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It Could Have Gone Better · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
10th of Summer, 1008
I know I've written the following words in nearly every entry since I started this diary, but I love my friends here. They've enriched my life in ways I'm constantly discovering and rediscovering, and there is nothing—nothing—that could make me want to go back to the tight-clenched, power-grasping, unhappy Starlight Glimmer I was before Twilight brought me to Ponyville. Nothing.

That being said, this is another entry about how every pony in this town is crazy.

Take Applejack. She knows that it's grossly inefficient to run an operation the size of Sweet Apple Acres with just four earth ponies especially when one's a senior citizen and one's a minor who can legally only work part-time anyway. Hiring a single unicorn—or even taking in a volunteer—would save them time, effort, wear and tear on their equipment, wear and tear on themselves...

But Applejack just laughs and says no thanks. Actually, she says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And when I suggest that inefficient is a kind of broke, she just laughs some more. "Main difference is," she said when I brought it up again today sitting in her kitchen at the lunch she'd invited me to, "broke means I gotta do some repairs. Inefficient means I gotta do some pondering."

"Pondering?" I'd already fired up a memory spell since I knew I'd want to get her wording right for this entry. "What do you mean by that?"

Her mouth shifted sideways. "Say I've a hankering for chocolate cake. Most efficient thing for me'd be to head on into town and pick one up at Sugarcube Corner, wouldn't it? Cake's the family name, after all, and Pinkie's got a touch like no other baker in Equestria. The price ain't much, and if'n Pinkie's working the counter, reckon I'd even get me a discount."

She winked. "Instead, crazy ol' me gets out my bowls and cups and spoons and spatulas, spends half an hour mixing, half an hour baking, then hasta wait for it to cool afore I can put it all together." She leaned back in her chair, pulled the cover off a serving platter there on the counter, and half a chocolate cake glistened at me, the scents of strawberry and sour cream telling me it had jam between the layers and my favorite kind of frosting. "Talk about inefficient!" Applejack went on. "It's taking time outta my already tight schedule and using up a buncha ingredients I'm just gonna hafta buy more of."

"That's not what I'm talking about," I answered, and since I was using a memory spell, I can't forget how grouchy I sounded or how my stomach grumbled.

"Maybe so, maybe not." And even without the spell, I'll never forget the warmth in her voice. "That's what I means by 'pondering.' When it's something that don't particularly matter to me, somepony points out a more efficient way, I'm like to take the hint and make a change or two. But when it's something that satisfies me right down to my shoes, well..." She grabbed a knife in her teeth, cut a healthy slice of cake, flipped it onto a plate, and slid it across the table at me. "I'm like to go on being inefficient long as I got breath in my body."

I'm not sure I agree with her—if I was helping with the harvest, she'd have more time for baking; that cake was incredible! But the more I think about inefficient not necessarily being bad, yeah, it's crazy, but I guess I can understand where AJ's coming from at least.

Which is more than I can say for Fluttershy. I mean, putting the Owl City section of her animal sanctuary in the trees right above Mouse City? That's efficient, sure, but not, I think, in the way she intends...

Like I said: crazy. I'll talk with her tomorrow.
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#1 · 4
· · >>CoffeeMinion >>No_Raisin
That being said, this is another entry about how every pony in this town is crazy.
Welcome to Ponyville, Starlight.

A wonderful character interaction study, demonstrating the differences between Starlight and Applejack’s worldviews in a way I can only describe as efficient.
#2 · 2
· · >>Anon Y Mous
Genre: Starlight’s Epistle to the Bromans, Chapter 10, Verse 8, where we read:

Thoughts: My #1 impression here is that we’re given a tiny taste of a larger work that I would like to read. However, that’s much more because of how it’s set up at the beginning and delivered in the middle than because of the Fluttershy thing at the end. For some reason that bit sticks out as being really off to me, though I couldn’t tell you why.

But beyond that, I think >>FanOfMostEverything gives a highly efficient explanation of why this works and is good, so I’ll just point at him and move on. (BTW, great to see you back, FOME.)

Tier: Strong
#3 · 3
· · >>No_Raisin
>>CoffeeMinion is right that the owl part at the end is kind of weird but not too off putting that it takes the story down a notch.

Author, if you’d like to write more of these from the view points of all of her friends, I’d like that very much.

When it's something that don't particularly matter to me, somepony points out a more efficient way, I'm like to take the hint and make a change or two. But when it's something that satisfies me right down to my shoes, well..." She grabbed a knife in her teeth, cut a healthy slice of cake, flipped it onto a plate, and slid it across the table at me. "I'm like to go on being inefficient long as I got breath in my body."

I know this is a long quote but it really hit home for me. If this was on my voting list it would be high up there. I’d love to see more of this in the future!! ;)
#4 · 1
I feel like I would be pretty redundant with what this story does right, and it does quite a few things right, from what >>FanOfMostEverything and >>Anon Y Mous have said about it, but I do want to bring up one thing.

I really like how AJ is written here. She has a few "southern" quirks in her speech, but unlike a lot of fics these do not feel overblown or like they make it harder to make out what she's saying.

A lot of folks write AJ like she's some hillbilly out of a Faulkner novel, but she's not even really "southern" so I could never figure out what was to be accomplished by doing that.

Anyway, entry's pretty good, yep. I could easily imagine Starlight's voice as I was reading it, so I would say her characterization is spot-on, and we get a good taste of their differing philosophies.

It's also nice to read a story where Starlight doesn't mess with ponies' minds like a sociopath.

I'm feeling a decent to strong 8 on this.
#5 · 6
· · >>Moosetasm
Alright, author, time to get ambitious: I expect a story on FIMFiction with at least one diary entry for each of the Mane 6, Spike, possibly each of the Princesses, and at least three for Trixie (opening, interlude, and conclusion). Even if only half are written with the skill of this, it would be a wonderful addition.
#6 ·
· · >>PaulAsaran
Agreed. Each chapter could begin with one of many keen observations:
Thus continues my descent into madness and friendship.
Everypony is this town is CRAZY!
Friendship is Madness.
It could be worse, my muzzle could be gushing blood.
I now know what it means to dance with Discord, in the pale moon light.
#7 ·
· · >>Moosetasm
You forgot one: "Yes, oatmeal, and yes, I am crazy."
#8 ·
Ugh, I have no idea how oatmeal didn’t pop into my head. :facehoof:
#9 · 1
I don't think adding on the Fluttershy interaction at the end makes this story better. It makes it feel incomplete, rather. Rather than have this be a diary, I would tell this story like a normal story from Starlight's perspective. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with a strong arc and good characterization—there's no need to do it through a layer of diary. That takes away the audience's attention from what makes this piece good.
#10 ·
I do think the ending somewhat spoils it, and I too suspect this should have been told in the third person. Part of the problem for me is that the ending almost undoes the insight of the previous section, giving the impression that the lovely character philosophy we've just read has taught Starlight nothing whatsoever. It's especially weird because the "uh oh here we go again" style of ending would fit a comedic piece, but this never remotely struck me as a comedy. Well, unless you count sniggering at Starlight's cluelessness and channeling of Twily at the start.

Nonetheless, I like Applejack's main moral here, but especially the way it opposes Starlight's more utilitarian outlook without, in any way, invalidating it. Both Applejack and Starlight come across as reasonable adults hashing out a point between them, thus avoiding many didactic pitfalls such as having one character be Obviously Wrong. Even if Starlight's the one doing all the learning here, at least it feels less like she's being pushed onto the Right Path(TM) and more like she's adding a new concept to her mental vocabulary. In summary, this fic is subtler than most of its ilk, and I applaud that.

Well, that and I like wise old Applejack, so there's an automatic appeal for me.

Top contender, despite fumbling with the ball in the ending. The core of the fic is solid.
#11 ·
The art makes so much more sense now.

This is easily the top of my slate.

I will echo the other commenters, that the ending undermines the rest of the story.
#12 · 2
Thanks, folks:

Congrats to our medalists--so great to see Chris and Skywriter back among us! Special thanks to teacorgi, Haze and Super Trampoline for the artwork and to Pascoite for giving me comments on the original draft.

This was just me trying my hand at what GaPJaxie and Cold in Gardez have been doing lately in the series of blog posts they've finally started collecting under the title The Starlight & Pals Magical Half Hour. Theirs are simultaneously much sillier and much deeper than anything I could ever manage.

As for the "owl city" thing at the end, that was my original story idea. When I came over to see what the prompt was back on the Writing Day, I saw the big poem thing Dubs had posted and wondered what it was. Googling one of the lines introduced me to the music of Owl City, and my brain went "click." Since I wanted to do one of these little "Starlight Versus" stories, I could have her questioning Fluttershy about her putting the owl area of her sanctuary so close to the mouse area. I wanted to set things up a little first, so I figured I'd start with a quick paragraph of Starlight trying to get Applejack to run the farm more efficiently before moving on to the main meat of the story--so to speak..

I'd apparently forgotten that this was a minific round. By the time I got the AJ scene written, I didn't have room for the Fluttershy scene I'd actually wanted to write. So I just stapled the Owl City joke on at the end to keep up the illusion that this was Starlight's diary. If I do end up doing more of these, I'll give it its own entry.

Thanks again, all!