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TBD · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
To Be a Dragon
“Clothes?” Ember asked, the dragon skeptically examining Rarity’s dress-clad ponnequin.

“Of course, darling. You want to look your best.”

“They seem awfully… flammable,” she said, poking at the dress with a claw.

Rarity sniffed. “Well, I can hardly make a dress out of asbestos.”

Ember shook her head as she glanced around at the other dresses on display in Rarity’s boutique. “What’s wrong with armor?”

Rarity waved her hoof. “Armor is fine for guards, but you’ll want to be stunning! The ponies in Canterlot all dress in fancy clothes, so they will be quite impressed if you show up in a stunning new gown or dress for your first public appearance here in Equestria.”

“If you say so,” Ember said skeptically, rubbing the fabric between two of her talons.

“Well, I do say so. Here, let me get you measured…” Rarity’s horn glowed as she pulled out her measuring tape, quickly stretching it out across Ember’s back.

On the other end of Rarity’s boutique, Twilight trotted in place, a grin plastered across her face. “Oh, this is so exciting! Ember is going to learn so much about pony culture! And I’ll get to pick her brain about dragon culture!”

“Yeah. Too bad she’s going to be stuck going to the gala.” Spike stuck out his tongue.

“Well, yes. The gala is kind of boring.” Twilight said, her hooves stilling. “But it’s going to be all new for Ember! Plus we’ll get to show her around Canterlot and introduce her to Princess Luna and Celestia and everypony else there.”

“Yeah, that’s true, I guess.” Spike shuffled his feet. “I just don’t think she’s going to have very much fun there.”

“Well, we weren’t planning on just taking her there and abandoning her. Rarity and I were going to help introduce her to ponies. And of course, you’ll be there, too.”

Spike blinked. “I will?”

“Well, I assumed.” Twilight looked down at him. “You are her best friend. I’d thought you’d want to be there with her.”

Spike rubbed the back of his head with his hand. “Yeah, I guess it would be pretty lousy of me to run off.”

“Oh, good. Because I’m pretty sure that Rarity already touched up your suit for you.” Twilight glanced across the room at Rarity and Ember, then leaned down conspiratorially. “You know, it is traditional for ponies to ask someone to go to the gala with them as a date.”

“It is?” Spike’s eyes went across the room.

“Yup.” Twilight nudged him on the back with her hoof. “I bet she’d say yes if you asked her.”

Spike’s eyes widened. “You think so?”

“I’m pretty sure she likes you.” Twilight smirked. “Plus she’s a lot closer to your age than Rarity is.”

“Wait, you think I should ask Ember?”

“Well, yeah.” Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Wait, you didn’t think I meant Rarity, did you?”

“Uh…” Spike rubbed his hands together, fingers fumbling against each other.

Twilight crouched down. “Spike. Rarity is your friend, but she’s much older than you are. There’s nothing wrong with you having a crush on her, but it would be wrong for her to return your attention.”

Spike’s eyes fell. “But…”

Twilight slid one hoof under Spike’s chin, leaning over to look him in the eye. “Spike. You’re a wonderful young dragon. And you know all of us are your friends, and we love having you around. But it would be good for you to spend more time with people more your own age, too.”

“I guess.” Spike kicked his foot against the ground.

“Besides, she’s a dragon, too. I bet when you get older, she’ll look a lot prettier to you than ponies do.”

Spike looked across the room as Rarity spread the measuring tape across one of Ember’s arms. His eyes traced over Rarity’s delicate, rounded features, her perfect, short snout, her elegant ears, her smooth coat. His eyes then flicked over to Ember’s face. Her long, thin snout.Large, curved horns instead of ears. Rigid blue scales over her cheeks and forehead.

Spike swallowed and licked his lips, giving a hollow little laugh. “Right.”
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#1 · 3
· · >>Fenton
I was going to comment on this but I wasn't really certain what to say in terms of judging it or offering advice.

But instead I want to try something entirely different, and just talk about what I think the story is saying (or could be saying) because that's interesting and maybe we should do it more often!

To me, the best part is the penultimate paragraph. But first there's other stuff... First you get some interactions with Ember that serve to highlight how dragon culture and pony culture differ. Then it feints a little towards Spike and Ember as a ship, but crosses back for a brief moral on how Sparity is weird. (Which, yes, agreed, but it comes across as slightly pedantic because I've heard that a lot. Others' mileage may vary.)

Finally though we have the penultimate paragraph, where there's the hint of an entirely different story under the surface here. Spike is attracted not even necessarily to Rarity but to pony traits. In contrast, he doesn't find Ember attractive. And he knows that this isn't what's expected of him. It's slightly tragic in that I doubt Twilight would be bothered if Spike had a crush on, say, Sweetie Belle, but she is instead vaguely directing him towards Ember because she's worried about him and is viewing his fixation in terms of age, not in terms of species. But in the process, it's causing Spike to be pushed in a direction he's clearly uncomfortable with. There's (quite obvious) parallels here with someone being attracted to a gender or physical characteristics that they're 'not supposed to,' but rather than it being an obvious (and boring) lesson where some character is a bigot so that their intolerance can be a foil to acceptance, this is a much more interesting nuance in having Twilight be supportive but in exactly the wrong way to actually help him. I like that!

I don't know if the story is totally balanced to get this message across, or if its entirety was planned by the author, but there's something good under the surface here. Thanks to the writer.
#2 · 1
·
Solid idea, but I think it is bogged down a bit by loading the actual point of the story into the very end and spending quite a few words on stuff that only tangentially connects to the core idea. Much like I advised in Normal Here, I think you need to focus in tight in a mini to get the most of it. Stick us directly into Spike's perspective and work the scene out from there, rather than the initial EMber materials.
#3 ·
· · >>Fenton
The opening here kinda tripped me up. It opens with Rarity and Ember, but the story is actually about Spike and Twilight. That's a bit... eh. I think you'd do better opening with Spike, somehow, even if it's just a line or two. This sort of re-direct always feels odd to me, like I get started in one direction and then need to swerve in a different one, for no particular reason.

I do find this evocative, and that's great. However, I think I'd feel this hit a bit stronger if I had a better idea what Spike's actually feeling right now. Is he bitter? In denial? Resigned? Angry, but unable to express it? Ashamed? I dunno. Laughed hollowly suggests he doesn't agree with Twilight, and he's not willing to bring it up, which shows there's a conflict there, which is good, but I guess I'd like to see more of that; cut the narration and Twilight's monologue a bit, and show us more of how Spike's feeling and what the means to him.

Well, that's what I'd suggest, at least. Still, this is eminently readable, and, I think, has a very strong idea behind it. Nice work!
#4 ·
·
Doing my tour of stories with low count reviews.

I'll echo >>sharpspark and >>Not_A_Hat. I sense there is something great with Spike not being familiar with dragon traits, having been raised and surrounded only by ponies. However, we don't spend enough time with Spike. We don't need to fully know how he feels about all of this, but more clues would have made this shine brighter in my mind.
I don't know, maybe this wasn't really the story you actually wanted to tell, and it's a bit sad to fault you for that. But as it is, the interactions are great and the whole story stands on its own. I quite enjoyed it, and if you ever decide to expand it, I would suggest to focus more on Spike.

Thank you for sharing, I hope you'll make it to the finals.
#5 · 1
· · >>Ranmilia >>Orbiting_kettle
This story is excellent and touches me, but there were a couple of spots I took issue with.

Twilight is remarkably insensitive toward Spike's feelings here, and this really bothered me. I get that dorkhorse can be socially inept, but I don't see her talking down to him about his crush so directly when she knows they've been close friends for years now and spend a lot of time alone together. Even at the very beginning of FiM, Twilight realized how much Rarity means to Spike and kept this in confidence with him. Her callous 'get over it because it's logical' approach felt very out of character.

It's weird that the Twilight-Spike conversation is happening in the boutique, as the boutique is small and they're not whispering so it seems like the things they're saying could easily be overheard (especially within observing distance). I expected Ember to say, "Um, I'm standing right here," right after Twilight mentioned her the first time. This is really two separate scenes you have here without a break between them, regardless as to the location and timing, and it threw me a little. I got so wrapped up in one conversation that introducing other characters without a break first felt like they were in the same conversation. Maybe if they were waiting elsewhere?

“Plus she’s a lot closer to your age than Rarity is.”


Really? Spike is probably within ten years of Rarity. How would Twilight know Ember is younger than Rarity, given how little she knows about dragons and dragon culture? I never thought Ember was younger than Rarity just because she's small, especially given how dragons work and her mature attitude. It might be nice to make it sound like Twilight's pulling the fact out of her rump here in order to make her anti-Sparity point.
#6 · 1
·
Rarity sniffed. “Well, I can hardly make a dress out of asbestos.”

What's this defeatist talk, that isn't the Rarity I know!

On to the main critique... >>Trick_Question has me closely here. Twilight seems insensitive, out of character, and possibly just wrong, and it's jarring because that isn't how she's treated this exact issue in canon. And as most comments are saying, the early part of the piece meanders a bit and would probably be stronger with a more focused point of view.

Final paragraph's fantastic at getting there, though. Don't kinkshame Spike for being heterospeciest. Thanks for writing!
#7 ·
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Lightning Review: Solid writing. The characters feel off to me, though. Everyone feels more adamant about their views than I feel matches their show characterization. Everyone but Spike that is, who is less adamant and folds like a house of cards.

Tier: Needs Work
#8 · 2
·
I actually liked the shifting focus of the narration here. We get two points of views on different aspects of what it means to be a Dragon. It's an awful lot to pack in a mini-fic, but you managed to do it.

As for my criticism, I'll echo >>Trick_Question here. Give Twilight a bit more sensitivity and compassion, or give us a reason for her being so blunt, and you'll have a very involving story here, one that could tell us a lot of the deeper meaning of growing up in a certain culture.

A bit of polish and you have a real gem, one I really hope to see published on Fimfiction.

Thank you for having written it.