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And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 7
#2 · 3
Godspeed, fellow ponyfolk! My pony novel finishes coming out next Friday, so unfortunately I’m [REDACTED] deep in making that happen ATM.

#3 ·
I'm a dirty bird.
#4 · 1
I'll do my best to participate this weekend.
#5 · 2
Excited for this writeoff! Hopefully I can make something if my plans are cancelled...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!! ❄️❄️❄️
#6 · 5
· · >>MLPmatthewl419 >>Posh
Holy crap I think I’m free for once this year.

…Well, except for SAR training, but that’s just the morning, and that mostly involves me sitting around waiting to be found by a dog team.
#7 ·
My thesis course ends this Monday, so chances are I won't be able to write.
Then again, I'll have plenty of time and a lot of pent up stress to vent with the art round, so there's that.
#8 · 6
*BREAKING NEWS: horizon found in a tree writing saucy fanfiction*
#9 · 3
· · >>Zaid Val'Roa
β€œTuesday After Lunch…?”

β€œMistakes Were Made. For What it’s Worth…”

β€œI’ll Believe It When You Say It.”

β€œThat Time I Accidentallyed…? Growing Pains, One Mare Army. The Simple Magic of a Good Book and a Fireplace, Burning Brightest.”

β€œBeyond the Pale. Retrospection?”

β€œChallenge Accepted! Measure for measure?”

β€œFamiliar Uncomfortableness. Where The Sun Don’t Shine? There was a hole here. It’s gone now.”

β€œHelp is Coming. A New Resolution!”

β€œFirst of Many. An Accident Waiting to Happen; Something Vaguely Hearth’s Warming Related. The Twelve Days After Hearth’s Warming, Going Blank Again. One Hundred and One Days of Winter. Enough (censored) Snow!”

β€œFive Golden Rings?”

β€œHollow Holiday. And at the End, You Shall Remain Alone.”
#10 · 3
Familiar Uncomfortableness. Where The Sun Don’t Shine

#11 · 5
I've forgotten what it's like to enjoy writing. I've left my most recent story on "incomplete" for months, and there's a similar gap between that chapter and the one before it.

So I've come back to where I started.

Funny how life works...
#12 · 1
· · >>Rocket Lawn Chair
Y'all know the drill. Saturday night, #mentors, drop off stuff you want help polishing.
#13 · 2
Are turds accepted?
#14 · 1
How is it Christmas again already and why does that make me depressed?!
#15 · 9
· · >>Anon Y Mous
In before a dozen stories about Luna/Celestia/Twilight alone at the end of the world because immortality sad.
#16 · 1
· · >>MLPmatthewl419
>>Cold in Gardez
You underestimate us CIG...

I'm predicting 13
#17 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
>>Anon Y Mous
Technically, that's still a dozen... it's just a baker's dozen.
#18 · 2
I can already feel the angst with this one.
#19 · 4

a baker's dozen


Pinkie alone at the end of the world?

#20 · 5
It’s in. I swear I shall never write pony again after this one.

Good luck to everyone!
#21 · 1
· · >>Posh
Sweet, my prompt won.

Time to enjoy the angst.
#22 ·
Woooooo! I did a thing! Wasn't soon enough, but at least I'm writing again.
#23 · 1
>>Whitbane Damn, that's an edgy prompt.

I'm proud of you.
#24 ·
· · >>horizon
>>horizon i want to be found by dogs...
#25 · 2
Sorry, m'boy. They found me, then we all left. At the end, you shall remain alone.
#26 · 2
Y'know the thing where someone apologizes for their entry in advance, and everyone sorta just rolls their eyes? Well it's been a solid 18 months since I've written anything, and I've certainly not gotten any better in that time.

So, uh, apologies in advance folks.
#27 · 3
It's been a long time since I wrote anything.

Not my greatest work ever, but I got something done and posted, so that's better than I've done in a long time.

Good luck to everyone! I'll see you on the flipside.
#28 · 2
· on A Slow Death · >>horizon
#29 · 2
· on The Game of Thrones and Ponies
β€œWait, Twilight. All those dice rolls are sixes. You’re cheating!”

β€œWhat????You gave me loaded dice??”
#30 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
Doggonit! I wanted to join this one and forgot until just now.

Dang it. I'm gonna have to get someone to start poking me over these things...
#31 · 2
You’re welcome to review, though :P :P :P
#32 · 3
· on My Immortal
I was drawn in by the title, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is motherbucking hilarious! Kudos Author. I might just have to vote an actual slate here to put this at the top.

I mean, this is ultimately mostly just a pile of atmosphere and jokes held together with deft comic timing. But what a pile! Give me a pile like this any day.

See you in the sex mines! XD
#33 ·
· on My Immortal
And, uh, bring a towel. In fact, bring two.

Let's hope she knows where her towel is.

Also, while I feel the immortality/immorality typo is a horse that's been ridden to death at least twice, the story is still pretty enjoyable.
#34 · 1
· on The Game of Thrones and Ponies
Risk, Diplomacy, and Monopoly – most definitely the easiest to test your friendship (but I guess Monopoly would end with everyone hating each other).
#35 · 3
· on Twilight, By Herself, On A Holiday Afternoon · >>TitaniumDragon
So, that's, uhh... a really weird setting for something that basically boils down to Twilight telling someone "I'm asexual. Let me educate you on the subject". Like, what was the point of this whole sci-fi stuff, aside from boosting the word count?
#36 ·
· on A Slow Death · >>horizon
#37 · 1
· on Afterword
It's "Apple Bloom". Two words. But then, I think Granny Smith died, so it's not the time to complain.
#38 ·
· · >>Pascoite >>Monokeras
Sorry I can't be in this one. Had a story, but lost to catching a cold.

This also prevents me from reviewing, I fear.
#39 · 1
· · >>Monokeras
Yeah, best stay back if you're contagious.
#40 · 1
· on In Manehattan, You're Never Alone
I had to reread the middle section a couple of times, being thrown off by your description of royal guards shooting anyone who tries to leave the city. Seems kinda severe, doesn't it? Unless, somehow, Coco can spread her nymphomania to other ponies, turning them into sex-crazed zombies, I don't know why they'd take such drastic measures to contain the outbreak. We'd have a real fun B-movie plot on our hands if that was the case, though. But even after re-reading it, I still don't think I completely understood what was happening.

I do like how utterly blase Coco was about the news of single-handedly infecting ten percent of Manehattan. That, coupled with her memory loss made me imagine her as a sexual sleeper agent, which was pretty amusing. Though, I wonder how they determined she was the source of all those cases.

From a technical standpoint, I thought this story held up well. No jarring punctuation or phrasing threw me out of what was happening. What did throw me was gradually learning who and what Coco was. The way ponies treated her condition seemed odd, and in some cases (like the containment) didn't make sense to me. Though her short-term amnesia had some interesting implications, in this small story it came across as an crutch to withhold information from the reader. I also don't understand the rules governing her amnesia. She can remember her appointments, but not who she's seeing? Does her forgetfulness play into how many ponies she's slept with? I would have liked to see that explained a little better, but I understand the limited word economy might have affected this.

At first I mostly disliked this story, but that's more for subject than quality. I'm going to abstain from ranking this, but I hope my feedback was helpful, and I wish you the best in this round!
#41 · 1
· on For Mother · >>Bachiavellian >>WritingSpirit

So this feels less like a story in and of itself, and more like a scene from a larger narrative. "Nurse is actually there to euthanize secret agent" is something that requires some degree of investment on the reader's behalf to actually be effective, or shocking. Nothing really happens - the reader is just informed of the status quo. There was a near-botched criminal act in which Celestia intervened. The survivors are to die.

Some of the description is really nice, but there's a lot of it - take the opening paragraph, for example

The white earth pony patted the pockets of her smock, checking that their contents were still present. Satisfied, she donned her nurse’s cap, the red emblem almost identical to the cutie mark on her flanks. A tray with a covered dish lay on a table, which she took in her mouth and laid across her back. After a few measured breaths, she confidently strode around the corner.

Step by step, she trod down the ward towards a door at the end. Flanking the door were a pair of Royal Guard, each clad in their resplendent armor. As she approached, they rose to a more attentive position, looking at her appraisingly.

There's just a lot of [adjective noun]. And whilst setting a scene is all well and good, I don't feel this piece ever rises above that. We get told a setting, and then the piece ends.

Tier: Needs Work
#42 · 1
· on Resolve's End · >>horizon
This is a:

Lovely idea, but it reads to me like there's a whole section in the middle that's just plain missing. I have so many questions--how did Chrysalis manage to become a sherbet moose without going through the same emotional epiphany as the others for one--that I can't track the characters' progression from beginning to end. I'd definitely say this deserves expansion to dig into the entire story that's only being vaguely referred to here, but as a minific, I can't get it to work.

#43 · 2
· on Mayflies
This kind of snuck the themes of an immortal angst story in under the radar, yet I didn't detect an ounce of angst until the final section of this heartwarming little piece. Even now, it doesn't feel completely fair to call this an immortal angst story. More like the sweetness of age told from the perspective of a pony who has learned how to distinguish the important moments in her life from the many, many others.

Overall, I liked this story quite a bit. It was tender, and after reading the last sentence in context with the title, it became washed in a new tone of melancholy. No complaints here. Thank you for writing, and good luck!
#44 ·
· on Mayflies
... This is going on my top slate. I predict it’s going to be first.

If it’s not Raisin will eat my shoes.

Edit: For Matthew, he says the ending drags it down. On the contrary, I think the ending really lifted the piece for me. It exemplifies just how tiny a pony’s life is to a being like her.
#45 ·
I second Pasco on this one.
#46 · 3
· on What Dreams Are Made Of
Very nice:

My only comment is about as nitpicky as a comment can get. 'Cause the phrasing of Cadance's question strikes me as odd. Why would she ask what Flurry's dreams are "made of"? Wouldn't she just ask about the dreams themselves, i.e., "What's she dreaming of?" or "What's she dreaming about?"

Other than that, though, I got nothing: this is top-notch from beginning to end.

#47 ·
· on King of Shadows
I actually liked this one a lot more on second read. Sweet tone, nice prose. Makes good use of its word-count constraints. A greatly original idea? Perhaps not. But nonetheless, solidly executed. Not sure it could be extended much beyond its current length, but that's not the point of the exercise, is it?
#48 · 1
· on The Emissary · >>WritingSpirit
Hmmm, this one fell a little flat to me. Nicely written - the opening in particular is quite strong, and the voicing was great. So kudos there! But I feel it doesn't work as well in a minific format. The word count is too constrained to both set up the norm and subvert it strongly enough in the space of 750 words - the sudden shift leaves the reader with whiplash, and by the time we're starting to adjust, the story's over.

That being said, I'd be interested in reading an extended version of this.
#49 ·
· on Escape
This had a setup which drew me right in. Your description of Tartarus was very tangible while still building around Celestia's character. You made me want to keep reading to learn what had brought her here, why she'd bother subsuming herself in her past sins. I like the sense of mystery and atmosphere you build into the intro. Major props!

Then, the last section happens, and I'm afraid I felt myself suddenly high and dry. We don't learn why Celestia came here, nor does she seem that desperate to fulfill her goal. I wouldn't mind that so much if the introduction hadn't already hyped me up to learn more, but what we learn leaves me disappointed. Ultimately, all the subtle intrigue built in the introduction had me hoping for a better payoff. Then again, maybe I missed the point of the story.

Though I left this story with a bad taste in my mouth, the highly competent writing made the ending an easier pill to swallow. I'd still rate this upper-mid tier. Thanks for writing!
#50 ·
· on Behind the Magic Eight Ball
This missed the mark for me, I'm afraid. I'll start with the things I disliked:

To me, this story felt overly-hectic, which is the nature of a story which tries to cram 7+ different characters into a 750-word space. In the beginning you swap back and forth between characters so fast, my eyes were crossed. The rest of the mane six don't seem necessary to me when your story focuses on the interaction between three characters. Their dialogue felt hectic as well, in what seems to be an attempt at quippyness. Not to say that it was all bad, but most of it had me rereading more than I'd like. I also grew uncomfortable reading the dialogue when I continued to encounter breaks and interruptions.

As far as the plot goes...it's fairly underwhelming. I suppose we see a tiny bit of growth out of Pinkie in realizing that faux fortunes frustrate friends. When you reveal that she's been hiding her cousin under the table to feed her the fortunes, my reaction was barely a shrug. The story's resolution left me with an even weaker shrug.

There were certainly a few things I liked. In another context, I think some of the dialogue tags you use to introduce the mane six are pretty great. I also like the idea that, despite how much these friends have grown together, there is still room for improvement, even in the smallest ways. Keep working at it, and I wish you luck!
#51 ·
· on In Manehattan, You're Never Alone
Hmm, to disagree with the above, this one felt a little jarring. Before we get into that, though, I'm going to be a pedant.

Coco immediately noticed that the doctor winced.

The bulk of the sentence is window-dressing for the last three words - the added length just makes it slower to read.

"Wait, you are not?" Coco asked.

The lack of a contraction feels unwieldy.

She furrowed her eyebrows – after all, weren't therapists supposed...

"After all" makes little sense here, and isn't needed.

I'd also revise the usage of commas:

This, along with his strange fondness of potted plants made her wonder if he was gay.

There should really be one after "plants", and this isn't an isolated case.

The voicing also feels a little off. Consider:

"Nevermind." The doctor rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I'm begging you, stop trying to flirt with every nurse who comes to your house to administer your medication. Some of the less assertive ones already ended up infected."

"Rolls his eyes" implies a dismissive or sarcastic tone - which is immediately undermined by "I'm begging you". Try reading it out aloud - it doesn't feel like the way anyone would speak.

All-in-all: I appreciate the subversion attempted, but the prose was jarring, and the tone felt off; the story brushed off a city-wide quarantine for comedic effect, and it didn't really feel earned.

There's merit in the idea, but it could use some polish.
#52 ·
· on My Immortal
I've always been a fan of feghoots, and while this isn't quite a feghoot, it definitely is closely related.

The sort of nonchalant way that Celestia handles the whole thing, combined with Twilight's own seeming innocence, creates a fun contrast to the ridiculousness of the whole thing, and the way that Twilight is so eager to please while Celestia is brimming with endless maternal patience (and simply excuses herself at the end) is great.

Plus the brick joke with the sex mines made me chuckle.

Anyway, all in all, this made me laugh, so mission accomplished.
#53 · 1
· on For Mother · >>Bachiavellian >>WritingSpirit
You were too clever here by half.

I think I've figured out what actually happened, but the problem is, I'm pretty sure this is going to bounce off 99% of the audience.

So much as I love changeling fics (which after reading it twice, was made "clear" only by the title), I think you put in too many layers, to the point where critical parts were lost.

What I *think* happened:

1) The changelings burned down a building, either containing a bunch of ponies that the changelings were copying, or records that would reveal that the changelings were infiltrators and not real ponies/had taken the place of other ponies.

2) Said building contained the "Basis" for a number of changelings - this is either the ponies the changelings are copying, but it could also be that the changelings are clones of various lines, and all the other clones died. It could be that the fire was done deliberately to try and spirit away a bunch of ponies without anyone noticing, for whatever nefarious purpose the changelings have, but it isn't clear.

3) The sole surviving changeling of a particular batch was posing as a royal guard, and was sent in to rescue ponies or something by Princess Celestia.

4) The nurse is also a changeling, and is extracting the "Basis" from the fake royal guard, as well as killing him, and then is going to either die or "die" herself.

So while I do love stories that try to tell their stories slantways, this story I think tells it so slantways that even after I read it several times, I'm still not entirely sure what happened, and I only figured out important chunks on rereading it.

And while that isn't the end of the world in a very short story like this - it is okay for a very short story to have layers like this - I think you didn't put in enough clues to even have it tell a complete story. I feel like I'm lacking context to the imporatance of this scene - how does it relate to anything else? - as well as not even being entirely certain of what *did* happen.
#54 · 1
· on What Dreams Are Made Of
I am with Baal Bunny, in that I thought this was going to be a question about what dreams were made from, rather than what she dreamed of.

I did like this, though; this is a nice, short little piece, and lovely in both its symbolism and ominousness. Luna's own arrogance shines through here, and I'm left curious about what Flurry Heart is and what her dream truly means - is it really a portent of the future, or is it one of those "prophecies" that are steeped in symbolism rather than being literal?

In any case, I liked it.
#55 · 1
· on Diamond Ponies Aren't Forever · >>007Ben >>007Ben
This is a nice little holiday vignette, and not about the usual not!Christmas, either.

It's pretty light, but there's some nice implications there, and I caught on pretty early that this was set after the fall of the Crystal Empire, which lent the whole thing a bit of extra weight.

Celestia's appearance at the end was nice, and while this all feels a little bit like a bit of fluff, it is the sort of holiday story that I can appreciate for what it is, and I liked the positive spin on the prompt.
#56 · 2
· on Blooming, and Wilting · >>Bachiavellian

This was sweet, and it did everything just right to punch the audience in the gut, down to the name change in the crucial moment, and then the reversion back.

Well done in telling a full story in 750 words; a lot of entries don't manage that, but this manages a full arc.

At the end, I felt bad for her, and the final few lines were exactly what it needed to be.

I also have to say I liked the way you read the prompt, as that was a fun way to use it.
#57 · 1
· on Resolve's End · >>Naiad
I liked this. Chrysalis is hurting, and not just because she's starving, but because she's unable to do what everyone else is able to do so effortlessly. She had an idea about how the world worked, and it was broken - and as we see from this story, it isn't just that she never tried, but that she tried and failed.

This is an interesting presentation of her as a woobieish character, which is doubly interesting because of the implication that maybe she really is rotten, which is why it doesn't work for her. And while I'm not sure if I buy the idea that she would have tried previously, if you are going to present her as a character we should feel sorry for, this is a good execution, so this qualm is probably mostly just my interepretation of the character.

Also, using the stoic, unemotional Maud as the character that Chrysalis has to use for emotional support here is a clever idea.
#58 · 1
· on Moonlight Shadow · >>Pascoite >>Monokeras
The writing's not bad, but it's just so weird. Was Luna a figment of Celestia's drug-addled brain? Celestia becoming a smoking, crack-addicted alcoholic after Luna's banishment feels so off-base that I'm just left mildly perplexed, and feeling like I'm missing something here. The issue with veering this far into personal interpretations of characters is that you risk alienating your audience in the process.

Your prose is fine, author. Your characters of choice for the subject matter confuse me.

Tier: Odd
#59 · 1
· on Moonlight Shadow · >>Monokeras
I found the set-up interesting here (Luna as a manifestation of Celestia's psyche, personifying her grief and self-reproach), but as the story went on, it started to lose me. Luna's final act before the hallucination ends seems inconsistent with how she's initially characterized; that really depends on how one interprets the final line, however. Either Luna is actually an astral projection of Nightmare Moon, visiting Celestia in some kind of semi-corporeal state, and the final line subverts the obvious reading of the story, or the final line is merely meant to be thematic -- Luna is always with Celestia, no matter what.

The fact that Celestia is snorting cocaine and drinking lends credence to the idea that Luna is a hallucination, however.

Speaking of, a third reading of the story... and I'm sorry, author, if this wasn't your intention, but I'm going to come out and say it... is that this is supposed to be parody. Celestia snorting cocaine and hallucinating a bratty, snotty Luna is the kind of thing you'd expect to see in a parody fic, and Sunset Shimmer literally screaming "FUCK FUCK FUCK" and"WHY?!?!?!" to the heavens while cradling an unconscious Celestia is such a trite cliche that I'm partly convinced it was intended to be farcical.

To borrow from TV Tropes, it's... narmy. It's meant to be dramatic, but it comes across as overdone.

Also, I appreciate what you were trying to do by making Sunset Shimmer, not Twilight, the apprentice in question, but if you're going to subvert the audience's expectations, you should do so in a more meaningful way. Including Sunset necessitates tailoring her role to suit that character; perhaps Luna could remark on their similar characters and personalities: power-hungry, insecure, etc., foreshadowing Sunset's eventual betrayal of Celestia. Otherwise, it may as well be Twilight Sparkle; hell, it may as well be Pinkie Pie.
#60 ·
· on In Manehattan, You're Never Alone
Amusing, but it feels like the author was making it up as they went -- like this was an exercise in freewriting that they decided to post as a story. The ideas all sound like the author came up with them while they were in the process of typing, hence why Coco and the shrink's characterizations, roles, and even the plot details/context, just come out of nowhere.

A decent crackfic, though. I won't pretend I didn't laugh at it.
#61 · 1
· on The Emissary · >>WritingSpirit
Obscuring the characters' names here is kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allowed the twist at the end to come through, but on the other, it robbed the characters of their voices - Spike and DRAGON LORD TORCH both have very distinctive voices, and you did a great job of capturing them, but they only snapped into place for me when it got down to the point where Torch dismissed Spike becaus he's basically a pony.

This was simple, but I actually did like it pretty well. And I thought that the idea - of Spike's final victory over dragon culture - was cute.

But at the same time, I'm not sure that the Lord-of-Old's point of view came across very strongly. It felt a bit unfair in that way, though, let's face it, Torch has always had a bit of a soft spot over his heart. Good thing there aren't any talking thrushes around.
#62 · 1
· on Escape
I absolutely loved the descriptions here; they were vivid, and this presentation of Tartarus is really perfect.

Unfortunately, while it had a lot to say about Celestia, it had very little to say about the actual "story" here; Celestia fails in her little quest and leaves, but nothing really happened.

As such, the story lacks any sort of really meaningful arc. It just kind of ends.

I love the imagery and prose here, I really do. But I can't love the story, because there isn't much there. Celestia is who she is, Tirek is petty and evil and likes hurting people, and nothing changed.
#63 ·
· on Forever Together · >>Foehn >>Rocket Lawn Chair >>Anon Y Mous
The second paragraph of this made me laugh out loud, so well done there.

This story made me smile, and I feel like it managed to avoid being too glurgy. However, at the same time, it still felt WAFFy. And while warm and fuzzy feelings aren't a bad thing - in fact, they're one of the reasons why this show is so wholesome - at the same time, this story didn't feel like it ended up actually having much in the way of emotional punch - it isn't the sort of thing that ultimately will linger with the audience, and leave them with lingering feelings of warmth, but instead sort of brings out a bit of sweetness but it is fleeting because there's nothing to walk away with. Spike loves his friends, but it isn't something that feels like it endures in the heart the way a really good story of this type does.
#64 ·
· on Forever Together · >>Anon Y Mous
I was trying to figure out how to phrase what I wanted to say here, but >>TitaniumDragon said it well - the story's a sweet vignette, but doesn't aspire to more than that. Which isn't a bad thing. It just is.


β€œBut it’s not!” I blurted, frustrated. β€œWhat happens when- when- when we can’t visit you anymore?” I didn’t want to bring it up, not now, not here, but now it was out in the open for everyone to see.

Felt slightly forced? I don't know. Something in the way it was written felt too telly for me, as did other parts, though that's possibly a result of the Writeoff time limit. Nonetheless, something to work on!
#65 ·
· on Escape
Most short stories have some sort of narrative arc to them. What's the point, after all, in reading one if nothing actually happens?

This piece didn't have one, but worked in spite of that. The imagery and descriptions were beautiful, and rendered the story less of a narrative and more of a poignant portrait of two people. It succeeds largely on the strength of its prose and insight.

Thanks for the entry, author.
#66 ·
· on The Eternal Kingdom of Princess Evergreen · >>Foehn
Well, this is topical.

This is a nice little vignette, giving us a slice of life - a kid looking out at where their house used to be, imagining her former imaginary kingdom, now reduced to little more than ash and ruin.

I thought this was okay, and I liked the imagery and message, but I have to admit, it didn't quite touch me emotionally.
#67 · 2
· on The Game of Thrones and Ponies
I play tabletop RPGs with a group of friends. The other week, the DM hadn't had time to prepare anything, so we decided to give Risk a go instead.

It ended up with one person demanding a rematch, and the rest swearing never to touch the game ever, ever again.

What I'm trying to say is cute piece, author.
#68 · 1
· on Tireless · >>TitaniumDragon
This is, first and foremost, a character piece β€” which is why I'm a little annoyed at myself that my primary takeaway from the story was "What is going on with the cold that defines the setting?" But it was a question I thought the story was building up to answering, even if only around the edges, and it left me hanging badly enough to distract me.

The story says it's winter, but let's be honest, birds flash-freezing into icicles isn't a normal winter thing. We don't see Celestia or Luna, but this isn't a case of eternal night or lonely Twilight having loss of solar control: at least not if "this morning" is anything to go by. If there's windigos, or lack of friendship lowering the temperature, or some weird Flurry-Heart-destroys-the-Crystal-Heart AU thing going on, there's no textual clue of it, and I don't even feel like I have anything to speculate with other than Something Is Unusual.

And a big part of the reason that mystery bugged me so much is that I feel like it's tied into the central mystery of what's going on with the characters, which felt like it had a similar lack of either closure or explanation. Why is Twilight lonely enough to want a bird when her friends are taking care of her? Why wasn't Applejack there? What happened to her to require being taken care of, and when did things shift from friendly flightiness to the implied convalescence? Without any context for any of that, all I get is a scene of Applejack being disgruntled amid a deadly and isolating winter, which admittedly is pretty thematically on point but isn't making a statement about anything.

To use an analogy, the house here seems solid but the foundation isn't doing its work, which for me is causing otherwise beautifully written prose to collapse. Fortunately, revision should be easy: tell us what's going on, even if it's just a sentence or two of exposition near the beginning. If I hadn't been sucked into the mystery of why things were as they were -- if you'd signposted that it was just a background thing, it wasn't important -- I could have focused on the characters' reactions to the situation rather than trying to tease the latter out of the former.

Thanks for writing!
#69 ·
· on In Manehattan, You're Never Alone
I'm with everyone else here - while there is a thing (character destruction comedy) where characters' traits are taken to an extreme extent, this just felt rather arbitrary on the whole - not just with Coco's personality, but the stuff in general. While hyperbole and exaggeration can be funny, here, it ended up coming off kind of flat, in part because it was all so extreme; variation in extremity can help some parts stick out relative to others.
#70 ·
· on Moonlight Shadow · >>Monokeras
A literal crackfic, eh?

I'm not sure that this really scored with me. Celestia descending into alcoholism, chain smoking, and cocaine just feels bizarre, and it doesn't really seem to have much of a point.

While the idea of putting Sunset Shimmer in there is a thing, I'm not sure that you really accomplished what you were trying to do with it.
#71 ·
· on A Slow Death
Why Twist?

Really, this doesn't really seem to relate to anything. It's an attempt at gritty noir, but it feels kind of pointless in context here. This is one of those things where there's a tragedy, but I was never given a reason to care about the person it happened to. For me to care about someone being down and out, I need to be given some sort of reason for it.
#72 ·
· on Mayflies
Well, the title of this is certainly appropriate considering the subject matter. Obviously, it didn't end up ruining poor Gold Leaf's career.

While the others reacted to this very strongly, my reaction was honestly pretty muted - it is an idea I've seen before, and while it was overall competent, and I liked the descriptions in the first half, particularly the priceless teacup and overexpensive towel, I was not left feeling a whole lot by the end. Celestia's characterization was on point, but there wasn't much novelty here.
#73 ·
· on Tireless
>>horizon said exactly what I was thinking here.

At first, I was expecting the bird to be a phoenix. A bird that lives forever seems like a natural companion to an immortal creature, which is part of why Philomena is the perfect pet for Celestia.

The fact that it died, however, points against that, which makes me wonder - why a bird? What's the point here? Heck, Twilight already *has* a pet bird.

This story seems too nebulous to me; it feels like it has some sort of message, but whatever it is is garbled to the point where I don't recognize it. Is Applejack old, or just being creaky because it's early in the morning? The text doesn't tell me.

There's all these things in here that seem like they should be pointing towards some greater whole, but I don't know what it *is*.
#74 ·
· on Twilight, By Herself, On A Holiday Afternoon
I'm with >>Samey90 ; while the idea of Twilight creating time clones of herself to do a ton of things at once, it doesn't really seem to add much to the story. Is the point to show that, despite Twilight seeming to be personal about it, what is going on is actually deeply impersonal? Because that seems to be what is going on here; despite Twilight trying to put on the "personal" touch, this is a very impersonal way to response, what with the time clones and the "I'm asexual" thing and the list of predetermined names from some database.

It is all meant to be helpful, but it is terribly impersonal, but it doesn't really feel like it is called out at all.
#75 · 1
· on Afterword
This seems like it should be titled "Afterward" rather than "Afterword".

Anyway, that aside...


I have to say, I like stories about Applejack dealing with stuff; she's an interesting character in that regard, and her family focus works in interesting ways.

I'm not sure if she'd really be willing to let Apple Bloom come back and "look after her" (more or less), though; while Applejack is certainly a pony who would feel loneliness acutely, I also feel like she'd be downright ornery about somepony taking pity on her for it, especially if it might mess them up (as Applejack does not like imposing on other ponies).

I do like the life goes on loneliness vibe I got here, though.
#76 ·
· on The Wound in the World · >>Foehn
This is set out in the far future, but it still feels bizarre. I think there's some sort of micro black hole zipping around Equus, and Luna and Celestia seem to be going kind of crazy...

The whole thing just feels disconnected from reality. Maybe that's the point, really - they're immortal, and they're all kind of going a bit mad, perhaps with loneliness, as everyone else seems to have left them, and Discord isn't really helping, either. They appear to have all gone a bit amoral, and while the events seem to somewhat shock them back to reality, it also doesn't seem like it matters at all to Discord, really.

This seems like it is one of those Blue and Orange Morality things, and while I do appreciate that at times, it just failed to connect with me in any significant way.
#77 ·
· on Behind the Magic Eight Ball
Writing crackfics is something I've never really explored, so at times I feel like I'm at a loss for giving advice on them when one doesn't land for me. This is no real exception; while the idea that Pinkie Pie has writers who come up with lines for her because she can't be on point all the time is silly, it just didn't really land for me, and while the punchline was a thing, I didn't even give a sensible chuckle (though I might have mentally smirked just the tiniest bit).
#78 · 2
· on To Anyone Listening · >>TitaniumDragon
I'm always a sucker for some poetry, and this was neatly done. Some fumbles with the meter here or there - the closing stanza feels like the first line could lose a syllable, for instance - but overall fun. The trading of lines gave it some diversity, the opening stanzas felt like those satirical "Mary Had a Little Lamb" variants, and the closing scene was sweet.

And hey, the ending got a laugh from me.

Nicely done, author.
#79 ·
· on The Wound in the World
Took a second read to really grasp what was going on, since Twilight was mentioned once in the beginning and then stuck in the fridge, but that may be a function of my headspace tonight, too, so don't take that too heavily.

The Wound is weird, as a, let's call it a "natural antagonist" since it seems to be a quirk of nature just rummaging about. TD hit my guess first at some kind of micro black hole, or maybe a universe cleanup system? I'd be less concerned if it didn't function so heavily in Discord's opening chatter as well as the focus of the title. It seems to have more importance attached to it than necessary, since the mountain destruction blast seems just as capable (in theory) of causing enough grievous bodily harm to stall the fighting.

All that said, I feel like there's a "everything new is old again, until it's new, etc." vibe here, but that seems about as deep as it goes. There's maybe some contrast with Twilight against the other three, where she found new purpose and the others are just killing time, but as mentioned, she's brought up once and then tucked away, so I'm at a loss for any deeper message.
#80 ·
· on The Wound in the World
Going to again echo >>TitaniumDragon's sentiment - the narrative voice was too all-over-the-place for me to really connect with it, and the multitude of out-there details to absorb felt a little high for a minific. Divergence from established canon is fine, but the magnitude of it here, both in setting and in characterization, left me without much to grab onto.
#81 ·
· on To Anyone Listening
This feels kind of rough in some places, but I have to say I like the thrust of it. The poem in particular both suffers from some syllabic issues (it feels a bit uneven at times) and perhaps some dubious rhymes (yes, you *can* rhyme words with radio, but Ian Malcolm might say something about that if he was a poet and not a mathematician). Of course, maybe that's just because it's Twilight's translation. :P

But on the other hand, I liked the transitions here between the various parts - we have the first three stanzas, then we get three stanzas that reflect each other, then we get this bit where they all chip in for a line for a few stanzas, and then finally some doublets. It kept the poem feeling fresh, rather than stagnant, which is a problem for 200+ word long poems in my experience trying (and failing) to write them.

The discussion at the end was a neat idea - the ponies being the only ones who aren't alone, and Twilight bringing friendship to them - but I'm not sure if the implications were adequately covered, though on the other hand, you definitely don't want to belabor the point - the poem isn't that long, and you don't want the discussion to stretch on interminably.

I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, so I have to say I enjoyed it on the whole, and I think with some polish, it could shine brighter than it does.
#82 · 6
· on A Slow Death · >>WritingSpirit
>>Anon Y Mous >>Samey90
Hey, fellas: I know reading and reviewing stories takes a lot of work. It's a thankless task. And we do appreciate you taking the effort to go through not only this one but the many others you've done today.

But if you're going to go to the effort of clicking "Post Comment," could you please leave at least some actionable feedback? Some poor author has now gotten two notifications, clicked excitedly through to see what other people had to think of their efforts, and has literally two words of feedback to work from. If I had written this story I would still have not the slightest clue of how it was received.

Now, I do understand that some stories are harder to comment on than others. If you read through this story and it didn't make you feel anything, and you don't think you have any suggestions for how to improve it, then sometimes "Sorry, this didn't really click with me and I don't know why" is the best you can do. That's ok. But at least take the time to say that.

As for you, author: I'm also struggling to connect with this story, but I'll do my best to unpack that.

The first thing that leaps out at me is that this doesn't feel like MLP fiction. Change the names to Emma and Guido, and do a few search/replaces (hoof->hand, stallion->man mostly), and you could literally enter this in the Original Fiction round with nobody the wiser. Now, this isn't to say that MLP rounds require non-original content β€” we see some great worldbuilding here that has only the barest connection to the show! β€” but it's kind of Iron Chef rules. You can use the theme ingredient prominently, or you can use it in the seasonings of a dish with another focus β€” but if you just use it as a throwaway garnish, your audience is likely to start frowning.

I think what bothers me the most there is that this feels like it just picked a pony name out of a hat. If you wanted to write about an alcoholic with a troubled past, this could trivially have been the story of "why Berry Punch is drunk all the time". But Twist (if you meant to use a canon name rather than an OC) is a filly; this is not only using mostly OCs but also haring way off into some future AU, losing what little grounding a canon name should otherwise have gotten you.

Looking at this piece of gangster fiction on its own merits, though ... I do have to praise it for one of the round's most well-developed plotlines. This packs in a lot of narrative in its 750 words. Personally, though, I felt like I never really connected with Twist, and so I found it hard to care about all that plot you packed in. I'm honestly not sure whether this is an issue of personally bouncing off of her problems (try to make me care about a baby and I kinda check out) or whether there's a more fundamental issue here. Get a second opinion.
#83 ·
· on King of Shadows
Cute. Sombra caught in his own trap, but in reverse - rather than showing him his greatest fear, it instead showed him what his finest moment might be, a moment of pure, unbridled joy and happiness, rather than soul-crushing despair.

While I do like this idea, it also feels like it is lacking any sort of greater context, without which, it is more or less a thing that happened. And while it was an interesting thing, and an interesting idea, I'm not sure why it should matter to me.
#84 · 1
· on The Game of Thrones and Ponies
I got a smile out of this, and ponies playing Risk is an amusing idea, but it is hard for me to really be thrilled by it; it was cute and was a decent enough read but it won't really stick with me and there wasn't anything here that was especially memorable.
#85 · 2
· on Blooming, and Wilting · >>Bachiavellian
This is well written, and there's not much more to say. You've done an impressive job fitting a full arc into 750 words, and giving it space to breath. You've clearly put a fair amount of thought into the piece, and it shows.

The ending didn't belabor the point, and it didn't need to - nice, short, and sweet.
#86 · 2
· on Diamond Ponies Aren't Forever · >>007Ben >>007Ben
I'm always partial to well-written fluff, and this is a sweet little piece. I like how well-crafted the atmosphere was that a vague mention

β€œBut the Empire...” he said, continuing the thought his memories had begun.

is enough to nail-down the time period without any further window dressing.

It's not entirely clear why Celestia initially disguises herself - to avoid being seen on the streets? To avoid frightening the couple? - and that drew me out of the story, briefly. But that's a small gripe. On the whole, I quite enjoyed it.
#87 · 1
· on What Dreams Are Made Of
Your Story's Theme Song: Bon Iver - Creature Fear

First story off my reviewing plate and already, I'm looking at a likely finalist.

Baal pretty much nailed the biggest thing bothering me about this story, though after a few repeated rereads, I think I get why you chose to start the story with that line. I'm getting the idea that this isn't the first time Luna had entered into Flurry Heart's dreamscape, as it seems like she had done so 'once, on the occasion of her birth' out of pure curiosity. Going off from that, it would mean that this is a recurring dream, and that time and time again, whenever Luna peered into Flurry's head, she sees the same apocalyptic scene. Given that, I can see why the question was phrased as such: a question that directs specifically towards Flurry Heart's dreams as a collective rather than what an infant dreams in general.

It's a nice question if it came from the writer. Not so much if it came from Cadance thoughβ€” a little awkward, to be honest. Nevertheless, I appreciate the effort, especially with how much you managed to keep me thinking about it.

That aside, I do like Luna's voicing in this story. You've captured Moonbutt well, though I do think the fixation of Cadance's teeth (rotten teeth vs. pearly whites) is a little odd. Methinks it probably says more about the author than about Luna.

I would say though that there is something else pestering me that I can't quite put my finger on before locking in this review. I'd probably be brooding over this story for the next few days and it'll come to me (or someone will beat me to it) but I'll let you know as soon as it hits.

Thanks for writing!
#88 ·
· on The Eternal Kingdom of Princess Evergreen · >>Foehn
Not really my style atm, but I thought this was pretty good.

As TD said, the imagery and message are both nice. It's the emotional part that suffers. It kinda feels like something held the emotion back, like you weren't sure how much to strive for. Which is ok, because now you have something to practice with!

But as I said, I liked it regardless. It just isn't as strong as it could be.
#89 ·
· on Mayflies
Hm, that title seems familiar... not sure where else I've seen it as a title, though.

Basically, the first half was great. The descriptions of the teacup and the towel were just enough to get us a deeper feel for Celestia's character, but not so much as to be boring. Gold Leaf was great. Celestia was absolutely on point. Just... everything here was great.

Then the second half, which ended up falling a little flat. Maybe it's just me not liking the sudden "immortal pony memory" thing in what would otherwise have been a wonderful character piece. The ending did kinda just spoil it for me.
#90 · 1
· on Blooming, and Wilting · >>Bachiavellian
On the nitpicky side:

That comma shouldn't be there in the title. Even the dreaded "Oxford comma" only becomes an issue when a list has more than two items...

In a larger sense, though, I found this one to be both too short and too long. I needed a little more verbiage to see things blooming in Tempest's mind, and with the story covering at least three months, I found it hard to believe that Willow never in all that time mentions her husband. Still, it may be because my heart is nothing but a shriveled and ashy chunk of charcoal... :)

#91 · 1
· on A Slow Death
Your Story's Theme Song: O'Brother - Slow Sin

I'm pretty sure >>horizon above picked apart everything I have to say about this being submitted as an MLP fic. Personally, I don't mind how much of a stretch it was from the show β€” I've read worse transgressions greenlit on FimFic β€” so it's not really an issue for me, per se. In the end, I mostly brush it off and focus more on the story it was trying to tell instead.

Now, I don't know if this ends up turning out good or bad for you because there's a lot β€” and I mean a lot β€” of things about this story that just failed to work for me, which means there's a lot of things for me to bring up, perhaps to the point where I might be nitpicking a little.

On the flip side, you'll get another long comment to outweigh the super short ones.

Balanced, as all things should be.

So, first off, this story feels like an exposition. Like a montage before the opening theme on the pilot episode of a TV show. There's honestly a lot of narrative to unravel, meaning a lot of information to process. By the end of the first paragraph, we're jumping into a flashback; by the second, we're establishing what our protagonist was doing in that bar, another character, how this new character is related to our protagonist, and the current circumstances between these two; by the third, in comes another character, the inciting event occurs, so on and so forth. At the end, however, even with the chain of events happening, I felt like the story really only accomplished one thing, and that was establishing why Twist was in this sorry state in the first place.

I don't think it's fair to say that the story is outright terrible solely because of that. However, I think it's really everything else playing a part in it that killed off my enjoyment of the story.

First off, the pacing of the story is really jarring. The story's jumping between snapshot after snapshot of scenes before I had time to let the information really sink in. There are small sections where it does slow down a little, but those sections don't seem to really impact any part of the story as a whole, like how she talked to her escort on the way to her carriage or the first thought that ran through her head when she saw her bloodstained dress. On the contrary, the important plot point and really the main focus of this story β€” Twist finding out she lost her baby β€” was quickly sped through without leaving us a chance to sympathize, which in turn denied us what could've been an emotional moment.

Second, the tonality / atmosphere / mood, or lack thereof. Narratively, the story screams gangster noir, but looking down into the details, the words that were used and how each sentence is composed, there's not a trace of that feeling seeping from them. With how many of the events were being spoonfed to me, the imagery it was supposed to invoke didn't come through, to be honest. The part where you're describing the injection the bodyguards gave to Twist to knock her out is a prime example of that, in that you're just stating what happened instead of sharing her experience of how it happened. At the same time, there's a lot of strange decisions that bugged me, though nothing more than when you described her state of arousal when she looked at her lover's bodyguard in that one sentence. No good way to say it, so I'll just say it: that was an absolute waste of 26 words.

Third, the lack of focus on the narrative. Honestly, I think there's a lot of better places you can start from instead of her waiting for her date at a restaurant and being kidnapped. I do realize you're trying to segue properly from the initial bar scene back into the past, but I don't think that transition really did anything in the end. Taking out those sections, that alone frees up 326 words (I checked) and gives you a lot more leeway to really focus on the crux of the story. Whatever important information could then be unraveled in her interaction with her kidnappers, should you find the need to. I think bringing her forced abortion into the forefront thematically should drive home the motivation of the character better. Can't say if it helps the story become better though.

Which leads me to my fourth and probably my biggest problem with the story: the thematic mismatch between action and objective. From what I could extract out of this story, I'm inclined to believe that the reason she's drugging herself up in the beginning in the first place was because she lost her baby, but personally her decision to do so would seem more of a secondary side-effect than something she would actively pursue. I would think that she'd plot her revenge regardless of the stakes instead of just wasting herself away. One might say it may be a personality trait of hers to accept whatever fate comes her way but I just don't think Twist is that kind of character, not from the way she was written. When I consider how she ignored her parents' warnings and how she would scour high and low for every source to get herself that blissful hit, no matter what, it just seemed strangely out of place for her to accept her circumstances once I step back and look at her in the grander scheme of things. Summing this point up, the action (decision) our protagonist took was passive when the objective seemed to be demanding for an active one.

With all of that in mind (plus a misspelling of lightning), I don't think this story isn't going to be very high on my slate, especially in a round with so many solid entries to choose from. I would say kudos for being able to feed us so much with so little words plot-wise. I only wished that the experience I got out from this could've been equally substantial instead.

Nevertheless, thanks for writing!
#92 · 1
· on Twilight, By Herself, On A Holiday Afternoon
I'm gonna have to be the dissenting opinion, here, and say that I actually liked the time-clone thing, mostly because it was a great excuse to make the 2nd person narration really work. And I really like the 2nd person narration. I'm not sure why, honestlyβ€”it might very well be the novelty factorβ€”but I had a blast with it.

But, I will have to agree that Twilight telling Bytecode to basically go Google it, feels oddly cold. You spent a lot of time impressing upon us that Twilight takes this kind of letter-writing very seriously and it has a big emotional impact on her, but the way she words her letter feels unsatisfying, in that regard. And part of it, of course, is the ever-present tentacles of the 750-word limit worming their way into all things in these minific rounds. But still, I can't help but think that her response feels curt.

So, while I enjoyed the story overall, I really wished that Twilight's letter felt a little more special than it did to me.
#93 ·
· on Tireless
There are a lot of moving parts in play in this one, underneath the deceptively simple surface. I like the cold edge you've given Applejack's characterizationβ€”it's refreshing to see a (for lack of a better term) edgier take on a character that we're all probably super familiar with, instead of the same old easy and safe stuff. The dialogue also really have a complexity that hints at a deeper meaning.

My main issue, here is that the meaning is just not apparent enough, at least to me. This kind of applies on all levels the machine, from the nuts and bolts (how was Applejack sure that the bird wasn't in the orchards?) all to the big picture design (why winter, and why the pacing emphasis on the "starving time" line?).

I'm really hoping for somebody to figure this out and let me know what I'm missing. Because as of right now, I really want to enjoy this story, but I end up feeling dumb because I can't figure it out.
#94 · 1
· on The Emissary · >>WritingSpirit
The reveal is simultaneously the best and the worst part of the story.

On my first read-through, I was actively frustrated at the fact that we had no context for the first two thirds of the word count. The only information that we're given is that one of the characters is capital-O Old, in the high fantasy sense. But there are a lot of characters and entities in the MLP universe that fit this bill. So, I almost felt like I was reading a confusing piece of OF for a little while.

But when I hit the reveal, it definitely worked for me, in that it felt satisfying, and it played in with the themes in the end very nicely. So I think it is very important that you maintain this twist, in its basic structure.

However, I do think you can give us more hints without being in danger of revealing your hand. For instance, why not just tell us that one or both of these characters are dragons at the very beginning? At the very least, it'll let the readers have some kind of picture of what's going on, instead of trying to imagine two disembodied voices going at it.
#95 · 2
· on Moonlight Shadow · >>Pascoite >>Monokeras
I don't think cigarettes are canon in Equestria, so this needs to be marked AU.
#96 · 3
· on Blooming, and Wilting · >>Bachiavellian
Plot twist: Mumbles is Willow's dog. She joked about him being her husband to fuck with tempest.

Or they're swingers, and willow is testing the waters.

(I'm on mobile right now; I'll type up a better review when I can. Just wanted to post that before I forgot it)
#97 · 1
· on To Anyone Listening · >>TitaniumDragon
The stuttering meter:

In the poem made me cringe, author, but I love the double lampshade you hang on it, making it a translation put together by someone who claims not to be very good at writing poetry. I'd say leave it as rough as it is since you've got very good, in story reasons for that roughness.

A couple things confused me, though. In the poem, it sounds like we're dealing with three completely separate apocalypses. So has the poem been sent by three different sole survivors on three different planets who have found each other and are somehow able to reach out together to contact Equestria? Maybe you could have one of the princesses wonder about this, too. Also, Twilight says, "It sounds like they all destroyed themselves," and Luna answers, "A fate we ourselves have almost shared." When did the ponies almost destroy themselves in any comparable way?

Still, this is quite nice.

#98 ·
· on A Slow Death
I think the strongest part of your story is its tone. I'm picking up a "black and white 1940's noire" kind of vibe--a good choice given the story's subject matter.

My criticism lies with the fact that no events really seem to stand out from the narration. If I could chart the levels of emotion present in the writing, the line would be flat. Nothing strikes me as having any particular significance narrarive-wise. I know the forced abortion and ensuring drug dependency should be emotionally-charged revelations, but they fall short in execution.

Part of it is the word count constraint. This story is aching for more development, and on that note I sincerely hope you choose to continue working on future drafts!
#99 ·
· on The Eternal Kingdom of Princess Evergreen · >>Foehn
I loved your choice of format! Jumping between greenery and charred ashen scenery was an expert play. The jump between first and second paragraphs left me feeling exactly how I imagine you'd want me to. Once again, I'm reminded that one well-timed word can elevate a story.
#100 ·
· on Escape
Very nice:

But the POV switch at the end didn't work for me in the slightest.

One of the writing principles that I've lately become a big fan of is ending a story very firmly in the POV of the character the story's actually about. Give the last word to the main character, as it were. So a switch like this at the very end makes me think that, even though we've been following Celestia throughout, the story's actually been about Tirek the whole time.

But it isn't, as near as I can tell. It's much more about Celestia, and I'd suggest it needs to be even more about her. Make it so that she comes to offer Tirek parole on the 50th or 100th anniversary of her exiling Luna or something. Make it so that her journey here isn't about Tirek at all but is all about Celestia feeling that she didn't do enough to help Luna back then. Celestia can't break the timelock on Luna's exile--that thousand year thing is inviolable--but she can try to assuage her guilt by extending her offer to Tirek. She knows he'll refuse, and she can leave feeling better about herself.

Or something like that, anyway. Make the story be about Celestia. Put the last line in her POV, and make this visit to Tirek mean something to her. That'll give it the arc folks are looking for.