Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Ship It · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
Lug Nut’s job dealt with contingency. It wasn’t in the way that military officers or government officials dealt with it: in plans that were meant to be a backup when the first one fell through (even if that occurred one in a hundred times). No, Lug Nut dealt with the events that were contingent on the choices he had to make, and those choices likely meant a profit or loss in the hundreds and thousands of bits. Right now, that potential cost was both numbers at once.

It was the end of the quarter, like it always was when the conundrums came by with the largest sum of bits on the line (along with Lug Nut’s job). The company always planned these new products for the end of the quarter, wanting to put a good flourish on their reports for the investors and themselves. Of course, it was always the pressure on his withers, and everypony below him.

Lug Nut sighed and looked back down at the blueprint in front of him, placed on his desk by some junior engineer who didn’t have the good sense to shut his own mouth. He didn’t really understand the equations; they were too complex for him. Then again, the products the company made were too complex when you took a good long look at them. They were made of dozens of moving parts: motors and cogs and thingamajigs working in tandem in ways that would make a layman’s head spin. Still, the end result was simple; they made things that should have taken magic to do happen.

So it was that Lug Nut could make perfect sense of the whole of these equations, even if the specifics were Prench to him: the product would break after about two weeks of regular use. His mind was already swimming with the type of mathematics he understood: risk-benefit analysis.

They could easily push back the launch another two, three, maybe four weeks. Luckily, the product hadn’t left the factories yet, so there wasn’t any shipping costs to consider. Still, it would take a lot of work hours and ponypower to dismantle the products, produce the replacement parts and reassemble them with the new part that wouldn’t break. He was starting to think that this was really the fault of the designers who let some fudged numbers slip by a few months of testing, instead of the engineer who should have still really, really kept his mouth shut.

Then there was the lost sales from ponies who couldn’t wait just a bit longer for what they wanted. They’d probably still buy it within a month anyway. The executives would still spend a bundle on a campaign to keep sales up though, even if the return was close to nothing.

The alternative? Well, let it go and continue with production with the new design. Replace the items that customers send back, hope that not too many of them really notice or care that it broke. Also pray that some journalist doesn’t jump on the story.

Regardless of Lug Nut’s thought process, the clock was ticking by. It was already a good thirty minutes past the time he had expected to leave for the weekend, and he would be lying if he said that wasn’t weighing heavily into the decision process. His job was surprisingly weighing very little by comparison. He could find work somewhere else, though the process of applying for jobs still brought back a lot of painful memories. How many useless words had he filled a sentence with in order to sound appealing?

The headache was growing stronger with that thought, and with a groan he pulled a bit out from the drawer of his desk. Tossing it in the air, he let out a sigh as it landed on the hoof side. “Ship it,” he muttered, as he stamped a few forms and put them in his out box.

Weeks later, Twilight Sparkle groaned as she clicked the button on the side of her electric toothbrush, only to be greeted by the sound of a faint rumbling and no movement from the bristle. Still half-asleep and in a hurry to get on with her day, she removed it from its mount and moved the stationary head about her mouth.

Lug Nut had received a bonus paycheck for the idea that came to him over the weekend, his mind free of distractions: just sell replacements for the head section that actually broke.
« Prev   10   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>Flashgen
This is a simple and cute comedy. I think you may have used too many horse words, though. You could probably have written the same story in half the words without losing anything, because the opening part has some redundancy to it.

Specifically, it was a little difficult to follow along at the beginning of the story because you're writing about abstract concepts, which is difficult to do in an engaging way. You also chose a telly approach to describing the situation Lug Nut is in, and though this is the easiest approach it's less interesting. For one example of how not to do this, you could have two foremen look over specific blueprints, make comments about what's wrong, and discuss the plan of action. This would support more words and allow you to show the audience Lug Nut's job directly rather than simply tell us what he does.

EDIT: In fiction, italics is usually a better choice than bold for emphasis. There are a few awkward grammatical constructions in places, so it will help to do more proofing (time constraints are often to blame in these competitions).
#2 · 1
· · >>Flashgen
My wife is an engineer, so she'd get a kick out of this one. ;)

I like the idea at work here. It's simple and straight-forward, but makes for some good comedic potential. It lost some of its punch though due to the telly nature of the opening scene. The narrator gave away too much of the game for both Lug Nut and the reader, so the only question left coming into the closing scene was 'which pony gets to use the flawed product?'

If Lug Nut's dilemma were shown more than told through action or dialogue, that would help connect us more to the scenario he's in. Also, it might give you a good opening to set Lug Nut up for that bonus you mentioned. Specifically, what if Lug Nut had a sudden thought while mulling over the design flaws, approved it as-is but went straight to work on something new and unseen? Then in the end, you can reveal that his new idea was to build the upgraded parts as separate units, then sell them at an inflated price. Anyway, just a rambling thought there.
#3 · 1
· · >>Flashgen
Genre: Planned Obsolescence

Thoughts: To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this was going to gel as nicely as it did in the end. There’s a certain dryness to the narrative voice that left me feeling detached. We get nary a description nor a line of dialogue to spice things up. That’s not to say it’s unreadable, nor that it fails to establish interest; I can recognize it as a stylistic choice. But, for instance, it wasn’t until the third paragraph that we got a more detailed sense of what the protagonist’s job entails. IMO that would’ve helped set the scene better if given sooner instead of being danced around.

However, the story earns bonus points from me for the well conveyed OC protagonist. Using an OC is a gutsy move with a minific, because it eats wordcount just to introduce the guy. In this case, he ended up coming across adequately relative to the situation at hand; we may not know a ton about him personally, but he serves his purpose as a cog-in-the-machine type.

I also appreciated the lengthy setup that dips into pony financials. This gives us a bit of worldbuilding that makes the scenario feel grounded, while also providing an initial clue that everything might be building toward a comedic ending.

And it was a good ending indeed. I giggled. I enjoyed the way you used the prompt, and I felt like everything paid off in the end.

Tier: Strong
#4 ·
· · >>Flashgen
Excuse me, it's horsepower?

Something I liked:

I really like the tone of this entry, but only on a second reading. Much like with "Lover," this is told in a very dry, kind of Werner-Herzog-esque style (I can imagine the dude narrating it), but unlike that entry this one's style fits its tone pretty well. The ending didn't get a laugh out of me, or even a chuckle, but it did get a knowing smirk, and I think that's the kind of humor this is going for. Very dry, very methodical, but very satisfying in a way. Also, you have to imagine the poor bastard who was given the name "Lug Nut" at a baby; it gets funnier the more I think about it.

Something I didn't like:

When I first read this, I was sort of held back, but I didn't know why. Upon a re-read I think it's because it doesn't feel much like a horse fic. ou could, quite easily, replace the pony words with human words and not have to change anything else. Normally this wouldn't be such a problem, since we'd be focusing on recognizable horse characters, but we're dealing with an OC here. A fairly well-realized one, mind you, but you could just turn this guy into a human and everything would be fine.

Verdict: I can see this being mid-tier, or even in the upper quarter for some people. Good stuff.
#5 ·
· · >>Flashgen
Gutsy choice for an OC, and for a story that focuses on the tedium of… accounting, basically.

As a story, it's interesting. Lug Nut has to decide whether a product goes out as-is or not, we see some of his thought process, and we see a sample of the results.

The results feel mixed -- there's Twilight apparently ditching the broken brush for her old standby, yet Lug Nut proposed (and got the execs to approve and manufacture) the replacement heads which Twilight does not own or seem to know/care about.

There are similar mixed signals throughout the story. If the unit was designed in such a way that a replacement head can be used with no modification to the unit, yet Lug Nut has the idea after assembly is under way and production lines are in place and release is imminent, why are the heads detachable/replaceable/interchangeable to begin with? If one doesn't understand the details of a thing, how can one make prediction of failure with such specificity? Decisions regarding "profit or loss of hundreds or thousands of bits" would always deal with both figures, not just "right now"... and mere thousands seems a very low figure.

The more I think about it, the more issues I see with this one, though very few of them having to do with the actual writing.
#6 · 6
· · >>Flashgen
I was saving all my commenting for later, but this struck a close enough chord that I had to chime in now with a personal anecdote.

For a number of months, years ago, I worked for the last local remnant of a large computer manufacturer/assembler. Specifically, in the Power Supply department upstairs where I didn't have to wear the itchy anti-static gear because, really, if your PSU can't handle a sock-generated static shock you already have bigger problems. Anyway, the senior employee and ring leader of our 5-man department was older than Jesus and frankly didn't give a shit anymore. The only project we ever had come through that made him sweat was a PSU order that was going into the goddamned International Space Station. I wasn't even allowed to look at the guy building that one.

Anyway, he had a routine where, anytime something fell, clanged, broke, burned (we had a burn-in station to pre-treat high-temp PSUs), or exploded, he'd yell "SHIP IT" and the rest of the team would echo behind him, and the entire floor knew somebody fucked up.

So, good work bringing that exact memory to the fore and letting me relive one of the only jobs I didn't hate until they moved me downstairs with the plebs.
#7 ·
· · >>Flashgen
I would much rather see:

The first part done in dialogue with Lug Nut and some other employee talking about the problem. I always find that sort of thing more engaging to read than one character's interior ruminations since that can turn into an infodump pretty easily.

Also, the big payoff at the end didn't seem like much of a payoff to me since it's already been mentioned: "Replace the items that customers send back, hope that not too many of them really notice or care that it broke," it says haflway through the story. I was expecting some new solution rather than him going with one of the ones he'd already thought of.

#8 ·
· · >>Flashgen
So I have no idea how, but you've managed to make a strong hook out of what could be the most mundane and low-key opening scene this month. So, bravo on that. This is the part where I usually say something about big chunky info-dumping paragraphs being bad for the flow of a minific, but I can't preach that particular line without lying right now, because this really does work surprisingly well. I didn't really feel tempted to skim at any point, so nicely done!

I think the part of the story that I have the most difficulty with is the payoff. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's fun. But it's a little sparse. The culmination of the story is one mildly amusing joke about commercialism, which I'm sure most readers would have at least seen a flavor or two of before. It's serviceable, but it certainly does lose its luster, especially on re-reads.

So while I think this story does a great job of executing on what it sets out to do (and surprisingly well, considering the style of opening you've decided to go for), It never really got much more reaction out of me other than a general sense of amusement. THat might have been exactly what you were going for, though, so I'm definitely not disappointed by what we get.

Thank you for submitting!
#9 ·
· · >>Flashgen
This works for me foremost as a character vignette: by the end I feel like I understand a lot about Lug Nut's personality and the way his mind works. I also feel like I am definitely reading Truth In Fiction, and it is a scary thought, so--well done.

I had some of the same trouble with language and word choices that other readers have mentioned. Specifically, I'd appreciate a little more rhythmic variation and different sentence lengths. Most of what's here is on the longer side, and it can get convoluted at times. I think the general approach suits the intention, though. It's a good idea for a comedic sketch--I actually started to imagine the text as narration for a film short, and it really worked.
#10 · 4
>>Baal Bunny

More late replies to reviews!

So, after spending a lot of my time writing Gosship for this round, I had just the most random spot of inspiration. I think I was just reminiscing about my work week that involved a sudden surge of work on Friday afternoon, and working for an aerospace company, I decided to just write about some pony working at a company dealing with some product.

I'll admit the prose was probably dry, and without anyone to interact with or talk to, Lug Nut probably didn't come across the best. That said, I'm still really happy that some people got some enjoyment. Like Gosship, I think if this gets expanded, I'll consider a switch to first-person POV along with tightening up the language.

On a random tangent, the story didn't have the very last line at first, and just ended with Twilight using her electric toothbrush despite it's lack of a working motor, but part of me just felt it was comedic? I dunno, I think like >>GrandMoffPony said, it would help to have a stroke of inspiration come to the character and then run the punchline.

Also, I just randomly pulled Lug Nut's name to get to writing, but on later thought, I'd want to include a joke about it, considering his job was to keep things moving, like keeping a wheel in place. Just funny little coincidence.