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* Princess Not Included · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Proxy Sensible

"My friend Twilight asked me to come. You'll understand why in a moment. Good, you remember me.

"I believe you will recognize this little pendant? Quiet. I'm not done yet. She told me about it; about the ingenious working you two devised for it. I found the gems for her—did she tell you that? I did. Among the finest in Equestria. Her charm would last a lifetime. Let's see if I'm doing it right. Do you feel that, Blueblood? Don't you dare take it off. That's how much I hate you right now. If it weren't for my cultured civility, I'd string you up by your bow-tie on the turret wall.

"You are going to sit there and listen, and I'll make sure you're listening because you're going to be using your little gem with every sentence I say. Begin now. Angry and scared. That's good.

"Now you must know, I have been averse to you courting our dear Twilight from the beginning. When I learned of your suit, you don't want to know what I said against it. I hurt my friend trying to protect her, you see. It felt something like this. Yes, I hurt her, but she insisted on giving you the benefit of the doubt. And I let her. And I waited. I waited for you to do something foolish, something crass, something ignoble to reveal the egotistical, crude, insensate chauvinist that you are. I waited a week… a month.

"Imagine my surprise, Blueblood, when Twilight should appear at my door, ebullient and elated, gibbering to no end about the little pendants you two put together. You remember it, I'm sure—all day with no rest from her little empathetic nudges. But you know what gave her joy and me pause? That after each and every one, you sent something back.

"I had a hard time, then. I was confused. Astonished. You, Blueblood, capable of giving. Of caring. First impressions take some work to overcome, but the evidence seemed irrefutable: Blueblood cared for my dear friend Twilight Sparkle. I spent a long time reflecting and revolving, and arrived at the conclusion that I had perhaps indeed been wrong about you—silly foalish dreams that had no point in being, or even that you had found something within your heart.

"Against all my initial misgivings, I found it within myself to accept your overtures.

"Until the other day—your glamorous ball. You knew Twilight had no interest in flaunting herself; knew she planned to stay in Ponyville to celebrate her birthday; knew she had said, repeatedly, that she didn't want anything special. And what did you do? Ignore every bit of it. You invite half of Canterlot to a ball in her honor, hide it from her, lie to her and her family, have her mentor and friend summon her under false pretenses, and throw her onto the floor like a gossiping, intriguing, self-aggrandizing narcissist. You barely spent five minutes by her side, you were so busy circulating and schmoozing. And then you had the gall to be insulted when she ordered everyone out, choking back her own tears.

"I was finally vindicated: you didn't care, and you never would. You didn't think about her at all. Nothing can live in the heart of Blueblood but himself. The ball was a gift, but it was the kind of gift only you could enjoy. And if she stayed with you, that was all she was going to get.

"Finally, you must be wondering why it is I who am standing here, rather than her. You see, Blueblood, my friend is too busy crying her eyes out from humiliation and betrayal. I am to relay that she, quote, 'does not want to see you for a very long time,' end quote. As for our other friends, well… Those in Ponyville would either fail to turn your ear or pummel you into a filigreed pancake. Those in Canterlot don't know enough and neither should they. She was adamant not to get her parents involved. As for Princess Celestia or Luna, I don't think anyone wants to learn how they would react. If you ask me, I'm surprised you haven't been stripped of your title.

"I'm going to destroy this pendant now. It's of no more use to anypony. I don't think Twilight could forgive herself if she did it, but me? Ha! I have an eye for beauty, Blueblood.

"Good day."
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#1 · 1
· · >>KwirkyJ
The story is okay but the execution has flaws. I understand the gimmick you're trying to use here, and I don't think it's innately a bad one. In this case, however, it's difficult to pull off properly and the end result doesn't work the way you wanted.

The most basic interactions in a story shouldn't be a puzzle for the reader to figure out. It's especially frustrating when you make the readers a character in the story, dictate our own actions and words in second-pony perspective, and then don't even tell us what we did or said. We're left with one-half of a dialogue, and we have to guess at the words that came out of our own mouth. You even tell us to "sit there and listen" and "be quiet", but we don't know what we just said or did to prompt your responses.

This would work much better if you didn't lean quite so hard on the gimmick. Give us a clue what's going on earlier in the story, and don't pretend there's an exchange on our side of the equation. Try not to use the gimmick as an excuse to narrate a bunch of stuff that happened verbatim, because that isn't how ponies actually talk to each other. This might work better as a letter that contained the destroyed pendant in it, but however you do it, controlling the readers' actions and leaving us in the dark at the same time is a recipe for aggravation.

As an aside, there's a reason you don't see the "leave off the second quote mark" convention much in fiction: it's a problem if your dialogue has no action to break it up. In this case there shouldn't be any quotation marks at all because everything is dialogue from one character.
#2 · 1
· · >>devas >>KwirkyJ
Interesting, certainly. I agree with Trick on how this probably would’ve worked better as a letter… though even then, the setup raises a question: If the pendants empathically linked the two, how could Blueblood manage to miss what the ball was doing to Twilight?

Still, there’s a good premise here. I recommend decompressing it; take the summary Rarity recites and use it as the outline of a much larger story. Follow the romance from the beginning to the terrible end. You’ve created a powerful tragedy here, but you freeze-dried it to make sure it fit in the word limit. I’d love to see the full version, especially since seeing Rarity stew in her suspicion and resentment for so long would make this version of her feel more justified.
#3 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
I'm assuming from context that the pendants were just a mirror? That whatever Twilight sends gets sent back, and so she was never really feeling Blueblood's emotions at all. But as other reviewers have said, that is not at all clear in this version, and the current execution leaves me with some significant unanswered questions.
#4 ·
· · >>FanOfMostEverything

Wait, I thought it was Discord who was talking? At least, that was my interpretation for how someone could threaten and hurt Blueblood and get away with it.
#5 ·
· · >>Tumbleweed
The distrust, the self-described "eye for beauty," waiting for him to do something ignoble and crass... It all felt like Rarity. In the end, why would Discord care? I'm not sure if he's even met Blueblood.

And really, when you can frighten the stallion by shaking cake onto him, it doesn't take much to intimidate him. And after that? She's the personal friend of Princess Twilight Sparkle, explicitly acting on her behalf and at her behest. What can Blueblood do?
#6 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
The story concept in and of itself was pretty interesting and compelling, but the delivery is what fell flat for me. I'm just having a difficult time seeing this as an actual scene playing out. I feel more like I'm being told the story than shown it—and that's the crux of it all, isn't it? Show, don't tell.

I'll give you points for keeping my interest, at least, and kudos for thinking outside the box as to how to execute this, but I think a more standard execution would've been better. Granted, such an execution probably wouldn't fit into a minific, but the point still stands.
#7 ·

Yeah, reads like Rarity to me. Not to mention she's got a grudge with Blueblood to begin with.
#8 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the whole one-sided-dialogue thing, just because it requires Rarity to start explaining things to Blueblood that he clearly already knows. This makes the narrative feel a little bit contrived, just because it sounds awfully telly.

I realize that you're trying to fit a whole lot of story into a short space, but I'm not sure this gimmick was the right way to do this. Having your reader hear about the conflict, climax, and resolution is a lot less satisfying than seeing it play out. IMHO, I think this might have worked a lot better if you dropped the gimmick and submitted it as a 4000 word-ish Short Story entry instead. At the very least, that would allow us to see Twilight's reactions and her emotions rather than getting it second hand from Rarity.

Stories that deal with intensely emotional cores like this one need space to breathe, so I'm afraid this one isn't being done justice by the 750 word limit.
#9 · 1
· · >>Trick_Question
This story is the by-product of an idea for the "Ship Sinkers" that I proved unable to write. The prompt didn't resonate with me for anything new, so I tried to adapt the ideas from there to this story about Rarity reacting to events I had imagined. Fundamental point of note absent from comments: No, Blueblood doesn't know these things, at least as Rarity views it; the narrative-like recount stems from her (1) making her case and (2) processing as she leads up to destroying (one of) the pendant (pair); it is, at its core, a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.

Patterns matched: No Rarity.

I'm so sorry that the text asks you to think.
#10 · 7
· · >>KwirkyJ
I'm so sorry that the text asks you to think.

Feedback is feedback. You don't have to agree with it, but being passive-aggressive with your critics does nothing to make your writing any better.

I'd be happy to not comment on future work you do, but I can't, because the Writeoff is anonymous. Either way, I apologize if my tone comes off too strongly-worded. I know I'm really bad at that, and I'm not sure how to mitigate it.
#11 · 1
· · >>Bachiavellian
Re-written in a 'conventional' manner, with exposition containing Blueblood's actions:

"I believe you will recognize this little pendant?"

Blueblood's eyes widened as he stood. His mouth opened to object.

"Quiet," Rarity said. Her face was completely unchanged, but her eyes flashed in warning. "I'm not done yet. She told me about it; about the ingenious working you two devised for it. I found the gems for her—did she tell you that?"

Blueblood shook his head in jerks.

"I did. Among the finest in Equestria. Her charm would last a lifetime. Let's see if I'm doing it right. Do you feel that, Blueblood?"

He shivered. His hooves rocketed to his neck—to the string and gem pendant hung there.

"Don't you dare take it off."

He froze, obeying unconsciously to the threat in her voice.

"That's how much I hate you right now. If it weren't for my cultured civility, I'd string you up by your bow-tie on the turret wall.

I will ask that you note that this narration, while clarifying, adds nothing new to the material already given. The original approach saves on words dedicated to that moment, freeing up material needed elsewhere, as well as being more sophisticated in that it relies on subtext and reader involvement/investment. Tell me how the above approach is necessarily an improvement on what I wrote to begin with.

Furthermore, my objection is largely rooted in the objectivist nature of your critique—by use of language you present your stylistic preference as definitive propriety, "and that simply will not do."

Additionally, I do not believe that an epistolary approach (written letter, as posited) is any improvement, as there is no compulsory reason for Blueblood (or the reader, for that matter) to follow through to the end, nor is the immediacy and necessary quality of the confrontation at all present—indeed, the present-tense story ongoing in this narrative. A letter, as my first few thought loops have concluded, is the worst of both worlds. What the story needs is to be the original five to ten thousand-word novelette that I simply cannot write.
#12 · 6
· · >>Trick_Question
Saying this with all of the love in the world, but you really don't need to be defensive about what you've written. As author, you don't need to answer to anyone about how you choose to tell the story in your head. Reviewers are only here to point out things that we think you might have overlooked/need a fresh pair of eyes on. But if this is something you have thought about and disagree with (which is clearly the case here) you are totally free to disregard it without the need to justify yourself.

Still, you have to give your reviewers the benefit of the doubt. Nobody knows for sure what was intentional in a story or not, even more so since we don't even know who wrote what. Just because we point something out doesn't mean we think you did something objectively wrong or that you're a poor writer. We just want to make sure you have all the information possible regarding how your potential readers are interpreting your story.
#13 · 4
I didn't want to dial into this again, but what I have to say here might help.

Even though I write long and very point-specific reviews, there's a lot of randomness in them. I've accidentally almost reviewed the same story twice before, and discovered that my two reviews completely disagree, even to the point where one review saw as negative something the other review saw as positive.

This is because I experience a pretty strong subjective halo effect with qualitative data. When I first read something, you're getting a pretty random impression of things I noticed that I didn't like. If I took a few weeks to read something and let it set in, you'd get a response that was a lot less random. As-is, the drugs I'm on make it difficult to focus so I easily forget what I was thinking as well as details of what I've read.

I think the point that Bach is reaffirming is that it doesn't make any sense to try to argue against my impression of your story, because it was an impression. Nothing you write could change how I felt at the moment that I wrote my review: even if I were to agree with you after re-reading things, it doesn't mitigate how I perceived the story initially.

Even though there's a lot of randomness in my perception, it can still be useful to a writer. It tells you that I either misinterpreted or didn't like something on my first read through. It's totally valid to say, "the thing you didn't like is something that I really want to keep in the story because it's important to me or to what I want to say", and I expect people to say that a lot because I tend to exaggerate my feelings and I'm often off the mark. Hell, there are times that everypony here thinks something I did in a story was bad for the story, and I still disagree because it was an important thing for me personally—that's natural.

But trying to argue that my impression is wrong in some way is missing the point of critique, and it makes it seem like you aren't interested in hearing what people think when it conflicts with what you want to say. I don't think my reviews are anything special, but you should be grateful to receive feedback even when you think it's totally off the wall, as long as it's constructive and not insulting or person-specific (e.g. "I hate all HiE stories so I hate this story too").