>The wind whistled past her ears, drawing her words away into the creamy orange of dawn.
Some misplaced modifiers are more innocuous than others, and this one isn't bad. But it does say that her ears drew the words away. It could be clearer as "The wind whistled past her ears and drew her words away…"
>looking for the telltale river mouth
Something about that phrasing sounds odd, but I'm not sure what an improvement would be.
>She was momentarily confused
I'd like to see more of a reaction from her than a tell.
Is there any other kind?
>pastoral, with a windmill and barn
This warrants more description. Just those two things isn't quite pastoral. I'd expect some description of the landscape, maybe animals that are around.
>She calculated that she had eight pony lengths to go. The slope was only about four ponies high, but it was angled in a way that a more knowledgeable pony would have termed exponential, and the path to travel was far longer than the rise.
Something about this is rather cold and analytical. And "calculated" implies she knows the function of the slope and knows how to compute arclength of it. Seems like "estimated" would be a better choice, with the following explanation showing that it was more than a blind guess.
>She might have sworn that was the moment when everything changed, too, had she thought about it.
The first and last parts of the sentence feel redundant in a strange way.
>Temples built on volcanoes didn't suddenly start looking like your childhood home.
I know it can be difficult to rephrase, but you haven't established a narrator that will speak to the reader, so it's awkward when it happens. You could use "one's" here.
>everything would be fine and she could go home again
Comma betwixt the clauses.
>Think of the rock farm. This is just like when you were a filly.
The former is borderline as a limited narrator, but the latter really needs to be rephrased or cast as a direct thought.
>she lay in the cool grass as the morning sun washed over her, just taking deep breaths
Another misplaced modifier that made me do a double take. It sounds like the sun is taking deep breaths.
>This… Is the place… All right
Given that this can be a syntactically correct sentence, you don't need any of the latter two capitalizations.
>They were all the more reminder she needed as to the river's effects on unwary travelers who sought to drink from it.
I get the gist of that sentence, but it doesn't really parse for me. Some odd phrasings.
>The trees overhead were the last between her and her goal.
By emphasizing the "overhead," it makes it sound like her goal is up.
>W is for… Water
Again, you don't normally capitalize after an ellipsis unless it necessarily begins a new sentence. Remove the ellipsis, and this makes sense as is.
>She rolled to her hooves and shook the grass off herself. "Silly pony, stop getting distracted! It's not just the river that's gonna make you forget why you came out here!"
I wonder if you couldn't accomplish as much with direct or, preferably, indirect thought here. It's always an odd conceit to have a character speak to herself for more than a few concise utterances.
>Yet even Rainbow Dash had looked scared after they returned without Pinkie. Seeing such a brave mare look so helpless had been the galvanizing moment for Derpy.
I'm giving you some leeway on being telly here, since it's set as a fleeting reminiscence in Derpy's head, and she's too rushed to reflect on details. But it's getting to be a bit much with all the blunt emotional states you're throwing at me.
>Ditzelina "Derpy Hooves" Doo
>just a few useful facts about Tartarus that began and ended with the river because she had gotten distracted from the book
Maybe you'll touch on this later—If that's really as far as she got, how does she feel about it? Confident? Or that time is of the essence, and she can't help it? If the latter, why wasn't she able to force herself to pay attention, since it's obviously important to her?
>Ahead, beyond the river and the cairn and the golden gates that lay between them
It's odd that these aren't in order. This and that and oh wait, there's something between them.
>laying in wait
Feels more like a dash here. What comes before the semicolon is distressingly unlike an independent clause.
If you want to use this style, that's okay, but you more commonly see double quotes when it's not inside a quotation.
>anything more dangerous than particularly large spiders
Seems like there's a story caught in the back of my mind that this could be referencing…
This is an odd conceit for me. I realize the story is in past tense, and thus everything is hindsight, but it's a bit self aware of the narrator to say so, particularly since she's still in the moment. This paragraph smacks of Pratchett, but his narrator adopts a conversational tone throughout the story, so it doesn't stick out when he pulls this. Here, it just felt out of place.
>and tell both of them that everything was going to be okay
Both of whom? She's including herself in that? Feels odd, given that she'd been narrating herself as a "she," and now feels a little detached. However there's not an elegant solution in the world of pronouns.
>she then flew home
Shift from the past perfect tense you'd been using in this paragraph.
>ponies braver than she. Until this moment, that was as brave as Derpy thought she'd ever need to be.
Repetitive, and I don't see a stylistic reason for it.
>Though the waters obviously flowed
How so? You're giving us evidence that it doesn't appear to, and we're missing all these "obvious" cues that it is. Are objects drifting in it? Is it making noise?
>It sailed silent
An adjective doesn't really parse there. Recommend "silently."
>who observed it with an unwavering gaze
You've described him as bones. Unless he holds the thing directly up in front of his face, or his head is tracking along with it as it moves, how does she know where his gaze is? She can't watch his eyes.
>if the being before her possessed skin, it would have raised an incredulous eyebrow at her
I get where you're going with this, but it sounds odd to say if he had skin, then something that's not skin would have been there, too.
>Heedless of her prior temerity
And now we go purple. This just feels out of character with Derpy, unless you're trying to paint her as an intellectual. But she had trouble with the book, so that wouldn't seem to be the case. It'd also work if you were going for it deliberately as an amusing juxtaposition, but you'd need to have been keeping it up through the whole thing so far. It just came out of nowhere.
>The ferry pony's head following her sluggishly, as though the creature's long existence had made it unused to surprise and it now had to remember how, precisely, to react.
That's a fragment, and I don't see a stylistic reason for it. I think you just made a typo in the first verb.
>Derpy's adrenaline fueled her dive into and then past the muffin, which she caught neatly before landing on the opposite riverbank.
I don't get what happened. She dove into the muffin, then past the muffin, then caught the muffin. I must be missing something.
>"He was funny!"
And this further convinces me that the brief burst of purple was a bad idea. It's also making her seem oblivious, which doesn't match the earlier description of her huddled in the closet with her daughter. One blunders her way through danger, and the other is acutely aware of it.
>Sweat plastered her mane against her eyes
I hope you didn't mean that literally. It sounds painful.
>Such thoughts were best kept to oneself, though. Her father had always taken a hard eye to criticism of the "family way."
Just wanted to point this out to show that here, you're following my advice of avoiding "you" and using double quotes.
Feels repetitive with the use of "joy" just two sentences earlier, particularly since you're not doing anything in the narration to emphasize that repetition for some purpose.
>She shoved hard and the boulder slid forward
Gimme a comma 'twixt the clauses.
>as though looking at something that should not exist
Yeah, you're channeling Pratchett all right.
>under the gaze of the gates' guardian
At the very least, this is begging for an "and," but it feels out of place and meandering. It feels like an afterthought.
>The three heads of Cerberus snarled down at her
This comes out of nowhere. The narrator never said Derpy was expecting to see him. We just had a description of the gates, and then, oh look, there's a giant dog here. Ho, hum.
>Derpy could not be certain that was not now in mortal danger
>squealing in fright
These "in emotion" phrases are almost always superfluous. I'm still seeing more blunt information about character emotions than I'd prefer. There's a lot of it in this passage. And yes, i know Pratchett does that all the time.
>a more appealing prey
I don't think the "a" is necessary.
>No, my precious muffins!
Somehow, that feels a bit cliched an unnatural.
>with a clink
You used that sound effect recently enough that it's stuck in my head.
>twitching slightly, feeling rather frizzed
It can be clunky to have like elements stacked. If you just made it a compound one with an "and," it'd probably flow better.
>weeks that she could have spent growing closer to her mother, her primary caretaker during that stretch
Something here is counterintuitive. She could have been getting closer to her mother during her recuperation, but it was exactly what gave them the time to do so. Are you saying that without the injury, they would have spent time together? Because that's just everyday life, and she hadn't gotten closer to her mother in every other instance of that.
Cut this bit. Unnecessarily passive, and the reader will assume it anyway.
>Her step quickened to a trot
I can't see her doing anything more than picking her way ahead gingerly if she can't see the way.
>Derpy realized, horrified
I'd rather see her reaction that have you summarize it.
I'm also noticing a lot of "as" clauses by now. Ctrl-f tells me you have 54 instances of the word. That's not awful for the word count, but if you look at where they are (depending on your browser—Chrome shows me dashes in the scroll bar where matches occur), you use them in clusters, so they feel locally repetitive.
>A pool of lava fed by a falls from beneath her hooves fed three molten rivers.
Repetition of "fed."
>The words seemed to be taken from her mouth rather than produced by any force of her will.
This is worth expanding on. The sensation of it being torn from her, the surprise that it could be mandated…
>Who said she couldn't save Pinkie, some creepy monster with no sense of personal space?
Well, I can't say this is wrong. I'll be the first to admit it may just be personal taste, but Derpy's passages feel schizophrenic. She oscillates between being gravely serious and flippant, and it's not played for comic effect really. It just leaves me confused.
>The Lord of Tartarus watched her go, and chuckled.
You don't need the comma. In my opinion, it's not even necessary for sorting out who did what, but you could add in a "he" if that was your concern.
>who she recognized immediately
>even if she couldn't believe the her presence here
>Pinkie's brows furrowed.
Generally, this refers not to the eyebrows, but to the forehead. So, "brow." Singular.
>posterior snugly, impeding her extrication
Second use of "posterior" in a small space, and another example of your verbiage creating a disconnect with your characters.
>She began to push with her front hooves against the sign, grunting.
Sounds like the sign is grunting.
>I was the only mare crazy enough to fly into and out of Tartarus alone, and I knew a plan would take too long to make
In case I never get the explanation, this is some huge suspension of disbelief. Why does she have to go alone? Why is time such a factor?
>so I did that and now here we both are!
Comma betwixt the clauses, please.
>It wouldn't be fair to– To
You and those double hyphens. And with a space after it, no less. And that second "to" doesn't need capitalization.
>The pony you're helping is gone, the big creepy guy even told me so!
Comma splices in dialogue. Some people don't care about them. I do. There are a few others.
>The force of Derpy's incredulity knocked her to the side
That's kinda weird. An emotion dislodged her from the sign? May need some more explanation as to exactly what happened.
>The grey mare shrank back from the force of Pinkie's voice.
It was unattributed dialogue. Give me something to relate how forceful it was. There's nothing to suggest it was more than matter-of-fact.
>She ignored it and continued.
And shrinking back isn't exactly ignoring. There must have been some transition.
>Pinkie's shoulder slumped.
Just the one?
>Pinkie turned her head and the boulder slipped
>"Pinkie, your leg!"
Wouldn't Derpy be making a fuss all along? There's the initial scream, but then nothing until it's already healing.
>Pinkie couldn't keep the irritation from her voice.
Or off her face? Hint, hint.
>Over her lazy eye
I remember Cassius getting pissed whenever people said that's what Derpy had…
>the effect was comical
To whom? Not Derpy herself. Pinkie's not in a humorous mood. The narrator? Most recently, he's been in Pinkie's perspective, and it shouldn't be unique to him, anyway. To the reader? I have no evidence that it was comical other than the narrator's word.
Fix these, or I'm going to find 1,000 potatoes.
>I saw all kind of creatures being tortured when I came here.
Repetition of "torture." If you do something to acknowledge and accentuate the repetition, it can work for you. Something as simple as italicizing "kinds" could work (yes, I suggest making it plural).
>Derpy rolled her good eye
I'm not sure canon has her wandering eye consistently on the same side. I know fanon doesn't. That is to say, I'm not sure she has a bad eye.
>Pinkie smiled for the first time in what felt like ages. "Okay, Derpy."
Wow. She was easy to convince.
>The ground was now a rushing stream of water beneath them and they slipped with each step.
Comma between the clauses.
>Pieces of what appeared to be roofing tiles assailed them.
How did they notice what they did or didn't seem to be? They were very pointedly ignoring everything else that was going on.
>Derpy did her best to knock them away with her wings, and saved them from the worst.
And this time, you don't have to have the comma. If you want it there, it's okay.
>Pinkie collapsed onto the stone
How'd she get on top of it?
>Come on Derpy
Comma for direct address.
>because I know rocks and stuff because I grew up on a rock farm
The nested "because" phrases feel repetitive.
>Sissy Hooves told me he'd be right back and he left me there!
Kind of the whole Hercules/Atlas thing revisited, no?
>Gently, she scooped Derpy up onto her back and trotted for the river.
Well, now that does beg the question of how they'll get back across the river. At least until Derpy wakes up.
So, after all that, I think I pretty much covered everything I wanted to say. I don't have many general comments, because there were opportunities to bring them up in specific instances. I guess my main points would be: It never really committed to the humor, so what was there felt halfhearted and out of place. There were some odd character disconnects, like rapid mood swings and diction that wasn't characteristic of Derpy in particular. The narrator's perspective wasn't always clear, and while for the most part, you never delved deep enough into a character's head to have him basically speak in that character's voice for her (and thus the transitions didn't feel too abrupt in the scenes that contained both Derpy and Pinkie), it's still worth considering whether these shifts are necessary, or whether that connection is being harmed by backing off into a more objective viewpoint at times. That's not to say that there's a hard-and-fast rule governing such things, or that I found it to be the case in any particular instance, but it should always be something on the writer's mind. And while the storytelling style you adopted can tolerate being relatively telly, there was too much of it for my taste. So what happened to Sissy Hooves anyway? Any relation to Derpy? And why not Sissy Fuss? Heh.
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