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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility · She-Ra Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
#1 · 8
·
Hello, and welcome to Radio Wr the inaugural She-Ra and the Princesses of Power writeoff! I'm Quill Scratch, and I'm apparently responsible for this. That's scary. I'm not a responsible person.

For new folks: writeoffs are fun, fast writing competitions. This event is a Short Story round (which is, ironically, the longer format), which means the writing time is 72 hours and the word limit is 2k-8k. We'll be writing to a prompt, which isn't announced until the start of the writing period to make sure nobody starts early: for now, you can visit the prompt submission page to suggest a prompt for the round. Once the suggestion time is up, everyone gets to vote for prompts, and the prompt with the most votes at the end of voting time wins!

Despite the name, writeoffs aren't just writing contests: we also host an art round! In this event, artists pick one or more of the submitted stories as prompts for their art, and have a number of days to make their submissions while everyone reads and votes on the stories. Sometimes we do it the other way round, and write stories about art. It's a lot of fun either way!

Voting for fic and pic rounds works in exactly the same way: each user is assigned a slate of stories/pictures to read and rank from best to worst. These orderings are used to determine scores for each entry, and this gives us our results (Roger explains how this works in more detail here). You do not have to vote for every entry on your slate, and if you do you can add more entries to your slate if you want to keep voting!

There is one very, very important rule of a writeoff: anonymity. You must not disclose publicly which entry/entries are yours, and doing so is grounds for disqualification. The goal here is to make sure that nobody is biased by authorship in their voting. Once the site tells everyone that you wrote your story, you're free to talk about it, but not a minute sooner.

One last thing: the writeoffs have traditionally been as much a writing(/art) workshop as they are a competition. Users are encouraged to leave feedback in the form of comments/reviews on entries they've read, but this is not compulsory. Leave however much or little feedback you like! (Or none!) And no, you do not have to have entered the competition to provide feedback.

(We also have a discord server: check out the link at the top of the page, and feel free to ask here or there if you have any questions. The writeoff community is all about helpfulness! If you want to ask a question in private, my discord DMs are open to anyone in the writeoff server.)

Thanks for sticking with me through that. To new folks: welcome. To old folks (who might also happen to like She-Ra I guess?): welcome back. Best of luck to everyone with their entries!

RULES | INTRO | FAQ
#2 · 6
·
I have a feeling participation will be in short supply through Christmas and New Year's, especially on what's probably still a bit of a niche property. Anyway, I'll be in #mentors that weekend, but I haven't watched a single episode of the show (yet), so I'm going to be of limited help.
#3 · 3
· · >>Moosetasm
Both great and bad that we've got one season to go off of.

And no, I'm not counting the original series in there.
#4 · 1
·
>>No_Raisin
Well... the last time I watched She-Ra was in the 80s O_O; I suppose I need to watch the new show, some of the clips I’ve caught have actually looked clever.
#5 · 1
· · >>QuillScratch
I'm ill at the moment (and desperately trying to finish my Jinglemas fic) so I won't be in this one, but I'm saddened that I didn't seem to receive a notification by email about it.
#6 ·
·
>>Trick_Question
I didn't seem to receive a notification by email about it

*shakes fist angrily in Roger's general direction*

Hope you get well soon, TQ!
#7 · 1
· on (Don't) Let Go · >>Cold in Gardez
Alternate Title: Lesbianism is Not the Answer

It's that time again, folks. It's time for another season of No Raisin's WriteOff Round Reviews, yaaaaaaaaay...

This time I'm going from bottom to top, shortest to longest. There are a couple reasons for me doing this: it's a nice change of pace for me, and also I don't feel like dealing with "Her Way" and its chunky-ass 7,000-word length right now.

I do have the time and energy for "(Don't) Let Go," though, the first to be put on the chopping block.

Since this is my first time doing reviews for short story-length entries, I'll try to go into more depth than usual. I can't guarantee a scene-by-scene breakdown, but I'll try getting there.

Now, onto the story.

The very first sentence gives me that iffy feeling, because I'm not too keen on its choice of words:

The last thing she hears before the enemy pounces is the creak of a bough.


I had to look up what "bough" meant, because I never see it used as a synonym for a branch or a twig. Maybe I'm just a big dumb-dumb, and I probably am, but making me look up what something means in the opening sentence is not the best of signs. I have an idea, in fact, as to how this could sound better:

The last thing she hears before the enemy pounces is the snapping of a tree branch.


It might not sound as poetic, but it conveys the final punch of the sentence with more clarity.

Okay, enough of that, moving on. Much of the first scene is spent with the identities of the two characters in battle being kept a secret. This is a bold move, because in a short story you ideally want to lay out all your players and their names as soon as possible, but this story takes its time. The mystery adds to the suspense before pulling a bait-and-switch, and to give credit where credit's due it's not as obviously telegraphed a twist as it could've been.

The secretive characters turn out to be Mara and Keira. I had to look up who Mara was, because while her name sounded familiar I couldn't connect it with a character from the show. She's actually the She-Ra who came before Adora, although the story takes a while to make this explicit. Keira, on the other hand, is an original character, made from whole cloth, which for some reason doesn't strike me as conspicuous as it should.

Mara is, after all, a character who's only mentioned a couple times in the show, and the circumstances of her fall from grace are kept really vague. Not necessarily a bad thing, I'm just saying. It makes sense, then, that someone in her life like Keira, someone who she has a close relationship with, would be a character made up for this story.

Also, a bit of an aside, but I like how Mara and Keira's relationship is explicitly romantic/sexual. The show, for all its praise and condemnation for having a cast of characters who are largely signaled as queer, is very coy about its homoerotic subtext, so it's amusing to read a story that just comes out and says it.

Mara and Keira being so attached to each other also emphasizes the central theme of "(Don't) Let Go)," that being Mara's heartache at having to balance her role as She-Ra with her love for Keira.

That basically covers the first scene, before we move into borderline talking heads territory, and now is the time for me to mention something about the way this story was written. You've probably noticed that despite taking place in the distant past (try a thousand years), the narration is told in the present tense. Again, not necessarily a bad thing; in fact I find it weirdly interesting that the author decided to go this route for a story that happens waaaaaay before the events of the show.

That is not to say, though, that the tense is always consistent.

Unfortunately there are several instances where the tense changes up in a way that's questionable at best, and at other points clearly an oversight on the author's part. I'll pick out a few here:

The balcony was a large, open walkway that wound around the towers of Bright Moon like a snake.


It felt almost wrong to be power-walking along it, even following Queen Angella.


Why was she suddenly so uncertain?


Her breath hitched.


You get the point. It's not that the present-tense option is bad per se; it's the fact that it needs to be more consistent, which is something you run into no matter which tense you decide to go with.

Moving on, there seem to be five scenes in this story. It's hard to discern them at first, since this story doesn't use horizontal line breaks to separate its scenes. While it's true that it's not technically wrong to do this, since pressing Enter twice to separate scenes is the norm in printed fiction, I don't think it translates well to something being read online.

There is also one scene that really caught my eye, and it's only a sentence long:

That night, Mara dreams in crystal.


I honestly don't know what to make of this. It seems like it's meant to be foreboding, but it never comes to fruition in the story itself, so it almost sounds more like a non-sequitur. It could be something that happens in the show that I missed, but if that's the case then the story is relying too heavily on audience foreknowledge of the source material to make sense.

Granted, this entire story relies on already knowing what happens to Mara after the fact, but, as especially implied in the final two scenes, the reader can gather that something bad will happen to her, even if it's not on the page.

Certain passages are seriously lacking in context, though, and I don't think that helps anyone.

We gather, albeit late, that Mara is the current She-Ra, that Bright Moon is currently not at war with anyone, that Mara is a rogue-ish figure who works well with Keira and is standoffish with Angella because one is a fellow rogue and the other is an immortal queen. Also, this story reminds us that Angella and Razz are old as fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. We come to understand that Mara doesn't get along too well with authority figures, despite being extremely talented and quick-witted.

Despite the brevity of this story, we actually come to understand Mara quite well, and even though she's the only character who gets more than a raindrop of development, focusing on her so much was a wise choice. Keira is only in two scenes and is not nearly as fleshed out, but she exists as more an object of desire than a person within the story's context anyway, and in her two scenes we're given enough time and chemistry between her and Mara to know how much they mean to each other, so I'm more okay with her lack of character than not.

A few other little things I liked that deserve mention: I like how the voice in Mara's head has a unique font, and how we can easily distinguish it from Mara's italicized thoughts just by how it looks. I also like how, despite the abundance of dialogue, there's never really an instance where the story goes full talking heads, except maybe in the final scene with Razz.

There are also hints at the avant garde here that I can get behind. Not enough to be like, "This is clearly being experimental all over the place," because that would be unnecessary here, but enough where I gotta give the author points for style. That's on top of more style points for the prose, which manages to be stripped back but not plain, thank god; that's minus a few questionable phrases, like the opener, but those are inevitable.

I guess what disappoints me about "(Don't) Let Go" is that the most interesting stuff that happens to Mara occurs off-page, and it leans so heavily on so little material from the show that I can't honestly say it stands well on its own.

As a brief but efficient character exploration, though, it's perfectly fine.
#8 ·
· on Her Way · >>No_Raisin
(Typed late at night while still suffering from jet lag. Please forgive any typos.)

So, my reviews are neither as long nor as insightful as Raisin’s. Fortunately, all four of these stories are excellent in their own way, and excellent stories are much less stressful to review.

I’ll be going in opposite order from Raisin, starting with the longest: Her Way.




Let’s start by talking about characters and characterization.

We discussed this story at some length in the chat last night, and for the most part everyone seemed to be in agreement in their view that the characterization in this story is nigh flawless. The three main voices - Catra, Scorpia and Entrapta - were pretty much perfect with the show, and the inner thoughts and dialogue of Catra we’re exposed to reflect her pretty perfectly as well.

From the other characters, we don’t get as much. The cadets are painted in pretty broad and, it must be said, shallow strokes. Even in the second-to-last scene, which is presented from Screech’s perspective, we don’t learn all that much about Screech herself. From the other cadets we get even less. I’m not even sure we get their names.

In a story that is so centrally about Catra and her inner conflict, the lack of characterization in the supporting characters isn’t a serious a serious problem for me. However, compared with the exceptional characterization we saw in Entrapta and especially Scorpia, Screech’s relative blandness stuck out to me. My suggestion, author, would be to spend a bit more time filling Screech out for us - specifically, give us a real reason why she was sneaking around inside Catra’s quarters. Not just “I saw a picture and I was curious,” but something that really explains to us why she was so interested in what she saw that she was willing to take the exceptionally fraught step of invading her superior’s bedroom.

(Also, who doesn’t lock their door in the Fright Zone?)

Alternately, if you don’t like the idea of shifting the narrative focus away from Catra because this is, after all, supposed to be a story about her, then maybe go the other way and de-personalize Screech a bit. The perspective shift to Screech in the second-to-last scene makes us want to know more about her as a person, but at the cost of shifting the story’s focus away from Catra.

I think either route you go will work, but right now you’re just kinda going down the middle, giving Screech a whole perspective scene (in fact, the most critical one, with the climax), but not giving us much Screech-the-person. Either give us the whole cake, or don’t present it in the first place.

That was a lot more than I expected to write about the characters! Let’s turn to the plot and story arc next.

I really like the central conceit here - that Catra, having been put in Shadow Weaver’s place, now gets some of Shadow Weaver’s less thrilling duties, including the training of the cadets. Although the Catra in the show is turning into a good leader, she’s still obviously working on some of the finer points of teamwork, so the tension you’ve identified is absolutely fertile ground for storytelling. I could even see this story being the germ of an entire She-Ra fanfic genre, if the fandom ever develops that much.

I saw two lines of conflict in this story. The first, immediately apparent one, was Catra’s difficulty executing her duties and her internal frustration with herself for that failure. The second was Catra’s continuing rage at Adora for her betrayal. This second line got quite a bit of play, and it was where I had some trouble. Not because it wasn’t well portrayed or implausible, but that it was too plausible - we’ve seen it before. It was very similar to some of the conflict Catra went through in the show, to the point that it felt like a replay of the show in a few places.

Now, there’s a solid argument to be made that one shouldn’t make assumptions about how much knowledge the reader has of the source material, and to write broadly for all audiences one should include enough background and context for us to understand why Catra is so furious with Adora. But I don’t think it’s necessary or the best use of space to so faithfully reprise Catra’s evolving feelings for Adora and decision to let go of her.

I’m absolutely happy to see Catra still wrestling with her feelings for Adora. The punching-bag with her picture on it is a great touch, but I don’t know that it needs to be so central to the story. Likewise her monologue with Adora’s picture, which could have been written as a dialogue with any of the other characters. Perhaps even a confrontation with Shadow Weaver (presumably in the Fright Zone dungeons, though it’s not really clear from the show) over Catra’s perceived inability to fulfil Shadow Weaver’s duties. Just tossing out alternatives.

Anyway, back to the first line of conflict. It’s solved, I think, when Catra comes to the realization during her monologue with Adora’s picture that she needs to do things her way. The next scene, from Screech’s perspective, is a realization of this ‘new way,’ via a demonstration of her own kick-ass potential. And that’s pretty cool. But I wish those two moments could’ve been closer together - the epiphany and the moment of realization, the discovery that she must do things her way and the putting it into practice. Instead she essentially completes her mini-quest in the monologue with Adora, and then it takes the entire next scene to… demonstrate it, I guess? But that demonstration seemed effortless and entirely for the benefit of the cadets, whose perspective we see it through. (Though I definitely appreciated the second demonstration of ‘her way,’ the decision to go easy on Screech. Even if it felt predictable by that point).

There’s a reason the climax in most stories comes when the hero is forced to take some dramatic action or make a fraught decision while at the moment of greatest peril, when the stakes are highest. To abuse an overused example, in the original Star Wars, Luke has his epiphany that he must trust the force mere moments before turning off his targeting computer and blowing up the Death Star. It would be a very different climax if Luke had realized he needed to trust the force hours before during a quiet bit of self-reflection in the Rebel base, then went up and blew up the Death Star without much exertion.

I’m probably not explaining that very well, and I’m always hesitant to say that stories must be this way or should be that way. Let’s just leave it by saying that I feel like the climax and resolution could have had more impact if they occurred together, in the same scene, and led into each other more directly.

In summary:

Of the four entries, I felt like Her Way had the best characterization. Some of that can be chalked up to more space, but even leaving the word-count aside, these were perfect realizations of Catra and the others. I had absolutely no trouble reading this in Catra’s voice, and nothing about it caused me any dissonance.

I think you need to pick a direction for Screech. Either pull back from her perspective and give us all-Catra, all-the-time, or give Screech more meat. I think either way could work.

Plot- and narrative-wise, I felt like there was more overlap than necessary with material already presented in the show, particularly with Catra’s conflicted emotions over Adora. Things also felt a bit predictable in places, particularly the resolution with Screech. If I had one, final bit of advice, it would be to find some way to confound our expectations in some way. Raise the stakes for everyone. You’ve written Catra so perfectly that we’re guaranteed to care what happens to her - now use that to challenge the reader in some way.

Thank you for writing.
#9 ·
· on The Castle Courtyard · >>Baal Bunny >>No_Raisin >>QuillScratch
Okay, second up at bat, The Castle Courtyard!

Compared with the other three stories in this round, Courtyard proceeds at a much slower pace. It covers years of character development, whereas the others focus on shorter periods of time (from a few days for Her Way and (Don’t) Let Go to apparently just an hour-or-so for The Master’s Tools). This lends itself to a more languid sort of story and fits the cold setting very well.

But before we talk about anything else, though, we have to shoot the elephant in the room -- the dialogue tags.

Let me start by saying that they’re not a huge problem. They’re not disqualifying. They’re odd and they’re apparently arbitrary, but when you think about it all linguistic conventions are arbitrary. The Japanese use 「 and 」 to denote quotations, and that works fine. There’s no reason a preparatory em-dash can’t work as well.

But we might as well ask the question: why? Quotation marks may be arbitrary but they’re an accepted convention. Changing them up for no particular reason (or, at least, any reason I can understand) seems to serve no purpose. It only confuses the reader (or me, at least) and sets them off in search of a reason, and in the end I think it’s just a red herring.

I felt like it was a bit of meta-textuality at first, especially coming as it did with this line:

Kindergarten came along, and with it just a bit of maturity for her. She grew a couple inches, and she could now use things like commas and apostrophes in her sentences with consistency.


And I thought at first that the narration itself would develop in complexity and detail, mirroring Sophia’s education and maturity. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. The narration at the beginning feels just as sophisticated as the narration at the end. So in the end I think I just wasted a bunch of effort looking for something that wasn’t there.

Okay, that elephant’s dead. Let’s move onto the story.

I don’t think I’m being offensive if I say that the story here is fairly simple and familiar to us. We knew where it was going almost from the second scene (or, at least, I guessed where it was going). It can be summarized like this: Two girls become friends. Over the years, life draws them apart. One develops strong feelings for the other and is sad when that love is not reciprocated. The end.

This is a familiar story to most of us. We’ve all lost track of close friends, and all but the very luckiest of us have experienced unrequited love. It is, in fact, a part of growing up to experience these feelings and these losses; one who doesn’t experience them has missed out on a fundamental formative experience of most of humankind.

This is a problem in the sense that the story isn’t really presenting us with anything we haven’t already experienced ourselves. It’s a familiar story, told with an original character in a setting that I’m glad to see explored, but the story doesn’t offer me much of anything new. And I think that’s holding it back.

Entire libraries have been written about what makes a story ‘good,’ and I don’t think I’m going to break any new ground here by trying to explain myself. But I think for a story to really engage its readers, it has to present them with something to care about. It can do this many ways -- show them characters who they come to feel for, and then challenge those characters in some way. It can tell the story of characters facing a dilemma that in some way reflects a dilemma faced by the reader in their personal life. It can ask the reader a question and demand they provide an answer. It can present the protagonist with a difficult choice and implicitly ask the reader if they made the correct one.

Or it can do something else. There are a million ways to tell a good story, and I’m certainly not qualified to say what’s good or what’s bad. But I think this particular story has a lot of things we want to see -- sympathetic characters, an interesting and novel setting -- but the story it puts them through is so familiar to us that we come away feeling not much more than a bit of sympathy of Sophia (and, for me at least, Frosta). But that’s all I feel.

I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, author. A lot of this probably comes across as “Cold didn’t like it because Cold has very traditional and staid ideas about what a story is and this doesn’t fit in his mental square hole,” and that’s mostly correct (except that I do like it - just not as much as some of the other entries in this uniformly strong round). You may decide that you don’t want to change anything about it, but you’ll have to accept that some readers will ding you for your decisions.

After the judging is over and anonymity is broken, I’ll be happy to chat about specifics and answer your questions or hear your rebuttal.
#10 · 1
· on The Master's Tools · >>QuillScratch
Alternate Title: The Thin Green Line

I feel a bit conflicted about "The Master's Tools," and not in the way you may be thinking.

I've read this story twice now, and every time I read it I come out ultimately mixed about it; yet after a certain amount of time I remember the good bits far better than the bad bits, until I read it again and think, "Oh, right..."

An explanation is in order.

First, some unapologetic dick-sucking: this story has the best opener of any of the entries this round. Easily. Not to say the others are bad, but while you can try to argue one of the others is better, you'd be fighting a losing battle. The opening paragraph of this story is beautiful and yet foreboding as hell. I don't even need to quote all of it; if you've read it, you know how good it is.

I will try to sum up why I love it, though. I love how at the very beginning you think it's going to be a lame-ass description of the weather, which is something too many fanfics (even good ones) are guilty of; but then it turns out the thunder is not coming from nature, but from the enemy. From a distance we are given a description of war and terror, and while we don't see any fighting happen Lord of the Rings-style, we know some serious shit is going down. This is such a great way to let the reader know what the stakes are right from the get-go.

For a good portion of this story, the prose is top-notch, honestly some of the very best of this round. Just take a look at how Angella, whom we know very well from the show, is described in her introduction:

In all the kingdoms of Eternia, the bards sang, there was not a woman so fair as Queen Angella, whose voice could charm a thousand suitors and whose face inspire a thousand sculptors. Never had so rare and radiant a maiden graced the world but that when she was born the First Ones themselves were struck dumb with awe, and they touched Angella with their power, choosing her as one of the new world’s immortal lords. A love-struck angel begged her to take his wings. The sun itself blessed her hair to shine with its own light. The birds fell silent in her wake, ashamed of the feeble worthlessness of their song.


God, it's like seeing her for the first time again. She is so beautiful that even the birds find their tunes inadequate when faced with her beauty. She may be extremely old, yes, but she's also eternal; she'll never grow old. She is, for intents and purposes, a supernatural being.

This is important to bring up, because I suspect that the conversation between Angella and Razz which takes up the bulk of the story is more than just strategy talk, or even strictly a matter of Good vs Evil.

There is a thematic through-line in "The Master's Tools" that, if the author didn't intend it, still acts as a lovely blueprint for the central conversation. Now, you may recall that the battle between Bright Moon and the Horde is one of Good vs Evil, simple kids stuff; in the show it's very much an archetypal fantasy conflict, like Star Wars. What this story does, though, is make it ultimately a battle between the natural and the unnatural, or Nature vs Mankind if you will.

Consider the following exchange between Razz and a random guard:

“How many people are in those?” Razz asked.

The guard shrugged. “Ten, maybe? Sometimes it’s just robots. Either way, good riddance.”

The casual cruelty cut deep. Razz closed her eyes. “Such a loss.”

A snort. “For the Horde. More losses like that and we might’ve won the war.”


In the show, the Horde uses a lot of robots; in fact we see more robots in combat than actual people on the Horde's side. The cynical reason for this is that She-Ra is a cartoon for a little babies, and using robots instead of people will make much of the violence easier to please the censors. But in the context of this story, the forces of Bright Moon being natural and not robotic are put in sharper contrast with much of the Horde's forces, which are man-made.

The eerie unnatural forces at work in the opener only reinforce this: the Horde is an affront to nature.

That might make you think, then, "So does that mean Angella represents nature here? But she's a supernatural being." A-ha, that's what I thought too. Really it would be Razz who represents nature considering, considering where she lives, her lifestyle, and the fact that she becomes attached to the woods (now the Whispering Woods) by the end. Indeed Razz, as a personification of nature, is immediately in danger of the Horde's violence and conquest, and when Angella speaks of her being in danger she is in fact referring to Razz and the greenery that surrounds her.

This leaves a question: How does Angella fit into this?

Going back to the passage of her introduction, Angella is heavily implied to be something that exists beyond both nature and mankind; she, if anything, represents magic. And being beyond the boundaries of the natural and the unnatural, magic can be used by either side, for good or for ill. It goes without saying that Angella wants to use her magic to aid Razz, and by extension the side of nature, which she ultimately does.

The final line is a tad awkward in conveying this, but I'll get to that.

Anyway, my point is that, upon reading this a second time and thinking about it some more, I'm convinced the author was playing on at least two fields here: backstory and allegory. We get a glimpse at what Razz was like before we see her in the show (another character whose lack of screen-time allows for quite a few possibilities, eh?), and we also get what is essentially a debate between magic and nature, with nature resisting the assistance before ultimately giving in. It makes for a bittersweet ending, with a bittersweet message. The natural world in real life could use some magical help, I'm just saying.

Before we jump off the positive train and dive into some things I'm not too keen on with this story, and why I ultimately have some mixed feelings about it, let's talk about how the dialogue is paced.

It would be very easy to veer off into talking heads territory (not Talking Heads, because that would be amazing) with stories like these, where you basically have two characters who sit in a room and argue with each other until one of them inevitably loses or quits. And yeah, you could argue that not much actually happens here, but there are subtle asides nestled beside the lines of dialogue that usually I have a good idea as to how each character (especially Angella) is feeling in the moment.

Take this line, for example:

“Mermista has closed the gate to her kingdom.” The Queen’s voice had lost its anger, its edge. She recited the turns against Bright Moon with all the emotion of an accountant summing figures. “So too Dryl, and the Kingdom of Snows. They’ve all forsworn their oaths to King Micah, for he is dead. He fell in battle three days past.”


You gotta literally read between the lines here (lol), but the way the change in Angella's tone is described before she drops a pretty big emotional bomb on both herself and Razz is pretty great. At first you don't even realize it's happening, but Angella's preparing herself to say something you would not normally say without tearing up, if such a thing happened to you. She's a queen, she's supposed to be regal and stoic, so it makes sense that she would put up this figurative barrier, especially since this is Angella years before the show, and by extension her bonding with Glimmer.

“You don’t understand what you’re doing, Angella.” Razz ignored the glare from the guard and stepped in front of the Queen.


I just like this touch. It's easy to forget the guard is there, so I'm glad the author didn't.

But that's it.

That's about all I've got for positives without quoting a few more specific lines, but considering this review is already well over 1,000 words long (and will become much longer, trust me), I'd say the author has had enough dick-sucking from me.

Now it is time to embrace the jank sprinkled throughout this story...

First, let's get some typos and little inconsistencies out of the way, because frankly these don't matter much; I just wanna point them out so the author can fix them with more ease.

Stars intruded on the eastern sky, thought not near the horizon,


Should be "though."

and the queen was a titan


It cared nothing for the queen's femininity


She stood and gestured for the queen to remain seated.


The queen put the tablet on the table


To be honest, I would normally give zero shits about when people's titles should be capitalized, but there is a consistency issue here, because sometimes Angella is referred to as the Queen, and "Queen" isn't capitalized when you'd think it would be. Most of the time the author capitalized it, but then slipped up occasionally. Just saying.

Bright Moon can’t afford to match the horde soldier for soldier.


This occurs far less often than the "Queen" slip-ups, but it's worth mentioning that the Horde is always capitalized; there is no grey area with this, as far as I can tell.

You know what gets repeated many times, though? Eternia.

Now, I was talking to Gardez in the Discord server not long ago, about this very thing. I defended it because it seemed like the author was mixing a few elements of He-Man into the She-Ra universe, which is what the show would've no doubt done had He-Man not been such a legal hellhole. So at first I considered it a nice touch.

But then I realized something...

Eternia and Etheria are entirely separate planets.

Oh.

Even supposing this was no longer the case, and Eternia got renamed as Etheria at some point, how and why would this have happened? Keep in mind that this story happens before the show, but not too long, since Micah is the father of Glimmer and Micah's death (oh yeah, spoilers, lol) is written as happening very recently here. So the fact that Etheria is consistently referred to as Eternia here leaves me with a few questions. Ultimately I think it's a recurring continuity error; I don't even know what else it could be, now that I'm thinking about it.

It's Etheria, ya dingus!

Okay, enough of that. The bigger problems I have with this story (there are only a few of them, I promise) can be raised in the form of questions.

For one, what exactly is the function of the first scene? Don't get me wrong, I love the opening paragraph, and some lines of prose along with the aforementioned lines from the guard, but doesn't this feel a bit awkward? I always forget that this story is two scenes and not one, because the first is short and expository, and I get this feeling that you could combine these two scenes into one in a relatively seamless fashion. Would also introduce Angella sooner.

Second, what exactly is the relationship between Angella and Razz? We know a decent deal about them, and we can tell from a few lines of dialogue that Angella knows Razz is not an ordinary woman, but my idea as to the history between them is pretty foggy. Some extra context would help here, along with a couple other areas, like the reason why there's a war going on in the first place.

Third, is the "Hero" supposed to be He-Man or She-Ra? This goes back to the questionable He-Man connection, perhaps the one thing where I'm honestly not sure what the author was going for whether it was a success or not. Considering how distracting it is and how many questions it raises about the world and mechanics of this story, though, I can't exactly call it a success myself. This is what I mean by context being absent in parts where it should really be there to clear things up.

There are several lines of dialogue, particularly from Razz, that I can't help but find... stilted? Unintentionally humorous? They don't seem natural to me, and I don't remember Razz sounding this unnatural.

Get a load of this gem, to see what I mean:

“This is what Hordak wants! To divide us! He wants us to build walls, not just against him, but against each other! These are his tools!”


This line... is hilarious. To me. Not only does it bring to mind a certain real-life figure, but it partly drops the title of the story at the very end with all the grace of a fucking sledgehammer. I feel like it's bad, but it's also pretty funny.

The final line is also a tad weird to me. Combined with the previous paragraph it sounds like Angella became part of the woods, but it's actually supposed to be Razz.

And that's about all I have to say about "The Master's Tools," holy shit. Over 2,000 words, and I haven't even gotten to the entries that have considerably more going on in them yet. God help me...

But overall, I quite like this story. It has some of the best prose this round, some of the best pacing once you get past the first scene, Angella is written here with a kind of subtlety I wish the show had more of, the subtext of the conflict is juicy and even poetic, the character interactions are more believable and even poignant, and I find myself quite enjoying it whenever I think about it after the fact.

Reading it is a bit of a mixed bag, though. It could use more polish in terms of consistency and pacing, and the exposition could use some serious smoothing out. I'm still curious as to what the author intended by the He-Man connections, but I don't think they were successfully executed.

Aw well.

Best of luck, and I can guarantee this a good spot on my slate.

It's a very small slate, but I hope the sentiment still counts.
#11 · 2
· on The Castle Courtyard · >>Cold in Gardez >>No_Raisin
>>Cold in Gardez

As I haven't seen:

The new She-Ra show and only saw a couple episodes of the original decades ago, I hadn't planned to comment on the stories here. But as a point of information, using dashes to mark dialogue became a bit of a thing mostly with non-English British writers after James Joyce did it in his writings. Roddy Doyle does the same thing in his books, for instance, and I think even the original book of Trainspotting used dashes for disalogue.

Mike, Trying in Some Way to be Helpful
#12 · 2
· on The Castle Courtyard · >>Baal Bunny
>>Baal Bunny

We actually suspected that might be the case in the chat. It’s one reason I don’t think anyone is actively planning to penalize this story for the choice — it’s just odd enough (and never before seen on this site) that I thought it merited mention.
#13 ·
· on The Castle Courtyard
>>Cold in Gardez

One thing:

Using the odd orthography tells me immediately--and I haven't read more than the first dozen paragraphs of the story so I don't know if this turns out being the case--is that there's going to be conflict between the princess and the girl from the town and that the author's sympathies are with the girl from the town.

Because my understanding of the "dash vs. quotation mark" thing is that it signifies the political struggle between the English and the people they conquered in the British Isles. The English had the power, so when they spoke, they had a voice and they used quotation marks. The conquered peoples had no power, so when they spoke, they didn't have a voice and wanted something other than quotation marks to show this imbalance. So just by using the dashes, the author is giving the reader a signal as to how the author feels about the characters.

If I'm remembering right. It's been 35 years since I last took a class this kinda lit-crit stuff... :)

Mike Again
#14 ·
· on The Castle Courtyard · >>QuillScratch
Alternate Title: Lesbianism is Not the Answer 2: The Return of Jafar

I don't even know where to begin with this.

That sounds negative, but I actually dig quite a bit of what this story is going for, and how it goes about it. "What this story is going for" is part of the problem, though; a problem that has only inflated since I first read this entry a few days ago. The problem doesn't even so much have to do with the story itself as much as what the reader should take away from it.

And yes, I'll acknowledge the very... unique way the author decided to tag dialogue, just wait like a thousand words or so for me to get to that.

It should be kept in mind that this is the first time this round that I won't be the first to comment on an entry, from my perspective. I'll be replying to >>Cold in Gardez and >>Baal Bunny when I see fit.

I also won't be going scene-by-scene with this one, because goddamnit, there are eleven of these; I went from a story with two scenes to what seems like a minific boss rush, and I'm not going balls-deep into that. Sorry, author.

I will try, however, to unpack what is undoubtedly the biggest rival to "The Master's Tools" in terms of what (I suspect is) thematic density, combined with some recurring elements and bold stylistic choices. Unlike "The Master's Tools," though, which I have a bit of doubt about as to whether the author intended certain things to come out the way they did, "The Castle Courtyard" is more upfront and consistent in the core message it's presenting.

[spoilers]So if that turns out to somehow not be the case, I'll be in a world of shit.[/spoiler]

First, continuing a certain recent tradition in my reviews, let's talk about the opener. We're introduced to two characters right off the bat, no mystery, no rubber, just their names and their upbringings at the start of the race. There is an immediate contrast between Frosta and Sophia (a character who, like Keira, is also made from whole cloth), just in how their parents picked their names; we know right away that one was born to be important while the other was born to be normal.

This contrast in upbringings is further accentuated by the following line:

The two girls were born within a week of each other, during the summertime, in the wintry kingdom of Snows. Frosta was the daughter of the king and queen of this kingdom, and Sophia was the daughter of a soldier and a teacher.


We discover that Sophia was born under basically middle-class circumstances, and that for the rest of this story she would function as a sort of avatar for the average person. Compared to Frosta, her position in life is rather banal. This gap in socio-political backgrounds will drive much of the ensuing plot; you can argue this story is ultimately about a young friendship slowly decaying, and it is, but to ignore the socio-political undercurrent would be missing both a vital and obvious through-line in the narrative.

This is actually something where I think Baal's second comment is onto something. There's a part of his comment I'll get to later, because it has to do with the dialogue tags, but for now let's look at what he's really getting at here:

Using the odd orthography tells me immediately--and I haven't read more than the first dozen paragraphs of the story so I don't know if this turns out being the case--is that there's going to be conflict between the princess and the girl from the town and that the author's sympathies are with the girl from the town.


Baal's reasoning for this conflict, and the author's sympathies, is a grey area at best (I'll get to that, I swear) but he ends up being right about the dynamic between the girls and who comes out more sympathetic regardless.

For the entire story we're grounded in Sophia's perspective; we sometimes get insights into Frosta's way of life, and why her disposition changes throughout the story, but it's always from what Sophia knows. We are denied a direct link to how Frosta feels and what exactly she does when Sophia is absent, and I suspect that was deliberate.

As with "(Don't) Let Go" and how it makes us sympathize with Mara, even when we know she's being irresponsible, this story keeps us emotionally connected to Sophia by placing us in her shoes at all times. Except here it's even more pronounced because of how helpless our protagonist is; she is defined by her lack of power, as a normal kid who doesn't use magic and who comes from a relatively normal household.

That is not to say Frosta is entirely unsympathetic, though. If anything she's shown as being a victim of an upper-class way of life that sees her more as a tool for power than as an actual person. It's kind of tragic, and it explains why she seems so emotionally stunted when we see her in the show. I like how both she and Sophia go through defined arcs that can traced scene-by-scene, and how even though Frosta remains somewhat enigmatic, we're given reasons to like both characters and see their relationship progress. It's made clear from the get-go, though, as to which girl is destined for "greatness."

Consider this line, which sums up not only how Sophia and Frosta view each other but how people are likely to see them in terms of importance:

Sophia would act as a constructor type, working on the outline of the project, while Frosta focused on the little things that made all the effort truly worth it.


Sophia would do the grunt work, but Frosta as the "artist" would be who people are more likely to remember and respect. There is a consistent implication throughout the story that only one of these girls is "important," and whose actions matter. Sophia's futility in wanting to convey how she really feels to Frosta, in the end, is only the cherry on top.

It's clear that this is not just a story of two friends drifting apart, even though it's easy to read it as such.

I'll go a bit more into "what it all means, bro," when I get into negatives/reservations I have about this story, but I want to point out some things in the writing and actual execution that I like, because what the author went for here is at the very least novel, if not perfect.

For one, the prose is very childish. In fact for the first few scenes it's too cute by half, if we're being honest. On the one hand this almost leaves me feeling insulted as a reader with a fully-functioning brain (last time I checked), because of how simplistic these sentence structures tend to be, and how expository stuff is conveyed as if out of a children's fable. But then that would be appropriate, wouldn't it? This is a tale about two kids, from the time they're born to about eleven years old, and it's all written as though made with a child's understanding in mind.

Speaking of which, something I want to reply to in Gardez's comment:

And I thought at first that the narration itself would develop in complexity and detail, mirroring Sophia’s education and maturity. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. The narration at the beginning feels just as sophisticated as the narration at the end.


This is true, although, upon re-reading this, I did notice that although the structuring of sentences remains as simple as in the beginning, the tone of these sentences changes by the end of the story.

Take this twee-as-fuck line from the third scene, for example:

Before she knew it she was back at the castle, with Frosta, who had grown as well. Both girls were now precious beyond compare, like flakes of snow that were given life and human bodies.


Now compare it to a line from the penultimate scene:

A lot of air left Frosta's lungs in a single hard sigh, and Sophia couldn't tell if it was out of discomfort, guilt, or something else. It was then that Sophia felt her friend's arms wrap around her, very delicately, like the wings Frosta would sculpt for a snow-alicorn.


There's still a bit of whimsy in there, but the description of the hug is considerably more downbeat. And that's not even getting into the final scene, where the whimsy has all but died out.

In short, I quite like the deliberation of the style chosen; it uses simple words to convey big emotions, and there's the occasional turn-of-phrase that catches my eye in a good way.

The dialogue also straddles the line between fable-esque and naturalistic, and ultimately I can't point out a specific line that I would consider a stinker. Actually, here's a particular exchange I'd like to highlight.

—It'll be my first time as a host for the Prom, said Frosta, with a single choked chuckle. —Obviously. I'm eleven.

—So am I, said Sophia, finally turning her head to look at her friend.

—Eleven and a tenth, said Frosta. —Or something like that. A small fraction, but it counts.


It's a nice call-forward to a line Frosta has in the Princess Prom episode, and even if you don't remember that line it still works in-story as indicative of her personality.

Now that I've actually brought up the dialogue, though, it's my turn to take aim at a certain elephant.

The author uses em dashes instead of quotation marks to tag dialogue. I don't even know why this is a thing. I'm not even gonna bother to find a meaning in it, because I don't think there is one. Going back to Baal's comment, if the em dashes were intentionally used to make a Joycean connection, to further drive home the central theme of the story, then it's way too opaque, and frankly I don't buy into it. It would be kind of a happy accident, though.

Also, after a bit of research, I've come to find that the dialogue here is not used like the way Joyce used it. That sounds really weird, because Joyce is easily the most famous author in modern literature to use this "technique," if you can call it that. But let's compares lines from two sources, and see if you can spot the difference.

First, a random line from Ulysses:

—That’s folk, he said very earnestly, for your book, Haines. Five lines of text and ten pages of notes about the folk and the fishgods of Dundrum. Printed by the weird sisters in the year of the big wind.


Can you even tell how much of that is spoken dialogue and how much of it is action? I can't. I would have to think about it, and that's not very convenient. Granted, Joyce wanted such ambiguity, but that doesn't mean I gotta like it.

Now compare that to a random line from this story:

—Okay, said Sophia, rocking back and forth slightly on her haunches. —But then why do you not wear gloves? You didn't really give me an answer before. It might not feel cold to you, but it is.


Not nearly as confusing, is it? There's a clear separation between action and dialogue; you can tell when one starts and the other ends, and so on. That's because (and this is consistent, too) the author used an em dash every time a line of dialogue started up. So, if we were to replace the em dashes with quotation marks, the line would look like this:

"Okay," said Sophia, rocking back and forth slightly on her haunches. "But then why do you not wear gloves? You didn't really give me an answer before. It might not feel cold to you, but it is."


Easy, right? But that's why I can't give the author too much shit for this peculiar writing decision. Even though it's different, and probably arbitrary, I actually understand what I'm reading; in fact I'd say it's about as readable as if there were quotation marks used instead. It's consistent and readable, and I can't complain about that too much.

To take something Gardez said:

There’s no reason a preparatory em-dash can’t work as well.


It really comes down to the execution, in which case the em dashes are just... fine. They don't really benefit the story and they don't really detract from it either.

And that's all I've got to say on that topic, pretty much.

Now I've got some bad shit to say about this story. Not too much, frankly, but given the nature of these reviews I'm gonna spend a good amount of time bitching anyway.

First, little things that don't really matter, but to help the author polish the story:

Your my friend, Sophia, said Frosta,


A classic case of using "your" instead of "you're" and vice verse. A truly vintage mistake.

Frosta was the daughter of the king and queen of this kingdom


I don't even know if this is an error or stylistic, considering their titles are never capitalized, but I'd give it some thought.

in the wintry kingdom of Snows.


Basically the same with this.

Also, there's a certain scene that I honestly don't like for the most part. It's short (like even shorter than the other scenes, if you can believe it), but a few things here really bug me.

Her father tried to explain what the Horde was and why Bright Moon and her allies were fighting against it, but as Sophia would come to understand, the Horde was more a concept than a place.


I'm sorry, but the author really fucked up here. First of all, "Bright Moon and her allies" sounds weird; I get that people sometimes engender their home countries, mostly feminine, but this doesn't seem right. Also, given the chronology of events here... what did the author even mean by "allies?" Bright Moon was basically on its own, considering this took place before the start of the show, so if by "allies" you mean scattered forces that favor Bright Moon, you're fucking stretching it. I'll list it as a continuity slip-up.

Also, you're right, "the Horde was more a concept than a place." That's because the Fright Zone is a place and the Horde is basically an army, ya dingus.

Overall, I feel like the few instances where the story tries to hammer the conflict of the show into its plot is where it's at its weakest. You understand that you don't need to do this, right? The passive descriptions of what Frosta is like and how she evolves as a character are more than enough. The active attempts feel more forced.

Take this "gem" of a line, for instance:

Sophia sighed in relief and took comfort in knowing that even though Frosta was being trained to fight in a possible scenario where Snows would be at war with someone or something like the Horde, her best friend would probably never have to fight anyone.


It feels like the author winking really hard at the reader while also saying, "Boy, wouldn't it suck if something like this happened? I'm sure that will never happen, though... you've seen the show, right?" Come on.

Also:

She didn't know what to do with this queer type of pain, or how to express it.


It's not even technically the wrong word to use here, but let's be honest, given the context, it's pretty cheeky. It clashes with the overall languid (Gardez's word for it, not mine) tone of the story, and I can't say I'm a fan of it.

Something I'm also not a big fan of is this strangely paradoxical feeling that this story is both too slow and too rushed. I don't even mind the increasingly downbeat tone it takes on, or even the lack of big blowout emotional moments, but you gotta admit that this entry feels way longer than it is. It takes place over the course of like a decade, is 4,000 words long, and is spread across eleven scenes. There's gotta be a way to make all these things fit together more smoothly.

The easiest solution might be to make the whole thing longer, to beef up the scenes a bit and add a few more into the mix, but that might make the problem even worse, thinking about it. It's refreshing that we get to see such a gradual evolution of a relationship and of the main characters, but you could honestly write a novella out of what we've already seen here, given how much material is thrown at the reader's face.

Finally, there remains a difficult question: How banal should this story be?

It's a slice-of-life ordeal, obviously, but keep in mind that this is supposed to be taking place in a slightly surreal sci-fi/fantasy hybrid of a world where high-concept shit just happens on a regular basis.

I about half-agree with Gardez's assessment of this:

This is a problem in the sense that the story isn’t really presenting us with anything we haven’t already experienced ourselves.


I suspect the "realness" of events was deliberate, given the course the plot takes, but I think the problem is that there are so few references to the fact that this takes place in a high-fantasy world. Sophia's life is very earthy; she basically feels and experiences everything a real-life person has, which in one way is good, because it grounds her character and situation in believability; in another way, though, the fact that she's best friends with a magical ice princess is downplayed to the point where magic even being a thing in this world is treated as tangential at the very most.

I don't think the author wanted to write a fantasy story, or at least I'm under the impression that he/she wanted to anchor the fantastical elements inherited in a She-Ra fanfic in realism, and might've gone too far.

Well, that's about all I've got. I went down yet another long and winding road with this review. It's over 3,000 words long, fuck me. Was it worth the effort? Maybe. There was a lot to unpack here, and I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being the most controversial entry; it's already generated some debate in the comments, and I know I'm not doing anything to help with that. I at least hoped I came close to cracking some code, though, because this entry is quite intriguing in some ways.

I can't even guarantee this story won't get bottom-spot on many people's slates, due to readers inevitably being reserved with some of the stylistic choices made here (thank you, em dashes). I would say bottom-slating it on that basis alone is unfair, though.

I enjoyed it, and both the story and comments from Gardez and Baal have given me something to think about.
#15 · 1
· on A Part of Something Greater · >>Zaid Val'Roa
Please note I didn’t even know this show existed until a week ago.

Those trees in the foreground make my chest fill with pride. The humanoid figure is proportional, and the (lion?) is, too. The detail on the ground and the hills is amazing.

The coloring and the shadows on this piece is splendid. ;)

Keep on making those gorgeous trees, artist.
#16 · 2
· on The Least You Can · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I think it’s cute. Hey, at least it gets a medal!

I don’t know if you want a real critique, but I’m still gonna give you one.

The proportions for the cat stick figure is nice and it doesn’t feel stiff like a stick figure typically is.

The eyes are cute, too. :3

I’m not sure the coins being photoshopped into the picture is a good idea- it looks out of place- but then again I haven’t read the story.

All in all, yes, I would let the cat take my money.
#17 ·
· on Her Way
Alternate Title: The Real Catwoman

We're finally here, folks. On the final entry, in my final review for this round, in the final hours of this... thing. I don't even know what to call it. Is it fair to call something a contest if there are only four contestants?

I guess so.

But I've finally arrived at "Her Way," a story that, despite what I'll be saying later on, has a lot going for it; more specifically it specializes in one key quality. Unlike the other entries, which try to reach for several goals with admirable but less-than-perfect results, "Her Way" is far more single-minded in what it wants to achieve.

Assuming you've already read this story, I don't have to tell you how good the dialogue is. In fact, the dialogue is not just good, it's almost perfect. I say this as someone who recently watched the show and who has a fresh memory of what these characters (especially Catra, Scorpia, and Entrapta) sound like. I think capturing a characters' inflections, quirks, and so on, in how they talk and how they converse with other people, is an often undervalued quality in fanfiction. When we talk about someone being "in character," we usually mean their actions and what they say, but not necessarily how they say those things.

"Her Way" is so faithful to the source material that said faithfulness arguably works against it... but I'll get into that much later. Basically, as much as I enjoy and respect this entry, I do have a very subtle but unnerving problem with it, a problem that will require a good deal of explanation.

In fact, this story is so special that I'm going to break up my criticisms into chapters. This is honestly more to help me out, because taken in a vacuum, each of these criticisms (well, except for like two) are not in themselves problems that I have with the story; but they all contribute to the central issue, as I'm going to try to point out.

Just as a reminder, I like this story quite a bit; I admire it for how far it goes to excel at one particular thing, and how it succeeds at excelling in that aspect. So before you jump me for being too hard on this entry...

Also, as with my last review, I'll also be responding to >>Cold in Gardez on occasion.

So, with that in mind, let's go.

CHAPTER 1: SOME GRIPES NO ONE SHOULD REALLY CARE ABOUT

For as long as it is (7,000 words, baby!), "Her Way" is actually very well-polished with regards to typos and such. But because it's absurdly hard to make a short story entry 100% error-proof, there are a few small cracks in the armor.

Okay, so it wasn’t technically She-ra.


There are only a few instances of "She-Ra" in this story, but it should be noted that the "Ra" in "She-Ra" is capitalized. It's in the title of the show, it's the title of the magical warrior, etc.

She pressed another button with her hair, bringing up side-by-side footage of the training exercise and a recording from the siege of Brightmoon.


"Bright Moon" is two words.

The first Screeched recognized not by name but by reputation.


Her name is Screech.

It was to infiltrate an enemy controlled area and eliminate eliminate a key target.


A classic case of typing the same word twice by accident.

Okay, I think that's it for technical errors and such. Also, combing through this entry in search of these errors is a fucking nightmare, so I'll stop there, for the sake of my health.

You may have also noticed that for someone who likes to pay quite a bit of attention to prose style and quality, I haven't really brought it up in this review yet.

That's because...

CHAPTER 2: THE TELEPLAY MASQUERADING AS PROSE FICTION

For those of you who don't know, a teleplay is like a screenplay for a television episode. A screenplay is almost always written within the boundaries of specific guidelines, and will often convey action to the reader in pretty much the same way. That is to say: concisely and plainly.

The action in "Her Way" seems to have been written with a similar mindset; it's definitely concise, and definitely plain. You could say it's robust, in that, on a strictly functional level of getting our characters from point to point, the prose does its job fine. At the same time, though, I can't give it any more significant a compliment. There are hints of colloquialisms, of Catra's (and also Screech's) inflections bleeding into the action, but it's still very by-the-numbers. There is not a single line of action or description I can think of that made me go, "Hey, that's pretty nice."

Now, before people get on my case about this, I want to make it clear that plain prose is not in itself a bad thing. In fact a lot of famous real-life authors are quite boring if you just judge by how they describe action or characters' feelings; such robust prose is how guys like Dan Brown and Tom Clancy (well, when he was alive) are able to make the big bucks and keep up a consistent and prolific body of work at the same time.

However... if you rewrote "Her Way" as a teleplay, or more likely as a subplot in a teleplay, how much would you have to change? Aside from formatting, obviously. The answer is: Not a whole lot.

This superficiality in how action is described, and how this could easily be an actual episode of the show, leads me into...

CHAPTER 3: HAVEN'T WE BEEN HERE BEFORE? I'M FEELING DIZZY

This story takes place shortly after the conclusion of She-Ra season 1. Spoilers: Anakin Skywalker has officially joined the Dark Side, and is now the second-in-command of a galactic empire. Catra has more power now than ever, and with that comes the obligation to actually act like a leader and not a reckless meat-head of a cat-person. She has to put her unresolved feelings for Adora aside and make her own path as Hordak's right-hand lesbian.

And that's... basically the entire story. I just summed it up. Right there.

Don't get me wrong, some things happen. Like... the scene with Screech, the curious cadet. But I'll get to her at a later time. All you need to know right now is that for a very long and winding entry, not a whole lot actually happens here that either didn't occur nearly word-for-word in the show, or doesn't tread over territory that was already covered in the show.

Am I sensing a pattern here?

It certainly gives one a sense of deja vu, or to quote Gardez in his review:

I saw two lines of conflict in this story. The first, immediately apparent one, was Catra’s difficulty executing her duties and her internal frustration with herself for that failure. The second was Catra’s continuing rage at Adora for her betrayal. This second line got quite a bit of play, and it was where I had some trouble. Not because it wasn’t well portrayed or implausible, but that it was too plausible - we’ve seen it before. It was very similar to some of the conflict Catra went through in the show, to the point that it felt like a replay of the show in a few places.


The conflict of Catra becoming a responsible leader is actually one that wasn't given much room to breathe in the show, so it's a great point of reference for the author to get creative with character explorations. The conflict with Adora, however, has been played out to fucking death in the show, and we really don't need more of it unless the author does something special or insightful with it.

But guess which conflict feels like it gets more attention... and guess what the author decided to do with said conflict...

CHAPTER 4: CATRA IS STILL A BIG BITCH AND I DON'T LIKE HER

I understand that Catra has a lot of fans, and that she's easily one of the most popular characters to come out of the show. I can even see why she is so popular. Personally, though, I'm not too fond of her.

I would give her more of a chance, though, if her character was explored with creativity and compassion in fanfiction. As a matter of fact I've written characters I normally don't like in-show, and instead of using the medium of fanfiction as an excuse to shit on them, I decide to give (what I believe to be) their best qualities, or the parts of their personas that have the most potential, more room to breathe than in the source material. It's amazing how you can improve a character from a writing perspective without totally trashing what the original creators were doing.

With that said, it legitimately frustrates me how little insight we given into Catra's character that wasn't already made apparent in the show. Even if you just watch the series it can be sometimes maddening how obsessed she is with Adora and how she "betrayed" her, and how at every chance Catra has to save their friendship she seemingly goes out of her way to ruin it. Again, this could be explored and grant us more perspective on why she does these things, and how this "complicated" relationship with her friend contributes to her overall personality.

But it's not. Not in this story.

This might be a bad time to bring up the apparent homoerotic subtext between Catra and Adora (actually it might be a very good time), but I wanna get this out of the way. Because I think it's important that we all be honest with ourselves here. You can personally try to ignore the homoerotic subtext, if you really want to, but to deliberately miss the subtext of their relationship would be to miss a vital part of it. This is the case, even if you aren't aware of what Noelle Stevenson (the current show's creator) has said on the topic.

So are we given some spicy details about how Catra really feels towards her friend that weren't already present in the source material? Not really. There are faint droplets of subtext sprinkled throughout the narrative, like trying to scoop out the very last bits of peanut butter at the bottom of the jar; it could hardly be said to make a satisfying sandwich spread.

Okay, so Catra herself doesn't get much development. Who's the second most important character in this story, then?

CHAPTER 5: SCREECH? BUT I DON'T EVEN KNOW HER!

I could go into Scorpia and Entrapta as supporting characters, but truth be told they're not in the story that much, nor do they provide much thematic substance for Catra to chew on. They're there, and they're well-written, but they're not important.

They're basically flavor text, which in itself is fine.

But inevitably, especially in a story of this length and thematic focus, there has to be at least one character for Catra to bounce off of, and to help her realize her goal by the end.

And that character happens to be Screech. Now, this is another time where the author has made an original character, and indeed Screech has some things in common with our previous OCs, Sophia and Keira. First, Screech functions as a sort of either foil or object of thematic importance for a character who's from the show. Second, she is not as well-defined as said character from show, but her purpose as a plot device is more important than her personality, and that's fine.

What isn't so fine is the change in perspective that occurs in the last third of the story. Up till this point, we've been firmly planted in Catra's point of view, which makes sense since this story is about her development, what little of it there is, and we know Catra enough already to be invested in her character from the outset. But then, suddenly, we get placed in Screech's shoes, and what follows is easily the worst scene of the story. I ragged on "The Castle Courtyard" for having kind of a sucky scene, but at least said scene was short, and in the middle of several much better scenes.

But the scene where we follow Screech around is so fucking long, and it precedes the final scene (which also happens to be only four paragraphs long) of the story. On a second reading, this was low-key hell for me. It was the one time in the whole story where the narrative felt confused, and by extension so did I.

Screech is a mook who we're not exactly inclined to care for, and the fact that her ounce of development feels so rushed in her solitary scene makes her lack of character all the more noticeable. This would be forgivable, and even good storytelling, if Screech's thematic purpose was conveyed from Catra's side of the confrontation. But it's not.

So considering how little development Catra gets, due to a number of factors, what do we get?

CHAPTER 6: LESS AN ARC AND MORE A SHOT IN THE DARK

Catra's road to doing things "her" way is kind of a rocky one, and the sad part is that a lot of it didn't even need to happen. How she starts at the beginning, as an irresponsible and quick-to-anger leader, and how she evolves into a responsible and compassionate one at the end doesn't feel so much like an evolution of character.

The reason why a character arc is called an "arc" is because it's a gradual change that the reader can track, almost in a step-by-step process. The protagonists of the other entries, regardless of each story's chronology, go through tangible and measured changes; whether the story happens over the course of one hour or ten years, the reader has a good idea of how and why the protagonist changes.

I'm gonna use Gardez's words for this problem, and then expound on them:

Anyway, back to the first line of conflict. It’s solved, I think, when Catra comes to the realization during her monologue with Adora’s picture that she needs to do things her way. The next scene, from Screech’s perspective, is a realization of this ‘new way,’ via a demonstration of her own kick-ass potential. And that’s pretty cool. But I wish those two moments could’ve been closer together - the epiphany and the moment of realization, the discovery that she must do things her way and the putting it into practice. Instead she essentially completes her mini-quest in the monologue with Adora, and then it takes the entire next scene to… demonstrate it, I guess?


Certainly the switch in perspective contributed to Catra's "arc" feeling wonky. Even unearned. But I think the real problem is not the timing of Catra's realization, followed by how it's put into practice, but the fact that... much of this story doesn't actually involve Catra changing.

Let's think about this.

It takes a while for the reader to understand what Catra's internal conflict is; we know she's still hung-up on Adora and that she might have anger management issues, but it takes a while for Catra herself to acknowledge this. Once she finally does, though, she spends a lot of time angsting over Adora, and as I've said before we're not given much to chew on here that we weren't already aware of. Then, when Catra finally comes to a conclusion, we don't see this from her perspective.

What's bizarre is that you could cut out much of Screech's scene, rework so that it happens from Catra's POV, and you would have a much tighter conclusion. And if you reworked her angsting over Adora (or at least be insightful about it, instead of feeling like stating the obvious), you could make that work too.

The transition between beginning and end states for Catra's character would be a lot smoother; it would certainly feel more like a proper "arc" and not like bumps in the road.

But then that would require this story to feel more like a fanfic. Now what do I mean by that?

CHAPTER 7: THIS IS NOT A FANFIC

Obviously "Her Way" is a fanfic, but only in the loose sense that it is fiction that unofficially adapts licensed material. Let's think about that for a second. What even makes a fanfic what it is?

I have a theory, and I don't even know if anyone's done criticism like this before, but I'll go for it.

Fanfiction is, along with what I had previously mentioned, speculative fiction at its core. It's speculative fiction in the sense that it asks a very simple but crucial question: What if?

What if Mara fell from grace as She-Ra because she couldn't let go of the love of her life?

What if the Whispering Woods were created by Angella as a defense measure against the Horde?

What if Frosta used to be more sociable, but became cold-hearted (lol) as she took on more princess-y responsibilities?

The other entries in this round speculate on what was not already made explicit in the source material. This applies to about 99% of fanfics (assuming there is even a 1% that doesn't), because, serious or shitpost-y, good or bad, handsome or ugly, just about every fanfic you've ever read has been speculative.

And "Her Way" doesn't really do this. Or at least it keeps speculation to such a minimum that at times it feels like it ripped its lines from the show word-for-word. Entire exchanges and monologues (especially Catra's monologue about Adora) strikes one's eyes as being a little too familiar. That's not to say that the author plagiarized or anything like that, but then saying the author didn't plagiarize is like saying The Force Awakens didn't plagiarize. It's technically true... but it also runs the risk of seeming hollow.

Like I said, I enjoyed "Her Way" a fair bit, and I am absolutely convinced that the author spent countless hours polishing the dialogue and pacing to a mirror shine; it wholeheartedly succeeds in an area where the other entries need some more work, to varying degrees.

Yet at the same time I can't put this entry higher on my slate than any of the other entries, for that precise reason. This is a story that seems to me like it's suffering an identity crisis. Get it? Cuz it's ironic, cuz it's like meta, cuz Catra is having a sort of identity crisis within the narrative...? It needs to not latch itself onto the source material so completely, and it needs more creativity that only the author could supply; not stuff we're already seen in the show, but fabrications of the author's own making. I like to encourage creativity, almost regardless of the situation, but I think that encouragement is especially warranted here.

I wish the author the best of luck, and for contributing a damn fine story to one of the first batches of She-Ra (2018) fanfiction ever published on the internet. It's kind of a low-key historic moment, if that means anything. I would also like to thank every author who contributed to this round, as all these entries would undoubtedly make it to finals into a more populated round; they're seriously that good.

And with that, my work here is done. At long last...
#18 · 1
· on (Don't) Let Go
OKAY SO I THOUGHT THERE WAS LIKE ANOTHER DAY LEFT IN THIS CONTEST BUT NO IT CLOSES IN THREE HOURS AND I STILL HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING I NEED TO DO TODAY SO HERE GOES YES REVIEW THE SHORT ONE!

Ahem.

I liked it.

Lemme start by saying that of the four entries, (Don't) Let Go is easily the most... fluid. Yeah, let's go with that. It's fluid in the sense that it jumps around a lot, transitions are abrupt, some 'scenes' are so short that they lack anything approaching context, and in general it feels avant garde, to use >>No_Raisin's term. It's not experimental, but it's definitely got style.

Straight from the opening this story has energy. Momentum. Things start fast and it's not until the first scene break that they calm down. And for the record, I knew what 'bough' was without having to look it up (flex).

There's not much space in 2,000 words to fit a full story, action scenes and character development, so it's understandable that we don't learn much about Catra Kiera in the course of this fic. Mara, however, we learn a great deal about, and even though she's a canon character, the show never reveals much about her. So I appreciate the thought that went into developing her here, and I have to say I like the idea. We know, from the show, that she undergoes an Anakin-like failure at some point, but we're not given much indication of what drove her to that point. And this fic wisely doesn't try to show us, thereby avoiding Lucas's prequel-pitfall. Instead it shows us something that Mara cares about, the inner conflict her desire for Kiera produces, and invites us to decide how that may or may not have led to her ultimate fate.

Okay, that's characters. Let's talk about the narrative arc and plot.

We have a conflict concisely presented: Mara's love for Kiera is interfering with her duties to Etheria. Apparently. Aside from an interrupted training session or two, though, it's not clear how. Perhaps She-Ra is expected to be an ascetic monk, and forswear all physical comforts? Queen Angella notes that she's never met a She-Ra who couldn't put Etheria's needs ahead of her own. Perhaps the world is asking too much of poor Mara.

But... let's tug on that thread a bit. What is the world asking, exactly? Be a warrior, defend the planet... practice with the sword sometimes. Don't make-out with Kiera until you've done your homework. These seem like reasonable expectations. The guards in Angella's castle certainly aren't allowed to go kissy-kissy with each other whenever they want -- why does Mara feel like it's such an imposition that she can't? Unless I'm misreading something, no one in this story is telling Mara that she must not have any relations, just that she needs to do her duties first. That's something a lot of people have to live with.

In other words, being She-Ra doesn't seem like a terrible burden. In fact, it seems pretty awesome. You get an awesome sword, free hair, and big ole' muscles. And a sense of purpose! That's worth more than the rest put together. So why does Mara feel so... confined?

The story hints at her reasons. It never quite spells them out. It tosses out little suggestions and leaves it to the reader to decide. And that's all awesome. But we reach the end rather shortly and we're left with... not much? A scene with Razz, going out to pick berries with Mara?

The scene with Razz is pivotal, and gives us an allegorical tale to compare with Mara's current troubles, but it doesn't seem to end Mara's conflict. It suggests that she should not let go of herself to become She-Ra, but that doesn't resolve Mara's conflict -- if anything, it perpetuates it. She is still She-Ra and she still feels the tug of these warring desires. She ends the story in the same place she started.

And that's fine! You have a character struggling with a conflict, and in the end they fail to resolve it. Failure is an option. But we never see the consequences of that failure, or any consequences whatsoever. There's no epiphany at the end. The story just takes us in a big lap around the block, and for that matter the first scene could pretty easily follow the last scene and take place the very next day. That's how little has changed.

All this may make it sound like I didn't like this fic -- but I did. I thought it was one of the strongest in the round, that the story it tells is interesting and engaging even as it comes across as a bit jumbled. But I'm willing to accept a bit of confusion if it's fun to read, and this was.
#19 ·
· on The Master's Tools
Author, there's an idea you use a couple of times in this entry that I really, really wanted to see you make more of, despite the fact that it's really rather irrelevant to the story you're telling:

Razz had heard that word before. It seemed a useless distinction – if magic and technology could both give life to metal and set it flying through the air, what was the difference? She’d grown old enough now to understand that small-but-glaring differences could mask enormous but subtle similarities.


I could talk about the Clarke-esque message here, but I think we really need to focus on the context of this piece as a She-Ra fanfic to fully get the most out of it. I don't think it can be disputed, especially after Entrapta's change of allegiance, that She-Ra portrays a war of magic against technology, of nature against machine. It's there as a core aesthetic reminder that the Princesses are Good because they are Natural, and the Horde is Bad because they are Not, and as blunt as this tool is in the show it's certainly not a bad shorthand for the nature of the war (think back to the opening shot of the show, where natural landscape gives way to a vast, imposing, industrial complex—this aesthetic literally sets the tone for the show).

So when I saw this first reference to this idea, I wanted very much for this story to at least attempt to peel back the covers on the war itself, and to unmask the "enormous but subtle similarities" between the two sides of the war in some significant way, even if only metaphorically. And I think you have the very beginning of that in your penultimate paragraph, author, with the beautifully unnatural descriptions of birth of the Whispering Woods—if this is a motif you want to build on, I thoroughly recommend tying this paragraph in some way to the Horde's transformation of the Fright Zone, or to foreshadowing of Entrapta's own wrecking of the balance of Etheria.

With that out of the way, I'll admit that I struggled with this piece. And I'm not wholly sure why—to me, the writing seems perfectly fine (there are some fantastic gems in there, and I'll touch on one in a minute), but I just couldn't find myself gripped by it. Do you need a stronger hook? Perhaps. As much of a fan as I am of these more laid-back, quiet openings, perhaps they do need to be followed up by something stronger to keep the reader invested, and in this case I think it would help a lot.

I want to take a moment to talk about a few specific quotes from the piece that I think are either brilliant, or places that could use more work. And what better place to start than with one that >>No_Raisin has already praised:

“Mermista has closed the gate to her kingdom.” The Queen’s voice had lost its anger, its edge. She recited the turns against Bright Moon with all the emotion of an accountant summing figures. “So too Dryl, and the Kingdom of Snows. They’ve all forsworn their oaths to King Micah, for he is dead. He fell in battle three days past.”


Except unlike Raisin, I don't like this. Don't get me wrong, Raisin is right about the strengths here, and I think it's an excellent idea to give us that pre-buffer of emotion as Angella prepares herself. But I'm not convinced that "She recited the turns against Bright Moon" is the right line to go with, here, if only because you then go on to recite the turns against Bright Moon. You tell us that she does something, and then show us her doing it, and for me, at least, that creates a redundancy here. Can you create the same effect Raisin describes without that? I think so, and I think it'd be well worth exploring.

They spilled out from the moonstone without end, a torrent that soaked into the trees, filling them, growing them, twisting them. Making them something greater than they were, something no longer of nature but out of nature, and the woods a wound in the world, a vast, bleeding maw that chattered and whispered and seduced and whispered and rumored and whispered and whispered and whispered


Look, author, I don't like the ending of this entry, but this little bit right before it? Almost perfect. I am currently trying to avoid keysmashing in excitement over that use of "vast, bleeding maw" imagery with the whispering motif (no, fuck it: safasdasgfdsdsgsfgdsfs that's so goooooooooood), and my everlasting love of anything remotely resembling stream-of-consciousness has me almost drooling over the end of that quoted section. I'd love to see you do more with this, author: is there anything stylistic you can do here, beyond the repetition, to give that stream a more whispered feeling? Because honestly I have no idea if you can, but I'd love to see you try. I'm also a little bit put out by the sentence break here, because "Making them something greater than they were" is a weak fragment to open with (even when we're heading towards stream-of-consciousness, and here that's because you transition via a coordinating conjuction, which sets that first bit of the sentence up to be a main clause when it isn't), but you follow it up with the gorgeously-worded "something no longer of nature but out of nature" so I'll quite happily forgive you for that.

But then we get to the ending and I no longer quite know what to think. I'm honestly still a little confused as to what's happening, here: like Raisin, I wasn't sure who was becoming part of the woods (close reading has me agreeing that it's probably Razz, but it's the big ol title that threw me), but I'm also not wholly sure why. When I first read this piece, very disconnected and struggling to engage with it, my initial reaction was "oh, huh, it must be a voluntary sacrifice as a conclusion of a character arc"... but it isn't. In fact, it very much sounds like Razz becomes part of the woods entirely without her consent, and narratively that just throws me. I can't read this as even a remotely satisfying conclusion, author (nor even as a tragic conclusion, which by their very nature are unsatisfying but at least in an appealing way). Am I reading this wrong? I'm very interested to know what you were going for with this ending, author, because if you wanted me to feel deeply unsatisfied, you're gonna have to do more to sell to us that that was your intent.

Honestly, I want to try and unpack more things in this story, because looking back over it now there are so many places where it just misses the mark on something for me, but I also know I don't have long to review the others so I'm just going to wrap it up here with an invitation to discuss other passages in detail in chat sometime, author. I know I've been a bit overwhelmingly negative here, author—just consider me to have seconded all the nice things Raisin has said above, though, because this story has a huge bunch of promise and some gorgeous little details in the text that slow the piece down and ground it in the people present in a way that just seems very Razz to me. I think it could do with a little work (but then, what writeoff entry couldn't?), but I am certainly glad I read it—mostly because it's got me thinking about the cool motif I opened this review with. Thanks for entering!
#20 ·
· on The Castle Courtyard
Oh my god guys, stop talking about Joyce without me.

>>No_Raisin might not like the ambiguity that the traditional approach to em-dashing dialogue presents, but I sure as hell do—but then, I'm the person who writes writeoff entries without any dialogue punctuation, a la Cormac McCarthy, so maybe I'm not the best judge of sensible ideas. So it's taken me a while to come around to what you appear to be doing with them here: creating distance. I've always thought of dashes as a piece of punctuation that drags the eye away from something to focus on something else (which is why parentheticals have such different tones when punctuated with parentheses than they do with dashes), and to me this always creates a kind of separation. Maybe I'm reaching at straws, but to me the dashed punctuation here just helps to add to the growing sense of distance between the characters—but it also keeps the readers at a distance from them too. Honestly, I have no idea if it's the right choice, but I think it works and I wanted to throw in my two cents about how I reacted to that punctuation.

In my opinion, though, the dialogue itself is probably the weakest part of this piece. And that's not a huge fault, author: writing kids isn't easy. Little gimmicks to show particularly young children struggling with words (c.f. "Frost-a") can work, but sometimes are more of a hindrance than a help, and I think that's true here, but even putting that aside I found the dialogue really tricky to get into in this piece. Some of it felt forced, and some of it didn't tie in too well with the surrounding prose. Example:

—A princess doesn't need other friends, she said, almost under her breath, very delicately molding a snowball in her hands. —It's okay. I don't need other friends, she said, almost not believing those words.


I get the idea with the repetition, here, but I'm not convinced it works. It feels like the denial is being oversold and undersold at the same time, especially with the clumsy-sounding "almost not believing those words" finishing the line off. And again, I get the attempt to go for detachment (it's Frosta, after all), but this is a quiet moment of vulnerability and that doesn't really feel reflected in the text... but the repetition here forces the message through anyway, bluntly, and I for one was left feeling quite conflicted over that. It's a particularly bad example (the rest of the dialogue is much better than this cherry-picked line!), but I think it's the best demonstration of the general issues I had.

That said, this entry has such a strong structure that I can't help but enjoy, setting a slow but steady rhythm to the narrative that doesn't feel as broken up as the many, many strong scene breaks would suggest. And I like that rhythm because it builds a sense of inevitability (a sense that's very much backed up from the moment we read the word "Frosta" at the start of the piece, because canon context is a tool that you have used wonderfully here.) The predictability of the ages as the passages roll onward is nice, and I love that inevitable grind towards Frosta's canon age—and the feeling when we reach it is already bittersweet. That's a lovely touch, and I really liked it.

>>Cold in Gardez made a point about red-herrings, specifically with regards to the meta-textuality line, and I just wanted to chime in to say that I did exactly the same thing with that line. Maybe it's this particular audience, but with several people independently having that problem (and looking for something that would be hella cool if it was there), I'd honestly recommend looking to do something with that. And since Joyce has been name-dropped enough times in the discussion of this story, it might even be worth tying your excellent structure into something like that and going full on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Just saying. Something to consider. Definitely not something I was hoping for.

Despite its faults, I liked this piece. Like Gardez, though, I wished this piece did more than just present this familiar story to us. Honestly, even just something like playing with the meta-textuality and showing us this familiar story in an unfamiliar way would be enough to raise this up, or making those forced comparisons to the show Raisin mentions more nuanced and central. This piece feels very much like an unfulfilled promise, to me—enjoyable, but not quite all there. But then again, it was cute and it made me smile, and I feel like that should be enough. Perhaps with a bit of spring cleaning on the dialogue to help keep readers invested, it would be.

(Again, author, apologies for the somewhat rushed review here. I'm more than happy to discuss this story, and any of the others, in more depth after the round is over. Thanks for writing it!)




as the two were working on a snow-alicorn


i see what you did there
(On a serious note, that is playing to your audience. Nice one!)
#21 ·
· on Her Way
With just fifteen minutes to go at the time I start writing this author, I want to say a few very quickly that this is without a doubt my favourite entry this round—it hits every single note for me, despite its flaws, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. My biggest problem with this entry is a criticism that can be just as strongly leveled at the show itself: the contradictory portrayal of the Horde as evil vs the people within the Horde as not is a potential goldmine of meaning and discussion that both this entry and the source material have seemed, to me, to skip over entirely. As I've said in chat, this isn't really a fair criticism—I am, in a sense, asking you to take a story I loved and tell an entirely different one, or at least to potentially take away from its central arc—but I find it frustrating how close this entry in particular skates to touching on these ideas (particularly with the almost reformation-like ending) without actually dealing with them.

I still love it, though. I disagree with the criticisms above about the resolution of Catra's arc here—don't get me wrong, it could be stronger, but I don't think it needs quite as significant a rework as suggested to do achieve that. I think switching away from Catra at the climax of her own arc is a good thing, myself, and I think the structure of the piece is stronger for it. Thank you for writing this, author. It was an absolute pleasure to read.
#22 · 2
· on A Part of Something Greater · >>Zaid Val'Roa
What a gorgeous, gorgeous picture. And I'm not saying that 'cos I'm biased ;D

I love the colours, here—one thing I didn't consider in (Don't) Let Go is how different the Whispering Woods might have been so long ago (an idea that I adored in The Master's Tools), and I like how adding the brighter tones here over the show's portrayal of the woods gives us a lighter, more hopeful world. Your detailing is phenomenal—I adore the contrast of line art on clothing vs no lines on skin, and what that does for the lighting of this piece.

And, of course, those trees. Dayum.

As a usual disclaimer, I know very little about how visual art works, but I couldn't help but chime in to heap praise on this one. Again, not biased. It's just very pretty.
#23 · 4
· on The Least You Can · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Kitty! :3

For a jokey entry, I do like that this has had some obvious effort put into it above and beyond the bare minimum. Look at those eyes! Cute as heck, artist. Cute as heck. Have a free medal on us ❤
#24 · 1
· on A Part of Something Greater
Thanks to Roger for extending the deadline for the pic submissions. I appreciate it.

>>Anon Y Mous
I'm glad you liked this. I'll keep on treeing.
and the (lion?)

It's Frizz. Most of the details of her dress aren't that noticeable. I guess it's my fault for drawing at 4000 pixels and then resizing to 1800.

>>QuillScratch
Yeah, I originally painted all in the blueish tones depicted on the show, but it didn't look all that good, so I started playing with the hues until I got something prettier. Then I just added more little details and highlights before I remembered I only had one day to finish this and it was already past midnight.

I'm glad you liked it.

And with that, let me put on my pretentious cap!

I wanted to mention that Mara and Frizz have such a dark shade because that way they start to blend with the darkness of the Whispering Woods surrounding them, which is a way to symbolise how She-Ras must abandon their individuality to become Etheria's protector. Definitely not because I messed up the colouring of the trees and decided to hide it all with darkness. Not at all.

And yeah, since we only saw Mara in her She-Ra getup, I went for her eighties look. I even included that mace thing at the end of her braid.

Oh, well. It was a nice experience. I liked this round.

Cheers!
#25 · 1
· on The Least You Can · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Now that the event is over, I can finally say this.

Kyuuuuuuuuuuuut!

That is all.
#26 · 1
· on The Least You Can
>>Anon Y Mous, >>QuillScratch, >>Zaid Val'Roa

The Least I Could

I had a suspicion that the art slate would be under-represented in this round. I figured roughly that there might be two entries, and decided to see if I could score a bronze while still being entirely ignorant of the show on which the round was based, and also offering a bit of sporting challenge to others who might have, say, just rendered the show’s logo in MS Paint in hopes of scoring an easy bronze for themselves. I glanced over the stories, and when the first one had a catgirl I ended my search. I drew a generic catperson stick figure and tried different faces before settling on this one; I had to be generic or readers might wonder why my sketch didn’t much resemble the actual character. I’m glad you liked it!

As it turns out, I miscalculated slightly and won a silver for Anonymous. I am pleased.

Creators, please don’t think that I am mocking you. This is a dig at the Writeoff rules that let these weird things happen in small rounds. Excelsior, and keep SheRa-ing!