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Keep Pretending · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#401 · 2
· on Sweet on the Inside · >>PinoyPony >>Pascoite
In my reviews I occasionally focus in hard on the opening lines, dissecting them with the fury of a master nitpicker, because making a good first impression is super crucial — tiny little things in the first paragraph that would barely register further down in a story have the capability to break me out of my reading before I even get started, and if I'm not engaged with the story, I'm going to be turning a much more judgmental eye on it from then on.

Here's an example of that happening:
a grin glaring me in the face

I didn't get further than a line in before I came down here to start writing my comment.

How does that phrase even work? Glare, first of all, isn't a transitive verb. Secondly, you've got an unfortunate overlap in meaning: while "glare" can refer to "shine with a strong or dazzling light", it also means "to stare in a fierce or angry way", so I'm getting hit with a lot of cognitive dissonance describing a smile that way. And the construction "___ing me in the face" implies that there is interaction with the narrator, modified by "in the face" showing where the interaction is occurring: so I keep wanting to parse that as the smile doing something rather than just being aggressively present.

Please, rewrite that line from scratch. Consider flipping it around so that the narrator is the active presence and the smile the passive one: e.g. "I turned around into the glare of shining teeth" or some such. (I might also throw out 'glare' due to the overloading. YMMV.)

“Oh horsefeathers!” I jumped. I didn't hear any approaching hoofsteps.

I think you mean "hadn't heard". The implication is that there weren't any hoofsteps before the smile, correct?

A handful of moms covered their foals’ ears. They were tucked close to them. Either keeping them safe or away from the wall of assorted treats. Probably both, since those colorful shapes would rot their teeth.

However, the pink mare in front of me didn't even flinch …

You're opening with a smash cut into an aggressive smile. Run with that! It's disorienting to see an entire paragraph of digression into the narrator's surroundings before we even see what draws their attention. When there's something grabbing the attention of the narrator, let it be grabbed: fill that other stuff in later.


This does, fortunately, settle in as it goes along. (Though I'm really not certain what causes the narrator to lose concentration on their disguise; and the story seems to quite literally have its cake and eat it too on the topic of whether the narrator finishes their slice of cake.) Pinkie's indifference to the narrator's identity feels authentic, and while there's something to be said for the ground here being well-trodden, I'm more with >>CoffeeMinion than >>Bachiavellian on the emotions connecting.

Just get that opening under control, and give us more hook setting up how big the narrator's change of heart about their identity is. (If it even is a change of heart; you establish them as the changeling at Cranky's wedding, which means this isn't even the first time they've gone disguise-less, which dilutes the moral here.)

Tier: Keep Developing
#402 · 1
· on Crepuscula
I won't spend much time on a story which already has six reviews — but while this will probably drop as I go, it's at the top of my slate so far. Add a "me too" both to the general props, and to >>MLPmatthewl419's assertion that it feels a little bit squished. I'd work mostly on flow and transition; it seems like it takes a number of sudden leaps, probably an artifact of hacking this apart to fit into the wordcount limit. Regardless, it's vivid and pretty creepy.

Tier: Strong
#403 · 3
· on i wish I had a scanner · >>Hap
>>Hap I'm glad you liked it so much. :) Truth be told, the second moth is on the back of the paper. I didn't think it would show through as much as it did, because no scanner, but... yeah. I was working with a bunch of loose sheets, trying to nail the outline, and I started filling this one in to see how it would look. After doing the eyes and part of the right wing, though, I decided I didn't want to start over with a clean sheet of paper... So it was kinda a mix of time and laziness, really. I should get some thicker paper for drawing.

You're definitely right about some of the ink being sloppy. I did this all in one sitting, and my hand was getting pretty tired. I should have broken it up a bit, to keep the shapes fresh and give my fingers a break, but yeah. The order here was right wing - outside part of left wing - right tail - rest of left wing - left tail - body, and I think it shows. I'm especially unhappy with the left wing, tbh, because it's very complex without being equally interesting.

The relation to the prompt is that moths have false eyes on their wings; they're essentially 'pretending' to be bigger and more important than they are. The 'eyes' thing kinda got subsumed by the Luna/Celestia thing, (and Twilight's star was a pure whim) but those patterns are intended to look like a closed eye and an open eye, as well as the sun and the moon. I probably should have drawn the eyes as slightly more realistic, and let the colors carry the pony connotation more, but this was originally conceived in black-and-white; I started with a simple ballpoint and some printer paper. When the ballpoint died, I went to office depot and bought some gel pens, so color was added, but I didn't re-design the eyes. I originally wanted it to be more eyes, less pony, but it sort of ended up the other way around.

You're correct about it being a fairly nondescript story-prompt, though, I'm very pleased that it got used at all, especially when there were so many better pieces.

I have a scanner app on my phone, and I did give it a try. Unfortunately, whatever correction algorithms it used insisted on smearing the color out of the lines and into the whitespace. It's possible yours would be more effective, but I think the relatively high-contrast with thin lines made this a bad fit for automatic clean-up. I legit did consider importing it into a photo-editor and cleaning it manually, but time and energy weren't there. Maybe next time I'll use the scanner at work.

Thanks for all the comments, guys! I'm glad I made this.
#404 · 2
· on Letting Go · >>Trick_Question
… pulling it away from the rotting, lifeless husk

Okay, that's one of the best delayed hooks I've read in a while.

… What a weird roller-coaster. The middle of the story just seemed strange to me — Mrs. Cake's "If you can't handle this, how are you going to manage when somepony you love dies, like your parents?" seems like a bizarre answer to Pinkie's question, given that there's a much more immediate and sensible answer they've already discussed: Pinkie's pet is literally rotting, it's causing problems for the store. And the name-drop of Fluttershy just made me wonder why they weren't getting her to help Pinkie come to grips with this. The exchange about graves jolted me hard. And then I reached the punchline and all of that weird built-up uncomfortable tension twisted around into a cathartic laugh.

So I suppose this accomplished its job. Perhaps even better than it would have if it had been less in-your-face in the middle? Hard to say how I would have liked it if that section had been smoother. But part of me wants to advise more aggressive smoothing down of that central weirdness; that lingering discomfort is sticking with me as much as the final laugh, and that, I'm not sure of the benefit.

Tier: Flawed but Fun
#405 · 2
· on Shrine to a False Dashity · >>Posh
I'm gonna disagree with >>MLPmatthewl419 here: so far, this is juggling with two other stories at the top of my slate. I could nitpick about tiny things like Rainbow borrowing AJ's accent for "showin'," but I don't have any major complaints about the story, and I want to compliment it for a solid structure which does a thing I love to see: it starts out a little absurd, escalates into a lot absurd, and then pivots that absurdity into genuine emotion and character insight. As ridiculous as this positions itself to be, headcanon accepted.

Author, I know you don't have a whole lot of feedback right now, and I want to offer more constructive critique, but there's not much I'd do differently here that would have major impacts on the story. I'd put a little more emphasis on the moment when her parents start giving in on her assertion that the medals are all real, and a cleaner break between their denials and their coming clean (right now there's a mushy middle period where they're a little half-and-half). And "Sunswhat" could stand to be a little more absurd. But mostly, good job!

Tier: Strong
#406 · 3
· · >>CoffeeMinion
If anyone still wants to vote on the

Radio Writeoff

story discussion, please do it soon.

I plan to close the poll in about four hours, and podcasting should happen in about 24-25 hours, slightly dependent on when I get back from work.
#407 · 2
· on The Last Thing Left to Do is Let Go
Congratulations on pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and getting some art done! :D And a hoofbump from a fellow low-art-ranking-finisher who's also happy just to flex some long-unused muscles.
#408 · 3
· · >>horizon
I apologize for not getting more reviews in this time around (I haven't even done half of them yet). The ketamine treatments are sucking up a lot of time and work is taking the remainder.

This weekend is booked for me as well, with two events I must attend and seven letters of recommendation for a former student. I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to contribute this time. Best of luck to all.
#409 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian
For those of us who are not hip to the ways of the kids these days (and their dang MTV), how does one find and listen to your podcast? (Other than by catching it on YouTube after the fact, which has been my usual method.)
#410 · 2
It's usually done live on the Discord chat.
#411 · 3
Even if you can't do any more reviews, thank you for your work thus far! :twilightsmile:
#412 · 3
· on She's Looking Through You
>>Rocket Lawn Chair
I'm glad you liked it.
The black outline is due to me making a huge black blob for Chrissy's general shape and then painting over it.
There's more I wanted to do with this, but I came up with the idea of doing something with her on Friday night, and only had a couple of hours before I had to go to sleep, so I did my best with the time I had. I'll do my best to try to come up with better execution in following rounds.
The hair is actually a texture brush I got recently. I still need some practice to get it looking just right, which is why some parts look so choppy. Still, it gives me a better result than using other brushes.
I'm happy to have been helpful.
What I have are severe allergies, but I would love to have a cat. I really like cats.

Thanks for your nice words, everyone. I'll do my best next rounds too!
#413 · 3
· on i wish I had a scanner
I'm glad I made this.

I am too!
#414 · 2
· on I Love to See You Smile · >>Trick_Question
What bothers me the most about this drawing (and of course I only noticed after it was done) was how small and flat Pinkie's muzzle feels in relation to the rest of her face. There's little distinction to where it meets the rest of her face, and it lacks volume as a result. I don't know if that's what caused the uncanny valley effect for some, but it's what did for me.
Aside from that, I'm farily content with how this turned out. I tried a new shading technique that I think I may master in the future.
Also, uh... I did the trailing tears the day after I did the ones in the corners of her eyes, and I didn't notice I was using very light grays instead of very light blues, which made those trailing tears look more, let's say, viscous than I intended.
I actually envisioned this as Pinkie soldiering on through pain (physical or emotional) and doing her best to be as happy and positive as possible. So >>Roseluck was quite on the money. Besides, I've always been a fervent believer that execution trumps everything else when it comes to stories. There's no shortage of ways of making well-known stories seem fresh, so the limited story potential didn't bother me all that much.
>>Rocket Lawn Chair
I'm glad you liked it!
A corpse who keeps crying could be an interesting premise. I'll steal it.
I'm glad you think the shading looks nice, I was afraid of overdoing it. Hopefully I can improve and make better art entries.
Thanks. I was hoping people would project whatever they wanted onto Pinkie's mind, as well as whatever the reason for hiding it were. As I said, execution makes or breaks a story, and I trusted people could make interesting stories based on this.
Yeah, that's what I felt as well. Live and learn. I'll keep it in mind. I'm glad you liked it either way!
plays harmonica in the background
#415 · 1
· on Double Jeopardy · >>Bachiavellian
Genre: I lost on Jeopardy... baby... ooo oo oooo...

Thoughts: The trope of "it was just a dream!" can be a 2x4 with which to smack a reader who was otherwise getting invested in your story. In this case, though, it's a 2x4 that the story uses to build itself a stage to stand on and crow once the reader finally gets to the reveal.

(Okay, so it's not my best metaphor. You get what you pay for!!) :-p

I'll confess, I wasn't sold on this until the [ hr ] break. It's so weird! It builds up the expectation of a dream reveal, then it does the dream reveal... and then we get a poignant little moment that's full of character and potential.

Mega-props to the Author for taking aim at a really hard kind of story and executing it well. Props also for taking the art prompt and playing it to the hilt!

TBH the only thing I can complain about is that "Red Mandibles" is kind of a weird name.

Tier: Top Contender
#416 · 1
· on Asymmetry
∃p,q: D(p||q) ≠ D(q||p)

"That's a bold strategy, Cotton Candy. Let's see if it pays off for them."

... I learned the hard way, with Hard Reset 2, how polarizing making mathematical equations a fundamental part of your story is going to be. You're probably going to thrill 10 percent of your audience, lose 50 percent of them, and make 10 percent of them upset. I did — and I was writing to an audience that had already survived 12 chapters of nested time loops. So, yeah, I agree upthread: I think the smart play here is to dumb this down to layman's terms. I've got a mathematics degree, and even I had to take a hard break to switch mental modes and parse the story more slowly and carefully — you probably lost most of your non-technical readers.

Also agreed that the ending redeems this. More detail might be nice, but on the other hoof, that lingering sense of unexplained impossibility does its job pretty effectively And I'll throw in on the side of those for whom the tonal shifts didn't really work: this tries so hard to be dry and textual when it's dry and textual that the casual asides threw me off.

I do like what this is aiming at, and it does hit some of those targets squarely. Thanks for the experiment! And as a consolation prize, I'll just note that the aforementioned HR2 is much less dead than it looks, since you seem like the sort of person who might appreciate knowing that. ^..^

Also, huge props for what >>QuillScratch notes about basing KL divergence off of a real thing!

Tier: Flawed but Fun
#417 · 2
· on Diptych in Black and Blue
You called mid-tier pretty accurately!

Yes, those are pastels, and I did sharpen them regularly to get lines that sharp! I sketched the bodies and detail lines heavily with a 2H pencil first - the pencil lead kept the pastels from sticking on the detail lines and the craters of the moon. Then, I went over the bodies and the moon with a blending stump after the first round of pastels, then did another layer on top of that. The hair I left with a single, unblended layer so there was more contrast between the strokes and the background, with the hope that it would look more like hair.

I will put the high-resolution version on DeviantArt. I'm going to matte the original and sell it at the BronyCon art show!

I did indeed start with a single pencil sketch! I made a photocopy, then cut it out to trace on the colored paper so I could get the same(ish) outline. The stars and moon were freehand.

You're the only one who noticed that! You've got a good eye.
#418 · 1
· on Bessemer Converter
I guess from looking at comments this is supposed to be some sort of meta-commentary on some sort of writeoff drama I missed in the rounds I was gone?

I'm reading it without that context, and based on what I'm seeing here I don't really want to know. Just add a "me too" to >>Icenrose's take. While some of the writing is clever (props in particular for the Spike-at-dragon-camp gaslighting), this seems less story than torture porn.

Tier: Misaimed
#419 · 1
· on A Second Chance?
Genre: Breakout

Thoughts: I hate to post me-too, but >>Bachiavellian says an awful lot of things that I agree with. The word "exhausting" came to mind for me as well while I was going through this. It's heavily stylized, which is cool; but it's currently quite heavy.

But! But! There's some really cool stuff mixed into the middle! Let me quote a passage that gripped my attention, literally made me sit up in my seat, and push forward eagerly:

...feel the crackling over the contours of her teeth.

Her hand pressed against the cold, metal plaque, and for a second there was solid contact. But Wallflower concentrated, and she felt the stone in her pocket vibrate.

In an instant, that contact disappeared, and Wallflower’s arm disappeared inside the solid statue. A pleasant, cooling sensation flowed up through the limb.

She glanced back over her shoulder, taking one last look at the like she had known. The life that had forgotten her.

And threw herself forward into the abyss.

Spinning darkness all around her, pulsing with so much energy that she could feel her it reverberating in her brain, in her cells, in her soul.

This, IMO, is a moment where all the stylization suddenly clicked. "Crackling over the contours" is deliciously alliterative. "Teeth" is visceral and gripping. The physical descriptions there hold my attention. "Threw herself forward into the abyss" is just my kind of dramatically over-the-top, as is the "spinning darkness" and "brain, cells, soul" stuff.

Plot-wise, though, I felt like this could use more. Fundamentally there's not much interaction or change that takes place for the character. Now granted, I can see how that might sound like a misaimed opinion when Wallflower clearly makes a large decision about her life path and goes through a huge physical transformation. But we as readers don't get to fully partake of the emotional weight of that. There's not a struggle for her to make the decision; we just watch as it plays out. It's not really shocking as we see her go through the transformation and adaptation to what's beyond; the mirror portal and its mechanics are well-established, and we're just seeing someone go through that again.

What starts to elevate this, though, is the strength of the writing in that part I quoted. For a few minutes this was firing on all cylinders, going all-guns-blazing, insert-suitable-third-combusion-metaphor-here. What that tells me is that the fire is there, and the potential is there; it just needs more refinement.

Tier: Keep Developing
#420 · 1
· on The Picture In the Back Room
I'm going to have to start by echoing both >>CoffeeMinion's critique and encouragement.

You've clearly got a rich, detailed plot inside your head that was very difficult to get fully out within 750 words, author. The narrator Silvertail is apparently the sister of the princesses ... correction: an unnamed pony who pals around with princesses ... and she's married to a mare who's actually dead, but who wants to heal Silvertail because she's got a fatal sickness? Except maybe this is all in the past? So many weighty problems, so many questions ... so few answers.

There's just so much going on, honestly, that having read it twice I am completely unable to identify the primary conflict here. Is it Silvertail's health problems? Is it Cirrus' apparent sabotage? Is none of this real and Silvertail is stuck in Cirrus' dream or something? The story, in other words, is way too ambitious for the 750-word space. Any one of the aforementioned twists/revelations could have carried the story by itself; as it is, with all of them crowding in, I don't know which is/are important. I'm pretty sure from context that the ending is a bad/tragic one, but I can't say for sure why.

I guess my best advice, author, is to reread the story and ask yourself at each moment: what are the stakes here? How have I communicated that to the reader? Us poor ignorant souls are coming in blind, especially since your named cast is 100% OCs; if you haven't explicitly explained something on the page, we don't know it. (A minor but hopefully illuminating example of that: when Silvertail refers to Cirrus as "my wife" early on, I made the incorrect assumption that S was a stallion. S is never once gendered by the text — except for, much later on, responding to the dialogue about "sister" in a way that strongly implies she's the one being talked about — so when I first reached Cirrus' dialogue about healing "her", I started wondering whether they had a filly together who was also sick, or something, and it wasn't until Silvertail broke in on the conversation that I figured it out and had to stop and re-read the entire section.)

Another example: why are the princesses involved?

As you rewrite this, also make sure that you get all your verb tenses lined up — but really, that's a matter of final polish, much easier to run past an external editor, so spend your own editing time on the bigger picture.

Anyway, thanks for entering! With the expansive construction of this story, you've clearly got vision that will take you places. I look forward to the text itself being smoothed out and expanded to match that ambition!

Tier: Keep Developing
#421 · 2
· on “Kill or be Killed, Miss Yearling. Kill or be Killed.” · >>horizon
Genre: AARP Shipping

Thoughts: Curse you >>Bachiavellian, you keep stealing my thunder! :-p I'll echo the point of trying to figure out what the story was about until pretty close to the end. I thought it was surely an old-flame story until the last possible moment. But I can live without that, even if I think DaringRider (DoRider?) could be a peculiar but interesting ship.

Let me pick on the one thing that really stood out as funky: I felt like there was a lack of scene-setting at the moment where AK and Wind Rider go get the drink. Up to that moment, I was under the impression that AK was surrounded by a crowd of fans... but suddenly they've escaped the fans and are sidling up to a bar? Do ravenous fans truly let their quarries go so easily? As one such fan, I submit that they do not. :-p But either way, fleshing out that transition would help make it less jarring.

This is also a bit in need of a spelling/grammar tune-up; it's not bad for the most part, but there are some moments that (to repeat a word) jarred me out of the story.

All in all, I think there's a strong idea here! It just takes quite a while for it to come out in all its glory. And it's a bit muddy when it does turn up due to the potholes in scene-setting and possible ship-teasing that it had to wade through on its way in.

Tier: Keep Developing
#422 · 1
· on I've Got a Secret! · >>Bachiavellian
Genre: Fizzleberry Popdite

Thoughts: I enjoyed this a lot! This reminds me a lot of the Limestone fic this round, in that Pinkie shows up and sways a grumpy-pants character away from the depths of their grumpy-pantsyness by just being a bit Pinkie at them. In this case, though, I felt like the writing was more vivid and solid, yet the simplicity of the Pinkie-convincing-El-Grumpo moment was even simpler. I mean, look, it all comes down to this moment:

“I think so,” said Tempest, even though she wasn’t sure why.

Everything leading up to this moment was great. I can appreciate the headcanon of "Cordite Pie" even if I don't quite buy into it (sry, I have both peculiar and particular headcanon RE: the pies). Even the way you paint the atmosphere of the story is well-done, what with small details like the "frozen north" and the fact that it's a military train and the ostensible "gunnery sergeant." This also feels 100% like the kind of story I can believe Pinkie getting herself into simply by following her Pinkie sense. It's great.

I just don't quite buy your key moment. D:

Fear not, though, I think >>RB pretty much nails what this needs: moar wordcount. Maybe... 250 or so? :-p

Tier: Almost There
#423 · 1
· on I've Got a Secret! · >>Bachiavellian
I find this story rather abrupt. Yes, I know it’s a mini, but it’s trying to be a whole story, and I feel that Pinkie’s secret just isn’t weighty enough to swing the pendulum of Tempest’s opinion in such a quick bit of dialogue. It might be made to work for a children’s story, but your audience of battle-hardened Writeoff reviewers are going to want some more seasoning on this idea.
#424 · 2
· on The Party That Never Starts (For Me) · >>BlueChameleonVI
endless coffee


Thoughts: I hate to just call a story "odd" and move on. This certainly is a bit odd, though. On the one hand, it all just happens. Sparkler is depressed, hosts a party that she doesn't want to partake in, and Lyra is there trying to cheer her up for some reason. I feel like there's a mountain of backstory or context that would help fill in the gaps here.

Butt, I can't deny that there's emotional resonance in Lyra's and Sparkler's interactions with each other as we get toward the middle and end of the story. The "pickled onion" thing is a nice callback to the beginning. There's a lovely bit of sparse description that helps catch the eye in there as well:

Cool breeze.

Butterflies zipping past.

Trees ablaze with autumn.

Green hills and boundless skies.

Da's some good stuff. It just doesn't make sense to me, though, why Sparkler is hosting this party that she doesn't even want to attend--indeed can't attend, due to her feelings. I like it that Lyra is being a good friend to her by reaching out when she needs it, but what prompted this in the first place? And that's not just me grousing, though Lord knows I do plenty of that. It's more like: what are the stakes underpinning everything that's going on? Sparkler feels compelled to host this party, but why? Does she gain something by doing it? Does she risk something by not doing it? Even if the risk is losing favor somehow with Lyra, that would help to explain why they're both in this together, and it would lend weight to Lyra's willingness to bail her out when it all proves to be too much. As of right now, though, I'm left wondering.

So in summary, I think there are some lovely bits here, but I'd work on fleshing-out some of the explanations for things a bit more.

(Also, yes, I know she's "Amethyst Star" and not "Sparkler" according to canon, but she'll always be Sparkler to me... probably) :-p

Tier: Keep Developing
#425 · 1
· on Daring Do and The Heightened Sensibilities · >>Zaid Val'Roa
On a non-reviewing note: author, have you ever read John D'Agata's The Lifespan of a Fact? You may like it, considering what you've submitted.
#426 · 1
· on Asymmetry
For what it's worth, I don't know any math more advanced than the most basic algebra, and I got it just fine. I ignored all the complicated stuff, and allowed this line:
That is, the distance of p from q according to KL Divergence is not always the same as the distance of q from p.

to do all the heavy lifting for me.

Really liked the mixing of the scientific and the divine here. Basically echoing Quill. The renaming/repurposing of the real-life KL Divergence. Reminds me of how in TRON: Uprising, the protagonist is named Beck, and one of the central antagonists Cyrus – referencing the real-life Cyrus-Beck algorithm.
#427 ·
· on The Medal to Prove It
I think a couple of soft scene breaks would help this story flow better - it was a little jarring for Rainbow Dash to suddenly be at the Junior Speedster Flight Camp right after talking to Applejack, and later, scene breaks would help reinforce the idea that a significant amount of time is passing.

That said, I think this is a neat idea, and a good way to frame a positive message about moving on from past mistakes. I’ll second what >>Trick_Question said regarding dialogue vs telling, but if you can address that, this will be a solid story.
#428 · 4
· on A Novel Fantasy
I was thinking of Novel-Idea


titlepuns >.>
#429 · 2
· on Villainy Ain't a Piece of Cake
Maneiac is mean. Like, really mean. Definitely didn’t expect her hitting below the belt regarding sub-surface relationship issues.

I love it. ^^

I’ll echo most of what >>CoffeeMinion said regarding a tonal dissonance between Maneiac wanting the Cakes to go live their lives and then also feasting on their despair, but I think there’s an easy fix: leave a hint or two that she’s playing the long game from the start. Have her reel them in through her feigned disinterest, then undermine them with needling jabs at their physique and marriage for what she's really after. It wouldn’t take much to tie the whole story up like that with what you already have here, Writer, and what you have so far is already plenty impressive.
#430 · 4
· on A Novel Fantasy
Hit me up on discord and I'll walk you through a tutorial of GIMP to fix up this picture a bit! That can help compensate for sub-optimal equipment (like having to take a picture with your phone instead of using a scanner).

This picture could have had a lot more impact - and been much closer to what you actually created - with just a little bit of work in GIMP.

(Go to www.gimp.org and download the latest version which I think is 2.10 something)
#431 ·
· on The Gang Sells Hard Flower Arrangements
Always nice to see an It’s Always Sunny reference in a pony round. ^^

Actually, this is very much in line with the kind of hilarious hijinks the gang tend to get up to, and now I’m rereading it with Charlie, Mac, and Dennis voicing Rose, Daisy, and Lily. It works, Writer. Well done.

I, uh, can also say that certain details of the story ring true, if you know what I mean. <.<
#432 · 1
· on The Dust Wraith · >>WritingSpirit
Now that artists have been revealed, I can note that I first read this off-slate because it was based on my pic. (Thank you!) Having clicked through directly from its art inspiration, I thought this played very effectively with my expectations, setting up Starlight Glimmer's identity as a twist. But I think I agree with the above that, as a standalone piece, this isn't going to have anywhere near the same effect.

Perhaps show the protagonist, early on, using magic as well as flying? The juxtaposition of flight with the travel between the different "bad futures" does weakly imply that we're talking about Twilight, but framing a little more strongly that we're watching an alicorn might get the reader to mentally draw the lines the piece otherwise pulls from the picture.

The repetition of "She flew faster" is an effective device. And the descriptions feel appropriately vivid and stark -- but that's undercut by the fact that they're just recounting the beats of an episode we already know; there's no new information in them, no new context for the known information. In that sense they feel almost like padding. If you expand this for FIMFic, author, consider having the protagonist interact with the environment in some way, or even just dig deeper inside her head so that the story becomes about her errors and regrets, with the scenery framing just as backdrop to that. I think it'll add some depth this currently feels like it lacks.

I'm also not certain why the ending occurs as it does. (I'd guess there's some sort of time paradox at play, but disintegration isn't usually symptomatic of that?) Further foreshadowing might heighten the impact there.

Thanks for writing!

Tier: Almost There
#433 ·
· on Pitch · >>QuillScratch
As Baal notes, author, watch those verb tenses and passive voice. I'm also not buying why Spike bothered to go to the trouble of setting up a decoy comic-book setup: if Twilight's sleeping with him and awakens to realize he's not there, isn't she just going to discover the ruse instantly when she tries to drag him back to bed? Otherwise, this drew me in with its quietly ominous atmosphere and got me invested in the mystery.

Which makes it all the more unfortunate that I don't understand the implications of the ending, or why it's supposed to be more terrifying than the alternative (say, just fading to black with Spike in the dark). Is Twilight spiders? If so, they returned him safely to his bed: where's the horror? If not, then she's clearly discovered his little ruse and is trying to keep him away from a dangerous situation: where's the horror? What's going on? Why?

Effective prose, author, but I'm sorry to say this doesn't seal the deal for me.

Tier: Almost There
#434 · 1
· on Cheerilee's Five

Strongly agreed with above comments that the pace of this feels quite rushed as part of the struggle to fit this into the minific wordcount (and the telliness contributes to that: this feels very narrated). Still, the nostalgia is real. It's surprising how much this does pack into its sprawling skeleton. A solid job was done paring it down; it's just that it feels like too much was taken off.

Even so, this was good at its current length. I think it'll be excellent at FIMFic-publishable size, once you let the story breathe again. No particular top-level critique otherwise.

Tier: Strong
#435 · 2
· on “Kill or be Killed, Miss Yearling. Kill or be Killed.”
I'm going to half disagree with >>Bachiavellian and >>CoffeeMinion about leading more with Daring's character arc. I agree with the diagnosis -- that when it comes up at the end, it feels abrupt and a little unmoored. But I disagree with the prescription.

Structurally, I think the story works just fine swinging in with that as a twist/moment of epiphany: the tension with her old schoolfriend was quite sufficient for me as a hook for the character drama here, especially with that conflict between her public and secret identities layered in. And there's plenty of precedent for minifics relying on twists/recontextualizations rather than laying out all their cards right at the start. It's a balancing act, though: when you reach the twist you have to feel like it makes everything come together, and that it's at least anchored to something earlier which it resolves.

I think the problem here is an anchoring problem, and I think it's a problem of blowing canon expectations apart. Specifically:

and the lives ended, not all of them bad guys

hold the phone whaaaaaaaaat

Throughout the story, Daring seems entirely compatible with show Do, which is to say: a hero, not just a tomb robber. And then we hit that one line, upon which the entire story arc rests, and with no warning we're being told to believe she's basically Caballeron in heels. That's what needs to be established hard and early, if you want us to believe it.

I, for one, kind of want to be sold on it, because I'm curious to see what you do with that kind of bold subversion. And the rest of the story holds my interest just fine. So this'll be another one that's just right on the cusp of doing something great, and while already worthy in many ways, falls just short with text as written.

Tier: (low) Strong
#436 · 1
· on 3, 2, 1...
Excellent hook. Excellent, excellent hook. But then:

"I got in!" Twilight yells as she leaps across her room toward Sunset Shimmer, hellbent on hugging her with all her strength.

Sunset inhales her girlfriend's vanilla-lavender-mystery breakfast scent, managing to keep the shards of her heart from collapsing a little longer.

After a minute of cheerful hugging and hollering, Twilight's frantic glee slows down. Her arms slowly drag down from Sunset's neck to around behind her waist so she can twirl a few of the longer strands of red-yellow hair between her fingers.

"I don't have to go."

Honestly, author, this is your story writ small right here, and both works and doesn't work for the same reason the piece as a whole does. You've identified a fantastic central conflict, framed it well, and are pulling intense drama from it. But in this scene, we go from "I got in!" and "a minute of cheerful hugging and hollering" all the way to the opposite extreme of "I don't have to go" in just 34 words.

That's not a transition to elide over. That's exactly the beats you want to hit.

Show us Twilight's widening eyes and let us hear the little deflated squeak she makes as she realizes that Sunset isn't sharing her happiness. Let us listen in on her "What's wrong?" and Sunset's evasions and Twilight's confused pushing and the way that blows up into something that neither one of them quite admits is a fight. This is the moment during which nothing is ever the same again. You craft such beauty out of other, later, lesser moments that I just can't understand how this one's brushed off.

And if that moment isn't the story you want to tell -- which is legit -- then save it, to spring it on us later when you're ready for the dominoes to fall. Use that first scene to establish the tension of secrets, as Sunset's world breaks apart and Twilight never realizes. "I don't have to go" means that their cards are on the table and they have to talk about the next step. It undercuts the otherwise poignant ending where that question of the future should be haltingly approached for the first time.

Basically: You're writing a story about a ticking time bomb. Be very careful about exactly when you light the fuse, commit to it, and show us the explosion.

Otherwise -- and it feels a little weird to "otherwise" a major, crucial structural issue -- this is gorgeously done. I'm starting to accumulate rather a pile of stories in my "already does many things right, but is so close to being stellar" tier.

Tier: Already Does Many Things Right, But Is So Close To Being Stellar (low) Strong
#437 · 6
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>Pascoite
Hey, fellow Writeoffers! Time to spread the love around a little. Prelims end in about 12 hours, and there are 18 stories left which haven't gotten up to three reviews yet:

2. A Second Chance?
3. Pinkie Pie Makes Limestone Smile
4. Warning: contains Pinkie Pie
5. Dessert
7. Grand Dreams, Wordsmith
8. The Twinkle Must Shine On
11. The Last Five Minutes on Earth
12. Boar Guest's "Book of Fanciful Beasts", Chapter 5
20. Shrine to a False Dashity
24. Aftercare
26. Pull Yourselves Together
28. Love is the Answer
30. Personality Test
38. Trixie's Secret Admirer
42. Help! My House Thinks It's a Castle!
44. The Party That Never Starts (For Me)
46. Double Jeopardy
47. The Beast With Your Face

If you've read any of those, care to offer your thoughts?

I'm heading out for a while to get in a jog and write tonight's RCL feature, but I'll try to hit the pile when I get back.
#438 · 2
· · >>CoffeeMinion
The rest of my slate have a lot of reviews, so in lieu of doing those, I'm going to throw as many thoughts to the 2-review stories as I can before I pass out. Keeping it short for my sanity's sake.
#439 ·
· on Warning: contains Pinkie Pie · >>axxuy
I'm afraid I'm kind of with >>Trick_Question here. I am not sure what the payoff is supposed to be. You've definitely succeeded in making this weird and disorienting, but that's really all I'm taking away. I would have expected some jokes or deadpan humor from a premise this intentionally ridiculous, but I don't think this is trying to be a comedy. In the end, I just don't know what this story is trying to do, other than to confuse and pull imagery from the picture, so I didn't have much of an emotional reaction to this.
#440 ·
· on Dessert · >>Rao
This might be partly your intention, but I feel like it took me way too long to orient myself during my first read-through. This might just be me, but at first, I thought "Silver" was Silver Spoon, so when I was pretty confused with how many characters we were dealing with. My biggest issue with this story is that the ending is essentially just more of the build-up is made out of. Father-pony lies to Silver Shard to protect her innocence, and then in the end Father-pony decides to lie some more to protect Silver Shard's innocence. It's kind of unsatisfying, because it makes me feel that the set-up didn't pay off. I'm not as against the grimdark as >>Trick_Question is, but I do agree that the emotions, circumstances, and choices made by the main characters don't change, which gives the story a stagnancy that didn't move me.
#441 ·
· on The Last Five Minutes on Earth
I am having trouble sympathizing with the character's motivations, here. For Sunset, the implication that I'm getting is that she would rather leave the broken portal half bubbled up, run to Equestria, and then pat her hands clean while the EQG universe slowly gets destroyed. And Twilight would rather sit in a dying universe or kill herself trying to fix it, rather than letting herself and her girlfriend live happily, because she is both stricken with guilt and doesn't like the idea of being a pony.

I mean, on paper, this kind of makes sense, but in practice I don't see how death is preferable to hooves, or how Sunset would gladly let a universe die. It honestly feels a like the story is trying to manufacture a situation where Sunset and Twilight must disagree. And while I guess writing stories is really nothing but manufacturing conflicts, I'm just having a hard time suspending disbelief.
#442 · 1
· on Boar Guest's "Book of Fanciful Beasts", Chapter 5 · >>horizon
I very much enjoyed reading this, because I just love lore. My biggest issue, though, is that this does come across as a random collection of facts about Air Rays. Which may have totally been your intention, but personally I was reading this and kinda hoping a story would develop, or there would be a cool link between all these accounts, or it would reveal some kind of truth about Equestria and its inhabitants. I can't help but to compare it to Asymmetry, which has the same prompt picture and overall format. While I like the lore here more than Asymmetry's, I definitely liked how Asymmetry pulled all its threads back together. Here, it feels like the entry stops, rather than ends.
#443 ·
· on Shrine to a False Dashity · >>Posh
I am not really sure why, but this didn't emotionally resonate with me. Maybe because it's late, and I'm still wiped from work, but I ended up feeling like some of the dialogue was kind of there just because it had to be. Dash had to spend a few lines being angry, then she had to ask these questions, then Bow and Windy had to answer this certain way, and then we get our payoff. Maybe I'm being thrown off by the double-reveal structure here. But my honest gut-reaction was that revelations felt kind of unsatisfying, and emotional follow-up to both of them felt kind of muted.

Sorry, I'm being pretty subjective here, but I hope that this is useful to you in that if nothing else, it gives you another datapoint for you to gauge your reader's reactions.
#444 · 1
· on Toy Chest
Twelfth place? I'm sorry, that just won't do; this was one of, if perhaps not my favorite art submission this round. It's just drawn so competently, with so much care and attention to good framing, and the facial expression ties it together and infuses an overwhelming (as it must be for the foal!) amount of adorable emotion. A very memorable piece; thank you for sharing, artist.
#445 ·
· on Pull Yourselves Together · >>R5h
Well, now that the art is done, I can comment on this.

I liked it. CM and TQ covered just about everything here, so I don't have much to say. But I thought this did really well for the style and concept. It was a little confusing at times, but part of that feels intentional, even DD/AK don't quite get it. The whitespace was, honestly, my favorite part of this. As much as whitespace bothers me to the moon and back, this story did it absolutely perfectly.

So, good luck in the judging!
#446 · 5
Radio Writeoff

If you'd like to listen to the recording, find it here. I'll be linking to the stories we discussed below.

Google Drive Link
#447 · 1
· on A Second Chance?
I'm... really torn here. Because I want to like this. I really do. It's very well written, you got an interesting idea here. But like, the concept of Wallflower being forgotten is something I hate. And... I won't go into a tangent here.

Hey, at least you got another person's thoughts, eh? Even if they weren't really worth anything.
#448 · 1
· on Daring Do and the Ibis · >>Miller Minus
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here.

Your story was discussed first!
#449 · 1
· on Aftercare · >>Rao >>WritingSpirit
I'm a little conflicted about Fancy. On the one hand, he wants Chrysalis to go out on her own and become a better bug-pony, presumably so she can stop depending on Fancy. On the other hand, he thinks her taking love from others is infidelity. So it's hard for me to understand what Fancy concretely, actually wants Chrysalis to do, which makes it difficult for me to feel bad when she chooses to do the wrong thing.

Still, unlike >>Haze I did enjoy the little ties back into canon, because I thought it gave a good frame of reference for where Chrysalis is, emotionally. And while I'm at it, I'll just say that I thought Chrysalis was great. I think most of my issues were with Fancy, honestly.
#450 ·
· on Her Eyes Contained Heaven
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed second.
#451 ·
· on · >>axxuy
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed third.
#452 · 1
· on 3, 2, 1...
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed fourth.
#453 ·
· on The Gang Sells Hard Flower Arrangements
We discussed your story on Radio Writeoff! If you'd like to listen, find a link here!

Your story was discussed fifth.
#454 · 1
· on Grand Dreams, Wordsmith
TQ said it all here. I got nothing to say beyond that. Sorry, dude.
#455 ·
· on Keep on Training · >>Samey90
Really cute and fun in the most honest, child-like way possible. Just a couple kids dragging some animals along for a day of pretend with nothing but boxes an imagination. I totally dig it.

Only beef is that:
Opal looked at her and at the train -- in fact, just a few cardboard boxes.

Pointing out so plainly that "why yes it's all made of cardboard and pretend, Watson" kind of sucks the fun out of things and doesn't do much of anything else that I can see.
#456 ·
· on Love is the Answer
Whoa, I see what horizon was talking about. And, uh, great job covering everything I could think of, there man. Gee thanks...

"You will wake up now."

It's difficult to fully get up when it's this dark. Is it much too early in the morning, or far too late in the evening? All the nerves in the body suddenly stop, and go overflowing backwards.

Wow, welcome to the world of me getting up at 6 every morning.
#457 ·
· on Love is the Answer
This was just really difficult for me to understand what was happening. I think the first readthrough took me literally twice or three times as long than it usually does for other minifics, because I ended up reading nearly every sentence multiple times. I was actually talking aloud to myself, asking why everything was phrased so oddly until I realized the twist. But at that point, no matter how effective the payoff is, I think the price of admission was just way too high.

I do realize that I'm coming off as an idiot who just can't read/understand complex stories, but that is my honest reading experience. Subtlety is a sliding bar, and I do think the story's difficulty level just doesn't quite pay for itself right now.
#458 ·
· on The Beast With Your Face · >>Skywriter
Unlike Love is the Answer, I don't think the 2nd person perspective really adds much to the story, and it did make a couple of sentences feel a little heavy-handed to me, like the "Your heart quailed..." sentence. And I do have to agree with >>Haze that Celestia comes off oddly. This is probably compounded by the fact that she has the only speaking role in story that is otherwise entirely internal monologue. Upon re-reads, it does feel out of place.

Still, I liked the structure and motiffs, here, with the strong repetition and the parallel sentence structures. It allows the themes to come across very clearly, which is very hard to do in a minific without being hamfisted. While I don't agree with everything this story tries to do, your execution is definitely clean.
#459 · 1
· on Double Jeopardy
I liked this, and I don't have very many suggestions. I will say, though, I initially read this as a comedy, even though it's really a drama. But that's likely purely because of the picture you took as the prompt.

Like >>CoffeeMinion says, the reveal was actually great. I usually hate "it was all just a dream!" premises because they invalidate any meaning from the story, but you did an excellent job of tying the meaning of the dream into Chrysalis's waking personality, flaws, and insecurities. Nicely done!
#460 · 1
Bless you colts, you are doing Celestia's work. :heart:
#461 · 1
· on Help! My House Thinks It's a Castle!
This is silly, low-stakes, and it executes on its premise very well. I did find myself asking why Derpy from the get-go didn't just call herself a Princess to make the house let her in. An easy fix for that would be to transplant Derpy's "I would be a bad Princess" line from where it is now to a spot closer to the beginning.

Now, while this isn't quite my favorite story, I do recognize that it does what it sets out to do very well. Good stuff!
#462 · 1
· on The Party That Never Starts (For Me) · >>BlueChameleonVI
There's two main points I want to convey for this story, Writer. The first is that you go out of your way to create a sense that I'm missing something.

“That theory you had, way back. You know, how there’s only six emotions? Anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. You got it from that book?”

This rang enough of a bell that I Googled it, and this is a psychology thing - six basic, universal human emotions as registered by facial expressions, right? This feels like your running with a flawed premise, since the study doesn't seem to say there's only six emotions, just six easily recognizable emotions, regardless of culture or upbringing. And even then, this is a weird through line for the story to take, and it doesn't seem to dovetail well with the other point you're trying to make.

That brings me to my second point, which is that I kinda love the dynamic you're hinting at between Amethyst and Lyra. The root of this story is that Lyra's a good friend who pays enough attention to realize that Amethyst doesn't need, nor want, to be where she is, so she gets her out into the real world to just... exist, for a while. And that's pretty cool, having a friend who knows you well enough to get you to de-stress when you need it. I like that Amethyst doesn't fully cave, and a part of her still resists and claws at her to remain morose, but we still see the hints of her starting to unwind and let peace into her heart.

As a side note, I love your closing line, too.

I'm glad my art could inspire you, Writer, if only tangentially. ^^ Best of luck!
#463 ·
· on The Party That Never Starts (For Me) · >>BlueChameleonVI >>WritingSpirit
I'm having a hard time with the payoff, here.The primary conflict is that Amethyst is a big introvert who doesn't like her own rowdy birthday party, and the resolution is Lyra whisking Amethyst outside for a breather. I have two concerns about this. The first is that Amethyst has virtually no agency throughout, and the second is that there Amythest's position only really changes in the physical sense–she is pretty stagnant emotionally speaking. Together, these issues made me feel that the story lacked a strong arc and didn't have a clear thematic purpose, and I found it hard to really enjoy the dialogue that you've crafted.
#464 · 3
· on Trixie's Secret Admirer · >>Trick_Question
Completely subjective opinion: I couldn't help but think the whole thing was kinda cheesy. The "I did it because i love you" angle followed by the "I will love you anyway" resolution is pretty well-trodden ground. As a result, a lot of the hemming and hawing that Trixie does in the first half felt circular to me, because I could kind of already guess where things were headed. And I do agree with >>Haze that Starlight being in on Trixie's ploy kind of dulls the worry and care she displays for Trixie before the reveal.

Outside of that, though, I think this was pretty strongly executed. It's just that this kind of shipping is not really my cup of tea, I guess.
#465 · 1
· on Personality Test
Easy thing first: this is the second shortest story in the contest, but it still feels long to read. I think this is because a lot of your sentences are a similar length and follow the same single-clause S-V-O structure. The repetition really wears down on the reader's attention, because eventually the story begins to sound like a list of things that are happening.

As for the story itself, it was very disorienting and I really don't know what the payoff is supposed to be. Nothing struck me as particularly humorous, yet the presentation is clearly going for the ridiculous. Maybe it's because I'm just really tired right now, but I honestly have no idea what emotion the story is trying to evoke, other than confusion. This definitely succeeds at bewildering me, but not at entertaining me.
#466 · 3
OKAY! The only 2-review stories left are ones that I've already done, so someone else is going to have to take care of those.

Going to go to bed before I start tasting blood in my mouth. See you all in the morning!
#467 · 3
· on Warning: contains Pinkie Pie · >>horizon >>axxuy
I'm trying to restrain my reviews to stories with two comments right now, but my extended slate just had me read this back to back with A Trail Of Sugar Blood, and I want to say something because it's a fascinating compare-and-contrast.

The two stories work from the same starting material (the "Bleed" pic) and then take almost exactly opposite tacks on it. Here, we are introduced to serious characters fighting a serious problem, and then the camera pulls back and we are invited to laugh at Pinkie being impossibie (in multiple ways) far past the point of absurdity. In Trail, all of the absurdity is presented up front (with Pinkie bleeding to death on AJ's tree), and while the story does crack a number of jokes about that core absurdity, it's also not afraid to leave that in the background and go for both humor and feels from the natural interaction of the characters. And in fact, my favorite jokes from that piece have nothing to do with Pinkie bleeding to death.

And I think this is a fantastic illustration of the difference between an idea, and a story about an idea.

That's a tricky concept, and potentially a little insulting if I don't explain this right. Let me give it a try.

The distinction I'm trying to draw is, in one case, there's an extra layer of abstraction before a single finger ever hits a single key. Both of these fics have their fundamental premise in the Venn diagram intersection of blood, sugar, and Pinkie Pie. But one of them took the idea and made it into the entire structure of the fic: the words are here to deliver the idea to the reader, they do that job, and then get out of the way. The other fic took the idea, used it to lay a foundation, and built something entirely different on that foundation. Every word of that fic relies on the idea, but if you asked me what the story was thematically about -- the point of it, if you will -- I wouldn't say "Pinkie bleeds almost to death in AJ's tree", I'd say "Pinkie uses her self-sacrifice to make a point about AJ's." Here, I'm not sure I see any deeper meaning beyond "Pinkie Pie is an eldritch being, and it's funny that her friends endure it."

I bring this all up because it neatly ties into my editing suggestions for this fic (if, that is, the author's interested in editing it; aggressively random fics sometimes aren't meant for serious polish) -- and a good principle to keep in mind for future story plans. Both stories are shooting for humor, but here, it's wrapping enough padding around the Core Idea to use it as a punchline -- and it's just got that one punchline, because that's the joke. The other story packs a lot more in, because the original idea -- the original joke -- is just the starting point, and it's free to hit other targets. There's a lot less depth here, and that's not something you fix in the stage of sanding off the rough edges. That's something you fix in the stage of deciding what to write.

So, when you're planning on writing (or rewriting), take the one-sentence version of your story, then start mercilessly interrogating it -- do the things which turn the idea from the core of your fic to the platform for it. How am I framing that core idea? What themes can I explore when I set the stage with it? What's my hook? What's the conflict?

What is your story about?

Example: Back in The Morning After minific round, I decided my core idea was "the first regular morning after Nightmare Moon was defeated and the sun returned". Ponies would, obviously, be scared Luna wasn't reformed and would do it again. But that's not the story, that's just the premise. I kept going and asked what stories I could tell with that. I settled on a tight focus on farmers distant from Canterlot, exploring the themes of isolation and powerlessness. I realized that the physical shift in the moon's brightness (without the shadow of the Mare in the Moon) would also have its own consequences, and touched on that. I medaled with that story, and it's because I wouldn't settle for the core idea: I dug into the ideas that that idea gave me.

I'm sure this is serious overanalysis for a fic this random. But it's not really about this fic. It's about the writing process which can lead to it, or lead to something like A Trail Of Sugar. I know we've got a tight writing period and there's not a lot of time to worry about process, but ...worry about process. That's what makes the difference for top-tier stories.

Anyway, author, thanks for enduring my monologue, and thanks for writing. I think you explored this take on the core idea here about as well as it was going to be explored; I just don't think that the fundamental idea here has enough legs to go beyond what made it to the page.

... Well, that's not entirely true. It does have one leg. A pretty sweet-tasting one, at that.

Tier: Keep Developing
#468 · 2
· on A Trail of Sugar Blood
I probably ought to link my compare-and-contrast with "Warning: contains Pinkie Pie" in this story, too: >>horizon

Tier: probably Strong, though top of my slate so far
#469 · 2
· on Aftercare · >>WritingSpirit
I was sucked into this pretty hard, too. I haven't personally seen this done with these two, so it was a fresh take for me. Echoing Haze, Fancy's reaction to his visitor does a fantastic job of setting up a "wait, what?" moment that pulls the story along smoothly.

Now, to >>Bachiavellian's confusion:
The impression I got is that there's a very thin intended line between her feeding and the (obviously implied) sex in terms of the writing. I think the feeding is the rough thing that leaves him sore (“I can’t just feed on one source. I can kill you, Fancy.”) and the sex is the "She was a particularly tranquil soul in her afterglow" bit. But then we get (“It’s not like they would sate my hunger afterwards.”) and it really mucks up my interpretation. Could be referring to sexual appetite, which makes more sense in context of Fancy's infidelity comment and smooths over him telling her to mingle more, but I'm torturing the text as-written to keep facing that direction.

So we'll go with the good old verdict of "it's not 100% clear" and we're right back to square one.
#470 · 1
· on Personality Test
giving her quite a frighten

Doin her a bamboozle

Anyway. We get a fun wonderland ride with some really neat language tricks (changing up Roseluck's name constantly is fun!), but taking the story in the context of the title, I feel my expectations neither met nor subverted satisfactorily. We do get the "“Congratulations,” an unknown voice said, “you are the Princess of Poor Decisions.”" line, but without even a little wider context of who or what is doing the testing or why, I'm left feeling like I could really use a muffin.
#471 · 1
· on Love is the Answer
The disassociative narration is neat, and while it's hard to follow that also makes sense given the mind mucking going on. Second person is really weird for me to follow to begin with though, and given the context it's even stranger since the person pony in question can only really be Lyra, not any sort of other "you."

But, I am notoriously daft sometimes, so grains of salt and all that. A worthwhile exercise no matter what.
#472 · 2
· on Dessert
Category: Schindler's List, but the even worse timeline ending

Brief nitpick on word choice:
So dark that the blackness ahead stretched on for an indeterminate distance.

While descriptively accurate, I'm sure, "indeterminate distance" is an incredibly vanilla, calm phrase, even internally, from somepony who is being lead into a cave of indeterminate horror. — See? Kind of down plays the severity of the situation. I totally got the visual of pitch dark, but without the proper emotional attache. If Dadpone actually had a sliver of hope going into the caves it might make sense that he'd try remaining calm by being cold with his observations about the environment, but you kaibosh that pretty thoroughly at the end.

Also: The air hung thick and heavy in the air
Double type :P I do it all the time.

Relating to >>Haze, >>Bachiavellian, and >>Trick_Question's comments about agency, author:
You already have a perfect setup for somepony making an impactful decision without changing much. Dadpone is noticeably tired and fed up with Silver Shard's questioning even at the beginning. If you just dropped "My words, but not my will." from his last line, there'd suddenly be a huge emotional impact driven by a singular character choice. He stands up to defend his daughter, and then, faced with inevitable horror, gives up instead. It's bitter, brutal, and fits the rest of the atmosphere you've developed very well, I think.

That's a lot more "fixy" than I think I intended, but I got really excited about that last idea, so I apologize.
#473 · 1
· on Pinkie Pie Makes Limestone Smile · >>CoffeeMinion
“—I can at least bring you everything you need to have a great first workday of the chilly season!” And Pinkie began hoofing things at Limestone so quickly that she wasn’t fully sure where they came from: “Here’s a scarf, thermos, space blanket, space heater, Space Jam—”

“What about personal space?!” Limestone dropped the burgeoning pile with a clatter.

Fantastic exchange.

I get the feeling that we’re meant to accept that Limestone is willing to open up more once she gets Pinkie to shut up and get out of her face.

For the record, that's how I read the story too. And while Limestone's turnaround does feel abrupt and should probably be paced a little more deliberately with later editing/expansion (this is probably more the fault of the minific format than of authorial intent), I think the subtext of her turnaround was reasonably clear.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem here was trying to cram it into a minific. It's hard enough to paint an emotional portrait in 750 words; to not only do so but to explore and justify it thoroughly enough to then sell a quick turnaround borders on impossibility. And a lot of emotional swings that authors try to cram into minifics are things that happen over time; it's rarer than it looks to find a conflict that a single moment can swing, without also having the luxury of painting for us all of the little moments of doubt and introspection and whatnot that go into the groundwork of that decision.

Not to mention: Unlike, say, "3, 2, 1" and its time bomb of a relationship renegotiation, this story is trying to portray someone whose change comes from opening up — and that's a slow process not amenable to effective condensation.

This tries hard, and the writing's got heart. Pinkie's silent compliance with the pickaxe thing is a good example of that. But there's only so much suspension of disbelief you can overcome in the two minutes the format gives you. Thank you regardless, author.

Tier: Almost There
#474 · 2
· on The Twinkle Must Shine On · >>Haze >>QuillScratch
They were scoffing this stuff

"Scoffing at". "Scoff" is not a transitive verb.

I wish I had more to offer for the last bring-everyone-up-to-three-reviews review, but the two comments above me have covered my thoughts pretty well. I admire the craft that went into fitting nine scenes (!) into 750 words, but the end result is that none of them have enough room to accumulate any particular emotional weight. I don't even think that this is doing anything wrong — little touches like the lying letter are well-chosen — but, to paraphrase my last review, there's only so much audience investment you can accumulate in two minutes. The more of your 750 words you choose to spend on advancing plot and narrative, the fewer you will have you build sympathy, theme and tone. That's the devil's bargain of minifics, and why I keep saying time and time again that the form doesn't feel sufficient to tell interesting stories in. (Interesting scenes, sure. Even weighty, profound ones. But even with the tailwind of using established characters for fanfic, and even with prose condensed down so far that you're effectively writing poetry, I wouldn't try nine scenes in 750 words.)

In terms of concrete editing suggestions: I guess I'd try to figure out which are the most important scenes here, and focus only on those. The first few scenes are good context ... but the 750-word limit is merciless. Do you really need them? Can we start as late as where she gets fired, even? Insert the backstory in a sentence or two of narration, and use those reclaimed words to really dig into Twinkleshine's head. It would be a very different story, but it would give you a fighting chance to establish that emotional connection.

Tier: Almost There
#475 · 2
· on Pitch
The ending of this entry, as a few above have noted, is more than a little bit confusing. Let's try to break down why that is, shall we?

This entry has more than its fair share of genuinely creepy, ominous horror, and it does a pretty fantastic job with that. The opening sequence ramps up the tension, with Spike's plan consistently portrayed as requiring every ounce of concentration he has serving to increase the stakes of the piece without immediately giving us a reason. This means you actually have less work to do, author, when you're introducing the horror elements themselves: showing us Twilight is scared and that there is, at least, some mundane danger involved is already enough to get us absolutely convinced that there's something seriously creepy going on downstairs. It's a neat use of the space, honestly, and I'm quite impressed by that.

So we get to the end of the piece, we've been sold on the genuine terror (despite the fact that, really, the only terror we've seen is a very large number of spiders. Don't get me wrong, that's horrifying, but it's hardly the existential-dread level of fear that the tone of the piece has managed to sell to us so far. Even that powerful, conclusive "Darkness took him" seems somewhat oversold, in hindsight), and then we get a hard scene break cutaway to a scene that bookends the piece with the image of Twilight cuddling Spike. As >>Samey90 notes, it's the classic "it was all a dream" twist... followed immediately by a single line of prose that calls that twist into doubt.

This is a staple horror trope. It is executed well. It leaves the reader uncertain of what is and isn't real, which is exactly the horror that it is trying to convey. So how could such a standard ending possibly cause so much confusion?

It's... not entirely easy to tell, I'll be honest; there's a lot of factors at play here. The mismatch between tone and content at the story's climax is probably partly to blame, because this trope depends on unsettling the characters'—and the readers'—sense of reality. What are the implications of this not being a dream? That the castle has a tunnel with rather a lot of spiders in it? Again, I will acknowledge that I would personally find a spider tunnel genuinely horrifying, but that's not the existential level of dread that the trope relies on. It's like trying to compare being a little freaked out by snakes (again, scary af) to a full-on eldritch god showing up and ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. What I'm trying to say, author, is that there's a little bit of incongruity between the story you're telling and the tone you're telling it in. If you're going to try to sell us on something truly being Wrong, here, we need at least a little glimpse of that wrongness.

And continuing the trend of what I'm going to call tonal-narrative dissonance to make me sound like I know what I'm talking about, the reveal at the end of the story is that Twilight now has the key. And yes, this is a small detail that calls into question the fact that this was all a dream sequence, but is it the right detail? What, in all honesty, does Twilight having the key now mean? The simplest possible answer (I've said it before and I'll say it again—Occam's razor is as useful a tool in literary analysis as it is in science and problem-solving) is that Twilight rescued Spike, and that he is, in the moment, shocked to discover that it wasn't a dream. It's not as if there are any hints in the text to suggest anything else, right? If anything, this is supported by the fact that the story has actively gone out of its way to portray Twilight as near-over-protective (and effective in that protectiveness).

So why is everyone—myself included—confused? It all comes back to the question >>horizon asks:

where's the horror?

The story you have told, if my interpretation of the ending was intended, is at odds with the structure in which you are telling it. That double-twist ending is a trope, and tropes inform expectations. We're expecting dread, horror... we get Twilight being a Good Mom™. And, naturally, we look for the horror. We look for a reason behind our feelings, and we end up grasping at straws. The tunnel was just a tunnel; the spiders were just spiders; Twilight's over-protectiveness is just over-protectiveness. Where, then, is the horror?

I know I've rambled quite a bit so far, but I hope I've at least given some insight into why quite a few people have bounced off this ending. In all honesty, I quite liked this. It's perhaps a little unpolished, but it's certainly effective, emotionally (that is, after all, what makes the ending fall apart). If this ever does get an overhaul for fimfic, do let me know; I'm honestly curious to see what you'll do with it.
#476 · 3
· on The Twinkle Must Shine On · >>horizon
"Scoffing at". "Scoff" is not a transitive verb.

In this context, I interpreted it as using the slang (transitive) verb definition which means to quickly eat -- i.e. "they were eating up this stuff last week" -- which I mostly remember seeing in Redwall novels and rarely anywhere else. Sometimes seen as "scarf". However, I think this version is only commonly accepted in the literal sense of eating, and not as a metaphor.

I think this version of the dialogue makes more sense, but it's still possible it was meant to be "scoffing at", as in ridiculing, so uh.... I dunno.
#477 · 2
· on The Twinkle Must Shine On · >>horizon
They were scoffing this stuff

"Scoffing at". "Scoff" is not a transitive verb.

I think in this instance, the author is using "to scoff" as in "to eat quickly", which I'm finding out from wiktionary is not particularly common usage outside the UK. US-EN equivalent is something like "gobble" or "scarf". It can be used as a synonym for "lapping it up", with a similar underlying metaphor. I don't think it's used particularly well in context, but it is a thing.

Afraid I don't have too much to add to the above, author, but I wanted to defend your use of the Queen's English. I think this story has a lot of potential, but you either need a different structure to tell it in, or a higher word count. I'd also recommend bringing in Twinkleshine's disappointment a little later? The current emotional arc seems unfairly weighted on that disappointment section, and I think the piece would be better if it crept in slowly over the course of a few scenes. I mean, we jump from her first showing up to her fifty-seventh performance! There's so much opportunity lost in that time jump, I think.

(Bonus points for writing about best pony, though.)
#478 · 3
· on Daring Do and the Ibis · >>Trick_Question
>>Zaid Val'Roa

"Retreat is a strategy in itself! Until next time!"
#479 · 6
· on The Last Five Minutes on Earth
Honestly this whole damn thing could have been fixed by my out and out saying "Yes, we have to move everything back to the side of the portal it came from" which would have been done with a half hour more to work. I'm not saying it would have beaten other quite good entries but at least it wouldn't have been fundamentally flawed in omitting the answer to the question everyone rightfully has. Victim of the clock on this one. Thanks for the replies, folks.
#480 ·
· on Aligore, the Alicorn Princess of Gore · >>CoffeeMinion
I know this one was random and meta, but I didn't really get any critique. The comments seemed mostly positive, so I have absolutely no idea what went wrong here.

Was it skipped because it had "4" in the column?
#481 · 1
· on Daring Do and the Ibis
>>Miller Minus
Despite the two flaws I mentioned, this one was pretty high on my slate. Higher than several that made the cut, and I didn't even read half the stories. I'm kind of surprised.
#482 · 2
· on Daring Do and the Ibis
Coming in a little late this round, sorry about that!

Since the first round was over, I'll come out and say this story came out right above the middle of my slate. There's a lot of things I like, the dynamic between Daring Do and Ibis coming out first and foremost. Like with another fic this round, the dynamic of mother and child reminded of the Lynne Ramsay film We Need To Talk About Kevin, which itself was adapted from a novel by Lionel Shriver. The unsettling vibe I had gotten from their exchange managed to draw me in, so it definitely set the bar high in terms of a strong opening. If there is one gripe I do have, it's this small moment of insight into Daring's thought process.
Now was not the time to be cross. After all, the only thing that made her feel worse than yelling at her son was being laughed at immediately afterwards.

No, today was a day for a new strategy.

I think this portion of the story did dampen the tension a little. It revealed information about her thought process as a mother, and though I appreciate the insight, I wished you kept us guessing at how Daring's attempts at motherhood are going to be like instead. I think even without that section, we can connect the dots.

Past the halfway point, my biggest issue with the story came with Ibis stumbling upon her memorabilia. The sequence of events itself isn't bad by itself writing-wise, and I don't mind being duped into this story being fake-horror, but I just wished that somehow, there can be a connection of sorts that's more personal to her as a mother than her as an explorer. Something more tangible than 'he'll have to learn about this someday'. I came away with it thinking there's a more important and precise reason that Daring hid her adventuring life from his son that we aren't seeing.

Simply put, I've seen Daring Do as an explorer before. I want to see Daring Do as a mother.

That aside, this story definitely's one that stuck out to me, in that I didn't need to open it up in a new tab to remember what it's about. The dialogue between them is impeccable and, again, calling back vibes I had from the film I mentioned. One line stood out for me because of how 'Daring Do' it was.

"So… Are you… an octopus?"

Because of course, the first thing she thought of would be some weird sea creature from under the deep.

All in all, it's a story that hits the right spots in me more than it misses. Thanks for writing!
#483 · 3
· on Wo Free
>>Zaid Val'Roa

That’s Wo Biz. Thanks for the nice comments.

One thing about butts - they command attention.

This is just a ha-ha-only-serious doodle. But if this is the first instance of Writeoff Pony, maybe it can be polished up and made semi-official.
#484 · 1
· on · >>axxuy
This story came in very high on my slate. There's some awkwardness in how it is told, but the story itself is very good. I think the third-pony omniscient approach in present tense is tricky and that degree of difficulty may have played against you, but I'm still surprised it didn't pass the cut.
#485 · 3
· on The Twinkle Must Shine On
>>Haze >>QuillScratch
I stand corrected. As a filthy American I’ve only ever seen “scarf” used for the form of “scoff” you’re talking about. Today I learned!

Still, I’d use “eating up” for the edited version here, if only because the two meanings are so different in context.
#486 · 1
· on Krastos, the Glue Maker · >>Trick_Question
On Writing Day:

I spent my time working on an AugieDog story that I hope to hit "Publish" on either today or tomorrow. But about 9:30PM, I decided to take a quick look at the art gallery before hitting the hay. The first picture in thumbnail looked to me like Bill Clinton. My brain flashed back to the whole "Krastos, the Glue Maker" thing from all those years ago, and like a popcorn kernel between my teeth, I suddenly had a story wedged in my head.

About an hour later, I had 760 words, and another 15 or 20 minutes got it down to its current length. If I was going to do anything else with it, I'd work on making the human more a character than a stereotype and explain why Celestia's involved in the first place, but it needs a lot more thought than I've currently got available to give it. :)

See You All Figuratively Next Time,
#487 · 3
· on No Need
Well, I'm not at all surprised that it didn't make finals. I'm surprised anyone thought that it might!

I wasn't going to write for this round, but on a whim I whipped up a dumb story.

Heh, actually, I couldn't decide whether she was telling the truth, mentally ill, or really good at bullshitting.

This story is very unrealistic from the outset


Glad you picked up on that.

Was this a jab at Clumsy? Yes. Was it also a jab at all the folks in the comment section who got their panties in a twist about Clumsy? Also yes.

>>Miller Minus
This story was as much to make fun of myself and the other commenters as it was to make fun of Clumsy. I didn't realize you would take it personally, so when I saw you getting upset in the discord, I tried to come here and point out that it wasn't a personal attack.

What are you doing here?

Heh. That could have been pretty good.

I'm just glad that someone liked it!
#488 · 1
· on No Need · >>Hap
Quick shout-out to Hap. I thought this was a hilarious satire, and the punchline sealed it for me. This was number four on my ballot, and I'm sad to see it not make finals.
#489 · 1
· on Personality Test
Ditto to Syeekoh. I really wish I'd had more time to review this week, because this was a very amusing bit of Carrollean head trippery, and I didn't get to say so when it counted. With respect to my esteemed colleagues, I don't think it got a fair shake.
#490 · 2
· on Aftercare · >>WritingSpirit
This is probably the most creative spin on a picture that I saw on my preliminary ballot. It takes a very innovative mind to see "scary bug horse lady" and read "pseudotreasonous affair between two canon characters in which one is Actually Not What She Sees(tm)." The creativity of that premise, alone, is astonishing to me. Props.

The logic behind this relationship feels a little less than settled -- that Fleur was Chryssi all along is a twist which I enjoy conceptually, but which grinds against canon in a way that I'm having trouble reconciling. Fancypants fucking a literal enemy of the state on the down-low doesn't paint him in a very good light, either. The relationship, itself, is compelling and interesting and fraught with all the other trite adjectives that I usually insert into reviews when I don't know what else to say, but it doesn't paint Fancy in an especially sympathetic light.

I guess it says something about him that he's willing to entertain Chryssi at all...? But he also has her kinda wrapped around his finger because he's her only steady outlet for love and orgasm endorphines...?? But he thinks that the queen of evil bug-thingies can be a good person if she just stays put and drops these flights of fancypants...??? So being evil is just her acting out because Woman maybe...?????

I don't think I'm quite able to put the pairing into perspective here, but damn, it's an interesting dynamic at least.

Loved the continuity bit with the cameras (I also like how consistent Chryssi's pouty behavior is with her portrayal in that episode; she kinda feels like an eviler version of Trixie, and Fancy a... more apathetic and perhaps less evil version of Glimmer). Found the expository section in the middle clunky, in an otherwise tightly written and structured fic. And, uh.

I dunno. I feel like Fancypants should wear a rainbow wig and clown nose, at least.

Shit, I need more coffee. 8/10.
#491 ·
· on No Need
Yeah, I'll be interested to see the spread once the event is over.
#492 · 1
· on “Kill or be Killed, Miss Yearling. Kill or be Killed.”
Alright, I was recommended on the Discord to review this story, and though I honestly don't think I could add anything else aside from what my fellow authors above had mentioned, I thought I should at least follow through.

Wind Rider and Daring Do being high school acquaintances (I doubt they're friends) is something I've never seen before, so that's already a +1 for me. They play off each other quite well in the story, and though I hoped we see the conversation brought to other places — Daring Do seemed pretty fixated on Rainbow Dash for a little bit too long — I'm personally happy to see their interaction play out the way it did. Their characterization is in line with the show, so props for that as well, especially with nailing Wind Rider in particular.

Now, plot-wise, I'm sharing a lot of the opinions that my fellow writers have mentioned, in that the story seems to take too long to set up the scene before going for the punchline that the title seems to be implying it would lead to. I do like the implications that Daring Do was left with by the last sentence, but the chain of events didn't seem to lead up to that. I think part of the problem may be because setting up and clearing up the conflict just seemed to take so long.

The crux of the story seems to only really start from 'They chose seats right on the edge'. The scene and dialogue before that do set up the story in terms of structure, but I find myself questioning the motivation behind having it in. Does Daring Do and Wind Rider meeting at a convention bear anything of significant importance to the story? Does it bring anything to the characters other than their reunion? I find myself looking at the scene and picking it apart, hoping that there's something that tells us more than the fact that they were high school buds, and let's face it, whatever their relationship with each other was, it still isn't going to affect the ending that I was left with.

I genuinely enjoyed the concept of Daring Do unwillingly connecting with Wind Rider in that sense. It definitely stood out, because it was the only moment of finding common ground our two characters have had throughout the story and it was something Daring Do seemed to find antagonistic as much as it was intrinsic to her line of work, even if it wasn't explicitly stated. I just wished the ideas surrounding it encapsulated the story from start to finish. Perhaps if you're willing to go even further, I wish Wind Rider can have a more active role in pushing Daring towards that conclusion, unwittingly or otherwise.

All in all, it's a story which I believed the concept that it seemed to be rooting for did come through after a few rereads, but it requires some restructuring and focus. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the dynamic of the story more than I had initially after my first read through, and I wouldn't hesitate to see more of them together should you decide to turn them into a series! Thanks for writing this, and also congrats on making it, fellow writer!
#493 ·
· on Aligore, the Alicorn Princess of Gore
Late last night I did a couple last-minute quick-adds that I didn't review because there were one or two that I just thought deserved an extra vote. Regrettably this one never came up for me to vote on. :-( It probably would've settled somewhere in my Strong tier if it had.
#494 · 2
· on Warning: contains Pinkie Pie
What! it didn't make finals! how can this be?

All joking aside, at least now maybe my eye will stop twitching over that uncapitalized 'c' in the title.

I can't dispute this criticism, I'm afraid. Looking back, I can't seem to remember that I was trying to do anything with this beyond present a very weird situation. It was one of those stories that started out as a clear mental image, and ended up just being a description of that, rather than trying to live on its own as a story.

One thing I want to mention, which I'll relate to the stories failure to really say anything, since I can't figure out how else to segue into it: I stole the idea for this (in broad strokes). The image this story is based off of is a rip off of a scene from Gravity's Rainbow ("It was a giant Adenoid!..." pg 14), a book which, while even more absurd than this, certainly has quite a lot to say.

Thank you for the advice, it is much appreciated. This particular story I think I might just take behind the shed instead of rewriting (my only hesitation in doing so is the first line, which I'm a little attached to), but I will think about this stuff the next time around.

Thank you all again, for the feedback and not calling my piece a trollfic. Have a wonderful writeoff.
#495 ·
· on Krastos, the Glue Maker
>>Baal Bunny
For the record, I thought the storytelling was first-rate; I just didn't care for the story itself. Celestia is not much like this on the show (the show lacks subtlety) but I think this is precisely how many fans of the show see her, so the characterization was excellent.
#496 · 1
· on · >>horizon
Here we go, the good entry that was written in a fraction of the time of the bad one. I like how this turned out, even if there is plenty of room for improvement (when isn't there?).

First order of business: one impression I got from some of the comments was that I didn't make it clear enough that the stuff in the first scene break is supposed to be a flashback to the season 4 opener, when Twilight has a vision of Celestia and Nightmare Moon fighting, i.e this scene.

>>Zaid Val'Roa
Focus it is, then. I suppose I'll narrow it to just Twilight's POV, and make her worries more coherent. A fear of replacing Celestia and a fear of becoming another Nightmare Moon do not need to be very different.

The ending is trickier. I debated giving the complete ending, with Twilight raising the sun, and there are enough words left even here to do it, but... I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be at all redundant. I haven't seen anyone express any doubt at what happens after the second flashback, after all.

It's not that Twilight turning evil is actually likely to happen, it's Twilight worrying about turning evil. For me, that seems like a very Twilight thing to do.

Thank you for discussing it! It was very fun to hear you analyzing my story. I'm definitely going to give that another listen or two while I figure out how to edit this thing.

Thank you kindly. Best of luck in the finals.

To wrap up I just want to say that I had a lot of fun with the title. The first titles that came to mind were things like "Sunrise" and "Up," which work, but are just too generic. I like how the arrow feels on there in contrast.
#497 · 5
I'm heading out for a while to get in a jog and write tonight's RCL feature

Wow, you're awfully certain that you can write an awesome story in a short time frame!
#498 · 1
· on The Party That Never Starts (For Me) · >>CoffeeMinion
Right. With a hefty four fics knocked out at the prelims - ouch! - I'm only up for commenting on one of them. Grand Dreams, Wordsmith is yet more evidence that epistolary minifics are tantamount to docking myself points ahead of time. Villainy Ain't a Piece of Cake was a blind shot that missed. The Twinkle Must Shine On boils down to "don't write minifics based on Queen songs; good songs do not equal good story ideas." So that leaves this one, which caused the most confusion that wasn't scoff-related.

Well, I'll try to explain where I was coming from with this one, but I can't promise this'll cover everything.

The guiding principle here is that this is a psychologically based scene above all else. Although I wrote a couple of story-centric entries (Grand and Twinkle), I also went for the opposite approach here and wrote a scene instead (although the fact that neither approach worked suggests I'm looking in the wrong place). Amethyst and Lyra's introversion-extroversion contrast is an obvious case, but there was also the former's general pessimism and sense of obligation, as demonstrated in their back-and-forth.

The pessimism informs a large part of their dialogue, including that "six emotions" thing; Amethyst is the sort of pony who looks for what could go wrong rather than what could go right. The sense of obligation is hinted at in paragraph 34, along with the explanation for her hosting this thing (she's fretting over the negative repercussions of "ditching" it or of what the others would think). The unifying theme of these aspects is that Amethyst generally has a more negative outlook, though she also skews slightly towards the academic and intellectual.

The overall emphasis of the narrative, though, since it was character-driven, was to focus on the relationship between the two first and foremost, hinting at a dynamic that wasn't compromised by those traits but which accommodated them. It's ultimately about open-mindedness between two different people/ponies.

Everything above serves as the sea through which said relationship swims. The eschewing of the traditional "Character A beats Obstacle B to get Achievement C" format wasn't a bug; it was a feature. The whole point is that the issue eschews the extrovert ideal of "noise and action" in favour of the introvert ideal of "peace and quiet", with a focus on mutual support rather than doing everything alone. This is exactly the fic I wanted to write.

As for why all that is focused on these two specifically... Nah, you're on your own there. Where's the fun in telling you everything? :P
#499 ·
· on The Party That Never Starts (For Me)
Whoops, forgot to reply! Here we go.

#500 · 3
I'm going to do a youtube livestream tutorial for using GIMP to process a picture, using MLPmatthewl419's art entry this time as an example. Check out the pic channel in the discord for news and a link when it happens. I'll make another post when I've settled on a time.