Sep
27th
2016

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.

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Report Wanderer D · 327 views ·
Sep
24th
2016
Sep
23rd
2016

Today's story puts over-the-top action on the menu.

Twilight Sparkle Gets A Free Salad

[Comedy] [Random] • 9,142 words

One beautiful morning, Twilight Sparkle decides she wants a free salad. After a small amount of theft, assault, battery, and arson, she sits down to enjoy what is sure to be the best tasting salad ever.

...Or she would have, if it weren’t for the Equestrian Intelligence Service locking her up as a potential threat to national security. Now, Twilight must escape a maximum security holding facility hidden deep underneath Canterlot. And to do it, she’ll need a paperclip, a spymare catsuit, an escape plan, and an alliance with the dastardly Drakbog, King of Frogs.

FROM THE CURATORS: While some stories achieve greatness because they invite the reader to explore hidden depths, there's also something to be said for tales that make bold promises up front and then deliver.  Twilight Sparkle Gets A Free Salad — and its protagonist's destruction of a fast-food restaurant — is firmly in that second camp.  "It's a perfect exercise in over-the-top ridiculousness," Present Perfect said.  "It's one of those few random comedies that really avails itself well of both tags."  For his part, Chris praised the balance it brought to that extreme approach: "Free Salad is a comedy of hyper-exaggeration, in terms of both characters and overall plot," he said. "But while this might be an exaggerated setting, it's a consistently exaggerated one, which lets the reader feel moored in the story even as they're able to appreciate the absurdities on which it's founded."

What makes this story shine is that that exaggeration works.  "It's about Twilight freaking out in a way that's actually funny," Present Perfect said, while Chris praised the range of its silliness: "Even outside of its core humor, there's a nice blend of other comedy, from cheap shots at academia to visual gags rendered (often surprisingly well) into a written medium."  Horizon appreciated that too: "Just because a comedy is random doesn't mean it has to be dumb.  This cracks some remarkably sharp jokes, like The Manager's academic background and Twilight's explanation for her martial arts skills."

And while not everything reinforced that humor, even the parts which didn't had some pleasant surprises.  "For the most part, the fight scenes don't contribute to the comedy — though gags like the salad left behind the blast door sneak in around the edges — but they are vivid and clever, especially the gravity manipulation," Horizon said.  What that added up to, as AugieDog said, was a welcome bit of whimsy: "I did end up skimming the fight scenes, but this sort of smartly-delivered silliness always has a place in my cheese-like brain."

Read on for our author interview, in which AestheticB discusses pony-filled singularities, justified justification, and melodramatically vomiting sisters.

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Sep
17th
2016
Sep
16th
2016

Today's story explores the dance of love.

Pas de Deux

[Drama] [Romance] [Slice of Life] • 3,734 words

Fancy Pants and Fleur Dis Lee were made for each-other: the perpetual playcolt and the sultry supermodel. Now, they've been going out for over a month. Has she fallen for this stallion? Is he finally ready to settle down? Can true love blossom in the high-pressure world of Canterlot's social elite?

FROM THE CURATORS: A "pas de deux" is a dance for two people, and Pas de Deux is not only a study of the dance of intimacy between two ponies but also their social dance as they define themselves against the expectations that confine them.  What first caught our eye is that it's "a good character study of two good characters," as AugieDog put it, but this also breathes life into an often poorly explored relationship. "I've always found FleurPants shipping to be a weak explanation for why they hang around together, but this story shows their relationship is anything but weak," Present Perfect said.

The same was true for the story's portrayal of its protagonists.  Chris was impressed that they were so relatable despite (or perhaps because of) their upper-class background: "Their concerns are familiar," he said.  "Here, we see a look at pretensions and the need to hide our true selves in the name of social demands, which is about as universal a conflict as there is — but at the same time, Fancy and Fleur's richness keeps them far enough removed from reality to explore issues more frankly and directly than suspension of disbelief might otherwise allow."  And AugieDog was impressed by how they became more than the sum of their parts: "In the stories I've read about Fleur, she always seems to be struggling against her inclinations ... that's always a powerful story to tell, and when you add Fancy Pants as the outsider on the inside who triggers this desire in her, you get two characters who see their own missing pieces in each other. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing."

That was enhanced by the excellent framing of the story, which multiple curators praised. "Setting the scene with Fancy and Fleur before zooming out to resolve it was a good strategy," Present Perfect said, and Horizon agreed: "Marriage counselors say there are three people in a marriage — the first partner, the second partner, and the two of them together.  This explicitly is structured to show how the relationship benefits all three of those, and it's much stronger for the decision."

Read on for our author interview, in which Dafaddah discusses Kirin mothers, vulnerable moments, and the pushing of ships.

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Sep
11th
2016

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.

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Report Wanderer D · 1,134 views ·
Sep
10th
2016

I'll put up a post for last week some time as well.

Sep
9th
2016

You can count on today's story for a rich exploration of Equestrian history.

Numberography

[Adventure] [Comedy] • 6,896 words

Once upon a time, ponies did not know how to count very far. Clover the Clever tells her two young fillies the story of how her mentor, Starswirl the Bearded, learned the secret of counting from the dragons.

FROM THE CURATORS: It seems wholly appropriate that what turned our heads about a story so steeped in mathematics is how much work it put into the little details.  "The worldbuilding is continuous, effortless, and endlessly surprising," Horizon said.  "Every time the story turns a corner I stumble across a new, cool tidbit: Clover indirectly earning her nickname due to Discord; pegasus attitudes on how to win battles; Starswirl's random encounter with the ascetic monkeys."  Chris appreciated the finer details as well: "I really like the explanation for why ponies count in base ten."  That wasn't the only thing Present Perfect marveled at: "It definitely has something to say about the scientific process, at the end of the day, and it's quite a charming piece."

And while the luxurious detail attracted us, it was the story's charm and tone which sealed the deal.  "The legend is a quite pleasant read — told in the manner of a just-so tale, with a much-appreciated vein of humor running through it," Chris said.  AugieDog also commented on that whimsy.  "I love the goofy sweetness here," he said.  "I mean, even though we're smack-dab in the middle of Discord's reign, the biggest worry ponies seem to have is how to keep reading when day has a tendency to switch over to night without notice. ... This story is pony through and through."

The ponies, too, were memorable.  "Star Swirl the legend is contrasted to Star Swirl the pony, as Clover remembers him, and it's a lot of fun seeing how the various parties he approaches defy his wish to count higher than eight with simple practicality," Present Perfect said, and Horizon went further: "Everyone we meet, down to the bit parts, is memorable and fun.  In particular, Filly Luna is super adorbs and the dragon steals her scene."  Overall, Horizon added, this was an all-around standout work: "Oh my, yes.  Very yes.  I don't think even the abrupt ending can keep me from following the author immediately."

Read on for our author interview, in which ph00tbag discusses epiglottal frication, rollercoaster pee, and titular eggcorns.

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Sep
3rd
2016

The Round Robin Reviews are written by different groups and reviewers taking turns each week. If you are a story reviewer or part of a group that reviews stories and would be interested in joining the Round Robin Reviews, feel free to PM Wanderer D, Professor Plum, or ElDorado to tell us about it.

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Report Wanderer D · 912 views ·
Sep
2nd
2016

The quality of today's story is both moving and instructive.

"Teach Me Goodness"

[Slice of Life] • 13,579 words

On the last day of school before summer vacation, Cheerilee informs her students that she's going to pursue her doctorate in Fillydelphia, and won't be returning as their teacher in the fall. Her friends and students alike spend her last night in Ponyville bidding farewell and showing their appreciation for her, each in their own unique way.

But one student, in particular, has a hard time coping.

FROM THE CURATORS: While we recently featured another story about Diamond Tiara connecting with an unexpected mentor, we found ourselves unable to ignore this Writeoff Association gold medalist — and the way it took its premise in a very different direction, focusing on the emotional journeys of Tiara and her teacher.  "This was just a satisfying read full of wistfulness and heart," Horizon said.  "Cheerilee's inner conflict is earnest and moving, Diamond Tiara is equally well painted, and the side characters steal the show with their appearances."  Present Perfect cited one of those as a highlight of the story.  "There is a perfect moment in this, when Rarity gives Cheerilee her parting gift," he said.  "I say 'perfect' because the way the events and Cheerilee's emotions are described perfectly mirrored my own. The revelation of the gift brought tears to my eyes, and then I had to laugh along with Cheerilee at Rarity's remark. That's powerful."

Along with its solid range of characters, we were impressed by the story's emotional balance.  "The whole thing is just tear-jerkingly sad, but ... I love the humor," Present Perfect said.  "There's not much, and it's very incidental and almost entirely thanks to the CMCs, but it helps keep this from being dour while not overshadowing the serious emotions at play."  And the story seamlessly demonstrated some rare skills, AugieDog said: "I'm normally a huge perspective ogre, grouchily grousing when authors try to shift between characters during the course of a single story because so many authors fail in that attempt.  But the shift here from Cheerilee to Diamond Tiara is handled in exactly the right way, letting them illuminate each other and bringing out the overall theme."

"Teach Me Goodness" is also "an example of a really well-done revision," AugieDog said.  "The original version [which is included as a bonus chapter] is good, but the longer version digs into the material that was only hinted at in the first draft and expands on it to enrich the whole piece."  Not only was that instructive reading, Horizon said, but it illustrated some daring choices in the editing process: "What impresses me most is that the revision moves the climax, upending the pacing of the entire story — and yet works as well, if not better.  It's rare to see that pulled off."

Read on for our author interview, in which Posh discusses mothershuckling, author-eating jackals, and menthol-starved cynics.

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