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On the Verge · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#2 · 3
· · >>Trick_Question
The concept here is extremely well-thought out, and it really does show that you put a lot of effort into coming up with all the ways that the moving parts fit together. You do a great job of setting up intrigue in the beginning with the obvious but hidden significance of the necklace, and I think the way you paced out the information delivery about what exactly the necklace does works well to keep the reader engaged throughout the first 1/3 or so of the story's set-up period.

Now, I think I'm going to have to open up with some pacing concerns that I had. This story is the longest entry, and it really does feel like it. The general structure of the piece is that we're basically given a series of conversations that Rumble has with his peers and family before the final decision at the end, but in order for this to work to the fullest potential, each conversation really needs to provide new and interesting information and perspectives.

Unfortunately, some of these conversations feel like rehashes of previous ones. For instance, a lot of these conversations seem to lean heavily on the "but it's your choice in the end" conclusion. Even the conversations with Skeedaddle and Thunderlane (the closest we get to unequivocal "yes" and "no", respectively), kind of seem to neuter themselves, Thunderlane with this second more "calm-headed" convo, and Skeedaddle by account of creeping out Rumble enough to leave him literally running. And despite the last of these major conversations ending quite negatively, the next time we see Rumble, there doesn't really appear to be any effect on his perspective/opinions.

As for the subject itself, I'll be honest and say that I'm having difficulty with it. I'll start by stating that I'm not at all sure what the actual point of the story is meant to be. If, as Trick Question postulates, the story is meant to be creepy/horror, the fact that it seems to gloss over the worst of its implications feels really strange. And if the story isn't meant to be horror, then the fact still remains that it glosses over some awful implications.

For instance, it's clear that the collars do not just stop biological development, as both Mango and Skeedaddle exhibit childish mental characteristics as well. But it's not at all clear about how much of their psyche is still immature. I mean, can a thirty-something year old who still likes playing trains be expected to be able to give sexual consent in just a handful of more years? It's just really hard to get a solid handle on what actually happens to their decision-making capabilities.

This confusion gets compounded by the fact that apparently pedophilia is considered taboo in this universe. If this story is supposed to be horror, I'm not sure why you needed to emphasize this point so strongly. If this story isn't supposed to be horror, then it comes dangerously close to seeming to advocate for the permissibly of pedophilia under certain circumstances. Elements like the Princess putting a gag order on the sexual activities of those married to "frozen" foals, the transplanting of marriage into care-taking/adoption, or the explicit signal of a "frozen" foal's ability to give consent (diamond vs sapphire) all strike me as "safety rails" that actually dampen horror instead of intensifying it.

So in the end, I'm really not entirely sure what to make of this one. There are definitely elements of this story that disturb me, but the overall trajectory of the story with the interviews and the conclusion doesn't seem to arc towards horror genre cues. I think the only solid suggestions I can give at the moment are to mind your pacing, since the story does feel more and more compressed as you come up to the word count.

Thank you for submitting!
#3 · 5
· · >>Trick_Question >>Trick_Question
I tend not to review fics in rounds I didn't submit anything for, and I'm still gonna hold that up, because this will not be a review of "Eternal." No, this will be something very special, done in the service of a very special fic.

And by special, I mean I kind of hate it.

Anyway, without further ado, here is Greatest Hits Volume 1 for the worst lines in this cursed story. You're free to add more volumes to what should be an expanding and profitable series of albums, all dedicated to the near-infinite number of cursed lines in this entry. There are just so many to choose, and there's so little time.

The smile faded. "Well... yes. Of course I do, from time to time," she said. "Nopony wants to die, and when I evaluate my life, I worry I haven't done enough with the limited time I've been given. I don't worry about death much, but I might feel afraid someday when my time is finally up. Nonetheless, I still think I made the right choice. My job allows me to influence future generations in a much larger way than I could have if I'd accepted the band."

Cheerilee shook her head. "No, not at all. It's just a choice you get to make. Besides, even if you think it's a little selfish, it's your life. Don't let anypony else tell you what to do with it, do you understand?"

"We used to, but not so much anymore. He's nice and fun, but a little creepy," said Mango. "He wants to teach me about sex when I go diamond, and the idea grosses me out. I think his mom might let him do it, but I'm sure Daddy wouldn't agree. I can use him as an excuse until I have to remarry."

I swallowed an empty clot of air. "If I really wanted you to... would you marry me? Instead of Mom, I mean."

`"Mom... can I sleep with you tonight?" I asked her from the side of the bed.

It was a lot like being in a womb.

"Yeah, champ. That was totally a sex joke," he said with a grin.

"It's more like an exchange of power. Taking care of a frozen foal is more than just being a parent. It's a lifetime commitment, and you can't just decide to get a divorce without strong justification," he explained. "As for you, it's not your life anymore. Somepony else gets to tell you what to do with it. But they can't force you to be intimate if you don't want it. Plus, they usually want it more than you do, which gives you leverage."

"They're a foal fiddler? Well, sure. That's the whole point of frozen foals, dude."

"Think about it. We're like a wet dream come to life for those poor saps. The biggest problem with perverts who like foals is that when the foal gets a little older, they lose interest, and it's emotionally shattering," he said, skreetching his hoof across the strings which made a horrible, dissonant sound. "But this way, they get to love somepony for real, and you get the most committed caregiver you could imagine. It's like having a Mom and a wife at the same time. Win-win."

As tradition, the Owner walked to the podium all by herself, to light applause. Then the music paused, and the band began to play "Here Comes the Foal."

No, Sir, I don't like it.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#5 · 3
· · >>Trick_Question
I admit I like this story (it's the sort of thing I would write, and kind of wish I had), but I don't think this is appropriate.

Assuming you didn't write this entry, it's a very bad idea to make it look like you did. Denying authorship in this manner is a fast way for people to take notice of you as an option.

Most of those quotes are way, way, way out of context.

Putting these lines back into context wouldn't help them. If anything they're worse once you get the bigger picture.

Rumble is not talking about actually marrying his brother in the normal sense of the word.

No, but actually yes. The story does a terrible job at trying to differentiate this form of marriage from the "normal" form, to the point where several aspects are pretty much the same. It is, for all intents and purposes, a lot like marriage in the normal sense of the word.

Skeedaddle's opinion on frozen foals is one of half a dozen conflicting viewpoints,

These viewpoints don't conflict nearly as much as you let on.

and the only one that's super-disturbing.

Considering just about every character Rumble comes across peer pressures him into doing this thing he is very on the fence about, and with good reason, I'm worried that you somehow found Skeedaddle's comments to be the only big offender.

And most of those comments spoil the story, too.

I would agree, if not for the fact that the trajectory of Rumble's decision-making was ever altered. He is consistently pushed into making a decision, and honestly it would be far more of a spoiler if he didn't. And, as you said, these scenes are removed from their context, though not their cursed potential.

It's fine to not like something, but cherry-picking comments out of context to shock people who haven't actually read the story and completely spoil it in the process is a rude thing to do, and it provides almost no useful feedback for the author.

Personally, I think shocking people without any kind of deeper meaning is the best case scenario for this story. I would not pay someone to read this story in its entirety, let alone encourage them to do it for free. The author has a lot to answer for, because best case scenario this is a story simply meant to shock readers, 2nd best scenario it's a failed satire, and well... anything beyond that and we get into territory that's too bad for me to even talk about.

Personally I think you wrote it, no matter how hard you try to deny it.

If the author turns out to not be you, then I owe them a small apology, but they won't be able to escape the tsunami of hard questions coming their way regardless.
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#7 ·
Disqualified for anonymity breach. 😔
#8 · 7
· · >>Trick_Question
There is a pretty lively discussion on the Discord right now. Let me sum up my personal opinions.

Any time an author feels compelled to break anonymity is bad, and I'm sorry that you felt this way. I really wish it didn't turn out this way, and I personally don't consider you unwelcome in this group.

I really wish you had gotten more honest feedback that gave the story the benefit of the doubt. To be frank, this story offended a lot of people (myself included), but that shouldn't have come across as condemnation towards you as a person, especially without confirmation of the authorial intent of the story. I think it would have been far better if we had tried to express why the story offended us, the way I tried to do in my review. As your faux-review shows, you *intended* the story to be horrific, but I think it's safe to say that the story was not horrific in an entertaining way for many readers. This should have been the main point of the feedback you should have received.

At the same time, I do think the presumption of anonymity and the benefit of the doubt to both authors and reviewers is one of the most important elements of the Writeoff, and I am saddened that you felt the need to self-DQ. I do not fully agree with the tone of Raisin's comments, but I do wish you hadn't taken the nuclear option if for no other reason than the fact that it eliminates any chance of further feedback. Raisin's comment was one knee-jerk reaction to a story that was *meant* to be horrific and disorienting, and I can't help but feel like maybe a little prudence could have gone a long way when submitting a story that is designed to be risky and disturbing.

Speaking only for myself, even though you and I personally disagree on a number of topics, I think it's a shame that you don't want to participate anymore. If you do decide to participate in any future rounds, I would gladly welcome it! But I do wish that you won't quit on an entry just because some folks are offended by a story that was meant to be at least a little disturbing.

In any case, I really do hope for the best for you, and I'd like to reiterate that I'm sorry at how the situation turned out. Whether or not you decide to join us again, take care!
Post by Trick_Question , deleted
#10 · 17
Please stop acting like a martyr because you can't stop writing about kids being raped
#11 · 1
Well, I never got a chance to finish it before it got pulled, but I feel like this story was, indeed, treated unfairly. And I know why it was, but that doesn't make it less unfair. This is exactly the kind of thing they make trigger warnings for, and this is why... anything that smacks of pedophilia makes people so viscerally disgusted they lose their common sense (such as referring to a story about people who are not allowed to consent to sex until they're forty as "kids getting raped".)

I take this a little personally because I've written something very similar, very recently -- though in my universe, the people who live forever after getting themselves frozen before puberty are explicitly defined as having full adult rights as soon as they reach the same legal age that normally aging people are considered adults. Here's what's wrong with this one: if a person is considered of age to have sex with an adult, they should not be considered a minor under the total legal control of an adult. So when the frozen foals hit forty, either they should be explictly only allowed to have sex with other over-40 frozen foals, or they should be considered adults, or they should not be allowed to have sex... and the story really didn't need to bring sex into it at all.

Also, the whole conflation of "marriage" with "personal control of a human being" seems like, a very very weird choice unless you're writing a feminist satire of the fact that for millennia women in marriage were treated that way, which... this shows no sign of being, and if it was, the fact that this is presented as not utterly horrifying would make it... not very effective.

So, there are some weird choices here. But that doesn't mean that this was a horrible story or that it deserved the treatment it got. I wish I'd gotten a chance to finish it so I could actually comment on the characterization or the eventual plot of the story.