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It Could Have Gone Better · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Two Birthdays
"How come we always get two birthday parties?" asked Pound Cake.

Pinkie Pie's face blanched. "Well, silly, it's because there's two of you! So we have one for Pound and one for Pumpkin!" she answered, grinning a plastic smile.

"No it isn't," said Pumpkin Cake. "We both get the song with Daddy and we both get the song with Mommy."

"Yeah, and Mommy even makes us two cakes," said Pound. "One cake for each of us. So it's like we both get two parties."

"Well, you guys are super-special, so you get a party with each one of your parents. That's a good thing, isn't it? Double the parties is double the fun!" Pinkie put on her party hat and resumed setting the tables in Sugarcube Corner. "A fun party here with Daddy at Sugarcube Corner, and a fun party at Mommy's house tonight."

"No! It isn't good. We want a party with Mommy and Daddy together," said Pumpkin. "We get to see you at both of them, but everypony else there is different."

"Yeah! We talked to Zipporwhill. She doesn't get a party with her Mommy and another one with her Daddy. They have the same party together," said Pound.

Pumpkin frowned and crossed her forelegs. "Other kids don't do this! And they don't have two Hearth's Warmings neither."

Pinkie Pie sighed and sat down, turning to face the foals. "Have you talked to Daddy about this?" she asked.

Pumpkin nodded. "He said it's gotta be this way and it's Mommy's decision. But Mommy just says she doesn't have a choice."

"He said that, huh?" said Pinkie. She briefly gritted her teeth.

"Pinkie," said Pound, his voice suddenly soft, "did we do something bad?"

Pinkie's eyes watered. "What? No! No, no. Kids, you... this has nothing to do with either of you."

"But it's OUR birthdays!" said Pumpkin, her little muzzle wrinkled up.

Pinkie Pie reached over and pulled Pumpkin and Pound close to her. "Pound, Pumpkin, listen to me. This is super important, okay?" she said. "Neither one of you are responsible for how Mommy and Daddy act."

"Then who is?" asked Pumpkin Cake.

"Yeah. Is it Daddy or Mommy? And how come?" added Pound Cake.

"It's... both Daddy and Mommy, in part. You see, sometimes ponies fall in love, but it isn't for forever," said Pinkie, grimacing. "Nopony can control how they feel in their heart. If the love goes away, it can be hard to do things together. But it isn't because of you. If anything, you two made Mommy and Daddy hold onto love even longer than they would have without you."

"But people who get married are s'poseda be happily ever after!" said Pumpkin cake. Pound nodded in agreement.

"Well, that's in books. In the real world things are... complicated," said Pinkie, idly petting Pumpkin's mane. "Sometimes they're too complicated for Mommies and Daddies to work out."

"Do you think it's Mommy and Daddy's fault the same?"

Pinkie Pie bit the tip of her tongue until it bled and sucked on it for a moment. "It doesn't matter what I think," she said, then paused before speaking again. "But Daddy's family never really liked Mommy, so now that they're not married they don't get along very well."

"How come they don't like Mommy? Mommy's great!" said Pound.

"Adults are weird, Pound. They don't always know the right thing to do, and they don't always understand friendship."

"Oh! You and your friends could fix their friendship problem!" said Pumpkin.

"Yeah!" said Pound, his eyes lighting up. "You can fix any friendship problem!"

Pinkie closed her eyes. "I'm sorry, kids. Auntie Pinkie's tried really, really hard already. This is as good as it's going to get."

"Oh," said Pound and Pumpkin, in unison. They both stared down at the floor.

"Hay, cheer up," said Pinkie, hugging them both. "It's your birthday! You're supposed to be happy."

"What's there to be happy about," mumbled Pound.

"Well... you know something your parents don't," said Pinkie.

"What's that?" asked Pumpkin.

Pinkie smiled. "You know what it's like to have two birthdays. And maybe when you get older and you have your own kids, you can make sure they only get one."

Pound giggled as Pinkie scruffed him on the head.

"Okay. But will you come to our kids' birthday parties too?" asked Pumpkin.

"I wouldn't miss it for anything," said Pinkie Pie. "Cross my heart and hope to fly."

"Stick a cupcake in my eye," said the foals, smiling.
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#1 · 4
· · >>Trick_Question
Appropriately enough, I’m split on this one. This is a good presentation of “Pinkie explains divorce to the Cake twins,” but I’m not sold on the circumstances needed to get to this point. I need more data than you have room to provide to suspend my disbelief here.
#2 · 6
· · >>Trick_Question
Pinkie's voice doesn't come through at all for me. With the exception of a couple trademark catchphrases, the dialogue could have been from any generic OC.

That said, the choice of depressing topic would certainly make it very difficult to write a convincing Pinkie. But I don't understand why this topic with these characters.
#3 · 8
· · >>Moosetasm >>Trick_Question
"Oh! You and your friends could fix their friendship problem!" said Pumpkin.

Okay, now I can't get the image of the main six running around town, blasting divorcees with rainbow lasers, out of my head.

This strikes me as the kind of story composed of individually good elements, which fail to gel. Pinkie's voice doesn't sound right at all to me; it sounds like she's talking down to the kids, which isn't really her MO, and she's altogether too staid in terms of her conversation. You could replace her with a different pony, but that would change the dynamic of the story. Or you could change her dialogue, but that would alter the tone.

Also, I didn't mind the nature of the conversation intrinsically, but I didn't think it was set up well. I had problems with these kids having not noticed for... years? Multiple birthdays, at least... that their parents are divorced. That timeline really stretched my suspension of disbelief.

As you move forward on this fic, I'd think long and hard about how get characters, dialogue, and backstory all working synergistically with the premise. Right now, each of those four things are fine in a vacuum, but the first three are each individually pulling against the fourth when you combine them.
#4 · 2
I think there should be more description at the start of the story, and I agree with others that there needs to be more definition to the conflict between the Cakes. This might not be something you can do justice to in 750 words.

One problem I had was that Pinkie never explicitly mentioned that the Cakes' parents love them, and I think that's something that absolutely needs to go into a discussion like this.

I didn't have as much problem with Pinkie's voicing as the other readers did, but I think one thing that would improve it is (again) if you had more words to work with. It almost seems like you're trying to get out a bunch of very specific details, so Pinkie becomes a limited-word conveyance for the message rather than a character.

I don't agree with Chris that the kids not noticing the parent separation was a problem. I just read it as they're finally old enough to start asking questions about it. It isn't going to be immediately obvious to very young children that there's something amiss in how they are being treated.
#5 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
There's something strongly amiss with this entry.

I understand the intentions, which were good, but I feel like this is the wrong kind of story to tackle something like divorce. Even by the show's standards this feels very spoonfed and condescending towards kids in general, let alone the Cake twins, whose ignorance I have a very hard time believing.

There are too many questions raised from the get-go, like how any of this even came about, and why the twins are asking Pinkie why they have two birthdays if they know their parents are separated, both physically and in their relationship, already. Isn't the answer within the question here?

I understand that kids, especially very young ones, have a hard time grasping the idea of divorce, and the implications of which they would not be able to fully understand until years later, but the way Pinkie talked to the twins seemed really off, and lacking in a certain tenderness that she normally exhibits when she's not being totally silly.

Hell, Mr. Rogers handled the topic with more patience and maturity, and his audience was a bunch of kindergartners.

I feel like I'm being overly negative with this entry, and I suspect it will also be one of the most controversial ones once we get down to it, but as far as writing goes it's very solid. Above average, in fact.

But at the same time there's not much else I feel I can say about it.

I'm feeling a strong 5 to a light 6 on this.
#6 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
I notice I'm the only one blanking out whole sections of my comments. In case anyone's wondering what the hell I'm doing: I'm trying to discourage passersby from reading my comments before coming to their own conclusions. I think it's more impartial that way. I could be nuts, though.

Back to business...

Count me among the throng totally unconvinced that this was Pinkie Pie speaking. I'll sport the ambitious topic and the careful way the twins' own concerns and fears were handled, but for me it fell down utterly the moment the Big Pink opened her mouth to deliver An Aesop.

I do think skirting around the actual cause of the divorce, or at least having it be "the love ran out", weakens the impact. Talking about this thing at all demands a careful but nevertheless strong candidness, and it feels too often like Pinkie - and by extension, since she's the author's mouthpiece, the author - is avoiding some necessary material, or hasn't made up their minds about it, or just flat-out can't bring themselves to do it. It has a certain "eat your cake and have it" feel, and I think for something like this, you should just eat the cake and swallow it down, or leave it alone altogether. Trying to do half and half (tackle the divorce issue and then handwave a lot of it) weakens the apparent honesty of the piece and raises the question of why you're tackling this in the first place. There's only so much that phrases like "adults are weird" or "it's complicated" can manage.

I'm really trying not to make any strong claims here, since it is a ballsy move to write about divorce, but I do think the execution at present is vague enough to suggest a certain half-heartedness. This isn't just an issue of sticking to your guns; the setup feels canonically unlikely, and I wanted to know how we got from the cheerfully married couple in the show to this proposed state of affairs. Leaving a gap here exacerbates the problem.

Myself, I had no problem with the lead-in for the tale. Kids ask inconvenient questions, poke around: I'm game for that. It seems a fair enough way to lead into the meat of the topic.
#7 · 2
Ditto... though I don’t think it would work...

Cookie Crumbles: “Sorry, Rarity, Sweetie, but your father and I have decided to see other ponies”
Rarity: “This is. The. Worst. Possible. Thing!”
Twilight: “Don’t worry Rarity, we’ve got this!”
*Eyes open, revealing the cleaning light of the infinite horror*
Mane Six: “Friendship cannon... FIRE!”
*Explosions, etc*
Cookie Crumbles: “Wow... Hondo Flanks... I never knew how I felt about you until now.”
Hondo Flanks: “Me too!”
Both: “Now we’ll be... Friends Forever.”
#8 · 3
· · >>Chris
Two Birthdays

>>FanOfMostEverything >>Hap >>Chris >>No_Raisin >>BlueChameleonVI

This wasn't my best attempt, and I'm glad it didn't make the finals—especially considering some of the remarkably good fics that didn't make the finals for some inexplicable reason.

I agree with most of the comments except the claim that the kids are too old to be asking this question now. How do you figure that? I never stated how old the children are, and there must be a first time they ask this question. I would expect them to ask Pinkie near their birthday. It might have helped expectations if I had mentioned they were turning five years old or something along those lines, though I thought the language of the foals was young enough to send that impression.

Anyway, I probably won't be fixing it up in the near future, but it was nice to submit something for once. I wasn't very inspired by the prompt this time and depression's made writing difficult over the past few months. I'll be back for the poni short story round in two Writeoffs.
#9 · 2

I agree with most of the comments except the claim that the kids are too old to be asking this question now. How do you figure that?

I can't speak for the other commenters, but my issue wasn't that they were too old (that said, I'd have pegged them at about 8 (human) years old, based on their dialogue and a couple of behavioral cues), but that this didn't seem to have come up before. Again, the "they have spent multiple years not noticing that Mom and Dad are divorced" is what trips me up. Even if they are only five (though that brings up the question of how likely they are to remember multiple birthdays), they surely should've noticed long before now that mommy and daddy are never in the same place at the same time, right? That's not really something you can hide from a kid, even if they can't put into words exactly what's wrong.

Glad you were able to get something in this round, and whenever you do feel like "fixing it up," I think it'll come together nicely. There's a lot of great elements here, after all. Hope the next prompt inspires you, and hope to see you again next time!