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Critique & Editing for Full Stories 6726

#Reviewer #Closed Queue: >>6727

Hey, a review thread. Here’s how it works: you submit stuff, and I review it. Pretty simple.

Rules

1. A review request must—
(a) include a self-sufficient story and its title, synopsis, and wordcount;
(b) be submitted for either critique or editing; and
(c) be made explicitly in a post with subject “Review Request” (or some variation)
2. If a work is submitted for editing, then the story must be provided as a comment-enabled Google Docs document.
3. I’m not obligated to review anything.

Some clarification:

1(a). A submitted story must contain a fully complete narrative with the only assumptions about me as a reader being that I’ve seen every episode of MLP:FiM. I don’t want half-finished stories, prologues, first chapters of dreamt epics, etc. Provided these criteria are met, I don’t care about the genre, length, etc. of the story, nor do I care whether or not it’s fanfiction.

1(b). I review stories in one of two modes: either critique or editing.

Critique involves me reading your story and then letting you know what I think about it as a whole.
Editing involves me reading your story and red-lining every mechanical foible I can find.

These modes are mutually exclusive. If you feel you need both, submit first for critique and then afterwards for editing.

3. This in particular applies to editing, which has the purpose of being a final polish onto what should already be a well-drafted work. If you submit a hacked-together first draft for editing right away, I’m just going to reject it.

Queueing

I allot 2 hours per day for reviewing.

I am a relatively slow reader at around 220 words per minute. For critique, you can expect this to be somewhere around 200 words per minute, followed by about half of that time spent writing the critique, give or take some for how much there is to say. For editing, it’s about 50 words per minute. (These are currently gross estimates and subject to refinement given more data.)

The queue will be handled in a first in first out (FIFO) manner that makes use of a time-sharing mechanism. Whenever a review is taken off the queue, it is allocated up to 4 hours for reviewing. If the review is not done by the end of this time, it will be placed back on the end of the queue and the next review will be worked on. I use this system so that large reviews (e.g., editing a whole novel which would take 40 hours or 20 days) do not congest my workload so much that no other reviews can be done. To get an idea of how this looks in practise, see the “Example Queue” sheet in my review spreadsheet.

Please note that the “E” in “ETA” stands for “estimated”. That means it’s not entirely precise. If I’m a little bit off, that’s just the way it is. I’m trying to make these estimates very generous, so hopefully they’re off in a way that I’m early more often than late.

Also, this system is flexible. If you have any questions about your review, don’t be afraid to ask them. You can contact me via this thread, IRC (#fic on irc.canternet.org), or email ([email protected]).

Appendix

Review spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnDeokHj1HDFdHFCN1NEX2xHakFJbjhKQ3NHZUpyaWc
Editing shorthand: http://rogerdodger.me/2013/07/08/editing-shorthand/

Current Queue 6727

Queue is empty.
This post was edited by its author on .

Review Request 6728

Self-submitting an entry from TTG, >>5990

ID: 1
Title: Twilight's Dollhouse
Author: Kaidan
Link: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/91302/twilights-dollhouse
Mode: Critique
Wordcount: 94,690

Ion-Sturm 6730

File: 1373314620197.gif (984.44 KB, 416x234, 7BK5X9E.gif)

>>6726
>The queue will be handled in a first in first out (FIFO) manner that makes use of a time-sharing mechanism. Whenever a review is taken off the queue, it is allocated up to 4 hours for reviewing. If the review is not done by the end of this time, it will be placed back on the end of the queue and the next review will be worked on. I use this system so that large reviews (e.g., editing a whole novel which would take 40 hours or 20 days) do not congest my workload so much that no other reviews can be done. To get an idea of how this looks in practise, see the “Example Queue” sheet in my review spreadsheet.

*Raises hand*

Query: Do you provide a critique each time you use up the four allocated hours, or is it all saved until the story is completely read? Also, to play devil's advocate, couldn't this cause some level of forgetting story elements during the interim and thereby result in a less-than-ideal critique?
This post was edited by its author on .

6731

File: 1373319159343.png (73.2 KB, 125x125, 132631965934.png)

>>6730
It would make sense to me that he would just write the review as he goes along, and saves the document to be picked up and continued later. That's what I would do, anyway, but I'm sure Rog has a sensible solution.

6737

>>6730
I partially write the critique as I'm reading, but it won't be posted until fully completed.

read my stuff kplzthx Tactical!fRainBOoMw 6766

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hInoy5X4AHpzptpZWjKR0U0nLypcXJr1xZb3dtzjlLE/edit

The Legend of Starswirl (I hate this title, but the one it had before was a million times worse).

Critique, not editing.

6200 words

The legend of Starswirl the Bearded is a long one, full of myth and speculation. Twilight has long admired him for his accomplishments in the field of magic theory; others know him as a hero who saved Equestria more than once.

When Twilight and her friends decide to write a play honoring Starswirl's legacy, a disagreement between Twilight and Rainbow Dash over the historical details takes an unexpected twist in the form of an ancient evil seeking revenge on its old nemesis.




This thing is very old, but I still sorta like it. Just now, I went over it, fixed some errors, and added a sentence here, a paragraph there. I would like to fix it up for EQD.

Thanks for your help.
This post was edited by its author on .

6767

>>6766
Added to queue with ID 2

I'm attending a startup weekend tomorrow which will delay reviews by about 2.5 days. Queue ETAs have been updated accordingly.

Review of "The Legend of Starswirl" 6768

The whole opening scene was terribly cliched, though I guess that was the point.

You’ve gotta decide if it’s “Starswirl” or “Star Swirl” because you’re using both interchangeably.

Your opening has a pretty weak hook. The cliched opening transitions into a rug-pull revealing that Twilight and Rainbow Dash are rehearsing a play, which is… not really interesting.

> “Also, the script you gave me has Star Swirl as two words, like the comic. It’s one word, not two. Starswirl.”


That… seems a bit too meta. The pronunciation between the two would be night indistinguishable. And it’s a bit of a lame joke anyway.

The real Uldavrazen shows up, and the play becomes a reality. Heh.

This story suffers pretty heavily from the main conflict effectively being a fight. The only possible ending is a resolution by magic, which is incredibly boring.

I’ll be honest, I started only glazing over the words for the final battle scene. She shoots some magic, she makes a shield, she shoots some more magic, she believes in the heart of the cards and saves the day.

The aspect of this story that needs more focus is Uldavrazen and Starswirl’s complex pasts. Is Starswirl really the bad guy? Then everything Twilight has ever believed is a lie. Uldavrazen eventually causes Twilight to reveal herself as not being the real Starswirl, at which point she begins taunting her. “Everything you know is a lie. All your books of so-called history were written by a fraud, a trickster, and you are the patsy.” Uldavrazen has the physical upper-hand, so there’s no need to resort to any kind of actual fighting, save for Twilight possibly lashing out at the taunting.

I’m not sure how you can create a good resolution out of that, but I’m confident it’s there. What you have now amounts to Twilight getting in a fight and then winning it. The actual fight itself is uninteresting. That is the nature of a one-shot.

Craft a more detailed past between Starswirl and Uldavrazen. Everything left unsaid and “to the reader’s imagination” is mostly just an excuse not to fill in the details.

Before the big reveal (the real Uldavrazen shows up), the story has nothing going for it. Personally, after the second page I would’ve stopped reading. You need to create some kind of meaningful conflict within the play setting, so that when the real conflict shows up it’s less “Oh, now this is actually interesting,” and more, “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!” This would make the pre-reveal section a bit longer, but I can’t think of any other way to fix the problem where you effectively have no hook.

If you’re not terribly married to the whole rug-pull on page two, removing that will probably make adding this initial conflict easier. With the rug-pull, you’re effectively preventing anything on page one from being “real”, which makes creating any kind of conflict within that pivotal time very difficult.

Critique Request: Equestria from Dust Soundslikeponies!bQsJPGMNfw 6773

File: 1373570470371.jpg (89.01 KB, 746x1070, s_p_e_l_l_by_miltvain-d63xld7.…)

Fic: Equestria from Dust

http://www.fimfiction.net/story/33610/equestria-from-dust

Synopsis: Celestia awakens to see an empty world, white sandstone stretching the horizon. She wanders the world as she builds it from her imagination, filling it with life, but as time passes, the world that she created begins to seem like little more than a lucid dream, conjured from the dust.

Word Count: ~70,000

The final chapter is complete but won't be posted until this weekend, not that you'll be there by then. I'm basically looking for some kind of reflection on my newly finished work so I have a better understanding of what I need to work on for my next multichapter fic.

6774

>>6773
Added to queue with ID 3 and mode 'Critique'

Tactical 6775

Thanks for your quick response. You've hit criticisms that I definitely never thought of. You also missed a bit of meaning while you were glazing, which I'd my own failing.

I guess the thing is rather hamstringed by the fact that it's a glorified write-off entry, and that yeah, I got lazy with the whole history thing.

Only one person has ever commented on the "vulva" joke.

Review of “Twilight's Dollhouse” Ch. 1–9 6801

File: 1373837071511.jpg (17.07 KB, 268x345, the stuff of nightmares.jpg)

Well, let’s get it started then…

Ch. 1

The story opens by telling the reader that less than a month after her coronation, Twilight’s brother is killed (by untold causes), and she is left to console the grieving widow. What follows is a particularly gruesome death scene where Cadance lies in a bathtub of her own blood. Twilight freaks out and presumably passes out from nausea.

…And then it was all a dream. Whether or not this is intended, what this move very explcitly tells me is that I can no longer trust the narrator. At any moment, I can expect the narrator to pull the rug out from under me and say, with a rather smug look on his/her face, “Fooled you!” Now, personally, this is pretty off-putting, and I imagine for a lot of readers this will be a major deal-breaker.

The other big issue is that there’s no longer a hook. For most kinds of fiction, and especially the genre, the opening needs a hook. It’s what keeps the reader reading. “What’s going to happen next?” While reading the dream sequence, the two main questions I had were “How did Cadance die (i.e. who is responsible)?” and “How will Twilight cope with this?” Both of these are perfectly serviceable hooks. But then the story goes ahead and says, “Tricked ya!” at which point there’s no reason I can’t close the story right there and then.

Aside from that, it’s not very well communicated whether or not Shining Armor is actually dead. Can I trust that the bit of narration at the start was the truth? Was the dream a re-enactment of something that actually did happen, or was it merely fantasy? These questions being left answered leave a bad taste in my mouth, and for what?

The nightmare sets the tone for the story, and its purpose seems to be justification for Twilight’s action that follow. Suffering from psychotic nightmares after the death of her brother (I guess that part was true?), Twilight decides that she should immortalise Ponyville in a perfect replica of Ponyville.

Is the same effect possible without the very risky use of a dream sequence?

The scene in which Lyra is trapped and enshrined in plastic is paced well. I did have some trouble visualising exactly what was going on, but that’s most probably on my part.

By contrast, Bon Bon’s scene was very fast. There’s a quick transition from Lyra’s to Bon Bon’s that spares no time in detailing Twilight’s preparations as it did earlier. It’s somewhat jarring how the pace changed so much between the two scenes.

What was more concerning to me, however, is how, well, dumb Bon Bon was. Lyra’s breakfast with Twilight was planned well in advance. I find it terribly unbelievable that Bon Bon didn’t know that Lyra had been at Twilight’s the day before. The normal reaction in such a circumstance would have been for Bon Bon to show up at the crack of dawn to Twilight’s house, red-eyed, asking her where Lyra is. “The last time I saw her she was leaving to your house to return a book. Did she come here? Have you seen her?”

The reason this bothers me is that there’s no reason for her not to know this information and to ask those questions. It doesn’t change the following sequence in any way. Twilight can still go eye-twitching mad and trap her in the doll house.

Then Rainbow Dash crashes in on it and doesn’t see what’s going on? The whole series of events happens far too quickly to be simply hand-waved away by “Twilight hides it all with her magic”. For this to work, Rainbow Dash has to knock on the door. But Rainbow Dash probably wouldn’t knock, so maybe it ought to be someone else, probably Applejack, who is above and beyond most likely to be the first person to round people up in case of an emergency. It would be preferable if Applejack shows up and knocks. Then the whole interaction doesn’t occur over the span of two sentences, and I’m not left in disbelief of how Rainbow Dash didn’t see all the weird voodoo going on.

Ch. 2

Lyra develops her Stockholm Syndrome a little too eagerly. The narration sounds like she actually sympathises with her captor already. Surely her actions could only be described as calming the beast as a means of self-preservation, as opposed to actually wanting to help it.

The other crazy disconnect is between Lyra and Bon Bon’s actions. The first chapter has Lyra, minutes before her being turned into a doll, bemoan her love and adoration of Bon Bon. And the she goes ahead and sympathises with the person whom Bon Bon is supremely pissed off at. I can’t think of many relationships that could possibly be built on such an odd foundation of carelessness for the other’s feelings.

Now Lyra lets us know that Cadance really did die, further putting to question why the first scene had to be a dream sequence. I’m also left wondering if the dream sequence is an accurate representation of how Cadance died, and if so, how did that happen? Was it suicide?

This is supposedly a month after Twilight’s coronation, which begs for more details on Shining Armor’s death since he was middle-aged and of prime health last we saw him.

The entire beginning scene of this chapter feels very heavy-handed. I hate to play this card, but despite how much the narrator tells me that Twilight has two personalities—one evil, and one scared and alone—it’s never shown. For the most part, she’s just acting crazy. There’s no nervousness in Lyra’s voice, no emotion. There’s no manic depravity in Twilight’s voice. Everything about the interaction feels so… plastic.

Vinyl’s scene is well done. Lyra’s trembling and emotion communicates the gravity of her situation and seems far more realistic than her previous nonchalant chats with Twilight.

Ch. 3

There’s not much to say about this chapter. It could almost be removed.

Ch. 4

Cadance’s death is explained as suicide, as expected. The scene is unnecessarily retold to Lyra over four paragraphs of dialogue. The real question, why Shining Armor died, remains unanswered.

By the end of this chapter, Twilight has more than comfortably crossed the moral event horizon, murdering two people in waxy blood. There is no redemption from this point.

So far, the general pattern of this story is that someone shows up to Twilight’s house, and with little difficulty Twilight traps them in her doll house. Each chapter is named like this is going to happen. As a reader, I’m expecting this trend to continue.

To be frank, I’m not interested in reading the exact same scene 18 times with the only difference being whom Twilight’s unfortunate target happens to be. I find that there are two main aspects of this narrative that need to be focussed on, and which were so glibly devoted merely a few paragraphs at the start of this chapter: how Twilight is covering this up, and how her victims are conspiring to escape.

The former is most important. There’s no way Twilight can be getting away with this so easily. That it’s hand-waved away leads me very strongly to believe the only real investment anyone can have in this story is an enjoyment in watching a manic Twilight trap all of Ponyville inside of a doll house. I’m not at all convinced that Twilight is going to get caught or even have difficultly concealing her misdeeds, nor am I convinced that her victims will ever escape, merely because the author is more concerned with getting to the next scene in which another helpless victim falls prey to Twilight Sparkle’s scheme.

I like Bon Bon’s confrontation with Twilight. It hits her where it hurts and forces an escalation of the situation.

Filthy Rich’s arrival at the library is unplanned. This says that Twilight’s going to start having a lot more trouble keeping this all under wraps. Things are no longer going to plan. That there’s already 22 ponies in the doll house now and nobody has raised any questions is totally unbelievable. The narrator sits there telling me that Twilight has cleverly pulled it off, but all I’m seeing is her deviating from the plan and making mistakes all over the place. By this, I can only infer, as earlier, that the author is more interested in the sadistic doll house than telling an actual story.

I will remain optimistic and hope future chapters prove my worries as misguided. But a lot of readers won’t. Had I not been doing a critique of the story, I would have stopped reading a while ago.

A very integral part of writing a story is that the reader is lead to believe that something interesting is still coming. That’s what keeps them reading. I’d be very interested in seeing how Twilight gets away with this (or doesn’t). I’d be interested in seeing the victims conspire against Twilight, seeing how they react to the situation amongst each other. The conflict between the victims should absolutely not be whether or not they sympathise with Twilight, because aside from Stockholm Syndrome (which Lyra doesn’t exhibit exhibit proper characteristics of), such a reaction is nonsensical. It should be about what their plan of action is. Appease her to gather information to stage an escape? Revolt? Do nothing out of a perceived helplessness?

What it comes down to is this: right now, I don’t trust that this story is going in a direction more substantive than sadism, so I don’t know why I’d bother to continue reading. Each chapter, Twilight will capture another helpless victim. Lather, rinse, repeat. The chapter names don’t do anything to assuage this concern. For me to want to keep reading, the story must hint to there being something more to it coming up than that.

Ch. 5

> The biggest complaint is that they’re bored.


If the story is transitioning into a self-satire, then this is the right way to go.

Every single interaction in this chapter is a complete mess. Lyra still thinks that Twilight is redeemable. Um, hello? Twilight just murdered two people. Not only did she murder two ponies, but she murdered them to set an example, to strike fear into her captives.

But yes, their biggest complaint is that they’re bored. Not that they’re at the mercy of a lunatic that Lyra sympathises with her somehow.

It’s all so absurd. The worst sin is the complete void of emotion in a story that is so recklessly playing with death. Vinyl’s act is a joke. Her plan is nonsensical. Lyra’s spat in defence of Twilight is contrived.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a full chapter without trapping another pony. Of course there are no complications. Just tack that on the end there.

Ch. 6

Silver Spoon is a blithering moron. How did that interaction possibly end with her ignoring all the stuff that Vinyl was going on about? Oh, right, kids are idiots, aren’t they? Of course.

Applejack is a clairvoyant. I mean, sure, why not? Anyone reading at this point is going to do so no matter how contrived it gets.

The number of typographical errors in this chapter is egregious. I know I’m doing a critique here, so I won’t focus on specifics, but there is a marked decrease in editorial tenacity taken to this chapter. This just reaffirms the above: the author is well aware that by this point, anyone still reading will continue to do so regardless of what’s actually written.

Funny that the review request wanted focus on the earlier chapters. I mean, why bother with such trivialities as “good writing” at that point, right? We’re only doing this for page views and sadism anyway.

Ch. 7

I like Spike’s confrontation with Twilight.

At least the captives are plotting an escape.

Ch. 8

Motherfucking Colgate here to save the motherfucking day. Thank God, someone in Ponyville finally has their bloody head screwed on.

But All Cops Are Stupid, right? What the hell kind of lackadaisical police force considers the disappearance of half of a bloody town as low-priority stuff? What a load of contrived hooey.

> “For now I’m going to show Twilight my evidence.”


I take it back. Apparently for this story to work, literally every character in it has to be an idiot. Colgate just listed a whole mountain of evidence suggesting that Twilight is the primary suspect, that ponies are always last seen visiting her, and now she’s going to go visit Twilight with this evidence. How can someone be that mind-numbingly stupid?

I must admit that the author’s explanation for why Trixie talks in third person is clever.

The rest of this chapter is same old same old. I’m getting terribly bored of this. What’s that, Twilight has trapped another pony in her doll house? What an interesting development! Let’s just go ahead with another ten chapters where nothing else happens.

Ch. 9

Lyra is a moron. More news at 11.

Naturally Twilight can’t be bothered with the theatrics, because we’ve gone through this nine times already.

This comment on the story leaves my questioning the sanity of this story’s audience:

> I hope Twi succeeds in her mission. Everyone thinks of her as a monster, when really she’s lonely (Excluding Lyra and Big Mac of course.)


Lyra has Stockholm Syndrome and Bic Mac has been literally brainwashed.

Twilight has kidnapped a total of 29(?) people and tortured almost all of them in the process. She has killed one person and then brought her back to life. She has accidentally killed 2 more people and intentionally and sadistically killed 3. In America, that would get you the death penalty. In more liberal places, that would get you stuck in an institution for life.

Every monster is the hero of their own story. That doesn’t make them any less a monster.

It takes some seriously disturbing mental gymnastics to think that Twilight deserves anything less than corporal punishment.

Let me reiterate: she has killed 5 people in cold blood, 3 of which were premeditated.

I’d even go so far as to say her motivation for doing these things make it even worse than if she had just randomly killed 5 people for no reason. She’s doing it for purely selfish reasons. It’s the most disgusting and manipulative reaction to immortality imaginable—playing God in the most literal sense.

This is not a slight on the story. In fact, it’s rather remarkable how even after all this, there are some people who can sympathise with her. Truly remarkable—fucked up, but remarkable.

A slight on the story, however, is how terribly unemotional every character still remains in light of this situation. Where is the fear? Where is the depravity? Where is the mania? Despite the casual, sadistic murder going on, everyone is still playing heroics and shit. It’s asinine. I’m actually mad at how stupid and plastic everyone in this story is.

Review of “Twilight’s Dollhouse” Ch. 10–17 6802

File: 1373837165150.png (86.8 KB, 249x225, _5fa.png)

Ch. 10

So apparently Silver Spoon is a sadistic megalomaniac too.

Twilight can’t sleep at night. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her?

So is Big Mac brainwashed or not?

Is Officer Locke actually retarded? Do I need to reiterate how much evidence there is against Twilight?

> I can’t just circle the wagons around Twilight’s house and barge in. We have laws, protocols to follow…


So you say, “I’ll get a search warrant right away.” What a fucking mongoloid. An EXPOLOSION THAT KILLED FOUR PEOPLE and OVER TWENTY MISSING PERSONS is not probable cause to search people’s houses? What the hell else does a police officer have to do in a now-deserted Ponyville?

Applejack is going to go get herself kidnapped. GENIUS. Why is everyone in this story so god damn stupid?

Just stab her in the fucking throat, Colgate. Jesus Christ. Why would someone, in the face of a life-threatening danger, relent to that danger? Colgate has every reason to believe that Twilight is going to kill her. Not trying to kill her contradicts very basic and primal instincts of self-preservation.

The trap Twilight has placed is also very convient, almost Batman-esque.

> Her best friend had nearly killed her in a blind rage over one stupid younger sister.


Even in psychopathy, there is an internal consistency. Twilight is doing all of this in grief of her lost brother and sister-in-law. How does this remark make any sense?

Silver Spoon, a child, just murdered Applejack.

How do kids normally react to domestic violence? They hide in the corner and cry. This is the same situation. There’s no indication nor rhyme nor reason for Silver Spoon to be psychopathic. Everything she’s done so far has apparently been out of ignorance (torturing the crusader dolls, “rescuing” the Vinyl doll). All of a sudden she does a very explicit act of psychopathy that no normal kid would ever do just because it, again, happens to be convenient for the story? Unbelievable.

The author plays with murder like a toy.

Also, when someone gets stabbed anywhere around the chest/torso, they don’t die straight away. There’s two possible reactions. First: they don’t even notice, and adrenaline keeps them conscious for a good two to three minutes. It might feel more like being punched in the back than actually being stabbed. Only once they see the wound will they even know they’ve been stabbed. Second: they notice, and they start screaming and wailing like crazy about the pain. Adrenaline still keeps them conscious and active for a good few minutes. What won’t happens is instant crippling and death. Stabbing in the chest area will cause a severe loss of blood that will quickly lead to unconsciousness—and shortly after without medical attention, death—but it isn’t anywhere near close to instant.

Most fiction depicts this wrong, though, because people presume stabbing is instantly debilitating, so it’s possible to get away with this.

Ch. 11

Luna senses a disturbance in the force. Coincidentally, that disturbance is that everyone in the story is a moron, and she too is afflicted with the author’s terrible curse.

Ch. 12

Why was Fluttershy the first one to bring up the topic of death?

Luna is just waiting around while the prime suspect goes and kindnaps a couple more people.

Every time I think that this story could not outdo itself, I’m proven wrong. I’m having a hard time deciding just who is the biggest idiot in this story.

Mountains of evidence against Twilight? Oh, she’s just grieving. Trixie in the wrong place at the wrong time? TO THE GALLOWS WITH YOU, WITCH Not only that, but she’s hardly in “the wrong place”, is she? The “magical aura” left behind would still be Twilight’s. That Luna could possibly come to this conclusion is beyond ludicrous.

Ch. 13

Silver Spoon is not only not remorseful, she actually felt exhilarated by killing Applejack. I’m still not sure at what point Silver Spoon became a psychopath.

Is Echo now the only bastion of sanity left in Ponyville? I’d place my hopes in him, but the last five times I put some hope in somepony, they went all stupid on me.

Ch. 14

The doll house’s barrier is somehow broken by Rainbow Dash faffing about in the air. Resolution via magic. Lame.

I mean, is that really going to be the resolution? Scootaloo escapes and tells Celestia. Celestia comes along and whoops Twilight’s ass. I suppose it could be worse.

Ch. 15

There’s no dramatic tension in this chapter in lieu of Scootaloo’s escape. Regardless of the outcome, Scootaloo is going to notify Celestia in time.

Echo being Luna in disguise is dubious. The question is then at what point did they enact this disguise? Throughout the entire story they have had very distinct characteristics. Luna did not want to breach the law under any circumstance. Echo was fine with locking Twilight away. Echo was more aggressive. Perhaps they went with the disguise from the onset, but at that time surely Luna didn’t have enough suspicion to prompt the diguise.

Also, this discussion with Echo in chapter 14 contradicts the premise outright:

> “You would tempt me down the same path I trot a thousand years ago? To let emotion and fear influence my judgement? To assume guilt before innocence?” Luna asked.


If at this point Luna is Echo, why would she use that phrasing?

It’s kind of obvious that this was thought up on the spot rather than planned. Neither Echo’s nor Luna’s actions before this chapter foreshadow this in the slightest, and most of their actions contradict it. To anyone paying attention, it’s very clearly deux ex machina.

What’s kind of comical is that, as mentioned before, it doesn’t even matter because Scootaloo has escaped anyway.

Ch. 16

> “You are charged with the murder of two Lunar Guards, Colgate, Bon Bon, and the disappearance of at least twenty-eight others.”


Luna’s intel must be off here. Didn’t that explosion in chapter 1 kill two other ponies? Also, how does she know Lyra isn’t dead? If she knows that, then surely she knows of the other murders too.

The fight scene is completely spoilt by the chapter title. “Blackest Night”? Gee, I wonder if Twilight is going to successfully kill Luna?

> It had taken two hours when it should have taken twenty minutes to cross Canterlot to the castle due to her size.


I don’t really see how being smaller makes you fly that much slower. Smaller wingspan, sure, but also smaller mass. She’d end up with about the same velocity as normal. Also,

> It was a short ride to reach her, reminding Scootaloo how much she missed being able to […] fly like a normal sized pony.


Scootaloo can’t fly normally.

Um, isn’t Celestia already aware of all that is going on? That’s what Luna said, anyway. This whole Scootaloo subplot is kind of meaningless.

How the flipping hell did Luna get back to Canterlot castle?

Ch. 17

> Celestia was a blur as she conjured a flaming sword and intercepted the bolt of energy. Twilight stood stunned at the magical construct. “But… that is a lost magic. Unicorns haven’t fought with conjuration since the Nightmare wars!”


Yet, for all practical purposes this is no less useful than using telekenises with any old katana…

Twilight really should have just died. I’m not sure what purpose her teleporting out last second has.

Epilogue

Celestia can’t remember Twilight’s name, but she has letters that are signed with it. Makes sense.

Review of “Twilight’s Dollhouse” Summary 6803

File: 1373837257230.jpg (41 KB, 468x355, _3ki.jpg)

If it’s not incredibly obvious by now, I did not like this story. No, I would go so far as to say I hated this story. The three most memorable things that raised my ire were how unemotional and plastic most of the characters were at times of crisis and crippling hope (this was not really an issue later chapters, though), how atrociously unjustified it was to have Silver Spoon both murder Applejack and then revel in it afterwards, and just how god damn stupid every single character acted throughout all of the second act.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would not recommend this story to anyone, unless it was so heavily rewritten to be a different one entirely. In fact, that would be my recommendation: to rewrite this story from about the point at which everything went wrong, which to my recollection was chapter 2.

But I won’t recommend that for two reasons: one, you won’t listen to me anyway, and two, I wouldn’t listen to me either. I know with a good degree of certainty that whatever it is that you were trying to write, I’m not the target audience for that. And that I actually hated your story? That is not such a big deal. I’m one person. As an author, your enemy more than anything is indifference. This story could have been a lot worse if it weren’t so infuriating. That emotional connection is still a far better one than boredom. Readers being bored with your story is the absolute worst thing that could happen.

So is this story, the one I so despise, the one you wanted to write? If so, congratulations. Writing such a body of work that some audience can enjoy is not a trivial task. (And I don’t mean that sarcastically in the slightest.)

I doubt you’re about to rewrite your entire story because of one grumpy critic, so I’ll just enumerate a few important things that are more-or-less easily fixable:

– Make it very clear to the reader that the initial dream sequence is a replaying of an event that actually did happen. This is absolutely pivotal in fixing the earlier issues listed with dream sequences.
– Explain how Shining Armor died and how this lead to Cadance’s suicide.
– Get rid of any mind-control spell usage on Big Mac. After that point in the story, nothing he says is worth anything because it’s simply a visage of how he has been moulded. He’s no longer a character in and of himself. He’s just a puppet.
– Either doll Silver Spoon up into actually being a psychopath, or figure out some other way of ending the altercation with Applejack. As it stands, Silver Spoon killing anyone at that point in time is balls-to-the-wall asinine.
– Remove the Scootaloo escaping subplot because it makes the conflict in chapters 15 and 16 without tension
– Tone down the swearing. Perhaps remove it entirely. I don’t know why, but even in context it’s totally awkward.

With that said, do not bother submitting this to Equestria Daily. Do not even bother hoping that it will be accepted. I say this with a fair degree of confidence.

If your goal is to get onto EqD, make sure the next thing you write is nothing like this story.

On a more systematic level, one thing that I would suggest you work on more than anything is characterisation and dialogue. Aside from Twilight—who was completely psychotic and so I don’t feel in a position to judge—every character was severely inconsistent and samey. Every doll spoke and acted in the exact same way. Aside from Echo, every character was incredibly stupid.

The other big issue is your obvious lack of planning. This translates fully into Twilight’s character. What could have made this story unbelievably fantastic would have been if Twilight’s plan of action was impeccable. Every time the reader thinks she’s about to get caught, she’s six moves ahead and cleverly dodges suspicion. As it’s currently written, every escape from danger was a contrivance of the investigator being a complete buffoon. As a reader, that is entirely unsatisfying and the primary reason that I was unable to take the story seriously and consequently unable to be at all “creeped out” by it, as I assume was the intention.

More on that: nothing in this story struck me as particularly creepy. The premise was there to stay from the get go. Twilight is making people into dolls. Okay, I’ll buy it because I have to for the story, but is that it? Maybe the Internet has desensitised me too much, but that’s not really creepy. The true trick to horror is giving the reader that niggling suspicion that “Whoa, this could actually happen!” Unfortunately, even if I did buy the premise that Twilight would go loco over her brother and sister-in-law’s deaths, I can’t buy that she would both be so careless in her planning, and that everyone around her would be complete morons.

What I can say you did fairly well was pacing. On a per-chapter level there were some issues that I noted, but on the whole there is a good structure to this story. It has all of the elements that a novel ought to have and at the right times, albeit totally fudged. The first, second, and third acts are very clear and have the meaning and elements they should. You had the best ending you could to what was a very shaky and disconnected plot (sans Twilight not dying outright).

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

Anonymous 6805

>>6803
>unemotional and plastic
That was on purpose, wasn't it?

Review Request: GBaC Casca 6821

File: 1373985855969.jpg (819.9 KB, 900x1255, derpy_suwako.jpg)

Title: George Buys A Chair
Synopsis: In which George discovers the joys and frustrations of building one's own chair, and himself along with it.
Wordcount: 5776
Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1guy-9dC6nhxKw51-Tkqc4tj-c6O7ejHXLBcOswdZpqo/edit

Critique, please.

Extra mode involves addressing the concerns of the editor who rejected this: "I felt the story was too slow to start, keeping the reader in suspense for too long as to what George's problem was."

Thank you kindly!

6822

>>6805
Of course

>>6821
Added to queue with ID 4

Review of “George Buys a Chair” 6850

File: 1374433174740.jpg (14.84 KB, 400x256, _6hg.jpg)

George, a terribly inept 29-year-old man, buys a chair. Only, the chair turns out to be a bomb, with which George attempts to blow up a whole bunch of his unsuspecting acquaintances.

The first paragraph is kind of confusing. What is Candy Crush? I don’t know, and for anyone who doesn’t it’s probably very confusing too. It took me a while to figure out that this is a sort of absurdist comedy with an enfeebled protagonist.

If the question to ask here is “Was it funny?” I did find a lot of it very amusing—in particular the discussion between the “Committee of George’s Mind”. But going back to the first paragraph, I think it fails quite heavily to properly set the tone for the story. What should the first paragraph of this kind of story look like? Well, just look at the opener for The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

> In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.


At first, my impression was that George was something like a 9-year-old boy, as opposed to a 29-year-old man, simply because he was acting like a boy in a toy store and not a man out shopping. This somewhat contributes to the above, since a boy doing the things George was doing is quite regular.

$35 for a “designer” chair is pretty cheap (at least in Australia). When I was chair shopping a couple of months ago, the $35 chairs were those little dainty ones with short, plastic backs and cheap cushions. Anything that looked remotely fancy was well over $100. Then again, we’re talking about chairs-that-are-actually-bombs here, so this may not apply.

When it was first revealed that the chair was in fact a bomb, I thought it was meant in a sort of bombastic way. As in, “it was a complete mess.” I suppose that I would presume that the phrase “It was, George was forced to admit, a bomb in a chair box” was a non-literal joke can attest to the absurdity of the narration so far.

I think you may have ramped it up a little bit too much by the end, though. In particular, the narrator started talking in first person and became increasingly more friendly with the reader. For example, “the likes of which printing would only serve to demean both you and I” was probably unnecessary (putting aside the faux pa of using “I” in the accusative where “me” is proper). It felt somewhat jarring that all of a sudden the narrator is inserting him/herself as a character in the story. The ending line is also guilty of this by asking the reader a question directly, though I don’t think it’s as awkward as the narrator suddenly using first-person pronouns outright.

Response to review Casca 6855

File: 1374500167591.png (119.91 KB, 488x280, confetti.png)

>>6850
Thank you kindly for the review!

>I think you may have ramped it up a little bit too much by the end, though. In particular, the narrator started talking in first person and became increasingly more friendly with the reader. For example, “the likes of which printing would only serve to demean both you and I” was probably unnecessary (putting aside the faux pa of using “I” in the accusative where “me” is proper). It felt somewhat jarring that all of a sudden the narrator is inserting him/herself as a character in the story. The ending line is also guilty of this by asking the reader a question directly, though I don’t think it’s as awkward as the narrator suddenly using first-person pronouns outright.

Noted. I'll dial down the narrator intrusions; it feels like the style took over and grew increasingly erratic as I reached the end.

The ending line is a problem that I haven't figured out how to solve. What would be a good ending note? I haven't read enough absurdist stories to know what I can do, though I'm a bit tempted to have the last line be some kind of horrid pun because I am an unfunny twat.

>first paragraph, opener

Hmm. I'll give that a good ol' staring down, see if I can do something better and shorter.

Review of “Equestria from Dust” Ch. 1–8 6907

File: 1375030418386.jpg (7.09 KB, 320x240, _7h.jpg)

Ch. 1

Celestia awakens in a world of nothingness. She creates light, she creates darkness. She creates the mountains and the volcanoes and the oceans. Finally, she creates life—her sister.

This is an excellent introduction and just about what every first chapter should be. It says in big, bold letters, “this is what I’m about.”

The focus is far heavier on setting than plot. There’s no real hook in the traditional sense. That is, there’s no conflict yet. However, the imperative on the reader to continue reading is more, “I wonder where this will go?” The degree to which someone will or will not make it to the end of the chapter is mostly upon how well you can communicate that they’re going to take it somewhere interesting. For me, judgement on this criteria is mostly dependent on the prose, which in this case was more than good enough to instill confidence in me.

Ch. 2

Luna and Celestia walk the new world together. Celestia gifts her sister the Moon and the night.

In terms of narrative structure, this chapter is all too similar to the first. Celestia creates some more stuff, except this time Luna is there and makes some stuff too. I feel a sense of… weariness, as if the story is simply going through a laundry list of stuff Celestia has to create.

When a story goes for grand, epic fantasy, one of the main selling points behind it is all the new, creative things in the world. But even then, every one of these stories that ever grabbed the public consciousness was at its heart still a story about something happening. They still had a conflict. Frodo has to destroy the ring. Harry has to defeat Voldemort. The protagonist has some sort of imperative to do something, which makes the reader wonder what that something is.

Celestia has no such imperative at point. It’s more like a thought experiment.

There’s a real possibility of this becoming something that I’d like to have read more than I’d like to actually read. It feels a bit more like an essay than a story. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on if you intended it.

Ch. 3

Luna creates a star. Celestia envies her attention to detail. Then, a small spat has Luna leave with a huff, leaving Celestia in ruin. She has a fifty-day nightmare, after which she awakes to an apologetic Luna. Finally, Luna creates a tree and envisions a forest, which Celestia promises to realise.

The idea of Celestia as the visionary and Luna as the engineer is clever. One is the yin to the other’s yang. In many ways they complete each other.

There still remains a lack of conflict within the story. The closest it has gotten is the small spat between Celestia and Luna which lasted about a third of the chapter, which I daresay was the most interesting part of the story so far.

Ch. 4

Celestia and Luna make for a moss cavern to rest. As they rest, Celestia has another nightmare, this time presumably only spanning a short while. When she awakes, Luna is there again. Then, Celestia creates a dragon, and says she wishes to fill the world with life.

I don’t really understand what the need for the nightmare is. It takes up almost half of the chapter, and amounts to effectively nothing. Is this supposed to be the hook? The reader is supposed to ask, “What are all these weird dreams about?” Well, the problem with that as a hook is that it doesn’t let Celestia do anything about it. So hal of this chapter is total bunk. And that’s kind of a big waste, because you’re walking on some very delicate ground here. The story is now one-quarter finished, and there’s still no over-arching conflict forcing Celestia or Luna to actually do anything. The story is still almost entirely about the setting, and only a little about the characters. Without a plot, this is less and less a story and more and more an essay.

Again, I must stress that the world building and everything involved in that angle is really well done, which I imagine is the primary purpose of the work.

Ch. 5

Celestia and Luna witness a pack of wolves hunt and feast. The killing disurbs Celestia. Luna explains to her the cycle of life, which Celestia accepts. They then move to a cave to rest, and Celestia has another nightmare. In it, the apparition give Celestia the idea to create sentient life—unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies. When she awakes, the tells Luna of her epiphany. Luna is hesistant, but accepts. Celestia creates the ponies.

The sequence between the two in the wolf-hunting scene is very consistent with their roles in the creation of the world established in chapter 3. Celestia envisions life, but does not fully see the details necessary for it to function. Luna sees these things and helps Celestia realise them.

The dream sequences contain a sufficiently distinct tone such that it’s obvious when something is or is not a dream. However, I’m not particularly enamoured with dream sequences as a whole. The dreams are mostly separated from the rest of the story. Dreams cannot (physically) affect reality, so the dream world lacks consequences and tension.

It seems as if this story doesn’t want to follow a traditional three-act structure, nor the structure of a narrative that relies on a build-up of tension followed by a climax. This structure is generally recognised as being used in literary fiction, rather than popular fiction. The absence of a strict plot per se is reminiscent to me of Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield has no particular motivating factor to do anything. There’s no fantastic climax to the story. It’s more of an experience than a narrative (if that distinction makes sense). At this point, I presume that that is what you’re trying to do with this stoy, so I the lack of plot is excusable.

The consequence this has on the necessity of the dreams is that the question I have to ask is less “What does this do for the plot?” and more “Does this contribute to the experience?”

Ch. 6

Celestia witnesses the ponies she created use their sentience to wage wars. Luna is frustrated that Celestia does not let them intervene. Later, desiring to interact with her creation, Celestia visits a pony village. She learns from a colt that the village is soon to starve as a result of the enduring blizzard. When the colt learns of her powers, he begs her to save them. After some prompting from Luna, she does so.

This was definitely my favourite chapter so far. Right off the bat it seeds a very deeply philosophical question in my mind: ought Celestia and Luna, whose powers amount almost to a god’s, nuture the life they have created.

Celestia enacts the rule that they must not reveal themselves out of sage wisdom. Their power so heavily overwhelms the ponies’ that their intervention could very likely cripple their development. Necessity is the mother of all invention, and without adversity there is no growth. It would be easy for ponies eventually to rely so heavily on the alicorns so as to become infantilised; they may become incapable of fending for themselves.

The relational connection between creator and creation, and parent and child is very clear. For every parent, this question of how much they ought to nurture their children is forever asked, and a perfect answer is never found.

Personally, I think that Celestia’s original wisdom was correct. She probably shouldn’t have interfered. But that’s looking at it from a very outward perspective. While I think she shouldn’t have intervened, I also understand why she did. How can a mother sit by and watch their child die when she could save it?

There’s also a very nice sense of selfishness behind Celestia first approaching the village. She knows herself that she shouldn’t go there. Her wisdom tells her no good will come of it. But she does so anyway. She wants to see how her creation has grown. It’s the kind of desire that any creator would have, so powerful that she would defy her own wisdom because of it.

This all culminates in the very apt characterisation of Celestia being totally unsure of what to do. Her unassuredness in her own beliefs touches on the idea that Socrates claimed to be indicative of true wisdom: “If I am the wisest man, it is because that I alone know that I know nothing.” Unlike Luna, who is far too confident in her own convictions, Celestia is able to say, “I don’t know.” She is able to see and admit that she doesn’t have all the answers. In the end, she abandons her rules and common wisdom and trusts her instinct and her sister to save the starving village.

Ch. 7

Celestia and Luna unite Equestria under their own rule. Luna, frustrated with the banality of the courtroom, prompts Celestia into thinking about tutelage.

Rose Flame is an awful name. Not gonna sugar coat it. Oh god, and Storm Gale? I hope Celestia and Luna’s apprentices having absolutely dreadful names is some kind of meta-joke. Or maybe it’s a coming of age thing: all kids have cheesy as hell names until they’re old enough to change them.

The methods of each mentors is apt. Luna is hard-ass who makes you study and practise all the time, and Celestia is the teacher who would rather be your friend.

Ch. 8

Celestia and Luna’s pupils begin their training. Feeling sick, Celestia retires to her bedroom, leading to another nightmare which prophesises the rise of Nightmare Moon. Celestia continues teaching Storm Gale. Then, after sending Storm Gale to bed, Celestia has a siezure or something.

Not much to say that hasn’t already been said. I’m still not entirely convinced these dream sequences with the Luna apparition are working.

Review of “Equestria from Dust” Ch. 9–16 6908

File: 1375030483196.jpg (14.81 KB, 320x240, _3yt.jpg)

Ch. 9

Celestia awakes with Storm Gale by her side. The captain of the royal guard tells Celestia about some weird stuff going on while she was unconscious. Celestia explains to Luna that she needs to be more compassionate with Rose Flame. Later, Rose Flame and Storm Gale do some training together. Then the captain of the royal guard shows up with some more news.

Wasn’t the “Captain of the Royal Guard” already named Grimward? You could stand to refer to him by name more often.

The conflict and resolution between Rose Flame and Storm Gale seemed a bit quick. It’s like, they hate each other, then they don’t, and neither case seems prompted by anything substantial.

Ch. 10

Celestia has a chat with the returned guard, who has gone a bit mad. Celestia decides to deal with this disturbance personally. Luna suggests they bring their students along with them. Storm Gale is torn between going with Celestia and seeing her father, but eventually chooses to go with Celestia.

The scene with the crazy guard was well done. Her erratic, non-sensical behaviour contrasts with the mostly formal speech of the story’s main voice.

There’s a danger here of the story becoming too plot-heavy. Ever since the students have been brought in, the story has focussed very heavily on their development and not much on anything else. It’s been almost three chapters of prepping with minute happenstances in between. If you were going to write a plot-heavy story, you should have started it back in chapters 1–3. At this point, the story is almost over, and there isn’t really the time to build and climax a novel-length plot.

I’m having a hard time getting a guage for the pupil’s ages. As my impression currently stands, they’re still fairly young: in human terms, maybe 11 or 12 years old—about a year since they started their training. This timeline ambiguity could stand to be corrected. In particular, I think if they actually are that young, Luna suggesting that they come along is, well, plain stupid. For her recommendation, and Celestia’s acceptance of it, to make even the least of sense, I’d think the two students would have to be at least 15–16 years old. This change in age would fairly dramatically affect their dialogues and the surrounding narrative, of course. But without it, Luna has just suggested bringing children along on a field trip to find what stands to be the most dangerous entity in Equestria.

Ch. 11

The group depart for Hay Burrow. They arrive at an inn and rest for a time. Then Celestia has another nightmare. When she awakes, a spirit guides her out into the woods, where she is eventually spotted by Luna. As morning dawns, Storm Gale notices smoke in the distance.

There’s not a whole lot to say here. Nothing particularly interesting happened. It was just boring, really. I think this is a nasty consequence of the issue I mentioned of the previous chapter: this is turning into a plot-centric story with a set quest for the protagonist to solve over an elongated period of time. Too much nothingness is coming to pass in service of the plot.

> The innkeeper, on the other hoof, doesn’t really have an excuse for having slept through it, other than maybe being a bit hard of hearing.


What is this contrasting with?

Ch. 12

Discord shows up and does his thing.

Oh man, I really liked this chapter, and was almost about to go ahead and say it was just about perfect … and then Discord just up and kidnaps Storm Gale and Rose Flame. My first reaction to this is: well, what the hell did you expect, Luna? Bringing the kids along was a stupid idea. Of course they’re going to be liabilities. So Celestia and Luna both did something really stupid only to service the plot, which feels contrived.

The second, and perhaps much larger problem with this is that Storm Gale and Rose Flame have now been reduced to being damsels in distress. You just spent 4 whole chapters introducing these terribly weak characters only to have their sole purpose be to get kidnapped and act as plot devices.

I’m thinking, is there some other way you can get Celestia and Luna invested in Discord? Well, yes—he’s causing chaos. Isn’t that enough? The dialogue you had going between Discord and Celestia was fucking amazing, and for that to work you didn’t even have to involve the students at all. They’re totally useless, and the 4 previous chapters spent developing them were most certainly the most boring chapters so far. So I wonder: is there any reason that this can’t be chapter 9/10?

I’m not saying get rid of the kids entirely. There’s definitely something there with the whole student-mentor relationship, but I don’t feel like this is it. Their entire involvement in the story could take place after Discord is dealt with, as simply an independent part of the experience that comes with being a creator (the relation of God to creator to mother to mentor is obvious).

Keep in mind what I said in chapter 5 about this story’s structure. Right now it’s feeling undecisive. What exactly are you going for? Things are slowly changing from “epic creation myth” to “quest to save the princess” (except it’s the princess doing the saving).

But seriously, Discord’s voice here is just fantastic, and because of it I still really liked this chapter, even in spite of the above.

Ch. 13

To find Discord, Celestia suggests that they must meet him in his dreams. So Luna teaches Celestia to dreamwalk.

Ugh, more dream sequences.

This plan of action is really of sketchy. They’re going to just magically “find” Discord’s dreams, which he has somehow trapped the damsels in distress in? What interest would Discord have in dreams anyway?

I dunno what to say. The imagery and description of these dreams is getting very droll. Apparitions and dust and miasma and no physical boundaries and nothing interesting happening seems to be the gist of it all.

Ch. 14

Celestia and Luna continue to wander Celestia’s dream. Celestia falls off a cliff and collapses, falling into a dream within the dream. Luna is baffled by this. Then some more dream sequence stuff.

Celestia getting all existential in here.

Ch. 15

Discord chapter 10/10

Ch. 16

Discord knocks Luna out for the count, and Celestia gets injured pretty badly. Then Celestia falls into an epiphany-like state reminiscent of that bit at the end of Harry Potter. Then she believes in the heart of the cards and kills Discord, then revives Luna. Storm Gale and Rose Flame are a-okay, and everything wraps up nicely.

Everything about this was done the way it should. It’s the perfect climax to the story.

The resolution is a complete deus ex machina, but I suppose that’s what the Elements of Harmony are, after all.

Review of “Equestria from Dust” Summary 6909

File: 1375030576122.jpg (36.69 KB, 440x362, 217795.jpg)

First off, this story is good and I enjoyed reading it. You could change very little and it would remain as most certainly the epic creation myth for Friendship Is Magic.

That said, I do believe some changes to the overall narrative could make everything a lot more robust. Namely, the kids.

Them damn kids. God, they are so useless. Like, seriously, damn. All they are is plot devices to give Celestia and Luna some reason to hunt Discord down. If you had some other device with that function, they could be removed entirely.

Despite my hatred of dream sequences, the metaphors and existential goodies that you bring about with them are probably worth it.

The story is effectively split into two halves. The first half has all the epic creation myth stuff to it. The second half is a quest to save the kidnapped students. Discord’s arc takes up half the story, yet he’s only present for less than a quarter of it.

So here’s my pretty huge suggestion (read: you can totally ignore me because this substantially changes the story and I recognise that it’s your story not mine blah blah blah): get rid of Storm Gale and Rose Flame entirely. Chapters 8–10 involve Sombra and the Crystal Empire. Celestia and Luna’s students are being trained to be the prince and princess of the Crystal Empire. Or just one of them is going to be the princess (she’s not Cadance, though.) You still get the student-mentor relationship, and the students actually get to do something (need power of love to kill Sombrero). Compress the existing chapters 8–16 into maybe 4-5 chapters, getting rid of all the Storm Gale and Rose Flame junk (Discord uses this new princess of the Crystal Empire as his leverage instead), and just focussing on getting Discord in there right away to be awesome.

What does this do? First of all: more stuff happens more quickly. Why is this important? Think about how the first seven chapters work. In each one, some really, really big stuff happens. Celestia creates the mountains. Celestia creates Luna. Luna creates a star and a tree. Celestia creates life. Celestia creates civilisation. Celestia steps down and interferes with her creation. Celestia unifies Equestria. This is what a creation myth looks like: really, really big stuff happening, and it being sort of not that big a deal, just another day in the office. Then what happens in the next nine chapters? Not much. It’s all Discord, and that’s why the ending being a deus ex machina is pretty lame. But what if Discord’s arc was just another day at the office too? Maybe it sretches over a few more chapters then every other event, but the resolution being not that complicated actually strengthens the story’s narrative as a creation myth, because it’s really just the end of another chapter (or 4) in the narrative, and not the resolution to a long-spanning narrative.

What else does it do? The kids aren’t useless. They prove themselves first by being instrumental in Sombra’s defeat. So now they aren’t just walking plot devices. And Luna and Celestia bringing the kids along to fight Discord isn’t a dumb move (read: contrivance) because these kids are actually experienced and useful enough to be worth bringing along (and not kids at that point).

But like I said, that’s just a suggestion, and the story as it exists is still quite good. I just think this would make fix basically every problem I had with it.

In terms of writing style and mechanics, I have absolutely no complaints, though you should get an editor to go through and catch all the typos that you’d probably miss on your own (unless you do that read-the-thing backwards trick). There were plenty of “she headed went…” brainfarts.

Again, this story was really good, so thanks for writing it. I enjoyed reading it (even with my critic hat on).

Soundslikeponies!bQsJPGMNfw 6911

File: 1375080381858.jpg (145.52 KB, 894x894, destruction_by_rebecka_chan-d6…)

>>6909
The students were going to play a bigger role in discord's downfall, but it just wound up not really working out. One of the problems with posting chapters before the whole story's finished, I guess. (Also, I've never gotten any feedback saying their characters are weak. The opposite, in fact.) The original ending had Celestia, Luna, Rose Flame, and Storm Gale all use the elements to stop Discord, but when the final scene happened, I couldn't really figure out any way for Storm Gale and Rose Flame to be freed before Discord's turned to stone. Same with Luna being revived. I can't agree at all with:

>The resolution is a complete deus ex machina


How? The ending was in no way a deus ex machina. The elements of harmony were born of Celestia's own magic while she was drifting down into the void of the cloud pool. Her realization down there served as a catalyst to her will, and unlocked her "celestial" magic. The elements were no deus ex; they were/are a manifestation of Celestia's magic.

The story was going to go on further originally and cover Nightmare Moon, where the students would also play a role, but that wound up getting cut from the story. I might do Nightmare Moon and Sombra as sequels, respectively, in which the students would play a larger role. I will say that Luna going 'let's bring our students!' was just a moment of uncreativity on my part. I sort of wrote it without realizing how it looked (which was contrived).

The story had 0 proof reading from chapter 3 until chapter 12 or so, since I didn't have a proof reader at the time. It sucked, and I eventually remedied it, but I can't really decide whether it would be worth someone's time to go through all those.

The way I planned the story was that it'd have 3 parts: Creation of worldly things, mountains, oceans, trees, life. Creation of intelligent life and the growth of civilization, along with Celestia and Luna's eventual coming to rule. Then lastly Celestia's existential crisis, resulting in an expulsion of darkness into the world, creating Discord and all other forms of evil (NMM, Sombra, Changelings, etc), and the resulting questions about her existence that have gone unanswered for thousands of years.
Although, really I more or less planned two parts: Creation of life. Celestia's existential crisis. The part between was a bridge that sort of carried on slightly too long.

I'd say my biggest regret is the fact that the students served very little real purpose. I'm almost tempted to write a nightmare moon sequel just so they have some bigger role in the grand scheme. Although if I wrote that sequel, I think it would most likely be from the PoV of Luna as an anti-hero.

Thanks again for the review.

6914

>>6911
What I meant by the ending being deus ex machina was that nothing gained throughout the Discord arc was instrumental in defeating him. Celestia had that magic from the very beginning. I may have been misusing the term.

To be more specific, it's a case where soft magic is used to resolve a big conflict. See http://www.brandonsanderson.com/article/40/Sandersons-First-Law for a better explanation of what the issue there is. If the Discord arc were shorter, the conflict being resolved wouldn't be such a big deal.

> I've never gotten any feedback saying [Storm Gale and Rose Flame's] characters are weak


"Weak" may be too inspecific to express what I mean here. For what they are, they are good characters. They fulfil their role in the way that they should have. But the problem is that that role is weak, so in turn their presence in the story is weak, regardless of how good the characters actually are.

And if you haven't gotten any feedback in this regard yet, well, you have now. ;)

> Nightmare Moon


I was kind of wondering where this was. I guess the main trouble is that in the context of your story, the whole Nightmare Moon arc is hard to approach. After all they've been through together, Luna is going to go all evil over some petty jealousy?

Sombra would be easier to pull off because he's just doing it for teh evuls.

You also missed out on the whole Starswirl the Bearded thing. Actually, he could very well have been the "Faithful Student" now that I think about it.

I'm not sure a sequel would work so well. The killer chapters here were the first 7, at least in terms of being a creation myth. Those are already done and dusted. What you maybe want to do is tighten up the ones that follow.

> I can't really decide whether it would be worth someone's time to go through all those.


There's enough typos in there that it's worth having someone edit it.
This post was edited by its author on .

Soundslikeponies!bQsJPGMNfw 6916

File: 1375114616191.jpg (70.78 KB, 1024x663, fireflies_by_grenaddas-d6a3vhp…)

>>6914
>"Weak" may be too inspecific to express what I mean here. For what they are, they are good characters. They fulfil their role in the way that they should have. But the problem is that that role is weak, so in turn their presence in the story is weak, regardless of how good the characters actually are.

Okay, yeah. I've gotten that before. I planned to have them play a bigger role, but when I got to the chapters where they would, it just didn't wind up working and then… eugh. I really kind of wish I took the time to work them into the climax chapter more. If they played a larger role in a sequel, then their role here would probably be a bit more forgiving. I did want to include the concept of why Celestia takes on students, so even if they played a weak role, I think they were somewhat necessary to that extent.

At any rate, this has given me some things to think about and reflect on, and while I don't plan to do any major revisions to the story, I probably will get someone to go back and proof those earlier chapters.

As for the sequel, well, I wasn't planning on a full-fledged sequel, rather a stand-alone sequel. And it's still probably a ways away, since I plan on writing a good handful of oneshots once I'm done with my other fic.

> I guess the main trouble is that in the context of your story, the whole Nightmare Moon arc is hard to approach. After all they've been through together, Luna is going to go all evil over some petty jealousy?


I don't see how it would be hard to approach. My plan would be for it to be a very gradual process, shown from Luna's PoV, and the influence of the darkness that Celestia inadvertently put inside her would be clear.
This post was edited by its author on .

6917

>>6916
>I don't see how [Nightmare Moon] would be hard to approach.
If you think you can do it, don't let me stop you.

Personally I think there's more meat in a Starswirl the Bearded arc, if only because the ending isn't a foregone conclusion (NMM being trapped in the moon).

Critique Request: Unmarked 7033

File: 1376505076412.jpg (609.69 KB, 1400x1700, Unmarked Cover Art Final.jpg)

Title: Unmarked

Synopsis: Purpose. In Equestria, where purpose is defined by the mark on your flank, it is often taken for granted. Yet Novell has grown to adulthood without a single explanation of where he fits in. It's not until a chance meeting with a particular Professor that he gets the opportunity to explore the world and find out exactly where he belongs. Of course, adventuring has a host of its own problems, as this blank flank is about to find out!

Word Count: 177,352

Link: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/5108/unmarked (as I'm asking for a critique rather than editing, I hope this is fine. If not, I can provide you access to all 23 chapters of the story via Google Docs.)

As stated before, I would like a critique on the whole of the story. I'd like special attention on finding any inconsistencies, uncharacteristic actions by characters, plot holes and the like.

If you need further information or would prefer the Google Docs links, I can provide them at your request.

7035

>>7033
Added to queue with ID 5.

Fimfiction is fine, in fact better than Google Docs.

Review of “Unmarked” 7160

File: 1378575327686.jpg (5.45 KB, 186x140, _6phd.jpg)

Prologue & Chapter 1 we’ve discussed already.

Ch. 2

I’m three pages in and nothing has happened. You could definitely stand to cull a good majority of the start of this chapter.

The way that Novell stumbled upon the professor is a bit hazy to me. Despite the giant walls of text devoted to describing the weather, I don’t have a very good sense of place here. Is it some kind of cave? (That is where Yeti’s live, right?) The professor says the weather is so bad that Novell would have died if not for his interference. So, uh, what is Novell doing flying around there?

Things got interesting once the professor got on the scene. His diction and quirky behaviour makes the surrounding events interesting.

He is also rather demonstrative of a certain thing: You cannot leave Novell alone. By that I mean, the narrative cannot be in a position where it’s just Novell by himself. He’s boring. He doesn’t seem to want anything. Heck, it doesn’t even seem like his lack of a cutie mark bothers him that much. This lack of drive does not bode well for a protagonist.

Again, nothing yet has happened in the way of this story’s central premise. Novell is the “Unmarked”, but this has not been relevant to the story at all yet. For what reason am I, the reader, still reading this story? I cannot find a very good answer. You need a hook to keep the reader reading.

Ch. 3

You could stand to tone down all the yacking at the start here. I mean, the only thing that’s happenning is Novell getting permission from his parents to go on an adventure, which is kind of awkward. There’s no expectation that his parents will say no, so to me it’s all “blah blah blah”. I’d want to get this dialogue out of the way as soon as possible because there’s no tension behind it.

Somehow I feel like Search calling Novell an “interesting fellow” is sarcasm…

Ch. 4

I liked the description of the inn.

All of this dialogue is so boring… People are just greeting each other and going through what amounts to smalltalk. Ugh.

The whole wood carving business feels like a very out of place digression.

Ch. 5

> Because everypony hates me, no matter what I do.


Aside from this wildly eccentric Professor? The brooding here makes no sense given the circumstances.

I really hate to say this, but I’m going to stop reading here. I think there are a whole wealth of issues you could stand to address before sending this off to another reviewer.

The first thing … there is no easy way to put it. This story is boring. I am 25,000 words into the story and nothing particularly meaningful has occurred. The only conflict so far was in the second half of chapter 2 when Novell was being attacked by a Yeti, which was resolved soon after. In other words, the only conflict so far has come from something that isn’t even sentient.

I’m not joking when I say this story could probably be reduced to half the length. The four and a half chapters I’ve read so far could be written in two. This is the number one thing you could do to improve this story. You noted that other reviewers have dropped the story early (just as I am doing). The reason is obvious: the story is too slow. There is no hook at all short of a promise that once they get to Canterlot, some guy is going to answer the question about Novell’s lack of cutie mark. But the answer to this question could very easily be quite lame fanon about cutie marks (which we all have), and because the story up until this point has not distilled a lot of confidence in the reader of you as a writer, there’s no reason to believe that this answer is worth the wait.

Don’t say, “Wait it gets better.” You want to get to the good bits as soon as possible. After the very first paragraph, I need to be thinking, I need to read the rest of this page. After the first page, I need to read the rest of this chapter. And then, I need to read the rest of this book. Get a hook in right away. Promises of fanon only work if you can convince me you are clever.

So the first thing you should do is go through the entire story and remove absolutely everything that possibly could be removed without ruining the story. Be merciless.

Your prose is at times incredibly difficult to read. The most actionable advice I can give you in this regard is that you need to be less afraid of using proper nouns and pronouns. By that I mean, you have a severe case of Lavender Unicorn Syndrome. I mean, I used to not understand why LUS bothered some reviewers so much… but now I know. Please read Ezn’s article on this topic.

Aside from the issues Ezn mentions, I can’t keep track of the hue, saturation, and colour of every character’s mane, coat, and eyes in the story. The information is just not important enough for me to have to think about it. So when you start referring to people as “the pale pegasus” and “the blue-eyed stallion” and “the orange mare” (orange coat or orange mane?), I have to think an unnecessary amount just to know who the subject of the sentence is.

What else makes this story difficult to read? Your characters spend so much time agreeing with each other. Rarely ever does the dialogue have the characters at any meaningful odds with each other, and if they are it’s resolved shortly. Even Whisper, who has been described as reckless and juvenile, hasn’t presented anything more than minor annoyances to the protagonist. All of these yackety yack dialogues should be first on the chopping block.

Every word in your story should be doing one of two things: developing character, or advancing the plot. If it’s not doing either, get rid of it.

This brings me to Novell. He is the reason nothing happens. He does not push the story to interesting places. He is not in any way disagreeable, and so does not drive any conflict. He is broody about his circumstances, but what actual bad things have happened to him as a result of his blank flank? Short of being called some names by narrative nobodies, not much. Even Whisper’s brattiness comes off as mostly friendly banter. On the other hand, he’s getting to go on an adventure to Canterlot with a zany professor because of it. That he’s so hung up about it is terribly difficult to sympathise with, and this is the protagonist we’re talking about here. All the issues I’ve brought up so far have simple fixes, but this will require some serious thought. Either spruse the supporting cast up so that Novell is the straight man to their zany antics (think Will Turner to Jack Sparrow), or make him actually do something. Because right now, all I’m thinking is that Novell is a loser, and he’s a blank flank because he’s uninteresting. I’m not rooting for nor interested in the protagonist at all, and that’s a really bad thing when there’s no other anti-hero type characters to fall back on.

I really apologise for not having much nice to say here. You do lots of things right, far more than you do wrong. It’s just there isn’t much to say much about the things done right. The grammar is spot on. Search’s oration is fun to read. You have a diverse set of characters that have a believable reason to go on an adventure together. Your description of the landscape evokes vivid imagery when the prose doesn’t become too burdensome.

I feel kind of bad that this story isn’t in any real way disagreeable (because at least that way I could hate it). I just feel… bored. I want to read something else.

The primary question you need to ask yourself while writing: “Is this interesting?”
This post was edited by its author on .

7171

>>7160

Thanks for the review, though it was dropped. What you've read so far is nearly two years old. I've definitely learned a lot since then, so I'm glad you agree it needs to be rewritten. The first half of Unmarked is certainly without much of a goal, aside from reaching Professor Mark. I'm sad to see that you've stopped here, though, because though you say I shouldn't, it does get vastly better once the villain is introduced and the journey begins in earnest. In fact, I'd say most of your problems with it are remedied at that point, as the story draws closer to recent writing.

Still, I can't make you go on, and you certainly don't seem to want to (an understandable feeling among those who know good writing from less than stellar). So thank you for your time. It was helpful, ultimately. At least, I've come up with a decision regarding it.

In the end, I doubt Unmarked or it's sequel will garner much attention aside from what it already has. So rewriting the first half of the first book won't be worthwhile. I need to be finished and done with it so I can show people what I can do now, rather than rely on years old writing.

Thank you, my friend. At least you attempted it. :)
This post was edited by its author on .

7173

>>7171
That's cool. I can't say I blame you for wanting to put that whole thing beside you. Good luck with whatever it is you try next.

Review Request Silver Strength!TwiDasH7n2 7211

File: 1379230940958.png (96.92 KB, 700x700, if you let Twilight have a coo…)

A Flight in August
7131 Words

A bat and a squirrel are stranded together by an increasingly hostile night. (Not fanfic.)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14d66vxyHGMh4Zif1FQLq9S0DgYu04by_eUfcOlhFsdM/edit

Critique, please!

7214

>>7211
Added to queue with ID 6

7236

File: 1379301959581.gif (342.63 KB, 800x707, happyhappy Soarin'.gif)

Review of “A Flight in August” 7255

After the first few pages, you’ve established three characters: Nari the bat and her brother Valin, and the squirrel Frisk. I say “established” in the sense that I know that these are named characters in the story, but what I see them do is simply typical of their species. The bats fly around and look for food. The squirrel scurries around to escape a sudden thunderstorm. There’s no characteristic yet stated about Nari the bat that separates her from any other old bat. This would be much like me introducing a story by spending the first pages telling you that our protagonist, Arthur, is a human male and then having him go to the toilet. Nobody introduces a character by having them go to the toilet, because everyone goes to the toilet, and nothing particularly interesting (usually) happens there.

So at this point Nari and Valin are “the bats” and Frisk is “the squirrel”, but there’s nothing else that invests me in the story. It feels like reading a National Georgraphic without any of the pictures.

Frisk and Thistle are remarkably cute together.

So this lightmaker mcguffin was really just fire all along, and Frisk thought he could actually just pick it up with his paws and bring it home. That’s hilarious.

It’s not entirely clear where they got the fire from, though. Not much of the surroundings are ever described too well other than “it’s a forest, yo”. Maybe have them get it from a fireplace in a log cabin. Frisk grabs the fire, then accidentally sets the cabin on fire, which sets the whole forest on fire. (I got the impression that that’s what happened anyway—Frisk set the forest on fire.)

On that note, a lot of what’s happening around the end isn’t very clear. Have they lost the owl or not? Are they trying to wait it out, or are they moving? The plan keeps swapping around and I can’t get a gauge on what their situation is. I think some proof reading around this part of the story could pay a lot of dividends.

All in all this was a nice read about some little animals running about in a forest, and then presumably burning it down.

As mentioned above, though, the start is pretty slow for a short story. You want to get into the action right away. No time for dillydallying. Perhaps the biggest annoyance here is you spend a page describing the squirrel running about. I think, Okay, when’s this guy going to do something interesting? Scene ends. Pan to a bat doing the same thing for another page. Roll eyes. The constant ping-pong between the two view points in the introduction doesn’t serve to ground the story very well nor get me interested in the characters. Perhaps simply start with the squirrel’s view point, and then move over to the bat after Frisk and Thistle have their talk.

Silver Strength!TwiDasH7n2 7257

File: 1379471994541.png (644.3 KB, 1800x1249, top bat.png)

>>7255
Thanks for the feedback!

Nari definitely has vagueness issues. Aside from the choice to fly in the storm (which is made before the story starts and is less than groundbreaking) she does nothing unusual until she saves Frisk.

Frisk I disagree on – hunting the source of startlement in the middle of the night (with no night vision, squirrels are day creatures) sets him sharply apart from other squirrels. I guess the text should make that clearer than it does.

>This would be much like me introducing a story by spending the first pages telling you that our protagonist, Arthur, is a human male and then having him go to the toilet.


Sapient animals are much further from our personal experience. Very few readers are liable to have flown, hunted insects, echolocated, navigated the dark by an internal map of branch networks, etc. I dunno how much narrative time should be put to those purposes, but they're very different from Arthur doing standard stuff that we all do. The audience aren't bats.

7258

>>7257
>Very few readers are liable to have flown, hunted insects, echolocated, navigated the dark by an internal map of branch networks, etc.
While this is true, are you writing a story, or a documentary? I think these are fantastic elements to have in your story, but character and plot come first. The first few pages are incredibly critical for engaging your reader. Once that engagement is established, *then* you can go on to describe these more fanciful things.

Random Horser 7276

File: 1380560402207.jpg (59.43 KB, 622x548, Shove.jpg)

Review Request:

Shovel Pony

Length: 1,193 words

Synopsis:
It's Friday, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash have fun with a random filly in the Ponyville Slums.
Contains, gore.

Link:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z67oAtF4gwWEVYfkFVx1jSUjMsTC5WgvonfuWAgBuAs/edit

7277

>>7276
I don't get the point of this story. It's just Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle going to a slum and murdering a homeless, sleeping filly with a shovel. There's not really any substance to it worth commenting on.

I guess this is just for shock value. The only real advice I can give here is at least try to make it in character. TS and RD are there in name only, which distances the reader from them and thus makes it less shocking. You could change the names to Fluttershy and Rarity and the story doesn't change at all.

Random Horser 7278

>>7277
Well the reason for this was because this is the true Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash, uncovering from their daily lives of lies. Always being nice, always being kind, there they are completely different.

Random Horser 7279

>>7277
It's not about shock value, it has a reason for existing, every story is obsessed with good endings, I never see realistic portrayals of bad things happening and they gain the upper hand and win. It's always good guys and their good ways prevail always. I wanted to show something different, something that people would probably not like, but, would show realistic things like this. I'm not saying that bad things happen all the time and there is no good in the world, but, the fact that random pain and sufferings do exist and they happen without remorse or any real justification.

7280

>>7279
But this isn't a realistic portrayal of bad things happening. The whole story is literally Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash murdering a defenseless child for no reason. Maybe in some narcissistic person's world view this is "realistic", but to most people it's just awful.

If you want to see a better approach to a "world is shit" story, read The Night That Never Ended. A key thing to note is that the author gives the reader a sliver of hope throughout the story, no matter how bad things really get.

Not all stories have good endings. Many of the most famous MLP fanfiction have bad endings. Also, a good ending only works if it is preceded by some good.
This post was edited by its author on .

Review Request Andy 7281

File: 1380744791053.jpg (7.96 KB, 259x194, images1.jpg)

Title: Privileged.
Fimfiction link: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/134132/privileged
Synopsis: Equestria is a place of peace, harmony and equality. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have made sure of that. With loving hoof and caring demeanor they guide the land towards these ideals.

One can't help but wonder though, what would happen if the two princesses had never existed? What would Equestria have become in their absence?

This story follows Cold Hoof: An earth pony stallion living in such an Equestria.

Word count: 4871

That's the official synopsis posted on Fimfiction, but there are a few other things that I should probably clear up.

- The main character(Cold Hoof) has a Unicorn daughter named May Lily.
- Racial segregation is strong in this story. Unicorn and Pegasi have taken over most of government control and have set up a society with rules heavily weighted in their own races favor.
- The story isn't too long at this point. In fact I almost just started it. It just feels a little dry to me, and I really need a third opinion on this to help me understand the things that I am doing right, and/or the things that I am doing wrong.

I like your avatar by the way, looks pretty neat.

7282

File: 1380753371380.jpg (66.95 KB, 512x384, _2p.jpg)

>>7281
This story is marked on Fimfiction as incomplete. If you would read the first post in this thread, I am only interested in stories that are past the first draft stage.

I skimmed through the first chapter and couldn't find any trace of meaningful conflict within it. You've spent all of your precious introductory real estate on character and setting with no consideration for plot, which is a very dangerous thing to do. Conflict is *the* driving factor behind a narrative. The lack of conflict is where this feeling of dryness comes from.

This is compounded by the protagonist being perfectly satisfied with his current situation. It's important that the characters in your story, and most definitely the protagonist, very clearly want *something*. This want is very often the source of conflict, where some other agent stops your protagonist from getting what he/she wants. Without this, creating conflict is difficult. Therein lies your dilemma.

Oppression is a treacherous theme to explore without deep consideration for why it occurs. In most cases, it's opportunism, not hatred. Hatred breeds war, not oppression, and it's usually only resolved when one side is killed. This is why the treatment of earth ponies in this Equestria seems rather strange to me. Why aren't the earth ponies just full blown slaves? Because they're perceived as useless? Why don't the oppressors just kill them, then, if they serve no purpose to the oppressors?

As a writer, it's imperative to understand the motive and emotions of all actors in your story, including the bad guys.

Roger!DodgeR9Q6o 7286

Closing this thread now. Anyone looking for reviews should head over to Ponychan's /fic/.

Review Request Anonymous 7347

I request a critique of a fanfiction that I wrote a while back, it is called Tor Story, this story is from one of the "browser/tech ponies threads from /mlp/ I was one of the original posters of that thread, basically anon's browser from his computer took form based on some fanart he saw, and a somewhat accurate personality
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wuBm2uHu0fvy37iBwv7y2ib7SAtpSTSBvER96KPsHp8/edit?usp=sharing


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