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Christmas Write-off 1769[View All]

#Event

Event overview: http://writeoff.rogerdodger.me/event/12

Hello again, everyone. It's another /art/-/fic/ contest.

For those out of the loop, the competition is quite simple: prompt → art → fic. First, everyone decides on a worded prompt to act as the event's theme. Artists draw pictures from the worded prompt, and then writers write stories to the pictures.

In addition to your usual incentive of absolutely nothing fame and glory, the winner will be awarded a copy of IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic (http://www.idwpublishing.com/news/article/2349/), courtesy of Anonthony.

The fic round starts Fri, 14 Dec 2012 06:00 UTC and lasts for 3 days, ending Mon, 17 Dec 2012 06:00 UTC. For those too lazy to do the conversion, if you make an account on the site (with the correct timezone settings), all the times will display in your local timezone.

Worded prompt suggestions start Sun, 09 Dec 2012 04:00 UTC, last an hour, and are followed by a one hour voting round.

For all fic participants, there is a mandatory preliminary voting round which lasts for 10 days.



If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.

Good luck,
Roger out.
This post was edited by its author on .
219 posts and 58 image replies omitted. Click View to see all.

Review of "Succubus" 2818

Succubus:

Mechanics/Details:
>The moon seemed particularly bright that dusk.
Seemed to whom? You haven't established a character yet. And if this ends up being omniscient narration, unless the narrator takes on a persona within the story, he shouldn't be giving impressions.

>It's full luminescent glow

Its

>eerie, blue tinge

These are hierarchical adjectives. You don't need a comma between them.

>Shadows seemed just a shade darker tonight.

Same issue as above with "seem."

>what had she done to cause things to go so wrong?

Okay, here's where you finally establish a point of view. By having the narrator speak for her, you're establishing a third-person limited narration with Celestia as the perspective character. So now I know about the "seeming" before, but it was ambiguous and confusing before you'd established your character. I'd hold those types of comments until it's clear whose thoughts they represent.

>watching the snakes of white breath meeting the cold wintry air

Technically, they're white because of the cold air. So they would have already met.

>brang

brought

>each night. She found herself flying farther from Canterlot each night.

Repetitive

>market place

One word.

>pawed

Odd word choice, considering she doesn't have a paw.

>Celestia thought herself a capable royal and knew the Elements and runes which sealed away her sister were not easily undone.

You've established a narrator that can speak for her. So don't have him summarize. Give me her impressions directly. "She was a capable royal…"

>My Little Pony

Why capitalize? You didn't earlier.

>The sun rose at her behest again the next morning.

This is the first time you mention her after a scene break, so the reader has to to back to the previous scene to find the antecedent for "her." Use her name.

>followed the pegasus down the area of the castle

Missing word.

>area of the castle which she preferred to leave forgotten

You're mentioning a specific area of the castle and narrowing down your subject. As such, use a restrictive clause (that) instead of a non-restrictive one (which). "Which" is used for providing additional side information, not increasing specificity.

>dish-water

One word, no hyphen.

>Palace grounds

You've already made multiple mentions of the castle (which is it?) without capitalizing.

>troop

Unclear whether you mean a single soldier or not. This word refers to multiple soldiers, but it would be an odd organizational unit to use in this instance. Squad or patrol might be more appropriate.

>Citizen

No reason to capitalize that.

>Quiet rage befitting a sun goddess alighted her eyes.

There are a lot of ways that could look. Describe it. And "alight" doesn't take a direct object.

>A sad expression

Now, that's blatantly telly. What about him makes him look sad? Describe his appearance and behavior that would lead the reader to conclude he's sad.

>McMuffins vs. the town of Fillydelphia

You normally see titles of court cases italicized when being cited. And capitalize "Town." Furthermore, how big do you envision Fillydelphia being? It it's equivalent to its namesake, it would be a city.

>chicken coups

I believe you mean "coops." Otherwise, those are some fearsome chickens.

>Two large stallions rung a gong.

rang

>Cutie Mark

Don't capitalize this term.

>smiled eagerly, barely containing a cheer.

Telly again. The action of her cheer already gives us the same sense of "eagerly" without being telly, so why include that word?

>nervous tick

tic

>loiter out

That's an oxymoronic phrase. If they're loitering, they're not moving out.

>twitched uncomfortably, averting his eyes and placing his tail between his legs

Telly again. Watch those -ly adverbs.

>Dear

Unless it's an official nickname, terms of endearment don't need to be capitalized.

>Unsure of her sisters intent

sister's

>in the way that you'd think

Don't address the reader.

>Celestia just looked at her sister, unsure of what to say.

Do something to let me picture the scene. There's nothing descriptive here.

>Celestia was unsure what to say to this.

Isolated demonstratives (this, that, these, those, …) are weak because they have vague antecedents that are often large chunks of text, and they are self-referential to the narration. Find an appropriate noun to place after it.

>No mare should be gallivanting around the sanctity of our deepest fantasies, thought Celestia.

You'd been presenting Celestia's thoughts as a limited narration. Why not continue to do so?

>"Why are you here?" she asked.

Same issue. You're using a "she" whose antecedent lies two scenes ago. Introduce a character in a scene before replacing her with a pronoun.

>Answer me or the next brand will be on your tongue!

Missing a comma between clauses. You have separate subject-verb pairs here.

>The earth gulped.

That's an odd personification, and it's over way too quickly for the type of importance you're trying to give this moment.

>and, every night, the nightmares came? And, each night, they hurt you? And, before you wake,

You don't need the commas directly after each "and."

>Don't— you— see—?

Don't place spaces around the dashes. And dashes indicate he's being cut off, but there's no indication of why that's happening. If you just want pauses, use ellipses. But if you mean he can't speak continuously because he's being dragged off, describe it.

>lune

I assume you mean loon or loony.

>She dawned the cloak, and beheld something,

donned. The first comma is unnecessary. You don't use one to separate two verbs of a single subject unless the first has enogh description attached to it that the reader will need help keeping it organized. The second comma should be a colon, since you're clarifying or defining "something."

>A wave of emotion emanated from the hunched form.

>
>Anger. Pure, untempered malice.
Blunt and telly. She can see him. How does she read that from him, aside from the raw feeling? And how does that emotion affect her? What does it make her do?

>Closerlands

I have no idea…

>began she

You'd been capitalizing "She" earlier. Pick one.

>My Liege

This is not normally something you'd capitalize. It's a descriptor, not a title.

>has been sentence

sentenced

>flinched with a kind of sickened anguish

Yes, but how does she look/act?

Characterization:
Not really much to say here, as there are only a few characters here. But Celestia and Luna both felt a bit off. Celestia mostly because of the few telly things that kept me from getting immersed in her point of view, and that we're not seeing much of an emotional range from her. She's pretty much sad, confused, and angry throughout the whole thing, which doesn't make for much contrast that would give us insight into her. And it sure sounded like she was going to interrogate the prisoner personally, but then she was gone…

Luna was awfully informal, bordering on ribald. Not really what I'd expect, given canon of her personality and recollections about life before her exile.

Plot:
I was left largely confused. We've got a number of disparate scenes that are also out of order chronologically. I could assemble the pieces into several viable arrangements that would have various implications about who the stallion, the old mare, and Luna are, and what their motivations are.

If you have a story where the time sequence is jumbled, but everything comes to a nice conclusion, then the plot sorts itself out. It wasn't too hard to unscramble things here, but it just layers on top of the confusion already present. I can't say unequivocally that it's something that would never work, but I can say that it wasn't effective for my experience.

Likewise, if you have an open-ended story, but that is told in a straightforward manner, it's easier to take stock of where you are and envision multiple endings or project a preferred one. But the more ambiguous you leave things, the harder it is to navigate. It's like a 3D maze game, where you're trying to remember all the turns you've already taken. So if I assume A is true, that implies B and C, but D could still go two ways…

That's really it. I've already dealt with the detailed plot issues in the above sections. What I mostly came away with is that it was pretty well written, but I just didn't get my head around exactly what I'd read. There's always a fine line between leaving things open to interpretation and beating the reader over the head with clues.

Review of "Nothing Wrong" 2819

Nothing Wrong:

Mechanics/Details:
>ok
It's preferred to spell this out as "okay."

>you know.” a goldenrod earth pony

Dialogue punctuation error. You need a comma here.

>She didn’t seem convinced.

Seem to whom? The narrator? A third-person narrator shouldn't be giving impressions unless it's a limited narrator, and even then only when it's clear in whose voice he's speaking.

>Only one of them happened to stare back, the other slowly drifted off to the side.

That's a comma splice. There are two complete sentences tacked together with a comma. You can change it to a semicolon or dash, though each has a fine shade of meaning that's implied, add a conjunction, or simply split it into two sentences.

>it is now…”

>
>“I get pie?” The pegasus interrupted, smiling weakly, hoping that as the answer.
This isn't punctuated like an interruption. Use an em dash, not an ellipsis. I can't tell whether you meant this to be a dialogue attribution. If so, it shouldn't be capitalized. And I think you mean "was" instead of "as."

>“…I’ll

A leading ellipsis requires that the character be completing an earlier thought or just being noticed by another character. Neither is happening here.

>Please try not to destroy anything while I’m gone, please?

Repetitive.

>Yes sir!

Missing a comma for direct address.

>out into the snow outside

Repetitive.

>on her way to her destination.

Cut this. It's a throwaway phrase that means nothing.

>now alone in the house, started humming off-key as she wandered around the empty household.

Redundant.

>She flopped onto the couch in deep thought.

This tells when it should show. It's better to communicate attitudes and emotions more subtly. Tell me how she acts, how she looks, and let me deduce from that how she feels. Is she rubbing her chin? Rolling her eyes upward? Little things like that paint a picture and engage the reader more.

>she hovered to the kitchen and opened the fridge door and scanned its contents

Instead of repeating "and," make this a comma-separated list.

>for…10 minutes at 300 degrees…So it would take 5 minutes at 600!

Unless it starts a sentence, leave a space after an ellipsis. Spell out numbers this short. And old joke is old.

>With the fire lit, she slid the container over the flame and left it there to heat up.

She's putting it on the burner? Then how does she know what temperature it is?

>to herself

Unnecessary. We already know she's alone.

>eyes shut in pride

Telly again. Describe how she looks and acts that would signify pride.

>11

Write it out.

>She placed her findings on the ground and examined it.

"It," being singular, must refer to the ground. I assume you meant "them."

>Hm…It's

Space after the ellipsis again. Just note that this will be an ongoing issue. I'm not going to mark any more.

>The mare put on the party hat in place of a thinking cap

I don't know what this is supposed to mean. She literally has a thinking cap? If you're being figurative, you immediately contradict yourself, since Derpy continues thinking.

>a goofy grin found her way

Surely you mean "its."

>an invisible light bulb went off

"On," yes?

>180

Write it out.

>gold pupils

Her pupils are black. Her irises are gold.

>She felt nervous.

Very telly. Describe it.

>with that

A horrible, self-referential phrase to use in narration.

>each one enjoying themselves

Number mismatch. Each (singular) -> themselves (plural)

>The mare began to feel guilty that she left her friend at home.

Telly again. Don't just give me the emotion as a fact. Describe how she looks and acts, and let me figure out how she feels.

>Over here!” A group of ponies called.

Capitalization error.

>“I’m sure Derpy’s fine…” she thought to herself.

Who else would she think it to? And thoughts are generally given in italics.

>Her heart was now pounding as fast as it could pound

Just wanted to point this one out. It's an example of successful showing. You've described what she's doing clearly enough that I can figure out how she feels from it.

>Derpy needed to find another solution quickly, or she would have burned the whole house down.

Verb tense mismatch. Try "would burn."

>“Oh, Berry. You always tell the best stories.” A blue unicorn complemented.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization error. Here are the most common types:
"Speech," he said.
"Speech." He performed a non-speaking action.
"Beginning of speech sentence," he said, "rest of spoken sentence."
Note the conventions of punctuation and capitalization.
Also, you mean "complimented," not "complemented." And it's a transitive verb. It requires a direct object.

>but it seemed to come out forced and awkwardly

Seemed to whom?

>I-It’s

I-it's. You only capitalize the first one, unless it's a proper noun.

>her primary concern was on the house, and how much damage Derpy could be doing to it

Unnecessary comma.

>wall-eyed

One word, no hyphen.

>bed sheets

One word.

>Oh no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

That's really really really really really really really really really really really really really really starting to get grating.

>…She won’t notice…I hope.

Leading ellipsis isn't warranted, and the other one needs a space afterward.

>widened her eyes in surprise

Cut the "in surprise." It's telly, and is redundant with the wide eyes.

>Derpy’s in the house alone…I just hope she doesn’t destroy the house.

Another ellipsis without a space. I'm not marking all of them. Repetition of "the house" where it could have been avoided easily.

>*HIC!

Don't use sound effects. Describe the sound.

>‘Happy New Year’

Use double quotes. Singles are for quotes inside other quotes.

>All the exhausted pegasus could do was put the party horn in her mouth and weakly blow as she lost all her energy and passed out.

Here's another spot where you do a better job of showing instead of telling.

>feel warm with happiness

Telly. Actually, the warm part isn't bad. But the "with happiness" is.

I assume you used the picture of Berry Punch as your prompt, but nothing about it is included in this story…

General:
-Talking heads: There are a few spots where you have some back-and-forth dialogue without any action to break it up. The characters could be statues, and I wouldn't know any different. Remember that what's said is only half of a conversation. Give me the rest, using the same techniques as showing instead of telling. That's what really makes a conversation come to life.
-Lavender Unicorn Syndrome, or LUS. This is referring to characters by some descriptor like "the gray mare." For the most part, you want to use names or pronouns. These phrases give us information that we already know and are too obtrusive for their own good. There are places where their use can be valid, like where there are a large number of characters present, so that pronouns are too vague, and names would get overused, or when such a descriptor is actually giving us new information.
-Show versus tell, but I've already given that enough explanation.

Characterization:
I do get a pretty good sense of who each character is, so not bad. Just note that instances where I marked you for telling where you should be showing, and look for similar places that I didn't necessarily point out, but I gave you enough explanation to find them on your own. These are the little details that really get us into a character's head and let us get to know them. That's really all that's missing here. But you have a good start.

Plot:
A fairly standard sitcom plot. Simple and straightforward. You haven't done anything wrong with it on the whole, so I don't have any holes to poke in it. it does seem like you stretched things out a bit to meet word count, but if you address the telling issues, you should recoup that with no problem.

Overall:
Sorry I didn't have much to say beyond the mechanical issues, but it's a simple enough story that it's hard to go wrong. It's not a bad foundation for a story; we just need some more depth added to it. Keep writing and have fun with it.

Penman of "Spikes and Stones" 2822

>>2817
Would you be willing to show me the review for my entry before the final judging phase is over? I could make a throw-away Email if need be.

Author of "Succubus" 2823

File: 1356658707665.png (263.21 KB, 300x300, screwball_avatar.png)

>>2818

Wow… so much stuff. It's a little embarrassing, all the mistakes. I had zero time to edit this thing, so that probably played a part in it.

I'll contend only one of your points:

>loiter out

>That's an oxymoronic phrase. If they're loitering, they're not moving out.

Eeynope:
1. Stand or wait around idly or without apparent purpose.

2. Travel indolently and with frequent pauses: "they loitered along in the sunshine, stopping at the least excuse".


>The earth gulped.


This is actually missing a word: pony.

There are a few others that I'd like to discuss further, but for now I'll just let the whole thing soak in for a night or two.

Thanks for a great, in-depth review!
This post was edited by its author on .

2824

>>2822
Certainly. But an easier solution is available. I've already decided on my votes for ones I've already read, so anonymity doesn't matter anymore, at least for my purposes. You could email me or PM me in IRC. Or login to IRC anonymously and PM me. I have no reason to try figuring out who you are, especially since I already know. I can send you a pastebin link.
This post was edited by its author on .

2825

>>2823
>2. Travel indolently and with frequent pauses: "they loitered along in the sunshine, stopping at the least excuse".
Fair enough. But it's an unusual usage of the word, and obscure definitions aren't generally a good idea, since most readers won't get your exact meaning at best, or in extreme cases, may completely misunderstand what you're saying. If you're married to the word, you do use it correctly. Your call.

2834

>>2824
Works for me.
> I have no reason to try figuring out who you are, especially since I already know.
You do? I'll have to remember to enquire as to what gave it away (although I imagine it could have something to do with the proper/snobbish way I've been making my posts under this name, which is something that has remained constant across each contest).

Author of "The Sun in Flight" 2851

>>2799
>was just (literally) overshadowed by Rarity
She was cowering long before Rarity's performance began. There are several canon events that point to instances of Dash being insecure, and yet you're unwilling to concede the possibility?

>Spike has fired up plenty of other things before, too.

As I said, Spike was joking. Given that you're not making an issue of the impossibility of him lighting an icicle on fire in the first place, I fail to see why this is a sticking point for you. He's being flatly absurd.

>Scootaloo also has a perfectly good pair of wings; able to fly or not, they'd be far better at air control.

If you really want me to work out the math of it, I will, but suffice it to say that her tail would be an effective directional control to keep her out of a flat spin and far less likely to induce a pilot-induced oscillation. This is precisely why kites have tails, and isn't it reasonable to assume that pegasi would have evolved to make some specialized use of them?

>and during all of this Scootaloo is already flying through the air at a decent click with what I can only assume to be is a low-angle trajectory

We all know what happens when "I assume." I'll also point out how quickly Dash flew to catch several things at the Gala. She's already waiting at the bottom of the hill, after all.

>Scootaloo's flank isn't empty

Now you're getting into semantics. You've never heard of an empty page or screen? Quite possibly not, given regional expressions, but that doesn't make it wrong.

>I don't know where you heard that, but I can say from my perspective that it only lends to confusion in the form of viewpoint and tense shift in the middle of a paragraph.

Finally, you're properly qualifying something as "from my viewpoint." By the way, the "where I heard this" was from two eminently talented reviewers named Cassius and Filler. I think I know what you're trying to get at, but it's not quite the same thing, and you haven't said it.

>yours was a misguided attempt to elicit feels

A misguided attempt to elicit feels would be to have every character bawl at the drop of a hat. These characters' reactions were rather understated.

>The exposition was boring, the dialogue boring, the story boring.

And we're back to square one. There is a world of difference between "this story is boring" and "I found it to be boring." One is your opinion, and the other presumes to be everyone's. Counting external opinions I'd sought from people who will be honest with me, most did not find it boring. There were other problems, to be sure, and different readers noticed different ones. That's already evident from the fact that I didn't make the first cut. But being caustic and arrogant doesn't make your opinion hold more weight than anyone else's. And in the end, given a second chance, you still haven't given me anything actionable. A proper review doesn't browbeat about perceived failures. It explains why something isn't working and suggests ways to fix it. Absent that, it serves no purpose. So I ask again: what do you think this is accomplishing?

2855

File: 1356689478039.jpg (166.48 KB, 1920x800, 18.jpg)

>>2851
As I noted by mentioning her inability to perform the rainboom and her old school bullies making fun of her. There was tons of lead-up to her cracking under the pressure. Yours was just her trying to dodge being around Scootaloo when in the show Rainbow is perfectly fine with having her around and often enjoys the one-filly cheering squad.

Sublimation is a thing, and there are several tricks for lighting ice on fire. However, my problem is that it's phrased as being serious. Simply adding something like "He grinned" would have shown that he was joking. Instead, he "offered". Rainbow smiling at it could easily be interpreted as the sort of smile one has when a child says something that almost makes sense.

But she's not in a flat spin, nor would she be in danger of doing so unless she over-corrected with her wings (which, seeing she was using them perfectly well to get down the hill, still seem like the superior option). As for the possible evolution of tails for course-correction, that's news to me and I'm not confident in my ability to argue that point, so I'll take your word for it. I can see the use of it for slowing a spin, but "flailing" her tail doesn't seem particularly effective since that descriptor implies a lack of thought or purpose behind the movement.

>You've never heard of an empty page or screen?

I have, and point taken, but it's still an inferior term to use.

>I think I know what you're trying to get at, but it's not quite the same thing, and you haven't said it.

I'm no walking Chicago Manual of Style. I just write with what I think looks right until someone tells me otherwise and provides a reasonable explanation as to why that is. I can understand why using italics for personal thoughts and emphasis in exposition could generate a small amount of confusion, but it's still better than having nothing to distinguish between the two. There's also single quotations, but no one seems to like those.

>A misguided attempt to elicit feels would be to have every character bawl at the drop of a hat. These characters' reactions were rather understated.

That would be an over-the-top attempt. I say "misguided" because I was introduced to a Rainbow Dash that had lost her swagger due to Scootaloo being sick (I think), which also seemed to come from nowhere. Also, admittedly, I'm something of a brick wall when it comes to sad stories. For me, sympathy is something less experienced and more synthesized. I think, "How would I react in that situation?" In this one, I remembered my apathy from all the cancer wards and funerals I've been to. Without the emotional attachment, I'm only left with the writing to derive enjoyment from.

Right, you made me think. Blast, I'm too tired to think, but here we go anyways.
>There is a world of difference between "this story is boring" and "I found it to be boring."
Then allow me to amend my statement with how I, personally, found it to be boring. Also allow me to point out my review post's warning. I don't pretend to be the great reviewer of /fic/ (and if I do, give me a hearty slap of reality). I have a few smarmy reviews that managed to capture people's imagination, nothing more (and none of which are a match for Twilight Snarkle's Snape review). Getting a proper, in-depth review from me should not be expected, especially when I'm burning through several stories. Yours also got the short end of the stick, what with being the last story on my list, coming after my personal favourite entry, Green Bottles and Grey Bubbles, and it being the last day for voting.

The opening didn't grab me, and I'm not nearly enough of an intellectual to give you a reason why. Shortly after, I read about a Rainbow Dash that flies (no pun intended) in the face of canon with how much she doesn't want to be around Scootaloo. The same Dash that soaked up every glory-filled second the Rainbow Dash Fan Club, as headed by Scootaloo, heaped on her. After that is the ski hill, which, for lack of a better word, felt inconsequential. Rainbow Dash is used to "save" Scootaloo (which is nothing out of the ordinary for her) twice, which is rather redundant since it's more or less the same reaction (frantic) in both instances. Greasy Spoon offers a missed opportunity for some quality banter between two old friends. After that I was treated to a rather drab sight-seeing tour. Spike tries valiantly to make up for Greasy Spoon, but only pulls off a decent quip, which seems a little out of place since it happens right after Dash has a short tear-making session.

In the end, I didn't feel like I'd taken anything from the story that I didn't already have. I can't help but imagine Dash being more gung-ho about whatever Scootaloo is stricken with; she certainly didn't want to sit in her hospital bed when she was recovering from her wing injury. In my head, Dash would have been cheering on Scootaloo instead, in a sort of role-reversal. In regards to it being a character piece, for the above reasons I didn't find myself having some sort of deeper understanding with Dash's character. Compare and contrast to Green Bottles, where I'm given a deep, personal look into Berry Punch's life, along with some entertaining exposition and excellent character interactions. I was making headcanon before that story was even done, while with yours I typed out some words because I felt obligated by the fact that I'd done the same with the rest of the stories.

Again, my review was off-the-cuff, typed as a I read, and I did not read much, only enough to build a basic idea of the plot.

Ezn!RAopYJNHZ6 2857

Alright, I guess I'm reading these and voting, and that means I may as well leave feedback.

I've thought about my previous write-off reviews and decided that in this round there shall be no line editing or copypastes about LUS/dialogue punctuation/dash characters/etc… that's what the guides and the more formal reviews are for. And there won't be any stream of consciousness stuff either, because those can get snarkier than is necessary or useful.

Each story's going to get a read, and then I'm going to think for a bit and write some paragraphs on it specifically.

Starting from the bottom of the list, and covering five of ten:

Of Green Bottles and Grey Bubbled
I haven't read many of these /art/-/fic/ write-off stories (at least compared to all the regular write-off stories I've read) but it looks to me like what you did here was a novel and very clever use of the art prompt. Very cool stuff, author.

This reminds of the rambly-but-engagingly-so If a Pony Catch a Pony, up to and including the abrupt ending. You do yourself a bit of a disservice with the author's note, methinks, as a story like this could conceivably just end there — I'm sure given enough time we could concoct an examination of the themes present and try to persuade you never to write another word of it lest you destroy that. But then, if you want to continue this after the write-off, you can bet I'll be only too happy to read more.

Although there are no rules against submitting incomplete entries, I've always docked points from them in previous write-offs and will dock at least one point from your score. However, what's important in these events is not how you place, but that you write something and get feedback on it.

Regardless, I liked this one a lot. Good storytelling is about engaging and entertaining the reader, and you did that for me. My favourite stories have me hungrily devouring every word off the page and then pining for more, and that's what happened here. Nice job, and I really hope to see more.


Welcome to the Broken Promise
I don't get it. Whether by a fault of your writing or my own perception, I do not understand this story.

"Return of the two-parter villain" stories tend to set off alarm bells in my head because with exception of perhaps Chrysalis, the re-emergence of any villain needs a nontrivial amount of setup and explaining. Nightmare Moon is Luna, Discord is trapped in stone, and Sombra died or evaporated or something. Far as I could tell, there's been some effort to explain the presence of all these villains by having them trapped in some kind of limbo dimension (maybe) but it's just not very clear and there's not much indication as to why.

Language usage is in need of revision. It's not horribly bad, but there are a noticeable amount of bad or incorrect word choices, and a fair chunk of the dialogue is unnaturally phrased, especially towards the end.

Most of the story is spent faffing about with blurs in the weird magic dimension bar thingy. You pulled a neat twist after the scene break, I'll give you that, but it ends up raising more questions than it answers, the biggest of which is "why?" I think there's too much before the scene break and too little after it.

I like the ideas you have here — blurry drunken adventure and magical villain limbo dimension bar, those are pretty cool. I'm just not as fond of how they're connected or how your execution panned out in general.


Dear Sister
Your writing is pretty immersive and descriptive (possibly a little too descriptive at times), but it's weakened by silly little things like borked dialogue punctuation, some needless epithets in place of names ("alabaster alicorn"), a few sentence fragments and misplaced commas and areas of redundant wording.

The opening is pretty slow, but the story gets good later on.

I don't know how cliché it is to write stories directly about Luna's temptation by Discord into becoming Nightmare Moon. I haven't read any others, but then I haven't read everything, and it seems like an obvious concept to write about. So take that as a bit for background for me saying what I'm going to say next.

This story's biggest problem, in my eyes, is that it was an entry into this write-off. The story in italics is interesting and engaging. The story not in italics is significantly less so, to the point I skimmed those bits, perturbed at having the italics interrupted. The only regular scene I liked was the final one. I think you could scrap the others and integrate it into the flashback story.

Hmm. Yeah, I'm going to have a tough time figuring out where to rank this one.

On another note, this Nightmare Moon origin story isn't quite in line with the broad-strokes canon one, as you don't have Nightmare refuse to lower the moon at any point. Of course, it's not essential to consider Twilight's book as true historical fact, but that's something to ponder.

I like to give one-off characters ridiculous accents in some of my own stuff, but you just took the cake here. All of the cakes, actually.


Winona
That was pretty cool. I've been meaning to track down a fic about Luna entering dreams, and I'm glad this was the first one I found. Your first-person narrative voices are fun to read and totally in-character for both AJ and Luna.

Just… Luna seemed awfully calm about the endless dream thing. You did hint at it being a façade, and she is an immortal(ish) alicorn, but I think, especially given the intimacy of first-person, at least her internal fears should have been more pronounced.

I think someone's already harped on you for Faustus and "nyxscape". The former, just change to avoid tone-breaking meta nonsense, and the latter, well, I'm sorry, I didn't even like Past Sins.


That Invincible Flame
D'awww that was a really sweet story, and better yet, a realistic sweet rather than a saccharine one. All slow and contemplative and sufficiently believable and complex. The main plot thread seems to be Twilight and Spike's relationship, and it feels a little buried under a whole bunch of other stuff, but it still worked for me in the end.


I'll post the next five later. So far I'm impressed with the output — good work, authors.
This post was edited by its author on .

Author of "Winona" 2870

>>2857
Luna *was* pretty lackadaisical about being stuck in a dream for eternity. She still had her sister as an ace in the hole, and royal decorum would make one tend to downplay the emotional anguish one feels in the discharge of one's duties, I think, but it was probably *too* clinical in the end. In the in-my-head draft she has a better chance of leaving and has to reconcile her "get the heck out of there" with her "at least we finally get a best friend for ever and ever"; she's tempted to stay on purpose. As they interact, her demeanor toward Spike was meant to gradually soften, culminating in an out-of-character hug as they parted. But it turns out I suck at that sort of subtlety.

The opening felt very natural to me for that reason.

I had never heard of this Past Sins fic until the reviews started rolling in. Had I known it carried the connotation, I would have stuck with dreamscape or mindscape or The Somnial Dunes or some other such nonsense. (Rather like that last one. Implies Luna does a lot of running through little stars stacked like sand.)

Faustus I thought was cute but appears to be too distracting. It's gone in the next draft.

Huh... 2913

Didn't expect to see mine in the top ten, but I guess there were only a little more than ten to choose from in the first place. Time to read some more stories and vote! (I may try to do reviews, but I don't think my advice would help much.)

Author of "Of Green Bottles and Grey Bubbles" 2914

>>2809
Bah, don't knock yourself over the head about the ending, or anything else you think you did wrong. You didn't exactly have a lot of time to really think about things, and you'll definitely get way better (and you're not even bad); try not to let it get ya down. Like I said, I don't consider these entries a true demonstration of skill here.

Besides, a lot of people do that, where they suddenly come up with an ending and go with it. That doesn't automatically make it good or bad.

Which contest is this for you? This is only my second, so I'm still learning.

>>2815
No biggie, you're not the first person to use a word like that wrong *nervous laughter*

And yeah, not a parent either, haha—guess I should go ask one before making a rant.

>>2857
Man, everyone's telling me that, and it definitely surprised me the most; I thought everyone would hate the sudden, abrupt ending. And I am continuing it, though I may be convinced to do otherwise…for a price.

Ha, anyway like you said it's the feedback that matters, and I've gotten plenty of it. So dock all the points you want! (though seriously don't do that)

As it is, thanks for the feedback, and the compliments.

Author of "Welcome to the Broken Promise" and "There's Always Someone" 2930

>>2857

Yeah, I'm certainly learning that multi-entries aren't really gonna be my thing in future write-offs. I should of focused on the Broken Promise exclusively, as it had the most thought put into it, but I just kinda liked the other story running through my head and tried to run with it as an experiment to see if I could make two reasonably coherent stories within such a time frame.

I should of devoted more time to cleaning this story than ended up using. There was probably a better way to either implicitly give the rules throughout the story, or explicitly give them in a way that doesn’t look like such a exposition dump right there on the end. My bad, sorry all.

To help clear some questions, here are the four main laws of the Broken Promise that I wrote by:

1. Any villain defeated in the show is able to find and enter the Broken Promise. Hence the name. They failed to accomplish their goal and defeat the heros, breaking a villainous oath of sorts.

This also includes lower-end villains like bullies. It doesn’t matter if their plan was to destroy the world, or just pick on someone endlessly to make themselves feel strong. If it was wrong, and some part of them deep down knew it, they are a villain and are free to enter or leave as they wish if they are defeated in a goal. Semi-reformed villains can also still attend, if they wish to do so. Like Trixie.

2. Villains who are defeated in a nonpermanent way may enter and then leave the Broken Promise whenever they desire. Such as Chrysalis, the Diamond Dogs, etc.

3. Villains who have been permanently (or fairly permanently) defeated are trapped in the bar until such time as they are able to be brought back to the world to fulfill their primary task of villainy.

A. Sombra was beaten pretty soundly, therefore he is trapped in the bar unless he is somehow brought back to life, which can’t realistically happen. His only recourse now is to try and have a fun time here for the rest of eternity, hence why I made him a bit of a lady-chaser. He has nothing else to do but drink and try to hit on the few villainesses that have made it into the bar so far, because what else has he got to do anymore?

B. Discord, because he was turned to stone but not destroyed, is trapped here until such time as his physical body is released from its prison. He has little say in when he can leave, but there is always that faint possibility that he can, should the fates allow. It’s a matter of time and luck.

C. Nightmare Moon, on the other hand, is stuck here until such time as Luna gives in to her dark side and assumes the mantle once more. Yet, by what we see in the show, Luna does not appear to want to do that, so Nightmare has little hope of ever returning to the real world. She was free for one night, and now she's trapped again in someplace with little hope of escape. Hence, her dour mood. All she sees every time there are visitors are those that, while they might have failed, did not fail quite so much as she did. She is one of the grandest villains, certainly among the oldest of them, now reduced to the fogey who can only tell stories about what she once did, not what she can or will do.

4. This rule wasn’t actually covered within the story itself, but it should have been and I should hint at it in a future revision (I wrote the story with this rule somewhere in the back of my head, at least): patrons in the bar cannot destroy one another.

No matter how much they might want to at times, they are utterly incapable of carrying out such acts in the Broken Promise. Nor can an act be done, if it is known that it will cause a death. (For example, they cannot poison a drink, throw a brick at someone’s head, trip them into a vat of acid Discord has some strange tastes in decoration at times or hire someone else to come into the bar and do it for them.)

This doesn’t mean they can’t beat the ever-loving snot out of each other, but they can’t ever take it too far within its walls. If they want to fight like that, they have to take it outside, or just settle for thrashing their opponent within an inch of their lives.



So, there it is. Hope it helps.

2940

>>2930
That does clear things up, yes.

>>2914
Yay!

>>2870
These deleted scenes you keep telling us about sound pretty cool. I mean, I get why you removed them, but I kinda wanna read them anyway.

I'll read and review the rest soonish.

Ezn!RAopYJNHZ6 2954

>>2857
Alright, time for the last five!

The Lamentation Chain
Heh, a fic about all the pictures. Guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. If I hadn't read this in this contest, I don't think I'd've assumed it was written to satisfy some gimmick, so that's a point in your favour.

I think it's part of the effect that story kinda flows from one perspective to the next without scene breaks, and sometimes new characters seem to pretty much creep up on you. I'm not sure whether it counts as third person omniscient or rule-bending multi-POV third person limited, though. It might be to your benefit to experiment with some omniscient narration touches, but I dunno.

It's a nice enough story, if you like introspective vignettes tied loosely together (which I often do). I think the scene with Velvet reminiscing stands out the most, if only because it's not as common a topic in ponyfic as Celestia and Luna's relationship and spurned Spike.

I read along quite happily until the Berry Punch scene. There is no way I can process a scene where somepony finds a drunk pining for liquor outside a closed liquor store and offers to take them home for more alcohol as heartwarming. I find it horrifying. Admittedly, my personal views on alcohol are perhaps on the stodgy side (but for good reason). So I probably won't dock much for that, but there, that's a feeling I had while reading. Something to consider, maybe.


First and Last
If no-one's told you yet, you can edit your entry after it's submitted — just hover over your name and click "My Submissions" on the Write-Off site. The missing lines between paragraphs near the beginning were rather irksome.

Interesting. A combination of ponyfic Yours Truly and Nutcracker Nightmare ( http://www.bloggerbeware.com/2007/12/goosebumps-special-edition-6-more-more.html ), a rare frightening Goosebumps story. It's a brilliant concept and could make for a very good fic, but at this stage it doesn't quite hold together.

There is an unmined common theme between rapid aging magic and Spike's growing up and moving away. I feel like the tone here should go from humdrum to wistful to horrifying, and more detail is a must. I've never seen real horror mined out of "things change and people grow older and move on" and this story kinda annoys me because it comes so close to doing just that but falls short.

I am eager to see this revised and expanded.


The Life and Times of an Honest Pony
It's actually superscript.

That was a nice little piece. I'm a sucker for stories from these sorts of naieve points of view. Can't really think of anything to criticise. This might just end up getting my top score. Nice job, author.


A Sister's Gift
The incorrect dialogue punctuation and hyphens where there should have been dashes bothered me, but I'm sure someone else has already pointed that out to you. Apart from that, there are a noticeable amount of typos and at least one misused semicolon.

Apart from that, though, it was pretty solid. There's something about Celestia skulking about incognito that really appeals to me for whatever reason, and you took an approach to this bit of often played-with lore that I haven't seen before.

I do think you could have left out the last line. I would've liked the meta of having the story end on "All stories have happy endings except this one."


Spikes and Stones
That's a pretty cool bit of dragon worldbuilding.

I get that the normal text is Spike as an adult dragon and the italics is him as a baby dragon, but it gets confusing towards the end — it's like the timelines meld together and suddenly adult Spike is inexplicably writing and sending a baby Spike letter. Normally I'm an advocate of using italics as your only special format, but here it leads to confusion when italics is used both for in-universe text and flashbacks.

Of course, there's the very real chance that I'm just missing something obvious here. I still liked the story for the most part.


Well there we go. Done. I can safely say that I liked everything I read (if, obviously, to differing degrees). Now to cast my votes!

Penman of "Spikes and Stones" 2962

>>2954
The letter was written by young Spike; the italics were reserved for him. There's also some clues in it that hint towards this, namely how he admits he lost to the golem, instead of claiming victory like mature Spike. He also talks about the dragon's beard but mentions he doesn't know the whole story behind it yet, while old Spike is familiar with the song. There's a few other hints as well, like fire-breathing training and how old his teacher is.

2963

More reviews incoming.

The Life and Times of an Honest Pony
Simply put, excellent. By the end I'd given the narrator a rustic drawl and found myself reading a little slower since that's how I imagined he spoke; slow and deliberate. There was one spot where you forgot to put a blank line between two paragraphs, but other than that don't have any complaints.

2971

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>>2954
>>2963
Aww, shucks, guys. Thank you kindly, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Also, happy New Year's! Now we get to say that we had to wait until 2013 to get the results =s

Author of The Lamentation Chain 2990

>>2954
>There is no way I can process a scene where somepony finds a drunk pining for liquor outside a closed liquor store and offers to take them home for more alcohol as heartwarming. I find it horrifying. Admittedly, my personal views on alcohol are perhaps on the stodgy side (but for good reason).

Can't fault you for that. If it's any consolation, Berry's a happy drunk?

3039

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>Votes received: 5.
Big impact votes.

Present!PeRFeCt9JM 3042

>>3039
I am very concerned about this. :/

3044

There are actually prizes this time, too.

Anonimoose 3063

Well, if it's any consolation I think I brought the count up to 6?

Man, where is everybody?

I'm getting there! 3070

I saw last week that the votes weren't due till this Sunday, and then tomorrow snuck up on me. Reading all now XD

3100

I'm only reading ones I'm reviewing, so I'm only going to vote on half of them. And given my low average score, that's better for the ones I'm skipping. Go figure.

>>2543
I finished reviewing "Winona" as well…

>>2534
…and will get to the short review "Life and Times…" requested tonight.

>>2529
"Green Bottles…" only asked for a short review, and certainly got plenty of feedback without me, but if that author still wants my opinion for some reason, go ahead and ask sometime after the write-off.

>>2528
Same goes for "Lavender." I didn't get to yours, but I can still do one afterward if you like.

author of "Lavender" 3105

>>3100
Sounds fine, though I've already accepted that it's a piece that might as well be scrapped now, before it goes and becomes something… eldritch.

Ion-Sturm 3107

Cast my vote. Apologies to the authors of Dear Sister and Welcome to the Broken Promise; I didn't get around to yours in time (which is entirely my own fault).

Short reviews:
First and Last
Meh opening, decent finish. It felt like a quarter of the story was just to establish why you removed Spike from the picture. Look up how to do parenthesis.

Winona
Good story, interesting premise, solid AJ and an above-average Luna. Also, http://inception.davepedu.com/

Short Reviews 3112

The Lamentation Chain:
There are consistent comma issues, and sentence structure got repetitive at times. Those are really the only mechanical issues. Stylistically though… This feels like an attempt to follow what TheNumber25 did in the last write-off, and it bites off more than it can chew.

First, since all is now known, let me say that I found it quite surprising that you found my story dull, because they're cut from the same cloth. In fact, mine had two action sequences in it, so I didn't get the charge of "nothing happening" at all, especially given that little happens in your story. However, I like character studies, so that doesn't detract from your story in my eyes.

So, to the criticisms. The narrator's voice at the beginning is pretty obtrusive and calls attention to itself more than what he's saying. Then the voice changes with each hand-off to a new plot. Which is entirely workable, perhaps even preferred, as you switch focus characters, but the opening bit didn't fit Rarity, and we don't know enough about the shopkeeper to say whether it fits him. It felt more like one of those movies where a gray-haired man sits in a rich leather chair, opens a book, and begins the tale as the camera fades to the action.

So if the changes in narrative voice were appropriate, why didn't they work? Mostly because the shift in perspective characters was handled too abruptly. Velvet has a momentary thought about Celestia, and then there we are immediately in Celestia's head. Don't jerk the reader around like that. Unless you're going to do scene breaks, ease us into perspective changes.

Another way the narrator doesn't work is that he's telling us most of the story rather than letting the characters do it. The only interesting interactions were those between the princesses and between Velvet and Berry Punch. That's because we were there to witness it. The other scenes were told mostly or solely from the narration, which isn't a good way to engage the reader. Velvet's memories are summarized as in a textbook instead of taking us back and letting us see what the characters said, how they acted, what they thought. It feels less like a journey and more like a list of facts.

It was ambitious to take on all the pictures, but you probably should have tried to combine more of them into single scenes, as you weren't able to spend enough time in any of them for the reader to get settled. Or just cut back and spend your time in fewer of them.

The Life and Times of an Honest Pony:
It's a common thing to put your trust in smart quotes, but they fail sometimes, like at the beginning of a word. Check out your apostrophes on 'em, for example.

I might be missing something… Your main character talked about unicorns doing the heavy lifting early on, but later it's said that they lost the use of their magic some time prior, even before the construction would have begun? And why Canterlot? This is probably fanon interpretation more than anything, even though it seems to be borne by canon, but wasn't Everfree Castle the site of the conflict regarding Nightmare Moon? I don't know why Canterlot would have been involved. It'd be just another city, if it even existed.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to say about this one. It's quite straightforward. I like your main character. Even his foibles that would normally grate on me, like his repetitiveness, just feel natural. Just watch his mannerisms and word choice/phrasing. There were a number of times where his language got a little too fancy for the "working stiff" you're trying to portray.

That said, this is definitely the kind of story that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy. You kind of got me at the right time, but I could also see tuning in another day and not liking it at all. And I know how vastly helpful that is to you.

It's also quite a tease that these other races would be motivated to help, without the backstory of why. But of course, your main character wouldn't necessarily know. Even though he did seem rather knowledgeable about the politics involved… and what happened afterward, given that Gilda was considered such a rare sight in the future.

I was confused by the ending, though that's not hard to do. Here's my interpretation: The final scene actually takes place before any of the rest of the story. Because if it didn't how would he have seen Luna after the events of Nightmare Moon, unless he was imagining it. The fact that he's in his hometown seems to back that up. If that's the case, then why did the previous scene leave off the way it did? The talk about deteriorating safety conditions and his own failing abilities could certainly point to his falling there. If not, it just feels like an odd place to stop. But even if it is, it throws the ending even more into doubt. Is he seeing Luna while in a coma, in an afterlife, or is this still a flashback? Not giving us any indication of what befell him points toward the story just fizzling out there. But if he did die, I can see you not wanting to telegraph whether that final scene was a flashback or a vision. So, even though I don't know what your intention was, I can see how your choice made sense in any of those scenarios, though I still have to say I found it unsatisfying.

So, in total, we have mostly good writing, a convincing character that rambles in a fashion I happened to find charming in the particular mood I found myself, but while there is some conflict of politics going on, it's still just more about the workaday life of this pony, and the only message I'm left with is (given one interpretation of the ending): he may not have died and a lot of political fuss might have been avoided if only he'd spoken up to Luna all those years ago.

Review of "Dear Sister," part 1 3113

Dear Sister:

Mechanics/Details:
>A dozen unicorn horns lit up in harmony, and let loose a flurry of fireworks into the air.
One subject with two verbs doesn't require a comma unless the first verb has so much description attached to it that the reader will need help keeping it organized. And "into the air" isn't really needed.

>It was the first time that any of them could remember seeing the stars, or the moon.

No comma. And the next sentence fragment deosn't really fit the narrative mood here. Recommend ending this bit with a colon to carry into that.

>Its shape did not change, nor its colors on a whim.

I don't know what this means.

>calculated and even, not haphazard and chaotic.

Presenting both is redundant here. It doesn't add anything.

>Her coat seemed to hold a sheen that was as radiant as the stars themselves

Seemed to whom? You haven't established a narrative perspective, and the narrator himself shouldn't be making such judgments.

>“alicorn”,

Comma inside the quotes if you're using American conventions.

>The world itself seemed to warm, and darken around her.

No comma.

>and yet even so shrouded

An introductory element leading into the subject like this typically ends with a comma.

>but her nerves were transparently showing

Describe it. You're putting all the work on me to picture her in a way that signifies nervousness. Show me how she acts and looks, and I'll conclude the nervousness. You're taking the other kind of description to the extreme here, though. We already know what these characters look like, and you're spending far too long on what amounts to an empty grab for word count. The delayed "reveal" of who these characters are isn't particularly effective, either, as it's obvious from the start who you mean.

>dozens of odd instruments playing a medley of a dozen

Repetitive.

>nearly-forgotten

-ly adverbs are mostly exempt from hyphenation.

>no light to guide them but their own

Recommend moving the "but their own" after "light."

>watched on from a distance

Cut "on."

>“I can scarcely believe it, sister.” Said Luna.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization error. We'll see if this is persistent. If not, I won't have to explain it. And why isn't Luna using speech like she would have back then?

>There was a moment of stunned silence between the sisters, before they burst into hysterical laughter.

No comma.

>“Ha! Oh, perhaps.” Luna admitted.

Dialogue punctuation error. This is intermittent, so I'll go ahead and elaborate.
The most common forms are:
"Speech," she said.
"Speech." She performed a non-speaking action.
"Beginnin of sentence," she said, "completion of sentence."
Note the patterns of capitalization and punctuation.

>But, you did not look quite so happy as they did.

No comma.

>Luna flexed her lips in a troubled way

You're telling again. What constitutes "a troubled way?" You're making me come up with the image. Supply the visual yourself and leave the interpretation up to the reader.

>She let it out slowly, through her nostrils.

No comma.

>she said “I do not see

Missing comma.

>…I see.

A leading ellipsis is best left for finishing an earlier thought or when a character is just becoming audible.

>She nodded sagely,

Telly again. Watch those blunt uses of emotion (sad), adverb forms (sadly), and prepositional phrase forms (in sadness). And that comma is unnecessary.

>Celestia felt a pang in her heart. Luna did not doubt her sister, only herself.

Watch your perspective. You're unnecessarily jumping from one character's perspective to another.

>“Of course.” Her sister replied.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization error.

>Elements of Harmony. The magical artifacts that had appeared to the sisters, and given them the strength to defeat Discord.

You're defining the Elements. Use a colon to include the fragment into the first sentence, and that comma is unnecessary.

>suspended mid-air

Missing an "in," and midair is one word.

>in a hexagonal pattern

Unless there are lines connecting them, that wouldn't be discernable. For example, how do you know it's not a circle?

>true-hearted

truehearted

>rhetorically

Cut.

>It was hers, now.

No comma.

>“Only if you are, Luna.” Celestia replied.

Dialogue punctuation.

>She was referring to their subjects, and their fear of the night.

Wow. Thank you, narrator. If your characters aren't clear enough about this, don't have the narrator bail them out.

>was the run and hide

"to," not "the"

>Luna raised a hoof, and silenced her sister.

No comma.

>rising from her bed and holding a hoof to her pounding heart

Note that the placement of this phrase would make it seem to describe "room."

>She was confused

Show me.

>and in the first moments of waking

Intro phrase needs a comma.

>she had no idea where she was, or what she had just seen.

No comma.

>Be still, and think.

No comma.

>“Erm… yes.” The Princess confirmed.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization

>the guard nervously explained.

Telly. How does he act? How does he look?

>“We heard screaming,” the guard nervously explained. “and we were worried you had been harmed.”

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization.

>remembering something, that I had nearly forgotten.

No comma.

>The helmeted horse looked more confused than anything else,

Horse? Really? And show me. No comma.

>saying “Send them away

Missing comma.

>The door finally shut, given Celestia a little solitude.

giving

>It came too late, though, the remnants of her dream were now scattered to the winds.

Comma splice. You've tacked two complete sentences together with a comma. You can split them with a period, add a conjunction, or use a dash or semicolon instead. Just make sure your choice makes sense with the story's flow.

>She sighed, and trudged into the washroom.

No comma.

>carefully-laid

No hyphen.

>Today, the Princess paid no heed to the shape (which, incidentally, was a frog prince on a lily pad throne).

You're inconsistent at capitalizing "Princess." And the parentheses are unnecessary here. Just use commas.

>seeing beyond the palatial home she now resided

Missing words. "in which she now resided."

>newly-minted

No hyphen.

>Maybe related to that dream, she wondered?

This isn't a question.

>Remember the normal, and figure out what’s different.

No comma.

>Then she would have her breakfast, and spend the rest of the morning through late afternoon in the Day Court.

No comma.

>She sighed, and grumbled to herself in a bit of carefully concealed frustration

No comma. The "in… frustration" part is telly, and you've already made a good step toward communicating her mood through the grumbling, so why short-circuit it?

>Twenty minutes passed in the bath, carefully cleaning herself and making a presentable Princess for her subjects.

What is your participial phrase modifying? The only candidates are the minutes and the bath, neither of which could concievably clean itself. It's a dangling participle with nothing to modify.

>pulled several towels from the wall to clean herself with

A towel's for drying, not cleaning.

>Oh!

Here, you're having the narrator speak for Celestia. Before, you'd given thoughts as quotes. Be consistent in your narrative voice.

>Perfect, she thought.

That's phrased like a direct thought, but not italicized as one. And see the previous comment.

>se

she

>so large it could be mistaken for a piece of armor

This descriptive element lacks a closing comma.

>It was such a routine, Celestia did not even return to the looking glass.

Comma splice, probably best fixed by replacing the comma with "that."

>Food, then. She decided.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization.

>They assured her that its glory would stretch above the highest mountaintops, and be seen and admired by ponies in every corner of the nation.

No comma.

>The word assured was used, because it wasn’t finished yet.

No comma. And you're referring to a word as an entity, not by its meaning, so place it in quotes.

>Only the main hall and the east wing were in a state that could be used.

Phrasing. One doesn't use a state.

>and until that happened

Intro phrase needs a comma.

>they needed a place to sleep, and to manage the day-to-day dealings of their subjects

No comma.

>His own personal hall, rumored by some to be the last building standing from Old Equestria;

Misused semicolon. There is no independent clause before or after it.

>Many felt their skin crawl just walking in the place, its bluish hue seemed otherworldly.

Comma splice.

>looking terribly frustrated

Show me.

>boney

bony

>They had reached the last item on this list,

You're not describing the list, but giving us a definition. Use a colon.

>He hailed from the northeast, and had a personal guard by his side.

No comma.

>Celestia was trying to appear civil

Show me.

>glare at that bodyguard and catapult them

Number mismatch. bodyguard (singular) -> them (plural)

>you did not find yourself safe

Don't address the reader.

>His complaint had been a meager one;

You're defining the complaint. Use a colon.

>“Good.” Celestia stated.

Dialogue punctuation.

>“Mm, no, that will be all.” He told her

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization.

>freeze over in cold

Redundant

>A princess implies a higher authority, yet, Equestria has none.

The second comma is unnecessary.

>My sister and I share our power, and possess advisors and councilors.

No comma.

>Roseheart excused himself, and left.

No comma.

>As soon as the shutting of the main doors announced his full departure,

Odd phrasing.

>Masterstroke was his name.

Why are you just now introducing him?

>shaking her head in disbelief

Telly. The shaking head already gives the impression you want. You can enhance the description if you like, but cut the emotional tell.

>a stone staircase that stretched up, alongside the side of the keep

No comma. And "alongside the side" is redundant.

>used as she and her sisters’

She has multiple sisters? You also have a pronoun/possessive mismatch here. "her and her sister’s"

>‘switched-off’

Double quotes. And I have no idea what this sentence is saying.

>“Yes.” She replied with a cheeky grin.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization.

>Her sister tittered

You've been switching characters to the point that I can't tell who you're referring to here.

>“You’re getting better at that.” She complimented.

Dialogue punctuation/capitalization.

>“Of course.” Luna replied proudly.

Same. I'm tired of marking these. Surely you can find them on your own.

>trying to raise protest, managing only to dig herself in deeper.

Missing comma to set off the first participle, and the second is just begging for a "but" to show contrast.

>Every botched attempt at saving herself only amused her sister further.

Telly.

>Luna eventually gave up, and bit down on her tongue.

No comma.

>the hurt look on her sister’s face

Telly.

>It just seemed like a… royal thing to do.

Now you're fighting canon. Luna, upon her return wasn't trying to break a habit. She genuinely knew no other way to speak.

>I have been reading a book, from the library, that speaks of proper royal behavior.

No commas.

>a creature such as him

he

>…If I may be honest, sister, I still have doubts that we chose correctly, to rule.

Unnecessary leading ellipsis and second comma.

>Celestia smirked, quite nearly envious of your humble sister.

She's not my sister.

>an her face faltered

and

>chuckling a little at the corny, yet earnest little phrases her sister could spin

If you're going to use a comma there, pair it with one after "earnest."

>If though hast

thou

Review of "Dear Sister," part 2 3114

>moreso
Two words.

>It seemed to smell of malicious laughter

That bears some explanation. What kinds of smells would evoke that reaction?

Okay. I'm about 4k words in. The point of these corrections is that you learn how to find them yourself. I'm through marking the ones that have been coming up the most, including commas, dialogue punctuation/capitalization, and telly language.

>that effect, muddling directions and sense like that

Repetitive.

>doing this

I've glossed over a number of these. Watch using demonstratives (this, that, these, those, …) as pronouns, since they have vague antecedents that are often large chunks of text, and are self-referential to the narration. Find an appropriate noun to place after it.

>thinner, vertical lines

These are hierarchical adjectives and don't require a comma.

>Luna pulled it from the self

shelf

>but the feel of book

Missing word.

>41 pages

Write out numbers this short.

>IS

Italics are preferred for emphasis, and since you're already in italics, the convention is to un-italicize.

>That was when the ink blot appeared. Dabbed in the center of the page by no outside force, it suddenly swirled, forming large and ornate letters.

Ah. So we've found Tom Mavolo Riddle, have we?

>princess’

You do often see people use this convention, but the proper possessive is princess’s.

>—“

Quotes arre backwards. Some things can break smart quotes, an ending dash included. You'll have to force the correct direction.

>MUSTY

Again, please use the proper convention for emphasis.

>why I should would do anything

Extra/wrong word.

>shunt

I believe you meant "shut."

>sarcastically

youdontsay.png

>THEY DEMAND SHE MAKE HERSELF QUEEN.

Despite the falsehood, even if Luna believed him, she hasn't done so. That doesn't occur to her?

Now that I've waded through a LOT of italics, I'll say that they're fine to mark flashback or dream scenes, as long as they're kept reasonably short. This has gone on far too long for that, and it's getting grating to read. You can easily tag a scene as a dream or flashback with a bit of clever narration and leave it in a normal font.

>paid visit to her

Missing "a."

>This type of thought occurred more often than Luna liked, and she shut them out every time.

You're still giving me her reaction more as a narrated factoid than as a scene for me to watch.

>at this point

This is a horribly self-referential phrase to use in narration.

>Tia shrugged.

Why is the narrator referring to her as such?

>Celestia sputtered hard that name

Something got messed up here. This doesn't parse, and she didn't say a name.

>the end of their destination

Certainly, that's not what you meant to say.

>It had not struck either of the pair until now

Really? They'd seen no plans to suggest that? And the verbiage that it would be visible from all across the land?

>They became aware of an entourage making their way towards them.

Watch the jumbling of all these "they/their/them" antecedents.

>enuff’

What's the apostrophe for? What letters are being eliminated? And your accent is way over the top, bordering on unreadable.

>‘is

Another thing that breaks smart quotes is trying to place an apostrophe at the beginning of a word. This is backwards, and there's another in the sentence.

>socks of drink

"Stocks," I presume.

>KR-FOOOOOOM

Sound effects. No. Describe the sound.

>sorry—“

More broken quotes.

>t-through

Think of what sound would actually be repeated here. th-through

I'm not buying the storm excuse. Neither princess would have seen a schedule? The storm can't be confined to farmland? One more day makes that much difference to the drought? If it's truly a drought, at least several days of rain would be required. Bunching it into one less day or sliding the whole thing back a day isn't going to make a difference.

>miniscule

Preferred spelling is minuscule.

>thine petty excuses

Thy. "Thine" is used as "yours" or when the following word begins with a vowel.

>TOLD—“

More broken quotes.

>help—“

And again.

>That night, at Everfree Keep, Luna sat alone in the library. Her sister had yet to return, and most of their menagerie had followed them to the soon-to-be capital. The halls were awfully quiet that night

Repetition

>2:30

Write it out.

>The breakfast she’d enjoyed was, truthfully, not enjoyable in any sense.

Then why did you pick that verb? Maybe this is supposed to be clever, but it's just coming across as poor word choice.

>and assistant opening up a scroll for him to read

I assume you meant "an."

>Manehattan

I agree that this should be the spelling, but unfortunately, canon appears to be Manehatten.

>“Princess”

Single quotes.

>Years’

Year’s

>She tried to keep her pace even, slowly, and regal as a princess should move

You have adjective, adverb, adjective where they should all be adjectives.

>she took down from the spot it hung

Missing word.

>if it was possible

Hypothetical or wishful scenarios use subjunctive mood. "if it were possible"

>thousand-fold

One word, no hyphen.

>still writing in silent agony

Wow. In all that turmoil, she still finds time to put pen to paper.

>spread over her leg. It came to her chest, spreading

Repetitive.

>But whatever her reasoning were

Verb conjugation.

>hand-crafted

What is this "hand" you speak of?

>was he most expansive, luxurious personal study

Typo.

>purchase and collected

Verb tense inconsistency.

>tarp meant to catch falling paint

Yes. Yes, that would be its purpose. You don't need to state the obvious. Or you could just call it a drop cloth.

>A step higher than them

they

>that may well be grander

Verb tense inconsistency.

>out of breath and clearly mortified

Need commas on both ends of this participle.

>E-everfree

It's a proper noun, so both starts need to be capitalized.

>Engufled

Typo. And unless the colon refers to speech or multiple sentences, don't capitalize after it.

>pushed, and she pushed

Repetitive, and if it's intentional, it doesn't work, since in one sense she's the push's subject and in the other, its object.

>Even if it was

Subjunctive mood again. were

>A colossal, black bubble

Hierarchical adjectives. No comma.

>just a few second

seconds

>She would save the day, surely.

Why the brief perspective shift into her soldiers' heads? It's jarring.

>The old, white stallion

Hierarchical adjectives. No comma.

>smiled a tired smile

youdontsay.png

>your majesty

I believe you'd capitalized this term before.

>as an addendum to his previous comment

Obvious and unnecessary.

>‘cause

Another broken quote.

>Sam’s Apples

Wut

>I’ll try my hand

Really? Where did she get one?

>princess’

princess’s

>These were not the constellation

Number mismatch.

>if Luna was to be found anywhere

Subjunctive mood. were

>princess’

princess’s

>BETRAYOR

betrayer

>eviscerating the rope

Are you sure that word means what you think it means? I've never seen a rope with organs.

>coup de grâce

Foreign phrases should be rendered in italics, or here, in regular font.

>Luna?…

You've got that punctuation in the wrong order.

>princes

Typo.

>20

Spell it out. And all the subsequent ones too.

>butterflies fluttered listlessly

Odd word choice, given the festive atmosphere.

General problems:
-Dialogue punctuation/capitalization
-Comma usage with compound verbs. For single subjects with two verbs and two subjects, each with its own verb, you are consistently backwards in whether or not to use a comma.
-Frequent other comma misses.
-Your leading ellipses are rarely called for.
-Word repetition. Begin/began/start: 37, Turn: 33, Just: 36, Look: 41, Seem: 44, Feel/felt: 34. These are all pretty high, but the feel/felt count is most concerning, as most if not all of them are used for blatant telling.
-Sentence structure gets repetitive in places, particularly ones that begin subject-verb. It can bog the story down and create the feel of a list.

Characterization/Plot:
Pretty good, actually. I get a strong sense of who Celestia and Luna are, and they fit well with what we see in canon. The plot was also interesting. So why was this story so difficult to plow through? The middle dragged horribly, and I repeatedly had to force myself onward for the purpose of completing this review, as I'd already gauged where to rank it in voting. The beginning was fine, as we learn what's happening and settle in. The end was fine, as the action keeps us entertained. But the middle is where all of the character development happens, and it was incredibly flat. What killed it is massive amounts of telling.

I'll go over it again here. The best way to communicate a character's emotions is by showing me how she looks and acts, thereby leaving me to interpret her emotions. We are hardwired to perceive emotion that way in real life, so it's much more engaging when writing does the same thing. Show me that character's actions, speech, body language, posture, reactions, thoughts, posture. And give me a good variety. If you're watching a movie, and the character wlks into view saying, "I'm sad," is that interesting? It gives you the information you need, but it's a cold fact. Instead, he won't make eye contact, gets distracted easily, fidgets, has bloodshot eyes, slumps in his seat, etc. By painting the picture and letting the reader interpret the emotion, you've made him identify with the character and think about your story. It makes for a much more engaging read. The most common traps for telling are naming emotions outright, using them as -ly adverbs, and using "in/with <emotion/attitude>" phrases.

Without showing, I'm not invested in the characters. I have no connection to them, and don't care as much about what happens to them. Because of this, much of the story read like a history textbook's account of events rather than an emotional journey.

You also have a difficult hurdle in describing the actions of Discord's book. The visual effects you relate just don't work well through a written medium, so it puts much of the work on me to visualize the scene, much like the telling problem. A lot of the physical description was repetitive and described the page's behavior in terms of the emotions it's trying to get across, which is exactly the same thing as telling. Representing visual effects through writing is not easy, so you have quite a task ahead of you here.

Finally, there were a few places where your perspective shifts unnecessarily. Be mindful of whose thoughts the narrator is communicating, and avoid shifting too often or abruptly into other points of view. The effect is jarring to the reader. There are valid reasons for changing perspective, but make sure it's necessary and done smoothly.

Overall:
A morass bookended by goodness, but a nice start on what could be an emotional story. A lot of the hand-wringing felt overblown, and maybe an obvious grab for word count, seeing how these write-offs usually go. But that can be fixed as well. Keep writing and have fun with it.

Review of "Spikes and Stones" 3115

Spikes and Stones:

This one's already been sent to the author, but I'll post it here for anyone that's interested.

Mechanics and Details:
Your dash-demarked asides are getting repetitive just a few paragraphs in.

>It’s only a little larger than me

"I," not "me." Does Spike know that? Your call.

>It raises a sandstone foot

Wait, what? You described it as granite before, or at least its fist. Why would it be made of such different materials? Sandstone in particular isn't very strong. Plus, Spike can eat gems. I don't see how these materials would be a problem.

>With an earth-rending crack

Introductory elements leading into the subject are usually set off with a comma.

>smile in satisfaction

Ranging into telly language here.

>Before the golem could process that

Weak use of a demonstrative.

>I can’t tear my eyes away from the shattered stones the golem leaves in its wake.

Sandstone feet aren't going to put up with this kind of punishment.

>In a few seconds

Missing comma.

>the straps on broken the plate armor

Swapped words. And you mentioned mithril before. Is he wearing that inside the plate? It's usually envisioned as a fine chain shirt worn under the armor.

>never mind it being roughly ten times as heavy.

"Its" instead of "it" here, but I'm not going into the long explanation of why. Ten times as heavy as Spike? It's vague whether you mean that. Also note that you describe the golem as weighing several tons (and possibly only its hand or arm as weighing that much, since you specified granite, but later mentioned sandstone feet), so one tenth of that potentially makes Spike unbelievably big.

>With a roar

Another missing comma.

>stampedes towards me

Odd word choice. "Stampede" connotes running away from something, not at a target, and it also connotes a group action.

>an awkward lop

lope

>freshly-shortened

-ly adverbs are generally exempt from hyphenation, except under specific circumstances.

>stripping off a layer from the ruby

"Layer" implies cleavage planes. In fact, corundum has no observed cleavage and uneven fracture. It wouldn't break like that.

>Even with it inside the bag I can feel its steely gaze.

Missing comma.

>Golem’s

That should be a plural, not a possessive.

>from its single scarred eye

Another missing comma.

>I could see a fury that would outmatch even the most explosive of volcanoes. What little hesitation it had possessed was long gone now.

You're lapsing out of your present tense here.

>A shadow looms and I look up to see my end.

Two separate subject/verb pairs. Separate the clauses with a comma.

>With a wet tearing sound

Another missing comma.

>I feel something sprout from my back and a shadow falls over me.

And again.

>back then I felt like I had failed her

Missing comma.

>wings, poking and prodding at its

Number mismatch.

>two-thousand year-old

Hyphenate the whole thing.

>With a wave

Missing comma.

>Within seconds of me sitting down a stack of gems

Similar to the previous instance I didn't care to explain, "me" should be "my." You also have a syntax problem here. It's possible you meant "setting" instead of "sitting," but I suspect you're just missing an "on."

>boiling mead

That'd tend to cook off the alcohol rather quickly, yes?

>down my chin as I put the vessel down

Repetition.

>Again, the other dragons join in on it and dust falls from the roof as the cacophony echoes a thousand times.

Missing comma.

>As I bite into it

Missing comma.

>the sun’s light peaks into the cave

I believe you meant "peeks."

>Some of the revellers have gone off to their alcove

Do they all share one, or do you mean "alcoves?"

>Some of the revellers have gone off to their alcove to sleep off their excess, most sleep it off on the floor.

Comma splice.

>Don’t worry, I’m fine

Comma splice.

>the bruising has almost healed and it only hurts when I take a really deep breath.

Missing comma.

>It was a dumb decision on my part and he actually saved me in the end.

Missing comma.

>three-thousand

No hyphen.

>One time I asked him how a dragon grows a beard and he told me ‘Very carefully’.

Missing comma, and use double quotes.

>is that the kind of love I had for Rarity?

He doesn't know?

There were also quite a few instances where the sentence structure became repetitive, with a lot of subject-verb openings. While keeping things simple can help with action sequences, particularly in the youthful sections, too much bogs the narrative down and makes it feel more like a list.

Characterization:
Spike seems okay, but there's something missing. Now that I've finished, I see how the whole thing fits together, but I'm not going to go back and edit my detailed comments to reflect that. However, Spike takes on too mature a voice, particularly while young. I get that he may be exposed to more sohpisticated linguistics while at the library, but in practice, he never used them, and Twilight dumbed down at least one letter so that he could write it. And there's no indication that there's an atmosphere among the dragons that would continue to foster that ability such that his later narrative was even more flowery. Compare the text of his letter to the other narration of young Spike. They're mismatched.

Once I realized what was going on, though, I felt a strange separation from Spike. I get some emotion from him about his initial journey to be with the dragons, but more excitement than apprehension. Especially since his letter indicates he went out on a lark, in a costume that he thought would never work. Had he actually prepared for an extended absence under those circumstances? He doesn't mention doing so. I'd expect he didn't say a proper good-bye then, but it's never addressed that he had to make do once he decided to stay or went back, either for some time or just for a supply/hug run. Then older Spike is utterly stoic about his separation from Twilight. Still a connection, yes, but nothing on the order of missing her, and there's no sense of anticipation at the end that he's going to see his old friends again. There's a spark missing here that doesn't really make this Spike for me.

Plot:
My first impression was that Spike was having some imaginary adventure and kept oscillating between levels of immersion in the fantasy. It wasn't until the letter that I had an inkling of what was going on. It relies on the reader being able to decipher several things, which may be a bit of a stretch. Giving the reader a nice "aha" moment is one thing, but having to decipher multiple things to get the full effect may be asking too much. It depends on how accessible you want your story to be to the average reader.

Now, let me be clear. I'm speaking to acessbility as understanding the story, not enjoying it. That's a different matter. While I can't say I enjoyed the story more than average, it was still well-written, and a good reviewer should be able to recognize good writing in a story he doesn't enjoy and still help make it more effective. So, I'm not going to tell you that the storytelling method is invalid, because that would be a false assertion. Stories like this exist. They work. They just don't work for me. That fact doesn't make a story bad.

While an action-only story can amuse and even be interesting, it's the emotional connection that makes it memorable and gives the reader something to think about. I'd encourage you to up the ante on that front.
This post was edited by its author on .

Review of "Winona" 3116

Winona:

Mechanics/Details:
>I might not have as much book learnin’ as the pony following
Inconsistency in clipping g's from Applejack's words.

>Wasn’t nothin’ else he could have been, anyhow.

That accent's a bit thick for her. Well, it's more the syntax than the accent. They've never played her as having less than average intelligence in canon. The grammar's not perfect to be sure, but it smacks more of colloquialisms than ignorance.

>the way they’re supposed to; and at the bottom of the hill

Technically, you can use a conjunction right after a semicolon, but the practice is generally discouraged, as many readers find it to be choppy and redundant.

The sheer number of semicolons in Applejack's speech is somewhat undermining its character.

>with a grunt

That's an introductory element leading to its clause's subject, so would usually be followed by a comma. You could place commas on both ends, really, but one in front would be a bit obtrusive.

>20 lengths

Spell numbers out, unless they're quite long.

>one second there’s snow nearly stacked to your barrel and then in a flash of light and steam it’s all gone.

There's another introductory element that needs a comma here, but you're also missing a comma between clauses. There are two subjects here, each with its own verb.

>Winona just about jumped out of her skin, and spent the next few minutes

And here's the opposite issue. One subject is linked to two verbs, so you don't need to separate them with a comma, unless the first one has so much description attached to it that the reader will need help keeping it organized.

>one the patrol pegasi

Missing word.

>‘em

There are a few situations that break smart quotes. One is a leading apostrophe. Smart quotes will give you a single open quote, which is backwards. You'll have to force the right one. I won't mark any more of these; just scan for them yourself.

>Then out of the corner of my eye

Another intro phrase without a comma.

>She was cradling this dragon in her forelegs like he was her own foal; and in a way he was.

Here's another semicolon/conjunction that doesn't feel right. How does the semicolon improve upon a comma here, which wouldn't look odd.

>she had raised him every step of the way

Well… did she? It's unclear how much of his infancy he actually spent with her, and as young as she was when she passed the entrance exam, would it be fair to have her basically caring for a child? Canon doesn't say, but Word of Faust is that she envisioned Celestia raising him until Twilight was old enough.

>on account

The southernism typically includes an "of."

>oneself is to be counted

That's not the way reflexive pronouns work. Just use "one" here.

>amoung

Can't say I've ever seen that spelling, but I'll allow that it may be an acceptable one if you know it to be.

>Perhaps upon my sister’s awakening

Intro phrase. Comma.

>at the very least

Intro phrase. Comma.

>console

Transitive verb requires a direct object.

>I find it a most unpleasant place, and spend as little time there as circumstances permit.

Unnecessary comma.

>I must admit curiosity got the better of me, I undertook the rather arduous journey

Comma splice.

>nyxscape

-1 for even coming close to mentioning that monstrosity.

>dark, grey Canterlot… dark, heavy clouds

Repetitive.

>The owner of the dream appeared as an aged purple unicorn as she cowered before a towering leviathan of a dragon. Lights danced in the windows of the Library as scrolls and books were consumed by an inferno of wyrm fire.

Watch it. You've got an identical structure to these consecutive sentences, right down to the "as" clauses. Hell, the next sentence is like this, too.

>erebal

You sure that shouldn't be capitalized? Sure, words like stygian aren't, but this isn't a standard word.

>Winona and me was

Yeah, that's too much. She doesn't speak like this in canon.

>Course’n

As a fully licensed southerner, I have never heard this.

>going to

Now you're slipping into a more formal tone with Applejack.

>smart lookin’

Hyphenate.

>Slick

You do this earlier with "Sugarcube." You'll get different opinions from different folks, but unless it's an official nickname, you don't need to capitalize. They're just generic terms of endearment. You wouldn't capitalize kid, dear, or darling, for example.

>to pick you be

Missing word.

>“So, whatcha doin’?” He asked.

Speech tag capitalization error. The question mark gets treated just like the normal comma for that purpose. You get it right elsewhere, so I'll assume this one is an oversight.

>Dinkins’

It's common to do this with words ending in "s," but the proper possessive is Dinkins's.

>the yellow snow around Rudy’s trunk.

Wait, what? Winona's a girl… She's not going to look for objects to pee against.

>but I couldn’t help but

Repetitive.

>“And how long do ponies live?”

This conversation is getting talking heads. Nothing's changing my mental picture from having them stand around stock-still. Show me what they're doing while they talk, the little tics that carry most of the emotion and all the things that are left unsaid.

>The only circumstance more remarkable than finding myself within the dream of a Leviathan, was finding that the beast knew who I was and watching that monster melt away into its waking form, that of a baby dragon.

Hm. That first comma shouldn't be there. Leviathan isn't a proper noun, and refers to a sea monster, which Spike isn't. The sentence is trying to do too much. It starts with a focus on how Luna feels, then transitions into a revelation about Spike, which just ends up muddling both points. There's also a lot that doesn't parse. "Circumstance" (singular) -> "the beast knew who I was" and "watching that monster…" (two things, and the second isn't really a circumstance, but more watching something play out).

>Canterville

Huh? Where's that?

>The First Pony. Faustus.

Oh, good. Meta. Just what I was hoping.

>Because your friend knows something that it took me over a thousand years to realize: you must treasure

You're being inconsistent about capitalizing after a colon. Technically, you're only supposed to if the colon covers multiple sentences, and in previous instances, it wasn't at all clear to me that it did.

>Before my—shall we say ‘incident’?

Luna's already used this conceit once, and it just feels repetitive to see it again.

>I grew upset that their waking hours were outside of my purview

But that's not really the case. Ponies don't go to bed as soon as it gets dark. She'd have the opportunity if she really wanted it.

>You must understand that you are blessed in a similar way, and will know your friends in a way that is unique to you.

Unnecessary comma, and find a synonym to avoid repeating "way."

>thoughts quite weighty for what is for his race to be considered an infant

That's a rather convoluted phrasing, particularly with the nested "for" phrases.

>I pondered, as I gazed into the horizon of this sunset dream sky.

This soundds like it was meant to be a attribution with the previous sentence as a direct thought. Note that comma usage with "as" has a subtle effect on its meaning. No comma tends more toward "at the same time that," which is the meaning you have here. Using a comma tends toward "because." Of, course there are times that some other rule of grammar may require a comma there, but not in this instance.

>they can be unpredictable and one would be well advised

Missing comma.

>that’s just a name they give it because it makes things move

How does a nurse know that?

>bright white with magical power,

Absolute phrases will need commas on both ends.

>this is Honest Applejack here, so you know I ain’t makin’ this up

That's veered over the line into addressing the reader.

>*is*

Emphasis with italics, please.

>“Go back to her,” I smiled, “And I shall see you in the daylight, Spike.”

"I smiled" isn't a proper speech tag. Even if it were, when you continue the quote afterward in this manner, it woulldn't be capitalized.

>the dream, the dream

Repetitive, and I don't see a stylistic reason for it.

>I lunged forward to catch her, just in time for the leviation spell to break and drop Spike on the both of us. It took a spell before the other ponies who had been keeping their distance finally started crowding forward.

Okay… how did Applejack get through the shield spell? If it was down, why didn't the nurse come forward already? And then when they do, they're trying to figure out how Twilight did it? Shouldn't they be looking at Spike and seeing if he needs additional care? You don't just recover from hypothermia like that.

>and to top it all off

Intro phrase needs comma.

>I gave him and Twilight a hug,

That's not a proper speech tag.

I didn't catch you being telly, but your setup was one that's not ripe for it: focus characters that are observers to the action rather than participants. So, to keep them in their roles, you're naturally in a showing mode.

Now, the word choice was a little elevated for my taste. As a farmer, Applejack probably does know more of the jargon than average (the word "gaskin" comes to mind), but on the other hand, she doesn't speak that way in canon. You could certainly argue that it's because that would lose the intended audience, and you wouldn't be wrong. However, it's also inconsistent with the particularly thick accent and bad mechanics you've given her, which definitely is over-the-top with respect to canon.

Now, to Luna. The fancier diction works better for her, but still goes over the line at times. If you're going to throw a word at a reader that he's likely never seen before, make sure it's done because it has the precise meaning you need. For example, what meaning do you lose by substituting something like "dreamscape" or "subconscious" for "erebal plane?" It just comes across as showing off unless you can point to some reason why that word, and only that word, will do. Again, it feels inconsistent, because while her linguistics do appear somewhat elevated, I'm still not encountering that many vocabulary terms. She's also rather dispassionate about what's happening to Spike. She seeme a little too matter-of-fact about the whole thing, particularly because she should know what Spike means to ponies that she cares about. Look at how she behaved in Scootaloo's dream: giving advice, yes, but also smiling and winking at her to put her at ease. Since this situation is much more dire, shouldn't she be even more supportive and a little less, well, cold?

For both, also consider that the first-person narration essentially constitutes internal thought, and particularly for Luna, would she really be speaking to herself that formally?

The scene-break headings telling me who the perspective character is are really off-putting. They're just hitting me over the head. Surely, you could have come up with a subtler way of letting me know who each was. And after a few transitions, it'll be clear to the reader what's happening, and merely re-establishing the setting or voice would be enough. Since you never break from your back-and-forth pattern, it would quickly be obvious.

I'm going to skip the characterization and plot analysis, because I've already covered them. The overall plot is fine, except for the details I've noted, and the characters are well-drawn, except for the diction issues I've just discussed.

Overall:
I liked the story and its message, but it struck me as being just a little incongruous at the end. Spike wants to make sure Applejack appreciates Winona, but did he really get what she'd been saying in the first place? He must not think Applejack's got the right attitude about Winona if he's going to bring it up like that. Wouldn't he see their relationship in a new light now and appreciate it all the more, trusting that Applejack knows how to handle it? I'd see more of an "I understand now" than a "make sure you know what you have." Consider also that in his position, he would identify more closely with Applejack in that analogy—the one that's going to outlive loved ones. His advice to Applejack isn't coming from experience, so it's not a "take it from me" attitude. I'd almost expect more of an "I love you, Twilight, and everyone else, and I'm never going to stop making sure you all know that, for as long as I can," since that's the perspective in which he finds himself.

Axis of Rotation 3117

Congratulation Casca, Pracca, Ion_Strum, and Hayseedturniptruck on getting top three! Certainly wasn't expecting a tie. Great job to everyone else who wrote—I certainly enjoyed pretty much everything I read.

This has been bugging me forever though—what the heck are "controversial stories?" Should I be happy I made the second slot for that?

Anyway, it was a lot of fun guys, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Perhaps I'll actually be able to finish, haha

>>3100
Hmm, I wouldn't mind hearing a few general thoughts you had about it, though only if you've read it. If not, then don't worry about it.

3119

>>3117
If I didn't review it, I didn't read it.

Controversial refers to the stories with the highest spread of votes, as measured by standard deviation. Consider a story that rated two 5's and another that gets a 2 and an 8. They both have an average of 5, but the first has no spread, while the second shows conflicting opinions.
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A Response Pracca 3120

>>3113
>>3114

Thank you VERY much for taking the time to read through my little abomination of a wordcount. wasn't necessarily trawling for anything by making it so long, though it may have been an unconscious reaction to my last entry, which was criticized (fairly, I suppose) that it was short and lacked the buildup to develop emotional attachment to the character. You could call this going to the opposite end of the spectrum. Hopefully in the future I can find a happy medium.

The grammar, I cannot defend myself on. Been an issue from day one of my writing, and having only two days to write on account of my own idiocy left me with minimal time to edit. I'll take into account what you said, though, and see if I can find a way to make myself a little less repetitive.

And WOW, top three? That was certainly not anything I expected. Glad people *checks the score*… got some mild enjoyment out of it.

This was a lot of fun, and congrats to all the others. Some awesome stuff here.

RESULTS ARE OUT Casca!blANCA/Sq2 3121

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>>3112
Leave it to Pasco to find the inconsistency that is the hallmark of anything I write. Thank you very much for pointing out the unicorn magic bit; I'll iron that out for sure. Ah, and that Canterlot-Everfree Castle bit, too. Confound canon.

>all is known

>wat
>…oh
>swaps out inferior pony pic for glorious Patchu

>right mood

>tease
>ending
Bingo on all counts. It's an extremely mood-reliant story, the kind of which cannot stand the harsh light of day and is enhanced greatly in the presence of cold drafts. I adore the style, though I've never thought about the risks that followed. Certainly interesting stuff to think about. Now I'll have to wait until the American winter to release this. Drat

>interpretation

Absolutely correct.

>If that's the case, then why did the previous scene leave off the way it did?

When I started out the story, I only had the ending in mind: nameless pony falls to his death. As the story progressed, I realized that the direction wouldn't allow me to make it definite. There was a brief toying with having the last section be a newspaper article, but it would break structure too much, so I settled for the soft ending.

It's pretentious, but I wanted the reader to make up his/her mind whether he died or not, and those of a more thinking disposition would realize "wait, I actually want him to live" -> "hey, I see what you did there". Or at least that's what I decided to go with after finishing. Really, it ended that way because it was the only way I could see it ending.

Oh, also, there wasn't a section talking about "It's the n-th day" in the last bit to suggest that this was before everything, but maybe I could tweak a few words to make it more obvious.

Any suggestions to how a better ending might be achieved will be welcomed for strong consideration.

Also, the obligatory origins bit that people might find interesting:
This was written a few days after I returned from a mission trip to the interior, delivering Christmas presents to village kids. By village, I mean surrounded by forests, takes 30 minutes to drive there by gravel road, availability of running water pending kind of village. The joy, friendliness, that amazing honesty I saw in those village kids despite being residents of, statistically, the poorest region in the state - and we don't even have a minimum wage in this country - struck me hard, and before I knew it, it had leaked into the main character. So I went on and made him that - poor, but as sincere and honest as a pony could ever be. Themes of family, prejudice, and giving encouragement to those who needed it just grew naturally.

The union was there for delicious juxtaposition. There were vague plans to have a section with the griffon chief saving NamNar (nameless narrator) from a dare, but that was because I thought I saw a boulder on the platform in the background, and when I checked, it wasn't there anymore.

Yep, I based mine on a tiny background detail in "My First New Year's Alone" http://writeoff.rogerdodger.me/art/26-My-First-New-Years-Alone which wasn't even there.

The original title was "TLaTo a Blue Collar Worker", but that was way too pretentious, so it was changed at the last moment.

The title change was inspired by Ion-Sturm, interestingly, and the verbal tics (dinna, canna) by Seattle, because I find them to sound nice.

Also, coming up with plot twists is hard. ;_;


A round of congratulations to everyone! Especially to Hayseed and axis_of_rotation, whom I hadn't heard of until now but have produced works I particularly enjoyed. See ya on the Fimfic side. Also request for permission to use the art as a cover to Conicer, in the off-chance that he/she's paying attention to the thread.
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Ion-Sturm 3123

File: 1357456333263.gif (Spoiler Image,1.72 MB, 268x199, 7TY4o.gif)

>>3117
>Congratulation Casca, Pracca, Ion_Strum, and Hayseedturniptruck on getting top three!
>Casca, Pracca, Ion_Strum, and Hayseedturniptruck
>Ion_Strum
>Strum
>Pic is dat feel when (suggestive NSFW)

>Certainly wasn't expecting a tie

When you've got ratings down to the hundredths, it's not too likely. Eh, I'm good with a tie for third; I didn't think I would get a place on the podium this time. Congrats to Casca for the win, and I suppose I should give Dear Sister a loo—
>Wordcount
…that might be something for the weekend.

>>3121
>The title change was inspired by Ion-Sturm, interestingly
Really? In what way? Certainly not the "Honest" bit.

Axis of Rotation 3124

Another question for anyone who can answer it: on the scoreboard page, when you click on the score number besides your name and a you're provided with the score for each fic—how is that number determined? Because it's not the same as what's shown on the results page, and it's kinda confusing me, to be honest. If anyone can clear that up, thanks.

>>3121
Crap dangit, I feared while reading you were going to kill him off. So I'm glad you went with the more open ending, that way I can ignore your intentions and come up with my own happy interpretation XD

And thanks for the compliment, Casca; congrats on first place.

Also: you went on a missions trip? That's awesome—never been on one myself, but I plan on it someday.

>>3123
Ha…ha…whoops. Well, you now have my permission to misspell my name.

Perhaps it was a subconscious response to the fact you beat me??
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3129

>>3124
No, that's one of Roger's tricks. The site flips my name between "Sturm" and "Strum". Someone else also gets that treatment. Don't remember who, though.

Present!PeRFeCt9JM 3136

IT'S OVER @[email protected] It was nice having the extra time to read and vote due to the holidays, but boy did that drag things out.

Congrats to Casca, not just for winning, but for consistently outputting solid works in a short period. No one can beat you! Also congrats to Ion for writing my favorite piece in this writeoff. :D

>>3112
>There are consistent comma issues
You leave my commas alone! >:|

>First, since all is now known, let me say that I found it quite surprising that you found my story dull, because they're cut from the same cloth.

Implying I did not find my own story dull. D: Which I do.

The whole point of this was to try narrative switching without scene breaks. I wanted to just flip from one to the next to suggest that perhaps this was all happening in one character's head. But yeah, I was not very invested in this story. I blame the prompts.

>>3129
That would be me: "Present Prefect". I think there's a third in our little group of name shenanigans, too.
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3138

>>3129
Lies. All lies.

The site's code is public, just saying.

3140

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>>3123
Something along the lines of "hmm, Ion's going to read this… you know, he might think this is pretentious", really. Just a completely random thought,heh.

>>3124
It's a very humbling experience, and I highly recommend it. I went with my church, but there are NGOs who do this kinda thing too.

>>3129
I have a hunch that it's Pav Fire.
>pic

3142

Now we all wait for next week, when Roger will throw three of these all at once.

Why? Just because.

I_Post_Ponies!7ZxXoTz/pI 3144

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Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the shenanigans. Congrats to the winners Casca, Pasca, Strum and Hayseed. I hope to one day consume your souls and writing abilities.

Ion-Sturm 3145

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>>3136
Thanks ^_^.

This madness must end!

>>3140
Eh, I suppose it could be interpreted that way, but it wasn't terrible enough to really demand attention. Now, if it was The Chronicles of an Honest Pony, we could have a problem.

>>3144
>Strum
Sometimes, I feel like I should just change my name to that :|

3146

File: 1357498490868.png (76.34 KB, 269x241, .. (2).PNG)

Welp, as usual, I didn't make the cut. Again, an expected failure. Doesn't matter though. I wrote the damn thing, and that's what matters.

as is my custom, I'll go ahead and say it:

My name is Garnot. I wrote "Lavender" I screwed it up beyond any hope of repair.

And I'm damn proud of it.


Congratulations to Casca for taking top spot. Also Congrats to Ion, Hayseed and Pracca for taking the other spots.

I'll guess I'll see you all next write off.

Edit
Well, seems like I've just been informed that YOU CAN edit your work after its posted.

Heh, seems like I could have fixed my horrendous crime against humanity, but didn't due to ignorance.

Ah well. Maybe next time (which I will fail, as per custom).
This post was edited by its author on .

Wooden-Spoon Winning Author of "Winona" 3162

Woo! I got a bronze! And a wooden spoon! (What were the wooden spoons for again?)

3164

>>3162
Wooden spoon refers to a last-place finish, but it's a little more than that. Roger would have to tell you the specifics.

Hayseed Turniptruck 3165

>>3116
The entirety of that text was copied to a text file for future study. Quite helpful.

I was wondering where all the missing and duplicated words went; they are the spell-check-escaping bane of my existence. I have a bad habit of editing ideas before the sentence is finished, which leaves lots of those mistakes in its wake.

Applejack tends to get lines that shuttle back and forth between Texas via Vancouver and Tennessee via Vancouver; my head-canon makes her Arkansas because I can.

"Amoung" (and for that matter most of Applejack's high-falutin' vocab) come from the fact that I am a Southeastern Illinois hillbilly (stone's throw from Possum Trot, KY) who was forced to read Thomas Hardy in my younger days. I dunno if he used as many semicolons, but I picked those up somewhere and can't get rid of them. I love a barrage of semicolon-laden sentences punctuated with the rimshot of a simple three word sentence.

Interestingly, Spike's "Make sure Winona knows she's loved"
was a clumsy attempt to say just what you're looking for: He's come to terms with the fact that he's surrounded by Winonas and wants to make sure they know he treasures their relatively fleeting existence. As is evident by my art submissions, I suck at subtle.

I truly appreciate you taking the time to dig into the nuts and bolts of the story; mechanics is definitely not my strong suit.


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