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Crossing Over · Friendship is Short Shorts Short Story ·
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Dead Griffon Walking
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#1 · 4
· · >>_Moonshot
Griffons and an abusive father? Someone's been reading my wish list.

So I like what you're going for, here, Author, but I want to talk about how you're handing out information in this story, and especially how you're handing out context.

The finale of the story is saying that the son feels guilty for not living up to his late father's expectations/legacy, and that he's having a baaaad trip. Unfortunately this is absent from the the first half of the story. Not hidden! Just absent. The phone call doesn't hint at these things, and instead tells me that Gabe has his life together now, and that he's coming to terms with being his own griffon. These can be untrue, sure, but there should be some kind of hint that there's something fishy going on. Plus, there's a different conflict being introduced, in his being unable to settle into his new job and find new friends, but these aren't what the story is about, so it's kind of a false set up.

It's tough, because you don't want to reveal the twist too early, obviously. The way I generally like to pace out a mystery (and this is just my way) is to add three types of "clues" to it. Misleading clues, hidden clues, and well, regular clues. Looking back on the first half of this story, I don't see these three things. But as I was reading the first time, I could tell something was up, so I started looking for these clues, and I asked, How did his father die? Was it Gabe's fault? Is the person who brought Gio back going to show up? Will they start bringing more things back to life? Will the sister play into this more?

The reason I'm asking these questions is because I have no idea what the story is about yet. I'm kind of grasping at straws as to why any of this is happening. But having him hide what's in the freezer, or ask questions more pertinent to the plot, or having the father give more clues in his dialogue, would make me more riveted by what's going on.

The father going crazy with fatherhood, as I describe it, is better, and feels more like a regular clue. It's at this point, and no earlier, that I start to grasp something in the story that I can hold onto. It could be a hallucination, or he's truly coming back to life because of unfinished business with his useless son. And then, all of a sudden, the fridge has narcotics. Which is a regular clue that causes everything to click into place a little too quickly.

Also, I'd like to urge caution on having a character who was never really there affecting the environment in the story. Cooking dinner before Gabe gets home, for example, is a little hard to parse in hindsight.

The other thing I'd like to mention is that this story is pretty far outside of the mlp setting. Content-wise, whatever, I can get over that, but I'm really not sure why this story is taking place in equestria. With the phone calls, and the resume, and the supermarket job, and the narcotics, it's all sounding more like our world. Not to say you can't have that stuff there, it just lent the same effect as anachronisms, in my reading. Plus, the references to Luna and rarity felt kind of tagged on. It felt like I was reading a story about people who watch mlp, instead of characters who live in equestria.

But all that said, I wasn't kidding when I said I like what you're going for! I love a good, emotional horror story that is more about the characters than it is about spooky zombie birds. I never found the story as overindulgent in the gore, or the dead father elements, because it makes sense with the context of the story. And it's always nice to see a goodbird kick the habit.

Thank you for writing and gooooooooooooooooood luck!
#2 · 4
· · >>_Moonshot
The confusion that Miller had carries onto me. For me, when I was reading, I looked back up at the title and wondered… is this another songfic? Maybe that's a clue that I'm missing. Concerning the track-record with this Writeoff and how many fics have been based on songs, I wouldn't be surprised if it was based off a song or another work. Crossover, if you will. I don't know, I might be going crazy.

I still have lots of questions. Some of the same that Miller asked. "Why the fixation on the refrigerator? Why does Gabriel feel guilty?"

I agree with Miller's idea that the plot-twist doesn't payoff. A lot of these fics seem to be suffering from going too fast. The idea of a plot-twist is cradled in the perspective of the long haul. Slower pacing seems essential for the payoff to be handled well.

Enough of the negative now. Here's the positive: even though this fic is dark (elements such as gore and narcotics), it does hit the spot for me in the emotional aspect. The fact that Gabriel is suffering from unchecked grief and guilt hits home for me. The resolve of him getting over and living life was the takeaway I got. (Forgive me if that's not what you were going for).

As always, I'm a novice reviewer. So take this with a grain of salt.

Thanks for writing!
#3 · 5
· · >>_Moonshot
The biggest problem for me:

Was the non-Pony nature of pretty much everything here. There are certainly ways of approaching dark subjects in Pony terms, but this reads to me like a human story with a few nouns swapped out. So I'll recommend some world-building. What would be a good, menial job for a griffon to have in a pony city? What would be a good drug for a griffon to become addicted to? Maybe poison joke does something different to griffons than it does to ponies?

I'll also agree with the folks above about not having enough clues to come to any sort of idea about what was actually happening. I mean, granted that I'm pretty dense when it comes to the darker aspects of existence, but I missed the whole narcotics thing completely till I read the other comments... :)

#4 · 3
· · >>_Moonshot
I didn’t end up commenting on this one during prelims, but I liked it. The biggest head-scratcher for me was figuring out what the MLP setting added to this, versus having it be a modern kid in a modern city. Its overall feeling seems very much like a modern/non-MLP tale. But beyond that aspect of it, I liked this as a slice-of-spooky. The concept of the dead dad who may or may not actually be there is cool, and I liked the physical descriptions that went along with his undoing.
#5 · 3
· · >>_Moonshot
I really liked the majority of this story. It isn't perfect, but most of my critiques have already been said so I won't bother repeating those. The ending, however, feels disconnected.

Like Miller said, there aren't really any clues for the ending, so I was blindsided by the narcotics, which had never even been vaguely referenced before. And the fact that his dad was, seemingly at least, a drug-induced hallucination was very jarring to me. The first time I had any reason to believe that earlier instances of his dad interacting with physical objects weren't what they seemed was at the very end when we find out the knives were never moved and that the blood wasn't real. I have experience with hallucinations, and one of the ways you are taught to dismantle them and remind yourself they aren't real is that hallucinations can not interact with physical objects. My initial assumption was honestly that a hallucination was interacting with physical objects and that cheapened the emotional buildup for me.

Also, while I really like the emotional buildup thats here, I do hope you add more for the finished story. I'm a sucker for some good emotional drama and turmoil.
#6 · 5
>>Miller Minus
>>Baal Bunny
Wow, thanks for the seriously in-depth comments this time around. I really appreciate it! This was my first ever time trying to write horror, and all things considered I didn't do an abysmal job at the very least (even though it was totally a rush job :S), whew! Still, I learned a lot from your feedback about how to include information in the right places, and I will definitely be taking it into account during editing and for future stories to come.

Just a quick couple things. The title was just a reference to the phrase "dead man walking," a play on the fact that the father is dead, but that the son is the dead griffon walking -- someone who is about to face an unavoidable loss. Yeah, I realized a little too late that this story was way out of the normal MLP context, but better submit something than not, I guess. I'll definitely be tweaking it a little more to be more in-context. Finally, as surprising as it may be, it actually wasn't my intention during the writing process to link the narcotics with the hallucinations! I planned the manifestation of the father as some inexplicable force due to the guilt alone, but I see how the narcotics make sense, and maybe I'll try incorporating that into the final draft a little more. As for the interaction with physical objects, and also a little with the father's personality, I think I tried mixing something between the very little that I remember from Fight Club and Mr. Robot, but I don't think it quite worked out, so I'll be changing that a little, too.

Again, thanks for all the comments! Will try my best to get this out tomorrow, just in time for spoop :)
#7 · 4
I published a thing

Now time to go study for midterms so that I don't disappoint my actual father byeeeee
#8 · 1
Since I didn't get to this before it was taken down to be published on fanfiction, I think I'll comment in more detail on that version. But for this version, I wanted to say it worked for me; the fact that this seemed like such a darker, grittier version of Equestria made sense to me because he is a griffon and Griffonstone is a total shithole in canon. I wouldn't have bought this with ponies, but with a griffon, absolutely.