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The Twilight Files Contest: 2022 May 29 - Aug 07 · 1:54am May 30th, 2022

commissioned from: mushroompone

The stacks of paper rise high into the air, looking less like the forest of trees that they were made from and more like the skyscrapers of the Manehattan skyline. No matter where you crane your neck, their geometric shapes fill your field of view. You can't help but gawk a little as the smell of must and dust assaults your nostrils, and you are made to feel with all your senses the presence of age in this room. Even moreso, you suppose, by the wrinkly old mare leading you in.

"Impressive, isn't it? Would you believe that when the Princess was young, she would transcribe these herself?" She laughs a croaking laugh. "Yes, I know that it is hard to believe that the Princess was ever young. But you have to believe me! Well, the ones who told that to me. And the ones that told that to them."

She gestures to the desk in the middle of the room, looking out of place for its ordinariness.

"She would sit right at this desk, in fact! Quill in aura, having the time of her life regularizing those old Celestian-era documents with an excited smile on her face. And back then, she was the same size as you or me!"

You've read the history books in school. You've seen the pictures. But still, it's hard to imagine her sitting here and not towering over you both. It's even harder to imagine that face, so aloof and serene, with a smile that could be described as "excited".

Well, no matter. It was for the Princess Twilight of now that you were doing this. You approach one of the shorter, more approachable stacks, lift the topmost sheaf of papers in your aura, and get to work shuffling through them.

A letter to the Princess from a political opponent early in her reign. An incident report from the Celestian era Wonderbolts, highly classified at the time. A... police department's juvenile record file? You shake your head. It was going to be a long ten weeks.

Please join the group if you want updates about the contest in your feed!

  • Stories must be told entirely through in-universe documents, with no prose sections. That is, what this very contest post does is not allowed!
  • Documents can be, but are not limited to, letters, diaries, reports, articles, transcripts, et cetera. As long as it is a document that makes sense to exist in the universe of the story it tells, please feel free to be creative!
  • The judges are Bicyclette, mushroompone, Shrink Laureate, and daOtterGuy, who are not allowed to preread, edit, or brainstorm any entries.
  • Between mushroompone and Bicyclette, the total prize pool of $295, to be distributed between no fewer than four and no more than one-third of the total number of entrants, with the winner to receive at least $100.
  • Stories may be M-rated, but no pornography, gore, or fetish content.
  • Stories based on Equestria Girls, Pony Life, the My Little Pony comics, and G5 are allowed.
  • AUs, crossovers, sequels, and side stories are allowed as long as they can be understood without having read their source material.
  • Stories may not be longer than 15kw. This is a hard cap with no exceptions!
  • Each author may only submit one entry.
  • The deadline is 0000 08/08/2022 UTC (8:00PM of Aug 07, 2022, ET). Stories must be published and completed, and placed in the appropriate subfolders of The Twilight Files Contest Submissions folder by this time in order to qualify. There will be no extensions or exceptions.
  • Prereaders and editors are allowed, but coauthors are not.
  • For legal and job reasons of myself, any submission under the same account as fics that would be illegal to publish in the nation of Australia (a certain subset of pornographic material) are disqualified. This is the only requirement based on factors outside of the actual submission itself.

Other contests:

"But I don't understand!" you cry, fanning out the offending documents in front of you as if their size would make a point. "I mean, in this one, I think I'd remember it in the history books if the Princess first gained power through a coup and a civil war at the end of her predecessor's reign! This one is written by the Princess herself, but says within it that it is only meant for the eyes of her successor. Did she change her mind? This one looks like a transcript of a telegraph conversation, except there are all these little pictures of faces with weirdly flat muzzles. I don't know how I'd even begin to understand what any of this one means. And this one talks about Equestria like it's some long-ago realm lost to the depths of time! What's going on here? Is all of this just fiction?"

"Fiction?" The old mare scoffs. "Don't say that word as if to insult these documents! I mean, is anything we write down an absolutely perfect record of the real world?"

You swallow your annoyance, along with the "you know" at the start of your reply.

"This goes far beyond embellishment! In this purported diary of Princess Celestia, Princess Twilight never ascends to alicornhood, and dies of old age!"

She gives you a smug smile, with a twinkle in her eye.

"The Princess's thirst for knowledge is deep, her powers vast, her reign long. Do you think that the barriers between worlds and timelines would stop her? These things may not have truly happened here, but they happened somewhere."

You set your jaw, looking out beyond your evidence at the stacks and stacks of unread papers behind them. With your objection dissolved, the breadth of their contents truly sinks in for you. So does the weight of the task that is ahead.

"So what am I even looking for? What does Princess Twilight want out of all this?"

The old mare's smile is still there, but her smugness is gone. And unlike the Princess, in that moment you can imagine her young, those lines and wrinkles smoothed away, standing where you are now, asking the same question to the one who came before her.

And she gives the answer she must have been given then.

"Something to make her feel."

Report Bicyclette · 1,661 views ·
Comments ( 18 )

Interesting, very interesting...

A very good topic idea to cover the difficult-to-execute-well epistolary! Interested in seeing what people come up with.:twilightsmile:

hehe i just realized how fitting your name is for this one

Quite the intro. I'll see what I can cook up.

I am SO very excited to see what comes of this contest!! I'll be hanging on your every word, entrants!

Each author may only submit one entry.

Celestia STOMP it, don't you KNOW by now that I don't know how to write and choose exactly one entry for a contest? If I hit that "one entry" target, it's probably by mistake.

I guess I could ask for an amendment to allow no more than 15kw total of entrIES per author, but I probably won't get that amendment. :raritydespair:

As always, I would like to invite you to repost the contest in the Hall of Contests [SFW] group.

Hope the contest will be successful as always.

Are we allowed to submit a fic and then if we write a better one, revoke the first submission in favor of the second?

Yay! ‘Cause I’ve got a vague glimmer of a good dramatic idea, and a pretty solid comedic idea.

...okay...I might have something, but I think this idea is being stretched too much to try and meet the requirements.

You said documents, like the text is printed upon something to give a message of some kind. So what if I had something... like this.

It might be against the rules for the site as well, but if transcript is one of the options we have for this contest, I can't see why we can't have a story written in the format of a chatroom.

that chatroom format is a perfect example!

The way you presented this announcement in the second pony, I half expected this to be the kickoff for an Italo Calvino knockoff competition: If on a summer's day a pony…

aww if only i could pull that off!

Fun bullshit caused by Australian politics fact: several years ago my Twitter account got permabanned for "bullying" the Australian prime minister.

That's hilarious

it was back when Australia was on fire and the prime minister was a right wing anthropogenic climate change denier

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