>It was a beautiful night.
The first sentence of your story is very important. This should not be the first sentence of your story. Ever.
First off this is a terrible cliche.
Second, the first thing you say in your fic should be something important, something that tells us what's going on. Telling us the fact that it's night, and the moon is out, and the stars are out, and nighttime shit is happening, is the opposite of important.
More about this in the next block of criticism.
>The princess of the night had done her job well. blah blah blah blah
By Faust and Jason, it only gets worse. Don't do this.
I would forgive you for this if you were to eventually say something like "the night was beautiful blah blah blah… and Trixie hated beautiful nights." See, as it is now, you've said all this stuff about the scenery for no damn reason.
I know you may feel like "setting the scene" is important, but let's really look at what you've done here. There are two things wrong.
First, you use pretty words to make the night "beautiful." But why should this scene take place on a beautiful
night? If anything, this seems like a shitty, depressing moment.
Second, you've created elements like croaking frogs for no reason. Pretend there aren't any croaking frogs; nothing is lost if they aren't there. Unless you're going to make a joke about the croaking frogs (the frogs were so loud that Trixie was tempted to blast one of the little shits with her horn) or the frogs are going to actually matter (suddenly one of the frog transforms into an alicorn princess).
Also notice that everything in this first paragraph is just a short sentence stating a fact. That makes it all worse. This post [http://mlpchan.net/fic/res/3348.html#5674
] has something to say about that, but truthfully, this is not a skill that can easily be learned except through experience. Keep it in mind, I suppose.
>The wagon held her few possessions and rolled alongside her wherever she went
Wasting words on mundane stuff like this is the worst form of "telling."
>and so far it had remained as loyal a friend as she deserved.
Now that's more interesting. Aside from the fact that this has the little aspect of "she doesn't deserve much" which I suppose means she's had her self-esteem damaged or something, this says something unusual–it calls the wagon her friend. You could cut the first part of this sentence and leave this part alone. Think of it as a form of show-don't-tell; you say the wagon is her friend, which gives us this impression of how she feels about the wagon and how useful it is to her.
>she had done things that she regretted deeply
Again, don't say things so plainly if they matter as much as this. She "regrets it deeply" so talk about her regretting it. Maybe the mere thought of it turns her stomach. Maybe she keeps a little souvenir to remind her not to be that way again. Maybe she remembers throwing a tantrum in frustration right after the Boast Busters episode. Again, similar to show-don't-tell.
>but it was time to face those things and the ponies she did them to
Same thing. "It's time for her to face those things." That's a very impersonal way to say something that should be talked about in terms of what Trixie is thinking.
>and the wanderer didn't even know
Calling Trixie "the wanderer" comes out of nowhere. I wrote this [http://mlpchan.net/fic/res/3582.html#4758
] and it gives my thoughts on things like this.
>Twilight, the mare knew
Why you thought this was a good idea is beyond me. Most things like this can just be replaced by the character's name. Read the part you're worried about out loud, and if it still sounds bad to you, restructure the sentences so that you end up saying the name less times.
>She hadn't been able to sleep during the night, and she had spent much of it walking.
Another thing that's boring, and straightforward, and shouldn't be. This could be made into something meaningful (she's tired, she's dirty, she's losing sleep because of anxiety) or it could be cut because you've already said PLENTY about her traveling and her being sorta down on her luck. Frankly, this weakness of yours is crushing. It makes the entire opening bit hard to read.
>Her head bolted up
So here's an example of what people want you to do when they say "show-don't-tell." Again, I'll post a full rant on show-don't-tell soon. Basically, you gave Trixie an action here that lets us know what she's feeling or thinking. Description, not thoughts and not impersonal information.
Show-don't-tell is very tough, but it's a way to write stuff that's much more interesting than the things I've been criticizing you for.
Here's another example:
>Immediately Fluttershy shrank back from Trixie's tirade.
You don't use words for how Fluttershy is feeling; you tell us what her reaction actually was.
This should be the default way to do it; the other ways are the exception. I'm bad about this too.
>She pulled a slightly stale biscuit out of her wagon and
This has officially gone on way too long. You need to cut this opening bit down. One paragraph would be sufficient. Slash this mercilessly and just spend a few sentences telling us that Trixie has been traveling, that she's looking kind of drab, etc.
You don't even need to tell us so many details about her being down on her luck, her feeling guilty, etc. Just like with the frogs, open your mind to the possibility of just dropping details that aren't actually important. All we need is an emotional and/or visual impression.
If it were me, I'd describe her as being dirty and worn down from hiking a long distance, maybe I'd describe some kind of bitter frown on her face, I dunno.
I could forgive this more easily if you spiced it up by having Trixie act, think, feel, in a distinctly Trixie way, but right now she's described in these very dry, impersonal terms. As such, to my eye, this is a big waste of space.
>"You do?" Trixie said hopefully.
Dialogue tags are another thing that you can do show-don't-tell on. It would be more interesting to describe Trixie looking a little more hopeful. Almost all dialogue tags are like this, actually–a dialogue tag like "said arrogantly" or a said-verb like "proclaimed" can often be replaced by actual description.
>"Kiss my ass!" he said, rolling his eyes and sneering.
He rolls his eyes. He sneers. He's a douche. I didn't need to say "he said arrogantly." If I wanted to give him a tone of voice, I might say "he snorted," because that's a said-verb that actually has a sensory meaning. Or I might add a sentence that says something like "His nasal blare sounded like what would happen if a duck blew into a kazoo. I wanted nothing more than to punch his stupid duck beak out the back of his head."
Note that you don't have to purge "telling" like this with extreme prejudice. Do, however, look for places where you're cheating the reader by not giving more detail.
>Fluttershy looked in Trixie's eyes, and for once she saw genuineness in them. She, above most other ponies, knew that second chances had to be given.
Here's another "what not to do." You're letting us see inside both Fluttershy's head and Trixie's, and it's jarring. There is such a thing as 3rd person where the narrator knows everything, but I don't know how to do it. Go ask someone else.
>Fluttershy asked with no small amount of hesitance.
Again with dialogue tags that could be turned into show-don't-tell. This is an extremely persistent problem. It is also probably the reason why I had a knee-jerk dislike for your dialogue. It plays out a rather simple "fluttershy forgives her" scenario, and you give the characters no chance to really bring moments to life. Fluttershy "seeing genuineness in Trixie's eyes" is a good example.
Here's a start: If you were to write some really melodramtic shit, like all purple prose and OH TRIXIE YOU'RE SO MISUNDERSTOOD I WANT TO REACH OUT TO YOUR HEART and shit, what would you write?
Well you haven't written *any* of that, and you should write a little more of it. The action, the dialogue, is dry. It's simple.
This even hurts your characterization. The way Trixie acts like Trixie is much weaker, because the way she snaps at Fluttershy, then quickly tries to be nice again, isn't given any good description. Going more towards the melodramatic will encourage you to milk things like this, emphasize them to the reader, and make them dramatic instead of something as simple as "and then Fluttershy forgave Trixie."
And I don't just mean moments of interaction either.
>The restless pony was trying to sort through the townsponies through her mind to see which one would be the most okay with seeing her. No… that didn't sound right. It would have to be the pony that despised her the least.
This is only one of a few places you could do this, and it's not necessarily the best one, but this would be a place to write some kind of melodramatic crap about how miserable Trixie is. Have her think about each pony, show her opinions about them… and how much she thinks they hate her.
Not doing moments like this is a waste, and it makes your work pointless and boring. It also makes it so that I can't decide if I like or hate your Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash "voices" and mannerisms and such. You have some understanding of the characters, but you play them awkwardly.
If you like I'll review more, but I'm reading forward and it looks like these are completely persistent–they are your main problems, beyond a doubt.
I know it's disappointing to get a review that never really addresses your characterization or whatever, but this is who I am, and what I've criticized you on is the aspect of writing that I care about the most. I fully encourage you to ask questions if you want more help with something I've said here.
Sorry that I didn't actually comb your work for specific places where you should do things like "make this melodramatic" or "show don't tell," but frankly the problem is so frequent that I don't want to. Maybe you want to sweep this and improve it or maybe you don't want to do such heavy edits on something that's 17,000 words long. Both are fine.
When I give such overhwelmingly negative reviews, I tend to end with this advice:http://mlpchan.net/fic/res/3582.html#4984
I can't improve your story and I can't improve you. You have to do both of those things yourself.
And there's no shame in that. Keep writing and keep growing.
This post was edited by its author on .