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horizon


Not a changeling.

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Mar
25th
2016

Horizon Reviews: Scribblefest 2016 entries · 11:18pm Mar 25th, 2016

Xepher tapped me to be one of the nine judges for Everfree Northwest's "Scribblefest" pre-convention writing competition, and I've spent the last two weeks reading through a chunk of the submissions. (You can find a listing of the entries here.) I thought I'd share my reviews of those stories here — they'll be a mixture of recommendations for readers and Writeoff-style constructive criticism. If you're curious what sort of talent this contest is pulling in from across the fandom, click below the break!

( Top Contender: 1 / Solid: 4 / Almost There: 3 / Needs Work: 5 / Misaimed: 1 )


A quick disclaimer first: These are my personal opinions of the stories, and NOT meant to represent Scribblefest as a whole. Due to the way that Scribblefest is handling awards this year (honors in six different categories, with no overall "best story" winner), my assessment of story quality isn't intended to be an indication of my award voting. The "story tiers" are taken from my HORSE rating system, and are designed to assess how well the author executed on the story's overall potential.


An Ordinary Day by alt-tap
What a start to my reading. This both promises and delivers pure, unadulterated Slice of Life, and I can't remember the last time I was so engrossed by a story in which nothing of consequence happens. This is due primarily to the vivid and sensual descriptions littering the piece — "The friendlier floorboards creak good mornings all along her way towards the bathroom"; "The gentle kiss of the sun" — and beautiful passages like "Even though she flies so little, even though she is so weak, she is still a pegasus, and the sky will always love her. Above, above and west, and west, the cottage drifts below." If there is one reason to read this, it's for the way it dances with language. It's almost like a prose poem.

If there's another reason to read this, it's the way that it just keeps throwing in little casual surprises and unusual headcanons — which worked for me, though your mileage definitely may vary. There's unlabeled Flutterdash — largely confined to a single bath scene that is platonically intimate and vivid as all get-out — and glances at Fluttershy's relationships with the Mane Six that don't always go where you'd expect. For my money, though, the show is stolen by a cameo from a longtime friend of Fluttershy's, a changeling by the name of Smiling She Greets The Horizon. All I can say about giving changelings names ripped straight out of Exalted is "headcanon: accepted."

One word of caution: this is heavy with simple and flagrant typos that are quite at odds with the elegance of the language. (Based on a conversation in comments, alt-tap might be looking for an editor.) Some of the digressions also make this feel unfocused from its core mission of its Fluttershy character study. But on the whole this was an unexpected gem.
Tier: Solid



The Mare Of The Equestrian Eighth by The 24th Pegasus
… And straight from that into actual poetry. Hunh.

This is loosely set in common meter, providing a singsong effect that mostly keeps things feeling smooth. Well … very loosely set. The titular "The Mare of the Equestrian Eighth", with its lurching nine syllables, is a repeated stanza-opener, and as early as the first stanza one of those even-numbered lines has four feet instead of three. But there are plenty of things to like here as well — including the occasional line 1/3 sight rhymes (Eighth/teeth and read/glean adorn the early stanzas) — and its decision to treat those internal rhymes as bonuses rather than contort English to do them consistently. It's rare for the rhymes to feel forced, which I'm grateful for in a poem this long.

Content-wise, this is about Rainbow Dash in the war-torn AU from the S5 finale (the Sombraverse?), following her as she signs up for the fight, goes to war, loses her innocence and then her wing, and pulls herself back from the brink of suicide to rejoin the fight. The overall arc works, but I have serious misgivings about some of the details. (In what AU would Dash pack "a nice dress for the road"? And then this about boot camp: "But there was one thing that she did not learn / And that was how to kill." That's no boot camp I've ever seen.) Then it skips forward past what we've seen in the show, forging into new territory, and the poem touches on some strong issues before a twist of an ending. Without giving away spoilers, I'm not certain I'm comfortable with where it goes, but it certainly makes a statement. I suspect that pretty much everyone will find something to both like and dislike in this one.
Tier: Almost There



Charcoal by loopsorspool
As well as being a contest entry, this is recursive fiction for SPark's story "Ember's" (which I'm not linking because it's NSFW, but is very good, and worth the search if your Mature filter is off). Ember is, essentially, a changeling sex therapist, and "Charcoal" is about a pony with some gender identity issues who goes to visit her for a safe space in which to explore those things. PG-rated comfortfic ensues. This is clearly a heartfelt story, and while I'm sure it's therapeutic for both author and its niche target audience, it's plagued by severe editing issues that make it a difficult read. (One early egregious example: "He had come so far for just one thing, and now, he might not be able to walk back in defeat.") I don't feel like this goes out of its way to make its subject accessible for a general audience, either; we don't get to see inside Sketch's head much to see how the makeover affects him or why it's so important, so it just comes across as 2000 words of playing dress-up and light snuggling. There are some nice touches, like the pony puns for the singer names, but overall this feels like a miss.
Tier: Needs Work



A Spoiled Diamond by RDcrystalheart
This story is basically just backstory for why Diamond Tiara lives in the boondocks instead of somewhere in a Canterlot gated community. Perhaps unintentionally, it casts Filthy Rich in something of a villain role: he unilaterally decides to move his wealthy family to Ponyville because, I quote, "we’ve never really been able to appreciate the life of a lower class. … It’ll be fun!" It also needs an editing pass to address plot elements that make no sense: e.g. "She knew that she was very good at getting ponies to do as she pleased, so whatever she decided would be easily countered by her parents." Diamond follows this up with two contradictory lines — telling her mother she wants to go and then telling her father it's too dirty — and while there's something to be said for reverse psychology, it doesn't work if you're trying to do it in both directions at the same time, and I have no idea what her actual intentions are supposed to be. Similarly, the story is contradictory about whether Diamond agrees with her mother's snobbish views or not, telling us that she believed her mother's lessons and grew up like her and noticed her mother being happy, and then telling us she didn't like it.

The best part of this is how it constructs an origin story for the CMC's antagonist, but I can't say I was satisfied on that level either — it focuses on how spoiled she was pre-redemption, but the effect is that we're stuck enduring a whiny irredeemable filly for the length of the story, and it can't give her any notes of that later redemption without contradicting the character arc we see in the show.
Tier: Needs Work



The Fluffles And The Flutters by Soothing Stone
This is basically what it says on the tin — a Fluffle Puff meets Fluttershy story — but I can't quite say it's what-you-see-is-what-you-get. For one thing, Fluffle Puff doesn't even show up for its 1400 of its 4500 words. Despite being labeled a Random Comedy, that giant initial chunk of the story is straight-faced Slice of Life of Fluttershy having a hard day and then being treated to a party by her animal friends. There's one smile-worthy moment in that section — the book that Angel gives her as a gift — but largely it found me restlessly skipping ahead to see when the story would actually start in on its premise.

Even after it did, I didn't find much more to appreciate. New-author errors like excessive telling and LUS litter the text. It leans hard on memes (Fluffle Puff calls Chrysalis her "bug waifu") and references to series in-jokes (the pillow tank) that will sail over the head of non-FP fans. There's a lot of time spent on Fluffle Puff looking cute, often lampshaded in those words by the narrator, that loses a lot in the translation from the visual to the written medium. And then there's a deeply weird and uncomfortable tonal break after the taco scene, which starts out as a joke but lingers too long on its cruelty. (No, thank you.) I do wish it had capitalized on its setup of the repeated callouts to Discord; he never makes an appearance, despite having a perfect excuse to show up, and it would have been interesting to see him and Fluffle Puff interact. The one shining point here is the twist near the end, which was unexpected despite making perfect sense, and was daring for a story of this type.
Tier: Needs Work



Delivery By Gale by Jarvy Jared
This story suffers from a bad case of no-name-itis. It's so cagey about the identity of anyone involved in the story that it's not until halfway through that we learn the protagonist is Dinky — and that's not a plot-twist reveal, it just never bothers to identify her until she offhoofedly mentions her mother. The name allergy is so severe that at points it contorts the text: "The greatest moment, he would later recall, was when his best friend proposed to his best friend." The overall lack of context also doesn't help. (For the first half of the story, the unnamed-filly-who-we-later-learn-is-Dinky is seeking an unspecified "package", which we later learn is really an answer to the question of "What makes a good pony?", from some ambiguous wind spirit who responds by telling her a tale of another unnamed pony that we later learn she already knows.) This sorely needs to drop a few levels of abstraction and give us something concrete to wrap a hook around; it's very hard to care about the protagonist or the tale the wind-spirit spins when everything is held so far at arm's length due to lack of names or context.

It finally grounds that story halfway through — but even though the central question is whether the stallion in the wind-spirit's story is a good pony or not, and even though he's closely involved in Dinky's life, we never are given so much as his name, and the decision of his morality turns on meaningless generalities such as "He worked hard, helping those in need in any way he could. Any way. Some, more controversial than others. Some, he would later regret." This is apparently a side story to one of the author's other pieces, and I do appreciate the effort to make it accessible to outside readers — but the way to do that isn't to file the serial numbers off and present it as generic. The way to do that is to offer more context, filling your readers in on the high points of the stories we haven't read. Concrete citations like how the stallion helped Dinky with her bullies are a good start there, but not enough.
Tier: Needs Work



Hope by Dark Avenger
At first I was going to say that this is a hard story to talk about without spoiling it — right off the bat we're treated to a number of scenes of apparently contradictory apocalypses besetting Equestria, and the story follows Celestia trying to untangle the truth of what's happening around her as she races to save everypony. Then I realized I'm not sure I can spoil it by revealing that this is all a dream, because A) Luna casually confirms that this is a Nightmare-related problem halfway through, and B) there's a late reveal (which I won't spoil) that makes "what happened to the world" very much not the central question.

"It was all a dream" is generally a tough sell for a story premise, and there's a good reason why: removing causality disconnects us from caring about what the characters do. For example, the first scene (of Celestia escaping from changeling captivity) is robbed of its tension when she goes outside and immediately is witness to a giant dragon attack with no signs of changelings anywhere — which itself is robbed of impact by the fact that she glances away for a moment and the entire scene vanishes to be replaced by a calm city street. This makes the first half of the story a succession of meaningless suffering; strong and vivid writing almost carries it, but it was tough to read through without more of a hook (and the structure of the story probably would prevent rewriting it to add more continuity). Fortunately, the second half of the story redeems that setup with the aforementioned twist, and takes this exactly where every it-was-a-dream story needs to go — turning it into a statement on character that transcends the dream. If you don't mind the dark slog of the buildup, this is worth it for what it ultimately does with its premise.
Tier: Solid



Memories by Peekaboo
I am absolutely the wrong person to be reviewing this story. The bottom line is that this is trying to wring character drama out of an expectant mother feeling ambiguous about her upcoming foal, and I'm one of those wacky joyless childfree folks. Even as a child I didn't like children (teachers weren't the ones bullying me at school), so trying to appreciate this for the stirring way in which it presents child-rearing — and/or its paeans to Apple Family-style generational continuity — are right about up there for me with a story singing the praises of the colonies of giardia which are causing your gastrointestinal distress. That said, I can recognize that this is a target audience mismatch, and furthermore, that the target audience for this story is an awful lot bigger than the number of Horizons it's going to turn off.

But enough of that: how's the story? The prose quality here is mixed — in the same paragraph as descriptions like "The workers stood out like black dots against the greens and blues of the distant mountains and the sky that outlined them", we get long stretches of bland tell-heavy exposition ("It was hard for her, but she did her best to remain content"). Nothing stood out as mishandled in the comfortfic aspects of the later scenes, I guess? Difficult for me to tell when I'm already disconnected for reasons that aren't the author's fault. There's a conversation about how having children changes lives that did ring true to me, and then a twist at the end that … I'm not sure really worked. It came out of left field and squares somewhat bizarrely with the rest of the story. Trying to approach this in the abstract, I can see some solid moments, but I don't know that I could muster much more than the equivalent of one of Present Perfect's "Vaguely Recommended"s.
Tier: Misaimed



Idols by BlazzingInferno
The structure here is your basic Scootalove story — when Rainbow Dash takes her to Wonderbolts practice and then abandons her on the ground, Spitfire discovers her, and the two of them bond — but it's elevated by its vivid descriptions and its character work. We get to see both Spitfire's hard exterior and the softer mare behind the mask, and the way that Scootaloo and Spitfire end up helping each other out with their mutual problems feels both true-to-show and genuinely heartwarming. Even the first scene, which initially seemed like a fluffy slice-of-life lead-in, wraps back around to a framing story (and interesting twist) that ties back in to the story's greater themes. I definitely have to give this one credit for being adorable in a way that wasn't cloying, and that's a tough sell for me.

If I have a criticism beyond "this isn't normally my thing", it would be that the structure and pacing seem shaky. The aforementioned bookend scenes lead to a last-minute revelation that would have had a lot more impact if the foreshadowing had been less evasive; as it is, it felt like it threw open a big plot door at the last moment and just gave us a peek through. And the way that the various characters instantly connect and quickly solve all their problems feels a bit too convenient (even if it's an MLP-flavored convenience). But this was a good read on the whole.
Tier: Solid



Aerial Dreams by BNuts
This follows the adventure of an OC going through Wonderbolt training alongside the prior generation of 'Bolts, such as Spitfire and an arbitrarily renamed Fleetfoot (here called "Hasty Hoof", which makes more abstract sense even if it is jarring to change canon names). It's apparently a prequel to one of the author's ponyfic series, but I didn't feel like this lacked any necessary context as a standalone work.

My main impression is that this is very solidly in the military-fic genre bucket. It has a strong tendency toward clinical telling of tactical details such as squadron composition and positioning, and while that can be interesting in its own way — the Royal Canterlot Library just featured Arthurian—The Black King, with a very similar writing style — here it's more underwhelming. The Black King had two features this one didn't quite live up to: first, larger-than-life clashes with epic mythology, and second, its characters were deliberately painted in broad archetypes so that they shone through from limited dialogue and actions. Here, most of the cadets feel (or are) interchangeable except for name; I didn't get a great feel for most of the ponies we're introduced to, although props for a noticeably younger and peppier Spitfire.

The protagonist's overall character arc is more hit than miss; I don't feel like enough is made of her initial desire to just do it for the love of flying and the transition from that into the competitive, team-oriented Wonderbolt spirit, but we do see their growing camaraderie (along with a workplace romance), leading up to a final mission with unexpected consequences, and I was at least rooting for Aerial the whole time. So while this may not appeal to most, there are things to enjoy here, and milfic lovers should give it a try.
Tier: Almost There



Mockingbird by HopeForTheFew
First, the good news: Even though this is a Human In Equestria story, it neatly sidesteps some HiE tropes. For instance, rather than being a self-insert everyman, the human is a wandering guitarist with a mystical connection to nature, giving this a sort of comic-book feel that positively flavors the wish fulfillment. The bad news is that there are some cringy HiE tropes it embraces — including the CMC holding a casual conversation with the human as if he's their next-door neighbor, and then 500 words later he reveals that he's a "human", which is a creature the CMC have only heard about in legends, and they promptly 'ah' in wonder. And then the human saves the CMC by bare-handedly punching a manticore in the friendship.

Sorry, I just wanted an excuse to post this GIF again.

Mind you, I don't think that fight scene has to be a deal-breaker; there are some ways in which the story is self-conscious of its comic-book pedigree, and the manticore fight just reinforces that larger-than-life element. But at the same time, the heavy implication that the human is a real-world musician (several of his music videos are linked) grounds this in a very different way, and the logic faults feel like they finish the job of collapsing the story under its own weight. Readers in search of pure wish fulfillment will find something unique here, but I can't recommend it otherwise.
Tier: Needs Work



Spike's Slightly Dangerous New Hobby by FrontSevens
This is a gratuitously silly tale about Twilight Sparkle being overprotective when Spike discovers a new talent, and it's the most hilarious thing I've read in months. This is due primarily to two things: a pitch-perfect neurotic OCD Twilight ramped up to 11, and a wicked sense of comic timing that's not afraid to deliver a punchline and then turn it into the setup for an even funnier joke later on. As an example of both, Spike makes a lame pun when he's showing off his fireball trick, and the story is able to make explaining the joke funny. When's the last time you could say THAT about a comedy?

There's another unusual thing this story did that endeared me in particular to it: like my own The 18th Brewmare of Bluey Napoleon, it mines a lot of humor out of character abuse, escalates that humor to the breaking point, and then lets the characters actually break — pausing to reflect on the characters and paint them in a more sympathetic light. Then it picks itself up, dusts itself off, and launches back from the sublime into the ridiculous for the climax. If you enjoyed Brewmare, this hits all those same notes. If you haven't read it, this is an excellent study in how it can serve a comedy to sometimes deliberately not be funny: it helps control the pacing, and by showing us these familiar characters being good to each other, helps us feel better about laughing when they're portrayed as terrible people. I could see how others might bounce off of the Lesson Zero-style core humor here, but this was easily a highlight of my reading.
Tier: Top Contender



Pegasus by GrandMoffPony
This follows EquestriaGirls!Dash as she gets on a plane to Canterlot, and then stares out a window during the flight, daydreaming of the magical land of Equestria where airplanes aren't a thing and she could fly under her own power. Along the way, there are some conversations with her seatmate and a lot of introspective character-building.

While this is well enough written (especially the depiction of the plane ride itself), it feels more like an idea for a story than a story. It's very low-stakes, the character-building feels authentic but doesn't have any real surprises, and it never really transcends the question that's asked in the story description; as such, it's a meditative piece but lacked any real hook. Side arcs like the seatmate conversation don't seem to tie in to the core theme, giving the story a meandering feel. (I do appreciate the attempt to bring it all together with the talk of plane naming, but that felt a little too gratuitous to work for me.)
Tier: Almost There



Take With Food by Norm De Plume
I wanted to open by calling this a fixfic for the third Equestria Girls movie, but I think limiting it to "fixfic" does this story a disservice. What we have here is Sunset Shimmer rounding up a who's who of EqG characters — the Rainbooms, the Shadowbolts, and Human Twilight — to fix a surprising (and surprisingly logical) problem: the Sirens from the second movie, having been deprived of their amulets, are unable to eat magic any more and are now starving to death.

The first chapter is a shaky start if (like me) you haven't watched the third movie, but I was able to pick up enough from provided story context that it wasn't a total loss, and once it got into more familiar territory this was an enjoyable read — so I feel pretty confident in saying that if you've watched through the EqG trilogy this is good start to finish. The author's got a good eye on picking out interesting details from the movies and outlining the headcanons that make this story work, and the exposition that makes all the pieces fit together is handled smoothly. The problem's a compelling one, and the story walks a fine line to make both sets of villains sympathetic without redeeming them into bland helpfulness. My main complaints are that, with such a large ensemble cast, there are a number of characters who play major narrative roles despite near-zero screen time, and that there's some unavoidable telly montaging as they all work together to solve the problem. But mostly the only thing keeping this from a Horizon rating of Top Contender is how rough the first chapter felt, and I think that with the context of the movie I'd feel differently.
Tier: Solid



And that's a full third of the entries! Any other Scribblefest writing, or stories in general, you've been enjoying lately?

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Comments ( 22 )

Sweet!

Sadly, a lot of my reading has been confined to Scribblefest/TRG/the Writeoff lately.

I quite loved "Spike's Slightly Dangerous New Hobby" as well.:twilightsmile:

Any other Scribblefest writing, or stories in general, you've been enjoying lately?

I really liked Discord's Diary. It's been in the feature box for a few days and it certainly deserves to be there.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Are you gonna do the rest so I can deflect queries to you? :B

3826937
Probably not, with the other projects I'm trying to juggle, but deflect away. If any entrants want to specifically request a review from me, I should be able to queue that up, and if I get more than one or two I can do a second round-up post.

3826921
Obselescence seemed reasonably impressed with it too. I'll have to give that one a whirl.

Thanks for the review!
A bunch of these are going on my Read It Later for some fantastical day when I have free time :ajsleepy:
My most recent favorite is A Million Little Lights, which I have to give props to for getting me to buy a view of Celestia that I wouldn't normally accept.

Thank you for reviewing Memories! I see it's not really your cup of tea, for which I'm bummed, but I can understand that not everybody is going to be interested in the same kind of stuff. For your comment on the prose: I guess I wanted to try and portray that while the area she sits in is beautiful, it's also boring. It's vibrant and colorful, but beyond that offers little besides work to do. I'm not the most versed writer, and this was honestly an unedited one shot story, so there was likely a bit of work to be done for it if it were to be perfect and portray those qualities better. It doesn't help that most of my writing usually takes place super late at night during my bouts of insomnia, so yeah, there's that influence over it too.

I guess it should also be said that there's a lot that is hidden underneath the surface of this story that explains a lot about the way things went in it, but the reasons are personal and whatnot, so you know. But I really appreciate your opinion and critique, even if it wasn't quite as I'd hoped for it. Maybe it'll help me improve my writing later.

That was a surprisingly good review for mine, wow. That's honestly a little disorienting. Thank you.
I'll have to do more in that style.

( Top Contender: 1 / Solid: 4 / Almost There: 3 / Needs Work: 5 / Misaimed: 1 )

Needs Work: 5

Uhhh...

Thank you for the review. I'm glad the story was, ultimately, a worthwhile experience. Personally, I think the "slog" of the first half is necessary, nor is it that much of a drag. Without contrast, the action would lose its effect once it's introduced, not to mention plenty of clues are hidden all over the story, even when things seem to be meaningless and without consequence. That said, I do feel I could have executed those parts a bit better, but I'm satisfied with it either way.

Keep up the good work! To all others: good luck with the contest! :duck:

Thank you for taking the time to review my story, and for letting me know about it! :twilightsmile:

I think this is the first time a story of mine received a TC from you o-o I'm glad to hear the comedy (and the non-comedy) worked for ya.

Side note, I'm now curious about that Brewmare story. I'm gonna have to give that a read at some point :o

Thanks for taking time to do these reviews. An Ordinary Day by alt-tap is an excellent story, and the style is unique and makes it very much a fun and interesting read. It certainly deserves more love than it's getting.

I believe alt-tap has also corrected the typos you mentioned.

Any other Scribblefest writing, or stories in general, you've been enjoying lately?

No. I've been slogging through the endless detritus of fimfiction in desperate search for any Nightmare Moon centric/protagonist fanfiction that doesn't suck, isn't abandoned, isn't short, isn't porn, and doesn't involve Best Horse sacrificing her immortal soul for a chicken.

That's too many conditions, I guess. No one loves strong, black, bitter mares like I do. No one cares.

I'm too poor to drown my sorrows by eating junk food, though, so I guess instead I'll read this inspiring tale about poor ponies actually eating food. And Sombra eating, uh. Not food. Yum.

In the meantime, if you want a fic recommendation... 413 Mulberry Lane : A Report (With Annotations by Twilight Sparkle) is probably my favorite horror story that I've ever read. I literally had nightmares about broom closets after reading this story. Like, the kind with actual mops and buckets and stuff in them.

No joke. ~ Sable

Needs work huh? Then work I shall give it. Hopefully it will get to solid or at least high almost there. Thank you for the review, I shall take the critiques under advisement and adjust the story as I feel necessary. I'm sorry I was unable to submit a better story for you to read, but at the same time I am not as I have gained an honest review. Thank you for your time.

-sighs- It was a bit rough reading that, I will admit, given I haven't written a story in novel form in over a year(I'm more of a screenwriter at heart) and I got back into the fanfiction game just for this contest. Probably why I'm not taking this criticism so well, given it took a lot to get back into doing this work. Thank you, though.

3827306
I should note that every story in the competition was read by a minimum of three judges, so we did set up the system to avoid problems with a single person bouncing off of the content. Sorry that I didn't like it more, but my preferences are what they are. :applejackunsure: I think this is a good effort given the constraints you mention, but it's a rare story that can't be improved by editing, and as you note, taking a pass back through and improving this after the fact can teach you things that will help you write better first drafts. Best of luck with your writing either way.

3827378
I'm, uh, not sure what the problem is here? :derpyderp1: I double-checked the count.

3827589
Thanks for the story. We'll have to agree to disagree on the "slog", but I'll note that I'm pretty sensitive to pacing issues; it seems to be one of the major issues in my own writing, so I'm sort of primed to notice it elsewhere.

3829913
Thanks for the recs! In return … hmm. Nightmare Moon fics. That's a hard one. A lot of that, I suspect is her ambiguous character status — is she an independent entity, or is she basically goth Luna's Halloween costume? And a fair chunk of those fics which do feature her just treat her as redemption bait. (I'm not looking at you, Past Sins. I'm very not looking at you.)

Honestly, the best NMM-centric fic that comes to mind is one in which she never actually appears on-screen: ponichaeism's The Mare In The High Castle, which is a dystopian sci-fi AU set in a world of eternal night (she is the titular mare).

I've written two fics in which NMM plays some significant role: No Regrets, about Celestia switching places with Luna to avoid having to fight and banish her; and Melt, a long-form poem about Sombra's descent into darkness as he tried to save his empire. You may like one or both, though they're not 100% to your spec.

3828840 (cc 3827307)
I know! I recommended it to Seattle's Angels, too. :twilightsmile: Even better if those typos got whipped into place!

3831518
Kudos! That's a super healthy attitude, and I think it will lead to quick improvement. Not every story is going to work for everyone, but if you take pride in your work and keep finding new ways to make it better, you're going to go nowhere but up!

If you're cool with constructive criticism, you can often get good feedback from entering the Writeoff Association competitions. There's one for original fiction this weekend, and the next MLP round is in about a month.

3832363
I'm sorry if I came off as harsh. Dusting off a less-used creative form, when you've been spending a lot of your effort in another medium, is an awfully hard place to be in — you're not only brushing up on your story skills, but you're working against habits that work positively for you in the other medium. (I note that one of my complaints was about how it felt like it lost something in translation, which tells me that you're putting those screenwriting skills to use.) The good news is that those basic problems — like training yourself to refer to characters by name instead of using e.g. "the butter-yellow pony" — are easy to fix with story edits, and make a pretty dramatic difference relative to time spent. With that and some work on show vs. tell, this could rise pretty noticeably in quality.

You've got some good ideas waiting to be set down to paper — now it's just a matter of getting some practice in with those rusty skills. But you sat down and wrote a story, and put yourself out there by entering a contest, and so you've already taken those hardest first steps!

3832970
You know what? It's my bad. I thought you were numbering your tiers as a rating out of 5. But even so, I still misread that you put Top Contender as 1 and not 5.

I'm clearly too tired for this. :rainbowlaugh:

3832970
Good to know, I'll check it out.

3832970
Yeah...it probably didn't help that the game I'm writing for, Legends of Equestria, requires a "tell don't show" approach to writing due to the way the game is designed. As for the awkward ways i kept describing the characters like you mentioned, it was how I was taught(I forgot who it was) to go for different descriptions in the characters. Like, don't just say "she" or "Fluttershy" all the time, but try to mix it up. And...yeah, you can see how I struggled with that.

In general, I think I would rather focus on screenwriting again than novelizing stories, because I think I'm best suited for that. Because of that, this story is probably going to be my last story on this site for a long while.

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I think the ambiguous nature of the character is one of the best parts. Is Nightmare Moon a form of spiritual parasite that imprinted on Luna? Is she simply an adult, vengeful form of Luna, and the Elements "reset" her the same way you or I might reset our hard drives to a previous, uncorrupted state? A separate character entirely? And those are just some of the simplest, most obvious backstories you can do; each has abundant room for character drama and worldbuilding.

Redemption plots can be excellent. Unfortunately, as we see in Trixie fics especially, it usually boils down to "she wasn't actually as bad as we thought she was; why does everyone hate her so much?" Most writers lack either the ability or the ambition to write an actually evil character in a sympathetic way, and then redeem them in a believable manner.

In my mind, the real Nightmare Moon of Past Sins was that blob of psychic evil that Nyx finds and destroys in like two seconds. Heya, villain. Seeya, villain. If only we could all fix our inner psychoses so easily.

The Mare in the High Castle was an excellent story; I actually recommended a number of stories to the RCL after reading it, including one of yours, if you'll recall. Nightmare Moon had less screen time than Sauron; that was my only real beef with that story.

It's been a while since I read those two stories of yours, but I remember enjoying both of them. Melt was short and sweet enough for me to appreciate (poetry being the only form of literature where I prefer shortform over longform), and I actually had my eldest little sister sit down with me to listen to the youtube reading of it. (My family is composed of pony sympathizers, if not actual bronies.)

I'm cautiously optimistic about Lupine Infernis's Ambition, but like so many fanfiction longfics, as I read it I can feel the plot already starting to go off the rails.

Maybe Night's Favored Child will finish one of these days, eh? Hope is cheap, right?

Thanks for responding, man. Good luck on your next project. ~ Sable

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I threw some words together about this fic, in part inspired by your review of it. Read here, if you're interested: (link)

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I finished my revision, would you like to take a look?

Even as a child I didn't like children (teachers weren't the ones bullying me at school)

This is just an aside, but given how many people I hear about being bullied, you'd really think there wouldn't be any bullies left for all the bullied kids.

I only ever got bullied in first and second grade (until I got in a fight with the bullies, which I sort of won, which meant we were friends now because Defeat Means Friendship is apparently not just a television show trope). I guess some people tried bullying me in high school, but it is hard to bully someone like me.

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