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On The Wings of a Dream · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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(Where Griffons Go) When It Rains
The contents of this story are no longer available
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#1 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
Genre: Dancing in the Rain

This one is also a hard one to judge. I'm going to use the same disclaimer BCIV is using: I'm not well-versed in Season 8 or any season after season 5 for that matter, so bear with me.

From what information I've gathered around Gallus, or any Griffon from that matter, is that they are generally Scrooge-like and grumpy. BUT can have a heart of gold when you get to know them.

Shown here is a good take on Gallus doing something Spontaneous, beyond his nature to discover friendship. It is poetic that the spirit that Mr. Gruff describes as 'happiness' was brief but fleeting. Kinda of what some many of us experience with the fickle beast of motivation Even if it is against their nature, per se, it shows that it is not impossible for them to break out of it.

To me, (and this is a matter of opinion), that this could benefit from a little more interaction between characters. True, they count as distant, but what Mr. Gruff said to Gallus at the end made the read worth it. Maybe he felt something like that before, and he is gloomy because he lost it and cannot seem to find it. Maybe interaction with Gilda? Or maybe some of the cubs as he tries to explain this new exhilarating feeling he is having. Who knows? It might be contagious?

All in all! Good work! This one is unique and stands apart from the crowd!

Thank you for writing!
#2 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
As well as the usual disclaimer I've been making ad nauseum, I have to make a disclaimer of a different kind here: I stopped watching the show after Season Seven, so my knowledge of the school students (et cetera, et cetera) is limited at best. I went ahead and read this, though, out of fairness and for the sake of completeness. That means you're getting the views of someone who will miss certain references and dramatic ironies, and who'll be taking this fic at face value. Hopefully, it's a useful additional POV for you.

As usual, bad stuff first: Might need a tiny itty-bitty little more polish here and there. Can't really think of anything beyond the occasional typo.

Maybe the plot was a little directionless in places. At least, until the ending when the overarching theme clicked into place and I realized everything did have a point, plus you get some leeway with a more slice-of-life style story re: firm direction. It only really occurred to me during the third quarter that, as much as I was learning about Gallus and his society, personal circumstances, and worldview, I didn't really know where this was going beyond the vague "animal spirit" throughline. I'm going to be generous and chalk this up to me not being fully on the right wavelength, but I thought I'd mention it, just in case.

Really, I was very impressed with this one. Such a lovely contrast between the naively curious Gallus and the cynical, prickly indifference of those around him. The running conceit of his warmth as a spirit animal was intriguing imagery, pleasant and (I'm guessing) significantly symbolic in some way. But if I've missed some deeper meaning here, I'm at least convinced by the surface level that the animal imagery does mean something important, related to his childlike innocence and, well, happiness in "spirit".

In any case, Gallus as a failing optimist who succumbs to the unpleasant worldview that surrounds him is a highly endearing character, mostly because he IS trying to make sense of his emotions, work out who to tell, and do stuff to that end. Add in my personal animal-loving bias, and he grew on me very quickly and very strongly.

Aside from him, Ginny and Grandpa Gruff made for a good supporting cast. Neither too stereotypical nor too outlandish in their antagonism, that ironically made the corrosion of Gallus' mind all the more tragic. Life just sucks around him, and this is how it is. That kind of brutal honesty in depiction works wonders to sell the predicament because it feels more realistic than, say, a cartoonier depiction of selfish grumpiness would have. Hits closer to home too.

The style was great. Metaphors like the arrows Gruff fires at Gallus give the piece some good artistic flourishes. The pacing is comfortable and lets us take in as we go the details of Gallus' day activities. I was thoroughly engaged.

An easy high-tier for me, if not my favourite of the bunch. I can't really offer much in the way of constructive criticism, and the only major thing - the kind of meandering purposelessness of the series of events - is probably more my own problem. It's not even particularly major. (You also get bonus creativity points for not using Luna or Scootaloo in any way whatsoever.) Good work, author, and good luck in the judging!
#3 · 2
· · >>Bachiavellian
I like what you're going for, Author, and it's probably a testament to my enjoyment of the story that I'm only coming up with small-ish issues. But the issues I want to talk about, while not too damaging, take a lot of work to fix. So… good luck with that.

So number one, I think the narrator is trying a little too hard, at times. Taking the spotlight from what's going on. They're good at what they do, sure, but give Gallus and those around them a little more room to breathe. With the best examples of third-person narration, there's a certain invisibility to it that this story could really benefit from.

That, and I agree with Pinoy that there could be more interactions with other griffons, especially the children. I think I know what you're going for, having Gallus's mood improve greatly when he's alone, but then we're losing out on the conflict, because he's happy. Hi, I'm Miller, and I don't like it when the children are happy.

Last off, the pacing is a little rocky throughout. The running-with-the-storm scene runs a little slow, and while I like the conclusion you're going for, it felt a little fast, especially when you compare it with the speed of the opening. If you look at your story just as the first scene with Gruff, and the last scene with Gruff, that's kind of the core of the emotional throughline, so the pace-clash is definitely there.

Speaking of which, I have a question for you. How would this story look at around 2,000-2,500 words? It would obviously take a lot of cutting, probably of the book and the newspaper sideplots, and maybe adding some short notes about Gallus's experiences at a more high-level (I liked what Gallus was referenced to have done more than what he did sometimes). Give the Gruff stuff the spotlight, that's where the story matters most.

If you need more info than that just ask me after the round is over, I'd be happy to workshop with you more on this one.

Otherwise, that's all from me, Author. Good job, gold star, yadda yadda yadda good luck.

Thanks for writing!
#4 · 2
· · >>Miller Minus
I really love how you've almost made the payoff feel understated, in a way. It really lends the piece a sense of complexity and heft, and leaves me feeling very pleasant when all is said and done. Every griffon's voicing is strong, and the third person limited perspective really shines. This is definitely one of my favorite pieces this round!

One thing that still might need another look, though, is the hook IMO. The way the story starts off felt vague and odd to me on my first read. The first few paragraphs give us some fuzzy descriptions of the spirit, which immediately made me wonder if this was a dream, or if something magical was going on, or if Gallus was hallucinating. It wasn't until the fourth paragraph, when it's revealed that Gallus is a lot younger than he appears on the show, that I kind got the idea that this is his imagination, and that helped me start piecing together any sense of what was happening at all. I think it's probably important to get this info to the reader ASAP. Personally, I might have opened this story with a sentence like, "One day when he was just eight, little Gallus awoke....". YMMV.

Another thing worth noting is that while I wouldn't go as far as >>Miller Minus suggests, I do think this story does feel a tad slow at places. After some thought, I think I want to actually suggest the opposite of what he's saying. I'd like to see the book and the newspaper and all the other elements feel more important to the plot. As it is right now, I had to actually scroll back up to remember the newspaper once it was brought up again towards the end. And I was a little confused about why Gallus cared so much about the book (especially since Ginny doesn't seem to care much about it herself).

So my two suggestions kind of tie into each other in the end. Strengthen the hook, and bring up the immediate stakes a tad. I think you've got an excellent payoff and some great character work, so making sure your readers feel as invested as possible should be your next concern.
#5 · 1
· · >>Miller Minus
First sentence isn't on the active side, but it's still enticing. There's already character, implied setting, and something amiss set up, and the second paragraph goes on to say how that will be a poor fit for his society, so it generates interest well.

We have another story where a limited narrator in a young and/or lowbrow character's perspective is using rather fancy language. It's not something every reader will notice, but it bothered me.

A few small perspective slips, too, like how Gallus calls himself things like "the little griff" occasionally.

Interesting character study of a Gallus from the past, presumably before he went to the friendship school. To me, this actually ends up being a story more about Gruff than Gallus. Both of them have some nice new pieces added to their personalities, but Gallus is more or less who he appears to be in the show, and what he's hinted at about his past. Gruff is the one with more of a different take. In canon, he just seems like he couldn't be bothered to care about anything, but here, he does love Gallus. He just doesn't allow himself to show it, because nobody else will allow him to, either.

There's no dramatic payoff, and the one it does have isn't even in the story—it's the culmination of who he becomes in the show. Low-key character pieces like this won't appeal to everyone, but I like it just fine, and I like a story with good atmosphere. It's at a comfortable length, too. The plot kind of meanders, and there's not a strong plot thread, this "spirit" thing notwithstanding, since it's vaguely defined as well. This story's really aimed at my preferences, so I'm not going to be the best person to tell you how to improve it, and it's also not the kind of story where pacing problems would stand out to me, so I'll defer to others saying what those are.

I'll agree that some of the things like the book and newspaper are in a somewhat dangerous middle ground. The newspaper more so, since it's clear how reading the book is affecting this feeling he has. Little details like these can add lots of life to a story, but it depends on how much emphasis you put in them. If they're treated like trifles, then they're some nice seasoning on top of the story. But you made them sound important, only to not do that much with them.

The newspaper getting there at all was due to someone's flippant attitude toward whether Gruff was even alive, so maybe find a way to tie that sentiment into your later uses of it. Then he notes some of the articles in it, which leads to somewhat of a fascination with ponies, but that just becomes a dead end. What does he find so compelling about them? The pictures would show them smiling and laughing and such, right? Maybe he doesn't understand that but wants to, and then it links right up with how the story ends.

Plus we never got any evidence of Gruff's attachment to the newspaper. Gallus made it out to be a big deal in the morning, then he mentions it again after it got ruined, but Gruff never says a word. In Gallus's room, I could see that he was trying to calm Gallus down by not making an issue of it, but when Gallus takes it and comes back at the end of the day, and Gruff doesn't say a thing about it, it just downplays the investment we were told to build in it. Basically, you said it was important but demonstrated that it wasn't, and in a way that barely supported the story's point, if at all.

So a pretty good hook, and a story that hits my sweet spot for understated, atmospheric character pieces. It might be a little too much on the understated side, and some of the thematic elements could use tightening up, but on the whole, I really liked this.
#6 · 3

Thanks for your comments, guys. They were a huge help in finishing the final product. If you're interested, you can find it here.