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Sovereigns Write: Imposing Sovereigns II Results · 7:17pm Dec 21st, 2019

In keeping with the tradition of the previous contest, have a Magic princessipal.

As before, this exceeded my expectations in the best possible way. Fifty entries, frequent hits on the featured box, and at least one competitor whose creative spark was reignited by the prompt. Thank you to everyone who participated for demonstrating that we will happily keep the torch lit even as we bid Equestria farewell.

Alright, enough sap. You all know why you’re here. :derpytongue2: But before we proceed to the praise and accolades, let’s review who made the decision:

Greetings, Venerable Ro here. Being of sound body if not sound mind I skulked my way into this fandom about three years ago, give or take a year. Novelty and an inexpensive(free) way to slake my bibliophilia drew me here, but the incredible depth and variety of literature has kept me here. And it’s things like this, this contest, that reassure me that this community has so much still to give and create.

Imagination is a wonderful gift, whether it be exercised by a writer, or inspired in a reader. Imagination, that essential question of “what if?” that lies at the heart of this site. This contest has been a celebration of that “what if?” question, and my only regret is that I eventually ran out of entries to read. It has been my very great privilege to read, enjoy, and judge these stories, and I'd like to add my thanks to FanOfMostEverything for making this possible.

Howdy, everyone. I’m cleverpun. You may recognize me from my own writing, or that one collab I did, or from my critique blogs. You may not recognize me at all, hence this introduction. I consider myself someone with high standards; I hold fanfiction to the same standard as when I’m reading a published novel. I don’t know what I expected when I volunteered to judge. I was frankly flabbergasted, however, by how many entries in this contest jumped over the hurdles of my own inner editor. Story after story crossed the finish line into my heart, handing off the relay of emotion and excellence along the way. Everyone should be proud of what they accomplished here. Thanks should go to FOME for setting this up, of course, but the participants are what made it such an incredible journey.

Hi, I’m NaiadSagaIotaOar—or Naiad, if you have the good sense to not write quite all that nonsense out. You’ve probably never heard of me unless you really like the Dazzlings, because until recently they were pretty much all I wrote about when it came to pony. I’ve entered several contests now, and even placed in one, but I hadn’t judged one before and that sounded like it’d be an interesting experience, so here I am. I remember being slightly horrified by how much reading was in store for me when I saw just how many entries there were, but there were so many fantastic stories I’d not have read otherwise I can’t look back on it as anything but a positive experience. Whether you placed or not, I truly hope you take pride in what you’ve already written and endeavor to write some more.

On that note, I must emphasize how tight this field was. Out of a theoretical maximum twenty points, which would have happened if we all voted for the same story in the top spot, the winner got nine. This makes honorable mentions all the more important.

My personal pick is The Last King by Antiquarian, a brilliant tragedy capturing the last hope, last quest, and fall of a civilization. Before you come down on me for spoilers, I should note that this is Guto, last king of Griffonstone we’re talking about. Vice, virtue, wisdom, and hubris play out in a gripping, sweeping drama. Even by ponyfic standards, this is an inventive fantasy, and I’m happy to give it my recommendation.

Ro here, for my honorable mention I selected MagnetBolt’s A Trolley Problem Named Desire.
The center of every story is its characters. If they don’t come through clearly you're dead in the water. In this story Chrysalis did more than speak clearly, she sassed, conspired, and ultimately found a home, without ever giving up her essential snarky nature. I can’t remember another story where I’ve seen Chrysalis and a grown-up Flurry Heart interact as anything other than enemies, but after finishing this I can honestly say that I'd love to read more of this world. And really, when you get right down to it, that’s one of the surest marks of a good story.

My personal choice is Pony Peace is Dragon War (Diplomatic Dragon Noises Included) by HapHazred. It is, at its heart, a character piece about Ember. But it is also a great exploration of pony and dragon culture. To a species whose idea of punishment and terror are sitting around, talking and doing paperwork, it takes great strength of character to act as an ambassador. It also does that balancing act that so many dramedies fail at; making sure that the comedy and drama enhance each other, rather than get in each others’ way. Ember’s inner monologue and character development were great fun to watch. The story made me laugh and it made me think. Two qualities that deserve praise separately, and even more together. Even in a field crowded with worthy stories, I can’t recommend it more highly.

My pick is Sister Solstice, by Fylifa. There’s quite a bit to like with this one. Celestia and Luna’s relationship is front and center throughout the story, and it leads to some moments that are heartwarming and some that are painful. They love each other dearly, but one of them becomes Nightmare Moon, and the way the story sells both those aspects of their dynamic is fantastic, especially when we only see Luna from an outside perspective. If you like Celestia and Luna and you like stories about siblings, there’s no reason not to give this one a look.

Now for the big winners.

Third Place

EThe Joy Hive
The story of Pinkie, a few changelings, and the world-changing snowball they kicked down a hill.
TheDriderPony · 19k words  ·  201  5 · 2.5k views

One small, random act of kindness can have incredible and unforeseeable consequences down the line. TheDriderPony demonstrates this with a Pinkie/Coronation story that shows how Pinkie just being Pinkie can escalate into amazing madness thanks to a few quirks of changeling biology and the perks of being the Bearer of Laughter. The result is a delight to experience, as any tale involving Pinkie’s ascent to the throne should be. It does end a touch abruptly, but it’s still… well, a joy.

When people talk about great rulers, they inevitably talk about the “whats”, the things that they did or did not do, the empires that they built and the enemies they tore down. Mighty men and women (or stallions and mares) who history would remember for their deeds.

Very rarely do you hear about why.

This story, behind it’s comedy and alarmingly plausible silliness, is about the why of a great ruler. Why was Pinkie a great ruler? Because she found someone in need, and resolved to help them. And astonishingly, love and dedication were returned in kind.

The Joy Hive is one of those rare stories where I started out not quite liking it, but then it pulled me in with its charms. As the only Pinkie Pie entry in the contest, it does a wonderful job presenting her character. Pinkie Pie is an infamously hard character to get right, and her pragmatism, kindness, and soul are on full display here. The mechanics and worldbuilding and tone all engaged throughout. It’s a great example of the Slice of Life genre. The ending has its flaws, but that is a mere footnote compared to how good the rest of the story is.

As you might expect, having fifty entries meant that they covered a tremendous spectrum of tones and genres. This story, more so than any other I read, made me happy. I was smiling, I was laughing, it was wonderful. I’ve never liked the changeling reformation the show did, but this story showed an alternative route that I was completely on board with. It’s fun, it’s endearing, and it’s really well-crafted. The passage of time is subtle but palpable, and a dash of conflict makes it surprisingly tense towards the end. This story was just a delight from start to… mid-way through the last chapter, if I’m being honest. But when the rest of it was as solid as it was, a little stumble towards the end was far from a deal-breaker.

Second Place

TShe Kills Monsters
After losing her sister, Rarity buries herself in her work. Just as lost, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, armed with a personal Ogres & Oubliette's module, try to help the seamstress open more than just her boutique.
chiko · 15k words  ·  127  3 · 1.1k views

This is the very definition of tight storytelling. Thirty chapters, each exactly five hundred words long, tell an incredible tale of sisterly love and all the complications that come with it. Especially posthumously. The Princess Herself was a prompt designed for introspection, and Rarity always makes for a fascinating subject to study. The framing device, the flashbacks, and the many ways Rarity needs to come to peace with Sweetie Belle’s death come together into an incredible work.

It’s an interesting thing, having a casual reading speed in the tens of thousands of WPH. You can enjoy million-word stories like a good weekend novel, and you can “eat” 15K word stories like potato chips. But this story, this story is no potato chip. This is something to savor. Every paragraph, every sentence is remarkably deep, rich with a multitude of meanings overt and subtle. 

There is an art to the conservation of space, of conveying a great deal with a few words. A tricky business, as you must rely on your readers to “get” it, to infer the story left unsaid.This is a story about love and loss, bold adventure and cold mundanity, regret and forgiveness, and above all, things left unsaid.

This story is, in many ways, the embodiment of that old advice: “show, don’t tell.” Show and tell are used here in equal measure to tell a story filled with realistic emotions. It combines a vague timeframe, brusque storytelling, and a splash of headcanon to make sure the reader is actively involved in the story. It then brokers that into some crushing emotional torque. I won’t spoil anything, but I could name moment after moment that stuck with me long after the story was over. The bard’s appearance, the conversation in the restaurant, that scene transition in chapter twenty-five… There is some bluntness and awkwardness here, but those small demerits are constantly overshadowed by the subtlety, respect, and care afforded to the characters and their emotions.

When I read the description of this story, I was a little skeptical. It promised Rarity playing Ogres & Oubliettes, it had chapters of only 500 words each, and I’d never heard of the author before. I was ready to give out points for ambition but ultimately be disappointed.

But this turned out to be a spectacular pleasant surprise—in a sort of masochistic sense, because I knew from the first chapter that this was going to be a painful ride, and it did not disappoint on that front. The thing I really have to applaud this story for is its understanding of what to tell and when. It gives a specific, but broad, sense of what’s going on right away, so it’s coherent and grounded from the beginning, and then it gradually reveals more and more. And the more context it gives you, the more it hurts. 

I adored this story. It’s unique, it’s daring, it’s memorable, it’s heart-wrenching and you should read it.

First Place

TFang and Flame
When a different world's Ember arrives wielding the instinct-manipulating Bloodstone Crown, only the Dragon Lord stands between Equestria and the deadly call of the wild.
horizon · 14k words  ·  102  5 · 1.3k views

Ember and War. A match made in Valhalla. Dragon Valhalla, which is approximately forty percent more metal than human Valhalla. And speaking of other planes of existence and humans, this one was almost laser-targeted for my preferences, given how it focuses on the Ember of the Equestria Girls world finding her way into Equestria. Horizon logically extends Spike’s species swap to the rest of dragonkind, and as you might imagine, being raised by wolves does not make for a good Dragonlord.

It makes for a dangerously incredible one, especially with the right magical artifact.

This is equal parts character piece and action movie, and it is amazing. I can’t recommend it enough.

Mirrors, eh? We must always remember that at the heart of the EQG story lies a mirror. Thus, when writing and thinking about this carnival-mirror world, it is worth remembering that everyone has a mirror, a doppelgänger. So in a meeting of mirrors, the question inevitably arises, “who is the real one”? 

That question of reality, “am I real?”, wends its way throughout the story, and finds a multitude of ways to ask itself. As to the answer it receives, well you’ll have to go and read the story yourself.

This is a good story, an important story, because it is so very relevant. Behind the fire, scales and teeth, is a very simple but incredibly real story about finding one’s true place in the world.

This is less a story, and more a painting wrought with words. Every paragraph and sentence is dripping in poetry, anchored by a thick undercoat of metaphor and vagary. Reading it is akin to staring down a masterwork in a museum. I have read some of the author’s work in the past, and so I expected some purpleness of prose and some colorful turns of phrase. But this is far and above anything I prepared myself for. I half suspect that the author used a paintbrush to create this, and somehow tricked their computer into translating it into words. Unlike others, I found the “action movie” parts of this story to be its weakest aspect. That is because it’s prose is so beautiful, however, that it felt at odds with what the story was trying to accomplish. The ending also had some hiccups, but these are small prices to pay for the trip I took along the way. For anyone who thinks that “mere” fanfiction cannot be art, I can safely add this to the list of counterarguments.

This was one of several entries that took characters I never cared too much for in canon and made them awesome. In this particular case, seriously, incredibly awesome. The fantastic environments of Equestria lend themselves really well to vivid, striking imagery, and this story milks that for all its worth. This story has dragons and pegasi and magic and it’s all stunning. 

And all that action arises organically. The first chapter establishes the main character, who she is and what she’s like. And then in the second chapter, when she’s dropped into a completely different environment, you know that there is no scenario that could have played out but the one that did.

Thanks once more to everyone who submitted a story. To those who weren‘t able to get your ideas in under the deadline or who’d like to use the prompt matrix elsewhere, remember that you can still submit to the group’s “Second-Born” folder. As for Imposing Sovereigns III… Well, we’ll see. There’s a whole bunch of other events going on right now; give the Dragonlord a few months to get comfortable on her throne.

Comments ( 27 )

If Horizon was a pony, his special talent would be winning writing contests. (Look, you're officially registered as an undisguised changeling at this point, because it's a closer fit to reality than the truth)

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Very glad to see Chiko place. Congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations to all the winners, cheers to everyone who participated, and great big thanks to the judges for making an excellent contest :yay:

I'm especially pleased to see She Kills Monsters in the top three: it was my favorite of them all. Congrats!

Damn straight the only two Ember stories were going to make their way onto this page.

It was great fun competing! I enjoyed writing my particular ruler(s) so much. Very glad to see the only other Ember story place first! Best ruler deserves it!

Congrats to all the winners! This contest resulted in some incredible stories, and I'm sure it was no small feat for any story to place. Really glad that She Kills Monsters placed -- it was definitely my favourite of the entries I read, and looking forward to reading Horizon's entry, which I assume will knock me off my feet as usual.

And a huge thanks to FoME and all the judges for making this happen. It was a ton of fun to participate in, and if you ever decided to do another contest I'll be there.

Amazing work, guys. I live in constant envy.

Oh, wow! Considering the line up of fantastic stories entered in this contest I totally didn’t expect to place or HM. Thank you for it and the happy holiday surprise. This contest was really fun to do and the prompt that nudged folk to make some really unique stories all around.

Thank you for all the hard work to both judges and writers to bring a fresh injection to the fandom, especially this year where it’s all up to us now to keep the universe going.

This was a great contest. I look forward to reading the winners I haven’t already read. :raritywink:

This was fun, much like the first one. I feel like I won anyway, since now I have some more quality stories to read.

Congrats to the winners. This was fun.

Yeah, that's the thing about these sorts of contests, isn't it? No matter who the prizes go to, it's the readers who really win.

Thanks again to everyone for making this such an incredible contest. As others have already said, there are dozens of stories here that I would never had the opportunity to read otherwise. Thanks so much for FOME, not only for having me as a judge, but for putting up with the delays I caused by being a slow reader.

Anyone who is interested, stay tuned. I intend to feature as many of the participants as possible in my critique series. The first one, discussing horizon's winning entry, is already up!

Congrats to the winners!

And indeed, we readers also win. :twilightsmile:

Congratulations to everybody! No shame in losing to these.

Congrats to our Top Seven:

And thanks to FOME and company for setting this all up and carrying it off! I can't imagine I ever would've considered writing anything about Filthy Rich and family otherwise. :eeyup:


I have to say, with full sincerity, that it's an honor standing shoulder to shoulder with such great company. This was the very definition of a split decision — if the judges are using the point system I'm thinking of, then the winner scoring nine points means that it's mathemetically impossible for any story to have been in all four judges' Top Three, and unlikely to have been in more than two. (With a theoretical maximum of 20 points, a *single* first place ranking would have been five of my nine points right there.) I squeaked by in the narrowest of wins against a crowd of heavy-hitting stories that a slight shift in judges or circumstances would have propelled to the top. Everyone should be proud of this one, whether they're on the official prize list or not.

That said, I'm thrilled that readers (and judges!) are enjoying my story for both its action and its heart. This was one of those stories where the image of the main character snuck into my head as the crackiest of crack ideas (most directly inspired by Princess Mononoke), and wouldn't leave until I figured out how to take it seriously.

Mostly, I'm super happy glad I got to participate this time around, after having my writing period for the last Imposing Sovereigns get sniped by the most ridiculous circumstances possible. Even with a normal writing period, I only managed to scramble something together at the literal last minute of the contest, and it was definitely smoothed out by some post-submission edits (which I felt less bad about because 1., that was explicitly allowed, and 2., FOME read the story before I could edit it anyway). The moral of the story, I suppose, is to get your crazy ideas early so they can become glorious by the time the deadline rolls around. :twilightsheepish:

Super excited to read the winners/HMs I haven't read yet! And special congratulations to Chiko, who I called for a medalist and then promptly robbed the top spot from. :pinkiecrazy: I need to learn how to dial my powers back.

Congrats to the winners! I'm glad "Fang and Flame" won; I thought it was a very interesting take on an EG Ember.

Eh. I meant to participate but it would have been disgusting nihilism. I also learned my lesson about contests with Villain Exchange Program. Then I saw the judges and knew anything that I wrote wouldn't be judged fairly.

But congrats to those who participated and the winners. I feel bad that I've pretty much only read Trolley Problem (which was amazing)

…at least one competitor whose creative spark was reignited by the prompt.

Oh, hey, I think that's me! If not, make it two. :pinkiesmile:

Extreme congratulations to all of the winners and honorable mentions! I regrettably haven't read any of the top three except for She Kills Monsters (which 100% deserves its spot), and I've only read two of the honorable mentions, so it looks like I've got a lot of good stuff to add to my reading list now.

There were a lot of other stories I read that I definitely thought I'd see up here, but that just goes to show how stiff the competition really was. So many fantastic stories is a win in its own right. I'm proud of the story I put forth, and you'll definitely see me back for Imposing Sovereigns III if it ever comes around! Thank you again for this.

Comment posted by AkumaKami64 deleted Dec 22nd, 2019

Well, it was worth a shot. Maybe the third time around I'll find out about the contest before the deadline is closing in. XP And if nothing else, I have a new project in expanding Broken Treaty into a full story one day.

PS I apologize for the triple post, my laptop does that sometimes.

Comment posted by AkumaKami64 deleted Dec 22nd, 2019

the conversation in the restaurant, that scene transition in chapter twenty-five…

Writing's not an easy thing for me anymore. Sharing it was even harder. I seriously had a panic attack whenever I updated my story and constantly second guessed and rewrote chapters the day they were meant to be posted (I think we're supposed to call that editing, right?). Those moments especially made me come dangerously close to deleting the story a few times from chapter 15 on. Don't even get me started on the nausea I felt whenever I saw red on that notification bell ha ha.

Thank you all for making the journey feel worth it.

:heart: :heart: :heart:

You were right. Thanks for believing in me, even if I didn't.

Like I had said before. I honestly expected to my story to get lost in the shuffle. I had no idea it would be anyone's favorite story of the bunch. I'm honored my story is yours. until horizon steals it away jk jk

So all I need to do to win Imposing Sovereigns III is to steal your car. Got it. c:
Congrats on the gold, champ, and don't forget to lock your doors.
Also, now I'm super curious about the points breakdown.

I'm still surprised I placed so high. I'm even more surprised to see so many people happy that I had placed. It feels kinda nice. :heart:

I'm genuinely looking forward to your long form thoughts on my story (assuming you're doing one for mine, don't mean to impose). I'll try not to cry. Thank you for taking the time.

Another successful contest! I may not have completed my entry, but I still get to read lots of good fics.

You're welcome, and I'm glad you didn't let nerves stop you. I know how hard that can be. Thank you for a great story.

5173073 how would u define 'fair' judging 4 u?

Congrats to all the winners and the HMs. I can only echo the sentiment that all of us are the real winners for having so many great stories to enjoy reading :twilightsmile:

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