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Lie Me a River · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Sky Gazes Back
"Hey, Rainbow Dash?" A tiny hoof prodded Ranbow's flank, jarring her from a groggy half-sleep. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Nyum? Mwuh?" Rainbow smacked her lips and squinted at the pint-sized filly lying beside her on the cloud. "Yuh-huh. W'zup, Squirt?"

Scootaloo tucked her legs beneath herself like a cat. "Back when you were a filly... if you found out that you couldn't fly, that you'd never be able to fly... what would you do? How would you deal with that?"

"Throw myself off the side of Cloudsdale," Rainbow Dash said, automatically, through a yawn. "Learn to fly, or die trying."

"...Oh. Uh, thanks."

"Anytime." Rainbow Dash shut her eyes and reclined on her back, wadding up a lump of cloud to serve as a pillow.

Then Rainbow, realizing what she'd said, froze. She abandoned her half-formed pillow, and took a long, hard look at Scootaloo. Her wings were half-open, flapping experimentally. "Why're you asking?"

Scootaloo's wings snapped shut. "No reason!"

Rainbow Dash turned to her side, propping her head on her hoof. "Scoots, what's on your mind?"

"Nothing. Nothing's on my mind."

Rainbow frowned.

"No, I mean it. Really!" Scootaloo grinned, a little too widely. "Just thought I'd blurt out a random question – something to wake you up. 'Cuz, uh... you snore. Like a chainsaw."

"I mean, yeah, but that's never bothered you before. Unless it's always bothered you, and you've never said anything because—" Rainbow caught herself drifting, and stopped for a deep breath, grounding herself in the moment. "Are you sure that nothing's wrong?"


Rainbow paused. "'Cuz, like, you know you can tell me if something's—"

"I know. I do." Scootaloo turned away from Rainbow Dash, gazing over the edge of the cloud, at the ground far below. "I just..."

"What?" Rainbow rose to her haunches. She felt sluggish, her muscles taut from disuse. "It's just us up here, Scoots."

Scootaloo didn't answer right away. When she did, her voice was a thin whisper. "You'd seriously rather die than live without flying?"

Rainbow's eyes traced over Scootaloo's wings, folded tightly against her body. She bit back a sigh, and a wince, at her prior thoughtlessness. "I mean, when I was a filly, maybe I would've felt that way. But you gotta understand..."

She crept closer to Scootaloo.

"You gotta understand that I was a really, really stupid filly. I knew exactly what I wanted – even if I didn't know really how to get there – and I didn't really think too much about anything else. So, yeah, if I couldn't fly? That would've felt like the end of the world."

Her hoof cupped Scootaloo's cheek, tilting the filly's head until their eyes met.

"You don't gotta worry about that, though," Rainbow said. "You're tons smarter, and more mature, than I was at your age. Heck, you've learned stuff I didn't figure out until I was a grown-up. So, even if you never got the hang of flying, even if you just... couldn't... you'd make it. You'd find your own way to be awesome."

"...More mature than you, huh?" Scootaloo flushed, a bashful smile crossing her face. "No offense, Rainbow Dash, but that's not too hard."

"Aw, shaddap, you." Rainbow's tail whipped Scootaloo's cutie mark, making her yelp. "Think you're so cool, with your regular sleep schedule and your balanced diet."

"And my big sister." Scootaloo pounced at Rainbow, squeezing her in a hug. "I got that over you too, y'know."

"Heh. Yeah." Rainbow stroked Scootaloo's mane, her hoof shaking almost imperceptibly. "You're way ahead of me, Scoots."

It wasn't long before they parted, and Scootaloo peered over the edge of the cloud again. "It does look like a long way down," she remarked softly.

Rainbow craned her head to get a glimpse for herself. Far below, an expanse of green fields and gold-roofed houses stretched, carved in two by a jagged blue scar of a river – a shade darker than the sky above.

Her feathers itched.

"C'mere," said Rainbow, pulling Scootaloo away from the edge. "Let's stop thinkin' about it."

She settled down, and draped a wing over Scootaloo, who snuggled tightly against her. Gradually, the filly drifted off, her breathing prickled with a little rumble of a snore.

Rainbow closed her eyes, but couldn't keep them shut. The endless blue sky stretched out before her, and for the first time in her life, it didn't promise excitement.

All she could do was stare into it, and hold Scootaloo close.
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#1 · 2
· · >>Posh
This is, IMO, an excellent example of how to do a minific well. Two crisp characters, one heartfelt scene, clean and clear progression, very nice. Really, I don't think I have any advice to give on construction. RD smacking Scoots with her tail seemed a bit odd, but eh.

The only weakness it might have is how safe it is; it may lose out, for me, to a fic that takes more chances and pulls them off, but for what it is? It's great.

Often, the difference between a good fic and a great fic - all else held equal - is the depth of emotion that they reach for. This fic moves smoothly from confusion, to worry, to comfort, and then drips just the right amount of worry and confusion back in, but… if I come up against a fic that makes me actually cry or something, it's going to lose out.

The thing is, any advice given to change that here would basically come down to 'write a different fic', which is advice I don't like giving.

All in all, great work, thanks for writing.
#2 · 1
· · >>Cold in Gardez >>Posh
The execution here is quite strong. It did a lot with its length, and painted a clear picture of two characters and their heartfelt interaction. I felt the story premise was a bit lackluster ("safe" as NAH said), but that doesn't stop this from being a strong entrant. Well done. ^_^
#3 · 1
· · >>Posh
Very nice:

The only suggestion I could make would be to have Dash at the end acknowledge in her own mind that bringing a kid who can't fly up onto a high cloud and then falling asleep maybe isn't the best idea in the world. Give us a little more internal growth from Dash, a little waver of her suddenly thinking about what it means to be "the adult" in this situation whether she likes it or not. Good stuff, though.

#4 · 1
· · >>Posh

Just echoing Hat and Jaxie here. Well written and executed, but not very ambitious. It set a low bar and cleared it easily.

That probably sounds a bit like a back-handed insult, but there are plenty of stories on my slate that set high or low bars and failed to clear them either way.
#5 ·
· · >>Posh
Genre: Awww

Thoughts: Hm-hmm, it seems there is some damning with faint praise going on here. I can see that, I guess; this is a simple little scene that hits some strong emotional notes but then largely backs away from the deeper things that it begins to evoke. There's both strength and hesitation on display here, though I think the slightly haunting element at the end helps it considerably.

Tier: Almost There
#6 ·
· · >>Posh
This is strong, well-written, effective. Lovely execution. I guess I could try to criticise, but I feel like I'd be nitpicking pointlessly. I didn't find it too "safe", I enjoyed it a lot, and I remembered it clearly upon reading the title and knew I wanted to read it again. Thanks for writing it.
#7 · 3
The Sky Retrospects Back

Quick shout-out to Andrew Rogue for pre-reading, and a big word of thanks to everyone for reading, critiquing, and helping me get a shiny yellow icon next to my name on the score screen.


You know, whenever I sit down to brainstorm for a writeoff, there's always a great deal of hand-wringing and hyperventilating as I go through idea after idea after idea, rejecting most of them and finally landing on something that's, more or less, workable. Something similar happened with this round, where I tossed the original idea I had, but kept the structure and scenario more or less intact.

The first version of this story, which I partially wrote, was about Starlight and Trixie in their love-wagon. Trixie asked Starlight "you'd tell me if you stopped loving me, right?" and Starlight hemmed and hawed for a while before giving Trixie some tepid, non-committal reassurance. There may or may not have been a river, too.

I realized I wasn't really feeling the idea after getting about halfway into it, and went back to the drawing board. Went through a couple more (including one which was similar to The Dog Ate My Homework) before going back to basics, and recasting the story with Scootaloo and Dashie.

...And re-conceptualizing the conversation, naturally.

>>Baal Bunny
>>Cold in Gardez

I think the primary critique I got on this piece was that it was very... straightforward, let's say. Didn't really experiment, or even fully embrace the core ideas behind it. On both counts, I agree. For the first, it hasn't escaped my notice that my minifics all tend to be about two characters having a conversation (except for Starlight Glimmer's Brand New Boinger, which was about three characters having a conversation), often while something wacky happens in the background.

For the second... I mean, there's supposed to be a darker undercurrent to the conversation between Scoots and Dashie. Dashie's nakedly honest at the start of the story when she says she'd rather die than live without flight, backpedals to reassure Scootaloo, but is left unsettled at the end of the story, regardless. The idea's in her mind now, and it's not something she can really shake. That's really what the story's supposed to be driving at, but it's not a message that I think I really commit to. Y'know? That was a criticism that Andrew had when prereading, and it's one that I think I'd like to address if/when this makes the transition to FiMfic.

I'm not entirely sure how I'd do that, exactly. I was thinking some additional narration in the second half of the story, but... I dunno. What do you all think?

Anyway, thanks again, glad you enjoyed.

Oh, re: Baal Bunny

The only suggestion I could make would be to have Dash at the end acknowledge in her own mind that bringing a kid who can't fly up onto a high cloud and then falling asleep maybe isn't the best idea in the world.

This... actually occurred to me upon rereading it, post-submission. Heh.
#8 · 1
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Also, uh.

I found this on derpibooru right after I submitted my story, and.
#9 ·
Doing super creative and original stuff is cool, but the classics are classics because they resonate with people. There's (almost) always room for a fresh take that's well-executed, but the difficulty lies in being fresh enough to not just feel like another me-too.

(Something something highbrow cromulence) :-p