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TBD · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Swimming Against the Current
In another world...

Adagio Dazzle cursed the cold autumn rain as she talked into her cellphone.

“Sonata!”

“What do you want?!”

Adagio was running towards the river, ignoring her wet clothes and hair and the anger in the voice on the other end.

“Twilight's here at the river, and she's fallen in.”

A pause.

“What?!”

Adagio reached the bank and started scanning the scene.

“Twilight and I had a fight, over the new medallions.”

Aria's voice came on.

“Oh, come on! Look, you're done telling us what to do, got it! You got us stuck in this world, this time, remember?”

Adagio restrained her own anger while looking around for a dark uniform, in dark water, with lead skies turning evening blue...

“You don't like me anymore. Great, wonderful! But you still owe Twilight for that thing with Rutherford!”

Another pause, some giggling in the background, and then Aria.

“All right, we're coming. Stupid LARP...stupid lucky arrow shot...”

Adagio hung up, dialed 911, said what was going on and shoved the phone back in her pocket.

Did I just use the word 'please' for Twilight?

Lightning arced across the sky, followed by a peal of thunder.

Adagio ran along the bank, straining her vision against the water and trees.

Another flash.

There!

Twilight clung to a rock, the water flowing all around her, trying to tear her away and send her downstream.

It's over. You're done, you've failed. Just like you've failed to protect her from those bullies and that school's principal...

Adagio closed her eyes and banished the voice.

“No, I haven't.”

She looked to Twilight, now hanging on for dear life.

“Twilight, I'm coming!”

Twilight looked in Adagio's general direction.

“What?!”

In a moment, Adagio was in the water.

She wasn't mer-pony anymore. She didn't have scales as armor or fins for the cold and wet, only skin that bled warmth away and clothes to drag her.

Adagio couldn't care. She had to try and save Twilight.

The water tried to dominate Adagio, push her, pull her, drag her down, carry her off.

[i]No, I'm not letting this happen![i/]

She adjusted her body, her limbs, let the practice she'd done since she'd arrived from Equestria take over.

Adagio surged forward, let the current carry her a little, righted herself, held her breath as the water took her under, let it loose as she came to the surface.

There was her target, not too far away.

“Twilight! Keep holding on!”

The girl was flailing, trying to keep her head above the current.

“I'm trying! Where are you?!”

Adagio kicked herself; the girl's bad eyesight.

“I'm coming!”

Remember the riptides back home...

She tried to feel the flow of the water, thought of the way water like this moved. She moved her arms, her legs, as best she could and started closing the gap.

It was an obstacle course: let the current carry her a couple of feet, duck under, swim left to thread between two more currents, right to avoid a tree branch, back up above the surface...

She grabbed onto something that wasn't wood or water. It slipped out of her hands for a moment, but she pushed again and threw her arms forward around a person.

“Adagio! What-!”

Water flowed over them, then left them back in air and rain.

“Just stay with me! Calm down and help me!”

Twilight looked blankly into the air.

“What are we going to do?!”

Adagio saw another peal of lightning and thunder.

“We're going to make it. I called for someone.”

She steeled herself against the cold, against the rain. Tried to think of a way to get to the bank if she needed to as the current tugged at the two of them again.

Adagio wasn't going to let go this time, like she did when Sonata first suggested they follow after this world's Twilight to Crystal Prep.

She'd hold on, and help Twilight hold on for as long as it-

“Adagio, you idiot, what are you doing?!”

Adagio looked, saw Aria climbing down the bank with a rope. Further up was Sonata, furiously wrapping the other end around the trunk of a tree.

“Don't worry Twilight, we'll save you!”

They both had determined looks on their faces. Adagio glanced and, though scared, Twilight now had a similar look.

This was going to work.

All four of them were going to be okay.

Then Adagio was going to beat Aria into the ground for calling her an idiot...
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#1 ·
· · >>Fenton >>eusocialdragon
As I previously indicated, I’m just reviewing fics that still have 0 review(s).

Ok, first of all I must warn you I’m 110% unfamiliar with EqG, so Adagio’s rambling’s like Hebrew for me.

The prose here is clunky. Example: Twilight clung to a rock, the water flowing all around her… I mean yes, Twilight is drowning, right? So maybe telling us she’s in the water ain’t necessary :P. “Peal” for thunder? “peal” makes me think of bells. Etc.

We also don’t get why Twilight’s fallen into the river and how Adagio has been warned. But that might be me missing contextual info.

It’s a fairly straightforward story, with low stakes, and the execution doesn’t make it very interesting. Not bad, but lackadaisical. (However, I won’t vote so don’t be afraid.)
#2 ·
· · >>eusocialdragon
Doing my tour of stories with low count reviews.

Adagio trying to redeem herself by saving Sci-Twi from drowning? I can buy that. What's harder to buy is what >>Monokeras mentionned. We don't know how Twilight fell into the river. Maybe it's because of the fight Adagio mentionned but it's very vague. Why would they fight over the medaillons?
There are also several sentences that I don't get
But you still owe Twilight for that thing with Rutherford!”

“All right, we're coming. Stupid LARP...stupid lucky arrow shot...”

It's over. You're done, you've failed. Just like you've failed to protect her from those bullies and that school's principal...

I understand it's supposed to hint at what happened between the Dazzlings and Sci-Twi but I don't get what happened.

As for the rest, even if there are some awkward sentences, the structure and the prose is solid enough for me to enjoy the story. The complete arc of Adagio pestering about her bad luck was quite good.

Thank you for sharing.
#3 ·
· · >>eusocialdragon
While I don't fully grasp what's going on here (motivations and events are alluded to, but without any context, they're just so many words on a page... er, so to speak), the flow of the action and the tone of the piece have me sold. Well executed, and probably well conceived... I just wish I knew what the thought behind its creation was.

I only have about twenty stories left to read and rank, and I'm hoping to get through all of them this time, instead of leaving a bunch of minifics blowing in the wind. But as of now, this one's sitting at number three on my ballot. I don't promise that it'll stay there, author, but if you were feeling discouraged by the lack of attention this one's gotten... well, don't.
#4 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>eusocialdragon
As the preceding comments noted, this piece relies heavily on external knowledge of who these characters are, what Adagio's many flashbacks are referring to, and an immediate background assumption about what must have happened for this situation to arise. That's a whole lot of important stuff happening offscreen and referenced like we're supposed to know it. Too much for me, I'm afraid; I kind of mentally checked out once it became clear the story was going to keep on going into more and more territory I know nothing about.

As to the execution, I think I side more with Monokeras than Posh: it feels low stakes, very "expected" vanilla sort of action for an Equestrian fic. Twilight fell in the river, we pull her out, at no point do I feel like she's actually in danger or that Adagio might not succeed. The emphasis here isn't on the action, it's on Adagio's internal characterization... and that's too heavily referencing out of story factors.

Ultimately I think this piece bit off more than it can do in the minific format. I find myself wanting both more action and more details in the immediate river scene, and more explanation of who these characters are and what Adagio's flashbacks are talking about. Although it technically completes a narrative arc in 750, it had to cut too much meat to get there, and I'm not seeing any very easy ways to make it fit without a massive restructure. I think the best advice I can give this is to go back and expand it into a proper short story, and try a more compact idea in minis next time.

... I suppose I should also take a moment to address the elephant in the room directly, though.

Nobody watched Equestria Girls past the first movie.

That's obviously hyperbole, but you hopefully get what I mean. At least three out of four commenters so far have no idea who your protagonist is (Fenton didn't say either way), and when you make the piece so reliant on her characterization and events that (I presume) happened in the bit of canon that features her, that unfamiliarity doesn't spell good things for your piece.

I'm not going to say people shouldn't use EQG characters outright, but as in all aspects of fanfiction, you have to keep in mind that relying on relatively obscure characters or points of canon can be heavily alienating to readers who are familiar with them only in passing or not at all. The further you go from the core cast of Friendship is Magic, the less you can rely on people knowing what you're talking about.

So ideally, if you're using these characters, try to use them in a way that explains who they are and what they're doing to the audience, rather than the opposite. (And, yes, that's going to be very, very difficult to do in a minific. All I can say is choose your cast and concepts wisely!)

ALL OF THAT SAID... you did get the basics in here, and I can at least get an idea of what I'm supposed to be feeling from Adagio and the constant references to the past. This probably ends up around low-mid to me, but it's far from a trainwreck, and it is a very good "teaching piece" that you can hopefully look back on and learn a lot from. Thanks for writing!
#5 ·
· · >>eusocialdragon
>>Ranmilia
This story isn't on my slate, and I'll grant that it could be a bit clearer about the scenario it posits, but I have to vigorously disagree with the point about obscure characters. Granted, I'm far from the most popular fellow around FF, and the fact that I skew toward offbeat stuff certainly works against me in that regard. But IMO, much of the joy of fanfiction comes from pushing out the frontiers of possibility in terms of what the setting offers, or just exploring the weird obscure corners of the world that wouldn't otherwise get fleshed out by canon. That can be done through subject matter or characters (and probably other avenues as well), but IMO both approaches are valid.

Also, I'll just throw out there that anyone who gave up on EqG after the first movie is missing out on some amazing stuff in Rainbow Rocks. E.g., a big part of Sunset's redemptive arc, which is pretty definitely not obscure.
#6 · 1
· · >>eusocialdragon
This is an excellent action scene with good character development.

I think it needs to have more to be a full story, though. The problem is that the payoff is hidden from the reader because we don't know exactly what's going on. Specifically, why is Sci-Twi still at Crystal Prep? Is this something that was supposed to have happened between RR and FG? If the Sirens have new amulets, do they still eat the amplification of discordancy? I don't know enough to know what to feel, and with such a great narrative I'd really like to.
#7 ·
·
Lightning Review: Entertaining and tense, though lacking some clarity about why the characters are in contact with each other.

Tier: Almost There
#8 · 1
· · >>eusocialdragon
So, en medias res is a great place to start many a story, particularly minis where words are already at a premium. Throw the reader into a situation and resolve it in a short space, let them fill in the blanks.

You've got the right shape, but the problem is then you load it back down. The heart and the action are here, but you weigh it down with a lot of allusions to things that require just enough thought to put together that it pulls me out of the story. You hook just a little too much backstory into this, I think, instead of focusing it down to inform us of the information we -really need- and the action that's going on.

I also think, for a scene about physical peril, you don't quite appropriately frame the scene. This is a case where some description would be beneficial. I didn't grow up around rivers (especially urban rivers), so I end up having trouble really picturing the scene or the danger here. I mean, I know a bit about what this can look like, but you should help me out a little and really build the physical tension for me!
#9 ·
· · >>eusocialdragon
This needed more context for the emotional catharsis of Adagio saving Twilight. From an emotional context, this just didn't sell me on it, as it says they were fighting, and then shows her trying to save her and feeling grateful for some event.
#10 · 5
· · >>Fenton >>Ranmilia
>>Monokeras
>>Fenton
>>Posh
>>Ranmilia
>>CoffeeMinion
>>Trick_Question
>>AndrewRogue
>>TitaniumDragon

I want to thank everyone who commented on my entry and for your criticisms, and hopefully this won't be too boring of a post.

I think an explanation of what I was trying to do in this piece can be split into two parts: structure and idea.

One part of this was to try and create a piece that would have a complete narrative arc within the 750 word limit. I know it was a cliché scenario (akin to 'Jimmy falls down the well') but that was kind of the point; I knew on that level that I had to keep the subject simple and visceral, and 'someone saving the life of someone else' sounded good. I also wanted to see if I could come up with something emotional and fast-paced, such as an action scene.

From the responses I got, I did okay on a structural level. The piece does have a narrative arc, a beginning-middle-end thing going on. And a number of you also thought it was fast-paced and had emotional content.

At the same time, I also heard from a couple of people that the language was a little clunky, and >>AndrewRogue mentioned that there wasn't enough description of the setting.

The biggest problem, though, was the low-stakes nature of the piece. It's supposed to be about someone holding on frantically for dear life in the middle of a raging river, while another character risks their own life to save them.

And...after looking at the piece further, I can see it didn't turn out that way. Adagio just dives into the water, swims to Twilight and then they get rescued; any problems the former runs into are just bypassed easily. Adagio might as well be making her way through an indoor swimming pool, while I act as the breathless narrator and try to pump up the events with hyperbole.

I think what I need to do is give more explanation. Why is it so important for the character to do this? What are the dangers involved? And why can they not simply 'walk in, do what needs doing and walk out'? Have the character pause before an obstacle while I mention what they stand to lose if things don't go well. And also have them screw-up a little or have something unexpected foul their plans up at some point. Perhaps also have the character be more ill-suited for whatever they are facing (in the case of the river, have a character who isn't a particularly good swimmer have to save her).

The other part of the story is where I really blew it, the distribution of information that was necessary to make sense of the action.

Pretty much everyone had no idea why Twilight was in the river, or what the deal was between Adagio and Twilight, or what the heck was going on. And never mind the throwaway lines Adagio was using. The whole thing was out of context.

Part of my problem was that I didn't correctly gauge how niche EqG was; I thought it was more well known than it turned out to be, and so that hurt me.

But now that I've thought about it, what really sank me was that this scene was originally an idea for an AU fic I had in that universe; you can all relax about being lost, since the references are just from my own imaginings. Sorry... <:(

(I hopefully won't bore with too many details: The Sirens, instead of vanishing after Rainbow Rocks, come across the naïve and lonely human counterpart of Twilight Sparkle before the 'Humane 6'; after finding out Twilight's been dabbling in finding a way to contain and analyze magic, Adagio 'befriends' her in hopes that they together can restore the Sirens' powers; after a while Adagio and Human!Twilight begin to bond, only for things to fall apart when the latter figures out she's been used; the piece is set after Twilight's run somewhere to figure out what to do and Adagio has chased after someone she really is beginning to think of as a friend she could pull into the darkness.)

My apologies for my ambition/arrogance with this piece, and more apologies for you having to read through it. I was hoping to separate the presented piece from the source material enough that it could be a relatively self-contained story, but I failed in that (mostly, I think, because I started putting in non-self-contain material back in for some stupid reason).

I realize now how ridiculous the situation I'd set for myself was. For the audience to make sense of the whole thing I needed to: explain enough to put the action of the story into context; explain who a relatively niche character was and what was going on in a niche part of the MLP universe; and explain how the situation in this AU was different from normal.

To paraphrase the man in the TV show: I had a lot of 'splainin' to do...

I also realize how deeply unfair that is to the audience. People who at least know something about the source material are going to be confused and people who don't are going to be totally lost.

Going back to the piece's flaws, >>Ranmilia noticed the story elements butting heads – Adagio's emotions (a character-centered piece) and the rescue (an action-centered piece). What I now think I should have done was either change the characters to ones that would likely wind up in the situation presented (subordinating them to the action element of the story) or change the scene entirely to present a 'day in the life of' piece that would show the relationship between Adagio and Human!Twilight (subordinating setting and action to the character element of the story). It might still have wound up a bit of a mess, but not as bad as it is here.

And, as you suggested >>Ranmilia , I'm going to see about coming up with simpler ideas for the mini-fic rounds and save the more complex stuff (with more need for information) for the short story rounds.

I know I sound like I'm putting myself down here, but this really has gotten me to think. Hopefully that will show up in an improvement in my writing.

Thank you for putting up with me this round, and I hope to see you all next time!
#11 ·
·
>>eusocialdragon
I hopefully won't bore with too many details: The Sirens, instead of vanishing after Rainbow Rocks, come across the naïve and lonely human counterpart of Twilight Sparkle before the 'Humane 6'; after finding out Twilight's been dabbling in finding a way to contain and analyze magic, Adagio 'befriends' her in hopes that they together can restore the Sirens' powers; after a while Adagio and Human!Twilight begin to bond, only for things to fall apart when the latter figures out she's been used; the piece is set after Twilight's run somewhere to figure out what to do and Adagio has chased after someone she really is beginning to think of as a friend she could pull into the darkness.


I well know the EqG franchise, and this sounds great. The story is indeed much clearer when you have these informations. It gives context, and raises what's at stakes.

I couldn't agree more with Ranmilia. Save this stuff for the short story rounds. You'll probably score better with solid ideas like this one (that only left the execution to handle properly).
#12 · 1
·
>>eusocialdragon
<3
Definitely don't put yourself down, yeah. Ambition is nothing to apologize for (and my own harried trying-to-read-50-stories commentary can turn out a lot blunter than intended!). Agreed with Fenton, I'm impressed with what you've got going on and look forward to seeing more in the future!