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A Thousand Words Contest II Results! · 3:14am September 18th

reposted from the forum thread below the break:

Well, what can I even say? We received 106 entries total last year, and given the trajectory of activity on this site I thought we would be lucky to break into three digits for this year's round. Instead, we received 168 entries total, which I would not have in good conscience asked of anyjudge to read had I known that in advance. So I would like to start off by thanking applezombi and FanOfMostEverything greatly for stepping up to the many, many hours of reading and judging it took to get to these results today.

And of course, thank you to all of you who took the time and effort to enter into this contest! Whether one story or five, winner or not, the act of creation is a blessing to be counted. Collectively, you gave us a very difficult job in narrowing it down! In addition to the

  • Honorable Mention (x9)

scattered throughout the categories, the prize distribution out of a total of $715 will be as follows:

  • Judge Prize: $10 (x3 per category)
  • Bronze Medal: $20 (x2 in Drama and Slice of Life; x1 in Horror, Comedy, and Experimental)
  • Silver Medal: $35 (x1 per category)
  • Gold Medal: $50 (x1 per category)

Keep in mind that though this is a larger number of entries than last year's post, it represents a smaller proportion of entries to be recognized, so it was actually more difficult for a particular story to get into this post than last time. Trust us that there were many, many amazing entries not on here that we would have loved to include!

Now, on to the results!

Honorable Mention, Drama: "Allegiance" by Moproblems Moharmoney

Though writing either an AU setting or an OC would be a difficult thing to do well in a thousand words, "Allegiance" manages to do both. The immersion into this world of Nightmare Moon’s imminent victory and the Lunar Guard protagonist’s conflict is well done, and I was impressed by how much weight it managed to give the stakes of its epic confrontation of a finish, which would have satisfied as the dramatic climax of a story many times its length.


With the Diarchy shattered by his mistress, Lunar Guard Captain Split Second must make an important decision, both for himself and his country.
Moproblems Moharmoney · 1000 words  ·  24  1 · 338 views

Judge Prize, Drama: "Cart Before the Horse" by The Red Parade

Some stories tackle dark subjects with subtlety. There is no subtlety here, and it fits.

From the moment the flower girls’ cart breaks, it is thrust into our faces. We may not know exactly what is wrong, but it is wrong.

The author takes the interesting tactic of exploring the issue from an outside perspective. So we see not from the eyes of the abused, but from an uninvolved bystander. Applejack becomes a proxy for the reader as she (and we) are forced to watch Roseluck’s breakdown and try to decipher what exactly led to it.The intensity of the conversation (bolstered by Roseluck’s robotic repetition) create a real feeling of confusion.

Also unsubtle is implicit vigilante violence at the end, which feels an oddly fitting resolution to the revulsion brought about by the revelation of the abuse.


TCart Before the Horse
Something's wrong with the flower ponies...
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  84  4 · 710 views

Judge Prize, Drama: "Long Way Forward" by Not That Anon

The consequences of alicorn immortality are a well-worn theme to explore in stories, but few do it as well as this. The weight of deep time is inscribed in even the small details of the story, and Luna and Celestia truly feel as if they have lived long enough to have outlived all of their little ponies. Crucially, they feel like Luna and Celestia, with the love and attention they have for their subjects shining through.

And as the narrative unveils the life that they are living as the last two ponies in existence, the themes of remembrance and meaning are beautifully explored, ending in a perfect final line of the two of them looking back at the thousands of pony statues Celestia carved to be an unliving diorama of the vibrant Ponyville that once was. I cannot help but think of how as our fandom stretches on into that long way forward, telling each other the stories of these same few seasons again and again, that we are not too different from them, either.


ELong Way Forward
When the future becomes the past and the present is long gone, Luna goes for a walk. At least the tea is nice.
Not That Anon · 1000 words  ·  112  1 · 917 views

Judge Prize, Drama: "The Pact" by Unimpressive Chaos Lord

This one hit the sweet spot for me on multiple levels. Advanced, ill-advised rituals with lavish description and horrific effects? Equestria’s deep, forgotten past? Supernatural and historical implications out the wazoo? I couldn’t ask for a more engaging scene. Ironically enough, Unimpressive Chaos Lord genuinely did impress me here.


TThe Pact
Desperation can tarnish the noblest intentions, especially when dealing with forces beyond our understanding. And as incomprehensible as they are, so is their price.
Unimpressive Chaos Lord · 1000 words  ·  15  1 · 225 views

Bronze Medal, Drama: "The Swing" by metronome

Melting clocks don’t just look cool; Dali’s representation of the impermanence of memory symbolizes how even the most solid and dependable aspects of reality can soften like Camembert given time. Watching solid, dependable Applejack confront the difference between honesty and truth is an emotional gut punch that hits like a truck. I can only hope metronome didn’t base this one on personal experience.


EThe Swing
As her dad's birthday draws near, Applejack can't even reminisce right.
metronome · 1000 words  ·  17  0 · 213 views

Bronze Medal, Drama: "I Can't Ask Fluttershy Out" by SparklingTwilight

The first thing that stands out when you’re reading this story is a subtle sense of unease. It’s both explicit and implied with a gentle sort of subtlety throughout.

I read the title conflict (that the narrator can’t ask Fluttershy out) as a metaphor for the gulf that separates where the narrator is with a perfect ideal (the pony Fluttershy). For me, the metaphor was executed with grace and clear writing talent.

The guilt, then, that the narrator feels upon having to euthanize their beloved pet is made all the more painful by it’s irrationality; for it was established by pony Fluttershy herself that she’s had to let pets and animals die in the past. Thus the metaphorical gulf is emphasized even more strongly and heartbreakingly at the end.


EI Can't Ask Fluttershy Out
Fluttershy's human counterpart wants a date with the kind mare but success is elusive.
SparklingTwilight · 1000 words  ·  23  5 · 407 views

Silver Medal, Drama: "Her Mothers' Daughter, Unfortunately" by TheDriderPony

This was an incredibly daring story, and not just because it goes for a Flutterjack pairing.

Okay, I joke, but only because this one deals with incredibly heavy yet delicate subject matter and that’s my primary coping mechanism. The initial scenario doesn’t feel hackneyed or artificial, even addressing some of the audience’s potential objections before the characters can voice them. The characterization is incredible, with each mare’s position making perfect sense given her past experiences. Each side genuinely does have a point, and the ending may be the only one TheDriderPony could have written that wouldn’t set the entire website ablaze. All told, this hits a blend of respect, audacity, and quality that has to be recognized.


THer Mothers' Daughter, Unfortunately
The hardest choices in life are the ones you never dreamed you'd have to make.
TheDriderPony · 1000 words  ·  79  14 · 929 views

Gold Medal, Drama: "Don't Go Through. You Can't Stop Me." by daOtterGuy

“Don’t Go Through. You Can’t Stop Me.” is a single story rendered many times, as Celestia tries various ways of raising Sunset in order to prevent her from defiantly choosing to go through the portal in the end. Each one of these futile scenarios is a showcase of narrative efficiency, telling their stories in just a few lines of dialogue, and the breadth of what is tried and the lives that are implied take us right along with Celestia’s increasing desperation and increasingly desperate solutions.

The final scenario is the most natural one: a version of the departure that could have a home in a thousand different authors’ takes on this story. To the final Sunset, all Celestia could offer was a banal cliché; less than nothing. But what we saw before them produces this entry’s great achievement: that beautiful alchemy that gives those simple words all the weight of grief and love and acceptance that Sunset could never see. They are everything, and they always were.


EDon't Go Through. You Can't Stop Me.
Celestia tries to stop Sunset from leaving.
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  139  6 · 1k views

Honorable Mention, Slice of Life: "Peanut Gallery" by TheDriderPony

After all that, how about something a little happier? (Even if it does still involve death…) This one presents a version of the afterlife that I simultaneously hope is true and never wish to experience for myself, capturing the essence of family in all of its facets. It takes true talent to make cruelty-free cringe comedy, and TheDriderPony achieved it handily.


EPeanut Gallery
The difference between death and being a teenager is that one of them eventually ends.
TheDriderPony · 1000 words  ·  28  0 · 305 views

Honorable Mention, Slice of Life: "Lake Day" by GrangeDisplay

“Lake Day” is a story that I feel could be placed in the dictionary entry for a “slice of life” story. Not much happens, but what does happen is suffused with little character moments that makes reading this story feel like spending a pleasant afternoon basking in the atmosphere of the denizens of Ponyville that we know and love. And I love the way that it ended, bringing back Twilight with a callback and tying everything together in yet another wonderfully relatable moment.


ELake Day
While waiting for Apple Bloom to finish working on an unusually hot summer day, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo dig a hole to pass the time. Applejack is not amused.
GrangeDisplay · 1000 words  ·  13  1 · 237 views

Honorable Mention, Slice of Life: "Twilight Makes Coffee" by Kodeake

I enjoy the act of showing character conflict through seemingly unrelated action. The conflict here is never really stated; Twilight was comfortable with her old life, and is struggling adapting to her new one.

This story works as a great example of showing rather than telling. It is never really explicit that this is what’s going wrong, rather we are treated to a descriptive set of reasons why her new life is different from her old.

At the end, Twilight’s breakdown is heartbreakingly relatable. Even though it is such a simple thing, such a mundane issue, it represents a very real sense of being unmoored in the midst of great upheaval.


ETwilight Makes Coffee
Twilight Sparkle engages a new enemy; the Coffee Maker
Kodeake · 1000 words  ·  55  2 · 640 views

Judge Prize, Slice of Life: "A Foal's Errand" by ScarredVirtue

There are so many wonderful things that “A Foal’s Errand” achieves. It is written entirely in pitch-perfect Zecora in both voice and rhyming. It feels like a tale from Farasi—a land and people distinct from Equestria yet clearly within the same universe. It tells a wonderful little fable of a kind that would have its place for the foals of any culture. And best of all, at the end of it, just why the story is being told to the Cutie Mark Crusaders is made very clear.


EA Foal's Errand
Zecora tells fables to three CMC - Of one zebra colt from her past memory...
ScarredVirtue · 1000 words  ·  26  0 · 213 views

Judge Prize, Slice of Life: "One on One" by Muramasa

This is the kind of story that I think works best in this format. A single snapshot implying a much larger narrative. Not a beginning or an end, but a short few frames right in the middle of a story.

And despite the short format, the author manages to create a very real, clear sense of escalating tension. Every second builds towards a resolution that is, delightfully, left unclear.

The skillful descriptions of physicality in the characters creates the action when the actual motion cannot; because the whole story takes only a few seconds, the author has to pack so much drama into little physical motion.


EOne on One
Rainbow Dash takes a penalty kick.
Muramasa · 1000 words  ·  12  1 · 200 views

Judge Prize, Slice of Life: "The Trees of Harmony" by Reviewfilly

Subtext has to carry a lot of weight when the author has so little text to work with, and Reviewfilly demonstrates that to incredible effect. The implication is hardly hidden from the reader, but it still carries incredible emotional weight, fitting the incredible emotional labor Applejack must perform. The properties of each titular tree are brilliantly thought out, and the final bit is poignant enough that it’s stuck with me since I read it.


EThe Trees of Harmony
Five trees stand at the end of Applejack's orchard. Today, she has to visit them.
Reviewfilly · 1000 words  ·  106  0 · 931 views

Bronze Medal, Slice of Life: "Hop-Frog Afternoon" by Pascoite

I found this story Incredibly well-crafted, capturing the rhythms and the rhymes of young Dinky’s view of the world on an afternoon like any other. Every detail and bit of atmosphere come together to weave a wonderfully whimsical little adventure, with descriptions that are lush and meandering in a way that is perfect for the viewpoint. Not a single word feels wasted, nor does it ever feel rushed or dragged. And the ending is just perfectly adorable. I could not ask for better.


EHop-Frog Afternoon
Dinky follows in her mother’s hoofsteps: just a little bit different. So naturally when she finds an interesting frog in the forest, the correct answer is to see where it takes her.
Pascoite · 1000 words  ·  52  3 · 351 views

Bronze Medal, Slice of Life: "Through Time, With Love" by daOtterGuy

Multi-scene stories were hard to pull off given the word limit. Multi-chapter stories had to pull out all the stops if they didn’t want to be choppy, rushed messes. Given this story’s presence on the podium, you can probably guess how daOtterGuy fared there. All the myriad moments come together into a single, cohesive arc with ups, downs, and even a very brief emotional crisis that uses the chapter break to maximum effect.


EThrough Time, With Love
Soarin and Braeburn find each other over several lifetimes.
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  30  10 · 241 views

Silver Medal, Slice of Life: "For a Love of the Arts" by The Red Parade

I’ve always felt that Twilight Sparkle’s internal monologue is rich soil for good conflict. Comedic, horrific, dramatic, whatever.

This story opens with a seed in that rich soil: a fairly standard meet-cute. Given the somewhat familiar territory being trod here, it’s doubly impressive that the author managed to make the story so resonant.

The focus on the story is not, then, some cute but shallow fluff, but rather on the dissonance happening in Twilight’s mind. Twilight’s artistic talent is not up to the task of adequately capturing her adoration and regard for Fritter, but the author’s talent is perfectly up to the task of adequately capturing Twilight’s distress, as well as her eventually coming to terms with her lack.


EFor a Love of the Arts
Twilight tries her hoof at art, and it goes fairly poorly.
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  29  1 · 248 views

Gold Medal, Slice of Life: "The Woodcutter and the King of the Forest" by TheInfamousFly

Here we have a story that manages to feel both ancient and fresh at the same time.

The author boldly makes sure the reader knows that this is a fairy tale, and from the very beginning we see glimpses of magic happening just beyond our view. That the author does so while working in a setting already saturated in magic is impressive.

The use of the metaphor of seasons representing the passage of time is not a new one; but the way it was used in this story really set the fairy tale tone of the whole piece. It also managed to give the entire piece a vibe that reminded me strongly of the films of Cartoon Saloon.

If that wasn’t enough, the author masterfully layered in brilliant characterization. The choice of Burnt Oak, a character we see so briefly but feel so deeply, was genius. Here is a character already associated with loss and memory, and it was absolutely the correct choice to use Oak as the vehicle to tell us this amazing story about the passage of time, the changing of lives and seasons, and the power of memory. A very well-deserved win.


TThe Woodcutter and the King of the Forest
Burnt Oak runs across a fawn while cutting lumber in the Everfree Forest.
TheInfamousFly · 1000 words  ·  16  1 · 204 views

Honorable Mention, Horror: "Mortissimo" by Incandesca

I won’t lie, this got a few points just for the title. But the story itself is a lavishly described grotesquerie, a portrait of a mare whose heart and mind have broken under the weight of tragedy… or perhaps something worse. It isn’t for everyone, especially not those with sensitive stomachs. That said, Incandesca still paints an evocative picture of the kind of obsession only an artist can achieve, using unconventional (and unhygienic) pigments.


Octavia plays a song for her beloved.
Incandesca · 1000 words  ·  16  1 · 294 views

Judge Prize, Horror: "Cherry Pits" by The Red Parade

I have to admit; I’ve read this story multiple times, and I still don’t get it.

Not that that’s a bad thing. This horror is the horror of the misunderstood, the barely-seen. The horror of realities that we do not understand but cannot escape regardless.

I think that’s why the horror works, and why it’s okay that I don’t get it. It’s incomprehensible, fear of things that should be understandable and aren’t, that should make sense and don’t.

A literary M.C. Escher painting,where the angles and staircases look like they’re leading somewhere but don’t. They should, but they don’t.

Either way, it sticks with me.


TCherry Pits
It's been two years and I'm still alone.
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  38  2 · 602 views

Judge Prize, Horror: "Hyperesthesia" by gapty

“Hyperesthesia” has a single idea to get across: the eponymous hyperesthesia that Sci-Twi experienced, of having all sensory stimuli turned into unceasing torment, rendered in visceral detail across its span of words. But what really makes this stand out is the ending that leaves the reader with a truly horrifying implication. In terms of structure and concept, this was one of the strongest entries in the category, which really is saying something.


After learning about the Rainbooms’ previous adventures, Sci-Twi steals Sunset’s journal to write an urgent message.
gapty · 1000 words  ·  142  7 · 1.7k views

Judge Prize, Horror: "Hall of Mirrors" by RB_

Pinkie Pie is perhaps the hardest member of the Mane Six to write. Even the show demonstrated how easy it is to let her slip into an irritating caricature of herself. Horror was perhaps the hardest category in the contest, given how much the genre leans on careful pacing and suspense. RB made both work to incredible effect, producing an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that feels much bigger than the word count would indicate or even seem to allow.


THall of Mirrors
Sometimes, Pinkie sees things that aren't there. Sometimes, those things are there. Sometimes, they see her back.
RB_ · 1000 words  ·  47  1 · 606 views

Bronze Medal, Horror: "Medusa" by NorrisThePony

I loved the use of the two perspectives in this piece. From the young seapony’s perspective, we see the slice of life and society that she lives in, where Medusa is a spooky tale of a seapony-turned-monster, meant to warn the school’s children of the dangers of the world. Then in Medusa’s perspective, we see what she really is. The body horror inspired by real-life parasites is wonderfully done, painting a tragic picture of an awful situation that is made all the more tragic by how it shapes the encounter between the two characters. And the themes explored of the place and purpose of stories illustrates perhaps the greatest horror of all: how we create monsters with our stories in the first place.


Medusa is like every other seapony. She's just a little ill, right now.
NorrisThePony · 1000 words  ·  46  3 · 809 views

Silver Medal, Horror: "Compound Fracture" by Equimorto

Body horror is built on the framework of good sensory detail writing, and the framework here is exquisite.

The author doesn’t just rely on visceral descriptions of gore or blood (though there are visceral descriptions of gore and blood, and well-written ones). Rather the horror is driven by Twilight’s reactions to those moments. Twilight’s inner voice is strong, and the entire piece has a tangible sense of desperation throughout.

Twilight engages in denial, and the repetitive nature of her attempts to mentally dodge what is happening to her really serve to create a sense of helplessness. And like all good horror, the ambiguously dark ending leaves us uncomfortably unclear of what the future holds, if anything, for our doomed hero.


TCompound Fracture
Something is wrong. I'm in my laboratory. Help will come. Don't panic. Don't look at it.
Equimorto · 1000 words  ·  67  0 · 1.1k views

Gold Medal, Horror: "Bury It" by daOtterGuy

Some categories were easier to judge than others. Some called for the process of elimination and a degree of improvisational statistics. But this? This was the only story that we unanimously decided was best in its category, and for good reason. Everything I said about "Hall of Mirrors" feeling bigger than it is applies here, and more so. daOtterGuy told a full story of toxic romance, building dread, and inevitable tragedy, devoting exactly enough word count to each scene to cement it in the reader’s mind. Especially the mutations. Finding enough room for falling action after the climax is frankly astonishing.

Flash is also the perfect choice for the perspective character. Goodness knows the poor guy has terrible luck in love regardless of his species, but this takes the cake.


TBury It
Something sleeps in the waters of Bilge
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  31  4 · 395 views

Honorable Mention, Comedy: "The Good Art" by TCC56

Many of us have a friend or acquaintance who’s a snob. An art snob, a food snob, whatever.

This story is fun because of how heavily it relies on tropes; particularly the ‘snob’ trope. Eccentric behavior, declarative and demanding opinions, and a certain sense of gullibility. This art critic is no different.

This story rests on the strength of its characters; Celestia’s forbearance throughout, and the critic’s antics, and even the surprise twist of Discord’s appearance at the end, make this story fun.


EThe Good Art
An art critic reviews the art of Canterlot Castle. He has... opinions. One of them is more concerning to Princess Celestia than the others.
TCC56 · 1000 words  ·  350  2 · 2.5k views

Judge Prize, Comedy: "Outsmarted!" by 6-D Pegasus

When I was a child, I used to play make believe games with my siblings, using Legos. Our various spaceships were pitted against each other in increasingly silly narrative battles. Without a framework of rules to enforce fairness, it rested on us to provide narrative reasons to justify our victories against each other. Needless to say this never worked out and we had to agree to collaborative fantasies rather than competitive ones.

This story had all the same energy, the same sense of harmless immaturity. Maybe it was that hint of childhood nostalgia that tickled me about this story and made me laugh, but there was something really charming about the inane escalation between Twilight and Starlight. Fun read.


Twilight must capture the wanted criminal Starlight Glimmer, but will her preparations be enough?
6-D Pegasus · 1000 words  ·  72  4 · 918 views

Judge Prize, Comedy: "Breakfast for Dinner" by The Red Parade

The Random tag is, suitably enough, a roll of the dice. Sometimes it’s an excuse to throw text at the screen and see if any of it sticks to the audience. Sometimes it’s a surreal experience that cannot be summarized without sounding like a madman. The Red Parade wrote the latter, and it holds together just well enough that every new twist and turn hits for maximum effect without the whole thing tearing apart into gibberish.


TBreakfast for Dinner
The Apple Family has breakfast, but for dinner.
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  75  4 · 750 views

Judge Prize, Comedy: "Trixie Bombs" by danatron1

Classic Trixieness and StarTrixiness abound in this sitcom-esque scenario that feels all too believable as something that happened somewhen during the show, offscreen. Trixie’s wonderful mixture of self-satisfied ego and theatrical impulsiveness are on full display here, for all those who seek it to find.


TTrixie Bombs
Trixie is invited to dinner with Celestia. She accidentally brings high explosives.
danatron1 · 1000 words  ·  68  1 · 860 views

Bronze Medal, Comedy: "An Unroyal Wedding" by Shrink Laureate

Good comedy understands the value of timing and balance.

This story focuses on the wedding of Lyra and Bon Bon. The festivities, however, are interrupted by a sequence of increasingly absurd misunderstandings, all of which revolve around identity and name.

Each joke is layered on top of the next, coming just as the previous is nearly, but not quite, resolved. Each gag adds far more questions than it answers, but the madcap pacing never allows us to explore, instead rocketing on to the next hilarious bit. But because the jokes are related to each other with the common thread of identity, there is a feeling that each one is grounded in reality. Each surprise is surprising, but understandable within the context of the story.

The climax actually made me laugh out loud, which is not usual for me.


EAn Unroyal Wedding
Lyra and Bon Bon are getting married. Lyra is definitely not a princess.
Shrink Laureate · 1000 words  ·  142  9 · 1k views

Silver Medal, Comedy: "What Are You Doing, Stepfish?" by TheDriderPony

Sonata Dusk and Hondo Flanks is not a pairing I would have ever thought of in a million years, but the way this story draws out and exploits for comedy the connections and frictions between them and Rarity is nothing short of genius. Though I must warn that the humor is sometimes-lewd, I found it to be perfectly fitting to the characters, with Hondo and Sonata’s two flavors of obliviousness contrasting with the understandably horrified “straight mare” Rarity. Absolute brilliance the entire way through, from its shocking beginning to its perfect end that is somehow simultaneously a lewd joke and a reveal that ties together the logic of this demented scenario.


TWhat Are You Doing, Stepfish?
Rarity's father is getting married! Wait, wasn't he already married? And since when did middle-aged stallions bump into eligible young mares on the docks at midnight?
TheDriderPony · 1000 words  ·  56  0 · 550 views

Gold Medal, Comedy: "Orinthomancy" by daOtterGuy

Some other entries were sequels that asked for knowledge of dozens of thousands of words’ worth of previous stories to fully appreciate them. This is a sequel to a medalist in the previous contest and doesn’t care if you’ve read that one or not. It’s also hilarious; much like his sister, Shining Armor makes for a perfect straight man for the casual madness around him. Calls for reason have little bearing in the magical land of Equestria, especially when the pegasi are literally bird-brained.

Oh, and this was apparently based on true stories. I’m not sure how much of that applies to the divinations, but I can only assume that daOtterGuy is a powerful wizard and not to be trifled with. (Not that that had any bearing on the judging results, of course. And I would greatly appreciate it if someone would tell that to the seashell-decorated pigeons staring at me from my backyard.)


Pigeons are great for fortune telling.
daOtterGuy · 1000 words  ·  56  2 · 367 views

Honorable Mention, Experimental: "Thus Testifies Twilight" by Accurate Balance

As a metanarrative about Twilight Sparkle, this story has an inadvertent companion and antithesis in "Please don't do this", and I could not help myself with the intertextuality. The unnecessarily obscure vocabulary of the first chapter, beyond being technically impressive, does its job of taking on the hypnotic cadence of a constrained writing experiment the longer it goes on, heightening the feeling of release as it shifts to the standard prose of the second. To watch Twilight feel all the existential weight and dread of knowing one’s approaching end, and to ride into it on a hopeful, soaring note is truly a thing of beauty.


TThus Testifies Twilight
When nothing outlives everything, how does a mare testify to her existence?
Accurate Balance · 1000 words  ·  16  2 · 315 views

Honorable Mention, Experimental: "Canon Perpetuus, Canon Perpetuus, Canon Perpetuus" by JimmySlimmy

When I first read this one, I thought it would win the whole category. Even after reading the rest of the field, it’s still my #2 pick. One of my major criteria was how much story the author could fit into a thousand words, and here the answer is effectively infinite. JimmySlimmy crafted a tight Möbius loop of tragedy and torment, and I mean that in the best way.


ECanon Perpetuus, Canon Perpetuus, Canon Perpetuus
Twilight Sparkle had realized that she had been here before and that she had realized that she had been here before and that she had realized that she had been here before.
JimmySlimmy · 1000 words  ·  101  1 · 1k views

Honorable Mention, Experimental: "Dis/0rd3R" by TheInfamousFly

Two chapters, two internal monologues, two very different voices.

When Pinkie reveals to Twilight that she’s been diagnosed with BPD, Twilight’s overly analytical mind goes into overdrive.

When Twilight’s reactions are a little opaque, Pinkie’s does the same.

Both internal monologues are quite unique, and capture a picture of both of their thought processes. On top of that, there is an interesting dissonance between the amount of mental ground covered in the internal monologue, and the amount of change that happens outside. Both ponies are all over the place in their heads, but ultimately the actual change outside is minimal. It’s an interesting take, and a realistic-feeling approach to both characters’ mental struggles.


[Adult story embed hidden]

Judge Prize, Experimental: "Daybreak Will Set Us Free" by Pascoite

My criteria for Experimental were perhaps too harsh at times, but when something stood out, it really stood out. This Luna-mediated look at the two sides of Celestia’s psychological coin is as much visual art as it is literary, an incredible interplay of double meanings, word art, and the bonds of sisterhood. I can only imagine how much time Pascoite spent making sure everything fit the word limit, and I’m deeply grateful for that effort.


EDaybreak Will Set Us Free
It is finally time for Luna to set everything straight between her sisters. All of them.
Pascoite · 1000 words  ·  45  2 · 640 views

Judge Prize, Experimental: "The Enlightenment of Sonata Dusk" by Mockingbirb

The short vignettes of this story are themselves efficient little capsules of amusing character moments in an Equestria Girls universe set a skosh more “wacky” than the median, but there is something transcendental about how they all come together. The connections between them, both direct and indirect, come together to weave the feeling of a coherent world, making the title-promised enlightenment at the end feel well-deserved, in an ineffable way.


TThe Enlightenment of Sonata Dusk
Sometimes, noticing even the smallest detail can change a person's life.
Mockingbirb · 1000 words  ·  38  6 · 652 views

Judge Prize, Experimental: "Magic is Most Imminent" by heartlessons

An epistolary story perhaps isn’t the most experimental. But I’d never read one before told in lesson plans for a substitute teacher, followed by the notes back from the sub to the teacher after the day was done.

It was a fun twist on a standard formula. Added to that, it made good use of the short format, managing to hint at a much larger world and story beyond the scant words provided.

And then, on top of all of that, it was funny and charming. Both characters come through in their writing, and both have a real sense of overwhelmed cheerful energy. It was a very delightful read.


TMagic is Most Imminent
Not everything can be planned for. Cheerilee does her best.
heartlessons · 1000 words  ·  30  1 · 322 views

Bronze Medal, Experimental: "Frag/ment/ed" by Dashie04

This story, for me, is a perfect example of managing to fit so much into such a small space.

There are so many topics covered here. Dysphoria, of course. Body dysmorphia. Parasocial relationships. Each issue is implied by the narrator’s scattered thoughts, and by the pieces of letters we are allowed to see, a slim window into a series of shallow superficial relationships.

The text formatting also works quite well. So often I’ve seen it used in a gimmicky way, but the spacing and shape of the text actually serves the narrative, especially the final chapter as the words (and the narrator’s mental state) literally spiral down as if flowing out of a drain.

I might wish for a bit of a closer connection to ponies in a pony fanfiction, but what we did get is a worthy and well-executed story all on it’s own.


I am not who I think I am…
Dashie04 · 1000 words  ·  21  6 · 230 views

Silver Medal, Experimental: "D E A T H w i s h / meso, strato, tropo" by The Red Parade

This story represents everything I’d hoped to see from this category. A fascinating pastiche of stream-of-consciousness free verse, narratively significant encyclopedia entries, and the Wonderbolts’ oath of enlistment, it gives the impression of the last thoughts going through misfiring neurons. The descent through the visible spectrum is a brilliant way to tie it all together. After all, Lightning Dust will always be defined and defeated by rainbows.

In all, The Red Parade created a devastating exercise in implication, hubris, and exploring the key traits that fueled Lightning’s rise and fall. Especially the latter. Even the fact that a story is read from top to bottom factors into the symbolism. Despite the apparent non sequiturs, this is one of the most cohesive entries in the contest.


TD E A T H w i s h / meso, strato, tropo
I will not waver in the line of duty.
The Red Parade · 1000 words  ·  28  3 · 262 views

Gold Medal, Experimental: "Please don't do this" by Kodeake

Sure, a Twilight Sparkle that is self-aware of being a fictional character. But “Please Don’t Do This” goes all-out with this, as she becomes aware not only of her form, not only of the mutability of her past as a fictional character, but also that her story is limited to exactly one thousand words, and exactly how many of those words are left.

Layered over this base story are messages from this self-aware self as she thrashes against her confines and pleads with her in-prose self as they both hurtle towards that inevitable end. This culminates in a final existential lament that is all too relatable to all of us finite and mortal creatures whose time on this earth is far too short.

Though all trace and memory of this Twilight (not to mention this story, the author, myself, and all who read this) will eventually be crushed into nothingness for all eternity by the unstoppable force of entropy, as these contests continue into the long way forward of this fandom, there will hopefully be those in the future who will be curious about its past winners, and come back here to give her story a well-deserved read. I do hope that she can take a little bit of comfort in that.


EPlease don't do this
It was supposed to be a simple spell. Not to interact or interfere, just to test. To reach out and see if alternate dimensions really existed. I didn't want to do it.
Kodeake · 1000 words  ·  292  17 · 3.1k views

And there we are! Prize winners will be contacted by PM over the next few days to disburse winnings. And barring unforeseen circumstances, there will be another iteration of this contest in Spring 2024. Until then, do check out the following:


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