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Just Like Old Times · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
#1 · 12
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>Moosetasm
This will be our Last Call. There’s No Turning Back; The Next Generation has arisen. They were waiting Under the Surface.
I won’t Lie You a River: Long Story Short, we’re Here at the End of all Things. The Writeoff that you knew is over. A Lightning in a Jar won’t serve as a Cold Comfort. There won’t be any Last Minute revelation, no new light revealing the True Colors of all this.

We have entered the Uncanny Valley. Who’s gonna be undone first is To Be Determined. We may have a way out But First, We Need to Talk About Parallel Universes, especially the one located Under the Sun.

It’s a Long Way Down to this place, but ignore the exhaustion; Ignore It and It Will Go Away. We only have One Shot if we want to retaliate. We will be like phoenixes, Rising From the Ashes, and this new generation will gaze at our might, and they will despair, Staring Into the Abyss of the vacuity of their life.

As we reach for this universe, be careful to not enter The Twilight Zone. It’s a place of Endless Struggle, where you starve with no way to eat, where your thirst cannot be quenched, where your desires are left unsatisfied.

So come forth, raise your pen and raise your hands. We won’t leave without creating. One. Last. Time.

*Big Up to GGA*
#2 · 10
#3 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
You hit me right in my pop-rocks.
#4 · 4
awww yiss
#5 · 2
· · >>Moosetasm
You doing this one?

#6 · 2
I definitely want to. I should have the free time Saturday to put something together.
#7 · 7
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I think I have the prompt in the bag this time. Unless you all vote for something terrible, you bad ponies.
#8 · 8
· · >>Fenton
Oh hey, I just realized that this doesn't reflect the updated word length for Minis that got talked about a couple months back. Was that still going to be the plan, or was there follow-up about it not happening after all?

EDIT: le context
#9 · 5
· · >>Trick_Question
Why, we'd never. Just tell us which would be terrible for you. Y'know. Just to make sure we don't vote for them.
#10 · 5
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Zaid Val'Roa
#11 ·
Otie Lotie.
#12 · 1
· · >>Monokeras >>Zaid Val'Roa >>CoffeeMinion
You missed the final "e" ----> le contexte
(Le contexte est l'ensemble des circonstances dans lesquelles advient une chose, un événement, un fait, une idée, etc...)
#13 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Évidemment, ne pas confondre un contexte avec un texte con.
#14 · 1
#15 ·
· · >>2Merr
Secret formula for prompt success: Place the word Last in your prompt suggestion. Works every time!
#16 · 5
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa >>Haze
Well, dang. I've tried PM'ing and posting here, but thus far, no word about the longer length thing. :fluttershysad:

I hate posting again and I won't continue making a fuss beyond this post now. But to me, adding some length is mostly about trying to address some common and recurring issues that FIM Minifics seem to run into. Yes, maybe the community could keep working to develop its skills at writing to the 750 limit, but it feels like the community's natural equilibrium tends to lie somewhere north of that. I feel that fighting that is interesting as an academic challenge, but I'm less sure that it is tending to promote more better fics in practice.

Again: not going to make more fuss. I love you guys and I value getting to participate in the community. :heart:

Alas, it has been way too many years since I last studied French! One of these years I need to do a refresher and actually visit France and put the ol' skills into practice!
#17 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Have you tried the discord chat?
#18 · 1
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Hrrm, I do keep forgetting that's a thing. Recently had a buddy turn me on to that for real though. I'm usually bigger on async communication due to juggling commitments, but I'll gladly try that if time allows.
#19 · 3
Mistakes Were Made

It starts with Idle Chit-Chat At the Sign of the Prancing Pony, Just Like Old Times:
"The End of Snow—"
"Who's Coming to Dinner?"
"No Sleep ’Til—"
"Oh By The Way, Which One's Pink?"

But mine is A Reckless Love. "I Love You" is The Construct with Terms of Service invisible during the Rites of Spring.

And, well... Time Flies When You're on the Run; The Wrong Words are spoken, and There's No Turning Back. One Cannot Reconcile the Goat and the Cabbage, nor Beat Dead Horses at What They Have Done. (Something Terrible, perhaps.)

It's A Familiar Story, Twice As Bright at the start but With a Twist at the end like an ankle on a stairway.

Hers is No Eloquent Exasperation: She's Like a Perceptual Motion Machine

Bang bang, my baby shot me down.

I tell myself "Mind Over Matter" and "Windi-going, Windi-gone—", heh.

But I can see The Approaching Hollow.

And now can someone make one with a happier ending? :P
#20 · 7

I had a suddenly idea for a Ponyfic yesterday, one that would never fit into the minific's word limits. So I think I'll likely spend the weekend working on that rather than this. I mean, I've already found the perfect cover image and everything!

#21 · 2
The Last Prompt
#22 ·
That feel when you spend an hour writing a story about 'TBD' because you forgot about the time change... :facehoof:

(Okay, not really!)
#23 · 1

My prompt did terrible! I was all ready to celebrate, too.


Alright, time to open Google Docs.
#24 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question >>CoffeeMinion
maybe it'll be adjusted in time for the next round, 3 months hence. or at least the next round after that, another 3 months.
#25 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Or never. Never's always a possibility.
#26 · 1
It'd be great if it got updated at some point. In the meantime, I've got me a Writeoff to win lose. :rainbowdetermined:
#27 · 3
Sorry guys, I'm out. Head is not in the game today.
#28 · 4
Effort is commencing in T minus 10 minutes. Approximately.
#29 · 3
Woot! It's in.
#30 · 3
I’m in too! #WoodenSpoon
#31 · 3
Well, I actually wrote something for the first time in ages. Not sure how happy I am with it, but something is better than nothing, and it has been way too long since I wrote anything substantial.
#32 · 2
In, for better of for worse.
And because I'm a sharing person, let me offer you a song to get stuck on repeat in your head, the one that didn't left me since I discovered the prompt.

Let's go, altogether:
Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
#33 · 3
I wrote something too. I usually don’t take part in pony rounds but let’s make an exception this time.
#34 · 1
· · >>Fenton
I'm in! See everyone on the other side...
#35 · 2
>>Miller Minus
I'll see you on the Dark Side of the Moon.
#36 · 5
I... I think I'm good with this one. Not saying it's a winner, just that as I had fully 112 minutes to write it, I felt like I got in some level of polish I usually don't.

(Seriously, I swear, some day I'm going to start writing before midnight of the deadline...)
#37 · 1
· on First Date · >>TitaniumDragon

my initial impression was, "everyone already knows they get together," and then "huh that's unique"

it's a cute concept, and I think there's a lot of potential here. I could see this being applied to several different genres as an expanded story. It's just that this one, as-is, felt way too dry and objective. It's not emotional enough to feel romantic. It's like he's reliving all of that old awkwardness more than the excitement. and he's not even all that surprised when it wears off, either.

This could be sweet to some people, and creepy to others, but it's stuck in the middle as kinda boring, to be honest. It's got the potential, I want to see it express a viewpoint.
#38 · 3
· on Shipping & Handling
Is that a joke entry? That definitely sounds like a joke entry, I'm pretty sure since my humor sense is tingling. But it's not vibrating, because I don't get the payoff.
I started to cringe at the beginning, seeing all the signs of a heavy beginner writer, but I then realised there were too many of them, and that it was too much, even for a beginner.
The end is just a big question mark. What does "explative" mean? Why using the concept of anagnorisis? Why, why, Lisa, why? My head is hurting, I need a painkiller.
3.14 stars
#39 · 3
· on Birthday Greetings, Bottle of Wine
I always take a quick glance, even when I'm not participating, just to see how many entries an event got and if any titles reach out and grab me. In minifics, a good title is really half the battle. If you pick up a novel in a store or library, you can read the blurb on it and see if it looks good to you. There's really no time wasted on minifics, because they only take a couple minutes to read as it is, so on the one hand, it might not matter what your title is at all. Except that when it's one in a long list, and someone doesn't have time to read them all, they'll pick what stands out.

All that is to say that I chose to read this based on the title, but I don't expect that'll be true of many people, because I doubt too many would get the reference. Anyway, this story certainly delivers on the theme of the title, but... well, I'll begin at the beginning.

A good rule with minifics is that you don't have the space to use more than 2 or 3 characters. At least in this case, you're using canon ones, so you don't have to build them from the ground up. But you still have to give them things to do and fit them into the theme, and the end result is that you just don't spend enough time with each to give them much meaning.

There's a fine line here. The sentiment of each scene is fine enough, and if you'd actually shortened them all and lumped them together into a single scene of Rainbow reminiscing about each while she's there with Rarity, I think it would have worked better. As it is, you're trying to give each scene individual attention, but you're just not able to. Ah, but you treat Rarity's scene differently. The rest are all narrative summary of events that have already occurred, and it's always harder to engage the reader with those. But you gave Rarity a live interaction with her, and it's much more personal that way. This was the right decision, and it's why I think you would have done better to keep the other characters to short snippets in one continuous reminiscence during Rarity's scene, especially if there are specific things going on with Rarity to prompt her into remembering them.

There is this nice theme of Rainbow feeling older, and you're very consistent about that. So there's a thematic strength holding it all together, but it doesn't lead anywhere. By the end, it's still the same stuff she's been thinking since the beginning, so I could read just the first scene and get what the entire story is saying. Plus it doesn't really come to a conclusion about it all. Close this off, have the story say something.

One last thematic note: I can't tell if you're trying to hit some shipping notes with Rarity. There's nothing in the story itself to make me think so, but the song the title references does make me think so. I have to think either the title wasn't the best representation of the story's content, or the romance is so subtle that I couldn't see it.

In any case, this is a pretty good slice-of-life look at an aging Dash.
#40 · 1
· · >>Pascoite
*le gallery has 23 stories*

*le slate has 16*



Man, one of these days I'm gonna get out of doing a self-review. :flutterrage:
#41 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
My way's easier: don't enter.

Or what I do when I actually enter: only post your review of a story once its author has been revealed.
#42 ·
The only way to win is not to play? :-p

Naw, I noticed when you held all your reviews back recently. I agree that's workable, if not my usual preference. Maybe I'll just post reviews for ~11 entries and hold onto the rest...
#43 · 1
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>Pascoite
Daylight hour lost
“Spring forward,” says the Princess
Twilight: “Lost a bet.”

This drew a chuckle out of me.

Cool, wet, and mucky
April showers have their fans
Worm and toad parade

Yeah, but not the Native Americans.

After all, April showers bring May flowers, and Mayflowers bring fucking white people.

The sweet song of birds
Melodious, but also…
A little risqué!

Poor Fluttershy knows all too well.

Passion for the marks
Shifts focus, now they notice
The flanks underneath

Oh my!

Anyway, this was cute enough; some of the little haikus are better than others (and I was amused by the deviation partway through; that worked well).

My biggest problem here is that with so many, I was hoping for more of an arc, but it doesn't feel like it has any real resolution. There seemed to be an underlying theme of Fluttershy possibly having a crush on Rarity - April 1, 3, 11, 15, maybe 16, maybe 17, sort of 22, 24, 27, 28, and 30 all sort of hint at this, but there isn't any actual payoff there, and I'm not even sure if it is real or of I'm just making up an arc because my shipping goggles got stuck on my face again.

That being said, I did enjoy this one on the whole, which always brings points. But I feel like weaving some sort of arc in here might have made it stronger, and given me more of a push to keep reading.
#44 ·
· on Walking on Eggshells · >>Fenton >>Pascoite
I’ve heard of bodice rippers, but…

Alright, more seriously, this story has one major problem: this is a story told from Rainbow Dash’s perspective, but the perspective doesn’t sound like Rainbow Dash. This story would be better if it sounded much more Rainbow Dash like. There are bits of Rainbow Dash in here, but there’s a lot that isn’t. Rainbow Dash is not going to use words like “nonetheless” or “seamstress”, and the overall flow often doesn’t feel very Rainbow Dash-like.

The solution works well enough (even if I’ve seen it before – and it also often feels to me like this is actually more of an Applejack trait, given Applejack’s dislike of Fru Fru, whereas Rainbow Dash doesn’t seem to mind wearing dressish stuff (just bulky stuff), though I can see the same coming from Rainbow Dash), but I just sort of felt like the story was a bit tepid and rather generic, as I'm pretty sure I've literally seen this as a plot point several times before, and this didn't really feel like it either did anything new with it or knocked it out of the park.
#45 · 1
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time
You're missing the context that this is copying a premise someone else already did, so it's losing quite a bit on the originality front.
#46 · 3
· on The Lay of Luna · >>Monokeras
On a poem this long, I'm not sure if AABBCCDD is really the best approach to take. It leads to a high level of repetition; AABB type stuff works better in shorter poems, but in long poems, it ends up feeling kind of awkward. I generally find that more complicated rhyme schemes or alternating rhyme schemes (ABABCDCD, for instance) end up working better with longer works, and also makes it easier to write without sounding awkward.

There were a lot of awkward lines in this as well:

Shall you stand fast against the night?
Or shall you yield, as it is right,

The second line is awkward here; "as it is right" is an awkward construction, and doesn't really flow with the pattern of the previous line. Keeping a constant syllable count can help, but there are other patterns, like stressed and unstressed syllables, that are important as well, and often, which are more important than syllables.

There's other awkward bits as well:

That evil curse you cast on me.
Afraid no more of what I’d be
[bIf I killed you, ruthless tyrant,
And freed the land from that giant?
No need there is for your command[/b]
One shall suffice to rule the land.

All of those lines feel awkward in context, and I don't even know why you used the awkward "No need is there for your command" versus "There is no need for your command".

My advice here would be to read it out loud and see where you stumble over the words; the poem should flow naturally, but I kept stumbling as I read it due to odd constructions and its cadence seeming to falter.
#47 ·
· on Never Surrender · >>Fenton >>Fenton >>Miller Minus
This story has a bunch of tonal dissonance between the first half – which is a funny old coot chucking his walker at Shining Armor, which is funny, as is the situation itself, by and large, despite the awfulness of “his family is all dead” – and the second half, where Princess Celestia shows up and makes everything better.

It doesn’t really fit together tonally.

One thing I’d consider doing is deciding whether you want this to be funny or serious, and then trying to make it match up. If you’re going with serious, I’d probably consider having the whole thing in Onyx’s perspective. If you’re going with funny, I’d work on making Onyx’s internal voice funnier in the second half (and honestly, maybe still putting both halves in his voice, but making it silly instead of serious, with him obviously being a silly old coot).
#48 ·
· on The Cycle of the Sun
This is a nice idea, but I think it suffered from being crammed into 750 words. This needed more space to breathe and to really give us a better idea of who Twilight had become and still was (as well as whether or not Celestia was actually struggling to raise the Sun, or was doing it because she was lonely and needed Twilight’s company).
#49 ·
· on The Sun and Moon of the Future · >>Fenton >>CoffeeMinion >>georg
Raising the Sun and lowering the Moon seems like it is only a small fraction of the royal duties, even if they are rather indispensable. Their focus on it, thus, feels kind of odd; there doesn’t seem to be a lot of justification for it. Why does Celestia obsess over it, when she’s got lots of other things to do?

If she didn’t – if, say, things have gotten efficient to the point where raising the Sun was the last really important duty that Celestia had – then it would be good to establish that, as then this could be used as a metaphor for her feeling of being extraneous to the world.

However, a larger issue here is the end is basically “Ha! We broke things so we aren’t useless anymore!” Which… is a bizarre thing to end on. Is that the message you want?
#50 · 2
· on One Last Time · >>Pascoite >>Moosetasm
Okay, seriously, meta-ruining your own ending doesn’t work that way. It is still just ruining the ending. It might seem funny on a meta-level, but we still have to read the actual story. :P

But I digress.

What this story really needed to do was to focus on just one pony in addition to Twilight, instead of the whole group. 750 words is not enough time to have them all chip in and do more than state the obvious. If you focus it into a one-on-one, you can dig deeper into the emotions and go beyond the “this is what is going on” and into feelings. Five old ponies aren’t as effective as one old pony who we have more time to grow accustomed to in their aged state.

If you’re going to expand this into a story for FIMFiction, I’d recommend trying to figure out how to go beyond “we’re old” and going into more about how Twilight is relating to them and struggling to match her own agelessness with their aging (and perhaps some of them being in denial about it – Rainbow Dash being in denial about it above everyone else would work well, I think, though Pinkie Pie would be another possibility).

Also, while humor is good in pony stuff, I'd recommend trying to make the humor feel more consistent with the overall tone of the thing – getting old sucks, so if Pinkie Pie is going to make some jokes, I’d work on making them feel more in tenor with the darker tone, or, if you wanted Pinkie Pie’s jokes to feel wrong, have her be in denial of things changing along with Twilight, and her jokes being a sign that she *hasn’t* moved on as a pony and make others wince.
#51 · 1
· on Just Like Old Times
Having just found r/fifthworldproblems last night, I was kind of amused to see something that would fit right in there in the writeoff.

Unfortunately, while I enjoy surrealism as much as the next pancake, oranges fluctuate capriciously.

Which is to say, I don’t think that the surrealism did anything for me here. It was supposed to be somewhere between funny and creepy, which is somehow distinct from black humor (horror humor? Not sure) but ultimately, the story was just kind of weird for the sake of being weird, rather than feeling like it had any sort of point. Which, I suppose, fits some of the surrealist vibes, but also is not really something which is generally satisfying.
#52 · 1
· on First Date
I saw the inconsistencies early, but I have to say, it did not have the intended effect on me – given that Cadance was not, in fact, the Empress of the Crystal Empire at the time she met Shining Armor, and that Twilight was a princess, this seemed like something Bad was going on. It twigged my Uncanny Valley senses – changeling mind control? Mind wipe, and Cadance is having to marry him all over again? Indeed, my first thought was that this was some other pony named Shining Armor, who was similar to her first husband (which was wiped away as a possibility by the mention of his sister).

So, in short, rather than coming off as cute, this actually came off as creepy, because Something Bad was going on in the background, and so my senses were all focused on what could be really going on here.

Then at the end, we find out it was supposed to be cute and lovey-dovey.

This needs to be fixed, as while not everyone is going to fall into the pit I fell into, some people are, and those people are going to come in primed for the wrong kind of story.

I also am not sure how to make this more interesting - as >>Haze noted, what this actually is ends up coming off as kind of boring. There's no actual conflict here, not much of a story at all - this is more of an idea than anything else. It could be the setup for something rather ominous, honestly - the worst possibility, of course, being that "perfect first date" going wrong and leading to Unfortunate Implications or questions about their relationship. Or this.
#53 · 2
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time
Genre: Crouching Flutter, Hidden Shipfic

Thoughts: WOW. Not a bad piece to open with. I’ll spare my usual disclaimer about trying to judge poetry and praise the story for making two simultaneous uses of the text: it’s both a nice bunch of poems that we get to enjoy, and it’s the text of an opening move in a ship (or a crush). The ship doesn’t do much for me in and of itself, but this is intriguing in the way it sets things up and keeps them building.

I try not to TC on the first story, but in this case it’d be hard to justify not doing it.

Tier: Top Contender
#54 ·
· on I've Come to Talk With You Again · >>Pascoite
This was a nice little interweaving of two stories that were actually one story, contrasting Luna then and Luna now, and what had changed between them.

I liked this story, but simultaneously, am not sure what to make of it. This story seems to imply that the difference is not from within – not that Luna has truly changed – but is from without, that this time, she has friends other than her sister. And while that’s kind of… okay, it also seems to sort of imply that Twilight and company are Morality Chains of a sort, rather than that Luna has figured out that she just shouldn’t care about those ponies in the first place (and, while she professes to not really care, it is clear that they bother her). And while it’s okay to say that the difference is friends, I’m not sure if that was actually your intention.

So... I guess what I'm trying to get at is "What has really changed?" I'd like a better glimpse into Luna here - I think this gets most of the way there, but I'm not sure if the difference is within Luna, or is outside of Luna.
#55 · 1
· on An Apple Asunder · >>Fenton >>Pascoite >>CoffeeMinion
This story feels incomplete, but I like the core of it. A solid idea, a solid emotional core, a solid reason for Coloratura and Applejack to fall out of touch – just sort of drifting apart, eventually ending with Applejack stopping writing entirely after her parents die, because she doesn’t want to dump on the other filly who she isn’t even sure cares anymore.

The problem is that this is told from Granny Smith’s perspective, and the end seems to imply that Granny Smith has no friends, either – and indeed, that’s sort of where I thought it was going to go, something about Granny Smith and her lack of friends as an adult. And… it didn’t really end up going anywhere with that. It seems to be about Applejack.

Why is this told from the point of view of Granny Smith and not Applejack? If it is supposed to be about Applejack’s problem, might the emotional impact be greater from Applejack’s perspective?
#56 · 1
· on Along the Way · >>axxuy
This story feels incomplete. The problem is that the first half and second half don’t tie together strongly enough, resulting in it feeling like two stories, rather than a single story with an arc. I do get what you are trying to go for here – Twilight is feeling out of place because she can’t actually help a friend here, and so the appearance of Miss Spy Pegasus allows her to solve an old-fashioned Friendship Problem, just like the old days.

But it doesn’t actually end up ringing true in the end; it feels sort of forced. Which, I think, is fine if that’s intentional – Twilight is trying to force it rather than actually having a natural friendship problem, and getting herself into trouble, or creating a situation or whatever. But I’m not sure if it is, or if you just ran out of space to really tie it all together emotionally, as it feels pretty abrupt emotionally, and doesn’t tie itself together strongly enough.
#57 · 1
· on In the Beginning
You captured Discord’s voice quite well here, and I was amused by the juxtaposition of the whole Biblical “In the beginning” and the pseudo-genesis story with Discord being… well, Discord.

Also, hot dogs and golden apples – Horizon, is that you?

Anyway… I liked the voicing here, but I’m not sure what the point is, and I’m not sure if the aside with Twilight and Spike at the end is actually what it should be. It feels like it needs more room to breathe, so you could have a proper response rather than a Big Bang joke, but at the same time, I’m not sure if you’d want that. Really, I’m not quite sure what the point here was, other than to be vaguely amusing retelling a pseudo-Genesis in Discord’s voice.
#58 ·
· on Same As It Ever Was · >>Xepher >>Xepher
This story feels scattered. Maybe that’s intentional – showing that Apple Bloom’s mind isn’t quite still all the way there, and just kind of wanders off at random – but it also kind of just makes it feel a bit generic. Hey, it’s the future, and we have machines, and everyone is living in harmony! Sunshine and rainbows!

I’m not sure if there’s a strong point here beyond that one. If that is the point, then it is a bit generic, and it lacks much of a sense of impact – if you want to do something with it, make it stronger. Reinforce the idea more powerfully. Give us an actual reason to care. There’s no strong sense of conflict here, no struggle, nothing to push against. It just kind of happens.
#59 · 1
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time
Fog winds through forest
The poetry of the haze
Transcending my own

I see what you did there, Writer. ^^

As for the rest, I like that there's hints at a through-line of longing, and perhaps unrequited desire. There are notes of loneliness as well, independent from that desire, to help round out Fluttershy's feelings, which I think is a nice touch.

Still, I agree with TD that a bit more of an arc, rather than just a building of explicitness in feelings, would help add weight to this piece. This would also help differentiate it from its predecessor, as you explicitly called out above. As it stands, this was a lovely, breezy collection of haikus, and I smiled through most of it, but I don't think it's going to top my slate.

This is only the second story I've read, though, so we'll see. Best of luck, Writer!
#60 · 1
· on My Gift To You · >>moonwhisper
I thought this was Discord at first, but a bug is fine, too. But seriously, once I realized who it really was, the voice fell well into place.

This story is kind of mildly disquieting at first, which seems to be by intent – Thorax has good intentions, but the whole thing is a little messed up.

But at the same time, he is trying, and Twilight sees it… and appreciates the gesture, as even if Thorax did the wrong thing, he did it for the right reasons. It was adorably hapless, in just the right way for Thorax, kind of dopey king of the Changelings. And it is a story that even fits in 750 words, even if a lot of it is told by implication.

Well done.
#61 · 1
· on 88 · >>Haze
Family of doctors, eh? I see what you did there.

And with the title as well, now that I look at it. Cute.

Okay, I gotta admit: I’m a sucker for the Fermi Paradox and post-apocalyptic ponies, and you hit both of them. But that’s a freaking big idea, and you tried to put it into 750 words. And, to be fair, you did? You even have a few to spare!

But half the story is told by implication. I mean, I kind of admire that you shoved in as much as you did via implication, but Ian Malcom had something to say about that. I’m not sure if this story will even make sense to half the readers. They’ll probably figure out who Mare Curey is, but the second half hinges way too heavily on implication WRT: the Fermi Paradox.

I do like the idea, but I feel like if the story is going to end on the note it is ending on, it should be after bringing in the other ponies on what is going on, which would give you an excuse to not imply so much and actually be explicit. As-is, the payoff feels like it heavily hinges on the audience catching all the implications (which, if that was what you were going for, is why I censored the stuff).

I think you wrote a story for a certain sort of person, but I think that they might like it more if you actually gave perspective on it rather than merely referencing things that make them feel smart for catching the references.
#62 ·
· on One Last Rodeo
On the one hand, Twilight’s friends all going out to see her after Rainbow Dash dies isn’t a bad idea.

On the other hand, I think this story needs to explain why Twilight is out in the Castle of the Two Pony Sisters. Is she trying to research a spell? Is she really just hiding away from the world? It doesn’t feel clear why she can’t just lock herself up in her castle. And the ending is a bit schmaltzy – it just kind of resolves itself, rather than feeling like it has the emotional impact it should have, and with a bit of deus ex machina as well (well, magic from the Elements, anyway). I’m not sure if the magical element really helped this story, or reduced its emotional impact.
#63 ·
· on Birthday Greetings, Bottle of Wine
Sixty-four, huh?

Okay, this made me laugh out loud at the end. This story was simultaneously sweet and amusing with the scene with Rarity at the end. I agree with Pascoite about both the fact that the Rarity scene had the strongest impact, and that the title feels a bit misleading – I went into this at the start, with the Applejack bit, expecting that this was going to be a shipfic about Rainbow Dash and Applejack getting old together, and instead I got something about Rainbow Dash making her friends all feel young still, while she keeps up the pretense of remaining forever young. And Rainbow Dash, honestly, feels really natural for this, as I can totally imagine her trying to keep her friends remembering their youth and not feeling old anymore – and of course the amusement of Rarity being the one who makes her feel old because appearances are important, and of course Rarity would resemble that remark.

Anyway, I’m not sure what I’d want to do. Maybe making the scenes actual scenes with the various ponies, little snippets that you still had the chance to say something with, with Rainbow Dash’s thoughts put in. But at the same time, I don’t think you want to make this too long; I think keeping this short is wise, and I wouldn’t want to extend this too much, as this actually does do a good job of capturing the feeling it is going for, then drawing a laugh out of the audience at the end.
#64 ·
· on Bingo · >>Pascoite
This story took me too long to figure out. However, I am still confused – is Night Light actually at a bingo parlor/retirement home? 17 and 23 (Shining Armor and Cadance) going upstairs together seems to imply that he actually isn’t, and the bingo parlor is imaginary – he’s actually somewhere else. But if so, I’m not sure how much of what I’m seeing is real, and what is imaginary. Maybe that’s the point – Night Light doesn’t want to deal with the death of his wife/his wife leaving him – but I’m kind of left confused here.

What I think the story is actually going for is that he is at the bingo parlor, and none of the numbers are really there at all, they’re just reminders of ponies he feels like he is missing from his life, or ponies around him. He feels abandoned by 17 because she moved off with 23, and he doesn’t want to think about 40, being him, alone in bed.

This is a story steeped in emotion, but it could have done with a bit more clarity about what was really going on here.
#65 · 2
· on A Shame To Grow · >>Fenton
I’m 100% on board with embarrassing kids in front of their friends as an adult family member – it is part of the Dad Code, the Mom Code, the Aunt and Uncle Code, the Grandparents Code, and the I’m Not Even Actually Related to the Kid But Am A Family Friend Code.

However, this story doesn’t really feel like it goes anywhere. It is just what it is, without any real greater sense of purpose or anything else, and it doesn't really feel like an independent entity as a result.
#66 · 1
· on One Last Rodeo
For all that the ideas here didn't feel particularly new -- for example, of course it's Rainbow Dash who dies first of the Mane Six, and of course the big problem is caused by the angst of the immortal alicorn as her friends pass on -- I feel like this was elevated by its execution. The framing of that core idea felt fresh, the exposition is worked in naturally, and this ends very strong, all of which are major points in its favor.

Most of my problems stem from the wordcount limit (for which I blame the format more than your writing choices). There are a lot of questions you just didn't have room to effectively answer that nagged as me as I read: where are Celestia and Luna? What was the root of the split with the Mane Six? Why is Twilight in the Castle of the Two Sisters rather than in her crystal friendship palace (or what happened to Ponyville that it's now in the Everfree, but its inhabitants are still mostly alive)?

I do feel like the transition after the (good) line about friendship and rainbows is rough -- that it sort of skips past the whole Twilight-defiant thing and most of her emotional arc, straight to the climax where she's willing to talk. But a small quibble in a very strong entry.

Tier: Top Contender
#67 ·
· on Kites
I liked how this ended, but the story didn’t feel like it had a whole lot of content. I wanted to like it – the idea of the kites being destroyed, being important to her, being so fleeting, as well as how Starlight had progressed as a person – all actually was an interesting idea, and I think you could tie it all together into an interesting story.

I’m not sure that this was that story, though. It seems to be kind of focused on the immediate problem of the bear, and then it drifts away to the kites, making it feel unfocused, when the real point seems to be to illustrate how Starlight has changed. I wonder if it might be more effective if it was just a story about the aftermath of whatever Twilight did, and Starlight and Spike were together, going through Starlight’s room and picking up the pieces and sort of showing how Starlight had changed and what the kites meant in terms of that. I think that the actual act of destruction part is a distraction from the emotional content you’re going for here - it doesn't really matter what the problem was, just that it was Twilight's fault, but that she didn't mean to, so I don't think you're probably going to want to put too much focus on that.
#68 · 1
· on Divine Nectar · >>Xepher
Ah, mead. The obscure yet not obscure drink of old.

While giving someone a reminder of their home that is now gone in this way was nice, I’m not sure that this story really felt like it had much of a purpose. Yes, it was a nice gesture on Applejack’s part… but it just doesn’t feel all that substantive. There’s not much of a build-up here, it just sort of happens, problem stated, problem resolved, without giving me a true sense of the weight of the situation. It is something that is supposed to have a lot of emotional weight and payoff, but instead, I just sort of felt like I do when I turn a quest in to an NPC in a video game - task accomplished, mission over, xp gained, but not much emotional payoff, because I don’t have much emotion invested in his home.
#69 · 1
· on Shipping & Handling
Man, two weird entries in one competition? I knew I shouldn’t have linked to r/FifthWorldProblems in chat!

Seriously, though, this is one of those anti-joke kind of things, where it is funny by not being funny. But it all seems so very arbitrary, it doesn’t really come together at all, not even as an anti-joke. Starlight showing up randomly, along with Princess Twist, was just… too much random.
#70 · 1
Woo! Just Like Old Times, TD has actually read and reviewed all of the stories in the first day of the competition! It has been far, far too long since I just did that.


My present top five, in no particular order:

Birthday Greetings, Bottle of Wine
My Gift to You
Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time

Man, it felt good to just do this again. Been waaaaay too long.
#71 ·
· on Never Surrender · >>Miller Minus
I'll simply second what >>TitaniumDragon said. Despite the fact that each tone is in one half and the two are clearly split, it's very hard to fit two conflicting tones in such a short story.
Aside from that, the rest is quite solid, and it was an enjoyable read.
Post by Fenton deleted
#73 · 1
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>TitaniumDragon
Let's hop on this bandwagon, shall we? Actually, I mean that in two ways.

Normally, I'd prefer to comment on the stories getting the least attention, but there are a ton right now with only one comment, and I'm going to try reviewing all of them anyway.

Honestly, this story rubs me the wrong way, but it's not going to bother everyone. My issue is that it's a pretty blatant lifting of what Haze did a few events ago. Homages are fine within most contexts, and had this just been something posted to FiMFic for fun, I wouldn't care, but this is something you want to put forward for earning potential accolades. And part of what you're doing it with isn't yours. You even used the same idea of a Discord gag. Even if Haze doesn't mind, I still see this as a pretty big lack of originality. There's some history for this: I remember Casca winning the very first write-off with a story using a child narrator, and then Filler earning silver in the second write-off with a story using a child narrator. Cassius, who didn't know Filler was the author at the time, commented in the thread that he'd really prefer not to see what he perceived as calculated coattail-riding. It's entirely expected that some stories will end up being similar by chance, but that isn't what's happening here.

Anyway, how good is this? To me, it suffers from a lot of the same problems as Haze's version (which I still voted high on my ballot), but they're problems worth discussing. A lot of these stanzas don't contribute to an overall arc. As others have said, it would have been nice to see a more concrete arc. That way, there aren't numerous stanzas that feel detached from the rest. Why does that matter?

In a coherent story, if you read one chapter that doesn't quite measure up to the rest, it can still be a good story overall that has some weak points in it. When things feel more discrete, it's closer to an anthology. Then the strength of the whole takes on a different character. There are entire entities that are weak, and it rests on the quality of the worst entry rather than the best ones mitigating the worst. The same is true of collaborations: they often live and die by their worst members. So it would have come across as a stronger entry if it was a coherent thing with some weak spots instead of a collection of disparate elements, some strong and others not. The more loosely related they are, the better all of them need to be.

Some of those spots are good, though. There's nice imagery to be had. There's just not much of it that's memorable, and that gets back to the cohesiveness: it's easier to have a lasting impression from an overall arc than from a bunch of tiny things.

It starts with some nice slice-of-lifey ones that are cute but not too memorable. I do like #4, but I'm of a mixed mind about it. It took me a minute to realize this would be from the perspective of Fluttershy listening to Twilight. At first, I thought it made more sense to have Luna say it.

The more I read in, the more I can say why Haze's version worked better. Haze had more of a progression going. Even though the events were semi-related, they still occurred by degrees, to where it made sense in terms of fall changing to winter that the events happened in the order they did, and I get less of a feel of that here.

There are definite shipping notes wound in, but they're scattershot. It removes some of the earnestness of it that such casual thoughts get interspersed, like it's not enough of a big deal to be on her mind constantly.

While some of the individual haiku were nice, there weren't really any that stood out and wowed me like Haze's did (this is why I only felt moved to comment on one individually), and the lack of a coherent narrative makes the weaker parts weigh it down instead of having a "greater than the sum of its parts" effect. That and the unoriginality are going to pull it down my ballot, if I vote. I mean, there's definite skill here. I just wish you'd used it on your own idea.
#74 ·
· on One Last Rodeo
I'm a bit conflicted with this one. You probably expected the comment I'm gonna make, but I'll do it anyway. Beaten to death subject. There, it's done.
However, while the story is far from being original, either in its content or in its execution, the fact remains that you managed to convey enough emotions to make me care at least a bit.

I'm not sure why, but I'll try to point out what could make this story standing out from all the others of the same kind.

At first, I was expecting an immortality angst fic, something like "oh noes, my friends will die or are dead and not me, so sad *cry*" but not really. Twilight is sad because of Rainbow Dash's death, but we don't waste time on her grieving. The fact that the story is about the cure for purple Princess' sadness and not the poison is a noticeable plus. The second fact that the cure is friendship is a big bonus.

Regarding that, I think that this next sentence should NOT have been written differently
the sky, filled with auroras and caught between day and night, just like it had been for too long, now.

This is great because not having a defined length of time avoids to have a gothic Twilight, who spent years hidden in her castle (or allows to have just that if that's the sort of things you like)

You also managed to keep some time for each character. Granted, you don't do anything new with them, simply making them acting how we expect them to, but not having anything OoC is something worth to mention.

My main problem is with the POV from which this story is told. I got the feeling that the beginning is from AJ's POV, but you don't really do anything with it, especially in the second part where I got the impression it's an external POV we're dealing with.

One tiny suggestion. I think it would be better is the sentence I quoted earlier should be placed earlier.
Applejack couldn’t help but glance up at the sky, filled with auroras and caught between day and night, just like it had been for too long, now.

Since your last sentence ("and the sun rose over the horizon") is a major callback to the first one, having both of them at the beginning and at the ending respectively would emphasize and strengthen the symbolism of Twi's mournig with the sun rising/not rising.
#75 ·
· on Never Surrender · >>Miller Minus
This started out like a tragedy, then turned into comedy, then went back to sad, then went to... slice-of-life? Hero worship, maybe? It didn't quite know what it wanted to be, and without delving into why all this matters, it was hard to get too invested in Onyx. He yells that Sombra killed everyone, and that's definitely a sad thing, but it's also a generic thing. What does that mean to him specifically? We don't know whom he lost, under what circumstances, how many, what they meant to him. Or if you want this to be funny, go over the top instead of trying to pluck at the reader's heartstrings.

I can't say I'm even sure what happened. I think I gathered that they're participating in a war re-enactment, but if so, then why is he allowed to be part of it? This can't be the first time he's had this sort of PTSD flare-up, and by now, they should know this was a bad idea. Or even if he was just a spectator, it's not a good idea to let him see this.

There are just too many reactions you're trying to elicit from the reader here, and I think you'd do better to pick one and concentrate on it. Each part did its thing well--Shining's dialogue was good, and his comic response to Onyx was genuinely funny--but the whole was left feeling like a jumble.
#76 ·
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>Pascoite
The more I read in, the more I can say why Haze's version worked better. Haze had more of a progression going. Even though the events were semi-related, they still occurred by degrees, to where it made sense in terms of fall changing to winter that the events happened in the order they did, and I get less of a feel of that here.

While Haze did the progression of the season, that doesn't really have much in the way of deeper meaning. Here, the arc actually involves character progression, as Fluttershy apparently gets more open about her feelings, so there's an actual story rather than just "nature turns on". I rather bounced off of Haze's entry as a result, as there wasn't anything to hook me.

The hints at shipping and Fluttershy's feelings here did a much better job of hooking me than Haze's entry did, as there was a possibility of something happening that I was looking for. Also, the fact that the fourth poem made me actually laugh out loud made me feel more favorably disposed towards them as a whole, which helped tide me over until April 11 (combined with April 10) made me think there was something more significant coming.

I agree that this needed a stronger arc, though, and in particular, a climax and resolution.

Author, if you are planning on putting this on FIMFiction as a "full story", I suppose you could add in May and maybe June, but I'm not sure how long you want this to be - most people aren't willing to navigate too many poems. But I'd encourage you to work on actually including an arc.
#77 ·
· on An Apple Asunder · >>Pascoite >>CoffeeMinion
I'll disagree here with >>TitaniumDragon about this story and its POV. Since this is Minific, we don't really have time to dwell on characters and emotions, we need to go straight to the point.
With that in mind, I believe that it's harder to empathize with children facing loss, because their emotions are harder to grasp, since they don't have a good grasp on them themselves. Thus, it requires time and word to understand who is the child, what is his character and how we can extrapolate a possible behavior from all of this.
With an adult, it's easier, especially with an adult in a situation like Granny Smith's. She is the only adult left to take care of three children of various ages. Thus, we expect the character to have or not have trouble handling the situation.
Besides, the emotionnal impact that can come from a story told from this POV is not lessen, because we can only imagine what the child is experiencing. Without a clear description, our imagination fills the blank, which makes it more efficient for me.

However, and despite what I've said, I still think you took the easy way. I don't blame you for that, and fortunately, you quickly erased my fear of a trope story about Pear Butter and Bright Mac's death and instead, you chose to focus on AJ trying to deal with this AND her friend who is becoming distant.
But, because there's always a butt to make things funnier, I think you took too long to jump on the conflict, which is AJ and Rara's friendship. Too many words are spent to establish a premice and they are a bit misleading, as I said.
#78 · 1
· on 88
I figured out 88 refers to Radium pretty quickly. the line about the stars lost me, and even after reading >>TitaniumDragon explain it, it still took me a while to work out what it meant in this context. I believe it's saying all intelligent life inevitably destroys itself.

It's a story based around a revelation, but it's a worldbuilding idea I've seen quite a few times already, so it doesn't pack much of a punch on its own. It should be haunting, but when the characters stand around talking about what they may or may not do, I don't really share that emotion (and those who don't understand the hints will be completely lost and bored). I think this would be more effective by choosing a different moment, something more tense where the Princesses have to make a tough decision immediately..... I guess basically frame it within a narrative arc instead of a coy riddle.

Come to think of it, it reminds me of this terrifying Daring Do short story on FimFic, of which I can't remember the title or author right now. I'll leave it at that, because specifying it here would spoil that story by association! But those who know it probably remember what I'm talking about.
#79 · 1
· on 88
non-serious afterthought:

The mare frowned. “Can’t be any worse than sunshine. Isn’t as bright.

hey yeah, Celestia magically controls a huge ball of nuclear fusion. why's she so worried about glowy rocks?
#80 · 1
· on Bingo
I recognized the callouts from British Bingo as well as winning with Full House... but don't they use 9x3 cards instead of 5x5? Just a little detail, since knowing how to play the game isn't crucial for reading this.

Just a night of bingo for a mathematician with dementia? A life story told through synesthesia? Maybe both?

The more I re-read this, the more charming little details I discovered. I love how the beginning paints the picture of giving personalities and environments to his numbers, from jungle gyms to apartments. It's such a great way to establish some info about Night Life's past, while also effortlessly getting inside his head.

I like how he turns the numbers into ponies from his life. 88 as the fat ladies is from the British game, obviously they refer to Celestia and Luna! they're probably not important except to introduce the idea, and the relevant characters use new, original interpretations. And I like how they progress from one to another as part of a story, instead of being just a dull list. the Naughty Forty is a great follow-up to where his mind was going a few seconds earlier.

When I find really interesting song lyrics, usually they work on multiple levels: as a metaphorical expression of emotion but also a literal story taken at face-value. They say different things, but thematically work together and make each other deeper. Even if you don't fully understand one side, the other can help you catch the gist.

This is where I think the story could be improved. I think I understand the spiritual story here, the bingo numbers passing through his head. It's not just a sequence of visual comparisons for the sake of being clever, but carries a lot of conflicted emotions. However, I don't think I'm following the literal story here about the old man playing a Bingo game. Who's the old lady? Is she a stranger flirting with him? Is it his wife, implying his memory is decaying? I don't quite catch what that side of the story is trying to say, which also makes me feel like I don't fully understand the emotion expressed via the number-ponies. Ideally, the two layers should reinforce each other.

This is a very smart story, executed in such a unique way, with a delicate handling of little details. I very much enjoyed it, but just a little more work in accessibility could turn this into an awesome experience.
#81 · 1
· on Bingo
The first number called out in this story is 88, which happens to be the title of another entry this round.

#82 · 1
· on Never Surrender · >>TitaniumDragon >>Miller Minus
I agree with the others, the tone's all over the place here. It feels dark and serious, then the mention of the tennis balls on the walker.... it feels like it's supposed to be a funny twist, but instead of amusing me it makes me uncomfortable because I'm not sure what the story is expecting me to feel.

but more importantly...

“Try bingo next time. It’s less emotional.”

A reference to Bingo, the title of another entry in this round.... which itself refers to 88.....

#83 ·
· on Walking on Eggshells · >>Pascoite
That's so meta; the author, just like Rainbow Dash, is walking on eggshells! RD because she screwed up, and the author because he's talking about pony sex! edgy/20!...

Jokes aside, this one didn't leave a good nor a bad impression. I don't really care about shipping when it's the core of a story. Thus, I was biaised before reading this, and the story didn't really make me change my mind.
See >>TitaniumDragon for RD's POV, I believe you can improve it this way.
Side note: I'm a bit surprised RD enjoying spa treatments wasn't mentionned.
#84 · 1
· on Never Surrender
Oh god, it's A Basilisk For One all over again!
#85 ·
· on Walking on Eggshells
Genre: Bodice Ripper

Thoughts: Houston, we have a problem. I'm two stories deep and they're both TC material. Is it me, is it the overall field, or did I just get lucky and strike early gold?

I guess I shouldn't worry about it; I can remember one recent Writeoff where I didn't pick any TCs and my rankings ended up as a big melee of Strongs and Almost Theres. Anyway, this is another case where the ship doesn't do much for me but the execution is strong enough to make the whole thing really enjoyable regardless. Great setup, effective ending sting... I'm not even sure what to criticize.

I especially liked the bit with, "Life is funny... You let go of one dream, because life surprises you. But then it changes again. Maybe that’s okay, too." That's truth, man.

Tier: Top Contender
#86 ·
· on One Last Rodeo
Genre: Fallen Twilight Redemption Committee

Thoughts: I hate saying this--honestly I know it's not the most useful criticism--but I feel like I've read this story before. Like, the unabridged version of it. Possibly by Trick Question, and in another Writeoff. And then maybe a few times beyond that. tl;dr, the concept has been done. And again, that's not useful to say in itself. I guess the point is, though, that when a story treads familiar ground, it needs to hit hard and rack up some style points to compensate for not having as much wow-factor in the concept itself.

There was one thing in here that really stood out for me: Immobile Fluttershy. For some reason that interpretation of the character's waning days really struck a chord with me. She's presented in a way that's almost cute but also very sad. What a great little touch.

Beyond that, though... the prose was generally clean, but I didn't feel that there was enough space or detail to fully establish the depth of Twilight's pain. As it is, I can empathize with her pain, but I feel like I'm mostly just being told she has pain. More length is almost certainly the answer, though; these are good bones to build on.

Tier: Keep Developing
#87 ·
· on Along the Way
This story feels incomplete.

I second that. This story doesn't have an ending. It just cuts off before it can really go anywhere.
#88 · 2
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>Monokeras
I was planning on writing a joke review to confuse everyone, but I think by now everyone's figured out that this is different from my writing style. or is it?

I don't mind this at all, but others might. just a warning if others want to try this themselves, readers will get annoyed at seeing it too much. (exactly this happened once before, when Dubs did a sequel/homage to one of my fics)

I enjoy these. It's a different approach from how I would do them, but seeing that difference is part of the fun for me.

I'm not going to critique or review these.... partially to avoid coloring everyone else's opinions as if I'm some «voice of authority» (from writing the original, not on poetry itself). but there's just one I wanted to point out:

April 6:
Five-syllable yawn!
Bear friend is a sleepyhead
Honey perks him up

yes! this is it. this is the one. that first line alone is so perfect, I wish I'd thought of it myself.
#89 ·
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>Haze
I'm some «voice of authority»

Since when do you use French quotes « »?
#90 · 1
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time · >>Monokeras
I borrowed the idea from a Russian writer a few years ago. For those times in English where regular quotation marks can be misleading for a phrase that no one actually said.
#91 ·
· on Trigonometry: Fluttershy Writes Daily Poems, in April This Time
Fair enough! :) It was funny to see those in the middle of an English sentence!
Good job Haze, carry on :P
#92 · 1
· on Kites
Part 1 is very funny. Part 3 goes into serious mode, turning this scenario into a friendship lesson.

This may sound like the part where I say it's tonally dissonant, but nah. I think those two ideas could meld together very well.

I'd say the problem is actually Part 2. It doesn't develop the opening's humor into something crazier, and it doesn't plant the seeds of the moral lesson that should sprout at the end. I think doing both at once is possible, even in a minific prototype form. As it currently is, the entire middle section feels like a total waste of text to me -- it only tells us the significance of the kites instead of using them for something, Fluttershy mostly shows up to explain a little of the Twilight backstory, and Starlight discusses her feelings with Spike in a dull way instead of having an interesting physical reaction (e.g. the bottle thing from that S7 ep).

This is a major flaw that breaks my enjoyment of this story, but I still think this has the brightest potential of any entry this round. Reworked properly, it could become a hilarious escalating comedy, with some character development, leading to a feel-good friendship lesson..... in other words, 100% within the spirit of the show. I so badly want to read that.

(Even if the teleporting bear is relatively random and wouldn't work in an actual episode, but I said spirit not canon. Fanfiction has the license to get away with that.)
#93 · 1
· on Never Surrender · >>Miller Minus
I’m curious as to why you had Thorax (it could be any changeling, I suppose, but I’m guessing Thorax) impersonate Princess Celestia for the purposes of resolving this story, Writer. This seems like the sort of thing Celestia would happily take a break from her normal duties to address.

The only thing I can conjure is that Thorax is a lot closer to hoof than Celestia would be. Time is clearly a pressing issue, what with the veteran slowly freezing in snow-filled caves on the outskirts of Crystal Empire territory. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any other reason for Shining Armor to go out of his way to mention he’s going to “see a friend of a friend,” and there doesn’t seem to be any payoff other than the fact that Shining is resorting to underhanded subterfuge - the very tactic the soldier is accusing him of - to get him to surrender and come home. This is fine as a concept, but it needs a bit more emphasis than a single easy-to-miss comment to make sure your point is getting across. As it stands, this doesn't feel weighty enough.
#94 · 1
· on My Gift To You · >>Pascoite >>sharpspark >>moonwhisper
Angel and the weasel stood straight

So Fluttershy's dead but nor her bunny. Okay. I know he's a little demon but I don't think he is literally a demon.

As for the voicing, I won't as sure as my predecessor. It sounds more like Fluttershy several times than Thorax. And I don't know if this is intentionnal (as Thorax is readying for his role) or simply to mislead the reader.

Side thoughts: I'm not sure about Thorax and Twilight being intimate friends enough for the first to do that kind of gesture.
#95 ·
· on The Sun and Moon of the Future · >>georg
However, a larger issue here is the end is basically “Ha! We broke things so we aren’t useless anymore!” Which… is a bizarre thing to end on. Is that the message you want?

Fighting against the automation is a well-know fight, even if we know that it's an already lost battle, so nothing really odd here. However, I believe that the message isn't quite this one but more like "Machines are great and all, but in the end, you still need humans/ponies involved in the process, in case there is a malfunction", but that's not really clear. That's why I think that an external ironic POV would have helped this story, its tone, and defining its message. Using Celestia's here doesn't seem to do much.
#96 · 1
· on The Sun and Moon of the Future · >>georg
I like the banter here. You have good character voicing, and there's a nice touch of light humor throughout. Well, for most of it, anyway.

There is a little tonal dissonance, but it's not too bad. It starts out with alliteration and the kind of verbal flair you normally see in a children's story, so I was expecting that to hold, yet after the first couple paragraphs, it's gone. Then we move toward a little banishment angst, and I started to wonder if there would be an abrupt tonal shift. Really, there wasn't. It did still end on more of a playful tone. It still has a plot that deals with significant gravity, however (no pun intended).

That's the part that leaves me feeling a bit empty. There's kind of a vague explanation that Celestia might have gotten fatigued having to tend to the sun and moon together, but I'm not clear on why Twilight built the machine, since it wouldn't have come online until after Luna was back. So what was the need to automate that? And why did the princesses let her? It presents a cute scene but kind of brushes the justification for it under the rug. Or presents it subtly enough that I didn't see it.

There are a couple of perspective quirks. Look at your second paragraph. That's clearly Celestia's personal thoughts being expressed as narration, so you have a limited narrator in her viewpoint. But later on, there are things that wouldn't work in that setup, like her choosing to refer to herself and Luna as "the sisters"--that's rather an external feel for her.

So, nice, warm slice-of-life moment, but a little sketchy on how the scenario even came to be, and thus what you want it to mean.
#97 · 1
· on My Gift To You · >>moonwhisper
Hm. I felt like you were delaying the reason for all this too long, but then came the twist. I'll say this for you: the twist was well-timed. I just think if you could have led me to believe something before I got there, it would have been more effective. Like if you had built tension that I thought it was one thing, then you made it another. Now, what you have here—making me wonder what is going on at all before getting the explanation—is a workable thing. I just think it's less dramatic.

So as a concept, pretty well done. I do feel like there are some odd turns of phrase here and there, like someone used to foreign idioms, or maybe they're just not expressions I'm used to. And look back at your first paragraph. The sentence structure there is same after same after same, and there's not much variation in length, either. On the one hand, it creates a sense of going through the motions, but that's a very tricky business to keep interesting. It's also unfortunately placed right at the beginning, which tends to set the tone that the whole piece will have this plodding, repetitive structure. Of course, it doesn't, but first impressions are important.

I do think some of the emotions are a mismatch. Why is Fluttershy so worried about whether Twilight will be mad? She can't be. And her stand-in presumably is going to act exactly like he's supposed to, so why is she worried? Yeah, she's role-playing, but she snaps out of that so quickly that I don't see her getting that immersed in it. I'm also unclear on what the issue is (though I wouldn't be surprised if you dropped an adequate clue that I just missed). Is Twilight dead? Estranged from Fluttershy?

Oh... well, I got that completely wrong. I took it as Fluttershy who'd somehow become a princess and got Thorax to impersonate Twilight. I agree with >>Fenton that the voicing sounds much more like Fluttershy.

My miscomprehension notwithstanding, this was a pretty good story. I've seen things similar to it before, but this was a well-executed one, and the main point of a minific is to make something memorable. You blaze through reading 20 stories in a couple hours, and only a few are going to stick in your head for good reasons. This is one of them, at least for me.
#98 · 1
· on I've Come to Talk With You Again · >>CoffeeMinion
I don't know what happened here.

These are nice scenes, Luna's mood comes through well, and the writing itself is good. I was confused about whether the second scene was supposed to come after the first, showing Luna beginning to descend into bitterness again, or whether it was a mirrored scene showing Luna doing the same thing as in the first, but before her exile. >>TitaniumDragon goes for the latter, but I think the language supports the former better, with the possible exception of that one-line scene.

The first scene references Pinkie, so present day. Second scene is inconclusive, third mentions the thousand years, so present, fourth is inconclusive, but the tone sounds more like past.

The fact that each scene sees her mood darkening further can work for either interpretation, so it didn't relieve my confusion until Twilight showed up. And even then, it could just be popping back to the present again, but I'm going to take the entire thing as present day.

So Luna has a friend now. This is just the beginning of the story. What now? That's where the real conflict is. Is anything going to change as a result of this? Did Twilight come in spontaneously, and this is a pleasant surprise for Luna? Or does Twilight visit regularly, such that Luna's sour mood in the previous scenes shows this friendship hasn't mitigated it?

You've set the story up to have this gesture of friendship be a watershed moment, or at least a turning point, but then we never get to see what comes of it. Open endings are fine, but the trick is to convey the stakes attached to each possible outcome, not just leave the question unanswered and call it a day. Is friendship with Twilight really going to cure what ails her? It's tangential to the problem, and as common as it is to write the princesses as fed up with the nobility, she's grown up now. That's probably just me, but I like to see them more pragmatic about being effective rulers.

What's here is a strong beginning to a story.
#99 · 3
· on Divine Nectar · >>Fenton
This is a nice friendship moment, but Rockhoof sure seemed easy to convince. She plies him with some mead, and his spirits are instantaneously lifted. For that matter, Applejack takes a strange tack. He's lamenting the loss of his people, and AJ basically says, "Yeah, that's too bad—how about some booze?" I get that it's meant to evoke those old times for him, but let her make that connection. Or let him. As long as someone does. She just abruptly changes gears. Plus she was planning on doing this anyway, before she knew he was upset about anything. I'm not sure how you'd want to bring that into play, but I think it deserves to be.

You had word count available, too. Frankly, you didn't need that first scene at all. If AJ just shows up and says she heard he was feeling down about losing the village, that's all we need. How she learned it didn't make a difference to the plot, and Somnambula (note that spelling, since it's most of the editing errors you made) wasn't an important character. It didn't matter that she in particular was the one who told AJ, which is why it's just as effective to skip that part and have AJ come in already with that knowledge. Plus it's usually less of a payoff when AJ can solve someone's problem just by talking them through it.

You actually picked just the right pony for the job. AJ is well acquainted with loss, so have her connect with him on that level. Then there's a much more personal reason for her to become involved, and you have someone helping another from experience. We already know what AJ's past is in the matter, too, but leaving Rockhoof as vague as "my whole village is gone" doesn't land as firmly as if you had specifics to offer. Who are some of the ponies he misses? Give me an anecdote about a couple of them, what they meant to him, things that he used to do with them that would illustrate his attachment to them rather than him just saying he had one and leaving the reader to take his word for it. A few specifics will always be more powerful than a broad generalization.

You do have a good sense of who each one of them is, and their voices come through well in their dialogue.
#100 · 1
· on Along the Way
I'm not sure what I read.

The first scene is a serious look at a possibly overextended Applejack and a Twilight worrying about what that means to her school. Then we get a comic scene that really has nothing to do with it. I was expecting the spy to know about AJ already and throw it in Twilight's face, but you never used that. What was the point of having the first scene then? It doesn't match the tone of the rest, and you've made it inconsequential. There's a weak thematic connection, but Twilight never vocalizes anything to that effect or even seems to realize it.

I do like this spy character. She's amusing, and she's been forced into a role she didn't want at first but has learned to enjoy. That's a nice setup for her character. But then that doesn't go anywhere either. What does Twilight want to accomplish? Make a friend just for the sake of it? I wouldn't put that past her, but she hints at some other purpose, yet leaves it nebulous. Is she just hoping that if they become friends, she won't be able to bring herself to spy on Twilight anymore? I don't even know what's at stake. As Twilight said, she's not governed by the EEA, so what consequences could there be to the spying anyway? At worst, she's just going to be a nuisance.

So do something to make that first scene matter, and follow through with where the second scene is leading.