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Saphroneth


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May
8th
2013

Strike One (Equestria Daily rejection of Unicorn at Hogwarts) · 9:30pm May 8th, 2013

Well, that was revealing...
Due to some kind of screw up, I got the "Don't send" portion of my EqD rejection, as well as the "Send" portion. It is as follows.

=== DON'T SEND ===

Talking heads and a boring rehash of canon events from Harry Potter. To the moon.

=== SEND ===

Thank you for submitting your story to Equestria Daily. Unfortunately, I am unable to recommend it for posting. This is your first strike of a possible three.

Just about every scene in the first chapter consists almost entirely of dialogue. This is a common pitfall known as “talking heads” (I suggest googling how to avoid it). It is boring to read about a bunch of people just standing around and talking.

Some of your scenes take place in the woods around Hogwarts, in the Hogwarts halls, in Dumbledore’s office, in Diagon Alley, and in Olivander’s, but you don’t describe these settings. Although we are familiar with these places from reading the Harry Potter books, I still recommend including a description of them. It helps make things interesting and provides a sense of immersion, especially if we get to see a new character’s impression of everything. I’m sure Twilight saw plenty of fascinating things in Dumbledore’s office; unfortunately, you omit showing us this in favour of more dialogue.

In addition to not having much description, many of the scenes were uninteresting repetitions of things we’ve seen from the first Harry Potter book: going through the Floo, going to Diagon Alley, and getting a Wand at Ollivander’s.

Your first chapter does not make it clear what new and interesting things your story offers for a fan of both Harry Potter and Friendship is Magic. I would like an opening that promises either a new story or a unique and interesting take on the one we already know. Just adding Twilight in and playing through the canon Harry Potter events is not enough to make it interesting for me. For me to consider accepting this for Equestria Daily, your first chapter would have to promise more.

Technical issues

I haven’t marked every error, so this should not be taken as a comprehensive list.

Missing comma

> Twilight Sparkle appeared in a flash of green light, fell four feet and landed on a huge fallen tree trunk.

> “One minute I was trying to sort out a problem in the kitchens and the next…”

> if she could be traced then a rescue attempt would take no subjective time at all.

> When you said unicorns I was fairly sure

> regardless of the reaction we will get your shopping done

Spelling of Cadence / Cadance. In the synopsis, you use "Cadence," but in chapter one, you use "Cadance."

Open / close quote mismatch

> “I-“

> “Since an owl is a permitted familiar, and I can certainly approve Peewee – “

Em/en dash vs hyphen

> “I-“

> “-…well. Wow.” (Also, you shouldn't combine dashes and ellipses.)

> a note - one she’d prepared when they arrived - on top

Dialogue punctuation

> “You’re right.” Twilight said.

Unnecessary comma

> Spike bookmarked his place, and replied in the affirmative as well.

Spelling: Hermionie vs Hermione

Style notes

While these may not necessarily be errors, please consider these points and think about whether a change would be an improvement.

Awkward

> Twilight is sent to another world entirely by the disguised Changeling Queen to avoid her plan being disrupted

> Dumbledore – who had turned out to be not nearly as large as Rubeus Hagrid, though still taller than any pony short of perhaps Princess Celestia and possessed of a most impressive beard – nodded, as Twilight finished her slightly shortened account of how she had come to this world.

Can you make it clear that Spike, not the distracting voice, is the one asking this?

> “And can you derive dimensional travel from first principles?”

> Twilight froze.

> Thankfully, she was distracted from the incipient panic attack by a voice.

Awkward use of parentheses

> her memory served up images - like Roseluck fainting in the middle of the street (as a reaction to everything from the arrival of a large and dangerous monster to the announcement of market day.) “…badly.”

Show what someone is reacting to before you show their reaction.

> Hey!”

The last word made Twilight turn, as it was accompanied by a loud growl.

If Keeper of Keys and Grounds is a title, it should be capitalized.

> I’m the keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts

I think you might be overusing Hagrid's "Great man, Dumbledore" line. I've seen it three times already in the first part of chapter one.

Most people who use spaced en dashes don't put a space between an one and a quotation mark.

> “Since an owl is a permitted familiar, and I can certainly approve Peewee – “

I didn't find it clear who says this last line or what it is said in response to.

> “Allow me to welcome you to the Wizarding World, then, Miss Sparkle. I shall have Minerva see about getting you somewhere to stay until the Sorting, and about taking you to Diagon Alley for your supplies and wands.”

> Spike chuckled.

> “Hm? Oh, I see. Diagonally. I never saw that before. Yes, it is rather amusing, isn’t it?”

While the wiki (http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Minerva_McGonagall) does refer to her once as "Madam Professor Minerva McGonagall," this is the first time I've ever heard her referred to that way. Usually, it's just "Professor McGonagall." To me, "Madam Professor" sounds silly, as does "Mister Professor," but if this is correct in Britain, you can keep it.

> “Good. I am Madam Professor Minerva McGonagall.”

It wasn't clear to me how this was intimidating.

> McGonagall gave a slight smile. “And whoever reacts too strongly will face the consequences.”

Additional resources

You may find it helpful to review some of these articles and writing guides:

Ezn’s Guide

EqD Editor’s Omnibus

Commas

Dialogue and action

Dashes and hyphens

Em / en dash styles


You can also submit your story to a review thread such as The Training Grounds on Ponychan or MLPchan. Alternatively, you could submit it to one of the FimFiction review groups such as WRITE, School For New Writers, or The Equestrian Critics Society.

— Pre-reader Amacita

As you can probably imagine, I'm not reacting all that well right now.

Report Saphroneth · 2,736 views ·
Comments ( 51 )

Sorry, I'm just sitting here, laughing really hard that they sent the 'don't send' part.

Wait, what wasn't supposed to be sent to who?

Hell, your list is a f*ck ton better than what I got. All I got was, "We're not taking anything crossover related right now!" Yes, with the exclamation mark.

1063790

The bit at the top, just below "Don't Send" (the bit above "Send"), is the bit that was NOT supposed to be forwarded to me. But it was.

Wow I realy like your story to. Don't they seem a bit to strict though I can understand tem wanting thebest of the best but still.

1063806 Wow you'd think they would be more careful about not sending those :ajbemused: also I'm sorry it didn't get accepted, are you going to try sending it again?

1063806

:twilightsmile:

It's my 3rd favorite story on the website, how could it NOT get accepted? :twilightsmile:

By the way, I'm seeing a Harry Potter ad. :twilightsmile:

1063816
Thanks for being so supportive. I guess I'm partly pissed because I got the fic given a special look over (which was a week or two's worth of time) just before I sent it to EqD, specifically to be sure that it would be okay.

1063822

I'll look it over, too, for next time (if there is 1), if you'd like... :twilightsmile:

1063815
I'll need to have it given another editorial look over first. And I'll have to work out how to stay true to the book, AND also have an interesting first chapter that includes even less "rehash" than it already does. (I think the only thing that actually happens in the first chapter that also happens to Harry is the mandatory school shopping bit, though I could have missed a few things.)

1063832
Do go ahead, yeah. I'll do the specific corrections mentioned in the rejection email, unless I actively do not understand them.

While that whole "Don't Send This" bit is really :facehoof: cringe-worthy, and the comma usage list seems a bit excessive, I have to say that I agree with the 'talking head' issue. Honestly, I stopped following the updates after reading about half of chapter 3. I had figured that there was going to be a lot of dialogue in the beginning to set the premise of the story, but then the story would start to fill out and get more descriptive and emotional....but it never did, really.

I obviously enjoy the premise, but yeah, you're so heavy on dialogue, it's almost like reading a TV episode script, but without the setting and blocking descriptions.

1063837

I'll do it when I have time, and PM it to you!

1063839
Sorry to hear that. I have been trying to make sure I don't fall into telling rather than showing, and apparently I've gone a little too far the other way.
But how much IS setting the scene? The third chapter, they're still on the train...

...hang on a minute. Isn't "talking heads" basically what happens when you try to avoid "infodumping" or to show and not tell? I've been rejected for that, too...

1063835 Good luck then, I hope it gets accepted next time.

1063872
Any idea how I can make the mandatory shopping trip (as in, this is something they absolutely have to do) more unique? And how I can do it while at the same time describing many things we've already heard of? (I'm told NOT to repeat things, AND to describe things that have already been described in the Potterverse books...)

1063878 Hmmm, no ideas for the shopping trip right now and I'm not sure about the second one. Maybe describe it in a different way?
dash.ponychan.net/chan/files/thumb/132634431855s.png
It sounds a bit confusing with the whole no repeating rule but if I come up with anything I'll let you know.

1063865
The 'infodump' in the opening chapters, if I recall, were Twilight and Spike discussing where they were and what had happened. It kinda makes sense; they've been through some weird magic portal thing, and are now somewhere totally different from what they're used to.

The issue that I ran into, and that I think the pre-reader is alluding to, is that the bulk of the story is dialogue and exchanges between characters. I just now glanced over the scene in the train, when Longbottom comes and meets the Equestrians (for no other reason than I needed an example, and that's where the scroll stopped.) There isn't much of anything in the scene concerning internal reactions, thoughts, or emotions. Everything is surface, physical, and visual or aural.

And in 'setting the scene,' I'm referring more to the mood and atmosphere of the scene, not the physical description of the location.
To wit:
"The red leather couch was set against the wall, flanked by a pair of end tables. Each end table had a brass lamp on it."
versus...
"The blood-red couch sat between a pair of encroaching end tables, each supporting an ornate brass lamp. The lamps were on, but their feeble light filtered through the dingy shades barely reached to the corners of the room"

That is, by no means, a shining example of "Telling" vs. "Showing", but I hope it gets the point across. The first bit "Tells" the reader that there is a couch, tables and lamps. The second bit "Shows" the reader (poorly, but :twilightsheepish:) what the room looks like to the character.

1063878

Do it in a different order? But seriously, I will look it over and I may have some ideas, then. :twilightsmile:

1063946
Problem is... I kind of want the fic to be not too long. As in, it's already taking over ten thousand words to get to Hogwarts. I have other fics going too!

And I know that it doesn't interfere with the larger point, but:

Twilight looked up, and saw a young(?) male(?) human standing in the doorway.

(I'm doing the fic from Twilight's perspective, see. The question marks are her being uncertain over whether her interpretations are correct.)

Mentally, Twilight pigeonholed this boy’s personality as somewhat reminiscent of Fluttershy – timid, for sure, and probably not very self-assured.

The – colt? No, boy – gulped, and then closed his eyes.

Same thing again.

Granted, it's not many cases, and I'll increase the number - but it's hardly nothing.

1063964

How about you write it shorter and have editors make it longer? :raritywink:

1063980
Well, then I'm not really writing it anymore, am I? If the editing is substantially contributing to the length, that's basically co-authorship... and with my erratic schedule, I'd just confuse co-authors.

1063990
Well, it WAS the most sensible idea so far.

1063964
As for the story taking too long to tell, I'm of the opinion that a story will take as long as it needs to be told. Judging from the story so far, Twilight and gang are going to be at Hogwarts for the entire semester? At the current pace and in the current style, as a reader, I would expect the story to be less than 1/4 done - mainly because you seem to be mirroring 'Sorcerer's Stone,' and there's a lot more to go through in the source material.

And your examples are valid of inner thoughts of your characters, but they are few and far between, and then slightly thin when they are there. On a preferential note, the question marks do manage to convey the character's confusion and uncertainty with the classification, but the first example looks like editor's marks that should be in red pen. The second example is more effective, and flows easier.

When Twilight is 'classifying' Longbottom as a Fluttershy arch-type, however, you're simply telling us about a thought process. There is bucketloads of emotional potential in that comparison; Twilight hasn't seen her friend for quite some time. Surely, meeting someone that reminded her of a friend would spark some sort of loneliness, melancholy, and internal strife.

1064040
The majority of the SERIES, thank you. Up to all seven years, but it'll take her at least two just to get the hang of the local brand of magic enough that she can study it in full. (i.e. mathematically and scientifically.) And then she has to invent a way home. She's not getting there for a while.

Since I have THAT much to work with, I'm sure you can see why I'm trying to limit the length as much as possible.

And point taken. But how thick should they be? One every couple of lines feels far too thick, to me... like she's overanalyzing everything instead of just having a normal conversation. Since this is her POV, I'm working with thoughts that she's actually noticing herself having - and I might be wrong, but I think most conversations don't involve deep introspection :twilightsheepish:

1064055
Twilight Sparkle....over-analyzing something?

The whole series, you say? You want to keep it short, you say? :applejackunsure:
Short, like, Background Pony short? 'cause of Twilight's gonna spend 7 years in Hogwarts, dealing with all that THAT entails, plus researching her own way home, this is going to be a long story. Settle in, grab a cold beverage and a comfy chair.

No, most conversations don't involve deep introspection, but they do evoke emotions in a homesick unicorn finding similarities to her own world in this strange, new, bipedal world she finds herself in.

If you're going to limit the story to Twilight's POV, perhaps switch it to First Person Present?

The – colt? No, boy – gulped, and then closed his eyes.

would already fit in First Person Present.

Concerning Longbottom being compared to Fluttershy...

With a little hitch in my breath, I realize just how much Neville reminds me of Fluttershy. The young colt.....no, boy, young boy.....is timid, and shy, and seems rather unsure of himself. If they were to meet, who would work up the nerve to introduce themselves first?

That doesn't stray into deep introspection, but is certainly in-line with the thoughts one might have upon meeting a person that reminds one of someone else. The speed of thought is much faster than the speed of speech.

1064146

Hence why I don't want it to get TOO long. It's already going to be long, and I've done long fics before, but they DO take a lot of time. Just because it's going to be long already doesn't mean I'm fine with it being longER - in fact, I'm trying to make it as short as possible while still doing it justice. (Kind of like the difference between deciding to go across the US on foot and deciding to do it via Brazil :twilightsheepish: )

And I don't like first person. Especially not writing it - I'll read a fic in it alright, but writing it is a pain.
I'm sticking to the format from the Potter books, which is character focused third person narrative. It's a minor point of similarity to that series, because I'm trying to make sure both "settings" have their own little nods and are given partial influence in shaping the fic.

I have a headache and I bruised my toe stumbling over dumbbells half-awake this morning. Therefore I am not in a good mood and have a need to vent. So, everything I wrote here should be interpreted in that light.

Just about every scene in the first chapter consists almost entirely of dialogue. This is a common pitfall known as “talking heads” (I suggest googling how to avoid it). It is boring to read about a bunch of people just standing around and talking.

It is boring to read through 1000+ words of uninterrupted visual description of one character too. For example. YMMV.

I’m sure Twilight saw plenty of fascinating things in Dumbledore’s office; unfortunately, you omit showing us this in favour of more dialogue.

Was she focused on all of these things or was she focused on talking to Dumbledore and determining what to do? Let's simplify this - in the event of travelling to another universe(when you accept the possibility of the fact) and meeting local authorities in order to determine how to get back - would you gawk at everything or act professional? Would Twilight? Although simply mentioning some parts of scenery could be done. Problem - describing all the places in full truly makes it similar to simple rehash of canon. You can't have one without invoking another or making the description entirely different from canon.

In addition to not having much description, many of the scenes were uninteresting repetitions of things we’ve seen from the first Harry Potter book: going through the Floo, going to Diagon Alley, and getting a Wand at Ollivander’s.

No possible alternatives without creating unnecessary OCs and places. Floo - the only usual way of getting to and from Hogwarts fast. Diagon Alley - the only established and traditional way of getting supplies for school year. Getting a wand at Ollivander's - he is the implied best master of wand-crafting period and the only one mentioned in Diagon Alley. Oh, of course, you can use Knockturn Alley for all of that! Risking Twilight being kidnapped and dissected. Dumbledore and McGonagall aren't fools.

Your first chapter does not make it clear what new and interesting things your story offers for a fan of both Harry Potter and Friendship is Magic.

Really? I thought that crossover between HP and MLP:FiM where TS&Co end up on earth hadn't been done before. And, of course, Twilight derailing canon by showing up and Spike learning utterly broken magic system of HP-universe have been done to death - they are neither new nor interesting. And Hermione never was in Hogwarts anyway.

I would like an opening that promises either a new story or a unique and interesting take on the one we already know.

Again - YMMV. What isn't interesting or unique enough? Twilight not attempting to overthrow the government, not accusing Dumpledore of being manipulative bastard, not bashing Weasleys/Hermione/Someone else and not miraculously destroying all the horcruxes in the first 24 hours of being there? Because all of the above would be blatant wish fullfillment and Twilight behaviour in the story is very much in-character. I doubt that making characters act OOC or usage of blatant deus ex machina makes story interesting. Although it can make it somewhat unique.
Next... Won't say anything on grammatical issues. Because, the first example used, "Twilight Sparkle appeared in a flash of green light, fell four feet and landed on a huge fallen tree trunk." is absolutely grammatically correct in my native language and I can easily mix up the rules.
On the other mistakes - too many things where I could be mistaken or YMMV. One thing:

I didn't find it clear who says this last line or what it is said in response to.

> “Allow me to welcome you to the Wizarding World, then, Miss Sparkle. I shall have Minerva see about getting you somewhere to stay until the Sorting, and about taking you to Diagon Alley for your supplies and wands.”

> Spike chuckled.

> “Hm? Oh, I see. Diagonally. I never saw that before. Yes, it is rather amusing, isn’t it?”

It's absolutely clear. The only one who has 'seen' Diagon Alley before out of TS, Spike and Dumbledore? Dumbledore. The line is said in response to Spike chuckling after hearing 'Diagon Alley'. I honestly don't understand how you can find a fault with this.

Tl;dr - they simply didn't read.
And now I'm in much better mood. Great) From what I heard of EqD - you have to have zero to none mistakes in the first ~5-10k words and catch the pre-reader in a good mood in order to pass.
You can try to clean up the grammar and add the description of some parts of scenery. Anything else I feel to be personal preference of the pre-reader.

1064965
That's about what I thought, with regards to "what it takes". On SpaceBattles.com, someone (Harry Leferts) has said they rejected his fic because Harry was out of character to how he's shown in later books.
...at age SEVEN.

1065008
Saw that while lurking there. Sometimes it is almost like people don't know what AU is, why they exist for a reason and that you can't expect things to be exactly the same after point of divergence.
Problem is - some of their pre-readers seem to be quite reasonable. Out of the rest you get excuses on why they personally don't like your story.

1065019
I can't help but think that maybe they should have a consensus system for their reviews - not just one person for each fic. If you're going to have a three-strikes system, don't let one person with a visceral reaction against the fic all but make things up. (Hell, I got one fic rejected almost entirely for not keeping to the rules of the setting it was crossing over WITH. Rules which I was trying to imply weren't active in this fusion setting.)

I have asked the pre reader to explain how I could push the Diagon Alley bit further from canon in a way that is justifiable, so...

1065020
Maybe. But this system requires more work, and as the pre-readers are often quick to say, they are volunteers and aren't paid for that. I like people of that mentality. Mostly when they are several thousand kilometers away from me and screw things up only there.
Edit: I thought you get different pre-readers each time you submit or re-submit a story? So that isn't one person for each fic.

Well, the only way I see of changing the shopping trip - is making one-use(and otherwise unnecessary) OCs and places. No other way because canon has established Diagon Alley shops for that. Dumbledore and McGonagall also don't have any reasons to send TS somewhere else - no sense in keeping her existence secret if she would study at Hogwarts.

...Wow.

If there ever needed to be more proof of EQD peoples' raging asshatery, this is it.

1065025

I do not know one way or the other whether it's a new person or not. I know I got different people for my two submissions of Ponies in Space, but one of those was before the three-strikes policy. (Strangely, the first person was a lot MORE enthusiastic... the whole tale is a way back in my blogs, if you've not seen it.)
In any case, this person has made use of one of my strikes. I'll rework what there is, try to improve on the points I actually understand what he means, and get a proofreader to give an intensive grammar pass... AGAIN.

1065115
And thus continues the tale of suffering caused by the despicable EqD pre-reader system... ))

Jokes aside, the only advice I can give you is to be patient. Sadly I would be of no help with english punctuation.

1065147
Heheh.
I guess we cause despair.

1065182
That something to be proud of?
I once got a fic sent back, being told it didn't explain the terminology enough for people who weren't sci fi fans. So I included little descriptions of everything, sent it in again, and got rejected more strongly than before for things like infodumping (i.e. explaining the terminology enough for people who weren't sci fi fans.)
And, of course, there's the example of someone who was rejected based on the fact that his characterization of a seven year old Harry Potter did not match the Harry Potter of the later books... (that person being Harry Leferts, author of The Wizard and the Lonely Princess.)
Or, for that matter, the person whose fic was rejected because Luna was out of character. (This being pre-Luna Eclipsed, there was NO way to tell at that point.)

1065266
it's not really something I am proud of, and I have not been involved in the analysis of any of your fics- or any fics- for the past two months.
I, honestly, like your fics.

1065347
Right. I was wondering, because (since the internet is tone-deaf to sarcasm) it could have been you were gloating. Thank you for clarifying.

1065351
Yeah, sorry.
I used to have a little influence with a few things, but... well, I got forgotten. If I still had any, I would have used it to reroute your fic to a nicer proofer.

You should take this over to the I Hate Equestria Daily group forum - apparently insulting writers behind their backs in e-mails and then sending them is becoming a pattern.

1072596
I've been told that "To the Moon" is their slang for "reject with strike". Seems overly offensive to me, but meh.
I DID have genuine issues, so I'm revising the fic and getting the chapters checked on SpaceBattles.com as I do so. Two down so far.

Yep that sounds about right for EQD. I sent a story in myself and they didn't even tell me which parts of it were wrong. Just that I had, comma misuse, run on sentences, etc. etc. Honestly I wonder why people even bother trying to post stuff to EQD anymore. Hell, it used to be they were DESPERATE for new stuff. Now, not so much. Eh, their lose I guess.

1077705

For my part, it's because I'd like to get something up there. (I also checked with people via blog to see if they thought it was good enough... heh, at least the problems weren't all that major.)

1077833 Well good luck to ya mate.

EQD is a private website masquerading as a news aggregator. This is why Trixie gets posted so much, so don't worry too much if the owner or volunteers don't personally like your stuff: that's their prerogative.

On the up; take the criticism on the nose, and fix your fic to make it better. Even bad criticism can help improve your craft.

1710675 I wouldn't have minded if the objections had been coherent. (I got criticized for the first chapter being "too close to the plot" of Harry Potter - when, well, isn't the point of a divergence that it starts close and begins to change? Besides which, I'd love to see Twilight trying to learn magic at Hogwarts without textbooks or a wand...)

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