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The Other Side · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
#1 · 9
· · >>Trick_Question

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#2 · 3
·
This oughtta be good... Count me in!
#3 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Ugh. Got Search & Rescue training all of Sunday and Friday night is booked. I guess I'll have to see if I can work out an idea I can write more quickly. :\
#4 · 7
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>Monokeras
I can honestly say I read Mono's message on mobile and thought it said "get fuck" which I thought could also be appropriate for the Writeoff. In my defense, I am both dyslexic and used to being sworn at.
#5 · 2
· · >>Monokeras
>>Monokeras
Colt, Prench is a weird language.
#6 · 2
·
>>DuskPhoenix
I had almost the same initial reading!

>>horizon
I hope you can join in. I've got events on Friday and Saturday myself, plus I need to keep spending time on an ongoing house moving process. Hoping not to end up trying to slam something together overnight on Sunday to Monday. D:
#7 · 2
·
Hmmmm:

The ponyfic I started last month instead of taking part in the April minific contest has just reached 12,000 words, and I figure another 6,000 oughtta finish it. So again, I think I'm likely to spend the weekend doing that...

Mike
#8 · 5
· · >>Xepher
I wonder if I can create and type up a short story on my phone during EFNW?
#9 · 3
· · >>Hap
>>Hap
I'm staffing EFNW, so my only chance is if I write the entire story during the two hours I'm monitoring the Iron Author contest there.

That's two contests in a row lining up on major event weekends for me. :-/
#10 · 7
·
>>Xepher
We should both do it then!

I'll voice-to-text mine on the train ride down XD
#11 · 6
·
Been quite a while, but looking forward to giving it a go.
#12 · 3
·
You hear a hollow voice say, “A slim chance…”
#13 · 1
·
>>Trick_Question
You have no idea how so. ;)
#14 · 2
·
>>DuskPhoenix
Sush! It was a hidden message! ;)
#15 · 8
· · >>Anon Y Mous
>submit prompt
>decide I don't want it anymore and take away my vote
>wins anyway
#16 ·
·
>>Miller Minus
Say hello to my friends on the otha siiiiiiide
#17 ·
·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAaT3KVDhdQ
#18 · 4
·
I'll be hanging out in #mentors on the Discord server if anyone wants help with their story. The earlier you get to me, the less likely I'll be busy helping someone else, and I can help anywhere from the planning stage to looking over a finished draft. I'll be on from around 8 to 12 Eastern each night, and feel free to message me questions if it's something you don't need a live interaction to get an answer for.
#19 · 6
·
It's been a while since I was able to say this, but...

I'm in.
#20 · 3
·
After some reflection, I think I should bow out. I'm deep in the midst of editing a pony novel that's already eaten a few years of my life, and at this point I just want to keep that ball rolling. It's also a bit daunting to think of cranking out another fic that'll inevitably need TLC and editing before I can truly call it "done."
#21 · 3
·
I was hoping to try my hoof at this again, good luck everypony, and “See you on the other side!”
#22 · 4
·
The First Last Time: An Old Idea With A New Twist, Breath of Fresh Air.

“The BCU, JUHNY! Twice As Bright; Good as New!”

“Brass Tacks. You Can Blame It on Me--”

“The Joke’s on Me.”

“Friendship: A Test Subject. The Gift That Keeps on Giving…”

“Friendship Is Tragic. Dead-End Friends. autistic screeching. Another One Bites the Butts.”

“Want Me Back? Search & Rescue.”

“I’ve looked at love from both sides now; The Other Side By the Book.”

“Sweeter Dreams! What We Do in the Shadows, The Day That Nothing Arose.”

“Game of Pones. Know Thine Enemy.”

“Optimism and You: A Dystopian Tale, Paper Thin.”

“It’s okay, Jump!”

drink me
#23 · 4
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
No art round, then.
Bummer.
Guess I'll have to write.
#24 · 4
·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
Roger said he could add one. Perhaps it’s still possible.
#25 · 5
· · >>horizon
The best laid plans:

Of pigs and ponies, as they say...

I took a look at the prompt, got hit hard by a story idea, and reckon I'll see if I can't spackle something together by the deadline.

Mike
#26 · 8
·
I hope I haven't spoken too soon.

I've been in a downward spiral of depression over the past few weeks even though I'm starting a new treatment (transcranial magnetic stimulation), and concentration is currently beyond my abilities (hence my lack of updates online). I have a story planned out and begun but I don't know if I can complete it or not. At the moment I can't even relax with a game.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.
#27 · 2
· · >>Rao
Poop
#28 · 2
·
>>Syeekoh
This is largely my sentiment. I have one idea that I can neither shake nor properly form. It's frustrating.
#29 · 3
·
Ugh. I'm afraid I'm out. Saturday I met with some fellow authors for a writing productivity day, got my idea solidified, and got 1600 words written. Unfortunately, that 1600 words is nowhere near an ending, and Sunday is fully booked with Search & Rescue training, so there's just no way I can bring it to completion with the time I'll have. If I have any time Sunday night I'll use it to restart my editing on TEFL instead.

I've missed rounds before, but I think this is the first time I've actually given up mid-writing period. :(

Good luck to the rest of you!
#30 · 3
·
Just started writing, because I only got an idea about an hour ago. I think I'm screwed.
#31 · 2
·
I really don't want to miss two in a row, but I'm throwing in the towel. Hopefully next round I'll have a quieter Saturday to get a story written.

At least there's an art round this time. ^^ Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has written!
#32 · 4
·
It's in. It probably sucks, but it's in. See you guys in the morning. :P
#33 · 5
· · >>Syeekoh
See everyone on the other side!
#34 · 2
·
>>Miller Minus
I’ve got friends on the other side...
#35 · 3
·
I hate to say it, but I think I'm out again. I came up with my idea too late, lost a day of writing, and didn't have enough time to put it into action. And I've got work in the early morning now.

I hate missing even one round, much less back-to-back rounds. And I was really looking forward to this one. Haven't written and posted a damn thing since March...

I don't know. Maybe I'll still put my idea together and submit it separate from the writeoff, but... right now, I just, I got nothing. I don't have the time, or the motivation, to finish what I have.

dammit, a week later and I could've done this...
#36 · 2
·
I am in, with a poor pathetic shambling thing. Good night!
#37 · 6
·
Alright, first time submission, let's see how it goes! Special thanks to the attendees of SadSac 2018 who helped me push it through!
#38 · 5
· · >>Rao
First time in three years. Let's go!
#39 · 7
· · >>Rao
I'll just quietly submit something here for the first time ever nbd
#40 · 5
· · >>Anon Y Mous
"This is the most ham-fisted bullshit I have ever written." - Me, like 10 minutes ago.
"The Godfather Part III of my career." - Also me.

>>The_24th_Pegasus
Welcome to the party. Don't mind all the existential dread lingering around. It gets a little thick near the deadline, but usually clears up by morning.

>>Flashgen
Glad to have you back, Wonder Red.
#41 · 1
·
>>Rao
“I feel sorry for the fool that has to read this shit” -me, last night at 12:00
#42 · 2
· on Limestone Pie Meets Petunia Paleo · >>BlueChameleonVI
*reads title*

*infers focal characters*

*reads first couple paragraphs to confirm is legit*

*scans the rest*

aaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaa

Author, I'mma have to come back and give this the proper time it deserves later. But with a title and a cast like that, I might have to abstain due to sheer lack of objectivity.

For reference: anypony ever wants to get my attention for any reason, this would be the easy button. :-p
#43 · 4
· on Everyland and Nothingland · >>BlueChameleonVI
Lovely:

I'm expecting a lot of "afterlife" stories this round due to the prompt, and this is a really nice take on the subject. My only suggestion would be to concentrate it down. Right now, it's a bit sprawling from end to end. The imagery is good, but there's way too much of it--I found myself skipping whole paragraphs of description once I figured out what was going on because I wanted to see how Lyra would react once she caught on.

That's the heart of the story--Lyra's reaction to the situation--and the scene-painting needs to exist in service to that. So in those places where you've got, say, three paragraphs of good description, I'd recommend boiling it down to one paragraph of great description. Let us see and hear and smell and taste the scenes in a couple finely tuned sentences, then get us back to Lyra and her journey through those scenes. Overwhelm us with quality, not quantity. :)

In a similar vein, maybe end with Lyra's reaction to the Pale Pony's comment. It's been Lyra's story throughout, after all, so give her the last note. A very nice way to start my reading, though!

Mike
#44 · 2
· on Fluttershy Converses with a Tree · >>Anon Y Mous
Style Guide!

Hmmm. This is certainly an interesting entry. And I feel that there was a message you wanted to convey here, but it seems to be lost on me. That is, unless it was "don't do drugs". In which case, loud and clear.

I have to admit to bouncing off this story for the most part, though. There didn't seem to be a central theme being applied, jumping from peace and tranquility, to beloved weeds, to a resentment of those higher than us, to betrayal, drug abuse, optics, then finally suicide. I get that the tree is supposed to be a corrupting influence (even if it's part of her) but his dark lessons didn't seem to have a progression, like nothing tied each lesson to the previous one. A story can have all those things I listed, sure, but I needed more to follow along with what was happening to our poor Pegasus.

Without that connection, the artistic liberties you took in this story - like Fluttershy's remarkably easy turn to the dark side, or the way everybody talks - it all sticks out. And the pitch black ending just ends up making me sad, without really telling me why.

I really liked your scene descriptions, though; they're quite full of life. That said, the majority seemed only to appeal to the sense of sight. Well, I guess that's how it usually is... But still, forests smell like a lot of things, and make a lot of sounds too. Bark also tastes disgusting, so maybe have Fluttershy lick the tree (don't actually do that).

But it was still a neat story to start off my slate. Thanks for writing and good luck in the contest!
#45 · 4
· on Fluttershy Converses with a Tree · >>Anon Y Mous
(Edited to have proper linebreaks.)
#46 · 1
· on Just A Different Shade · >>Rao
Oh. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. Man, it's been forever since I've seen a MASH reference, especially in a pony fic. I almost didn't get it until the last couple lines, which also do a very good job of tying in another interpretation of "the other side." I did re-read after I understood who Hawkeye was, and I was easily able to read his lines in his voice. Nice job capturing that.
#47 · 5
· on The Book of Might Have Beens
I thought this was a really stellar entry, and it wrapped up very nicely. Nothing has changed except for Starlight herself. Wonderful character work.

I suppose I have a few notes though. The first is that this story is very exposition-heavy in a peculiar way. Since every new instance of the book needed to be told as if it was a new story, with the exception of the Victory in Our Town timeline, a lot of the text went to setting up scenes and characters. The first timeline dragged on a little, especially, and I wonder if it could be trimmed. After all, it's hard to get too invested in things you know haven't actually happened. For me, anyways.

I also found North Star to be a rather blank character, without much to him. If he is to stay in this story and have such an important role, a more vivid personality would go a long way. That, and I couldn't really follow his or the town's thought process. What she did was truly horrible, and that kind of sudden elation at the return of their cutie marks doesn't seem like it would be followed up with, "but wait where's Starlight she didn't seem so bad."

But in conclusion, I was engaged. So thanks! And ciao for now.
#48 · 2
· on Nights of Frights and Butterscotch · >>TitaniumDragon >>Rocket Lawn Chair
This drew me in right away. The interview is an excellent hook, and it segued nicely into the friendship-building between Luna and Ink. Speaking of Ink, you've done a great job at making her likable, IMO. Still, I do want to get to know her a little better; I never felt like I got much of a sense of her personality, which stopped her from crossing that final line from likable to compelling, for me.

As for the reveal, I'm left just a little disappointed. It just doesn't seem like something that Luna has much to gain from trying to keep it a secret initially. And I also don't quite agree with the decision to make the actual explanation itself happen off-screen. Having to catch up to characters who know something that the reader doesn't is tension-inducing, so it kind of rubs off the wrong way during the critical turning point of the story, where you should be trying to relieve tension with the payoff.

Still, the core of this story is the character work, and I think it carries strongly throughout. The back-and-forth read naturally and entertainingly, which made it hard to stop reading. And in the end, making me want to keep reading is my biggest criteria for whether or not I think a story holds up. I'm sure that I'm going to be rating this one highly!
#49 ·
· on Revisions · >>Flashgen
There's some really interesting ideas here. I particularly like the thought of a journalist-turned-novelist, who writes novels about something that was clearly traumatic to her society's collective psyche. Having that kind of character present really asks some profound questions about the nature of emotional trauma.

But while I am in love with her archetype, I had a harder time connecting with Violet as a person pony. She stays really reactive throughout the entire story; constantly on the back foot. First it's surprise at Changelings and their hive, then it's the fright of being in front of royalty, then it's being overcome with regret. It's very hard to come away with a sense of her personality, because I haven't seen her act on her own. If somebody asked me what she would do in a given situation, I can't really answer that question.

Considering that her personal arc is the core of the story, I didn't quite feel like things payed off the way that they should. Generally with character development stories, the growth needs to have a degree of proactivity. Let Violet make an important decision or two on her own, when she's not on the emotional defensive. I think you need to add a few thousand words to the beginning, to the ending, or to both.

I think you've got the start of some great social commentary. I mean, not many stories at all make me want to stop reading for a minute and just think about the implications. There's excellent food for thought under the surface, here. But the story itself is trying to be about Violet, and I think she needs a bit more space to breathe to really come to life.
#50 · 4
· on Limestone Pie Meets Petunia Paleo · >>BlueChameleonVI
I very much enjoyed this one. It helps a whole lot that Limestone's third-person voice isn't just on point, it's moved in to a nice little suburban neighborhood on the point and is considering buying a bit more of the point's land to build a hide-away shed in the woods because it wants to live off the land of the point. My point (ha) is, her characterization is fucking great.

I'm not as in love with Petunia, because she does sometimes come across as being cute for the sake of being cute. I'm a huge advocate of stories with a major child character having at least one or two moments where the kid is just plain dumb, or annoying. Because face it, kids are often dumb and annoying because they'rekids, They have the right to be stupid.

But then, there was that image of Petunia with itty-bitty bandaged hooves, and I giggled out loud at the thought of it. So yes, the kid is cutesy, but damn if it isn't some great cutesiness.

All in all, this story is probably not what I'd call ambitious, but it wildly succeeds at what it sets out to do, IMO. I may or may not end up top-slating it, depending on how the other stories shape up. But regardless of where it ends up, I think there should always be a place for simple fun in the Writeoffs, and this piece is just about as much fun as you can have. Nice stuff!
#51 · 1
· on A Home Far Away
There's really nothing bad I can say about the pacing, payoff, or premise, but I'm gonna be honest and say that I have trouble connecting with this story.

From a mechanical standpoint, the big, blocky paragraphs interspersed throughout the story really slow things down and make it tempting to skim. There is good stuff here, I don't doubt it at all! But on the other hand, there is some fat that you can trim, in my opinion. If you want to keep your reader's attention long enough to show them the good stuff, you have prune your tree, so to speak. Personally, I find best results when I force myself to remove anything that I don't consider absolutely vital to my stories. But your writing style is allowed to be different from mine, so I'll just leave it at that.

Voicing felt odd at a few points for me, and I ended up having mixed feelings. For instance, Dash's commentary on Lightning's beak felt like 100% pure Essential Oil of Rainbow Pegasus, bottled conveniently at the source. On the other hand, a word like "ostracized" is not something you hear in everyday conversation, and definitely not something I'd expect from Lightning.

All in all, there's some good stuff here, but I think the whole thing maybe could have used a 2nd pair of eyes on it, just to point out the rough spots. You might need to spit-shine it, but there is a fun story to be had, here.
#52 · 2
· on Why a Duck? · >>Miller Minus >>Baal Bunny
I will admit that there are definitely some pretty clever turns of phrases here. But as a whole, I'm not quite digging it. The back and forth pun-ery honestly started getting a little stale for me even a quarter of the way through. I think the biggest issue is that it's really hard to get a sense of pace; we don't get introduced to the central conflict/premise (Pinkie and Cheesy needing Flutters to talk to the chickens) until about 30% of the way through our wordcount, and then there's another 30% before they actually say a word to the hens.

At that point, I admit I just wanted to know the darn answer to the question, so when Duck'thulhu showed up and her hunger became the new main focus of the story, I was pretty frustrated.

I think the biggest issue you have is managing your reader's expectations and the payoff they get. I this would seem like odd advice, given that comedy is all about defying expectations, but the core of comedy is about getting that satisfying ending--hearing the punchline after the curiosity that the set-up and the build-up bring.

I think you certainly show comedic cleverness with all of the quips you've managed to squeeze in. But personally, I kind of wished the whole thing was closer to being a story with a developed arc. rather than feeling like just a vehicle for puns.

I hope this makes sense, and I hope I'm not just blowing smoke out my orifices. Please do take this all with a grain of salt, because historically I've often not agreed with the consensus when it comes to comedy in the Writeoffs. So I'll be very eager to see what anyone else has to say. Thanks for writing!
#53 · 2
· on The Book of Might Have Beens
Everybody take notes. This is how you write a hook. And this is also how you present your premise. And this is also how you craft brain-stabbing imagery. And this is also how you keep your readers engaged with a steady upramping of tension. Just very excellently put-together, IMO.

Despite how much I enjoyed reading this, I do have a few nitpicks about the ending that I think are worth bringing up. Specifically, it's hard to get a sense of what the book is, well, supposed to mean. And I get that a degree of deliberate ambiguity is both deliberately attempted and ultimately desirable, but IMO thematic ambiguity is something best used to lead the reader to draw conclusions. But it's a little difficult to draw any conclusions, since it felt like all of the interludes between each vision seem to try to say that the book is only evil and wrong, but the ending seems imply that good things came out of it. And I get that the story is about good things coming from bad things (I mean, Starlight is your main character after all), but I do think that reinforcing this theme once or twice in Starlight's post-vision scenes would go a long way to making this motif clearer.

Again, it's a nitpick. I know that I'm not always the best reader, so I personally do like reading stories with clear messages, so long as they avoid neon-lit signs. I'm still going to rate this very, very highly because I enjoyed it very, very much. Thank you for sharing!
#54 ·
· on Coffee at Three · >>Bachiavellian
I want to like this story, I really do. The message lands for me, somewhat, but it doesn't really move me in any way. If I could point to a reason why, I would think maybe that it's too abstract. First, there seems to be a previously answered notion about how love differs in both of these worlds, but how love works in Equestria doesn't really come up too often in the show, so who's to say it's really all that different from our world? And second, the idea that's presented of love from our world is hugely oversimplified. Love is crazy and weird and beautiful and ugly, and sometimes it involves many partners and other times only one and sometimes a second one that won't stop reminding you of the first one, and some people experience at bars and parties and other people experience it at the library. It can't be pinned down so easily.

I suppose that's the crux of it. It feels oversimplified. The lessons are on-point, but it would have been easier to relate to if Sunset were speaking about her own experience, as opposed to having her play the hermit who knows everything about how it works here.

But structure! Structure is good, and it's an enjoyable read. It feels like it meanders a little, though, with some words used on stuff that isn't important. I found this especially in the ending. Was the final point of the story about Pony Joe's closing time, grabbing something for Twilight, or about whether or not Sunset would drink another cup of coffee? Just a step too far, it feels.

So yes, that's all I have to say. If the lesson were based on an example, and the storytelling a little tighter, I would have enjoyed this a lot more. But still, it will probably be about mid-slate.
#55 · 2
· on Checkpoint · >>Baal Bunny
I'm trying really hard to figure out the author's intent here. It was starting pretty standard, and I was warming up to the idea of the border checkpoint between our worlds. It's neat. I like it. I also really like the word Checkpoint. Just a really great word.

But everything kind of went awry in the office scene. I know heat makes people act weird, but my god, did people start acting weird. Suddenly shouting and a lot of unprofessional behavior (in contrast to the professionalism before it), one guy seems to have his name changed every line ohhhhhhh now that I write this I remember you saying that Jerry couldn't remember people's names. I guess that one's my bad. But still an awkward joke to use when suddenly nobody is a consistent character.

And then I started to notice the prompts... And just in case this is one of our new entrants, psst, the idea isn't to drop as many prompts as possible. And when you do this it it keeps breaking my concentration, but maybe you wanted that?

See this is what I mean, I don't know how seriously I'm meant to take this story.

After this, the story takes a rather drastic left turn into conflict, which is good, I was wondering where that was, and I even liked how the transfiguration twist was disguised as unimportant worldbuilding. But it all feels very hand-wavy in how it was resolved. Our friend Jerry was just suddenly able to figure everything out with nothing more than a smirk from a bad guy. Sherlock would be impressed, but I just felt lost and disconnected.

That's my take, anyways. Thanks for writing!
#56 · 4
· · >>Bachiavellian
Just your daily intermission to say thank you all for having such great opinions and thoughts on every fic. I haven’t seen one harmful word thrown out at a story yet and I’m so happy to be here lol.

I was just so afraid to come back to my fic and have someone tearing it to shreds but so far everyone has gotten beautifully done constructive criticism. (Just thanks y’all omg <3)
#57 · 1
· on Why a Duck? · >>Baal Bunny
>>Bachiavellian
I agree with all of this. This story definitely feels like an exercise in practicing comedy, and puns in general, but that doesn't really a story make. And again, what you've done occasionally brought a laugh, but it can't carry a reader to satisfaction like an arc or a fulfilled idea or a powerful setting can.

I'm wondering if you realized the lack of any arc at the end, and added in the "why are we friends?" concept, but it's so out of place after all the tomfoolery (which picks right back up again unhindered). And if that character conflict came out of left field, then the conclusion to it was out of right field. I didn't see a connection backwards.

But yes! You are talented at boisterous wit. Just don't do so much of it!
#58 · 1
· on Fire Burns Both Ways · >>Miller Minus >>BlueChameleonVI
I'm usually one to hate chopping up your story into little chunks, and I'm usually one to hate journal/epistolary asides, but I have to say, I really, really enjoyed Arcadia's sidestory. I think it did a great job of flowing into and complementing the rising tension of the main plot. Nicely done!

Still, I do have some concerns about the meat and bones of this story. To be blunt, the first half does not read like the adventure story that this actually is. You play with some interesting ideas about Independence and trust, but all of that kind of evaporates shortly after Celestia shows up. As a result, the last 1/3 of the story feel quite different from the first 1/3.

I'm also having trouble with the climax. Spoiler: Sorry, but I did not find it compelling that the conflict resolves itself after the villain gets a a "I understand you now!" speech. It's a bit of a cliche, especially with MLP fanfiction. I would suggest revisiting elements of the resolution by making the themes in the first half not only present, but critical to solving the conflict. It would make the whole thing hang together much more satisfyingly, in my opinion.

Like I said earlier, I liked the rise of tension, and I liked the journal entries as well. If you spruce up the story to stick the landing a bit better, I'd say you'll have a real page-turner on your hands.
#59 · 3
·
Wheh, that's my slate! I'm hoping to get around to the rest of our entries before prelims close, though, since we don't have all that many of them this month.

>>Anon Y Mous
Constructive criticism is what the Writeoff is all about! ...Or, it's what it should be about, in my opinion, anyway, Glad you're enjoying the event so far! It's good to see some fresh faces around here.
#60 · 1
· on Nights of Frights and Butterscotch · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Tier: That lollipop with the caramel in the center

I'm as much a sucker for "casual princess" as I am "badass princess," and you nailed the mundane side of Luna brilliantly. She's handling Nightmare Night well, even owning it after a fashion, which means the lessons from "Luna Eclipsed" have not only stuck, but been built up since the episode.

Extra point for low-key lore building:
And the visions don't torment me every day, in fact, I've never gotten a single vision during Nightmare Night.

This is equal parts clever and hopeful, because it means that the silly holiday of Nightmare Night works. Based on Luna's data, whether she realizes the implication or not, Nightmare Night acts as an effective bulwark against The Nightmare's machinations in the world. In fact, I'm kind of wondering now if they're prophecies at all and not just The Nightmare messing with them in the hopes of getting them to crack. Which would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, I guess, but those don't count.

Anyway, fun work. Ink Blot is neat, and establishing her as being blasé about something Luna has come to embrace acts as an important, if simple, wall for their budding friendship to overcome.
#61 ·
· on Revisions · >>Flashgen
I feel like most of this story is crammed into the last third with Chitin.

Sure, there's useful background in the other bits; the topic of her book comes out, her attitude towards the hive, how she talks with Thorax and how Thorax responds, all that's good, buuut... it seems like most of the 'emotional core' is tied up at the end there in her conversation with Chitin. I think you'd do better spreading it out across the rest of the story a bit more.

I guess what I want is either a bit more foreshadowing, or the foreshadowing that is there to be laid on a bit thicker? I wasn't exactly surprised by Violet's eventual confession, but at the same time, it didn't really feel like it had enough narrative weight, given the strength of the emotions she was showing there.

One thing that might help with spreading that around more would be to only use one major changeling character, instead of three. As it is, you have Pharynx, Thorax, and Chitin; Violet is kinda handed off from one to the other in the beginning/middle/end sections, and... I didn't feel like the differences between them were doing enough for your story to really justify the switching. Maybe either highlight the different ways they each affect Violet; how their different attitudes affect her emotions concerning her apology, or just stick with one changeling character the whole way through, and try for a deeper connection there?

Anyways, this is pretty solid writing; a bit of near repetition, no real hook, but clean and pretty readable for all that. The mechanics felt a bit jerky, but I enjoyed it and found it easily understandable.
#62 · 4
· on Nod Your Head to the Beat of Death · >>Miller Minus
Theme: Led Zeppelin as interpreted by a coked out Araki

Princess Cadance needed to see the top of the staircase, if only because she had spent so long climbing it.

In which Twilight never taught Cady the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Now more seriously, I'm having a hard time formulating an opinion on this piece as a whole; beyond the blood seeping from my ears from thinking about it too hard. Every section makes a kind of weird, transcendent kind of sense on its own, but when putting the scene pieces together as a coherent whole I just blue screen mentally. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily. I might just be missing the keystone in the arch, here. A fresh read tomorrow may help, too.

But for now, know that you have succeeded in both entertaining and confusing the hell out of me.
#63 · 1
· on Checkpoint
I agree with >>Miller Minus:

It's a fun and interesting setting, but the characters don't ever really come together. I'm still not sure if Jerry's glad to be working this site or not. Does he just want to do his job for a week and a half and then get back to the "real world," or is he looking forward to this experience? Let us get to know Jerry by the things he thinks, the things he feels, and the things he takes note of in his surroundings, and that'll draw us into the world and the story.

Mike
#64 · 1
· on Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days · >>Baal Bunny >>Rao
This is pretty good.

There were a few points where I felt like I wasn't really 'in' on what Angel was thinking, though? The 'seven day plan' thing was the most obvious one; I expected, like, therapy or something. But it was just... clean the house, do the dishes, etc etc? It didn't seem like the sort of program that would have long lasting effects, I guess is what I'm getting at, but after Angel stole pamphlets and books and what and put it all together, it felt like it should be really impressive I guess...

I mean, what it is isn't a problem, story-wise. But my perception of it was that it was something more impressive than I ended up seeing it as. ...Yeah, I'm getting tired, I can tell from that sentence. Hopefully the rest of this is understandable. :P

The second bit that struck me the same way was the bit with Owloysius - although even in show they don't really pronounce the 'owl'... I feel like it should just be Aloysius, TBH - that bit also cleared up for me, when Angel runs through the crowd. The thing is, he apparently realizes what Owloysius is motioning to him about halfway through the pantomime, and I... didn't.

I kinda felt like the inclusion of 'are you going to live a long time' here made me think less of the story. I'm... really not a fan of immortal ennui. I'd say 'better to have loved and lost', take the spell, do the thing, deal with the consequences afterwards. Despite your 'strength' doodle at the end, I ended up feeling like Fluttershy and Twilight took the cowards way out, by not even trying to make it work. As such, the ending felt faintly ridiculous to me, instead of bittersweet.

Well, maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, or maybe I'm not really someone in your target audience.

On the other hand, the thematic elements here are quite strong; you have threads running through from beginning to end, and even if I don't totally agree with how they're woven, I can appreciate the craft nonetheless. This is a solidly constructed story from beginning to end, and I enjoyed reading it.

Good work!
#65 · 1
· on Fire Burns Both Ways · >>BlueChameleonVI
Testing, testing.

EDIT: Alright then! I've made some comments for all the fics I've read. Spoilers: This is my opinion! I want to leave constructive criticism, but I also want to say what I like and don't like, so I want to make that clear before I start.

EDIT EDIT: Here's my last review. Hooray!

Good Stuff: Arcadia/Amity is a great character, heroic and noble in her own mind but also kind of condescending and self-absorbed. She's a good tragic figure, and I really liked that we don't know if she'll ever get a happy ending. That's kind of thoughtful but sad too. Double and Sugar had a great relationshiip after Starlight, and it was realistic how everyone still struggled to live new lives after she left and still has an influence on them. I disagree with Bachiavellian and think the trust and independence issues keep going strong right up to the end. Double constantly being a policeman looking out for Sugar sold it for me, because he has to learn to see it from her point of view at the end. The story kept up the tension well, and got nicely tragic and horrifying in the second half.

Bad Stuff: Sugar took a big jump thinking the aethon was Amity, didn't she? The speech was OK because the connection and backstories sold it emotionally, but I feel like Celestia or Double should have had a bigger role in getting through to Amity instead of Sugar doing all the work. I also feel like some things weren't clear, like how exactly Match got the communes to fight and why no one found the hedge before. The first half is a bit slow, and the really short journal entries felt like they should be longer to balance out the Double-Sugar bits.

Verdict: Top Contender. The story has great characters, thoughtful ideas, some neat tragedy and horror bits, and a strong build-up to the conclusion, though I think it does has its odd moments that need checking again.
#66 · 1
· on Coffee at Three · >>Bachiavellian
OK, first comment from me.

Good Stuff: I really liked the comparison between humans and ponies here, where the latter pretty much have it easy and laid out for them whereas the former have to work for their happiness. Spike's reactions and Sunset's explanations sell it, because as much as they're from different sides, they still treat each other with chummy respect. I also like the little touch of Sunset's burn mark on Joe's table. Little moments like that simultaneously humanize the characters with history and add a little comedic levity to lighten the tone.

Bad Stuff: It's really not doing very much beyond the talk. I came away feeling like I'd picked up one or two neat little titbits, not a juicy meal. It's a nice talk, granted, but apart from a vague hint as to what Spike's going to do with Sunset's advice, it's underdeveloped. Bit too telly at times, too. For example, don't say Spike is a great conversationalist. We can guess as much from what's happening.

Verdict: Mid Tier. It's a pleasant scene with good ideas, but rickety construction and a lack of development rob it of much substance. It needs to go the extra mile to make it stick in the reader's mind.
#67 · 3
· on Just A Different Shade · >>Rao
Good Stuff: I thought the real-life drama of the moment was conveyed competently and well - I especially liked the bit where Rainbow's trying not to go crazy from all this - and the moment when Twilight has to pose as Sunset's official guardian was one of those "Reality Ensues" moments I could dig. The fact that guns don't exist in Equestria - confusing Twilight - was an intriguing world-building moment, and I wanted more of that. Nice twist at the end with Hawkeye hinting he too came from another "side", and the "grass is always greener" arc words were neat.

Bad Stuff: The crime was generic, and what was all that about anyway? It was really distracting, and the story never answers it, which irritated me because it also feels wildly unlike something that would happen in the Equestria-Girls world. Apart from Rainbow and Twilight - and Applejack a little - I never got a sense that this had anything to do with pony-verse, like the majority of this scenario and these characters could have been a scene ripped out of any crime drama on TV. Those bits I mentioned in "Good Stuff" needed to dominate the story more, because they're distinctive to the setting and/or interesting ideas, but they feel like light seasoning on a generic "character got shot, cue drama" plot.

Verdict: Needs Revision. The distinctive elements are good, and it's competent at what it does. I just wish there was more distinctive stuff to spice up the bland scene, and the premise felt too off and underdeveloped for my liking
#68 · 1
· on A Home Far Away · >>Baal Bunny
Good Stuff: I like the idea here: Lightning Dust goes into hiding because of the stigma of her mistakes, only for the pony world to move on without her knowing. There are moments of banter here and there which feel in-character, and the laid-back paradise feel of the hippogriff home territory is well-conveyed.

Bad Stuff: Rainbow Dash seriously feels out-of-character. There's no attitude, no quirks in her speech, no idiosyncratic way of making her apology. Without those "Yes, that's Rainbow" ingredients, this tastes like a bland stand-in pretending to be her. The plot doesn't really kick in until the second half, and the first half drags things out far too much. I'd recommend being utterly ruthless in cutting descriptions down in future; you might like Mount Aris enough to spend a lot of time describing Rainbow's journey in the area, but it severely tests a reader's patience when there's no obvious conflict for thousands of words. Even the conflict feels thin when it happens; there needs to be more resistance to sell the apology-and-forgiveness angle, otherwise this feels less like an important life-changing/dramatic moment and more like a semi-pleasant chat between chums. I wanted more sparks to fly, especially given how obvious this is as a fixfic for "Wonderbolts Academy".

Verdict: Needs Revision. You've grabbed a solid idea here with some deft elements, but to really draw it out in future, you'll need stronger sauces for your characters, ruthless trimming of unnecessary ingredients, and a dramatic edge that fits the seriousness of the idea.
#69 · 1
· on Limestone Pie Meets Petunia Paleo · >>BlueChameleonVI
Good Stuff: This had me ROTFL, and I will respect any fic that does that. Limestone is in top form here, top jackass, top heart-of-gold, top deluded nutball, and I love how she half-abuses Petunia through a combo of carelessness and rock farm insane culture logic. This fic is pretty long, but it flew by because every scene has something new to keep things fresh. The characters all speak in distinctive ways, and the way Petunia and Limestone bond is appropriate. I also liked the little things, like Petunia's parents still being worried about her cutie mark and Marble's vow of silence.

Bad Stuff: The ending was a bit abrupt; suddenly we're at the end of the week, and Petunia's picked things up from Limestone, only we never got to see all that. But Limestone's maybe picked things up from her, only it's not delved into much. It's a little thin. Also, the rest of the family don't get much time except in one scene. And you had one or two typos and repeated words that caught me out, but that's nitpicking. At the end of the day, though, it's not breaking boundaries, which isn't bad but isn't spectacular either.

Verdict: Solid Entry. A solid comedic character piece and a neat exploration of Limestone, which needs a polish here and there. It also fumbles a bit near the end for me. And it's also not as spectacular as some of the other entries in what it's trying to do.
#70 · 3
· on Nod Your Head to the Beat of Death
Good Stuff: Some of the imagery was very effective, so don't change that because it's fine. And I liked what you were trying to do by describing Cadance and her relationships with other ponies. The climbing the stairs metaphor worked neatly. The language use, especially in that ending scene with Shining and Flurry, is pleasant and even evocative at times, almost like music.

Bad Stuff: I seriously don't have a clue what is going on. I guess it's meant to be a poetic look at Cadance's psyche using metaphors and comparing her to Twilight, Shining, the other princesses, etc. to get an idea of who she is. I like that idea. But the fic revels in vagueness and I just can't connect with it, which seriously undermines my attempts to feel anything for whatever is happening.

Verdict: Needs Revision. I really think this needs to be more explicit about what it's doing and where we're going with this. Much as I like its style, I just wanna know what the hell Cadance is thinking and doing, and this feels like it barely has any direction to it. It's just pleasant noise, and I'm gonna have to say it didn't do it for me.
#71 · 1
· on Revisions · >>Flashgen
Good Stuff: Violet is a fascinating character here with a good history, and she's put into a situation that's fantastic. What she's doing initially got me excited for this story. The journalist-novelist background and her intrepid attempts to get the inside scoop on the new-and-improved changelings are fantastic plot hooks that made me want to know how her previous guilty prejudices and the changelings' attitudes would collide. Pharynx was a great early character encounter, clearly not as happy about this as Thorax is. I want more of that! I also do like the guilt Violet felt because it did make sense from her backstory, and the prose is well-written as far as I can tell.

Bad Stuff: I feel like all that good stuff goes nowhere, and that's really disappointing. I was expecting from the set-up a rich world-building experience in the hive, and maybe some more conflict coming from her novel treatment of Chitin. But instead, the twist I got felt way too weak. It seems like everyone would presume from context she'd feel guilty when the idea of getting this scoop is so obviously all about her correcting that mistake on behalf of ponydom. It'd work as a background note informing her experiences in the hive, yeah, but having it be the secret reason for this whole mission? That feels more like what a naive child would think rather than a grown adult. I also wanted more conflict, and really apart from her breakdown which was easily forgiven and Pharynx being unfriendly, everything went too smoothly. It needed more bumps and complications.

Verdict: Mid Tier. A fantastic set-up with a well-constructed character and some huge promise, let down by a lack of drama and a twist that didn't need to be a twist at all because it seemed obvious from the start.
#72 · 2
· on Fluttershy Converses with a Tree · >>Anon Y Mous
This one's not for me, so I must abstain.

Sorry, man. I started this one, I tried, but the character-breaking, the extremely basic prose, and the disgustingly visceral horror elements turned me off super-quickly. I couldn't finish it. It's not my cup of tea. I do hope you get feedback, though. I just didn't want to leave you out entirely, and maybe this comment can help a little to pick out what didn't work for next time.
#73 · 3
· on The Book of Might Have Beens
Good Stuff: Starlight's journey through the what-if scenarios was the heart and soul of the fic, and I found it really engaging and well-developed. I don't have a problem with the ending like the other reviews so far do; I think you built it that way, and that's what I like about it. If anything, I'd love to see an expanded version where Starlight explores more "What if?" scenarios with the book. The hook is just that good. And I really like the argument Starlight and Twilight have in the "Starlight Wins" scenario. It's nice to see Starlight's delusions and insecurities tackled by Twilight. There was a little of it in the last one as well, and I would have liked more exploration. At the end of the day, I'd love more of this, and that's a great sign.

Bad Stuff: This feels like it needs another check to finish it. That opening line is weirdly phrased, and put me off at first. I get the OOC-ness is the point, but it's phrased in a way that feels deliberately misleading after reading the rest, when we learn Twilight is concerned about one book rather than has an urge to burn books generally. The first flashback definitely went on too long, and in the last one all I could think was "Who's North Star?" I didn't like the visceral imagery much in the "Starlight wins" one either. It felt too much like obvious shocking moment, which took me out of the story at the time.

Verdict: Top Contender. There are a few problems that need ironing out, but who cares? They don't stop this being a strong entry with a great hook and good character exploration. One of my faves!
#74 · 1
· on Fire Burns Both Ways · >>BlueChameleonVI
I love reading stories like this one, because it's obvious that the author was having a lot of fun writing it. It shines in every scene. There's genuine thought and imagination put into it, the action is bumping, and most importantly, there are no scenes that have been rushed in order to get to the other scenes that the author likes better, which is very hard for a lot of authors. I'm especially guilty a lot of the time, so it's lovely to see the "all my scenes are equal" mindset in practice.

The next step of this, in my very individual opinion, is to apply that excitement to... I guess you could call it story theory? Things like character arcs, structure, tone, promises, plot complexity... The things that either help a reader follow along, or just engage them outright. Because with stories like these, self indulgence can be hard to avoid, and sometimes cliches get missed, and the like, simply because it hits a point where the excitement blinds you.

For a specific note for this story: Diamond's character arc felt less like an arc and more like a roller coaster. I like that it's called an arc because it implies bending in another direction, while also having a fairly clear trend (once you've seen it all unfold!) With diamond there's several things happening that seem to interfere with each other. Is his story about recovery from starlight? His affection for Sugar Belle? Wait, is he turning evil again? Is he trying to be brave when he's really not? What's his story about, is the question. How will he get from A to B? And if you want to do all of these arcs, how can they connect to and support one another?

Other than that, see >>Bachiavellian's comment above. I felt the same way, especially regarding tone. The first chapter of a book, or scene of a short story, should set the tone of the rest of the story. Unless there is some gradual yet shocking tone transformation planned further on, but that's a whole different beast...

Thanks for writing! And good luck!
#75 · 2
· on Nights of Frights and Butterscotch · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Good Stuff: I really like the easygoing way Luna and Ink developed their relationship from scene to scene. It's like the Coffee at Three story, and the characters feel so natural and pleasant. The interview was the best bit because we got to see the relationship develop most, but I also liked the ending where Luna and Ink poke fun at each other and make light of the apocalyptic dreams. The prophetic dreams world-building was interesting. And Luna in a possum costume is a funny and cool comics reference! I loved it!

Bad Stuff: The dream bits spliced between the main stuff was distracting, but they were vague and so took me out of the moment. I feel like it would have been stronger to make it obvious what was happening so that we have tension instead of mystery, and I also feel the reveal wasn't strong enough. At times, I didn't believe this was Luna talking. It's maybe just me, but I think she was too chummy at times. Maybe she should be more standoffish and polite, like a princess. That might just be me.

Verdict: Solid Entry. It's nothing ambitious, it fumbles with Luna sometimes, it's muddled with the dream bits, but overall I came away feeling the better for reading it, and I hope it does well.
#76 · 1
· on Everyland and Nothingland · >>BlueChameleonVI
Good Stuff: Oh wow, when I loved this one, I really loved this one! The emotions and the way the writing changes style to show off the mood was fantastic. All the characters felt legit, even the parents who don't speak that much, and it's interesting to see Lyra interact with a pony other than Bon Bon as a major presence. Pony Death was a nice touch. Most of the imagery was breathtaking. What I liked best was the whole denial aspect, and how Lyra had to choose whether she'd go further into denial or whether she'd accept what happened. And she's only young and still at school. That's heavy stuff!

Bad Stuff: The first half doesn't hang together as well as the second half. It's good, but I felt like the fic was trying to be too trippy and didn't stop to explain enough of what was going on. I got lost in the circus bit. The bit where Lyra comes back from the funeral was written so dull sometimes. And the ending was fine, it's OK, but I feel like it needed one more thing to make it click. I think Baal Bunny is right and Lyra should have had the last word.

Verdict: Top Contender. It has some problems in the first half and tries too hard to be weird sometimes. Bbut it was a hell of a ride! I think it only needs one more editing pass to make it awesome.
#77 · 1
· on Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days · >>Baal Bunny
Good Stuff: This fic kept me guessing all the way through, and I really enjoyed trying to solve the mystery. Why did Fluttershy panic? How can Angel Bunny help her? I liked his secret reading habit and the fact Twilight is in on it. Some of the therapy tricks, like the flash cards and the writing letters tricks, seemed believable to me. Also I laughed out loud when Angel told the guy at the market what he knew. Speaking of Angel, he was written well here, with his snarky and disapproving side balancing out his helpful and fatherly side. His nicknames for the rest of the Mane 6 were my favorites. Lots of good Fluttershy stuff, like her dislike of zoos.

Bad Stuff: It's mostly cos what works really works, but some things are just OK by comparison. Angel's sign language was hard to translate once or twice, especially at the market scene with the "Hoo. Hoo?" meanings. I got it, but I was unhappy with having to wait because it could have been explained on the spot and I was clueless for a bit in a bad way. The ending was OK, but I had a "wait that's it?" moment because I didn't feel like the pay-off fully matched the build-up. I think Twilight and Fluttershy needed more scenes to establish their chemistry, because the romance angle didn't meet expectations much for me.

Verdict: Top Contender. It does have its disappointments, especially at the end, but Angel's characterisation and the solid build-up and mystery, the comedy in some scenes, and the mixture of cynical and sweet, all mean I end up really liking this one for what it does so well.
#78 · 1
· on Why a Duck? · >>Cold in Gardez >>Baal Bunny
Good Stuff: I'm more forgiving of the no-story structure. The comedy is a lot of fun even when some of the jokes don't land, because there's always more, and that kind of rapid-fire comedy is my thing. Duck'thulhu was off-putting at first, though once it tied in to the "why did the chicken?" question, I forgave it and even liked it a bit more. I really liked how Fluttershy got in on the madness near the end, since she is someone who handles Discord and would probably get into the spirit of this nuthouse.

Bad Stuff: It really isn't doing much except making jokes, which is fine and I admire it for that, but all in all it does feel light and fluffy because of that. And some of the jokes felt too much like you were being random on purpose. I preferred the ones which made a kind of sense, because the humor came from having that twisted up by Pinkie and Cheese. I also don't see Fluttershy cooking snails. Sorry, that's too OOC for me.

Verdict: Solid Entry. Although it's weak and not doing much except making random jokes that don't all work, it made a lot of fun ones and went for its anarchy with pride. I came away smiling, and that's worth something.
#79 · 1
· on Checkpoint
Good Stuff: Border control between Equestria and Earth isn't a new concept, but I like this "look at the office" approach. Jerry was our guided tour through the inner workings of customs, and as a workplace piece I had fun seeing how both sides dealt with drug smuggling and security risks. The changeling scheme was quite clever too, especially the way you fitted all the little details together that we just saw. All throughout, I was wondering how this one was going to go, so kudos for that! Not every fic can do that.

Bad Stuff: I had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, especially when the prompts started showing up. I lost track of who was doing what, and I think you need to cut down the named characters to Stevie, Jerry, and Panz who had distinctive parts to play (the guide, the newcomer, and the main pony presence). The rest are just bleh. As much as I like the tour guide and the crime reveal at the end, I don't think they mesh together into a strong whole. It goes against the "unexpected" in the Good Stuff I listed, but maybe sprinkle more hints so I know there's a mystery to solve. And mention early that changelings can turn into humans, because as it is it felt like a contrivance.

Verdict: Mid Tier. This one is messy and tangled, but once tidied up and tied together properly, I think you have the makings of a strong rope. It's enjoyable when you can follow what's going on. And I would get rid of those prompts. They're just distracting.
#80 · 2
· on Just A Different Shade · >>Rao
For starters, I’m a little surprised and impressed that you had the guts to tackle this subject matter, Writer. The way you’ve portrayed Rainbow Dash early on really helps to sell the situation at hand, weighing down the potential accidental levity of Twilight not knowing what a gun was and keeping the story grounded. Later, there’s an interesting juxtaposition between the Humane 6 being wound so tight and freaked out, and PT trying to catch up and figure out what’s actually going on.

Right around where Doctor Hawkeye introduces himself, the story suddenly shifts to Sunset’s perspective, then back to PT’s after Sunset passes out. It wouldn’t be too hard to shift things a bit so the story remains from Twilight’s perspective from start to finish.

Speaking of Doctor Hawkeye, at first I thought his name would just be a clever reference, but having it actually be a version of Hawkeye from MASH threw me out of the story. I’ve done a lot of thinking about why, and I think it’s because you’re leaning on him to lend his particular brand of gravitas to an already poignant story. So much so that it comes across as overwrought, I think? The story is tragic enough on its own without making an allusion to the nigh-endless tragedies of war on top of everything else.

All that said, I still liked this story, Writer. I’d be interested to see how this would scan on FimFic, considering the subject matter.
#81 · 5
· on Why a Duck? · >>Baal Bunny
Everypoultry

I'm dead.

Cute and funny, with a thread of nonsensical really keeping things together. Pinkie, Cheese, and Flutters all feel very much in character, and their subversion of possibly apocalyptic events is equally fitting. The setup runs a little long early on, but it's not an unpleasant push.
#82 · 2
· on Revisions · >>Flashgen
I had a hard time getting drawn into this story, and there's a big reason for that: there isn't conflict. Yes, Violet wants to atone for what her book did to the ponies' opinions of changelings (despite its accuracy), but it's obvious from the get go that she's going to be forgiven, so there's no tension. If the changelings were legitimately pissed off with her books, then I'd be wondering how it all ends.

I also felt a little put off by the style of writing just a teeny bit, because it focuses a lot on the little details. What everybody is doing at every given time, like where they're facing or what they're looking at or when they turn in space or what their facial expression is... The setting gets a similar treatment, with a lot of the minutia of the forest and the valley and the hive being described in high definition. It's all well and good to be able to describe these things vividly, which you do, but a lot of the time it's not important to what's happening, and it kind of feels like ithe narration is dragging its feet.

As has been mentioned, the idea is stellar, and there's a lot of things that you can do with it. Like so many things. I'm imaging the changelings extending a hoof to ponies, and then saying "But fuck Violet Verse, that propagandist, she's banned from our hive. All you other ponies are cool though." Well, well, well, what's she gonna do now? Based on what I just read, she would feel horrible. What action is she gonna take, and is it going to work? I don't know!

But that's one idea of a thousand. Anyways, thanks for writing and good luck!
#83 · 4
· on Just A Different Shade · >>Rao
Okay, so you went there. That takes guts, and I honest-to-god applaud that. It's very easy to write super-safe stories that are guaranteed to do okay in voting (see: me), so taking a risk is always something that intrigues and engages me, Well done on that.

But before we go into what I think you can improve on, please note that I do have strong feelings about this subject (like everyone else on the planet), so there's a good chance I'm letting my knee-jerk reaction cloud my thinking. I'm strongly considering abstaining. But I'll try to give you the best advice I can to help you improve this, because even a dumbass like me can see that it does have potential.

Mini-rant over, advice below:

Okay, I've already talked about it a little in the Discord chat, but I'll try to sum up my thoughts. In short, I think that you're not using this premise to its full potential. That is to say, while I think what's here is provocative simply by its nature, it might not be as interesting, from a story perspective. We don't really learn how these characters are changed by their experience. Sunset got shot. Applejack got shot at, and is surely feeling remose that she indirectly contributed to Sunset's hospitalization. Rainbow Dash is clearly dealing with post-traumatic guilt. Princess Twilight learned about guns for the first time. But we don't see the real results of any of these foundation-shaking character shifts.

At the risk of sounding crazy, the shooting itself and how exactly it happened is probably the most boring part of this equation, in my opinion. I don't think you needed to feed us the play-by-play with a second-hand retelling. I think the emotions would be much stronger if it were understated, maybe with Dash not wanting to open up, or having trouble recalling the details because of the adrenaline and the confusion. In any case, though, the what the characters gain from this shooting (or lose from it) is the real goldmine for opportunity, I feel.

I mean you're already paying a very high price of entry simply by writing about this subject, so I think you should go all the way and actually say something about school shootings.That's tough to do, but the fact that you've written this story tells me that you're not afraid of difficult things, so I'm confident that you can develop this idea to something that more effectively pays off. But as it is right now, I'm not sure what the reader is supposed to take away from this, other than things we already know about how school shootings are awful.
#84 · 2
· on A Home Far Away
I agree with >>HiTime's verdict:

It's a nice scene, but it just doesn't toggle my "story sense." All the action's already happened. Instead of showing us LD struggling with her decision or LD convincing Queen Novo to do this or anypony trying to talk LD out of it or, well, anything, really, we get told about it all after the fact. There isn't even any conflict between her and Dash: Dash has come here to forgive her, she does, LD accepts, and they head off to the beach. It's a neat little piece of headcanon, but it kind of needs a story wrapped around it...

Mike
#85 · 1
· on Everyland and Nothingland · >>BlueChameleonVI
The mood/atmosphere is exquisite. It simultaneously made me feel like I was reading a fairy tale while also creeping me out just enough to be aware of the rising tension. It feels a lot like Coraline, in a good way. Nice stuff!

As for negatives, I'm almost tempted to say that the first two or three scenes can be cut out almost entirely. While they do set up some important info that pays off later, they feel slow, because the reader still does not know what the primary conflict is about. You need a stronger hook to get the ball rolling.

If I were writing this story, I think I'd cold-cut into the dream/vision, with hints and/or flashbacks along the way that reveal the backstory of Lyra's situation. But then again, that's how I'd write it, and you likely have an entirely different vision in mind. But I think that something can be done about introducing the reader to the meat and bones of the story more quickly, and progressing it quickly enough to avoid a negative sense of meandering. Play around with trimming down your outline, and see what happens.
#86 · 4
· on Nod Your Head to the Beat of Death
I love shit like this. But I'm with >>Rao that while there are neat pieces here, they don't mesh together to form a picture that'll stick with me for a long time.

But I'll rank this highly because of creativity and subtlety, which are my jam.

Thanks for writing!
#87 · 7
· on Why a Duck?
>>HiTime

I also don't see Fluttershy cooking snails. Sorry, that's too OOC for me.


We've seen her feeding fish to ferrets in the show. She seems comfortable with predators and their diets.
#88 · 2
· on Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days
Very, very nice:

I'll agree with >>Not_A_Hat and >>HiTime that the pantomime scene in the marketplace needs a bit of a tune-up, but my only real suggestion involves giving us more of AngeI's emotional investment in Fluttershy's happiness. The old saying goes, "If you expect the worst, you can only be happily surprised," and I'd like to see both hope and grouchiness as he has to change and update his plan during the course of the story. That way, when it all gets completely overturned at the end, it'll be that much more of a gut-punch, especially his final realization in the last paragraphs that this is the only possible way things could've turned out.

Mike
#89 · 2
· on Fluttershy Converses with a Tree · >>Anon Y Mous >>Anon Y Mous
The narrative voice of this story is excellent. It tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it, and--most importantly--how you need to know it. Horror stories live and die off of the strength of their tone, so lines like, "It almost seemed to beg to be killed" and the like really hit that spot between making perfect sense and being perfectly unsettling.

I do have to admit, I'm left wondering a bit about all the typos. It feels like every handful of sentences has a missing quotation mark, or a missing paragraph break. I'm trying to entertain the thought that all of these errors are intentional--are the missing quotation marks evidence that nothing was actually spoken, and this is all in Fluttershy's head? But if that were the case, I think you're being too subtle with this gimmick. I think you ought to either fix everything, or make it more clear if you're trying to do something deliberate. At the moment, it's hanging in an awkward space where it's bad enough to be distracting, but not enough for me to confirm whether or not its just a mistake or if the typos actually have an ulterior purpose.

As for the final payoff itself, I thought it was a tad underwhelming. The primary reason for that, is that there is nothing in the story that provides any sort of evidence that everything is not just Fluttershy experiencing hallucinations/delusions. The simplest answer is the easiest to believe, after all. And a straight-up hallucination horror story is, well, pretty plain. Horror is strongest when there's an element of mystery or ambiguity; fear of the unknown, after all, is powerful. So If I were writing this, I would throw a wrench or two into the "just a hallucination" possibility. Give us some physical evidence of a malevolent entity, or maybe just enough of another pony's perspective to make us unsure if everything really is happening only in Flutter's head. I think that would really build upon the great tonal style you've got.
#90 · 1
· on Coffee at Three · >>Bachiavellian
Today's Jaeger: COFFEE, BLACK

There's a clever attention to small details in here like I really liked. Sunset jamming her foot in her mouth and Pony Joe being basically the campus study spot are cute and make perfect sense. Sunset having to actually remind herself that Equestria side's Spike isn't a magic talking dog in dragon form is also a good touch, and tickles a much... not necessarily darker, but more ethically concerning, narrative aspect of the canon that I haven't seen too many people hit. So good eye.

Now, everything here is competent and well put together for a slice-of-life style story: voice is on point, Spike has a little vinegar to him, good stuff. That said, I don't feel like Sunset was utilized to her full potential to impact Spike's view on things here. She makes some great comparisons about Destiny being in your own hands on the Human side of the mirror and how that's so different from Equestria, but Spike's takeaway seems very non-sequitur to the conversation he's having with Sunset.

I'm always willing to say I missed something, but from my first take I'd say some more words dedicated to tying the threads of conversation and conclusion together would not be misplaced.
#91 · 2
·
My art is in. Not even three cups of coffee will help me arise tomorrow. Good night and good luck!
#92 · 3
· on Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days · >>Bachiavellian
Currently the top story on my prelim slate. An ambitious attempt at an original story. I'll skip discussing a lot of the high points – suffice to say there were many.

Writing a story from the point of view of a non-verbal character is a difficult task, and there's a few times where this story gets tangled up trying to resolve that difficulty. The pantomime scene with Owlicious in the marketplace is the most obvious – I couldn't follow it at all, and just kind skipped to the end of the scene to get the gist. The charades and words-on-cards that Angel Bunny used to blackmail the grocer worked a bit better, but it was still unnecessarily drawn-out, and considering how close you were to the word-cap on this story that space could've been better used, I think, on other scenes. I'm not sure you even needed the whole scene with Angel blackmailing the grocer for groceries. What point did it serve? I guess it demonstrated that Angel can draw well, but there didn't seem to be any narrative purpose beyond that.

The defining conflict of the story, Fluttershy and Twilight's star-crossed romance, comes into the story extremely late. That sort of head-fake can work, and I think it works well here – we know from the start that something has upset Fluttershy, but the explanation we get from the rest of the mane six is clearly lacking and suggests there's something more going on (which of course there is). I think dropping another hint or two along the way would help the story gel a bit more.

Right now there are essentially two conflicts: Fluttershy's attempts to become more mentally healthy, and Angel Bunny's role in that struggle; and Fluttershy's conundrum regarding Twilight. As it stands, the two plots have almost nothing to do with each other except that the second one precipitated the first. You could eliminate either plot from this story and the remaining plot would work just fine. My suggestion, author, would be to find a way to inextricably link them together, even if those linkages don't become clear until the end.

But those are just my thoughts. As I said, this is currently topping my slate, and I expect it to do extremely well in the finals.

(Loved Angel Bunny's names for the other mares.)
#93 · 4
· on Nod Your Head to the Beat of Death
I wrote a blog post about paragraphs once. It was ten pages long. Suffice to say, paragraphs are important to me.

Now, I'm not the paragraph police. I even say in the blog post that there are essentially no rules when it comes to using paragraphs. Go wild! Just remember that people have to actually read these things.

The... style... this story takes, with its endless repetition of paragraphs so short they barely even qualify as sentences, has the effect of driving the reader forward, never giving them a chance to rest. I also found it incredibly annoying. Let's look at one section:

She became the undying and the undying became her.

Princess Cadance felt her self slip out from under her.

She felt her muscles die.

She felt her family die.

She felt her subjects and her home die.

Something inside of her laughed.

Princess Cadance thought about the ponies of Canterlot.


I will now write the rest of this review in the same style as the story.

What

the

fuck.

When I was in college.

I was on the Speech and Debate team.

It was a good team.

I had fun.

Fun.

For many years I was on the team.

And for many years the team had me (on it).

We had a saying –

technically it was our coach's saying –

but I liked it so much that I stole it.

Whenever someone put style over substance, and talked simply to hear themselves speak.

We called it rhetorical masturbation.

For reasons that I think should be obvious.

Author, I apologize for using that comparison here.

But I look at this story, and I try to imagine where lines like this come from:

The Daughter, pretending that they had already impressed importance upon existence without understanding what ‘importance’ or ‘existence’ meant.


And.

Yeah.

I dunno.

"Kill your darlings," they say.

You can take that two ways:

1. Find the parts of your writing that you absolutely love, the sentences that sing to you, the ones that make you feel like you're Kerouac or Morrison or Mieville, and strike them out. They aren't as good as you think and just come across as pretentious. Someday, when you really are a Kerouac or Morrison or Mieville, you can get away with those things. You'll know when that day comes.

2. I kind of prefer a second reading: it means kill the characters you love. God that's metal.

But most people go with the first definition.

I think it works here.

I would consider it.

And maybe consolidate some of those paragraphs.

It'll be easier to read.
#94 · 1
· on Checkpoint · >>Bachiavellian
There's a lot of good worldbuilding and hypothesizing here. I love stories that focus on the nitty-gritty details of Earth-Equestria relations, and I don't think I've come across one that deals with the Customs inspections that each nation must have in place. It's neat to think about.

So, that's fantastic. However, I have to say that at a certain point it begins to weigh on the story. Let's consider how that plays out:

This story is ~5,900 words long. The first ~4,100 words are spent explaining the setup. It's not until that point that the actual conflict takes place -- the smuggling effort and Jerry's role in stopping it. That conflict takes up exactly 1,079 words.

Think about that. Only 18 percent of this story deals with the actual conflict. The rest is establishing the world, developing the characters, and the conclusion.

I feel like this is a composition problem. Yeah, there is other conflict present – Jerry feels awkward on his first day on the job! – but that's not a real conflict. Not a real literary conflict, anyway. It's just life. A considerable rebalance of effort might be useful here, and reading some of the other comments, I think the other readers agree.
#95 ·
· on Bookmark
I really like this one because you had to go through all of the effort to cut a huge piece of paper and color it all in.

I really love the soft colors and I like the choice to leave most of the pencil marks in. It adds to the piece.

Very creative idea to make a starlight bookmark. XD I love it, it goes very well with the story.
#96 · 2
· on Scenes From A Memory · >>Zaid Val'Roa
I like the collage idea with a black void in the background. That also must have taken a lot of time to collect all of those starlight pictures haha.

The only problem I really have with this piece is that in some places there is blank space. (Where there are no pictures overlapping with eachother) Other than that this is a solid piece! :D
#97 · 1
· on Going in Circles · >>GroaningGreyAgony
My favorite part about this art is the tower. Here we have a great view of the world surrounding it and get an idea that a pony is inside it without the picture being too ‘in your face’ about it.

(I absolutely adore the little tic tacs that she makes omg)

Also, her cup is great
#98 · 2
· on Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days
The greatest strength of this story (IMHO) is that it very effectively understates its conflicts. It was an excellent decision to make the POV character somebunny other than Fluttershy, because it still frames the conflict around her while forcing the readers (and Angel) to interpret what's happening to her. It's often really difficult to strike a balance between being clear enough and being too ham-fisted, so I'm very glad when stories take full advantage when they have the ability to be neither.

As for complaints, I will have to echo one from >>Cold in Gardez that Angel's charades got confusing at a couple of points. It was easy enough to understand when there was somepony there to interpret it for us (Fluts or the grocer), but when it was just Angel and Owlicious, things got weird.

Another area that might need a second look is Twilight's last scene with Fluttershy. I know that this is your climax, and I know that it's really important to make sure your reader isn't confused by your conflict's resolution, but I can't help but to think that this scene loses a degree of the story's subtlety that worked so well for you in previous areas. In particular, this line, "If I’m all that’s keeping you from it, well, um… I hope you’ll ask for the spell" felt a little on-the-nose to me. On my second and third re-reads though, it didn't bother me as much, so there is a good chance that this was a personal knee-jerk reaction.

All in all, I think you've got a great story here, despite whatever small complaints I might bring up. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm happy that you wrote it!
#99 ·
· · >>Rao
Is there any way to withdraw a submission?
#100 · 1
·
>>Rocket Lawn Chair
After the event concludes you can uncheck the "publish" box on the submission page to remove it from the site.