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No Turning Back · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 4
Woo! Cartoon horse Writeoff weekend!! 😁🦄
#2 ·
· · >>Icenrose
Aw... No art round this time?
#3 ·
Is there going to be an art round this time around?

>>Zaid Val'Roa *shakes fist* ^^
#4 · 3
#5 · 1
My participation has been kinda spotty of late, but I definitely want to get one in this time if I can. I'm finding mostly crackfic fodder in my old idea pile, though. Must... brainstorm... serious concepts... D:
#6 · 1
Just going to post a prompt and move on. Good luck everyone.
#7 · 7
The Day When Nothing Arose…

“Looser Grip?”

“Broken Magic and… Cloven Hooves.”

“That’s the Wrong Spellbook!”

“We’re not fighting, just disagreeing.”

“With our hooves?!”

“We Remain Unforgiven. The Price We Pay, The Rule of Mares.”

“What Shall We Do Now?”

“Don’t Quit Your Day Job. No Turning Back.”

“The concept of… Me Among the Mighty Falling Stars.”

“Back To Where It All Began. Serendipity!”

“It’s a Good Life.”

The Next Generation: Ship of Foals Going in Circles, Once More Unto the Beach.

And the Rains Fell.
#8 · 4
(Just a note: Going forward, I reserve the right in composing Proems to omit prompts that have been posted before, or at least edit them more freely than I’ve done heretofore.)
#9 · 1
Gah, I am inordinately excited for this one.
#10 ·
When you miss the prompt submission :(
#11 · 2
'k so. I have clear ideas for about seven of these prompts.
Considering my track record, none of them will be chosen.
#12 ·
#13 · 1
Have an idea for this prompt that I actually love. But I'm probably going to have to work all weekend.

#14 ·
The prompt fit perfectly with an idea that I'd had floating around for a while, but it turns out that I'm far too out of practice to get it done by the deadline.

Best of luck to the rest of you.
#15 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>Zaid Val'Roa
There's a story I've been wanting to do for a long time that this prompt fits, but it puts a new spin on the intent of the story. So I'm redesigning it. To be fair, I deleted all of my notes (which wasn't much) without looking at them before starting from a blank slate. Hopefully that's sufficient.

Also, hopefully I can figure out how to start writing the damn thing.
#16 ·
Yesterday was a total bust for me. I might’ve just come up with something, though.

Bonne chance!
#17 ·
· · >>billymorph
You mean you don't edit existing drafts to make them fit to the prompt? How do you people do this in just three days?
#18 · 2
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Masochism and coffee, mostly.
#19 · 2
I am greatly saddened by the lack of art. Oh well, I guess this means I can read all the entries this time. Hooray!
#20 · 2
Am I going to have to write this round?! It's really not advisable but I suppose I can try?...

Edit: An attempt was at least made but I couldn't make the deadline >_< Oh well! This means I get to spend all day reading ... :)
#21 · 2
I’m not gonna make it this time. Again. Just can’t get the time scraped together this weekend. :flutterrage:

EDIT: And of course inspiration finally really strikes on Sunday afternoon...

EDIT 2: EDIT HARDER: Woot, I am story, I am pass out now.
#22 · 4
It's midterm grading weekend, and I'm dealing with too much medication at the same time. I don't think I'm going to make enough headway to finish this time.

Good luck to everypony else!
#23 · 6
Huh, I actually finished something. That hasn't happened for half a dozen write-offs or more. Now to edit... for all of half an hour before I have to go to bed. XD
#24 · 4
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Miller Minus
I got something in! Looking forward to the roasting.

Also, judging by the amount of authors backing out, I'm not sure a finals round will be necessary for this one... I'm thinking this'll be 10 stories tops. Excited to read them though!
#25 · 3
Haha! Entry in! Suck on that, writer's block!

>>Miller Minus
Yay! That means I've made it into the top ten!
#26 · 3
Darnit, mental blowout about 5% in, complete with explosions, fire, and flying parts. Sorry.
#27 · 4
I did it. It's 3am and I have work in the morning, but I did it.

bluh, g'night
#28 · 3
Some day, I'm going to come up with an idea BEFORE midnight the day of the deadline, then I might have time to friggin' edit!

But at least it's done! Got an entry and (technical mistakes aside) I'm pretty happy with it. Now I have to judge everything in 5 days because I'll be on a cruise without internet during the final round!
#29 · 3
>>Miller Minus
11 stories... Figures.
#30 · 2
· on A Change of Heart · >>MrNumbers >>Zaid Val'Roa
I like the observation, that "THE" old ways keep changing.

Weird... Adagio being mindful/caring of Twilight.

They "hum" to each other... with words?

Now she's asking SciTwi about Sunset? Sorry author, I'm now really lost on where we are in the EQG timeline.

And now old-english speech, complete with thorns and other unicode fanciness?

SciTwi is clever, and suspects Adagio is hunting her pony-self?

Wait... "Are you hitting on me?" WTF? I'm completely lost on what's happening here.

"Because there is no turning back" I find direct prompt drops are usually a bad thing. We'll see here though.

And... it ends with just as much confusion as the start.

Okay, author. Let me be blunt. The writing was perfectly intelligible, but the story here, was not. I mean, I get the vague overview, of a tutor and student falling for each other, sure. But the middle seems to mostly be filled with vaguely poetic/philosophical references and double-entendres which, at this density, detract from the story, rather than add to it.

I'm not seeing anything deeper here, and the prompt-drop felt like a forced and unearned one as well.

I don't mean to be too harsh. Again, at the sentence or paragraph level, the prose here is perfectly fine, and there are plenty of details (like the old english) which show a good mastery of language. But my overall impression is that someone very smart wrote this while very, very high.
#31 · 5
· on Lunae Lumen · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Pascoite
Trying hard for poetic language here to start, but some weird slips of grammar. Not sure if intentional "archaeic" language, or ESL author.

Slow start, but painting a picture here. Expecting Daybreaker.

Suspecting faux-archaeic on the language, and it's becoming distracting. A little bit because of minor slips in accuracy (per my viewpoint) but moreso due to the way the needlessly flowerly prose is delaying the reveal. We get it, something is wrong with Celestia, but we knew that in the first paragraph. A full page later and nothing new is revealed.

The language is getting REALLY distracting now. "Verily, thou must thinketh" which is like 3/4 "archaeic" but later on the same line. "Would they not purge my sister of this wicked entity?" instead of the obvious "Wouldst" and "wicked spirit."

Okay, now... we jump to third person halfway through? And the archaeic is dropped.

"Luna knew it was time. It was here and now, or never. ... There could be no hesitation." This literally repeats the same information three times, practically the definition of "hesitation."

“D-Daybreaker.” Called it!

“Hey,” she whispered painfully, as if a joke was being passed between them. “You win. Now, go save Equestria.” All modern english now?

Wow, okay, so... this story is a bit of a one trick pony. 95% of it was literally obvious from the first paragraph. The twist at the end, while interesting, doesn't justify the length of this tale, nor the needlessly difficult linguistics.

That said, I do LIKE the twist. The basic premise here is wonderful, that it was Celestia falling, and Luna-as-sin-eater that led to the Nightmare and the story we all know. That's got some major power to it. But as written, this story spends all its time retreading obvious things, adding very little impact to the big reveal.

So, A++ for the concept, but I'm afraid it's a rather low score from me as the story sits currently.
#32 · 2
· on She Persisted · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Not sure if EQG or Pony-verse, but "Crispy Brown Thing #3" is spot on. We had "Plyfish" at my high school.

Hmm, Derpy going to college. Is Summer Showers a character I should know from a comic or something?

Nerdy girl gets hit on by the football player cliche, check!

Heh, "Snog." British words are funny. Though Summer feels a bit like a Pinkie Pie clone so far.

"Quiet dear, the mares are talking." #metoo Wait... isn't this just reverse sexism? But in a story, is that inherently bad? Now thinking twice about that title's meaning.

"Do you know where it comes out of?" Practically snorted my drink here. Nice!

Some minor typos and obvious editing hiccups.

Nerdy girl goes to rave in abandoned warehouse cliche, check!

"That is, of course, when it all went wrong." Le Twist! This is #metoo all over it.

"The fire spread..." Or not... Now I have no idea where this is going.

"The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!" I am unsure how to feel about real world songs like that playing in equestria. It sounds like exactly the sort of thing dumb kids would do. But it's also... not pony. I'll reserve judgement.

"That sounds like Manny!" Just One More cliche, check!

But seriously, this turned pretty dark in a hurry here.

"I can't lose my best friend!" God, the setup here is cliche, but the drama... works. It's real. What does one do in a situation like this?

"Ditzy, for her part... She persisted." Awww crap... *title drop* Should've friggin' seen that coming, but was so expecting some sort of rape or abuse thing instead. This... this is better. Damn if my eyes aren't leaking a little liquid pride right now, despite the cliches.

Hospital scenes: Can I throw a flag on the play for Derp-abuse?

Okay, that ending. Damnit again! Derpy wasn't "damaged" until this. Now I see it. I'd been picturing her as wall-eyed since the start. Then... oh frack you, author! She saved the day and you have her best friend take credit for it?

Yeah, so... some definite technical mistakes in this which really need an edit pass. The start is also very, very slow burn. I'm not sure this would "hook" anyone if they weren't having to read it for a contest. It starts off as generic high school drama/romance at best, but becomes something much more. I like it, but I think if it was on fimfic, you'd need to tighten up the intro or something.
#33 · 1
· on Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize · >>Miller Minus
This story was fun! Maybe a bit too dark for the MLP universe, but a little suspension of disbelief isn't such a big deal. I'm glad I got to read this, too, because I feel like I suck at comedy and it's nice to see someone keep it up for this long without it becoming a mess. My current record is 750 words. I'll be sure to take notes.

Something's bugging me though... Why exactly did they have to run the poor girl through the dizzitron again? Why didn't they just leave her beside it? I get the feeling based on the mention of the divot left by the safety mechanism that they needed a clear point of impact in the dirt to fool the inspector (or his buddies at cloudsdale police), but considering how airheaded you made Soarin (another concern I had), it's weird that he didn't ask spitfire for a little clarification. And you could fit more jokes in there, so why is it left so subtle?

But that's all from me. Good luck in the contest!
#34 · 2
· on Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize · >>Miller Minus
"...helping you hide a dead body." Great hook!

“I slipped.” Now it's getting dark, fast. Okay author, you've got humor and death on deck, juggle 'em!

“If anyone should get their wing pulled out…!” Okay, this is starting to feel like "The Three Stooges try to hide a body."

"Well, so long as it wasn’t Lilac Storm. She’s our best Cadet." This is getting a bit to macabre for my tastes, with not enough humor to counter it.

“Freaking municipal workers.” Really? He did nothing bad/evil. You're hiding a death. I... I want to laugh somewhere, but I'm finding no place for it.

She's alive again?

Then dead again?

Are we doing Weekend at Bernies?

And she lives... again?

At a basic level, this was written well enough, but the humor just didn't work for me. I've seen plenty of things where death IS funny, but this wasn't it. Most of the time, it just felt morose, as Spitfire and Soarin were both so easily willing to just overlook the death of a cadet. The fact that she survived the whole thing is... Well, I can see how it's a play for humor, but it felt more like a cop-out to avoid the full on grim nature of the rest of the story.
#35 · 1
· on Crash
Bit of a generic intro, but "Sunset - The College Years" is ripe for speculation, so let's do this.

Minor technical problems here and there, but nothing distracting.

Okay, "Emergency Contact" and this takes a quick turn. NOW I'm engaged.

The "funny" comment from Tree Hugger as they leave the room to go to the hospital really breaks the mood/scene, IMHO. (EDIT: This is the one "pain point" that stands out at the end.)

I say this as a note, not a criticism, but... Here comes the Scootabuse. (And I just finished reading another entry with major Derpabuse.)

Okay, seriously, laugh out loud (but with tears of joy) at Scoot's opening line about drugs. That is perfect relief and balance to the tension that'd been set up!

Very glad this turned happier.

"Stopped by the cafeteria to pick up a surprisingly good meal..." You know, all my friends keep trying to convince me to go eat at the local hospital cafeteria for some reason. Maybe they're NOT crazy?

The ending is... sweet, but predictable.

Okay, overall this was a pretty well done slice of life, with a tad more tension thrown in. I'm very glad it didn't go dark, as the balance it found was perfect. Normal stress, then high tension, then relief to set things in perspective. Just slightly formulaic, but does the formula well with few complaints; Only the "tree hugger" bit (in edit above) and the fact that it feels only weakly on-prompt.
#36 · 2
· on Father and Son · >>CoffeeMinion >>CoffeeMinion
Getting ghost vibes pretty early here.

Good, evocative language with strong visuals though.

"Big Mach" Simple typo, but I read it in a german accent, and just see Mac in lederhosen. :-)

“P… pa?!” Yup... ghosts.

"more nerves’n a hog tap-dancin’ on a tightrope." Nice!

"Somepony’s gotta make that world she’s savin." Another good bit of wisdom. Granny's really coming through great here.

The hilltop reunion works. Cliche but it works.

"Mackie" sounds weird. Not horribly so, just... never heard Granny use it in the show or comics, but now her and Pa are both doing it.

Cutting to Night Court is an odd choice. It... I get the intent here, but I don't know that it was needed for the story. Introducting Luna at the end muddles things, as her own "answers" are just vague at best anyway. I think it could be trimmed without detriment.

Overall... I'm not sure what to say. I enjoyed the read, I can say that. This story is a fairytale with no clear answer, and that's both its strength and its weakness. Though if I was put to the rack, I'd definitely argue for strength. Some great emotions on display here, and the ambiguity is played pretty well to make us care, without really giving any solid answers.

Lastly, bonus points for country-isms and accents. Very hard things to get right without sounding hokey, but I think this nailed 'em both.
#37 · 2
· on What Comes Next
From a purely analytic PoV, that opening sentence is great. It backs a LOT of information into a single line.

The rest of the opening scene... It's setting a tone, which is good, but feeling a bit simplistic with the high school drama.

"like a very scholarly bird of prey" Nice turn of phrase.

Give us the definition of "Dramatic Irony" then have a debate about Othello? Not sure how I feel about this. Bold, brazen, or brash?

Cheerilee is portrayed well here, as a teacher. She lets some stuff slide, but keeps steering things the right way and remains in charge of her classroom. She's "cool" but not a pushover.

The ending... It works, but is far too generic.

So this is a hard trope to do well: "The Lover's Quarrel." Bringing a literal discussion of Othello was interesting, but didn't quite play out as clever as I'd hoped it might. The writing is respectable thoughout, but the plot...

Well, this doesn't bring much insight to the characters OR their relationship. The main problem is that it relies too much on vagueness. We're never shown, in any way, what Dash and AJ fought about, what happened or was said, or any specifics of any sort. Thus, this is literally just the most basic shell of "Lover's Quarrel" with absolutely no details to differentiate it from the archetype. In that sense, this story is just too generic to really stand out.
#38 ·
· on Lines Uncrossed
Lovely read. This has set the bar quite high for the rest of the entries. A solid story all around, and most of the shortcomings can be chalked up to not having enough room to expand them, such as developing Shutter Snap's role as a minor antagonist in the story, and perhaps giving a bit more depth to each of the magical incidents the girls have to deal with, though I think they work quite well as a plot element to reinforce the central conflict.

Nevertheless, there is one aspect I think makes the story as a whole shine a bit less, and that's the resolution (or lack thereof). The magical disturbances on Earth become so frequent that as time goes on, they won't be able to contain all of them, which is why Sunset makes the sacrifice of staying in Equestria and having the portal closed. However, once this doesn't work, she decides to just go back to Earth and keep fighting the battle they already know they can't win in the long run.

We're never told why sealing the portal didn't work, nor are we told what is going to be the plan when the magic becomes too much for the girls to handle. There are a few small hints, but we're not given a solid answer and that robs the ending of the impact it could otherwise have.

Word of advice, though. There were several noticeable typos early on, so that was distracting.

Still, this was a great story, and others will have a rough time topping it.
#39 ·
· on Lunae Lumen
You've got a lot of power packed in little over 2k words, so kudos for that. I must agree with >>Xepher in that the first section could have used some work. It clashes stylistically with the rest of the story, which I really enjoyed.

I also agree that the resolution lacks some impact, not only because, it's a foregone conclusion the moment you realise what's happening, but because you never dwelled too much on Luna's feelings once you were done with the beginning, it lacks that extra oomph to make the ending connect.

Still, you did amazingly with what you've got, and I'd love to see a polished version.
#40 · 3
· on A Change of Heart · >>Xepher >>CoffeeMinion

The only problem I saw was that some of the ideas don't particularly lead naturally into themselves on the first read-through.

But your other criticisms are... I mean, they don't literally hum the words, that's what the italics are for. It's a common thing in writing to have sounds like that convey a meaning or expression that isn't explicitly verbal.

It's a hum with an intonation implies that implies 'welcome'. It is not the word 'welcome', hummed.

I think most of what's lost you here is on you, and not the author, as it came across fine and clearly to me even on one read-through. Blunt objects are also known for often being dense.

Sorry I can't comment more, author; Not familiar with the EQG setting at all, haven't seen any of the movies, so I'm afraid a lot of this is otherwise lost on me, but what I did understand -- and what was relevant to be understood -- came through clearly enough. And the idea of Twilight being a Soylent addict always does my heart good.
#41 · 2
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old · >>Miller Minus
But now I've forgotten all of that
And I'm living each day like I'm being chased by something

Even if I look back (In the forgotten photo album)
I can't go back to those times (Photos of myself doing stupid things)
Anymore (Laughing with friends)

The growing blues, always good for a kick in the gut. I think you did a pretty good job portraying that feeling of melancholy one gets when you feel life is leaving you behind and you don't know how to cach up. The girls all feel in-character, as do the changes they've had in their lives. Even Sunset.

My only real complain is that, even though we've witnessed her slow descent into deppression, the final stretch seems like a rush to a bittersweet ending. I would have bought it if Twilight writing had been the final straw which finally sent her over the edge, but the story ends just under forty words after that.

Besides, there's no overall message other than "people tend to drift apart as they grow", and while it's a valid message, you don't take it further than that. You didn't go as deep in Sunset's feelings as I thought you would, nor is there more thought put into her nebulous, grey future. I feel it comes short of giving a better rounded ending, but the lead up to that is fantastic. A bit of work would make it shine much more.
#42 · 1
· on Of Moose and Mares
Man, that was cute. And fun. It was all around cute and fun, much like Lyra and Bon-Bon themselves.

I'm feeling dumb, because I can't come up with much to say other than I would've wanted more, that would've helped us buy their relationship. How did Bon-Bon fell in love with Lyra? What other things did they have to go through? Has Bon-Bon ever protected Lyra's identity from the public? I really feel fleshing things out a bit more would get us more invested in their relationship.

Still, wonderful little tale.
#43 ·
· on A Change of Heart
This feels like the turning point of a larger story. And hey, given the characterisation and prose you've pouerd into this entry, that's a story I would definitely like to read.

Right now, though, I'll echo some of what >>Xepher said in that all the details feel like they should connect to things we've seen in preceding chapters and make little sense on their own. This leads to my major issue with the story and it's that the resolution feels unearned. With the way you've structured it, I would've bought a spur-of-the moment-decision from Twilight to ask Adagio out rather than the culmination of growing tension between the two, which I feemay have been your aim.

Overall, as enjoyable as it is, it's not that good on its own.
#44 · 1
· on What Comes Next
Ah, tales of dramatic loss. You spoil me, author.

Alright, there's a solid skeleton here. I don't think it's necessary to explain exactly what it is that happened between them, as long as we get to explore the extent of the damage the break up has done to them, and you almost got there. There were a few moments you could've used to explore the depth of Dash's regret. The boxing moment with Scootaloo would've been nice.

Nevertheless, this is a great starting point for a tale about romantic loss and reconciliation.
#45 · 3
· on K'awka Supay · >>Zaid Val'Roa
You can always count on Eldritch horrors to... fix... your love life.


Points for coming up with possibly the most original story of the bunch, but wow, there is a lot to unpack here.

Okay, I want to start on the first half of the story, which I had a lot of trouble following. Not that what was happening was confusing, but Pinkie and Twilight were just... weird. I didn't understand their actions or emotions. Their casual tone (and that of the narrator) completely betray the severity of their situation. You've presented this horrible dimension-shearing mess as something exciting and funny! But the characters are acting like it might not even be there. Also, just because your story is a comedy does not mean the characters have to laugh themselves. Who would laugh in this situation?

Maybe Pinkie would, but that just accents how unlike herself Twilight is acting. I totally couldn't get a read on her. In one scene she's sure there were no remnants of sleep clouding her mind, and in the next she's wishing she could be in bed. And then she's thinking about how much she likes Pinkie's smile.

I think part of the problem is this vague "night before" you're alluding to. I'm not invested in finding out what it is, because Twi and Pie don't seem to be too bothered about it. They're clearly avoiding it, but in a rather flat way. I have no indication if the events disgust them, embarrass them, fill them with rage, anything. There's just this thing that happened. And the cheeky vagueness of it all comes off as rather annoying instead of intriguing.

The rough first half got rougher when the story revealed itself to be a romance. I'm down for a romance and all, but it's again betraying the scenes happening around them. They're both in danger for chrissakes. Twilight brushed off cracking open Pinkie's skull as just another thing that's happening and she should probably do something about, maybe. But trust me she really cares about her?

It all just feels like a distraction from the horror story I was expecting instead, if that makes sense.

Now, the second half. That's where everything I just complained about magically fixes itself. The pace accelerates, there's less meandering narration, and both Twilight and Pinkie become much more vibrant (and they stop laughing). The action is even more imaginative, if a little hard to follow at times. And I can tell you're really passionate about this mind-bending horror stuff, and it was really fun to see you apply it to comedy.

And now the characters are scared of what's happening! To themselves and to each other! And as weird as it is, the whole body-horror (Sugarcube-Corner-Horror?) situation they find themselves in simultaneously acting as the challenge they need overcome together drives home the romance part now. And it's even a little touching.

But these comments are mostly mechanical. I think because the first half was so unsure of what it was, I didn't have the investment I needed, even though I could tell the second half was a marked improvement overall. But still, reading a story about a busted train that miraculously makes it to its destination is a lot better than reading a story about a trainwreck.

...If that makes sense. Either way, thanks for writing, author! And best of luck in the voting. Before I go I wanted to point out my favourite line:

"...I feel like I’m about to go bungee jumping but I don’t know if I have the stretchy rope attached..."

That is such a great metaphor for asking someone out.
#46 · 1
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old
The other day I was trying to come up with a word that I had forgotten. It's a unique word that's used to describe someone who's quiet yet effective. I was picturing a man in a suit—he speaks quietly, he always asks what other people are thinking, and only talks about himself if asked, and even then he doesn't dwell on what's only really important to him. But at the same time, it's not like he's hiding anything. He just says what he needs to say in as few words as possible, and moves on.

I was telling my friends it was like reserved, or soft-spoken, or something, but not those. Even thesaurus.com had no answers for me.

As I was reading this story, though, I remembered what it was. Understated. This story is great at being understated. But I should be clear: sometimes it's really not.

I can tell this comes from a real place for you. Or at least I assume it does. But then, this is a feeling everybody feels in life, and it's powerful. Everybody's been dragged away from their friends by the thoughts of:

How much longer will this last?

What the hell am I doing with my life?

Have they grown up without me?

Sunset's anxiety at the bar is so relatable it hurts. But whenever the narrator tells us exactly why Sunset is worried about her friends leaving (It was too early for that kind of talk. It still felt like she’d only just arrived, and to lose her friends again so soon–), the story shows its whole hand to me. If you'll allow me to stretch the metaphor, it's like playing poker with a really good player, and right when I'm thinking, "I'll bet this guy has a full house based on how he's playing," he winks and shows me his full house. I mean, I'm glad I'm right, but it's less exciting now.

But the greater majority of the story felt just subtle enough to me. As opposed to the kick to the gut that >>Zaid Val'Roa mentioned, I'm feeling more of a weight in my gut that's being added to and added to as Sunset's night draws to a close, and it finally drops when she follows through on her decision to be the next domino to fall.

And I was about to complain that Sunset didn't feel very well fleshed out to me. But then I realized it was because of how much character is added to the Mane... Four. And that fits the story. The feeling that everyone else is living more interesting lives than her.

I kind of wish this were an original story, honestly. A group of women who graduated high school together at their latest annual reunion, telling tall tales that are more new to me than AJ having chores on a farm. And then there's that one of them who's had a terrible thought that she cant let go of. And the rest of the night she's just having it reinforced. And all she can think, is when will the next domino fall, and will it be me?

Thanks, Author! Both for writing and helping me remember understated. What a great fuckin' word. Good luck in the contest!
#47 · 2
After picking up from a Search & Rescue callout on Friday, I had to think a little about my plans for the weekend. I came up with a Writeoff story idea (involving Sunset and/or the Sirens visiting Equestria and being unable to transform back to their normal horse shape), but looked at my schedule and ... just couldn't justify it. :\ So much on my plate right now.

That stings a little because it's the first pony short story round I've missed since I joined the Writeoffs. It's also on the heels of my worst finish ever, and I wanted to write to make a point of getting back on the horse. But with Watch! Watch! coming out so well and another story in progress for the other big-money contest ending soon, I'm pretty comfortable that it's not an issue of confidence, it's just time management. So I'll be back!

In the meantime, I'm sneaking in a little reading and reviewing around the edges ...
#48 · 2
· on K'awka Supay · >>CoffeeMinion >>Zaid Val'Roa
Alright, author, let's talk about your opening for a minute!

Many years later, Twilight Sparkle would look back and find it odd how being abruptly awakened at three in the morning would be the least objectionable part of that day.

This is a good, and reasonably successful, effort to set a hook with an intriguing idea. But the sentence is also pretty top-heavy. "being abruptly awakened at three in the morning [was] the least objectionable part of that day" is your hook; the entire first half just serves as framing. And, in the context of the rest of your story, I question whether that framing is even a good one: you never skip forward to "many years later". Everything's set either in the present or in flashbacks to the previous night.

So I'd carve this down to its core idea, and maybe play around with ways to introduce it that don't involve an omniscient/future judgment.

as if trying to get ahold of the hems of a dress worn by her fleeting sleep

This is rather an odd metaphor.

Next. This is a nitpick, but it's in your opening (where you're trying to draw readers in smoothly) so it might be worth fiddling with:
Twilight ignored the hammering noise on her window until she remembered her room was on the second floor.

In a world where pegasi exist, wouldn't this just imply that it's Rainbow Dash again rather than be something unusual enough to disturb her?

Now Twilight was sure there were no remnants of sleep clouding her mind.

This is somewhat undercut by the fact that your third paragraph notes "all traces of sleep were chased away by the face pressed against the window glass".

None of these, individually, are critical editing problems. But they do have a cumulative effect that makes the story as a whole look rushed. I hope you smooth them out with later revision.

On to the meat of the story! I like the core premise — the idea of the baking-magic eldritch abomination summoning, and the way it weaves in the backdrop of the awkward relationship conversation. At least once I figured that out, anyhow. The story was initially being so vague about it that I wasn't sure (in a not-good way) why Twilight was fretting so much about "yesterday's ... events", and I kept trying to find clues that weren't there in the text. I don't think you need to be much more concrete, just at least get the framework of the awkward conversation in there instead of "events".

It does feel to me like Pinkie's end of the relationship drama is pretty solid and well-established, but I'd like to see more about what it was that took Twilight from bundle of nerves to solid yes; right now I'm having trouble buying it. In her shoes I'd be a little freaked out that Pinkie kept pressing forward, rather than finding it endearing; if she can't respect a request for time to think, how good is she going to be at respecting boundaries?

The beats of the central story also seem a little repetitive. There's a cycle between baking and monster attacks that doesn't really seem to progress things.

Pinkie bit her lip as her cheeks puffed. The sight was adorable, and it brought warmth to Twilight’s heart. Without even thinking, she broke off a sizeable piece of her cake and floated it towards Pinkie.

“Wha… But, Twilight. I made this for—”

“I know… And I want to share it with you.”

Pinkie Pie blinked and smiled faintly at herwords. She was the happiest pony Twilight had ever known, few were the times she didn’t have a smile on her face. That smile, though, that one blew them all away.

“Thank you, Twilight,” she said, her voice barely a whisper as she accepted her piece of cake. Such a little gesture, but one which held so much meaning for the two. So much that, even once they finished the concerningly delicious cake, neither wished to move.

I mean, you reach this point with several thousand words left, but with the little sharing-the-cake moment you've basically just resolved the emotional arc.

This is a bit of an extreme suggestion, but you might even want to consider stopping the story there and skipping to the epilogue. A less extreme version of that would just require having Twilight immediately comment that sharing the cake should have done something like stop the eldritch invasion, and not actually be focused on her feelings toward Pinkie yet. Save the punch of the emotional resolution for the end.

All that said, this was an entertaining story with a lot of potential. It's got a lot of rough Writeoff edges from the tight writing schedule, but now that you've got time to breathe they can be sanded down. Thanks for writing!

Tier: Almost There
#49 ·
· on She Persisted
A nice treat. My thoughts are pretty much all of what >>Xepher said. Kudos on that subversion and gut punch in the end.

I'd add that the aftermath of the disco fire goes by too quickly. Honestly, I'd like to see how that affects everyone's lives beyond a paragraph or two. There's a lot of unresolved drama to be had there, and as a result, this story feels like the first act of a coming-of-age film.

Also, how comes that nobody remembers Ditzy was the one who herded everyone to safety? You'd think Bass would have at least said something. Was everyone that intoxicated?
#50 · 3
· on Crash
For a second there, I thought Scootaloo's accident would in some way parallel Dash's lifestyle of neglect and laziness, and this would make Dash face how she's been living her life and how it affected others around her and whatnot.

I'm glad you took it in a different direction, but now I'm left wondering why we spent so much time developing that side of Dash's character if it doesn't really come up in the rest of the story. It sort of ties in right at the end but, then again, it's right at the end. Take this as just my opinion, but what if instead of playing up Dash's unkemptness, you had focused on her being a risk-taker? Maybe letting some beer pool near an electric cord, or leaving a still lit blunt on top of a pile of textbooks. You can have the rest of the story play out more or less the same, but now there's a chance to explore Dash's character, which I feel is a bit flat here. She starts as her usual lazy self, then goes on full big sis mode for the rest of the story until the very end.

It's a good story, and I was engaged, but I find it shallow.
#51 · 2
· on Lunae Lumen
Something about the title caught my eye, and that's a big portion of getting someone to read your story. I also saw >>Xepher review that said it got archaic language wrong. That's one of the quickest ways for an author to lose me, but Xepher only copies out a couple examples, and one of them is wrong:
"Would they not purge my sister of this wicked entity?" instead of the obvious "Wouldst" and "wicked spirit."

"Wouldst" goes with "thou." "Would" is the proper conjugation for "they." So is Xepher being fair? "Thou must thinketh" is a pretty egregious fail, so there probably is some work to be done here. Might as well have a look.

>Has she drawn into herself
Hath she

>it may happen
it mayeth

>If it has anything to do
it hath

>If it does involve my sister
it doth

>She has a heart of gold.
She hath

>her pride does not hinder her duty
pride doth

>She comes.
She cometh.

That's all from the first scene. Authors, if you're going to try using archaic language, please do your homework and learn how. Getting it right can lend a nice atmosphere to a story, and the occasional slip can be excusable, especially when you barely have time to edit, but when you mostly get it wrong, you're shooting yourself in the foot. I'm reminded of a story from the previous round where Cassius, among others, said there's no way the procedural legal stuff would happen that way. For people who don't know, they can gloss over it, but for people who do, it can ruin the story for them. So just like if you were writing a medical drama and needed to research how things happen in an emergency room so you can do an authentic portrayal of it, please give equal care to writing in this style if you want to do a convincing job. You also need to learn when to use "thine." You use it almost exclusively, but it more often should be "thy."

And a bit later on, there's a "mayhaps." People confuse this with the much-more-common "perhaps" in how it's spelled, but this isn't a word. It's "mayhap." There are some other editing errors around, but overall, not too bad.

So as I said, the title drew me in, and that's unusual. Different strokes for different folks, but I usually can't stand foreign-language titles. Many readers won't know what they mean, and most of those aren't going to bother looking them up, so you've lost an opportunity for a hook. Anything to make the reader decide the title is worth a glance over your synopsis, which of course we don't have here. But what little Latin I know (which isn't enough to decide whether this title is written correctly) makes me think this means something like "light of the moon," and I love a good Luna story.

How about the story, then? I agree with Xepher that the ending is telegraphed from right at the beginning. I don't think this is going to surprise anyone, so why bother holding it as a surprise? Luna must have had her suspicions from the start, so go ahead and have her voice them.

That start, though. Everyone so far has said it doesn't match well with the rest, and we're in agreement on that, too. The way it's structured, it feels like Luna has an audience. Not that it's necessarily worded like that--it could still plausibly be her musing to herself. I've started a story like this as well (not a good one, to be sure, but this wasn't one of its problems), but the difference is that the character was confined in a sensory-deprived state, where he had no interaction with the outside world. This feels so detached that it creates that sense for me. Luna's somewhere, though. She's sitting around, thinking all this to herself, and an unbroken monologue isn't the most enticing first foot to set forward. To me, at least, it would help if we saw her in a setting, noticing things around her, especially details that can be symbolic or thematic to the story. That brings her alive, makes this something more anchored in what's actually happening in the story, and connects it better with the active later scenes.

And in the second scene, she explicitly addresses an audience which requires a lot more of the story that you probably don't want to deal with. Don't do this lightly. Now it's just hanging there like a lead weight. Who is her audience? Why are they there? Why does she want to tell this specific audience this specific story? Unless you're prepared to answer questions like that, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Ignoring the audience bit, part of this inner monologue is a perception of it against the whole. It might be easier to get away with this if it's only a few hundred words out of tens of thousands, but when it's a significant portion of the story, it needs to carry proportional weight, and it more stands out as the bit that doesn't fit in so well. The second scene is more of the same, and I'm not sure they need to be separate scenes. But when you spend half your story getting to any action, it does make things feel unbalanced, like maybe you either should have gotten to the action far sooner or just made the entire thing a philosophical piece.

Now halfway through, we get to action. But why do you change it to third person? At least it's a limited third person, so you're still close to Luna, but I don't see the advantage of that at all, and going to past tense removes the immediacy you'd generated. You spent the first part building up this very personal view of Luna only to wedge in a ton of distance when the interesting things start to happen. That de-personalizes the latter half of the story for me. There's really only one thing you couldn't have done while leaving this in first person, and that's having the camera stay behind after Luna's gone, but with a minor tweak, that's easy to work around. Luna can hear the cry as she disappears, and just end it there.

Hm, then we don't get Celestia's expectation of what happens next. Maybe you'd consider using Celestia as your viewpoint character for the entire scene, or make a smooth slide over to her at some point? There are actually a lot of ways you could go. Those first couple scenes could be Celestia as an unreliable narrator. Eh, you've gotta write your story. These are just some idle suggestions.

And that action scene's not bad! We do have a bit of strange timing. Celestia's been attacked, but then calmly takes the time to put on her gear, and yet Luna's taken by surprise when Celestia does counter, when she'd had ample time to prepare and had to assume it'd happen. Watch the perspective here, though. How would Luna know the blast was visible for miles, and why would she even be thinking that at the moment?

The ending confuses me a bit. However, canon is inconsistent as well. In the original, Luna became the nightmare because she was convinced by it and actually believed those things. Later on, both nightmare versions were more like detached, separate entities, but only in the dream realm, which didn't have them actually turning into these things in the waking world. YMMV here, but such a stark difference between "Celestia has been overwhelmed by Daybreaker and exists in her pure form in her mind" and "Celestia has been corrupted by Daybreaker, but her mental self is more open to being won back" can mean a lot to the story. The latter is more of a tragic tale. As many have noted in the past, the whole Nightmare Moon thing loses some of its punch if Luna bears absolutely no personal responsibility for it. Xepher seems to think this story is about how Nightmare Moon came to be in its original incarnation, but I'm not so sure. In the episode where we met Daybreaker, Luna didn't act like that was familiar to her, plus Luna musing on Celestia's ability to use the Elements suggests knowledge from her prior banishment, so this sounds to me like it happens after all that. If you get enough of a differing opinion from readers on this, you might need to make it clearer.

All that sounds pretty negative, huh? This wasn't a bad story, and as I said, once you got to the action, it was more engaging (and by "action," I mean seeing things happen live, not necessarily the fight). And you've made an effective open ending, something not all that many authors do well. It's not just "I don't know what will happen next," but "I know the possible paths this could take, and I know the stakes and consequences of each." So, good job with that.
#52 ·
· on Crash · >>Zaid Val'Roa
It was a nice story, and I'm glad it had a happy-ish ending, but I couldn't help but feel it was plugged up with filler. Things like Tree Hugger's involvement both before and after the dorm scene (I was also unimpressed with the sexual joke's timing), and Sunset's trip back to Equestria just felt like a distraction because they added nothing to the scootaloo plot or to Dash's development. Sunset even thinks about her discussion with pony Twilight as being entirely unhelpful—so why are we hearing about it? It makes sense, but what does it add? Plus, the information surrounding who her emergency contact is, where her parents are, all this feels superfluous, I don't know. Some focusing would be worthwhile, I think.

Also, I couldn't really connect the two plot threads together at the end like you attempted. Zaid above has a good suggestion for a way to make it feel like the problems relate to each other.

And yeah... I don't see the prompt at all here. Perhaps it's gone over my head.
#53 · 2
So there's one kinda fun thing about having such a small set of stories: the bar is lower for reading and potentially giving feedback on all of them. Ordinarily I'd have gotten some reviews out by now, but this time I grabbed the ePub anthology and I'm like 2/3-3/4 of the way through reading it, and I'll do them all after.

Quick impressions: there's a pretty high quality standard on offer! I felt more confident about my entry before I got to see what else is out there. Even the TwiPie demon cake story, which strikes me as having some of the most overt technical roughness, has a lot of compensating strengths from a storytelling perspective. In fact that one's still my early favorite.
#54 · 4
· on Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize · >>Miller Minus
Man, it sucks that there was no art round this time.
#55 · 2
Just a reminder that there are three stories with just one comment:

-Lines Uncrossed
-Father and Son
-Of Moose and Mares
#56 · 2
· on K'awka Supay · >>Zaid Val'Roa
And so it begins!

Genre: Ia Ia TwiPie Fhtagn

Thoughts: If I had to sum this up in two words, they'd be "ambitious" and "rough." I'll get to the rough bits. I want to start by complimenting the ambitiousness. I'm otherwise cold on TwiPie but this makes about as strong a case for it as I could imagine reading. And it does so while doubling, tripling, and quadrupling-down on a horror premise that feels totally orthogonal to romance. But in the process of mixing and matching all the crazy elements it's juggling, it makes the whole thing work! Truly an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Even with the proverbial duct tape and Bondo showing in some places, this was a delight to read.

I can't hit everything in this one, so let me call out some high points.

Early on the story tries to play coy and drop hints about what happened the day before. Then eventually we get the flashback that lays it all bare. Without wanting to dump unduly on the Author, IMO the way this was executed felt like a worst-of-both-worlds. On the one hand, we the readers are probably meant to pick up on the gist of the romantic situation right away--but I missed it for quite a while. Maybe that's on me for just really not thinking of TwiPie as a thing, but I feel like the hints are currently too vague to point me in the right direction. So then the flashback comes later, and while it does contribute to the overall sense of the dynamic these two have, I didn't feel like it broke a lot of new ground. It's already clear that Pinkie likes Twilight and Twilight isn't as sure about Pinkie, and getting to see that more clearly in a nice little scene doesn't move the story at that point IMO. To be clear, it isn't a bad scene; it's just sorta jammed in there right now.

There's a part near the end where everything goes italics before it cuts back to normal-time. I thought that part (and a few other similar flourishes throughout) was very strong. Things like that can come off as cliche if misused, but they're used for cinematic effect here. Two thumbs up.

At risk of just cribbing from better other reviewers, I think >>horizon's thought about a potential extreme cut is worth considering. I'll stop short of fully recommending it, though, as I thought it was fun and in keeping with the overall tone and style of the story to invoke the trope of the boss monster coming back after our heroines thought they'd killed it the first time. It took the whole story's stakes and ratcheted them up to eleven. It also put sudden and extreme pressure on Twilight to make a decision about the relationship thing, which... like, from a real-world relationship perspective, that's probably bad. But for an already wacky and wild shipfic with variable gravity and non-Euclidian geometry... I dunno, I thought it worked.

Overall I think there are enough little things that could use tweaking that I end up bumping this lower than I'd like it to be. I think a fully polished version of this would be easy Top Contender material. As it is though, this still manages to get the job done.

Tier: Strong
#57 ·
· on A Change of Heart · >>CoffeeMinion
Your comments made me go back and re-read this and see if it came through clearer a second time. My opinion is mostly unchanged, however I think I have better examples of why.

First off, most of my post before was "reactions as I read" and aren't inherently criticism. As Adagio is literally a Siren, I though she might LITERALLY be communicating in some musical, humming language or code. (She hums a lot in this story.) That twilight would know said code/language seemed odd. As such, it wasn't a critique, it was "Huh, this caught my attention."

One reason I felt this was confusing is that it keeps jumping around in perspective, with attribution of action and dialog coming missing or out of order.

Adagio heard Twilight come back in and sit down, the wheels of the office chair rolling against the hardwood floor sounding oddly soothing. She hummed. Welcome. Twilight hummed back. Hi.

"Heard twilight sit down... She hummed." It reads as though Twilight is humming at first, and then Twilight is replying to herself. Minor, but then gets more confusing with the next line.

Then, the sound of someone sipping from a drink.

Adagio and Twilight are the only characters in the room so far, so using "someone" makes it seem as though a third character has entered (or the computer is playing a sound or something.) I'm thinking there are two twilight's here (which is why adagio told us at the start we have to differentiate)

Adagio pursed her lips and looked up from her book. Twilight was sitting in front of the computer, and she had clearly received something to drink—and nothing to eat.

So, "received" feels like further confirmation. Twilight was given a drink by someone. Which implies it wasn't (that) Twilight that left the room to obtain something? So, combined with the earlier comment from Adagio ("high school student Twilight Sparkle—it was important to differentiate"), I started to think there IS a second Twilight here as well and the author is having a fun game with intentionally confusing attributions. It's quickly clear that's not the case, but the wording is confusing here.

So Adagio sneered. “That,” she said, “doesn’t look like food to me.”

And now she's literally repeating what we were just told in the prior line. Say or show, but don't do both.

On the bigger picture side of things, I still find the timeline of events unclear too. Adagio is missing her necklace, and knows there are two twilights. So this feels like it must be well after the battle of the bands and all that. But in that case, it's unclear why Adagio would have to ask if Twi knows Sunset Shimmer? Or find it interesting when Twilight mentions meeting a princess that looks just like her. Adagio already literally knows this is SciTwi and not her princess counterpart, per her comment in the opening paragraph.

The assumption then that Adagio knows, but SciTwi doesn't is the next theory, and Adagio is going to use her in some way. But it's quickly shown Twi knows old ponish, that adagio is 1500 years old, etc. Yet she's still worried she's going to be kidnapped. Why in the world would she have put up with Adagio for all this time (it seems like tutoring has been going on for some months at least) if she thought Adagio was dangerous? They end up half joking about that very thing, but... again, that doesn't mesh with what we know about Twilight. There's no way she let that go for months and months without her curiosity or nervousness spilling the beans on at least something. That she had a crush on her is a valid explanation maybe, but the entire romance angle just comes out of the blue, seconds after the thing about kidnapping. It's whiplash about what's going on at the very least.

My point is that there are a lot of pieces to try to slot into a timeline here, and none of them feel like they quite line up, and several feel like they just drop out of the blue with no lead in or reasoning. (Ex: Why is an offer to "get us some food" seen immediately as hitting on someone only seconds after they were seeming to fear for their life?)

Bottom line, I still come away with the overall impression of a lot of ideas (mostly good ones, too) mushed in a bit too haphazardly. But as MrNumbers notes... maybe that's just me.
#58 · 3
· on K'awka Supay · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Lot of references to yesterday. Wild guess, Pinkie confessed her love or something.

Halfway down the street before being told what it is?

Ah yes, baking accident opens portal to the netherworld, of course!

Pinkie's rambling sounds pretty in character. Twilight saying "how this all went down" feels a bit off though.

So she went to get a cookbook and got the Necronomicon ex Mortis I'm guessing?

*sigh* Twilight starts to reflect back to the "mysterious" yesterday, and she's cut off right before we're show what happend. Yeah, Pinkie confessed her love. Hope I'm wrong, or this is just dragging things out.

Some fun turns of phrase "Are the snake-y things coming through the windows again?"

Noticing a fair number of minor typos scattered about.

This flashback bit, after the claw grabs Pinkie... it took too long for me to realize it was a flashback. Bit confusing. The flashback ties stuff together nicely once it snapped into context for me.

So this was a fun idea. Well, two ideas actually. Pinkie going overboard with a cake because of romance, and the whole eldritch horror from said cake. There's a strong story to be had here, but... this needs work.

The biggest problems I have are mostly around pacing. For one, the references to yesterday are kept as a mystery when it's fairly obvious from the end of the first scene that Pinkie said "I love you" or something of the sort. Dragging out that reveal... and worse, interrupting it right before it's shown... comes across as a bad tease. A lot of words wasted on vaguness which could've been used to build stronger ideas and characterizations.

Secondly, the action scene basically repeats itself. We have a LOT of Twilight and Pinkie fighting off horrors while finding the solution, the solution is to eat the cake, and then they finally get it and... What? What happened. It literally doesn't say things calmed down, yet nothing seems to interrupt them and they start cleaning up. From there, of course, we get a repeat. Pinkie gets grabbed, and we literally do almost the entire same monster fight over again.

Now, the END of the second fight sequence works. Pinkie gets grabbed, and the echo of "No!" fading into the previous day's memories of rejection is a good way to tie things together, and a good moment of resolution. This should've happened in the first fight however. Also, minor nitpick, but how does casting a SECOND magic cake spell fix the first one? Eating the one cake to "end the spell" made sense.

I'd suggest taking that ending, and cropping out a lot of the middle. This is possibly several thousand words too long, and a lot of that is basic descriptions of fighting monsters. It's amusing the first time or two we see a funny description, but the humor fades quickly the ninth time it's explained how things "bend in impossible ways" or whatever. Find the best jokes/humor, and find all the lines that expound on their feelings for each other, then trim as much as you can from the rest.

Lastly, maybe consider starting with "the night before" so we see a more linear thing. Or at the very least, have Twilight be thinking on it, unable to sleep, when pinkie knocks on the window. We need to know it's a romance to bring more meaning to the rest. Eldritch horror can be a more fun twist that way too.
#59 ·
· on Lines Uncrossed
Punchy opening line.

Some typos early on. (It's "feinted", not "fainted.")

Wallflower... hmm, timeline feels wrong. Sunset just said she'd only been friends with Fluttershy a year. Surely more time has passed in EQG-verse. Maybe I'm wrong though.

"Coach Sure Shot found an Equestrian artifact after class and is now trying to destroy the school because you failed to make a three pointer.” That made me smirk, but setting a to-the-second countdown clock on the story... She said she had exactly so much time to save her friends. Clearly, her friends didn't die or whatever when that time ran out so the counting clock here feels like a cheap trick.

“You can’t make a bet when you know the answer.”
“Really? But that’s the best time.” Heh... perfect!

A lot more typos creeping in. All minor, but they start to stand out.

Halfway through the story, and I'm not quite sure what the story is about yet. It seemed to be a one-off crisis they were about to face, but now it's crisis-of-the-week. It's reading well enough to keep me going, but its lost the hook.

Sealing the portal... Yeah, it took a while to get to this, but that adds some weight to the story finally.

I'm really liking (well, hating rather) the sadness and depression after Sunset seals the portal. Very well done emotions here.

Having Tempest here... a bit odd at first (the movie felt like a weird fanfic to me) but it makes sense.

The seal was broken that quickly and easily? Seems an odd turn, narratively.

Okay, and a very rushed epilogue.

So, the second half of this story is pretty great. There's some really powerful emotions in cutting yourself off forever from your friends and your old life. That feels like it needs to be the core of this story. Unfortunately, it's only about 1/4 of it by length at most.

The first half has some good lines and (typos aside) is well written technically, but it doesn't really set up the bigger problem soon enough. Now that I've finished the story, I can see how it's TRYING to set up the "More and more things keep coming through" but it really needs to be more explicit that things are getting worse, because it kind of comes off a as humorous "oh no, not again... it must be Saturday" kind of joke we've seen before. Some better foreshadowing that Sunset knows (or suspects) she'll have to seal the portal and go home would be good.

The bit in Equestria needs to last longer. Sunset's pain felt very real, and I'd love to see that explored more in depth. Having Tempest there... there's a lot of stuff, a lot of suffering (and healing) that could really take this story to the next level.

The end... I sense you ran out of time. That the stones start sparking and just blast through the seal in moments basically the same day is just sloppy writing. The reunion with friends and her chosen world just feels unearned. We needed to see Sunset come to terms with things better, learn some "lesson" about losing friendships, before the story rewards her with the reunion.

Still, I blame it all on a rushed author (as the typos at the end get even worse.)

But yeah, a really solid core to the story here, with characters that felt real. The "directors cut" of this should come out amazing!
#60 · 2
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old
Hmm, a reunion episode?

The girls all seem... I guess about right. "Future versions" are always hard to judge, as people can change quite a bit, so "off character" doesn't mean the same thing.

Definitely a lot of melancholy here, despite some of the more upbeat lines. I'm wondering where the hook comes in.

“She’s not even thirty!” Okay, now we finally got at least some better sense of how far in the future this is. I wasn't sure if they were 25 or 50 until this point, which made it hard to picture some of this.

"were she still capable of sympathy for Twilight." Is that what's been eating at Sunset this whole time? That's a really late reveal.

If she could take the bus, why is it she only seems the others once a year? I get some are out of town, but... it seems like not THAT far away.

And she puts the book back?

I wanted to like this story. I really did. A glimpse into a "normal" future of friends drifting apart and stuff... that part is well written. But the story relies too much on things we didn't see. What happened between Sunset and Twilight (assuming SciTwi)? What's with none of them wearing the geodes? These are seeming plot hooks set up as important, then given no resolution.

The ending is also... Well, what should've been a moment of brightness... Princess Twilight, at least, is reaching out, and obviously has the same trouble keeping in touch... Instead, Sunset ignores that? It seemed to almost literally be an answer to her prayers, and she ignores it. I get that this is a choice the author made, to end on something depressing, but it just stretches things too far. That doesn't feel like Sunset to do that, even if she is a bit older and more depressed. I would, of course, have loved to see WHY she doesn't answer, but nope.

Overall, this flowed nicely, and hit some emotional notes, but the teasing lack of information left me feeling adrift by the end, and so it didn't connect nearly as strong as it might have.
#61 ·
· on Of Moose and Mares
With a title like that, I hope we've got some humor on deck.

Lyra has to maintain her focus around Bon-Bon. Lyra as changeling?

“That could be a pooka…” Pooka... from Changeling. Yeah, doubling down on that guess.

And... yep. Changeling. But I'm glad it wasn't dragged out, because the hook is set. Let's see where this goes.

"...no turning back where they could see you." Italicizing your own "clever" interpretation of the prompt? A bit brazen.

"I felt my globflax pound in my chest." Heh.

A few more clever turns of phrase... the bit about lemons is good.

Slightly interesting backstory about their first date, but it's not really holding my attention very well.

And she knew the whole time... I really didn't think this was going to go that route, because it seemed too obvious. Guess I was wrong.

And she goes the neon moose route.

Okay, not too bad overall. Definitely cute, with some funny bits. It feels like never quite obtains the weightyness it aims for though. That she's a secret changeling is kinda... meh. In the same episode where we see Bon Bon's identity, we also see changlings undisguised at the wedding, and nevermind the Neon Moosening... seems coming out of the closet should've been well before now.

That choice to go neon... that feels like it should've been a bigger deal. The story shows her "doubting" it but never with enough reasons other than "I don't want to look like a neon moose" for the most part. It attempts to talk about the idea of core identity, but never really makes me feel the weight of that.

I think this story might do better to take one of the two things and focus on that. Either show us the early, secret-changling dates and other stuff going on, (before thorax and the new changelings) OR have Lyra now debating this conversion (and thus, reveal to bon-bon.) Trying to fit both in one story lowered the impact a fair bit.
#62 · 1
· on Of Moose and Mares
Genre: Moose Invasion

Thoughts: If I had to peg this in two words, they'd be “smooth” and “romance.” I know, the latter’s just a genre label. But this gets high marks for technical cleanliness and it makes the case for its ship pretty effectively. Overall it's an easy, enjoyable, and interesting read.

Nice Cave Johnson reference with the lemons. It probably works whether the reader is into Portal or not.

Really nice metaphor with the middle-of-the-night snack run thing.

Things drag a little once Neon Genesis Moosevangelion shows up. I don't know if that's a major problem; I get how it drives the character struggles of the latter half. But maybe that progression is just less interesting than the humorous, cute, and well-narrated backstory up to that point. Although the pitchforks and torches thing is worth the price of admission.

...Yeah. Ok, so I do like the Lyra/Bon Bon interaction leading up to the transformation. The transformation itself still feels pretty arbitrary as a plot point, though. It doesn't feel like there are a lot of stakes around the transformation, either for or against. And it feels kinda like a downer that our active and proactive heroine through the first half just has a big change dropped on her because of a knock on the door.

Aaaand then we end on a happy note.


Well, I can sit here quibble about what I'd like the second half of the plot to look like, but I can't deny the overall high quality here. It's all just really well-executed. Maybe its various different sections could be integrated together a bit more deftly, as right now they come close to seeming sort of like a series of only loosely-connected vignettes. But this is strong--very strong. Very--

Tier: Strong
#63 ·
· on Father and Son · >>CoffeeMinion
Genre: Touched By An Angel

Thoughts: So this is pretty clearly some kind of ghost story. It goes well out of its way to throw out enough possibilities to not feel utterly random or cliche by having a ghost appear, but I have to think that's what's going on here.

And that's bold. I mean, having a heart-to-heart ghost conversation could easily come off as cliche (there's that word again!) or boring. Taking that path requires a really strong execution to keep readers engaged, because the nature of the plot brings relatively less intrinsic interest IMO.

But I think this delivers. The descriptive language and emotional realness makes a strong connection and really sells the premise. It sets its sights firmly on the heart-to-heart emotional climax and lays enough groundwork for it to come off with maximum impact. Kudos!

I agree with >>Xepher that the ending feels a little off, though. I think it makes sense from a plot perspective to show Mac fully committing to taking over the farm, and I think it also makes sense that he'd want to check with Luna about the possibility of the ghost being a dream. It also helps nail down the whole theme of Bright Mac’s appearance being unexplainable, because it exhausts one of the more obvious possibilities. So I don't think it's a bad choice, but I think the execution (and particularly Luna’s dialogue) is a little lacking right now. But I think by that point the story's accomplished what it needed to and it doesn't detract too much. Tune that up and this'll really sing.

Tier: Strong
#64 · 3
· on Lines Uncrossed
Alright, author, let's talk about your opening!

For the second time that week, I had less than five minutes to save my friends.

Yes, yes, good! Your hook is very grabby and sets up a compelling in medias res

My trainers squealed as skidded around an corridor

Augh, no, no. *facehoof*

I have a tendency in my reviews to focus aggressively on opening lines because you only get one chance to make a first impression. If your opening hooks a reader, they'll spot you the little stumbles later on because they're invested in where the story is going. If your opening repels a reader, they're going to wince with every tiny little typo as they're dragged further and further away from suspension of disbelief. These typos, later on in the story, would barely be worthy of mention; in the second sentence, they're like showing up to a first date late in a food-stained T-shirt.

It took you 24 words to break me out of the story hard enough that I'm down here typing commentary instead of enjoying what you wrote. Proofread your opening few paragraphs!

I know the Writeoffs don't allow you the luxury of editing; I know that this was probably submitted with just a few minutes left on the clock. You don't have time to go back over your story sometimes. I don't care. Make time. Proofread your opening paragraphs. The rest of the story can go hang. Make a good first impression.

*cough* That said.

Friendship is magic, but that doesn’t mean that magic is friendly.

This is an awesome line.

“Sunset Shimmer!” she bellowed, slamming the doors open. She ignored the librarian shooting her a filthy look and strode over to my table. “The Great and Powerful Trixie needs to speak to you.”

“So speak, don’t shout,” I grumbled. I liked Trixie, but did she have to be so... Trixie all the time?

So is this. And, for that matter, your last line. (See, this is what you want me breaking out of the story to do: tell you how much I'm enjoying it!)

As to the story as a whole … mostly I'll be echoing previous commenters, especially in that this really kicks into gear with the central crisis, and Sunset's emotions once on the other side of the portal are a really solid addition to the story. The early going feels rough for the reasons previously outlined. (I, too, was disappointed that the five-minute clock expired with nothing but some property damage; which also raises the question of, how did Sunset know that it would take five minutes, to the second, for the gym teacher to power up?) The bit about the geodes breaking back through didn't bother me like it did the others, though, and I don't have any particular problem with the pacing on the last half. For me, the part that could use the most editing focus (aside from the prominent typos) would be the first half, slimming it down and getting it more aligned with the "magic is getting out of control" core.

Characterwise, I liked Tempest in her brief appearance. For the most part, everyone's voices seemed fine, although Applejack's "drama llama" thing seemed oddly out of character to me.

Unrelated to anything you can edit: Be aware that if you publish this to FIMFic, it's likely to draw comparisons to FanOfMostEverything's Oversaturated World continuity (in much the same way that my Paint it Black got seen as a retread of Estee's Black Friday story). This isn't a knock on your story, and I'm not factoring it into my scoring at all; just worth preparing yourself for someone having prominently beaten you to the idea. :\

On the whole, this has some hard-hitting lines and a solid central core. Its surface presentation needs a lot of love, but that's among the easier things to fix post-Writeoffs. Good job getting this together.

Tier: Strong
#65 · 2
· on Father and Son · >>CoffeeMinion
I ain’t the kind of pony meant to be in charge of nothin. And that’s enough, ain’t it? World needs its share of ponies just willing to lend a strong back to things.


Author, I'd like you to compare these lines of dialogue:

“I wish it was all just as simple as apples,” he said aloud, to nopony other than himself. “Ain’t nothing to apples. Just grow ‘em and buck ‘em, year in and year out. Don’t hardly have to think about it, ‘cause there ain’t nothing much to think about. It’s all just…”

“B… but… this isn’t possible…”

“Now I don’t know if you’re some figment of my own imagination, or even a rogue changeling spy or something! But that is not a face you get to wear, you understand me?!”

I'm struggling to read all three of them in the same character voice. If you're going to go with phonetic accents, keep them consistent throughout. A pony who says "ain't" isn't going to switch to "isn't" and then "is not".

The "rogue changeling spy" bit felt weird for a different reason. Mac seems bizarrely certain that ghosts are impossible, to the point where he calls out a platoon of guards to search the premises. And then the next day, he pretty much just accepts his father's presence on the basis of … nothing new that I can tell. I just don't understand from the story whether ponies in your setting expect ghosts to be impossible or not. I'm also not certain what purpose Mac's initial denial of his father's presence serves, other than to add wordcount; is this story about Mac trying to solve the mystery of an impossible appearance (in which case the ending hits a wall rather than resolves anything), or is the story about Mac coming to terms with his farm-running ability (in which case the mystery is a distraction)?

You could get away with putting in both plotlines if you were willing to resolve both arcs in tandem, but right now they don't seem to have anything to do with each other, which makes it feel to me like you're jumping stories halfway through. Then the ending resolves neither, which unfortunately suggests you might have run out of time.

I suspect this will clean up nicely, and it's got a number of solid and profound moments like the quote I highlighted, but in its current form it feels too incoherent to rise too far up my slate. Thanks for writing, regardless, and get going on that editing work!

Tier: Almost There
#66 ·
· on She Persisted
Genre: Drama/Tragedy

Thoughts: I'm of two minds with this one. On the one hand, this is easily my second favorite story of the bunch; it gives us a strongly-characterized origin story for “Derpy,” and it punches the audience hard with the tragedy incumbent in that origin. The story roams freely between humor, feels, and coming-of-age stuff--and it generally succeeds at each of those things in turn.

On the other hand, though, I felt some thematic and emotional ping-pong as the tone veered freely between all of those things. The scene with Ditzy’s parents (and its coda with Summer) feel particularly rooted in a kind of pure-comedy approach that feels tonally inconsistent with the rest. I actually liked that scene by itself, but having it pop up where it does sets an expectation that comedy is going to happen--and that's really not what the story is about. Contrast with something like Hamlet (to invoke a literary reference that I can probably deliver without screwing up), where a humorous moment gets inserted right before the tragic climax to help prepare the audience to go all the way deep into darkness. The “we don't need no water” song is kind of this story's version of that moment, and comes off more effectively.

And just to digress on that: inserting “we don't need no water” is somewhat jarring from a Pony-world perspective, but also quite fitting both lyrically and in terms of invoking youthful party caché. In any other story I'd suggest cutting it. Here though, it seems like an effective choice.

Less effective, though, is (IMO) the “she persisted” thing. It mostly just feels out of place to me. Similar to “we don't need no water,” it's an invocation of something from RL that brings immediate context and implications beyond just the line itself. I'd argue that this one doesn't fit quite as well on that basis. Right now I feel it pulls my attention out of the story during its action-climax, which is when you really don't want to risk losing people.

Another nitpick: IMO it would scan better to introduce Manny’s full name/nickname thing the first time we see him rather than waiting until later. It's a fun and clever shortening but “Manny” as a pony name is kinda funky without the explanation.

Another-another nitpick: the doctor and parents scene about 2 or 3 before the end could go, especially if the earlier scene with the parents gets trimmed. I like their characters but nothing too essential happens here, and it might bring a stronger punch to jump right from Ditzy trying to rescue Manny, out to the Manny and Summer scene. If you still want to communicate the specifics of the injury, maybe Summer could read them on a clipboard in Ditzy's room? (Take that, HIPAA!) :-p

I've nitpicked a bunch. Here's the thing, though: I nitpick because this moves me to care a great deal about the characters and story. The tragic aspects stab really hard, and they reframe all of “Derpy’s” silliness in a sad, feels-punchy way. I think all the material is here to maximize that punch; I think with some cutting and typo-hunting, this would be truly great.

Tier: Strong
#67 ·
· on What Comes Next · >>horizon >>Posh
Genre: Shakespeare On Ice

Thoughts: I hate to say it but this didn't really work for me. This has a lot of technical cleanliness going for it. But for me, this bogged down pretty hard in the discussion of (or, perhaps, the argument proximal to) Shakespeare. I like EqG for its ability to give us the best of both worlds between MLP and humanity, but to me sometimes it feels weird when stories just directly import RL things without adapting them into the world. And when the story's centerpiece is literally Shakespeare,it's like… whaaa?

But I'll admit that's probably mostly a personal thing. Putting that aside, we’re left with variations on the theme of Rainbow coming to terms with having been a bonehead. Again, this is probably personal, but that process didn't really resonate with me. Maybe it's the lack of detail and specifics about what she did… and I daresay the story probably banks on having it not matter what she did. But for me, without that information, I have a hard time investing emotionally in what Rainbow is going through. And that hole keeps getting dug deeper as it becomes increasingly clear (especially with AJ’s line near the end about being hurt) that Rainbow is probably at fault for the whole situation. I can care about a Rainbow who's mismanaged a relationship, but it'd help me to know where the offense is on the spectrum of neglect, to cheating, to framing for bank robbery. There comes a point where that makes a difference to me if I'm being asked to find sympathy for the person who did it!

I do feel like the ending manages to make a connection, though. In fact, the end is almost strong enough to carry this for me. All the posturing gets stripped away, and we're finally left with recognizable characters who are trying to do the friendship thing. It's a strong moment. I just wish that the rest of it contributed more directly to that by being more than just stake-raising arguments etc.

Tier: Keep Developing
#68 · 2
All stories now have at least three comments.
#69 ·
· on Crash
Genre: Rainbow Blaze

Thoughts: Man, feels like everybody's shipping EqG RD this time around. Or maybe it just feels that way based on the run of 3 consecutive fics with RD ships in the middle of the bunch. Of those, I felt like this has the greatest overall strength; it's simple but complete, it's got a coherent emotional center, and the sprinkles of humor largely work to enhance the story. Kudos for putting that all together!

I think, if anything, that the story's scope of ambition (or lack thereof) holds this back a bit for me. Invoking Scootabuse is fine to help drive the story forward, but sometimes it's tricky to use a well-worn trope like that without having it feel a bit cliche. Sadly, I don't think this quite dodges that bullet; I felt my eyes roll a little at the Scootabuse rather than feeling it raise the stakes. But at the end of the day, this still manages to be a strong little tale of Sunset helping Dash keep it together through a crisis, which then shows how that brings them together.

The “random pair of pants” moment was gold.

Tier: Strong
#70 · 1
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old
Genre: Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Thoughts: I like this for being a mood piece. There's an early and prevailing theme of things wearing out and/or falling apart, and we just keep getting more of that throughout. (Related minor but distracting issue: calling the place “Tarnished Bit” makes me think we're in Equestria until hands etc. start appearing, because bits=Equestrian money.) I like the setup with the drinks and what it says about each of them. And I think the characterization of everyone stays really strong throughout.

Bonus points for cute and well-implemented pregnant Pinkie Pie. Though Author, who is this “Joe D.” who Pinkie is so enamored with? I think you must have misspelled “Cheese Sandwich.” :-p

Ok, so this ends on a down note. I'm mostly okay with that, though it does make the whole thing less satisfying from a plot progression perspective. As a fan, I definitely want to see Sunset find some kind of hope, and the journal thing seems like the perfect opportunity. Having her reject it (at least temporarily) drives home her despair and lets this resolve as a sadfic. Maybe what's missing, though, is a better sense of what Twiggy’s message might mean for her long-term. Sure she's sad now, but would she be willing to respond or seek help later?

Right now her response is purely numb, and that robs the moment of impact, because I can't get a sense of what it means. Like to consider an alternative example, if she'd just looked at the (silent) journal and lamented not hearing back for a long time, that would reinforce her feelings of despair and abandonment.

I hate to ding the rating on an otherwise well-crafted story, but I do think that lack of clarity at the end hurts this one a fair bit, even though I appreciate the overall mood it creates.

Tier: Almost There
#71 · 1
· on Lines Uncrossed
Genre: Oversaturated

Thoughts: I hate to say it, but this story doesn't work for me for the most part. I've been trying not to just post “me too” in my reviews, but in this case, I feel like the earlier reviewers have done a great job of pointing out things to work on, and I don't feel like I'm going to add a lot more by trying to expand that list.

Where I break with them, though, is in ranking this against the other stories in contention. Unfortunately the pacing and spelling issues here (coupled with the length) just end up being enough to lose me, even if I could see the core ideas having potential.

Tier: Keep Developing
#72 ·
· on Lunae Lumen
Genre: Moonlighting

Thoughts: This story offers a curious juxtaposition from deft turns of phrase that aren't always moored to a strong narrative. Consider the very cool first line. It's vague but charming and you support it well with what comes immediately after. It's the hookiest hook in the Writeoff. Consider also the “she comes” line at the end of the opener. It's a quick but strong way of further setting the hook.

The bit in between those hooky lines is more uneven IMO, and is representative of some funkiness throughout. It's generally clean from a spelling/grammar perspective, though others have called out some dubious thee-thou-isms. But I find myself wanting more of a narrative context to frame that beginning part in, especially because the story switches from this almost epistolary opener to a more typical live-action approach later. That jump just sort of happens without a real bridge between the two parts, which ends up leaving the beginning feeling like a bit of an in-character info-dump to me.

But there's beauty in the language that this uses, and it isn't fully overshadowed by the rest.

Tier: Keep Developing
#73 · 1
· on Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize · >>Miller Minus
Genre: Ponies Behaving Badly

Thoughts: Hee hee hee. This is the only pure-comedy in this Writeoff (Unpronounceable TwiPie Fanfic is romance/horror first and foremost IMO) and I'm digging it. This gets pretty firmly into the realm of ponies doing terrible and petty things, though, which isn't bad, but which pushes the envelope of ooginess a bit. Like I don't know what ever happened to the idea of content warnings on stories, but suddenly HOLY S*buy some apples*T THEIR WINGS GOT DISLOCATED, and that very nearly threw me on my first read-through.

Correction: that did throw me. I was so caught off-guard by it that I ended up missing some of the other good bits and consequently filed this lower on my slate. After some time to reflect (and to not get caught off-guard by the oogy stuff on my second read-through), it's probably going to get ranked at the top.

Yes indeed, this is a tale of ever-escalating shenanigans that goes extremely dark with its humor but that wraps it all up in a wickedly delightful conclusion. Not a lot else to say here.

Oh wait. Uhhh, I guess there's one other thing. I feel like the inspector’s name is supposed to be a joke, but either I'm just dense or it's not landing quite right.

Tier: Top Contender
#74 · 3
· on Lines Uncrossed
There is a lot going on in this story. Much of what I see here is good, particularly the dialogue and interactions between the Humane Seven (though I'm skeptical that they'd engage in mocking Fluttershy's athletic abilities, even playfully), but there are so many elements at play here, and they don't come together harmoniously. The story feels like an assemblage of ideas that were thrown together without paying any thought to how well they'd mesh -- at least, within an eight thousand word limit.

And many of those ideas could be expanded into full-length stories of their own. The paparazzo investigating the school, Fluttershy withdrawing from the group, Sunset severing herself from her friends and going home, even meeting Tempest Shadow (whose cameo feels, I'm sorry to say, extremely forced, in a story that already has too much going on in it), among so so many other things...

This story has a sense of scope, and drama, that is impossible to effectively convey within the constraints of the writeoff. And that's sad, because while I can see the potential for greatness, it's being shoved into a slot that's far too narrow to accommodate it. You're strangling your idea, author.

...Also, minor note, but I really don't care for this line.

I raised my head and fix her with a dead stare. “I spent all night packing and just finished sealing away the only friends I have in the world. I’m going to sleep until it stops hurting.”

Which does an incredible disservice to Twilight, and the friendship Sunset has with her.

Look, I don't want to discourage the author of this piece; you've got ambition, and that's great. That's wonderful, even. Take this idea, and develop it slowly, and deliberately, and you could have a damn good character-centric epic on your hands.

But it's just not working as it is right now, I'm sorry.
#75 · 1
· on She Persisted
When I wrote the story that was later to become Queen of Clubs several Writeoffs back, I got to watch (in real time) reviewers flailing at a story which initially seemed to be about one thing and then made a sudden, late lurch to a very different thing. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm watching that process from the outside this time, and I've got some flailing to contribute.

So this is actually about Derpy getting her, er, disability. And that would make for a pretty solid tragedy if that's all that was sneaking up on us, but right at the end we get a second twist intruding: her cowardly friend gets to be remembered as the hero. I'm legitimately not certain how to feel about that. It's something of a gut punch, to be sure, that through her silence Summer gets to steal the heroism, and the gut punch does add to the weight of the tragedy.

But at the same time I feel a little ... cheated? Like if you were writing about a beloved family dog, and the dog saves the baby, and then at the end out of nowhere he gets hit by a random car speeding through the neighborhood instead of dying of cancer like everyone was afraid of. If there had been any foreshadowing at all I might feel differently — even something like Manny getting the two confused, which could have added some juicy drama to the earlier going, but he never seems to have a problem telling them apart until it's convenient to the plot.

On the third hand, while I don't feel satisfied by the ending, I'm still thinking about it a day later, so that's pretty much a win.

In terms of editing, I think it's still worth a try adding some foreshadowing and taking an aggressive look at your early story with the framework of your ending. See how it reads if you build up to the final punch rather than yank it on-stage at the last minute. More nitpicky things: her mother's actions felt off to me, though if you're writing based on experience with actual parents it might just be a difference with any parents I know. Also, as the story goes on, it seems to shade into flat telling (e.g. Derpy's experiences with her first cider), which is likely a product of a Writeoff rush-to-the-end and should be reined back in.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with this on my slate. :P Thank you for writing!

Tier: Strong?
#76 · 2
· on Of Moose and Mares
This was... really funny. Surprisingly funny, with a nice creamy caramel core of emotion. I read the opening, and it didn't really catch me, so I wasn't sure if I'd like the way the story turned out. But you won me over pretty quickly, author. It's the same premise as Destination Unknown, but instead of being heartbreakingly gorgeous, it's just silly. While still being very moving and emotional.

I think... okay, two things. One, I don't love the opening scene. I wish I could tell you why. I get how it fits into the story, but I didn't particularly care for it. Just didn't land with me.

Two, if Bon Bon was contemplating killing Lyra before their first date, after seeing Lyra hypnotize the real Lyra, then... why the hell didn't she follow through? I don't think fake!Lyra said or did anything to earn Bon Bon's trust during their date, so Bon Bon's choice to spare her life seems unmotivated and out of character, for a professional, monster-hunting veteran like herself.

(thing 2.5: Bon Bon goes from surly and solitary to opening up to Lyra pretty quickly during their initial meeting, without any justifiable change in characterization)

Actually, three things: What about the real Lyra? Because fake!Lyra took over her life without actually disposing of her in any meaningful way, and I can't imagine the real Lyra wouldn't ever catch on to the fact that someone else is living her life far better than she could, despite being a demonstrably inferior magician.

I think it might be better if you omit the original Lyra from the story altogether, have fake!Lyra just assume a carefully crafted pony disguise (we have established that she can make up a pony disguise from scratch, after all), and change both the moment Bon Bon realized she was a changeling, and her rationale for not killing her.

Suggestion on that (which would also address point 2.5): Bon Bon knows just by talking to Lyra that she's a changeling, being a veteran monster hunter and all that. Bon Bon schedules the hoping to assess her threat, and possibly kill her if it came to that. Something happens during the date to change Bon Bon's mind; maybe Lyra talks about being separated from her family, not sharing the same values as them, etc., bringing Bon Bon to suspect that she might be an aberration in the changeling hive mind or whatever. Bon Bon decides to keep seeing Lyra to assess her, and eventually falls in love with her.

...j-just a thought. *coughs*
#77 · 3
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old
Jesus fucking Christ, dude. I need a hug after reading that.

I think this is really good. It's second on my ballot right now. Be proud of yourself. Besides some issues with the way Princess Twilight's integrated into the story, and the way that it ends, I feel like it's a pretty good exploration of the thoughts and feelings that come with aging -- and how inevitable it is that friends, no matter how close, will drift apart.

Twilight's inclusion feels... iffy. I don't think she'd just stop talking to Sunset for years on end; if something ever happened to the journal, then she'd reach out to Sunset some other way. It's out of character for her to just leave Sunnybun hanging like that. I actually feel like it's more plausible that Sunset would have stopped talking to her, either because they fell out, or because Sunset was too depressed to keep reaching out.

Further: Including Twilight at the end opens the possibility that things could improve for Sunset. Sunset rejecting Twilight's offer for a dialogue makes sense, given how depressed she is, but it seems like the next logical step is to have Twilight seek her out directly.

If you want to continue this story, and take it to a somewhat brighter place (I mean, it's a downer, but it's a good downer), then that would be my suggestion. Use Twilight more than you currently do.
#78 · 2
· on A Change of Heart
Wooo, this is my last review! I've done ‘em all! Everypony else, please keep ‘em coming. Bear in mind that some authors might end up self-reviewing to help maintain anonymity, and that might be particularly common this time because the default slate size isn't much smaller than the full set of stories. A self-review is ultimately a lot less useful to an author than real reader feedback--I know mine sure is! :-p

So without further ado:

Genre: Hot For Teacher

Thoughts: >>Xepher man, I fear it's not just you.

IMO the beginning is rough, not because it isn't interesting but because the word choice is kind of all over the place. Maybe it's just me, but the word “ligaments” with uncertain context is an immediate trigger for me to raise shields and brace for impact in case the fic starts going gore. On further reflection, I think what's happening there is a description of the evolution of the medium of print? Maybe? But IMO that could be presented a lot more directly if that's the case.

Right, see, and then we get “slicing brain” words immediately after that. This can work as a stylistic choice, but be aware that it's a choice that can have a heavy influence on the story's tone.

There's also… okay, can someone please help me unpack what's happening in the following passage?
...The best telescope ever made, he said, and he meant it, and he was right.

The one in Twilight’s room was ten times better, at least.

The corners of her mouth turned down.

Of course, now you can do this all online.

She went back to her book.

Not that anyone believes in such nonsense anymore.

I am just utterly bouncing off that section. And it's by about this point that I start getting lost entirely. I can see that verbal sparring is happening, but I don't really get a sense of chemistry between these two. I just… I dunno.

What I really do like about this, though, is the little bits of insight that it gives into Adagio’s past, and into her current thought process. I likes me some Sirens, and there are flashes of cool Siren stuff going on. I don't feel like it gels right now, but there's definitely some material that can be worked with.

Tier: Keep Developing
#79 · 1
· on A Change of Heart
Y'all niggas need jeezus
#80 · 2
· on A Change of Heart
“Do you, perchance, happen to know somepony by the name of Sunset Shimmer?”

Twilight paused. When she spoke, she frowned, ever-so-slightly. “… I’m guessing by your choice of words, you already know the answer to that question.”

“Fascinating.” Adagio put a hand to her chin and examined Twilight. She seemed a bit jumpy.

Twilight looked down, then at Adagio. “Bist þu my freond?”

“Min freond. You mixed up your languages.”

Twilight inhaled, sharply, and snapped to attention. “You didn’t list proficiency in Old Ponish on your résumé.”

Adagio narrowed her eyes.

Clever girl.

She smiled. There was acid on her lips. Or, at least, it felt that way. “You need not fear for your life.”

What the hell is going on here? We go from the Sunset Shimmer thing (which, as other reviewers note, raises timeline questions) to Twilight asking if Adagio's her friend in Pedestria's Old English equivalent (?) ... actually, no, Twilight is apparently catching her out by asking her something in an Equestrian language, which raises even more questions, like how does Sci-Twi know Old Ponish? And then Adagio reassures her, which implies that Twilight's now afraid because she knows Adagio's identity, but how would she know to ask something in Old Ponish if she didn't already have enough contact with Equestria to know who Adagio really was?

Can't add much to other reviewers but a +1, I'm afraid. I understand what's happening minute to minute, but I don't know how it fits into the greater context you've got in your head. Points for an awfully unique shipping setup and for, despite my overall confusion, selling me on the ship sailing here. The little details of technological progress are nice, and the Soylent reference was cute. But consider explicitly writing in a lot more of the context that right now is either implied or glossed over.

Tier: Almost There
#81 · 2
· on What Comes Next · >>Monokeras >>Posh
"...Capisce." Ms. Cheerilee's face fell. "It's Italian. It means 'do you understand?'"

"Oh. Uh." Rainbow nodded vigorously. "I, uh, I capeese."

"...Because we're reading Othello, and I thought it'd be clever, because... Italian."

"Yeah, no, it's clever. It's super funny."

"Don't you dare patronize me, young lady." Ms. Cheerilee scowled, a playful glint in her eye. "Now. Away with you."

Gotta break with the other commenters here. This one's an early top-slate for me, and sections like this are a large part of the reason why.

The one main critique I've got is to echo >>CoffeeMinion in suggesting that you be more explicit about the root of the breakup. The scene arguing about Othello mostly works, because it's clear throughout that it's just a (badly) thinly veiled attempt for the characters to talk about themselves, but if we had more context from earlier in the story and if Cheerilee explained a little better what the relevant parts of Othello under discussion were while framing the questions, you could make it work on both levels at once, which would be pretty awesome. More context for the breakup would also ground sections like the Scootaloo boxing practice, and maybe let you flesh that scene out so that it more directly contributed to advancement as well as simply showing character (as it does now).

But overall, this comes together for me in a way that none of the other stories so far quite have; it knows what it wants to do and hits that target, while keeping the writing quality consistently high. Well done, author.

Tier: Top Contender
Post by Monokeras , deleted
#83 ·
· on A Change of Heart
I've said it before and I'll say it again, but even if EqG doesn't seem outwardly appealing, I would at least recommend checking out Rainbow Rocks. It's just really, really well done. It does follow the continuity established in the first movie, but it's probably self-contained enough that you can pick up on what's going on.
#84 · 2
· on What Comes Next · >>Posh
Hey, author, your story had fantastic comedic timing. It was slow and a bit heavy handed at the start of the Shakespeare lesson; It took too long being such an obvious wink to the audience, lampshading it, that I started skimming a bit to see where that scene was going.

It went good places, and I did enjoy it, and if I was voting this round it'd go high on my slate.

Honestly, I'd say the best way to improve this story, rather than changing anything, is to try to make it about... 10% shorter. Wordcount is 3,000 right now right? I'd see if I couldn't get it down to 2,700. Just by doing that you'll not only make the story a lot snappier than it is now, but you'll figure out what moments and beats here really aren't as essential as you thought. It's really difficult to do, but you'll find that it's one of the lessons that, long term, causes the most improvement in your writing.
#85 · 2
· on What Comes Next · >>Monokeras

It's comments like this that made me quit the Writeoff, and why I find it hard not to get angry around this group of people.

There's nothing in what you said that really contributes to Horizon's criticism, or to the authors' understanding of their story, or something that anyone but you will notice. To quote the fantastically talented Ben Pearce on editing;

I find that less-experienced editors/proofreaders (sometimes even pre-readers) will default to nitpicking grammar/spelling instead of providing much feedback of real substance. The more obscure technical issues aren’t likely to even be picked up on by the average reader, whereas stylistic issues will be glaringly obvious in a lot of cases.

Basically, you've found the most pedantic nitpick possible to this story that a native speaker will never pick up -- which includes, in this case, both its intended audience and more importantly the character saying it -- so that you have something, literally anything, to say that you can feel secure about.

Don't worry about objectivity. Don't try to focus on specifics. Focus on your subjective opinions when you give feedback; This story made me feel X. I personally liked scene Y, and wish the story had more scenes like it. Overall, this story made my think it was really about Z, and I found it easy/difficult to relate to the protagonist.

You'll never be wrong when you talk about your feelings on a story, and that's useful information to the author, and to the comments section when they see how other people have a different emotional reaction to the same stimulus they can contrast their own to.

What you just did is not useful, interesting, helpful or kind.

EDIT: Sorry Author
#86 ·
· on What Comes Next
Fair enough.
I apologise for this. It’s been removed. Peace! :)
#87 ·
· on What Comes Next
Sure is a lot of EQG going around this round...

I don't have much to add here, but I'll +1 the main points said above. The main pro for me is the great dialogue and comedic timing. The main con is the original fight and break up aren't explained, which makes the resolution feel kind of cheap. We only see the middle and ending of their arcs, but we should know where they started, surely.

And I was about to say that a boxing scene with Scootaloo would have been a great place for this, but alas, Horizon already has this covered.

Ho hum.

Well done and good lock, Auth!
#88 ·
· on Father and Son · >>CoffeeMinion
I think I struggle with this one because it is quite cliché'd, and I also felt the country accent was rough throughout the story—Ol' Brighty didn't even seem to have one, and it would be weird for it to skip a generation. Unless there's some canon I'm missing here? Either way, it was a distracting thing to keep wondering about.

The court scene at the end, I think would work in a different story. A story that's similar to this one, but structured much differently. As has been pointed out, it stops the "ghost" plotline short of a resolution and yet tends to drag along the "dad" plotline a bit too far. If there's a way to tie those plotlines back at the right terminating point the impact would be much stronger. And don't listen to anyone saying that Luna doesn't belong in the story she is great and you are great for including her +1 slate credit for you. But in all seriousness, I truly believe that using her as a way to tie off the ghost plot may work, in a different story. Again, ideas are all here but the lasting feeling doesn't quite come home because of how it's ordered.

Also, I wanted to say that, apart from Schrödinger's Accent, this story mechanically flows very well. I was gonna mention how much I liked the "tap-dancing hog" and "lending a strong back to things" lines but it seems everyone else just wants to steal my thunder simply because I'm "late" for my "reviews".

Thanks for the read!
#89 · 4
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>horizon
Is it too early for mashups?

What A Drag It Is, Uncrossing Lines: Sunset Shimmer closes the portal, trapping herself in Equestria forever--and there's not a Deus Ex Machina in sight to come re-open it! Thrill to her depression and continued social isolation as she struggles to reproduce her friendships from the other side of the portal with the pony!Mane 6. Will she and Tempest find peace and progress by getting an apartment together?

Spin The Wheel, Win A Father: After the tragic loss of his beloved wife, Bright Macintosh decides to take his kids on a fun and exotic (for earth ponies) vacation up to Cloudsdale. When the Apple family takes a tour of the Wonderbolts training facility, the hot-blooded captain & lieutenant both take a shine to the hunky widower. Each seeks to impress him through a series of escalating dares, culminating in a totally safe ride on the old Dizzitron… won't somepony think of the children?!

A Change Of Moose: In this “director's cut” of Lyra & Bon Bon’s first date, Bon Bon knows Lyra is a changeling, Lyra knows that Bon Bon knows, and Bon Bon knows that Lyra knows that Bon Bon knows. But what Lyra doesn't know is that the beginning of knowledge is knowing that you know nothing, and when the conversation turns philosophical, she ends up being so impressed with Bon Bon’s philosophizing that she spontaneously goes full-on Rainbow Sherbet Moose right there in the middle of the restaurant. Nearby patrons ask to have what she's having.
#90 · 3
· · >>horizon
It's never too early for mashups.

She Crashed: When their daughter suffers a terrible accident, Steady Figure and Carmine will stay by her side as she slowly recuperates, while thinking how their decisions as parents lead to this situation. The story then promptly ends before this is explored further.

A Lunae of Heart: Princess Luna is jealous of how their little ponies enjoy her sister's morning. Princess Celestia knows this, however, she is resentful of the dominion her sister has over the stars which leads to dark feelings festering in her heart. Princess Luna realises this and attempts to save her sister by sacrificing herself to the Nightmare. Princess Celestia realises this, but it's too late and now she must use the elements of Harmony. The Nightmare is then revealed to have been Dio Brando all along.

K'awka Co͈̜m̹̣̖͗̍̅̒e͓̲̻ͭ͂̈ţ̸̮̉̅ͭ̋͑̑͢h̯̼͙̼͇ͦͧ͐͐ͣ̈́ͩ̉̈́̀͢ ̴̱͎̳̭̥̲͒̒̐̔̓̂ͮͅN͕̼̹̻̼̱̰ͦ͛́̓̂͘e̛̛͈͚̺̠͈̙̦̟̳̻̫̘̱̹̬͎̙͔̍ͫ̋̄̑́ͩ̚͢͠x̧̒͊ͥ͐҉̖̠̰̙͖̹̜͔̬̤̭͇͈̟̻̘̼̦̼́t͉̩̞̹̔͂̓̅̓͆͌̐ͮͪͮ̓͝: After AJ and Dash go through a break-up, Pinkie decides to bake them a cake so they can at least patch things up between them and move on. This inadvertly brings forth the end times.
#91 ·
· on She Persisted
Uh oh... I think I'm about to be mean. I'm afraid all I have to add to the above are negatives. So don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way—I agree that a lot of stuff in this story is good, particularly the emotions, dialogue, and coming-of-age themes—but personally I was thrown off the horse one too many times.

First off, I get that you want to make teenagers look as stupid as possible, but the fear of fire is primal. Sure, teenagers are notorious for being bad at sensing danger, but there's a difference between thinking you're too cool to look both ways before crossing the street and cheering in the face of arguably the most painful death anyone can experience. The radiant heat from the fire alone would make you think your face is about to burst into flames. This also comes off as a cheap shot against teenagers that doesn't affect the rest of the plot, though, so I'd argue it should be removed. They've already been plenty stupid partying in an abandoned warehouse without checking the exits, and of course, starting the fire in the first place. Having the colts screaming as they run from the foremare's office would have made more sense.

I'm also very confused at this line...

...close enough that [Summer] crashed into it, causing the flames to melt the fur on her face and neck as she scrambled past.

...because it never gets mentioned again. If her fur literally melted, that sounds pretty painful. Was this added later in the writing? Because there's a peculiar lack of screaming bloody murder on Summer's part, and it also didn't come up in the aftermath. I know we're supposed to be focusing on Ditzy at that point, but Summer did have her face and neck rearranged, did she not?

Finally, I know it's been mentioned, but I gotta say, when you dropped the title of your story after an ellipsis, I wasn't too impressed. I wonder if you added that in because the title might have been too subtle without it. But in that case, perhaps there's a better title out there? Just a thought.

I think you've been unlucky that I read this story, Author, because I happen to work in a fire-related field, so the inaccuracies bugged me more than they would anybody else, much the same way mixing up the names of car engine parts wouldn't cause me to bat an eye, but would drive enthusiasts batty. Coming to the end of my comment now I'm wondering if I should abstain for this reason, but either way, I hope this comment has still been helpful.

Thanks for writing and best of luck!
#92 ·
· on Of Moose and Mares
The most important rule when having a monster hunter as a marefriend was no turning back where they could see you

Surely this is true for any relationship :)
#93 · 4
>>CoffeeMinion >>Zaid Val'Roa
If y'all have beaten me to mashups, I'm just gonna have to do a round of Writeoff-By-Ones instead! ^..^

The rule is simple: Take the title. Add, subtract, or alter one letter (and spacing/punctuation as desired). Humorously describe the result. To wit:


K'awka Spay - Halfway through the magical baking process, Twilight reveals her secret plan: She was having Pinkie summon eldritch horrors into the world so that she could neuter them and thereby control the rapidly reproducing abomination population. Pinkie falls even more in love with her. Their "R'lyeh Mountain Oyster" cookies are unexpectedly delicious.

Of Moose and Manes - Zephyr Breeze is a changeling trying to keep his secret hidden from his barbershop coworker Babs Seed, having fallen in love with her after she saves him from a runaway electric razor. Predictably, he fails, at which point she reveals she's known all along owing to his habit of drinking the conditioner as a tasty snack.

Farther and Son - In this exciting sequel, having already solved the mystery of how his dad is apparently visiting him from beyond the grave, Big Mac now has to contend with the even deeper mystery of how his dad is apparently visiting him from beyond the Fourth Wall.

He Persisted - Ditzy wakes up from her night of blackout drinking to discover that her identical-looking best friend finally scored with Manny -- when he kept trying to sleep with who he thought was Ditzy and didn't stop when he realized her switcheroo.

What Comes Vex't - Rainbow Dash and Applejack settle their breakup differences on stage when they both pass an audition for the school drama department's performance of Othello.

Cash - In this exciting sequel, Scootaloo sues the bicycle manufacturer.

What a Drag it Is, Getting Mold - Sunset finally gives up on her high school friendships and finds a job in the real world. Unfortunately, since she never went to college and her pastel magicpone background doesn't leave her with many useful job skills, the only place she can get hired is as a janitor decontaminating old water-damaged apartment buildings.

Linens Uncrossed - When she realizes that Equestria's dumping of its waste magic into the human world could have potentially disastrous results, Sunset fixes the problem by channelling all that magic into a magical laundry freshening service.

Luna Elkmen - Fanfic Author Luna realizes Celestia is envious of her race of TOTALLY AWESOME OCs DO NOT STEAL, and adds her sister's self-insert into her story to heal the jealousy in Celestia's heart.

Spin The Wheel, Win A Pride - After an accident with the Dizzitron, the Wonderbolts training camp is shut down by the building inspector and turned into a big cat preserve.

A Change of Heat - Sci-Twi realizes her sexy new tutor Adagio is actually a sea demon from a magical world with an estrus cycle. The story is promptly disqualified for exceeding a T rating.
#94 · 3
This is a last-minute call for reviews! We've got several stories at 5 or above, but there are still a few at 4. Can we get 'em all to 5 tonight?

K'awka Supay
Father and Son
Lunae Lumen
Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize

(EDIT: I'd chip in but I've already done the needful! What we need is YOU!)
#95 · 1
· on Spin The Wheel, Win A Prize · >>Miller Minus
Looked back at the title after reading the story, and man sometimes everything comes together so well it's a bit like magic. Great job. I was smiling and laughing all the way through this.
#96 · 1
· on Of Moose and Mares
If Thorax is Moose does that make Spike Squirrel? Ember would be Crowley, then, for sure.

Cute, fun, and Bon-Bon's voice and character kill. Of course she knew all along. She's a professional, damnit.
#97 · 1
· on Crash
Scootaloo grinned. “Super great, actually. Whatever they’ve got me on is dope as hell. Like, if this is what drugs are like then you should feel ashamed for ever telling me to stay away from them.”

I feel like this is the most Rainbow Dash thing Scootaloo could ever possibly say.

That said, there's a good lead up here to some self improvement and bonding over recovery, and without looking at the word count specifically, it seems like some of the available overhead went under utilized in fleshing out any of the opening threads. Enjoyable, but snack-sized when it should be more like brunch.

I also disagree that this was Scootabuse, as she inflicted the damage on herself entirely by accident and not by virtue of just being Scoots and freezing to death or something.
#98 · 3
· on K'awka Supay · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Necronomnomnomicon confirmed canon. Discord is actually a donut gone horribly <right>.

Anyway. I feel like this made pretty good use of the word count. I never felt bored with what was happening, and the "oh dear I read it wrong we have to xyz" felt totally in line with both Twilight and her being stuck with an ancient book, so good job.
#99 · 2
· on What a Drag it Is, Getting Old
I'm with Posh. As one of the more chronally seasoned people around here, this is a bit too real for me to even handle right now. So, good job!
#100 · 1
· on Crash
>>Miller Minus
And yeah... I don't see the prompt at all here. Perhaps it's gone over my head.

If Scootaloo could've turned back, she wouldn't have crashed.