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Against the Current · Friendship is Short Shorts Short Short ·
Organised by CoffeeMinion
Word limit 750–1250
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Hearth and Home
Water sloshed under the wheel as it churned over the river’s flow. The wood of the wheel groaned as it revolved, tired as it was.

Amplitude looked over to the horizon, the sun dipping below the mountains. It must’ve been six in the evening, except it felt like eight. Autumn had a way of disorienting his circadian rhythm.

He turned towards the door, and sighed. Perhaps he could ask what time it was when he got inside. Maybe It would be enough to pass the time with some small talk. Just maybe. But, after that, he had really nothing to talk about.

Why had mother sent him here anyways? He hate to be a bother, especially with how late the hour was.

“Ah! Amp! What brings you here?”

Amp turned towards the door of the cottage. His grandmother waved a faded yellow hoof. She smiled with a kind smile, not too wide, but not too small that it wouldn’t be noticed.

“Hey Grandma.” Amplitude waved back. “Ma told me that I should pay you a visit.”

“Oh, that’s sweet of her! Come on! Come in!” Grandma motioned inside.

He stepped forward, his hoofsteps echoing on the cobblestone pathway leading up to the porch. It was just across the hardwood porch, and then into the house. He could feel the clash of the warm air inside the cottage with the chilly air.

Amplitude stepped inside the cottage, immediately, he was greeted by the smell of burning wood. To his side, he saw a coffee table that had a couple decorations celebrating the season of autumn, a cornucopia that hadn’t been filled with real food, but plastic fruit- just for presentation purposes. A scented candle had been set to the side. It gave off just a slight aroma of pumpkin spice, but he had to really search for it, as the smell of burning timber drowned it out.

“You came right in the nick of time,” Grandma said as she slipped by. She pointed into the kitchen. “I made some pumpkin pie.” She pointed to a rack near the entrance. On it, hung a dusty old wool coat. He unwraveled his scarf and hung it up on one of the bronze hooks. He secretly hoped that one of the burrs wouldn’t snag onto the scarf, since the rack had been fashioned from scratch.

As Amplitude stepped into the kitchen, he found his grandmother taking off boxes of items, some assorted with random papers, pencils, as well as hammers, dial calipers, and other instruments that Amplitude couldn’t even begin to pronounce.

“Allow me.” Amplitude stepped forward and took the box away from his grandma.

“Oh, thank you, Amp!” Grandma said. “Pardon the mess, I was just doing some cleaning up around.”

Amp grunted and set the rest of the stuff in the corner with the others.

“Go on and have a seat after you do that,” Grandma trotted towards the oven. “The pie should be about ready.”

Amplitude scooted a chair out. As he did so, the wooden feet scratched against the wood.

“So, I heard you got first place in Rookesville’s running of the leaves.” His grandma said, slipping an oven mit over her forehoof.

“Sure did!” he answered. He didn’t think much of it, it was just a race and what mattered is that the townsfolk enjoyed the race.

He wished he could’ve had fun.

The timer buzzed. As soon as it went off, Grandma pulled open the oven door and took out the tin. She carefully carried it over the table and set it down on the hot pad. He smiled as the aroma of pumpkin pie enveloped his nose.

Grandma sliced through the crust and cut to the center. Then, she cut another groove and lifted out the slice onto a plate. She set the plate in front of him, and then cut a slice for herself.

“So, how was the race?” She asked.

Amplitude remembered how it was racing through those trees, the thunder of his hooves underneath his feet. His heart pounding, his legs aching, and his lungs burning like fire. The pegasai that were nipping as his heels had been his motivator, giving him enough fire to push himself harder. It hurt, but he felt powerful, the speed of his hooves underneath him, and the wind rushing in his fur. Whatever could distract him from his troubles, they were far away.

“Well?” his Grandma asked, tapping her hoof.

He looked into those gray eyes and answered, “It was good, I’m just tired from today.”

“I don’t blame you.” She pointed to the pie. “Go on. Eat! You probably have worked up an appetite from all that running!”

Amplitude didn’t wait another second to sink his teeth into the pie. As he tasted it, the sharpness of the cinnamon, as well as other spices accented the pumpkin pie just right.

“This is really good!” Amp said.

“Glad you like it!” Grandma said with her mouth full. “Whoopsie.” She grinned nervously after she swallowed. “Rude to talk with my mouth full.”

An awkward pause later, Grandma continued. “You know, don’t you want to go out and hang out with friends and tell them you’ve won another race?” Grandma asked, pointing a fork at him. She wiped off her muzzle, which had a couple dots of pumpkin pie on it.

Silence filled the air, save the crackling of fire from the other room.

“Something’s on your mind.” Grandma set her fork down. “What’s wrong, Amp?”

“I’ve hit a rut.” Amp answered. “I used to enjoy running, but now I don’t. Ever since― well, I just wish ― gah! Words!” Amp threw his hooves up in the air before laying them on the table. “I just feel bad I’d wasted time running instead of spending time with grandpa.”

Grandma laid a hoof over his. “You know, don’t beat yourself up over it. I’d bet he is smiling down right now, seeing his grandcolt chasing the dreams he loves. He was happy to see you following in his hoof-steps.”

“But I never did.” Amplitude said. “I never took up inventing.”

Grandma shook her head. “You remind me of him, always working against the ponies that told him to settle down. He couldn’t tell the difference between discouragement or advice. Even in the form of compliments. I can see why you clashed.” She pointed again to the waterwheel. “That wheel is old and tired. Yet, it still runs, using the power and flow to boost it and keep it in motion. We owe our warmth and our meals to it- pies included.”

Grandma took her hoof and lifted Amp’s chin up. “Yes, his passing hurts me as well as it hurts you, but we need to always stay in motion, otherwise we are left out hungry and cold.” She tilted her head. “Don’t worry about him. He wouldn’t want you to worry anyways. Just stay in motion, and you’ll be fine.”

She brought her hooves back to the pie. “Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m going to finish this, it’s getting cold.” With that, she took another bite.

Amplitude smiled and finished up his pie.

It was delicious.
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#1 · 3
· · >>PinoyPony

At first I thought this was going to be a 'younger generation doesn't appreciate the older ones and their traditions' piece, and everything in the story pointed to that. Until the grandpa was mentioned, and then it suddenly switched into a 'person stops what they're doing because of regret.' It was a really weird feeling when it switched, and if you go back to this, I'd say just pick one of those and rewrite the other section to match it. Also, there were a couple of small errors that a quick once over would fix right up.

Otherwise, this was well worth my time. I like the characters, especially. You did a great job making them feel real and likable. I also just plain liked how you approached the topics, they didn't feel too forced as they too often do.

Pretty much, this story has a ridiculously high amount of potential, just work on what message you're trying to convey and expand on it a little to give us more time with Amp.
#2 · 4
· · >>WritingSpirit >>PinoyPony
Well, both my grandfathers died before I could even remember them. Isn't that swell?

Something I liked:

Author, if I'm being perfectly honest, this is my least favorite of the bunch. But it's not because you didn't try. You did something ballsy and wrote something with all OC's, and that doesn't happen often. Personally I wouldn't recommend it, but I do appreciate how well-defined the grandson and grandma are. It's a very honest portrait of grief from a child's perspective. We've all had that grandparent who was our favorite when we were growing up. I remember when my maternal grandma died a few years ago, and it messed up my sister for a while because those two were particularly close. It's relatable.

Something I didn't like:

Now, given that we know these aren't characters we go into the story already knowing, I have to wonder why this is a horse fic. You, the author, have to ask yourself what can be gained by setting this story specifically in the MLP universe. It's a very universal, kind of humanist story, and it wouldn't take much to turn the ponies into humans. It seems like a petty thing to bring up, because when taken in a vacuum it's a perfectly fine story, but keep in mind that we're judging these entries in the context of fanfiction, not original fiction. It's a nice story. You really don't have to change it that much.

Verdict: Like I said, I can't muster much enthusiasm for this entry, but it's by no means bad.
#3 · 2
· · >>PinoyPony
Genre: Wheel of Time

Thoughts: My number one thought is that I got some serious whiplash from the first few paragraphs pulling my focus in different directions. I actually really like the opening paragraph itself; it has a certain moodiness and musicality to it (with apologies to Aragòn) that I really wanted to set the tone for what came after. And granted, the story did come back to the water wheel eventually, but the way the focus shifts in the first few paragraphs makes it feel like an almost random aside. There’s a brilliant moment with a water wheel, but then we get several paragraphs of an OC being moody and lamenting how he doesn’t have anything to say?

That’s a rough shift.

After that, though, I like how descriptive everything becomes. There’s a strong feeling of deliberateness in the descriptions on offer. I’d like the flashbacks to the race to feel more naturally integrated, though; it’s the sort of thing where some earlier hints or references to it having just happened would raise fewer questions about whether I as a reader failed to pick up on something that seems like a surprise.

I really like how the various threads of running, the grandfather, and the water wheel, all come together in the end. The story ties a pretty good bow on itself. What it delivers is ultimately just a small, quiet moment between a couple of characters who we still don’t know well, but props to you Author for making it resonate emotionally.

Tier: (All of the stories this round are good)
#4 · 3
· · >>WritingSpirit >>PinoyPony
The stakes here:

Are so low as to be non-existent, and that really hurt the story for me, author. I'd like something to be on the line--he's been offered an athletic scholarship to the cross-country team at the Friendship School or something and he's decided to turn it down because he think his grandpa would've wanted him to stay in town. His grandma's talk then helps him realize something, and he's able to make a better decision one way or the other. The stakes don't have to be world-shattering, but there should be some reason why the events of the story make a real difference to the characters.

#5 · 1
· · >>PinoyPony
Little late with these last couple of reviews, sorry about that. I was supposed to dole them out over the course of the afternoon but I had a couple of meetings and discussions to attend. Nevertheless, if you did tune in to our off-the-cuff Radio WriteOff earlier today or listened to the recording our dear friend Rao had set up, then you probably had a rough idea of how I feel about this story from my generally-rambly opinions on this particular story alongside all the others. Of course, as I was aware you weren't present when we had our discussion, I thought it'll be great to at least share here, in a cleaner and more concise yet somehow more in-depth format, what worked for me as well as what didn't.

First and foremost, I like the heart of this story. I like where it's coming from and the ideas that are at play here. It's rather charming to see the interaction between Amplitude and his grandmother, and the autumn environment gives it a layer of coziness and comfort just right beneath the surface. The prose for the descriptions here is very deliberate to that effect, though there are some parts where I felt that the cadence of the piece was sacrificed in favor of nailing down the minute details, which made some parts of my readthrough a lot more rigid than I would've liked. I think if the overall musicality of the piece reflected the atmosphere, it would definitely breathe more life into the world that was built here.

I do agree with the rest of the reviewers on their issues with this story, particularly >>No_Raisin's and >>Baal Bunny's which I think are very good points made. However, if you've listened to my criticism of this story in our recorded discussion, then you'd know that I think there's one issue that really was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I did not like the dialogue. Not one bit.

On my first read, I struggled with interpreting the characterizations of both Amplitude and his grandmother. I think the choice of words in the dialogue aren't distinct enough for me to really tell them apart. I'm not saying that it's not clear which pony spoke which line, but when I try to imagine the voices in my head, neither really had a sound that stood out to me, in my opinion.

Furthermore, the dialogue feels very, very manufactured to me. Having done some theatre work, I can attest that if I had a script that consisted of all the lines of dialogue from this entry, word for word, I can say that even the most experienced performer will have trouble trying to give it life. I feel like the same amount of deliberation for the setting and imagery was utilized in the dialogue as well, though in this case, it had the opposite effect. It's hard for me to follow the train of thought behind each line in the conversation, and with each time, I found myself wondering what both of them get out of this conversation. It's unfortunate because this was a story that mainly hinges on the dialogue to carry it forward, so for that to be the aspect of the story that frustrated me the most just soured my subsequent reads of the story for me.

I think this entry had some good ideas going into it but falters ultimately on the execution front due to a bunch of issues stacked together. Still, it's great to see this entry here, and with everyone else giving their own input about what worked and what doesn't, we might get to see a more polished version of this story in the near future. When I think about the potential that the core ideas possess and what they could culminate, it gives me a reason to believe that this story will not only be comforting and cozy, but memorable as well.

Thanks a bunch for writing!
#6 · 4
· · >>WritingSpirit
Hearth and Home- Retrospective

Sorry for the late replies! I have a mixture of excuses, but I’d rather just get to the retro. (If you really want to see the excuses, they are in the last paragraph).

I hope I’m not overloading anyone by submitting more entries than usual. A piece of advice I was given is to try write prolifically. I’ve taken that piece of advice here. After all, the more I submit, the more advice I get, and the better my writing becomes. At least, that’s what I hope. In theory. Anyways, if any of you are bugged by my spamming of the entry button, please let me know.

So far, with this experiment, I wasn’t expecting this caliber of positive feedback this round. I was sleep drunk while writing this piece, so I was expecting my writing to be more hitched and jagged. It was a surprise that it panned out the way that it did.


Along with the fear of my writing being jagged and scratchy, came another problem. When I was writing this piece, I hit the upper word limit. Hard. Then, the feelings of doubt settled in. Usually when one hits the word limit, the pacing is the first to suffer. I was surprised when it spawned an entirely different problem- two tones of the story that don’t exactly line up. Fortunately, that will be an easy tweak.

The fact that none of the interactions seemed forced was a good sign also. Again, this was a pleasant surprise.

Lastly, Potential is my middle name- Pinoy Potential Pony. I mean, at least I like the alliteration. Jokes aside, this has been the bane of my existence from the very first fiction. Always have a ton of potential, but cannot communicate it well enough- yet. We’ll see where this experiment takes me.

Thanks for your review!


You guessed the fact that it took guts to post this one. When I was hitting the submit button, I was thinking: I hope I’m not clogging up the slate with an extra fic. Perhaps I should sit this one out. I had to hold back and say to myself ‘Chances are you’re gonna get roasted. However, if you want to improve, you need to put yourself out there and experiment for a little bit.”

Part of my inhibition is that I felt like picking the plotline of a grandchild losing their grandparent was cliché in nature and seemed like a cop-out. I was double surprised when one: I wasn’t roasted immediately, and two: no one seemed to find the plotline overdone and cliché.

But, in turn, you bring up a very great point- first of its kind that I encountered: This could’ve been submitted Original Fiction round, cut out the pony-isms. The only saving grace that this takes place in the MLP universe is the reference to the Running of the Leaves. Other than that, I realize that if I’m going to take the route of using OCs, I will have to make sure that it has sure grounding. of the universe (Ex. magic, trinkets, lore, monsters, etc.…). Hopefully I can learn how to fix that quickly. Ugh, I’m a slow learner.

Thanks for your review!


There’s the huge drawback to hitting the word limit early: the clunkiness of thought sewn together. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough space to work out the fine-tuning, but I guess that’s experience. Just a question however, you mentioned Musicality and Aragon. I’m out of the loop, but for sake of continuity, can you tell me what you mean by that?

I do also agree on the fact that the flashback to the race was very out of place. For the time being, it serves its purpose, but needs a nicer nook and cranny to nestle into rather than a haphazard break that has stitched itself together like a patch on a tire.

After that, thank you for your kind remarks. I wasn’t expecting that the whole fiction wrap a bow over itself just like that. Call it a happy accident if you will, I don’t know how I pulled that one off (maybe my amateur-ish writing is wearing off, and I’m Improving!)

Thanks for your review!

>>Baal Bunny

I like it. Personally speaking, I don’t think the stakes are meant to be high on an emotional piece. Pardon my crude comparison, but I was aiming for something more slice-of-life-ish, almost touching the genre of hallmark movie or chick-flick. But, that’s not to throw your suggestion aside. By adding in the plotline of the scholarship and the friendship school, that adds another layer of grounding in the MLP universe as well as furthering the conflict. Thanks for your elaboration!

And as always, Thanks for reviewing!


Okay, let me get the question that has been weighing on my mind: Where is this recording? I want to listen to it. I think I spotted the commotion one night when there was a huge gathering in the ‘talk’ portion on Discord, but I was too shy to check out what the fuss was about. So, if you can get me access to the recording, that would be great.

Okay, sorry for the demanding nature of the first paragraph. Had to get that off my chest. Anyways, towards your review, I guess that will be the hardest thing to fix (it’s hard to fix something that you have no idea where to start or where to end). Most of my fixing either goes overboard or doesn’t meet criteria.

But, for the time being, I think I get the point that the dialogue is scratchy and rough. I need to add flavor, not just focusing on the topic at hand, or being deliberate at the purpose, but to add personality, life, color. These are individuals talking. They each have their own dreams and their own fears.

Thanks for your review!


With finals week at school, and other projects that keep piling up on me, It’ll be a miracle if I get this fiction corrected and published this year. However, that is not to say that I have a good egg here and I don’t plan tossing it aside anytime soon.
#7 · 1
Was a bit busy these couple of weeks so I just saw your message. Here's the link to our discussion:

Radio WriteOff: 'Against The Current'