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Nightmare After Nightmare Night · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
#1 · 6
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Almost an hour and no comments yet? What's wrong with you people?
#2 · 5
Happy Halloween!! >:)
#3 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
So...I missed the last two because the email notifications weren't coming in for me.

I got the email about submitting the prompt. So this gives me hope that the email will come through and tell me that its time to start writing :D
#4 · 4
Must... buy... more... candy...
#5 ·
· · >>MLPmatthewl419
I dunno man, I’ve got this novel that I’m working on... :-p
#6 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
¡Feliz día de los Muertos, tambien!!! 🎉🎉
#7 · 1
· · >>Anon Y Mous
>>Anon Y Mous
¿Eso no es mañana?
#8 · 1
You got dis
#9 · 1
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
>>Zaid Val'Roa
No, la celebración empieza hoy. Lo terminará el dos dos de noviembre.
#10 · 2
· · >>Anon Y Mous
>>Anon Y Mous
Se aprende algo cada día.
#11 · 1
· · >>n3k1dsk1llz

The prompt submission e-mail:

Is the only notification we get 'cause everything else follows like clockwork. The twenty-four hours after the e-mail goes out are for prompt submission. The next twenty-four hours are for voting on the prompts, and the instant after that, the prompt is announced and we can start writing. So stand by for adventure!

#12 · 7
for this round i think i'll submit a new prompt

stone masquerade
#13 ·
>>Zaid Val'Roa
¡Lo siento amigo! Mis amigos me mintieron. Tú tienes razon. HOY es la celebración. :0

Edit: I give up. Google says the day of the dead started yesterday but it also says that the tradition happens on the first and second of November???? :’’)
#14 · 2
Oh look! There are new little up/down buttons next to the thread page button! That’s a big help on mobile. ^^
#15 · 3
Ah, dang it. This year, the stars just aren't aligning for me Writeoffing. :( Since August, exactly two conventions have been on my plate: the weekend of the OF short-story writing period three weeks ago; and this upcoming weekend.

So I guess I'm out again. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise: I can try to use that for project time.
#16 · 3
Please let me get some time.
#17 · 1
I’m going to call it now: I’m out for this one. :-/ I really am trying to get a novel-length story out on FF, and RL is threatening to catch up on me for all the time I’ve already sunk into that.
#18 · 5
“Is Anyone There?”

“I Thought You Already Knew.”

“So What You’re Saying Is…”

“Gobble Gobble. Reply to All!”

“Feed Me With Your Heart.”

“Is It Just Me, or Has It Gotten Even Bigger?”

“Crossing the Border To Stand Against the Stars?”

“Sunburned. Hollow Blessings.”

“Phobia: Submerged Under the Pier, Stone Masquerade…”

“Nightmare After Nightmare Night - Betcha Can’t Have Just One!”

“Michael Meijers’ Wild West Adventures?”

“It Ain’t Bragging If It’s True. A Wholesome Time, Barrel of Fun. Four-Hoofed Tales of Adventure!”

“Startling Reflection Over The River: Final Resting Place?”

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
#19 · 2
I'll probably be in for this one (she said, thirty minutes before the prompt reveal).

As before, I'll try not to speak except for reviews and retro, so I may not respond to posts. PM me on Fimfiction if you need to chat.
#20 · 2
Hey, the prompt I put in actually did pretty well!

Pretty busy weekend, so I might not be available as much as usual, but I will be in #mentors some if people want someone to look at their story before it's submitted.
#21 · 5
For the record, I have a story I've been working on that perfectly matches the prompt but I don't like what I've done with it. So I'm going to rewrite it from scratch (with a different angle), since I've been informed previously this is acceptable, but I wanted to be clear about my intentions to be safe.

This will be the third time I've tried to start writing this story. Whee. :facehoof:
#22 · 6
Well, I wasn't expecting a Nightmare Night prompt in November, but I'll see if I can make it work.
#23 ·
I have a critique tonight, so Friday's down. Let's see if I can write something over the weekend.
#24 · 6
yay my prompt got chosen twce in a row, AMA

(previous post was a joke, and someone out there hilariously played along with it)
#25 · 5
Uh oh, spooky prompt. Incoming Luna stories.
#26 · 4
· · >>Miller Minus
Unless I'm struck by some kind of miracle it looks like I'm not in this round either.

Good luck everyone!
#27 · 4
I'm starting writing now and only have about an hour.

#28 ·
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
as you seem to know things...

my story lies somewhere between a Teen and a Mature Rating. Is that okay?
I haven't seen anything to indicate otherwise...
#29 ·
· · >>n3k1dsk1llz

Under the "Rules" button:

At the top of the page, it says, "Submitted works may not contain depictions of sexual acts or grotesque content." When I had a question about a scene in one of my earlier stories, I e-mailed it to Roger--his address is at the bottom of te page under "Email me"--and asked him if it was OK.

#30 ·
>>Baal Bunny

so talking about it without describing it should be okay, yes?
#31 · 1
Sorry, I'm out. Struggling with the old opiate addiction this weekend makes my concentration nonexistent.

On the bright side, I did restart the story a third time, and I might take it to the finish line finally. It's just not on the front burner.
#32 ·
· · >>GroaningGreyAgony
welp....my story doesn't follow the rules.
I tried fixing it a bit to follow the rules, but to do so ruins the whole experience.
It requires it's mature rating.

Dunno if I have time to come up with another story before times up.
#33 ·
· · >>n3k1dsk1llz
You may wish to show it to Roger in PM to get his opinion of whether it’s in violation.
[edit] Sorry, I guess you did that already.
#34 ·
nah. I didn't show it to him but I know it doesn't fall into the TEEN rating range.
It's okay.
I can still post it up to my FiM Fic account.
#35 · 2
Just popping in again to wish everyone well with their last-minute rush to the finish. ^^

I made a token effort this afternoon at putting an idea together, but I just don't have the follow-through this time. Though did I mention that I'm in the midst of releasing a novel?! That's what's sucking up all muh follow-through. :-p

Next time, Gadget!
#36 · 3
>>Miller Minus

What else can I say?
#37 · 5
Ha! It's friggin in!

TBH, I procrastinated like hell and wrote nothing all Friday and Saturday. So this is probably rushed as hell. But, it's better than nothing, I guess!
#38 · 1
I just realized that the submission page has a countdown clock on it.

And that I have 5 hours left...

*Goes to throw 2000 words together*

It'll be TEEN this time.
#39 ·
the mojo is gone.

it's not happening this time.

but I'll read and vote for others :D
#40 · 5
I'm back, baby.

A shame my story is hot garbage.
#41 · 4
I am in, with a thing(s).
#42 · 4
Gosh! I can't believe I wrote and proofread until the the last 10 seconds, but I'm in. Only started late Saturday night. A few typos. Oh well. Be kind to all the writers of the stories you read.
#43 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse
When I read that Sunset had a black eye, I expected Clumsy v. 3.0, but then it went right up the WTF alley...
#44 · 1
· on Just Family · >>Bachiavellian
Hmm, I'd say it's more of a nightmare before Nightmare Night, but well. Also, there are several technical flaws, like confusing "it's" and "its" or places where the author got a better idea but forgot to delete the old one:

In fact, there was a good chance statistical chance
#45 · 2
· on Starlight over the Bridge · >>Miller Minus
Starlight needs to get her Inception spinner...
#46 · 1
· on Pumpkin Spice Season
Hmm, I was expecting Spike to appear at some point, but now I suspect the title may be a typo.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read, although I feel it ended rather abruptly. Like, it's still 500 words below the word limit, but I feel the story of Dark Magic lessons and the ever-escalating pumpkin spice latte arc could definitely go on for longer, towards some more satisfying ending.
#47 · 1
· on A Daughter of Forest Green · >>AndrewRogue >>scifipony
I love the title:

And the idea behind this story. My only suggestion for something to look at during a rewrite would be the characters' voices. Laurel's supposed to be a pup, but she doesn't often talk or act like one. We get a little of it in the scene where she's in Fluttershy's cottage for the first time, but maybe have glimpses of her puppiness come through more often: she's trying to act all grown up, but sometimes, excitement at what she's seeing breaks through. Fluttershy, too, seems a little harsh here and there: when she first senses Laurel's "confusion swirled together with fear", she reacts kind of angrily: "Maybe I won't pile up scattered logs next time I encounter them," she says, and " Some thank you!"

I also might recommend making Luna's guard/friend at the end a batpony since the Nightmare Night episode is the only time we've ever actually seen them, but even if you keep her as a pegasus, you could at least have Luna introduce her to Fluttershy after their little scuffle. But this is fun stuff here.

#48 · 4
· on Pumpkin Spice Season
Title changed from "Pumpkin Spike Season" to "Pumpkin Spice Season" at author's request.
#49 · 1
· on Brush Thoroughly to Avoid Periodontal Disease · >>Bachiavellian >>Posh
I had a lot of fun reading the section with Rarity and Minuette and Spike. The interactions between the characters is really cute, but I think what shines is there's suspense in the operation. I really wanted to know WTF happened to Rarity and if she'll be ok, and that kept me reading.

The rest of the fic felt awkward to me, and I think it's because it foreshadows the punchline so early. It's not much of a surprise what happened to Luna, and it just becomes a lot of riffing on her drug trip. I was wincing in sympathy for Rarity's suffering, but here I'm just a detached observer for Luna getting high, and that felt a little boring.
#50 · 1
· on Pumpkin Spice Season
The "old-new-new" joke nearly made me lose my composure at work today. Overall, this just reads really easily, and the jokes fly in at a good pace. Nice job!

If I had to level some criticism, I'd say that the opening did feel a little slow to me, since it took until the middle of the 2nd scene to actually introduce all of the plot threads. But I suspect this is an artifact of the Writeoff format. Published on Fimfic with a summary and cover art, the reader's going to feel a lot less blind going in.

Nitpick: I also thought that the two main storylines could have intersected in more meaningful ways. But then again, I know that this isn't so important as long as the jokes keep rolling in nicely (which they do!).

So yeah, I had a great time reading this, and I'm reasonably certain that a lot of folks will feel the same. Great stuff!
#51 · 1
· on Fall Back · >>Baal Bunny
I really like stories like these, which maintain a comedic, light, SoL tone but touch on more serious themes when they can. I like how you played out Twilight's character flaw of being the most reluctant to accept Discord's reform. It's great that it starts out feeling natural, and eventually the reader starts picking up on it as Twilight feels more guilty about her prejudices.

While the character work here is great, in terms of plot, things actually do kind of slow down in the middle. There's not much that actively drives forward the conflict that gets established at the beginning, aside from a couple of references and hints, like the one the Princesses drop at the beginning of the party. I'll say that I never got bored reading on my first read-through, because you do a great job of stringing together interesting scenarios and interactions. But on my second and third reads, the party did feel like it stretched on for quite a while, compared to the set-up and resolution, which carried most of the character development and plot work. I do get that things have to be kind of meandering-y to maintain that SoL tone, so my complaints may be more indicative of the genre rather than your story.

In the end, this was just fun, and it held me all the way through, which are big wins in my book. I'm honestly not sure how or if you should even address my points about pacing, so I'll be mindful of how I let it affect my voting. Thank you for writing this!
#52 · 1
· on Pinkamena’s Bellyache · >>Samey90 >>GroaningGreyAgony
Whoa. Check on the nightmare-after part.

This is something that happens when you think poetry when writing prose.

It felt like a nightmarish concoction of Willy Wonka and the Night Before Christmas and maybe a peek though Alice's opium-filled looking glass, something 18th or 19th century modernized, with more made up words than any one author is entitled to.

While experimental stories aren't my thing, and I strongly prefer prose that becomes invisible in face of the story, I must give credit where due. You force a recalcitrant reluctant language to your bidding, bludgeoning it with extra syllables, sound-alikes, alliterations, and elocutions of every persuasion, breathlessly, and when that proved insufficient for the momentum you'd created, you added a squirt of a different language all together. What the result lacks in polish and meter and rhyme I chock up to lack of time.

And you managed to create an abstract portrait of Pinkie Pie, a feat in itself. Art work.

As to offer what you might do to improve this, I sadly cannot. You've demonstrated great courage writing something I am completely unable to do. The best I can offer on how to improve is: (1) For the total content provided, the story feels too long. Concentrate on the bits that sing and discard those that to you feel forced. Pace in poetry is key. (2) The title doesn't have any of the flash or flare of the body and that oddly saddens me.
#53 ·
· on Fall Back · >>Baal Bunny
I like the idea of the story, and you get points from an SF writer POV for handling the timey-whimey part expertly while commenting of the absurdity of its reality. You handled the characters well.

I have to echo Baciavellian's critique, however. The story feels diluted; the pacing in the middle is off and much of the middle day stuff feels superfluous to me. I also felt the beginning needed tightening. The end felt out of left field, a blind-side if you will, but amazing. That means this reader at least didn't see the necessary foreshadowing of Discord's delightful melancholy.

Really, all these things I'd chock up to not enough time to revise. The story has good bones, just cut cut cut the weeds (maybe a 1000 words?) and backfill the plot elements.

Oh, yeah. Nix fluky for describing the wind. Yes, pegasi make the weather, but it being a fluke doesn't apply here. In "but I reckon the princesses get their reasons", AJ uses get where it ought to be got; wrong grammatically and dialectually at the same time. Maybe you meant understand? If so, this reader had to work hard to guess what you meant and take that on face value. Both typos threw me out of the story completely
#54 ·
I think I’m copping out of the art round this time guys. :( I hope to read a story if I have the time. Sorry!
#55 · 1
· on All the Little Lies We Tell Ourselves · >>AndrewRogue
Very fun:

Like AJ, I could totally hear Autumn Blaze's voice in the letter section. But I wondered about the stakes. The story seemed to present AJ's choice as very "either/or": either she can stay at Sweet Apple Acres, or she can go off and be with Autumn Blaze. She spends the whole story torn between the two--the dominant image is of Pear Butter leaving her family to join the Apples--but in the end, it looks to me like AJ chooses to try both. Now, if Luna had suggested the idea to her--Autumn's already shows that she's willing to buck her own people, as it were--that would help, but right now, it seems to come out of nowhere.

#56 · 1
· on Safely Doomed
This is a fascinating bit of writing with a strong, sharp meta-edge. Its loose structure and surreal presentation give it a dreamy quality, which suits the subject matter and the content very, very well. And on closer examination, the way it opens and closes... it's cyclical, see. It raises, to me, the question of how much of the story is the dream, and how much of the story is the minutia of Octavia's everyday life.

The choice of characters and setting, too, are interesting; I don't think anybody else would have thought to tell this story using Octy, Vinyl, and Lyra, and not, say, Twilight, Rainbow, and maybe Rarity -- who I could easily see fitting their various niches and voices in a more traditionally structured and written piece.

This story takes risks, experiments with structure, and sacrifices a sense of prescriptive meaning and coherence for a dreamy, surreal quality, enhanced by the structure and presentation (I love how the cast of dream-characters never actually say who they are, or what they are, or provide any sense of accounting for themselves. As a reader, it's frustrating, because I want to know what's going on, but as an author, like... dreams be like that, you know? It's a good illustration of how people react to what's presented to them in dreams). I love all of that.

I worry about how this will fare against other stories on my slate, though -- the more traditionally written and structured fare. Because the downside to all this organizational doohickery and experimental bedafflement is that there's a lack of a meaty narrative for me to sink my teeth into -- just the wispy ghost of one.

I wonder if that sounds backhanded or self-contradictory. I don't mean for it to. To me, the story's greatest strength could also weaken it against other stories on my slate. I won't know until I get to them.

But for now: I'm really impressed with this. :)
#57 ·
· on Safely Doomed · >>Samey90 >>AndrewRogue
I don't think this story is finished?

I mean, the ending isn't clear in the least, there are characters being introduced with only dialogue (and no indication of what their roles are) and the final 9 scenes seem to me like notes jotted down by the author to be filled out later. One of those scenes is literally blank.

I understand where Posh is coming from, but even if this is meant to be as difficult to follow as a dream, I have to take a harder line on that approach regardless. I have no idea what happened in this story or what the message or feeling was that I was supposed to take away. That's not good.

And sure, it's just like a dream that way. But if your angle of approach with this story was that "dreams are unclear and confusing," then congrats, you nailed it, but I'm still going to complain that your story was unclear and confusing. I mean, there's an unreliable narrator, and then there's an unreliable story.

But let's move on and talk about the first 3/4ths of your story because they feel actually closer to being finished. Can we talk about your opening? You introduce characters who talk about whose job it is to take out the trash, and all the minutiae and steps involved in that process. It's not incredibly interesting, and none of this gets mentioned again.

Your story isn't a hipstery-bullshit litfic where two roommates complain about their roles and responsibilities in order to portray some hackneyed commentary about the futility of co-operation. No! you were writing a mind-bending exploration of dreams. In short story land, that has to come earlier. And those few paragraphs at the beginning don't count, because they aren't really mind-bendy yet, and all I can see them doing is setting up the less interesting scene that we're about to witness. Octavia practically complains about how mundane the following scene is about to be.

Here's another mind-bendy dream story from the writeoff. Check out that opening scene, and how mind-bendy and dreamlike it is. That's what I'm getting at—the opening scene is making promises to your reader, whether you like it or not, so it's important to grab it by the reins and introduce whatever tone and/or theme you're going for early, or else some other pesky thing will take its place.

Now I'm about to give a compliment that devolves immediately into a critique. Sorry in advance.
See, I found your dialogue to be very good, and you lent excellent voices to the characters, but I thought it was veering awfully close to "talking heads" at points. I would have liked more of the surrounding environment. There's also a lot of internal monologue-ing by Octavia, too, which felt like it was being used as a crutch to keep the story going.

In terms of ranking, whether or not you meant for this to be as "unfinished" as a dream, I'm afraid I have to interpret it as an unfinished entry. But that said, I don't see any reason why it couldn't be expanded (and indeed I want to know more about those final 9 scenes!), but I can't grab hold of this as is.

But still! Thanks for writing and for submitting; you're miles ahead of everyone who didn't submit anything, so well done.

Best of luck!
#58 · 1
· on Starlight over the Bridge · >>Baal Bunny >>Miller Minus
I'm just gonna say that this is my favorite of the entries this month. It really just worked for me in every way that I suspect the author intended. I figured out the twist along with Starlight, I thought the subconscious-projections' one-dimensional voicing was used brilliantly, and I got hit really good by the ending. Not sure why, but Starlight strikes me as a perfect choice for the main character in this.

Hell, I liked this so much that I actually didn't want to give this the 2nd and 3rd read-throughs that I usually give Writeoff entries, just because I was afraid another read might spoil the magic. But really, I couldn't find much to complain about. This is just great.
#59 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Miller Minus
I really like the prose here. The first 1/4 of this story has a surprising amount of scene-setting and tone-setting imagery, but it still read easily and pleasantly, and I think that has a lot to do with the strong sentence and paragraph construction.

As for the jokes, I did think there were a few great ones (like Starlight's "Getting hit in the face" joke), but I have to admit that I bounced off of most of them. I don't consider myself someone with a great understanding of how written comedy works, so take this with a teaspoonful of salt. If, gun to my head, I had to diagnose the cause, I'd say that something about the absurdist-deadpan style of comedy feels like it might be getting defused by the constant chattering dialogue. When characters talk, it's often tension-relieving, and this kind of humor needs the reader to feel a bit uncomfortable with the whole ridiculous situation for it to really work.

In the end, I still think this was a very strong piece. But I'm also eager to see if other reviewers had the same reaction to the comedy as I did, or if I'm an outlier (again!). Thanks for writing!
#60 · 1
· on Just Family · >>MLPmatthewl419 >>Bachiavellian
This is a very cute and well-executed slice of life fic, but I do have some reservations about it that I'd like to talk about.

Author, I think your style in this story was clever and quick and to the point, and I was, for the most part, a fan. But I have to talk about your comedy. For my money, in comedies, the only reason a joke should be being used again is to evolve it, either by progressing it further, recontextualizing it, or something like that.

Scootaloo misses that goddamn dart board seven times, and virtually nothing changes about how it happens. It's kinda funny the first time, and the repetition kinda works on the second, but that's all you've got. At least for me.

But when we get to the end, and she says, Screw it, let's just move the freaking thing? Boom, that joke just evolved, and it's funny again. Now imagine if she did that earlier in the scene. And then she missed it again, landing a dart right where the board used to be. Now it's evolved a second time, and the joke is even in a nice group of three. Jokes work great when they're told three times(evolving twice) and some writers manage to keep a joke running through like ten evolutions, but seven repeats of the same joke in a row is a cardinal sin of comedy in my books.

But don't worry, the effect on the story is minor here—it's more of a missed opportunity than an actual hang-up.

Oh, and one other time you do this is with Twilight's relationship with her book. This is a little better from a comedy perspective, because it's at least progressing a little bit with how it's told, but DUDE. I know she likes books and all but the descriptions went way, way too far for me. I thought you were legitimately going to go some dark sexual-obsession-with-books theme with how much you were leaning on it. It contrasts pretty grossly with the G-rated remainder of the story, and I would recommend scaling it way back. Or even removing it entirely, since it's been done to death before.

Now, for an actual hang-up for this story? I'm not entirely sure what the cutie mark crusaders contribute to the story here. I think if we follow Twilight the entire time and cut them out completely, the character arcs for Spike and Twi effectively play out the same, since Twilight is the one who sets up the last scene by agreeing to wear the costume. Hell, Spike didn't even fully open up to the crusaders, but to Twilight!

And I should be clear: I'm not saying cut out the CMC; they're great. I'm just saying if they're gonna be in there they should probably affect the plot more. Because right now, looking back on that second scene, my scissor senses are tingling.

But that's all from me. Best of luck in the shakedown and thanks for entering!
#61 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Samey90
I'm with >>Bachiavellian, I mostly bounced off this one. And I think he puts it really well that the absurdist deadpan humour just doesn't really fly in such a dire scenario, especially not when everyone's so chatty.

See, even in comedy fimfics, I like seeing the characters act how they normally would to some degree, and having everyone make light of their dead friend just feels like a cop-out for the funnies. Sorry.

And even if I strip the characters I know and love out of the story, I think the comedy needs strengthening too. It's a lot of references to other things that are funny, like the spanish inquisition or the "don't call me Shirley" gags, without really adding anything to them—and the rest is pretty low-brow. Sex jokes and lots of stuff that I've heard before, like the nerd being a lightweight or the cop investigating a car for the wrong infringement (which, by the way, you glossed over so hard that I wasn't sure you even wanted it in there). Also, I totally whiffed on what the PTSD joke was supposed to mean. Moral fibre? What does that have to do with post-traumatic stress?

I also have a similar complaint to Safely Doomed where I don't think your opening is setting up your story very well. It's kind of a standard description of someone waking up from a rager, without much new and funny imagery or backstory put in. Hell I wasn't even sure, for the first few paragraphs, that this was going to be funny. It's quite intentionally gross, instead, which doesn't do you many favours.

That said, I really liked the creativity of the plot here! The solution to the problem was really quite clever, and I loved how you used aspects of the show in your dark little plot here. Honestly, if this were less comedy and more of a legitimate horror/thriller story I think it'd be be, like, tenfold stronger. Really great work on that front.

That's all I can say here, Author. I hope my comments makes sense, and thanks a lot for submitting. I've seen this comedy on fimfiction and writeoff alike with very positive results, so you might just need to be patient and wait for the right audience members to happen on by.

Take care!
#62 · 2
· on A Daughter of Forest Green · >>scifipony
A cute story that plays with some interesting ideas and explores a mythology that hasn't been (at least in what I've read) been explored a lot. I think the concept is solid, it's just in the execution where it ends up stumbling a bit. Realistically, I think there are three key issues that need to be addressed to really help this story shine:

1. Voicing. As >>Baal Bunny says, the voicing feels a bit off to me. Fluttershy reads as way more technically analytic and detail oriented than I feel is right, while Laurel actually ends up reading as rather... urbane? Like I realize technically her voice is being filtered through Fluttershy (which raises some real questions about how Fluttershy's ability actually works when you have like, the puppy/foal confusion - I've always kinda assumed her speaking trick is more just intuitive understanding than word level magical translation but YMMV there), but she is incredibly stiff and formal and has a shockingly strong vocabulary. Like, it actually makes me have trouble believing that Timberwolves don't have like... cities and tech.

Tangentially, your writing style is fairly clipped which can be a bit exhausting. Like take this paragraph:

I sang as I trotted between the trees on an animal path through the underbrush. It smelled like autumn, which was why I had my woven collecting baskets on. I looked for mints and mushrooms and mares-tail fern. Nightmare Night was a couple days away. I wanted to brew a calming tea for Harry the Bear and to bake mint cookies for our lay-in. Chocolate mint ones.

Like, pretty pure subject verb, subject verb, subject verb, subject verb writing that gets real repetitive real fast since each period creates a hard stop in your thinking. Something like (and I apologize this is gonna be mediocre because I'm cracking it out super fast - please do not use it)...

I sang as I trotted along the animal path, the scent of autumn following me from within the baskets I had filled half-full with mint, mushroom, and mares-tail fern. Nightmare Night was only a few days away, so I needed the ingredients to make a calming tea for Harry - plus a batch of chocolate mint cookies for our lay-in.

But you see what I mean? It reads a bit smoother to use slightly more complicated sentences. And there's a lot of places where you tend to fall into this pattern. Watch out for it. Its fine on occasion, but unless there is a specific narrative affect you're going for, try to avoid it.

2. Expositing. We learn a lot about Timber Wolves. Mostly by Laurel giving us a fairly comprehensive lesson on them. Fluttershy also updates on episodes we may have missed. Exposition has its place. Do not trust people who say you should -never- exposit. They will betray you. But you should make sure your expositing helps reinforce your writing. Need to do a quick immerse into a fantasy world? Get some facts out there real fast. Need a quick intro to a character, you can say they are the blacksmith, etc.

Here though, your story is literally about two cultures meetings and coming to understand each other. To have Laurel basically just infodump on Fluttershy is... a real loss. And a lot of their interactions are kinda just... that. They don't really get to know each other as people, instead focusing on facts that are spoken in fairly straightforward ways rather than serving as launching points for them to actually bond with each. Basically, let them talk and trust people to get it.

3. Stakes/Conflict. So this, I think, is the biggest issue. Basically, there are no real stakes to this story and no real conflict exists until the very end of the story. Like, Fluttershy and Laurel agree to hang out pretty fast. Neither is obviously willing to harm the other. If Laurel is discovered, realistically, she gets out fine because Ponyville isn't exactly brimming with ponies who are going to fight with a Timberwolf. And neither Fluttershy or Laurel will really lose anything anyway - we just return to the status quo. In fact, even failure is potentially net positive because the interactions with Fluttershy are good right off the bat.

It was pointed out to me that this story has a lot in common with The Times are a Changeling. Which is true. But it is important to note that, throughout that story, there are real costs. Thorax is being actively pursued by the Crystal Empire's guards. He WANTS to make friends and not return to the hive. Spike is potentially betraying his friends to an enemy. Etc. There are costs to failure. Those don't really exist here.

The same goes for conflict. Fluttershy and Laurel fall out of opposition very fast and the costume solution is had instantly and never really at rist until the very end. I mean, low-conflict stuff is fine, but I'm sort of left with the feeling of "why do ponies have such a bad relationship with TWolves if this is how it's gonna be?"

Also, speaking of conflict, once we get to it... it is actually kinda diluted by the guard/Luna relationship. It eats up a lot of words but doesn't really have any bearing on the story. Especially with shorts it is important to make sure you remain focused on your core ideas. Adding a guard who seems to be crushing on/in love with/in relationship with Luna does not really parallel anything going well enough to be worthwhile, and in absence of that just distracts by making me wonder "Who is she and what is up with that?" If I were to take a wild guess, I'd say you were setting this story in a shared universe with something else you've done. Which is fine, but you should keep those references as just cute side things and not call quite so much attention to them. Because seriously, I should not spend your climax thinking about things unrelated to the rest of the story.

Anyhow, all that said, you've got a cool core here and I think you've got a pretty solid framework that just needs some polishing. Something worth considering if you wanted to take a bigger overhaul of the story would be to introduce Fluttershy to timberwolf culture rather than Laurel to pony culture so that she can serve as a better spokesperson for them. After all, this is a neat setup for the wolves but we get to see very little of it! That said, that's just another take on the idea - yours is perfectly solid too.

Thanks for writing!
#63 · 1
· on Starlight over the Bridge · >>Bachiavellian >>Miller Minus
For my part:

I need way more clues to figure out what's happening. Maybe I'll try a second read-through if I get the time, but right now, I'm left completely unsatisfied. >>Bachiavellian? Maybe you could put up a reply with spoilers to tell me what this story's about?

#64 · 2
· on Starlight over the Bridge · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny
For anyone who's not read the story yet, I strongly urge you to read it before checking out these spoilers. You'd be ruining and missing out on a what is IMHO a stellar experience if you do. Like I said, this'll probably be my top-slater.

That being said, my rough, gross, and entirely too curt summary would be:

It's never said why, how, or when, but Starlight Glimmer is dying, which is the reason why she couldn't wake herself up in the first scene. Everything happening here is her subconcious mind (which is almost portrayed as its own person) desperately trying to give her a little bit of closure before the end, by letting her see her friends a last time and by trying to let her live out the kiss she never got to have with Sunburst. Starlight realizes and accepts this at the end.
#65 ·
· on Safely Doomed
After reading this story, I thought of Philip K. Dick for a moment. My opinion on him is that he could write a solid set-up, but somewhere near the end he either did too much drugs or didn't do enough and thus his books often lapse into some non-sequiturs rather than a satisfying ending. So, I gotta agree with >>Miller Minus that this appears unfinished.
#66 · 1
· on All the Little Lies We Tell Ourselves · >>AndrewRogue

Perhaps that ought to be enough of a critique, but I'll go further, glossing over typos and minor early concision issues enough time to revise you'd obviously fix.

The voices. Smack dab on. You got AJ perfectly without tiring the reader. And Autumn Breeze. I'd bet you turned closed captioning on for her episode, but regardless I heard her sing-song excited dulcet tones in every word... done in the form of a letter! Like dialect in dialog, getting a voice in a letter while making it still seem a letter... Give yourself a pat on the back.

Really, the whole story sings. And in this I include the plot.

Yes, mare-shipping is a MLP trope, but you did the yeoman's work here and I will point it out. Not only do you foreshadow the relationship thing starting with family help to run a farm and escalating to grandfoals, you capture AJ's uneasiness of being attached and zoom from her assumption of a stallion (and foals) to all the things unstated (and issues that would be important in your human reader's society) that a relationship with a mare might cause. Kudos for AJ bringing up the four letter word, love, and not Luna. You sidestepped the deus ex machina trap buddy. Nicely done. Really.

I feel I learned something here, and that is a high compliment.
#67 ·
· on Starlight over the Bridge


OK. Thanks!

Mike Again
#68 · 1
· on Brush Thoroughly to Avoid Periodontal Disease · >>Posh
I really, really like Minuette's characterization here. Seriously, I was really hoping this story would be about her. The endearing confidence with just a touch of snark makes a really charming depiction. Overall, in fact, the voices were always on point, and it made it pretty easy to get invested into each scene.

My issue, though, is that the way things are set up, it really feels like we're ping-ponging from scene to scene. IMO this story could use a serious restructuring, not only to address >>Haze's point about the punchline being revealed too early, but also to make each scene feel less like 1/3 of a plotline. Leaving behind Rarity, Minuette, and Spike--after they got so much characterization and screentime--feels like a lack of closure. Similarly, while I understand that Celesia's proposition to Raven is supposed to be a quick gag, cutting off the interaction right there also feels like a truncation.

Overall, I have to say while this is definitely fun, it's a bit of a fun mess. The parts don't quite feel like they're fully aligned, and while I was entertained, in the end it's hard to get the sense that I consumed a cohesive work.
#69 · 1
· on All the Little Lies We Tell Ourselves · >>AndrewRogue
This is a very strong entry, Author, but I do have some notes. As has been mentioned you did great with AJ and AB's voices, and the writing style here shows a high level of competence (despite the typos) that you don't normally get when EVERYBODY'S RUSHING TO MEET THE DEADLINE AHHHH--

So that's great!

But my number one concern is that you're leaning very, very heavy on the tell-y narration here, and at times it just isn't necessary. See, I like to watch characters' actions and dialogue so that I can interpret what they're feeling on my own. Often when I was reading this story, I felt like I wasn't given that chance, because you would go on to give me the internal workings of AJ's thoughts, and what she's going to do next, and why she's been acting strange... but I don't need to be spoonfed all this stuff. You're already good at natural, free-flowing prose and you have good enough dialogue and actions for us to sort out the story for ourselves. It's just more fun that way.

Another concern was that I think the conflict takes a little long to introduce itself. I mean, it's begging to be there, since this is a big decision AJ would have to make (or would she? see Baal's suggestions). I get that she's diving headfirst into her work in order to avoid the issue at hoof, but you've gone so far in that direction I thought that her being overworked was the actual conflict. I had this critique for another story this round, but it's best to introduce that conflict and its accompanying stakes as early as you can, because otherwise we'll draw the wrong conclusions before we get there.

For the record, I had no idea what the problem was until after the scene where AJ reads the letter, which is just over the halfway point of your story. So basically I'm spending the first half of the story wondering what's happening.

If I might make a suggestion, Granny's remark about meeting a stallion and starting a family feels like it has a lot more weight than you give it here. It could be much stronger if it came earlier, and AJ could be reacting a lot more severely to it (internally and/or externally). That, coupled with a passing thought of what Autumn Blaze has been up to lately (or something), and suddenly it'll all be crystal clear, and we can see it evolve from there. And you won't have to flatly explain anything to us, either.

Lastly, I'll hit you with the big concern I get with most fimfiction romances, which is, Why? Why these two? Love is great, but it is not completely sight-based as Luna implies. What does Applejack mean to Autumn Blaze? Apples, it looks like? That isn't really enough to make someone think, "I've found the one for me."

And what does Autumn Blaze mean to Applejack? I have no idea, from this story, except to fulfill the role as a love interest. I wanted to see what the connection was for AJ. And hoping for a chance to tackle each other down a hill is not having a connection.

There's a lot of ways people make connections (usually referred to as 'chemistry'), and it's such a crucial ingredient in romance. But I'm just not seeing it here. Perhaps if you ask yourself, Why these two? then it might become clearer.

But that's all I've got. I think this would be well received on fimfiction after another editing pass for those typos. Thanks for writing and best of luck to you, friendo!
#70 · 1
· on Pinkamena’s Bellyache · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Full disclosure, I'm going to abstain from this one, because I'll be honest and say that this kind of story is just not for me. I had the exact same problem with the other Finnegans Wake story, Pinkamina's Wake from a couple of years ago, in that this sort of thing ended up feeling like a huge investment of effort for a modest payoff.

It's entirely a personal thing, I know. But as well as this kind of writing can express the mad world of the inside of Pinkie's head, I get frustrated reading this. There's just too much time and effort spent on my part. I know for certain that I'm not the strongest reader (and Pinkamina's Wake did win first place in its Writeoff), so please take this as just one person's gut reaction.
#71 · 1
· on Starlight over the Bridge · >>Miller Minus
“Baby, no!” Studburst exclaimed, devoid of emotion.

“Quiet, you.”

#72 ·
· on A Daughter of Forest Green · >>scifipony
Those two handsome... handsome people above me have given you great reviews, and I agree with everything that they've said. But I don't want to beat you over the head with things that have already been said, so I'll stick with what I think was my biggest hang-up with the story, and the part that needs the most attending to, which is Laurel herself.

It's tough to write a story about a character who grew up in a different culture, but the payoff is oh so interesting and oh so worth it when it's done right. And I think that a pitfall this story has fallen into is that Laurel here has been designed as a representation of her culture first, and a character second. To some this may seem like a good idea, since the culture conflicts within these types of stories are kind of the point, but a cultural representative is a very academic thing, see, and she often comes off like a textbook or as the physical embodiment of a dissertation on Timberwolves. And that can get very dry, very fast.

Characters are defined by their upbringings—by their friends and their parents or lack thereof—the things they've experienced, and the ideals that have been passed down to them. They aren't defined so much by their centuries-old history, or by their physiology, which are two aspects that you dive very deep into here (academically so).

But I couldn't tell you anything about what Laurel the Timberwolf experienced growing up, what her ideals are, or anything like that. She only talks about those two parts—the history and the physiology—of being a timberwolf, but that doesn't give me a great inkling on her actual culture. What is she herself like?

Put simply: A timberwolf would be molded by timberwolf culture, and the best way I'm going to understand that molding process is to see the finished product.

As an example: A great way to make us more interested is to show what conflict she herself has had with other timberwolves. Maybe, for example, she's a rulebreaker, and timberwolves are surprisingly very strict when it comes to rules (curfews, routines, etc.), and it pisses her the hell off. Boom, suddenly we know something about Laurel and her culture all in one quick paragraph or sentence of dialogue. These types of things can take your story very far, and can make us readers fall head over heels for your character.

But yes, the voices need tightening, the conflict doesn't come until the end, and you need to stop referencing old episodes so much. But! I will say that I've read a couple of these timberwolves-meet-ponies-and-must-get-along stories, but I feel this one has the most potential of what I've seen. This idea can definitely be turned into something that fimfiction will widely enjoy.

Thanks for writing, and best of luck with your whole thing, girl!
#73 ·
· on Pinkamena’s Bellyache · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Well that was peculiar! But that's the reaction you were going for, so well done! The voicing is well executed and the fun plays on this awful language we call English were very interesting to read, if a little bit hard at times.

I don't have much to suggest because I get the impression that the Author's goal is to run this experiment and practice X-treme Creative Writing, so saying that the experiment succeeded feels like all I can offer.

But the story itself? Uh. It was really gross at a lot of instances—approaching deviantart-inflation-fetish levels of gross. I have to admit to liking the story right up until the Gabafallanks showed up, and then it's just... yeah, ew.

So I don't expect to rank this high on my slate, but for what you were trying to do, you succeeded. So thanks for writing and entering, Author, and best of luck to you!
#74 ·
· on Pumpkin Spice Season
This had:

A lot of funny moments, author, but that's kind of all it had. Maybe that's all it needs, but for a guy like me who longs for closure, the way the story stops rather than coming to an actual ending that resolves the various conflicts and stuff like that, well, it made me sigh sadly and shake my head. Still, much abundant fun, as they used to say.

#75 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Bachiavellian >>Samey90
Bottom of the slate for that last line.

More seriously though... a solidly well-written story that pulled a few real smiles out of my unreasonably grumpy self this evening. The prose is all competently delivered, dialogue works, structure is maybe a little weird (the cop and Lyra interludes don't really end up adding much, the Starlight bit goes by real fast given the way you paced earlier scenes, etc).

Voicing I struggled with a bit. Sunset was fine. Sunset has a surprisingly flexible attitude that translates well across a multitude of scenarios, including weird black comedy. Pinkie on the other hand felt surprisingly understated and honestly a bit mean the way she snipes a couple times (the AJ/RD zombie comment, the Frankenstein correction). Like she really wasn't that loud or boisterous or even strange; she was just super blase about the whole experience. Which feels like a waste of your Pinkie Pie if you're going go with a black comedy.

The ending also feels like it just fell a bit flat. The punchline... exists? It just didn't really feel funny outside that groaner of a pun. The remainder of it... I guess, if I really try to apply myself to the analysis of humor, the issue is that the joke sort of exists outside the sphere of Sunset and Pinkie. It really isn't their fault, it doesn't really matter to them, it isn't going to come back to bite them, etc, etc. It's a sort of disconnected punchline because it comes back to Starlight who was honestly written as kind of a tertiary plot device here. So the joke ends up really not mattering because it doesn't tie back to our characters in any way. Or something.

I don't know. As I try to write this, I'm struggling a bit to really figure why this story didn't super work for me. I mean, don't get me wrong. It was fine. I'm fairly sure you'd get some laughs out of it and do well on FiMFic. I guess the best advice is I could offer would be to try and tighten it up a bit. Cut some of the fat and keeps us against the humor. Like the hub cap thing doesn't really add anything but a few second distraction. Lose that. If you want to maintain the Lyra scene, it either needs to barely exist (basically be the horse dildo joke and that's all) or tie back into the main narrative in some way. Etc, etc.

Looking up at the other comments now, I think I'm going to suggest the opposite solution: you need to lean into your absurdist comedy a bit. The stakes we have set here are "Fluttershy's death is an inconvenience that we need to deal with." Once we've got the mortality of a best friend at that level, we've basically established a world where death doesn't -really- matter. And thinking on it, I think that's maybe how you should approach this. Life is cheap and meaningless. There should be bodies piling up in the wake of whatever Sunset and Pinkie are trying to do. Death should come fast, stupid, and unfair. And then they should arrive in Ponyville with a heap of corpses that they force Starlight to fix, leading to the colossal fuck up wherein Starlight accidentally scrambles everyone's memories, leading to some punchy final joke and a lead out on Sunset and Pinkie having learned nothing. Hell, have it end with Fluttershy returning with Lyra's lust for horse. Or something like that. But I think with the tone you've got going on, that's probably the better pattern.

Also, I totally don't get the PTSD joke either. I guess it is a pony culture is kinda fucked up thing, but yeah, it is also another joke that is surprisingly cutting given how normalish things can be in this fic.

Thank for writing!
#76 ·
· on Fall Back

A lot of fun, but I'll agree with those above who suggest editing the details and adding more hints in the middle about what's going to happen at the end. Also, Luna says she'll be stopping by during the evening festivites, so maybe have her show up during the big time switch to reassure everypony that this is only happening in Ponyville. And I always like to have characters come to some sort of inner realization when they meet themselves. It just seems like such a good opportunity for self-reflection... :)

#77 · 1
· on Just Family · >>Bachiavellian
I will say, simply, this was a little... disappointing? Lackluster? Just not quite where it should have been.

Now, >>Miller Minus happened to cover a lot. Except for the darts, I really liked how you did the darts.

I mean, the... core, I guess... here is one I've seen before. Twilight and Spike haven't spent time together in awhile, one of them tries to do something, it fails initially, then works out in the end. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with this. In fact, I really think this is a good central story to build around. I've seen it pulled off masterfully and very poorly. This one... falls between.

It is good. Remember that. It just could be a whole lot better. The whole Twilight-book descriptions here are really out there. Toning them down a bit would be an amazing thing to do. The CMC scene does feel kinda pointless unless we see a change in Twilight too. Or at least something that shows she's actually kinda busy and just decided to have priorities. Actually, on the CMC note, you switch POVs a lot. You start out with Twilight as the focus, then Spike, then Twilight... then both? It feels a little weird.

And then in that last scene, I was finding it really hard to actually stay interested in reading it. I'm not sure what's up, but despite multiple readings, I still haven't been able to read everything there.

Finally, I also noted a couple instances of this:
Twilight really didn’t like being called “dude”. It didn’t even make sense.
Now, I'm not gonna say something dumb like 'show don't tell,' cause that doesn't help you. First sentence, you really should have included some form of action from Twilight. Something as simple as "Twilight grimaced. She really..." would have helped tremendously. Or, hay, "Twilight did not like being called 'dude.' " would have worked beautifully.
As for the second sentence, um, duh? Like, in my honest opinion, that's just plain irrelevant. The point is she hates it. We know it doesn't make sense. <-- This is specific to that particular example though.

One more time though, THIS IS GOOD. I just focused on the negative so it can become better. Because I really want to see it be the best it can.
#78 ·
· on Fall Back · >>Rao >>Baal Bunny
I don't... really feel the weight of the message you're trying to convey, author. There's a sliver of profundity in the theme that Discord expresses, but the events of the story, and the dialogue (outside of Discord's own explicit recitation of the story's moral), don't feel like they're propping it up effectively.

Part of it might be pacing; as noted above, this story has a serious problem with summary, with telling. Part of it might just be the tension between the whimsical events and interactions and the more somber message that Discord expresses at the story's end, which, I think, blindsides the reader. I could see this story finishing on a strong, bittersweet note, but I want to see a story that builds to that note.

To be blunt, if you're going to bring in the old Immortality Blues trope, at least justify it through the events of the story.

(You know what might be a good place to do that? Twilight's dialogue with herself. Just saying.)

I realize this puts me at odds with the consensus of my peers again, but yeah... in its current form, I don't feel this story's really doing what you want it do. It made me snicker and laugh; it's got some great character moments, and Discord is impeccably well voiced. But I don't think it signifies what you want it to signify. I'm sorry.
#79 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Samey90
I'mma be real, Author. Between the toilet humor, the comedic sociopathy, and the pop culture references, I think you're trying way, way too hard to be funny. And it backfires.

Like, a lot.

On a surface level, this resembles two stories from previous write-offs: Spin the Wheel, Win a Prize, and Solving for Death. Both of those had similar premises, but succeeded by doing things drastically differently, and more effectively, than this one. In the former's case, Soarin' and Spitfire remained well-voiced and in character (given what few snapshots we have of them from the show canon), despite the subject matter and the conflict. In the latter, the humor came from the fact that everybody was horrified by what Starlight Glimmer did, except for Starlight Glimmer herself. Her sociopathy was funny because it was treated like sociopathy.

(I'd also add that the elements which contributed to the conflict were set up more effectively, whereas this has a Hangover premise that it quickly abandons)

In this, the characters feel like unnatural, Abridged Series recreations of themselves. The humor doesn't derive from the characters, and doesn't feel in character. And, germane to that, absolutely nobody is even remotely put off by the fact that Fluttershy, one of everyone's dearest friends, straight-up killed herself.

And I can see why that might be funny. I loved Wheel and Solving, after all. But those stories did the same subject matter and conflict leagues better than this one.

I'm sorry for being so blunt with my critique. If it helps, I thought that some of the lines were genuinely witty.

It's just, they didn't feel right coming from these characters.
#80 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse
Looking up at the other comments now, I think I'm going to suggest the opposite solution: you need to lean into your absurdist comedy a bit.

Just to clarify, my main point in bringing up the absurdist humor style isn't that I didn't like it, it's that I thought it clashed with the tension-relieving dialogue. Like, I felt like the jokes were trying to catch me off-kilter with their weirdness, but the steady back and forth between Sunset and Pinkie kind of drained that nervous energy away. So I'm not really in the emotional state to get tipped over by any of the gags.
#81 · 2
· on All the Little Lies We Tell Ourselves · >>AndrewRogue
Some of our other reviewers mentioned the strength of the voices here, and I just wanted to echo that thought. And I also really want to give kudos for making Autumn Blaze's letter read like a letter. Epistolary fiction is really easy to get wrong, but you made that section a real highlight.

In terms of critique, I would say that the stakes in the dream sequences before Luna intervenes feel really low. I mean, it's not just the fact that we know it's a dream, it's also that the driving conflict,mortal peril doesn't really mean much in a dream. I think the dreams would have felt stronger if you framed Applejack's desperation in some other way.

Also, I really thought that the hints about Granny Smith and the Apple Clan expecting Applejack to have kids would play a bigger role. It seemed like you were setting up an internal conflict between Applejack's desire to be with Autumn and her love for her family, which I thought was a really interesting angle. But in the end, the conflict is settled by Applejack learning to embrace her feelings. It just doesn't feel quite as substantial as what it seemed to be at first.

In the end, I do think that there's some very solid writing, voices, and construction here. But the ending does leave me feeling a little unsatisfied, maybe because you've made me want to see Applejack actually interacting with Autumn, instead of just the first bit of her letter. Maybe a new flash-forward scene with Autumn and Applejack talking to the Apple family would help tie up the lingering threads? I don't know, I'm just spitballing. :P

I think the fact that I desperately want more of this story is a sign that you've nailed a lot of things. I just wish that the conflict felt a little more resolved.
#82 · 2
· on Brush Thoroughly to Avoid Periodontal Disease · >>Posh
I like that Phoenix Dust being a bangin' drug has become something of a WriteOff canon, now. Or maybe already was with the crowd at large. I don't know. Digression.

I dissent from my esteemed fellows above, with regard to set up/ping-ponging. There's a very clear throughline between the three sections—the mishandled candy—that keeps everything feeling in scope for my taste. We do get some very good characterization with Minuette et. al., but Ponderous Pinkie and Candy Craven Celestia were also treat (ha!) to read through.

I also appreciate the Garmonbozia reference for no apparent reason. Properly Pinkie, perhaps.

Edit: Also the allusion to Super Stoner Luna being reminiscent of her guest spot as the Ghost of Hearth's Warming Future was neat.
#83 ·
· on Safely Doomed · >>Posh
Bottom of the slate for making Octavia straight.

This one is a bit harder to talk about because without knowing how it actually ends it is hard to draw conclusions about the material prior. What little we have of the later scenes is fairly strange and honestly I'm not sure I like the direction you appeared to be taking? The story was working for me as a somewhat fantastical bit of melancholy mundanity, while the end seems to go full bore into magical forces opposing her? But that is me making guesses based off random snippets so.

The internal responses from Octavia at the beginning are odd in that they don't really come up again. If you are going to make that sort of interaction so prominent right at the beginning (like she basically does it in response to every Lyra line), then it ends up feeling forgotten when you don't actually continue. You establish Octavia as a fairly reserved person with a strong internal dialogue, then no more. She is much more externally communicative! If that is how it is to be, you should probably reign it in a bit so it isn't such a sudden jump.

On the other hoof, it was a fun place to meet cute boys who didn't know what they were doing.

This line was clearly added to spite me, personally, so I recommend removing it. More seriously though, it and the other boy related line later down that scene actually feel really out of place. For reals, no shipping jealousy here. It just seems very at odds with the character as presented. Nothing about her or the situation she's in (given the tenor of the previous scene or the scene this is in) gives any indication she'd be looking to score, so calling it out here feels a lot more like you going "I'm not shipping the music pones, fuckers" than an actual narrative thought.

Actually, you have a few really weird lines in general that just super jump out at me like that. For example, referring to Vinyl factually as a friend from orchestral class while... not actually identifying anything about Lyra or Bon Bon. Cigarettes are really weird. When she finally snaps at Lyra, having a line that tells us she loses her temper before she loses her temper. Etc. Your choice on soft and hard break points also feels a little erratic. I don't really have quick, fix all solutions for these, just thought it'd help to bring them to attention.

You do manage the banal mode of life and the sort of dreamless quality of drifting through that existence quite well, and the blend of the two is obviously a solid thing. Like, the tone is there, the mood is well delivered and I was definitely invested by about the mid-point, but as >>Miller Minus points out you take a little while to get there. I think the initial banality is important, but I also think it wouldn't hurt to speed things up by reducing the time Vinyl and her chat about the minutae of transcripts maybe? I dunno, the trash worked for me, but you lost me with the weird course issues she was having.

Unfortunately, that's... kinda where I have to end the review. I would definitely like to see how this ends and I very much like the mood this is set in, but without actually hitting the true meat of the story I'm not really able to comment on much else. Still, hopefully that provides some insight that helps you finish it later.

Thanks for writing!
#84 · 4
· on Safely Doomed · >>AndrewRogue

Bottom of the slate for making Octavia straight.

Don't pretend you didn't write the only story on the ballot with Vinyl and Octavia.
#85 · 1
· on Safely Doomed · >>Posh
>>Posh You don't think I'd still bottom slate myself for it?
#86 ·
· on Pinkamena’s Bellyache · >>GroaningGreyAgony
maybe a peek though Alice's opium-filled looking glass

Interestingly, I was just thinking about Jabberwocky. Maybe it's because of 'Twas Brillig from the previous round.
#87 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Bachiavellian >>Samey90
Pretty cleanly written manuscript and the story holds together, especially considering the time restraints we wrote under and despite the pun.

I will mention that I was off-put by the initial graphicness, but that's wimpy me so take it from a one readers's pov.

Then I thought, would Sunset be this cool around the collar under the pressure of the ultimate discovery in act 1? I eventually decided yes because of her bad girl background and that in-canon she only seems to get flustered about non-concrete issues of relationships and feelings she doesn't quite understand. That I had to substantiate that mentally may mean you should lampshade it with an appropriate sentence or two.

The main issue I had was how you used the plot device of worsening. Act 1 and act 2 were perfect. Toilet, tub, rope, carpet, police, Lyra—escalating stakes and reasonable outcomes.

Act 3, though? I prefer to think you ran out of time writing and paraphrased your outline/treatment. Though plot advancement by stupidity, which Sunset explicitly avoids is nice... really, you wanted something to go wrong with the ritual, didn't you? Not a digression to have a fight scene here. Starlight in-canon is stronger magically than Twilight and arguably even Celestia, and you kind of implicitly show that, but EqG Pinkie gives you an out to let something slip out; indeed, I took that as foreshadowing. Between Starlight and Sunset, they could handle a stinking demon, and since you mentioned it, what would an MLP demon look like? The story needs that worsening to make the feat of bringing back the dead feel earned, and that's really all your story lacks. I think you also showed and didn't tell fetching the clone and the comedy you implied there. Would seem natural to send Sunset to help catch Fluttershy. I look forward to your rewrite!

Again, I put the flaw down to time constraints.

Otherwise, the story was a hoot.
#88 ·
· on Safely Doomed
>>AndrewRogue Nice try, but we all know you can't vote on your own stories. And Octy's heterosexuality could just as easily be a tactic to disarm people who'd guess your authorship. Further, there is no evidence in the text to suggest that Octavia isn't bisexual; this could be at a point in time before she developed feelings for Vinyl.

*mic drop*
#89 ·
· on Safely Doomed
All of what I am about to write is likely the result of not having time to revise a hastily written story and hitting a deadline.

There is a writing truism. If you don't know where to start a story, start writing anyway. By the time you finish, you'll know where the story actually began—and know where to cut.

Your story begins in the segment where lucid dreaming comes up. (I was a lucid dreamer once so I like what you did there.) Everything before it is loosely written and feels like padding.

Little things like using the word altitude made me think the protagonist was a flying pegasus; my best guess afterwards was they were on a second floor. You make assertions about curriculum and changing requirements that don't jibe with my experience at university (albeit not at a conservatory) and feels unresearched or made up. The sequence with spitting out the pen is something even a unicorn would know and an earth pony wouldn't mention. All of it and more destroys verisimilitude. It almost seems like the thread of Lyra, despite the stir-fried rice scene that I adored, was completely superfluous to the story as a whole, ie, about lucid dreaming.

There is a huge story to be mined there, but in the end it feels glossed over, or as others mentioned, unfinished.
#90 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Samey90 >>Posh >>scifipony
Starlight in-canon is stronger magically than Twilight and arguably even Celestia

Wait, really?? When did that happen?
#91 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse
Celestia? I doubt it. If Starlight was as strong as Celestia, she'd have dropped the sun on someone she didn't like a long time ago. Possibly sometime during her evil phase.
#92 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Samey90 >>AndrewRogue
>>Bachiavellian It's debatable. The show has variously depicted her as weaker, or equal in power, to Twilight, but it's never shown her to have surpassed Twilight in strength.

I think she's just more willing to cut loose than Twiggy is, and doesn't hold herself back to the same extent.
#93 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Bachiavellian >>Samey90
Asking for an academic discussion? Okay. In the spirit of friendship...

Twilight and Starlight had a magic duel. Starlight obviously beat Twilight horn on horn. (I stipulate friendship magic is a unicorn of a different color altogether.). Judging by the number of high level spells uniquely Starlight's, like her flying spell, her invisibility spell, her mind control off-hand concocted spell, and her turning Discord into a ghost... Need I say more?

As for Celestia, that's debatable but the scores are Celestia vs Crysalis 0:1 and Starlight vs Crysalis 1:0. And don't forget somepony switched some royal ponies' cutie marks, essentially announcing she could also nullify their powers by transferring them to a third pony. For Celestia, raising the sun is a powerful trick, but just a trick. There is that immortality thing, but she insists she was made (not in a vampire sense) and not born an alicorn. Who's stronger is still debatable, but other than blasting clouds or Crysalis or a long distance teleport, I haven't seen any additional impressive spells.
#94 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse
Oh, I actually knew about those things! It's just that I haven't been keeping up religiously with the new season (have yet to see the finale, among other episodes), so the way you worded it made me think I missed something.
#95 ·
· on Brush Thoroughly to Avoid Periodontal Disease · >>Posh
Bottom of the slate for dental work. I hate thinking about the dentist.

Honestly, this feels like the denouement of a larger story. Which I suppose is the point, since it is leaning into the "after Nightmare Night" concept. The problem is that by leaning into it we end up without... anything actually happening. Just aftermath. You do do a good job of creating a sceneflow that emulates progression so it doesn't bog down or feel totally disconnected, but yeah, there's not really any real stakes or conflict or development or change or even action. It's just a series of scenes vaguely linked around a single idea.

And the scenes are entertaining and well written! You've got nice back and forth between the characters. The little jokes are cute. They progress nicely.

Actually, I'm going to interrupt myself. The Rarity scene is fun. The Celestia scene is fun. The Pinkie scenes are not, really. This is the second time I this round I feel we've had a very understated Pinkie who is kind of limp and low energy, more a self-focused snarker than the expected bundle of frantic energy. And here that is particularly unfortunate because her scenes are supposed to serve as the throughline and I just find myself not caring in the least because, well, she doesn't really have the energy to carry them.

So yeah. Ultimately, my suggestion is to figure out what the story you really want to tell is and go in on making it a full story. As is, it's really just two amusing vignettes bound by a somewhat limp bit of connective tissue.

Thanks for writing!
#96 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse
turning Discord into a ghost...

Well, this one didn't work as intended, since she wanted to banish him from school altogether. Also, as >>Posh pointed out, Starlight just has a shorter fuse. Twilight had her "mind control gone wrong" episode in Lesson Zero, and I don't think we've seen any other unicorn using that spell before. Does that mean want-it, need-it is unique for Twilight, though? I guess Starlight's spells aren't unique for her either.

As for levitating herself, Twilight's limit seems to be stopping the whole fight with her magic in Hooffields and McColts. Guess lifting her own weight would be easy in comparison. She just doesn't have to do that since she has wings.

Also, as for unicorn strength, I wonder how Alicorn Amulet!Trixie and Shining Armor place on the scale.
#97 ·
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Rao
I haven't read this story yet, but I gotta get in on the pony power level discussion.

EDIT: I actually thought this was a different story: apparently I did read this one.

In direct confrontation, Starlight has definitely not shown herself to be more powerful than Twilight unless I am misremembering the finale. Their actual Twilight to Starlight fight was equal at best, with Twilight being able to shield herself from Starlight's best offense (as demonstrated in the premiere where she no-sold the death laser). What she was failing to do was stop Starlight from disrupting a race involving kids, so I don't think her losing at that repeatedly is really the same as being outmatched by Starlight.

EDIT: It is possible I'm forgetting a later episode or something though. I dunno. I really need to rewatch the last couple seasons at some point.

On the subject of Celestia... well. Pony power level is ultra-inconsistent. The best appearance we have of Alicorn power is Twilight vs Tirek. If you compare Twilight's feats against Tirek to her feats against Starlight, the power gap is insane, meaning that the older Alicorns are likely on an entirely different level since, even accounting for that being the combo of Celestia/Luna/Cadence.

But honestly pony power level is 100% inconsistent and untrackable, with magic being pretty handwave-y so there really isn't much you can do but flail at examples and try to reconcile them. But my general takeaway would be Starlight is at Twilight's level, she's just a bit more obsessive and leans on dangerous effects more often.
#98 · 1
· on Two Girls, One Corpse · >>Samey90
Building on this a bit: Starlight is very much an emotive caster, I think. Her baseline skill and strength are higher than average to begin with, plus she's damned clever, but seems to jump dramatically when she gets really fired up about something (i.e., Trixie being a little too Trixie). Starlight v. Twilight comes down to a lot of one pony not wanting to break time any worse (like when Twi accidentally blocked Rainbow Dash) and one not giving a hoot because she's using [BITES THE DUST].

Now as for the story itself, I think I agree that you don't quite lean hard enough into the absurdity with Fluttershy's suicide. Unlike the above, I'm not sure exactly how to go about fixing it in a comprehensive manner. I will say, though, that the final gag with FlutterClone starting the cult feels really off-tone for the rest of the humor. Just my fevered instinct talking, but I sense there's a better joke to be told there. Maybe if Starlight set the whole incident up to gain a foothold in the human world? I dunno.
#99 ·
· on Pinkamena’s Bellyache · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Well okay then. I hope I don't get assaulted by sleep paralysis while digesting that heaping helping of a hedon-headed hydra. About half way through part two, I was thinking "it would be cool of this happened every time Pinkie gorged; so basically all the time." Then lo and behold!

The bait-and-switch here was a daring choice. To go from prim prose Pinkie to Willy Wonka's Wet Nightmare is a helluva tone change, but I think it slides through pretty well using the imagery of sleep paralysis to bridge the gap. Strange use of random German for no obvious reason, but I'm okay with that, too because hey, German is fun.
#100 · 1
· on Fall Back · >>Baal Bunny
Bottom of the slate for wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

This one is also a bit hard for me in that it also doesn't... really have a consistent thematic or narrative throughline, if that makes sense. The festival happens and we follow it, but there is no real reason. Much like Brush Thoroughly before, there is a distinct lack of strong conflict or stakes; after a certain point, we are just following Twilight around a party and waiting for another shoe to drop. It leaves the middle of the story feeling really limp, which then leaves us going into a fairly somber ending without really understanding why.

I will say that you do do an excellent mood of setting a sort of melancholy mood about the whole affair despite it ostensibly being a celebration. Like, I half-suspected this story from about the midpoint was just going to go with some weird dark angle of this actually all indeed being a plot. Which I think is testament to your mood setting, because there's no real reason to suspect that besides the somewhat melancholy underpinings of the story.

The problem really just is that it doesn't carry through.

"Thank you." Twilight nodded, turned, and started back to the table where her friends sat.

Right there is the spot where I think the story kinda falters, because it really does seem like everything is all resolved (which, really, was just Twilight being suspicious for no real reason) within the next few paragraphs and we're left with what seems to be an exceptionally long conclusion... until it turns out that there was still a big revelation waiting in the wings which I think is weaker for how much it comes out of nowhere.

I think establishing the idea of the mortality woes earlier (either right away at the beginning or as the end of act 1) and letting Twilight go through the whole celebration understanding what this is and trying to help Discord (especially because it is a bit of an odd thing coming from him) and letting her come to wrestle with the same thing would work a lot better in giving the story a solid groundwork and really sells the plight. I also think Day of the Dead just doesn't work as a name. In addition to being really on the nose, the real world affiliation is just too strong for it to work.

All that aside, like I said, you nail the mood super well. The voicing is great (the best Pinkie I've read this round!). A lot of the stuff here is great. The story just needs to have a cleaner throughline and it will really shine.

Beyond that... some minor technical notes. It feels like you go one sentence too long in a few places.

"Hey, now," came one more familiar voice, and Twilight looked to see Applejack in her regular hat glaring at Rarity in a slouch-brimmed fedora that seemed to glow with every color of the autumn leaves. "If you was up ev'ry morning like some of us, you'd see how powerful dark it is this time of year. After this whole switcheroo, though, the clocks're more in sync with what I'm actually doing when I'm actually doing it. Matter of fact, I wish they'd go back to making the change the weekend before Nightmare Night, but I reckon the princesses get their reasons."

Like here is a good example. The second sentence of her second dialogue block kinda hits that "I know what DST is, Applejack! Don't need to tell me". There are a few other places where you do it, so it jumped out at me.

And the word "crunchily" needs to be taken out back and shot.

Thanks for writing!