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Crossing Over · Friendship is Short Shorts Short Story ·
Organised by CoffeeMinion
Word limit 1000–5000
Show rules for this event
Stick to the Script
“Shh shh shh! Here she comes!” whispered Flying In.

The conversation died off abruptly as Film Magic approached and took her seat with the rest of the cast at the restaurant table.

For a moment, nopony said a word. Especially not Soft Sticks. She had stayed quiet during the conversation—watching, listening—and she stayed quiet now.

“So, how was everypony’s day?” asked Film Magic.

Soft Sticks glanced around the table. Flying In had just shoved a hoofful of hay fries into her mouth. Last Looks was levitating her empty fork in her magic, a wedge missing from her pancakes. Smart Slate was glancing around the table too, her eyes making a connection with Soft’s. Crafty and Half Apple were sitting on either side of her, and she didn’t want to make her unease obvious by turning her head that far.

Smart Slate looked back at Enigma. “It was fine.”

“I think we’re all just tired after the shoot,” Soft Sticks offered.

Film frowned. “Yeah.” She glanced around the table.

She’s reading us. Soft Sticks forced a neutral expression onto her face. She fidgeted with her wings for a moment, then reached a hoof out to her milkshake.

Film sighed. “Listen, I’m sorry about what happened today. I didn’t mean for anypony to get the wrong idea about that scene we did.”

Soft Sticks drank from her milkshake slowly as she scrambled to put together a response in her head.

“Everypony makes mistakes from time to time,” said Crafty. “That’s what the show’s about. Teaching colts and fillies about life.”

“Everypony has a script, too,” said Flying In. “This isn’t ad lib hour. We’re supposed to be professionals.”

Soft Sticks swallowed hard.

Film picked up her knife and fork in her magic. “I know! But I did what my character would have done! It was in the moment and—”

“It’s not your creative vision,” said Last Looks. “It was the director’s. You and I are just—”

“We’re just actresses. I know.”

“Well then why did you—”

“I don’t know!” Film Magic dropped her gaze and levitated her utensils back down beside her plate.

Half Apple took a sip of water, then returned the glass to its spot. “We can’t help you unless we know why you did it. If you don’t tell us why you did it, there’s a very real chance this is just going to happen again.”

Soft Sticks shifted in her seat, angling herself more towards Film. She watched as Film’s broken, indignant features gave way to an expression of defeat under Half Apple’s words. “You’re right,” she whispered.

Soft Sticks reached for her fork with a wing, and took her next bite in silence.

It had been half an hour since Soft Sticks had pulled up Film’s number on her phone Her makeup was gone, her tail extensions out, and the three butterflies on her flank had yielded to a film slate. Just one task remained as she lay there in her bed, but nothing she’d spoken into her phone had sounded good enough to send. Each time, she’d get a nice block of text, then second-guess herself and start over. She sighed frustratedly and ran her yellow feathers through her long pink mane in preparation to try again.

“I know what everypony said about you, comma, but I don’t think you’re a bad pony. Period. We all are your friends, comma, and we all care about you. Period. Film, comma, did you really mean what you said about not renewing your contract with the show? Question mark?” She would have said more, but her voice caught in her throat. She knew what would happen now that her train of thought had stopped, and sure enough her phone beeped up at her a moment later.

Send Message?

She’d been at this for half an hour and this was the best she could come up with? Forget perfect, this wasn’t even really all that good. She sighed. “Send.”

Her phone beeped again.

Message sent.

Her phone buzzed less than a minute later. Despite the short amount of time, a sizable amount of text now sat in front of her. Lucky unicorn.

You heard what they said. We’re supposed to be professionals. It’s not ad lib hour, it’s not my vision. And all that was in front of the guest star! Berated by the director, glared at by the crew, and unsupported by my fellow cast! Yes, I’m going to be leaving the show after this season. They don’t think I’m professional enough, as you know. So I’m going somewhere else. I wasted everypony’s time on set, and I blew all those takes because I thought I knew what the scene needed. But nopony needed or wanted it, or me

Soft bit her lip and nodded. Oh boy. Time wasn’t on her side here. Film could type up responses two or three times as fast as she could, even if she wasn’t trying to get every word as close to perfect as possible.

She took a moment to collect her thoughts before she began. “We don’t think that way about you. Period. I was there in the restaurant, comma, and though I didn’t say much I heard everything. Period. They’re really just shocked that you did it. Period.” Her phone beeped again. “Send.”

She pulled the covers up to her neck and put her phone on the nightstand. It vibrated no sooner than she had set it down. She reached back over and picked it up.

I broke the chain of command! I wasted everypony’s time on set, I snubbed my muzzle at the director’s vision, and now none of my co-stars want to even be on set with me! There’s no coming back from that. If it weren’t for my contract, I wouldn’t even have a job now. I figure I’ll save the studio the paperwork and just not renew my contract.

Soft Sticks rubbed her face with her hooves as she mulled over the reply in her head. She tossed her head side to side for a few minutes as she pieced the varied thoughts together. Then, she held up her phone again.

“Film, comma, I know you have a passion for this show. Period. You truly believe the message we’re putting in this show for all the colts and fillies, comma, and it shows. Period. You’ve seen all the excited colts and fillies and families and even adult fans who attend the conventions, comma, who can’t get enough of this show and who’ve had their lives changed by it. Period. I’ve seen that same change in my own life and I know you must see it in yours. Period. The way you talk shows you really believe what you’re saying when you get behind the camera as Starlight Glimmer. Period.” She paused and took a breath, then looked over what she’d written.

She tapped the screen with a hoof and added one more sentence. “I want you to know that whatever happens with this situation I’m still your friend, comma, and that won’t change no matter what. Period.”

She wanted to let herself fall asleep. Sleep called to her, and her alarm by her bed shone foreboding red numbers at her. Five more minutes, she thought to herself.

Four minutes passed until she got a reply. The length of time made her worried she’d have a novella to respond to, but there were only a few words.

No matter what?

Soft smiled as she felt a sense of relief wash over her. “No matter what” she said. She blinked away tears as she tapped the send button with a hoof.


“Sound speeding.”

Soft Sticks shifted her weight among her hooves as she stood in the marketplace set. The morning sun warmed her coat and wings as she rehearsed her first line in her head one last time. She glanced over at Film Magic, and for a moment wondered if she would stick to her lines.


“Camera rolling.”

For just a moment, Soft Sticks wondered if Film was going to botch the scene again. She mentally scolded herself for even thinking it. This couldn’t be “just a scene.” She couldn’t be Soft Sticks. She had to be Fluttershy, in Equestria, talking to Starlight Glimmer. Anything else, and she might get out of character and botch the scene.


“Scene 13C, Take 1.”

Here we go. Yay.

“And action.”

They started walking down the street.

“I’m just not sure,” said Fluttershy. “Pinkie Pie has really made up her mind about the Appleoosa Bake-Off. You know how much baking means to her.”

“I know. But the rest of us are all so busy with our jobs here in Ponyville. I know how disappointing it would be for her to have to go alone.” Starlight turned her head and stared off to the side of the camera. “So far away from all her friends.”

“Well, I talked with her this morning, and I think she’ll be ok with going alone but…” she bit her lip.

Then, she stopped.

Oh no! That’s not our blocking! We’re supposed to keep going! Soft Sticks had no choice but to stand there, or else start walking again and look awkward. Luckily Film Magic stopped a step ahead of her.

“...but I’m terrified! I’m terrified that if I go behind her back and tell her Applejack actually does need her new pie flavors, she’ll be upset because she told me not to say anything to Applejack! And I’m afraid if I let her go to Appleoosa with terrible-tasting pies, she’ll be upset there too!” At the end of her line, Fluttershy broke down crying. That wasn’t in the script either.

Starlight stood facing her from the side forming a V which pointed toward the camera, then she placed a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “I may not have known Pinkie Pie as long as you have, but I do have Twilight’s journal. If your friends are going through something, you should help them. I know Pinkie and Applejack had a falling out, but they’re still friends. Pinkie gave Applejack one of her new pies, and because of that she thinks Applejack doesn’t want any of her pies. She’s taking her pies to Appleoosa because she’s trying to protect herself from being rejected again.”

Fluttershy sniffed. “So I should go behind her back and tell Pinkie Pie anyways?”

Starlight smiled. “I think you should. After all, Applejack doesn’t hate Pinkie Pie over a pie! That’d just be silly!”

“Even if it was pineapple and jalapeno?”

“There’s nothing more disgusting than pineapple and jalapeno, but there’s nothing better than a friend.”

Fluttershy threw her forelegs around a thoroughly unprepared Starlight Glimmer. “Oh, thank you, Starlight!” she said as she felt a fresh wave of emotion crash over her. “Thank you so much.”

“Glad—I could help,” Starlight choked out.

“Aaand cut. Good scene.”

Soft Sticks didn’t let go. “Thank you, Film. Thank you.”

“I—You’re welcome? I don’t understand.”

“I know.”

Soft Sticks watched as Film Magic walked down the street from the studio towards her apartment. “Well, there she goes,” said Half Apple. She kicked a pebble off the sidewalk into the street. “I just wish we could have done more for her.”

“She’s on the call sheet for tomorrow,” Soft said. “Do you think she’ll show up or call in?”

“She may want to go ahead and take a day off after what’s happened. I don’t know. Might help her.”

Soft turned towards Half Apple. “Unless she’s too busy thinking about what she did. Alone at home with no friends and nothing to do.”

Half turned her head a moment later. “She’s had a rough couple of days. I hope she gets a little break to get back on her hooves.”

“I do too.”

Soft Sticks heard somepony walk up beside her. She turned to see Smart Slate standing staring off at Film Magic. “I called her last night. Tried to get her to rethink. I’m not sure it did much.”

“I texted her,” said Soft.

“She thinks because we didn’t say anything that we hate her,” Smart Slate continued.

“You know she’s not been well lately,” said Half Apple. “I’m sure that’s not helping her work through her difficulties right now.”

Soft nodded slowly, her eyes fixed on Film. She knew the condition Half Apple was describing. Did she dare think the word? The name of the dark, smothering cloud that she’d felt before creeping into her own life. She knew the old battles she’d fought and won, and how fragile they sometimes felt at times as she found herself picking at old scars.

“Her… depression?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Half Apple said.

“Depression is the fucking worst,” said Crafty as she approached from behind.

Just the pony I wanted to see.

Soft Sticks stepped forward and turned around. “Ok, hear me out. You know the episode we’ve been shooting this week?”

“You mean ‘Bake It till Ya Make It?’” asked Crafty.

“What does Pinkie Pie do for Applejack?”

“She bakes her a pineapple jalapeno pie,” Crafty said with a shudder. “Except I hate pineapples and jalapenos.”

She turned to Half Apple. “And how does Applejack react?”
1 Half Apple chortled. “Like any pony with half a sense of taste would.”

“And then what does Pinkie Pie do?”

"Her character regresses all the way to Season One 'Party of One,'" she said, rolling her eyes.

"No! What does she do?"

"She decides to leave," said Smart Slate. "Soft Sticks, what are you getting at?"

"She wants us to make up with Film Magic," Half Apple said.

"We already tried," said Smart Slate.

"But she still wants to leave because she still thinks we hate her, which we don't."

"So," Soft continued, "we do what Fluttershy did."

Soft raised an eyebrow. "We… go behind her back? Tell her we're giving her some time, then throw her a surprise party like our characters all do for Pinkie in the episode?"

"Hey, it worked in Season One," said Crafty.

Soft snorted and stomped a hoof. "We remind her she's our friend!" She began pacing in front of them. "You know how each episode is. It's almost formulaic at this point. Everypony ignores the obvious solution to the episode's problem so the drama can reach its climax, even though it could have been avoided if we just would have communicated."

Somepony snorted from beside the building. "You think it'll be that easy?" asked Flying In. "You think life's problems resolve themselves in twenty-two minutes like they're some kind of 'friendship problem' in a show for little fillies?" she said, making air quotes with her sky-blue feathers. "She'll come back to work with us in a season or two, if she comes back at all. Nothing more we can do about it." She turned and began to fly away.

Soft Sticks laid her ears against her head. "So then why are you teaching little fillies things like in the show of you don't believe them in real life? You think those lessons stay with Rainbow Dash on a film set called Equestria?"

Flying In stopped and turned halfway around. "Because it's a good business model to teach colts and fillies good morals in a story."

Soft's wings shot out to the side as tears came to her eyes. "I don't believe that!" she said. "I know this show isn't that shallow and I know Film thinks the same way! I've learned so much about myself from this stupid, silly fillies' show. I've grown, I've become a better pony. I know there's more here than a business model. You haven't even talked to her since then, have you?"

Flying In didn't say a word. She hovered there a moment longer, lowered her head, and flew away. It was answer enough for Soft. She shook her head and turned around. “I know how much this show means to Film Magic. I see it in her acting. She lives this show. If you believe in this show and what it stands for, will you help me?”

“We’re with you,” said Smart Slate. “But we’ve already talked to her individually, and her mind seems set.”

“That’s ok. I have an idea.”

“I can’t even pretend to like my own prop in my own scene,” Crafty said at lunch. “Every time I touch that pie, my stomach turns inside out.”

"I mean, I'd try a pineapple jalapeño pie," said Film Magic.

Everypony stared. "That's disgusting," said Flying In.

“Sickening. Revolting,” said Last Looks.

“Are they actually going to make you take a bite of it?” asked Smart Slate

“I don’t think it’s actually pineapples and jalapenos,” said Film Magic. “It’s all just pretend while we’re on stage. It’s all fake.”

Soft Sticks glanced around the lunch table. “Actually, about that,” she began. “I’ve learned a lot about real life from something that’s ‘just fake.’”

“I know what you mean,” said Film Magic. “I’m with you about the morals we have for the fillies, but you know not all the props are real. We don’t really have a draconequus here. That’s just a puppet with motion capture technology.”

“I think Soft Sticks speaks for all of us when she says she’s learned a lot about herself because of the show,” said Soft Sticks as she leaned forward onto the table. She stared first at Flying In, then at Film Magic.

“What do you mean?”

Soft Sticks felt reluctance building in her as her mind raced to put her thoughts in order. “We… wanted to ask your forgiveness for how we acted the other day following your… mishap.”

Film raised her hooves to her face. “Not this again.”

“Yes this again,” said Half Apple. “Because we want to be your friend, and we want you on set with us for next season.”

“Nopony likes pineapple jalapeno pies,” Soft Sticks said. “Well, nopony except Pinkie Pie. But nopony real. You wouldn’t say Pinkie’s a bad baker because she made one bad pie, just like we wouldn’t say you’re a bad actress because you—”

“—stole everypony’s time and made a foal of myself in front of the director, the special guest, the crew, and all of you.”

“Well, I was going to say ‘improved a scene.’”

“What’s good for one director isn’t necessarily good for another,” said Half Apple. “All directors are ok with a little improv. Some are ok with a lot.”

“What about when I blew my blocking for our scene yesterday?” asked Soft Sticks. “Final Cut loved that scene.”

Film Magic sat there blinking.

“And what about the actual message of that episode?”

Film rolled her eyes. “You should go behind your friends’ back if they’re making a bad decision?”

Soft Sticks reached across the table and took Film’s hoof in her own. “Because you care about them, and you don’t want them to make the wrong choice in the heat of the moment.”

Film looked down at her hoof, then up at Soft Sticks, mouth agape. “So, this whole conversation, you’ve been—”

“—asking you to let us help you. I know how invested you are in this show. What are you really planning after you leave at the end of the season?”

“Well, my agent could probably find something.

“I know you’ve learned a lot about yourself here on this show, Film. Do you really think it’s just a silly fillies’ show, or something real?”

Soft watched as Film’s eyes watered, then her lip trembled, then her head fell onto the back of her front leg.

“We’re your friends, Film Magic.”

“All of us are,” Smart Slate said, placing her hoof on top of Soft’s. Half Apple was next, then Crafty then Last Looks, and even Flying In.

“Thank you, girls,” Film said through her tears. “Thank you.”

Film Magic looked over the letter of resignation she had written. Somehow it just didn’t seem good enough any more. She looked over her former decisions with doubt and scrutiny, wondering if she really was making the right decision. She held her phone in her magic, her grip weak as it it could give out at any time.

But she had a call she needed to make with her agent. She pulled up his contact and pressed the call button.

It rang. On the second ring, he picked up.

“Hey, Film. What’s up?”

“You can stop looking now. I’m staying.”
« Prev   10   Next »
#1 · 2
· · >>Soft Sticks
You're following:

In some big footsteps here, author. :)

The emotional beats are largely here, but I found myself stumbling over some of the details. For instance, I didn't get that these actresses were working on My Little Pony till the description of Soft Sticks at the beginning of the second section. So I'll suggest using all the business in the first section with them picking up glasses and putting down forks to give us some quick visual clues. Mention how different Flying In looks without her rainbow wig or something to let folks like me in on the story's conceit as early as you can manage it.

I also found myself wondering what exactly Film Magic had done. We're never actually told, and the others seemed so upset, I thought maybe she'd leaned over and kissed Soft Sticks full on the lips during a take or something. But if it was something really egregious, the producers could fire her for cause--I'm pretty sure actors' contract have language like that in them...

The continuity tripped me up, too. Is the first scene morning or evening? Film Magic asks how everypony's day was and Flying In is eating hay fries, but Last Looks is having pancakes. Mixed signals like this are especially rough at the beginning of a story when I'm still trying to figure out who's who and what's what. And it seems to me that Film Magic does whatever she does, then comes in to work the next day, and it's only after that that the characters are wondering if she might take a day off. Wouldn't it be more likely that, if she was going to take a day off, it would be the day immediate following her mistake rather than two days afterwards?

Like I said, though, the character moments are pretty much here. It's just the framework surrounding them that gave me problems.

#2 · 4
· · >>Soft Sticks
I saw the post that Baal made before I read this so I have the spoiler bias. I could tell where this was going at the beginning.

I'm not swiping Baal's review completely to the side though. A little more grounding of where they actors are at, and what they look like (especially at the beginning) could clue in the reader enough that this is what I class to be an emotional piece covered with a finished coat of meta. A route you could go is Soft Sticks turned in her costume (cutie mark, makeup and hair extensions (good reference imo for meta logic, I remember that episode)) to the stage crew. You could easily put that at the beginning since they are having a lunch break and the likely excuse is that they don't want to ruin any props because… well… food.

Another question that I have for it is how bad was the foul-up with the ad-libbing? Details of what she did might help. (was it pretentious or just a moment where she overstepped her bounds because she just wanted to try something?) But then again, the fic does fine without Nitty-gritty details. This question is just a personal preference.

After that, there's no other comments I have.

(I'm going to start including this disclaimer in my comments) I'm still learning how to review, so take all what I said with a grain of salt.

Thanks for writing!
#3 · 3
· · >>Soft Sticks
Genre: ACTION!

Thoughts: I was pumped when I sat down at the beginning of this story and saw a bunch of OC names. I generally try to give bonus points when I run into OCs, because it’s a higher tier of difficulty to introduce wholly new characters in a very short work than to just pick up and start telling a story with pre-established characters. However, I quickly started having trouble following things, because neither the characters nor their setting got any physical description during much of the opening scene. More characters kept showing up, but I had no way to mentally keep track of them except as a list of names.

It took me until quite a ways through this to realize the central concept that these characters were actor-ponies playing the M6+Starlight in MLP as we know it, but presented as a fictional show within some kind of MLP-ish universe. That’s a cool concept (and I regret that I still haven’t read GaPJaxie’s take on it). I also did eventually pick up on it. But getting there was rough. I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to ease a reader into the tone and setting of a story as early as possible; not only does it help them get a sense of what kind of story they’ve picked up (and if they would like to keep reading), but it creates an opportunity to start laying the groundwork for thematic elements, and overall selling readers on the work.

Now, I don’t want to dismiss this just on the basis of the beginning. I think that this gives compelling hints of a Ponyworld that’s both different yet reminiscent of the one we know. The differences in how text messaging on cell phones plays out for different kinds of ponies was actually quite clever and interesting. I’d like to see those differences developed more, in keeping with what I’ve said about wishing for more scene-setting in general. I can see these and other aspects of the concept shining through, but sometimes the limitations in description make it hard for me to paint a strong mental picture of what’s going on.

Author, I guess what this boils down to is a hope that you’ll keep tweaking this. Beefing-up the beginning to be less coy about establishing your concept and clarifying who these characters are would pay massive dividends IMO. One possibility might even be to start in the midst of the scene that not-Starlight “ruins” so that we as readers can see it for ourselves, rather than trying to piece together its details after the fact?

Tier: Keep Developing
Post by Soft Sticks , deleted
#5 · 4
· · >>007Ben
Sorry. Prematurely clicked the "post comment" button. Hope I didn't ping anypony twice.

Hi. It's me. Soft Sticks. You just read about me, the author and primary PoV character. Whether you realized it or not, you also read about one of my friends.

Thank you to >>Baal Bunny, >>PinoyPony, and >>CoffeeMinion for your practical writing advice. I will take it to heart and apply it to my future writing.

Now, as for the actual content of the story, all three of you pointed out that I didn't give the details as to Film Magic's incident. I assure you that was intentional. I had a few hundred words left to throw around; I could have if I wanted to. But the focus of this story wasn't the action, it was the reconciliation.

"You know how each episode is. It's almost formulaic at this point. Everypony ignores the obvious solution to the episode's problem so the drama can reach its climax, even though it could have been avoided if we just would have communicated."

Now for some more individualized responses.

The continuity tripped me up, too. Is the first scene morning or evening? Film Magic asks how everypony's day was and Flying In is eating hay fries, but Last Looks is having pancakes.

Upon reading this, I was struck with the horrible realization that not every pony may have been to an all-day-breakfast style restaurant such as IHOP. But it was my intention that the cast went there after the day's shoot.

(I'm going to start including this disclaimer in my comments) I'm still learning how to review, so take all what I said with a grain of salt.

Thanks for writing!

Yeah, thanks for reviewing! That's part of what makes this community so great. We've all got to start somewhere. Glad to have you with us!

I think that this gives compelling hints of a Ponyworld that’s both different yet reminiscent of the one we know.

Thanks. It's true what Baal said about following in some big footprints, which was a little intimidating. Glad I was able to make the world seem different.

I regret that I was not able to get in any reviews, but starting I promise to address that. Hopefully. Today looks like it's going to busy day, but I promise I'll get to at least the under-reviewed stories.
#6 · 1
· · >>Soft Sticks
>>Soft Sticks

Hey, unless I've seriously missed something, there's no way to DM on the Writeoff site. How can I contact you? Are you on Discord?
#7 · 1
I set up an account with Discord and found you through the Fimfiction server. We can chat there.
#8 · 2
I have to confess I really don't like this kind of story (the world of MLP is a fiction being portrayed by ponies), but this was well-written and I liked the theme -- friendship broken, maybe, by something someone did that was well-meaning but seen as awful, and the reconciliation afterward. And I can see how this would not fit in standard MLP, where friendship is an almost magical force and we'd know it couldn't be broken forever by a thing like this, whereas in a pony world where MLP is fictional, friendship may work like it does in real life -- fragile and conditional. So it wasn't a pleasant read for me, but the author's skill and the choices they've made are spot on.