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GMBlackjack


-GM, master of... ( Discord | Patreon )

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Jul
2nd
2020

The Results for the Depth in Innocence Contest! · 10:28pm July 2nd

I have read every story. I have judged them all. And now... it is time for the results.

Let's begin with the odd awards!

Good Story, But Not The Deepest

EThe Composer
Life after ruling for Celestia is boring, almost too boring. However, on one of her strolls, she comes across a lost runaway filly. It quickly becomes clear that there is more to the filly than what meets the eye.
Smug Anime Girl · 42k words  ·  64  4 · 1.1k views

This story is a nice, simple (in some regards) story about a filly being "raised" by Celestia in the magically crazy world that is Equestria. There’s a big focus on music and family dynamics—which make me not as interested in it as some of the other stories. I feel like the “being raised and adopted” thing is done a lot, and I’ve never had much of a music sense. So I don’t find the story very deep. I do, however, find it cute and innocent and a good read. It has a lot of strange references and jokes that made me laugh while also appreciate the characters within.

As the winner of the "great story" category, Smug Anime Girl (best name ever, by the way), you've earned 1000 words of me writing anything non M-rated. You pick.

Best Unique World
This was won by a story in the top three, so the award will be there.

And now... the actual placements.

Third Place

EResting Witch Face
Trixie and Starlight discover witchcraft is real, and do the obvious thing about it.
Aragon · 32k words  ·  290  6 · 1.7k views

First of all, this story is a delight from start to finish. The only reason my enjoyment wasn't through the roof is because I’m just not a fan of romances in general. Even so, this is an absolute delight to read—the romance itself may be in the center, but it's also subtle for much of it. None of the characters are quite like they are in the show, but they’re absolutely amazing nonetheless, and consistent with themselves. When I first wrote this review, this story was going to end up in "great, but not that deep." However, after letting it sit for a while, I realized there was a deep personal truth about how people change in here. Instinct and will, and how one can, with time, change the other--but never immediately. Hidden behind the laughs there's something richer. I feel as though I’m better after having read this.

…The one thing it does leave stuck in your mind though is that nagging sensation that all of it might have just been a bunch of big coincidences. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.

You, my friend, earn $20 USD for third place. Send me a paypal link and I'll give it right to you.

Aaaaaand this story also won the BEST UNIQUE WORLD award. It had the best worldbuilding. The way witchcraft was handled was just amazing and it was just a wonderful delight that kept me guessing. The reward for this is a chapter feature in the League of Sweetie Belles, should you wish it. It'll fit really well with the meta-nonsense that goes on in there. ((However, I'm a tad busy with irl stuff right now so this might have to wait a bit before actually getting written.))

Second Place

EThe Bank Job
A mad scientist and an internet sensation decide to rob a bank.
Keywii_Cookies55 · 8.8k words · 86 views

When I read the description I wasn’t sold on this. As I was reading it I found it very enjoyable but was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be deep. But then it all slowly fell together as I realized this was a commentary on the way money and property defines our lives, where the system itself oppresses us and turns us against each other. A landlord versus a customer, both of whom like each other. A daughter and a mother who constantly bicker over career. I loved the characters from the start and the way the humor adds some levity to the story absolutely sells it for me. It could be clearer at times, and the structure isn’t always optimal, but hot dang I enjoyed reading this. My only fear is that it’s correct. That there is no solution to our predicament. That all we can do is hold onto our friends and family and refuse to let the system change us.

You, my friend, earn $30 USD for second place. Send me a paypal link and I'll give it riiiiight over!

THE CHAMPION

EA Charmed Life
Every second Wednesday something special appears at the second-hoof store, something that just might turn Ditzy’s hope for a fresh start in Ponyville into the career of her dreams.
BlazzingInferno · 7.2k words  ·  30  1 · 163 views

I love this story. I ended it with a big smile on my face. Just look at the numbers: it’s great. It made me smile, it made me feel good to be alive. The characters are great, the details are great, and it’s got plenty of little nods I just MMM. It’s not deep enough to make me sit up at night and think about it, but it makes up for that by clearly stating several worthwhile things. About sometimes needing an outside observer to tell you what your life is like. About what’s right having unintended consequences. About self-worth and re-examination. About… so many things. This is a story of two characters, their lives, and the lessons learned within. And if we went back in time, this could have been an episode of the show. One of the better ones, at that.

You, my friend, earn $50 USD for being the champion. Claim your prize with a paypal link. You deserve it.

Thoughts on the rest of the entrants

They ranged from good to bad to majorly disqualified. I've ranked all the ones that weren't disqualified below from "best" to "worst." But before I get into that, I'm going to take a moment to talk about why there were so many disqualifications. One was just incomplete, two were written either before the contest or *mostly* before the contest, but most were disqualified for "this really isn't E-rated" reasons. Despite every story having an "E" on the story, many had swearing, sexual references, violence, and the like. (Resting Witch Face barely scraped by this criteria by treating its "gore" as a strange, comedic background element, the kind you might read about in a kid's book.) The fact that it's so hard for many of us to write without those darker "edgy" elements is the entire reason this contest was created, to force us to push away from that. It still surprised me how blatant some of those were.

Anyway, of the non-disqualifieds, here's my thoughts, ranked from the best downward:

Chamomile

What to say about this one? It’s a simple masterpiece. One can read it convinced it’s just slice of life, or they can come back and find immense power here. It’s written masterfully with lots of tiny details and Rarity and Twilight are practically dripping character. Nothing felt out of place—like Rarity herself, this was organized and set up like a pristine dress. The message is clear: Twilight (and the readers who are put in leading positions) are put there for a reason, and when they have doubts of their own ability, they can turn to their friends. As they should. It would have been a bit better if there was a mention somewhere that people who didn’t want to be in charge were often better at it, but even without that this is good. The only other thing keeping it from being higher is that it is just a conversation—not all that innovative or creative. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, of course.

Silent Wings

This story is amazing. It’s got creativity, amazing characters, a re-imagining of Equestria that feels exactly like it and yet also just a little different. The story moves well, is clear, and is very enjoyable. Structurally, the only thing really wrong with it is that I feel that the ending doesn’t quite wrap things up, even though it’s still good. The reason it’s not so much better is because it’s not really as deep as most of the others. Sure, it’s serious, and shows a good look at what it means to be deaf, but the message behind it? A bit muddled. The aforementioned ending kinda seems like it tries to push it in. It’s not without depth—it still has it—but it’s not going to make me think about the result for days to come.

Evolution

This story is good, the first good one I read, actually. The author clearly understood what the whole idea of “depth” meant. Here we have a bunch of ponies debating an issue that has some influence on real life—genetic modification (or the magical equivalent of it). And, to put the icing on the cake, there is no clear answer, it’s just designed to make you think. This is exactly what the contest was looking for. I applaud the author for having the gall to set up a philosophical debate as an entry. However, it does have a few fallbacks. The setup makes the characters seem flatter because they are vessels for ideas—even though Starlight does manage to have a lot of her personality come through, it’s still slightly muted. This story does what it sets out to do.

Cleaved

This story does a good job of getting you into the action and feeling the characters. So much so that I didn’t realize that they were mostly symbols rather than actual characters—a husband and wife out and about in the dangers of the Invasion of the Crystal Empire. But the major draw of this story happens about halfway through where the PoV suddenly splits in two, indicated by paragraphs of different colors and justifications. This is AMAZINGLY creative and a bit confusing. It was managed pretty well, but I think it took away from the overall cohesion of the story itself. And while we are taught about pain in this story, which is certainly a deep thing, it doesn’t have much to say about that pain.

Arboreal Grieving

This is a story about grief that can’t be contained, of that which we cannot let go. It’s told through a lot of choppy scenes and what I think to be somewhat inconsistent (and too telly) characters, but it doesn’t shy away from it. The idea is that Twilight’s dead, and Celestia has to deal with this. And she, our great immortal alicorn, can’t, and almost runs everything into the ground because of it. It’s a decent entry, though the ending could have used some serious work.

But With a Whimper

This story is a tale of drama, sadness, and sorrow. it is a tale of love reaching its end and people going their separate ways handled with a peculiar delicacy that I can’t help but respect. It has good characters, buildup, and it’s written really well. If only I didn’t hate it. I don’t like romance under normal terms, and this one showcases the ending of it in a light I don’t appreciate. It didn’t appeal to me, and while it did evoke emotions within me, it wasn’t the kind it wanted to. I’m fairly sure this story wanted me to learn to accept that, sometimes, love can come to an end, an amiable end, one that leads onward to something else. That message made me angry. Author, you wrote a good story. But I can’t bring myself to appreciate it on those merits alone.

Steps on a Twisting Path

This story has a good main character and a somewhat interesting world, showing creativity. After that, it stumbles around a lot, not sure what it wants to do. Is it trying to convey a message? Is it trying to show us pain? What is it trying to say about dreams, money, and family? I’m not sure, and the lack of clarity and quality in the whole thing makes it harder to figure out. It was rather hard to get through this. It needed to go slower and to give us more time to really get to know Twisted and her dog, and not feel like were were jumping around everywhere like a ping-pong ball.

A High Price

This story was the first one I read—simply because it was the shortest. I’m sorry to say it’s not very good, hindered mostly by how easy it is to get tripped up over the awkward grammar and syntax. What happens in the story is simple enough and easy to understand—and it even has a significantly interesting piece of depth to it, about eternity and love. That said, the “Discord is going to live forever” thing has been done a million times already, and by itself it doesn’t provide anything all that groundbreaking to a story.

Disqualified: Lullaby on the moon (incomplete) The Endless Cycle, My Little Detour (written mostly before the contest's start date) The Ultimate Supreme Administrator, Mapping Manehattan, Far From the Tree (not innocent, and maybe shouldn't even be E-rated at all)

And that, as they say, is that! Thanks for participating everyone! To the winners: feel free to message me directly for your prizes. If you don't, I'll message you myself at some point.

-GM, master of pine trees.

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Comments ( 4 )

Congrats to the winners!

*Sigh* steps really could have benefited from me starting the writing process earlier and not being as busy, by the end even I wasn't entirely sure what I was trying to say. And even before I posted it there was a lot of things I wanted completely rewrite but I just didn't feel like I had the time

Hidden behind the laughs there's something richer.

How to describe any Aragon story in seven words.

Congratulations to the winners. :twilightsmile:

(Re-posting what I posted on the forum announcement)

Whoa.
I didn’t expect to win. I started down the path of writing A Charmed Life, had a sudden thought that I’d greatly misjudged the contest’s goal*, and decided a little thing like that wasn’t going to stop me. I’m so glad it didn’t! It’s an honor to compete alongside all of you. I need to finish reading all of your entries :raritywink:.

*my thought was maybe we were supposed to write an E-rated story that managed to cover a weighty topic that typically merits a higher rating. I’m sure it’s entirely possible to write a fantastic E-rated story about substance abuse, for instance, but that’s just not what I set out to do.

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