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Titanium Dragon


TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Aug
1st
2015

Writeoff Reviews #39 - Best Laid Plans - Compilation of Reviews · 12:11pm Aug 1st, 2015

I went crazy this week and reviewed every single minific in the latest writeoff competition. 109 stories. Over 13,600 words worth of reviews.

I posted all of these previously on the writeoff forum, but I’m posting a compilation post on my blog for reference.

For those of you who aren’t in the writeoff: you can probably ignore this post, as many of these stories are in a rough draft state and will be revised and expanded before they end up on FIMFiction in their final form.


The Fabulous Flim Flam Fibrous Fertilizer Fic

Preliminary Score: 8

Genre: Comedy

Flim and Flam sell fibrous fertilizer in Ponyville.

I have to confess to laughing at the end of this story. Flim and Flam have their rhyming little patter at the start, which then turns into a non-rhyming sales pitch (much as it did in Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000), and then there is a silly little denouement.

This is my favorite fibrous nuggets story since Small Horse Poop Tale. I’m not sure what useful feedback I can give Present Perfect the totally anonymous author who wrote this story, though; I think they did exactly what they were trying to do.

EDIT: Apparently PP didn’t even enter this round. Weird.


Start Recursion

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Experimental

Well, someone decided they wanted a mask this round.

This is a story about writing a story, and about what matters in a story.

The real question is, is Bad Horse crazy enough to mention himself in his own story? Did Horizon do this? Did Bradel? I’d ask if bookplayer did, but the narrative style doesn’t seem hers (Though she’s certainly capable).

You’re all suspects.

This is a very meta thing, and as is common with the “stories about writing stories”, I’m not actually terribly impressed with it. I think the idea of the story described by this “story” is interesting, but I want to actually read that story, not just its extremely oddly written outline. It wasn’t unengaging – it was an interesting idea – but I’m not exactly enamored with it.


Burden

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Drama

A pony talks to Celestia about her failures. It isn’t revealed just who it is until the end.

The bad news is, that means that the pony in question can’t really be given any character beyond “generic guilty pony”, which kind of distanced me from them emotionally; they were general rather than specific, and while the idea of setting up the twist is potentially clever, it undermined my emotional engagement with the story. It would have probably been better to run a bait and switch here, where it seemed like it was a different character than it was, rather than simply having them be generic enough that they were indistinguishable.


An Off Day

Preliminary Score: 2

Genre: Comedy?

Twilight Sparkle tries (and fails) to read an advance copy of Shining Armor’s new novel.

I’m pretty sure this is a comedy story, as Twilight keeps getting interrupted from doing what she was supposed to be doing, but I didn’t actually end up laughing at the jokes other than the very last one; they just didn’t do it for me. There were a ton of references in here, but there was very little actual organic humor, and most of it just felt kind of flat. The Sparity thing just didn’t end up doing it for me, and Applejack wearing a dragon mask because of Rainbow Dash just felt kind of weird. Really, this story seemed to outline a bunch of potentially funny situations, but didn’t really execute on any of them – merely making references isn’t quite enough, and this story didn’t pull it all together enough to make me chuckle outside of the ending.

The brick joke at the end was the best part of this, but even that was kind of eh – it made me chuckle a little, but it didn’t really amuse me all that much, and the rest of the story didn’t really prime me for feeling good at the end of the piece.


Twilight’s First Date

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Comedy

Rarity helps Twilight prepare for her first date with Flash Sentry.

It doesn’t turn out as planned.

While in principle this story could have been funny, in practice, the delivery ended up making it very hard for me to enjoy the piece. This story suffers from some really awkward exposition at the start:

“Rarity, I need your help NOW!” Twilight screamed as she burst into the guest room Rarity was staying in during their trip to the Crystal Empire for the Princess Summit.

Spike, who was unsurprisingly also in the room, and who was more accustomed to Twilight's frantic outbursts, recovered and replied first. “What's the matter, Twilight? Has another ancient evil shown up? Is Sombra back? Has there been a zombie outbreak?” he asked with what might have been a little bit too much enthusiasm.

The first sentence contains an infodump, and it is pretty awkwardly inserted. This is the sort of thing you want to make more casual; it shouldn’t feel like you’re just saying HERE THIS IS WHERE THIS IS HAPPENING. It should slot naturally into the prose as you tell the story, sort of glide gently into the piece.

You also want to avoid asides like “who was unsurprisingly also in the room”; having a character remark on it, rather than the narration, feels more natural.

“Twilight hesitated, full of surprise” is an example of telling something you should be showing; her dialogue already shows her surprise at Rarity knowing, so there’s no need for you to tell us in the exposition. Moreover, this is the sort of thing you want to avoid telling the audience in general; the audience should be able to infer stuff like this from the characters’ actions in the story, and telling us this directly distances us from the characters emotionally.

The final scene was in principle funny, but I think it would have been better to go into specifics about why Rarity and Flash were perfect for each other; something very specific and kind of silly is exactly the sort of thing that a scene like that wants, rather than just a generic “they’re perfect for each other”.


The Dark Gardener

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Historical Drama

Discord is a gardener, and enjoys making bizarre hybrid creatures, like chicken-lizards and crystal trees that give ponies marks on their flanks.

None of these things could ever backfire on him.

This was a cute little idea, but I didn’t really end up terribly enamored with this story. The narrative voice kind of rubbed me the wrong way; it was tremendously informal, much like Discord is, but at times it just kind of felt too off-hand. The character voices also never really came through for me all that clearly; neither Discord nor Celestia really put their voices in my head.


Puppy Power

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Black Comedy

Chrysalis is upset after failing to kill Twilight Sparkle (again) and goes to get a puppy so she can kill it.

Too bad they’re out of puppies that aren’t too cute to kill.

The central premise of this story was potentially humorous, but the delivery just didn’t do it for me, and the ending ended up feeling predictable rather than funny – it might have been funnier if the ending had built up just how adorable it was, how cute it was, how heart-melting the puppy was, and Chrysalis seeming unable to do it…

Then just snapping its neck and realizing hey, she was wrong.


Golden Gull

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Experimental

Author Guess:

A story told in the form of layouts of a chapter of a (comic? Illustrated?) book.

This story bored me. I just wasn’t engaged with the piece. The captions weren’t especially exciting, and there wasn’t really much in the way of meat here to dig into. I just wasn’t grabbed by any part of this piece.


The Mare Who Has Everything

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Pinkie Pie plots a surprise party for Princess Celestia.

Written in the style of one of those escalating comedies, this has a ton of off-hand mentions of funny events (such as Flim and Flam’s ascension), but some of the details ended up feeling so over the top that the story actually ended up feeling kind of flat to me – there were a lot of jokes thrown into every paragraph, but it ended up overloading me a bit, and so instead of feeling whimsical, it ended up coming off as trying a bit too hard to be funny, rather than just naturally being funny. Likewise, the ending ended up being anticlimactic – I knew how it was going to end from very early on, and trying to drag it out with the coughing pony didn’t really help, meaning it suffered from its additional word count after a point.

I will also note that the curse as the final line just isn’t as funny as ending on Celestia just saying hello to Pinkie Pie; it would be much punchier.


For Them

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Celestia – or possibly Luna, it isn’t made entirely clear – goes to a funeral and contemplates the nature of sorrow.

This is a contemplative piece, but I can’t really say that I liked it very much. I didn’t get nearly enough character out of either half of the piece – not Celestia, nor of the passed-on pony. And that made it hard to see it as anything other than a forum post or something similar – not something that I really engaged with as a story.


Dark Rose

Preliminary Score: 8

Genre: Sad

Author Guess:

Tantibus struggles to escape the pony who created him, so that it is finally free of the pain and misery that ever surrounds it.

This was a cute little alternate perspective on the Tantibus, and I liked the idea of it. It may have been a very alien thing, but I liked the recasting of its actions and motivations, even if I’m not entirely sure that it was ever truly independent of Luna.


Magical Intelligence

Preliminary Score: 8

Genre: Sad

Author Guess:

Huh. Two Tantibus dreams in a row.

This dream starts out with Luna creating the Tantibus, as if creating a computer file.

Again, the Tantibus is trying to escape, but in this case, it is much less selfish in its desire to get away; it knows that Luna has created it for a purpose, but can tell that Luna is wrong, and wants to fix things.

This was well-written, as was the other one, and I thought that they were reasonably well-voiced here. I liked this story’s Tantibus more, but I’m not sure if Luna really ended up coming through as well as I would have liked.

Both were quite good.


A Reliable Fear

Preliminary Score: 6

Genre: Sad

Author Guess:

Celestia comforts a young Twilight, just as she has comforted countless ponies who have loved her and wanted her to love them and be proud of them.

Celestia being used to ponies wanting to do things just to impress her, even if they know that they shouldn’t, is expressed very clearly in this piece, as is Celestia’s pain at the fact that she has to have this conversation, has to give comfort to ponies who are doing things they never would have done in the first place if they trusted her instead of feared her.

This was a nice little look at Celestia, but I think it could be spruced up a bit; I think that I would have liked to feel a bit closer to Celestia than I did after reading this story. I got her feelings, but I never felt them myself, never got that emotional link I would have wanted, even if it brushed against it.


Angel’s Six

Preliminary Score: 10

Genre: Heist

Angel assembles a team of animals to steal Fluttershy’s cake. He can’t trust all of them – there’s something shifty about Spider and Raccoon – but he has them all outsmarted. They might think they can outsmart him, but he knows he’s a step ahead of them all.

Or is he?

This is a fun, silly little caper and I loved it. This was an excellent little parody of heist stories, and it fit into 750 words quite nicely. Angel’s thoughts about his teammates – and how the whole thing played out – worked very well, and I was left grinning at the end.


Destructive Teleportation

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Twilight proves to her friends, once and for all, that teleportation isn’t tantamount to committing suicide.

After a spate of these stories in various places, I’m glad to see someone finally wrote this one. It is dark comedy, but it doesn’t really end up coming off as grim. It probably wanted to be even shorter than it is, though; I think that the extra conversation in the afterlife probably was in excess of what was required for the smash cut.


Similar Interests

Preliminary Score: 9

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Author Guess:

DJPon3, AKA Vinyl Scratch, notorious skirt chaser, finally meets the mare of her dreams.

And she doesn’t even seem to notice her.

Good thing Pinkie Pie is there to help the two of them hook up…

Okay, I admit I bought this story hook, line, and sinker. The story was okay for most of its length, but then I got to the fourth-to-last paragraph, noticed a little incongruous detail, then finally got to the end and cackled like a madman.


With Apologies to Nonagon

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Now I have to wonder who else has read Nonagon’s silly little stories enough to want to lampshade the final joke here in a Writeoff story.

Most of this story was only mildly funny; it was only really the ending that got me, and that was very heavily reliant on meta knowledge. I laughed, but I’m pretty sure this is going to go over the heads of 90% of the audience.


Star Swirl the… Bald?

Preliminary Score: 6

Genre:

Author Guess:

Star Swirl the Bearded tries to lecture a young Luna and Celestia on the dangerous power of mischievous spirits which can make your mane grow out of the wrong end of your skull.

He fails.

This story amused me, but the central joke is given away in the title, and the rest of the story is more or less just dancng around his baldness. Not the “bust me up laughing” kind of comedy, but I must admit I was feeling rather jovial on the whole while reading it.


Survey

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Celestia and Twilight survey the damage wrecked by Tirek and the subsequent battle, and Twilight learns about the bad things that happened off-screen.

This is a story about responsibility, but I feel like Celestia kind of failed to properly communicate the whole lesson here. Celestia talked about accepting the things you can’t change, but I think another important thing to do there is to consider whether or not what you did was right, and the concept of acceptable costs, which is an even more unpleasant question.


The Castle on the Corner

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

A pony uses architecture to draw the attention of ponies from the heavens to each other.

This was a fairly simple and reasonably constructed piece, and the ending was simply communicated and did what it was trying to do. That being said, the whole piece had a sort of glurgy feel to it that didn’t really sit right with me, as if it was saying “This is how things should be” a little too transparently.


Ponyville Town Hall, Meeting Room C, 4:33 PM

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Pinkie Pie is worried about her wedding not being perfect, but her fiancé cheers her up.

This is decent, but it is also tremendously generic; I can’t count how many stories like this I’ve seen for ponies alone, let alone in general. Pre-wedding jitters are a tremendously common story type, and this didn’t really add anything at all to the many such stories I’ve seen, or communicate any new or different message or viewpoint with it.

Editing note:

Describing a mane as “scraping against her eyes” sounds very painful, but it doesn’t seem like it was the intent of the wording.


From Princess Twilight Sparkle, President of the Family Reunion

Preliminary Score: 9

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Princess Twilight Sparkle writes a letter to all her relatives who attended her last family reunion.

This story is really a great example of how half-seen noodle incidents can be really, really beautiful. We get to see bits and fragments of funny shenanigans, full stories, and brief mentions of lots of very funny things, and while the whole thing is full of ridiculous shenanigans, the very ending manages to top it all off with a nice little “take that”.

This story left me with a smile.


Poor Planning Preserves Proper Performance

Preliminary Score: 6

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

A 30 foot tall Derpy Hooves is on the rampage in Ponyville, and only Twilight and her friends can stop her!

Or the Royal Guard could, I guess.

This story made me laugh, particularly the smash cut to the end where we find out where Twilight learned her excellent planning techniques from, even if the joke might have been a bit obvious. That scene, however, is also the part I think could be most improved; I think if you’re going to start looking at sprucing up the story a bit, the part with Celestia is where you should start, as it feels like the funniness is less dense there, and it might be a little overlong.

Editing note:

Applejack paused and raised an eyebrow.

There’s no need for the “paused” here.


Colt You Gotta Wonder

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Adventure

Time Turner pursues a thief onto a train, while griffons pursue him in the mistaken idea that he is the culprit.

This story is confusing and incomplete; it doesn’t really explain why the griffons are after Time Turner, it doesn’t really explain what is going on, it doesn’t really have an ending with Time Turner figuring out where the thief went (or realizing she’s gone)…

This story also has a rather large issue with paragraph breaks. There are a few paragraphs in this story, but there are far too few paragraph breaks; these big blocks of text should have been broken up into several paragraphs, to better convey the action to the audience. Paragraphs should focus on a single thing; when you have multiple actions taking place with multiple different characters, you’re going to want to break up the action into more digestible chunks.


Waiting on a Hatching

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Chrysalis counts her chickens basilisks before they hatch.

This story was okay, but “imperious Chrysalis doesn’t really understand the world”, while a funny trope, has kind of been played out at this point, and this story didn’t really feel like it added a whole lot to it. It mostly relied on the intrinsic humor of Chrysalis not getting things and being impatient over and over, and consequently, the amusement value of the story ended up declining a bit from where it should have been.


Telephone

Preliminary Score: 7

Genre: Romance

The mane six and Spike are playing a game of telephone, a game where each pony repeats a phrase to the next pony, and so on and so forth in a circle, and then at the end the final pony says the final phrase out loud and compares it to the original message.

Rainbow Dash says it is a test for one of her friends. But a test for who?

I’ve never seen this idea for a shipfic before, and I liked it. It was a simple and clever idea.

That said, I felt like the final conversation wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been, though that may have been because I just didn’t feel like the story had enough time to build up the central tension of the piece, and so the release at the end wasn’t quite what it could have been.


Pet Peeves

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Edwin, a bird of… some sort (something which never really became clear to me in my reading of the story) is trying to become the favored pet of Fluttershy Yellowpony, and goes to great lengths to do so, setting up a little party for her to win her favor away from Angel Whiterabbit.

The choices of names in this were actually a little bit odd; names are actually one of the few things a lot of animals CAN understand, though I suppose it is more their own names than the names of others. It added a bit of atmosphere to the piece, but at the same time, the fact that at least some of the animals could talk made it feel a little weird.

On the gripping hand, this was a truly terrible feghoot, and you made me want to punch you in the shoulder. As the admin of the feghoots group, I must salute you for such a wretchedly terrible final line.


Passing Her By

Preliminary Score: 2

Genre: Sad

Author Guess:

Rarity reflects on her lack of marriage and children, while Sweetie Belle hangs out with her coltfriend in the room down the hall.

I think this story was trying to present Rarity as trying to be motherly towards Sweetie Belle as a replacement for her own lack of a child and family of her own.

My main problem with this story was that it never really drew me in emotionally, and it all ended up falling a little flat. It felt too brazen in its attempt at emotional manipulation; starting out with Rarity crying pretty much said “You should be sad!”, and I think it would have been better to either be more poetic there, or just save the tears for later on in the story after we know why Rarity is sad, as that would give us more time to empathize with her and build a bond here.

As-is, it just didn’t do it for me.


Stereopony

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Random

Author Guess:

Twilight gets fed up with being Celestia’s faithful student, so decides to murder her mentor.

This story was very random and… just kind of there. Twilight decides to murder her mentor for no good reason (already very out of character), and then the ending is equally random.

I think the story’s ending was meant to be funny, showing the futility of Twilight’s actions, but the whole thing just felt disconnected from much of anything, and random murder tends not to be funny unless you are in the right context for it – a context pretty well divorced from MLP most of the time.


Free to Fall

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Tragedy, Alternate Universe, Historical Drama

Author Guess:

This story seems to imply that Sombra corrupted Luna, but Sombra was defeated by Luna and Celestia, suggesting this would have to be an AU, as the implication at the end is that Luna became Nightmare Moon instead of severing her ties to the corrupt king.

This was a fairly standard “fall of Luna” piece, and while it was reasonably well-written, I didn’t really feel like I got anything particularly novel here – just the same old bog-standard arguments.


Meddling Magic

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Comedy

Starswirl the Bearded watches the battle between Luna and Celestia while wryly contemplating the things he did to make sure that good always triumphed over evil.

This story had a whimsical tone throughout that gave away its writer to me (you know who you are), and I think that this had some pretty good ideas in it, but the writing could have used some tightening. For instance:

He had just entered through a hole in the fabric of space time (said fabric is said to be satin in texture, though some arcane physicists compare it to silk, and this has caused a great divide in the space time and tearing field of studies)

This is a pretty funny aside, but I feel like its delivery could have been strengthened. It could have either been made into a footnote, or alternatively, it could have just gone off the rails in the prose itself rather than parenthetically. I think that it would have been better had Star Swirl asserted that it was the satin fabric of space-time, and then gone on about how some arcane physicists felt it was the silken fabric of space-time, and their endless prattling on about it had divided the academic community for years and prevented them from making real progress. Connecting Star Swirl to one of the sides would have, I think, made for a stronger bit of comedy there.

Editing note:

wa Shia fault.

Pretty sure this was supposed to be “was his fault”. I think autocorrect might have been to blame there.


Dash Swiftie

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Comedy, Random

Author Guess:

This story is a bunch of awful strung-together Tom Swifties.

I knew what it was going to be from the title alone, and I wasn’t sure whether I should look forward to or dread this level of punning.

The biggest problem with this is that a lot of these didn’t actually quite work; while “cryptically” in relation to zombies or a graveyard is funny, it didn’t actually make sense in the context of how Rainbow Dash would deliver that line. Likewise, while “delightedly” relating to Celestia not raising the sun is in principle a really funny pun, in practice, again, it made no sense given the context of the line.

I think this could have been funny had all the lines been PROPER Tom Swifties, but the entire point of a Tom Swiftie is not just the pun, but the fact that the pun actually fits with the line and makes sense in context. This sort of fails the contextual bit, so instead it feels forced and the Tom Swifties became distracting rather than funny.


The Wishing Pool

Preliminary Score: 9

Genre: Adventure, Comedy

Author Guess:

Rarity has travelled a long way to invoke the power of the Wishing Pool to finally get her true love.

I really liked the description at the start of this story, and I think that the whole epic introduction feel worked quite well (though I agree with folks that the last line of the rhyme needs a bit of work; I really liked the first stanza, though).

I do have to agree with bookplayer that Rarity’s wish could use some work, though. I think you needed to go more over the top with it so as to disguise Rarity’s lack of specificity about gender, as it would have made the ending punchier if the audience had been so distracted by her ornate description of her prince that they wouldn’t notice her mistake.

Still, I liked this overall.


The Best Lay Plan

Preliminary Score: 2

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Rainbow Dash takes Twilight back to her totally awesome bachelor pad to bang.

Too bad Twilight has intimacy problems.

My biggest problem with this story was a few lines where Rainbow Dash uses names like “sweetcheeks” and “hon”. While I can totally see Rainbow Dash calling someone sweetcheeks and being totally cheeky about it, at times her voice just didn’t end up working for me, and those lines for whatever reason pulled on me.

I think the real problem was that I just didn’t end up buying into the story. I think 750 words is a big ask for a romance story, and the sudden colorful pony makeout session ended up being too much, too soon for me to really swallow this story.

I think this could work, and be a workable idea, if it was expanded and had more space to breathe and go into the difficulties that Twilight was facing – and why she was facing them, as well as the greater world around them – but as-is, it felt too compressed to really be enjoyed.


The Frozen Castle of Broken Dreams

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Alternate Universe, Dark

Author Guess:

Nightmare Moon won, and we see the city of Canterlot as it is without any inhabitants, plunged into eternal night.

I think Bad Horse pretty much hit it on the head with his description – this isn’t really a story, it is more of a scene that doesn’t really end up going anywhere. We know from context what has happened, but we don’t really go beyond that, and as a result, it is just “Nightmare Moon won, and Equestria has been plunged into eternal night.”


Didn’t Plan That Out

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

The king of the griffons builds a navy to try and raid costal pony towns.

His navy returns defeated, with most of the griffons severely seasick, and all their siege weapons and anti-magic armaments which he emptied the treasury to pay for are gone.

There isn’t really much more to the story than that, aside from some wry, very telegraphed asides, and some obvious humor at the end. It just didn’t make me laugh.


The Hell She Isn’t

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Everyone is gay except for Twilight, which puts a crimp in Pinkie Pie’s lesbian horse makeout party.

This story just didn’t really go anywhere; it had a joke that it kept hammering away on for far too long, and the ending “subversion” just didn’t really do anything for me. It was just too obvious and repetitive. It is possible to make a joke like that funny, but you really belabored it here, especially given that Twilight has never shown any signs of being gay to begin with.


The Escape

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Crime

Author Guess:

Tirek breaks out of prison.

This story didn’t really make any use of Tirek’s character, and really, most of the jail bits didn’t seem to have much of anything to do with Equestria in general; only the bit with Cereberus really had anything to do with what we see on the show. The story as a whole felt rather generic, and despite the odd cadre of prisoners, little use was made of their strangeness.

Editing notes: this story had a tense shift at the start of the second paragraph, and then reverted back; there were also a few missing commas here and there.

Tirek let out a sigh of relief, prison break was never suppose to be easy, but it was definitely a dirty business.

This should probably be “Tirek let out a sigh of relief.” as a stand-alone sentence. The final bit just felt very telly, and didn’t really seem to communicate any sort of really meaningful idea; I’m not quite sure what the point of it was.


My Little Pony Tails

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life?

Author Guess:

Rarity explains the importance of covering one’s tail to Sweetie Belle, as well as her plans to score a data at the gala.

This story just kind of fell a bit flat to me; there was some sort of risqué humor in the piece in Rarity’s hypocrisy, but it just never really made me laugh, and the whole thing felt a bit strange because, as Applejack points out, “we don’t normally wear clothes”. While the idea of covering up a bit more to seem more alluring is not crazy, it just… didn’t really do anything for me here.


Seeing the Light

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Starlight Glimmer needs to be defeated, but the mane six are kind of in a rush…

This story was one of those comedy stories which is meant to be funny because it just sort of jerks things away from the expected, but with so little time to build up to the climax, the whole anticlimax joke just didn’t really work, as expectations weren’t really built up to. Making it longer wouldn’t really make it work, though; you just don’t want to expend that much time on a joke like that.


Step Three Is Always the Hardest

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Flim and Flam discuss what went wrong with their latest plan.

This story was kind of a letdown; Flim and Flam’s voices just weren’t that strong, and none of their lines were particularly funny. They were very mediocre all-told, and while the overall plot of selling ponies fake promises of alicornhood was in principle funny, in practice, the best part of the story was them reminding Princess Twilight (correctly) that her own ascension HAD involved music.

Alas, their plan was not undone by their own machinations (which would have been funny) but just a random rock (which is less funny), and the final bit, of them singing the Jailhouse Rock, just… didn’t really do anything for me.


The Stars Don’t Judge

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Tragedy

Author Guess:

This story features Twilight espousing the idea that love means that you accept someone regardless of any problems that they might have.

This is a fundamentally incorrect understanding of love, and I don’t think the story really completes the thought it is having about it in properly illustrating why this is unhealthy and wrong, and why it is that love does not mean you don’t ever correct someone or have expectations of them or try to prevent them from doing things which are unhealthy. The story seems to be sort of illustrating it as being messed up, but doesn’t ever really finish its thoughts.


Temporal Irregu-Rarity

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Twilight tries to conduct an experiment to determine whether or not time forms a closed-timelike curve, or if your future self is actually coming from a parallel universe.

She recruits Rarity for the experiment.

Things don’t go as planned.

This was kind of cute, but the story hewed a bit too closely to the script of It’s About Time for my tastes, and that diminished the comedy of Rarity’s future self’s advice.


Futility

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Dark, Alternate Universe

Author Guess:

Ponies escape from the Isle of Shadows – presumably some sort of prison island – to confront Nightmare Moon.

There’s a brief hope spot, but it is all for naught.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this story was – it was just some ponies failing to defeat Nightmare Moon in some AU. The thing is, the story felt ultimately pointless – nothing changed by the end of the story, and there wasn’t enough time to get attached to the characters, so their failure didn’t mean a whole lot to us.


Foundation

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

This story seemed to have two storylines going on at the same time – Cloudy Quartz being pregnant with Pinkie Pie, and an earthquake that messes up the energy setup necessary for rock farming. These two things are probably related, but the story isn’t really explicit enough about it, and given its short length, the aside about rock farming feels weird. The story just doesn’t have enough time to really establish what it is doing to really feel coherent in the end.


Shining

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Outsider Art

Author Guess:

Shining Armor’s manuscript from “An Off Day”, which resulted in the disqualification of that story, this is a “The Shining” reference with a message hidden in it more than a story.


To Name a Sleeping Bunny

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Applejack and Apple Bloom find a baby bunny out in their field, and take it to Fluttershy – a stranger to them at the time – to be taken care of.

This story clearly ran out of time. The final scene is extremely condensed and told rather than shown, and consequently, the story just doesn’t really feel like it has any sort of satisfying conclusion at all. I think this will benefit from expansion.

Another thought: I think having Apple Bloom instead of Applejack talk to Fluttershy might be a mistake. Letting early Applejack and Fluttershy interact could lead to some interesting character moments, while as-is, there is no real opportunity for early Fluttershy’s personality to shine through at all.


No Irony Stuff Involved

Preliminary Score: 9

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

It took me most of the story to realize what was going on here, but once I did, I laughed.

Out loud.

With my windows open.

At 1 am.

Sigh.

I think the joke ended up a little bit belabored at the end, as I figured it out at flower girls, and I think tightening it up a little bit at the tail end – and really, overall – would help.

But still, this made me smile


The Grocery Revolution

Preliminary Score: 10

Genre: Comedy

Twilight’s friends are wondering if she is using her magical friendship powers to manipulate them into having friendship related adventures.

And picking up her groceries.

Twilight denies it.

This made me laugh out loud, all the more so because I’ve actually had similar ideas, though they weren’t comedy-themed. I liked this, but I’m not sure if the final scene was quite as awesome as it might have been – I think it would have been better if the groceries thing had come up earlier, and then was the very final line of the story, because it is a great/terrible punchline. I think Twilight specifically pointing out how improbable it would be for her to be able to manipulate things to force other ponies to pick up her groceries for her might also be good as a spacer, and would increase the punch of the ending.

Incidentally, I think the title lampshades the ending way too much.


Of Destiny and Dragons

Preliminary Score: 6

Genre: Slice of Life

Twilight finds out that the dragon she sent away from Equestria burrowed into a mountain in Saddle Arabia to blacken their skies instead. No one can wake it up, and the options for dealing with the problem are fairly limited. Later, Twilight contemplates her decision with Celestia.

I think the biggest weakness of this story was Twilight working through her decision process internally; I would have liked that to be a conversation, or even Twilight bouncing things off of Celestia and coming to the conclusion on her own, but as-is, it feels too abrupt, and it being the only section of thought in the piece – and solving the whole thing in one go – doesn’t really work.

The story also has some kind of rough scene introductions/transitions, and I would have liked to see a bit more personality out of the prince.

Still, this story had a decent core, and I think with polish it should shine nicely.


Induction of the Innocent

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Twilight Sparkle takes a stallion back home to her treehouse. They want to get down to business, but Twilight has a few questions first…

The letter at the end explained what all this was, but I’m not sure if it was the best way to deliver the final punchline. It makes sense that Twilight might play a practical joke on a stallion under the tutelage of Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, but I think that the final scene might be better as a conversation between Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie rather than a telly letter to Cadance.


A Nice, Crispy Dinner

Preliminary Score:

Genre:

Author Guess:

I think you could have told the entire story with this:

Sweetie Belle stared at the raging flames engulfing her apartment.

Behind her, the firefighters scrambled, hooves pounding and muzzles yelling, hoses unrolled and buckets prepared. Somepony had draped a blanket in the time she sat there on the sidewalk of Fillydelphia but she never noticed, so intent was her attention on the fires. She only wanted to have a simple dinner with—

A flap of wings and a meaty thump on the ground beside rustled her out of her reverie. She looked up to the purple and green dragon towering over her, his head tilted upwards to the conflagration bellowing from her apartment windows.

“Woah, what did you try to cook this time? Pot roast?” he asked.

Sweetie Belle narrowed her eyes. “Har har. Very funny, Spike.”

The pair stared at the flames as the firefighters shouted and tossed water on the towering inferno.

“…It was supposed to be a cake.” She slammed her hoof into the pavement. “Why can’t I get anything right? Am I stupid?”

Spike draped a wing over his girlfriend’s back. “You’re not stupid. You’re just… not very good at cooking, that’s all. It’s the thought that counts.”

Sweetie Belle smiled weakly up at the dragon. “Thanks, Spike.”

“No problem.” Spike’s eyes drifted back to the crackling fire. “Soooo… you wanna eat out?”

Sweetie Belle groaned.

That way, you could have told the whole story in a single scene, expressed all the ideas you wanted to express, and avoided all the awkward cuts between scenes, flashing backwards in time, then forward again, as well as giving away the joke that it was Sweetie Belle’s cooking, then belaboring the point by showing her attempt it when we already know the outcome.


In From the Cold

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Adventure

Author Guess:

A brief little “missing scene” from Slice of Life, this shows what Bon Bon was thinking while she was heading out, her making a decision, and her helping to subdue the bugbear.

This story’s biggest problem is that it just didn’t have enough weight to it. The story didn't have enough time/space to build the emotional connection necessary to get me into Bon Bon's mindset and make her decision really matter to me; in the space of just a few hundred words, she went from "running away" to "determined to stay", but without the time to establish her as wanting to run away and me empathizing with that, her changing her mind just lacked impact.


I Will Wait for You

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Octavia tries to get some old band mate to rejoin her group, but he’s not interested in ever coming back.

This felt like a fragment of a much larger story than a full story in and of itself; it left many things unexplained, and while I got the general shape of what was going on, I still didn’t understand the motivations of all the characters involved, and that made it hard for me to like it as without the ability to understand anyone, I never really connected with them.


The Wizard and the Chalkboard

Preliminary Score: 2

Genre: Koan, Slice of Life

Written in the general form of a koan, this is a story about Twilight creating a magical chalkboard which can answer any question, but it doesn’t work out quite as planned.

I like koans, but I didn’t really feel like this paragraph quite worked:

The sun had just set when Spike stumbled out of the kitchen, empty ice-cream tub in hand, and threw up on Shining Armor. From that sprang forth a series of events involving a sick dragon, a furious drill sergeant, a rocket-powered bicycle, a significant boiler fire, and a wailing gardener who had gone all the way to the Princess that her children needed to eat and so she couldn't be fired. Twilight ended the evening sitting on her front step, a fire-blanket put over her shoulders as the pegasus ponies extinguished her library.

It ended up feeling like it was trying too hard to be funny, and threw all of the “stuff blowing up” into a single paragraph that just felt too busy and didn’t really work for me.

As this was kind of core to the whole thing blowing up in Twilight’s face, it just didn’t end up working out as well as it might have for me.

I think the core of the idea here was good, and I think the overall frame was decent, but the writer threw in too much stuff. I think that sticking to 3 things or so that Twilight solved with the chalkboard which were increasingly bad ideas would be good, rather than throwing too many things in.


Once More, With Feeling

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Romance, Bait and Switch

Author Guess:

Spike tricks Rarity into coming over to talk to him about… “them”, and talks about the good times they spent together.

This story is a good idea – and a great bit of bait-and-switch – but I have to admit I wasn’t super fond of the story up to the point of the twist, and that the amusement of the twist didn’t outweigh the overall mehness I felt at the rest of the story, as the whole conversation just didn’t really work for me. I didn’t really feel the connection there, and it all felt kind of fake – which makes sense with the ending, but wasn’t actually that much fun to read through.


Antithesis Statement

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Discord realizes that all of his plans blow up in his face, and resolves to stop planning altogether, with predictable consequences.

I liked the opening and closing of each of the two scenes in this story; every one of those bits was very punchy and worked quite well. Overall, this piece amused me, and I’ve always liked the idea that Discord’s chaotic powers came at the price of him being unable to do some things because that wouldn’t be, well, chaotic.


A Bad Nightmare

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Slice of Life?

Author Guess:

Luna has a nightmare about doing taxes, then wakes up and does taxes.

This story didn’t really work for me; in fact, I’m not even sure what it was trying to do. Was it a comedy? A slice of life piece? I’m not really sure. The dream seemed to suggest comedy, the rest seemed to suggest not.

I’d like to give advice, but I’m not even sure what you were trying to accomplish here.

Editing notes:

How deafening the noise was that it awoke the tired Celestia from her bed chambers.

This apparently meant it was a different noise from the ones described elsewhere in the paragraph, but really, given that it is, I’m not sure what the purpose of those other lines were. Indeed, you could probably start out the whole story with the next paragraph. Speaking of which…

"What in Tartarus is that racket!?" she said angrily.

I would lose the dialogue tag here entirely. “angrily” is redundant with the line, and indeed, the tag in general is unnecessary because it is clear who is speaking.


An Apathetic Apostate

Preliminary Score: 8

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

The Conclave of Wyrms plots to overthrow pony rule and rule the roost. To that end, Blackguard, son of Blackheart has managed to secret a dragon into the pony lands, and sends him instructions to help them overthrow the government.

Too bad Spike has no idea who he is.

This story made me chuckle, especially the line about the Tax Bureau. Poor Rainbow Dash.


Robin Hoof and Her Merry Mares

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Crossover, Alternate Universe, Adventure, Comedy

Author Guess:

Rarity Robin Hoof and her Merry men Mares are off in the woods. Pinkie Pie and Little John AppleJack are her comrades, Twilight Sparkle is the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Fluttershy is Maid Marian.

And Rainbow Dash is… I’m not quite sure if she is anyone from Robin Hood, actually.

A Robin Hood spoof, this does what it is trying to do, but doesn’t really seem like it is exactly aiming for the stars, either; it seems to more or less be “Robin Hood but with the characters replaced with the mane six”.


Castle in the Sky

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Future, Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Twilight gives a generic speech in the future about some magical device she helped create, and says that everyone contributed to it.

I have no idea what the object even is, and the whole thing was tremendously generic. It gave me some glimpses of the future, but it didn’t really tell me much of anything new about the future.


The Heist

Preliminary Score: 7

Genre: Crime, Comedy

Author Guess:

I disagree with everyone who said that the punchline wasn’t funny. This made me laugh, even if the implication was that Pinkie Pie had killed everyone who helped her set up the party. Actually, that makes it funnier; Pinkie Pie being a murderer on its own isn’t that funny, but Pinkie Pie setting up some elaborate team to infiltrate the palace and set up for a surprise party then offing them all to claim credit herself is so outrageous that it is.

I have to admit I thought earlier on, given the names, that they were the mane six plus some random other pony, which was actually a pretty good bit of bait and switch.

The weakest part of this was the ending – I think that it should have ended after “If you want something perfect, you gotta do it all yourself, right?”


The Old Mare and the Foal

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Historical Drama

Author Guess:

An interesting recasting of the events of Hearth’s Warming Eve, this story presents Clover as a much older pony, and Princess Platinum as a very young mare, only a teenager, who simply can’t be expected to bear such responsibility, and who is very upset by what is going on.

It is an interesting bit of potential historical revisionism as compared to what was seen in the play, as casting her as being so young (and scared) explains some of her behavior.

It was a simple little thing, but I liked it well enough.


The Treasure Map

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Meta, Comedy, Human

Author Guess:

Steve the Wizard tries to get revenge on Pinkie Pie.

This… was a meta parody story that just didn’t really work. It was supposed to make me laugh, but hewed too close to what it was making fun of to actually be all that funny to me. You have to do more than merely wink at the camera to really amuse me with something like this.


Double Dip

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Author Guess:

Spike, Rarity, Trenderhoof, Applejack, and Rupert all go out on a double date, though it isn’t quite clear who is on a date with who. Trenderhoof feels out of character – really, everyone does – and the whole thing doesn’t really make any sense.


Reconciliation

Preliminary Score:

Genre:

Author Guess:

The greatest villain in Equestria gives birth to a foal in her cell, impossible as it would be for her to get pregnant.

This story is kind of a confused and muddled mess.

First off, the arrangement of the scenes doesn’t feel very logical – frankly, it doesn’t even feel like there’s much of a real story here. It feels like it is a piece of something else, and it just feels incomplete. There’s not any point to anything I can see.

Secondly, this doesn’t feel like it makes any use of the setting at all. Why are they even ponies? There is no real reason to make them ponies. It just doesn’t really feel very MLPish, everyone is an OC from what I can tell, and there’s no real connection to… anything that I can discern.

I thought at first it was going to be a story about Chrysalis, and that would have made a lot more sense.


A Note in a Drawer

Preliminary Score: 0s

Genre: Dark

Author Guess:

Pinkie Pie gets kidnapped and beaten on for no discernable reason.

This is just a random darkfic, and I couldn’t figure out what the point of the story was. Without any greater context, there isn’t much meaning to it.


The Departure

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Adventure

Author Guess:

Zecora leaves home.

This story feels incomplete. I wasn’t terribly taken by the final “rhyme” in the poem (journey does not rhyme with halfway or save me).


Proper Titles

Preliminary Score: 2

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Twilight Sparkle comes up with her own list of super accurate titles for herself for some poor court marshal to announce.

It goes poorly.

This joke has been done before – in the writeoff, twice in the same previous competition, no less – and while it wasn’t Twilight who made up her title in those, it was more or less the same premise. The final smash cut was the best part of the story, but the story on the whole felt too predictable to be as funny as I would have liked.


Anagnorisis

Preliminary Score: 6

Genre: Meta, Comedy

Man, there are a lot of recursive stories this writeoff.

This story even called itself gimmicky, and it was; while the various smash cuts were fairly clever, and the way each scene lead into the next was amusing, it ended up feeling too cheeky by the end of it all, which kind of diminished it for me. There’s only so many lampshades you can layer on top of each other before you can’t see the light from the bulb at all anymore.


What You Came to Do

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Rarity knows that Moondancer is going to propose to her, and wants to set up everything to be just right.

This story feels like the setup to a punchline that never comes; if it is supposed to be a joke, it needs a punchline; if it isn’t, then I’m not sure what the point of it really is. There really isn’t all that much to build the ship towards plausibility here, and honestly, Moondancer is pretty much a prop in the story. The building of the future around Rarity is fine, but cutting out the very just didn’t really do anything for me.


War

Preliminary Score: 7

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

The mane six have a pie fight, and Applejack quietly plots the method to her victory.

I liked this story. It was fairly simple, but Applejack’s plotting and strategizing amused me. Still, I’m left feeling like I wanted more… something. I’m not quite sure what. Did I want to see how it really ends? Did I want to see more character interaction?

One thing I would have liked would be for her to make use of the time it took for Rarity to get hit, and incorporate that into her plan of how to win. That seems like a sneaky, underhanded thing to do, which is just perfect for the ending.


To Prank a Prankster

Preliminary Score: 7

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

The title of this story kind of gave away the ending, but I saw it coming anyway.

Mayor Mare convinces Rainbow Dash that she missed April Fools’ Day, and that she is going to have to disarm all of her various traps.

This was a cute little story, but I think the story was a little too obvious in what it was going to be; and the summarization of Rainbow Dash’s many near saves might have been better done as a smash cut to Rainbow Dash sore, tired, and covered with pie after a long day.


The End of Enlightenment

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Tragedy

Author Guess:

Lethe and Mnemosyne are the two grim reapers of ponies. One sends ponies to the afterlife with no memories, the other with them.

Too bad Mnemosyne is getting too attached to those mortals…

This story kind of fell flat for me. It was a tragedy with a twist, but without any greater context for it – without any time to get attached to Mnemosyne – it wasn’t anything but a twist. No explanation. No deeper truths. No nothing. It is just a twist, and while it is a decent twist, it isn’t enough to carry the story, no matter how decent the prose. There needed to be more before the twist, more attachment to the immortals and their rules, so that breaking them would be more impactful, and so I could better understand why Mnemosyne did what she did.


Twinkle the Marvel Pony

Preliminary Score: 0

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Editing note:

The first sentence has “the words” in it twice.

The first half of the story should have just been the story, without dialogue tags attached to it, with the second half being the reaction to it. It could have started with him tottering in front of the room, but the rest should have been continuous dialogue.

This story was trying to be funny with the switch from grim to funny at the end, but it just didn’t work for me; I got disconnected early on as the start of the story felt like a kind of generic grimdark dream, and the whole thing just didn’t really do much for me.


If You Can’t Win, Cheat

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Scootaloo is never going to fly; her magic is going to the wrong place in her body, and rearranging the flow of that magic can kill a pony.

But maybe she can cheat a way around it…

The story doesn’t really explain its solution, which hurts it. I like the core idea of it, but I think you have to actually explain it to us, and the ending just doesn’t do it well enough to be convincing, nor to explain how it is “cheating”.


A Sonnet in St. Maretinique

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Rainbow Dash tries to write a sonnet for Applejack to declare her love.

It doesn’t go very well.

I don’t think the present tense did this story any favors, but this passage in particular was awkward:

Before she knows it, Rainbow is lost in the gentle rise and fall of AJ's breathing: soft and intimate, listening in the dark to the beautiful mare's breaths

How can Applejack’s breathing be soft and intimate?

That being said, the story was otherwise decent, and the final, face-saving line by Applejack – revealing that Applejack could read the poem just fine – was good, though I think it would have been better if the poem had been more developed and therefore better expressed Rainbow Dash’s feelings towards Applejack.

Indeed, I think, if you want to expand your story, you should make it so that the poem is about Rainbow Dash confessing her love to Applejack on the beach, and thus, at the end, it is made clear by Applejack’s response that she wants to be confessed to.s


If You Can’t Beat ‘Em

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Starlight Glimmer stalks Twilight all over Equestria.

Twilight thinks that the villain has sinister motives, but she claims to have been reformed.

This is a silly story, but I’m not sure that it really amused me all that much outside of the very final brick joke and the pictures of the past villains. The bit with Celestia felt a little bit like it was trying too hard to be funny at the start, and while it set up the brick joke at the end, it felt out of place to me at the time.


The Note

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Cricket the changeling has a note from his mother excusing him from the invasion of Canterlot because he’s sick.

Too bad for him, Chrysalis knows the note is forged…

This was a short, silly little piece which managed to fit like five jokes into five hundred words, a number of them subtly inserted into the text rather than trying to plant big flags around them. I particularly liked the idea of Cricket using a hole in his leg for storage.

That said, this story has an unfortunate typo in it, and for whatever reason, the italics on the letter didn’t work right. I’m not sure if the “he reflected silently” in the last line is necessary either.

I don’t think you should lengthen this unless you can fit in a lot more jokes, though; I think its brevity is a good thing, though I wouldn’t mind seeing another story about him. Changelings trying to do pony things and being bad at it is always a bit amusing.


Final Thoughts

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Sad

Author Guess:

Nightmare Moon reflects on what she has done as that rainbow wave crashes towards her, surely about to obliterate her from existence.

I liked the idea behind this story more than I liked the story itself; it was decently written, but I feel like the prose could have done much more for her. Gone into more depth about her thought processes, and revealed just why she had felt it necessary to do what she did, and how stupid and petty her thought processes were in retrospect. I think emphasizing the cold a bit more would be nice as well – make it more evocative.

The other thing I’d do is transition her name from Nightmare Moon to Luna – possibly only in the very last line, maybe after renouncing internally what she had done and feeling like she deserved this.


Noise

Preliminary Score: 4

Genre: Tragedy

Author Guess:

Pony Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates Twilight Sparkle.

This story did a fairly decent job with what it had, but it didn’t really establish enough of a motive for the assassin to quite come together for me.

The branches soon numbered under me, so I took a seat amidst the leaves.

I don't know what "The branches soon numbered under me" is supposed to mean. If you meant there soon were more below than above, I'd make that clearer; as-is, it doesn't make sense.


Life Plan

Preliminary Score: 5

Genre: Slice of Life, Future

Author Guess:

I don’t know if I would have gotten that had I not read the other reviews on this story, though.

I like the overall idea behind it – and I like the idea of Rainbow Dash still training ponies regardless of what happened to the world – but I felt like the story was a little bit confusing as-is.


A Night in Canterlot

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Crime, Dark

Author Guess:

An assassin murders Fancy Pants, but a poor mare on the street shows him just how empty his victory was.

Frankly, this story didn’t do enough with the protagonist’s recognition of his own failure to actually do anything of value with what he did. I think pounding that point home more strongly – him actually understanding how stupid and worthless it all was – would help. He needs to have his mindset beforehand more strongly established as well – we need his pathos here, we need to get why he did it, the reason he justified it to himself, and then the revelation that it was all out of stupidity and jealousy and he had done nothing of value.


Of Merchants and Beards

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

Starswirl and his opposite from the human dimension have been sending criminals into each others’ worlds for fun, just to see what would happen. It has changed both worlds, but Celestia thinks it is time for this to end.

The ending of this was amusing, as was the central idea, but Celestia felt far, far too casual about the whole thing – as did Starswirl the Bearded, for that matter, and it just kind of felt like it was trying a bit too hard to be funny to really amuse me as much as it might have because of the casual nature of the whole thing.


Step 3: ???

Preliminary Score:

Genre: 4

Author Guess:

The Cutie Mark Crusaders are on the verge of executing their latest plan.

If only they remembered how this was supposed to get them their cutie marks…

While a cute idea, the story leaves me with the huge question of “Why were they planning on burning down town hall in the first place?” The story doesn’t clearly answer this question, and while the idea is funny, and the idea that they were going to do it without remembering WHY is funny, the fact that it actually doesn’t make any sense and there is no way to figure out what they were intending there left a big question mark in my mind.

Obviously the real answer is you have to have a fire to put out to get your cutie mark in firefighting :V


Turnt for the Worse

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Human, Comedy

Author Guess:

Some bro ends up in Equestria as a pony, making him a literal brony.

This is one of those stories that is just ridiculous, but unfortunately, the ridiculousness of his lines and his behavior just makes it impossible to take the story seriously – and that includes seriously enough for me to laugh at it.


Well, She Tried

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Twilight tries to explain to Spike that you can’t simply plan out your plan for wooing Rarity, and certainly not with plans as ridiculous as him. Love doesn’t work that way!

Just go ask her out!

Of course, Spike can’t do that. He has to prove he’s the best before he can even try…

This reminds me a bit of Anonymous Dreams in that it is about trying to dismiss certain male fantasies, but it didn’t feel nearly as strong as that story was. I think that the story could have lost the very final line, but the story as a whole felt kind of off – in particular, Spike’s lines and behavior felt off. He seems much more nice guy than “impress Rarity with his muscles”, so it seems more likely his plans would revolve around spending time helping her – the diamond plan made more sense, and felt much more in character.


Plans

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Fluttershy bakes the perfect cake for he date, but when she has to stop to help out some ducklings, one of the local fillies decides she wants to mess with Fluttershy.

It doesn’t end well for Diamond Tiara.

This story felt kind of plain; it happened, it all hung together, but it didn’t really have much of value to say. It was just a series of events that happened; it didn’t really reveal much of interest, and while the ending had a bit of a joke with Bulk Biceps and Featherweight being brothers, there wasn’t really a whole lot of substance here. I just don’t know why I should care to read about these events.


Grand Gestures

Preliminary Score: 3

Genre: Historical Drama

Author Guess:

Celestia plans the best Grand Galloping Gala ever to show Luna that she is well and truly loved. Just one more day, and Luna will attend as the guest of honor as ponies across all levels of Equestrian society show up to mingle with her.

Too bad the moon is refusing to move for some reason…

This is one of those stories which relies very heavily on contextual irony, and I think it is an okay idea, but it is kind of flat on the whole. I feel like I’ve read it before – Celestia was going to show Luna that she was truly loved just that next day, and then, whoops, it is one day too late. As such, it simply lacked the punch it might have had otherwise.


A Mayoral Campaign

Preliminary Score: 1

Genre: Comedy

An alicorn named Fate gives some sort of speech encouraging everyone to vote for her. I have to question their honesty and ability.

This story didn’t really make me laugh, or even really amuse me; I just kind of sat here, reading it, and it felt kind of a bit bland and a little bit forced, and the character’s voice just didn’t excite me or interest me in any real way. It didn’t really distinguish itself, and the character didn’t really ever congeal in my head as a person.


Little Brother

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Spike helps Fluttershy clean her house after a picture falls off the wall.

I’m not really sure what the point of this was. Was this supposed to be set during Spike At Your Service? An AU version of that story? There’s nothing wrong with Spike trying to help someone, but the whole thing felt kind of… pointless, really, as I’m not sure what the story was trying to achieve.

Editing notes:

“A shockingly loud crash”: Shockingly is really not necessary here. It doesn’t actually do much for the phrase; a loud crash would do just fine.


Dream Awake

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Adventure

Author Guess:

Nightmare Moon is burned away, and Luna reemerges as the dominant personality.

Two “destruction of Nightmare Moon” stories in one writeoff? Crazy.

While this went heavy on the flowery, poetic language, it didn’t really do a whole lot for me emotionally; I didn’t really end up empathizing with Luna, or even really understanding what she was going on about beyond the most basic, surface level of nightmares/dreams and dreams becoming reality.


The Gentle People

Preliminary Score: 9

Genre: Historical Drama

Author Guess:

A griffon tells the tale of the Farisi, a gentle tribe of gryphons who once played marvelous flutes and tried to live as ponies do, but who met a terrible end at the claws of their more savage neighbors.

A tale told in the same general scheme as the Lost Cities, but with an actual narrator who is telling the tale actively as a character, this is a neat little piece, but it lacks some of the impact of piecing the pieces together, as while you are not outright told the moral of the tale, the story of what happened to the city is told as a historical piece rather than threaded together from the ruins.

Still, it is a very decent story, and it tells you quite a bit about the narrator’s view of the Farisi and, by extension, the ponies they were emulating. Though now I halfway want to see a Lost Cities about the Blackbeaks, and what happened to them after they encountered the ponies.


Rocky Relations

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Trollfic, Romance

Author Guess:

The all-concealing “you” pursues Rarity’s affections, only to have “your” hopes dashed.

Oi, second person. You should have gone with first-person; the all-concealing “I” is better than the all-concealing “you”. Second person is one of those things which needs to be used carefully and deliberately; simply throwing “you” instead of “I” into a story tends to be very awkward.

The reveal at the end did make me chuckle, though.


Rain or Shine

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Sad, Graves Fic

Author Guess:

Pinkie Pie thinks about her dear friend Rocky Road, and how she wants to throw him a great party for his birthday. She never really liked his hacking laughter, though. It never sat right with her for some reason…

This is a graves fic, and it very much shows. Unfortunately, this didn’t really feel like it… did a whole lot for me. We get introduced to a pony, but before we have enough time or reason to care, he’s gone. This really hurts the impact, and while, yes, Pinkie Pie is sad, we aren’t given what we need to get into Pinkie Pie’s mindset about things.


Return to Sender

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy

Author Guess:

A series of letters from one of Discord’s cousins, Harmony, talking about various offscreen shenanigans, with lots of little jokes thrown in about various things we know to be of great importance on the show.

This was pretty whimsical, but I never laughed out loud – or even giggled. It was all mildly amusing, but that was the highest level of reaction it got out of me.


Knock Knock! It’s the Friendship Patrol!

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy, Adventure

Author Guess:

Twilight leads her friends to some seedy part of town where they are meant to spread friendship, but Applejack apparently got the wrong idea.

Or possibly just got confused because the word for “friendship” in Equestrian also means magical hornbeams, and Applejack decided to pitch in in her own special way.

This is kind of mildly amusing, and Rainbow Dash being all excited by it at the end was funny, but this just didn’t really do it for me.


The Tomb of the Lion

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Adventure

Author Guess:

A group of pony adventurers venture into an ancient temple with the mindset of every group of murder hobos – get the treasure at the end, and maybe be heroes.

There’s a reason for that.

The ending was mildly amusing, but the story was so straightforward I knew there was going to be a smash cut at the end, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be what it was, or Daring Do finding their bones along with the chalice a thousand years later.


Capstone

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Crime, Romance

Author Guess:

Nictus the changeling is a thief. His boss – his love – the one who doles out love to him – wants him to do one last job. It had started small, but it keeps getting bigger, but now, with this, they can finally be done with it and be together.

Just one last job…

I’m pretty sure the point of this story is that she betrayed him to the guards, either to act as a fall guy or simply to get rid of him, but it is possible it is simply meant to be a garden variety case of retirony. Either way, I liked the idea of this overall, but I would have liked more time to get acquainted with the protagonist, to care more about him and develop his love for his nameless boss, because as-is, I can’t really feel that bad for him when he’s clasped in irons.


A Foot in the Door

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Twist tries to give the filly he has a crush on a gift of perfume, but one of her friends isn’t buying it…

This was short, cute, and simple, but it didn’t really go anywhere beyond that, making it hard to really care that much because the stakes just weren’t very high for me as a reader.


The Mouse

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy?

Author Guess:

Fluttershy tries talking to a mouse, but his thick accent – and speaking a foreign language – make him essentially incomprehensible.

This kind of was flat for me. Fluttershy freaking out and worrying she’s crazy seems like an overreaction to things – while I can see her being upset, her questioning her own sanity seems overblown.


Pinkie Pie Runs Over a Blind Filly with the Welcome Wagon

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Comedy? Slice of Life?

Author Guess:

This was not really what I was expecting from the title.

The story actually begins with the blind filly, Acuity, already trapped under Pinkie Pie’s wagon. Told from a close third-person perspective, Acuity’s blindness means she can’t actually see what is going on, and eventually she is rescued from under the wagon by the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a comedic slice of life piece or a comedy piece; the fact that it doesn’t end on a punchline sort of suggests slice of life, though. The whole thing was cute enough, and I liked that the CMC helped her out in the end while the adults bickered over who was to blame (or more like, stopped Pinkie Pie from helping), but it was never really uproarious for me, just kind of mildly cute the whole way through.

I kind of want to see what the CMC end up doing with Acuity; the CMC dragging around some long-suffering blind filly seems like it has a lot of comedic possibility.


Lost and Never Found

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Twilight tries to help Melon Ball find her mother, but things aren’t so easy, and something is wrong…

I would have liked a bit more emotional resonance here; the filly’s reaction is pretty flat, and the filly in general doesn’t really end up being as much of a character as I would have liked.

The ending doesn’t quite make sense though; why did she disappear if she didn’t have to go? I feel like the ending would have made more sense had she simply stayed there afterwards, and Twilight been confused about why she didn’t fade away, and Melon wanted to go along with Twilight. Or go back to her parents, now that Twilight has apparently brought her back to life.


Forever is a Long Time

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance

Author Guess:

Shining Armor is starting to go gray. He’s only got a few decades left. But it is more than that…

This seems like something I might have written, given my obsession with immortality. But I didn’t. It was probably my good evil twin.

I liked it, though; as the story goes on, what is going on keeps twisting, and by the end, you see the real shape of things, and it isn’t what it seemed at the start.


Just as Planned

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Tragedy

Author Guess:

Rainbow Dash went out in a blaze of glory, one final stunt that claimed her life, and her friends are left to remember her at the funeral.

In the end, Twilight goes through Rainbow Dash’s folder, and finds the plans for Rainbow Dash’s final stunt…

This story did a good job with this, though I’m not sure I really buy the idea. Still, it is a nice little kick in the gut. I’m not sure if it wouldn’t be better without the note, just Twilight looking it over and realizing that there isn’t anything in the stunt after the part that killed Rainbow Dash, and what that implied.


Schoolyard Crush

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Author Guess:

Scootaloo wants to kiss Rumble. Wants the Cutie Mark Crusaders to kiss Rumble. Sweetie Belle isn’t interested and Apple Bloom wonders why they aren’t going for Truffle Shuffle. But whatever. I’m sure their plan will work…

The ending of this story made me chuckle a bit, and Scootaloo’s cluelessness about her feelings were also amusing, but the story also felt a bit repetitive in places.

I think it might have been better if the ending had been lampshaded or implied a bit more earlier on in the story, and that the affection was misplaced. I had assumed with Sweetie Belle thinking it was gross that she was going to turn out to like one of her friends, and I have to wonder if it might have been better for whichever CMC wanted to kiss in the end to be that one. Though maybe that is the point as-is, and it was just muddled?


Against the Herd

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Daisy Jo leaves the herd to settle down with a stallion – very culturally awkward, for both Daisy Jo and Applejack. But Applejack’s discomfort isn’t for quite the reasons it seems at first…

I liked this. This reminded me of the outside insight stories, and it was a kind of disturbing look at the implications of the cows being people given some of their behavior and the ponies’ treatment of them.


The Constant of Chaos

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Slice of Life

Author Guess:

Discord teaches Twilight how to play REAL chess.

I liked this story on the whole, but I’m not sure that it was best served as being a dialogue-only story. That being said, it did still work as one, and it isn’t intrinsically a bad thing. The central lesson is a good one for a pony like Twilight to learn, and Discord is the perfect teacher of such things, given his nature.

And I like that Twilight is a quick study, as well as the implications of the pawn becoming a queen.


The Crime You Committed

Preliminary Score:

Genre: Crime, Adventure

Author Guess:

You spent a lot of time planning on how to get into Canterlot Castle without getting caught, and to break into the vault.

Or did you?

I really liked the twist in this story, but I feel like the actual heist could have been strengthened and made the story as a whole significantly stronger. Sabotaging or trying to steal the Elements of Harmony before the attack on Canterlot, or possibly having the changeling be doing it afterwards as part of some secondary plan, might be good; really, though, I feel like I wanted a bit more detail. “You” planned it out carefully, but there just didn’t seem to be that much to it, in the end.

Bit surprised to see multiple second-person stories in the writeoff. Guess Bad Horse started a trend.


And there we go – all 109 writeoff stories reviewed. 13,662 words according to Microsoft Word.

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Comments ( 9 )

You might want to add a page break to the start of that. Right now its a tiny novel, and you get it all when you're trying to read the feed.

Don't get me wrong, impressive work, but a bit much as-is when you're not part of that write-off.

3286629
Whoops. I thought that the HRs or the image would stop it. Hopefully it looks okay now?

3286652

Don't think there's a limit where text gets auto cut, actually. Just images.

Still, much better. :twilightsmile:

Well thank you for pointing me to Grocery Revolution. I like this prelim point thing you're doing, but I can't figure out why there are so many blank scores.

3286681
Because I was only filling them in sporadically. I should have removed them, but I forgot.

Well, whatever. Everyone gets to see them now, as it is too much work to get rid of them :V

I'll actually post my full ranking list later on in the thread, if people want. I copy-pasted it into excel. I haven't posted it now because uh, it doesn't have my stories on it for obvious reasons :V

It's so exciting to get a review from you! You've reviewed every story, so I'm allowed to say that before the prelims end xD I'm very, very happy :pinkiehappy:

Huh. Titanium Dragon loves zany comedies best of all. Who'd have guessed?

3286853
In the end, of my top 10 stories this time around, 5 were comedies.

Only one of the stories I picked as a top 10 didn't make it into the finals as well (The Constant of Chaos).

19/29 of my top 29 made it through, and only 7 of the finalists weren't in the top half by my rankings.

3287293

Interesting figures:

Looking at my list, I see that I also had 9 of my top 10 make it into the finals ("Induction of the Innocent" was the missing one in my case). I had 18 of my top 29 get through, and 9 of the finalists weren't in the top half of my rankings. Of course, my story didn't make it through and you still have one or more in the mix, so that might muddle the figures a bit. But then I wouldn't've put mine in the top half anyway since, y'know, the story's not actually finished and all... :twilightblush:

Mike

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