Idea · >>MSPiper
It's been years:

Since I last read any of the "Girl Genius" comics, but with the steampunk stuff, the talk of "sparks" and one location being called Foglio Hall, I'd say this definitely qualifies as an homage. :)

It's pretty fun, but I'll agree with >>Kai_Creech about the slow pacing--for instance, the seven paragraph discussion about whether or not the professor used a mixed metaphor would be twice as funny at half the length, as the saying goes. The internal chronology seems odd, too--I mean, if the professor spends most of August under the thrall of the Epiphanizer, how does he not dehydrate or starve to death? And I'm not quite sure how the two scenes for Sept. 14th are related to each other. Does Susanne pass out at the end of the first? We're not told that she does, but the professor asks her if she's "of this world" again at the beginning of the second, and I'm not sure what that means.

Other things: I had no idea Farthing was female till the end of her first scene. Maybe instead of saying "it was a simple black shirt" when she first appears, you could say, "the young woman wore a simple black shirt"? Something to get that info to the reader as quickly as possible. When Susanne opens to the door at the beginning of the Aug. 3rd scene, she sees a "large, rain-spattered box" before noticing Farthing. That box never gets mentioned again, so why's it there? And when talking about Gaslamp Tech, the professor says, "that’s why it wasn’t discovered a century and a half ago." I'm not sure what that means: is it supposed to be "that’s why it wasn’t discovered until a century and a half ago"?